Back on October 2nd, 2019, I was one of 1.5 million viewers who tuned into the TNT debut of AEW Dynamite.
We were promised a new era, a new league, a new direction, a new sports kind of feel to the wacky world of professional wrestling. Heck, we were promised a whole ton of things during the buildup. There was a ton of buzz in the wrestling bubble to this all. I mean, at first, I predicted nearly three million viewers would check out the premiere. That was a little crazy, so I later downsized to half that but still. That shows how much interest I thought there was in All Elite Wrestling. At least for week one. We knew the players, we knew the initial titles, we knew the style, we knew what to expect. Kinda. Until the show actually started airing, it was all a mystery. Hence, the buzz. The curiosity factor was enormous. Fin ally, a legitimate competitor and a true alternative was on a VERY good television channel. This felt real…so I watched.
Then I watched the following week. And the next week. And I watched weekly for the next few months. I believe the only episode I missed during the beginning six months or so was the Chris Jericho Cruise Ship show. That was the only one I missed until April or so. My timeline is a little fuzzy, so bear with me. I’d say six months is a good sample size. From about April 2020 and onwards, I have seen episodes here and there, missing some, checking out highlights on others. In terms of 100% watching the full two hours though, I was done. My full attention drifted away.
Why you ask? I came up with five reasons why I just slowly but surely stopped watching AEW Dynamite religiously on a weekly basis. Let’s start with the obvious.
NXT – It’s funny. NXT was airing on the WWE Network on Wednesday nights for years. That has been their night. All Elite Wrestling originally wanted Tuesday night for the program. The only issue is that Tuesday night belonged to the NBA. A huge investment from TNT to the sports entity and garners big numbers. No way that night was going to be available. Same with Thursdays. Sorry but no wrestling start-up is replacing the juggernaut known as the NBA, especially during the playoffs. That left Wednesday as the best option. However, once that was announced, WWE struck a deal to move NXT to the USA Network, expand to two hours and go live every week. Boom!
On the surface, it appears WWE counter programmed the new AEW Dynamite show. However, there had been reports of NXT wanting to go live and selling off to a cable network for awhile. You can check back on my old columns. I had that story in the beginning of 2019. Them getting a paycheck from USA Network was nothing out of the blue. Same with going live. NXT’s momentum was on the rise, and it had been that way for years. Still though, the timing of it all seemed fishy and still does when certain moves are made by the two companies on a weekly basis.
That is why on October 2nd, 2019, I did watch AEW Dynamite…but I watched WWE NXT on the USA Network first. NXT is my brand. I know the weekly offering is hit or miss, but the Takeover specials and overall roster are just too darn good. That is why when push comes to shove, I am watching NXT. Since the arrival of Karrior Kross, it has been CAN’T MISS TV in my mind. Things picked up in a hurry once he was signed to the roster. You could just sense the brand gaining momentum. It will be interesting to see if either show ‘blinks’ and moves nights. We have seen proof that both shows do better unopposed than when they are head to head every week. Common sense really. Viewers could watch both if they are separated…rather than now giving people a choice. One or the other. I know the excuse is that DVRs are there and different apps to watch later, but we only have so much time during the week. Time is money. A lot of folks don’t record a million shows and catch up later. They watch something and whatever else is on that night, so be it.
Big Brother – I won’t waste a ton of time here, but Big Brother on CBS is back. I apply to be a contestant for the show every year (go ahead and laugh), and it’s one of the few shows on television I watch. One of the few, as I really don’t follow much. Here’s a list of shows I have never seen: Better Call Saul, any NBC sitcom, CSI, Walking Dead, Yellowstone, Glee, Empire, Lucifer, anything on MTV, The Office, anything on ABC, Suits, Big Bang Theory, Smallville, House Of Cards, 90 Day Fiance, Shameless, Weeds, and a million more. I don’t watch them nor do I care to. Big Brother I will watch every season though, and that airs on Wednesday nights. Between that and NXT, it is already a rough few hours. Something had to get the axe, and that is AEW Dynamite. Just by pure match and time, sorry.
Opening Matches – Truth be told, I am not a fan of the entire “Young Bucks style match.” I’d call the no selling, high flying crap, but that seems insulting. I am all for that stuff once in a blue moon, but every week flipping and flying and yada, yada, yada…it loses its effect in a hurry. For me, it was about a month. I grew tired of the opening spotfests real quick. It’s not even like it goes five or ten minutes. It seems to last forever and ever and ever and ever without much of a point. Just to hit all their spots, high five each other backstage and watch the cool gifs on Twitter later on. Doesn’t advance anything, no story line involved and certainly nothing memorable that you will remember the next morning. When that takes up a good portion of your show, guess what? Your mind starts to wander and/or channel surf, which is something I don’t like doing. Pretty easy to bust out your cell phone when you see certain guys coming down the ramp for a giant tag team match. You already know the spots coming and the lengthy time allotted. On occasion, cool. Every single show, no thanks.
Womens Division – I’ll be nice. It’s been six months. I know the current travel restrictions are being used as a crutch, but spare me. It’s stunk from the beginning. Still does. All respect in the world to the talent inside the squared circle but whoever is running the women’s division behind the scenes, shame on you. Turn the division around. Women are running wild over every other promotion in the world. You can do the same. Maybe the tag team tournament (on Youtube) is a sign of things to come?
Start/Stop – Ultimately, it has been tough to get interested in the actual story lines that do exist. I don’t watch Being The Elite and never have. I refuse to be told to go watch a 15 minute Youtube series to be caught up on stuff. That’s ridiculous. I watch AEW Dynamite; tell me what’s going on during THAT show. Not Being The Elite. Same with AEW Dark. Not watching it, don’t care. Then comes the win-loss records. Do they matter or not? Mr. Brodie Lee got a title shot after debuting. Brian Cage did the same. Heck, Darby Allin just had a title shot for some reason. Cody was doing an Open Challenge for the TNT Championship…okay, so no rankings matter there. The wrestlers in the crowd idea was cool, but then they started having their actual STARS out there too. That devalues them. WWE was smart to have NXT and/or trainees in the crowd, not your freakin’ STARS. How about the usage of people? Matt Hardy was the big star to jump a few months ago. How’s that going? Brodie Lee wrecking Cody was a great move but two months too late, and it doesn’t help the Dark Order nonsense is still dragging him and everyone else down. Brian Cage? Remember him? He’s holding a title belt that hasn’t been relevant in over 20 years but only exists because Tony Khan is a giant ECW fan. Not quite the industry shaking announcement it was teased to be.
Every time it feels like I am going to be hooked onto a story line, the followup is bad. Similar to the weekly Tony Khan false promises on Twitter. After awhile, you stop caring, and sadly, I have. There are other issues (Chris Jericho playing a comedy role, hardcore junk, Kenny Omega, the commentators), but we need to wrap this column up. Because this has all felt pretty negative, I will list a couple of reasons why I do still tune in when possible and check out Youtube clips.
– Cody has been involved in a lot of good stuff. I’m not really sure of his decision to defeat a whole ton of independent (AEW) talent clean, only to lose to the former WWE star for the TNT Championship. That’s a horrible look, but he has mostly delivered. Of all the goons running the show, I trust Cody the most. He knows what to do.
– MJF has been solid on the mic. Not sure he deserves to be the top champion or in the main event. His victories have come against a bunch of bums, but AEW needs a fresh main event for the All Out pay-per-view. He has a bright future.
– Speaking of, Jon Moxley! I think he did amazing things in WWE and do NOT buy the logic that he was ‘buried’ or ‘mistreated’ during the past few years. That is garbage, yet fans have taken that to heart and backed him up in AEW ten fold. Good for him. I like him as the top champ.
– Chris Jericho is the perfect veteran for All Elite Wrestling. Once he ditches the comedy crap again, he needs to get back to being the legend that he is. Way too much ‘funny haha’ since losing the AEW Title. Even so, he is a name and needs to be treated as such.
– Britt Baker is the real deal. If anybody needs to hurry up and join WWE, it is her. Lots of positives about her. Even if she is injured, the promo skills more than make up for the down time. Great job.
– I mentioned it above, but the open challenges have been interesting. Even though I didn’t know most of the independent names that popped up, it was still cool. Cody can work any kind of style, and any time a new talent is showcased to a larger viewing audience, that is good for them.
– When he is not acting like a jerk, Sammy Guevara is a young dude that can flat out wrestle. Minus the stupid Sasha Banks comment and horrible chair toss to Matt Hardy’s head, he has impressed. Keep his head on straight and lots of money will be coming his way in the future. Plenty of time to turn it around. Hope he can do it.
In conclusion, I have still watched a few episodes since tuning out full-time in April. I am not claiming to NEVER watch again. I didn’t say that. The entire AEW Dynamite series is far too new to throw in the towel. However, I am not liking the current product and have stopped watching. After the debacle of the infamous December Dark Order ending episode, they rebounded in a big way to start 2020. Lots of good things. After that, they fell into a rut and never recovered. Now here we are. From that big 1.5 million that watched on October 2nd, 2019, we are cut in half. A staggering 50% of viewers have decided, for one reason or another, to stop watching. I made that choice too. Will it change in the future? Time will tell, I suppose. Until then, I guess I’m just not elite enough for AEW…
By Justin Watry (Twitter: @JustinWatry)