Oh hey! What’s goin’ on, wrestling fans? Steve Lange here, welcoming you to the inaugural edition of “Who Won Wed? NXT vs AEW”, your weekly breakdown of the battle between and NXT vs AEW to see which entity can provide acceptable wrestling programming.
Just a little about me and what to expect from this weekly recap: I am a child of the 80’s, into horror movies and hip-hop, and living in Seattle. I was first drawn to wrestling as a child by Andre the Giant and later returned after seeing Mick Foley’s initial Mankind vignettes on Monday Night Raw. This is where my education into the business began, and while I have never stepped into the squared circle myself and will show the proper respect to those who do, I do have clearly defined opinions of what I like in a wrestling show and that shall steer these weekly proceedings.
Wrestling (like the rest of the world), is a f*cking mess right now. So while my sense of humor tends to skew towards sarcastic dickishness, I am just glad to have the welcomed escape of two nationally broadcast wrestling shows come each hump day. Full disclosure, while I find both RAW and Smackdown barely watchable these days, NXT (while sputtering) has been my bastion for dependable in-ring action with a minimum of insulting booking decisions.
I am rooting for AEW to succeed SO HARD. I am a big fan of a lot of wrestlers in the company, but have been increasingly disappointed with the booking and character building. I’d like to cut AEW some slack as they’re only doing their best during the pandemic like any promotion, but now you’ll know where this palpable frustration that will spill out in the review section comes from.
Here’s what to expect from the WhoWonWed. I’m not looking to re-invent any rating systems, so the matches will be judged by the traditional snowflake “*” system (the larger the stage, the more strict the judgement). A quick spoiler free recap will be followed by some quick observations on each segment (I figure if you want a spot-by-spot breakdown, you’ll just watch the show, so I’ll break it down into Yays and Boos) as well as the aforementioned snowflakes for each match. At the end, I’ll simply award the week to the show that appealed to my fairly-conventional tastes.
OK, ENOUGH OF THAT. LET’S GO!
NXT vs AEW – 8/12/20
NXT (HOSTS – (VIC JOSEPH, BETH PHOENIX, MAURA RANALLO)
- LAST WEEK’S RECAP
- KARRION KROSS (W/SCARLETT) VS DANNY BURCH
- KEITH LEE PROMO
- DRAKE MAVERICK VS KILLIAN DAIN
- UNDISPUTED ERA PROMO
- SANTOS ESCOBAR VS TYLER BREEZE
- DAKOTA KAI PROMO
- MIA YIM VS INDI HARTWELL
- BALOR PROMO
- DAMIAN PRIEST VS BRONSON REED
- PROMO SHIRAI
- CAMERON GRIMES PROMO
- CARTER/CANTAZARO VS AALIYAH/MARTINEZ (W/STONE)
- GARGANOS AT HOME
- THATCHER ACADEMY
- KUSHIDA VS GRIMES VS ??????
KARRION KROSS (W/SCARLETT) VS DANNY BURCH
- Oh hey, Vic Joseph’s sitting in for/replacing Todd Phillips. What are the odds I notice?
- (Yay) You know, when they decide to build an “angry bald dudes in black trunks” faction with these two, Oney, Cesaro, and Aichner, that’s gonna be $. You’ll never know who’s comin’ at ya!
- (Yay) Kross’ entrance is a nice way to open a show, as its spectacle is more palatable if not preceded by, say, someone having their appendages run over by a tank…
- (Yay) Line of the night: Scarlett “He is nothing to you.” That’s some Brigitte Rocky IV type smack right there.
- FINISH (KROSS DEF BURCH, KROSS-JACKET) I might find this finisher silly on anyone else, but Kross’ facials make it enjoyable. Nice glorified squash with Burch getting enough in to not look like a schlub, but Kross staying strong. ** 1/4*
- (Yay) Keith Lee with the run-in, contract in hand. Angry Keith Lee = $
- (Boo) Ok, didn’t see that fireball coming, but we spent WAAAAAYYYYY too much time with Keith after the initial boom. Would have been much stronger to cut quickly to commercial after EMTs hit the ring. This was made worse when….
DRAKE MAVERICK VS KILLIAN DAIN
- (Boo) And we go to split-screen. Now it’s difficult to pay attention to Keith’s ocular trauma and this match, even before going to commercial and now having three things to focus on. Oh yeah, about this match –
- (Boo) Is there any reason for this match? Did I miss a backstory? Furthermore, is there a reason Maverick’s getting in so much offense? Did Dain piss in someone’s Corn Flakes?
- (Boo) I do not watch the portions of matches that are picture-in-picture. I do not prefer my wrestling muted and tiny.
- (Yay) Ah, I see, This was just an excuse for Undisputed Era to run-in for the DOUBLE DQ NON-FINISH (no stars)
ADAM COLE PROMO –
- (Yay) Cole delivers his customary strong promo and McAFee’s NOT HERE THIS WEEK! (this almost insures an NXT victory this week…)
- (Boo). Still not sure what we’re doing here. If we’re turning Cole face, and every week points more in that direction, the way we’re doing that is with Pat F’n McAfee? I mean, anyone’s gonna elicit cheers for kicking the crap out of that moron, but it’s just such an odd execution of an angle. But hey, I’m there to watch McAfee get his ass kicked, so I guess it’s working.
- (Boo) Adam, don’t try and get Keith Lee’s “whoop that ass” over for yourself. It just doesn’t sound the same coming out of your mouth.
SANTOS ESCOBAR VS TYLER BREEZE –
- (Boo) So Fantasma is rightfully upset about Breezango’s cultural appropriation and they’re the heels?
- (Boo) They need to be putting Escobar as Cruiserweight Champ and Legado over stronger. This feud with Breezango, basically enhancement talent at this point, has stretched on for too long.
- FINISH (ESCOBAR DEF BREEZE, PHANTOM DRIVER) Escobar should not require outside interference to go over Breeze. * 1/2*
- (Yay) Big fan of Swerve’s as I’ve been lucky to see him a few times here in Seattle at DEFY, glad he’s getting some TV time, but I do not need Breezango’s continued attachment to this feud.
DAKOTA KAI PROMO – (Yay) I’m a fan of Kai’s work, but was worried her innate pluckiness would hinder her heel turn. Glad to see she’s finally settling in, increasingly her heelish mannerisms each week.
MIA YIM VS INDI HARTWELL –
- (Yay) Big on Mia Yim, wish she was here for more than added dressing to her mate’s stroyline
- (Boo) I have nothing against Hartwell, but when the beginning of your in-ring pseudonym is a euphemism for the minor league of your sport, it’s like calling yourself “Minor League Jackson”
- FINISH (YIM DEF HARTWELL, SUBMISSION) – Nice back n forth match that didn’t outwear its welcome. Good showcase for Yim ** 1/4*
FINN BALOR PROMO – (Boo) At this point, I’m surprised even the guys involved understand how we’re getting the five competitors for the North American Championship. I feel like there’s calculus involved at this point.
DAMIAN PRIEST VS BRONSON REED –
- (Yay) Excited for this one, both of these fellas seem to get better and more motivated week by week, not sure why you’d want one of them to do a job here.
- (Boo) Poor spacing on Reed’s top-rope splash leads to a scary moment, but both guys seemed uninjured
- FINISH (REED DEF PRIEST, ROLLUP) – Not bothered by this finish as it doesn’t really hurt Priest. “Hard-hitting affair”, as Mauro called it, these two have good chemistry, would love to see a long-term program between them down the line. *** 1/4*
IO SHIRAI PROMO – (Yay) I much prefer having wrestlers speak in the language in which they are comfortable and adding subtitles. So much easier to show conviction and range of emotion.
CAMERON GRIMES PROMO – (Yay) Another guy who Is growing on me as I’m transitioning from hating him to enjoying hating him as he seems to be having more fun by the week.
CARTER/CATANZARO VS AALIYAH/MARTINEZ (W/STONE) –
- (Boo) I am not sure how any of this helps get Mercedes Martinez over. If WWE had some decent comedy writers you might be able to mine some comedy gold here, but I digress…
- (Boo) Did Robert Stone just say “El” Fuego as opposed to “En” Fuego? Is an accident, he’s even worse than I give him credit for. If it was intentional, maybe I’m wrong about this guy.
- FINISH (MARTINEZ DEF CATANZARO, AIR RAID CRASH) – Not much of a showcase for Martinez’ talents, which are considerable. * 1/4*
- (Boo) Rhea, you are amazing, however if you were truly pissed, you wouldn’t do your stomp gimmick at the top of the entrance ramp. Just sayin…
GARGANOS AT HOME – (Yay) I was going to crap on this because I don’t think the Garganos have the acting chops to pull off what they’re going for, but that cameo by the IYH pic of Doc Hendrix was the best thing I saw all night on either show.
SHOOTIN WITH THATCH’ – (Yay) Dig Thatcher, dig these, just wish someone would coach him to ratchet up the sadistic glee
KUSHIDA VS GRIMES VS VELVETEEN DREAM
- (Boo) Oh, Dream’s back…..That’s….That’s….problematic…
- (Boo) Where has Kushida been? They’ve done nothing with him, including this.
- FINISH (GRIMES OVER KUSHIDA, CAVE-IN) – not much for triple threats, and this one never really clicked. Some decent action, Kushida looked crisp, and the right guy went over in my opinion. ** 3/4*
- (?) And then Dream turns heel to close the show before facing off with Balor. Ok, well it makes sense he’s turning, and he’s a talented wrestler, but I’m just not sure I want him back on my television screen.
AEW DYNAMITE (HOSTS – JIM ROSS, TONY SCHIAVONE, TAZZ)
- YOUNG BUCKS VS DARK ORDER (UNO/GRAYSON)
- PAGE/OMEGA PROMO
- MJF PROMO
- MATT HARDY PROMO
- CODY (C) VS SCORPIO SKY (TNT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH)
- DARK ORDER PROMO
- PRIVATE PARTY PROMO
- OMEGA/PAGE (C) VS JURASSIC EXPRESS – AEW TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH
- SANTANA/ORTIZ PROMO
- BUTCHER & BLADE PROMO
- TAG TEAM SYMPOSIUM
- CHIODA/JERICHO PROMO
- SAMMY GUEVARA SIGN PROMO
- SHIDA (C) VS HEATHER MONROE
- JAKE THE SNAKE/ARCHER PROMO
- CHRIS JERICHO VS ORANGE CASSIDY (7K OBLIGATION MATCH)
YOUNG BUCKS VS DARK ORDER (UNO/GRAYSON)-
- (Yay) While I think just JR and Tazz might be their ideal commentary team, Schiavone is non-grating and I’m glad Excalibur’s gone for multiple reasons
- (Boo) Tag Team Appreciation Night! Let’s guess how much they’re going to crap on this notion before we’re through. I give it 5 minutes.
- (Boo) And they beat my prediction as 3 minutes in we’ve already lost all semblance of rules or logic keeping Rick Knox’s streak alive.
- (?) I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Uno & Grayson are more entertaining to me than the Bucks at this point.
- (Yay) In taking the athletic tape from Uno before he could strangle a Buck with it, Rick Knox actually DID HIS JOB AS A REFEREE. I am filled with such hope for the future.
- (Boo) Worst Line of the Week – Nick Jackson “Best Comeback in the business!” No, it’s the same thigh-slapping sh*t you’ve been doing for years
- FINISH (BUCKS DEF DARK ORDER, ROLLUP) – Though some of them were fun, just a bunch of spots. Dark Order were actually working a logical match, but kept getting pulled into the Bucks tired flippin and floppin. This did noting to elevate either team, and while Grayson and Uno seem to be improving, are still booked ultimately like losers b/c the Dark Order gimmick is so done. ** 1/2*
- (Boo) Hey Dark Order, since you jumped the Bucks before the match, and during the match, and still lost, wouldn’t it make sense to jump them AFTER the match to get your heat back just in case you ever wanted to be taken seriously? Wouldn’t it?
PAGE/OMEGA PROMO –
– (Boo) A promo where one set of friends only puts over their other set of friends doesn’t really help dispel the notion that this promotion is just a bunch of chums farting around on the son of a billionaire’s dime.
– (Yay) MJF is consistently the best part of every AEW broadcast, so while this campaign storyline is running its course, it is saved by the sheer force of Friedman’s ability to deliver natural promos that draw real heat. Saddens me that he’s probably going to take the loss vs Moxley, because if they took their time, this is the guy to build around.
- (Boo) The inability of AEW to properly frame the overhead shot of MJF on the mat. There’s some symbolism for ya.
- (Yay) MJF “The Voms! The Voms!” I’m a sucker for vomitorium jokes.
- (Yay) That’s the way to use Ambrose. Nice quick beatdown followed by a nice, intense addendum.
MATT HARDY PROMO
- (Boo) Hoping we don’t see Sammy this week. A gifted natural heel, but between what he was already suspended for and now last week’s carelessness that could have seriously injured Matt Hardy. And you must have f*cked up if you’re causing me to defend Matt Hardy for anything…
- (Yay) Mike Posey should know that if you dress like a douchebag, someone’s gonna jump you backstage
CODY (C) VS SCORPIO SKY (TNT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH)
- (Yay) Sky enters by literally kicking a door down. A little on the nose, but I dig him, so ok.
- (Yay) Hey, the belt looks like an actual belt now!
- (Boo) Cody announced as “The Prince of Pro Wrestling”…Devitt, where you at?
- (Yay) Hey, it’s Mike Chioda! Surely he’ll uphold some rules!
- FINISH (CODY DEF SKY, CROSS-RHODES) – Solid match like you’d expect from these two, but never kicked into high gear, and Sky barely got more offense in than each free agent of the week Cody’s been selling for during the past month, so I don’t see how this helped either man. ** 3/4*
DARK ORDER PROMO –
- (Yay) Glad to see Brodie with some energy at least
- (Boo) The Elite, Omega, and Page have been dispatched? Cuz I swore I just saw some of them win the opening match against your minions and deliver a flippant promo. I don’t think that word means what you think it means.
- (Boo) J.R. “The Dark Order has been red hot” THEY JUST LOST WHEN THE ODDS WERE 5 ON 2 HALF AN HOUR AGO!
PRIVATE PARTY PROMO –
- (Boo) Maybe if the only teams you can mention in these promos are other teams or wrestlers on your roster, it kinda defeats the point…
OMEGA/PAGE (C) VS JURASSIC EXPRESS (AEW TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH)
- (Boo) And the ignoring of all rules continues as the ref doesn’t bother to count during any double team segments.
- FINISH ( OMEGA DEF JUNGLE BOY, buckshot/v-trigger ) – Just a mess with no flow or story. Jurassic Express never really got in any sustained offense. The in-ring work is mostly solid, but this is a title match, there’s just no emotion or passion on any of their faces or in their body language, though I understand one of them is wearing a dinosaur mask and that one of them is Kenny Omega
- (Boo) Man, I wouldn’t wanna mess with these guys. They vandalize minivans AND luggage? That’s hardcore…
BUTCHER/BLADE PROMO –
- (Yay) Man, I am being negative this week, so I let me say this. Shackled with a sh*tty gimmick, these guys are more fun to watch week by week. AND they actually picked the Road Warriors, a team that could actually be in the discussion for best tag team in history.
TAG TEAM SYMPOSIUM (BUCKS/FTR/ARN&TULLY/MORTON&GIBSON
- (Boo) Bucks can’t even put Rock N’ Roll over without putting themselves over harder. So many sighs…
- (Yay) I’m trying to ignore The Bucks and just enjoy seeing The Horsemen and Rock N’ Roll in the same ring.
- (Yay) Arn & Tully still got it on the stick.
- (Yay) That spike piledriver might have just saved this segment after so much Bucksturbation
-(Boo) If Jericho’s going to try and talk Chioda into a swerve, do we have to have him do it as part of an interview while facing the camera? Can we save some shred of legitimacy for ol’ Lionheart?
SAMMY GUEVARA SIGN PROMO
-(Boo) F this, he should be suspended, skipping this completely
SHIDA (C) VS HEATHER MONROE
- (Boo) Oh hey, they remembered they have a women’s division, such as it is. Where’s my Britt Baker segment? Even injured she’s should be their focus.
- (Yay) Monroe “This is your champ. That’s embarrassing” In deference to Scott Keith. I love shoot comments that aren’t supposed to be shoot comments.
- FINISH (SHIDA DEF MONROE, ) Squashes are supposed to make your champion look dominant 1/2*
JAKE “THE SNAKE” ROBERTS/LANCE ARCHER PROMO
- (?) Fun little promo, but did we need to see Jake stripped? Also, it makes me chuckle to think of Roberts storyline having to stand there earlier while Archer wrote on his back
CHRIS JERICHO VS ORANGE CASSIDY (7K OBLIGATION MATCH)
– (Yay) Jericho not understanding why Chioda won’t just turn around and ignore the rules. Doesn’t he know how things work around here? Also, where’s Aubree this week? She’s actually the best.
– FINISH (CASSIDY DEF JERICHO, MOUSETRAP) – After a wholly unremarkable match, Jericho needs interference, a nut shot, and STILL loses? So not only does this sh*t feud have to continue, each week Jericho devalues himself carrying someone who is being pushed into waters he is not ready to tread through no fault of his own.
VERDICT – An off week for NXT, but the combination of no McAfee coupled with AEW’s inane, rage-inducing booking and complete insult to tag team wrestling easily hand the week to the black & yellow brand.
WINNER – NXT
Thanks for checking in. Stay safe n’ healthy folks!