Steve Cook celebrates one year of a legit #2 in American TV wrestling with his Top 5 AEW Dynamite moments from their first year!
Whether you love or hate All Elite Wrestling, it can’t be denied that the company has made the wrestling business more interesting. It’s given us all sorts of new things to talk about and kept us from getting bored. Maybe it’s just me, but all these years where WWE was the undisputed #1 promotion with other federations nowhere near them in relevance were pretty damn boring.
Sure, you could write about Impact or ROH, but who was going to care? Japan could draw some Internet eyeballs, but it was still quite the minority compared to WWE. I don’t mean to totally bury WWE, as they’ve produced plenty of outstanding content through the years. But sometimes you gotta switch it up, right? You can’t have McDonald’s everyday, you have to mix in some Popeye’s every once in awhile to keep things fresh.
AEW Dynamite is having their anniversary show this week. It’s been a little over a year, but we all know anniversaries can be held whenever. Let’s celebrate by looking at my five favorite AEW Dynamite moments of the first year.
5. Eddie Kingston Debuts
I’ve been an Eddie Kingston fan for a long time. In my opinion, he was the best promo on the indies for most of the twenty-first century. He had a couple of things keeping him from getting to the next level. Some of it was that nasty physique bias that promoters (and a lot of fans) tend to have that makes it take much longer for certain people to make it big. Some of it involved personal demons.
Eddie seems to have kicked all of these things aside in recent years. He’s appeared on Ring of Honor, Impact Wrestling & NWA Powerrr, but AEW Dynamite on July 22 marked his biggest TV shot to date, as he answered TNT Champion American Nightmare Cody’s open challenge. He got to speak his mind on the microphone and have his match, and you knew that AEW was going to bring him on board. Unless WWE snuck in there and signed him first, which they tried to do! King went with AEW, and now he’s got his own crew to go after world champions with. It’s amazing how life can change within weeks.
4. Jake “The Snake” Roberts Emerges
Those of you who have followed my journey as a wrestling fan know that Jake “The Snake” Roberts was my very first favorite wrestler. He had a knack for being involved in interesting stories back in the day, had a snake & the DDT. What wasn’t to love? Well, a lot. It’s somewhat amazing that Jake is still with us after years of drug abuse. Fortunately, one of Jake’s best friends is Diamond Dallas Page, who excels at helping folks who are addicted to drugs kick the habit. Roberts got clean and has done his best to stay that way for the past several years.
Even if Jake returned as a bad guy intent on taking Cody’s share of AEW, and now has Lance Archer focused on taking the AEW Championship, you still have to root for the guy. I do, anyway. It’s great to see Jake Roberts on my television in any capacity in 2020, and his return on the March 4 edition of Dynamite, one of the last before the pandemic set in, was a sight to see.
3. Darby Allin Attacks Chris Jericho on a Skateboard
You have to go to 4:27 of the above video to see the moment that made Darby Allin a star with AEW fans. Episode 2 of Dynamite saw Allin win a match against Jimmy Havoc to earn a shot at AEW Champion Chris Jericho on the next week’s episode. It was fair to wonder what Allin or Havoc had done to earn a title shot at that point. Allin had wrestled Cody to a time limit draw at Fyter Fest, so he did have that going for him, along with a unique look & persona.
Things were breaking down at the end of the show, as is wont to happen during wrestling television shows. Jericho & his friends were busy fighting off the Elite, but Allin needed to make his impact felt to set up the next week’s match. What better way than to ride down the ramp on a skateboard and jump into Chris Jericho? It established Allin as somebody that would do damn near anything at his own personal expense in order to get the job done, and he would do crazier things going forward.
2. Cody brings backup to fight the Inner Circle
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania hosted the fourth episode of Dynamite. While the Inner Circle wasn’t booked for any matches that evening, they still had tickets! Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara, Santana & Ortiz used airhorns to drown out Cody’s planned announcement, which drew Cody to the barricade. Jericho was confident that Cody wouldn’t run into a 4 on 1 assault and kept insulting his upcoming challenger. Dustin Rhodes came out, followed by MJF, then Diamond Dallas Page (with a Road Warrior pop, no less).
Unfortunately the videos leave out the part where Jericho turns from an overconfident asshole into a worried asshole. They do capture Cody wrapping MJF’s scarf around his hand to smash the glass window, open the door and drag Chris out for a fight. Just classic pro wrestling drama throughout this segment, and as usual Jericho was saying things that would end up on t-shirts.
1. Parking Lot Fight
Recency bias? Maybe! But this brawl involving the Best Friends taking on Santana & Ortiz was just a tremendous piece of business the likes of which TNT Standards & Practices never would have allowed back in the day. It was a classic CZW-style brawl, topped off with an Orange Cassidy appearance & Sue driving her boys away…
and flipping Santana & Ortiz the bird. Does pro wrestling get any better than that?
You may have different favorite Dynamite memories than I. Shoot them into the comments or let me know on the Twittah!