Friday Night Wars: WWE Smackdown and AEW Rampage Go Head-to-Head For the First Time

The Wednesday Night War may have ended but the Friday Night Wars may have just begun, as things are heating up inside the squared circle. WWE Friday Night Smackdown and AEW Rampage are going head-to-head for the first time on Friday, October 15.

Due to the ongoing MLB playoffs, WWE Smackdown will be airing on FS1 instead of FOX on Friday night. The show will still begin at its normal 8 PM ET timeslot, but this week’s show will be built as a “Supersized SmackDown,” with an additional 30 commercial-free main event that will feature Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch. With the extra 30 minutes, the show will be ending at 10:30 PM ET, meaning it will be in direct competition to AEW Rampage. AEW head honcho Tony Khan has welcomed the competition from the largest wrestling promotion in the world.

This is the first time that Tony Khan’s upstart wrestling promotion has had the opportunity to compete with one of WWE’s main roster shows. The two companies were involved in what has been coined the “Wednesday Night Wars,” which saw WWE’s developmental show, NXT go head-to-head with AEW’s flagship show, Dynamite, for 78 weeks. The war ended with AEW winning the key demographic of 18-49, in 74 of the 75 weeks, that the demos were reported. This devastating defeat caused NXT to move to Tuesday nights and the program would later be revamped into NXT 2.0

As AEW star Pénta El Zero M would say, Khan, is showing “Cero Miedo (Zero Fear),” when it comes to counterpunching the heavyweights at WWE on Friday night. Not only will AEW Rampage air at its usual time of 10 PM ET on TNT, but there will be a Buy-In special, which is an additional hour of wrestling that will begin at 9:00 PM ET on the company’s YouTube page. AEW stars Bryan Danielson, CM Punk, Chris Jericho, and the Inner Circle will be appearing on their Friday night programming.

WWE has been downplaying AEW as competition to the pro-wrestling behemoth but Tony Khan thinks that his company is and WWE won’t admit it. In an interview with DAZN, the AEW President had some words for their rivals:

“Do they see us as rivals or competition? They say we’re not, but I’ve heard that AEW shows are on monitors in the Gorilla position over there, so I take that as a compliment if they’re watching us whilst trying to run their own show,” he added. “I also admire them for that because trying to run a show whilst watching another show is something else. I put everything into producing our shows so there’s no way I’d be watching something else whilst trying to get on with things.” 

Wrestling fans will be excited to know that for the first time since the late 1990s, WWE has mainstream competition. Shots have been fired and Friday night may be the beginning of a whole new war inside of the squared circle.