AEW debuted their highly touted weekly programme Dynamite on Wednesday night. After a run of very well received PPVs, it was time to see if the new company could step up to plate as a weekly wrestling alternative to WWE’s dominance. Did Dynamite start with a bang or was it more of a damp squib? Let’s find out.

Cody w/ Brandi Rhodes vs Sammy Guevara

Cody and Brandi Rhodes are the first to make their entrance on Dynamite

The opening match saw co-founder Cody take on the self-proclaimed “best ever”, Sammy Guevara. While a little clunky to start, Guevara was cocky and in control keeping the veteran Cody on the backfoot utilising an impressive roll and flip-based offence mixed with his cocky attitude and showboating that really cemented the identity of Guevara with the audience.

Cody slowed the pace of the match, using his methodical and old school wrestling acumen to wear Guevara down. Once in control, Cody attempted to plant Guevara with a suicide dive but he was thwarted as the dastardly Guevara moved Cody’s wife Brandi Rhodes in the way to protect himself. Guevara landed a beautiful Spanish Fly but a follow-up Shooting Star Press was his undoing as Cody put his knees up and allowed him to win with a roll-up.

A solid opener but as most Cody matches go, the pace was slow and methodical for the most part and while this is no bad thing, it may not have been the best match to open the show. A faster-paced showcase could have demonstrated the differences AEW offers to WWE and what they can offer to non-wrestling fans.

After the match, AEW champion Chris Jericho blindsided Cody and beat him up with every implement he could find around the ring and even stealing a camera from the ring crew for a cheeky selfie.

This added some heat to the upcoming PPV and doubled as informing newcomers who the show’s champion is even if it was a little long and overindulgent.

Brandon Cutler vs Maxell Jacob Friedman

MJF slaps the taste out of Brandon Cutler's mouth

MJF could barely wait to cut off his music to lay into Brandon Cutler and his love for Dungeons and Dragons, taking digs at the crowd for good measure. As Cutler started to gain some momentum, a sneaky eye rake from MJF allowed him to wrestle back control but Cutler wouldn’t be kept down launching himself to the outside to plant MJF with a Suicide Dive but flubbed a top rope manoeuvre by slipping that the announcers played off as him tweaking his knee on the dive.

Using the referee as a distraction, MJF planted Cutler with a vicious forearm strike and locked in the Salt of the Earth for a submission victory. Not a long match but a good showing for MJF who can play a crowd like a fiddle and will certainly become one of the top heels going forward for AEW.

After an awkward segment between Jack Evans and Angelico harassing Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes that felt very stilted and weird, SCU announced that it would be Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian representing the group in the upcoming tag team tournament before being interrupted by the Lucha Brothers as the teams descended into a brawl before an ad break before the next match.

Hangman Adam Page vs Pac

Hangman Adam Page furiously strikes Pac

After failing to get this match off the ground for Double or Nothing, Adam Page and Pac finally faced off in a terrific match. This was a high energy match seeing the two coming out the gate beating the heck out of each other with clubs and strikes and ending in Page coming out on top with a devastating clothesline.

Pac made his comeback knocking Page to the outside and nailing him with a springboard Moonsault to the outside and a 450 Splash before trying to end it with the Black Arrow. However, his attempt was blocked by Page who grabbed Pac’s leg and managed to manoeuvre him into an Avalanche Blockbuster.

Page would take the back foot during the break but coming back he managed to regain control with a gorgeous Orihara Moonsault. Unfortunately for Page, a blocked Buckshot attempt saw Pac able to position referee Earl Hebner into a position that Pac could land a cheeky low blow without being disqualified and finished off Page with a Black Arrow followed by the Brutalizer with a TKO victory.

A great match that made both men look sensational and continued to present Pac as a dominant force in the company. This may have been better served as the opener as it was a match where its pace, energy and in-ring storytelling is something that is sorely lacking from RAW and Smackdown in their current incarnations.

AEW Women’s World Championship Match: Nyla Rose vs Riho

Nyla Rose looks down at Riho as she's ready to inflict more punishment

A true David vs Goliath competition was set to crown AEW’s first Women’s Champion which set seemingly insurmountable odds for the petite Riho against the Native Beast Nyla Rose. Riho took advantage of her speed advantage early keeping Rose in her place with several dropkicks and a graceful Head Scissors but Rose was too strong to be held down. Rose bullied Riho, throwing her around like a rag doll as she shut down any attempt by Riho to gain some momentum even going as far as to catch her mid-air as she attempted a diving Crossbody and planting her with a Backbreaker.

Rose risked disqualification as she attempted to smash Riho with a chair but was stopped in her tracks by the referee. Attempting to circumvent the rules, Rose piled up chairs on the outside and draped Riho across them. Her plan was thwarted however as Riho dodged an apron Senton from Rose who came crashing into the chairs herself and ate a follow-up double stomp from Riho.

A very close two count from a roll-up by Riho resulted in retaliation by Rose with a Death Valley Driver but Riho held on barely sliding out of the 3-count. Riho prevented a top rope attempt by Rose with some furious strikes as the crowd went crazy and followed it up with an Avalanche Northern Lights Suplex on Rose followed up by a double knee strike to the face and, against all odds, Riho pinned Rose to become the first-ever AEW Women’s Champion.

While Walter vs Tyler Bate will take the crown as the best David vs Goliath story of this year, this match was no slouch. Believability was always going to be a factor going in but the story was built incredibly well and Riho is such a likeable figure that you can’t help but root for her and the crowd were fully behind her. Joshi wrestling is going to be AEW’s secret weapon and Riho as champion bodes well for its influence in the women’s division going forward.

The Elite vs Chris Jericho, Santana & Ortiz

Kenny Omega planting Santana with a Facebuster

As revealed in the lead up to the debut Dynamite, Chris Jericho would seek the support of Santana and Ortiz to help him take on the team of the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega. Omega started cleaning the house and as Jericho tried to stop him in his tracks, the Young Bucks would respond with a Superkick Party to the opposing team.

This match, however, was about to descend into madness as Omega’s momentum was cut off by a returning Jon Moxley who dumped Omega to the outside as he brawled with him through the arena. Their fight spilled into the VIP area where Moxley demolished Omega by driving him through a glass table with the Death Rider putting him out of action for the rest of the match.

Back in the ring, it was 2 vs 3 as the Young Bucks stood alone. A flurry of tag team offence from Ortiz and Santana showed why the pair is such a great signing by AEW but the Bucks kept in the fight and wouldn’t give in. But just as the Young Bucks seem to be ready to secure a win, Jericho intercepted Nick Jackson with a Codebreaker allowing Ortiz and Santana to lay Matt Jackson out and set up Jericho with the Judas effect for the win. And as seems the trend with wrestling premieres lately, things went crazy.

Cody ran down to the ring to get revenge on Jericho, Sammy Guevara came out and sided with Jericho by hitting Cody with a low blow, then Dustin Rhodes came down for the save only to be crushed by the shocking debut of Jake Hager who WWE fans will remember as Jack Swagger. The group flattened the babyfaces as they stood tall. Seemingly, a dominant faction has been formed on the inaugural episode of AEW.

AEW has cemented themselves in the field of televised wrestling with a great premiere that feels professional, fresh and engaging. Great matches, solid production value and the surprising debut of Jake Hager have put Dynamite on the map and WWE on watch. I can’t wait to see what future episodes hold for AEW’s weekly programming.

All pics courtesy of AEW / Lee South

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