As AEW enters its second year on TNT, this week’s episode of Dynamite was highlighted by one of its most eclectic segments ever.
A steak dinner-turned-show tune vignette, featuring two of the company's biggest stars in Chris Jericho and MJF, was certainly a lightning rod for discussion within the internet wrestling community. It seemed everyone had an opinion on AEW's singing stunt.
For some? The scene was a silly bit of comedy. For others? it was a source of consternation.
As the audience tuned in to see where MJF stood with Jericho's Inner Circle, the two heels laughably tried to outdo each other when they ordered their food. When that seemingly failed, they called a truce, and quickly bonded.
And then? They danced.
It seems there was no gray area and certainly no room for diplomacy. People either loved it, or they hated it.
While wrestling traditionalists scoff at these type of gags for allegedly "ruining the business", another generation will tell them to lighten up because that very same business is evolving.
It's almost become a tug-of-war between the purists and the progressives and AEW is at the center this week.
It's easy for longtime fans who grew you in the kayfabe era to turn their noses up at a segment like this. And for industry observers who believe pro wrestlers shouldn't deviate from their brutal, in-ring personas, there was way too much cheese that went along with this dinner.
Did it advance either character or enhance a feud? No. As a matter of fact, it probably did damage to the images of Jericho and MJF as ultra heels. Especially when we've now seen them doing a little soft shoe together, like the opening of The Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck Show.
But on the flip side? For die-hard followers of AEW, it didn't matter. They ate it up like a piece of medium rare steak, and giggled all the way.
Fans of All Elite Wrestling seem to have come directly from the independent era. They are either new followers who learned wrestling from the evolution of the past 15 years or are older ones who have adjusted to — and ultimately accepted — this new wave of sports entertainment.
AEW was built on the backs of performers who developed in non-traditional promotions like Pro Wrestling Guerilla, CHIKARA, Lucha Underground, and CZW. Most of their roster has performed in comedy or heavily-gimmicked matches. They're all from a generation that has literally been willing to do almost anything to entertain a smaller, but more loyal, fan base.
That niche audience has given them a license to kill, in some respects. There's no limit to how creative (or possibly crazy) they might become, because they know that those same fans who followed them to AEW will always support them.
Much to the chagrin of the detractors, don't expect AEW to start doing things any differently. They know who their core crowd is, and what type of formula they expect.
And comedy is — no matter who likes it or not — part of that equation.
If the creative minds at AEW believe that silly stunts and Broadway ballads will not only satisfy their base, but also set them apart? You can bet that we will be seeing much more of what we witnessed on Wednesday Night.
So, strike up the band. Because despite their critics, you better believe that AEW hasn't sang their last song yet.Published 24 Oct 2020, 02:32 IST