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Hunter’s AEW Dynamite: Live In Seattle Report

January 6, 2023 | Posted by Jonathan Hunter
AEW Dynamite Set Image Credit: Jonathan Hunter

“I booed the faces and cheered the heels.”

I think that’s the old 411 live report trope? Anyway, shut up! AEW made its debut in Seattle, WA this past Wednesday night and I’m going to tell you about it!

Butts in Seats
As most of you know, a crowd can sometimes make or break a show. The Seattle crowd was hot all night long. The Climate Pledge Arena (RIP Key Arena) was packed. Packed house, loud crowd, huge reactions, and the hometown wrestlers being featured made for one helluva an atmosphere. I hope it came across on TV because even the “down” matches had the crowd. They taped some Dark matches before the show and about ninety minutes for Elevation afterwards. Shockingly, at least 2/3 of the crowd stuck around for what turned out to be a star-powered taping.

Image Credit: Jonothan Hunter

I’m not interested in giving you, the loyal 411 sucker reader a blow-by-blow account of a wrestling show you’ve watched. I’d like to share my impressions and takeaways.

1. “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson’s non-stop grin
2. Danhausen wearing the King-Sized Homer muumuu and fat guy cap to the ring
3. Darby Allin dying for our pleasure (JFC the slam onto the steps was BRUTAL in-person)
4. We completely bit on the Jarrett/Lethal title win
6. “All Ego” Ethan Page‘s entrance with Matt Hardy and whichever Private Party guy is not injured (it’s on Dark: Elevation, swear to God, it’s the greatest)
7. Finally seeing Samoa Joe live. Talk about presence…
8. … Jeff Jarrett was awesome. No, I’m not high.
9. Gunn Club’s epic troll job with the FTR music
10. “We Can’t Hear You” towards Mox’s shitty microphone

Hot Topic Goth N Go

HIT: Can you imagine going to a pro wrestling TV show and the hometown heroes are… put in featured positions and given the platform to shine? It’s one of WWE/Vince’s most bullshit tropes; the hometown wrestler is 99% certain to lose. Or worse, as we have all seen how much Vince likes to outright humiliate people in front of their family and friends. I do see how it can be used to build heat, but when it is the standard…? It’s not that Danielson, Swerve, and Darby all had to win. It was just that as a fan, I and everybody else didn’t feel like a jerk for buying a ticket to cheer for the locals. Imagine that, it makes for a hot, excited, passionate crowd to lift the entire show.

HIT: Jeff Jarrett… kind of rules? I don’t think he needs as much TV time as he has been getting since joining AEW, but Jarrett is absolutely doing his job as a heel people want to boo. Double J has his faults and should never have been a top guy, but that shouldn’t colour people’s perceptions to the point where they can’t recognize how good he is at controlling a crowd and heel psychology. More to the point, the entire arena bit on the Tag Title change. Maybe it’s because Jarrett is the ultimate carnie we all believe “of course he would win,” but it was a great moment — and it didn’t “deflate” the crowd. Maybe it would have if the match wasn’t immediately restarted, but they got us. And all Jarrett is doing is making the Acclaimed even more over. (Disclaimer: I reserve the right to entirely change this paragraph should Jarrett and Lethal win the tag titles on Battle of The Belts, Friday night)

HIT: It really struck me how good Darby Allin really is. Yes, he had the “homefield advantage.” Yes, he dies for his art (that ladder bump was terrifying — Joe is a big landing bad but JESUS christ the landing was awful). Darby also sells, sells, and sells some more, drawing you in emotionally. He works to his size. He (mostly) remembers to sell. Up close, I noticed how strong Darby’s fundamentals are. He was trained by a Washington state legend, Buddy Wayne. When he puts Samoa Joe in a headlock, Darby CINCHES THAT SHIT IN. It’s not a loose hold meant for somebody to just get out of, he’s working the damned hold. He’ll never be known as a technical marvel, but he has the footwark and fundamentals.

Image Credit: Jonothan Hunter

MISS: I’ll be the first to admit I have a negative bias towards Chris Jericho, as the result of the past two years of his AEW booking. Credit where it’s due: I enjoyed the Ring of Jericho angle more than I expected. Starks vs Jericho was fine. It was fine; Ricky was clearly working at half-speed in order to do the match, and both guys looked “off.” The Walls of Jericho spot went on absurdly long. Fine. All of that is fine. What wasn’t fine, to me, was how shitty everything Jericho did looked. His forearms, kicks, any strike looked limp and weak. His holds were crap. I rolled my eyes watching Starks have to sell for some of the offense. It made me kind of sad. Jericho’s not known as one of the hardest hitters, but his stuff has always looked snug and tight. I don’t want to watch one of my favorites visibly deteriorate before our very eyes, but I don’t know if Chris Jericho will give us much choice.

HIT: The Acclaimed… have arrived. Acclaimed t-shirts everywhere, foam scissor fingers, MULTIPLE fans brought homemade giant scissors, loads of signs, and probably the biggest pop of the night outside of Darby’s title win and Danielson existing. Also, Billy Gunn being one of the most over acts in wrestling, in 2023. I can only assume Caster and Bowens are legitimately learning from Daddy Ass because their work seems to get better each night out. They work the crowd. Caster doing the Ankle Lock on Lethal in front of Jarrett was *chef’s kiss*.

Image Credit: Jonothan Hunter

MISS-ISH: Does anybody understand the story going on with Jade and the Baddies? It’s definitely a mess and it made the woman’s tag probably the “least” segment of the night. That said… Jade Cargill is over. I still don’t get it; I didn’t get any sense of presence or extra charisma from her. But I can accept that she is over. If nothing else, some of what Jade did really stood out. First, just when I was thinking “these women all need to start laying their shit in, this looks sad,” Jade absolutely CLUNKED opponent #1 with a forearm to the chest. It was one of the loudest things all night. Second, Jade doing a gorilla press is damn impressive. That’s for you, Shelton Benjamin Fan. *raises glass*

I’M A NERD: As a wrestling dork, it stood out to me which performers were just doing things in order to do them, and which folks have been trained or learned to work with believability. Case in point: the way people did clotheslines. There is such a difference, especially live, between the guys who just kind of stick their arm out for the opponent to take a bump; and the wrestlers who throw the lariat in a way where if you DON’T bump, you are getting rocked. The latter are the better trained. I’m a failure at being a pro wrestler, but looking back, I realize I had good trainers. One of the lessons imparted was to throw that shit. Not to hurt, but it looks bad and looks fake if your clothesline, or elbow, or whatever doesn’t have some jam to it. If the guy forgets to duck? Oh well. That’s on them. Matt Hardy, for example; it was a basic clothesline in his trios match for Elevation, but he had a hook to his line that made it look terrific. I’m not 100% against “spotfest” wrestling, but it is noticeable when guys do things that don’t actually have a purpose. “Why did you jump like that? Oh, just to be countered.”

HIT: I’ve seen Bryan Danielson live, on the indies and WWE, upwards of a half-dozen times. It was great to see some folks again and some for the first time. But there were two names that I have missed over and over that I hoped to finally check off with this show. To finally see Samoa Joe live and in person was an absolute treat. It’s a dude who carries himself like nobody else. He’s a heel based on his sheer ability to destroy anybody in his path. His facial expressions are top-tier, he works hard. As a fan I’m grateful as hell for this run, however long it lasts. Unfortunately, I’ve also never seen CM Punk live. The three ROH icons, three of my all-time favorites.

MID: So Hangman said he wasn’t cleared, but then accepted a match with Moxley, after saying he couldn’t accept a match? That segment was hot, but kind of muddled. Also… Hangman came across as nervous. Not sure what it seemed like on TV, but he was struggling with his words. Like he was trying to remember his script, or unsure of himself, tripping over words and going mush-mouthed at points. Hangman got a nice response, though, and maybe he was just having an off-night on the mic?

MEGAHIT: No Young Bucks. =D

Image Credit: Jonothan Hunter

The gray tights Claudio Castignoli has been sporting are unflattering and look even cheaper in person… fan of the night was the dad who, watching Athena just beat her opponent, yelled “Somebody call the police, that’s ASSAULT!”… House of Black were awesome live, now please have them do this violence on Dynamite… Lots of local DEFY talent on the show for Elevation, with many in the crowd recognizing them… Eddie Kingston working the crowd is a delight… Jon Moxley vs AEW microphones continues to be the best feud… Orange Cassidy appeared to close the night and hug his friends, but Trent? stormed off to much sad… hometown girl Aubrey Edwards did the Lord’s work no-selling plenty of chants in her direction to focus on her officiating job; she was able to interact with the crowd during commercial breaks… the AEW World Title Belt is huge and beautiful in-person… MJF may have gone on a little too long but nobody sat down during the entire promo battle between he and Danielson… Danhausen got involved in the tag team main event of Best Friends versus some local guys, attempting to eject referee Bryce Remsburg. Very evil, very nice… What a genuine surprise seeing STING come out to celebrate with Darby; even better was that Sting didn’t take the spotlight away from his protege/ally.

Image Credit: Jonothan Hunter

Final thoughts

You guys, I love pro wrestling.

Image Credit: Jonothan Hunter

Jonothan Hunter prefers restaurants to be built like a steakhouse, but handle like a bistro.

article topics :

AEW Dynamite, Jonathan Hunter