Last year, when TNT announced wrestling in the form of AEW was to return to the channel for the first time in eighteen years, it sent a shock wave through the wrestling world.
NXT was instantly turned from a main roster development brand to a two-hour live show on USA. The two shows would then go head-to-head on Wednesday nights, giving birth to “Wednesday Night Wars.”
Since day one, AEW looked, sounded and felt different. There were WCW Nitro comparisons that a lot of oldschool fans were drawn to. The indie kudos and respect the majority of AEW’s roster held brought youthful and diverse demographic to the company.
These fans were a major part of AEW’s success. They flocked to signings, bought all of the merchandise and sold-out their shows within minutes. When Dynamite kicked off, the audible excitement and buzz throughout the crowds was infectious and gave the shows a thrilling and raucous vibe.
Unfortunately, due to the global pandemic, AEW Dynamite has held more shows without fans in attendance than it has in front of their passionate supporters. But one thing AEW has had on its side and used extremely well is Daily’s Place.
The open air arena allowed AEW to continue to put on their flagship show with a big time feel attached. The use of the wrestling talent on the outskirts of the ring acting as fans was another huge bonus. It provided a less jarring audio and visual wrestling experience.
AEW the innovative trendsetters
This style of show proved AEW to be innovative trendsetters. The use of the arena completed with a “live fan” aesthetic caused WWE and NXT to change up their televised shows and add talent acting as fans.
AEW, because of their ability and willingness to listen to fans, allows them to keep their finger on the pulse and seemingly stay one step ahead.
It can be argued that AEW’s progress has caused NXT to use counter-programming and possibly “panic book,” which has effected the feel and flow of the black and gold brand drastically. NXT has lost its long-term planning and storylines, replacing them with randomly-booked championship matches and angles.
AEW Dynamite is not without it faults. There have been production issues from the start that continue to this day. Furthermore, the women’s division is in desperate need of attention and focus.
The commentary can be very hit and miss and some of the booking decisions and creative are somewhat perplexing. However, a lot of these mishaps and mistakes are easily fixable and when faced with rather strong criticism, AEW is not afraid to make a change.
For example, when the Nightmare Collective angle was negativity received and heavily critiqued, they found a fun and clever way of ending it quickly and the product and women’s division especially were better for it.
Because of the rapid rise and success of the brand, it is sometimes forgotten that AEW are still a very young company and they will make mistakes. But the programming is consistent and constantly improving, every Dynamite is better than the last.
The aesthetic remains as fresh, exciting and energetic as their young and hungry roster. But AEW has relied on several established stars to make sure they achieved such a successful first year.
Jon Moxley’s debut at Double or Nothing was a brilliant surprise and it showed that AEW was not only an alternative for the fans, but for the wrestlers too.
Chris Jericho has been instrumental in AEW’s success and popularity. His fame and name value brought eyes to the product and legitimacy to the company championship. The fans that came to see Jericho stayed to see the new and exciting talent that AEW offered.
The influx of young and hungry talent has paid dividends. Wrestlers such as MJF, Darby Allin, Orange Cassidy and Ricky Starks are carving out their paths to superstardom.
AEW boasts the best tag team division on the planet
Apart from the many things that AEW offers, the one thing that truly makes the company standout is its phenomenal tag team division. The company boast the biggest and best tag team roster of any company in decades.
The Young Bucks, FTR, Jurassic Express, Proud and Powerful and Best Friends, to name a few, have continually put on the best tag team wrestling on the planet.
A huge part of AEW’s success has been their triumph in the ratings and that all important 18-34 demographic. They regularly beat NXT in the weekly ratings, which is a huge feather in the cap for a wrestling company that has no limit mindset when achieving success.
AEW Dynamite has done what a lot of people thought they wouldn’t. They've not only lasted more than one year, but excelled, thrived and gone from strength to strength.Published 22 Oct 2020, 04:24 IST