Get the aluminum pole from out the crawl space, today we celebrate Festivus!
For those of you who may not know, the tradition of Festivus begins with the airing of grievances. This year, however, instead of gathering my family and telling them all the ways they have disappointed me over the past year, I felt compelled to get on here and share my thoughts on the first few months of AEW Dynamite.
Like most people, I've been rooting for All Elite Wrestling to succeed. No, I'm not picking a side in this "Wednesday Night War" between them and NXT, but their existence is proving to have a positive effect on the industry, and I for one would like to see that continue. Plus, as fans, we get more of what we love. Everybody wins!
That said, we're now three months into their weekly television show, and there are a lot of red flags that need addressing. At first, I think I was turning a blind eye because the promotion was new, and I wanted it to be great, but the problems have been getting harder and harder to ignore. The latest episode pushed me over the edge, so much so that I was getting angry. I felt like Leo DiCaprio yelling at the hippies in "Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood."
Changes need to be made and quickly. I'm willing to keep watching until their February PPV event "Revolution", but if everything remains status quo, it might be time for me to tap out on the show.
Here's where I think they can do better:
Commentary/Production: Jim Ross needs to stop pointing out every mistake. It makes the wrestlers and referees look bad at their jobs. Also, he has this annoying habit of heavy-handedly repeating facts. For example, after being told Riho's weight for the twentieth time it becomes a bit awkward and uncomfortable.
Tying into commentary, production as a whole needs to up their game. Weekly, there seem to be hiccups with the audio, lighting, or camerawork. Maybe it's TSN, but on a handful of occasions the picture or sound would cut out for minutes at a time. Additionally, whoever is in the back and sending out all the timing queues is struggling. I've never seen so many mistimed segues in and out of commercial breaks. Not everything needs to be meticulously planned, but these slip-ups are far too common and give the impression that the show is being called on the fly.
Focus/Stars: It's foolish to assume that people are following everything AEW related when they're not watching Dynamite. Every important story beat needs to happen on that show. MJF revealing that he was behind the arrival of the Butcher, Blade and The Bunny should have never happened on Twitter? Also, can I ask how Allie got involved with them? Did having her hair cut the previous week traumatize her that much that it completely altered her personality? Anyways, developing characters and progressing angles through alternative channels is only going to confuse viewers.
Furthermore, it's encouraging to see AEW's willingness to put over young talent, but it shouldn't be at the expense of those with name recognition. Guys like Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, Kenny Omega, Cody, The Young Bucks and PAC should be winning consistently and convincingly. This is who the casual fan is going to recognize and they need to be made to look as strong as possible. Not everyone needs to get over at once. I'd have them on Dynamite every week to advance their stories - it doesn't always have to be in a match - and hook as many viewers as possible.
Rules: Match rules need to be followed, or at the very least explained to everyone watching. Tag matches - of which there are too many - are the worst offenders because half the time I never know who the legal man is. After a tag, the partners will stay in the ring for what feels like an eternity. There have also been stand-alone issues: Why wasn't a disqualification called when Moxley attacked Omega during a tag team match? Did Chris Jericho lose by count-out when he walked out on Jungle Boy last week? Again, chaos and confusion are not characteristics of a well-run show.
Dark Stables/Character Building: It almost feels too obvious to state that AEW has too many dark, cult-like stables. Add on Darby Allin and Jimmy Havoc and we have a full-blown My Chemical Romance music video. Aside from them taking up copious amounts of TV time, my biggest issue is that we know nothing about any of these groups. Good stories have a beginning, middle and end. In other words, the audience should be able to watch Dynamite without being sidetracked by thoughts of what happened before the story started, what more happened after it ended, or how the characters got from the beginning to the end. I'd like to know how Brandi went from an integral part of Cody's act to Goth Priestess, or if Dark Order has some kind of mission statement? Surely being a creeper-filled wrestling group isn't all they do. Is it?
For me, a character is born from their purpose and defined by the tactics they use to overcome whatever stands in their way. We learn by watching, but none of that is possible without the drama (clear intention and a formidable obstacle). AEW has done this well with some and completely failed others. It's as if there isn't one cohesive vision for the show and it's being pulled in a bunch of different directions.
Some matches last way too long. Real fights are unpredictable and can end at any time.
Marquee matches are being blown on weekly TV.
I feel like I'm seeing a lot of the same moves a few times every episode.
Pentagon taunting for the first three minutes of a match is excruciatingly hard to watch.
I don't love the win-loss records. I'd rather have character and story be the focus. Without those, the matches mean nothing to me. Right now it seems like AEW is trying to appease both camps of fans and it's creating a disconnect.
Emi Sakura needs to drop the Freddie Mercury shtick. It makes absolutely no sense.
Stop turning out the lights so much! I get disappointed every time it happens and it's either Shawn Spears or Dark Order.
Dynamite has been brilliant at times, but it wouldn't be fair to give them a free pass on everything just because they aren't WWE. I have faith that they're aware of the issues and are going to adjust accordingly. Hopefully, they do so quickly.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!