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All Elite Wrestling President Tony Khan announced Wednesday on SiriusXM Busted Open that the company will introduce a second cable television show beginning August 13 entitled AEW Rampage.
The show will air on TNT initially before switching to TBS, alongside AEW Dynamite, in 2022.
Khan offered up little information on what Rampage might look and feel like, but he did mention how important it was to him to have a second, 60-minute show rather than tacking a third hour onto Dynamite.
SiriusXM Busted Open @BustedOpenRadio
“I didn’t wanna do 3 hours of Dynamite…it came up about a 3rd hour & I said, ‘I really believe on doing it another night’.”
Talking to @davidlagreca1 & @TheMarkHenry, @TonyKhan broke major news on the future of @AEW Television 😮
#AEWDynamite @tntdrama @TBSNetwork #AEWRampage https://t.co/41Pj0qJf32
The announcement of the show has created intrigue about this new television property.
Might it be an edgier, more violent and adult-themed show? Could it be a higher-profile showcase for the company’s young, under-the-radar stars? Or is Rampage an entirely new beast, the likes of which fans have yet to see?
The Start Time is Telling
A Friday night, 10 p.m. start time suggests AEW may use Rampage to tell its edgier stories or showcase more violent matches.
We know Blood and Guts was an enormous success for the company, drawing over a million viewers and earning it the No. 1 spot in all of cable television. It was a throwback to the golden days of wrestling, when crimson masks were plentiful and battering an opponent around a steel cage was less of a gimmick and more of the culmination of a red-hot feud.
With the success of that match, and some of the other boundary-pushing hardcore affairs the company has presented on pay-per-view, there is clearly an audience for the more adult-oriented, less cookie-cutter product that can be found elsewhere.
A showcase for that type of action should not be counted out, especially with guys such as Jon Moxley, Eddie Kingston and Joey Janela on the roster.
The negative to a show like that? The novelty will wear off fairly quickly.
When every match incorporates blood or violence or some adult theme, it eventually waters it down to the point that it’s no longer special. Then where does the product go for those blow-offs and specialty matches?
Over-the-top exploding death matches, that’s where.
A Showcase for the Future
The one thing Rampage doesn’t feel like is a platform for young stars. AEW already has that with Dark and Elevation. Both provide nearly two hours of in-ring content featuring up-and-coming names every week on YouTube.
Young and unsigned competitors have the opportunity to showcase their talents against the top stars in AEW. Unless the plan is to do away with one, or both, of those shows, Rampage being devoted to the same thing feels awfully unnecessary.
There is no need for that type of show, and nor does it feel like TNT and TBS would pay for that content when the company has been perfectly content to distribute it elsewhere without the financial backing.
No, as much as AEW has this expansive roster with all of these fresh-faced stars waiting for an opportunity to prove themselves on a big stage, Rampage seems like something bigger than that.
It has the potential to be a hybrid show that meshes promos, video packages and a handful of matches together to expand upon the storylines presented on Dynamite.
A Hybrid Show
One thing AEW is guilty of is presenting so many angles and storyline developments over the course of a single Dynamite that they don’t always have time to breathe.
Things fly under the radar because of the lightning-quick pace of the show and the desire to pack as much into the two-hour time frame as possible.
Rampage would allow the company to slow things down a little, providing a secondary show for AEW to tell the stories and produce the vignettes and packages it simply did not have time for in Wednesday’s show.
A backstage promo involving Frankie Kazarian and his quest to make life a living hell for The Elite takes on greater meaning on a show like Rampage rather than being sandwiched between matches and promos for more pertinent stars and feuds.
The AEW production team can build to Dynamite and PPVs with the sort of packages that we would see on the Road To… preview shows it has put together.
Throw in a match or three, featuring recognizable faces to help further their feuds, and you have a second show that is worth watching because everything will mean something, all without taking away from the must-see nature of Dynamite.
Khan and Co. will have to walk a fine line, ensuring they don’t overexpose talent but still provide a show that excites fans and makes network executives happy. The move to TBS helps avoid preemption due to NHL or NBA content and provides AEW with the steadiest opportunity to get its product in front of as many faces as possible.
The best way for it to do so is with a show that combines the successful elements of its Wednesday night flagship, adds a bit of the edginess that has been a proven commodity since the beginning and maximizes the 60-minute runtime.