In the 1990s, the Monday Night Wars pushed WCW and WWE (then known as the WWF) to go all-out creatively, resulting in an unprecedented wrestling boom that saw the rise of stars like "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, The Rock, and more. Since WWE bought WCW in 2001, Vince McMahon's product hasn't had any real competition. But with AEW Dynamite debuting on TNT, that has all changed, and now the Wednesday Night Wars are upon us.
WWE and the USA Network have brought NXT from the WWE Network to live TV to compete with AEW. While NXT couldn't hope to compete with AEW's "newness," it brought out the big guns, booking three different title matches and offering limited commercial interruptions. Performers on both programs went all out, but only one show could be considered the best.
Here are the AEW Dynamite and NXT results for the first week of the Wednesday Night Wars.
AEW Dynamite Week 1 Results
Cody w/ Brandi Rhodes vs. Sammy Guevara
Winner: Cody defeated Sammy Guevara with a small package after blocking a Shooting Star Press with his knees. There was a notable spot where Guevara pulled Brandi in the way when Cody went for a Suicide Dive. After the match, Cody shook Guevara's hand, which was weird since Guevara just used his wife as a human shield, but the match itself was entertaining enough. Guevara plays an excellent cocky heel and has a lot of potential.
After the match was over, there was a nice moment where Cody was set to be interviewed by Tony Schiavone, and the two tearfully embraced. It was a nice, nostalgic moment, and as we would come to find out later, Schiavone's presence wasn't the only thing that made AEW Dynamite feel a bit like WCW Nitro. Chris Jericho stopped the interview from happening, though, and beat the crap out of Cody, powerbombing him on two steel chairs at ringside. Unfortunately, much of the beatdown happened in-picture as commercials were playing, so it didn't have quite the effect it would have had otherwise.
Brandon Cutler vs. MJF
Winner: MJF defeated Brandon Cutler via submission using the Salt of the Earth. This match was nothing special, and MJF's mocking of Dungeons and Dragons and nerd culture schtick isn't original or all that entertaining. There was a botch at the end of the match where Cutler fell off the top rope, but he played it off well like he tweaked his knee.
Next up we had a cringey segment with Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes, who were promoting the Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. They were confronted by Angelico and Jack Evans, and then Private Party showed up for like two seconds and the segment was over. It really didn't land well and was awkward. It was then followed up with another segment, though this one featured SoCal Uncensored and Scorpio Sky doing a spot-on Obama impression. This ended in a brawl with Lucha Bros.
"Hangman" Adam Page vs. Pac
Winner: Pac defeated Adam Page with the Brutalizer submission. This match was originally supposed to take place at AEW's Double or Nothing pay-per-view event, but was rescheduled after Pac backed out. The pacing of the match was a bit weird, and the wrestlers seemed to struggle with timing things around the commercials. The odd pacing hurt the crowd a bit, but it picked back up and ended strong. Pac nailed the Black Arrow and immediately locked Page in the Brutalizer, which forced referee Earl Hebner to call for the bell. Page didn't actually submit, so he still looks strong, and Pac's Brutalizer submission was put over to be quite devastating.
AEW Women's Championship Match: Nyla Rose vs. Riho
Winner: Riho defeated Nyla Rose after hitting her with a knee strike. AEW's booking of Nyla Rose so far has been very frustrating, as she is put over on commentary to be some sort of unstoppable monster, but she has lost most of her matches so far. She won the Casino Battle Royale at the All Out pay-per-view, but that's about it. Riho is a fraction of Rose's size, and it was hard to take the match seriously because of how competitively Riho was portrayed. There were some fun spots here and there, but it's hard to shake the feeling that Riho is only getting such a significant push because of her professional history with Kenny Omega. None of her matches have been all that special, and it would have been better to see Rose come away with the victory in this one.
Six-Man Tag Team Match: Chris Jericho and Santana & Ortiz vs. The Elite (Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks)
Winners: Chris Jericho and Santana & Ortiz won after Jericho hit the Judas Effect. This match really made the AEW Dynamite feel like an episode of WCW Nitro. It started off with pure chaos, as Jon Moxley showed up to brawl with Omega. Their fight wound up in the backstage area, with Moxely putting Omega (and himself) through a glass table with his Dirty Deeds finishing move. When the match was over, The Young Bucks were suffering a beatdown, only for Cody to come try to make the save. Guevara ran in next and kicked Cody in the crotch. This prompted Dustin Rhodes to try to make the save, but then none other than Jake Hager (aka Jack Swagger in WWE) stormed the ring to give Jericho and his squad the advantage. It was very reminiscent of the nWo from WCW, and it will be interesting to see if this results in a proper stable led by Jericho. WCW was known for its faction wars, and factions have always been a huge focus of New Japan Pro Wrestling, so we could see them get a lot of attention in AEW.
Overall, the first episode of AEW Dynamite had some high quality wrestling, though there were some production hiccups and a flat segment or two. The end was a fun old-school throwback to WCW Nitro. The Jake Hager appearance may not quite be the "Luger moment" that AEW was shooting for, but it was brutal enough to still be entertaining.
NXT October 2 Results
NXT Championship Match: Adam Cole vs. Matt Riddle
Winner: Adam Cole defeated Matt Riddle with the Last Shot. This match was quite possibly the best match on either show. It was nonstop action, with no commercial break interruptions. Cole ended up getting the victory after clocking Riddle in the head with his cast and following it up with the Last Shot, but the segment afterwards is what's going to get people talking. Longest-reigning NXT Champion Finn Balor made his shocking return to confront Adam Cole, which goes a long way in making NXT feel like its own distinct brand, as opposed to merely WWE's developmental territory.
We then got a fun Velveteen Dream promo that worked to set up a future match with Roderick Strong. Dream's promo work is one of his strong suits, and even though he did stumble over his lines in some spots, the crowd reacted well to everything he was saying.
Io Shirai vs. Mia Yim
Winner: Io Shirai pinned Mi Yim after a moonsault. Another hard-hitting, fast-paced match that was definitely one of the top matches of the evening overall.
Johnny Gargano vs. Shane Thorne
Winner: Johnny Gargano defeated Shane Thorne after a superkick. Again, this match was fast-paced with a focus on hard-hitting strikes. It was the third match in the row that proved NXT was delivering better in-ring action tonight. It also made Thorne look great, even though he ate the loss to Gargano. Gargano, meanwhile, is kind of floating in limbo without much to do, so it will be interesting to see what's next for "Johnny Wrestling." Will he stay on NXT or will he migrate to one of the other WWE shows, like Raw or SmackDown?
NXT Women's Championship Match: Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Candice LeRae
Winner: Shayna Baszler defeated Candice LeRae via submission. Another match with top-tier, pay-per-view quality wrestling action on live TV that kept NXT's hot streak alive for the evening. LeRae and Baszler both looked like stars by the end of the contest, and there's really not much else to say about this match except that it lived up to the hype and delivered just like all the other matches of the evening have so far.
Danny Burch vs. Pete Dunne
Winner: Pete Dunne pinned Danny Burch after hitting him with the Bitter End. Pete Dunne matches are almost always good, and this one was no exception to that rule. It was a shorter match compared to some of the others on the card, though, and it didn't quite have the same room to develop. However, it was still fine for what it was, and the surprise attack on Dunne by Damien Priest gave it a little extra umph.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match: The Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly) (c) vs. The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford)
Winners: The Undisputed Era defeated The Streets Profits with the High Low, after interference from Roderick Strong. This was a contender for Match of the Night alongside the opening bout, and it ended with another surprise return. Adam Cole showed up on the stage to congratulate his stablemates on their victory, but was then confronted by the returning Tommaso Ciampa, meaning Cole has two potential big-name challengers for his belt to deal with in the near future.
AEW vs. NXT Week 1: Which Show Was Better?
Both AEW and NXT were excellent episodes of professional wrestling this week, there's no doubt about that. NXT had an edge with pacing things around live TV, which is something that AEW Dynamite struggled with this evening. NXT also had the best wrestling matches overall, with Cole/Riddle and the tag team main event both standing out. NXT also arguably had the biggest surprises with the Balor and Ciampa returns. Yes, the Hager debut was pulled off well, but his signing with AEW had been spoiled days in advance, so it lacked shock value.
Overall, we have to give the edge to NXT this week. NXT had the better wrestling matches and better surprises. AEW was still hugely entertaining, though, and it will be exciting to see how this rivalry develops moving forward.
AEW vs. NXT Week 1 Winner: NXT