The Wednesday Night Wars have seen AEW Dynamite and WWE NXT go head-to-head from 8-10pm ET every week since October, yet for the first time, both brands tried to deliver pay-per-view quality specials for two weeks in a row.
AEW hit us with Fyter Fest, which was originally scheduled to be a regular true PPV at Wembley Arena in London. In response, NXT decided to match excitement by pulling out the Great American Bash name. Low move, having a Dusty Rhodes association name against Cody’s show? That’s up for debate.
Whatever the case may be, all four shows needed to step up their game if they wanted to appear more than just a regular episode of NXT or Dynamite.
Now that both weeks have concluded and I’ve watched all eight hours of content, it’s time to pit them against each other to determine which show was better—Fyter Fest or Great American Bash?
Who Had the Better Atmosphere?
For my money’s worth, I like the Great American Bash name better. It’s more suited for bookending July 4th. It’s also a more established name and it feels more professional.
Granted, does that mean this was the equivalent of an old WCW Great American Bash? Of course not. But it wasn’t going to be, so I didn’t have that expectation.
Fyter Fest was a great parody of Fyre Fest, but I don’t think it should necessarily continue every year. The joke’s already lost its pizzazz. Now, to be fair, maybe it’s taken on a life of its own and people won’t even associate it with that by next year, but it’s still something on my mind.
This is EASILY a Fyter Fest victory. It’s not even close.
AEW presented a summer-time show with an open arena, bright graphics, trees for the set and hot girls in bikinis lounging around in pools. That was all much more inviting and fitting with the theme.
What did NXT do? They put two cars out there, for some reason. I’m not a car guy, so that means absolutely nothing to me. It also doesn’t scream “Independence Day wrestling show” or even “summer” in any fashion. I don’t quite understand the car gimmick unless it’s something like Over the Limit or Fastlane. They didn’t even factor into the Street Fight or anything like they should have.
Yes, they had some balloons, but everything was so dark that that got lost in the shuffle. The environment was just a void of blackness like any other show, which was more depressing than it should have been. It was also just not anything different enough. Somehow, WWE even went ahead and used black as the predominant graphics color, which I think was a mistake.
+1 AEW Fyter Fest
Dynamite has always had a better arena setup than NXT, even pre-COVID. With these restrictions, it’s been magnified even more.
For weeks, AEW had its own roster filling in as a crowd, while WWE opted for total silence. Dynamite was infinitely easier to watch in that regard than even Raw, SmackDown, etc.
WWE started to catch up, but the difference is still there. One has a group of passionate employees having fun and staying in character (like the Librarians reading). The other has tired, annoyed and exhausted employees treated like monkeys, told what to do and not given any flexibility to have fun. They might as well have programmed mannequins with pre-set chants like the background characters copied and pasted in video games.
NXT crowds are kept in the shadows and only really bang on the plexiglass. AEW crowds taunt the wrestlers and seem like they’re actually part of the show. It’s a stark difference I’m surprised WWE hasn’t acknowledged and tried to copy. I don’t know who really thinks NXT has a better formula.
+1 AEW Fyter Fest
Who Had the Better Mic Work?
Before we get into the matches, let’s talk about all the talking. An assessment of the mic work ranges from promos, interviews, vignettes, video packages and backstage segments—basically, everything other than the matches themselves.
Most of it was run-of-the-mill, so I won’t bother dissecting every piece out there. However, some elements stood out to me.
Points go to Fyter Fest Night 1 for Chris Jericho on commentary. He was easily the most enjoyable part of the broadcast teams, as even Mauro Ranallo was lacking some of his trademark vivacity.
MJF also had a good, quick promo on the first night of Fyter Fest. That was probably my favorite bit of mic work from the four shows.
I wasn’t fond of Taz and Brian Cage filling time with their two promos. Call me a heathen, but the FTW World Heavyweight Championship means nothing to me. Awarding Taz’s custom belt to Cage on the same week WWE debuted the new United States Championship with MVP declaring himself an uncrowned champion, too, was a distinct difference. AEW can’t help what WWE does, but one belt looks great and the other is an orange mess. One belt is a legitimate championship and the other is a step above Zack Ryder’s Internet Championship.
Nyla Rose is going to get a manager. Cool. Who is it? Awesome Kong? I’m intrigued.
Big Swole being suspended for kidnapping Britt Baker could’ve been much better than what it was.
But hey, it’s not like NXT had anything super great. I can’t remember any of the vignettes or backstage stuff from Great American Bash Night 1, to be honest except for the random brawl with Candice LeRae and Johnny Gargano vs Mia Yim and, for some reason, Isaiah “Swerve” Scott.
Io Shirai and Tegan Nox vignette? Meh. Generic. Damian Priest calling out Cameron Grimes twice? No need. They should’ve had their match here, rather than wait, drag it out and stall. It’s not going to counteract Fight for the Fallen, that’s for sure.
Also, what’s up with the Robert Stone announcement just being a no from Shotzi Blackheart and a random attack by Killian Dain? Had Dain agreed to join The Robert Stone Brand, then I would have been much more interested in that segment. Missed opportunity to actually bring someone into the fold.
+1 AEW Fyter Fest
Who Had the Better Matches?
Variety is the Spice of Life
Great American Bash had a Fatal 4-Way No. 1 contender’s elimination match, a handicap match, a strap match, champion vs champion with Io Shirai against Sasha Banks, a street fight, a six-man tag and a Winner Takes All champion vs champion match.
In comparison, Fyter Fest had four title matches, an eight-man tag, a six-man tag, and a handicap match.