October 2nd was a day to go down in wrestling history. And no, I’m not talking about the Rock & Roll Express winning the NWA Tag Team Championship. AEW Dynamite made its debut on TNT and NXT made its 2-hour debut on USA. NXT took their first shot at NXT before AEW could even get going by doing two one hour shows on USA before this week. Just to get the people warm and ready. Genius is you ask me…
After two great shows to get things rolling on USA, the time has come to see what this product is going to look like going heads up with the new kids on the block. On top of the great card scheduled for this show, NXT is running with limited commercials and no commercials during the first half hour. Oh yeah, and since AEW has a replay from 10-12 (feels like Nitro again), NXT is going ’til 10:15. Who’s going to win the first battle in this thing? I don’t know, but it’s time for me to put on my Meltzer hat and review NXT on USA for you smarks.
Trips wanted to get things started hot and grab those all important ratings in the first 15 minutes of the hour. So what better way to do that? Open the show with Adam Cole (BAY BAY!!) defending the NXT Championship against Matt Riddle. The crowd was hot from the get-go as rivaling chants of “UNDISPUTED!” & “LET’S GO BRO!” littered the arena in the opening minutes of this one. If this is what we’ve got to look forward to, Cody has his work cut out for him. This was an incredible wrestling match with no interference. So many false finishes and near falls, but it was the Last Shot from Cole that finally put an end to this one BAY BAY!! 4.5/5
HOLY SHIT!!!! FINN BALOR IS IN THE HOUSE!!!! IT’S BALOR CLUB!!! I always said he didn’t work on the main roster but this… this works. two former Bullet Club leaders facing off in the middle of the ring and the battle lines were drawn. Guess he won’t be joining the O.C. (Califoooorniiiiiia!!) any time in the near future. We’re not even 30 minutes into this show and NXT is bringing the smoke!!!
It’s the Velveteen Experience. The Dream comes out and drops what would be an average promo for him. But remember, average for the the Dream is great for most other performers. Great way to settle the crowd down a little before moving on with the show.
Next we get Io Shirai versus Mia Yim. Both of these women can go but I think it lost a little bit from following that incredible opener. Then they decided to do their limited commercial break via split-screen in the middle of this one. Way to totally deflate the USA Network crowd and make me want a Crispy Cheddar Chalupa.
These two did a lot to keep the fans at home and live at Full Sail into this one despite that ridiculously long break. WHAT?! ANOTHER commercial break?!?! This is “limited”?? The home viewing audience probably switched over to see what was going on on AEW Dynamite after all that nonsense. Way to make this match seems meaningless. Io hits a moonsault for the victory and the crowd doesn’t really react much. You’d think they were taken out by the excessively long commercial breaks. This one was probably better than it seemed but those commercial breaks really took a lot of steam out of it.
Hall & Nash are in the building and the announce team acknowledges them. I don’t know why…
I thought we had another women’s match coming up but it was just “Rebel Heart” signaling Johnny Gargano‘s arrival. Oh joy (sarcasm). Shane Thorne vs. Johnny Wrestling is next. A couple minutes into it and we get another commercial break, so much for “limited commercial breaks”. Thorne has looked great since he’s gotten this recent push. I’m looking forward to seeing where they go with him… Well, that ended quickly. So much for Thorne’s push I guess.
The Women’s Championship Match is next on the agenda. Does anyone actually expect Candace LaRae to win this match? I guess a swerve would get this show back up to the level it started out with. The crowd didn’t really get into this one either at first. I think they were deflated by everything after that hot opener. A move on the outside apron and a set of dives to the outside by LaRae got them going though. … aaaaaand another commercial just as it picked up. Way to take the home crowd right out of it. In the end, the Submission Magician — Shayba Baszler — would make Candace tap out (big surprise). 2.5/5
The Bruiserweight Pete Dunne would take on Danny Burch next. Burch is pretty bland. This was a showing of joint manipulation to showcase Dunne to the NXT universe on USA. We got some blood from Burch and I’m pretty sure it was the hard way. These two put on the hard hitting match that this show needed. Of course the Bitter End would bring an end to this one after not too long. 2.5/5
After the match Damien Preist, fka as Punishment Martinez in Ring of Honor, attacked Dune and left him lying in the middle of the ring. That’s going to be a fued to look forward to.
Wale led the Street Profits out to the ring. That really got the fans at Full Sail back into the show. Good call. I think they lost them ever since that opening match. (Pronouns pal!) What a difference a year makes. The Profits were sent down to Evolve to get a little bit of Indie work under their belts that included an Evolve Tag Team Championship reign. Now they’re cutting cringe worthy promos on RAW and putting out incredible matches on NXT.
Tonight, they get their rematch for the NXT Tag Team Championship in the main event on USA against the Undisputed Era. I thought we would at least get no commercials once the main event started. I was wrong. After that unneeded interruption, these two teams really brought the smoke. Roderick Strong would interfere and a High-Low later the Undisputed Era would retain. 3.5/5
HOLY SHIT AGAIN!!! CIAMPA IS BACK!!!!!! CIAMPA IS BACK!!!!
The bottom line: the first two weeks were better than this show. I guess you can’t have 4 bible shows every week. And the extremely long commercial split-screens really took me out of matches. Maybe it’s my ADD, but I definitely expected more out of this show. Probably a byproduct of the two incredible shows on USA the last two weeks.
In hindsight, starting two weeks early might not have been the best idea. A great opener and a great closer really brought this one together though. Add in Balor’s return to NXT and Ciampa’s return from injury and this was one hell of a show. On strictly matches this was a merely good show at best, but throw in everything else and it gains a little bit for Balor & Ciampa and loses a little bit for the long commercials on a show that was supposed to be “limited commercial breaks”.
Matches = 3/5
Entertainment/Angles = 3.5/5
AEW Dynamite’s premiere episode came out swinging in the official start of the Wednesday Night War. Production-wise, it was the best AEW has been. Video was clear and crisp, there weren’t any audio issues, the set was put together well and nothing looked amateurish. I also thought it was cool that win-loss records are shown on the lower third, emphasizing that performance matters in AEW. Having the backing of a cable network behind them has done wonders for the product. That said, I wish they didn’t do the split screen commercial break like Smackdown used to. Almost the entirety of Jericho’s attack on Cody came during a commercial and you could barely see it.
Commentary was good, overall. J.R. was better than he has been in a long time. It was great to hear Tony Schiavone in the booth again. Excalibur felt completely unnecessary, though. My biggest gripe was the second match—we could’ve had a number one contender’s match for the Women’s Championship in that spot instead, and it would’ve made the show better.
Cody vs. Sammy Guevara – Dynamite started with a solid match that the crowd was hot for. Being Guevara’s first official AEW appearance, he quickly showed himself as a heel by pulling Brandi in the way of Cody’s suicide dive (a favor she returned by hitting him with her shoe). Guevara’s Super Spanish Fly was a thing of beauty. But the real story was Jericho’s attack after Cody’s win. 3.25/5
MJF vs. Brandon Cutler – A three-minute match that went on about two minutes too long. Cutler’s wife did an excellent job on his DnD-themed gear; that’ll add a half-Bible to the score. I’m sure all the non-fans MJF stirred up last week on Nerd Twitter won’t be happy when they decide to Google this later. –SQUASH/5 (or -0.5/5 for the WWE marks)
“Hangman” Adam Page vs. PAC – Considering how long we’ve been waiting for this match, you’d think it would’ve been better. It was mostly slow and stiff and ended about how you’d expect—with a Black Arrow and a Brutaliser. If only Hunter Horse Helmsley had been there to help.
AEW Women’s Championship: Riho vs. Nyla Rose – This match was every bit the main event it should’ve been. Dr. Baker hopped in the commentary booth for this one (only to say very little). I was a little less irritated by the split screen here, since it made more sense that a commercial break would happen in a match with no time limit. Still don’t like it, though.
Riho sold extremely well, particularly when her knees buckled trying to pick up Nyla. The chair spot had me involuntarily rubbing my back; it looked like it hurt so much. Riho had some creative ways to get out of pins (bridging and crab-walking out of one springs to mind) and that Northern Lights suplex was brilliant. I was pleasantly surprised she got the pinfall, but even more so by the post-match beatdown from Nyla. There were also a surprising amount of intergender moments considering how the Khans feel about it. I’m sure we’ll be getting a mixed tag match out of it soon. 4/5
Alpha World Order (Chris Jericho, Santana & Ortiz) vs. The Elite (The Young Bucks & Kenny NOmega) – Talk about overbooked. This match had everything from Mox returning to throw Kenny through a glass table to Jake Hager (f.k.a. Jack Swagger) debuting to attack, well, everyone. Hell, even Dustin Rhodes and Sammy Guevara got involved. I hardly remember what happened in the match itself, beyond Jericho hitting a Judas Effect to win the match (thus continuing Kenny’s losing streak). It was all about the official set-up of Alpha Club in the post-match aftermath. Clearly, the booker had a bit too much of the bubbly when writing that. – 3/5
Overall, it was an entertaining show, but definitely not world-changing. Yet.
Matches = 3.25-3.5/5
Entertainment/Angles = 3.75/5
Overall = 3.5/5 Bibles