top of page

Kenny Omega vs El Hijo Del Vikingo : Huge win for Pro Wrestling

Wednesday March 22nd, we are in Independence, Missouri. There are only 30 minutes left in Tony Khan's show this week. The theme music of Hijo del Vikingo, a big AAA star in Mexico, rings out for the first time in an AEW arena, followed by Kenny Omega, one of the company's iconic and representative stars. The crowd is hype for this fight. The bell rings, and without necessarily knowing it at the time, this match will tell more than a story between the two men, especially thanks to the audience ratings.

A return to Kenny Omega vs. El Hijo del Vikingo, the match that made pro wrestling win.

(credit image : AEW)

To understand all of this, we have to go back 2 years in time, to 2021. At that time, Kenny Omega is still in his "belt collector" gimmick and the current AAA Mega Champion. With already several victorious title defenses under his belt, a match was made with the young prodigy of Lucha Libre, you guessed it: Hijo Del Vikingo. A buzz is created on social networks around a potential confrontation between these two exceptional talents. Except that the story is not always the one we would like and you know the rest. Kenny Omega, who was injured for quite some time, had to retire from the ring and vacate the title to heal after Full Gear 2021, but left a magical moment with the crowning of Adam Page as a goodbye.

Kenny Omega marks his return in the second half of 2022 when the Trios titles are revealed. A Kenny Omega in form which will mark the beginning of the year 2023 with a fantastic match against Will Ospreay at Wrestle Kingdom. But wrestling is a story that never stops and nothing is impossible, we learn shortly after that El Hijo del Vikingo will tour the United States. It was enough to revive the interest around the poster that fans could not have in 2021. The question wasn't even "Is Vikingo going to make it to AEW?" but rather "When is he going to make his AEW debut?"

Except that in 2023 all the cards have been reshuffled and everything has changed, even within AEW for whom 2023 is a key year. A year where the audiences have a little more difficulty to climb and are down compared to the previous year even if the majority of the audiences remain good. These figures are even more important this year when AEW will renegotiate its TV rights for a next deal in 2024. There is little doubt that Tony Khan's company will increase its deal and the arrival of AEW: All Access seems to confirm the good agreement between the company and Warner Bros Discovery. As a result, the numbers will be scrutinized even more than usual. That's the context in which this will happen.

On March 17th 2023, the announcement was made. Tony Khan officially revealed that the "Dream Match" between Kenny Omega and El Hijo Del Vikingo would be held the following Wednesday on TBS. The reactions were not long in coming, especially on Twitter. Despite the overwhelming majority of positive feedback with a really high hype. But you know as well as I do, on Twitter nothing is simple and the first criticisms also fell immediately.

"What's the story?", "Who is he?", "What about the casual fans?". These are the same questions that come up regularly, especially when it comes to AEW and tribalism with another company. Even though these remarks have no value, and even though I devoted the first part of this article to this first false question, all these remarks were swept away in one stroke on Thursday night when the ratings went down, like a symbol. A symbol that shows (and what we will see just below) that there is not only one approach to professional wrestling and that the monopoly that WWE has had for many years has also influenced the understanding of the discipline. As if, only the approach of the behemoth was viable on American TV. Except that it's the opposite.

The day after the show, the ratings were revealed. 954,000 viewers (up 12% from the previous week and a 0.33 in the key 18-49 demographic (+0.01 from the previous episode). The show ranks 4th on cable. In reality, if we stopped there we'd say it was an episode with solid ratings and move on. But by looking at the ratings per quarter hour, it gives us another side of the story.

It is important to know that in ordinary times the first quarter of Dynamite is the most watched. Why is that? Because the show is often preceded by the series Big Bang Theory which, with a good audience at the end of its episode manages to shift part of this audience to the beginning of Dynamite (it is also one of the reasons why there is often a very strong opener by the way) but this week, it was not the case. The last 30 minutes of the show were the most watched, which is very very rare for AEW Dynamite. And those last 30 minutes, which topped 0.35 in the 18-49 demographic and came close to a million viewers, featured the confrontation between Kenny Omega and El Hijo Del Vikingo.

This gala exhibition, decried by some, has shown many things.

First, the Google searches for El Hijo Del Vikingo exploded, he was never so much searched. It is purely useless to infantilize his audience with old "What about the casual fans? Fans are curious, they want to know and they will go looking, they showed it this week.

People who didn't know him got to know him and found out for themselves that he is a Lucha Libre star (not to mention that there is also a promotional video in Rampage)

(Web search for "El Hijo Del Vikingo" in the United States on Google Trends)

Secondly, these numbers showed two parameters: Kenny Omega and the Elite in a larger sense attract the audience for AEW, they are the very symbol of this company. And more generally, pro wrestling, in a different spectrum than WWE's approach, is also attracting viewers. This is a huge win for AEW and pro wrestling.

A monopolistic situation is never good for a fan. With this exciting match between Kenny Omega and El Hijo del Vikingo, AEW not only showed the reluctant fans that an alternative to the WWE system exists, but also that an alternative to the WWE model works and can be successful. Alternatives exist. The different approaches to the discipline have never been so easy to access. That's also the beauty of wrestling, there can be alternatives that work for anyone.

I'll end by saying this: Great professional wrestling on TV, far from the models established by WWE in its monopoly position appeals and works. As such, the match between Kenny Omega and El Hijo del Vikingo demonstrates, with the numbers to back it up, that an alternative is not only possible but that it is a successful and viable alternative. Yes, Kenny Omega vs. El Hijo del Vikingo is a real win for professional wrestling.

Article written by Traffalgar from LARIATÉ


bottom of page