Nearly twenty years ago, the WWE was in the middle of a Monday Night War in the pro-wrestling ratings with WCW. Monday Night Nitro and Monday Night Raw were clashing head to head, simultaneously in competition to see who could do a better job at keeping their viewers from switching the channel to the competition. It was “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, “The Game” Triple H, Mick Foley, and The Undertaker who were the upper echelon of main eventers for the WWE. For WCW, “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, Sting, Goldberg, “Big Poppa Pump” Scott Steiner, and Booker T were leading their charge.
In the end, the WWE would be the company left standing as Shane McMahon would buy out WCW from under the grasp of his father, Vince McMahon. This began the WCW Invasion angle, bringing WCW contracted wrestlers to the WWE to have a final blowoff match at Survivor Series, where the WWE consumed what was left of WCW.
That was twenty years ago and since then, there hasn’t been competition for WWE. Other promotions exist and book wrestlers who haven’t stayed with the WWE, such as Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor, and New Japan Pro-Wrestling. That was until 2019. One man from one wrestling family left the WWE after the passing of his father, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. He wrestled all over the globe since leaving WWE and teamed up with the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Shahid Khan and his son Tony Khan to create AEW.
Shahid Khan is the lead investor in AEW and Tony Khan is the founder, president, and CEO of the company. The first talent he hired to push AEW forward was “The American Nightmare” Cody, The Young Bucks, and “The Cleaner” Kenny Omega. Cody, The Young Bucks, and Omega serve as in-ring talent and executive vice presidents of AEW. These performers are a few wrestlers that were on the WWE’s radar but ultimately declined wrestling for the WWE. Cody, formerly known as Stardust, left WWE. The Young Bucks made money to support themselves at Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Ring of Honor, and New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Omega largely wrestling at New Japan Pro-Wrestling and would make appearances alongside The Bullet Club and The Elite in Ring of Honor.
A difference between the two companies is that AEW has openly stated that wins and losses will matter in who gets title opportunities, stays with the company, and is featured on television. AEW has done a wonderful job of listening to their fanbase and embracing them too. Events like Starrcast, a convention with guest panels before Pay Per Views such as All In, All Out, and Double or Nothing, worked wonders in bolstering buzz for AEW in the pro-wrestling community. A neat thing that works in favor of the AEW roster is that AEW provides healthcare for their wrestlers on the roster. That is something that the WWE has yet to do.
On October 2nd, 2019, AEW’s television deal with TNT allowed them to begin with AEW Dynamite, which would battle directly with WWE’s NXT brand on Wednesday nights. It’s a fantastic time to be a wrestling fan because competition makes everyone book a better show and draw attention to their product. It doesn’t matter what side you stand on. The pro-wrestling fans online may disagree with that, but one thing that will come out of all of this is that both companies will feature a great show for the live crowd and viewers at home. This is the first installment of my weekly “Wednesday Night Wars” articles, pitting AEW Dynamite vs WWE NXT.
AEW Dynamite; Washington, DC
Admittedly, I am most excited for AEW and what they bring to the table weekly. That is not a knock on NXT at all. NXT has been the best brand of wrestling in the WWE for quite a few years now. With AEW, I am excited because the wrestlers that weren’t signed to the WWE and are very entertaining to global audiences finally are going to be featured on syndicated television. Not only were there personalities calling the action that wrestling fans are familiar with from the old Monday Night Wars, such as Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone, but there were some celebrities in the audience. Before the first match, if you keep your eyes peeled, you will see Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes.
“The American Nightmare” Cody (2-1-1) vs “The Best Ever” Sammy Guevara (1-1-0)
This is the first-ever match of AEW Dynamite, to which a reference was made to Jushin “Thunder” Liger facing Brian Pillman in the first-ever match of Monday Night Nitro over twenty years ago. At one point in the match, Cody goes for a Suicide Dive on Guevara, but Guevara pulls Cody’s wife, Brandi Rhodes, in the way as a shield. Brandi goes to the ground and it works just long enough to slow down Cody so Guevara can take advantage. Brandi would get redemption in this match after she hit Guevara in the face with one of her high heels as the referee had his attention on Cody. Cody followed up with a Disaster Kick for a two count. After that near fall, Guevara got some offense in, including a Spanish Fly from the top rope. Cody would pin Guevara after rolling him up in a Small Package Pin. As Guevara was coming off the top rope with a Shooting Star Press, Cody got his knees up and pinned Guevara.
Winner: Cody (3-1-1)
After the match, Guevara shook Cody’s hand, but it served more of a distraction for Chris Jericho to run in and attack Cody from behind. Jericho hit the Codebreaker twice on Cody and then struck Cody across the face with the AEW World Championship. Jericho leaves the scene of the crime, but not before Cody is Powerbombed through two unfolded steel chairs.
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