The War Report - February 24 2021: Sting And Darby Strike Back
NXT vs. AEW: Dynamite - Which Was The Better Show This Week?
The War Report, because like the hip-hop classic this article is named after, wrestling fans wanting to compare rival promotions at ‘war’ is very very 90s.
So what’s in store? AEW rolls on toward Revolution on March 7, with the AEW Women’s World Championship Eliminator Tournament (or AEWWWCET for short) rumbling on, as well as a qualifying match for the Face of the Revolution Ladder Match. We’ll also likely hear from Shaq, and his best mate new AEW signing Paul ‘The Big Giant’ Wight.
NXT’s Men’s Title picture will no doubt gather more momentum this week after Adam Cole brutally battered Kyle O’Reilly last week like it was 2016 Ring of Honor. And what will be in store this week for Xia Li as she does her best Kung Lao from Mortal Kombat II impersonation?
Might as well compare and contrast the two shows because let’s be honest, we all do it on some level anyway.
The criteria on which I will be judging the two shows are as follows;
• Match Merit
• Promo Performance
• Storyline Development
• Watercooler Talk; the big moments we’ll all be talking about on Twitter for the next week
• The Whole Damn Show
And remember these are just my opinions - if you agree with me then great, if you disagree then that’s also great. Wrestling is meant to be fun, don’t take it too seriously… coming from the man who was legit angry when Sheamus won the Royal Rumble in 2012, despite the fact I was 23 and had been watching for 20 years at that point and was definitely your typical annoying early 2010s ‘smark’. Urgh.
Let’s get stuck in.
A six-match card this week from NXT… sort of. Xia Li vs. Kacy Catanzaro was thrown out after Xia ‘broke Kacy’s leg’, whereas Leon Ruff vs. Tyler Rust didn’t even start due to Swerve Scott beating Ruff to a pulp out of pure jealousy.
So it was really a four-and-a-half match card, but when it was good it was very good. Johnny Gargano vs. Dexter Lumis was a great opener, with The Way unable to take the terrifying weirdo down. Indi Hartwell decided she’s really into guys with neat moustaches, while Austin Theory has Stockholm syndrome due to spending a week locked in Dexter’s grot-wagon.
Elsewhere The Grizzled Young Veterans went over Killian Dain & Drake Maverick in a quick encounter, and Io Shirai and Zoe Stark had a great non-title encounter. Good to see Stark’s singles undefeated streak end before it could get going - seriously NXT, not everyone needs to be Asuka 2.0.
The main event of Karrion Kross vs. Santos Escobar in a no DQ match was alright too. Still not seeing the fuss around Kross, and having him essentially beat three men with one arm was a bit much. His Saito Suplex on Escobar through the announce table was lovely though.
AEW also put on a six-match card this week. Show opened with Jon Moxley making light work of Ryan Nemeth. Nemeth did get promo time before the match and was part of Tony Khan’s paid advertisement on Impact, so I reckon we’ll be seeing more of him as the weeks go on.
The AEWWWCET rumbled on as Nyla Rose beat Britt Baker to advance to the semi-finals. Weird match this - both women are heels, but Nyla sort of played the face, overcame Britt and Rebel, and got the win with a Beast Bomb. Really expected Britt to go all the way in this tourny, using every trick in the book, but alas she’s out. Nyla does need to regain momentum, but this was an odd choice for me.
Team Taz beat The Varsity Blondes in a fairly one-sided affair, but the long haired lads did get some offence in. If built well I believe they could be AEW’s answer to The Rockers - watch this statement bite me in the arse down the road.
Elsewhere Jake Hager ate Brandon Cutler, and Adam Page took on Isiah Kassidy with best pals Alex Reynolds and Meat Man John Silver watching his back.
The main event saw Lance Archer and Rey Fenix beat the stuffing out of each other for a spot in the Face of the Revolution Ladder Match at the upcoming PPV. A face vs face match, but Archer played the heel, but was face again with a post match fistbump after getting the win. Lovely.
Winner: AEW. NXT’s best matches were better than AEW’s this week, but with the afore-mentioned screwy finishes plus the average main event it wasn’t enough to win. AEW did have a few throwaway matches such as Mox vs. Nemeth and Hager vs. Cutler, but everything served its purpose.