by Joseph “thepoorassgamer” Reyna
The last time I wrote about pro wrestling, it was to compare the general nature of upset WWE and Game of Thrones fans. Eric and I have also spent A LOT of time (way too much to be honest) constantly calling out WWE for its lack of presentation. But for once, and it feels weird to say this, I’m not here to rag on anything. For once, someone, namely AEW, got wrestling exactly right for me.
Keep in mind I’m an outsider looking in on all of this and I want to make it clear that the only ownership I have over this stuff is that I’ve been watching wrestling since I was 12 years old. Other than that? I’ve got no insider perspective. But AEW is something completely different than any of the wrestling programs I’ve watched in those 16 or so years. (Editors note: I only have experience backyard wrestling)
I personally started watching wrestling quite literally, with the WrestleMania match between Bret and Owen Hart. I mean, that match is the very definition of wrestling in many circles so, pretty good starting point. I then traversed to WWF, Attitude Era, TNA, back to WWE, over to Japan with NJPW, and now state-side again with AEW. So there’s my pedigree; I’ve watched a lot of stuff. And truth be told, AEW invokes a combined perspective of all of those promotions. AEW is to me, the coming of age story for a generation of wrestlers and wrestling fans.
I’ll throw this out there as my vision of why this is the case: most, if not all of these wrestlers are of a particular age range. Sure there are outliers in this formula (Jericho, Dustin Rhodes, etc), but overall I think this is really important. The 30-something generation, the true independent contractors, the enthusiastic entrepreneurs, these are the ones calling the shots with AEW. The very same people like me, that grew up on all of these different forms and views of pro wrestling are now coming together in a spectacular way.
Finally there’s a company for wrestling fans that is actively cultivating loyalty! AEW wants fans to voice their opinions and they understand that this is a vital component not only to storytelling, but also to keep fans coming back for more. In my first two weeks of watching, Im struck by a few cool thoughts about each show. Here are five simple reasons #ImWithAEW. First, those crowds.
It’s one thing to put NXT right up agains’t AEW, but if this trend continues, WWE may want to rethink its programming lineup. AEW is always going to have a certain energy that NXT will never match. You could chock this up to tens of thousands people versus a few hundred people as being the main difference. We’re two shows in and each have sold out and that doesn’t seem to be letting up any time soon. So in short, AEW has an energy because the fans are actually excited to be there. Lvke may have encountered some small pockets of bad folks, but the general consensus from him and others seems to be fans HAVING FUN. What a wild thought huh? That we might actually want to like what your showing us! AHH sorry, that’s me subtly nodding to you, the reader, that WWE is again, bad, but I digress.
Second. The easy approach and appeal. For the past few months, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to visit my brother in Arizona. While catching as many rays of sunshine I could get, I also found the premiere of AEW Dynamite to be a great way for me to further indoctrinate my brother into watching pro wrestling. And so far as that mission goes? My brother seemed to really enjoy it! I think namely it breaks down to the overall quality of what you get. It’s again, simple for me, the outsider to say, but so long as the quality of wrestling is there, it’s appealing to EVERYONE. Im struck in particular by the tag match last night between The Young Bucks and Private Party. The moment where Private Party’s Isiah Kassidy dove damn near 5 times to the outside of the ring in a matter of minutes left us both astonished. I saw the joy on my brothers face and I’m reminded of how I felt the first time I saw wrestling. That moment where the action is so amazing that you just, well, GET the appeal. AEW has tapped into this feeling that fans have been missing. And with only a few live shows under their belt, AEW has premiered a quality program that from all outside perspectives, seems like they’ve been doing it years. They’ve really only produced two shows for TV and so far, I’m blown away. It’s kind of generic to say but all we need as fans is fast paced, athletic action and compelling storytelling in the ring. So far, so good!
I then reminded my brother that those very same Young Bucks would finish their match and then head backstage to help produce the show. It’s a wild time in wrestling and the work ethic each and every performer shows makes me like AEW even more.
Third. There’s usually a certain level of hokeyness that goes with a wrestling program, but honestly, you only catch a whiff of that with AEW. Sure, Kenny “The Cleaner” Omega can come out with a barb-wire broom, and Darby Allin can tackle Jericho while riding down the ramp on a skateboard. Why the hell not!? But generally, that’s as goofy as the program gets and that’s super important. It’s important because so far, every AEW PPV has been wild and in my opinion, somewhat risky. Dynamite, oddly enough considering the name, has done a good job slowing things down and letting the audience get to know each wrestler. Unlike their highly scripted counterparts, everything here is a little more freeform, but still well orchestrated. AEW in short tapped back into that wild “anything can happen” feeling that WWE had years and years ago. Hell, the program is rated TV-14 which also gives you a moment to say “Shit” on live television. Hey remember when you couldn’t say “Shit” until after 8 pm?! Ahh memories.
Fourth. THE WRESTLING. It took me all that time to let you know that the wrestling at it’s core is exactly in the sweet spot for me. Overall, the action is what you need for a brand new wrestling promotion. But really you get the impression right away that moments matter from week to week here. Wins and losses matter, I mean, they put the records right next to each wrestler’s name! Simple! It is, exactly what I needed. It’s also as I stated before, the perfect mixture of wrestling styles and stories from all over the world that fans have been craving for years. What I think is most clear is that each wrestler has taken their years of combined experience out on the road and have brought that credibility here to AEW. I really think all of this goes back towards legitimizing wrestling as a sport to non wrestling fans and hopefully, that means more people will be watching in the future. I am extremely optimistic that AEW will bring about this change. Finally, last but certainly not least: CHRIS JERICHO.
I’ve had my doubts about this version of Jericho. But with his big move for independence from WWE, the shows in Japan and with his title reign so far with AEW (alb-eight so early), the man is truly showing why he’s one of the best of his class of wrestlers. I cant help saying “LE CHAMPION” with the same incredulity as Jericho and buying into it all. Last night in particular was one of the best promos I’ve seen on TV for a number of years. He got himself over, he got his new Inner Circle crew over, and he put down cheers and got great heat for it. Im always constantly surprised and amazed with the longevity of his career. Long may he reign! It also makes total sense to crown the most senior guy in your group and gets those less than knowledgable fans a chance to recognize a wrestler they know. Plus, he’s just a perfect jerk wrestler and I love it!
It’s been two weeks of solid action and even this weeks episode was proceeded with statement that the first episode garnered some 7 million views when taking into account DVR plays and replays. Pretty damn good showing for the first week! All I can say is that I am very satisfied with what I’ve seen so far and even if you’re a super casual wrestling fan, please give Dynamite a watch! You will not be disappointed! As always, #WATCHGOODWRESTLING and because of that hashtag I’ll also proclaim again, #IMWITHAEW
AEW Dynamite Live Wednesdays at 8PM on TNT