There was no sophomore slump for AEW: Dynamite.
All Elite Wrestling kept its momentum going with its second episode after the October 2 premiere drew 1.4 million viewers.
AEW played it smart by not unveiling the full potential of its roster in week one. The second episode introduced new characters to a national audience all while pushing existing stories forward.
After the almost universally-positive response to the premiere, AEW: Dynamite showed this week that it still has plenty of explosiveness ahead. Let’s go through the hits and misses from AEW’s second week on TNT.
HIT – Upset Party
Private Party kicked off All Elite Wrestling: Dynamite with a huge upset win over the Young Bucks.
The first match in the AEW Tag Team Championship tournament kicked off the show with a bang. And no matter how obvious it is that AEW would want to have as many surprises as possible coming out of the gate, I did not see Private Party coming away with the win in this one.
The young team of Marq Quen and Isaiah Kassidy went toe-to-toe with the Bucks and showed themselves to be legit players in the AEW tag team division. Quen in particular had a star-making performance. A spot where he pulled off three tope con hilos in succession had me out of my seat.
And after months of my bemoaning Young Bucks matches as spotfests, Matt and Nick Jackson proved that they deserve the moniker of “best tag team in the world.” They got their spots in but not at the expense of the story, which was a welcome surprise on the second AEW: Dynamite. And a clean win at that.
Also the match gets bonus points for Private Party dodging a Young Bucks superkick. Write that down. It may never happen again.
HIT – Jericho’s Inner Circle
AEW: Dynamite‘s debut ended with AEW Champion Chris Jericho aligning with Jake Hager, Sammy Guevara, and Santana and Ortiz.
This week, the group got a name: The Inner Circle.
Jericho’s promo naming the group was fairly pedestrian. I mean, he flat-out came out and said, “Let me announce our roster and our name.”
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) October 10, 2019
But it had its highlights, as Jericho bashed WWE creative in reference to Hager. He shut down a “We the people” chant and declared the chant “dead and buried.”
The segment overall worked wonderfully. It raised the stakes for Jericho and his upcoming title match with Cody at Full Gear and made instant stars of four (well, at least three) guys the general public may not have been familiar with before.
MISS — Number One Contender Match
Darby Allin defeated Jimmy Havoc on AEW: Dynamite to earn a shot at Jericho’s championship on next week’s episode.
It was a chance to make stars of both guys, but its placement on the show almost doomed it in terms of perception. It followed the killer tag team opener and the big Jericho segment. Outside of a Meltzer-pleasing classic, landing a hit in this slot wasn’t in the cards.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) October 10, 2019
I appreciate AEW’s drive to keep up the appearance of a competitive world title scene. But it’s going to be difficult to condition a modern wrestling audience to think that an announced main event PPV match (Jericho vs. Cody in this case) might not happen.
Both Havoc and Allin gave it their all, and they put on a pretty good match. Just not one that convinces me that either one has a shot against Jericho on next week’s AEW: Dynamite. Allin had a breakout performance at AEW Fyter Fest this past summer, but it’s not the kind of breakout that screams “world championship contender.”
Granted, you’ve got to start somewhere. And maybe next week, Allin will turn in a performance that makes him a bona fifde superstar. Guevara did that last week with Cody.
If anything, this might shine a light on AEW needing a secondary singles title.
NEAR MISS — Baker And Priestley Overshadow The Champion
On one hand, it was great to see the rivalry between Bea Priestley and Dr. Britt Baker intensify. Their feud began at AEW All Out and carried over to a women’s tag team match on AEW: Dynamite.
It was a good match, and it showcased a nice mix of the American style of women’s wrestling and the Japanese joshi style. What it wasn’t was a showcase for Riho, the AEW Women’s Champion.
I’m all for building more feuds in AEW’s budding women’s division, but it could’ve been done in a separate segment. Instead, Baker and Priestley clearly took precedence over Riho and Emi Sakura. Indeed, Sakura’s inclusion was almost an afterthought.
The match didn’t do anything to make her feel special, and as such there’s no real desire to see her again.
That’s the opposite of the impression you want for a young promotion with new talent. Definitely not a miss, but it was definitely a missed opportunity on AEW: Dynamite.
HIT — Pac, Moxley, And Omega Are Money
It would have been very easy for Shawn Spears to become an afterthought in his match with Jon Moxley at AEW: Dynamite. But it was he and manager Tully Blanchard who threw Moxley into the fray with Pac.
Getting Kenny Omega involved to maintain his feuds with both Moxley and Pac could make for one of the best three-way storylines wrestling has seen in years.
Omega getting the short end of the confrontation pours more fuel on the fire for those who are put off by his AEW losing streak. But Omega is one of the company’s executive vice presidents. He’s given signs in AEW’s shows during the summer that he might be simmering to a boiling point.
— All Elite Wrestling on TNT (@AEWonTNT) October 10, 2019
As it stands now, the planned match between Moxley and Omega at Full Gear may well become a triple threat. Pac and Moxley are moving forward with their own personal renaissance, leaving Omega as the odd man out.
Something big is going to come of all this.
HIT — Much-Improved Main Event Booking
On paper, the main event of Dustin Rhodes and Adam Page vs. Jericho and Guevara seems like standard WCW Nitro booking. Spin the end of the last week into the end of this week.
But AEW: Dynamite managed to use that old trope to keep the biggest storylines intact and moving forward.
First of all, as though AEW Double Or Nothing left any doubt, Dustin’s still got it. He might actually be better than he’s ever been. Guevara is becoming a bigger star by sheer osmosis by teaming with Jericho. Page is still left somewhat directionless; the dust from his title match at All Out has settled, and now it’s time for something else.
But the end of the match, with Jericho facing off with Cody and Allin attacking the champ from behind to set up next week, brought all of the important beats full circle. And the latest in an endless series of teases for the inevitable MJF turn on Cody was beautiful.
Ultimately, the show had a satisfying finish that left us eager to see what’s next.
It didn’t have the spontaneity of the AEW: Dynamite premiere. And the missed opportunity with the women’s match was far more glaring than the previous week’s AEW women’s title bout.
Plus, there wasn’t nearly enough MJF for my tastes.
There are still some bugs to work out. As mentioned, both Omega and Page were the odd men out in their respective segments.
On the positive end, though, there seemed to be more beginnings in terms of story direction this week than with the debut episode. That points to an exciting path forward for AEW: Dynamite.
Will All Elite Wrestling pull off a three-peat next week?
AEW: Dyamite airs Wednesday nights at 8 PM ET on TNT.
All images courtesy of All Elite Wrestling.
AEW: Dynamite - October 9, 2019
- Private Party just became stars
- The Inner Circle seems super dangerous
- Moxley and Pac are the most exciting guys in wrestling
- Storytelling keeps its eye on the PPV ball
- Sorry - Darby Allin's not a credible challenger. Yet.
- Missed opportunity with the women's match