It wasn’t a dream! We truly are getting head-to-head wrestling every Wednesday night! All Elite Wrestling and WWE NXT returned to the airwaves for their second week of direct competition. Would NXT be the better show, as I determined last week? Join me for a double show breakdown…
Starting the Show
Echoing their week one open, AEW put up their fan favourite company men in the opening bout, pitting The Young Bucks (whom I still hear announced as The Bucks of Youth in my head, cheers BROKEN Matt) against Private Party to kick off the AEW World Tag Team Championship tournament. While I’m personally not the biggest fan of their superkick schtick, there’s no argument that the Bucks are in the conversation as the best tag team in the world today. Private Party are themselves no slouches, though, exemplified by Marq Quen’s insane series of tope manoeuvres, firing up the crowd. While I went into the match thinking that the Bucks simply HAD to win this, Private Party made a believer of me during the course of the match. The upset victory was credible and believable given the work put in during the contest. A hot start to the show as well as the tournament itself. Quick post match note… continuing the Party celebration / Bucks disbelief throughout the commercial split-screen was an excellent timing choice, furthered by the immediate entrance of Chris Jericho’s stable at the return. Great way to keep viewers engaged.
With the unenviable task of topping last week’s opening contest, NXT kicked off with the Cruiserweight Championship match between Lio Rush and Drek Gulak. The match was fantastic, as you’d expect from these two, but it angers me greatly that it took a ratings war for WWE to recognise what a gem they have in the Cruiserweight division. I’m not sure what the future holds for 205 Live but at the very least it’s good the Cruiserweight Championship will have a solid home in NXT. Lio Rush winning the title was not wholly unexpected and the crowd were very behind the man of the hour. A hot start to the show but, in contrast to last week, I think that AEW’s was hotter this week.
Match of the night
Unlike in week 1, tonight’s best match was less obvious. The contests between Lio Rush/Drew Gulak and WALTER/Kushida were contenders but the predictable ending of the Cruiserweight Championship match and rare botch from Kushida (however well recovered by WALTER) remove them from contention. Owing the degree to which they impressed me with their in-ring work, as well as the shock, unexpected victory, it is my opinion that the match of the night tonight was the AEW Tag Tournament match that opened Dynamite. Special mention for Moxley/Spears – a solid match – but very much a filler for TV; I’m sure we’ll see them together again.
With no debuts or unannounced arrivals to speak of, there were no truly shocking moments in either show. As each show looked to follow their high-energy debuts, they went back to the formula – developing characters, putting up wins and losses and furthering existing storylines. That’s a-okay with me. I suppose the real shock here is that neither brand burned themselves out and pitched a stinker in week 2!
Fun moments and other good stuff
- Chris Jericho’s quip about We The People: “It was a stupid idea from bad creative and all that’s gone.”
- Darby Allin and Jimmy Havoc proved they can have a solid wrestling match, without the garbage.
- Do Aliyah and PAC have the same entrance music?
- The prospect of Ripley/Baszler and Rhea Ripley showing that she has more intensity and charisma than the entire AEW Women’s division (see below).
- Barbed wire broom.
- Breezango’s new “Men at Work” entrance, moving them away from the fashion police gimmick.
- Having dropped the happy-go-lucky yet scared pigeon demeanour, Dakota Kai is a lot more tolerable. Still happy to see her take the L from Bianca Belair.
- The AEW commentary team, especially JR, felt a lot more natural tonight. The three man team told good stories and helped introduce their talent to any new audiences tuning in for the first time.
Room for improvement
- The referee was far too liberal with the rules in the opening contest. The Young Bucks spent a large majority of the match in the ring together without even being asked to leave the ring. If wins and losses matter in AEW, the rulebook should too.
- Tegan Nox returns next week? We’re just ignoring the fact NXT UK is a thing now, huh?
- Why isn’t Jericho’s stable called The List after we dropped that name several times at the start of the promo?
- Already bored of Cameron Grimes’ quick victories and I doubt he’s 220lbs.
- Still haven’t seen an ounce of charisma from anyone in the AEW Women’s division
- I won’t tolerate a third cluster finish in a row from AEW. They need to find another way to close the show next week.
What the ratings said
The ratings are in and, while viewership of both shows was down on week 1, AEW once again came out on top. This weeks Dynamite brought in just over 1 million views while NXT garnered a viewership of just under 800k viewers. Hopefully, these ratings will pick up for both shows in week 3, now viewers have a better idea what to expect.
And the winner is…
Once again, two solid battles offered to the Wednesday Night War. While both shows kept me engaged and had a lot to offer, I must conclude the AEW Dynamite was the better show tonight; each of the matches and moments flowed together from start to finish. Just as last week, this doesn’t mean that NXT was a bad show – just that the moments overall across the All Elite offering were more entertaining, in my eyes. For my money, Moxley’s in-ring debut, Jericho’s promo and the opening tag team match won out against 205 finally being used, quick finishes and Giant Bernard references. With that, the war for best Wednesday night programme, regardless of the ratings, is now tied at 1-1. I can’t wait to see how this number develops as the weeks roll by; what a great time to be a wrestling fan!
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.