Reilly — the chief content officer for HBO Max and president of TNT, TBS, and truTV — spoke with Variety at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Wednesday in the wake of the announcement that the pro wrestling promotion has signed a four-year contract extension with TNT. Under the new deal, AEW will begin airing a second weekly show on the network.
AEW’s flagship weekly show, “Dynamite,” began airing Wednesdays on TNT in October. Reilly says discussions to extend the deal began over the holidays.
“I just had this idea that this was the time to invest,” he says. “This is a startup. It’s already over-delivered out of the gate. That’s really when you want to hit the gasoline a little bit. The guys already have ideas about additional talent and things they want to do and I wanted to incentivize them as a partner to do that. We also wanted to gave fans and talent who potentially want to come work with us the sense that this is here to stay. You can invest in it, it’s here to stay, and it’s only going to get better.”
AEW currently airs another series called “AEW Dark” weekly on YouTube. That show typically features matches that take place before or after the “Dynamite” telecast. Reilly says that show will now migrate over to TNT and be built up into a network show.
“We just figured, ‘Let’s bring it onto the network and make it a place where you truly plant up and coming talent,’” he said, “I think we’ll start doing more packages there and filming some behind-the-scenes stuff, not for the matches that night but with other talent to plant stories and grow things that could eventually become another show in and of itself.”
And although fans of pro wrestling are no doubt hoping for a repeat of the so-called Monday Night Wars between WCW and WWE, Reilly says there are currently no plans to air the new show on Monday nights against WWE’s “Raw.”
AEW is headlined by Cody and Brandi Rhodes, Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson), Kenny Omega and “Hangman” Adam Page. The roster also includes top competitors including Nyla Rose, Awesome Kong, Dustin Rhodes, Jungle Boy, Dr. Britt Baker, MJF, Pac and SCU. In addition to being in-ring talent, Cody, The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega also serve as executive vice presidents with Brandi serving as chief brand officer.