When AEW and their flagship show found a home on TNT last year, it marked the first time since 2014 that WWE faced direct competition from a global promotion on a major, basic cable network. The show's debut drew 1.4 million viewers and served notice that there was an appetite for pro wrestling outside of what was being produced in McMahonland.
Fast forward to this week, and Dynamite has become a solid part of the network's weekly lineup. Despite setbacks from the COVID-19 outbreak, AEW has continued to grow, adding more characters to its cast and developing some long-running rivalries.
Along the way, they've had their critics and have hit a handful of potholes.
The one-year anniversary show was no different. As a matter of fact, the entire program seemed to encapsulate some of the ups and downs that AEW itself has experienced since its inception.
There were a total of four title matches, including a barn burner between AEW World Champion Jon Moxley and Lance Archer. And while some of it may have seemed like overkill, there were a few things to take away from this prime time, birthday party:
#1 AEW has the deepest tag team division in wrestling right now
Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood are arguably the best tag team in North America right now, and they proved it once again with a near 20-minute clash that included a classic heel finish.
This match is another illustration of how many talented tag teams the promotion has on its current roster. Outside of this match-up with Best Friends, FTR is also poised for some classic battles with the likes of the Young Bucks, SCU, Private Party, Lucha Bros, and Santana & Ortiz.
Very few companies in the last 20 years can boast about that level of talent or that many potentially interesting match-ups.
#2 AEW has started to use comedy in the right way
After some lame misfires in the past, this week's show was highlighted by a hilarious give-and-take between Chris Jericho and MJF. Both performers continue to show why they're two of the best in the world in terms of microphone work.
This week's hi-jinx was set at a spa, with Tony and Britt getting makeovers for the course of the 'interview'. It was not only original, but entertaining, and the veteran broadcaster seems to have found new life in this comedic role.
It will be interesting to see where this pair's 'adventures' will take them next.
#3 The ELITE is slowly drifting apart, and Cody has definitely become a 'tweener
Over the last several weeks, we have witnessed the faction that was once the cornerstone of the company start going in their own directions. There is definitely a potentially fantastic rivalry brewing between Hangman Adam Page and Kenny Omega as contenders in the heavyweight division.
Meanwhile, The Young Bucks have been showing overtly heelish behavior, super-kicking everyone on their way to an inevitable collision with FTR.
But perhaps the most popular member of their clique has also been the most intriguing. As he continues his second reign as TNT Champion, Cody has shown signs that he isn't afraid to take a few shortcuts to keep his title, particularly against babyface wrestlers. His time-limit draw this week with Orange Cassidy was an example of that, as The American Nightmare definitely 'worked dark' against his Freshly Squeezed opponent.
Even the Dynamite announcers have begun to acknowledge this, and his upcoming showdown with Darby Allin may be the icing on top of it all. It looks like the slow, steady turn for Cody could eventually lead to an explosive betrayal of the fans. One that might even take place at Full Gear.
If so? It will lead to the kind of heat that will only help Cody's character evolve, and will play off much of the real-life backlash he has received.
#4 AEW's women's division has finally found an incredible stalwart
In the past few weeks, Hikaru Shida has been the best-booked champion in AEW. After nearly six months with the title, the Japanese sensation has lent it much-needed credibility, and there's no reason for her to drop the belt any time soon.
With Shida as its foundation, it affords AEW the opportunity to have a 'second chance' at solidifying its women's division.
#5 Jon Moxley is not a wrestler; he's a brawler
While there's no doubt that Jon Moxley is a fascinating character and cuts great promos, he doesn't exactly fit the cookie-cutter mold of a traditional champion.
Falling back to his CZW roots, Mox has displayed a wilder, more savage style in AEW than he showed during his time in WWE. And while that freedom has been fun to watch, it may be better suited away from the title picture.
If AEW wants to live up to its promise of being a more 'sports-oriented' wrestling product, then having a more technically sound performer as their long-term titleholder seems to make a lot more sense.Published 16 Oct 2020, 13:40 IST