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    Thursday, December 5, 2019

    31 Days of Wrestling (12/5/19): Starting With a Bang (The Premiere of AEW Dynamite)

    Welcome to the 31 Days of Wrestling, ladies and gentlemen. Once again, we're at that point where we take a look back at the past 11 months of pro wrestling (and as much as possible, the last month as well) and cherry-pick one match for each day of December from a list of bouts that defined the year in our beloved sport. Most matches will be good, while some may not be; what matters is that they helped build the perception and reputation of the kind of wrestling 2019 produced for us.

    Does anyone remember the build to the AEW Dynamite premiere? The anticipation of its first episode? The fear that it might not be as good as we want it to be? 

    Even after a couple of successful pay-per-views that built to the debut of AEW Dynamite, fans were nervous about how the show would do. After all, a weekly wrestling show is something The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, and a ton of the superstars AEW signed weren’t used to, though the presence of Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, Cody, and Dustin Rhodes helped a lot, given how long they were in the WWE.

    So, in the end, how did they do? Well, we’ve already had several episodes and reached their first Pay-Per-View of the TV era in Full Gear, so I’d say that AEW has done pretty well for itself.

    While not the best two hours of TV ever, the first episode did set the foundation for a consistent wrestling show that has constantly made fans happy, at least for the most part. In fact, everything we’ve seen in the AEW Dynamite pilot has been followed up on in every proceeding installment since. 

    SCU and The Lucha Brothers started their feud here and are still going at it, with Christopher Daniels taking on Pentagon Jr. in this past week’s episode of Dynamite. PAC and Hangman Page ended their rivalry not too long ago but their feud was first shown here, at least to most people, where The Bastard had to use a lowblow to beat Mr. Cowboy Shit.

    Jon Moxley hit Kenny Omega with a Paradigm Shift through a glass table, with the remains of that weapon prominently used during their intense battle at Full Gear. The episode ended with the debut of Jericho’s new stable The Inner Circle, consisting of Sammy Guevara, Santana, Ortiz, and Jake Hager, who continue to have a huge presence in AEW as the company’s top heels.

    The best part? All of the wrestlers in these storylines have one simple goal: to win, be the best, and make money. No sex addicts here or kings who carry little bags of dog poop. Sure, the previous pay-per-views introduced us to dinosaurs, huggers, librarians, and dark cultists but they still want to win championships and be the best at their sport.

    We also had some great wrestling in this episode, which were all topped in future episodes. Cody vs. Sammy Guevara was a fun match and proved that the future Spanish God can hang with some of the company's best wrestlers. The aforementioned PAC vs. Hangman Page was a bit slow at first but got going and had everyone's attention by the end. It also helps that their matches after this were a lot better.

    Riho became the inaugural AEW Women's World Champion in a fun match against Nyla Rose that had the crowd on the edge of their seats, showing that a simple David vs Goliath-style bout can do wonders with the right performers.

    Is AEW perfect? No, there are still some kinks that need to be worked out, like how the company showcases its female wrestlers. While it isn't as bad as WWE circa 2010, the women tend to get only one match per episode, along with a segment starring Brandi Rhodes and Awesome Kong. That’s a real shame because the only women’s match in the first episode of Dynamite—Riho vs. Nyla Rose for the AEW Women’s World Championship—was the most over that night, with the crowd absolutely erupting when Riho won. Granted, Riho has commitments in Japan and can't appear every week but that doesn't mean you can't hype her, or the other women, with a video package or pre-taped promo that tells us about her character.

    We fans know you can do this, AEW. Full Gear had a great video package about the Riho/Emi Sakura match, while last week's AEW Dark spotlighted Shanna well with a video and also gave her opponent, Big Swole, some time to shine with a solid promo. They've proven that they can consistently do this for the men in Dynamite so the women deserve a fair shake.

    Despite its faults, AEW has managed to find its way into the hearts of many a wrestling fan. To this day, there has yet to be a cheap count-out or disqualification finish that's left a bad taste in our mouths. Most of the stories focus on one important thing: getting a win and moving ahead, which is something AEW has done really well. 

    While still pretty flawed, AEW is the perfect alternative to WWE right now. Sure, there are the occasional Blades, Butchers, and Bunnies wandering around, but the company has earned our trust with good wrestling and simple storytelling. They have also yet to burn us with false match advertisements, screwy finishes, and non-sensical decisions, like ending a Hell in a Cell Match with a DQ. 

    Wrestling and Wednesdays (technically, Thursdays for us Filipinos) have become better with AEW in it.

    31 Days of Wrestling is Smark Henry's way of celebrating the matches that helped define wrestling in 2019.

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    Item Reviewed: 31 Days of Wrestling (12/5/19): Starting With a Bang (The Premiere of AEW Dynamite) Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Nico Parungo
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