Commentators: Jim Ross, Excalibur, and Tony Schiavone
All Elite Wrestling MAKES HISTORY with its debut episode on TNT, bringing pro wrestling back to the network after eighteen years of nothing but Rizzoli and Isles (and probably other stuff too). I can’t lie and say I’ve real pro-AEW since its inception but after watching All Out I’ve allowed myself to get a little bit excited and goddammit pro wrestling on TNT hits the right nostalgic note for me. Let’s run down the show and see how it stacked up.
- AEW WORLD CHAMPION: Chris Jericho
- AEW WORLD WOMEN’S CHAMPION: Vacant
- AEW WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Vacant
- Cody vs. Sammy Guevara (**1/2)
- Brandon Cutler vs. MJF (SQUASH)
- Adam Page vs. PAC (***3/4)
- Riho vs. Nyla Rose for the vacant AEW WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (***)
- The Elite vs. Chris Jericho, Santana, & Ortiz (**)
-WE GOT PYRO! WE GOT BALLYHOO! WE GOT…Tony f’n Schiavone back commentating on a TNT prime time wrestling show. I haven’t been the biggest fan of his MLW work I’ll be the first to admit, but hot damn is cool to see him here. He and Excalibur should do fine, Ross…is Ross. After some opening remarks they take it to a video package hyping up the first match. Nice.
“The American Nightmare” Cody [w/ Brandi Rhodes] defeated Sammy Guevara via pinfall with a small package
Cody, the face of AEW, got to do the honors by wrestling the first match on TNT in eighteen long years. An exciting moment for sure and this red-hot DC crowd made him look like an absolute MEGA STAR with their response. This is the first time I think I’ve seen Guevara in action, and I was impressed, moreso by his heel mannerisms than his in-ring stuff but honestly to me that matters more sometimes. He has a very hateable face, which will serve him well going forward.
As for the match itself, outside of the BIG MATCH FEEL and the historic ramifications…I was not all that into it, honestly. These two had a good match I guess but nothing about it really stuck out for me overall. Cody is facing LE CHAMPION at Full Gear next month so the drama of who could win wasn’t here, but I do appreciate that it was competitive in order to build Guevara in his national TV debut. Cody winning via small package put over how tough the match was for him, and was fine as well. Lots of fine. (**1/2)
-POST MATCH: Guevara shakes Cody’s hand…and the latter is almost immediately blindsided by Chris Jericho for an attack that lasts through the picture-in-picture commercial break (yup, AEW’s doing those too). Jericho power bombs Cody onto two (padded) chairs and announces himself to the crowd and the folks watching at home. Doesn’t Cody have a bunch of friends or supporters or something? Did DDP miss his flight?
Maxwell Jacob Friedman defeated Brandon Cutler via submission with a Fujiwara Armbar
Before the match MJF cut a cheap heat promo as he’s wont to do. It’s real low-hanging fruit sh*t but his delivery is so good that I usually don’t mind. Match itself barely went three minutes as MJF put Cutler, a grade school friend of The Young Bucks apparently, away quickly via submission. Essentially a squash to make MJF look good. The same MJF who supposedly idolizes Cody but didn’t help him or mention anything about it during the Jericho attack? Hmmm. (SQUASH)
–YouTube (and maybe regular TV too, I don’t know) guy Chris Van Vliet interviews Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes in the front row, where they hype both AEW and the upcoming Jay and Silent Bob Reboot flick that I’m excited for against my better judgment. Angelico and Jack Evans (who pretty much looks like Mewes, let’s be real) come out to talk trash, Private Party show up to quickly defend them, and that’s that.
-VIDEO: SoCal Uncensored (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, & Scorpio Sky) are in front of the White House to call this the worst town they’ve ever been in. Sky’s Obama impression is dead-on, too bad he didn’t get to use that on a national stage during the actual administration.
-Cut live and Schiavone is with SoCal Uncensored in the entryway for an interview. Daniels and Kazarian are made official as the two SoCal reps in the Tag Team Title tournament. Out come the dapper AF-looking The Lucha Brothers (Pentagon Jr. & Fenix) to throw some shade and Cero Miedos until a brawl breaks out that has to be broken up by the refs and MF’N ATLAS SECURITY. Great.
“The Bastard” PAC defeated “Hangman” Adam Page via ref stoppage due to the Brutalizer
This match was originally scheduled for Double Or Nothing back in May but didn’t go down due to either Visa issues or finish issues depending on who you ask. Awesome that AEW didn’t forget and instead brought it to live TV for their premiere episode. PAC immediately won me over immediately with his walk to the ring, just the angry f*cker I have ever seen who looked like he carries the weight of the whole world on his shoulders. The aura he gives off is incredible.
This is match of the night for me, without a doubt. An excellent match that did more to sell me on Page than his All Out main event did. The dude is just so damn good, as was PAC who strategically peppered his angry hammer offense with some of the high-flying offense he made his name on in the pre-WWE days. The Black (HA) Arrow into the Brutalizer was a great finish, and the ref stopping it before Page even tapped was a nice touch too. Gives him an out. That’s two big losses for Page back to back, and with wins and losses mattering supposedly I’m interested to see what leads to. Meanwhile PAC is undefeated so PAC should get the World Title immediately. I don’t make the rules. Okay I made that one up, you got me. (***3/4)
Riho defeated Nyla Rose via pinfall to win the AEW WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Dr. Britt Baker, who apparently AEW is building the division around, came out do commentary and was AWFUL. Sucked some air out of the room with her Korbin Dallas-style one word responses. I’m sure she’s a good worker and probably can cut a better promo than this but what a real disastrous first impression.
Onto the match! I dig both these ladies, Riho is a great underdog and I could watch Rose truck fools all damn day, and they had a great David and Goliath battle. Rose tried to pummel Riho into submission, Riho did her best to persevere and wear down her larger opponent to find an opening (which she eventually took en route to victory). There was some jank for sure, some spots did not go as well as I’m sure either wanted, but the crowd was, sigh, ALL IN on this one and their enthusiasm kept me enthusiastic. Plus this was a kick-ass match too. Props to Rose for doing the “Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI” kickout at the end too. (***)
-Michael Nakazawa for some reason shows up to interview the victorious Riho but both are instead beaten up by Rose, who almost kills Nakazawa during a power bomb attempt. Eventually Kenny Omega, Riho’s friend and tag team partner in Japan, comes out to make the save. Why Rose didn’t also bust that dude up is beyond me but that’s life.
Chris Jericho, Santana & Ortiz defeated The Elite (Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson, & Nick Jackson)
First minute was all fun Elite spots…and then out came Jon Moxley to surprise attack Omega and put him through a glass table in the “VIP Area” of the arena. The ref for some reason decided that this wasn’t a no-contestable offense and the match continued, with the DAMNED NUMBERS GAME working in the heels’ favor leading into Jericho picking up the win with the Judas Effect.
Moxley attacking Omega aside, I very much DID NOT like this match. The ref not calling for a bell when an attack was in plain view was goofy and having the match continue as a handicap affair didn’t make a lot of sense either. Honestly it felt very WCW-y, which I guess was fitting, but also not a great impression to leave for your first main event. Luckily that wasn’t the end of that. (**)
-After the match Cody comes out to attack Jericho, Sammy Guevara follows to attack Cody, and Dustin Rhodes also makes his way out to help his brother. All this leads into the debut of JAKE HAGER (aka Jack Swagger), who helps the heels wreck everybody in the ring, including a slam on an unbreakable podium that Dustin took the full brunt off. Show ends with the new heel faction (?) standing tall, especially Hager who is at least, and I’m not making this up, thirty feet taller than everyone else in the ring.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The first episode of Dynamite was a good show and did enough to keep me interested going into next Wednesday. The production value was top-notch and gave AEW the aura of being a major league company, the commentary was on point (Schiavone in AEW > Schiavone in MLW, that’s for sure), and the matches mostly delivered. We got to see a ton of history get made, including the crowning of the first Women’s Champion, and hell the crowd was so hot that even JAKE HAGER got a massive “HOLY SH*T” pop. If that doesn’t speak to the enthusiasm of the AEW base, I don’t know what will. Being that this is the first true episode there was little in the way of story outside of brawls but I expect that to change as time goes on and things happen on TNT instead of their YouTube show so I’ll actually see it. I was also aghast at how AEW let Britt Baker die on the vine like that, and I wonder if that will affect anything going further. All together, it was a historic night with a good show that I’m excited to keep watching and that’s not something I thought I’d say after months of being on the fence about AEW.