By Will Pruett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@itswilltime)
Going into the experiment that is All Elite Wrestling, a frequent concern was the idea of active wrestlers as executives. After years of experience in wrestling, this was a valid concern. We have seen wrestlers act with their own best interest, as opposed to the interest of a promotion for decades. Wrestling uniquely incentivizes this behavior with pay based off of how big of a star one is. The Young Bucks, in their first regular televised tag team match in AEW, were delightfully unselfish and in being so, they made stars out of Private Party.
It’s not that Private Party didn’t do their part. Isiah Kassidy and Marq Quen stole the show at Fyter Fest and earned contracts with AEW. They continued to impress at Fight for the Fallen. They are (just like their country) young, scrappy, and hungry and they did not throw away their shot. Everything about their performance in this match was electric.
This episode opening with a video package about these two teams, establishing the dominance of The Young Bucks and the characters of Private Party was a nice touch. These packages flesh out characters, established and not, for new and old viewers. Over a million people are watching and not all of them saw The Bucks on the indies. Even fewer have seen Private Party.
It would be easy, particularly given their power in the company, for The Young Bucks to want to be the first AEW Tag Team Champions. Heck, they could have given themselves the belts on night one and rejoiced in pretending to earn them! People would have understood the best team in the world wanting the titles in the company they started. While it might have been uncouth to some, it would not have been wrong.
The revolutionary thing Matt and Nick Jackson did was take their star power, their capital with the audience, and use it to make a new star right away. This shouldn’t seem revolutionary, but it is. This should not be rare in wrestling. AEW is drawing a ton of comparisons to WCW, but could you imagine if Hulk Hogan had used his capital to make new stars? WCW might have survived!
The Young Bucks aren’t hurt by doing this, either. Yes, they took a loss in their own company where wins and losses matter, but they set up a future big match with Private Party. They also set up a future major match with whatever team wins the AEW Tag Team Championships. They also have a program with Santana and Ortiz and the rest of Chris Jericho’s Inner Circle. They lost nothing by putting over Private Party.
Wrestling will always be a selfish business. The mix of real life personalities and fiction will always lead to a larger-than-life ego or three getting in the way of good fiction. Wednesday night showed us a better way and possibly a brighter future. Kudos to The Young Bucks. Kudos to Private Party. That was a heck of a match.
And now for some random thoughts:
– For the last couple years, I’ve argued that weekly wrestling television has lost me. I didn’t know if my parents were right and I was finally growing out of loving wrestling or if wrestling was just passing me by. I still loved the major matches. I still loved following what happened. Weekly TV was just tedious. The last two weeks have seen me excited and looking forward to a wrestling TV show more than I have in about a decade. I don’t know how long that will last, but I’m here for it while it does. Maybe I was watching the wrong weekly wrestling shows.
– I was happy to see footage from last week had made its way into Dynamite’s opening already. Quick updates and editing are important.
– Can we talk about how great Chris Jericho’s promo was introducing The Inner Circle, fully heeling on the crowd, and shutting down the awful “We The People” chants fans attempted to begin for Jake Hager? Jericho has always been great on the mic, but in the past few years he has lost me. His character in NJPW and WWE didn’t capture my imagination. That changed last night. In one promo, my faith in Jericho was renewed.
– I’m a fan of the “Inner Circle” name. It also sounds like a rejected name for the “Close Friends” feature on Instagram.
– Darby Allin vs. Jimmy Havoc was a good match, but it could have meant more. I liked giving Havoc a little time to talk and I liked the emphasis on Allin’s draw with Cody, but where was anything introducing these two cool psuedo-goth bros? I sound like a broken record, but a documentary-style vignette can really help establish characters, particularly character as unique as these two.
– Darby Allin is a potential breakout star for AEW. His skateboarding down the ramp to hit Jericho at the end of the show is my current favorite AEW moment. Put it in a video package and replay it 1,000 times.
– Hopefully one of these weeks sees a heavy focus on AEW’s women’s division. I’m not worried at two weeks in, but more than a match per week would be nice to see.
– Riho and Britt Baker vs. Emi Sakura and Bea Priestley was a fun match for what it was. I find myself wishing for more character work and less wrestling from these four, but they made the most of their time.
– Of all the people who need more character exposure, Britt Baker is at the top of the list. I know she is a wrestling dentist, but why not explore more of who she is? They are counting on Britt to be a star for them and they need to invest time in making her one.
– The segment with a Best Friends promo leading into Orange Cassidy hanging out leading into Shawn Spears’ entrance felt like disorganized chaos.
– I’ve been told non-U.S. viewers saw a Tully Blanchard promo and I am jealous.
– Jon Moxley is fun to watch wrestle. His intense energy post-WWE is neat. His match against Spears was a good way to get Moxley on TV. I only wish he had delivered a promo as well. Two weeks without Jon Moxley talking should never pass on AEW TV.
– What happens to Spears and Blanchard with another clean loss on this show? The partnership isn’t going well.
– The main event tag match was the only time I felt the crowd getting a little tired. Jericho and Sammy Guevara vs. Dustin Rhodes and Adam Page was a good tag match leading to the chaos to wrap up the show. Rhodes still looks great. Page handled his role well.
– The Judas Effect still feels like a “meh” finisher to me.
– Turning the lights out breaks the world of professional wrestling if its done too often. I’m not sure why is was done for Cody Rhodes appearing. I do know that Cody’s confrontation with Chris Jericho was awesome. I was into the potential fight between those two.
– MJF continuing to slightly tease a turn on Cody is working really well. It’s going to be great when MJF finally turns.
– Ending the show with a boatload of story packed into five minutes may be a trend with AEW. I could see it getting old and tired, but right now it is a welcome change from ending the show with apathy and long replays. I’ll take buckets of excitement over apathy.
Another good episode of AEW Dynamite for week two. I’m most impressed by how they aren’t hot-shotting angles to make All Elite Wrestling stand out. They have had every reason to with WWE producing a Takeover-level NXT show last week, but AEW is just making a good wrestling TV show. The storytelling is solid and the show is entertaining.
Will Pruett writes about wrestling and popular culture at Prowrestling.net. Of interest to him are diversity in wrestling and wrestling as a theatrical art form. To see his video content subscribe to his YouTube channel. To contact, check him out on Twitter @itswilltime, leave a comment, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.