5 on 5 : The biggest talking points from AEW & NXT (Oct. 16).
Hopefully, this column is going to be present every week depending on your writer’s schedule. This is not a review as i don’t tend to watch both full shows on a weekly basis (i flip flop between them), so don’t expect a full blown analysis of everything happened on NXT and AEW Dynamite. However, rest assured as this writer over here watches enough of both shows to capture the biggest headlines in both brands. Finally as the title reveals, this will be laid out as 5 talking points for each brand (just to avoid confusion among readers).
5 – PAC vs MOX !!
When AEW announced a massive tag team match for this week’s episode featuring PAC and Jon Moxley vs Kenny Omega and Adam “Hangman” Page, you can smell the uneasy tension between the pair of heels and cut it with a knife even. Commentary did put over the fact that PAC was vocal in disliking Moxley, and so was Jon who put it out there in his promo that he doesn’t need PAC’s help. So, one have to wonder how these two unhinged partners could ever work on the same (Adam* LOL) page.
The answer was: NO! THEY JUST CAN’T. They eventually fell apart with MOX flipping “The Bastard” off, leaving him high and dry to eat the pin after a “Dead Eye” from Page that ended his perfect streak and made his overall record at AEW 2-1. The interesting thing about this feud is that Moxley has a match to focus on already against Kenny Omega at Full gear, which opens a wide scope of possibilities if he and PAC are feuding. AEW already booked them in a match next week, albeit not a very wise move as PAC vs MOX could be a money maker if the company can hold off on it like they did to Moxley vs Omega.
We all know that it is very unlikely that AEW would have a definitive finish, as this is clearly a first in many matches to come. However, it would have been way better if this story has more slow-burn feel to it by giving PAC something else to do while remaining a looming shadow over Jon’s match with the “cleaner”.
4 – Lucha Bros vs SCU in the finals of the tag team tournament ??.
After a shock loss to Private Party, AEW’s tag team divisions linchpins “Young Bucks” were eliminated from the tag team tournament, leaving the door wide open for new feuds and teams to step up their game. Their elimination also meant that (thankfully for the moment) we are not going to see them face Lucha Bros again, not as a knock against this incredible rivalry but as a very predictable result that won’t elevate anyone.
AEW already established that SCU are having some issues with Pentagon Jr. and Rey Phoenix, and this week confirmed it through a pre-match attack on Christopher Daniels by the Lucha Bros. This assault forced Scorpio Sky to break his oath and participate in the tournament on behalf of his fallen mate, in a great opener against the Best Friends. After a great back and forth encounter, highlighted by Scorpio Sky’s insane athleticism, SCU put the friends away and advanced to the semi-finals of the tournament.
The way things are going right now is that we are heading towards an SCU/Lucha Bros feud, that might culminate (or start depending on the plans) at the finals of the tag team tournament. It is a guaranteed banger between the ropes and also has the potential of a great feud outside the ring, as both teams really have a full understanding of their characters’ dimensions. It is a feud i’m ready to pay money for (as a massive Lucha Bros fan, Pentagon Jr. in particular).
3 – AEW’s women’s division is bland!!
Having a single women’s match on a two-hour show isn’t the problem, especially if it is a very good one like Riho vs Britt Baker for the AEW Women’s championship. However, it is the staleness of that division that is frightening. No match is yet to be set for that title at Full gear, which suggests that the higher people over on AEW are not sure who to put to face Riho at the PPV.
Where was Nyla Rose?? Awesome Kong??? Bea Pristley??. If AEW will not do anything to fix this, then they have lost already one big department in their war as any viewer of NXT on the other side will see how their women’s division has outdone AEW’s.
The clear path, monotonous it may be, is giving Britt Baker a title shot at the PPV on the basis of her not losing definitively. In the meanwhile, AEW should start giving their women more spotlight and build to avoid a complete souring from their fans who are just supporting everything they see with their eyes on the basis of novelty for the moment.
2 – Cody vs Jericho is a bit unbalanced!!!
Cody Rhodes vs Chris Jericho, at the first PPV cycle of TV episodes is already a bit rushed despite the former having the complete credentials to be in that spot eventually. The story as it seems, is that Cody is driven by his desire to win the title from Jericho which seems to be a classic story in his matches since AEW’s inception.
While it is always nice to see a story justified by motives and making sense, it also buggers the mind in some aspects of it. Although i’m a huge fan of Cody and his sort of “old school hommage” gimmick he is doing, it seems that his matches are all following the same pattern. At first, he is either insulted or assaulted, then a promo package that shows Jim Ross, Brandi Rhodes, and DDP talking saying the same idea that “they have never seen Cody as determined as now” and “this match means everything to him”. This week was no different, which definitely becomes redundant in a while.
On the other hand, Chris Jericho is pretty much establishing his crew “The Inner Circle”. He doesn’t seem to be all that focused on his match with Cody at the PPV, with his promo on this week’s episode having little mention of Rhodes or their match at Full Gear. Instead, he opted to put over Santana and Ortiz at the expense of his big match on November 9th. AEW needs to strike some serious balance in this story if it is going to hook fans in.
1 – The flaws are emerging!!
This entry is not in any way a bias against AEW, but there were errors and issues in this episode that should be mentioned. First, there was the audio issues as theme songs were coming off a bit weak on TV because of the producers using arena mics instead of audio boards. Second, there was some feed intersections between fite and TNT’s broadcasts in particular during Darby Allen vs Chris Jericho’s main event title match.
Speaking of that main event, remember when the internet community slammed Shane McMahon vs The Miz at WWE Extreme Rules earlier this year for having rope breaks in a cage match??. Well, it happened on AEW so it needs criticizing too. During the title match between Allen and Jericho, the “Painmaker” went for “The Walls (of Jericho)” but Allen reached to the ropes and a rope break happened in a Street fight (?). To be Fair, commentary said already that rope breaks are allowed so for TV viewers it might be less confusing. However, fans in the arena didn’t get the memo and started booing and chanting “It’s a street fight”. While these issues are as minor as it gets and can be excused to AEW lack of TV experience, they can’t become frequent because eventually it will detract from the overall experience and enjoyment of the show.
And now let’s head towards full sail…
5 – Damian Priest is a heel!! Remember that!!
The former “Punishment Martinez” is definitely a great wrestler, despite his character being slightly outdated (and a bit stereotypical). His match with the “Bruiserweight” was the biggest highlight of NXT this week, as far as in-ring work goes. The match was so good that it whipped the fans into a frenzy by its conclusion, which was tailor made for getting heat. Damian Priest pushed Pete Dunne into the referee, hoofed him in his “dunnes” and capitalized to take the win and elevate himself in a star making performance.
It is obvious that this will be the first of many, though Killian Daine might be lurking in the dark for Pete Dunne after an incident on the ramp way during the latter’s entrance and former’s exit. Back to Priest, he is a great prospect of a heel in Full Sail though not yet on Ciampa or Cole’s level. As first impressions go, this was a great performance by him that put him on a high pedestal very early in NXT.
4 – The Undisputed Era “Vortex”!
It seems like every baby face is feuding with UE at the moment. But, why wouldn’t they as UE are “draped in gold” at the moment. Let’s wrap it up first: Adam Cole has Tommaso Ciampa and Finn Balor vying for his NXT championship, Roderick Strong has to squeeze through Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic (maybe literally!) as well as an obviously unfinished business with Velveteen Dream. Only Kyle O’Reily and Bobby Fish are without opponents (Imperium ??) and seem there to provide the numerical advantage.
This UE vortex that seems to grow weekly is just amazing, as it makes their prophecy in a constant danger from different sides and adds some incredible level of intrigue to every episode going forward starting from next week’s .In that episode, Roderick Strong has a triple threat of hell to get through with the mentioned Lee and Dijakovic, who had their bombastic match cut short by Strong in an encounter of must-see proportions. This current domination phase of Undisputed Era forces the viewer to stay hooked to not miss any front of this multi-layered story. Hopefully, it leads to a massive clash of factions at WAR GAMES which im totally for.
3 – Gargano and Ciampa Forever?!
The Yin to the Yang, the Joker to Batman, Joe Pesci to Robert De Niro etc.; You name all the inseparable duos and bromances and put Johnny Gargano vs Tommaso Ciampa to that list while you are at it. These two are just intrinsically linked and inseparable, which should be obvious because their story is yet to reach that sweet climactic conclusion after years of feuding/teaming.
This week saw a recorded promo for Johnny Wrestling that lasted about a minute, but had a lot of fans salivating for an eventual meeting and potential reunion. When asked about his opinion of his former tag team/better rival, he said that he will tell him face to face. If NXT and by proxy WWE are smart enough, they will milk this reunion for all of it’s worth as it can be a great ratings bait and another source of intrigue for the brand.
1 – NXT’s women rule!!
Remember what i said about AEW’s women’s division?, now flip it 180 degrees when talking about NXT’s lasses. At the moment, it seems like there is at the very least 4 legit picks to be in line for a title shot against “The Queen of spades” Shayna Baszler. First, there is Bianca Belair who is on a collision course with former (and inaugural) NXT UK women’s champion Rhea Ripley as they square off next week, with the latter herself having issues with Io Shirai.
If you think things end here, think again because the champion herself came out after a returning Teagan Nox won her match to bully her for a while alongside Dakota Kai. NXT’s women’s division is the best in the world at the moment, thanks to the incredible wealth of talent in it that allows it to have multiple feuds between women who share the same end goal. Not just AEW should learn from that, but also WWE’s main roster writers who seem to care about that division when Ronda Rousey is around or in whatever program Charlotte Flair is in.
I’m super stoked for the next couple of weeks for this division, which has the full potential to be a deciding factor in NXT’s tug of ratings war going on with Toni Khan’s financed company.