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Reviewing the Elite (3/18/20): The Show Must Go On


Whassup, my Dynamates? This week’s Dynamite gave us our first empty arena show from the company and if I’m being honest, it would have been one of their best shows had a crowd been there. 

You know what? Even without an audience, this was still a quality effort from AEW, as they turned a shitty situation into a fun and engaging stick of Dynamite. Having some of the wrestlers in the audience was a really nice touch, since it made for an interesting ambiance that you can’t get from a regular episode of Dynamite.

Speaking of the wrestling, everyone who set foot in the ring this episode gave it their all when they could have easily half-assed it, which is more than we deserve. The debuts of Brodie Lee and Matt Hardy were also nice surprises that made this episode feel lively, even though we would have loved to hear people go crazy for them. 

Overall, AEW deserves a lot of credit for putting on a quality show like this when most of us would have understood if they went with a recap show that reran a pay-per-view match or two. Whether this is a one-and-done or a COVID-19 trend, it was still awesome of AEW to go out there and entertain us this week.

All Delete Wrestling

        

First, major props to Cody for his show-opening promo. The American Nightmare was able to weave in the fear everyone has of the coronavirus and their job to entertain people at home with The Elite’s upcoming Blood and Guts match with the Inner Circle. Having to address real-world concerns without breaking kayfabe sounds tough, but Cody made it look easy. Wrestlers honing their craft need to sit down and watch some of his promos.

The Elite’s problems have been a major talking point in recent episodes of Dynamite, though most of the issues are with Hangman Page and Matt Jackson, with a little bit of Kenny Omega in there. I liked that the two decided to push their issues aside and still lost their match to The Inner Circle since rebuilding a relationship takes time, just like in real life. This is another nice seed planted in the story, continuing to make the inevitable Hangman Page/Matt Jackson singles match a must-watch.

         

With Nick Jackson out indefinitely due to being-a-father-to-a-newborn-baby syndrome, Matt Jackson decided to get another older brother to aid The Elite: Broken Matt Hardy! This is not the role most of us expected Hardy to be in—more on that in a bit—but it’s a good use of the former WWE Superstar since it immediately makes him a big deal. The quintessential Broken Matt piano music playing in the background along with Vanguard-1 drawing everyone's attention were nice touches and weresufficient enough replacement for the lack of crowd reaction.

It looks like things in AEW are about to be BROKEN.

Yeah Yeah Yeah, Here’s The Exalted One

 .      

So, if Matt Hardy isn’t the Dark Order’s Exalted One, who is? None other than the former Luke Harper himself, Brodie Lee. This was a nice twisty reveal since they really wanted you to think it was Hardy until the end. When they played The Exalted One’s video, it did everything to convince you it was Hardy, right down to the style of the hooded jacket he was wearing.

Brodie Lee isn’t the most shocking choice for The Exalted One—he was most people’s second or third choice, if it wasn’t going to be Matt Hardy—but what was surprising were his mic skills. As someone who has only seen Lee’s work in WWE as Harper, I had no idea that the guy could speak this well. I look forward to more promos from Lee since I already know that his matches are going to be bitchin'.
       
There are probably a couple of wrestling fans who didn’t like the “subtle” shots at WWE that Lee took. We all know who that "out-of-touch old man" Lee mentioned is and he clearly teased hitting Sister Abigail on Christopher Daniels before laying him out with his signature discus clothesline. Still, when it’s coming from someone who has been misused for so long, I couldn’t help but enjoy them, even if they were ridiculously petty.

Really happy to see Brodie Lee in AEW. Show everyone why you deserved that 90 rating in WWE 2K15.

Try or Die

         

Lance Archer was one of the most hyped-up signings for AEW and adding Jake “The Snake” Roberts to his act has only made the big man seem bigger. Some fans did address the fact that Roberts’s promos seem to put himself over more than Archer, but the video package they played right after the interview put the spotlight squarely on The Murder Hawk.

Seeing Archer beat the crap out of some backyard wrestlers while The Snake watched ominously in the background was great. While a bit goofy, it was cool seeing Archer kill these nobodies with a bunch of his moves and should give fans a taste of what he’s capable of in the ring.

The video they played was clearly carnival-inspired, with a small person asking any poor souls if they wanted to take on Roberts’ client. It made for an entertaining little segment that felt really unique and you have to give kudos to AEW for revisiting wrestling’s carnie roots to give us something fresh. His eventual match with Cody should grab some eyes, that’s for sure.

Final Grade: AEW went above and beyond to give us a fantastic show when they didn’t have to. This would have been one of their best shows ever with a crowd but without one, it was still pretty damn great. A.

Matches Announced for The Next Dynamite (Might Not Be Next Week):
  • The Best Friends vs. The Lucha Bros in a Parking Lot Brawl
  • Luchasaurus vs. Wardlow

Elite Thoughts

  • Aside from one big botch, I really enjoyed the four-way women’s match they had in the show. They made Kris Statlander look like a powerhouse throughout, while Riho and Penelope Ford got to show off their high-flying moves. In the end, best girl Hikaru Shida ended up getting the win and I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up being the next #1 contender after COVID-19 may have done a number on their plans for Bea Priestley and Nyla Rose.
  • It’s good seeing Jurassic Express get built up since all three members are clearly over with the AEW fans. No Marko Stunt tonight but seeing Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus victorious over The Butcher and The Blade was fun, especially since it led to MJF losing money to Shawn Spears.
  • Having Sammy Guevara sing Fozzy's Judas was the best thing ever.
  • AEW World Champion Jon Moxley appeared via a fun little video. Moxley claimed he was gonna blow some steam by driving around, a luxury us Filipinos don't really have right now. Lucky bastard.
  • Speaking of MJF and Spears, I really liked that the wrestlers staying in the audience got to play parts throughout the show. MJF and Spears’ gambling bit made for some good laughs, while Colt Cabana and Kip Sabian teased a fun feud that should have some great wrestling. 
Images from All Elite Wrestling

Nico Parungo is a writer for Epicstream.com and has contributed several reviews for PWR and MWF. When he isn't frustrated about the WWE, he's playing video games at home and is bugging his friends with glorious puns. He's new to the world of Twitter drama but is quickly getting hooked.

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