NXT won the November 20 Wednesday Night War against AEW for the first time since the black and gold brand moved opposite of Dynamite. WWE’s road to Survivor Series lead the company’s main roster talents to NXT and along with the move, came the ratings.
Longtime fans should not have ben surprised by this, as Vince McMahon has never been one to run from a fight. WWE wasn’t looking for a war, but the company has fired plenty of shots at AEW and now many fans believe the tide has changed. But is this the case, or is there more to come?
The idea that Vince McMahon wasn’t anxious to duke it out with Tony Khan’s company may or may not, be grounded in reality. McMahon is usually at his best when pushed by a competitor because it forces him to try different things. Vince loves a challenge and he likes to be in control so perhaps this new era of competition is exactly what he was looking for.
Using NXT to counter AEW from the beginning was a serious shot from WWE’s side. Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown, though rife with former independent talents, are not the most ideal brands to pit against AEW. That’s due to the fact that the majority of AEW’s audience came from the world of independent pro wrestling. Those fans followed The Young Bucks, Cody Rhodes and Kenny Omega for years and believed that each man was among the best in the business.
Watch Adam Cole and Dominik Dijakovic wage war on NXT!
Indeed, AEW’s diehard fanbase loves The Elite, The Lucha Brothers and Orange Cassidy. AEW’s collection of stars are viewed as men and women who came up the right way, learning their craft in front of small crowds and building connections with the audience in the process. Many fans are emotionally invested in AEW’s roster and want to see them succeed. But the fact is that NXT is full of men and women who are in the exact same spot.
The Undisputed ERA, Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa and Matt Riddle, all came up the same way and each man honed his sills to the point that NXT was the most logical landing point for them. They had exactly what WWE was looking for because Triple H knew the explosion in popularity that the indie scene has experienced over the past several years. WWE wanted to capitalize on that and absorb some of that attention for the company, so NXT was born.
It was a smart move and an even smarter move to pit NXT against Dynamite. WWE is going after the very fanbase that AEW was built upon and it’s the same base that likely left Vince McMahon’s company a long time ago. Even the most jaded pro wrestling fan typically praises NXT for the quality of matches and storytelling that’s on display each and every week.
Watch Jon Moxley vs. Darby Allin on Dynamite!
Much has been made about this new “war” and while neither company has officially declared war on the other, the battle lines have been drawn and shots have been fired. Stars from both companies have exchanged words and now NXT has taken the lead. So what happens now?
Consistency is the key when it comes to WWE. Starting something, taking it in the right direction and bringing it to a satisfying conclusion, all continues to be an issue for the company. Despite how much experience there is behind the scenes and no matter how much confidence McMahon has in his company, angles and storylines consistently fall apart. Superstars are mishandled and poorly booked to the point of no return. There seems to be no good reason for any of this to happen, but it happens all the same.
Just because NXT won on November 20, is no guarantee that the momentum has fully shifted. NXT was a star-studded show and WWE fans of all ages had something to enjoy. This was the kind of program that longtime fans have begged for on a regular basis, but only get in small doses. This dose came on the right night against the right program, so fans were happy. But will they remain happy?
Watch Tommaso Ciampa come face to face with Seth Rollins!
Can fans truly expect that this trend will continue? Or does NXT go back to being the same show it was before the stars from Raw and SmackDown came around? Could WWE feasibly still book NXT in this fashion moving forward, or would the whole thing be one big logistical nightmare?
More importantly, does NXT need to feel like the go-home show for a major pay-per-view each week in order to keep winning the ratings war? If so, there may be a very slim chance that NXT will win again. So where does this leave AEW?
AEW World champion Chris Jericho pointed out on Twitter that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Fans knew that going in and they’re likely still repeating that mantra now. But if WWE has truly turned the corner and decided that the time for playing games with AEW is over, then maybe the war has already ended.
The fact is that the professional wrestling industry needs thriving promotions that offer a different product from WWE. It’s good for the business, it’s good for the talent and it’s good for the fans. AEW is still going and the fight with WWE is probably not over yet. But if November 21 is any indication, there may be a tough road ahead.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Wrestling Rumors. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes,YouTube, iHeart Radio, boinkstudios.com and live every Friday at 12pm EST on Wrestling Rumors Facebook Live