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AEW’s Bang for Your Buck

All Elite Wrestling is Giving You Your Money’s Worth

It’s just shy of a year since my first AEW show, Fyter Fest Night Two. That was one hell of a fine Dynamite, with some excellent matches, and my second AEW show turned out to be a loaded-up and meaty double feature that matched the crowd participation and intensity of that first show (even if I didn’t get to see either CM Punk or MJF). This evening’s television featured a live Rampage and Battle of the Belts 2 as well as two sessions of Dark tapings. It’s safe to say if you’re reading this article that you’ve probably seen it by now (not that I won’t still cover that).

What I’m actually here to talk about is what AEW offers you as a fan, both for your wrestling experience and your bank account. You see, I couldn’t place it…I couldn’t come up with the word for what the vibe was at the Curtis Culwell Center in beautiful Garland, Texas at the first show, but the second show put it all into place. The word is ‘revitalized’.

Double or Nothing Crowd
AEW crowds bring it in a big way

The vibe is a combination of the unpolished stylings of an old school WCW television taping (like WCW Saturday Night) with the zealous energy of a good Attitude Era crowd and a genuine feeling of “what the hell is going to happen next?” It’s a refreshing change from the slick and polished look of virtually all WWE fare, a product that is admittedly masterfully produced to the point of being almost too bright and shiny to even resemble actual professional wrestling.

Credentials, Please

For the record, I’ve been to my share of shows across the spectrum of fandom. I cut my teeth as a tow-headed country kid in South Carolina watching everyone from Ric Flair to Sting to The Great Muta at the McAllister Fieldhouse in Greenville. My seven-year-old ass reached out through the bars and touched the leg of Andre the Giant at a (then) WWF house show in Charleston before watching Mr. Perfect tear it up with Tito Santana in a show-stealer. As I grew up, it was multiple WCW Monday Nitros at the North Charleston Coliseum and a wild night at WCW Uncensored in 1996. Monday Night Raw? Check. SmackDown? Check. SummerSlam 2003 in Phoenix at the Mohegan Sun? Big damn check! WrestleMania 32 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington? Granddaddy of All Checks! The handful of indie one-off shows whose names I can’t even remember? Check there, too.

WrestleMania X-Seven poster
THE BEST WRESTLEMANIA OF ALL TIME…UNDISPUTED!

I peaked in April of 2001 when my wife and two best friends (one of whom is no longer with us) piled into a rented 2000 Daewoo Leganza with enough party favors to kill a horse and drove thirteen hours from Albuquerque to Houston for WrestleMania X-Seven.

Yes, folks…I went to the mountaintop. Watch me flex.

What’s Making AEW Different?

The point is, I’m at least qualified to analyze a good show from a bad one, and right now AEW is a V8 firing on seven cylinders. Why not eight? There’s bloat to the roster that has caused some wrestlers/groups to be sorely underused (ahem…House of Black, anyone?). Still, the energy coming from that locker room is translating to the ring and making even the most mundane of shows (like the squash-fest that is AEW Dark) into a damn good time. Besides, getting a good four to five hours of wrestling is always a good deal.

Tony Khan
He’s one of us…with a truckload more money.

Then there’s Tony Khan. His infectious energy and dorky, slightly shaky mic skills are a joy to watch for a very simple reason: the man is a fan living a dream. The great sport of professional wrestling is cyclic by nature, and Khan took the beginnings of the revolution created by Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks, and Kenny Omega and organized it into a new spike in that cycle. It’s nothing short of impressive to watch. I mean it in the nicest possible way when I say that Tony Khan brings a wonderfully carny element back to the business, a territories mindset that it’s bigger than any one company. He’s built a company and a roster that wants to celebrate the history of the business, warts and all, instead of turning it into a prime time, overly scripted drama.

Booker T Oh No!
Actual image of triggered WWE stans.

Now don’t pile on me, WWE stans. I’m a massive fan and a bonafide member of the WWE Universe (and the AEW Galaxy HA HA HA HA!!), but I’m not only a fan of the WWE. The business has never been and should never be just about the WWE. There’s so much more to the sport of pro wrestling than sports entertainment. Besides, the big show energy for WWE lately has been exceptional; they’re returning to form in many ways too, thanks to healthy competition.

Where’s The Value?

From a financial standpoint, AEW shows are still being held in accessible and reasonably priced arenas as opposed to massive stadiums, by and large, and the price point is much more reasonable. While I don’t mind spending good money for a monster show, it’s simply easier at this stage of the game to get AEW tickets without mortgaging the house. SIDE NOTE: If you live in Dallas-Ft. Worth, you know exactly how deep into your pockets Jerry’s hand goes when Vince calls…

Combine that energy, roster, value, competition, and momentum and you’re pretty much guaranteed to see some damn good matches and moments. That’s all I need to make your company must-see when it comes through the DFW area. And I can live without the WWE vs. AEW arguments because I will most likely be at the WWE show…assuming I can afford it.

Shut Up and Tell Me About The Show!

Now, my thoughts from the combination of action offered by AEW Rampage, Battle of the Belts II, and Dark:

• I wish everyone could see Justin Roberts’ off-camera work with the crowd during commercial breaks. WWE has to regret letting that man go. He’s damn near a national treasure.
• Billy Gunn has killer heat, as do his boys. They’re obnoxious as all hell, and he is yoked as hell at 58 years old; It’s kind of ridiculous. They did a sublime job as the victims of the Blackpool Combat Club.

Blackpool Combat Club
Behold the greatness of His Lordship, William Regal!!

• The Blackpool Combat Club is the most over thing in the business at the moment, and Wheeler Yuta may be the most over of them.
• Who am I kidding? Mox’s entrance is deafening and a goddamn blast! Who wouldn’t get off on thousands of people singing “Wild Thing” at the top of their lungs all because Mox has arrived to choke someone unconscious? I would kill to see John Moxley vs. The Tribal Chief right now.
• Glad to see Butcher get a good, old-fashioned TV squash match to signify a push (hopefully). He’s got the tools to be dominant in Mister Brodie Lee fashion, and that is damn high praise.
• Ruby Soho vs. Robyn Renegade will be remembered for the interesting “twin twist” from Robyn Renegade. I’d like to see more of her. I’d also like to see more of Ruby Soho; she falls into that underutilized category.
• Hangman Adam Page and Adam Cole “Bay Bay” tore that shit up for twenty-five minutes in a banger of a Texas Death Match. It had creative and brutal spots and a red-hot crowd. That finish is genuinely ugly. Also, Adam Cole is stupidly over. Watching him on TV doesn’t do it justice. I promise.
• Sammy Guevara has heat that’s bordering on the bad kind. Scorpio Sky is criminally underrated and reminds of RVD in the right ways. Damn solid match.

Dalton and the Boys
He’s arrived and brought The Boys with him!

• Dalton Castle is a legitimate revelation. How have I never seen this beautiful creature before?! The Boys are now my favorite gimmick. Period. Tony Khan is dumb as hell if he doesn’t use Castle much more.
• Jonathan Gresham is a true stud. What a workhorse. I’ve not seen much of him, but I’m impressed.
• The feeling when Thunder Rosa makes her entrance is a very positive and uplifting one. She makes a great face champion because she’s genuine. And you can’t teach that!
• DARK: A bunch of solidly done squash wins for Marina Shafir, Tony Neese, Abadon (more, please!), and Red Velvet. QT Marshall is ludicrously underappreciated as a heel. Limitless Swerve got the reaction of the night; Keith Lee takes your breath away in person. I’m coming to truly appreciate why it’s “Swerve’s House!” Penta Oscuro has maybe the best entrance in AEW. Platinum Max Caster spits one of his best raps yet…go seek it out online.
• No one is more over than The Hardys. No one.

Written by Stuart Monroe

Big Daddy Stu is a lifelong wrestling fanatic and horror nut. He's from Clemson, SC and will happily explain to you why it's the greatest place on the planet. He writes for HorrorDNA.com and is the Editor-In-Chief of GetOnMyDamnLevel.com. He's a published author of multiple short stories. He also makes a shaved head look amazing.

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