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    Friday, December 6, 2019

    31 Days of Wrestling (12/6/19): Let's Start A War (The Premiere of NXT On The USA Network)


    Welcome to the 31 Days of Wrestling, ladies and gentlemen. Once again, we're at that point where we take a look back at the past 11 months of pro wrestling (and as much as possible, the last month as well) and cherry-pick one match for each day of December from a list of bouts that defined the year in our beloved sport. Most matches will be good, while some may not be; what matters is that they helped build the perception and reputation of the kind of wrestling 2019 produced for us.

    Moving to a brand new network isn't such a big gamechanger for a promotion like WWE. Both RAW and SmackDown Live have done it a couple of times, and while time slot and roster changes are somewhat normal, the content remains mostly the same. Two things make the USA Network's acquisition of NXT a big deal in wrestling history: 1) the shift to two hours really gave the Superstars a platform to showcase their skills on a regular basis, and 2) it was the official start of what we now dub as the #WednesdayNightWars.

    The very first episode wasn't even a full two hours. It was an iffy attempt to subdue All Elite Wrestling's shot at the being a weekly primetime player. Maybe it was a late approach in trying to counter AEW's Wednesday Night Dynamite debut. One hour was shown on the USA Network while the following hour was exclusively on the WWE Network. It wasn't a bad launch, but it did feel a little rushed at first.

    You could feel it with the way the match card was structured. With names like Pete Dunne, Killian Dain, Lio Rush and a bunch of other stars, it feels like the black-and-gold gathered the biggest (but most random) big names they could call on across the three minor brands—NXT, NXT UK and 205 Live.


    The show itself was pretty goodworthy of a major network debut. The matches got everybody's attention, especially the Roderick Strong/Velveteen Dream bout and the Women's Fatal Four Way (which literally held the show together). While the ratings margin against AEW was close, this show did its job in pacifying the initial blow-out that their rivals could have gotten if they didn't push through with Wednesday night NXT

    Although NXT lost the ratings war for this night, this was actually a good precedent for the rest of the shows which followed. Every week thereafter has almost always been an all-out brawl between the two companies. Both shows fill their two hours with content that the average wrestling fan don't even get with the Monday or Friday showand that's saying a lot at this day and age.



    In addition, this two-hour format also showed the world why NXT is also considered as a main roster brand by die-hard wrestling fansand what I personally refer to as the real A-show of the company. The USA Network debut helped open the door for the brand to be part of the big picture and be recognized more in PPVs like the recently concluded Survivor Series. So even if AEW won this night, NXT seems to be winning the long game (at least within the WWE Universe) by becoming the WWE's most-loved brand.

    *****

    31 Days of Wrestling is Smark Henry's way of celebrating the matches that helped define wrestling in 2019.
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    Item Reviewed: 31 Days of Wrestling (12/6/19): Let's Start A War (The Premiere of NXT On The USA Network) Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Migz Llado
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