To kick off the Wednesday Night Wars, AEW Dynamite doubled the viewership of WWE NXT. In the rating wars, the score is 1-0 in favor of AEW. However, the beauty of pro-wrestling in the of the beholder. While the ratings cannot be argued with who tuned into what show, I firmly believe that the better show on the first week was WWE NXT. What I do know is that week two will be electric for the flagship product of both brands in the Wednesday Night Wars.
Coming off the heels of a highly discussed, much left to be desired finish at Hell In A Cell, the WWE was going to have to work twice as hard to pull viewers away from AEW Dynamite this week. Many people took to social media, such as Twitter, to say that they would be canceling their WWE Network subscription because of how disappointing the finish was for The Fiend versus “The Beastslayer” Seth Rollins for the WWE Universal Championship. Even WWE Hall of Famers adversely reacted to the main event of Hell In A Cell.
A simple tweet would be sent out by The Young Bucks reminding that AEW Dynamite would be live on Wednesday night following WWE’s pay per view flop of Hell In A Cell. A small tongue in cheek tweet from a rival company was just enough to get some extra eyes on the product that won the inaugural week’s rating war. A common consensus was that AEW Dynamite had the ratings it did last week because it was the debut of a new show versus the WWE’s already established NXT product. While there is some truth to that, WWE had to answer big across all of their programming, not just NXT, to keep their viewers glued to their product. Here is the breakdown of AEW Dynamite versus WWE NXT for week two of the Wednesday Night Wars:
WWE NXT; Full Sail University
“The Man of the Hour” Lio Rush vs “The Philadelphia Stretcher” Drew Gulak (c)
This match is for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship, currently held by Drew Gulak. When on a previous show, WWE 205 Live, Gulak was the last WWE Cruiserweight champion before that roster merged onto NXT. Now the first NXT Cruiserweight champion, he defends his championship at the beginning of this show against the number one contender for his championship, Lio Rush.
Lio Rush goes for a Springboard Stunner but is caught out of mid-air by Drew Gulak who goes for the win. “The Philadelphia Stretcher” locks Rush in the Gu-Lock, but Rush finds a way to reverse out of the hold into a Dragon Sleeper. “The Man of the Hour” blocks a Superplex attempt from Gulak and then hits The Final Hour from the top rope for the win.
Winner and NEW NXT Cruiserweight Champion: “The Man of the Hour” Lio Rush
Rhea Ripley vs Aliyah
This match served more of a purpose to make Rhea Ripley the dangerous threat to Shayna Baszler’s NXT Women’s Championship. Ripley dominated every part of this quick match against Aliyah in a statement match, tapping Aliyah out in the Gorilla Clutch Bomb. This is a move that I was unfamiliar with and it is a brutal finisher.
After the match, Rhea Ripley put the “Submission Magician” Shayna Baszler on notice.
Winner: Rhea Ripley
Breezango vs The Forgotten Sons
Breezango made their entrance to the ring, originally prepared to face Ever-Rise. Instead of Ever-Rise making their entrance for their match, the muscle of The Forgotten Sons, Jaxson Ryker, carried Ever-Rise to the top of the entrance ramp. With Breezango’s original opponents out cold, Wesley Blake and Steve Cutler represented The Forgotten Sons to face Breezango.
Breezango had offense going in their favor, but Jaxson Ryker got involved, pulling Tyler Breeze out of the ring and throwing him into the steel steps. With Breeze down on the outside of the ring, The Forgotten Sons hit Fandango with The Memory Remains, and Steve Cutler got the pin.
Winners: The Forgotten Sons
Boa vs Cameron Grimes
As soon as the bell sounded, Cameron Grimes hit The Cave In for the pin. This match was over in a flash.
Winner: Cameron Grimes
As quick as the bell rang to signal the end of the match, Cameron Grimes hightailed it out of the ring as Killian Dain ran into the ring. Dain intended on getting to the ring to challenge Grimes but attacked Boa with two Vader Bombs and a slam onto the announcer table. Before Dain retreated, he stated, “this is just the beginning.”
“The Messiah of the Backbreaker” Roderick Strong vs Isiah “Swerve” Scott
This match was not for the NXT North American Championship, but it was a highly competitive matchup between Isiah Scott and Roderick Strong. There was a very cool move from “Swerve” when he had Strong hanging by his feet on the outside of the ring on the bottom rope. Scott jumped from the inside of the ring to the outside of the ring, hitting a Diving Double Foot Stomp. There was an opportunity for Scott to put away Strong, which would have been an upset victory, but he was distracted by the appearance of The Undisputed Era at the top of the entrance ramp.
“The Messiah of the Backbreaker” capitalized on Isiah Scott’s hesitation, striking with a Busaiku Knee, a Sick Kick, The End of Heartache, and finishing with the Strong Hold. All of these moves happened in rapid-fire succession from Strong on Scott, to which Scott would tap out.
Winner: “The Messiah of the Backbreaker” Roderick Strong
The Velveteen Dream interrupts The Undisputed Era in the ring and calls out Strong. A photo of Strong, wearing only the NXT North American Championship around his waist and laying on a purple couch, appears on the NXT screen. Velveteen Dream says that he will “strip” Strong of his NXT North American Championship and show exactly why he “just doesn’t measure up.” The NXT North American Championship is removed off of Strong on the displayed image, showing a blur over his genitals. This is shocking to the live NXT audience as The Velveteen Dream is meant to be an ambiguous, risque character projecting on Strong.
After The Velveteen Dream plays mind games with Strong, “The Blackheart” Tommaso Ciampa makes an entrance, wielding a single crutch by his side to the ring. Ciampa then picks up a chair from the audience as he enters the ring. The Undisputed Era leaves the ring and Ciampa takes the microphone and sits in the ring with the crutch in hand. Referring to Adam Cole’s title, Ciampa simply says “Goldie, daddy’s home.”
“The Captain of Team Kick” Dakota Kai vs “The EST of NXT” Bianca Belair
After a few near falls in the match, “The EST of NXT” gets the best of Dakota Kai. Belair ends up sidestepping a Pump Kick from “The Captain of Team Kick.” Belair hits the KOD for the pin and picks up the win.
After the match, Bianca Belair addresses Rhea Ripley’s comments from earlier in the evening. Belair says that if Ripley wants to get to Shayna Baszler, she has to “go through me, the EST.”
Winner: “The EST of NXT” Bianca Belair
Main Event: Kushida vs “The Ring General” Walter
This match is not for the NXT United Kingdom Championship. “The Ring General” showed good agility leapfrogging Kushida. On the flip side of that, Kushida showed surprising power, throwing Walter with a Hip Toss. Bonus points to the booking of Kushida against Walter in the main event. Walter is meant to be built like a monster, so Kushida is a very credible opponent who has a legitimate MMA background.
At a point in the match, it looked like Walter tapped out to the Hoverboard Lock, but he was throwing a Palm Strike to the back of Kushida. Kushida kept a hold of the submission hold, but Walter forced the rope break. Walter connects with a Powerbomb on Kushida that followed a devastating Shotgun Dropkick. The size comparison between the two when Walter hits the Shotgun Dropkick on Kushida makes the impact look so much greater. After the kick out on the Powerbomb, Walter lifts Kushida back to his feet and hits another Palm Strike before dishing a Ripchord Lariat for the pin.
This match received the best reaction for the NXT audience. The rest of Imperium showed up at the top of the entrance ramp to join Walter after he defeated Kushida as NXT went off the air.
Winner: “The Ring General” Walter
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