20th Oct2020

Which is Better: NXT or AEW Dynamite

by Chris Cummings

So usually, when it comes to Which is Better, I stick to movies, with horror films regularly being the battling topic at hand. This time, though, I thought I’d turn to a controversial topic in the world of professional wrestling, and pit two competing wrestling programs against one another. This isn’t about ratings or drama or fandom, but rather a straight forward look at what I, a pro-wrestling fan who watches both WWE and AEW every week, thinks is the best show between AEW Dynamite and NXT.

Now, this is bound to upset some people, but please, dear wrestling fan, understand that whichever outcome this article has, it doesn’t mean it’s “correct”. This is subjective, it’s all about opinions, and you can disagree, and that is your correct answer too. It is fun, though, to pit two things that are related against each other in order to choose which is, indeed, better. So, let’s get going, shall we?

ALL ELITE WRESTLING: DYNAMITE

I’ve been watching Dynamite from that very first episode in October of 2019. AEW were making waves and wrestling headlines and Dynamite arrived at a great time, with a lot of buzz, fanfare and interest. It’s still got the fanfare and interest from that loyal fanbase today. Today, over a year after it debuted on TNT, Dynamite keeps bringing some damn fine wrestling action week by week. Whether it’s in the main event scene with guys like Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, MJF or Kenny Omega, in the mid-card division with guys like Brodie Lee, Cody, Darby Allen or Orange Cassidy, or in the deep tag team division, with a mass of teams like The Young Bucks, FTR, Jurassic Express, SoCal Uncensored, Butcher & The Blade or Best Friends, there’s a whole lot going on every week on Dynamite. There has to be something said for the women’s division, though, which, though it’s seen some bright sparks, hasn’t been featured as well as it should and could be, with an often emaciated feeling division in general. Improvements need to be made there. There have been some fantastic and memorable matches in the year that Dynamite has been a thing, and some main events that stick out in my mind too. Bouts like Cody against Wardlow in a Steel Cage Match from February of 2020 was a total blast and a hell of a debut for MJF’s muscle. The AEW Title defense from Jon Moxley as he took on challenger Darby Allen in August of 2020 was also a great match and a real example of what AEW does best. I think Allen could be a huge star in the future. He’s already getting there. The Rey Fenix bout against Nick Jackson from last November is impossible to forget. A high-spot masterclass between two of the most exciting guys in wrestling, this was another big old “look at what we do here” from the promotion. I also can’t leave out the Parking Lot Fight from September of 2020 between Best Friends and Santana & Ortiz. This was incredibly exciting and one of the best things yet featured on an AEW television show. Wonderful. I love so many things about what AEW stands for, and I’m a fan of a lot of their talent. I’m a Jim Ross fan, too, so hearing his voice on commentary is always a treat for me. I do have a few feelings about the perhaps overuse of tag-team matches on their shows, though, and the tepid women’s division that I spoke of earlier. If they can make a more diverse show with a better balance of match-types, create some new storylines, debut new talent in more exciting and creative ways, and improve that women’s division, that would iron out the creases that I, a fan of the company, see as problems. Still, it’s easy to see that the good outweighs the bad by a lot, and AEW are only in their infancy, so that really does show how great the company is going to be in the future. Believe me, I’ll be watching.

NXT

As with Dynamite, I’ve been a viewer of NXT since it started airing as a weekly wrestling program in 2014. I’m not going to talk about those original game-show seasons of NXT, the less said about those, the better (although the “moustache promo” is still worth watching on YouTube, for shits and giggles). I’ve been a fan of the show and the brand since it began, and how couldn’t I be? The old-school way the show is shot, the focus on wrestling and simple-yet-effective storytelling, and a hell of a roster that never seems to NOT be great even when people move on to other brands, has kept me interested for years. Currently, NXT has a main event scene consisting of guys like Finn Balor, Tomasso Ciampa, Adam Cole and other guys who pop in and out, like Kyle O’Reilly did recently. The mid-card is packed with names like Damien Priest, Johnny Gargano, Cameron Grimes, Timothy Thatcher and a bunch of others. The terrific women’s division features women like Io Shirai, Candice LeRae, Toni Storm, Dakota Kai, Ember Moon, Rhea Ripley and many more. The tag division is a little less booming than it once was, however, and a lot less stacked than that of AEW. Still, teams like Imperium, Breezango, Legado Del Fantasma and The Undisputed Era are lighting it up at times. The tag division is in need of some additions though, and hopefully we’ll see that soon enough. They did have some great teams at one point, perhaps this is a transitional stage for that part of NXT, but I hope they fix it as soon as possible. NXT television has featured a wide array of unreal matches, even just in the last twelve months. If we merely focus on the year that they’ve been going head-to-head with AEW Dynamite, they’ve promoted matches like The Broserwights against Grizzled Young Veterans in January of 2020, Timothy Thatcher against Matt Riddle in a unique and hard-hitting Cage Fight from May of 2020. This was during Thatcher’s initial introduction period into NXT. He could be a mega-star if they book him right. I hope they do because he’s fantastic. The Adam Cole versus Keith Lee “Winner Takes All” match from the TV incarnation of The Great American Bash was fantastic, showing just how great the main event scene in NXT was, with two of the most charismatic, exciting and talented guys in the world. Io Shirai’s NXT Women’s Title defense against Shotzi Blackheart from September of 2020 was also a snug and exciting match that not only proved further just how great Shirai is, but also helped to push Shotzi harder and give people a better look at how truly skilled and entertaining a wrestler she is too. I can’t wait to see her do more in the company. I could keep going on and on about NXT’s TV matches, like I could have with Dynamite. It’s safe to say that both shows can easily present some amazing wrestling on a weekly basis. The hole in the tag division is a problem, though, and since many of the NXT talents have been moved to other brands, there are big spots for new talent to step up in the main event and mid-card scene also. NXT needs to push some new folk to the top of the card and freshen things up a touch, and then we’ll hopefully see them continue to be on-fire like they have been for over six years.

WHICH IS BETTER?

It’s a hard question and one that has certainly seen big arguments from both sides. I am a fan of AEW and NXT. I love pro-wrestling. I honestly just like to watch great matches from talent I enjoy. It makes it tough, then, because I wholly believe that both NXT and AEW Dynamite are presenting the best that they can, and are entertaining millions in the process. There’s a lot of negativity when it comes to “who is winning” and “demographics” and “ratings”, but as a fan of wrestling, I honestly don’t care about those things. I care about enjoying what I’m watching. In the end, my winner here is purely based on which of the two shows I feel is that much better than the other as an overall production. The best wrestling, a roster I want to see a bit more than the other. Basically, the winner of this is the show I would choose if I could only watch one of them. Luckily, that’s not the case. Still… let’s get this out of the way. Send any hate-mail to thisisntmyactualemail@sorrynotsorry.com

WINNER: NXT

I mean, some of you will cheer, some will boo and curse me with your eyes. I get it, I do. That’s what’s so beautiful about pro-wrestling. Those of us who love it truly love it. We’re passionate about it. That’s obvious from the reactions to this “war” between AEW and WWE that is going on right now. Still, as someone who just wants to watch and enjoy some wrestling, I went with my heart, and I feel like NXT is just that bit better overall. The main events over the past year have featured talents I care that much more about, and the women’s division, a division I really love, is so much better in NXT. It was close, though, because the tag scene in AEW is rocking, it’s wild, and it puts NXT’s to shame. In the end, however, NXT edged it. You might choose otherwise, and that’s cool too. Let us know which you believe is better, but please, dear reader… be kind.

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