If it’s possible to gauge All Elite Wrestling’s future by the quality of its first weekly pro wrestling show, it appears that Wednesday nights are going to be fun from here on out. Five months after its first pay-per-view show, AEW debuted it’s live program Dynamite, and the result was a product with a major-league feel that should compete immediately from at least a critical standpoint opposite industry leader WWE.
Airing head-to-head with NXT after the WWE’s developmental third brand made a permanent move to live cable television, AEW featured hot matches, an enthused crowd and no shortage of star power thanks some well-timed run-ins from a handful of former WWE stars.The first episode of Dynamite also saw the company do well to establish potential future stars in a wrestling-heavy show that flew by thanks to a high work rate and very brief interstitial segments that kept the focus almost exclusively on what was happening inside the ring.
While the broadcast failed to feel historic save for the enthusiastic pop given by the crowd to Cody and Brandi Rhodes ahead of the opening match, Dynamite easily felt like it belonged not just as a key player in the new “Wednesday Night Wars” but as a viable alternative to WWE proper.
The only disappointment was how AEW did not ultimately feel all that different or revolutionary. Some of that, of course, is the belief that less is more, which is something seen to near perfection each week from NXT where the exploits of sports entertainment are toned down a bit to focus on the pro wrestling. But AEW will need to establish its own voice in the end — something that likely can be done through the quality of its promos and the freedom given to performers to find their own voice — to truly provide something different for lapsed fans of the current WWE product. Overall show grade: B+
CBS Sports was with you the entire way Wednesday updating this story with results, highlights and grades. Be sure to subscribe to the State of Combat with Brian Campbell podcast for a complete review of AEW Dynamite on Thursday morning and wrestling episodes each week.
AEW Dynamite results, grades
Cody def. Sammy Guevara via pinfall: The first match in AEW Dynamite history was a hot one with something legitimate at stake as Cody secured a shot at inaugural AEW champion Chris Jericho at the Full Gear pay-per-view. It was Jericho who also made his presence known after the match when he used the distraction of Guevara slapping and then shaking the hand of Cody to brutally attack him from behind. Jericho commandeered a ringside camera to take pictures of himself posing over a prone Cody before assaulting him further with a chair and powerbombing him onto a pair of folding chairs.
The match was greeted by a glowing soundtrack from the excited crowd and featured PPV intensity over the second half as both wrestlers traded big moves and near falls. Guevara did well to establish himself as a heel by pulling Brandi Rhodes in front of him to bear the brunt of Cody’s tope through the ropes. Brandi gained revenge late by using her shoe to strike Guevara from outside the ring before Cody hit a Disaster Kick for a near fall. The wrestlers then traded huge high spots as Cody hit an inverted superplex for two before Guevara hit a majestic Spanish Fly off the top rope. The finish came when Guevara’s shooting star press attempt caught knees from Cody and a small package for the 1-2-3. An aborted post-match interview attempt from Tony Schiavone saw Cody break kayfabe briefly by crying as the two embraced. Grade: A-
MJF def. Brandon Cutler via submission: Good piece of brief business here to establish MJF as such a vile and lead heel. MJF cut his own entrance music short to deliver a strong pre-match promo in which he ripped the fans (prompting “asshole” chants). Cutler worked well in the underdog role, hitting a suicide dive into a Thesz press onto the floor. But MJF created a diversion shortly after by pulling the referee in front of him in the corner. The distraction allowed Friedman to land a crushing elbow strike and apply his Salt of the Earth armbar for an instant tap. Grade: B-
Jay & Silent Bob cut a promo: In the crowd to promote their upcoming movie, which features a cameo by Jericho, Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes got into an argument with Angelico and Jack Evans, who came down to ringside to talk trash to them. Private Party came out a bit late in the process to protect Smith and Mewes, and the segment just ended from there.
So Cal Uncensored, Lucha Bros. brawl before tag team tournament: Standing outside the White House, a suited Scorpio Sky did an impression of President Barack Obama as Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian flanked him as his Secret Service. They cut a quick promo there and then did so again inside the arena with Sky announcing Daniels and Kazarian would be teaming up for the tourney. As Sky finished talking, the Luchas Bros. reminded the crowd they are the “best tag team in the universe” before the five men got into a brawl and were separated by officials and agents.
PAC def. “Hangman” Adam Page via submission: PAC (f.k.a. Neville in WWE) stayed unbeaten under the AEW banner by revealing a bit of his character’s dark soul in a hard-fought win over the inaugural AEW title challenger. Although the match was largely stiff and plodding, both had their moments athletically as PAC landed a series of springboard high spots and Page hit an impressive moonsault off the top rope outside. PAC was able to halt his opponent’s momentum at just the right time with a reverse kick to the groin that referee Earl Hebner never saw. He followed with a Black Arrow before instantly applying his Brutalizer submission that forced Hebner to call for the bell as Page was defenseless. Grade: B
AEW Women’s Championship — Riho def. Nyla Rose via pinfall to win the inaugural title: The first women’s title match in AEW history turned out to be a spirited one as both exceeded their performances in earlier matches since the promotion launched. With future contender Dr. Britt Baker watching at the commentary table, the diminutive Riho kicked out of a number of precarious situations to rally for the win. Whether that victory was booked in believable fashion considering the size difference and the amount of near falls against the much larger Rose is worth debating, however. Riho went on to hit an avalanche Northern lights suplex from the second rope and a running set of knees to the face for the 1-2-3. The post-match melee certainly boosted things as Rose attacked Riho and hit a power bomb on interviewer Michael Nakasawa. Rose then set up a Death Valley Driver on the ring apron only for Kenny Omega to run in, rescue Riho and deliver a push on Rose. Grade: C+
Chris Jericho, Santana & Ortiz def. Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks via pinfall: It appears that AEW has found its first heel faction following a main event that was everything from wild and fun to overbooked. The good news is that it was entertaining — all of it, in fact (provided you can get past the fact that Jon Moxley ran in to pull Omega from the match and spark a wild brawl around the arena that somehow wasn’t ruled a disqualification). Moxley (f.k.a. Dean Ambrose in WWE) hit a DDT on Omega through a glass table to produce the craziest spot of the night ,but the match continued from there. A late hot tag to Nick Jackson sparked an incredible medley of high-flying moves until Jericho ran in to intercept a Best Meltzer Ever attempt by hitting a Codebreaker. A Judas Effect followed, allowing the AEW champion Jericho to record the pin.
What happened next was pure mayhem as a 3-on-2 post-match attack by the heels sparked a run-in from Cody to even the sides. Out came Guevara to kick Cody in the groin, which summoned a run-in from big brother Dustin Rhodes to clean house. Finally, AEW’s newest edition helped the heels stand tall for good as Jake Hager — a Bellator MMA heavyweight and formerly Jack Swagger in WWE — hit a spine buster on Dustin before initiating a gang-style beating. Cody went through a small table and Jericho landed one more Judas Effect. The five-man team piled up the babyface bodies and posed smug for the camera in what felt like a soft launch of an nWo-style faction. Grade: B+
AEW Dynamite highlights
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