Hi there! And welcome back to the Wednesday Night War series. This will be the oddest comparison so far as AEW performed without a crowd, and NXT didn’t even go as far to produce any matches. With everything going on, the shows had to be as they were. I’m sure most fans who watched this week will already have an idea of who I’m gonna’ pick as the winner; but for the sake of tradition let’s go through the good and bad points. Here’s the links for all the Wednesday Night War series below.
Wednesday Night War – Week #23
Can All Elite Wrestling create memorable moments and engaging wrestling matches without a crowd? There’s much intrigue in how they would deal with the situation, and whether the product would suffer as a result. With the Wednesday Night War continuing on, it was crucial to nail a winning formula right away.
– Getting wrestlers at ringside to act as the crowd made it infinitely better compared to WWE’s attempts with Raw & SmackDown. You could hear them popping like the fans would, and even though it was quieter, it made for a better experience watching from home. All promos were directed towards the camera as well, like they were talking to us directly. The opener was a little sad, rather motivational, and unexpectedly satisfying.
– Many of these guys and girls are used to working in small venues, so they went full throttle to make you forget there’s no audience. Any match with The Lucha Bros is quality in my book, so Dynamite started off really well.
– The women of AEW have been criticized several times, and usually they are the lowest point of the show. While there were some missed spots, this was another enjoyable encounter between Shida, Riho, Statlander and Ford. I can’t really fault them for the effort, and I’m glad they continue to make Shida a threat. If anyone could take the title from Nyla Rose it’s her.
– The promos from MJF and Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts were quality as well. AEW is really nailing it with the heels, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for MJF and Archer. Is it too late for me to get in on the gambling?
– Luchasaurus is a beast, Jungle Boy is coming along nicely, and so are Butcher & The Blade. I never imagined Blade (fka Braxton Sutter) being so prominently featured on live TV; he wasn’t so great in Impact. His partner Butcher is also doing a phenomenal job. Only thing they need to figure out is how to make Allie more important to this stable, as she’s still nothing but eye candy.
– The notes in the descriptions for some of The Elite were hilarious. Brandi Rhodes had something like “She said she would never announce again” (Justin Roberts couldn’t make it due to travel issues), and Hangman Page was tagged as “Handwash” Page. These little details could be easily overlooked, so it really pays to watch Dynamite closely. You can’t afford to be multi-tasking or you’re gonna miss out on these things unless you read up on it laters.
– I’m just so happy for Brodie Lee (fka Luke Harper) for finally getting what he deserves. He’s a great worker, delivers on the mic, and was stupidly underappreciated. He’s the right fit for The Dark Order because he still needs to get over to some degree, and won’t cast an overwhelming shadow like a Broken Matt Hardy would have. What about that burn line though? “You are not the first out of touch old man to not believe in me.” GOD DAMN! Brutality.
– Speaking of Broken Matt Hardy, I thought it was absolutely TANTALIZING when Vanguard One appeared from out of nowhere to foreshadow the arrival of his wonderful leader. This is what many fans have waited for ever since he left Impact Wrestling; after he made said promotion relevant again with his crazy antics.
Granted, it’s not for everyone, it’s definitely not going to please all fans. But this gimmick got over and WWE chose not to go anywhere near its potential. It’s a shame, but at least Matt will have a good few years to show us what’s left in his creative brain. We might even see the rest of the family appear, like his wife Reby Sky, son Maxel, and their gardener Senor Benjamin.
– The main event was vintage Dynamite with a ton of action and the fourth match on the card. They effectively gave us more wrestling action in a 2 hour time slot, than WWE did with Raw, SmackDown and NXT combined (7 hours). And the wrestlers worked like nothing had changed. The wrestlers at ringside played their roles in acting like fans and shouting out funny, random stuff. By the end of it all, most fans were extremely happy with how they produced the first-ever AEW empty arena show.
– The Lance Archer thing is too carny for me (someone compared it to the Broken Hardy stuff). I wasn’t expecting them to go wacky with his character. Taking out a bunch of nobodies doesn’t mean much to me, but I really hope this can evolve in to something great. He’s not had much character before, so Jake Roberts and AEW are trying to mold him in to something. Til they figure out what that is? I reserve judgement on whether Archer is main event material. I’m afraid he doesn’t have the charisma to pull it off.
WWE NXT’s strength has always been its video packages and character building. But can they make it work for a whole show? I guess it depends on perspective. Could they afford to do this in the Wednesday Night War, when the competition is putting on an actual wrestling show? Let’s see.
– The whole rundown of Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa was compelling and interesting. Loved the pacing of it, although it did take ages to explain because of how long their rivalry is. Both these guys are excellent story tellers, and their chemistry is unparalleled anywhere. It’s going down as one of the best feuds in WWE history.
– ‘Prince’ Finn Balor cuts way better recorded segments than live promos. This is what originally gripped me to him while in NXT, was how genuine he came across. The way he explained his rise and fall was something I never thought I needed; but I’m glad it happened. Seriously, it’s one of the best things he’s done in WWE. Can’t wait for his match with Walter.
– No matches, no nothing. This could’ve been a WWE Network special, but instead it took up the two hours of NXT. Can’t knock ’em for how well produced it was, but many fans would’ve hoped for some action after watching a 3 hour Raw with only one match.
– We’ve had so, so much talk between Rhea Ripley and Charlotte Flair that it’s counter productive. This feud peaked when Charlotte attacked Ripley last week, and they shouldn’t be building it anymore than it already is. Yet, they’ve got to fill time somehow, so I faded out and lost interest.
There’s little need to explain how I feel about this week in graphic detail. Due to putting on a wrestling show, and hitting it so far out of the park the ball may have landed on the moon, Dynamite wins. Imagine the pop Brodie Lee would’ve got? And what about when Vanguard One showed up? It’ll always be one of those “what if?” episodes, as we imagine how epic it would’ve been with a live crowd. NXT did what they could with their format, but they go further behind in my personal tally with a score of 10-8-5. What would I like to see next week? Is WWE firing back with a show of their own; if it’s possible in these crazy times.
Everyone working in WWE and AEW should be applauded for bringing us these shows. We can’t be critical of anything they do, because they could easily decide.. “nope, screw you guys.. we’re going home”. When WWE and AEW get back in to full operation, all the fans around the world should give them a standing ovation for bringing us entertainment when literally every other form has either cancelled, or is living off taped episodes. Thank you WWE & AEW! Much love to all the fans who support wrestling from the biggest companies, to the smallest. We’ll pull through this together, and on the other side will be a greater appreciation for the sacrifices these men & women make day in, day out for our entertainment.