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The AEW Wednesday Night Dynamite Thread

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7 minutes ago, Supremo said:

I wasn’t the one who mentioned ECW or specifically noted, “brawls,” and, “blood,” as indicators of an alternative. All I’m saying is that if that’s the way you’re measuring it then you’ve got a company that’s letting guys bleed all over the shop and jump into thumb tacks with their bare feet, so you should be delighted.

If anything, I think AEW is proving that for all the talk of wrestling fans wanting alternatives or harking back to the Attitude Era, when they’re actually given it they realise how crap it is.

Look, I loved Lucha Undreground as much as anyone, but it was never going to work on a mainstream level. Pro-wrestling is niche as fuck already. Play with the formula even more at your peril. You’re destined for YouTube if you go too far. Similarly, no-one spent more money on ECW VHS tapes back in the day than me, but anything that resembles ECW on AEW, like the Moxley vs. Omega match or most of the stuff involving Janela and Havok, is by far the worst part. That shit has aged terribly and everyone involved looks like a tragic, desperate moron doing it in 2019.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just in the minority, but half the time when I hear people say they want an alternative I feel like they’re just parroting what they’ve heard someone like Meltzer say. I don’t want an alternative to WWE. I fucking love WWE - when it’s good. And that’s what I want from AEW. Do the promos, do the character vignettes, do the storylines and do the big angles. Just do it in a fun and interesting way without the overwriting and overproducing and commentators reading from scripts and shouting buzz words. That’s when I’ve got the most enjoyment out of AEW so far. Jericho’s daft new character, that comedy sketch with the Inner Circle, Cody punching through some glass and MJF turning on Cody after weeks of teasing. Pure WWE stuff, just taken back to the basic level without sucking all the fun out of it. Bollocks to this, “you need to be more alternative,” stuff. The only alternative they need to be for me is to do what WWE  does better than they have done in ages. You can keep Joey Janela stapling a lit cigarette to his head. I really doubt someone saying, “fuck,” would add much, either.
 

I agree and I'm not saying blood and guts is necessarily the answer either - merely citing that was the recipe for a 'true' alternative in the mid-90's American scene because it was not what was being shown in the mainstream wrestling companies at the time.
It's different things at different times.
Maybe it's more that they over-promised the 'alternative' aspect originally - the 'more sports-based' product, the new and innovative OWE company affiliation etc - that the reality has made me go 'Yeah it's not really THAT much of an alternative to anything else out there'.
Just my opinion. Makes no difference to anything in the grand scheme of things. 
 

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I couldn't give two shits about what Meltz says. I've just always felt that AEW were trying to sell themselves as an alternative with different ideas and plans etc. Not just "we're going to be like WWE but good."

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Proud and Powerful theme is greatest thing about AEW and i'm a fan.

I really think Santana as a Alpha aura to him but he should leave the comedy to Ortiz and play it straight. He should be murdering Marko and not being involved in Matt Jackson wank Northern light suplexes.

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10 hours ago, DavidB6937 said:

I couldn't give two shits about what Meltz says. I've just always felt that AEW were trying to sell themselves as an alternative with different ideas and plans etc. Not just "we're going to be like WWE but good."

And failing on both accounts apparently...

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AEW has been going less than six months, run about ten (?) TV shows, a couple of PPVs and some glorified house shows. The Cody & Dustin and Cody & Jericho matches are up there with the best of the year. They've had a ton of other really good matches by modern standards. Jericho and Cody are cutting the best promos on television regularly. the bits we've seen from Moxley (criminally not enough) and MJF have been brilliant too. Their promo packages are very good. The production, lighting and atmosphere is very good too. In that time, they've also introduced some really promising new faces (on a national level) in Sammy, Allin, Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus, Oange Cassidy and Private Party. Lucha Brothers and Pac are also awesome.

It feels far more like WCW/WWE of old in it's presentation. It's not overly produced. There are glitches. People are far more free to say what they want and that's sometimes good and sometimes bad. But it's far, far more preferrable to the alternative which is over-produced to the point of nauseum.

There are problems. Kenny Omega has underwhelmed, Adam Page isn't really clicking. Janela is shite, Spears isn't anymore than he's ever been. Loads of characters need fleshing out. The matches aren't all for me. I'm as numb to a lot of the spotty stuff as I am when I watch NXT or WWE. The women's stuff is a waste of everyone's time. Commentary is hit and miss.

I think they're doing just fine overall. There is a lot more that I've thought is good than I anticpated I would. Everyone seems to be in their proper place and there are a ton of things you can see paying off in the next year and a lot of people you can see progressing up the card. I find that interesting enough to stick with it week on week.

One area it's really hard to judge is how it's met expectations so far. The TNT number seems reasonable with NXT splitting the audience but we'll never know what they were projecting. We might not find out what money they are making/losing and what they'd budgeted for. This being wrestling, if you ask they'll most likely say they're happy regardless of whether it does or doesn't meet expectation.

It's better than "main roster" (🤮) WWE has been this past few years. Not the biggest NXT fan but I'm not sure AEW is better than NXT. It's far less predictable and the promos are better because NXT still feels like it's all scripted by one bloke. On the other hand NXT's matches generally have much better structure and pacing and they're doing at least as well at presenting new stars. I'd take the big stars from AEW over NXT though and that's not even a debate.

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1 hour ago, tiger_rick said:

I'd take the big stars from AEW over NXT though and that's not even a debate.

That's something that's still up in the air for me, and it's one thing that they can't do too much about - my years and years of investment in WWF/WWE/NXT. Something like Survivor Series and the buildup was a wet dream for me in many ways, and there's very little AEW can do in my mind to go up against that.

If I'm honest, it's the same reason why I enjoyed WCW and ECW but in a very different way. Same with stuff like ROH and NJPW. That's not a knock on AEW or any new company coming in and trying to do their best, but it's very hard to compete against something that has been so deeply linked to my life for such a long time now.

I've never been closed off about the competition but it's like being able to enjoy watching other football teams play. You know they're good, and you appreciate their skill and talent on some level but your heart just isn't in it. Granted, it's true to say that loving WWE is like being in a really shit relationship a lot of the time..

I hope AEW gets that chance to stick around and form that bond with more and more people. Obviously they have a solid ground to build on and the fanbase is already extremely passionate but it takes time to really win people over. Can my head be turned? Maybe it can. Maybe it doesn't even need to be. It's not like I'm in an exclusive relationship with WWE after all. I'm more than happy to watch any number of companies as long as I feel they're offering something different that makes them worthwhile to me.

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I think NXT has lost a ton of focus in the last 12-18 months, because it almost entirely shifted in focus from being a developmental brand. 

People seem to forget that NXT didn't get a ton of plaudits early on just for putting out Good Wrestling, but by having a simplistic, back-to-basics approach, and logical storytelling. A large part of that was that it was clear that after a title programme or two, the top talent would be called up to the main roster. It meant that everyone's story had an end-point, no one outstayed their welcome, and it felt like the main event talent went through a logical character/story arc of the kind you rarely see in wrestling when everyone has to be on TV every week.

Since the main event scene became The Undisputed Era, Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa and little else, the show has felt largely stagnant, I don't feel like anything's developing or going anywhere, and every Takeover feels like, Good Wrestling aside, it's more or less just the same as what came before. It's no surprise that the emergence of Keith Lee as a major star feels like the best thing in NXT for a while, because it's a little novelty back in the mix.

 

What's worrying for AEW, though, is how quickly it feels that they have fallen into a predictable formula. They've been around for five minutes, yet already some matches feel like "more of the same", and some talent feel overexposed. We're already on our second iteration of "Chris Jericho defends the World Title against a tag team competitor because he was goaded into it in a promo". 

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“Like WWE but better” is exactly what I want AEW to be. And in one or two bits a week, they manage that. The rest of the show veers too close to “like your local indie group, but televised.” 

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29 minutes ago, King Pitcos said:

“Like WWE but better” is exactly what I want AEW to be. And in one or two bits a week, they manage that. The rest of the show veers too close to “like your local indie group, but televised.” 

That's probably the nail on the head with AEW really. Not only are the viewers torn as to what they're looking for, but those in charge aren't really willing to commit to what they are trying to be either. It makes sense - they're an early upstart, still finding their feet and looking to see what works and what doesn't.

It's actually an advantage that wrestling has over other shows in that they should be able to develop as they go along, listen to feedback and course-correct when they need to. Not that they should be drastic enough to overhaul everything just because a few internet geeks decided to complain about it but feedback can be very useful. Same with live audiences.

As with any company attempting to break into the market, they do need to be focused on the long game and surviving first over anything. Will they be the potential gamechangers that many hoped they would be? I think that'll take time to really show, and could be as much about luck as anything, but then wrestling is like that in general. You just don't know who might break out and become that mainstream star again. Not like any of us thought it would happen to The Rock or Stone Cold etc after all.

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It's really clear how few of the people involved have experience wrestling on TV, and how the people who do aren't really sharing the love with their colleagues. Cody carries himself like a star, because he has experience of being a star. Chris Jericho knows when he can colour outside the lines and ad-lib, but that comes from having spent years knowing how to do it properly, so he still hits all the right notes and gets his point across - and honestly at this point every single person in the company should be pushing to get some time in an angle with Jericho, because every single time he gets the mic he uses it to put over someone else's gimmick at a time when the company is doing precious little to that end.

I do think there's been a disconnect in promises and expectation - a lot of fans, and a lot of the wrestling gutter press, acted from before AEW even had a name as if they were immediately going to be taking WWE to the cleaners, that they were looking to sign CM Punk, The Undertaker and Sting, that half the WWE roster were jumping ship...and absolutely none of it was based on anything that AEW were actually saying. There's a fair few promises that I feel AEW haven't delivered on, but I also feel like they're being judged harshly for not having lived up to expectations that they were never setting in the first place.

 

Ultimately, they still have an air of "realistic and down to earth, but crawling with magical robots". They crow about wins and losses mattering, and have a ranking system, and fans and critics alike have clung to that phrase "sports-like presentation", but they also have Luchasaurus, Orange Cassidy et al, and a fair bit of hokey comedy. I don't think comedy in wrestling is a bad thing by any means, I think it's essential, but so far they're not nailing the "three ring circus" approach of feeling like they have something for everyone so much as they're feeling disjointed and unfocused.

The beauty of WCW at their best was that each match felt like it could offer something different - your main event might be Nash vs. Hogan in a WWF style heavyweight match, but before that you've got Dean Malenko vs. Psicosis, Jushin Liger vs. Rey Misterio Jr, Steven Regal vs. Fit Finlay, and a mad Nasty Boys brawl to get through, or whatever. That's how you do "a bit of everything", and it feels like that's what AEW are aiming for, but they're lacking the consistent agenting/production to make the matches feel significantly different from one another unless you have a Dustin Rhodes or a Chris Jericho involved, and wrestling is a whole is so homogenised now that you have to really work hard to find two styles of match/styles of wrestler as drastically different today as Misterio was to Regal or to Nash in the '90s. 

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So far, the way 'wins and losses matter' has been best used is with characters and storylines. Omega, Hangman, Cody - their losses have hit them hard, either through stipulations or just because they were beaten. The losses aren't being forgotten or shrugged off. How many times did we see Roman Reigns or John Cena coming out smiling the day after losing their title? For me, this is a much better use of 'wins and losses matter' than the rankings thing.

This is where, for me, it's really shining, and it's kind of slow-burn with Kenny Omega in particular. It's partly because I followed the end of his NJPW run, and I'm invested in his relationship with Ibushi, but it's got to the point where Kenny's happiness as a character matters to me in a way I haven't had with wrestling since Daniel Bryan's Wrestlemania XXX run.

The problem they're having so far is that they're not putting this in easily digestible ways for TV. It might be that they're just not getting there yet with Kenny, but they're not doing it that well with some of the smaller stuff either. The Butcher/Blade/Bunny segment has been talked about ad nauseum, but there are other examples - the Jungle Boy segment was really fun, but it needed to be hammered home that it wasn't a title shot and that he has 10 minutes in the ring with him. That just wasn't clear by the end of the segment.

That said, it's still early days, and they're getting a bunch right. I'm not watching WWE, so I'm not as burnt out on wrestling right now - this is a nice, easy watch each week and I'm enjoying it, so I'm more lenient than some. But it's certainly showing how difficult it is to put together a solid two-hour show each week. They're improving on some elements - the last Preview show was a massive improvement over the first few, there's a better mix of promos and matches on the main TV shows, and they've been varying things up more. But for each thing they get right, they're slipping up somewhere else.

Fingers crossed, they keep improving. I'm enjoying it a lot, and it'd be nice if they can keep building more general enthusiasm for it.

 

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9 hours ago, tiger_rick said:

I'd take the big stars from AEW over NXT though and that's not even a debate.

I feel completely the opposite.  Outside of Jericho, Moxley and Dustin (and DDP) I don't feel like AEW has big stars.  The have people who they SAY are big stars, but they don't present them as such.  Kenny Omega being a prime example - one of the guys I genuinely was excited to see due to the hype, but who's utterly failed to show me anything.

One thing NXT has always been fantastic at is building stars - taking someone with basically no rep (or an Indie rep), and making them into a big deal.  Look at how they've built Rhea Ripley into pretty much the best thing in wrestling right now - cannot wait to see her and Shayna go at it.  Finn Balor bored the shit out of me on Raw, but a few weeks of focus in NXT and he's red hot again.  Almost all of of WWE's current top talent were built in NXT as well, they've got a great record.

 As a casual AEW viewer, I can spot a few guys who I feel are pretty talented with potential, but they don't seem to be the focus of the shows right now.  There's an awful lot of 50/50 booking that's making everyone seem midcard at the moment.

The WCW comparisons I can definitely see, but more pre-Hogan, post Flair WCW when they just didn't have that many big stars and didn't know how to elevate anyone else.

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3 hours ago, BomberPat said:

 wrestling is a whole is so homogenised now that you have to really work hard to find two styles of match/styles of wrestler as drastically different today as Misterio was to Regal or to Nash in the '90s. 

Excellent point. Maybe this is why I struggle with the 'alternative' concept.
Wrestling has evolved from being a multitude of different styles to so many wrestlers working a fast-paced all-action style [there are exceptions, of course] to the point where something today has to be so completely different in order to make it stand out. 

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2 hours ago, Loki said:

I feel completely the opposite.  Outside of Jericho, Moxley and Dustin (and DDP) I don't feel like AEW has big stars.  

So outside of the big stars, you don't feel like they have big stars? Funny that.

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Remember Tony Khan saying we'd never see the shitty invisible camera?

Also, nothing kills your no-DQ main event quite like someone in your co-main event hitting his opponent in the face with a mobile telephone right in front of the ref and not being disqualified.

I probably champion this company more than most but the cracks are definitely starting to show and it absolutely feels like they've plateaued in terms of listening and adapting.

Really disappointing.

Edited by Supremo

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