Quick Takes: Booking Big E as WWE Champion, Omega vs. Danielson, NXT 2.0, More
Yet another newsworthy week in wrestling for both WWE and All Elite Wrestling leaves fans with plenty to discuss and debate about heading into an exciting remainder of September.
Above all else, Big E is the new WWE champion after cashing in his Money in the Bank contract successfully on Monday's Raw. The last-minute decision from WWE turned out to be one of the most memorable moments the program has produced in recent memory and should hopefully shake up the stagnant formula of the flagship show going forward.
On the subject of big moments and matches, AEW made Kenny Omega vs. Bryan Danielson official on Wednesday night for next week's loaded Grand Slam Dynamite. Even without the AEW World Championship on the line, greatness is guaranteed, but fans have been left wondering who will ultimately emerge victorious.
The long-awaited revamp of NXT also occurred this week to mixed reviews. Now known as NXT 2.0, the former black-and-gold brand showed signs of potential on its first night, but several changes will need to be made to its approach to introducing new talent in order for it to actually be effective.
This installment of Quick Takes will tackle these topics along with how hot-shot booking isn't always a bad thing, why Grand Slam could prove to be the best edition of Dynamite to date, and more.
How WWE Should Book Big E as WWE Champion Moving Forward
For all of the faults with the current WWE product, the company should be commended for the consistent singles push of Big E over the last year, culminating in his historic and critically-acclaimed WWE Championship victory on Monday's Raw.
Since separating from the rest of The New Day in the 2020 WWE Draft, Big E has broken out on his own and has gradually risen in the ranks. He held the Intercontinental Championship for the first quarter of 2021, won the Money in the Bank briefcase and is now the new WWE champion.
His status and presentation as a main event player shouldn't change now that he has seemingly reunited with New Day on Raw.
While it isn't yet official, Big E heavily hinted at becoming a member of the red roster in our exclusive interview earlier this week. It likely may not go into effect until the Draft in two weeks, and if so, he needs to remain independent and only link up with Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods when necessary.
Big E has been booked well as a singles star, and that shouldn't change despite being back with his best friends. He is also due for a meaningful reign for the title, or at the least stay at this level long-term and not be bumped back down to the midcard or tag team ranks once he loses it, a la Kingston in 2019.
Hot-Shot Booking Isn't Always the Wrong Call If Done Properly
This past week, WWE and AEW were both accused of "hot-shot booking"—a.k.a. booking big moments or matches on the fly without more forethought—when in actuality both instances were entirely justified.
Kenny Omega vs. Bryan Danielson being added to AEW's Grand Slam edition of Dynamite next week was seen by some as a shortsighted call by the company. It's the biggest bout that can be booked at the moment, and it's being given away on free television.
However, there is something to be said for Bryan's first AEW match being a major one and it happening in front of the promotion's largest crowd to date. It's been built up since All Out earlier this month and won't be contested for the championship, meaning it's meant to merely whet the appetite of fans and leave them wanting to see a rematch down the road.
The hot-shot booking argument can also be made for WWE adding The New Day vs. The Bloodline to the lineup for Monday's Raw on three days' notice. It's an improvement over announcing it the night of (which is par for the course with WWE) and that also has been in the works for a while, not to mention that Big E vs. Roman Reigns at Survivor Series is a legitimate possibility if WWE sticks with the brand supremacy theme for this year's installment.
These aren't major cases of hot-shot booking as much as it is WWE and AEW simply wanting to make their weekly shows feel more important. It's especially necessary for WWE given how flat Raw has been this year, so giving away matches of that caliber once in a while should be welcome if it makes sense to do so.
Why It Isn't Imperative for Bryan Danielson to Beat Kenny Omega
AEW isn't waiting long at all to give fans what they want to see, and that's Kenny Omega vs. Bryan Danielson.
It's definitely different from how AEW normally goes about building up big matches, so in that sense, it's refreshing that we're getting it so soon. What's difficult is determining who should win, especially when you consider that AEW rarely runs non-finishes by disqualification or count-out.
A time-limit draw is possible seeing as how AEW hasn't done one in a while. That would protect Bryan in defeat in his first AEW match while also prevent Omega from enduring another non-title loss after already losing to Christian Cage last month on Rampage.
Unless Adam Page returns afterward, however, that may not be the most satisfying way to close out such a heavily touted edition of Dynamite. If someone is going to win by pinfall between the two, Omega is the better bet.
Bryan is going to be an automatic headliner for AEW, and his credibility will never be questioned. That isn't to say Omega's would be if he lost, but the more he's protected, the more it's going to mean when he ultimately drops the prestigious prize. Furthermore, Bryan can always avenge the loss to Omega down the line.
Regardless of who goes over, Omega vs. Bryan has instant classic written all over it if given the time it deserves.
AEW's Grand Slam Show Is Shaping Up to Be the Strongest Dynamite to Date
AEW has hosted plenty of exceptional episodes of Dynamite over the last two years, including some during the pandemic period where a limited number of fans—if any at all—were in attendance.
Next week's Grand Slam edition of Dynamite emanating from Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City may end up topping them all with what's on tap, and that's coming off arguably the company's strongest pay-per-view yet in All Out 2021.
The first one-on-one encounter between Bryan Danielson and Kenny Omega in well over a decade will headline the loaded lineup along with Cody Rhodes vs. Malakai Black and Britt Baker vs. Ruby Soho for the AEW Women's World Championship.
In other action, Darby Allin and Sting will take on FTR in tag team action, while MJF battles Brian Pillman Jr. All of five of those matches are significant and will happen in front of AEW's largest crowd to date, so unless they somehow underwhelm, there's almost no way this show will be anything less than excellent.
Of course, AEW can't stack every episode of Dynamite this much, but given this show will be a special occasion, it's encouraging to see the promotion go all out for it. Essentially, Grand Slam will be a free pay-per-view and should keep the company's momentum rolling following a hot summer season.
NXT 2.0 Must Be Careful to Not Introduce so Many Fresh Faces at Once
Plenty can be said about the reboot of NXT on Tuesday night, but by far the biggest highlight was the updated presentation and renovated arena. The actual creative direction of the show will need some work, but a common criticism among fans is that NXT 2.0 is already attempting to introduce way too many people at once.
In doing so, few people will actually get over with the audience. NXT will need to take the time to give viewers reasons to want to see the talent succeed as opposed to rushing them all on to the television product before they're remotely ready.
The most egregious example of this on Tuesday night came when Kyle O'Reilly was replaced in the NXT Championship Fatal 4-Way match with Von Wagner, a Performance Center recruit who had only ever been featured on the show as a security guard up to that point.
It was a bizarre development that felt like something you'd normally see on WWE's main roster. Incorporating some fresh faces into the product can be positive, but it has to be done the right way. Otherwise, NXT 2.0 runs the risk of souring fans on these newcomers before they get a chance to really make their mark.
By all accounts, NXT is returning to its roots as even more of a developmental program than it already was, and it will be a while before everyone is accustomed to that. Everything is there for it to be a breeding ground for the future, but debuting a dozen people simultaneously is going to backfire badly if the brand doesn't tread lightly.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.