JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It’s been a wild first year for All Elite Wrestling and the upstart promotion capped its first year in style with a “Homecoming” edition of Dynamite on Wednesday at Daily’s Place.
It was last January that the promotion was officially announced in the parking lot next to Daily’s Place and TIAA Bank Stadium, home of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, who also happen to own AEW. A year later, the company has shaken up professional wrestling in many ways.
As AEW enters year two, it was clear Wednesday it has a home in Jacksonville. While not considered to be a “traditional” wrestling market by any stretch, the fans were enthusiastic throughout Dynamite for their hometown product.
The crowd was hot from the very beginning of the night for the matches taped for AEW Dark to the very end.
MJF was easily the most hated man on the show — with many negative signs directed at him, including “MJF Tips 5%” — and the breakout star of AEW played it up big throughout his interview where he named his stipulations for his match with Cody at AEW’s next pay-per-view, Revolution, in February.
The crowd absolutely loved Jon Moxley and did not want him to join up with Chris Jericho’s Inner Circle. Moxley will make his decision next week.
The matches that bookended the live Dynamite show — first Cody vs. Darby Allin and then The Elite (Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks) vs. the Lucha Brothers & Pac — tore the house down in completely different ways.
The rematch between Cody and Allin was all story. After their first match together over the summer, where Allin pushed Cody to a surprising 20-minute draw, the two did it again putting together a riveting and compelling match that nearly came to a draw again, but saw Cody pull away in the final minutes. These two have amazing chemistry together and Allin can easily be the breakout star of AEW in 2020.
The main event was everything you’d expect it to be. This group can not possibly have a bad match together with the level of talent involved.
The rabid crowd wasn’t the only unique aspect of the show.
The show was held in what is typically an amphitheater, and was AEW’s second show in the facility. This presents some logistical challenges to be certain, and while the shows come off fine in television, it leaves a little bit lacking for those in attendance.
For many, it was difficult to see the action both in and out of the ring due to the facility’s sight lines — the seating was not staggered enough to allow to see over taller people to the ring, nor was the action displayed on any sort of screen inside, except when the action spilled to the floor. This lead to many distracting chants of “TV!” from fans who just wanted to see the action. And if anybody in front of you stood up, it was like an eclipse of the sun — you weren’t seeing anything.
Given this was the second show at Daily’s Place, you would think some of these fan experience kinks would be worked out by now. A simple solution would be to put the ring on a higher platform. As noticed sometimes by the television product, AEW is not perfect when it comes to some technical things, and the live event production is certainly one of them.
Outside of what aired live on TNT, there were three matches taped for AEW Dark: Shawn Spears and newcomer Preston Vance took on the Gunn Club (Austin & Billy Gunn), Awesome Kong faced Skyler Moore, and SCU battled TH2 & Kip Sabian.
After the matches were complete, it was SCU that took the crowd home, not the usual crew of Being the Elite, throwing T-shirts to the crowd and leading them in chants of “SCU.”
AEW did not announce a return to Jacksonville.
- Matt Bishop and his wife Veronica spent the afternoon in the sun, watching their Michigan Wolverines lose to the Alabama Crimson Tide at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando … and then drove two hours for the AEW show.