What AEW Dynamite must do to compete with NXT



Kenny Omega walks into the ring for his match.

Bradley Piros, Sports Editor

Ever since the debut of AEW (All Elite Wrestling) on network television back on Oct. 2, it immediately garnered the attention of wrestling fans all around. It dominated the ratings war against WWE’s Wednesday night program, NXT, for all except two weeks, those being the past couple of weeks.

Ever since AEW got up and running on TNT, they won the ratings war against NXT for seven straight weeks because they were new and intriguing. They only lost the past couple of weeks because of the amazing booking from NXT before WWE’s Survivor Series and the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Now, I’m a big NXT guy myself, but I have been keeping up with AEW from week to week because they do have some talent that interests me. They have arguably the best wrestler in the world in Kenny Omega alongside with so many other great supporting talents.

Insert the two guys that jumped ship from WWE, Jon Moxley and PAC, formerly Dean Ambrose and Neville in WWE, respectively. They’re both spectacular to watch and have already had some epic matches under the AEW umbrella.

Then there is the well-worked angle between Chris Jericho and Cody Rhodes. It’s not the best angle in wrestling, but it is up there.

Cody promised everyone that he would win the title from Jericho at Full Gear a couple of weeks ago, but failed to do so. Cody said if he didn’t beat Jericho for the belt that he would never challenge for it again. The main storyline was between Cody and Maxwell Jacob Freedman, though.

The two went into the night as best friends and left mortal enemies. After MJF threw in the towel and forfeited the match for Cody, he apologized and the two had a moment in the ring. Then MJF turned heel and kicked Cody square in the balls, making it one of the most promising feuds in AEW.

There’s a lot to talk about, but I’m not here to recap everything that’s happened or compare them with NXT. I’m here to talk about some of the problems they have and some of the things they’ll need to fix if they want to get back on top of the ratings war.

Myself and Western Courier editor-in-chief Devon Greene met up with my dad at the University of Illinois State Farm Center in Champaign for this past Wednesday’s installment of AEW Dynamite and one of the main things that stuck out to us was how empty the arena was.

Let’s take into consideration that they were just in Chicago the week before and they did have a good crowd there, but not so much in the smaller college town of Champaign. It was at least half empty in an arena that only holds 10,500 to begin with.

That’s with half of it blocked off with the huge stage, and the place still looked empty. While we were there, we even noticed a few wrestlers take a look around the place and realize how little people were there.

So that’s the first thing I think they could change, take it to smaller venues until you build up enough people to actually sell out an arena. I said I wasn’t going to compare, but that’s what NXT does so well. They don’t travel and always hold their weekly shows at Full Sail University which seats maybe 700 people. It creates a more intimate experience and it really brings out how lively the smaller crowd is.

While we were at the show we were paying attention to how long each match was, and they were all generally the same. Every single match felt like it was about 12 minutes. There is no diversity in match length and it makes for a boring and predictable show.

The wrestlers in the ring are top notch, but they always seem to be putting on the same match time after time. This leads to another thing they have a problem with, which is building up their talent.

When every match is around the 12-minute mark, it doesn’t really do anything to help better the talent. If you want someone to come out the other side looking strong, you send them in there to beat up their opponents in around two minutes or less so they come out looking dominant.

AEW doesn’t really do that. Instead, it seems like their top guys are struggling to beat the up and coming talent. There was one match at the show we were at that really defined this point. Omega had a match on AEW Dark with a guy none of us had heard of, but the match was at least 15 minutes. If Omega is hailed as the best wrestler in the world, then why did it take him so long to beat some random opponent?

The last thing I have is that they have trouble defining true faces and heels, or good guys and bad guys. Most everybody under the brand falls somewhere in between. Moxley, PAC, Hangman Page, SCU, Lucha Bros. and so many more fall into this weird category.

Cody vs. Jericho is the main face vs. heel feud that they have going right now with a few other names being definitive good or bad guys. This is something they’ll have to do if they want their fans to believe in the wrestlers.

While AEW does plenty of things right, they also have their discrepancies. If they want to regain the top spot in the rating wars, they’ll have to fix a couple of those things.

Many people thought AEW was going to fail, but it’s clear that they’re here to stay and that they mean business. There’s so much good wrestling going on in the world right now, but that was just my honest review after seeing AEW Dynamite first hand.