AEW:Misguided Dynamite

After the Forbidden Door pay-per-view, Tony Khan being the smart promoter that he is, touted the success of the event with its live gate, and by all indications the show did a solid buy rate. While the co-promoted card with New Japan is almost in a vacuum because it’s not directly related to most of the AEW programming, a successful pay-per-view should theoretically generate some momentum for the record-setting Wembley Stadium crowd in August.

Unfortunately, this week’s edition of Dynamite was a prime example of Khan’s “throw everything against the wall and see what sticks approach” that is not only misguided in terms of the long term success of the company, but also impacts the mileage that specific angles could get if used properly. Keep in mind, Tony Khan has three weekly television shows to book, and while the charts and graphs he cited in previous interviews might give him the sense of an organized product, the presentation on television is a completely different story.

In fact, you could go through segment-by-segment of the TBS broadcast and parse why there are valid criticisms against All Elite programming.

That being said, I think the standard disclaimer should be mentioned to keep things in perspective for the diehard AEW fan base that take any critique of the shows as a personal insult to them and their families. Order another shirt from Pro Wrestling Tees and relax. It goes without saying that Tony Khan has a passion and dedication to professional wrestling. While there are positives and negatives to that, many of which can be seen on the shows, you have to give him credit for being willing to fund a sports entertainment project. Khan is already from a billionaire family and it would’ve been much easier for him to buy and island and drink ice tea than to launch a pro wrestling group, especially considering the stress often associated with being a promoter. Tony wanted to spark the industry, he didn’t need to invest in pro wrestling to attempt to achieve financial security. Despite some of the mishaps, the sports entertainment business is better with the existence of All Elite, both for the talent and the fans, and a major reason that’s possible is that Tony was willing to fund the launch of the promotion. Plus, outside of the dollars and cents, which are the true measures of success and often the only thing that matters from a business prospective, Tony seems to be a genuinely nice guy that cares about his roster, which isn’t something usually said about most wrestling promoters. Tony Khan does right by his talent and if nothing else, that’s a very commendable approach to a business that has a history of shady tactics.

The other side of the coin is that the fandom that spurred his investment into the industry also appears to cloud his judgement.

The show opened with Jox Moxley vs.Tomohiro Ishii and it was a great match. It was physical and a brand of wrestling that you aren’t going to see in the WWE, which makes sense because the alternative approach is what allows for variety. Remember, TNA floundered for years as “WWE lite” so despite Ishii being relatively unknown to the national TV audience, it’s still a bout that is unique to AEW in America. That being said, considering the time this bout was given and the brutal nature of the strikes, including some nasty headbutts that split Moxley open, this should’ve been the main event. The segment was given almost twenty minutes, was very physical, Moxley was bleeding, and it was an entertaining contest. If you start the program with that, anything else is going to be a decline or recycled, and the rest of the show had both aspects during the broadcast.

A wise booker knows what to ask for or expect from a match-up, and as mentioned, this would’ve been great in the main event spot. However, the hard way cut that Moxley had made Adam Page’s minimal amount of blood in a rather lackluster segment more or less pointless. Much of the same could be said for the blade job Jericho did for the last three minutes of the show, did it really add anything to the tag match? There were three wrestlers bleeding in the course of a two-hour program and it led to diminishing returns on each occasion. Quite simply, if blood is overused, it adds nothing, and after the nasty cut Moxley had, anything else on the show was tame by comparison.

Speaking of Adam Page’s subpar blade job, the entire premise of the match with The Dark Order against The Elite was misguided. Let’s be honest here, The Hangman’s association with The Dark Order, especially within the past few months, has been secondary at best. The Dark Order is a comedy stable and the story of a potential grudge against The Elite is weak and forgettable in the grand scheme of things. The point being, The Dark Order has a role in the company and does it well, but The Elite should theoretically be on a different level. The question is, are the fans really invested in Adam Page leaving the comedy stable behind to team with a few of the featured stars of the organization? If not, there’s no reason to give it TV time, and furthermore, The Dark Order are rarely featured on television so it would be difficult to expect the fans to be invested in a rather flimsy angle.

It goes without saying that getting the audience to emotionally invest into the characters on the show is a key piece of the puzzle to draw money, and prehaps that’s why the MJF title reign seems rather undistinguished so far. As I’ve written several times, MJF’s attempts to “shock” the audience often seem desperate and lack substance, which is why most of his promos have a “been there, done that” scenario. He hasn’t wrestled often as champion, and while his in-ring skills are stellar, the standard MJF promo just to get him on television is stale. Instead, he was booked for a backstage skit with Adam Cole about their upcoming tag team matches as a part of a tournament that hasn’t been fully explained that will take place at the same time as the Owen Hart tournament. The other tag teams involved or the brackets haven’t been announced. The backstage skit was lame and almost minimized MJF’s importance as the world champion. It might be a drastic comparison, but when Roman Reigns is on television, it’s always spotlighted as a major segment. MJF, with the recycled shtick doesn’t have that importance for his TV time. He has talent, but the bottom line is, if the backstage segment wasn’t on the show, would it really have made a difference for the product?

The trios match was an absolute mess and it was such a cluster that nobody looked good in the match. Why exactly were Orange Cassidy, Vikingo, and Keith Lee on a team? They beat the JAS so unless the thrown together trio will challenge for the belts why did they defeat a regular stable?

Ruby Soho is extremely talented, but when the product is all over the place, it’s difficult to expect the audience to follow everything, and after the confusion of the trios match, Ruby’s promo got zero reaction from the crowd.

I understand the hype for the first ever match with Sting and Chris Jericho in the ring, and from that perspective, it makes sense to put it in a main event segment to maximize Sting’s status as a legend, but you don’t put Moxley/Ishii on the same show to go almost twenty minutes. Both matches could’ve and should’ve been used in the main event spot of different shows. Again, Tony has three weekly TV shows, why not get the most from each bout with putting it in the main event spot on different weeks? Finally, the dive that Sting did was really dangerous and looked like it could’ve been a disaster so it’s another situation where the booker should have more control with the presentation of the matches.

This week’s episode of Dynamite overused blood, had a match that became a total cluster, promos that either got no reaction or were meaningless, and didn’t establish a solid direction for the product after the Forbidden Door pay-per-view. The biggest problem is, this slapstick booking is a pattern within AEW programming and when the content is so disjointed, it’s difficult to truly build or expand the audience. This becomes an exponentially bigger problem when you take into account that Tony has to book three national television shows. Make no mistake about it, All Elite has some great talent and some great matches, but the argument could be made that it doesn’t have great booking for the product.

What do you think? Share your thoughts, opinions, feedback, and anything else that was raised on Twitter @PWMania and

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

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