WWE NXT is moving to the USA Network where it will go head-to-head with All Elite Wrestling‘s TV show on TNT, and for some wrestling fans, enlistment in the Wednesday Night Wars has long since begun. Members of both the WWE and AEW camps have delivered lines about competition being good for everyone and how each company needs to focus on being the best version of themselves, both have also taken shots at each other in interviews, conference calls, promotional materials, and pettier moments like Triple H calling AEW a “pissant company” at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony and Cody smashing an HHH-style throne at Double or Nothing.
In a recent interview with Yahoo! Sports, Triple H took another very Wednesday Night Wars line heard on NXT programming – that the black-and-yellow brand is the true alternative to WWE main roster programming – a step further. After saying that for him, running NXT has been “about putting on the best show we possibly can whether we had competition or not,” that the winner of WWE vs. AEW is “the fans,” and that “competition brings out the best in people,” Triple H added:
If you talk about the upstart, what they’re going out and saying is that they’re an alternative. We were that alternative five years ago. We opened the door for being an alternative, we opened the door to show people that it can be done on a bigger level and on a different basis. As far as being the alternative, great, go put on the best show you can put out, and we’ll put out the best one we can put out.
While for many WWE fans, NXT was a breath of fresh air from main roster programming, this statement does not represent the reality of the wrestling landscape. Most of the key players in AEW didn’t build their resumes, reputations, and brands in NXT or other WWE developmental systems, but rather ROH, NJPW, AAA, and various independent promotions in the U.S., Japan, Mexico, and the UK, all of which are more easily accessible than ever before in the internet/streaming era. Additionally, NXT draws so heavily from the independent scene for inspiration and talent that some have called it Triple H’s fantasy ROH.
It’s naive to take things wrestlers and wresting promoters say without several grains of salt – in the same Yahoo! Sports interview, for example, Triple H talks about the benefits of NXT’s two-hour live show format in a way that clashes with his recent statements about why the one-hour taped format was so beneficial – but while NXT may have inspired some fans to find more alternatives to WWE, a WWE brand is not actually an alternative to WWE.