Thunder Rosa defeated Britt Baker in an unsanctioned Light’s Out Match on Wednesday. It was the first women’s match to headline AEW Dynamite. It was brutal, bloody, and bold. Chairs, tables, ladders, and lots of thumbtacks were used throughout this crescendo of violence to settle the score of a bitter feud.Continue reading “Thunder Rosa and Britt Baker Deliver A Bloody Classic”
The hype going into Revolution on Sunday was that a hall of fame-worthy, game-changing wrestler was signing with AEW. Christian ended up being the mystery signee and will use the name Christian Cage going forward. The 47-year-old star signed with the promotion one month after a well-received surprise appearance in the Royal Rumble. Reportedly, Christian was either close to or already signed a contract with WWE.
While many feel Christian is a hall of fame-worthy talent, being a game-changer, on the other hand, doesn’t track.Continue reading “Christian is All Elite, But Not A Game Changer”
All Elite Wrestling’s first pay-per-view of the year, Revolution, started strong, then fizzled for a bit and picked back up with a fantastic main event. Kenny Omega defended the AEW World Championship against former champion Jon Moxley in an Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match. Both wrestlers worked extremely hard and told an edge of your seat story, making great use of the environment. Sadly, like a great movie with a bad ending, the only thing people will remember about the match is the dud of a finish.Continue reading “Revolution Ends With A Dud”
Shaq was in full effect last night on AEW Dynamite as the Hall of Fame center teamed with newcomer Jade Cargill and defeated Red Velvet and Cody Rhodes in a mixed tag team match. It was wild. It was crazy. It was much better than expected.Continue reading “Shaq Delivers Big On Dynamite”
Did you know that Shaq is wrestling tonight? Yes, that’s right. NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal is wrestling in a mixed tag team match on AEW Dynamite. Shaq will team with former college basketball standout Jade Cargill, making her in-ring debut against Cody Rhodes and the relatively unknown Red Velvet.Continue reading “Shaq is Wrestling Tonight on TNT”
On Sunday, WWE announced the release of The Ascension (Viktor & Konnor), Luke Harper, and Sin Cara from the roster in a move that was somewhat surprising considering the current landscape of the industry. WWE has been scooping up any wrestler with name value, re-signing wrestlers to lucrative five-year extensions, and not granting releases to avoid supplying talent to the competition, All Elite Wrestling (AEW).
So, what changed? Is WWE merely cutting costs, or is there more than meets the eye?
Luke Harper publically asked for his release from WWE in April while Sin Cara expressed his desire to leave a few weeks ago. The Ascension was out of sight, out of mind on television. Unfortunately, they never showed the promise of their NXT run on the main roster due to the way they were booked from the jump.
Sin Cara is a character that never got over whether it was Lucha libre superstar Mistico, who the role was designed for or Jorge Arias, who took over the part when Mistico left the company in 2014. Luke Harper is the big missed opportunity of the four wrestlers that were released. Reportedly, Vince McMahon was never high on him, despite his talent. All four will be looking for work, however, where will they land?
When it comes to The Ascension, the word on the street is that Viktor is a tremendous worker but never got the chance to show it. Konnor is a big guy that is serviceable in the ring. Do they stay together as a team, or do they go their separate ways? While their tag-team act is their most viable commodity, NXT was a long time ago. Perhaps, Viktor decides to bet on himself and work the independent scene to build his name back up.
Jorge Arias will have to reinvent himself fundamentally. He’ll probably find work in Mexico; however, being able to charge a high price for his services in the states will be a challenging venture. Arias never had a viable name beforehand, and WWE owns the Sin Cara character.
Even if Arias comes up with a new gimmick, promoters will feel the need to market him as “formerly Sin Cara.” Honestly, fans might not even care for a wrestler who was so low on the totem pole. If Arias starts churning out five-star classics and becomes the belle of the indy ball, then he won’t need “Former WWE Superstar” etched under his name on an event poster.
Presumably, Luke Harper has the most to gain from his release. The soon to be rechristened Brodie Lee had an excellent reputation for putting on awesome matches before he signed with WWE and continued to do so as a member of the Wyatt Family.
AEW is his most anticipated landing spot because he’s a talented big man, and AEW could use more physical stature on their roster. New Japan Pro Wrestling wouldn’t surprise me either as Harper/Lee has a Bruiser Body look to him that could pay dividends.
The question remains, though, why did WWE cut these wrestlers after having a firm no release policy? This is pure speculation, however, maybe Vince McMahon no longer sees AEW as a threat. Of the ten weeks AEW Dynamite and NXT have gone head to head on Wednesdays, the ratings show AEW won eight of those meetings.
However, NXT won two of the last three weeks with only losing the previous week’s rating by only 1,400 viewers. While specific demographics have recently come into play when comparing ratings, NXT’s hold on people over 50 years old is strong while they are almost neck and neck with the more coveted demos that AEW previously dominated.
It is feasible that Vince McMahon believes he’s either winning the war against AEW, or he’ll win soon enough. If that’s the case, it’s easy to see why WWE has changed its release policy. Several wrestlers are still publically campaigning for their release, and with more cuts rumored to occur, those public requests could be granted.
It stinks getting fired at any time of the year, especially around the holidays. Even though two of the four wanted out, high paying indy gigs are not guaranteed. Besides, those only last so long before the wrestler is no longer a novelty and promoters begin to pay less. Best of luck to the four gentlemen as this new era of wrestling continues to be full of surprises.
This past Wednesday on AEW Dynamite, Pentagon and Fenix defeated Marko Stunt and Jungle Boy in a match that has become as divisive as The Last Jedi. Some fans loved the match, and others hate it with a burning passion. However, those who dislike it are not upset because it was a bad match. Their anger stems from the participation of a 98-pound wrestler who stands at 5 foot 2 inches named Marko Stunt.
Marko Stunt didn’t do anything wrong or say anything offensive. His diminutive stature was such a turn off that many couldn’t suspend any modicum of disbelief in a professional wrestling match. Famed manager Jim Cornette echoed the sentiments of disapproval when he tweeted the following.
“The most embarrassingly rotten stinky tag match in history of wrestling just took place on #AEWDynamite & the Ding Dongs are now in 2nd place for worst alltime tag team”
In tag team wrestling, there are two wrestlers to a team and four wrestlers in total. Cornette has called foul on an entire team and match due to the presence of one fun-sized participant. The gist of the vitriol surrounds the notion that it was embarrassing to watch grown men act as if Marko could hurt them or kick out of their big moves.
Marko has been wrestling for four years. However, Wednesday night’s match on TNT was by far the most massive audience he’s performed in front of. 1,014,000 million people witnessed the pint-size grappler perform, and many deemed him too unbelievable for an unbelievable sport.
If you watch the match and look at it from solely a performance perspective, it was a great match, and Marko did his job well. Especially considering he was booked in the match on two hours’ notice as an injury replacement for Luchasaurus. However, when I watched the match with the narrative stakes involved, I was nervous because there were a few big moves where I wasn’t sure if Marko should have kicked out.
Marko worked the match as a hit and run underdog, who was pinned by Pentagon, which is how he should have been booked. Unfortunately, Marko’s stature will make it extremely difficult to overcome any carefully crafted booking. However, it’s not impossible.
Wrestling has always had smaller people inside the ropes. Some felt Bret Hart and Shawn Micheals were too small to be credible world champions when they first won their respective titles. People said Sean Waltman was too small to be taken seriously when he made his WWE debut in 1993 as the 1-2-3 Kid.
“How the hell is this guy gonna beat up anybody,” was my reaction when I saw Rey Mysterio walk down the aisle for the very first time. I ate my words once the bell rang as this amazing athlete proved that his talent was undeniable.
If you don’t like Marko Stunt as a performer, then you don’t like Marko Stunt as a performer. However, while not every super small person who is a wrestler can convey the intangibles to produce the ultimate underdog character that people love to cheer. Marko Stunt does that for those who like him.
In some ways, Marko being the anthesis of what a wrestler is supposed to look like is the evolution of professional wrestling. The industry is in the maiden voyage of a new era. New and up-and-coming talent is being featured. We’ve already seen the biggest of the big get starring roles right out of the gate simply because of their monstrous size, only to fail spectacularly.
Why not see what the smallest of the small has to offer?
This Saturday night, Chris Jericho and “Hangman” Adam Page will headline AEW’s All Out pay-per-view to crown the promotion’s first World Heavyweight Champion. This is not only a crucial outing for Jericho and AEW; it is the biggest match of Page’s career. There are many storytelling avenues to travel. However, the big questions remains, who should be the first AEW Champion ?
AEW is a new wrestling company who will introduce the world to a new cast of wrestling characters. Some we already know, like Chris Jericho. Others most will meet for the first time, such as Adam Page. AEW is going with a sports-centric presentation for their product. This means the world champion will be their most essential character. Should AEW’s first champion be a rising star or an established superstar?
Adam Page was pegged for success from the moment he made his professional debut in 2011 for Ring of Honor. Page entered New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2016 as a member of the Bullet Club. It was during his time with the popular stable where Page began to find his footing as a top-level performer while adopting the “Hangman” ring-name.
“Hangman” Page is a favorite among diehard fans. However, there will be more casual viewers watching AEW’s television show, debuting October 2nd on TNT. Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks will be introduced to a mainstream audience and will have to get over based on their character and talent. If Adam Page is the champion, his role will have instant credibility to the uninitiated.
From Monday Night Jericho all the way to the man with the infamous clipboard, Chris Jericho has been a wrestling superstar on television for twenty-three years. He’s reinvented himself repeatedly over the course his career and is one of the best to ever do it. At forty-eight years old, the work Jericho’s produced with his current Clock Work Orange inspired persona has been some of the best of his career.
Jericho being the inaugural AEW Champion could be a double-edged sword. If AEW comes off as a major league wrestling product, Jericho is the exalted king of the new hot promotion. However, if AEW comes off as bush league, Jericho would become the big fish in a small pond.
Some would say Jericho vs. Page represents the past colliding with the present to dictate the future. To many, AEW will hopefully be the future of wrestling, and perhaps Page will be its representative. Jericho has been there and done that. However, he’s not a veteran who’s past his prime. Jericho’s career renaissance since leaving WWE has made him more relevant than ever.
While the title could bring credibility to Adam Page, Chris Jericho will bring credibility to the title. Jericho became the first undisputed world champion in 2001, and it’s only fitting he becomes the first AEW World Champion in 2019. All signs point to AEW coming out of the gate with a strong wrestling product. TV shows need popular characters to thrive, and there are none bigger on the roster than Jericho.
The best scenario is to build up Hangman Page for a few months on television following a Jericho title win on pay-per-view. Then, pick a date, hype of the episode, and have Page go over on Jericho for the belt. TNT is going to get more viewers than any AEW pay-per-view will garner. The key to a successful Hangman title reign is to have the largest audience possible withness his journey and capture the gold.
As for August 31st, Chris Jericho is the man who should be champion.
WWE confirmed weeks of speculation this morning as NXT will air weekly on Wednesday night’s, live on USA Network at 8:00 pm EST beginning September 18. NXT will still emanate from Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida. However, it will no longer serve as fist run programming for the WWE Network. This move was made in an attempt to get a two-week head start on All Elite Wrestling’s (AEW) show on TNT, which will air live directly against NXT beginning October 2.
Wrestling insiders wondered not if but when Vince McMahon would respond to the emerging threat of AEW on television, and now we have our answer. Using NXT to cut off AEW at the pass and dilute their audience is a multifaceted, multimillion endeavor. Since 2010, NXT has been a developmental brand in main roster clothing. NXT can no longer be a prioritized training ground with the move from streaming to cable television. The fire of AEW can’t be fought with programming that isn’t on equal footing. To casual fans, developmental means minor league.
NXT will air two hours, live, every Wednesday, as opposed to filming multiple episodes once a month for a staggered release. NXT is the number one watched show on the WWE Network. Removing the show from its first run lineup could have a negative effect on the already low number of network subscribers. Every streaming service needs at least one linchpin program to succeed. Netflix has Stranger Things. Hulu has The Handmaid’s Tale. WWE Network now has…?
What is most interesting about this move is the landscape shift NXT will undertake. Vince McMahon is the primary shot caller for Raw and SmackDown while Triple H was the creative force behind the success of NXT. That was only the case because McMahon considers cable television more of a priority than streaming content. With this shift, there is no way Vince McMahon doesn’t take the creative reigns of the black and yellow brand.
Historically, McMahon doesn’t push wrestlers the physical stature of NXT Champion Adam Cole and the Undisputed Era. Popular character acts such as the talented and flamboyant Velveteen Dream go from being the belle of the ball to a second rate comedy act. The most important thing of all, NXT favors professional wrestling over sports entertainment. Storylines are engaging and straightforward. Talent means something. Wins and losses actually matter. That is the opposite of how Vince McMahon runs a television product. The NXT we used to know is gone.
Vince McMahon making presumed changes to NXT is even more of a head-scratcher considering who they are competing with. AEW is going to be a sports-orientated program where wins and losses matter. It’s precisely what diehard wrestling fans have been vigorously clamoring for ever since WWE has become a stale, homogenized version of the genre. The funny things is, NXT was WWE’s professional wrestling show tucked safely away from the prying eyes of a sports entertainment fanatic.
Having NXT’s wrestling centric product going up against AEW’s wrestling centric presentation would be the ultimate treat for wrestling enthusiasts. AEW is believed to have a better in-ring product, but NXT in its current form would have put that theory to the test. Instead of fighting fire with fire, Vince McMahon, presumably, is going to eliminate the hard-hitting wrestling aspect that makes NXT special, turn it into the same monotonous programming that has turned the audience away, and use that platform to combat the alternative program.
Change is coming to NXT in a significant way. Longer shows mean more wrestlers will be needed. Plus, with the brand jumping wild card rule in effect, big-name stars will undoubtedly appear on the show. Imagine The Miz vs. Adam Cole in a TakeOver main event for the NXT Championship? Yep, that is where things could very well be headed. Will there be an NXT draft where WWE Superstars pledge their allegiance to the new brand on the block?
If I could make one booking decision, I would get rid of 205 Live and move the cruiserweight division to NXT. It could be repackaged and hyped as something that will now only be seen on that show. It will be cool to see talents such as Matt Riddle, Johnny Gargano, and KUSHIDA performing on a bigger stage. Ultimately, NXT winning the upcoming Wednesday Night War wouldn’t be a surprise. After all, NXT is now a main roster brand of WWE.
It’s official folks, All Elite Wrestling’s (AEW) live television show will air weekly beginning on Wednesday, October 2nd, from 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm on TNT. The show will emanate from the Capital One Center in Washington DC, the site of the Sting vs. Hulk Hogan (formerly named the MCI Center) match from Starrcade 1997. AEW looks to be the first major promotion with the ability to absorb a significant piece of the pro wrestling market share from WWE since WCW during the Monday Night Wars in the mid to late ’90s.
AEW already announced a tournament to crown their inaugural tag team champions will be the focal point of their show during its initial launch. Their pay-per-view on August 31st, All Out will run some angles promoting to their TNT debut.
Also, with rumors of WWE moving NXT to Fox Sports 1 on the same day and time as AEW’s Wednesday time slot, this could be the genesis of a new wrestling war. The show will be preempted on Christmas Day, which is usually when TNT airs A Christmas Story in a loop for 24 hours.
The term “Dynamite” has been trademarked by AEW for several months with all signs pointing to it being the name of the show. Ticket information is expected to be announced on July 29th for the history-making show. TNT, the former home of WCW Monday Nitro, is available in an estimated 89 million homes.
AEW will mark the first time a major pro wrestling show will air consistently on Wednesdays. Raw and Nitro cemented the genre’s place on Mondays. SmackDown has spent long periods of its twenty-year history on Thursday, Friday, and currently on Tuesday with a return to Friday nights in October with the move to Fox.
ECW on TNN aired on Fridays during its run, WCW placed Thunder on Thursdays, and TNA/Impact also made Thursday night their home. Wednesday has been mostly untouched by televised wrestling content on cable and TNT is an excellent platform for AEW to launch.
Superstar talent will be vital for AEW’s long-term success. Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley (formerly Dean Ambrose) are the two most recognizable names on the roster. Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, Cody Rhodes, Hangman Page, SCU, Pentagon, and Fenix are the most prominent stars with the diehard audience.
MJF is a name on the rise and a high level heel in the making. Jungle Boy has the potential to be a star, and AEW is going all-in with their women’s division. CM Punk is appearing at the Starrcast convention adjacent to the AEW pay-per-view. Rumors are running rampant that Punk is signing with the promotion, which would be a game-changer.
Ever since WCW went out of business in 2001, fans have been wondering if a wrestling centric alternative can thrive on a mainstream level. It is clear Vince McMahon is out of touch with what the audience wants. There has never been a better time for a new promotion to enter the space, and AEW’s potential is white-hot.