Tonight’s the big night, with AEW Dynamite premiering on TNT and going up against the first full two-hour broadcast of NXT on USA. Even as most official voices from AEW and WWE have been dismissive of the idea of a “Wednesday Night War” it’s impossible not to wonder how much that competition is on the minds of those in charge.
For Triple H’s part, he claims in a new interview with Sports Illustrated that for him, NXT is always locked in competition with itself, superceding all other competitive concerns:
To be truly great at something, you make the competition in and of yourself. For me, the competitive juices are always flowing, but the greats don’t just rise to the occasion. If you’re truly great, you deliver all the time. The competitive nature of it, for me, is internal. As NXT has grown in the past five years, we’ve been on Wednesday nights and we’ve been doing TakeOvers. The challenge is competing among ourselves. That’s a challenge, but I love creating the competition amongst ourselves. I want Wednesday to be the best NXT no matter what, whether there is another show on against us or not. I want to put on the absolute best show every time we’re on the air.
The obvious question is, if the only competition that matters is with previous iterations of NXT, why is it this specific Wednesday night that needs to be the best ever? Leaving that aside, Trips also addresses common fan concerns that the new NXT is going to end up too tightly controlled by Vince McMahon:
Everything that happens within WWE has Vince’s fingerprints on it. There is no NXT without Vince. It wouldn’t exist without him. He wants NXT to be different, something for the more passionate fan base. It’s a darker, grittier feel, it’s different. He totally understands that. But he has no desire to be in the day-to-day operations. Vince has a lot of other things on his plate.
Meanwhile, on today’s media call, someone asked Cody Rhodes if they’d have NXT playing backstage tonight at Dynamite, and as reported by Wrestling Inc, this is what he had to say:
We will be focused solely on our own show. I think it would be arrogant of us if we had a monitor on the ‘go’ position with what the competitor was doing at the time. Of course, we’re not living under a rock; we’re going to be aware and what’s matched up against what and how they did when you get to look at all that data on Thursday. But we’ve got to do us. We were always going to be on TNT, on a major cable network like this. So, this was always in our plan.
[NXT’s] move to USA – and this is not meant as a negative, so WWE die-hards, please do not freak out – was a reactionary move towards us. So, they can’t watch us. We’ll be taking care of our own business.
Cody also spoke about his level of nervousness and anxiety about tonight, not in terms of competition, but in terms of what it means for wrestling in general and AEW in particular:
At this point, I’ve had about three sleepless nights in a row mixed with nervous puking. So yeah, my anxiety levels are through the roof for this event. I say it’s the most important weekday in wrestling in my lifetime but really, as wrestling fans and wrestling journalists on this call, I can’t think of a more important night than perhaps MTV and Rock n’ Wrestling. I really can’t think of a more important night when wrestling was destination, and we’ve got to keep it destination.
As he’s done in the past, Cody once again cites Randy Orton as an important mentor who’s advice he’s drawing on in preparation for tonight.
So, I don’t mind those nerves; I don’t mind as long as they’re not on my face when I come up the tunnel tomorrow nights, as long as I can perform. I like to play into my nerves. Randy Orton taught me a term a long time ago called, ‘The Red Light Guy’. When the red light is on, I can do just about anything and that’s who I want to be tomorrow for this show, and that’s who I have to be. A lot of people – I put a lot of pressure, fairly, on us. There were a lot of promises, and a lot of campaigning, and a lot of campaign promises to what Dynamite will be, what AEW will be, and the greatest thing about it is that the people making those promises are also the ones in the ring. So, it’s my job to deliver. Nervous? Absolutely. Scared? Not one bit; I’m ready for this.
Cody’s ready, Triple H definitely seems ready, and we here at Uproxx feel pretty ready ourselves. Wherever this leads, let’s get on the ride!