We saw AEW and WWE go one on one in head-to-head competition for the first time since the inception of the young AEW in January of this year. While people were either writing AEW off as not a threat to the WWE or saying that they will be the ones that finally end the WWE’s dominance, everyone is slowly coming to reality. AEW themselves will probably tackle the NXT viewership before they try to challenge Raw or SmackDown. Today they took on one of the best independents in North America in the form of EVOLVE. However, this turned into a battle with the WWE when the Stanford based company decided to broadcast Evolve at the exact same time as when Fight for the Fallen will be broadcasted. Evolve’s 10th Anniversary Show on the WWE Network went up against Fight for the Fallen on Bleacher Report Live. All the proceeds from Fight for the Fallen are going to charity. So, let’s take a look at which show/company has triumphed today. We are the Wrestling Hub and today we will be looking at Was Evolve’s 10th Anniversary Show Better Than Fight for the Fallen?
Evolve’s card was probably not as stacked as AEW’s because AEW has a larger talent pool to pick from, but WWE sure helped Evolve out by lending top NXT and 205 Live stars to the company. NXT Champion Adam Cole, Matt Riddle, Akira Tozawa and Cruiserweight Champion Drew Gulak all appeared on a show also featuring The Unwanted (Eddie Kingston and Joe Gacy) defending their tag titles against AR Fox and Leon Ruff along with a high stakes’ winner takes all match between Evolve Champion Austin Theory and WWN Champion JD Drake. Their undercard was solid, even if it was unspectacular.
AEW did have a far deeper card considering the dearth of talent available to them. The marquee match for them today featured The Young Bucks facing off against Cody and Dustin in a tag match. They were supplemented by a stellar card around them featuring Kenny Omega vs. Cima, Lucha Brothers vs. SoCal Uncensored and Hangman Page vs. Kip Sabian. They had a decent undercard too, featuring a triple threat tag match between Luchasauras and Jungle Boy vs. Jack Evans and Angelico vs. Stu Grayson and Evil Uno with the winners getting a bye in the first round of the tag team tournament for the AEW Tag Team Championships. They also featured Brandi Rhodes in-ring debut on AEW against Allie.
When we start evaluating AEW’s show, we need to be honest and say that it was hit and miss. The ‘Buy-In’ had one terrific match and one lacklustre match. Sonny Kiss and Peter Avalon didn’t achieve much, but the woman’s tag team match between Britt Baker and Riho vs. Bea Priestley and Shoko Nakajima was great. Evolve had two stellar opening matches which saw Josh Briggs win one and Stephen Wolf win the other. Evolve probably wins this battle of opening matches due to a relatively consistent showing.
Evolve’s mid-card was kicked off with a match between Anthony Henry and NXT superstar Arturo Ruas. Ruas won a very fun and exciting bout, which served as the match of the night until everything that happened in the last few matched. The sole woman’s match on Evolve’s card was a let-down, and Babatubnde’s quick win over Colby Carino was a pointless affair. AEW on the other hand delivered a great triple threat tag team match which saw The Dark order (Stu Grayson and Evil Uno) win. Shawn Spears and his team’s victory over Darby Allin, Jimmy Havoc and Joey Janela was fun, even if Brandi Rhodes first match in AEW was a let-down. Despite that, AEW firmly wins the mid-card battle.
The marquee matches on both shows had a lot to offer. Evolve’s card was definitely a little top heavy, so there were a lot of expectations from that group to deliver. Well, they delivered and then some. AR Fox and Leon Ruff winning the tag belts from The Unwanted was a good moment, but also did have a very solid match. Matt Riddle and Drew Gulak arguably had the best match from either show. A surprise appearance from Paul Heyman won the crowd over before Austin Theory’s win over JD Drake to become WWN Champion as well as retain his Evolve Championship. The show was capped off with Adam Cole retaining his NXT Championship in a great match against Akira Tozawa, which was followed up by Johnny Gargano coming to the ring and addressing the Evolve crowd, giving it a feel-good ending.
AEW saw Page have a tenuous match against Kip Sabian, but at least it was followed up by an attack by Chris Jericho, who flipped the camera off post attack. However, the fact that the crowd was thanking Jericho for his actions must be a worrying sign for AEW’s booking of Page as their champion. Lucha Bros. had a basic match against SCU, not really elevating the show. Kenny Omega and Cima delivered on their dream match and put on a hell of a show. The decision to have Jericho cut a promo after this was odd, but it happened and it was a fairly serviceable promo. The 4-hour length of this show started impacting the crowd and the viewers by the time Cody and Dustin were out for their match against the Bucks. It was a terrific match, but it closed out a show that ran too long. The match had no stakes, thus no reason to watch apart from the fact that it’d be fun.
Evolve definitely had the better marquee set up for their show, using some of the best WWE workers. Evolve, thus, had the better show overall. There wasn’t a lot of filler and solid action from bell-to-bell, as AEW struggled with putting on a show that would be compelling enough for four hours for the more casual fan. Their final few matches didn’t have any stakes attached to them and thus fell a bit flat. These were both tremendous shows, but Evolve was just a little bit better in my opinion.