By Eddie McDonald, Columnist
All Elite Wrestling got the wrestling world buzzing in October when they launched “Dynamite,” a weekly two-hour show aired on TNT.
Many fans were excited for this as it provided another option of wrestling to watch other than WWE. There was a ton of hype from the fans of AEW as they had launched pay-per-views before Dynamite aired, some without the AEW backing.
So with a new program emerging with many talented wrestlers, fans were talking about the revitalization of the “Monday Night Wars” which featured WWE vs WCW in an all-out war. Now, since Dynamite airs on Wednesday, it airs against NXT, the third brand of WWE. NXT has been airing on the WWE Network for years now but has gone live opposite of Dynamite. To rile up AEW, NXT was launched two weeks prior to Dynamite.
So with this new start-up company, there are things I like that they do and things I really dislike and can’t stand.
Let’s start with what I do like. Darby Allin is incredibly fun to watch inside (or outside) the ring. His character resembles Jeff Hardy a lot, which isn’t a bad thing. A lot of times I’m more drawn to innovative high flyers and Allin is just that.
How many wrestlers can simple stand in a ring with their hands in their pockets and get the loudest pop of the night? Not very many, but one in AEW that I love can, and that’s Orange Cassidy. His whatever mentality is hilarious and that also helps him get over huge with the crowds no matter where the event is or what he’s doing.
When the signing was announced of Wardlow, I was ecstatic. I have seen Wardlow up close and in person at independent events where I live. Here is a guy who has the size, speed and athleticism to be a big time player for AEW. He was once managed by my guy Justin LaBar and the two ruled the International Wrestling Cartel. If booked properly, Wardlow can be a World Champion down the road.
Another thing I like about AEW is the presentation. It feels like old school WCW in a good way here, with all the colors and pageantry. It reminds me of when I used to be enamored by the bright lights of pro wrestling when I was a child. There is a real familiar feeling when I see how they shoot their television show.
While the division as a whole is not booked in the best way, AEW does have two women that I enjoy watching One is Britt Baker, who uses her real-life dentist job in her gimmick. Baker is another IWC alum and one of the nicest people I’ve talked to in the wrestling industry. Big Swole is a favorite of mine as well She has a unique move set and brings a fiery charisma to the table.
Now, let’s get to what I dislike about AEW.
First and foremost, it is the fan base. There are some AEW fans out there that are so absorbed in rooting for this company, that they become highly hypocritical and just ignore logic. This is certainly not all fans of AEW, but a vast majority of them. The biggest fan out there, and I’m sure I’ll get some backlash for this one, is Dave Meltzer. Dave is a highly touted wrestling journalist and is quite the pro wrestling historian. He has been publishing the Wrestling Observer Newsletter since 1983. He’s seen and covered a ton of wrestling over the years.
Here’s why myself, along with many others, have an issue with Meltzer. It’s the fact that he rarely, if ever, craps all over anything AEW does. Now sure, he’s criticized some of what they have done, but for 90% of the time, it’s been all praise. On the flipside, it always seems like Meltzer and his cohost Brian Alvarez crap on any decision the WWE makes. By no means is WWE perfect, they aren’t, but the way these two talk about the company would make it seem like they are the scum of the earth.
Some AEW fans and wrestling fans in general are under the impression that WWE talent who are unsatisfied are being held hostage and would thrive in AEW. That of course is going to be true in some instances, but not everyone that doesn’t get the opportunities in WWE want to leave or need to go to AEW. Guys like Rusev and The Revival would do wonders for AEW and likely get to be used to their fullest potential with a little more creative freedom.
On the flip side of that is someone like Shawn Spears, formerly known as Tye Dillinger in WWE. A lot of fans were excited when he announced he was going to AEW and then he blasted Cody in the head with a steel chair. He was even paired up with Tully Blanchard, but he just can’t be what he and many others thought he could be.
Dustin Rhodes accomplished a lot in WWE as Goldust, but then went and joined his brother in AEW. The two put one on hell of a wrestling match that was a bloody affair. Probably the best match in AEW’s short history. He is 51-years old and people love that he is still wrestling, and he still has something in the tank. Some of those same people were complaining online about Big Show returning to the ring earlier this year on Monday Night Raw. Show is 48-years old. And with Rhodes, he recently took on Jake Hager (another former WWE wrestler) on an episode of Dynamite. People were hype for this despite it being a match on WWE television 10-years prior and nothing special.
Speaking of Cody, I have all the respect in the world for him to realize he wasn’t going to get where he wanted in WWE and bet on himself by asking and getting granted his release. I don’t always agree with some of the things he says or does, but I respect the hell out of him.
Chris Jericho was the first World Champion in company history, which he put himself in a position to succeed without the WWE machine behind him. He is the ultimate master of reinventing himself time and time again throughout the years. Jon Moxley, fka Dean Ambrose also made the jump once his contract expired. Then he went on a podcast tour just bashing WWE for various things he encountered during his time there. Even to this day, he mentions WWE, and it’s just like, let it go dude. Move on. If you’re happy you’re in AEW, great, focus on that.
Recently Luke Harper arrived in AEW after being let go by the WWE. Here is the big opportunity that Harper, now wrestling as Brodie Lee, had been wanting but never received for whatever reason. He was revealed as “The Exalted One” the leader of the Dark Order, which was a gimmick that just wasn’t doing a thing for me. Unfortunately, it was during this pandemic, so no fans were there to give it the proper reaction a moment like that deserved/ But recently Lee has been doing a parody of what seems to be Vince McMahon. That’s what he left WWE to do?
Matt Hardy, using his “Broken Matt Hardy” version of himself will thrive in AEW, as most every wrestling fan was in high support of Hardy’s previous work as the “Broken One.” His debut was also not as great as it should have been, but it was still a big moment, even with a weird teleportation spot.
The last thing I’ll touch on is the refereeing and the lack of enforcing the rules. AEW said they would have a more sports-like feel to it with all these rules. Well the refs do not do a good job of making sure the rules are followed to a t. In fact, most rules are disregarded and that takes away from what I’m watching. Don’t always count the wrestlers out when they are outside of the ring, don’t enforce the count to get the non-legal man out of the ring. That’s not how sports operate, nor should that be the way it’s presented in a predetermined outcome.
Another pet peeve I have about the refereeing is the fact that some try and get over with the crowd, when that isn’t their job. Good officials are hardly noticed until it’s needed. Aubrey Edwards, or Ref Aubrey recently got merch, something that referees don’t normally get. She is the prime example of trying to get over with the fans by doing outrageously overreacted movements. To me, that isn’t what a ref’s duties should entail, as I feel it takes away from the wrestlers.
So there we have it. Finally got my likes and dislikes about the company out and for you to digest. There are other things that I do not care for in AEW, but we will save that for another day. Be sure to hit me up on Twitter @KingEdward15 and let me know what you agree or disagree with. Let’s keep it civil and have some quality discussions.