For weeks the wrestlers and staff of All Elite Wrestling have been touting AEW Winter is Coming as the biggest episode of Dynamite to date. With a main event of Jon Moxley vs. Kenny Omega for the AEW World Championship, there was certainly some clout to those claims.
The rest of the show certainly lived up to the hype: it started with a really fun Dynamite Diamond Battle Royale chock-full of storyline progression, a solid women’s match that got ample time and built Britt Baker’s feud with Thunder Rosa, Hobbs thriving in his new heel role, and AEW Women’s Champion Hikaru Shida cutting a promo that lasted longer than eight seconds (and also continued the fun story of Shida totally-not-being-scared of Abadon). All great stuff.
That’s not why we’re all talking about Dynamite today though.
Instead of talking about how Kenny Omega is finally AEW World Champion, his slump ending, the Cleaner being back, and proving his worth in American pro wrestling — we’re talking about about how Kenny Omega and Don Callis changed the whole world of wrestling in about five minutes.
There will be no more passing mentions of Impact Wrestling. And why? Because AEW and Impact are now working together, and Kenny Omega is going to appear on AXS TV (and Twitch) next Tuesday on Impact’s broadcast. We’ve got the old school story of a heel taking the top prize and hopping to another territory, only this heel is an Executive Vice President of the company he just ran from!
And if that wasn’t enough, we also got the AEW debut and TNT return of Sting! The Icon is a wrestling legend and WWE/TNA hall of famer, who walked down to the ring under the cover of snowfall and made his presence known to the AEW roster and wrestling world. With Sting retiring from in-ring action due to injuries while in WWE, it makes you wonder what his next move will be now that he’s signed this long-term deal with All Elite Wrestling.
We’ve got questions to ask, fantasies to book, and glimpses to be made at both the future and at the past. It’s a show so big that it requires no less than two writers to tackle, so with Darius Melton and Peter Boyer on the call, let’s break down what just happened on last night’s episode of AEW Dynamite.
Darius: Hey, Peter. What face did you make during Sting’s debut? I was personally frozen in an O-face for a legitimate 3 minutes straight while listening to the commentary team devolve into near-tears.
Peter: I jumped up cheering then a second later cursing since I spilled my drink, but boy did I not see that coming at all. I absolutely loved everything about that debut especially his video and the snow falling as he walked out, everything about that was absolutely perfect.
Darius: I don’t know who pitched the snow, but it added so much to that entrance. Winter came and out came Sting, and time FROZE (heh). Sting didn’t even do anything besides stare at Darby and the Nightmare Family, but do I need him to do more than that? I hope that’s his whole “long-term deal.”
Peter: I imagine that they are going to have him manage someone, maybe Darby? I’d be way too nervous watching a 61 year old guy in the ring so hopefully he sticks to that sort of role. But it is extremely exciting to see him on TV again and I’m excited to see what they do with him.
Darius: It’s interesting, because I historically know Sting as the guy who fights large swaths of injustice. In WCW, it was the nWo. In WWE, it was the Authority. Granted, I was introduced to Sting in TNA (long story), so I didn’t start watching him in that role, but it’s definitely something I’m used to seeing, but I struggle to picture it in AEW. Team Taz is four dudes. The Inner Circle is seven dudes fighting each other. I think as a manager, it’d be a new world for the Sting character.
OH MY GOD, IS THIS BATMAN BEYOND?
Peter: I think he fits extremely well with managing Darby seeing as Darby has, to a lesser extent perhaps, that sort of vibe to him. Maybe not actively seeking out injustice but always seems to get tangled up in the fight. As for Batman, I’m going to have to admit that I stick to the wrestling section of AIPT for a reason and plead ignorance on that one.
Darius: Fair enough. I don’t even think I have enough knowledge to dive deeper into that one. But I do think Sting and Darby is a better partnership in the eyes of Darby than any of the suggested ones he’s previously had (Taz, Mox, Cody). Taz wouldn’t “get” Darby, while Mox and Cody are rival competitors to him, even if they don’t mind him and vice versa on a personal level. With Sting, even if he doesn’t get Darby’s whole deal, at least he’ll probably leave him alone. Sting watches from the rafters while Darby jumps from them; zero words pass between the two. So, if this is the path they go down, I’m super interested.
Peter: I love that image, especially with Darby recently taking to sitting in the stands silently watching. The image of the two of them sitting together not saying anything for some reason just seems more powerful than Darby by himself.
Darius: Oh MAN, that’s so cool! Everything about Sting showing up was amazing. But the thing that caught me off guard after it ended was that after he left we’d already seen four out of five matches on the card and still had 50 minutes left. AEW took us for an emotional ride from the instantly visible hype of Sting’s debut to the slowly building hype for the main event.
Peter: I gotta admit though, with that main event the match itself was perhaps just a tad underwhelming for me. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed it immensely and everything during the match itself was really good, but perhaps I had my expectations a tad too high here.
Darius: The match itself was good-not-great to me. I liked Omega going for the legs, and I always pop for a chair-sitting punch-out (especially when it’s Mox just knocking slobber). I liked the reversals of the One Winged Angel, and I loved that we got desperate NJPW Omega at the end with the 50 quintillion V-triggers. But still, I think just through the sheer force of commercial breaks, the in-ring quality wasn’t going to be there for me, and the match was instead sold on its drama at the end.
Peter: I did love Kenny just spamming V-triggers, just like me in any fighting game. And that V-trigger to Mox as he was in mid air made me yell pretty loudly. I wasn’t a fan of Mox not going for the pin after that first Paradigm Shift, I get what they were going for with him wanting to continue with trading blows but it just felt a bit strange to me, why not have him do something other than his finisher to segue into getting the chairs?
Darius: I don’t love it, but I kind of get what they were showing. Up to this point, Mox has faced monsters of the weeks, snot-nosed brats like MJF and Jericho, and people he has questionable relationships with like Kingston and Darby. But with Kenny, he kind of hates him? I don’t like Mox diluting his finisher, especially when in WWE no one except Lesnar kicked out of the Dirty Deeds, but I like him doing it this way and selling the story of his anger and hubris rather than having Kenny kick out of it like Brodie.
Peter: Agreed, it just sort of sat wrong with me, him using the Paradigm Shift there I mean. Mox has never felt like a person who will raise someone up after a two count which is what this essentially was and I didn’t feel like there was enough animosity between the two to warrant a shift in character now. But in the end it isn’t too big of a deal, most just something that took me out of the flow of the match for a bit.
Darius: I will say I did lose a little bit of my focus on the match during the whole heater spot, though as soon as Callis stood up from the desk, I knew we were getting big storyline progression. I didn’t know what that progression would be, and I 100% did not see that progression being a heel Kenny Omega showing up as AEW World Champion on Impact Wrestling, but I don’t know. It was clearly something.
Peter: I gotta admit with that heater spot I was a bit nervous. Unless it’s made extremely clear it’s a work, those “Should we stop the match?” moments always make me feel a bit uncomfortable, especially since that Hardy match is still fresh in my memory. So I was extremely glad the Callis run-in signaled for me that it was planned.
But man, I don’t think anyone saw that coming, I was extremely confused as to why Callis was getting involved but when he did I was hooked.
Darius: He freaking boomed me. I was just saying earlier that day that they should bring totally unbiased commentator and not-at-all-Kenny-Omega-fanboy Don Callis in for all of Omega’s big matches because he immediately made Omega vs. Hangman at Full Gear feel more like New Japan stuff. Then AEW gave me what I wanted (I THOUGHT) when Callis showed up. Now that Jackyl — that Virus — has gone and ruined the integrity of my AEW. For shame.
But for real, this Impact stuff is tying everything together and I love it. AEW, NWA, Impact, AAA. We’re cooking now.
Peter: I absolutely love this invasion angle and it’s a pretty unique way of doing one. I normally watch Impact here and there but I am absolutely tuning in live on Tuesday. I’m extremely interested to see what Kenny has to say. Is he simply using Callis and Impact purely to get the AEW Championship? Has he become bitter with AEW and wants to defect to Impact? I gotta know!
Darius: It’s super interesting what Kenny’s benefits are. Callis helped him become AEW Champion, and now Kenny gets Callis a ratings pop. Is there more to it? Will Callis have Kenny defend against Moose or Eric Young? Will Kenny have Don pimp out more Elite merch and bury Hangman on commentary? I have to know too!
And speaking of those matchups, you have to think about the influx of tag teams and female talent this partnership could bring, right?
Peter: Absolutely! It’s extremely smart for them to work with Impact especially since Impact’s Women’s division is absolute fire, and of course AEW needs all the help it can get there. Rosemary and Allie back together maybe? Jordynne Grace coming in and wrecking house? I want it all. And with Impact dipping their toe into intergender wrestling that opens up even more possibilities with AEW.
Darius: The fellas behind AEW were also behind All In once upon a time, and the Over The Budget Battle Royale whet my appetite for a Jordynne Grace vs. Brian Cage match. But dude, even if it’s just the women, imagine AEW wrestler and NWA Women’s Champion Serena Deeb on Impact with Tenille Dashwood or something. Just a great hodgepodge of everything, and I’m here for it. Maybe have anti-outsider Britt Baker team with Rebel to go against the soon-to-be Knockouts Tag Team Champions?
That’s another interesting thing: some wrestlers are predisposed to hating outsiders. We already have Britt Baker and TH2. Who else is going to angrily enter this partnership with Impact?
Peter: I wouldn’t be surprised if Rebel finally gets fed up with Britt and teams up with some of her old Impact buddies. Honestly I could go on for days just fantasy booking this, this whole thing has got me extremely excited.
Darius: Same here! The key takeaway (besides Kenny Omega and Don Callis being absolute bastards) is that the wrestling world just got a lot more open with this move. I’m so excited by these connections, and it’s like we’ve entered a whole new, exciting era of this little old industry. AEW wanted to change the business, and it looks like they’re doing just that one promotion at a time.
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