Comparing NXT & NJPW's booking of their double title matches

WWE NXT booked a first time Winner Takes All match between NXT Champion Adam Cole and NXT North American Champion Keith Lee for the main event of night two of the Great American Bash special on July 8. This was just six months following another major double champion being crowned at one of the biggest wrestling shows of the year.

In Japan, NJPW's biggest event of the calendar year, WrestleKingdom 14 was built as a two night event itself on January 4th and 5th this year. To make this huge double shot inside the Tokyo Dome special, New Japan booked a mini tournament which would determine the first ever IWGP dual champion. On night one, Kazuchika Okada defeated Kota Ibushi in a IWGP Heavyweight Championship match, while Switchblade Jay White lost the IWGP Intercontinental Championship to Tetsuya Naito.

Just two years after his biggest loss of his career against the same man, Naito had the opportunity to become the first IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Champion by defeating "The Rainmaker". This was something Naito hinted at wanting since March of the previous year after beating Chris Jericho at WrestleKingdom 13 to regain the IC Title.

This double title match was over a year of build, as well as several years build between Naito and Okada, culminating in the main event of night 2 of WK14. This was vastly different from the build to NXT's double title match.

Perceived counter programming leads to double title match on NXT

Following NXT's last Takeover, In Your House, it looked as if Adam Cole was on a collision course with the newest star to NXT, Karrion Kross. However on June 17th episode of NXT, we saw a backstage segment and in ring promo which featured NXT Champion Adam Cole, NXT North American Champion Keith Lee, Finn Balor and Johnny Gargano.

These four Superstars were interrupted by NXT GM William Regal, who made a triple threat match for the NXT North American Title between Lee, Balor and Gargano with the winner facing Cole in a Winner Takes All Match on the July 8th episode of NXT. This was an interesting development.

Over on AEW Dynamite, the company had been promoting their Fyter Fest two night event for over a month for July 1st and 8th. NXT would later announce that for their July 1st and 8th episodes, they would be holding their own two night event, The Great American Bash. Some raised eyebrows and accused NXT of counter programming.

Regardless of any perceived counter programming, the move paid off for WWE NXT as they defeated AEW Dynamite in overall viewership for three weeks straight with the Lee vs Cole Winner Takes All Match being a huge ratings grab. However the aftermath of the double title win for Keith Lee makes fans question if any of this was planned out ahead of time at all.

The result and aftermath of the double title matches for NXT & NJPW

Both double title matches delivered for their respective companies. The two night WrestleKingdom 14 event in the Tokyo Dome was one of the highest grossing weekends in NJPW history. Like I mentioned before, the Winner Takes All Match for NXT scored them a ratings win over AEW Dynamite, averaging 759,000 viewers to AEW's 715,000 viewers.
Naito defeating Okada in the main event of WK14 night two was the culmination of a four year story for the leader of Los Ingobernables de Japon. He finally defeated his career rival at WrestleKingdom after failing in 2014 and 2018. His loss in 2014 at WK8 started his whole journey to creating LIJ and becoming one of the top stars in New Japan.

NXT, to their credit, did an excellent job building to their double title match over the three-week build and made Keith Lee into the babyface hero we needed to finally overcome the longest reigning NXT Champion in history. The match was very good, and Lee looked great. However, the aftermath to both matches is where we see the difference.

Six months after crowning their first IWGP dual champion, the dual gold is still in place and considered the biggest prize in NJPW. Former LIJ member and newest Bullet Club star, EVIL, defeated Naito for the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships at NJPW Dominion and became the talk of the wrestling world.

On the other hand, just two weeks after their double title match, the July 22nd episode of NXT started with NXT Champion Keith Lee relinquishing the NXT North American Championship to create more opportunities for the NXT roster. This has undermined the purpose of the Winner Takes All Match and diminishes Lee's accomplishment to some fans.

The aftermath of these two matches shows that one company made their match with the purpose of making their biggest event even bigger, while the other looked to counter program with little follow up afterwards. Both Naito and Lee have looked great, but the two companies approach to the aftermath is sure to be looked back on for years to come.

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