This weekend promises to be a big one for pro wrestling. WWE, AEW, and EVOLVE all have major events going on this Saturday and Sunday.
The weekend begins with the first head-to-head meeting between AEW and NXT, WWE’s developmental program. And it will draw to a close with WWE’s last major show before August’s SummerSlam event.
Wrestling saw an incredibly busy weekend this past spring, as WWE, Ring Of Honor, and New Japan all saw action during WrestleMania weekend.
But this weekend adds a whole new dimension. Developmental or not, Saturday’s first-ever head-to-head meeting between WWE and AEW promises to be a real opening salvo in the renewed wrestling war.
We’ll ignore the fact that EVOLVE actually began nine years ago for the time being.
The important thing here is that the EVOLVE 131 10th anniversary special will stream live on the WWE Network from the 2300 Arena (formerly the ECW Arena) in Philadelphia and feature wrestling talent from the NXT and 205 Live brands.
A WWE match is expected to be the show’s main event, as NXT Champion Adam Cole will face 205 Live‘s Akira Tozawa in a match for NXT’s top prize. Elsewhere on the card, NXT’s Matt Riddle will take on WWE Cruiserweight Champion Drew Gulak in a non-title bout.
EVOLVE Champion Austin Theory will face WWN (World Wrestling Network) champ JD Drake in a winner-takes-all match, and the EVOLVE Tag Team Championship will be at stake as champions Eddie Kingston and Joe Gacy defend against AR Fox and Leon Ruff.
The show is a big opportunity for the current stars of EVOLVE to get some massive exposure by wrestling on the WWE Network. It will also serve as a homecoming of sorts for Riddle, a former EVOLVE Champion.
EVOLVE 131 begins at 8 P.M. ET on the WWE Network, but not without some hefty competition.
AEW Fight For The Fallen
Just two weeks after their last wrestling special, Fyter Fest, AEW presents Fight For The Fallen from Jacksonville, FL, on Saturday. The Buy-In preshow starts at 7:30 P.M. ET with the show proper following at 8:30 P.M. ET.
A portion of proceeds for Fight For The Fallen will go to victims of gun violence. A fact that made AEW star and executive vice president Kenny Omega upset about WWE’s counter-programming move.
As noted by Cageside Seats, Omega took to Twitter to chastise WWE for accepting “blood money” (likely a dig at the company’s relationship with the Saudi government) and airing their special opposite a charity event. The AEW star has since deleted the tweet in question.
Omega will be on the card, facing CIMA. Cody and Dustin Rodes will team against the Young Bucks, and Brandi Rhodes makes AEW in-ring debut against Allie.
Darby Allin, Jimmy Havoc, and Joey Janela will face off against Shawn Spears, Maxwell Jacob Friedman, and Sammy Guaverra in six-man wrestling action. Rounding out the card is Adam “Hangman” Page taking on Kip Sabien.
Additionally, Chris Jericho is slated to appear at the event. He will likely have some degree of interaction with Page. Jericho and Page will face off at August’s All Out to determine the first-ever AEW Champion. Chris Jericho last appeared at May’s Double Or Nothing.
Fight For The Fallen will be available for free in the United States and Canada on B/R Live. The wrestling show is on pay-per-view elsewhere in the world on Fite TV for $12.99.
WWE Extreme Rules
WWE will close out the weekend in wrestling with its Extreme Rules event, featuring a mixed tag-team main event. Universal Champion Seth Rollins and Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch will face Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans. The match is winner-takes-all with the winners claiming both titles.
Kofi Kingston will defend the WWE Championship against Samoa Joe. And the Undertaker will make his first appearance in the ring since facing Goldberg at June’s Super Showdown.
Undertaker will team with Roman Reigns to face Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre.
Other contests include SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley wrestling Alexa Bliss and a match for the SmackDown tag titles. Champions Daniel Bryan and Rowan will defend in a triple threat match against Heavy Machinery and New Day.
Extreme Rules is the first pay-per-view event since Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff were named executive directors of Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live, respectively. Heyman has already begun his duties on Raw while Bischoff is expected to start on the Tuesday following Extreme Rules, as reported by Ringside News.
WWE Extreme Rules originates from Philadelphia live on the WWE Network on Sunday. The pre-show is scheduled for a 6 PM start time with Extreme Rules itself following at 7 PM.
It should be a busy weekend for wrestling fans, and an interesting preview of things to come. AEW and WWE may still jump around the fact that they’re competition for one another.
But make no mistake: A new wrestling war is brewing. And this weekend marks the first real shots fired.
All images courtesy of WWE and AEW.