All eyes on AEW-NXT’s Wednesday Night War
(Thumbnail photo above courtesy AEW/Lee South)
By Mike Pankow
October 3, 2019
All Elite Wrestling and WWE brought the heavy artillery to television screens Wednesday night as their new head-to-head competition began in earnest.
The overnight ratings are in and AEW’s brand-new Dynamite show on TNT scored the first victory, garnering 1.409 viewers with NXT in USA Network drew 891,000, according to a various reports.
Both shows had limited commercial interruptions with NXT never fully leaving the action for the full two hours, plus about a 10-minute overrun. All of NXT’s breaks included picture-in-picture of the live action after the first 30 minutes of the show was commercial free, which included Adam Cole’s stellar NXT Championship defense against Matt Riddle.
As for Dynamite, TNT went to just a few full commercial breaks while as using the picture-in-picture for a few of its breaks.
Both shows also their share of surprises. Dynamite featured the return of Jake Hager (fka Jack Swagger in WWE) to a national wrestling promotion. Hager, who is actively fighting for MMA outfit Bellator, came out during the post-main-event melee and helped Chris Jericho, Santana, Ortiz and Sammy Guevara attack Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks.
PAC also pulled off another credible victory by defeating former No. 1 contender Hangman Page by submission. Riho became the first AEW Women’s Champion by upending the much larger Nyla Rose. Jon Moxley, the former Dean Ambrose, provided a memorable moment by DDT’ing Kenny Omega through a glass coffee table in the VIP area backstage. Cody opened the show with another dose of great storytelling in his match with Guevara.
NXT was wall-to-wall wrestling, starting with Cole’s victory over Matt Riddle and ending with Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly’s NXT Tag Team Championship defense over the Street Profits. Shayna Baszler continued her dominance as NXT Women’s Champion with a tapout victory over Candice LeRae. Io Shirai also defeated Mia Yim in a strong women’s match.
Among the shockers on NXT included the return of former WWE Universal Champion Finn Balor to the black-and-gold brand and former NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa’s return to TV as both confronted Cole in separate segments. Damien Priest, the former Punishment Martinez, made a big impression by attacking former WWE United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne after Dunne’s victory over Danny Burch.
The crowds at both the Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. for AEW and Full Sail Live in suburban Orlando for NXT were both red hot despite the wide discrepancy in capacity. Full Sail’s smaller capacity definitely did not diminish the action and the feel of excitement for NXT.
Both shows were outstanding products with very few flaws and plenty of exciting moments. Both shows had celebrity appearances with Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes in attendance at AEW and Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Mark Henry and Alundra Blayze at NXT. Now, it’s time to see how the chess pieces are maneuvered during next week’s shows. Will there be more surprises? Any changes in creative philosophy?
WWE was diplomatic the morning after, releasing a statement to the media: “Congratulations to AEW on a successful premiere. The real winners of last night’s head-to-head telecasts of NXT on USA Network and AEW on TNT are the fans, who can expect Wednesday nights to be a competitive and wild ride as this is a marathon, not a one-night sprint.”
Catch Windy City Slam editor Mike Pankow talking local and national pro wrestling every other week on The Broadcast Basement, available wherever you download podcasts or at https://broadcastbasement.podbean.com/.