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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 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 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.

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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.