AEW Dynamite Review w/Heather

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October 2nd 2019 – A day that will live in wrestling war infamy as the Wednesday Night Wars Begin!  What kind of artillery is AEW bringing to the table?  Apparently – Dynamite.

As the wrestling wars kind of officially resume I guess I’ve got to put my AEW hat on and declare a side…for tonight at least.  I was a lucky kid who lived on the west coast of the US during the Monday Night Wars which means I was able to watch both Monday shows (Nitro at 5, Raw at 8) and really devote myself to both sides.  It also meant that I got to watch a lot of wrestling that, at the time, felt can’t miss.  Looking back and the quality of wrestling I’ve seen since has proven it may not have been as iconic as I remember, but back then – nothing could keep me from tuning in.  It has been a long time since I felt that way.  Like I would be missing something if I didn’t tune into it.  I felt that way today.  I felt it enough to skip The Masked Singer and in my twilight years I’ve become very devoted to reality shows so, YES this is a big deal!  NXT I’m definitely going to have to check out though (and you should too)!

The show begins, as expected, with some pretty bitchin’ pyro.  I don’t know that I believe pyro is necessary to get people hyped for wrestling shows but I also can’t deny that it helps.  What helps, maybe just me, is the return of TONY SCHIAVONE to my wrestling life.  Tony may be my favorite wrestling commentator outside Bobby Heenan so this is a big deal.  Filling out the rest of commentary for this show was Excalibur and “Good ol’ JR”.  I’ve enjoyed Excalibur on the AEW shows I’ve seen and I believe he really helps the team.  I, as stated 10 words ago, also love Tony Schiavone.  There is also a nostalgia factor for Jim Ross and I respect that.  The problem is that I too often am tuned into the things JR gets wrong or how he doesn’t seem to have the same passion he once did.  I do think if he is doing this every week he’ll become more invested in the performers, but it’ll take time to see.   I do wonder if they’ve got too many cooks in the kitchen though in the sense that JR and Tony Schiavone kind of serve the same purpose on commentary and Excalibur kind of does that too.

The show, predictably but smartly starts with Cody Rhodes.  In an unprecedented move though it not only starts with Cody, but starts with Cody in a match!  I didn’t know a primetime wrestling show was allowed to start with something other than a 20 minute promo.  I think it makes sense to bring Cody and Brandi out first, the crowd is excited to see them and ready to give respect where it’s deserved.  Their reveal from the….chandelier…thing?  they have hanging between the entrances was nice and the whole thing made me a lot more emotional than I thought it would.  I’m not sure anyone who is a long time wrestling fan could help but feel that way watching Dusty Rhodes’ son really pull this off.  I may have gotten a little bit teary and this was without any alcohol assistance!

Cody defeated Sammy Guevara via small package

I was lucky enough over Wrestlemania weekend this past year to see a lot of wrestlers I’ve never seen before and Sammy Guevara was one of them.  Since, I’ve seen a lot of hate come his way but I liked him then and I liked him in this match.  It may have been a little sloppy at times, but I think nerves played a bit of a factor.  He got a great heel reaction, probably a lot to do with the fact he fought Cody who got a resounding welcome from the crowd.  Really, putting him in this spot with Cody here was smart to establish him as someone the crowd can hate, especially if they’re ignorant to who he is like I was.  I thought it was a strong opener that made both men look strong, though I’m confused about who Cody is supposed to be.  He was the face in this match because the crowd was inevitably going to be behind him, but doing push ups in the middle of the match?  Brandi yelling in the opponent’s face?  Brandi getting involved to take a cheap shot on Guevara?   While I understand in recent years wrestling has tended to pull away from the basic heel/face formula, I don’t think they’ve done a good job of painting Cody as any kind of anti-hero either.  It’s not fair of me to really pass judgement this early, but it’s been hard for me to figure out exactly how I’m supposed to feel about Cody’s character since he first left WWE.

As far as the finish, I don’t mind the loser of a match looking strong in defeat, but Cody kind of stealing a win when he’s next in line for the Championship, especially against someone I wouldn’t say is a contender just yet, wasn’t my favorite decision.  It’s hard to say I think it’s wrong because I genuinely am just happy to be watching and thought the match was pretty good and a good start to this show.  It did work for me to have Jericho attack Cody after the match and Sammy Guevara be a shit heel and set that up.

The split screen during commercial to keep people on this channel really worked – I didn’t flip to NXT OR The Masked Singer to see what B Plus Player is on there.  It was a little awkward to see Chris Jericho basically murder Cody with the background of car commercials, but hey – get in every minute you can I guess.  Cody was absolutely destroyed by Jericho because we all need to remember that AEW has Chris Jericho – Don’t forget Chris Jericho!!

MJF defeated Brandon Cutler by Submission

Hearing Tony Schiavone’s absolute disgust with shitty little prick heels like MJF is a thing of beauty.   From everything I’ve seen MJF is a great heel who really understands his character.  The promo he cut before his match with, from what I learned from commentary, the Young Bucks friend, was excellent.  He is a jerk and I hate him exactly like I’m supposed to.    He’s really good on the mic and easily comes across as thinking he’s better than everybody else.   It wasn’t a very long match and there were more references to poor Cutler playing Dungeons and Dragons than I may have liked, but it did well to put over MJF and also made me briefly root for Cutler despite knowing he was going to lose.  I maintain a good foundation for a wrestling show includes people like Cutler who are probably always going to lose but that’s what they’re there for – not to just give losses to people back and forth for weeks.

There was a segment after that match where celebrities were introduced because only celebrities can cement your place as a viable wrestling promotion I guess.  Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes were being interviewed and while it’s pretty cheap to bring in celebrities for a pop, I can’t help but think Jay and Silent Bob were actually a great pick for the people who were in this crowd.  It was an awkward encounter though with them, Jack Evans and Angelico and then Private Party that didn’t really lead to anything.  Following it up with a pretty good SCU segment and interruption from Lucha Bros at least seemed to be a pretty blatant show that they want to give attention to the tag division which is good.  I’ve got to assume it was set up to have Angelico and Jack Evans cost Private Party their match against Young Bucks next week, so I guess only time will tell.

PAC defeated Hangman Page by Submission/Referee Stoppage

I really fell in love with Adam Page during last year’s G1 and I enjoy watching him wrestle.  PAC is obviously great and it’s really thrilling to see him on TV again, getting to show why he was a hot commodity and why he thought he was better than what he was being given.  He was and I love that he’s getting to prove it on the very first night of a company trying to put its best foot forward. PAC really is a bastard and it’s the kind of heelish behavior I love.  In that I mean I hate that bastard and wanted to see Page beat the crap out of him.  Outside a few kind of scary looking spine busters I think this was a really good match.   I genuinely thought both men had a chance at winning and Hangman still looked great in defeat.  I thought Hebner called for the bell a little too early, but I’ve picked at this show enough so far.  PAC absolutely looking like he could be the guy to take over as top heel when Jericho takes off.  Loved it.

AEW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH – Riho defeated Nyla Rose

Dr. Britt Baker D.D.S came out to do commentary for the women’s match and immediately creeped on by JR.  Was not the biggest surprise of the night.

They showed a video package before Britt joined them that was supposed to reveal how Bea Priestley prevented her from winning the Women’s Casino Battle Royale but it did not progress enough to show that.  It’s so not a thing to really be complaining about but I think it’s important for AEW to work out some weird camera shots and angles they get and their recaps so maybe fair weather fans aren’t confused about what they’re being shown.  My number one problem with the AEW shows I’ve seen so far has been their camera work, though if I’m being honest I’d rather it be that than their wrestling matches, so.  My last complaint about it for this match is that they kept cutting to shots of Britt when they didn’t cut to commentary at all during the rest of the night and it wasn’t during any kind of relevant moment.

I love that they crowned their women’s champion on their first episode.  It shows they believe in the women and shows that they’re dedicated to giving them time and an important spot.  The match itself also really works to present Nyla as a monster against maybe the tiniest person in AEW who is still just as capable of pulling out a huge victory.

Not sure why, other than establishing herself as a heel, Nyla introduced chairs to the match when it could have cost her victory to DQ, but I suppose it gives a reason for the crowd to chant holy shit and give Riho an advantage when she gets to use them for herself.  It makes the match more dangerous as well and shows they’re willing to let the women get dirty too.  I like it.

I loved this match.  I loved, loved it.  I knew basically nothing about either of these women and being a woman who’s watched wrestling since I was very young it is insane to watch such an awesome match with women be a great moment in the flagship show of a new company.  It felt important, it felt like it mattered and they made me believe without a shadow of a doubt that tiny little Riho could beat Nyla Rose.  Nyla looked awesome in defeat too and I don’t think losing to Riho lessens her impact at all.  Wow.

Chris Jericho and Santana and Ortiz (LAX) defeated Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks (The Elite)

I am, admittedly, not the BIGGEST Young Bucks fan but ending the show with their match was no doubt the right move.  While they might not be my cup of tea, I absolutely believe they are a lot of the reason people are falling back in love with wrestling.  I can’t be mad at that.  Or Jericho being involved.  Or Kenny Omega who really is one of the best wrestlers in the world.  I won’t even hate on LAX because presenting them as a threat to the Young Bucks in the main event immediately makes them contenders in the tag division.

I was waiting for Moxley to attack Kenny at the end of the match, but he’s unpredictable – he’s unstable!  Of course he’d do it whenever he wanted.  It was good because even as I thought it was going to happen, I still didn’t expect it when it did.  That’s smart wrestling.  Cutting to Kenny and Mox fighting for a….lengthy amount of time when there was a match still taking place back in the ring was pretty weird, but that’s the unpredictability of wrestling right?!   I did expect a new partner to come out and help the Bucks, but I guess it made it an easier decision to have the Bucks lose in a 2 on 3 effort.

I genuinely thought the end of the show would be Cody, Dustin and the Bucks standing tall with arms raised but why not end with Jack Swagg…err Jake Hager?  I don’t hate it.  He is a face to bring in that people know and I kind of always liked Hager in WWE anyway.  I’m excited to see almost anyone get maybe a better shot than they got in WWE.

This was a super fun night.  I enjoyed every match and nearly every minute of the show.  If I had to say what I thought fizzled for me a little it continues to be the weird camera work of AEW.  During their PPVs I’ve often thought they weren’t crisp enough to capture some big moments, and while I thought that was better, I still think that production and camera work is their biggest weakness.  Thankfully, that’s not something that could turn me off to this really exciting time.

WATCH THIS MATCH!

AEW Women’s Championship Match – Riho vs Nyla Rose

I wasn’t sure how was I going to feel about this match.  I haven’t loved what I’ve seen of Nyla Rose, but I’m admittedly ignorant to most of her matches and it’s pretty much the same with Riho.  But I don’t know if I can really relay in a non-silly or unpredictable way how I felt about it.  Aside from it being an honestly good match that really did well playing up the David vs Goliath trope, I again thought it was really meaningful to make this not only the only championship match on the card, but the crowning of that championship.  Women have been getting more opportunities in wrestling, I was there this year for the first women’s main event at Mania, but as someone who’s been watching weekly wrestling shows since I was 10 years old – watching a new promotion make their women a centerpiece of their very first show is not only heartening, but it’s damn well awesome.  It means a lot to me and it’ll mean a lot to new fans who find themselves tuning in.  I truly believe that.  And it was good!  It didn’t seem weird or forced that Riho won – she deserved to win and showed the grit and determination to do so.  Nyla looked great too and still made sure the audience knew she was a force to be reckoned with at the end.  Kenny coming out to Riho’s aid – maybe their top guy – I think that made it seem important too.

SKIP THIS MATCH!

None.  Not even the MJF vs Brandon Cutler.  It served its purpose and MJF gave a nice prickly promo on his way to the ring.  Watch this whole show!!

I hate to put it this way but there was some DYNAMITE stuff.   I felt a sense of nostalgia and also a sense of great new things to come.  How can you not be excited to be a wrestling fan right now?

What did you love about the show?  What did you hate?  Were you as disappointed as I was that Tony Schiavone didn’t yell “FOLKS, WE ARE OUT OF TIME!” at the end?

If you’re feeling wrestle-talky come at me on twitter @hm_pufnstuf.  LET’S GOOOO