Tuesday, September 3, 2019

AEW Goes All Out

August 31st, AEW returned to Pay-Per-View and laid it all on the line, featuring a bout to crown the first ever AEW World Champion and much more. 

Warning: There may be spoilers for AEW All Out below.

AEW (All Elite Wrestling) has come out strong with their first few Pay-Per-Views, taking care to showcase as much of their talent as they possibly can. With their TV deal starting soon (October 2nd) on TNT, they have really been pushing the brand and trying to build awareness. TNT, so far, has also been a great partner, hosting the Buy-In pre-shows on their YouTube channel and promoting the company across social media.

The latest AEW event was this past weekend in Chicago titled All Out, continuing their casino theme they've been carrying through even before they branded as AEW. The idea being that, like in poker, because they took a huge gamble, they were All In. Then they were Against All Odds. All Out stretches the meaning, and really points to putting it all out there for everyone to see just what AEW is all about.

The cool thing about the way ALL Out and really all AEW's Pay-Per-Views so far is that they managed to build storylines, feuds and drama without weekly TV. They have a YouTube show called Being Elite where they show short vignettes giving you a peek into the stories they have playing out, but even without watching that (because I didn't watch much of it), you get an immediate sense of the magnitude of each of their major storylines.

Case in point: The feud between Cody Rhodes and Shawn Spears, whom you may know as Tye Dillinger, the Perfect Ten. At Fight for the Fallen, their last outing, Spears wrapped a steel chair around Cody's head, splitting him open, requiring staples. It was brutal and you had no clue why he did it. Jump to All Out, you learn everything you need to know about their feud, why Tully Blanchard was in Spears' corner, and why Cody was so personally hurt by it.

One thing TNT did, too, was they aired a 1-hour special the night before All Out catching you up on these storylines. So there was yet another way to get up to speed on what was going on. But even with seeing the special, or the YouTube show, the PPV's video package was enough to completely sell you on the feud.

This is true for most of the feuds and storylines on the card as well. What this means is AEW is doing an excellent job at drawing the audience in and educating them on just who AEW is and who the talent of AEW are.

At All Out, there was a match to determine the first ever AEW World Champion between veteran Chris Jericho and upstart Hangman Adam Page. Before the last couple of events, I had no idea who Adam Page was. I don't follow the indie scene as closely as I would like, so a lot of these faces are new to me. But by the end of this World Championship match at All Out, I knew who Adam Page was, what he was all about, and believed that he could go toe-to-toe with one of the greatest of all time in Chris Jericho, who, quite frankly, has not lost a beat. He's bigger and older, but he's probably a step quicker than he's been in years and much stronger. This particular match was a knock-down, drag-out fight with clubbing, hard-hitting blows, and a few surprising aerial maneuvers as well. These two were well matched and at the end, you'd believe either one of them could have won and could have carried the banner for AEW going forward.

In the end, it makes sense for Chris Jericho to be the first World Champion for AEW because of name recognition alone. He also has a history on TNT, granted in the undercard when he was with WCW. But this is kind of full circle for Jericho and is a testament to his legacy. Going into weekly TV on TNT, with Jericho as the champ and this collection of new and old talent is definitely something to look forward to for wrestling fans that simply want a viable alternative.

From top to bottom, this roster is stacked with interesting, compelling and entertaining performers that, by and large, will keep you glued to the TV. They have a unique brand of storytelling that ranges from pop culture geekiness and silliness to intense old school wrestling. You have some of the most amazing high-flying and death-defying sequences I've ever seen in my many years as a wrestling fan, and you have ring technicians and straight up brawlers. You have intense personal grudges and respectful, friendly competition. 

What truly stands out about AEW, though, is something else. Because, let's be honest, you get some of all of the above in any wrestling promotion, including WWE. But AEW does a few things few others can manage to do right. 

One, they showcase the in-ring wrestling over everything else. You get drawn in by the story, but the action gets you off your feet.

Two, you have performers at every level being themselves, showcasing their personalities, and not just throwing out gimmicks to see what sticks.

Three, every single performer on the roster gets their time to shine. There are no jobbers in AEW, at least not that I've seen. Even the losers of the matches get their spots and show what they're about.

There's also something there for every kind of wrestling fan. It's not just one flavor for the entire card. You want hardcore? They've got it. You want catch as catch can wrestling? They've got that too. Acrobatic moves and high-flying action? Yep. Vicious, personal feuds with stolen finishers? They have that covered too. Anything you could think of, they've got. 

And that's what makes them unique. That's what makes them elite. That's what makes them AEW.

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