REVIEW: ‘AEW Dynamite’

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What started off as a promise from Cody Rhodes, Matt Jackson, and Nick Jackson to change the world of professional wrestling has now become a reality. All Elite Wrestling aired its first episode of AEW Dynamite on the TNT network. Wrestling fans from around the world tuned in last night to witness a monumental event in sports entertainment. Though I was a bit hesitant to watch the show at first given how toxic the conversations surrounding AEW and WWE have gotten, I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity like this one.

Before getting to the matches, it’s important to discuss the overall aspects of the show. For one thing, I can appreciate the fact that this is only a two-hour show. Longer shows tend to add unnecessary segments or feel the need to extend matches, which leads to people losing interest. Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, and Excalibur have incredible chemistry as the commentary team. Had you told me that Ross and Schiavone would one day be on a commentary team together, I would have never believed you. Each match, except for the AEW Women’s Championship, had a twenty-minute time limit, which helped with the overall flow of the show. The addition of a turnbuckle camera was quite interesting since it offers a new perspective for specific spots and angles.

I was surprised to see Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes, stars of the upcoming Jay and Silent Bob Reboot film, make an appearance at the show and for them to be given an entire segment. A few nights ago, rapper Wale made a note on social media that he would be attending this week’s NXT event. There were several people worried when this came to light since WWE acknowledged that he was attending. I’m not saying that it’s wrong for promotions to invite guests and give them segments, but it is extreme to bash on one company for doing this while cheering for the other doing the exact same thing. Smith and Mewes’ segment threw off the momentum that the show had established after the opening match.

While I’d like to talk about all the aspects of the show, I’ll be focusing on the matches that had the most substance attached to them and that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The opening match saw Cody taking on Sammy Guevara, which was quite the surprise. I would have expected Cody to be in the main event, given his position within the company, but it makes sense that he would be the one to kick-off AEW Dynamite’s first episode. Both Cody and Guevara had excellent in-ring chemistry, which only increased the excitement within the crows. I’m not as familiar with Guevara, but it was surprising to see his style of offense and the way he played as a heel. The match was fast-paced, but it still delivered in quality and excitement. Though Cody won the match, Guevara proved to everyone watching the event that he has what it takes to be a top star within the company.

I wasn’t quite sure how to feel about the events that transpired after the match, though. Cody and Guevara shook hands, which is always great to see after such a hard-hitting fight, but Chris Jericho jumped inside the ring to attack Cody. This was meant to build up to their match at Full Gear, which is taking place next month, but it felt a bit predictable and unnecessary. However, it did serve as a reminder to the world just how great Jericho is as a heel since he ended his attack by cutting a promo and walking out after saying, “You’re welcome.”

The title of “Match of the Night” definitely goes to Chris Jericho, Santana, and Ortiz vs. Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson, and Kenny Omega. Not only was this match stacked with tremendous talent, but the hype surrounding the overall event elevated the fan excitement. This match reminded me why tag-team wrestling has a special place in my heart, especially after seeing the teamwork from the Young Bucks. It was a fast-paced and hard-hitting match from start to finish, with each superstar putting it all on the line to prove why AEW Dynamite is the show that people should be watching.

The match quickly escalated after Jon Moxley became involved and attacked Omega. They’re scheduled to have a match at Full Gear next month, which explains why this segment happened. Unlike the Jericho and Cody attack, this feud has been developing for weeks. It’s had the necessary storytelling and momentum to get fans excited to see them have a brawl. Gone are Moxley’s days in WWE, he’s becoming the superstar he was meant to.

To top it all off, the final moments of the match completely blew all of my expectations away. After Jericho and his team won the match, they continued an all-out assault on the Young Bucks. Cody and his brother Dustin Rhodes came to help them but were met by Guevara and AEW’s newest roster member, Jake Hager. Wrestling fans will remember Hager for his time during WWE as Jack Swagger. The arena erupted with excitement when he entered the ring. I wasn’t expecting that at all, which helped me believe that AEW could, in fact, deliver monumental segments.

No Title

There’s your big surprise of the night on Dynamite. Jake Hager (aka Jack Swagger) runs in to establish himself as a monster heel with an attack on Dustin Rhodes

Overall, I really enjoyed watching the debut episode of AEW Dynamite. It would be extremely unfair to expect the first episode to deliver a perfect show, but it still managed to pull off some incredible feats. Even though AEW Dynamite competes with NXT, wrestling fans will be more than satisfied with watching either or both of the programs. This has been one of the greatest years for being a pro wrestling fan.

AEW Dynamite airs Wednesdays at 8 PM EST / 5 PM PST on the TNT Network.

Rating: 9/10