Admission time! I rarely watch regular wrestling TV programming. The backstage stuff of WWE drives me insane, and we get ridiculously contrived reasons for bouts to happen. Sure, the odd decent match might creep in, but that’s a rarity. If I want soap operas, police procedurals, or sitcoms, I’ll watch them with people who can actually act, written by writers who can actually write. It’s bad enough on the PPVs, but to sit through 3 hours of that tedium is enough to drive me insane.
I have caught a few 205 Live shows and a few NXT shows, and they are generally better – especially the match quality – but the overall stench of WWE just hangs over them like the lavender in your grandma’s underwear drawer. Before then, TNA’s Impact show was talk over everything else with somehow even worse acting, and going way back, WCW’s Nitro was fine, then it became train-wreck TV. In Australia, we had the Snakepit show which was pretty much just wrestling matches with a little bit of interviews in the middle. That was liveable; sadly it is has gone the way of the dodo. I mean, what happened to the old Raw shows when we saw the Flair/Hennig retire-from-WWF(E) match? That was when wrestling TV was worth watching. Unfortunately, weekly wrestling shows have left me flat for over 2 decades.
However, I have become intrigued by All Elite Wrestling. Double Or Nothing was a great show and the rest have had some great matches. We have motivated and talented wrestlers, we have colour, we have commentators who are there to get across the match and not play characters, and we have some decent matches with very few “characters” (Librarians notwithstanding, which is just a terrible gimmick on every level). With that in mind, I decided to give their first TV show (on TNT) a go.
1) “JR” Jim Ross and Excalibur have a new third member of the commentary team – Tony Schiavone! He looks better than he did in TNA, and, I must say, he is a good addition. Is that because I’m comparing this trio to the Raw/Smackdown trios? Don’t know, don’t care – good grouping and they proved that all night tonight.
2) Cool video for the first match shows that this is not “just” a match, and we have Cody
Rhodes (with Brandi Rhodes) v Sammy Guevara. Well, this was certainly the way to start a TV show! Tony brought up Liger/Pillman starting Nitro (yes, I saw it); this was as good, but the crowd was more into this one. Just a great match, with near falls, athleticism and a great bit of heeldom from Guevara when he pulled Brandi into the way of a Cody tope. The ending sequence was awesome. Cody hit a top rope gourd buster (reverse) suplex for 2; Guevara gets a top rope Spanish fly for 2, Guevara’s top rope shooting star press hits knees, Cody gets the inside cradle for the 3-count and the win. Wow.
(2a. Brandi is probably the best-looking female in pro wrestling today…)
3) Tony is in the ring to interview Cody, Guevara gets in his face, then they shake hands which distracts Cody long enough for Chris Jericho, AEW champ, to blindside him ahead of their title match at Full Gear. No backstage vignettes – it was there in the ring. Short, sharp, shiny… and damn effective. We have a split screen commercial break and Jericho just beats the snot out of Cody the whole time. And then he takes a selfie. And he finishes with a powerbomb into some chairs.
4) Brandon Cutler v MJF. MJF is a good wrestler, but his heel schtick is clichéd. Not a bad match here, which MJF won by hitting a cheapshot and then a Fujiwara armbar after Cutler seems to botch getting onto the top rope, but covers by acting like he tweaked his knee. Schiavone calls MJF a “little prick” – I love it!
(4a. No split screen this commercial.)
5) Chris Van Vliet is talking to Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes in the crowd, but they are interrupted by Jack Evans and Angelico. Then Private Party (with drinks) come through the crowd to make a save. And this leads to the announcement of the tag team tournament and the brackets. And this leads to the first vignette. Scorpio Sky doing a Barack Obama with Kazarian and Daniels his secret service men. And this leads to Tony with SCU on the stage a lá Gene Okerlund in WCW. They say Daniels and Kazarian are going to be in the tournament. Then out comes Lucha Bros and we have a brawl. Nice way to sell the tournament. Hey – Dean Malenko sighting!
(5a. No split screen again; a whole segment with no wrestling…)
6) We go to Jericho talking with his partners for tonight’s main event… and Jim Ross apologises for eavesdropping. Not the WWE “the camera does not exist”, but it was there and they were sorry for intruding. Very cool little touch.
7) Hangman Adam Page v Pac. We go to break and come back with the match in progress, and it is hard-hitting! We went to commercial in the middle, but they used the split screen again. This is another decent match, and I am being sold more and more on Pac each time I see him. He is such a smooth worker. He slows it down to rile up the crowd, and just does it so well. And I’ve liked Page most times I’ve seen him. I liked this match. Pac ended up winning with a black arrow (twisting SSP) into the Brutalizer, a form of the rings of Saturn submission.
8) Britt Baker joins us on commentary for Nyla Rose v Riho for the AEW Women’s Title. This was a working of the David v Goliath match, but it did not quite gel. The offence felt odd. Still, Rose going for a senton onto Riho lying on a pile of chairs, but Riho moving so Rose crashed and burned was a cool visual. Ending came after a double stomp by Riho got her the pin, but it looked like Rose got a shoulder up. Was that a botch? Were they called to go home early? Not sure… but I don’t mind Riho being the first women’s champ. Post-match, Michael Nakazawa interviewed Riho in Japanese until Rose attacked and powerbombed Nakazawa (on the second attempt) before Kenny Omega made the save.
9) The Young Bucks & Kenny Omega v Santana, Ortiz & Chris Jericho. So, let me get this straight, Omega went backstage only to come straight back out? Sorry… Anywho, what a main event! Started off fine… for a few moments. Then Jon Moxley came out through the crowd and attacked Omega. They brawled backstage until Moxley put Omega through a glass coffee table with his DDT. (Was that a “Sh*t!” from Tony?!) So we have 2-on-3, and it did not stop. I am glad I don’t do play-by-play when I watch stuff like this. But the Bucks do really well and this is amazing. Jericho gets the Judas Effect elbow for the pin. Wow.
10) Post-match, the heels continue the beat-down. Cody Rhodes comes out for the save. Sammy Guevara comes out to take out Cody. Dustin Rhodes comes out and clears house and then… Jake Hager comes out! (You might know him as Jack Swagger…) He just destroys all the faces. Then he puts Dustin through a podium (not a table…) with a gutwrench powerbomb. Jericho kills Cody with a Judas Effect. And the heels stand tall in the ring. Hager looks big and impressive. What a way to end the show…
So, as a show, it was certainly acceptable television wrestling. No, more than acceptable – really quite good. Was it perfect? No. Far from it. But the non-wrestling/fighting was kept to a minimum, we know who’s standing where, we know the rivalries, we had decent commentary and that was 2 hours that went by fast, which is always a great sign. Yeah, I reckon I’ll give it another go.
And that was how I saw AEW Dynamite number 1.
Tags: adam page, AEW, Brandi, Brandon Cutler, Chris Jericho, cody, Dustin Rhodes, Dynamite, Excalibur, Hangman, Jack Swagger, Jake Hager, Jason Mewes, Jim Ross, JR, Kenny Omega, Kevin Smith, lucha bros, MJF, Nyla Rose, Ortiz, PAC, Rhodes, Riho, Sammy Guevara, Santana, SCU, Tony Schiavone, women's title, Young Bucks