WOW is not commanding similar TV ratings to WWE or All Elite Wrestling, the company run by the billionaire Tony Khan. But it is outdrawing Impact Wrestling on AXS TV, arguably the third biggest wrestling company in the United States — though Brandon Thurston, the editor of Wrestlenomics.com, noted that AXS was only available in about 39 million households, about half of cable homes. In comparison, WOW is available in all United States households with cable and runs on weekend syndication across station groups owned by CBS, Sinclair Communications, Nexstar Broadcasting, Hearst Television and more. It’s also shown in Australia and Canada.
But Ms. Buss has her work cut out for her in a space in which women are still outnumbered by men, and with most of the country’s biggest female stars in WWE and AEW.
“In the places that I pay attention to, which are the hardcore places, I don’t hear people buzzing about it,” Mr. Thurston said. “I would want to see people saying, ‘Oh, wow, did you see such and such match on WOW? That was a really good match.’ I hear none of that.”
The fans in attendance for tapings in May seemed to hang on the performers’ every move. In the main event of the first episode, The Beast (real name Twana Barnett), a hulking, tattooed fan favorite who is the WOW World Champion, competed against Adriana Gambino (real name Noelle Giorgi), a character with a hinted Italian mob affiliation who strutted to the ring wearing a long fur coat, a black hat and long black gloves.
Professional wrestlers are indeed actors, tasked with creating a false impression of violence while protecting each other. The action between Ms. Barnett and Ms. Giorgi was fast and hard-hitting, starting with Ms. Barnett grabbing Ms. Giorgi by the neck and flinging her across the ring. Ms. Giorgi briefly recovered, clipping Ms. Barnett in the back of the knee, but it wasn’t long before Ms. Barnett was back on offense. The match ended when Ms. Barnett slammed Ms. Giorgi to the mat with a so-called powerbomb.
Ms. Barnett flexed and raised her championship belt high as the crowd chanted: “Beast! Beast! Beast!” There was no mud pit in sight.