All Elite Wrestling’s long-touted TNT debut finally came to fruition last night with the very first episode of AEW: Dynamite.
This was a historic night for several reasons, not just because this was the beginning of a new era of competition in the previously one-sided world of professional wrestling, but it was also the first night of what has become known as the Wednesday Night Wars, where AEW and WWE go head to head with their programming. But unlike the mythical Monday Night Wars of the bygone era, AEW vs NXT proves to be a more athletic battle with a ton of new faces that can only serve to elevate both brands – and if last night was anything to go by, this real winners of the war will be all of us.
AEW: Dynamite kicked off with Excalibur, Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross introducing the world to the AEW announce team. It will never stop being strange seeing JR sporting the brand logo of anyone other than WWE, but the biggest takeaway from this was the long-awaited return to commentary by Schiavone who looked and sounded as good as he did during the glory days of World Championship Wrestling. Having him back, and working side-by-side with perhaps the greatest play-by-play guy of all time is a real treat for us old-timers, and although you might think Excalibur would be lost in the shuffle alongside such legends nothing could be further from the truth. Hearing Schiavone and Ross discuss old-school WCW matches just blew our minds. More of the same please AEW.
The presentation of the show felt much better than the AEW PPV events. Camera angles were better planned, with all the important moments being captured on camera instead of off it, which had sadly been the issue at All In and All Out. The product had a unique feel to it that sets it apart from NXT, and if anything works as a throwback to the last time a wrestling show was live on TNT. Comparisons to WCW are inevitable but the brand must build its own identity soon to avoid becoming known as the second coming of Ted Turner’s long-dead cash cow.
Episode 1 of AEW: Dynamite did not disappoint from an in-ring perspective either showcasing some of the company’s top names, including PAC, Cody, Sammy Guevara, Chris Jericho, and The Elite. A Women’s Champion was crowned in Riho, and old wounds were reopened with an attack on Kenny Omega by Jon ‘Don’t call me Dean’ Moxley – which sadly distracted from what could have been an excellent six-man tag main event. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night though came in the post-main event attack by former WWE Champion Jake Hager (FKA Jack Swagger), who looked to be in great shape. Hager always had tons of potential in WWE so here’s hoping he realises that as his career is resurrected as a member of the AEW roster.
For the first episode AEW: Dynamite delivered an entertaining TV show with enough action and surprises to keep everyone guessing and willing to return next week to see what happens next. While ever AEW can keep viewers returning then they stand a real chance of becoming serious competition for WWE. It’s far too early right now for them to really cause any concern for even NXT but if they can remain consistent and build their own unique brand without trying to emulate their competition then we truly could have a real war on our hands, and not just a catchy headline.