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NXT/AEW Wednesday Night War: Week 5 Winners and Losers (and Week 4 recap!)

After a week’s hiatus due to trading at MCM Comic Con, I am back with my Wednesday night winners and losers for week 5.

Week 4 Recap

While both AEW and NXT both continue to decline in the ratings, the quality of both shows remains consistent with plenty of top quality wrestling action and promotion. While AEW once again came out on top in the ratings war, its viewership dropped under a million for the first time, only producing 963k views for the live broadcast. NXT drew only 698k viewers but in my opinion produced a better show, with the Finn Balor heel turn bookending a night of fantastic story, character development and wrestling. Let’s see what each show offers in week 5 and how that influences the ratings.

Starting the Show

The cold open for Dynamite was both incredible and disappointing in equal measure. First of all, it’s fantastic to see AEW finally putting content before their opening music and, in this case, two items. Tony Shiavone waiting for Cody to join him for the journey from private jet to arena is a nice, unique idea. It does two things: 1) highlights Cody’s position as a player in the wrestling industry with all the pomp and circumstance that affords; 2) adds a level of realism, using “dead time” like a commute for interviews. Cody is, or should be, a busy man and shouldn’t have time to waste on self promotion. Using this time for that is exactly what a company executive does and should be doing, maximising their own productivity. I like it a lot. It could only be made better by having this segment as an “earlier today” segment because the notion that Cody Rhodes turns up late to his own company’s flagship television show is, quite frankly, ludicrous.

This is not the disappointment I alluded to, though. Despite not writing about it last week, I watched Dynamite. I sat incredulous at the idea of a time limit draw in the main event – something that just shouldn’t happen – and sat bitter at the terrible show ending AEW had given us. Imagine my shock, then, when in the cold open AEW recapped a GOOD ENDING to the show that NOBODY GO TO SEE! PAC trying to take Moxley’s head off with a chair only to be thwarted by Kenny Omega, Adam Page issuing his Full Gear challenge… that’s how you close the show, not with a close-up of Moxley’s face saying it ain’t right. You’re damn straight it ain’t right. What a waste.

NXT kicked things off with a musical performance by somebody called Poppy. I haven’t thought much of the bands they’ve brought in as #NXTLoud artists in recent years but I dug this group. They also played in Io Shirai but I hope that was a one off, considering how well her current entrance music suits her new persona. Shirai and LeRae is always a solid way to start a show and this match didn’t disappoint. There’s only so many times you can keep putting the same people in front of Io Shirai without killing her momentum, though.

Match of the night

When this match was announced, I had an inkling that it might end up being match of the night and Tyler Bate vs. Cameron Grimes did not disappoint. Throughout the match – which was hard-hitting and made both men look good – I wondered how the were going to give Grimes the W without undermining not only Bate but the credibility of the whole NXT UK brand. It escaped my memory that the only reason Bate was in the NXT arena last week was to support his countryman and fellow British Strong Style member, Pete Dunne. It makes perfect storytelling sense, then, for Killian Dane to seek revenge through the medium of Bate, costing him the victory. Outside interference can often detract from a match conclusion but every element came together perfectly in this instance. Cameron Grimes is on a huge roll at present and, when not putting people down in six seconds, puts out unique and technical contests with a variety of differing styles of opponent. I didn’t much rate his performance during his time in Impact Wrestling but, since arriving in NXT, he has impressed me. Tyler Bate, obviously, can have a five star match with anyone.

Honourable mentions for each show’s opening contests which were each stellar contests featuring future stars of their brands. Guevara has no ceiling if used correctly and you already know how much I rate Io Shirai, if you’ve read this column before.

Fun moments and other good stuff

  • Hikaru Shida should have been in the spot Riho has. Finally some decent women’s wrestling on AEW.
  • Classic distraction methods by Jericho’s heel stable. Professional at the signing, down and dirty behind your back. Cigar was a nice ‘wouldn’t happen in WWE’ touch.
  • There’s an argument to be had that the Lucha Bros are the best tag team in the world right now. I might make that argument.
  • Everything in NXT is so interwoven right now. Individual women’s feuds coming together to meet in War Games, various men forming alliances against the Undisputed Era… all very well managed by NXT higher-ups. Kudos.
  • Speaking of Women’s War Games… yes. It’s about time.
  • Prince Balor, in the spotlight.
  • The dent in the car left by Dustin Rhodes’ head.

Room for improvement

  • Enough of the constant “young talent” comments on AEW. Nobody is accusing you of having an aging roster.
  • The Rick and Morty involvement made no sense. I realise I’m in the minority that doesn’t really like the show but surely the could have animated up a backstage interview or sent the Best Friends into a different dimension, or something. A voiceover ring announcement doesn’t match the hype you made this event out to be.
  • Following on from what I said about their opening, AEW main events seem far too rushed for my liking. Time management is an issue.

What the ratings said

The final game of the Major League Baseball World Series decimated the viewership for both Wednesday night shows this week. AEW maintained its ratings lead but dropped to a very disappointing 759k views, losing roughly 200,000 from week 4. Likewise, NXT dropped another 100,000 or so viewers on their previous week, garnering 580k views. Both AEW and NXT have only ever declined since their debuts however it could be argued that competition from the MLB playoffs is to blame. Wednesday is a tough night to broadcast in, though, with network television offering powerhouses such as Survivor and Chicago Med. Without the baseball to blame next week, it will be interesting to see if our wrestling heroes will be able to bounce back and recover viewers. Time will tell.

And the winner is…

Without feeling a need to beat around the bush, NXT was the better show for the third week in a row. The show is more polished, the rivalries develop better and are more coherent. The in-ring action overall is roughly on par, it is the other elements carrying NXT to consistent victory at the moment. I can feel the development and improvement from AEW each week, though. They’re continuing to try new things and they don’t always hit home. Once they find their groove and fully cement their identity, they’ll be tough to stop. NXT very much knows what it is and their live audience fully buy in to their identity. With NXT’s victory in weeks 4 and 5, it puts their win/loss at 4-1. The biggest shame of all of this is that there had to be a loser, while each show continues to blow WWE main roster shows out of the water while receiving very little ratings reward.

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.

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GFW X-Division Q&A with Low-Ki, Sonjay Dutt and Trevor Lee

On this week’s edition of the GFW conference call, we hear from three pioneers of the X-Division in Low-Ki, Sonjay Dutt and Trevor Lee. For those not aware, Dutt and Lee are set to compete for the X-Division Championship at Destination X on August 17th and discuss both their upcoming contest and the history of the division in this X-travaganza!

Looking Back

Looking back at X-Division, what was the most monumental, biggest turning point for the X-Division in the 15 year history of the company?

Trevor: I think I can go ahead and start by saying Trevor Lee vs. William Weeks was the turning point for what’s going to elevate us back to the top.
Low-Ki: I’ve been in the X-Division since the beginning, since day one. I was in the very first X-Division match. I’ve been in numerous extensions of the X-Division, which ultimately turned into Ultimate X. There have been several [turning points] but I think the most recent one was our two out of three falls at Slammiversary XV. Reason being that this match was an accumulation of experience in the X-Division and we went out and did it in the way that we know how. Just go out and compete as hard as we can and leave it all out in the ring. That’s exactly what we did. This is a rebuilding stage and we rebuild off of incredibly high quality. There have been several instances throughout the years from other champions but the focus right now is us moving forward so I would put my foot down with Slamm XV.
Sonjay: I’ll second that one.

What is your favourite X-Division match that you were not involved in?

Sonjay: I remember a Chris Sabin and Samoa Joe match, a long long time ago and it blew me away. I thought that was incredible. I don’t even remember if it was part of the X-Division. It was when Joe had first come to us, about 2006 or along those lines, that was an awesome one that stood out to me. There was an, I think, Sabin, Petey and AJ, Ultimate X that really stood out to me. There’s got to be others but I can’t remember yesterday let alone what happened two years ago. 
Trevor: I was a big fan of a lot of the earlier X-Division stuff. Unfortunately some of those matches had to do with some of the people in this conversation, but any of the earlier Ultimate X matches with AJ, Sabin and Ki, were all amazing matches for me. 
Low-Ki: I would concur with that, the one that stands out with me would be Samoa Joe, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels; not from an observer standpoint but from a performer’s standpoint. I’m smaller than all those men, I had to earn my way just like they did and to see the level of performance that came out from all of them, the competitiveness, and that type of competitiveness raises or elevates the game of your competitors. You see this in fighting all the time; you match up with a good fighter, he brings the best out of you. Matches such as that stick out to me. 

Trevor, what was your experience and your memories working on Total Nonstop Deletion?

Trevor: It was definitely something I have never done before. I have never been shot with fireworks. I have never been buried underground. It was definitely something awkward, weird, more different than anything I’ve done before but it was something cool. It’s something that will live in history of Global Force Wrestling.

What do you think of so many of your former colleagues holding top spots in WWE?

Sonjay: I think it’s great. It’s great to see guys get that kind of opportunity to showcase their talents on that kind of stage. I think it’s amazing.
Low-Ki: I second that but I’d like to add that it’s deserving because I know how hard each of those men work. I’ve been in the ring and experienced their competitive levels first hand and can attest to the work ethic that they had to achieve those positions and maintain those positions. These are world class performers. For them to have the spots that they have now, it’s because of their hard work. It’s not because of a fluke, it’s not because of some weird happening, they’ve earned their position as they did when they were with us. 

Which match is tougher, Ultimate X or the traditional Ladder Match?

Low-Ki: That’s a good question because they present different problems for traditional wrestlers. One is that we don’t begin our careers participating in these activities; it’s not what we train for. However, these are new elements introduced to use as we expand and go further into our careers. So, they do create obstacles in us accomplishing what we need to do, which is win. With that being said, I’ve been involved in many interesting scenarios such as ladder matches and Ultimate X and from personal experience I would say the most difficult match to perform in would be the Ultimate X.
Trevor: Ultimate X matches are absolutely terrible. You have to climb even higher than in a ladder match. Now, any match with Sonjay Dutt is gonna be a cakewalk for me but I think the Ultimate X match is going to be a little more difficult.
Sonjay: 100% Ultimate X

Looking Forward

Who would you like to see added to the Global Force roster to breathe new life into the X-Division?

Low-Ki: I have a few people I would consider. Especially for the difference in styles, I would say Will Ospreay, although he may be bound to other companies, his in-ring style is unique and then the contrast to him would be somebody who he elevated against, Ricochet. Those two unique performers have pretty unique styles that are difficult to copy. On the flip side of that, somebody like Keith Lee: a giant, but the man can move. Uniqueness is what will set everybody apart. Going into different places around the world, Pentagon Jr, Fénix… their style is what elevates them and they are just as passionate as many other members of the X-Division. We have more stars coming in that are well accomplished before arriving here. 

How do you feel the house shows in New York went, and how important are they to the development of GFW?

Sonjay: The live events were excellent. It’s no secret that the company is going through a rebuilding stage and part of that is being super confident and getting out there in front of the people, being live and showing them, ‘look, this is what is going on in the company, not sure what you thought was going on before, but it’s completely different tonight’. It’s a completely different cast of characters behind the scenes and in front of the camera and what we are trying to do is build this thing again from the ground up and let the people know that hey this is a different day. What better way to do it than to get out on the road and shake hands and kiss babies, you know, the whole cliche thing. Working out there and showing the whole product first hand in front of the fans. Long Island and Staten Island were awesome events. We had great matches and everyone worked really hard. It really was a good night across the board I don’t think anyone went home disappointed.
Low-Ki: I second that. The events are very important because it’s an establishing ground for developing our reputation moving forward. We’re shedding an old reputation and rebuilding a new one and at this stage, with the live events and new environments such as these stadiums, these are a little more intimate than you would find in other realms, such as larger venues. The intimacy comes from the performers and everyone from top to bottom, male and female, came to work on these events. By earning the respect of all the customers they’re earning the respect of our viewers. It seems like we keep everything positive, we keep everything constructive and there’s nothing but positivity on the horizon for GFW.

What are your thoughts on ‘Option C’ not being involved in Destination X this year?

Sonjay: That’s right, this year in Destination X that option is not in effect. Doesn’t mean that it can’t be put into play later on, at a later date, in a different time or a different place. I think that myself, Trevor, Caleb Konley, Laredo Kid, we’re really focused right now on elevating the X-Division and I think that Low-Ki is the perfect example of elevating your style and performance in the X-Division and then catapulting yourself up and at Destination X, Low-Ki is getting his Global Championship shot so that’s a great representation of what can happen through your hard work in the X-Division.
Low-Ki: The understanding of the X-Division is that this is the identity of our company and it has been for quite some time. From the beginning, this is what has set us apart from everyone else. However, this is a growing stage because for the most part this is where you see young unknown competitors cut their teeth in the pros and elevate themselves on worldwide scale. Not just me, not just Sonjay, but there have been many other professionals who have come through the X-Division who have gone on to do extremely powerful and extremely successful things. It’s a very important time to be in the X-Division because it’s now a new era of Global Force, moving into a new era of professional wrestling. It’s an exciting time.

Who is your favourite to win the Super X Cup tournament?

Sonjay: I don’t know. It’s a toss-up right now, it really is. 
Low-Ki: I think Desmond has the most momentum. He’s is young and hasn’t been injured yet which has a very strong influence on in-ring performance. If you haven’t been injured, you have the utmost confidence in your capabilities and his are through the roof. 
Trevor: I don’t care for Desmond at all so I’m gonna go with Ishimori.

After the success of the Super X Cup, do you think we’ll see the return of the World X Cup?

Sonjay: I think there’s definitely room for something like that to happen in the near future. It is just a matter of timing and logistics. We’ve got the partnerships in place. We’ve got the talent in place. That could definitely be the next progression into a new tournament featuring X-Division style wrestlers. 

Trevor, how much of an influence are Low-Ki and Sonjay Dutt on your career?

Trevor: After Destination X, I’m going to be a three time X-Division Champion. I’ve been a Tag Team Champion. I’m the youngest almost-Grand Slam Champion of the company. I don’t care about Sonjay or Low-Ki, those guys have had their time. They’re great guys I’m sure but now is Trevor Lee’s time and that’s all you need to worry about.

Sonjay’s Say

Was it worth the wait to win the X-Division Championship for the first time in India?

Sonjay: Absolutely. I think that timing in life is everything. Especially here, with this type of situation. All of the stars kind of aligned, everything kind of fell into place and heading into that type of match, title change and whatnot, there was no better opponent than a guy like Low-Ki. The story just told itself – my eye injury and then Low-Ki’s eye getting messed up in India too, so both of us going into the match with these injuries, the whole backstory of me having to win it in front of my people… that type of atmosphere and emotion couldn’t have been conveyed anywhere near appropriately if it was just on a Pay-Per-View five or six years ago. I think we did a great job of making it mean something.

Sonjay, What is it like to work both on-screen and behind the scenes? 

Sonjay: It’s a tough job juggling both of those areas. It’s kinda like time management, separating yourself from your backstage job and duties to your on-screen persona. It really is tough, it’s a lot of work. It’s the first time I’ve ever done it and it’s a juggling act. Part of my decision to come here was due to that and the close relationship I had, not just the Jarrett’s but everyone else backstage. The challenges of rebuilding this thing – fresh ideas and fresh new concepts – it is challenging. It doesn’t leave with me with many hours left in the day, I’ll tell you that.

Sonjay, what factors played into your decision to move to GFW rather than WWE?

Sonjay: A lot of factors played into that. Part of it is that I am 35 and I have a wife and kids. I’ve got a family that I’ve got to put first before my decisions in life. That was a big chunk of the decision making process: what was best for them, my family with two young children. I slept on it for a long time but I had to put my family first; I have a 6 year old and a 8 month old and a wife, and those factors outweigh anything.

Was Jinder Mahal winning the WWE Title a reaction to GFW’s successes in India?

Sonjay: I don’t know about WWE, but our plans were solid from the start. We knew we were going to India and that I was Indian. It was something we had been planning for a while. We had previously worked in India filming episodes of Ring Ka King which was really the first foray for any professional wrestling to go and create content in India. We developed and created 14-15 new Indian stars that we plucked from obscurity, from different villages and that was the first time anyone ever did that. We were building on that connection, to go over and actually shoot content over there proved to them that we were the real deal. India has a large population with a growing expendable income and it is up to us to go over there and promote professional wrestling as an alternative activity that they can do. At the moment, if they were to go out and spend money on going to see something, it would be a Bollywood film or cricket. To provide an alternative way to spend their money rather than only being able to keep up with it on TV, that’s the hard part for all of us as an industry to tackle.

More Low-Ki Down-low

What influenced your decision to return to GFW and what else would you like to accomplish in the company?

Low-Ki: Well, Global Force is something that I’ve represented for going on 20 years. I’ve done it the old fashioned way, with hard work. I’m a five time X-Division Champion; that’s well documented. I’m now a new member of the Latin American X-Change alongside my first instructor, Homicide. He began me on this journey in professional wrestling. Not only do you have the student and the teacher together but you have the same mindset and the only mindset is forward, or moving up. I’ve accomplished everything that I needed to accomplish in any other realm in the company, except the World Championship. The last time that I had a crack at the World Championship was in 2003, I believe, against AJ Styles – and he got away with one. That was the last time that I was involved in a World Championship match and that’s not because of me, that’s because of mismanagement. I’m a world class competitor. As I stated upon my return, I’m one of the few guys who can go anywhere on the planet and be an immediate threat to champions. Why? Because I have the lineage, I have the credibility and I have the ferocity to become a threat. With Global Force, I came in with the intent to go after Lashley; he’s never seen anything like me. I’m not Rey Mysterio. I’m not Matt Sydal. I come at you in a completely different manner and I’m skillful at it. However, Lashley is no longer the champion, it’s Alberto, and to me it doesn’t matter who it is; these are all high class pedigrees of world class champions… I’m the same, I come from the same cut. It doesn’t matter who has the top position. If it isn’t me, they’re going to have to see me one way or the other and I highly doubt they’re going to be prepared for what’s coming.

Low-Ki, why have you decided to wrestle in a suit since your return to GFW?

Low-Ki: The original thought behind it was silent protest and that was against the business practice from New Japan Pro Wrestling in Japan, which led to my final performance at the Tokyo Dome. (For the full story, read our full interview with Low-Ki about this disagreement with NJPW, here). However with that being said, I don’t want anyone to see New Japan Pro Wrestling as a negative; that was just my personal experience in dealing with the business practice of the company. It’s still one of the top companies for improving our craft but it was to protest and suggest that people not consider me a hitman, but consider me a professional. I want everyone to understand that it takes a professional to do what we do, to do it well and to do that at an extremely high level. It warrants respect but also excitement and by doing so I was able to perform in the Tokyo Dome in front of 45,000 people against Prince Devitt and Kota Ibushi without even having to utter a word. I’ve had people talking about it since then. It’s a captivating sight, you don’t normally see a competitor able to perform the way that I perform with limited attire. It’s very difficult to perform with that type of ring attire; it’s difficult enough in normal ring attire with professional wrestlers normally have. I’m elevating the game by making it even more difficult and creating a level of difficulty that won’t necessarily be matched. 

How have you enjoyed working in the United Kingdom?

Low-Ki: I’ve recently been to the UK for 4FW and Fight Club and there’s a lot of excitement there because, as I stated years ago, British wrestling is on the rise and it’s because it’s more of a collective effort. It’s not as cutthroat as it used to be here in the United States; it was dog-eat-dog, everybody was competing against each other rather than working with one another. When I think of the UK, I think of people like Zack Sabre, Mark Haskins, Pete Dunne… these people have earned their reputations but it’s a long haul because of the environment that used to exist in the UK. It used to be more sporadic but now you have more opportunities. Now, those men have led the way. Ospreay, Marty Scurll… you have more people getting that platform to excel and I think performers such as these would do well in the X-Division. 

What are your thoughts on the retirement of Davey Richards?

Low-Ki: I thought this was a great opportunity to showcase the humanity of our professionals. I’ve known Davey for over 10 years, I’ve seen him grow up within this industry and for him to come in as a young, excited performer, earn his reputation, earn his stripes by travelling the world, moving about and going to different companies, earning his experience, becoming a high quality performer and then, being able to leave on his own terms to pursue something that will prepare the rest of his life for him and his family; I thought that was an extremely positive thing to do and the way that he did it was well managed. He did it with the blessings of Global Force. It was done in a professional manner. It was done in a respectful manner and I think that this is something that is insight into what you see on television. These are not entertainers, these are human beings, these are people and they need to be able to provide for themselves and their families just like anyone else would. I thought that it was an extremely positive scenario for everyone involved. 

What do you think could be the next innovation that the X-Division produces?

Low-Ki: I think it would be in the quality of the performers. The X-Division has a lineage of high quality performance and in order to maintain that legacy, you have to see it from the members who would be participating in the division. Members like Desmond Xavier, Ishimori, Fantasma, Drago. The quality is coming from the style differences, forcing everybody to step up their game when they’re matched up against people of different styles. This is a new era in our profession. This is a new era in the industry. This is a new era in the company. The quality is what needs to be maintained because that is what gave the company its identity in the first place. 

We’re very excited for Destination X next week. Make sure you tune in! Let us know which match you’re most looking forward to in the comment section or tweet me @thejezshow.

Originally published by RealSport
Article appears in original form with updated social media links
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Global Force Wrestling’s Trevor Lee: “205 Live is garbage. None of those guys can even hold a dime to what I can do.”

On this week’s weekly media conference call with Low-Ki, Sonjay Dutt and Trevor Lee, RealSport once again sought to ask the tough questions and find out exactly what the trio of former X-Division Champions thought of WWE’s alternative to the X-Division, 205 Live.

Many critics of WWE’s self proclaimed ‘Most Exciting Hour on Television’ argue that the Cruiserweight brand is nothing more than a cheap imitation of GFW’s X-Division and reigning X-Division Champion, Sonjay Dutt, did little to disagree with that assessment. In his comments, Sonjay reminisced that, in its heyday, the X-Division was something “so drastically and dramatically different from everything else that was presented, it didn’t mimic anything else seen on the show.” Sonjay’s point here is a valid one. When watching TNA in the height of the Styles/Daniels/Joe era, there was no question whether you were watching an X-Division contest or any other match on the card. Could you say the same about a Cruiserweight match on RAW? 

Dutt also highlighted the international influence on the X-Division, something that WWE started with the international Cruiserweight Classic tournament but took a backseat once 205 Live began on the WWE Network. Sonjay added, “I think bringing in international talent like Laredo Kid, Marufuji, Ishimori really sets the X-Division apart from what else is on the show, but also sets itself apart from everything else you see on television today.”

Low-Ki’s response to the question sought to emphasise the influence that the X-Division had had on the wrestling industry in general, as well as 205 Live. The reason for this, according to the X-Division legend, is that the X-Division “wasn’t based on size, it was based on style and in order to get noticed, style is what makes matches.” He also suggests that WWE have merely created something that’s an imitation of the X-Division, because it is the transplanted talent of the X-Division that gives 205 Live its identity:

“Many of the performers that you see in 205 Live, or I shouldn’t say many, as there are more of them there now than there were at the beginning, but there is a handful of them who were former X-Division wrestlers. So the identity that 205 Live is trying to create for them has a heavy influence of X-Division written all over it. So there is no comparison, the X-Division is the unique identity.”

While Sonjay Dutt and Low-Ki were respectful in their criticism of 205 Live, Trevor Lee did not at all hold back in his criticism of WWE 205 Live:

“You want to know what 205 Live is? It’s garbage. I’m 225lbs and I’m the X-Division champion; none of those guys can even hold a dime to what I can do. Get out of here!”

Mr. Lee clearly has no time for the Cruiserweights.

What do you think of the X-Division stars’ comments? Which is better, the X-Division or 205 Live? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below or tweet me @thejezshow.

Originally published by RealSport
Article appears in original form with updated social media links