Hello and welcome back to the Wednesday Night War series! This week’s episodes differed greatly as AEW Dynamite was taped in advance during Chris Jericho’s 2020 Norwegian Pearl cruise. WWE NXT aired live with the knowledge of what they were up against. Which show would come out on top as they head towards Revolution, Worlds Collide and the Royal Rumble?
Wednesday Night War – Week #15
This episode was taped during a four day vacation cruise. The tagline for the event is “Combining the worlds of rock and wrestling with a once in a lifetime amazing vacation experience“. Below are some (but not all) of the guests:
Ric Flair (Guest of Honor), Gabriel Iglesias (Host), Vickie Guerrero (Guest Cruise Director), Scott Hall, Sean Waltman, Booker T, Jake Roberts, Diamond Dallas Page, Eric Bischoff, Conrad Thompson, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Sharmell, MVP, Lisa Marie Varon (aka Victoria), Shaul Guerrero, Ted Irvine, Craig Gass, Fozzy, Light the Torch, Jared James Nichols and Kick Axe.
– We open with the best match of the night, as Kenny Omega and Hangman Page fought SCU for the AEW World Tag Team Championship. It’s so breezy that even Jim Ross couldn’t wear his trademark hat. While Omega and Page’s win could be seen as undermining the tag team division, it adds another dynamic to the growing tension between Page and The Elite. The celebration and promo did a good job of showing Page’s growing disdain for The Elite taking the spotlight. Not expecting them to hold on to the titles for long.
– The fans singing to Chris Jericho and Fozzy’s song during his entrance was fun and a good tribute to the man who helped set this thing up. Also, chanting at a passing boat was another humorous moment. Luchasaurus was a definite highlight of the six man tag.
– While there seemed to be a lack of heat between Cody and MJF, the proceeding spot of The Young Bucks throwing MJF in to the pool will stick in people’s minds. Probably the most memorable thing of the night.
– The outboard shots of the ship were magnificent. They should’ve done this to open the show, but at least we got to see the grand size of the cruise eventually.
– Something tells me you had to be on the vacation cruise to enjoy the full experience, which I’m sure was a very memorable few days for everyone who attended.
– The AEW Women’s division continues to prove they don’t have what it takes. Britt Baker’s heel turn and promo was so bad that Jim Ross had to insult it before cutting to a commercial break.
– Joey Janela gets a crucial win over Rey Fenix, but is subsequently fed to MJF and can’t last eight minutes (distracted by his former girlfriend that he ‘apparently’ moved on from)? Where does that leave “one of the best in the world” Fenix? Or Janela? Isn’t this the same guy who went toe to toe with Kenny Omega a couple of months ago on AEW Dark?
– Pac cuts an epic promo about being mistreated where he was before.. and how AEW officials aren’t treating him right, yet loses emphatically to a one-eyed Jon Moxley in the main event? I don’t get it. At least have Kenny Omega interfere or something? He beats up Nakazawa, begs Omega for a match.. yet he’s made to look a fool? It’s ridiculous.
– Sadly, Dynamite didn’t live up to expectation. Many sitting at home were asking why it was so lackluster. It felt like an afterthought, and I’m guessing the concerts and comedy gigs were more entertaining.
Knowing what they’d be up against in the Wednesday Night War, WWE NXT would be more than ready to take on this special episode of Dynamite. With so much on the line (along with needing to catch up in the ratings), NXT needed to hit the ball so far out of the park we’d never see it again.
– Pitting two of the best tag teams in WWE against each other in the opener was a solid idea. You could tell that Triple H told them to “go out there and freakin’ kill it”, and that’s exactly what they did. The intensity in this show never let up, aside from some slow moments in the main event when Keith Lee was selling. Really happy to see the Grizzled Young Veterans in the final as they’ve definitely earned it. A bit late, but Imperium finally got their own back on Undisputed Era.
– The women of NXT counter program the lackluster women’s match on Dynamite, and everyone plays their parts nicely. Toni Storm probably doesn’t deserve a title match against Rhea Ripley at Worlds Collide (aside from beating Rhea twice ages ago)? But it’s not like NXT UK has many choices.
– Ilja Dragunov is pure class. He’s gotta’ lead NXT UK in to the future, and pitting him against Balor is a good start. Speaking of which, I’m a little sad to see Joaquin Wilde (aka DJ Zema) get completely destroyed, but ‘Prince’ needs to make an example out of someone. It won’t be so one-sided at Worlds Collide.
– To my surprise, Shotzi Blackheart hung in there with the former two-time NXT Women’s Champion. Baszler needs this to get her back on the journey towards her women’s championship.
– While predictable, The Broserweights winning over Imperium was the smart choice and I loved the post-match insults with The Grizzled Young Veterans. Surprising that they let Matt Riddle get away with all the “high times” references on a family show. This is way better than what we got last year.. does anyone remember? It was Aleister Black & Ricochet vs. The Forgotten Sons.
– Again, while it was a predictable outcome, Keith Lee and Roderick Strong delivered a great main event which finally put an end to Undisputed Era’s prophecy. Lee’s probably booked a little too strong for my taste, but the fans are loving it anyways and he’ll be tough to dethrone. The brawl between Imperium and Undisputed Era was a follow on from NXT TakeOver: Blackpool II, and sweetly sets up their collision at Worlds Collide.
– Using the same old venue is starting to make the brand look second-rate compared to AEW. WWE was talking about taking NXT on the road months ago, yet they’re still stuck with the same old audience at Full Sail. While the venue has done the brand proud for many years, it feels like they’re being held back. Dynamite showed what’s possible for the world of wrestling in 2020; but you have to take a risk and hope the fans will jump onboard.
– Undisputed Era look like chumps again as they choose not to go after Imperium despite costing ’em a spot in the final of the Dusty Tag Team Classic. Also, they couldn’t handle Keith Lee despite him having an ankle injury. The referee should’ve ejected them from ringside early on.
This is seriously tough to call! How do I choose? NXT’s matches were quality and there’s nothing noticeably bad outside of using the same old venue. AEW Dynamite however.. took a risk and taped it while on holiday. How cool is that? Which other promotion would ever air an episode like this? They won’t! And that in itself is a huge thumbs up. Sadly, the innovative venue didn’t translate in to an explosive episode. It plodded along doing the bare minimum while slotting in some moments here and there.
At the end of the day it comes down to perspective. Do you like memories and grand venues? Then Dynamite wins. Do you like quality wrestling matches? Then NXT wins. If you were on the cruise ship experiencing this? It was likely one of the coolest things you’ve ever done in your life. You can’t say the same about NXT, but at least it’s accessible and most could afford to see it. AEW had the benefit of knowing their show would be taped, so they had time to get this show right. But yet, it still fell short and NXT took advantage with counter programming.
While the ratings will likely show AEW on top once again (wrote this before I saw them) due to the occasion, it won’t reflect the consistent product of NXT. AEW has a long way to go in building up all aspects of Dynamite. On the other hand, NXT needs to learn how to be more spontaneous. They need to show they can create electrifying moments just as much as Dynamite.. because that’s what people remember! In saying all this, I cannot possibly decide if one show was better than the other as it’s subjective.
They were both good in their own ways and I’m a ‘mark’ for quality shows; and not for one particular brand. If we blended Dynamite and NXT together? We’d get the dream of a perfect, all-rounded show. So it’s a draw in my eyes; which leaves us with a score of 6-5-4 in NXT’s favour after 15 weeks of going head-to-head.
AEW should’ve won easily and tied this thing up, so that’s my biggest disappointment. How do you feel about these episodes? Please let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading! And I’ll hopefully see you next week for another edition of the Wednesday Night War.