Wednesday, May 29, 2024
EditorialFyter Fest vs Great American Bash: Which Show Was Better, AEW or...

Fyter Fest vs Great American Bash: Which Show Was Better, AEW or NXT?

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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?

The Name

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.

+1 NXT Great American Bash

The Set

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

The Crowd

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.

For the sake of variety, a point goes to NXT.

+1 NXT Great American Bash

Quality Control

I’ll bury the lead and say I think this was pretty even.

Some standout great matches from Fyter Fest were MJF and Wardlow against Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus, Hikaru Shida vs Penelope Ford (perhaps my favorite women’s division match this year for AEW), Kenny Omega and Adam Page against Best Friends, and Chris Jericho vs Orange Cassidy.

Something like Lance Archer vs Joey Janela and other matches went a little long for my liking (but I did like Archer giving Janela a Blackout through a table on the outside for the win).

On NXT, I enjoyed the Fatal 4-Way match Tegan Nox won, the strap match, Shirai vs Banks, the street fight and Adam Cole vs Keith Lee.

+1 AEW Fyter Fest and NXT Great American Bash (tie)

Who Had More Overall Value/Substance?

What bang did we get for our buck on these shows? Was it worth the investment, or was it just another episode? If you’re going to sell me on the gimmick of a meal with fancy table cloth and fine china, the food better taste good, right?

Here’s where Fyter Fest loses some points, as not all that much really happened in the grand scheme of things.

Page and Omega retained the tag titles twice. That’s no shift. Cody and Hikaru Shida retained their belts, too. Jon Moxley vs Brian Cage was put on hold (which is, admittedly, not AEW’s fault, but they still suffer the deduction from that).

Every other match was just for the sake of having a match, rather than accomplishing anything big.

Great American Bash saw a No. 1 contender established for the NXT Women’s Championship, the return of Mercedes Martinez and Keith Lee winning the NXT Championship to become the first-ever double singles (that sounds weird) champion in NXT history.

Sure, there were more title matches for Fyter Fest, but we’re in the same position we were before those two shows. With Great American Bash, we’ve taken a step forward.

+1 NXT Great American Bash

Tie-Breaker

We have a tie, so I have to give an edge to something, and it might seem arbitrary, but bonus points have to go somewhere.

NXT had limited commercials. That helped the pacing of Great American Bash compared to Fyter Fest taking breaks in the middle of the action.

Plus, I should throw a little shade at how Cody’s next challenger for the TNT Championship is apparently Sonny Kiss, who did nothing to set up his status to fight for that belt. They booked Kiss to be in the corner of Joey Janela and suffer some attacks from Archer. If anything, I’d think the next logical step would be Janela and Kiss against Archer and a tag team partner, or in a handicap match, rather than a random title shot against Cody.

WWE supposedly has a bigger version of the NXT Championship belt waiting to be brought into the mix. Now that Lee is the champion, this makes sense and shows at least some planning ahead (which is rare for WWE).

To cap it all off, WWE used something that I absolutely love—the heartbeat humming noise when people are walking backstage before a big match or when a cage is lowered. Using that while leading into Lee vs. Cole made it feel so much more important. It’s a detail I’ve always been fond of, and it will always put a smile on my face.

+1 NXT Great American Bash

Final Score = 5 for NXT, 4 for AEW.

NXT Great American Bash wins!

If you could somehow merge these shows together and pick and choose elements, there’s an absolutely amazing 4 hours to be had.

Put Great American Bash in Daily’s Place with that set, theme, crowd and atmosphere. Replace some of the weak matches like Bronson Reed vs Tony Nese and the Nyla Rose squash with a lineup of just the great ones like Cole/Lee, Shirai/Banks, MJF & Wardlow/Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus, Jericho/Cassidy and so on, and that’s a PPV of the Year contender.

Both shows had their benefits and their flaws, and I enjoyed all four episodes, overall. I’d love to see this sort of dedication put into both Dynamite and NXT going forward at least a few more times per year to feel special.

Give me a new AEW gimmick like how Bash at the Beach was (maybe Blood and Guts will do) and make a special Fall Brawl episode of NXT or something, too. Let’s keep this momentum going!

But that’s my assessment. What did you think of these shows? Do you have a favorite between the two? How should WWE and AEW have done things differently?

Keep the discussion going by leaving a comment below!

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