All Elite Wrestling came back for its second television effort on TNT last night and two things were made clear by the end of the night:
1. Dynamite rules
2. Chris Jericho was absolutely the right choice to be the first AEW world champion
The show was built around establishing Jericho’s faction, now known as The Inner Circle, as a threat to The Elite, who, of course, are the guys who run the show. They did a phenomenal job of that, despite how odd said faction looked when it was established. It’s an oddball group, after all, and it was Jericho’s job to help us see how great it can be.
Did he ever.
He cut one hell of a promo, one that included burying the lame “we the people” stuff fans were still feeding Jake Hager, the artist formerly known as Jack Swagger, by shooting on the fact that it was a product of bad creative. We’ll ignore the fact that he’s using stuff he got over in WWE while doing so. We’ll also ignore it because it was a really smart decision to bury that while Hager is in a group with the other three. Anyway, Hager, Sammy Guevara, Santana, and Ortiz all feel like a much bigger deal now, and a lot of that is thanks to Le Champion.
It also serves to give us the kind of break neck exciting finishes we got on this show, while also feeding multiple storylines at once.
Hangman Page may have a bright future in AEW just yet but I can’t imagine what this show would look like had he won the title. Jericho is very nicely filling in the role of respected veteran leader and, for maybe the first time, actually comes across like the number one star in a promotion.
As good as Jericho’s promo establishing his crew was, I may have enjoyed the wild finish to the evening even more. Jericho teamed with Guevara to take on Page and Dustin Rhodes, scoring yet another win for the bad guys. What came after reminded me of something I used to love about old Nitro shows, how they ended in absolute chaos.
Here, we got an unbelievably hot angle with the Inner Circle offering a spot to MJF when he ran in to protect Cody Rhodes, who had himself run in to protect his brother from a post-match beatdown, and MJF choosing to remain loyal to his “best friend.” The building shook when he did so, but it was clear the eventual turn is going to be a monumental moment.
Then we got the Young Bucks running in and setting up future matches against Santana & Ortiz that will tear the house down. Then, in a surprise, Darby Allin literally went rolling down the ramp on a skateboard to attack Jericho as he was bailing to the back.
Jericho sent us off by telling us the Inner Circle is taking over, he’s beating Cody at Full Gear next month, and Allin on Dynamite next week. They set up so much so seamlessly here, in front of a crowd that was eating up every bit of it, I couldn’t help but be so hyped I was ready to run through a wall in my living room.
This was just downright fun.
The rest of the show:
- Jon Moxley def. Shawn Spears: A solid match, if only because we get to see more of what Moxley will look like on a week-to-week basis with AEW and it’s basically just a violent dude who is now able to explore the limits of just how violent he can be. Spears takes another loss and is probably going to need some time to find his footing, even with Tully as his manager.
- The post-match angle with Moxley and Kenny Omega was one of the best parts of the show. Omega came out with a barbed wire bat and a barbed wire broom -- he’s The Cleaner, folks -- and tossed the bat to Moxley. The moment was electric. Naturally, we were robbed of it by the BASTARD PAC, who attacked Omega from behind and walked off. That left Moxley alone with a wounded foe down in front of him. In a great character building moment, he tossed the bat aside and walked away. More of this, please.
- Dr. Britt Baker, DMD & Riho def. Bea Priestley & Emi Sakura: A fine match that was about establishing Baker as a strong contender to the title while also giving her a feud, with Priestley, to work in the meantime. There’s a lot of potential here.
- Darby Allin def. Jimmy Havoc: Allin earned a title match with a win here, and they treated it with the appropriate level of hype. We mentioned Allin already but he looks like an absolute star in the making with what he can do in the ring. They put together a very good match, worthy of its stakes. Havoc is a guy who is going to be hit-or-miss with a lot of fans. It’s not easy to pull off a character like his because it’s really cheesy if it isn’t handled well. That’s how it comes off to me, but your mileage may vary.
- Orange freaking Cassidy, man. Good lord.
- Private Party def. The Young Bucks: This opened the show and I’ll be damned if they didn’t absolutely tear the house down. What’s more, we got a legitimately surprising result, with the Bucks out of the tag team title tournament in the very first round. It’s clear there are big plans in place for Private Party and this match made it equally clear they are worthy of those big plans.
I just really, really enjoyed pretty much everything they did on this program. They certainly aren’t reinventing the wheel, but they don’t have to. They’re proving that if you just do pro wrestling, and do it well, it’s great.
I don’t know how much longer they’re going to have crowds as hot as they have for the first two shows, but it really helps to have fans who are as loud and interactive as the audience has been for the first two episodes. Let’s hope so, because it adds to the experience in a big way.
I loved every bit of this.