I was in the Army during the heights of the so-called “Monday Night Wars” and every week a bunch of people would gather in someone’s room in the barracks to flip between Raw and Nitro. It was a fun time in wrestling, and while you can’t go back in time, for tonight I’m going to relive those days by watching the premiere of AEW Dynamite and flipping to NXT during commercials.
While AEW is a new national promotion, a lot of its roots and origins are right here in Southern California.
The show opened with Jim Ross welcoming everyone to AEW. The crowd at the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. looked amazing and lively. Very reminiscent of an old WWE crowd when the promotion was hot, minus the 50 million signs.
A package was shown to promote Sammy Guevara versus Cody. This was really well done but could have done a little better job introducing the characters to an audience who may not be familiar with them.
Cody vs. Sammy Guevara
Cody came off as a huge star with his entrance. If you’ve never watched AEW or haven’t watched wrestling in years, you would instantly see him as a star just off the crowd reaction he got. Sammy Guevara got a much quieter reaction, though booing was audible. There was a pretty big “Sammy sucks” chat early on. Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone start reminiscing about WCW but Excalibur brought things back to the present.
The match started with a bit of grappling on the mat. The crowd did some “woo-ing” when Cody locked in a figure four. Rhodes kicked Guevara knocking him to the floor, then tried a tope suicida but hit Brandi Rhodes by accident. The crowd was really hot for the near falls. Guevara hit a super Spanish fly for a near fall. Guevara went for a shooting star and Cody got his knees up and rolled him into a cradle for the pin in a really good opening match.
Rating: *** 3/4
After the match, Jericho attacked Cody and beat him down throughout the commercial break. What a great way to open the show.
MJF vs. Brandon Cutler
MJF cut a promo on the way to the ring running down Cutler, the crowd, and Dungeons and Dragons. Excalibur gave Cutler’s backstory, and also mentioned a dice tower on national television, revealing his own love of tabletop games. There was some trading of offense in this before MJF got a cheap shot in followed by a Fujiwara armor to get the submission win.
During the commercial, I flipped to NXT and it was on a commercial too. Sure they had the split screen going, but nothing was there to hook me into keeping my TV on NXT.
Chris Van Vliet was ringside and mentioned the stars came out for AEW. Then he introduced Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes. Angelico and Jack Evans came over and this led to a brutal segment that was hard to watch. Kevin Smith also mentioned that wrestling was fake.
A SoCal Uncensored video was up next, with Scorpio Sky doing a great Obama impression. Sky played an Obama character in Lucha VaVoom too. Next, SCU was being interviewed and it was announced Daniels and Kazarian would be the two members of the group taking part in the tag-team tournament. Penta El Zero M and Rey Fenix came out and the two teams had a brawl. I fully support a Lucha Brothers versus SCU feud.
Adam Page vs. PAC
The crowd was hot for this and it came across like a pretty big deal. Both wrestler’s records in AEW were mentioned, with PAC being 1-0 and Page being 0-1. They start by exchanging strikes. PAC leaves the ring at one point and Page follows and whips him into the barricade. Page then hits a tope. They get back in the ring and Page hits the fall away slam and standing shooting star press for a two count. PAC does a springboard moonsault to the floor and then a springboard 450 in the ring for a two count. They trade offense back and forth throughout. The match ends when PAC counters the buckshot lariat, hits a low blow then the black arrow connects followed by the brutalzer. The match ends via ref stoppage. I like seeing the ref stoppage ending here and establishing that as a thing in the first episode. This was another good match.
Rating: *** 1/2
Nyla Rose vs. Riho
This was for the AEW Women’s Championship. Britt Baker came out and joined the commentary team for this. This was a match of Riho’s speed versus Rose’s strength. Early Riho did a double stomp and Rose was completely unaffected by it. They fought on the outside and Rose tried to use a chair. If she got DQ’d would Riho just have been the champion? Eventually, Rose piled up chairs, laid Riho on them, and then did a dive but Riho got out of the way and Rose ate the chairs. There were some really good false finishes in this. The crowd was really hot for this. Riho eventually won with a double stomp. Riho is the first AEW Women’s Champion.
Rating: *** 1/4
After the match, Michael Nakazawa came out to interview Riho in Japanese. Nyla Rose attacked Riho and power bombed Nakazawa then Kenny Omega came out to make the save.
Chris Jericho, Ortiz & Santana vs. Kenny Omega & the Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson)
Omega and Jericho start but Jericho tags in Santana before there is any interaction with Omega. Jericho attacks Omega and the Bucks make the save. They clear the ring and the Bucks hit dives to the outside and while Omega is about to hit the Rise of the Terminator, Moxley does a run in. And attacks him. Omega and Moxley brawl through the crowd to the VIP area. JR on commentary was incensed he wasn’t advised of this VIP area earlier. Moxley hits Omega with the Death Rider through a glass table. The Bucks are in the ring but are outnumbered. Nick Jackson is going insane in the match hitting dives. The Bucks try for a Meltzer Driver but Jericho intercepts Nick Jackson. The Bucks are just overmatched with the three-on-two and Jericho finished it with the Judas Effect.
Rating: *** 1/2
After the match, Jericho’s team continues to beat down the Bucks until Cody makes the save. This brings out Sammy Guevara, who his Cody with a low blow. Dustin Runnels comes out for the save next, but Jack Hager debuts and runs wild over Cody, The Bucks, and Dustin Runnels.
Overall I thought this was an excellent start for AEW. Most of the matches were really good and they did a great job of setting up and advancing their storylines. I thought the announcing crew did a good job of introducing the wrestlers to an audience that may not be familiar with them. I hated the Kevin Smith segment. It came off like the worst of WCW celebrity appearance segments. I also don’t care form Jack Hager, as he hasn’t had the most inspiring performances since he left WWE, both in Lucha Underground and the independents.
The production was great and the large enthusiastic crowd came off fantastic. There was no question for people watching AEW for the first time they were watching a major league wrestling production.