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AEW Dynamite: Crowd Finally Returns as the Post-Pandemic Era Begins


AEW Dynamite: Crowd Finally Returns as the Post-Pandemic Era Begins



Something closely resembling a tightly-packed, pre-pandemic wrestling crowd pushed a late-night, sometimes messy episode of AEW Dynamite to an emotional and memorable experience that signals the start, as Britt Baker pointed out, of a new era for pro wrestling: the post-pandemic era. The tone of the night was set before the show even began, with AEW President Tony Khan releasing a video talking trash to WWE President Nick Khan over the two companies’ relationships with New Japan Pro Wrestling.

But while Tony Khan addressing a rival wrestling company executive (in a clearly humorous way) is sure to upset many of pro wrestling’s more “sensitive” fans, the video kicked off a night that felt, for the first time in a long time, rife with possibilities. For one thing, thanks to NBA playoffs preempting Dynamite on Wednesday, tonight’s episode aired live at 10PM, immediately following WWE Smackdown. For another, it was the final show before Sunday’s Double or Nothing PPV. But perhaps most importantly, it marked the return of a full capacity crowd to Daily’s Place.

As much as piped-in noise and paid talent performing as extras in the front rows made Dynamite perhaps the most lively wrestling show to watch during the pandemic era, and though socially-distanced crowds have been attending AEW shows for months, the energy of tonight’s episode showed why there’s no substitute for a real crowd front and center on a wrestling show.

The action and drama itself on AEW Dynamite last night was almost secondary to the surreal and uplifting feeling of seeing wrestlers united with fans after all both groups have been through for the past year-plus. Highlights included Miro utterly dismantling Dante Martin before squaring off with Lance Archer ahead of their Double or Nothing match, Britt Baker bringing her pandemic story arc full circle by confronting Hikaru Shida, who busted up her nose during the first month of pandemic shows in Georgia, cementing Baker’s status as the future face of the AEW Women’s division, in front of a live crowd, and of course an Inner Circle retrospective — and perhaps the final Inner Circle promo — introduced by Eric Bischoff and leading to a brawl inside the Jacksonville Jaguars’ stadium to end the show and promote Stadium Stampede 2 at Double or Nothing.

Some things went less than smoothly. At one point, a pre-recorded promo from Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston was cut off by a commercial break, only to air in full when the show returned. A weigh-in segment between Cody Rhodes and Anthony Ogogo, hosted by Paul Wight, seemed to go a little bit off the rails as Wight struggled with the scale and the wrestlers killed time by working the crowd. But it was that crowd interaction that saved the segment, because it’s in interaction wrestling fans (and wrestlers too) have been craving for so many months.

The message from last night’s AEW Dynamite was simple: wrestling, the way we know and love it, is back, flaws and all. AEW released a few highlights from the show on YouTube, which you can watch below. You can read the full results of the show here.

AEW Double or Nothing takes place on Sunday, May 30th, and will feature a full capacity crowd at Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, Florida. Headlining the card will be a triple threat match, with Kenny Omega defending the AEW Championship against Pac and Orange Cassidy. Also at the show, The Inner Circle will face The Pinnacle in the second Stadium Stampede match. Dr. Britt Baker will challenge champion Hikaru Shida for the AEW Women’s Championship. The Young Bucks will defend the AEW Tag Team Championships against Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston. TNT Champion Miro will defend his belt against Lance Archer. Sting and Darby Allin will team up against Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky in Sting’s first in-ring match in AEW. Cody Rhodes will take on Anthony Ogogo. Hangman Page will face Brian Cage in a one-on-one match. Multiple AEW stars (including at least one surprise) will compete in a Casino Battle Royale to win a future shot at the AEW Championship. And on the Buy-In pre-show, NWA Women’s Champion Serena Deeb will defend her title against the first AEW Women’s Champion, Riho. You can find more info about how to watch the show here.

Finally, The Crowd has returned to AEW DynamiteFinally, The Crowd has returned to AEW Dynamite
Finally, The Crowd has returned to AEW Dynamite

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