Grading All Elite Wrestling's first year as a promotion
It's rare in today's age, but we literally saw the ground-up formation of a professional wrestling promotion over the last two years. After the success of All In, it became apparent that something special was on the horizon regarding members of The Elite. Since Kenny Omega, Hangman Page, The Young Bucks and Cody all became free agents at the same time, it provided the storyline that wherever they landed, the landscape of wrestling would be greatly altered.
Instead of joining a promotion or staying put in Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro-Wrestling, they did what most pro wrestlers would like to do - form and run their own promotion. Once 2019 kicked off, we learned that those men would be forming their own company, All Elite Wrestling. While there were some instant successes like landing The Lucha Brothers, Pac and Chris Jericho, it took a longer time to get another important thing - a TV deal.
It took almost the entirety of 2019, but in October, AEW Dynamite took to the air on TNT. For a first-year promotion to land on a major cable network like TNT meant that AEW was the real deal. Having the financial backing of Tony Khan didn't hurt either.
As things currently sit, AEW has been a prominent wrestling promotion for almost a whole year. They've had a few PPVs, free events, and a new TV show. They've done things their way, but still have a lot of work to do, if they want to be the top promotion in the world. Here are the grades for certain aspects of the promotion's first year.
Production value: A-
It became very apparent very quickly that AEW's visual presentation would be top-notch. The sets for every major event, like Double or Nothing, Fyter Fest, and Fight For the Fallen were event-specific and added to the aura around the shows. DON had poker chips on the stage while Fyter Fest utilized the gamer connection with Omega and the Bucks coming dressed up as Street Fighter characters.
Since Being the Elite was already in their back pocket, we had some idea of how visual presentation might go in the new promotion. Dynamite, for the most part, has been produced greatly with solid video packages promoting feuds and new stars. One part I would change is interviews. The interviewing is inconsistent, as there are sporadic backstage interviews and sporadic interviews in the ring. Cody is always interviewed in the ring, but other stars don't often get the same treatment.
The AEW logo looks good on the big screen and the use of multiple colors makes it stand out. One problem that has plagued the show on TNT's side is issues with sound. It literally gives people a reason to turn the channel with NXT on USA.
Another complaint is the picture-in-picture choices. The TNT viewers don't hear what might be going on while others on Fite TV or TSN may be able to. I personally missed out on the whole backstage exchange between Jericho, The Inner Circle, and Jurassic Express and the whole reference to Britt Baker being Adam Cole's girlfriend. Even The Inner Circle poked fun at that pic-in-pic aspect during the last Dynamite of the year.