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NXT/AEW Wednesday Night War: Week 9 Winners and Losers

Riding high from victories in the ratings and within WWE at Survivor Series, the NXT brand took some swagger into Wednesday night with pre-advertised Tag Team and Cruiserweight Championship matches. Not to be outdone, though, AEW Dynamite itself awarded a special ring presentation and a World Championship match on its programme. It’s all to play for in Week 9! Who will come out on top?

Starting the Show

After a video recap of Takeover: War Games, NXT gave us another music video opening as Josiah Williams (that dude that once rapped Adam Cole to the ring) performed to a backdrop of the NXT roster celebrating around the ring with video of Survivor Series dominance interspersed. The party is interrupted by The Undisputed Era who, of course, have come to claim the victory for themselves. The good times and brand solidarity is over. From inside the ring, flanked by Dominic Dijakovic, Keith Lee, and Matt Riddle, Tommaso Ciampa tells The UE that their days of dominance are over, starting with Lee and Dijak taking the Tag Team Championships on the night. As Ciampa continued to make clear his intentions for Adam Cole and the NXT Championship, Finn Balor joined the Erra on the ramp, accepting a challenge for a match with ‘Daddy’ later in the night. With the match supposedly set, Keith Lee beckoned Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish into the ring for their Tag Team Championship match, aka “Basking Season.” During the commercial break, Bobby Fish picked up would could potentially be a very nasty injury and was replaced by Roderick Strong. Gotta love the Freebird rule! Overall, the match was fine but the dark cloud of Fish’s injury hung over the whole match. The match ended after a distracted Dijak falls victim to a high/low from Strong and O’Reilly. The distraction came in the form of Keith Lee launching an interloping Adam Cole into the front row of the (fake planted) crowd and Lee then apparently forgetting that a match was going on.

Not a fan of this match ending… especially considering that Fish may be out with injury, it would have made more sense to ride the momentum of Survivor Series and put a belt on Keith Lee. From a Roman Reigns fist-bump on Sunday to a strange Scooby Doo I ruh ro moment on Wednesday. Shame.

The open for AEW Dynamite was led by one Soul Train Jones… the guy looks familiar but I can’t quite put my finger on it (sarcasm, folks). After a slow… one… word… at… a… time… introduction, Le Champion, Chris Jericho, makes his way to the ring for his Thanksgiving Celebrashon – the greatest celebrashon in pro wrestling history.

After introducing his new line of champagne, A Little Bit of the Bubbly (is there anything they won’t market?), Jericho is joined by the rest of the inner circle. After a fairly drawn out gift giving session that included Chris Jericho’s dad getting cheap heat from the Chicago crowd, Justin Roberts being forced to read out a thank you note from AEW and TNT and various other bits. All this led me to believe that there would be somebody of significance hidden in the giant inflatable cow outside the ring, or perhaps the stegosaurus but, in fact, SCU were amongst the marching band that accompanied the shows open. Overall, SCU failed to get a reaction anywhere near the caliber heard during Jericho’s celebrashon. Slightly disappointing payoff for the segment, especially since the Inner Circle got away pretty much unscathed.

Match of the Night

The in-ring action was really the only thing going for both shows this week, with the majority of non-wrestling action lacking in sense or coherence on the most part. This week’s top contest came from AEW’s rematch between Kenny Omega and “The Bastard” PAC. A quick, impactful start quickly took the pair outside of the ring, leading to a textbook somersault plancha from Omega, taken and sold perfectly by PAC. As the show went into commercial, the action slowed to avoid breaking the momentum of the contest with a break. In the split screen, we could see a number of rest holds and resets so that when the programme returned, with its advertising commitments met, the impact and technicality could ramp up once again. Strikes were the order of the day in this match and while that can sometimes ruin a match (because the strikes aren’t executed or sold well) that was not the case here. As the match drew to a conclusion, the grappling turned to a series of counter-pins with Kenny Omega eventually getting the upper hand for a three count.

Honorable mention for the Cruiserweight Championship match. Were it not for the botched “Come-Up” spot due to a miscommunication between Lio Rush and Akira Tozawa, they may have picked up the crown.

Biggest Shocker

Devoid of an impactful moments, neither show managed to shock me this week. With a few vignettes to promote the arrival of the Blade, the Butcher and the Bunny, their arrival might have been shocking, rather than confusing.

Fun moments and other good stuff

  • Dakota Kai’s broody heel persona is 167 times more entertaining than pouty baby face Kai, but there’s still work to be done.
  • Mutual pump kicks to the face by Lio Rush and Akira Tozawa. Fun moment in a fantastic match.
  • Xia Li has had a great couple of weeks on NXT television. Perhaps the ambush by Duke, Shafir and Baszler is sign that we’ll soon be living in the era of NX-Li,.. once Baszler is finished with Rhea Ripley, of course.
  • Dasha Gonzalez’s Japanese pronouncuation is on point! AEW are lucky to have both her and Justin Roberts on staff… professional wrestling’s King and Queen of enunciation.
  • Good to have Dustin back in the ring but shouldn’t that brawl with the Bucks, Guevara and PnP turned into an impromptu six man tag match… playa?

Room for improvement

  • No Mauro Ranallo on commentary this week after Corey Graves insensitive comments on Twitter this past weekend. I really like Tom Phillips, he’s been doing a great job at NXT UK, but he’s not the voice of NXT. I hope that Mauro’s doing alright and that we see him back soon.
  • While on the topic of commentary, whose bright idea was it to put this random dude, Marco Solis, that can barely speak alongside JR and Excalibur? I understood maybe 5% of what he was saying the whole time he was out there.
  • The microphone started off a bit echoey in the arena for AEW but it seemed to get better as the celebrashon went on.
  • The hashtag for Chris Jerigoat went up on the screen before the line was delivered. Also, what is it with AEW trying to bring terrified animals out into the arena? Gonna have PETA on your asses…
  • The Saudi propaganda machine comes to NXT as they try to make Mansoor a credible competitor outside of his home country. Mansoor is fine in the ring, certainly befitting on the NXT brand but I don’t understand how anyone can see past the fact he’s only there to make Saudi Arabia look good and pick up high profile wins at Crown Jewel events.
  • Am I supposed to know who the Blade and the Butcher are? What could have been an exciting, shocking debut (perhaps worthy of the biggest shocker section) was actually a wet fart because of an extreme lack of context. As with Jerigoat earlier, someone jumped the gun and put up the hashtag before they’d pulled the “Bunny” out of the hole.
  • “That girl is like a sister to me” says the person who wasn’t pictured with her until they were part of a War Games team. Pull the other one.
  • Turning heel hasn’t improved Dakota Kai’s in ring work a great deal… Ms. I’m going to stand here with my head out and wait for Candice LeRae to headscissors me. Look groggy at least…
  • No return slap for Lio Rush from Angel Garza? Guess Garza’s happy to be punked. (Apparently it happened on a WWE.com exclusive, which frankly isn’t much use to a viewing audience watching on USA Network)
  • I still don’t understand the Dynamite Diamond Ring thing…
  • Why specify that “seconds” are banned from ringside if you’re going to involve them anyway? The referee should have called the match there and then if that was the stipulated rule or else it makes a mockery of it. Stupid booking.

What the ratings said

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday in the States, we had to wait a little longer to find out the ratings for this week’s battle but, given the result, I would suggest that AEW would probably have been content to wait a little longer…

Taking their second victory in as many weeks, NXT led the ratings contest with 810,000 views against AEW Dynamite’s 663,000. This is All Elite Wrestling’s worst viewership yet as the numbers continue to drop at an alarming rate, week on week. AEW still lead the ratings war overall at 7-2.

And the winner is…

Boy, oh boy, was this a disappointing week of Wednesday wrestling. Each show planned special spots and moments for their programmes that just failed to connect. Picking a winner from these two shows is a real challenge and, so, I’m not going to. I am awarding a tie to this week. I hate ties, ties suck but a tie is the only fitting response to hotly anticipated shows that failed to deliver. This brings the weekly total to 5-3-1 in favour of NXT. Pray to whichever deity you subscribe to that this damp squib week was just a one off…

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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NXT/AEW Wednesday Night War: Week 6 Winners and Losers

With the ratings drain of the World Series no longer applicable, both AEW and NXT looked to improve their viewership this Wednesday, each with fallout from previous events to draw people in. NXT will hope to capitalise on the excitement generated by the ‘takeover’ of both main roster shows, SmackDown and RAW, while AEW seek to put the finishing touches on their upcoming PPV card. Each show promises to be compelling; let’s see which company gets the W in this week’s head to head.

Starting the Show

Obvious to anybody that watched SmackDown and RAW this past week, a receipt was coming for NXT from their bigger, richer brothers. NXT wasted no time in providing its audience with a massive draw-in moment with The O.C. – Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson and AJ Styles – all making their NXT debuts, annihilating members of the Undisputed Era before making their way inside Full Sail University.

With the champions of the brand dealt with, The O.C. laid claim to NXT which, of course, drew the attention of the Daddy of NXT, Tommaso Ciampa. In a cute moment, where Ciampa referenced questions of when he was going up to the main roster, the former NXT Champion formally welcomed Gallows, Anderson and Styles to the main roster. Joined by Matt Riddle and Keith Lee, Tommaso Ciampa laid down the challenge that would see AJ Styles wrestle in an NXT ring in the main event of the programme. An excellent start to the show keeps engaged any viewers giving NXT a chance for the first time, on the back of the events of RAW and SmackDown.

AEW got Wednesday’s action underway with a matchup between PAC and Trent. In this match, PAC went full Geordie goblin, taking Trent on a journey around the ringside area, bouncing him off various objects before returning to the ring and putting him down again with an over-the-top-rope dive.

PAC retained control of the matchup for the most part despite a relentless and savage assault by Orange Cassidy behind the referee’s back. After a strange moment in which PAC hit the Black Arrow, made the cover only for the referee to just stop counting at two despite Trent’s shoulders remaining on the mat, PAC ended the match with his version of the Rings of Saturn submission.

The more compelling show open here easily belonged to NXT on USA. The match between PAC and Trent was fine but it could have fit anywhere in the card and wouldn’t have kept my ‘dial’ on TNT if I were trying to decide between the two shows live, which should be the goal of every show open.

Match of the Night

Disappointingly, the match of the night was the #1 contenders match for the Cruiserweight Championship – Tony Nese vs. Angel Garza. Why am I disappointed? Quite simply because this is yet another reminder of how wasted the Cruiserweight roster has been in WWE and a spotlight shone on how incredible 205 Live could be / could have been if given the time and freedom to shine. This match, though, was fantastic. Angel Garza has all the makings of a top-tier WWE superstar with the wrestling ability to back it up. The back and forth, fast paced offense leading to Garza’s usual disrobe spot, interrupted by Tony Nese, brought forth a chop-fest that would make Ric Flair blush. While technically sound, this match also had a comedy moment in Tony Nese’s failed attempt to powerbomb Angel Garza, instead taking Garza’s rip-off trousers to slamtown.

This match was seconded only by the potential of the Angel Garza / Lio Rush match that will now follow. Angel Garza sent his message loud and clear following the match with a slap that echoed throughout the NXT arena.

Biggest Shocker

The moment that fans have been clamouring for since The O.C. was formed has finally happened, albeit briefly. As chaos began to reign in the six man tag team main event of NXT, Finn Balor made his way ringside and came into contact with AJ Styles…

It’s not even close to the Finn joining The O.C. moment that fans of their Japan based stable Bullet Club would have hoped for but to see Styles throw up the horns as Balor brought out the guns – all in an NXT ring – was, frankly, too sweet.

Fun moments and other good stuff

  • Not putting Dakota Kai on Rhea Ripley’s War Games team. I don’t know what it is about Kai but I just can’t get excited about her in any way… she’s fine in the ring, she’s okay on the mic… but something is missing.
  • Cody’s promo on Chris Jericho (the rest of it was forgettable) including the diamond line, “It is almost like we shared the exact same silver spoon, you stupid dick.”
  • The Jericho promo, featuring Chris’ aunt’s foulmouthed friend from church and the revelation that Jericho is the youngest AEW World Champion of all time.
  • “Go back to RAW” chants. Full Sail audience buying right into the tribalism WWE are going for with Survivor Series
  • The all out brawl including all of the compeitors for matches at Full Gear was a nice way to close out the programme. Keep fresh in the mind what they’ll be paying for on Saturday night with a little taste of what the action might be like – Mox with a barbed-wire bat, Young Bucks leaping from a height, the Inner Circle backing away with strength in numbers; very nice.

Room for improvement

  • Weeks later, I still don’t know what Cody says during the start of his entrance music. The audio quality is so bad it just sounds like mumbling.
  • I would have much preferred the Women’s War Games to be the only War Games at Takeover. Only having the one puts the spotlight on the women, makes them the headline attraction of the event. With the men doing their own War Games, that includes one team that is the same as the last two events, it not only waters down the match concept during that event but it removes the potential of three different championship matches at the event. Cole vs. Ciampa, Riddle/Lee vs. Fish/O’Reilly and Strong vs. literally anyone would have made the whole Takeover event a whole lot more complete a show. Other than Dunne/Dain/Priest (which will probably be a #1 contenders match for something) and an NXT Cruiserweight Championship match, how are they going to fill the card?
  • The weird 80s bouncer dude fist bumping Isiah Kassidy’s pointing finger. Awkward.
  • Also, bronze medals for a tournament in wrestling? Awkward.

What the ratings said

Mixed feelings about the viewer ratings this week. The media are raving about how NXT on USA almost beat AEW Dynamite for the first time but the overall picture is still fairly stark. NXT drew 813,000 viewers on Wednesday night, a rise on the previous week but still substantially down in comparison to their first few weeks and WWE ratings overall. More alarmingly, AEW Dynamite only drew 822,000 viewers – up on last week’s 759,000 but still way under the nearly 2 million views they pulled in for week one.

Long story short, AEW won, barely, but it doesn’t really feel like a win.

And the winner is…

This is becoming a trend, and I’m going to need to look more closely at what is lacking for AEW Dynamite week-on-week, but once again I found NXT to be the better, more well-rounded show this week. The Women’s matches were better on NXT with a more coherent build towards their PPV, we got to see AJ Styles and Finn Balor in the same sphere, Priest/Dunne, Swerve/Dijak and Nese/Garza were all PPV quality matches… the total package, in my book. NXT is now up 5-1 in the contest for best Wednesday Night Show. How long can they keep it up?

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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The Best 5 Moments from NXT Takeover: Chicago

As has become a tradition, NXT Takeover: Chicago set the tone for a fantastic weekend of WWE action. For the first time in NXT history, the tag team division main evented the show, Asuka continued her winning streak and Hideo Itami proved to the world that he was back and ready for the championship match, but what were the best 5 of all of the incredible moments from the Windy City

5. Double Glorious DDT
A strong showing from both Roode and Itami ends with the defending NXT Champion hitting two of the three Glorious DDT in succession. Not only was this moment exciting, putting the live crowd into a frenzy, but also kept Hideo Itami strong and credible, despite the loss. Roode had to throw everything at Itami to defeat him, perhaps only falling because of ring-rust or lack of NXT Championship match experience. We’ll see these two battle again.

4. Roddy’s strategy outsmarts SAnitY
The opening match of Takeover: Chicago saw Roderick Strong doing what no other NXT Superstar has been able to do alone: defeat Eric Young despite interference from SAnitY. Strong set the tone for this by putting in the first strikes against Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dane. At the conclusion of an excellent one-on-one match, Roddy capitalized on his strategy of removing SAnitY with perfectly timed strikes and defeating the crazed stable’s leader with an expertly executed backbreaker.

3. Johnny Gargano takes a ladder shot for his partner
In the weeks building to this Tag Team Championship Ladder Match, the NXT commentary team made a point  of highlighting that ladders in the hands of the Authors of Pain may not be the blessing that DIY thought it would be. No moment highlighted this better than when Johnny Wrestling shoved his tag team partner out of the way of a shot to the head with a ladder only to receive the brutal headshot himself. This emotionally charged self sacrifice also foreshadowed the shocking moment still to come.

2. Tommaso Ciampa turns on Johnny Gargano
As the Tag Team Championship match ended, you’d be forgiven if you thought that this was the end of DIY on NXT, that their next match would be on either RAW or SmackDown Live after being promoted to the main roster. Instead, it was literally the end of DIY as the Psycho Killer in Tommaso Ciampa surfaced, launching Gargano into the LED board with authority. The moment of this beatdown, to me, came in the moments immediately following the impact with the LED board, where Johnny Gargano presented us with a look of despair and betrayal, begging Ciampa with his eyes not to break up their partnership. We’re going to see a great number of incredible moments from the matches that these two Superstars are going to give us.

1. Tyler Bate kicks out of the X-Plex Powerbomb
As a Brit, I may be a little biased in saying that the UK Championship match stole the show but I think you can objectively agree that this match had the lion’s share of the top moments from Takeover. It was incredibly important that the English pair put on a good match and draw in an audience that would otherwise not choose to watch the UK Championship programmes and these two did so in what could go down as the match of the year. The pivotal moment of this match was the nearfall that resulted from Pete Dunne’s combination of the X-Plex Suplex turned into a Sitout Powerbomb. Tyler Bate’s kickout in this moment turned the crowd reactions up to 10 and sent them into a frenzy. Each and every move and manouver from this point on was met with raucous ovation as they watched the Bruiserweight defeat the inaugural champion with the Bitter End.

What were your thoughts on NXT Takeover: Chicago? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below or on Twitter @thejezshow.

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