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It may be a New Year, but AEW Dynamite still has a lot of the same, old problems

With a fresh, new look, AEW entered 2023 with high hopes... but their first of the year still fell a little bit short of expectations

It's time we have a talk about AEW Dynamite. Possibly even hold an intervention.

All Elite Wrestling has accomplished so much since its launch in January 2019 that we almost take their existence for granted now. After years of complaining that there was 'only one show in town', the pro wrestling world was introduced to a literal, corporate giant. The new promotion had billion-dollar backers in the Khan family, some of the hottest free agent signees in the world, and a ton of promise. Their cup seemed to runneth over.

Oh yeah, they also had a sweet TV deal. One that would see the industry return to Turner Sports channels for the first time since WCW was sold off in 2001. This was, by far, the best effort that anyone had made in that near-20-year gap to challenge the McMahon dynasty.

In the beginning? It was working. Everything seemed to be clicking as AEW Dynamite became the hottest new wrestling show on the airwaves. Before long, Rampage would be added, albeit in a very late (and awkward) timeslot on Friday nights.

Main rival NXT was almost immediately vanquished by Dynamite, moving to Tuesday nights after a brief ratings skirmish. All Elite Wrestling was riding high, and they weren't afraid to crow about it here and there on social media. Many former WWE Superstars painted a picture of their new organization as an escape, a parachute. For them, it was a bit of utopia compared to working for Vince McMahon & Company.

Everything was going AEW's way, as they attempted to revolutionize the business

However, it didn't take long to see the cracks in the armor. Despite his best efforts, Tony Khan went from being a fan-friendly owner to being mistrusted by a large portion of the audience. Most of that was through no fault of his own, it's just a consequence of doing business.

Even the AEW faithful have had their patience tested, particularly with the departure of Cody Rhodes and his subsequent success in WWE. Seeing one of their founding fathers and a former Executive Vice President blow the roof off the house at WrestleMania 38 only added more sting to the situation. It also didn't help matters that the entire move was facilitated under a huge cloud of mystery, with neither side really coming out and telling the full story of what actually happened.

Cody's departure signaled the end of the welcoming party for the company. They have scrambled to find a true identity ever since.

That's why it was especially intriguing to see the debut of the 'new' AEW Dynamite, to kick off 2023. Looking to shake off some of the dirt from the past year or so, the company unveiled a new intro, a new set, and (hopefully) a new attitude. Coming off the ALL OUT debacle that culminated in CM Punk being unceremoniously sent home, it was time for a breath of fresh air.

AEW Dynamite has long been due for a makeover, and that's what we were supposed to get to start 2023: A new and improved product

The promotion for this night was tremendous, as has been the way that All Elite Wrestling has been advertised in general. TBS has been running regular 30-second spots for Dynamite on an almost continuous loop, every hour on the hour, for a couple of weeks now. This was especially prevalent over the holiday season, which was significant as a LOT of viewers were stuck at home due to the huge winter storm.

So, the attention was there. All that was left was for Tony Khan and AEW to deliver what they promised. The new intro made its debut, to a somewhat underwhelming response on social media. The predominant thought being: Sure, this is different... but is it actually better?

And while the show wasn't terrible by any stretch of the imagination, there was also no magical light switch that went. on, The new set is definitely cleaner and the graphics aren't as wild, but there are still a lot of technical problems. Eliminating missed cues or bad camera shots apparently wasn't part of the promotion's New Year's resolutions, because they were all still clearly present. These weren't small errors, either.

There was a truly bush-league moment when Jon Moxley attempted to cut a promo on 'Hangman' Adam Page, but couldn't get a house mic that could actually be heard 'in the house'. That live debacle was pretty symbolic of what we've seen from AEW over the past year.

Despite the pageantry and previews, nothing will change in the viewing experience until the company irons out these wrinkles. the booking on the show isn't as bad as many people may argue, but it's still lacking. Add in the fact that some very sophomoric errors continue to occur on the flagship show, and you start questioning just who the hell is pulling the levers behind the curtain.

Wednesday night really illuminated how much the promotion has regressed after three full years of action. Once again, they made big promises that were only halfway delivered. They're now getting dangerously close to losing some of its faithful followers, a trend that will occur if they don't repair a lot of easy-to-fix issues. Even the biggest loyalists will grow impatient if they feel like they aren't getting an honest effort.

Christmas is over and the New Year has passed. And AEW still has a long way to go to re-establish itself in the eyes of the fans. They need to get some of their old magic back as quickly as they possibly can. They can't have another year like 2022 turned out to be.

Otherwise? All the pretty packaging in the world won't make up for the terrible gift that's waiting inside.


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