Okay, off the bat, let me just say this: This will NEVER happen again. I am on a one week break from uni, I finished the NaNoWriMo stuff in 10 days, churned out another novella after that, did some editing for a publisher, and decided to let myself fall for the hype.
I watched both NXT and Dynamite. I normally do not watch WWE televised stuff because, well, it sucks, but a recent decent Smackdown (the one with Cole v Bryan) had me curious, and with the so-called “Wednesday Night Wars” in full swing (ish), and me having no life to speak of… well, here we are.
AEW first. It’s Dyn-O-mite! (Reference for any of those of you left watching wrestling who actually remember 1970s US sitcoms…)
1) Nick Jackson v Rey Fenix
This match was exactly what I expected going into it – a pseudo-gymnastics display of complete insanity. This was almost the perfect opener to hook in the casual viewer flipping between the two channels. I mean, literally a minute in, the entrances started. Even though, as is usual in these types of matches, selling was optional and the kickouts were ‘WTF’, they really did play on knowing each other well. Highlights? The bouncing ‘rana. The rope walk ‘rana to the floor. Dead lift German suplex on the apron. The Destroyer into a sharp-shooter. Does it matter who did what? No, not really. Fenix wins with a pin after a spinning muscle buster, and then refuses to shake Jackson’s hand afterwards. Great opener.
2) Dr Britt Baker v Hikaru Shida
This is a number one contender’s match. Baker is definitely improving, and the match was fine, but Shida was heads and shoulders above Baker in ability. Baker bled hardway from the nose. The crowd was into Baker, but after the opening match, they were a little dead. Shida won with a knee strike after Baker kicked out of a not good Falcon’s Arrow.
3) Promo for the Dark Order where some fat loser guy (who bears an uncanny resemblance to this writer…) sees a video on a subway which portrays the Dark Order as a cult. Intriguing looking video, but… no. It’s the Dark Order. And so I do not care.
4) Dirty Dozen Battle Royal
The final two in the ring will fight next week for that diamond ring. And DDP is not involved – I am disappoint. So it’s not Battlebowl? Participants are: Hangman Page, Pentagon Jr, Sonny Kiss, Jimmy Havoc, Jungle Boy, Marko Stunt, MJF, Chuck Taylor, Kip Sabian, and Billy Gunn. Yes, Billy Gunn. Two things: (a) the crowd was into him, and (b) he get;s to keep his WWF/E name? Out comes Rey Fenix to encourage his brother, but it’s Christopher Daniels in a cunning disguise (?) and that sees Pentagon Jr first dumped. It’s a battle royal, outside interference abounds, Page plays the plucky babyface, MJF plays the conniving heel, and those are your final two, after teasing Jungle Boy and Page (MJF had gone under the bottom rope – cliché #47). It was a battle royal. They’re all the same. Havoc coming back with a staple gun was interesting, I guess.
5) Chris Jericho wanders backstage doing hell things, then comes out to make a big announcement. It’s about saying sorry. The best thing about this is him having Jake Hager say the word “sorry” for him. There is no real announcement, just Jericho being Jericho.
That ends when out comes SCU. Sky is on the mic and he’s good, there’s a back and forth between Scorpio Sky and Jericho which ends up with Sky and Jericho having a title match next week, Kazarian and Daniels goading Jericho into it. That was well done. Then the Inner Circle rush in, handcuff Kazarian and Daniels to the ropes to beat up Sky until Jurassic Express run in for the save and Luchasaurus and Hager have an epic stare-down.
6) Luchasaurus v Peter Avalon (The Librarian)
And quicker than I can type that, Luchasaurus kills him. Now let’s see that be end of this lame gimmick. And if not, using him as fodder for big guys to kill suits me fine.
7) Matt Travis Memorial Tag Team Match: Santana & Ortiz v Private Party
This match did not quite click. There was a fun bit in the middle when Santana and Ortiz traded Quen back and forth in a vertical suplex position for a long time. But they were calling spots visibly, and there was some sort of mess up after the code red? And it was dull. Yeah, not a brilliant showcase. Private Party somehow get the win after being killed for most of the match when Nick Jackson steals the sock filled with stuff.
8) Post-match, Sammy Guevara comes out to help Santana & Ortiz attack Private Party until Jackson and Dustin Rhodes makes the save, Dustin hitting everyone with his cast. I wonder if his arm will heal faster than ‘Cowboy’ Bob Orton’s did?
9) Kenny Omega gives a brief to camera talk to threaten Pac… then finished with a weird weight-lifitng sight gag. Okay.
10) Darby Allin v Jon Moxley
Allin comes out in a body bag and attacks Mox on the stage. Allin is over – there is a cute woman in the audience face-painted just like him (and quite a few kids). The fighting starts before the bell, the ref has to put Mox’s fingers back in, and it is a pretty intense match. Moxley is proving himself to be, with Sky, the AEW wrestler who brings it every single time. This was a good match. Ending came with a Mox Paradigm Shift DDT from the second rope. No, seriously, good way to finish.
10a) Two brawls? Seriously?
Now, let’s go to my sister’s place for WWE! It’s NXT! (Or, as a friend of mine heard when he first heard about the show – In Ecstacy…)
1) We open with William Regal welcoming Becky Lynch (“It’s nice to have you back…”), and she goes to the ring. She has a mic. And she delivers a decent promo. For 5 freakin’ minutes. Challenge to Shayna Baszler, but instead out comes Rhea Ripley.
2) Becky Lynch v Rhea Ripley
I’m biased – two of my favourite women’s wrestlers. (Oh, and the fact I’ve been hit by Ripley in the ring does add something to it). They have an intense, albeit brief battle. I would love to see these two go at it in a decent length bout at PPV. No, they showed something. Hang on – Becky & Charlotte v Ronda & Rhea. Let them go for broke. Sorry. Got distracted. Rhea really showed her strengths here. After ten minutes of action, Ripley hit a second rope superplex, and then the Baszler trio charge the ring to lay them both out, but they are killed by Rhea/Becky.
3) Kona Reeves comes to the ring to face Matt Riddle, butt Ricochet makes himself known, giving us:
Ricochet v Matt Riddle
This was non-stop from the word go. This is the Ricochet I want to see more of. Great back and forth action. Both guys looked a million bucks, and then, after a nasty release German suplex by Riddle, all hel broke loose. Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura run in. Ricochet and Riddle fight them off. Then Riddle pins Ricochet, and then Cesaro/Nakamura attack again. Ricochet’s crossbody was… wow! Nakamura goes to kill Riddle, Roderick Strong makes the save, Riddle kicks Strong anyway, then Balor comes in and Riddle fights him off. What a freakin’ segment.
Okay, here was what was so good about it: despite being attacked, personal grudges and ongoing feuds did NOT take a back-seat to defending oneself. I did not see that in the 3-brand battle on Raw.
4) Hype videos for the NXT matches dotted throughout the show are really good. Not too long and make every match seem important.
5) The Revival v The Undisputed Era
This was a really good tag team match. Basically, TUE singled out Wilder and there were close pinfalls. It wasn’t quite R’n’R Express “Ricky Morton close but no cigar” tags before the hot tag, but it was reasonably good. There was some outside stuff, breaking up of pins, and then, in the end, it was a total elimination that got the win for TUE. Truth be told, that ending felt a little anti-climactic.
6) Kay Lee Ray v Dakota Kai
This felt like a glorified squash for Kay, who won with relative ease. Again, I have no issue with squash matches, but I’ve heard so many good things about Kai and didn’t see much of it here – she just absorbed a lot of punishment, had a couple of hope spots and… that was about it, really.
7) Post-match, a bunch of Smackdown women attack both women. The NXT Horsewomen come to make the save, then some other NXT women come out, then the Raw women come out… and then Nikki Cross comes out with a (plastic?) trash can lid and cleans house, leaving her alone in the ring. Why the hell isn’t she a champion on one of the brands yet? I’d pick her over Bayley, Banks (by a country mile), Bliss or most of the others.
8) The Viking Raiders v Forgotten Sons
Another good tag team match, playing to the big man dynamic, with FS third member interfering and eventually getting kicked out and the Raiders pulling out the victory after a hard-fought match. Both teams came out of this one looking strong. Ivar’s handspring double elbow, by the way, was pretty damn impressive.
9) Dominic Dijakovic v Adam Cole: Ladder Match for the first entry in the WarGames match
This felt very rushed, like they were trying to condense a 30 minute match into less than fifteen minutes. As such, it didn’t have time to tell the story and felt like a bunch of spots. And, again, I like my spotfests, but a match this important maybe should have been a little better thought out. Still a decent match with some nasty bumps (that choke slam onto the ladder… ow!), and Cole winning by knocking Dijakovic through a ladder previously set up to win and his team gets the advantage come NXT Takeover. Not the most innovative ladder match, but watchable.
10) Okay… The Undisputed Era come to celebrate with Cole, but are confronted by Smackdown roster members. Then Raw comes up from behind. Then Raw and Smackdown go at it as more NXT people come out to join in the fray. Some stuff in the ring, the Lee and Ivar share a smirk and we have double suicide dives onto everyone from two of the biggest guys out there. Everyone’s out, and Cole stands tall in the ring until Seth Rollins suddenly spears and superkicks Cole to a huge boo. The Ciampa comes out (everyone else is still lying on the ground, btw), takes out Cole, and steps into the ring. And we go off air as they start to pummel one another. Because, you know, four brawls is more important than what could be a decent match.
10a) Four run-in brawls! FOUR!
Now, let’s look at the comparison! While it might be a little unfair because of NXT Takeover Wargames and WWE Survivor Series this weekend, it did mean we had two stacked shows to look at.
1) Both shows had matches that could easily have featured on PPVs, but as NXT and AEW are only doing 4 PPVs a year, that does mean their PPV matches need to be huge ones. AEW has managed to get that early (thus far), whereas some of the NXT matches feel like they could be NXT matches that happen to be on PPV
2) WWE’s top women are better than AEW’s, but AEW’s women are improving, whereas some-one like Banks is not. But the NXT women – they look strong. I think the female division on NXT has more depth and there is not as much of a gap between the top and bottom tier talent.
3) The NXT commentators were filled with hyperbole and over-the-topness and did not really sell the story of the matches. Even grumpy JR knows how to sell the match story. And, without Bischoff screaming in his ear, Tony Schiavone has shown what a fine announcer he is, no need to resort to the over-the-top hysterics of the NXT crew. (Mind you, the NXT trio crap all over the Raw and Smackdown announce teams. NXT has the best announcers in WWE.)
4) AEW’s main matches are longer and manage to get more of a story across, even in their flippy spotfests; their squash matches are really squash matches. NXT – with the WWE’s 50-50 booking strategy still visible – does not allow this to happen.
5) NXT does much better hype videos. Shorter but still sell the point they are trying to make effectively. AEW… I’m not really sure what they’re going for.
6) NXT is not filled with standard WWE brawling, but their matches all seem to have the same style or feel about them. In AEW, there seems to be a mixture of styles in the ring.
7) I’m not sure about most weeks, but there was no prolonged interview/promo segment on NXT this week. While they serve a purpose, they do feel like they drag on AEW and are almost a bit of egotism. However, AEW starts with a match every week (but one, where they showed a PPV highlights package); NXT started with a mic segment.
8) Having a commissioner/authority figure/person in charge making decisions. OR. Having a rankings table decide who fights who. I like the rankings – it adds a sporting legitimacy. And you don’t need an excuse or feud for a match – I need to beat you to get closer to fighting for a title. Simple. However, a match like a WarGame or Ladder Match or Cage Match often needs a commissioner to decide it because things have gotten out of hand. Now, regular WWE programming doesn’t do this. It’s just – is that the theme of the PPV? But NXT… look, Baszler and her crew have been running roughshod, some of the others have gotten sick of it, things are getting out of control for a long time – WarGames!
9) Too. Many. F*ckin’. Factions. NXT, AEW, WWE… AUGH!
10) Both companies set up their PPVs well, having so few of them. But AEW seems to understand that two brawls per show is about the absolute limit. FOUR on NXT!!
So… who is better? AEW is my preferred one, but I will watch NXT Takeover Wargames, and I do try and catch some NXT matches. NXT is miles ahead of Raw and Smackdown, but I can see why they are worried about AEW being a legitimate challenger. On this night when going head to head was so important… I think AEW might just have edged out NXT.
Tags: 2019, Adam Cole, AEW, Battle Royal, Becky Lynch, brawl, Britt Baker, Chris Jericho, Dakota Kai, Darby Allin, Dustin Rhodes, Dynamite, Forgotten Sons, Hangman Page, Jake Hager, Jon Moxley, Kay Lee ray, Luchasaurus, Matt Riddle, Matt Travis, MJF, Nick Jackson, Nov 20, November 20, NXT, Ortiz, Private Party, Raw, Revival, Rey Fenix, Rhea Ripley, Ricochet, Santana, smackdown, Undispited Era, viking raiders, Wargames, Wednesday Night War, women, WWE