Ever since AEW Dynamite launched in October and WWE counter-programmed by deciding to run NXT live and move it from the WWE Network to USA Network, fans have paid close attention to how many people are watching each show. Every Thursday the ratings come out, and so far in 2020 AEW has come out on top each week.
The post-Revolution show drew 906,000 viewers on TNT this past Wednesday, compared to the 718,000 viewers for NXT. It was the 10th consecutive victory for AEW. While fans and journalists alike make a big deal about the ongoing ratings war, I was curious as to whether the wrestlers themselves paid much attention. I had a chance to talk with Tommaso Ciampa last week and I didn't get a chance to ask the direct question before he gave me his thoughts on competition with AEW.
"It makes it a little bit more fun. It brings that competitive edge out. I mean have friends over there and I also have people over there I've never met or ever shared a ring with. It's awesome to see, you know, everyone just elevating their game. Everyone just wants it. I don't know if people say ratings don't matter... they sure as Hell matter. Like, you want to win."
Ciampa doesn't speak for everyone in the locker room but he believes many of the NXT stars share his sentiment.
As for the Black and Gold Brand as a whole, the former NXT Champion says things have changed quite a bit since the move to USA. The biggest adjustment would be timing and schedule. Wrestlers were used to taping several shows in advance, which meant they were telling multiple weeks worth of storylines over the course of a couple of nights and letting things play out no matter what, because everything was already in the can, as they say.
Now every week things can change. People can get hurt or a wrestler could catch fire with the audience, necessitating a quick bump up the card. Ciampa specifically mentioned Keith Lee and Rhea Ripley as examples of the latter. He says the ability to adapt and change has become a forefront player for NXT.
The other big change is that, aside from the obvious detractors, the developmental stigma is now gone, which is something Ciampa says never would have happened without the move to a major cable network.
"Now that we're on USA, we're doing live TV. There's just no more "yea buts." - They're (NXT roster) doing everything that you would constitute of as a main roster player. I think that's the main thing, that switch. That developmental like, stink is just gone."
You can hear my full interview with Tommaso Ciampa below. We covered a wide range of topics including his run-in with The Undertaker on an episode of SmackDown in 2005 and his rivalry with Johnny Gargano.
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