As first noted on Friday by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer website, it’s looking likely that NXT will be moving to 2 hours on Wednesday nights on the USA Network as counterprogramming to NXT.
Despite what the company will say publicly, there have been talks ongoing for months about combating AEW’s weekly TV show. WWE was waiting until after AEW locked in their night of the week on TNT so they can figure out what to do with NXT. The NXT roster was told this week that NXT would be expanding to 2 hours and sometime within the last 72 hours is when people were told about USA Network being in play. Up until this week, most people in the company were under the impression that FS1 would be picking up NXT. The problem with NXT on FS1 is that they would have to deal with pre-emptions from Big East Basketball. In some ways, NXT on USA is the better option because USA is available in more homes. However, if they would have agreed to a deal to move the show to FS1 then they would have gotten a big push from FOX and the networks under their umbrella.
JJ Williams of the Wrestling Observer website indicated that a huge announcement is coming this Monday on Raw. I was told by a company source that an announcement is imminent and a press release has been written up and ready to be sent out within the next couple of days. They are doing this so they can get a jump on AEW and the rumor is that NXT may start in September, a few weeks before AEW starts on TNT.
The reaction from wrestlers in NXT that I spoke to has been largely positive because they will be getting more exposure. This could lead to higher paychecks since USA would be paying for the rights to air NXT. Up until now, NXT hasn’t been turning a profit because the main revenue has been from live events. One wrestler I spoke with wondered what this means for the creative. Will Vince McMahon want to be hands on with NXT? Will he want to add writers to the brand or will he allow Triple H and his team to continue running the ship as he has always done? Those are questions that have yet to be answered.
One major advantage that WWE will have over AEW is that they can have some of the top main roster stars appear on NXT to boost ratings. For what it’s worth, an NXT special that aired on the USA Network on 12/13/17 drew 841,000 viewers. My guess is that Vince McMahon would want to draw a number much higher than that and he may need some top stars from the main roster to do that, especially if AEW draws big numbers on TNT.