One of the most compelling aspects of the professional wrestling industry in 2022 is to see how each of the major players in the industry on a globe level take their specific products in different directions and then how other organizations react to it. For example, Adam Page as the AEW world champion is a building process as the promotion looks to solidify one of the top stars for its future. At the same time, the WWE appears to be ready to play the Brock Lesnar/Roman Reigns card again, albeit with a new coat of paint and arguably a better narrative than their original feud. MLW claims that the WWE violated anti-trust laws, which more or less translates to MLW trying to get some cash from Vince McMahon since its very doubtful that the emperor of sports entertainment would have any concern for a project that amounts to basically an independent group with a minimal television deal. As a way to help against the accusations, regardless of if it was the intention or not, Mickie James, the current Knockouts champion, will be in the Royal Rumble. Granted, this means significantly less now than it would’ve in TNA’s heyday because quite frankly, Impact Wrestling is so scaled down that it’s a “safe” option for the WWE to promote on its television. All of this is going on while it would seem like there’s more business to be done with All Elite and New Japan, considering that Eddie Kingston appeared on a recent NJPW Strong show. Plus, Game Changer Wrestling, an independent group that grew from a death match niche to generate a buzz similar to ECW on different scale, will have a live pay-per-view from the sold out Hammerstein Ballroom this weekend.
Yes, the professional wrestling world is very intriguing just a few weeks into the new year.
Despite WWE’s slight flexibility on the invitation for Mickie to join the Rumble, I doubt that the company would have a full-fledged working agreement with any of the main organizations in America. On the flip side, Tony Khan’s willingness to incorporate other groups, including the fact that Jon Moxley will defend the GCW title at the previously mentioned Hammerstein pay-per-view, gives All Elite more options to promote something unique, which truly is key when the market is already flooded with content.
While they are a few exceptions, the nostalgia booking for the past several years gives an indication of what fans will see from McMahon programming, and in truth, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that based on the fact that the corporation has hefty guaranteed money so why change it? The pros and cons of that can be debated, but the point being, the general direction of Roman vs. Lesnar is a given. However, AEW has more variety to its booking, something that also has its pros and cons, with this week’s edition of Dynamite as a prime example of it.
The show opened with Jon Moxley making his return to the company and it’s great to see him healthy. The promo he cut was absolutely stellar and will be one of the more memorable segments of this era. While AEW has too much swearing on its television shows, Moxley putting the heckler in check was justified. From what I’ve read on social media, the “fan” yelled at Moxley to go get another drink, and Moxley dealt with the situation. Whoever said such a blatantly disgusting insult, especially at that time, deserved to be kicked out of the show. Since its a topic on social media, I will briefly address the comments that Bully Ray made about Moxley supposedly owning an apology to the fans for missing time away from the ring to attend rehab. All due respect to Bubba for everything he accomplished in his career, but he was completely off the mark with these statements. Moxley doesn’t owe anyone anything and any true fan of his work would rather see him return healthy than remain on the roster if he had substance issues. Furthermore, it was known that Moxley would be away from AEW because his treatment was publicly announced so fans knew when they bought a ticket or watched Dynamite when he wouldn’t be on the show. Bubba wouldn’t ask for a performer to apologize for an injury so he shouldn’t ask Moxley to apologize for rehab.
The Kris Statlander/Orange Cassidy vs. Adam Cole/Britt Baker match was fine, but the table spot where Baker went through the table was completely pointless and accomplished nothing. In general, there are way too many table spots used in AEW and at this point, it has more or less completely devalued the effectiveness of the spot. Just over an hour after Baker went through a table for more or less no reason, Sting awkwardly dove through a table in the main event. Neither spot accomplished anything, but to put them on the same show continues to take away any value from using gimmicks in matches. Perhaps, this is because Tony Khan is known as an ECW fan, and don’t get me wrong, the extreme company that was based in south Philly revolutionized an entire industry in the 90s, but ECW had its day, and if you look back at some of the content now, particularly with an objective viewpoint, table spots were completely overused when Paul Heyman substituted gimmicks for the lack of star power when the company didn’t have as much depth in its latter years. There wasn’t really a need for the tables that were used in Super Crazy vs. Tajiri matches the same way there wasn’t a reason for a table to be used in any of the matches on Dynamite. If someone gets put through a table, use it to enhance a feud, not as a throwaway spot on a random episode.
Along the same lines, there’s entirely too much swearing on AEW programming and it really has lost its effectiveness. When used at the right time, some profanity can emphasize an angle or a promo, but the language is used on AEW television simply because more can be said on cable now than in the past few years. Roddy Piper mentioned it in a shoot interview years ago, if someone has to swear in a promo to get the point across then it’s a lack of talent. AEW has too many talented performers to have to use a crutch of profanity on the show.
The Cody Rhodes promo was very well done, and while I think the audience has already made the decision that booing Cody is what they are going to do because it became trendy for AEW shows, if anything is going to get the audiences on his side, it was this particular promo. Cody is a stellar performer and despite the tremendous additions to the company, he’s still one of the most talented on the roster. That said, hot-shotting a title vs. title ladder match is completely unnecessary. The argument could be made that booking an interim champion when Cody was only off the show for a week was unnecessary too, but if that’s the direction of the angle, at least build up the title vs. title aspect and then put the gimmick match on pay-per-view. I’m not trying to be too critical, but much more can be done with this type of angle than a one week run on television. If Sammy racks up title defenses, it adds to his credibility as the interim champion so then the question for the audience is, “who is the legitimate TNT champion?” and it provides enough longevity for the angle to get the ladder match booked on pay-per-view. More specifically, why exactly is this going to be a ladder match? There was no actual justification for it other than Cody had a ladder set up in the ring for the promo. In reality, this is probably Tony Khan’s way of attempting to duplicate the Razor Ramon/Shawn Micheals IC title feud, but keep in mind that their ladder match was booked for a Wrestlemania, the biggest show on the calendar. I could be wrong, but with the way the feud is being rushed, this seems more like a way for Tony Khan to copy an angle he watched as a fan than a storyline that is booked to make the biggest impact possible for the company.
I wasn’t a fan of the rather quick squash from The House of Black against the Varsity Blonds, specifically because while I understand that Brody and Black had to be put over strong, there are probably more than a dozen other wrestlers that are lower card talent that could’ve been used for that role instead of squashing a younger team that has potential as something more than just matches on Dark. This is why the Youtube shows are more or less irrelevant in the grand scheme of things because what did the wins on Dark accomplish if Pillman and Griff were squashed on Dynamite? If the theory is that working with Brody and Black will eventually put the younger team over, it’s doubtful that it will be effective because after such a one-sided defeat the storyline is done.
On the flip side, the main event was very well done, and it used Sting very well. The Acclaimed have all the tools to be stars for AEW and they have a major upside as a team. Darby has the potential to be a main event star for AEW and the association with Sting to spotlight him has been very effective. All Elite Wrestling has such a talented roster and the company as a whole has provided a spark to the entire industry, but this week’s episode of Dynamite proved that the pieces of the puzzle have to be put in the right place for it to benefit the company.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.
Until next week
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