July has come to a close and boy has it been a fun one. If you’re keeping score, back in April AEW scored its fourth straight win in the Wednesday Night War report. NXT roared back with an impressive May and managed to play to a draw; it was our first tie since the series began. The next month, NXT’s momentum continued and they capped off June with their first outright win since December. How has July played out? In the ratings, things have been swinging in AEW’s favor. How about in the War Report? Read on…
WINNER: advantage AEW
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Yes, we’re still in the throes of COVID-19 which means no, we’re still not having normal, crowd-filled arena shows. Although, what is normal anyway? In a few more weeks, AEW will have run more shows without a crowd than with, so…welcome to normal, I guess. That being said, both companies have fiddled around with how they present their product on air, settling now for a mixture of performers and friends of the same, scattered around the facility, cheering loudly and reacting passionately to the action in the ring. It’s a minor thing but it has helped a ton. AEW wins over NXT for a reason other than the crowd, though. AEW wins because they’ve been running outdoor shows, and my bias for wrestling in open-air venues compels me to give them the nod here.
WINNER: advantage NXT
There’s no question that NXT has had a great month’s worth of matches. The two-week Great American Bash event, in particular, featured Sasha Banks vs Io Shirai, Oney Lorcan vs Timothy Thatcher, Johnny Gargano vs Swerve Scott, and Adam Cole vs Keith Lee. The shows delivered in spades and made it very hard to change the channel both nights (which is probably why they won the ratings battle on both nights). Over on the AEW side, they loaded up their two-week Fyter Fest event with huge matches, like Kenny Omega/Adam Page vs Best Friends (and vs Private Party the next week), Hikaru Shida vs Penelope Ford, and Chris Jericho vs Orange Cassidy. Cody (Rhodes) even got a solid match out of Jake Hager. It’s hard to pick either one to win because both put on great matches, not only at the beginning of the month, but in the weeks that followed too, but I have to give the nod to NXT. There wasn’t much better than Sasha vs Io.
WINNER: advantage AEW
Speaking of Cody, the TNT champion really carried Dynamite this month, with his open challenge making for a winning segment every week. This month he’s taken on the aforementioned Jake Hagger, Sonny Kiss, Eddie Kingston, and Warhorse. The latter two were the big surprises, along with a debut of the former Zack Ryder (now Matt Cardona). The return of Darby Allin also made for a mark out moment. Over and over this month there were multiple times when I said to myself: “I wish that had happened with a proper crowd reacting to it.” I said the same thing when Keith Lee won the title from Adam Cole; that moment deserved a Takeover crowd. NXT’s big title change was a huge deal, but it wasn’t enough to take the crown from AEW.
WINNER OF THE MONTH:
If you missed our recent piece on the ratings war between AEW and NXT check it out here…
The key line to take away from it is this:
AEW is smoking NXT right now.
That’s not the homer in me talking, either. As I’ve said many times, I love NXT. I root for NXT. I want NXT to be around for a long time as long as it’s handled with the same kind of care that has made it so great for the past several years. But I also love AEW and I can’t deny how excellent the product has been in the month of July. Next month brings hype for SummerSlam weekend, which means NXT Takeover XXX. For AEW, it’s going to be a month of build-up to ALL OUT in early September. Both shows should be pulling out all the stops.
We’ll see who takes the cake, then.