Welcome to this column, which in its second week only, sees NXT outdoing AEW in overall quality. Although not by much, but still it is the case this week. In general, NXT was more well structured than its Dynamite counterpart. Without further due let’s dive into the biggest talking points from both shows. Again, this is not a full blown review but just a general recap.
This time the start will be from Full Sail.
5 – A “Bruised” Promo game for Pete Dunne, and Daine!!
This is an inclusive entry, if only Pete Dunne was the only one that had a bad promo. His promo was lame in almost every aspect; the setting, the way it was shot, Tyler Bate being there for (almost) no real reason, and of course te content of said promo. To be honest, cutting promos isn’t exactly Dunne’s strong suit as his talking is better done between the ropes.
Now let’s cover Killian Daine, whose promo was even sillier with the background of a flaming oil barrel. The result is very obvious; their feud is being set up but that also leaves Damien Priest as a third wheel in this whole thing. His situation is still ambiguous, as he wasn’t featured on the show. Hopefully, NXT’s booking will bring him back in the forefront and involve him as he is a really promising heel as mentioned in last week’s column.
4 – NXT women’s division: STILL RULES!!
If NXT has any clear advantage over their competition, it is their women’s contingent, who are delivering some must-see intensity each week. This week was really no different, with Bianca Belair and Rhea Rhipley setting the record straight with a great opener of power vs technique that showcases each women in the department where they (allegedly) fall short.
The match was amazing, and its aftermath also adds more reasons to tune up next week. Io Shirai, tried to make a run-in to cost Rhipley the match, but Candice LeRae made the save setting up a match between them next week. Elsewhere, Dakota Kai and Teagan Nox faced Marina Shafir and Jasemine Duque for a chance at WWE women’s tag team titles. Despite the quality of this match not exactly meeting the exceptions, the result and the subsequent prospect is really mouthwatering, especially when we have clear cut characters like Kai and Nox , as well as Asuka and Kairi Sane. NXT’s women’s division is really worth watching and even more than most things on WWE as a whole. WWE, AEW, take notes!!.
3 – NXT cools down, but still delivers!!
NXT’s biggest cynicism in the first two weeks for its TV era, was that it was too explosive and grandiose for its own good. The first full two-hour show four weeks ago felt like a TakeOver coming early, which made NXT fans rightfully concerned about whether the gold and black brand already emptied the tank.
Not only did NXT shut down this issue, but it found itself a decent structure around its biggest moments. You may be forgiven if you considered Breezango and Isiah Scott vs Forgotten sons, Angel Garza vs Jack Gallagher, and to a certain extent Matt Riddle vs Cameron Grimes a filler. However, no one can deny that these matches are done for a purpose which is to build some new faces on the brand. Hopefully, this will continue and NXT would settle into a good model of TV show that doesn’t lose what made the brand a fan favorite for the last few years.
2 – The main-event scene is bonkers!!
NXT’s main-event scene/vortex is encompassing in all the right ways. Of course all of NXT’s titles are sucked in this thing, which is a whole different story that can spin off to various mini-feuds. Also, there is a slew of wrestlers vying for the same top championship with conflicting interests. This climaxed in a great 3 on 4 confrontation, which is only one man short of an orgasmic 8-man tag, where it seemed that the battle lines are clear and drawn until the unthinkable happened.
We will get to that in a bit, but this whole situation is increasingly captivating. You can spin off multiple combos of feuds as much as you want, which only adds tension to the programming. The only thing that NXT needs to take care of though, is carefully crafting this story in order to keep fans hooked every week to the show. One way to do it was the biggest talking point on the show, speaking of which.. !!
1 – Finn Balor is heel!!!
He did it!! he turned heel after a VERY long time, instantly revitalizing his career. After a very ropy main-roster run where his highlights were outdone by his post-injury return, and subsequent high profile jobbing and stop-start pushes, he finally has his mojo back. This heel turn works on various levels, as Finn Balor revisits his Prince Devitt days in Japan where he was the most dangerous heel in the business for a near two-year period on one side. On the other side, it is a massive cliffhanger for viewers that will keep them hooked and interested to tune in for next week’s show.
Granted, the easy way to do it can be by aligning him with the UE. However, this option is very predictable as well as a momentum-killer for what could be genuinely an amazing storyline spun over numerous TakeOver cycles. Back to Balor himself, he needs to find his form both in promos and between the ropes to ease his character’s transition. One thing is for sure, NXT is recovering some big ground over their competitors which can fix their ratings’ issues in the near future.
Speaking of AEW …
5 – Time to care for the women!!
Again, this is almost becoming a recurrent criticism of “the alternative” show. First, why is AEW again giving women less to work with each week? also, Where was the champ on this show with a Women’s championship match yet to be announced ?? and Finally, Why Brandi Rhodes is acting as AEW’s Stephanie McMahon?? (no need to explain that last comparison).
Once again, there was a single women’s match on this week’s episode. However, I should reiterate again that this is not the problem. The problem is, AEW’s women’s division feels hollow at the moment as it lacks both star power and credible challengers. It feels to a certain extent, that Britt Baker is the only credible women at the moment and that Riho’s championship reign is done to appease Kenny’s jushi wrestling contingent without any kind of foresight.
But, to not be harsh on the company, it is still in its infancy phase. Though, that doesn’t excuse them just neglecting their women’s division which, in the near future, might drive away fans from an outdated misogynist perspective. These words might be exaggerated or blown out of proportions, that’s why i would like to be proven wrong eventually when this division improves.
4 – AEW Tag team division: DYNAMITE!!!
Just like in NXT, this is an inclusive entry, but for all the right reasons. AEW’s tag team division continues to be an ace for that company, with their tournament yielding numerous match of the year contenders. This week was no different, with two AMAZING semi-finals of Lucha Bros vs Private Party and SCU vs Dark Order. Though, the second one was harmed by its positioning on the card and by the fact that fans didn’t really care about Dark Order, or understand his character for that matter. That didn’t detract from the match though, which was awesome in its own right. Consequently, SCU vs Lucha Bros is set up for next week’s episode for the titles in a match that promises pure pandemonium.
Also, AEW’s tag division includes the Young Bucks feuding with Santana and Ortiz as well as having a stacked roster with Best Friends, Private Party, Jurassic Express, and the Dustin Brothers, which just screams “The best tag division on the planet”. It is the biggest weapon that AEW has now to outdo NXT as the latter almost sidelined their tag belts for the sake of a larger storyline, with their bigger opponent, WWE just crapping on tag team wrestling as it seems for the moment.
3 – PAC vs MOX!!!
I called it!. I’m sorry to be an a**hole, but i did. Fans should have tampered their expectations when this match was announced very quickly (unwisely, too), and should have seen a non-finish coming a mile away. Did anyone expect a clean finish for PAC vs MOX on TV just four weeks into their first PPV cycle??. Still, the match was a banger, all things considered.
It is easy to understand where anyone who feels let down by the finish comes from, which clearly leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Conversely, this was everything that you can ask from such a star-studded encounter. There was physicality, psychology, technicality and much more from both. One only big question left though, does this mean PAC is a pseudo-face at the moment??. Expectedly, you would see PAC attacking the referee and MOX being the tweener. However, that’s probably the best thing about it; all is shades of grey.
2 – Great angle!! But…
It’s universally impossible to downplay the AEW’s championship angle between Chris Jericho and Cody Rhodes, which resulted in a massive all out (see the pun?) brawl that was as funny as it was serious and engaging with a great promo work from both. However, the devil is in the details so let’s break them down.
First, they are both former WWE guys, as much as they would like to sweep it away which instantly throws some shades at the “alternative” thesis. Second, whatever would be the result, it will have a downside. If Jericho simply won, what’s Cody doing next?!. If Cody won, it hotshots the title just in its first PPV cycle which is dumb completely. If this was overbooked, and they fight again, it diminishes both of them and the title in one swoop. I hope that i’m wrong in this aspect too, because i’m sure that their match will be awesome. Still, this story is intriguing, yet to an extent half-built.
1 – AEW should learn to change gears!!
Aside from the cheap pun, AEW should truly learn to do some structuring in their shows. It feels by this point that i’m too down on them, but wrong things should be pointed out for every company. Having two semi-finals back to back, is just crowd-burning despite the crowd being hot for both. Also, putting the women’s match before PAC vs Moxley does not help balance fan interest in everything they are pushing at the moment.
If they want to sustain their TV momentum, AEW should certainly learn to pepper their big matches and angles throughout the show. Granted, this would be easier once the tag team championship tournament is done. Therefore, one can expect more women’s division TV time and more wise booking in the sense of not advertising big matches on a weekly basis, which diminishes the value of these encounters.