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AEW ‘Dynamite’ Premiere Review

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A pro wrestling company being advertised as a “new league” offered up their first episode last night in TNT, a channel that hasn’t aired a pro wrestling show live since WCW Monday Night Nitro last appeared back in 2001. To say the least, this was kind of a big deal. So, did All Elite Wrestling ‘Dynamite’ deliver on night one?

We started with the Dynamite open that TNT released to us on social media a couple of days back to the sounds of a band named No One Hero; the song is aptly titled Dynamite. It’s not necessarily a “banger,” if you will, but I suppose it does the job. The open is very colorful and will surely change a plenty throughout the years. We get some pyro and loud applause from a very vibrant crowd before hearing Jim Ross invite us into our nation’s capital. Ross is joined by Tony Schiavone and Excalibur to call tonight’s action. Schiavone and Ross went up against one another for rival companies during pro wrestlings highly romanticized Monday Night Wars, so you really couldn’t have hired two better guys and as always, Excalibur is a true professional. The commentary was on point all night.

Before our first live pro wrestling match on TNT in nearly two decades we got a great opening package on Cody versus Sammy Guevara that hopefully helped newer audiences get acquainted with the performers and served as a friendly reminder for the folks who continuously devour everything AEW releases on YouTube and social media that the stakes are high for this match. Should Cody win, he goes on to face current AEW World Champion, Chris Jericho, at the upcoming Full Gear PPV next month in Baltimore as planned. If Guevara can pull off the “upset,” that throws a wrench into those plans. You see, wins and losses matter in AEW. It’ll be interesting to see if they can sustain that and how serious they will continue to be when it comes to the records of their competitors. It’s something that I’ll be watching closely and our very own @BeMcCooley will be watching even closer.

“The American Dream lives through the heart and soul of his son, Cody.” – Jim Ross

Cody versus Sammy Guevera was a strong opening match for AEW’s weekly TV program. Guevara is a talent that deserves to be in the spot he’s in. I think he works extremely well as a heel but his best days will surely come as a babyface sometime down the road for AEW — you want to cheer for this kid. I absolutely love that Ross tried to compare Guevara to Nick and Nathan Diaz of MMA fame, it’s a comparison that I don’t necessarily see but it was a smart move considering the amount of lapsed pro wrestling fans that currently watch MMA who were tuning in last night.

Guevara didn’t waste any time here when it came to showcasing his dynamic brand of offense. Cody, joined ringside by his wife, fellow wrestler and AEW CBO Brandi Rhodes, began working the left arm of his opponent while eating it up every time the crowd chanted his name. He hit a beautiful vertical suplex before coming up short on a pinfall. He’d then take some time to think about his next move before doing some push ups, quite a few actually, before hitting that trademark flex from one knee.

There would be a cutter from the middle rope from Cody after some more action that Guevara would one up from a rope higher shortly after. A suicide dive attempt from Cody would end badly when Guevara pushed Brandi outside of the ring, forcing Cody to dive into his wife.

Brandi would even the score later on in the match by hitting Sammy with one of her heels. A Spanish Fly from Guevara and a Reverse Suplex from the top rope were just some of the amazing spots we got to see in a match where every move still had meaning from beginning to end — this was the strongest match on the card. In the end, it’d be the crafty veteran Cody finishing things up with an inside cradle after getting his knees up on the high flying Guevara’s Shooting Star Press.

Guevara would offer his hand to Cody and the AEW VP would oblige. But this would not turn out to be a “Code of Honor” moment. Cody had been set up. The dastardly AEW World Champion hammers Cody from behind, sending a message to his Full Gear opponent with an attack that was as calculated as it was long. This is why you brought in Jericho. He understands pacing better than anybody and he even made this beatdown engaging when TNT went to their first commercial break of the night (it took 23 minutes) letting us continue to watch the action via picture-in-picture. He mocked Cody, hitting the one knee flex after a Codebreaker, trotted back up the ramp and came back to circle the ring and bring some furniture into the fray. While referee Aubrey Edwards was clearly not impressed, there wasn’t a whole lot she could do after the match. This is another fun dynamic to watch following Jericho’s main event with Hangman Page at All Out, Jericho has a way of getting everyone involved.

The champ would eventually take the mic from Schiavone, ever the consummate straight man, and announces that he is the Le Champion of AEW, he smiles and says “You’re Welcome,” as Brandi looks to help her husband. Also of note, Jericho needs to continue to do his photograph and video camera work on his downed opponents. This is Jericho horror film villainy at its finest.

The second match of the night saw Brandon Cutler take on AEW super heel MJF. We got a little bit of a backstory on Cutler, who looks like a local talent brought in for a squash, before MJF came down the ramp-way and delivered his patented scathing promo. He tells us that Cutler is each and every one of us watching from the audience or at home — he’s a complete loser.

Shortly after hitting MJF with a delightful Tope into Thesz Press combo where he would unleash hell on his opponent, Cutler would injure his left knee slipping on the ropes. An elbow from MJF followed by his “Salt of the Earth” submission finisher closes out the match. If MJF is going to be a top baddie for this company he needs more wins like this and less “chick bleep” heel work.

We are then joined by Chris Van Vliet ringside where Jay and Silent Bob are sitting front row to take in the action while helping promote an upcoming project. This turns into an angle that involves Angelico and Jack Evans, Private Party and a Morris Day and The Time reference. We then get a look at the tag team tournament bracket and we get some work from SCU (live and via home video) and the Lucha Brothers. It’s confirmed that Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian will rep SCU as they’ll lean on the experience factor for this tournament. Oh yeah, clear mist and the announcers explaining “Cero Miedo” was involved.

The announce team confirms that 14,129 fans are in attendance for this event as we see the teams main eventing tonight’s extravaganza preparing in their respective locker rooms; Jericho will be shown giving direction to Santana and Ortiz on more than one occasion throughout the night while The Elite (Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks) have no need for words considering that they have been a very successful and cohesive unit all over the world for a number of years now.

Our third match of the evening involves what has to be AEW’s longest running feud during their infancy — Hangman vs. PAC. Hangman enters the contest with a 2-1 record against the 1-0 PAC; every win is so important for guys at this level. Ross pleads with us no to go anywhere during this match as every commercial will be picture-in-picture. After all, we are in the beginning stages of a Wednesday Night War.

PAC would work Hangman over here inside and outside of the ring, delivering plenty of boots to bread basket while egging on the crowd with his constant scowl. In the midst of a Hangman comeback, PAC hits a shot to the groin of the Cowboy with the back of his heel. While referee in charge Earl Hebner may have suspected it, he didn’t see it. This puts Page in a prone position allowing Neville to hit the Black Arrow followed by his Brutaliser submission finish. A beautiful sequence.

Neville is now 2-0 with submission victories over Kenny Omega and Hangman Page, establishing himself as a top contender in this league known as All Elite Wrestling.

Up next we get the inaugural AEW Women’s Championship match between Nyla Rose and Riho. Nyla Rose is here off the strength of her victory in the first-ever Women’s Casino Battle Royale back at All Out where she’d best 20 other competitors. Riho earned her spot by defeating Hikaru Shida on the main card of the same event. I absolutely love the look of this title — it’s a throwback to the golden days which is something we’re seeing a lot of with this promotion. The folks in charge here seem to like to celebrate lineage and history so that’s always a plus.

Nyla has some nerves here in her hometown with Riho enjoying the experience advantage. Nyla clearly has the size and Riho has the speed. This is a solid matchup with the stakes as high as they can possibly get. It’s volume versus power here with Riho using those double stomps and knee strikes to cut down Nyla throughout the match. There comes a point in this match where Nyla either goes crazy or realizes she may be in trouble. She wants to bring chairs into the contest despite referee Paul Turner reminding her that this would call for DQ thus no title being delivered on this night. Luckily, we get some incredible back and forth action leading up to some double knees to the face of Nyla that would see Riho crowned as your first AEW Women’s World Champion.

An out of breath Michael Nakazawa entered the ring to interview Riho post-match but would immediately find himself being double pumped and Liger bombed by Nyla. Nyla would set her eyes on Riho next but it’d be friend and tag team partner Kenny Omega, sporting a ONE FC t-shirt, coming to the aid of Riho, causing Nyla to retreat, for now. Awesome match, awesome post-match sequence.

It’s main event time and we’re being treated to a Marvelesque BTE intro while the crowd, who is very familiar with the product, sings along. This match is given a “time remaining on the broadcast” limit which is about 17 minutes after the intros are finished.

On the first night of the NHL’s 2019-20 season, we get to enjoy to Winnipeg born competitors Omega and Jericho sharing center stage together, flanked by two of the best tag teams in the world today. Everything breaks down eventually as a returning Jon Moxley guns for Omega. The two brawl into the VIP section of the arena where Moxley delivers a Death Rider to Omega through a glass table. Before that, we see Moxley bite Omega on the ear and the “Return of The Cleaner” as Omega grabs a mop (or was it a broom?) to do some handiwork.

Back in the ring, Cody would come out to even the score as Jericho and the group formerly known as LAX beat down the Bucks. After that, Guevara comes out to take out Cody. Goldust (Dustin Rhodes) comes to help out his brother. Then, your big reveal of the evening, Jake Hager (WWE’s Jack Swagger) now an undefeated Bellator MMA Heavyweight, crushes everyone. This potential heel faction of Jericho, Santana, Ortiz, Guevara and Hager take center stage as we go off the air.

Overall, this was a phenomenal showing from AEW with an underwhelming reveal of Hager at the end. While I do think he can offer a lot as a heavy for a Jericho led faction moving forward, he doesn’t exactly possess that “It” factor that you’re looking for. He never has. That said, I love the storytelling and my expectations were probably way too high for this particular night.

Cody and Sammy, Riho versus Nyla and the overall presentation were the high points for me. I look forward to the coming weeks on TNT and Wednesday pro wrestling programming in general with NXT also delivering a very strong show as “rivals” on USA in the same time-slot. In the end, we will continue to win as fans moving forward on hump day. Remember, we’ve yet to be introduced to a large percentage of this incredibly deep roster on the TNT side of things. I look forward to seeing where folks like Jimmy Havoc, Bea Priestly, Allie, Darby Allin, Joey Janela, Penelope Ford and so many more end up. And don’t forget about the loaded tag team division that will be on full display beginning next week.

Dave has been covering Pro Wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts for various websites since 2010. He currently runs both FightBooth and FightBoothPW with the help of some lovely and talented people.

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