The Gray Fox: – “Watching AEW Dynamite: New Years Smash – Night One”

   I don’t need to tell you this, but, Readers Digested is not a sports website (nor is it a website for the make-believe combat that I watch). The website remains committed to dark subject matter with a slant toward the horror genre. However, I thought it would be fun if all of us had a platform to share our opinion on array of different topics, regardless of whether they fit into a certain area of expertise or not.

   I have a lot of love and affection for professional wrestling, believe it or not. As a matter of fact, had it not been for professional wrestling, Readers Digested in itself would not exist in the same form you see it. That’s because the first website I ever started was a wrestling forum called H.T.W.C., where I learned about graphics and web design, and fell in love with the relationships that can be built online. In fact, without the experience I had writing role-plays (E-Feds, as they are called) about professional wrestling, I may have never polished my skills writing action scenes like those scene in my fiction. One of the earliest writing bits I was a part of was writing columns for a popular wrestling website called My older brother Scott Moore (who writes The Canes series with me and will have his short story published soon on Readers Digested) actually trained to be a professional wrestler, and, for a while, it seemed like that was something I would do as well.

   Everyone has their own thoughts about professional wrestling, and I don’t really want to get into that, per se. I have long since grown out of participating in debates like whether wrestling is fake or, this or that, etc. I like the characters and the iconography, I like the storytelling and athleticism, and the absurdism, and, in a lot of ways, I like it for a lot of the reasons I like the horror genre, particularly slasher films.

   I have mostly grown out of professional wrestling, however. A lot of it, really, came down to time. In the era of CM Punk (who I was a huge fan of), Monday Night RAW became a three-hour investment, which, coupled with SmackDown and my desire to have at least some idea of what’s happening on the independent scene, I became overwhelmed. That, and, to be honest, the programming was no longer what I was looking for.

   It has been about a decade since I watched professional wrestling on a week-to-week basis, but I have kept up to date on most of the ins and outs as they’ve happened. I know all about The Fiend and I was right there with most of you, stunned, after Brock Lesnar broke the streak. However, most of my attempts to try and return to the programming have been in vein, mostly because of what drew me away has either not changed or become worse than before.

   All Elite Wrestling is a new wrestling promotion (about a year or so old now) and I have kept track of a lot of the happenings, and even watched a couple episodes on occasion. This year, however, I want to try and commit to the program on a consistent basis, and, on this blog, as often as I can, I will share my thoughts with you on some of the happenings on the promotion. I won’t be writing about any of WWE‘s programming, simply because I feel it is oversaturated and I don’t have the time nor interest to skip through when something’s worthwhile or utter bollocks.

   Another thing to is, I have not have cable since I moved from home with my wife (we had Sling TV for a little bit, but it went unused), and, so, I would not have a comfortable, legal way to watch RAW, SmackDown, or NXT consistently anyways. The only way I am watching AEW Dynamite is through a website called Fite.TV that allows you to pay $4.99 for a subscription to watch week-to-week. But, not if you’re from the United States. So, what I have to do is, buy the subscription, and then, use a free VPN I found to make it look like I’m from the UK.

   Feel free to follow along with my blog week-to-week and share your own thoughts about each edition of AEW Dynamite, either on Readers Digested in the comment section or on Twitter through @NJMcConnaughay. Like I said, this is more or less hidden from Readers Digested’s main site, so it will mostly only be accessible at this time through here or when I drop the link on Twitter.

   My review will be conducted with a unique rating system. It is not quite a out of 5-star rating system, but, rather a “Good / Okay / Decent / Subpar / Bad” deal, and is scaled specifically with Dynamite in mind.

AEW: Dynamite (1/6/21)

Match One

   Our first match is Matt JacksonNick JacksonChristopher Daniels, and Frankie Kazarian against Max Caster, Anthony Bowens, Angelico, and Jack Evans. The end sees Christopher Daniels pick up the victory for his team.

   All Elite Wrestling is all about multi-man competition, which is something that WWE has more often treated as a way to eat television time and in order to allow everyone to have in-ring competition even when they don’t have anything for them creatively. This match though had a little more to it than that. 

   Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian are the two amongst the flock I have most familiar with, mostly from their time spent in Impact Wrestling (or Total Nonstop Action), and they have a small storyline that started at a recent episode of AEW Dark. Basically, Frankie’s disgruntled about their lack of success and told Daniels he needs to, ahem, buck up or they need to head their separate ways.

    I am familiar with Jack Evans (for his crazy flips I have seen on YouTube) and The Young Bucks (both from word-of-mouth, seeing them in Ring of Honor, and their short stint in Impact).

   The match was solid and filled with action, and, because of the narrative behind it, it did not feel like a throwaway. I would call it necessary in order to help form the storylines, but not necessarily something that gripped me in a major way. I look forward to what they have planned for Daniels and Kazarian. I had thought Daniels retired or something in Ring of Honor, and was happy to see him in All Elite, having been a fan of his over the years. I am curious if this will lead to another retirement for Daniels or a heel turn for Kazarian that sees them feud with each other.

   I dug it. (0-1-0-0-0)


   Jon Moxley, formerly Dean Ambrose in the Dub Dub E, cut a brief segment about Kenny Omega and the shenanigans that led to Omega becoming the World Champion. This was necessary, but uneventful. I would have accepted it better had they not advertised it as something more meaningful than what it was. I am curious for what Moxley will do next though. He is a terrific card for AEW’s hand, and I only hope they are able to keep him interesting and not lost in the shuffle. (0-1-1-0-0)

Match Two

   The second match is Wardlow pitted against Jake Hager. The outcome sees Wardlow defeat Hager with his F10 finisher.

   Thus far, this was my favorite match of the night. Although, we are still early into it. I like Jake Hager, who previously performed as Jack Swagger in WWE, and while I am unfamiliar with Wardlow, I enjoyed his performance in this match. Both are members of Jericho‘s faction, named The Inner Circle, and have had apparent differences in previous weeks.

   I think what I liked about it was that it offered the antithesis to the earlier fast-paced match, offering a more methodical, hard-hitting, big-man competition. I am not one of those guys who rants and raves about spot fests, etc., but, since AEW is so fast-paced, it is nice to have things slowed down and brought back to a more simplified, meat and potatoes approach.

   Hopefully they can find something really worthwhile for both competitors to do in the coming weeks. (1-1-1-0-0)


   Darby Allen and Brian Cage are weighed in for their match next week for the TNT Championship. I enjoy Darby Allen and I am excited to see him face off against the intimidating Brian Cage, in part given their size differential and the fact I except Darby Allen to win. That, in itself, and the fact I am interested in the characters involved is to the segment’s benefit. The segment makes sense in that respect as well, drawing attention to how outmatched Darby Allen is, and once more, pulling Sting into the equation. It did not offer anything new to their dynamic, but the imagery of Tazz yelling as Sting’s music played, with the snowy backdrop, and a nice hook for next week. (1-2-1-0-0)

Match Three

The third match pits Cody Rhodes and Matt Sydal against each other. The bout ends with Cody Rhodes defeating Sydal with the Cross Rhodes.

   I looked forward to this match in spite feeling very comfortable I knew the outcome would be Cody walking away with the victory. I don’t necessarily disagree with that either, given both competitors’ position in the company, but I would not have minded a rub for Matt Sydal, formerly Evan Bourne in the WWE.

   What I do appreciate, above all else, is that a match of this caliber was advertised and treated like it was relevant, whereas in the WWE, it would have been a throwaway match that happened without prior acknowledgment. That is not a swipe at the quality of WWE, per se, but an acknowledgment that, I think, WWE in recent years has been bad about promoting matches in-advance, likely due to how often their shows are written last minute or day of.

    The match was solid, with Cody and Matt both being in the prime of their careers, and I look forward to more from both of them, particularly, a more meaningful feuds for them to sink their teeth into. Afterward, Snoop Dogg did a frog splash on Serpentico that looked about like what you would expect from someone who has no business doing a frog splash on Serpentico. (1-3-1-0-0)

Match Four

   This is the first Championship match of the night, with Hikaru Shida defending her championship against Abadon. The outcome sees Shida successfully defend by defeating Abadon with a running knee strike.

   I remember when I watched the debut edition of Dynamite way back when, something I particularly did not enjoy was their women’s championship match, because I felt it was overbooked and nonsensical. This match reaffirmed that belief. I will be honest, I don’t know anything about either of the competitors of this match. I like Shida from what I have seen, but Abadan’s character is a little too unconvincing, I think.

   I like dark, supernatural characters, which I know might make me an outlier. Of course, you have the Undertaker, and, now, you have The Fiend, which, in spite of some occasion hokeyness, I think are genuinely pretty cool. I liked Kane when he donned a mask, and even sometimes when he didn’t, and I liked Abyss when he was accompanied by James Mitchell. This, however, I think needs to be workshopped a little more, with it coming off very much like a Halloween costume and less like something I could buy into week to week.

   The match itself was messy, with Abandon evidently “biting” off a part of Shida’s neck from under the ring, and, yeah, … I would have preferred them play it straight on this bout. (1-3-1-0-1)

Main Event

   The main event sees Kenny Omega defend the AEW World Heavyweight Championship against Rey Fenix. Shy of 20 minutes into the match, Omega scores the victory with the One Winged Angel.

   This is another of those matches where I was looking forward to it in spite of feeling like I knew exactly how it would play out. I am only vaguely familiar with Fenix, but I enjoy him, and I would consider myself a modest fan of Kenny Omega, especially when he is playing the role of a villain. The relationship with Omega and Don Callis, and the other stuff concerning Impact Wrestling, has been particularly interesting, and is one of the most intriguing stories for AEW at the moment.

   Omega and Rey had a good outing together, in spite the predictability of its outcome, and it was nice to see The Good Brothers (Gallows and Anderson) appear on Dynamite for the first time since re-aligning themselves with Omega on Impact. (2-3-1-0-1)


   I would call my first foray into Dynamite in 2021 a solid success, averaging about a 3.6 out of 5.0 (or a 7.2 out of 10.0), benefited by small character developments and hard hitting action. I would not call it a real barnburner, per se, but a solid, consistent episode across the board, with all the matches feeling mostly meaningful to their narrative. In the weeks to come, I hope to see more from Darby Allen, MJF, and so on, and most importantly, more meaning, inspired feuds for its competitors.

   Thanks for reading, and I will see you next week when the New Years Smash continues.



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