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AEW Dynamite vs. WWE NXT: Who Won the Dec. 11 Battle of the Wednesday Night War?

Jonathan Snowden@JESnowdenCombat Sports Senior WriterDecember 12, 2019

Photo courtesy of WWE.com

The announcement of its next pay-per-view—February 29 in Chicago to coincide with the city's C2E2 Expo—has finally given All Elite Wrestling a sense of direction. For a time, it felt like everyone but Cody Rhodes had been meandering a bit, waiting to be pointed toward a goal and asked to move out. 

Now they are moving out. And that sense of purpose will help give the television some direction. You can feel things starting to take shape and the future is bright. 

But the big show is still more than three months away. The promotion has time to get where it's going. Perhaps that's why it seemed to move a bit lethargically.

NXT doesn't have that luxury. Its big event is next week, with two title matches on live television on USA. Its show felt more urgent this week—perhaps because it actually was close to boiling over. 

Let's take a closer look at each show before rendering a final verdict on another fun night of professional wrestling from the two best weekly shows in the entire sport.

        

AEW Dynamite

Where: Garland, Texas

Main Event: The Young Bucks vs. Proud and Powerful (Texas Death Match)

All Elite Wrestling @AEWrestling

It's a double attack by #TheYoungBucks! Watch #AEWDynamite NOW on @TNTDrama 8e/7c #AEWonTNT @AEWonTNT https://t.co/mhDLdm3wHZ

Match of the Night: Main Event

Moment We'll Remember: "Hangman" Adam Page tagged himself into the match to steal the pinfall from his tag team partner, Kenny Omega. It's a small moment right now, but I suspect it's one we'll see again as Page continues to find himself at odds with his former stablemates.

What Worked  

  • It's been almost 30 years since the AEW world champion debuted as "Cowboy" Chris Jericho, enough time for the future Hall of Famer to have the business just about all figured out. His in-ring pitch for Jon Moxley was almost pitch perfect, a combination of arrogance, confidence and fear that the best wrestling heels seem to exude naturally from their pores.

    Jericho walks a fine line every time he picks up a microphone. The crowd wants to love him. He, in turn, does everything in his power to make them second guess that inclination. It's a delicate balance that he has down to a science. 

  • Adam Page is unhappy—and for good reason. While his friends all enjoy a conqueror's share of the spoils as AEW executive vice presidents, he is the sole member of The Elite operating as a mere wrestler. Adding to his woes? He's not doing especially well at that single task. Something had to give, and Page recently walked away from the peer group that helped elevate him to stardom.

    But, as we saw Wednesday night, it hasn't been a completely clean break. He teamed with Omega here and found his way to the pay window. The two men, however, weren't exactly on the same page. It's a fun, slow-boiling story. The pay off, I expect, is going to be a nice piece of business.

  • Since getting off to a bit of a bumpy start, AEW has done a tremendous job with the Dark Order vignettes. I find myself curious every week to discover more about the mysterious cult. I might have even joined their mailing list. What can I say? As anyone who follows my Twitter surely already knows, I need someone to help me get it together.

    AEW continued to kill it as Brandi Rhodes stepped to the mic, sipped all the tea, and then walked away leaving fans wanting more. Both of these angles seem to be capturing fans—I'm told last week's Nightmare Collective segment was the best-rated bit on the entire show.

  • There was a lot to love in the main event, including more spectacular high spots than many wrestlers performed in an entire career back in the old days. No one could claim to be bored—how could you with so much going on? Nick Jackson got up off the floor of the arena, suffering all day with the flu, and delivered a show-saving performance.

    If I was going to quibbleand where better to quibble than a column like this?—it would be with some of the table bumps. The timing was off just enough that it didn't always look like they were being propelled through furniture by their opponents. It was obvious, instead, that they were jumping through them of their own volition. 

           

Missed the Mark

  • AEW introduced Big Swole on AEW Dark Tuesday in an amazing, compelling video package. She clearly has a lot of potential. But sometimes the best way to introduce a new character isn't through a competitive back-and-forth match with a midcard player.

    Her bout with Emi Sakura didn't do much for either wrestler. There will be plenty of opportunities to show Swole off to fans, but this was a missed one.

  • MJF came out to run down Cody Rhodes in an extended interview that took a long time to get to the point. Max is a very good promo and this was fine—but if Cody wants to fight him so bad, why didn't he come out and lay the smack down? There was nothing between them but air and opportunity.
  • I understand TNT has to pay the bills, but it cut to commercial during both of the best matches of the night. That is unfortunate, however necessary it may be.

      

Grade: B-

            

NXT

Where: Orlando, Florida

Main Event: Keith Lee vs. Tomasso Ciampa vs. Finn Balor (No. 1 Contender match)

Match of the Night: Lio Rush vs. Angel Garza (NXT Cruiserweight Championship)

All Elite Wrestling @AEWrestling

.@TheBrandiRhodes has a message for Kris Statlander.... Watch #AEWDynamite NOW on @TNTDrama 8e/7c #AEWonTNT @AEWonTNT https://t.co/zYyC3rCce6

Moment We'll Remember: Moments after winning the NXT Cruiserweight Championship, Angel Garza proposed to his girlfriend, Zaide, in the ring in front of the NXT Universe and the entire wrestling world. 

What Worked

  • WWE has done an incredible job with Shayna Baszler, building the first real, credible heel this business has seen in ages. She isn't a "wink, wink" style heel, a cool heel or a coward. She's just a mean bully who thinks she can act the way she does because no one has ever had the gumption to stand up and make her stop. Rhea Ripley is that someone. The build to their match next week, to include the promo package here, has been spectacular.
  • The king is dead. Long live the king.             

    Lio Rush and Garza was a perfect television program. They built up a rivalry, let it simmer for a couple of weeks, made it a little personal and then delivered a strong match as the blowoff. That's how business is done. Excellent stuff.

  • What can you say at this point about the main event scene in NXT? When it announced a Triple Threat match to decide who would next challenge Adam Cole, was there a soul living who didn't know in their heart it was going to be truly excellent?

    Tommaso Ciampa is an NXT legend. Keith Lee is going to be a star. But there is a difference between him and Finn Balor—the Irishman is already where Lee wants to be. I thought WWE might be ready to bask in Keith's glory. But Balor isn't next. He's now. And that made this the only result that makes sense in retrospect.

          

Missed the Mark

  • Mia Yim and Dakota Kai had a nice brawl, though it didn't always live up to their promise of having a fight rather than a regular old wrestling match. The finish was cheap without feeling like a letdown, with Kai channeling her inner Toru Yano from New Japan Pro-Wrestling, removing the turnbuckle padding and making use of the cold steel beneath. 

    The problems started after the match was over, when Yim went to get her heat back, refusing to accept a three-count as the end of her fight. The segment culminated with an incredible backdrop suplex through what was supposed to be two tables. Instead, they only crashed through one—only the back of Kai's head touched the other table, leaving her bloodied. It was an ugly ending to an ugly rivalry. So, I guess it was fitting in that sense. Still, you hate to see anyone end their night getting medical treatment rather than celebrating their success.

  • Wrestling is a world full of tropes, a live-action meme that will always be a bit hit and miss as they attempt to capture the zeitgeist in a bottle each week. But whatever is happening with Cameron Grimes? That's not it. Let's all agree he can start over and try again. 

Grade: A

               

Overall: A great night for NXT that built up a special show next week and squared up against a transitional episode of Dynamite. This week wasn't particularly close.

It was time for NXT to deliver. As anyone who has followed the black-and-gold brand's Takeover events over the years, this is a promotion that rises to the occasion. This week was no exception.

Winner: NXT

Overall: AEW (7), NXT (4)