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NXT/AEW Wednesday Night War: Week 11 Winners and Losers

With both shows building towards pay-per-view calibre shows on December 18th, the NXT and AEW rosters are in top form heading into week 11 of the Wednesday Night War. Which show will provide the best entertainment going into their big end of year shows? Time to settle in and find out!

Starting the Show

After a brief promo from Adam Cole (baybay), NXT kicked off proceedings with a match for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship. The tension between Angel Garza and Lio Rush has been building for quite a while now and so this payoff between them – their second meeting for the strap – is hotly anticipated. The contest starts off furiously with Rush jumping Garza during the announcer’s introductions before the action spills out of the ring, each man delivering flurries of frantic punches. Once back in the ring, the action becomes ever so slightly more technical but the emotion of the two men is still evident as a more strike based offense prevails, leading into the first commercial break. Out of the commercial, the match takes to the top rope with Angel Garza securing a near fall with an Avalanche Spanish Fly. This action at the highest point of the ring turns to action at its lowest point, with each man resting on their knees but slapping the suave out of their opponent. The match looks to be over after Rush nails the final hour but, unfortunately for the Champ, Garza crawls out of the ring and is disrobed of his tearaway trousers in the process.

Lio Rush climbs to the top turnbuckle and attempts another Final Hour to the outside but Angel Garza gets his knees up. Throwing his opponent back into the ring, Garza delivers the Wing Clipper but this move only nets a two count. A desperate Garza then improvises, locking in a reverse full nelson style manoeuvre and forces the tapout from Lio Rush.

Not only do we have a new NXT Cruiserweight Champion but during the commerical break that followed, Angel Garza asked his girlfriend to marry him in the middle of the ring. She said ‘Si’. Congratulations to the happy couple.

All Elite Wrestling kicked of the show with Jon Moxley vs a jobber. After Mox made light work of him, and his supposed tag team partner, Le Champion made his way to the ring flanked by his Inner Circle stable. Chris Jericho asked Moxley for a gentleman’s conversation and proceeded to review the history of Jericho vs. Moxley. To a chorus of boos from the Dallas crowd, Jericho suggested that Jon Moxley needed him and extended an invitation to join the Inner Circle. Jericho doesn’t need an answer now… “take the holidays,” he says.

I have many, many problems with the opening of this show. First of all, if this was going to be a promo segment, we really didn’t need the squash match. Just have Mox come out and pick up a microphone; as soon as he’s about to speak, hit Jericho’s music and go from there. As for the invitation to join the Inner Circle… Jon Moxley isn’t going to join the Inner Circle, we all know this up front. This invitation is purely an exercise in putting off the inevitable match between the two until the new year. I agree with the need to wait for this match to happen – it should be the headline of the next pay per view – but d’ya think you could come up with a less predictable way to put these guys in a holding pattern until 2020? This whole thing is completely lacking in inspiration.

Match of the Night

Although it started oddly, the match of the night across both programmes was the Texas Street Fight between The Young Bucks and Santana/Ortiz, PnP. The match proper was able to get underway after Nick Jackson regained the momentum with a wicked Senton Bomb from the top of the entranceway and through a table.

There were a lot of fun garbage wrestling moments in this match, as well as some great technically sound spots. It wasn’t only the competitors taking good bumps, though. Referee Rick Knox sold an inadvertent punt kick like a champ and spent the rest of the match catching z’s under the ring. This match came to an end after The Young Bucks delivered their Meltzer Driver manouver to Santana on top of some steel chairs. The Bucks will go on to face SCU for the Tag Team Championships next week.

Fun moments and other good stuff

  • Owing to the distraction of Kushida, Raul Mendoza finally picks up a win on NXT.
  • Who’s QT Marshall? That’s the point. They’ve found the person in AEW they’ve promoted the least to be MJF’s pick to team with Cody. Wonderful interjection of an MJF promo during Cody’s entrance… Maxwell is knocking it out of the park right now.
  • MJF followed this up with another fantastic promo – replying to every insult Cody threw at him last week, making a stagehand that laughed at him kiss the ring, explaining the reasons Rhodes doesn’t just fire him. The eventual match between these two might be the best built up rivalry of any in pro wrestling in the last few years… and there’s still a long way to go!
  • Dakota Kai continues to pick up wins against those who wronged her and is using any dirty deed necessary to do it. Between the underhanded victory and Mia Yim’s post-match attack, these two aren’t done. Let’s raise the stakes next time.
  • Nice little match between Breezango and the Singh Brothers. Good to see both of these teams back on TV and there was a lot more support for the Bollywood Boys in Full Sail than I would ever have expected.
  • Last week, I said that the Dark Order needed to started recruiting wrestlers into their stable and this week… they did that! If anyone at AEW (or any other promotion for that matter) would like some more ideas how to book their show, shoot me a message šŸ˜‚
  • Any of the options – Keith Lee, Tommaso Ciampa or Finn Balor – will make a compelling NXT Championship match next week but I’m intrigued to see Finn Balor take on Adam Cole. I don’t expect Balor to regain the NXT Championship… barring a bigger event taking place, like Balor forming a stable or similar.
  • Great to see some fresh talent in the AEW Women’s Division picking up a win. There’s still a LOT of work to do, and a championship to remove from the division’s figurehead but you gotta start somewhere.

Room for improvement

  • Last week, I asked for more Jaxson Ryker in singles competition and this week I thought I was getting that with the added bonus of him crushing Travis Banks. I’m really not a fan of Banks, I find everything about him supremely irritating so imagine my annoyance at his winning the match and escaping Full Sail unscathed…
  • Still not buying this #HBIC shtick from Mia Yim. In actuality, she’s about as street as Oxford Street.
  • More fake audience in the crowd at NXT. Just no need for it, really. If you must insist on planting people for wrestlers to collide with, have them dress in their own clothes instead of brand new, jet black, completely unwashed NXT t-shirts. Suspend my disbelief a little…
  • Jake Hager talked too much on commentary. Sometimes silence is golden, y’know?

What the ratings said

Well, can you believe it? In the most unlikely of outcomes, both NXT on USA and Dynamite on TNT garnered a viewership of 778,000 each. Can you imagine the ruckus if there had been a tie during the attitude era? Unbelievable. The current record stands then, at 8-2-1 in favour of All Elite Wrestling.

And the winner is…

While both shows were pretty good, I can’t get over the stupid opening to AEW Dynamite and, therefore, NXT are awarded the entertainment value win this week. AEW are working out a lot of the issues their programme has had the last month or so but there’s still work to be done. When you’re going head to head with another company and want to keep viewers on your show rather than switch over to the competition, a dumb squash match against a no-name isn’t going to get it done… not when the other side is offering a very good Cruiserweight Championship match. Totals for the War to date have NXT in the lead 6-4-1. Both promotions promise incredible shows next week, I look forward to seeing who lives up to the hype!

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 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 7 Winners and Losers

Off the back of an entertaining Full Gear PPV event, All Elite Wrestling looked to carry some momentum into Dynamite and regain some of their lost viewership. Meanwhile, over on the USA Network, NXT seek to continue their climb and overtake their rivals in the Wednesday Night War. What will this instalment of the battle bring?

Starting the Show

Following a video recap of Saturday’s Full Gear event, AEW Dynamite kicked off with an update on the condition of Kenny Omega following his brutal bout with Jon Moxley. Informed by JR that Moxley will kick off the night’s competition shortly, we peek into the medical examination of Omega. We learn that he, unlike Mox, has not been cleared to compete and Kenny does a fantastic job of carrying on his face the mental pain of his opponent being cleared before him. This is real emotion on display or, at the very least, a stellar and convincing reproduction of it. Back in the ring, Jon Moxley makes light work of Michael Nakazawa before taking to the microphone. Mox rubs the victory into Omega before sharing his reluctant respect for him. Following this, Moxley effectively calls out the entire roster, claiming they don’t have the balls to confront him. Ultimately, he is proven correct, with no-one answering the call in that moment.

NXT launched itself onto the airwaves with a recap of last week’s show, combined with the opening music video. The only thing that would have made this more perfect is fully putting up the NXT titlecard at the crescendo of the music. I’d love to see NXT open in this way going forward; it’s super fresh and very unique. The show proper got underway with the NXT Cruiserweight Championship match which I, for one, highly anticipated. The match met all expectations and continued to demonstrate the ability of the Cruiserweight roster. The early commercial break really broke the flow of this match but the match overall was a delight to behold. I’m a little disappointed with the ending but I’m satisfied in the fact that it means this will not be the last time we see Garza and Rush face off in the near future.

Match of the Night

In my opinion, the match of the night belonged to “Hangman” Adam Page and PAC. The raw emotion that carried into their second match was unmatched and lacked the errors that other top matches from the night had. This match put PAC over, big time, as he took his underhanded, bastard tactics to another level rendering Page unconscious and refusing to relent. Great story, great action, match of the night.

Honourable mention for the Cruiserweight Championship match. The end of the match combined with the few moments in which each superstar stood waiting to be hit or for moves to be delivered pushed the edge to Hangman vs. PAC.

Biggest Shocker

For me, the biggest shock of the night is that NXT didn’t payoff the best possible outcome in the night long women being attacked, Baszler needing a fourth member deal. Sure, Kay Lee Ray is fine but everything pointed to a larger conspiracy that would have seen, if I were writing the show, Dakota Kai join Team Baszler. Kai left last week’s NXT livid and emotionally devastated that she had been supplanted for Team Ripley. She was presented as a weak, feeble person that didn’t have the resolve to fight for her place, let alone fight against some of the toughest women in the business. Imagine then, that driven by the negative emotions of last week, Kai took the decision to reach out to Shayna Baszler and join her War Games team instead. Asked to prove that she was ruthless enough to join her team, Baszler instructs Kai to make and impact, which she does by taking out all of Team Ripley with Shafir and Duke feigning injury to cover her tracks. During the main event, Shayna Baszler’s music hits and Kai rushes to the ring through the crowd, standing alongside Mia Yim, whom she’d sworn to protect backstage. Shayna tells Yim she isn’t there to fight, she’s here with video evidence proving who attacked all the other women backstage. The video shows a person brutally attacking Ripley and co before telling Shafir/Duke to take a dive; that person turns around and is revealed to be Dakota Kai. Before Yim can react, Kai kicks her in the head and drags Io Shirai to the ladder, where she climbs and secures the victory. The event ends in the same way but with Kai in the place of Kay Lee Ray as Bayley jumps Baszler.

That should have been the shocking moment of the night… but hey, what do I know? By the way, because they didn’t make it explicit on the show, it was Bayley…

Fun moments and other good stuff

  • Great to see the Luchasaurus back in the ring. Here’s hoping we can see more singles action from him, leaving Jungle Boy and Marko to handle tag division duties.
  • Finn Balor’s verbal tirade transitioning into a War Games build transitioning into a Roderick Strong vs. Keith Lee match. See also bad stuff below.
  • Darby Allin is big time over. I came into this night thinking that AEW needed to find a good feud for this kid that can payoff with a big PPV match, focusing on what he can do in the ring rather than his more risque style of wrestling. Accepting Jon Moxley’s open challenge accomplishes half of that… but a match with Mox is never not going to be high risk. Here’s hoping it won’t be one-and-done next week in Indianapolis.
  • Nice little rivalry building between Shawn Spears and Joey Janela. Their payoff will be a good opportunity for them both to demonstrate the technical aspects of their repertoire and put on a great match for the audience.
  • A feud in which the hatred was between Pete Dunne and Killian Dain was evident has morphed effectively into a chaotic, three-way war – adding Damien Priest. Priest definitely isn’t a third wheel in this situation and will add a dynamic element to this Triple Threat match, in a Survivor Series weekend dominated by Triple Threat matches.
  • A lot went down in the Chris Jericho initiated talk segment, all of it good. We saw a coming out promo for MJF, followed by an ego-off between arguable the two best heels in the company, followed by the debut of Wardlow. Cody’s quest for revenge should dominate Dynamite for weeks to come, with Cody being denied his retribution all the way to the next PPV event. By the way, as a subordinate of MJF, the Burberry tie is a nice touch.
  • There’s not often much worth hearing during a backstage brawl so using the commercial break splitscreen for the majority of the altercation between the Young Bucks and Santana/Ortiz was an excellent use of time.
  • Mia Yim took an absolute beating tonight. Major respect, hope she’s okay for Takeover: War Games.

Room for improvement

  • If the Cruiserweight and United Kingdom Championships are now truly NXT titles, they need a fresh design, replacing the front and center WWE logo with an NXT based design. Without that, it’s a constant reminder that you changed the names without much reason.
  • I loved Finn Balor’s rant about how soft NXT has gotten but Gargano’s injury really hurts Balor. I would have hoped Balor be confronted by someone who he might face at Takeover: War Games. Riddle already has a match… Balor won’t be joining the War Games match… what’s left for him to do at the first major event since his return? Do they take Riddle out of War Games? Cancel my last. After writing this, they did indeed take Riddle out of War Games and put him in a one-on-one with Finn Balor. Kudos.
  • Enough of the stupid Librarian crap, seriously. If Shane Douglas couldn’t pull of this kind of scholarly elitist gimmick, Peter Avalon sure isn’t going to.
  • Two squash matches in the programme does not a quality wrestling oriented show make.
  • Forced Star Wars reference from Nigel McGuinness and Beth Phoenix.
  • Why is All Elite Wrestling obsessed with battle royals? And giving out trinkets like medals and rings? Very strange.
  • Rules go out the window in AEW tag team matches. Officials rarely keep illegal competitors on the apron, hold them to account for being in the ring too long. The referee would have clearly seen Jake Hager attack Kazarian outside the ring, he was looking right at him. Rules matter.
  • I really, really don’t like a mid-card (at best) guy like Scorpio Sky kicking out of the Codebreaker, beating the World Champion, or handing Chris Jericho his first loss. The only legitimate reason to potentially do any of those things would be as the launchpad for a main event push for Sky, which I don’t see being their end game. Where can this go, other than making your company’s top guy look weak?

What the ratings said

This week, AEW Dynamite improved to 957,000 views on last week, failing to break back through that 1 million barrier. NXT slid backwards to 750,000 viewers, failing to capitalise on the promise of RAW and SmackDown superstars boosting the show’s appeal. The viewers lost from the early weeks of the Wednesday Night War do not seem to be returning for their Wednesday night pro wrestling fix.

And the winner is…

Deciding a winner this week was tough and there were times that I thought I’d declare week 7 a tie but, ultimately, less went wrong on Dynamite and the story wasn’t left with a gaping hole in it in the same way NXT did (see rant above). Furthermore, while the Full Sail crowd were engaged and vocal, as always, the reactions from the Nashville audience were at another level, especially during moments like MJF’s promo and Cody’s arrival. It takes a lot to top an NXT crowd and that should be recognised. This week, AEW put on the better television show. Overall, the war is 5-2 to NXT but with a stellar event this week, the All Elite crew prove they ain’t licked yet. The war wages on…

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 1 Winners and Losers

In a historic moment that harkened back to the glory days of pro wrestling’s most entertaining and prosperous period, the Wednesday Night War – the ratings battle between WWE NXT and AEW Dynamite – got underway last Wednesday night. This inaugural edition of the war pitted a rowdy homefield NXT crowd in Florida against a sold out Washington DC diehard set and featured several exciting and impactful moments now committed to the annals of history.

Starting the show

Without argument, I would suggest, each show needed to start their programme strong and neither disappointed. WWE publicised ahead of time that they would be kicking off with the NXT World Championship match: Cole vs. Riddle. This was a shrewd move by WWE, as this was expected to be NXT’s match of the night (more on that later). AEW, conversely, put their money behind their VP and started the show with Cody Rhodes. Cody is, or at least his group are, the biggest draws in the company. Starting off with Rhodes made a lot of sense. Starting off with Rhodes against a virtual unknown did not. With the story and groundwork done so far during PPV and B/R broadcasts, there were better opponents for Cody that would have made far more sense… Darby Allin or Shawn Spears, to name but two. That said, the match between Cody and Sammy Guevara was one of the highlights of the show. The quality of wrestling on offer was solid, the pair told a good story – strengthened by Cody’s “if I lose, I relinquish my title shot” decree – and the right person won. A solid start.

With his title shot validated, Cody was attacked post match by reigning champion, Chris Jericho. After wasting some time on a hug with Tony Schiavone and a handshake with Guevara, Jericho had barely enough time to put Cody down before the show was forced into commercials… where the best parts of the attack went down, without sound, without commentary and on a tiny, barely watchable screen. I understand why they wanted to keep the action going, with the competition on USA not having any commercials at all for the first 30 minutes but the timing choices made here, and throughout the whole show, left a lot to be desired.

NXT, by comparison, presented the best match of both shows and threw in a surprise return for good measure.

Match of the night

It should be fairly obvious by now that I considered the Adam Cole (baybay) / Matt Riddle NXT Championship contest to be the undisputed match of the night.

The match had all the qualities you’d look for in a five star bout. I could go on about it but if you’ve seen the match, you know how good it was… if you haven’t, stop reading this and go find the match. Now.

Biggest shocker

Each Wednesday night show delivered its share of surprise moments with shock debuts/returns at each event. AEW’s surprise of the night came in the form of the debuting Jake Hager (formerly known as former WWE World Heavyweight Champion and All American American, American, American, Jack Thwagger). The moment was unfortunately diminished by the fact that his arrival was foretold in the dirtsheets and by the blank expression on Hager’s face as he stumbled through the run-in, looking for things to do.

The biggest reaction from the All Elite, Washington DC crowd was for the return of Jon Moxley in the same match. The status of Moxley’s elbow injury and infection was kept mostly opaque and, even if anticipated, the crowd were set ablaze as Moxley crawled in behind Kenny Omega.

The moment of the night over both shows came in the immediate aftermath of the match of the night in the return to NXT of Finn Balor.

On a night where Tommaso Ciampa also returned from injury to the black and gold brand, Finn Balor’s backstep from the main roster is the most shocking. There was a time when leaving NXT meant you would never return but as Triple H looks to put on the best wrestling show, it stands to reason that he’ll bring the best wrestlers back to NXT; especially where daddy-in-law has had them on the main roster without any clue how to use them! Balor in NXT opens so many fantastic match opportunities. Expect Finn to receive a lot of TV time on NXT going forward as we slowly works through the roster, leaving five star matches and red paint in his wake.

Quick notes for improvement

  • AEW went right into the the opening music/video at the beginning. No pomp and circumstance marking their first show, no explanation of why their show is different, nothing. Big shame.
  • NXT’s commercials were too frequent after the initial commercial free period. Thoroughly broke the flow of the matches and I for one, would have preferred consistently timed commercials.
  • Mia Yim looked slow and frequently hesitated throughout her match. Io Shirai managed to carry the match on her own but NXT need to consider whether they want to put Yim in matches with the top tier of talent going forward.
  • I’m already bored of the AEW/WCW comparisons.
  • LOTS of big names missing for AEW. Show people tuning in to your product for the first time who you have. Give them someone to attach to and bring them back next week.
  • The SCU segment was just… weird. Did anyone actually find it funny? Would someone seeing for this time understand what the point was, and why they were shouting SCU? Furthermore, either putting the Lucha Bros in their faces was a tournament spoiler or a bizarre moment between two teams that won’t be facing each other any time soon…
  • Beth Phoenix.
  • Nigel McGuinness.

What the ratings said

The ratings came in fairly quickly on Thursday and gave the Wednesday Night War its first champion: AEW Dynamite. Dynamite amassed a 0.68 rating amongst adults with 1.4 million viewers overall whilst NXT on USA only secured a 0.32 share amongst adults, 891k viewers overall. For reference, the ratings view adults as those aged 18-49. For my money, All Elite Wrestling were always going to win the ratings battle in their debut. NXT is the established brand and watching it live wasn’t as important as watching the history of a brand new endeavour unfold before our eyes.

And the winner is…

While ultimately, the ratings will dictate the winner of the war over time, I will be keeping a record of who is winning the war in terms of putting on the best show. For this debut week, despite AEW Dynamite winning the ratings battle on Wednesday night, I found WWE NXT to be the better show in week one. NXT did not have a bad match, it had the better surprises, the better timing and the match of the night. This is not to say that I found the AEW show to be bad… nothing could be further from the truth… but objectively, NXT was firing on all cylinders Wednesday night, whereas AEW still has a few kinks to work out. I fully expect the bar to be raised again for week two; I cannot wait to check out both shows next week. I leave you with my immediate thoughts, from Twitter as I don’t think I could sum it up any better again…

What did you think of the inaugural Wednesday Night War? Did you prefer one show over the other. Let me know your thoughts in the comments or find me on Twitter @thejezshow.