Despite WWE President Nick Khan insisting otherwise, it’s been rumored that NXT’s permanent move to Tuesday night was primarily driven by NBC’s relationship with the NHL. With today’s announcement of Turner Sports and the NHL agreeing to a seven year deal, the WWE executive was right on the money when he guessed that NBC will no longer be in business with the NHL.
Just like that, the tables have been flipped, with AEW Dynamite now potentially facing a forced move from Wednesday to a different night of the week as a result of the NHL deal with Turner. Pro wrestling always does love a good swerve, so this story fits right in.
On Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer noted the early indications are that AEW won’t be affected, but that’s far from certain:
“The big [NHL] game of the week had been a Wednesday television game, and what does that mean with AEW? If [the NHL is] on TBS, it doesn’t mean anything. If TNT wants it, that gets really tricky...The early things that I have been told is that this will not affect AEW, that AEW will stay in its time slot, and [the NHL will] probably end up on TBS or a different night. I mean they could go Monday or Friday. Tuesday / Thursday is NBA, so those days are off.
And for TNT to move AEW, if that were to happen, I mean the problem is...your choices would be Monday night or Friday night. And probably Friday night, because Tony Khan was pretty adamant about not running on Monday night because he doesn’t want to go against the NFL...Friday would be going head to head with Smackdown which would not be a good idea because then you’re back to splitting the audience and you’re also on a much weaker channel...FOX is a lot more powerful than TNT so that would be a bigger disadvantage. That one would hurt in the ratings, and also the fact that Smackdown’s a stronger show to the average person than NXT would be.”
The main idea is that the NHL could end up on TBS or TNT. If the NHL lands on TBS then there is no scheduling conflict for their big Wednesday game of the week, because AEW Dynamite airs on TNT.
But if the NHL is broadcast on TNT (which sounds likely based on the official announcement of the NHL / Turner deal), then either AEW Dynamite or the NHL game of the week will have to move from Wednesday to Monday or Friday. Tony Khan’s family owns the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. He has made it clear that he will not compete against the NFL, so that doesn’t seem to leave much of a choice for AEW in the scenario where Dynamite is forced off Wednesdays.
How do you see Turner Sports sorting out this potential scheduling problem between AEW and the NHL?