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NXT/AEW Wednesday Night War: Week 14 Winners and Losers

Despite this being the second Wednesday of the year, last night was the first true Wednesday Night War of 2020. After copping out with a clip show last week, NXT will be looking to regain a chunk of the viewers that they lost. Conversely, All Elite Wrestling is still trying to work the kinks out of their production and build their audience back to what it was for Dynamite’s debut in October.

For this week’s Winners and Losers, I have chosen to do things a little differently. Where I would ordinarily watch one show and then the other, this week I will be watching each show side-by-side on two televisions. There are two reasons I’m trying this: The first, honestly, is that life is too busy this week to be devoting four hours of my Thursday to wrestling. Second, in the spirit of a true war, I’m interested in finding out which show is able to hold my attention the most across the two hours. Let’s get started, shall we?

Starting the Show

All Elite Wrestling got Dynamite underway with a fair amount of recap, six minutes of it in fact, before their opening contest got underway. Following Hangman Adam Page’s shenanigans in Private Party’s bar last week, he and Kenny Omega are going one on one with the fun loving tag team. Kenny Omega is in a feud with PAC, by the way, not that you’d be able to tell from watching Dynamite most of the time…

This match was a great opportunity for Private Party to hold their own against two of the top guys in AEW and they certainly did not disappoint. The tag team rules, as they often do in AEW, went out the window and each team had prolonged moments with both members of the tag team in the ring at the same time. AEW tag matches are becoming a little formulaic, I’m sorry to say.

After the match, the video screen turned to a view of PAC in the locker room, administering the Brutalizer to Michael Nakazawa. I noted last week that, while watching on-demand and so without the commercial breaks, I didn’t get the payoff to PAC entering Nakazawa’s locker room so as far as I’m concerned, Nakazawa has been locked in PAC’s Brutalizer for a whole week. Poor guy.

NXT kicked off with a reminder of what happened on their December 18th show, most notably the return of Johnny Gargano and the title victory of Rhea Ripley. The video package switches to what’s coming up on that night, a fatal four way match to determine a contender for the NXT North American Championship as well as the start of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.

In half the time it took AEW to get going with something new, NXT started properly with Rhea Ripley coming to the ring. To chants of ‘you deserve it’, Ripley reminisces about the moment in which she was hoisted on the shoulders of fans, celebrating but she is quickly interrupted by my spirit animal and the woman whom dethroned Ripley from her NXT UK throne, Toni Storm.

Toni claims that she will become NXT UK Women’s Champion this Sunday at NXT UK Takeover: Blackpool (man, I need to catch up with NXT UK) and then wants to become a double champion by taking on Rhea Ripley at World’s Collide. Ripley accepts the challenge. Kay Lee Ray comes to the ring and says something unintelligible before Io Shirai takes her microphone to the ring and makes more coherent sense despite speaking Japanese. She then points at the NXT Women’s Championship and shouts “mine”.

Doesn’t get much clearer than that. Bianca Blair comes to the rings and makes an awful 2020 vision joke, claiming she’s better than everyone in the ring. Candice LeRae joins the party but Rhea Ripley has had enough. Ripley jumps Blair and chaos ensues. After Ripley, Storm and LeRae stand tall, a referee comes to the ring and declares that this melee will be coralled into a six man tag team match, starting immediately.

Fun moments and other good stuff

  • Io Shirai can’t be contained. I loved her small attack of Bianca Blair. She can’t be contained.
  • Imperium deserved to advance in the Dusty Classic (see also Room for Improvement)
  • The Broserweights is an inspired tag team name. The pairing of Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne might actually be a force to contend with. They could go all the way.
  • JR: “I have shoes that are 26 years old.”
  • Sammy Guevara picks up a huge win against the veteran Christopher Daniels.
  • Superheel MJF getting out his cellphone and ignoring DDP is the most ignorant thing ever, and I love it.
  • Alex Shelley coming to NXT to team with Kushida in the Dusty Tag Team Classic. I like that, I like it a lot.
  • Another week of picture-in-picture placard communication from Sammy Guevara.
  • Jericho’s right, Elvis was a jacka$$.
  • Keith Lee’s beard.

Room for Improvement

  • I hadn’t realised show closely linked the commercial breaks between the two shows was. Do the powers that be on each not want to manipulate the timing of the commercial breaks to keep people watching?
  • AEW are absolutely terrible at introducing new wrestlers on their programme. “It’s Japanese wrestling legend, Luther!” Seriously, who? Are casual audiences just supposed to guess why we should give a damn about this guy?
  • Riho is still Women’s Champion.
  • Steve Cutler looks too normal with short hair. Doesn’t look like he belongs in the biker gang-esqe Forgotten Sons stable any more.
  • The Forgotten Sons deserved to advance in the Dusty Classic (see also fun moments/good stuff).
  • Austin Theory looks like every create-a-wrestler I’ve ever made of myself on video games.
  • Why is Stu Grayson the only person in The Dark Order without a mask on?
  • I don’t like either Tag Team Championship team losing to each other on TV. I feel like there should have been much more shenanigans involved in the finish that a minor interjection from the rest of the Undisputed Era.
  • Not wrestling related – but it’s super hard to stay motivated to eat healthier in 2020 with adverts for Dunkin’, Little Ceasars and Chilli’s every ten minutes…
  • Who is Robert Stone and why exactly should I care about him, or his “brand”?
  • AEW’s closing segment with Jon Moxley’s answer was massively anti-climatic. The whole question was borne out of a need to waste time so that Jericho can defend his Championship against Mox at their February PPV. Mox was never joining the Inner Circle and they obviously couldn’t think of an entertaining way to have Moxley swerve Jericho. I can’t think of one either but, with that in mind, I wouldn’t have raised the question of Moxley joining The Inner Circle at all. Waste of TV time.

What the ratings said

AEW returned to winning ways with week with a viewership of 947,000 to NXT on USA’s 721,000. This puts All Elite Wrestling in double digits and puts the overall score at 10-3-1.

And the winner is…

My experiment in watching both shows at the same time was largely a success. I don’t feel that I lost out too much doing it. There were a couple of moments when watching simultaneously was a problem, though. Particularly frenetic matches happening at the same time are some were somewhat difficult to follow; I struggled during the UE vs. Gallus and Lucha Bros vs. Cody and Dustin Rhodes match. Overall, time was saved and both shows were watched. I may do this again in the future.

While NXT wasn’t a barnburner, it was streets above AEW in terms of coherence, storyline development and common sense. Stupid decisions like the nonsense in the Women’s Championship match, Moxley joining and not joining The Inner Circle just ruined the show for me. All the Dusty Classic matches were great, the build for Gargano vs. Balor was good… NXT just did the business better this week. It’s now 9-5-1 NXT over the course of the Wednesday Night War.

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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