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AEW MAKES MOST OUT OF DYNAMITE'S OPENING & CLOSING LAST NIGHT, MAKES RIGHT CALL WITH TAG TOURNAMENT

By Mike Johnson on 2019-10-10 11:53:00

I had the chance to talk a lot about last night's WWE NXT on PWInsider Elite audio, so I thought I'd give some thoughts on last night's AEW Dynamite.  I thought the show was tighter than the debut effort and brought forth some great moments for All Elite Wrestling, particularly in the opening and closing segments of the show.

Private Party defeating The Young Bucks in the first round of the AEW Tag Team tournament was the right call and the smartest call for the long-term good of everyone involved.  The Bucks are always going to be made man within AEW but Private Party are completely new talents to even the most die-hard fans.  If you hadn't seen their work outside of the New York City area, you'd have no idea who they really are, especially on this scale.  By having them have a great back and forth athletic match with The Bucks and then beating them clean, AEW told the audience that Party are players.  The Bucks winning the belts would be meaningless, because it would just open them up to assumptions that they put the belts on themselves given their backstage duties.  By taking themselves off the board, The Bucks now allow everyone else to shine and leave the doors open for the Bucks to challenge the champs on a PPV down the line.  For AEW to thrive long-term (and I mean over the next decade, not this year), it has to grow to be about more than the core members of The Elite and the next generation after the current main eventers have to mean something.  Private Party took a huge first step last night and AEW showed some smart maturity by not going with the obvious finish.  I also really liked the idea of the other teams scouting their future opponents.

Chris Jericho's promo introducing the Inner Circle was a master class on how one good talker can get a lot over in a short period of time.  Jericho got each individual member of his posse over, knocked the fans, took the wind out of the sails of fans mocking Jake Hager with "We the People chants" and got the name of the group over to the point it  knocked the Pro Wrestling Tees website offline.  To me, Chris Jericho's role in AEW has to be similar to the one Terry Funk ad in the original ECW.  He needs to be the veteran who's still so viable and so good that when he works with others, he helps bring them up to his level so that they have a credibility to them if and when he's done working with them.  A week ago, it was a weird motley crew of unconnected talents with him.  This week, we had the Legion of Doom, ready to take on The Elite's Superfriends.  Good stuff, all branching out of Jericho's mic work.

We also got to see a little character building out of Ortiz, making old school bug-eyed faces out of 1970s The Sheik with his tongue hanging out.   That's the sort of little thing that make fans think something is off about that guy - and brings a little bit of fear to his aura.  I liked it.  Little things like that work the best.

The main event was just a great, fun, athletic good vs. evil tag match that had all the hallmarks of good professional wrestling.  Dustin Rhodes was just "on" last night and the moment where he caught Samy Guevara charging into the snap powerslam was just awesome.  Adam Page looked every bit the star here and it was his best showing to date in AEW in my opinion.  Guevara played his role well and will be a good second to Jericho in the weeks to come.  The attack after the match, with Cody, MJF and The Bucks all hitting the scene made sense in that they were getting revenge for last week but that everyone survived to fight the "war" in the weeks to come.    I've seen a lot of comparisons to WCW Nitro for the Dynamite show and it's obvious there's a lot of inspiration from that time period in how the show is shot and presented - as a wrestling event that is unfolding live before our eyes - and it works, because most of the WWE presentation is this action-adventure show (sometimes a show within a show) and it's the difference between being at a stadium or watching something through a glass window.  AEW the last few weeks feels like an experience you are part of, while WWE's main roster feels like something you are just watching.  It will be interesting to see if WWE takes note of that and changes their pacing and production.

The AEW announcing last night also seemed to fall into an even better groove from the first episode.  Excalibur is very good in his role of giving exposition and explaining some of the mindset of the characters.  Tony Schiavone is a great connective tissue for the old NWA/TBS/TNT/WCW days, making comparisons like Adam Page and Barry Windham last night.  Jim Ross has sounded extremely motivated the last few weeks and it's been nice to hear he and Schiavone together again.  Their collective voices are enough to make someone flipping through stop and wonder what they've come across.

The middle of the show was solid but to me, the opening and the closing was what worked best.  To me, the middle was fine but nothing that was "you gotta run to see this ASAP!"

Darby Allin had a solid night as well, but perhaps putting him out there with Jimmy Havoc wasn't the best first impression for them to make on TV.  It could be that the crowd was coming down off the Jericho appearance, but there was a distinct drop in energy for the Havoc vs. Allin match as if the audience didn't know who to root for or who they really were.  Allin looked really good in his cameo at the end, skateboarding into an attack on Jericho, which was a cool visual.  If he gets to have a strong showing against Jericho (and if there is a follow-up on it, unlike his strong showing against Cody over the summer), AEW has a hell of an underdog babyface on their hands.

The women's tag was solid.  I think AEW needs to just let Bea Priestley and Britt Baker fight it out because there were some snug moments in that match.  Riho being so over with the Boston crowd showed that the joshi experiment is working thus far.  I was very surprised there was no follow-up promo or appearance from Nyla Rose after her attack on Riho and Michael Nakazawa last week.

The Jon Moxley-Shawn Spears match was fine.  Moxley seemed to have a ton of energy in the ring and looked a lot more alive than he had for the latter end of his WWE run.  Kenny Omega confronting him made sense, but after PAC laid out Omega, why would Moxley, who jumped Omega at Double or Nothing to start their feud, now walk away?  That's something that should be explained as should the Orange Cassidy character, as I am sure someone watching is wondering what in the world that was all about.

Still, some really strong stuff for AEW in week 2.  If they can hold onto most of their debut audience, they are well on their way to "changing the world" as the Elite have been pushing to do for years.

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