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NXT/AEW Wednesday Night War: Week 10 Winners and Losers

Now a whole ten weeks into the Wednesday Night War, All Elite Wrestling enter this week’s battle determined to regain the lead in the ratings. Last week’s offering, from both NXT and AEW, left a lot to be desired. Here’s hoping that this two week ratings slide will give the All Elite brand the kick up the rear that it needs, and that WWE’s black and gold brand will this week welcome back their voice and heart in Mauro Ranallo. Who will entertain in week 10? WILL they entertain in week 10? Let’s settle in and find out!

Starting the Show

Despite some extremely jarring issues with the sound, AEW started red hot with the six man tag team match set up on last week’s show. Originally advertised as the main event of today’s Dynamite, The Young Bucks and Dustin Rhodes squared off with The Inner Circle’s PnP and Sammy Guevara. The action was fast and exciting, as you would expect of this group (okay, maybe not Dustin) and including a particularly thrilling high-flight exhibition outside of the ring.

I still continue to be overly impressed with Sammy Guevara who, in this match, live streamed as he attempted delivery of a shooting star press only to be cut out of the air by a Young Buck superkick party. Overall, great way to kick off the show on Dynamite; some heart-stopping action to keep the dial on the TNT network.

With a voice as smooth as his dinner jacket, the tones of Mauro Ranallo welcomed us in to NXT. As Ranallo talked, though, the sight behind him was of a beastly Killian Dain marching to the ring. The opening contest got quickly underway as Pete Dunne arrived immediately to begin the contest. It makes me wonder if somebody behind the scenes was keeping an eye on TNT to ensure than NXT got the in-ring action started first. A strike against NXT, though, was after only ten minutes of programme it went to a commercial break. The match itself was a hard-hitting contest that stayed mostly in the ring. Some of the only time spent outside the ring was used highlighting Dunne’s lingering knee injury and proving that big Dain can indeed fly, diving through the ropes to take down an ailing Bruiserweight.

As the match progressed, Pete Dunne was able to gain the upper hand with a submission and sleeper based attack but this offense came back to bite him in the end. As Dain climbed to the top rope, Dunne locked in a sleeper hold atop the turnbuckle. The Beast of Belfast used this to his advantage falling backwards into the ring, slamming Dunne into the mat and laying over his broken body for the three count.

Match of the Night

The wrestling was generally of a high quality across both shows Wednesday night but I believe the opening six man tag team match on AEW Dynamite was the most exciting and interesting of them all. It does strike me as strange that I might enjoy a tag match more than any of the singles matches this week but considering the pace and energy on display in the match, it just makes sense. The crowd in Champaign, Illinois were the most enthused and vocal about this match than any other and the match set the tone for what turned out to be a very good edition of Dynamite.

Fun moments and other good stuff

  • Cody Rhodes has turned into hell of a promo. Honestly, I didn’t follow him too closely in ROH and New Japan so I don’t know if that’s where he developed those skills but this Cody is a far cry from the ‘smoke and mirrors’ Cody we saw during the height of his WWE career. I think I might be more excited for all the moments his feud with MJF will bring us outside the ring than I am inside it.
  • I spoke last week on this column of my desire to see Xia Li and Shayna Baszler get it on and I got my wish on NXT this week. While Baszler employed her usual techniques of targeting a body part and wearing down her opponent, Li herself got a good deal of offense in herself, drawing on her martial arts based arsenal. While Baszler ultimately bested Li, this match served as a good preview of a top-quality, future Takeover match for the Championship. The time might not be right for that now but hopefully this proposition will be revisited in 2020.
  • The list is back! Sorry, The Lexicon of Le Champion has arrived. In all seriousness, though, Chris Jericho is at his best when he is listing things, somehow? I loved all of the little subtle references to WWE talent including Buck (Kevin) Owens and Allen Jones… one AJ Styles.
  • “It doesn’t surprise me that dinosaurs are on your list… we’ve been marginalised for 65 million years!”
  • While I don’t think we needed the squash tag team match, I did appreciate seeing Jaxson Ryker chokeslam Leon Ruff onto the ring apron. We really need more Ryker single competition on NXT; he could be a top heel for the brand.
  • Making a big deal of the rankings is starting to pay off for AEW. The match in which Kris Statlander defeated the #1 ranked competitor to the Women’s Title, Hikaru Shida, meant more as a result. In future matches with top ranked competitors, the stakes will be higher.
  • I am already a thousand time more behind remorseless heel Dakota Kai than I ever was behind boring happy-go-lucky Dakota Kai. Looking forward to seeing all of the rivalries that she set up at War Games pay off… Rhea Ripley, Mia Yim and, of course, Tegan Nox. Lots more to see in this very young heel turn for Kai.
  • Joey Janela takes a good beating. Certain wrestlers tend to be joined at the hip in any promotion and I think that Janela and Mox will be tearing strips off each other for years to come.
  • More head to head moments are coming in this war… it sounds very much like the Chris Jericho vs. Jungle Boy AEW World Championship Match will be going up against a Shayna Baszler vs. Rhea Ripley NXT Women’s Championship Match. As much as I enjoy the work of Jungle Boy and Jericho, I know which match I would tune into if I were watching live on December 18th…
  • Oh, but hold the phone… there will also be an NXT Championship match on December 18th. The black and gold brand are preparing a mini-Takeover event at Full Sail. Will AEW answer with further title match announcements? December 18th could be a huge benchmark in the Wednesday Night War!

Room for improvement

  • Did I expect more of the Fenix/Trent contest? Yeah, I did. It seemed like the passion only came out in these guys after the match, on a commercial break splitscreen. It wasn’t a bad match but it did very little for the future singles prospects of either man.
  • The Dark Order recruitment promos are just getting weird and not in a good way. Time to bring that act back into the arena and try to recruit somebody on the AEW roster.
  • Librarians… new gimmick. Now.
  • Nyla Rose can dominate two women and a man in the space of three minutes but couldn’t overcome an undersized 90lb woman to win the AEW Women’s Championship? Not in any way credible. Riho should never have been able to defeat Rose. Never.
  • Considering the match was against a guy that tried to break his neck, Christopher Daniels attempt at revenge was a little sedate. Pentagon’s demeanour seemed more like a man out for retribution than Daniels ever did. The botched Best Worst Moonsault Ever didn’t help matters. Has the Angel Fallen?

What the ratings said

For the first time in two weeks, AEW topped NXT in the ratings… but not by very much! During this week’s battle, Dynamite brought in 851,000 while NXT amassed 845,000 viewers.

And the winner is…

Like last week, this week’s victor is a close call. Unlike last week, this is because both shows were excellent, as opposed to last week’s appalling effort. With the in-ring action mostly on par across the two shows, I have turned to the non-wrestling aspects of the show to break the tie. The win this week, therefore, goes to All Elite Wrestling. The promos of Cody Rhodes and Chris Jericho were some of the most compelling and entertaining, respectively and tip Dynamite over the top this week. Just as the ratings war is starting to close together so too is my entertainment based rankings. My assessment of the Wednesday Night War now sits at 5-4-1 in favour of NXT. If AEW were to maintain a streak, they could overtake NXT by year’s end. We truly are just getting started, folks!

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.

Editors note: I have removed the Biggest Shock section of this column going forward. Should there be any truly shocking events that take place, I will create a special section for it in future.

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NXT/AEW Wednesday Night War: Week 8 Winners and Losers

Going into the eighth week of head-to-head ratings competition, the NXT brand has its work cut out for it, attempting to produce a go-home show for not just one but two big pay-per-view events this weekend. All Elite Wrestling enter week 8 with several burgeoning storylines to develop in front of their Indianapolis crowd. Will Dynamite on TNT continue it’s ratings dominance or will NXT on USA finally top the newbies? Let’s get knee deep in some week 8 Wednesday wrestling!

Starting the Show

Kicking off the viewing this week with NXT, we are treated to RAW Women’s Champion, Becky Lynch, dropping a promo befitting the Full Sail audience – referencing her time in NXT listening to fans sing her entrance music, Bayley’s soccer mom hairdo and Shayna’s stepping up to her.

The latter of these things led to Lynch calling out the NXT Women’s Champion but, on this occasion, the challenge was answered not by Baszler but by Rhea Ripley leading to Lynch’s first match on the black and gold brand in over four years. A nice little match between the two, of course, leads to outside interference from Baszler, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir, who attack both Lynch and Ripley in a strange attempt to develop both the War Games and Survivor Series matches they are in.

With a brief recap of what set the match up, All Elite Wrestling kicked off Dynamite with an incredible matchup between Nick Jackson and Rey Fenix. I’m not always the biggest fan of the ‘spotfest’ style matches that wrestlers of this kind offer but this pair were able to expertly combine a lot of misdirection and counter moves with their highspots; you never got the impression that either of them were waiting for the big move to come, as is often the problem in these matches. Without any interruption, Dynamite went straight from their first match into their second and allowed the match between Dr. Britt Baker and Hikaru Shida to establish before going to commercial break. A good, wrestling focused start on Dynamite this week.

Match of the Night

The Dynamite opener between Fenix and Jackson takes the title of match of the night, this week. Not only was it refreshing to see these two outside of the tag team environment but it allowed them to put aside some of the, admittedly very few, issues from their previous tag team meetings. The match was a good length and gave the impression that each competitor was only ever one good move away from victory. If the match itself wasn’t good enough, the non-handshake from Fenix sweetened the deal. Fenix is gonna take out your brother, beat you clean, give you some kudos with a clap but ultimately refuse to pay you any respect. Wonderful, oft-unused heel psychology well utilised.

Honorable mention for The Revival vs. The Undisputed Era. The Revival continue to be the standard for tag team wrestling across the whole industry and bring the absolute best out of any opponent – it just so happened that on this occasion they were facing another of the best teams around in their own right. The official was a little loose with the tag team rulebook and the commercial breaks really killed momentum, which is why, for me, this match slips to second place on the night.

Biggest Shocker

The biggest moments of the night came from beloved NXT alumni steping back into Full Sail University. Perhaps the most concentrated example of that was in the Matt Riddle / Ricochet match. What started with Ricochet came to feature Cesaro, Shinsuke Nakamura and the already reabsorbed Finn Balor. Great to see them back on the wrestling show again.

Fun moments and other good stuff

  • The Dark Order promo was nice. Empathising with the poor guy at the subway station set up the premise for how people could be duped into joining the cult of gimp mask furniture people.
  • Using Kona Reeves as cannon fodder for a surprise appearance from Ricochet was a shrewd move. Riddle vs. Ricochet is definitely the match we needed to see from the brand dilution caused by Survivor Series.
  • Good to see Billy Gunn. How is he able to use the Billy Gunn name? Did he legally change his name?
  • The Revival’s match was a massive throwback to their glory days in NXT. Lots of fantastic teams have come and gone through the brand but none quite embody tag team wrestling in NXT like The Revival.
  • Jericho is very… “sorry”. Cute little setup to a title match next week on Dynamite. Scorpio Sky isn’t going to win, and nor should he, so a quick throwaway match on a pre-holiday edition is perfect.
  • Dominic Dijakovic has no fear! Straight freefalling from the top of the ladder onto another below was a scary looking moment but he landed perfectly – square and straight. Nice ending.
  • The PnP / Private Party contest was a fitting tribute to Matt Travis. Such as shame for things to end for him how they did. R.I.P.
  • Ciampa – “This is my house, motherf***er.”
  • You can print money with Darby Allin. The commentators alluded vaguely to the similarities he shares with Jeff Hardy and I think this appeal is equal, if not greater, than his. AEW should be using him to connect with younger, teen audiences. Dynamite seems a little too much like a millennial-fest right now.

Room for improvement

  • The match between Dr. Britt Baker and Hikaru Shida continued to highlight that AEW have pushed the wrong women to the top of the division. These two have credible looks and put on high-quality contests whenever they’re in the ring; either would make a believable, credible, marketable Women’s World Champion which is not something I can say about Riho.
  • No USA Network logo on the back of the RAW t-shirts is a branding fail
  • You get a battle royal! And you get a battle royal! Battle royal for you as well!
  • What was the point of the battle royal anyway?
  • The Revival should have been in the Survivor Series Tag Team Triple Threat as SmackDown Tag Team Champions; their presence will be missed on the big show.
  • Dakota Kai’s angry face is awful; she looks like Angry Miz Girl, pouting like a skinny child.
  • Lots of sloppy, slow, suspension-of-disbelief-breaking moments in the Kay Lee Ray / Dakota Kai match. Hanging back waiting to be hit, slow motion running to wait for opponents to get into position. Less than ideal.
  • You get a ladder match! And you get a ladder match! Ladder match for you as well!

What the ratings said

Score one for the black and gold guys! Bolstered by extremely popular main roster WWE Superstars, this week’s episode of NXT brought in 916,000 viewers to the brand. This is their best rating since September 25th and one of their best full stop. In comparison, AEW Dynamite drew 893,000 viewers, down 7% on last week. With their victory, NXT finally put the 1 in 7-1.

And the winner is…

Great programming all round from both companies, as we’ve come to expect, but I feel that AEW Dynamite was the more coherent show this week, flowing very well from start to finish. NXT was just so busy and while trying to serve as a go home for both War Games and Survivor Series, it really struggled to be that for either. The 67 brawls between brands meant that none of them really had an impact overall… “Oh, we’re cluster-fighting again.” This victory means that AEW continue to close the gap on NXT at 5-3. The mind boggles why each of these shows are not the top rated wrestling products on television in the ratings… they consistently blow RAW and SmackDown out of the water. Wednesday nights are for real.

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.