Thursday, October 3, 2019

AEW Dynamite (Oct. 2nd, 2019): A Solid First Effort

So this is it... the first episode of All Elite Wrestling on TNT. And wouldn't you know it? The fine folks at TSN2 happen to be airing the show on a weekly basis (until a month or so down the road where they start showing it on TSN3 or something like that.) Also, on the flip side of things, there's NXT on USA for the full two hours... but up here, we don't get NXT until Friday and even then, it's in a hour-long "best of" version... which I wouldn't mind normally, but still, no Wednesday night war for any of us, I suppose.

Anyway, I figured I'd give this thing a shot; seeing as I've watched all the PPVs and major shows that they aired prior to this, it only seemed fitting to watch this live while I was working daytime. So here we are.

Right off the bat, we've got a nice opening montage with lots of colored explosions because DYNAMITE. And then we get the usual AEW set that we've seen before... and then we get our crack commentary team of Jim Ross, masked man Excalibur... and Tony Schiavone, of all people. There's a certain dynamic we haven't heard since the old WCW days and certainly a neat way to tie in the wrestling legacy of TNT to the current product.

In the first ever match of AEW Dynamite on TNT, Cody defeated Sammy Guevara. As a match, it was perfectly acceptable wrestling. Starts off slowly, picks up a bit of speed, and eventually gets to the heavy hitters before the finish. And the crowd actually enhanced the match to give it more of a big time feel, which is a good thing. A solid opening effort and a good way to kick off new wrestling television.

Guevara then shakes Cody's hand before Le Champion de AEW Chris Jericho attacks Cody from behind, a beating which continues through commercials (that is shown during commercials, but we don't get those here... thanks, TSN.)

Maxwell Jacob Friedman defeated Brandon Cutler in a short match via armbar submission. Cutler apparently hurt his knee and that's probably why it was short. On the upside, I'm liking this MJF fellow. He's an unlikable prick in the way you're supposed to be an unlikable prick in wrestling; you hate him because he's an asshole and you want him to get his teeth knocked out or something. That's something of a rare occurrence.

The Bastard PAC defeated Hangman Adam Page in a pretty good match that was originally scheduled for Double Or Nothing back in May, but never happened due to issues. There's a fairly good chance that had that match happened there instead of here, the end result would've been the same. I suppose there's a hint of surprise that Page would take the loss here, but I don't mind. Guy's young; he's got plenty of time to rebuild and reclaim, so to speak.

Riho defeated Nyla Rose to become the inaugural AEW Women's Champion. Michael Nakazawa, the comedy goof who had that match with the video game guy months ago, shows up to congratulate Riho and cut a promo before getting cut off by Nyla Rose, who has to be one of the worst giants in the history of the world if not for the fact that there are other worst giants in the history of the world.

I don't get the booking of Nyla; she's supposed to be this big giant monster, but she keeps losing. How am I supposed to perceive her as a threat if she's always losing? She's near Braun Strowman levels of ineffective giants. All that's left is to win a shitty battle royal in Saudi Arabia and winning the tag titles with a three-year to get it all made.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I liked this match. I probably should've mentioned it before posting this live, but this was a fine match between the small Riho and big Nyla... I just wish Nyla came off as more of an unstoppable monster instead of big person getting beat every so often.

Anyway, Nyla is about Death Valley Drop Riho before Kenny Omega comes in to make the save... because he needs to protect his partner for some DDT show in Japan or something... they never mention that, though.

And in the main event, AEW World Champion Chris Jericho, Santana, & Ortiz (the latter two being the former LAX of Impact Wrestling) defeated the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega when Jericho pinned one of the Bucks. Halfway through the match, Jon Moxley showed up and attacked Omega, leading to a brawl into the VIP area that nobody told Jim Ross about. (No, really. He actually asked, "There's a VIP section? What wasn't I told about it?!") that ended with Moxley DDT'ing Omega through a glass table. From there, it's a handicap 2-on-3 match until Jericho hits his spinning elbow move (#983) on one of the buks for the win.

After the match, the bad guys continue to beat on the bucks, but then Cody shows up to make the save, but then Sammy Guevara shows up to kick Cody in the balls, but then Dustin Rhodes shows up to make the save and shatter Sammy's dreams, but then JAKE HAGER OF BELLATOR (it's fucking Jack Swagger) shows up to kill everyone that isn't on Jericho's team. So I guess Hager is the Luger of the new show.

As far as debut shows go, the inaugural AEW Dynamite delivered a quality outing for the most part, not only establishing some major players going forward, but maintaining a somewhat consistent pacing that felt like a breeze. While there wasn't anything in regards to the wrestling that was considered blow away, as far as the storytelling goes, they got a decent base to work with. Jericho and crew against the Elite, MJF being an asshole, and I guess we need to have Nyla Rose be a threat that always loses, which is a very WWE thing to do.

In terms of the production, it's actually a stark improvement over what AEW was producing before, though not completely perfect. Adding Tony Schiavone to the mix was a brilliant move to bring back some lapsed fans (he's been on MLW for a while, though) and improved the commentary to a degree, though the commercial cuts could use a little more work... though this, I would probably place blame on TSN since they like to insert their own commercials and thus we miss the in-between stuff. Also, the Jay, Silent Bob, Jack Evans, Private Party, whoever else seemed out of place and smacks of WWE lite, which is something that irks me greatly.

Let's get the obvious out of the way; a new show takes time to break in and find its footing before it starts to produce its best stuff; this is true of any television show. Regardless, you only get one premiere episode and that's where you have the most eyeballs. In most instances, you only get one shot to make a good first impression and for some people, one shot is enough to decide whether they'd stick around for more or not.

AEW Dynamite is not a blow-away show by any means, but for what it's worth, it's a solid first effort if nothing else and I'm intrigued enough by what's been on display that I might tune in next week... hence the new label.

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