Previously on All Elite Wrestling: AEW went All Out to crown its first-ever World Champion, and then the title belt was immediately lost. Plus PAC toasted Kenny Omega, Jimmy Havoc cut Joey Janela’s tongue with a piece of paper in a Cracker Barrel Clash, and everyone’s favorite team is a big dinosaur who hangs out with the smallest people he can find.
With that, welcome to the first ever edition of the Ins and Outs of All Elite Wrestling Dynamite, TNT’s WCW Monday Nitro sequel series (not really) that pairs billionaire television know-how with YouTube and independent wrestling spirit. It’s in the same style as our Best and Worst columns, obviously, but I wanted to give it its own flavor, and not have 30 things called “Best and Worst of” something on the page at once. It’s fun, play along!
If you’d like to keep up with our ongoing coverage of all things All Elite Wrestling, make sure you’re following our AEW tag page. The column itself will have a tag page after it’s been on for more than half a day.
So, let’s see what happens when you give The Elite enough money and production value to fart rainbow dust.
A Quick Note About AEW’s Television Production
In the interest of complete transparency in your “what did the guy on the internet think about the wrestling show” column, I can’t speak on the television production side of last night’s debut. I was there live, attempting to make up for the whole “not going to the Mall of America to watch the debut episode of Nitro when I was a teen” thing, so how the announce team worked and how the pacing and commercial breaks felt will have to wait until next week.
I’ll make two quick notes, however:
- I kinda wish Jim Ross didn’t have to keep calling wrestling shows as it’s been a while since he’s seemed legitimately interested in them, but I get why he’s there. It adds an instant legitimacy for casual wrestling fans, and people who haven’t watched in a while and might be tuning in out of curiosity. Excalibur is Excalibur, of course, which means he’s wonderful — I hope they never explain why one of the announcers is randomly wearing a mask — and I’m going to assume hearing Tony Schiavone’s voice calling pro wrestling on TNT again is nostalgic and delightful. I just wish Bobby Heenan and/or Lee Marshall could be there alongside him.
- Larry Zbyszko and Mike Tenay should not read the above paragraph.
- I appreciated how the live show never felt like it was “at commercial.” I’ve been to enough live Raws and Smackdowns at this point to know what a bummer it is to sit in half darkness watching a commercial for the WWE Jetsons movie while production guys change the rope colors and roll out carpet in the ring.
Let’s talk about what we can talk about: the total, nonstop action.
WAIT NO NOT LIKE THAT
All In: Into The Codyverse
— All Elite Wrestling on TNT (@AEWonTNT) October 3, 2019
Cody Rhodes is living his best life. If you weren’t already aware of that, please watch as he opens the first episode of his company’s live TNT broadcast by walking to the ring with his so beautiful it’s borderline absurd wife, Brandi, and soaking in the cheers and adoration of 14,000+ people who came out because brother turned a goofy New Japan YouTube aside into a legitimate, televised alternative that could at best save professional wrestling as an artform and, worst case scenario, be something fun to watch if WWE ever turns NXT into Yellow Raw.
He opens the show against my absolute motherfucker Sammy Guevara, who continues to be in the running for Worst Person in the World; an honor that’s legitimately prestigious when the beloved wrestler you’re facing is also often a total dirtbag and hangs out with MJF. I love them starting the show off with Cody vs. Sammy, as it spotlights what brought them to the dance (the Elite), honors the legacy of what brought EVERYONE there in the first place (the Rhodes family), and keeps half the spotlight on fresh, new talent who are hungry enough to do some shit you’ve never seen before. I also like the continuing AEW trend of Cody being kinda shook by the new generation of guys and beating them, sure, but having to do his best to do it.
It wasn’t the kick that flipped him, it was residual force from the woman’s shoe, WCW’s deadliest weapon. Making a comeback in the very first match! Seriously though, I often feel like I’m completely alone in my Sammy Guevara fandom, mostly because he’s designed to be hated with extreme prejudice from the first second you see him, but the kid is phenomenally gifted, and just a total sweetheart. You’re never, ever gonna see that, though. 🐼
So! Now that All Elite Wrestling’s an actual TV show, they need actual TV storylines to keep things moving forward, right? Here’s where you get that.
After the match, Sammy Guevara appears to show a brief glimpse of sportsmanship by shaking hands with Cody. Cody accepts, thinking that maybe this little asshole panda bear has some class, but whoops, it’s just a diversion so he can be attacked by AEW World Champion and elderly men’s rights activist porcupine Chris Jericho. If you aren’t keeping up with the AEW version of Jericho, imagine an aging rock star with severe short term memory loss who thinks he’s still in his prime, and is so deluded that he’s kinda sorta “faking it until he makes it.” Dude’s ego is so strong that it propels him to in-his-prime performances and accomplishments, whether he’s still in top form or not. He’s just undeniable. He’s Chris Jericho.
As a quick aside, welcome back to TNT, Chris Jericho. The most under-the-radar heartwarming thing about AEW’s TV deal is that over 20 years ago, Jericho left the network as an impossibly under-appreciated and undervalued mid-card guy, and is returning as a multiple-time World Champion considered by many to be one of the greatest to ever do it. Of course WCW Conspiracy Victim Chris Jericho would grow up to be a guy in a fedora, scraf, and spiked leather jacket. OF COURSE HE WOULD.
All In: Hot Dog, We’ve Got A Wiener
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) October 3, 2019
The main event of episode one is the other members of the Elite, The Young Bucks and an increasingly unstable Kenneth Omega, against Jericho and the artists formerly known as LAX, Ortiz and Santana. I’m going to talk more about this in a minute, but I wanted to share this clip of Jericho reacting to a hot dog (of all things) being thrown into the ring during a commercial break. “Who threw a wiener in the ring?” followed by a Japan-style “oooOOOOH” pop is hilarious, and I love that Jericho can make ANYTHING pro wrestling. He’s got crowds chanting “thank you Jericho” at him as a catchphrase. He turned GETTING GRATITUDE into his “thing.” Amazing.
All Out: A Strong Complaint
[Lucha Underground season 4 intensifies]
Two things happened in the main event that I could’ve sincerely lived without:
– referee Rick Knox watching Jon Moxley appear from the ether to attack Kenny Omega in the middle of a match, watch the fight go to the back and through a glass table, and just aimlessly continue the match 3-on-2. Are there no disqualifications? Did we establish that? The announce team apparently mentioned “referee discretion,” but shit, are we already ignoring our own internal rules before the first episode is over? Is Rick Knox on the take? Is he still working with the Cuetos or something?
– the white shirt Lex Luger of AEW Dynamite episode 1 is CM Punk. Whoa! Just kidding, it’s goddamn Jack Swagger, the same dude who compromised the last ambitious non-WWE product on Wednesday nights to a permanent end.
If the show wasn’t already WCW Monday Nitro inspired, it ended with a main event ruined by multiple run-ins, surprise debut swerves, and a referee completely forgetting the rules of wrestling. Nitro is dead, long live Nitro. I did like the Sammy Guevara and Chris Jericho alliance set up at the top of the episode paying off at the end, and I think a Jericho/Guevara/Santana/Ortiz/Jack Hager (or whatever we’re calling him) faction could really work, but … yeah. Sending us home sad with an ex-WWE guy literally nobody asked for on the first episode. So it goes. Dear AEW, if you guys sign Alberto Del Rio and debut him at Full Gear, we’re gonna have a problem.
All In: Mox Populi
In ex-WWE guy people asked for news, Jon Moxley puts Ken through a glass coffee table to continue escalating the violence in their feud. He also used the best available WWE attack: dramatically rising up behind your opponent while they’re posing in the ring unaware. That taunt immediately gives you +5 to all stats. I’m not sure how I feel about a guy dealing with having had a staph infection going through glass when he needs to stay healthy for the next show, but it’s a great visual, and one of the moments that set Dynamite apart.
If anything could be improved in future episodes, I think it’s the formatting. The show felt … safe? It felt like it was following the same formula as WWE shows, which isn’t bad necessarily — they do it like that for a reason — but for a company presenting itself as, well, a paradigm shift, I’d like to see a little more freewheeling ambition in the pacing and presentation. I like y’all as A Better Attempt At WWE, but I’d like you more as something else entirely. I guess that’s hard when they’ve been the only game in town for a generation.
All Out: Poor Brandon Cutler
The low point of the episode is probably the second match, in which Brandon Cutler appears to blow one or both of his knees out on a dive to the floor, trips off the top rope trying to work through it on adrenaline, and ends up tapping out to MJF in what had to be an audible. No way that’s the match as planned, is it? I feel really badly for Cutler, who was clearly hyped to all hell to be getting this opportunity on the big stage on live television on his childhood friends’ new company’s debut episode. Super bummer if he’s hurt. Thankfully you had Television’s Bryce Remsburg in there to help keep it together.
All In: PAC A Lunch
Pretty crazy that the first episode of the series is so heel dominant, isn’t it? You’d think the first episode would try to put the heroes of the promotion over so new fans could get to know them and get behind him, but we’re getting right into the grind. The show opens with Cody winning, but he immediately gets his ass kicked afterward by the heels. Riho wins, but gets her ass kicked immediately by the heel. Omega gets taken out, the Bucks get destroyed, a heel faction forms and destroys EVERYBODY at the end. New heel debuts and kicks Cody’s ass again. No Jurassic Express, no Orange Cassidy, no Private Party. Brandon Cutler gets dunked on, and even Adam Page loses via getting kicked in the balls and tapped out. Pretty depressing when you think about it. I’m surprised the Kevin Smith appearance wasn’t 10 minutes of Jericho explaining to him in great detail why Yoga Hosers was bad.
Having said that, yes, I felt great joy in watching my second favorite NXT Champion of all time, PAC, take a Cowboy Shit on Hangman Adam Page. I thought Page was fantastic here and wrestled the best match he’s had in his AEW career, but PAC is on another level. Dude’s a star from the second he walks out. NXT in the primest of prime Dusty eras transformed him from an awkward indie high flyer into the kind of guy who wins your top championship and holds it all year like a little Dobby-ass monster. He rules.
I’m glad All Elite’s keeping him strong, although him completely owning Page was interesting following all the reported drama from their first attempt at a match. I’m guessing PAC continues to roll until someone fans cheer wins the championship, and then he’ll descend upon them with great vengeance and furious anger. Although I still say “pock.” I just can’t get my brain wrapped around “pack.” Pack. Pack. Adrian Pack. Got it.
Mostly In: Her Name Is Riho And She Dances On The Sand
At least now we know why the AEW Women’s Championship belt is so tiny. Anything bigger than that would look like a chest protector on Riho.
The match that probably should’ve been the main event, and ended up being my favorite match of the night, was the AEW Women’s Championship match between Riho and Nyla Rose. It wasn’t crisp, perfect wrestling and had some disappointingly rough looking moments, particularly Riho trying to pick Rose up on her back and collapsing under the weight, but I don’t think it hurt the story. I think it might’ve helped it, even. Riho had to really fight to win that match. “David vs. Goliath” stories are among the easiest and most satisfying in-ring stories, and I thought they did a great job with it. The crowd certainly did. I think the reaction to Riho as the match went on is the only thing that matched Cody’s entrance on the night, which is saying something, because the crowd was pretty hot until like halfway through the post-show dark matches.
I’ve also written extensively about how I think Joshi should be AEW’s version of WCW’s cruiserweight division, where they bring in fun, unique stars you don’t normally see on American wrestling television. WWE had KANA and Kairi Hojo, made them brilliant and beloved in NXT, and then shot them out of a cannon into the brick wall that is main roster depictions of race. Io Shirai is dope as fuck right now, but if she ever gets called up to Raw you can picture her losing via hankie-assisted roll-up to Lacey Evans, can’t you? AEW can do something really different here, and I’m into it. Plus, Nyla Rose is clearly going to be slash already is a TV star, and I hope they keep her around and relevant in the division.
— TDE Wrestling (@tde_wrestling) October 3, 2019
I wasn’t really into the post-match stuff, though. I think it mostly plays up to how heel-heavy everything was, and how they didn’t let any of the face victories or accomplishments breathe. Riho wins, so Nyla Rose immediately kills her and Michael Nakazawa. Riho only survives because she’s saved by Kenny Omega, who then walks to the back just to walk back out for the next match. It’s … not great, and the post-show scrum made it clear that we’re not building toward any intergender stuff or like, Kenny Omega V-Triggering Nyla Rose. Kenny making the save for her because she’s his tag team partner sometimes and protege is okay, but you could’ve given that save spot to one of the actual women’s division competitors you had in the back but didn’t book for TV. Britt Baker, Allie, Penelope Ford, Bea Priestly, Awesome Kong, Leva Bates, and others were just back there chilling while Kenny did the entrance double-take.
All in all, no major complaints. I thought the first episode of Dynamite was a hell of a show from an in-ring standpoint, certainly ambitious in scope and presentation, and allowed some room for mistakes and growth. They’re one episode in, so, you know, we can’t hold anything major against them until it becomes an observable trend. Except Jake Strong. Fuck that character.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
Moxley is kinda like Trailer Park New Jack
Oh my god, he killed Kenny
Tye Dillinger and Neville should merge and form the PAC-10
The Real Birdman
Jericho looks like an anime villain. I love it
Baron Von Raschke
I like the pairing of Swagger and Jericho. Swagger as the mute enforcer that just throws dudes and does Jericho’s bidding with Jericho doing all the talking is a way to rehabilitate Swagger. I’m willing to give it time.
You know who the real winner in this Wednesday Night War is? SlingTV because there’s finally a reason for me to add DVR to my account. Enjoy the extra $5/month, ya jerks.
TV time remaining? Now I’m torn… I want a kick-ass main, but I also kinda want to hear Schiavone scream “We’re outta time!”
Used Car Salesman Pentagon is my favorite Pentagon.
All this time I thought MJF stood for “Marty Jennety Fanficiton”
It’s…almost…it’s almost as if you don’t need a 20+ minute convoluted promo to start your wrestling show. Almost.
The only thing left to talk about is the SCU vs. Lucha Bros. confrontation, which felt more like a way to kill time that was supposed to go to Cutler and MJF than a planned segment. I’ll just say that seeing Christopher Daniels on major league cable TV wrestling feels great, that Atlas Security guy sucks, and I prefer my Lucha Brothers making out with ghosts to piss off their dead boyfriends and having their broken backs healed by sadomasochistic sex pain administered by Canadian vampire Popes, thank you very much.
But hey, that’s it for the first Ins and Outs of AEW Dynamite. Hope you dug it. Drop a comment down below to let us know what you thought of the show, give it a share on social if you wanna get more eyes on the product and words about it, and keep sticking around for future episodes. It’ll be fun to see where it goes. See you next week, for Wednesday Night Wars II!