Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

IWA East Coast Returns Saturday

The PopCulteer
October 11, 2019

IWA East Coast returns Saturday Night with the second Woody Numbers Memorial Show.

Taking place at Kings Way Outreach Center in Nitro (the former Nitro High School), this show features All Elite Wrestling star, Shawn Spears (formerly WWE’s “Tye Dillinger”) against former NWA Junior Heavyweight champion, Jason Kincaid.

This is also the IWA East Coast 15th Anniversary show.Bell time is 7:30 PM, and you can buy tickets in advance HERE.

Other wrestlers and matches on the card include: IWA East Coast Heavyweight champion “The Reaper” Matt Conard defending against “Never Say Die” Josh Crane, straight off his tour of Big Japan Wrestling and his victory in the Strong Style tournament; IWA East Coast Tag Team champions The Rydas (“Omega” Aaron Draven and Juggulator) vs. Smokey X and Shane Kryzac; Kobain vs. Aaron Williams; International star Gregory Iron vs. Beastman; The Unholy Memorial Battle Royal for an IWA East Coast contract opportunity; Mad Man Pondo will be in action; General Manager Phil Stamper will be on hand, and more action is in the works.

Fans will also hear from Chance Prophet about his recovery from surgery.

Not only will this be a great way to celebrate fifteen years of IWA East Coast and pay tribute to the late Woody Numbers, but fans will also get to meet Shawn Spears in advance of the big AEW Dynamite broadcast, which happens at the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center just eleven days later.


While we’re going on to talk about other wrestling news that doesn’t have anything to do with IWA EC, we’re still going to use illustrations from the IWA EC show, because they’re so damned cool.

More on Professional Wrestling

As I wrote a few weeks ago, this is an amazing time to be a fan of professional wrestling. WWE has attained a higher profile than ever with the move of Smackdown to the Fox broadcast network. For the first time in nearly two decades, WWE has some well-financed competition in the form of AEW on TNT. NXT, WWE’s developmental organization, has moved to the USA Network, and there are plenty of other cool things happening now too.

Impact Wrestling (formerly TNA) is moving to AXS TV on Tuesday nights, occupying the old timeslot where USA used to run Smackdown.

NWA, the National Wrestling Alliance, which has been around as a sanctioning body since 1948, is now owned by Billy Corgan (of Smashing Pumpkins fame) and has a weekly studio-based show that just started on YouTube a couple of weeks ago, with announcer Jim Cornette. It’s a lot of fun and harkens back to the fun of the pre-Hogan era of wrestling. You can see the latest episode right here…

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the debut of AEW Dynamite, and how it’s going head-to-head against NXT, and there has been a significant ratings shake-out since then.

Since its debut, Dynamite has tumbled a bit, losing over 400,000 viewers from week one to week three. NXT has lost about the same number of viewers from its competition-free debut, two weeks before AEW’s bow, but has only dropped about 180,000 viewers since its first week facing AEW directly.

It has been amusing watching the coverage of the ratings on the “Dirt Sheet” websites that follow wrestling closely. These are guys like Dave Meltzer, Wade Keller, Jason Powell and others who wake up every morning, and in five minutes forget more than I will ever know about professional wrestling. They are experts on the squared circle, and I would not pretend to know as much about the topic as they do.

However, they aren’t nearly as well-versed in the ways of analyzing TV ratings as I am. At the moment, they seem concerned with what looks like a pretty massive drop-off of almost a third of the viewers of AEW since its premiere.

They’re sort of missing the point. Several points, in fact. That first week, a sizable number of viewers were switching back and forth between AEW and NXT, and when that happens, those viewers can be counted as watching both shows. If you switch back and forth enough, and you have a Nielson box, you may be counted as watching both shows, plus one of them twice.

So those first-week numbers were a bit inflated, possibly by as much as ten percent. It would appear that, after flipping between the two shows the first week that they went head-to-head, viewers chose to watch one or the other all the way through because both shows are easily available to watch as replays or on demand (in the case of NXT just a day later). Plus both shows are good enough to watch from beginning to end.

The other problem is that the dirt sheets are looking at this as if the competition between AEW and NXT is happening in a vacuum. It is not. Both shows are competing against a strong night for network television, with The Masked Singer on Fox and the Chicago shows on NBC, plus they’re dealing with pre-season NBA, and new seasons of other cable programs that are building their ratings in the money demographics, like VH1’s Basketball Wives, FX’s American Horror Story and Comedy Central’s South Park.

The other X-factor at play is that, whenever something crazy happens in politics—which is pretty much a daily occurrence now—viewers flock to the news channels, so that FOX News, CNN and MSNBC eat up a larger proportion of the available viewing audience.

For fans who aren’t so die-hard that they need to see the programs live, they have learned that they can wait for the many replays of AEW Dynamite on TNT and Tru TV, while fans of NXT can see it the next day on the WWE Network on demand, which is how that brand’s long-time fans were used to watching it already.

While there seems to be some panic setting in among the “smart” fans, it’s really not that big a deal. If NXT manages to hold steady at about a third of what Smackdown used to draw on USA, the network will be happy because they’re paying considerably less for the rights fee for NXT, and it’s still delivering a better number in the key demographic than what USA was running in that timeslot previously. Likewise, TNT will be thrilled if AEW Dynamite settles in and delivers half the viewers that Monday Night RAW does for USA. So far it’s close to doing that. I have a feeling that both shows will start building their viewership once the non-wrestling competition subsides in a few weeks.

Another amusing observation is how, despite the best efforts of the folks in charge of the dirt sheets, AEW is still benefitting from a prolonged honeymoon period. The AEW Dynamite shows have been so fresh, new and exciting that the reporters covering them are willing to overlook or downplay things like screwy finishes, lapses in logic and botched spots for which they would crucify WWE.  They’re also being very generous when it comes to AEW’s women’s division, which so far has not come within a mile of the quality of not only the women’s divisions in WWE and NXT, but also Impact and Ring of Honor. It’s a pretty glaring weakness and its the one place where AEW has plenty of room to improve.

There are other double-standards in the reporting as well. WWE was attacked soundly for moving NXT from the WWE Network and expanding it to two hours to go up against AEW Dynamite, even though NXT had been on Wednesday nights at 8 PM for several years. However, when the NWA announced that they’d be uploading their program to YouTube on Tuesdays, nobody batted an eye when AEW decided that Tuesdays would be a good time to upload AEW Dark, their YouTube-only show, which they conveniently started the same week as NWA Powerrr.

I think attacking either company for making a sound business move is silly, but the reactions do betray a double standard (and NWA doesn’t seem to mind because a lot of their YouTube traffic came from AEW’s show).

Then there’s the matter of how they cover the ratings. Yesterday, one of the up-and-coming dirt websites (Fightful Wrestling, who, to be fair, usually do much better than this) ran this headline, “AEW Dynamite Viewership Stays Above One Million; NXT Loses Almost 100,000 Viewers.”  They opened their article with this, “With no direct competition from the MLB Playoffs, AEW Dynamite‘s viewership remained steady while NXT suffered the bigger loss in viewership.”

The problem with that is that, using that website’s own running tally of the numbers, we can see that NXT dropped from 790,000 viewers to 712,000 viewers, which is a decline of 78,000 viewers. It’s a bit of a stretch to say that’s “almost 100,000.” Using this site’s own numbers which took pains the week before to include the viewers of a simulcast on Tru TV, AEW Dynamite declined from 1.140 million viewers to 1.014 million. I hate to break this to their reporter, but that’s a decline of 126,000 viewers. You shouldn’t slant your coverage when there’s simple math involved.

I can understand why AEW is enjoying a honeymoon period. Wrestling fans and dirt sheet reporters have been starving for real competition in the industry for nearly two decades. People can’t be blamed for rooting for AEW to succeed, and from all indications, they will. However, they have a long way to go to challenge WWE directly, and I’m pretty sure the folks in charge know that.

AEW Dynamite will be a real treat for wrestling fans in Charleston on October 30, and it’ll make the city look great to a national audience. And fans can get a little preview Saturday at the IWA East Coast show.

And that is this week’s PopCulteer. Chec,k back for all our regular features and fresh content every day.

1 Comment

  1. Thomas Wheeler

    Very well stated, Rudy. I’m a longtime WWE fan, but I’m not going to malign AEW, and I wish it well. I think Triple H did a classy thing following the debut of AEW Dynamite by congratulating them on their debut (which beat NXT), which was certainly classier than Chris Jericho’s attacks on the WWE on his Facebook page and “Web is Jericho” blog. There’s being a heel and there’s being an unprofessional jerk, and I think Jericho crossed the line in this instance.

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