Sting vs Ric Flair was the final match that ever aired on TNT, and the way their relationship with wrestling ended, it was safe to say that they would probably never broadcast wrestling ever. Almost 20 years later, we have the first match of AEW Dynamite on the same network. From Dusty Rhodes to Cody, wrestling on TNT has gone through a ride.
The show kicked off with Cody and Sammy Guevara going at it. Cody is the current number one contender for Chris Jericho’s AEW Championship, and Jericho’s presence was felt in the match. Guevara and Cody put up a wonderful match which felt like it had the intensity of a PPV. Big moves and pinfalls added the exclamation point to a pretty exciting match. Cody would come out on top and be the victim to a brutal post match attack from Jericho, who powerbombed Cody through two chairs to send a message to the title challenger. Cody hugging Tony Schiavone after his win and before the attack was a nice touch.
MJF came out next for his match with Brandon Cutler. MJF cut his own entrance music short so that he could cut a pre-match promo where he attacked the fans. The fans would promptly respond with ‘asshole’ chants. This was a strong showcase for MJF, when won the match without much competition. Cutler is a great talent, but this was the most effective way that AEW could’ve start building one of their most charismatic heels on the roster. The instant tap from Cutler also sells MJF’s Salt of the Earth armbar as a devastating move.
The next segment was a promotional segment which saw Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith plug their new movie, Jay and Silent Bob. The acting pair got into an argument with Angelico and Jack Evans who had come down to the ring to argue with the actors. Private Party would come out to protect the actors, and the segment awkwardly ended. At least WWE have figured out how to incorporate these forceful movie plugs into their show better than AEW did here.
We move from the previous segment to a tag team brawl featuring SoCal Uncensored and the Lucha Bros. Scorpio Sky of SCU was Doing a Barack Obama impression while Frankie Kazarian and Cristopher Daniels acted like Secret Service members and protected Sky. They cut another promo inside the arena, which was interrupted by the Lucha Bros. Pentagon and Fenix reminded SCH who the best tag team in the world is and a brawl ensued, which had to be stopped by backstage agents, official and producers.
We finally move on to another match and this would be between former AEW World Championship contender Adam ‘Hangman’ Page vs. PAC. Page and PAC’s rivalry began in the summer, but could never see its conclusion because of PAC’s Dragon Gate commitments. This match wasn’t the best Nd showed that Page is a more limited worker than most people recognize. The match did have its moments including a beautiful moonsault from Adam Page to the outside. PAC would remain undefeated in AEW by beating Page in a serviceable match.
Over on NXT on the USA Network, WWE have tried to stack the NXT roster a bit more by adding former Universal and NXT Champion Finn Balor to the roster.
We move to the first big match of the evening, the inaugural women’s championship match between Riho and Nyla Rose. While I thought this would be the main event, it went on before. While you can’t say it was a very good match, it definitely told a story. Riho was David looking at the Goliath in Nyla Rose, and she overcame the odds. Riho became the inaugural AEW Women’s Champion by hitting Rose with a Northern Lights Suplex from the second rope and a couple of running knees. Dr. Britt Baker watched the match from the announce table, presumably being in line for the first shot at Riho’s newly won title. Nyla Rose attacked Riho post match and even took out Michael Nakazawa. Kenny Omega made the save for Riho, saving her from a Death Valley Driver on the Ring apron.
The main event of the evening was a 6 man tag between Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks vs Chris Jericho and, Santa and Ortiz of LAX. While not a worthy main event over the women’s title due to the lack of stakes, AEW chose to add their biggest names to this seemingly inconsequential 6 man tag main event. This match had two big moments, but both were separate from the match. We first had Jon Moxley attacking Kenny Omega and DDTing him through a glass table. The second was the surprise debut of former WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Jack Swagger. Swagger, now going by his real name Jake Hager attacked the Bucks, Cody and Dustin Rhodes, declaring his allegiance with the dark side to cap off one hell of a night for AEW.
Also, in case you were wondering, the match was won by Jericho and LAX after Jericho got the pinfall through his Judas Effect elbow.
With the first AEW show in the books, let’s quickly give some final thoughts on it. AEW still have to develop a few more interesting rivalries and stories, but the ones they have right now point towards a strong start. Page’s losing streak, Mox and Omega, Jericho and Cody etc.. All of this seems to ave an edge to it, but is also top heavy. The women’s division don’t have any real rivalries outside the trio of Riho, Nyla Rose and Britt Baker. The tag division too needs to be built a little more, as they have unmatchable talent in that sphere. There’s a certain depth beyond the bigger names that needs to be developed next show onwards. They cannot get caught up in the ratings war because there product may suffer as a result.
A strong start for AEW, but has it been strong enough to fight NXT? We have to say no because AEW do have a fair bit of catching up to do. Provided they keep building every week, we’ll see this as a more competitive and meaningful rivalry down the stretch rather than now. Whether the debut of Jake Hager is as big as Finn Balor’s return to NXT is another sign of the one upsmanship that we will see over the course of this feud. What a time to be a wrestling fan.
There you have it! This was our review for AEW Dynamite’s inaugural episode. Let us know if you enjoyed the AEW Dynamite!