Tonight wrestling fans around the world got to witness the first episode of AEW’s weekly wrestling series. AEW ‘Dynamite’ showcased some of the most popular talent from the AEW roster, as well as how their product would differ from WWE’s. Locking down a two-hour time slot on TNT, AEW is in prime position to ignite another wrestling war similar to the “Monday Night Wars” from the late 90s. The first show was actually surprisingly solid, with many more hits than misses. Here’s my review of the first episode of AEW Dynamite.
The overall presentation of the show wasn’t very different from that of other wrestling shows. There was pyro, there were match hashtags, and there were mid-match commercial breaks. As much as AEW has tried to differentiate itself from WWE, but they actually take a ton of cues from them. That’s actually not a bad thing, either. One interesting thing of note is during the wrestler introductions, you can see their actual win/loss record right next to their nameplate. AEW has emphasized that their rosters wins and losses will matter. There is no better way to showcase this than by tracking and showing each individual star wins and losses.
It’s one thing to have a show that looks like the big leagues in terms of TV styling. In order for AEW to truly succeed, they also have to have a consistently good in-ring product as well. While the debut episode of Dynamite wasn’t absolutely mind-blowing, AEW did showcase that they 100% deserve all the hype they’ve been getting as of late.
The show opened with AEW Exec Cody Rhodes taking on the young upstart, Sammy Guevara. The match was well-paced and we saw both men trading offense. Cody is set to challenge Chris Jericho for the AEW Title at the company’s next PPV Full Gear, while Guevara is just looking to make a name for himself. In the end, Cody was victorious and caught a beatdown courtesy of Jericho for his troubles.
The second match was a quick match between Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) and Brandon Cutler. MJF cut a pre-match promo that showcased his mic-skills, as well as how natural he is as a heel. MJF comes across as a blue-chip prospect similar to a young Randy Orton in WWE. Cutler got in a few shots, but for the most part, this match was all MJF.
Adam Page and Pac squared off in what ended up being the best singles match of the night. Adam Page continues to show why he was the first person to challenge for the AEW title, and Pac continues to be wrestling’s best-kept secret. Both men hit each other with their best shots, but in the end, Pac came away with the shocker victory, and he continues to build towards an eventual title shot.
Nyla Rose and Riho squared off for the honor of being crowned the first-ever AEW women’s champion. Riho is a pro wrestling vet, having over 10 years of in-ring experience despite only being 22 years old. Nyla Rose is also an interesting story as she rose from relative obscurity to being the first transgender woman to wrestle for a major wrestling promotion. There were a few botches here and there, but none were big enough to take away from the overall quality of the match. In the end, the constant flurry of offense from Riho was too much for “The Beast” Nyla Rose to overcome and as such Riho walked away with the win, and the AEW Women’s Championship.
The main event of the night saw The Elite (Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks) take on the team of AEW Champ Chris Jericho and the newest AEW acquisitions Santana and Ortiz. Santana and Ortiz are a high-octane tag-team that wrestled in Impact until about a month ago under the name LAX. Shortly after the match started, Jon Moxley made an appearance and took Omega out of the match, leaving The Bucks to fend off the onslaught from Jericho, Santana, and Ortiz. The Bucks showed why they are one of the hottest tag teams today, while Santana and Ortiz showcased why they’ll soon be in the conversation. The trio of Jericho, Santana, and Ortiz were too much for The Bucks to overcome as Jericho hit Matt Jackson with the “Judas Effect” spinning elbow for the victory.
After the match, Jericho and his new friends continued the beatdown on The Bucks, which prompted Cody to run down for the save. After Cody, came Sammy Guevara, and after Sammy came Cody’s brother Dustin. After the match, things broke down into an all-out brawl which was amplified by another new AEW signee, Jake Hager FKA Jack Swagger. Hager had previously been seen in Lucha Underground and most recently in Bellator MMA. This was a pretty big moment for AEW as it provided enough genuine shock for the fans in attendance, and it gives Jericho a heater which will get him over even more as a heel.
For this to be the premiere episode of AEW Dynamite, they pulled out all the stops. The quality of the overall show was great from start to finish, and the talent definitely delivered. If AEW can keep this up, not only will they be able to compete with the big dogs, they’ll be right up there with them.