WWE NXT and AEW Dynamite put their best feet forward and each aired quality broadcasts featuring show-closing cliffhangers designed to leave fans wanting more. End-of-show surprises featuring Tommaso Ciampa on NXT and Jack Swagger (Jake Hager) on AEW successfully injected new blood into the two warring factions, and it’ll be interesting to see who takes the early lead and for how long.
Winner: Finn Balor
As the underdog, WCW set the tone of the previous Monday Night Wars with an unforgettable surprise appearance from Lex Luger on its debut episode from the Mall of America. This time around, however, it was WWE in the shock-factor role as Finn Balor made his shocking return to Full Sail University as the first big surprise of the Wednesday Night Wars.
Balor, who desperately needed time away from WWE, came off like a major star in NXT after being cannon fodder to The Fiend when we last saw him. Balor should be considered a strong favorite to enjoy an NXT Championship reign within the coming months.
Loser: Hangman Adam Page
Hangman Adam Page’s gimmick right now is essentially that he’s a loser. After coming up short against Chris Jericho at All Out, which played into the narrative of his match against Pac, Page suffered a relatively clean loss to the surging Bastard.
Page’s losing streak appears to be part of a larger arc in the storyline-centric AEW, but a losing streak angle is not something any wrestler should be excited about.
Winner: Adam Cole
By night’s end, Adam Cole had at least two feuds—against Balor and the returning Ciampa—set up as his NXT Championship reign doesn’t figure to lose steam anytime soon. After cheating to defeat Matt Riddle, it can be argued that the leader of the Undisputed Era could have three feuds moving forward. As the centerpiece of NXT, Cole has been one of the major winners early on in the promotion’s move to the USA Network.
Loser: Nyla Rose
Though the crowd was hot for the first-ever AEW Women’s World Championship match—which turned out to be a decent-to-good match all things considered—and Riho was more than capable in her role, Nyla Rose was nothing short of a disaster in this match. Rose was responsible for multiple botches, including two separate power bombs that went awry, and despite her size, presence and inspirational backstory, it’s becoming painfully obvious that she just isn’t ready for prime time.
Similar to the position Lacey Evans is in, Rose simply needs a bit more seasoning before cashing in on her potential to become a major star.
After defeating both Kenny Omega and Hangman Adam Page, thereby going 2-0 in a promotion where wins and losses are king, Pac is certainly in line for the next AEW Championship opportunity after Cody’s feud with Chris Jericho is all wrapped up.
Jericho is likely to retain the AEW Championship in his first world title defense against Cody at Full Gear, so a heel vs. heel matchup pitting Pac against Jericho could be tricky, but AEW won’t be beholden to long-term babyfaces and heels, and Pac has the talent to work well with just about anybody.
Winner: Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley
Though there were fears that Kenny Omega was going to turn heel given his aloof and bizarre promos on recent episodes of Being the Elite, it appears as if Omega will remain a babyface for now after coming to the aid of Riho and brawling with the heel version of Jon Moxley.
Regardless, his feud with Jon Moxley came off as the biggest deal on the entire broadcast, and if their brawl is even a hint of the type of match they figure to have down the line, this rivalr could be a late contender for feud of the year.
Winner: Jack Swagger (Jake Hager)
Jack Swagger (Jake Hager) proved his worth as a legit tough guy on Bellator, albeit against tomato cans. But after languishing in WWE and having a false start in MLW, Hager seems to have landed comfortably as part of an apparent heel faction alongside world champion Chris Jericho. Not a bad way to crash the Wednesday Night Wars.