With the expectation that NXT will focus on build for WWE World’s Collide a week on Saturday and that AEW will not focus on any kind of build whatsoever, the Wednesday Night War enters its fifteenth week across cable television.
Starting the Show
After a tribute to the recently passed Rocky Johnson, the now traditional music video style opening got NXT on USA underway, recapping the previous week’s events before transitioning into what took place at NXT UK Takeover: Blackpool II. After introductions from Mauro Ranallo, Keith Lee made his way to the ring to discuss his #1 contendership to the NXT North American Championship as well as the hold that the Undisputed Era has had on NXT for the past year. Of course, the UE would not stand for that and made haste towards the ring. A four-on-one attack ensued with Roderick Strong worsening the odds further with the assistance of a steel chair. Strong and co then used the steel chair to compromise the ankle of the ‘Limitless’ one before Tommaso Ciampa arrived, slightly too late, to make the save. The match between Strong and Lee will take place next week on NXT.
After their own tribute to Rocky Johnson and a pan over a rather attractive lady on a lifeguard’s chair, AEW Dynamite got underway with The Young Bucks, Omega/Page, Best Friends and PnP in Fatal Four Way Tag Team match to determine a #1 contender for the AEW World Tag Team Championships. Starting the in-ring action was Trent and Nick Jackson but the “anyone can tag anyone” nature of these matches quickly allowed the teams to swap legal men around freely until Santana and Ortiz forced their way into the match, dragging someone to the corner to be tagged.
No man was really able to get an advantage in the early going with frequent tags taking place and action often too frenetic to follow. Proud N Powerful took the momentum of the match, eventually, and delivered a fantastic version of Eddie Guererro’s Three Amigos, passing Matt Jackson between Ortiz and Santana for the third vertical suplex.
With rules out the window, and the commentary team not even knowing who the legal men in the match were, the action took to the ringside area and culminated with Trent superplexing Jackson from the turnbuckle to the pile of humanity waiting below.
After ‘Hangman’ Adam Page blind tagged into the match at the expense of his Elite teammates, the Bucks, Jackson took exception but this got him dumped out of the ring allowing Omega and Page to double team Chuck Taylor and secure victory. Kenny Omega and Adam Page are #1 contenders for the Tag Team Championships… and Omega is still in a little addressed feud with PAC, not that it’s obvious watching Dynamite.
Match of the Night
The first contest to take place on NXT was another opening round match in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. The unlikely duo of The Broserweights – Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne – joined forces to take on the unnecessary duo of Manchild and Modboy – Mark Andrews and “Flash” Morgan Webster. Despite my dislike of this team’s personality, there’s no denying they’re fantastic in the ring and this was on display in this contest.
Coming out of the commercial break, Dunne and Riddle continued the dominance they had establish since the start of the match with frequent tags and good double-team work. Despite this, Mandrews was able to get the tag and momentum shifted towards the Welsh duo. After dual tope sentons, it was Webster who returned to the ring against Dunne. Learning quickly that this was a bad idea, Andrews retook his place in the match but himself fell victim to more excellent double-team work from the Broserweights. The pair continued to isolate Andrews and Dunne shifted to his more mat-based, joint manipulation style offense.
After another commercial, the rules went out of the window somewhat with multiple moments in which all four men took the ring at the same time. After a near fall was broken up by a flying Mandrews, he was able to capitalise on the break in momentum, delivering a Slumdog Millionaire to Dunne. This flurry was short lived, though, as Mandrews became distracted by Riddle destroying his tag team partner with a Gotch Driver outside the ring. This allowed Pete Dunne to nail “Junior” in the face as he tried to deliver a shooting star press.
This Broserweight Team has legs and is my pick to go all the way to the finals. Fantastic match.
Fun moments and other good stuff
- No Nigel McGuinness! Somehow this made Beth Pheonix more tolerable as well.
- The WWE United Kingdom Championship is now the NXT United Kingdom Championship, with the logo now updated on the championship belt. About time, too! Cruiserweight belt next?
- Another stellar promo from Cody Rhodes. Don’t agree with his position on MJF’s heeldom but very nice otherwise.
- DIY are reunited once again. They will need to do something different this time around to avoid the act getting stale but on the surface this is a fun move.
- Fantastic to see Alex Shelley back on TV and NXT is definitely the place for him.
- Intrigued to see Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott in an NXT Cruiserweight Championship match; keen to know who NXT UK put up for the Fatal Four Way contest.
- Keith Lee’s and the security guard’s magic disappearing hedge trick.
- The Battle Royal, if nothing else, showed just how stacked the NXT women’s roster is and how bright the future of women’s wrestling is in NXT.
- Shotzi Blackheart eliminating Shayna Baszler. Time for the Queen of Spades to move on to the main roster…
Room for Improvement
- The Bash at the Beach name should have been saved for a pay-per-view event, held over two nights.
- Why do all the Welsh wrestlers in NXT have terrible punk rock entrance themes?
- Joey Janella’s a bad promo.
- Regular readers of this column will know that I’ve been anticipating a babyface Women’s Champion so that superheel Io Shirai could get her shot at NXT gold. Disappointed Shirai hasn’t been given this shot at NXT Takeover: Portland but I expect it may be too soon in Ripley’s reign for NXT brass to even contemplate letting Io walk away with it all, so it may be a blessing in disguise.
- JR: “If it ends in our commercial break, which you can see…” followed by NOT picture in picture. Fail.
- Struggling mightily to find anything positive to say about the Brandi/Mel vs. Statlander/Shida match. Bad match, lame nonsensical accompaniment by Luther and several sloppy moments. Bad.
- Is QT Marshall’s gimmick that he’s from the Big Apple and so he carries and eats an apple? Really?
- Lots of times during the night in which Justin Roberts rushed his ring introduction.
- Maybe don’t encourage a TV-14+ environment if you have to keep muting the whole show because the crowd are swearing…? It’s so offputting to the viewer.
What the ratings said
Another strong win for AEW in the ratings battle this week. With 940,000, the numbers continue to climb out of the winter slump that the ‘Elite’ brand got themselves into. NXT garnered what seems to be their standard
700,000 views this week.
The NXT rating might have been 700,001 were it not for WWE Superstar, Baron Corbin watching, and complaining about, the competition…
The overall ratings war now stands at 11-3-1 to AEW.
And the winner is…
NXT was the clear winner on this night. Dynamite is improving but still lacks the coherence week on week that a good wrestling show needs. There is too big a gap between pay-per-view events and, rather than build towards a “PPV quality” episode in between, AEW stall for time until the next event is near. As a viewer, that’s hard to watch. NXT now lead the series 9-5-1.
The End of the Road
This will be the last Wednesday Night Winners and Losers write-up I do. The war is not intensifying as I had hoped and each show seem content to plateau under a million viewers a week. For those interested, I will still declare my winner and keep a tally of the winners but I’d rather not have the pressure to force myself to watch Dynamite immediately… it’s actually becoming a little difficult to relate to the wrestlers, or care about their progress week on week. Thanks for your support with this column.
What did you think of NXT and AEW Dynamite? What were your highlights from both shows? Sound off in the comment section below or join me on Twitter @thejezshow.