During the Grilling JR Podcast, Jim Ross talked about the current wrestling ratings war between AEW and NXT. Ross began by discussing how it all started, saying that he believes Vince McMahon wanted to push AEW to see if they would stumble and fall under the pressure. He also had some pretty harsh words for WWE and Vince regarding how the war is going.
“How’s that working?” Ross said. “How’s that brilliant evil strategy? Going head to head is good in a boardroom, it’s good in a rah-rah meeting, but at the end of the day, you bring more people to a television set that are wrestling fans at 8 o’ clock eastern time on Wednesday night because you’ve got two brands now that the audience can sample.
“They can watch one, they can DVR one, they can switch back and forth, whatever the hell you do. But to think it’s going to cripple it? Look at the bigger picture. It’s been the excuse in wrestling forever. Unscrupulous, unethical situations are always justified by saying ‘it’s just business’. Well, it’s just business that we’re kicking your a** every [Wednesday] night.”
This week’s Wednesday Night War featured NXT’s first ever version of Halloween Havoc, where Johnny Gargano became the new North American Champion. AEW Dynamite featured Cody defeating Orange Cassidy to retain the TNT Championship, and Kenny Omega and Hangman Page won their matches to set up their match to become the #1 contender for the AEW World Championship at Full Gear on November 7th.
Ross continued to talk about wrestlers today and their in-ring work being too high-flying and acrobatic. He mentioned Jon Moxley as being one of the guys who still uses that brawler style in the ring as a way to avoid being such a high flyer and stand out from the crowd.
“You see a guy today that all he knows how to do is acrobatics,” Ross said. “That’s what I believed to be the way of the world today, and I say it’s bull**it. Somebody is playing the role of a pro wrestler, and more specifically, what they perceive a pro wrestler to be. That is an acrobat, a leg slapper. They take out the emotional investment that you want your audience to make in you. There’s a lot of issues right now in pro wrestling, or trends.
“You see guys that are not going down that trend. Jon Moxley is a guy that’s a Stone Cold [Steve Austin] guy, basically fundamental hardness, intensity, physicality. You can tell by his face he’s a badass. He likes the competition and combat. But you’ve got other guys that you know what you’re going to get. Most of them don’t know how to counter a hammerlock.”
Ross also continued on to say that he understands that this style was extremely successful for some wrestlers in the indies. He also said that doesn’t really matter, because back then, the crowd size was nothing compared to the size of the crowds watching from home or in the venue.
“Some of the guys that have had success in the indies, in all of the companies, they did really good before 400 people,” Ross said. “Now they think they’ve had the audience in the palm of their hand – all 400 of them. Well, it’s good that all your belief is that all the audience was for you, but they never are and they never will be. There’s a difference between doing a national televised T.V. match and doing a match at a small venue of 300-400 people.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Grilling JR with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.