Coronavirus or Covid19 specifically is fucking up many businesses right now. That includes professional wrestling. Wildkat, a local New Orleans promotion, is on hiatus because they can’t have live shows. The bigger dogs like WWE and AEW are performing in fanless arenas.
This week marked the first show with no fans for All Elite Wrestling and as per usual, they knocked it out of the park. For all intents and purposes, I would argue the crowd matters more in wrestling than any other form of entertainment or sport. The crowd sets the tone and can turn memorable moments into unforgettable moments.
For AEW, We don’t get the Darby chants. We don’t get the Cowboy Shit chants. We don’t get the Delete chants. We don’t get the Holy Shit chants. Last night, we would have been showered with them.
It is hard and weird to imagine a live wrestling TV show without a crowd. Because of Covid19, we know what that looks like now.
It didn’t matter because AEW put on a hell of a show without one showing just how good they are at what they do and more importantly how adaptable they are.
Before diving into some of the shows unforgettable moments, I noticed several things they did throughout in terms of production to make the show feel more alive.
First is the camera angles. Normally wrestling shows are shot mainly from the left side of the ring if you are facing the stage. Last night, they opened with a hero shot of Cody as he cut his promo with a dark entrance way behind him. Because of the darkness of the situation we are facing, that shot implemented that emotion playing off The American Nightmare’s words which I will get into shortly.
Second, having Tony Schiavone be the voice of transition from segment to segment was a nice touch. Normally, a show returns to a shot of the live audience or in ring action.
Third, AEW never alluded to anything happening next week. They kept saying next Dynamite. There is so much uncertainty right now and I love that they implement that in their show. They are getting out ahead while not panicking. They are just informing the audience that they too don’t know what the future holds.
Last and certainly not least, they had other wrestlers at ringside cheering and talking shit to one another all night. Namely MJF who was throwing money around making bets with other wrestlers. That alone gave entertainment and comedic value to the entire show.
All that being said, so many great moments last night. Ironically enough, none of them were matches which is where AEW has shined so heavily in the first few months of weekly programming. It is a weird time in the world right now and last night was a weird show. It was a weird show that worked though in so many ways.
The Elite’s Honest Opening
Here is just another case of AEW being so good at breaking the fourth wall. Cody opens his promo by talking about the world situation at hand playing into fear and uncertainty. He gives a little spark of hope saying that AEW will not live in fear and he doesn’t feel scared, he feels alive. In times like this, we all want something to turn to for hope to pull us out of the hole. For me, wrestling is just that. It’s a world that hits me different emotionally than most other entertainment avenues. With Cody being president of AEW, I love that his speech last night felt presidential. I love that he so eloquently intertwined real life with the storyline of The Elite v The Inner Circle at Blood and Guts.
Sammy Guevara is all of us singing Judas
I love me some Sammy Guevara. I love me some Chris Jericho. I love me some Judas. Last night’s best moment was hands down this bullshit. Sammy Guevara grabs a mic and starts singing along to Judas (Jericho theme) since the crowd wasn’t there to do it. It was freaking hilarious. Jericho literally broke character into laughter watching his Inner Circle confidant flex the golden pipes singing his theme. I hope Coronavirus gets under control because I want to be in the number when Judas plays and flex my rusty pipes in May when AEW is set to arrive in New Orleans.
My Name is…Brodie Lee and I am the Exalted One
OH MY GOD! THE EXALTED ONE IS HERE! IT’S BRODIE LEE! One of the hottest storylines in AEW has been the arrival of The Dark Order’s leader. Good things come to those who wait. Again, they pulled this off so perfectly without the benefit of a crowd. It’s a dark group so the arrival felt so sinister while watching because of no crowd. I wasn’t sure how I felt about Brodie Lee (formerly known as Luke Harper in WWE) being the leader when rumors started swirling. I love his in ring ability but he never talked in WWE. It didn’t take long to convince me because that video package was freaking dope. He arrives and gives Christopher Daniels the patented boot and discus clothesline. My favorite part of the promo was the subtle shot at Vince because fuck WWE. “You are not the first out of touch old man to not believe in me. But I will make damn sure, you are the last.” That line gives me chills.
I thought it was weird when they teased the reveal last week that we would find out who the Exalted One was. After seeing the ending to last night, I now know why…
Broken Matt Hardy Arrives! DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!
Fast forward to 5:50 in the video. Inner Circle took out Nick Jackson recently leaving The Elite shorthanded for Blood and Guts making the match a 5v4. Matt Hardy has been featured on Being The Elite since then. However, there has been so much allusion to Hardy being The Exalted One and leading the Dark Order. Everyone felt it was inevitable. AEW pulled this card out of their back pocket brilliantly. As Jericho is talking about The Elite being outnumbered, a loud drone flys down to the ring distracting Jericho. Matt Jackson tells him there is no way they would go in to Blood and Guts down a man. He called in a favor…
Cue the piano and pan up to the empty seats and you see Matt Fucking Hardy looking down and broken as fuck signaling that The Inner Circle would face deletion leaving all five members looking terrified on stage. It was the perfect end and swerve to an unforgettable night in AEW. Two MASSIVE debuts. One big swerve.
Matt Hardy may not be the Exalted One, but he is sure as shit broken.