The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of WrestlingInc or its staff
To commemorate the first episode of All Elite Wrestling: Dynamite, I kept a running diary of my thoughts while watching the show as it went along, which will add up to something resembling a review.
From the start, I liked the introduction. To new viewers, they saw a packed arena with pyro and a good looking stage, and heard the familiar voice of Jim Ross. I don't know about doing a video package before the first match, part of me would have liked them to just do the match first, so people are seeing action within the first minute of the show.
The match itself was okay, a little disappointing if I'm being the honest. It was awkward in spots and it is kind of odd that Cody is a huge babyface, yet all of his moves and his general wrestling style are things that a heel would do. It got better towards the end, and Sammy's flying was impressive. I liked the finish, it teaches fans that finishers don't have to be the only thing that ends matches.
I liked the Jericho beat down of Cody, which lasted throughout the entire commercial break, which for me was done picture-in-picture, so while I saw commercials for insurance companies and cell phone plans, I also saw Jericho beating the crap out of Cody. I think all commercial breaks for all programming should feature Jericho moving forward.
The MJF and Brandon Cutler match was going to be somewhat difficult because they are not Cody or Jericho when it comes to holding the crowd's attention. They needed it to be a squash and a showcase for MJF, so the match being basically nothing was fine for what it needed to be. The crowd booed MJF and he insulted them--that is all they really need to do.
The interaction between Kevin Smith, Angelico and Jack Evans, with the Private Party wasn't very smooth. That is something that WWE probably would have done a lot better. What didn't need any improvement was the SCU video and Scorpio Sky's Obama impersonation, that was fantastic.
PAC and Adam Page had their long match, and it was quite good. It had a different tone than the other matches, as a long bout with a very clear heel and babyface dynamic. PAC is a guy who did benefit from his WWE run; because he went from being a classic babyface on the indies, to a really good, asshole heel in WWE. By taking that character to AEW, he is one of the top heels in the company instead of just another babyface.
The women's match between Riho and Nyla Rose ended up being really good, which was important. This was easily the biggest match of both of their careers, and they did as good as could be reasonably expected. The crowd was really into the match and treated the women's title like it was a really big deal, which is a good sign for the division going forward. Riho is a natural babyface that the fans have started to gravitate towards. Rose is still green but has a lot of potential as the monster of the division.
The main event was more focused on setting up future feuds and storytelling than having a blow-away match, and that was the right call. Omega was taken out by Moxley, setting up their match. The Young Bucks were beaten by LAX, setting up their feud. Jericho won with the Judas Effect and was challenged by Cody at the end of the match. They also set up Sammy Guevara and Dustin Rhodes, and presumably Jack Hager against another star.
I get that Hager isn't CM Punk, but if AEW has taught us anything it is that just because a talent didn't achieve great things in WWE, it doesn't mean they can't be good assets somewhere else. I thought I how they used Hager was really smart and if he is going to be Jericho's heavy in his war against The Elite, I don't see any reason it can't work out well for him.
Some other notes:
- The lack of promotional videos and formal introductions of the talent was interesting. On one hand, you would want viewers who are new to the promotion to get an idea about who they are watching. On the other hand, I think there is some value in not overwhelming the viewer with video packages and talking. Let new fans see some action first, which is what people expect to see when they turn on wrestling, and if they stick around they can learn more about the talent.
- The announcing was solid, but has some kinks to work out. Excalibur and JR are a good team and have gotten better each time they have worked together. Schiavone felt like the third wheel and will need some time to gel. When they brought Britt Baker out for the women's match, it was too many commentators and she didn't have much to say.
- One thing that was interesting was that they didn't use a lot of their roster on this show. We didn't see Luchasaraus, Jungle Boy, Best Friends, Darby Allin, Joey Janela, Jimmy Havoc, Bea Preistley, etc. There is still a lot of talent yet to appear on TNT, which to me is a good thing that they didn't overbook the show with every name on the roster.
- I'll be at the show next week in Boston. I'm very excited to see the show live and see how that experience compares to television.