By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
Dot Net contributor Chris Vetter attended the AEW Dynamite event on Wednesday in Chicago, Illinois at NOW Arena and sent the following notes.
I planned to attend the All In events on Saturday and Sunday; however, my family had to break down and tell me they were planning a surprise 50th birthday party for me this upcoming weekend, as I turn the big 5-Oh on Tuesday Sept. 5. (If they hadn’t told me, I was definitely missing my own party!) So, I changed gears and planned to attend the Dynamite/Rampage on Wednesday instead.
First and foremost, the attendance had to be about 2,500 in a building that probably holds 10,000. As I looked at tickets online over the past two weeks, I opted to just wait and buy them at the door, as there was no point in paying fees that add 50 percent to your ticket cost.
The location of the NOW Arena is definitely a problem. I love it, as it is in the northwest corner, outside the main Chicago loop. I got there without hitting the usual Chicago rush-hour traffic. But for Chicago residents, particularly those who don’t have a vehicle, this building is really a far way out in the suburbs. This isn’t meant to bash AEW, because obviously I’m a fan, but last summer, they did a Milwaukee stop for Dynamite/Rampage, ahead of the “Forbidden Door” PPV in Chicago. If All In is back in Chicago in 2024, maybe Tony Khan returns to Milwaukee, or perhaps Des Moines, for Dynamite.
The one and only dark match started at 6:30 promptly.
1. Stu Grayson defeated Robert Anthony at 6:40. The Righteous appeared on the stage with Stu but didn’t join him at ringside. Anthony, who has wrestled as the masked Egotistico Fantastico and as the masked Cyon in NWA, is a 20-year pro. I don’t think he was introduced as a Chicago resident, but it sure seemed like all 2,500 in attendance knew it, as they were loudly in support of him.
* Back to a note about this building. There wasn’t a screen overhead or anywhere else in the building. So, for example, when Chris Jericho had his back to me and was staring at Sammy Guevara, I couldn’t look at a screen anywhere in the building to see “what the crowd at home was seeing.” The only screen was on the main stage, but it was only used to show us backstage segments. I bring this up because I truly don’t know when they went to commercial breaks and for how long. None of the matches felt like they ‘slowed down’ because we were in a commercial break, except during the main event when Penta El Zero Miedo spent a lot of time on the floor, jawing at fans in the front row.
* During the Hangman Page match that was taped for Rampage, a small “CM Punk!” chant started; it was the only time I heard one all night. Page definitely heard it and you could see the reaction on his face of being annoyed by it; up to you to decide if he was selling it or legitimately angry.
* The unseen highlight of the night occurred during the Rampage taping. During a short break before the next match and it was dark, somehow the crowd started singing “He’s got the whole world in his hands,” and everyone pulled out their lighters or cell phones. It was a pretty cool, spontaneous moment, and I applaud whoever got it started. This was LOUD. Justin Roberts in the ring just turned and watched the crowd, before finally pointing skyward and said, “Thank you, Bray.” So glad I got to be there for this.