The Wednesday Night War is the biggest story in pro wrestling television right now. But it’s far from the only one.
Both of the major North American wrestling promotions are set to satisfy fans’ appetites with the biggest premiere week for the sport in years. But WWE and AEW aren’t the only ones with major premieres set for this week.
The airwaves are about to be flooded with pro wrestling content. The sport now boasts regular programming five days a week. It’s a fun time to be a wrestling fan. Here’s our breakdown of where and how to catch all of the action from wrestling’s biggest week in years.
Saturday Slam — NJPW And Women Of Wrestling
AXS TV may not be head-to-head competitors in the Wednesday Night Wars, but they’re definitely staking out territory when it comes to pro wrestling.
Their Saturday Slam block, featuring New Japan Pro Wrestling and Women Of Wrestling, kicked into high gear this past week. WOW, co-owned by GLOW founder David McClane, began its second season on September 7. NJPW, which has aired on AXS since 2015, premiered new episodes this past Saturday.
WOW is a primarily canned show, as much of its content was recorded some months back. Season two filming began in May. The promotion boasts Impact mainstay Tessa Blanchard as world champion as well as up-and-comers like Jessicka Havok, Jungle Grrl, and Kiera Hogan (no relation), and Teal Piper, daughter of the late Roddy Piper. Piper took part in the battle royal at AEW’s All Out in August.
NJPW has been a signature program for AXS since 2015. The self-titled show was twice named Best Weekly TV Series by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. AXS and NJPW have partnered to air some of New Japan’s live events in the past. The show moved to Saturdays this past summer, with next-day broadcasts of the G1 Climax tournament.
Women Of Wrestling airs Saturday nights at 8 p.m. ET, followed by New Japan Pro Wrestling at 9 p.m. ET on AXS TV.
Monday Night Raw
I’m not sure how a show that airs new episodes 52 weeks a year has a “season premiere,” but that’s exactly how WWE is referring to this Monday’s episode of Monday Night Raw from Phoenix.
Then again, with the Wednesday Night War on the horizon, there’s never been a better time to make every episode feel special.
WWE is coming off of its annual post-summer slumber, with an uneventful Clash Of Champions and some lackluster television with (go figure) nonsensical booking. But the emergence of the Fiend as the primary antagonist on Raw has fans abuzz. Add that to anticipation of this week’s premiere of Friday Night SmackDown on Fox (we’ll get there) and the fact that this is the go-home show ahead of Hell In A Cell, and the season premiere has all the elements of a major event.
Rey Mysterio will challenge Seth Rollins for the WWE Universal Championship in the main event. The show will also feature a Miz TV segment with Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. Brock Lesnar is also scheduled.
Despite the fact that WWE’s big fish to fry will be the inaugural Wednesday Night War with NXT and the SmackDown premiere, Raw is far from WWE’s red-headed stepchild. As long as the show is on the air, it’ll be Vince McMahon’s baby.
Whether that’s a good thing or not is yet to be seen.
Monday Night Raw airs Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET on USA Network.
Impact Wrestling is the promotion that just refuses to die. In some cases, despite its best efforts. The company isn’t exactly in the thick of the Wednesday Night War, but it is definitely taking a step forward. Compared to where it’s been, anyway.
After languishing on the Pursuit Channel for the last eight months, Impact’s parent company, Anthem, purchased a majority stake in AXS TV, as reported by Multichannel News, on September 9. Impact announced the move of its signature series, Impact!, to AXS last week.
Getting away from Pursuit is a win in and of itself. Pursuit cut to commercial before the main event of the May 17 edition of Impact! (as covered by Mandatory) and simply never returned. Viewers watched the same commercial on a loop for 24 minutes. A further embarrassment for the network and the promotion occurred a month later when Pursuit aired the wrong episode. Instead of the scheduled new episode, they aired the previous week’s episode again. Pursuit took full ownership for the mishap.
So the move to AXS TV is nothing but roses for Impact, right? Well.
This past week, news broke that producer Kevin Sullivan and most of his staff, which has earned credit for much of the promotion’s creative success of late, will split for AEW.
AXS will premiere Impact! this coming Tuesday (October 1) with a series of episodes recapping prior pay-per-view events. October 1 will see a recap of Homecoming, followed by Rebellion on October 8 and Slammiversary XVII on October 15. The October 22 episode, airing ahead of the Bound For Glory pay-per-view, will serve as a clip show to introduce the roster to AXS viewers, and new episodes of Impact! will resume on October 29.
Impact! premieres Tuesday on AXS TV beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
The Wednesday Night War begins this week with the first head-to-head meeting between AEW and NXT.
As we reported in August, NXT got a head start in the war, as the show moved to USA Network on September 18. So far, the move has delivered for NXT, as the September 18 premiere drew more than a million viewers.
The card for the October 2 NXT is stacked. Shayna Baezler will defend the NXT Women’s Championship against Candice LaRae, Matt Riddle will challenge Adam Cole for the NXT Championship, and the Undisputed Era will defend the NXT Tag Team Championship against the Street Profits.
What’s more interesting, at least in contrast to the high points of the Monday Night Wars, is that the rumor mill has been relatively quiet. No major surprises or swerves seem to be planned for this week’s NXT. In the world of pro wrestling, that either means there really won’t be any swerves, or it means that there will be major swerves.
Pro wrestling: It’s a feast-or-famine business.
But with a two-week head start in front of a national audience, the early advantage in the Wednesday Night War has to go to NXT.
NXT airs Wednesdays on USA Network at 8 p.m. ET.
And we’re finally here.
When the dust settles after the first battle in the Wednesday Night War, we’ll find out whether AEW is all hype or if the default number two promotion in North America is the real deal.
The premiere episode of AEW Dynamite is just as stacked as its NXT counterpart. Cody will face Sammy Guevara, which could have implications for his scheduled world title match at the Full Gear pay-per-view on November 9.
SCU will face the Jurassic Express in tag team action, and Adam Page and Pac will have their long-awaited match (originally scheduled for May’s Double Or Nothing pay-per-view).
Additionally, Nyla Rose and Riho will battle to become the first-ever AEW Women’s Champion, and AEW World Champion Chris Jericho will team with two mystery partners to take on Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks. Plus, Tony Schiavone will return to the announce booth alongside Jim Ross and Excalibur.
Ultimately, though, this is a stacked card for a hardcore wrestling fan. Whether that translates to new viewers (and potentially new fans) won’t be known until the numbers roll in Thursday following the opening salvo of the Wednesday Night War.
AEW Dynamite premieres Wednesday on TNT at 8 p.m. ET.
Friday Night SmackDown
Following the madness of the Wednesday Night War will be WWE’s premiere on its biggest broadcast stage in more than a decade.
SmackDown bows on the Fox Network this coming Friday, October 4. And WWE is throwing all they have toward making a big splash for their Fox debut.
The Fox premiere also coincides with the 20th anniversary of SmackDown. A host of legends will be in attendance, including Hogan, Flair, Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Mark Henry, Jerry Lawler, Sting, Trish Stratus, and Goldberg. But the match card is equally stacked.
Brock Lesnar will challenge Kofi Kingston for the WWE Championship, all but assuring that the magical run of KofiMania that began at WrestleMania 35 is about to come to an end.
Roman Reigns and Erick Rowan will face off, hopefully ending their stupid angle. Speaking of ending stupid angles, Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon will take part in a “Loser Must Leave” ladder match. Rounding out the announced matches is Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair taking on SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley and Sasha Banks in tag team action.
Lynch and Banks will have a Hell In A Cell match at Sunday’s Hell In A Cell pay-per-view for the Raw Women’s Championship.
Friday Night SmackDown debuts on Fox on Friday at 8 p.m. ET.
Much of the hype in the pro wrestling world is centered on the Wednesday Night War, but it’s far from the only story in the business.
Just look at the above schedule. If you’re not into pro wrestling, then enjoy Thursdays and the non-PPV Sunday here and there. Otherwise, pro wrestling is about to take over airwaves to a degree it never has before.
But in all the excitement about SmackDown heading to Fox and AEW vs. NXT, there’s a question nobody has asked yet. Is there about to be too much pro wrestling on TV?
Time will tell on that one. In the meantime, we can’t wait to go down the pro wrestling rabbit hole starting this week.
Feature image courtesy of All Elite Wrestling.