Sometimes the simplest metrics are the best. Above all else, I’d argue, pro wrestling is supposed to be fun. By that measure, AEW Dynamite has been wildly successful through its first two weeks.
Pretty much in line with my predictions, AEW pulled in a 1.14 rating (combined on TNT & TruTV)for this week’s episode. That’s a drop that’s to be expected from last week’s fairly outrageous debut number. If they can hover around the 1 million mark, they’ll be doing just fine.
While last week was buoyed by excitement and enthusiasm for the debut episode, this week’s episode was a more entertaining (and quickly moving) two hours. This was an episode that flew by, all the while setting up future programs for next week’s show and beyond.
Main Event Shit
I’m a believer in starting big right from the start. That sounds simple but giving the crowd a fast-paced, high-flying match right out of the gates sets the stage for the whole show. When WCW Monday Nitro was at its best, this was the role of the cruiserweights. For AEW, they opened this week’s show with The Young Bucks vs. Private Party. If Cody vs. Sammy Guevara last week was the equivalent to having a beer, this week’s opener was a flaming shot. In short, it was a great idea to open with this match.
The Young Bucks are so good at putting a match together. They work their offense, in turns explosive and then methodical, but also give the greener team in Private Party offense when it matters. This, regardless of outcome, gets everyone over. But then to put Private Party over and give them the win, that’s how you make stars.
Now, Private Party doesn’t even have to win the tag tourney to be over with the crowd. Someone else can win, get the rub that comes with having the titles, and eventually lose the titles to the Young Bucks down the road. Then, you can have Private Party chase the titles. This was a perfect way to begin the show with an upset win that makes perfect sense.
Chris Jericho’s promo will not go down in promo history necessarily, but it is an example of what can happen when someone as good as Jericho is allowed to do his thing without being overly scripted. Jericho was relaxed and reacting to the crowd, ultimately making the whole promo come off as natural. Now, the caveat of course is that not everyone can do this. When someone can, though, it’s a vast improvement over some of the dopey scripted pro wrestling promos happening elsewhere.
Jericho’s stable will be called “The Inner Circle,” which is a pretty damn solid name for a faction of heels (buy your t-shirts here). Also not to be overlooked is how Jericho introduced each guy. First, it helps people like me who are largely unfamiliar with the guys other than Jericho. Doing this also helps establish each guy’s role within the stable. Jericho made sure to get each guy over while establishing who and what they are.
This is the 2nd time in as many weeks that Dynamite has ended in a near all-hands-on-deck WCW-style show ending brawl. And it was so freaking great.
When the lights went out and Cody was in the ring, the fans were going batshit crazy. Then, watching MJF embrace the babyface role was just perfect. Of course, it was all topped off when Jericho was seemingly making his escape up the ramp only to be waylaid by a skateboarding Darby Allin (more on him later).
It was all of the things that make pro wrestling (and AEW so far) great. In one segment, every single person involved in that brawl got the hell over in a cohesive and fulfilling way. It provided fans with a payoff and a build, which is really all I can ask from a show-ending segment.
Mid-Card Mixed Bag
The three matches that made up the middle of the show were all a mixed bag for me. The women’s tag match was just fine. Riho is great as champ, but Britt Baker, who looks the part, failed to impress again, fairing no better for me in the ring this week than she did last week on commentary.
Jon Moxley vs. Shawn Spears was, despite both guys trying big moves, kind of a snore fest. I don’t see the appeal of Spears. Mox, on the other hand, is one cool mofo. Eventually, he gets the win here in a match that served as little more than perfunctory for the angle after the match.
After Mox gets the win, Kenny Omega appears on the entryway with a barbed wire baseball bat and a barbed wire-wrapped broom (harkening back to his days as The Cleaner). Omega tosses the bat to Mox and the crowd is ready for a brawl. Smartly, gratification and payoff is delayed as PAC (who had been on commentary) shows up to blindside Omega with a chair.
Mox then leaves Omega on the ground and walks off. The post-match angle worked much better than the actual match.
I am here for Darby Allin’s push. He is incredibly over and his Coffin Drop finisher is so simplistic but so awesome.
His opponent this week, on the other hand, is not my cup of tea. I do not understand Jimmy Havoc at all. Watching him wrestle and during his intro promo, I could only think, “This is like Raven if Raven sucked, had no backstory, and was generally unappealing to watch talk and wrestle.” Allin, however, moves so completely different than anyone I’ve ever seen. Tempted to throw this in the jobber-level category, but given the star-making that happened with Allin last night, I’ll give it a pass.
The only thing on this week’s show that felt truly jobber-level was the Best Friends video and subsequent promo about their upcoming match with SCU. I din’t care for it, but I guess it did establish the ridiculousness of their characters and, perhaps more importantly, debuted Orange Cassidy, who got a huge pop and gave his signature “thumbs up.”
The Final Bell
As a whole, one thing that can’t be overlooked is just how vital the crowd is to these AEW shows. They are so all in on these guys and this product. They go crazy for almost everything and that translates very well to television. How long that lasts is anyone’s guess, but when Darby Allin, a guy who’s never been on TV before and who, theoretically the crowd should barely know, is etting bigger pops than just about naything on WWE, this company appears to be in pretty good shape, fan-support wise.
This show was rare in that everything that happened built towards the future. Delivering in the now is one thing, but to have genuine angles that make watching a two hour show fun is great. To leave the viewer wanting even more while doing all that is downright special.