wrestling / Columns

The 411 Wrestling Year-End Awards (Part Six) – The Best Weekly Shows of 2021

January 8, 2022 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
WWE SmackDown logo Image Credit: WWE

Welcome back to Part Eight of the 411 Wrestling Year-End Awards of 2021! The Year-End Awards have been out for a couple of years but they’re back, and here’s how they work. For the next couple of weeks, we will present our top choices for a particular topic relating to wrestling in 2021. All the writers here on 411 will have the ability to give us their Top 5 on said topic and the end, based on where all of the votes rank on people’s list, we will create an overall Top 5 list. It looks a little like this…

1st – 5
2nd – 4
3rd – 3
4th – 2
5th – 1

Once everyone’s had their say, we will tally the scores and get our overall top 5. Tonight we’re looking at the Best Weekly Show of the year. Let’s get right to it…

Rob Stewart

5. Impact
4. Raw
3. Smackdown
2. NXT

1. AEW Dynamite – NXT was close until the whole 2.0 thing started and AEW just left it in the dust. Credit for NXT for the immensely entertaining The Way and Cameron Grimes stuff this year, at least. But this is no question whatsoever; Dynamite was easily the show of the year. You had the full emergence of Britt Baker as a superstar (I’m from Pittsburgh, so I’m obligated to note her first), Adam Cole and Bryan Danielson joining AEW’s ludicrously talented roster, CM Punk’s first TV work in seven years, and just… so many great matches and storylines. AEW makes weekly wrestling TV fun in an era where it is largely skippable from week to week.

Jeffrey Harris

5. NXT (Pre-NXT 2.0)
4. Impact! on AXS TV
3. NJPW Strong
2. AEW Rampage

1. AEW Dynamite – I don’t really think there should be any other answer here. Dynamite being able to return to the road and have live fans in attendance really made a lot of difference for the on-air product and give it a bit of that extra oomph to really put Dynamite’s performance over the top this year. I think in terms of overall wrestling storylines and match quality, none deliver on a basis as regularly as Dynamite.

Steve Cook

5. Impact Wrestling
4. AEW Rampage
3. Ring of Honor Wrestling
2. WWE Smackdown

1. AEW Dynamite – The best thing I can say about AEW Dynamite is that those two hours flew by every week. We’ve all watched shows that have been complete slogs. Raw was three hours but felt like six hours for most of this year. SmackDown would drag on for times leading to the points we actually cared about. Dynamite wasn’t a perfect show in 2021. There were segments where it was great, and segments where it was awful. More often than not, the good outweighed the bad.

Andrew Cazer

5. WWE Smackdown
4. AEW Rampage
3. AEW Dark

1. AEW Dynamite – I truly don’t think there’s a weekly product that rivals AEW Dynamite. I think Dynamite has its flaws and it’s down weeks but the overall consistency, the week to week booking and ability to feature a variety of talent make Dynamite the best week to week show in my opinion. I believe at the beginning of the year especially NXT was doing it’s best to compete but AEW’s consistency and ability to have a decent to full crowd for a majority of the year helped the week to week product as well. With the roster they’ve put together over the last year AEW now has the comfortable position to allow a number of top level talent take time off and still deliver a quality television product. At its worst Dynamite is a good product and at it’s best it’s a great product for weeks in a row.

Jake Chambers

5. Beyond Wrestling Uncharted Territory
4. AEW Dynamite
3. NXT
2. NJPW Strong

1. NXT UK – Seemingly existing in its own little pocket universe, NXT UK is the WWE’s best weekly TV show, the wrestling world’s most concise and exciting hour or action, and arguably the best TV show of 2021 full stop. Much like Lucha Underground when it was hitting Season 3-4, there is little point in trying to preach about how excellent this show is to anyone not regularly watching, they’ve probably made up their mind that this is either something good they don’t have time to watch or is a dumb minor waste of time. But if you are watching, fist bump, because you know what I’m talking about, and a preemptive tearful hug because we know it’s only a matter of time…

Ian Hamilton

4. Beyond – Uncharted Territory
3. AEW Rampage
2. NXT (1.0)

1. AEW Dynamite – It’s not perfect, but Dynamite is probably the best weekly show out there. Sure, there’s issues with constant interruption in backstage segments, perhaps not enough turnover in roster members (compared to, say, Dark), but it’s the one TV show I don’t cover that I go out of my way to watch every week.

Kevin Pantoja

5. Raw
4. NXT
3. Smackdown
2. AEW Rampage

1. AEW Dynamite – It’s clear that AEW has a stranglehold on nailing weekly television. Raw was as dire as it ever has been in 2021 outside of a few bright spots and NXT lacked near the end of the original run, while 2.0 has been a goofy mixed bag at best. Smackdown has been mostly solid. AEW holds down the top two spots though. Rampage feels like a legitimate B show where the hour flies by and we often get big matches and moments like CM Punk’s debut. Meanwhile, Dynamite is consistently a strong show, especially since moving out of Daily’s Place. Those COVID era events were rough but with live crowds across the states again, they’ve been top notch.

Thomas Hall

5. NXT
4. Smackdown
3. Ring of Honor

1. AEW Dynamite – I really wanted to go with NXT UK here but I couldn’t bring myself to go that far. Dynamite is not a perfect show but when it is good, it is as exciting of a wrestling show as you are going to find. The show featured a mixture of all kinds of action with some drama thrown in as a bonus. It is the flagship show of the second biggest wrestling promotion in the world and that is more than enough to put it over anything else.

Jeremy Thomas

3. Impact Wrestling
2. WWE Smackdown

1. AEW Dynamite – It shouldn’t surprise anyone that AEW Dynamite ran away with this. While WWE Smackdown had some strong storylines, NXT had good moments (before and after NXT 2.0), ROH TV made a big improvement before the hiatus shut it down and Impact stayed very consistent, Dynamite was the must-see wrestling TV show of the week. No, it isn’t perfect by any measure and there are still a lot of places that they can improve but they’re doing something special on Wednesday nights with a mix of everything that people generally like about wrestling: great in-ring product, strong promos, and decent storylines. Don’t know what else I can say except that this was kind of a no-brainer this year.

AND 411’s TOP 5 Outstanding Performers of 2021 ARE…

5. NXT UK10 points

4. AEW Rampage15 points

3. WWE Smackdown17 points

2. NXT20 points

1. AEW Dynamite42 points


* 1. The Biggest Disappointment of The Year: WWE’s Talent Releases – 28 points
* 2. The Best Non-Wrestler: Paul Heyman – 40 points
* 3. The Best Tag Team: The Lucha Bros – 32 points
* 4. The Worst Major Show: WrestleMania Backlash – 18 points
* 5. The Best Major Show: AEW All Out – 34 points