How in the world has it already been a month? AEW Dynamite has gone from literally not existing about a month ago to becoming the third (at worst) biggest wrestling show in any given week. That is the kind of rise that no one has seen in wrestling perhaps ever and yet it is the reality that we are in today. The show has yet to lose the NXT in the ratings or viewership races and that means things could get very interesting as we continue to move forward.
At the same time though, the show is far from perfect and is going to have to keep changing things up to make it work in the long run. In other words, like any other wrestling show, it is a pretty mixed bag of good, bad and still to be determined. That is what we’re going to look at today: things that are working, things that are somewhere in the middle/to be determined and things that are not working. Note that these are going to be more quick fire ideas than in-depth, as there are going to be a lot of things to cover today. Also, this is far from an exhaustive list and isn’t meant to be one.
It Looks Big
This is one of the best things that AEW has going for it: the show and company look like some of the biggest and most important things in wrestling at the moment. There is no question about this being a huge event every week with a budget and effort behind it. How many promotions try to do the whole “back to the basics, just wrestling” deal? Forget all that for AEW, as the set is big, there is pyro everywhere and the Khans have put a small fortune into this thing. As was said about Randy Savage, if you want to feel important, you have to look important and AEW has nailed that idea.
Chris Jericho And The Inner Circle
It’s the first big story that AEW has and it makes sense as they are going with the biggest things they have to start. They have gone with something close to the Inner Circle vs. the Elite, which is as obvious of a story as they could have. Jericho has been the key to the whole thing though as he is clearly inspired like he has not been in years and it is making for some incredible moments and television. If he is even close to Jericho levels in the ring, they have as much of a star as they can until his body finally gives out (if it ever actually does).
The Tag Division
This isn’t exactly a secret and has been one of the biggest focal points of the entire company so far. Tag team wrestling is a bit of a niche product but it is something that is going to be around in every company. WWE hasn’t focused on it in years so AEW is clearing out everything else and showing that they are the best division in the world. It might not be something that is going to be the thing that carries them over WWE, but it is something they can point to as pretty much definitively the best division in the world. Now imagine if they can get the Usos or the Revival on top of all that.
The best of the best:
In something that is so important but also kind of forgotten, AEW is bringing some new names to the national stage. You just cannot show the same old names that come off as WWE rejects and hope for the best. Instead, we’re seeing people like Hangman Page, Luchasaurus, Sammy Guevara, Britt Baker, Bea Priestly, Private Party, Darby Allin, Nyla Rose and many more. Yes you might have heard of some of them, but how many of them have been on a big stage before? You can have former WWE names, but there has to be a mixture and that is what we are getting here, which helps so much.
Finally there is this, which is really what matters more than anything else. AEW is a lot of things but it is never boring. There is something on every show that is going to get your attention and make you think the show, or at least that part of it, is cool. It might be a big, flashy tag match or a promo or a segment, but there is something there every single time and it is going to be make sure you have fun. How many WWE shows have you sat through recently that have generally entertained you? Odds are it isn’t that many, and AEW is capitalizing on that.
In The Middle
They’re Going To Run Out Of Fresh Matches
One of AEW’s bigger strengths is having a fresh roster, but it isn’t a deep roster. There are only so many matches they can throw at you without things starting to get repetitive and that is going to happen sooner or later. Now that being said, they can turn people, give someone a fresh gimmick, sign new talent or various other things to prevent the stories from getting old. You can also form new tag teams or split up an old one to give you some fresh matches, but having a men’s roster of just over forty people from top to bottom and including teams is not going to last forever.
Too Much Too Soon
Something that we tend to forget is how fast things have moved with AEW. Yes they’re already feeling bigger and more important than Impact, but they haven’t even been around for six months yet. Over the summer, they were running about one four hour show a month and it was a special treat to see what they were doing, mainly because there was less than twenty four hours of content yet. Now the company is running four hours a week plus occasional pay per views. The show has gone from a special treat to your weekly AEW. That takes away a lot of the charm and special feelings, which are going to have to be replaced.
Win/Loss Records Don’t Feel Important
This one is more of a personal feel as I’m just not seeing how big of a difference they make. AEW put a big emphasis on the things but there is only so much that you can do when triple threats and tag matches count separately to regular matches and people with a single singles win are getting title shots. I get that you want to do them, but it isn’t something that you can do that easily. Then again, once we get up to these wrestlers having twenty and thirty matches, some of these problems could go away….assuming they don’t get even worse.
These two haven’t won much:
This week’s episode of AEW is going to be up against some serious competition after two weeks of mega serious competition in the World Series. Dynamite has defeated NXT in both audience and ratings every week so far and WWE seems to have taken notice. They are now presenting NXT as a threat to the main roster shows and that means it is time to get serious. AEW has been around for about a month and now WWE is putting some effort into fighting back against them. Will their lead hold up? How will they react if it won’t? It’s going to be interesting to see what happens when they face some pressure and that is coming.
Yeah yeah yeah we have to talk about it some more. The AEW women’s division has been a point of contention since the company started and that does not seem to be going away anytime soon. You have Riho as Women’s Champion and then everyone else is beneath her. There has been some speculation that Kenny Omega, who is in charge of the division, is pushing Riho due to their friendship/tag team partnership in Japan whether the fans like it or not and that is going to cause issues one way or another. Maybe the fans will get in on the Riho love and that would be fine, but it feels forced at times and that isn’t good.
It Feels Like A Presentation
This is something where your individual tastes are going to vary wildly but it’s a problem for me. There are a lot of times when I watch AEW where it does not feel like someone is trying to win a match. Instead it comes off more like someone is trying to get in all of their spots and put on a good performance, which takes me out of the match. It rarely feels like a real fight and instead is more of a presentation, which is missing the point for a lot of the fans. This is certainly not the case for every match, but some of them make it show badly.
Homages To Classic Angles
Now if you’re not an older school fan, this one will mean nothing to you. There have been times in AEW where they are basically recreating angles (most of which involve Cody) in a rather strong homage. Whether it is Cody telling Dustin Rhodes that he needs his brother (ala Rhodes and his dad), Rhodes getting attacked in the parking lot (ala his dad) or Tony Schiavone riding in the limo with Cody (ala Schiavone and Ric Flair), it seems that they are more interested in paying tribute to or recreating angles. It’s like a wink to the camera or an Easter egg and that makes me want to watch the WWE Network more than Dynamite.
Everyone Is In
This is kind of a mixed bag but it seems that there a rather limited tier structure in AEW. Top stars regularly take a long time to beat midcarders, people like Marko Stunt is hanging with potential champions and other than one or two people, everyone feels like a threat to beat everyone. If everyone is so close to equal, it doesn’t do much good for the top stars. Champions are supposed to be the best, not someone where everyone is just a step behind them. It might make for some competitive matches, but not everything needs to be a ten to twelve minute back and forth match. It’s ok to mix it up and it will help a lot in the long run.
Why Was This Competitive:
It has been a problem since AEW debuted and it still is to this day. Outside of Cody or names that you already know, we almost never get to know who these people are. It’s like you’re being brought in after having done the summer reading instead of being told something about the wrestlers. Is it that much to ask to have a thirty second vignette or promo about someone to explain who they are? It doesn’t have to be some autobiographical book. Just a quick “this is why I am, this is what I do, here’s why you should care”. And no, putting it on Road To or Being The Elite is not good enough.
Boo Who Cheer Who?
We’ll wrap it up with another problem that might be more personal taste/the traditionalist in me. This idea of “we don’t have faces and heels” has some merit but it isn’t going to work forever. There are some people who are clearly heels and faces, but there are a lot of people who are good one minute and bad the next, depending on the situation. That may be more realistic, but why would I want realism in professional wrestling? How confused are new fans going to be when someone goes from good to bad and back in the same show? You don’t have to have everyone on one side or another, but tighten it up a bit.
And yes, a lot of these things are nitpicking it to death, as AEW has been rather entertaining since the moment they debuted. They have hit the ground running like few other promotions could ever hope to do and that has been quite the relief/surprise. There is no such thing as a perfect promotion or company though and making some adjustments will help them both in the short and long term. Keep up with the good (and do more of it) but fix things up and get back to me in six months (or even six weeks, which is still more than double their history because they’ve caught on that fast).
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. His latest book is KB’s Complete 2004 Monday Night Raw Reviews.
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