*mandatory Spoilers Ahead Alert*
This is the first installment of “The Way I Saw It” an opinion based reaction to events I watch instead of a cold match-by-match recap. Since this a new thing for me I’m very open to knowing what you think. Let’s enjoy some wrestling together.
When I was younger the opening shots of a PPV were very important. Usually there was a killer video package hyping the show, followed by the reveal shot of the stage usually with just a little too much pyro. This always made the show feel like it was different, bigger, better, than the weekly shows. Sadly this big event feel only happens once or twice a year now.
Last night I felt that big show feel again. There was a hype video, there was an amped up crowd, there was the pyro, and there was a different stage. A touch of nostalgia that would permeate the rest of the card.
That’s when it hit me, there was more going on here than just a collection of matches. There was a story being told with the entire show. An introduction to what AEW feels is a new era of pro wrestling. Their era.
The first match being a 6-man tag team match was the best way to introduce a major focus for the company. Tag team wrestling. They introduced the 10 count after a tag is made instead of 5 so that teams don’t have to bend the rules to do their amazing double or triple team moves. Right off the hop they showed how exciting a multi wrestler match could be and that was the point. There would be 4 multi-wrestler tag matches on the card and they were all different and exciting to watch in their own ways. This will be a major focus for AEW going forward and I’m all for that. Very entertaining.
The womans division had two matches. Both showcased two very different aspects of what this division will be. The first was a triple threat that turned into a fatal four way match with the introduction of the first surprise of the night Awesome Kong! The fatal four way standout for me was Kylie Rae, but wasn’t as impressive as the very exciting 6-woman tag match. Jim Ross sold me on the legend of Aja Kong, but she was the anchor on a very different tag match. The fun side of the AEW Womans Division was showcased here. Impressive spots with some comedy and a whole lot of theatrics made this match stand out. A solid showing from the women in both matches.
AEW creating a new era of pro wrestling needed the very important “passing of the torch” moment. The unveiling of the AEW Championship belt was that moment. The Hitman Bret Hart was the right choice to be the legend trusted to unveil the biggest prize in AEW. I’ve always loved the Hitman, so I thought this was a great moment.
I know I said I wouldn’t do match-by-match recap, but I have to for the two main singles matches. They were both so well crafted and important to the overall story of the card in their own ways, also its my post and I’ll do what I want.
The nostalgic story of Cody v Dustin was that old school brawl their father made famous. The in match storytelling was punctuated by the call from Jim Ross, and the alarming amount of blood loss from Dustin Rhodes. These two brothers best the heck out of each other. At the end Cody was covered in his brothers blood as was most of the ring. The emotions ran high after the match when Cody asked Dustin to be his tag team partner on the next card. A callback to when their father Dusty asked Dustin to be his partner decades earlier. Not a dry eye in the room. This was the emotional classic wrestling match the card needed and is what wrestling is all about. Emotions.
The main event brought a very important aspect of the story of AEW. Prestige. Chris Jericho v Kenny Omega had that big match feel written all over it. A living legend facing the current best for an opportunity to face the future for the most important prize in AEW. They swerved the audience with the hype videos online by saying Jericho was going to wrestle a more MMA/brawler style like he had in their first match in Japan. Instead we got more of an old school Jericho using his classic moveset. Kenny Omega brought his A game as well trying to put down the elder Jericho. The story here was a broken nose worked and exploited by the crafty ring veteran. A new knockout style finisher for Jericho works well for the sudden shock nature of the finishes AEW will be known for. Jericho pulls of the surprise finish and cuts one hell of a heel promo to cement his spot as the man to beat.
Then came the surprise moment of the whole night. The run in of secret acquisition Jon Moxley (formerly Dean Ambrose) who hit the ring and attacked Jericho who had the best reaction to him entering the ring “What the hell are you doing here?”. He then attacked Kenny Omega to set up their future feud. Jim Ross was once again at his classic best as he yelled over the whole run in making the whole moment complete. What a debut!
I really enjoyed how well the identity of this new company was presented as a show instead of being just a collection of spot heavy matches. AEW has begun their era and all eyes will now be focused on the next event and eventual tv show.
The way I saw it made me want a whole lot more. How about you?