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AEW Dynamite is one of the most Exciting Shows on Television

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What is AEW?

If I told you one of the most exciting television programs of the year is a wrestling show, you might think I’m lying. The truth is, AEW Dynamite is just that— a bloody, brutal and exciting two hours of television with scene after scene of balls-to-the-wall action. No frills and all thrills, AEW (All Elite Wrestling) is more than just another wrestling league, and for the first time in a long time, WWE finally has some competition.

To say AEW’s Wednesday night program titled Dynamite is just another wrestling show doesn’t do the program justice; it’s so much more than that. The high flying action and breakneck fight sequences featured on Dynamite move at such a ferocious pace, you’ll swear the action was sped up. The punches, kicks, suplexes, body slams, dropkicks, and high flying moonsaults are so fast and well-executed, you won’t want to blink. The fact of the matter is, AEW features some of the best wrestlers and wrestling the world has ever seen and even if you’re not a wrestling fan, you’ll get a kick out of watching the action unfold on the screen.

DX Invades WCW Nitro

Monday Night Wars

Some of you have likely never heard of AEW but you’ve most likely heard of the WWE. Ever since its CEO Vince McMahon purchased WCW in 2001 (which included its video library, some wrestler contracts, and selected intellectual property) the WWE (formerly WWF) has dominated the professional wrestling landscape no thanks to ending the run of Monday Nitro, WCW’s flagship program and rival to WWF’s Monday Night Raw that aired at the same time on the same night.

For the unfamiliar, for nearly two years between 1996 and 1998, World Championship Wrestling was at the top of their game thanks to many of McMahon’s biggest stars such as Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Macho Man Randy Savage jumping ship to WCW. During that time WCW produced some of the most exciting matches and best wrestling storylines including what is arguably the biggest storyline in wrestling history, an angle known as the New World Order. If you were a wrestling fan at the time, the Monday Night Wars was most certainly must-see TV.

The Monday Night Wars was about more than just ratings— it was part of a larger overall personal and professional battle between WWF owner Vince McMahon and WCW-owner Ted Turner. The rivalry between the companies escalated throughout the 1990s to include the use of cutthroat tactics and the revolt of several high-profile employees of both companies. Hogan and company joined WCW while stars like Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho, and Eddie Guerrero headed to WWE. During that time, the suspense was heating up week after week with fans eagerly guessing what shocking revelation would unfold next. I fondly remember my friends and I gathered in front of the television every Monday night, flipping back and forth between channels to see which show had the best storylines and who had the best wrestling matches. It was the time when the Montreal “Screwjob” sent Brett the Hitman Hart to WCW and Stone Cold Steve Austin was driving a Coors Light truck into arenas and drenching his rivals with beer. And who doesn’t remember when D-Generation X invaded Nitro? If one were to write a list of the 50 greatest moments in the history of professional wrestling, chances are most of what you’d find on that list would have taken place during the WCW/WWE feud.

It’s no secret that when it comes to the world of professional wrestling, most wrestling fans derive as much pleasure watching people talk about wrestling as they do watching wrestling itself, analyzing the industry gossip and news about creative differences, hirings, firings, and the real-life rivalries and tragedies. For decades, pro wrestling has had its share of drama, both inside and outside of the ring but never to the degree of what transpired during the Monday Night Wars era. And at times, following the drama that unfolded behind the scenes felt necessary since both Nitro and Monday Night Raw would often cross-reference each other.

Unfortunately, that all ended on Monday, March 26, 2001, when Vince McMahon entered the Nitro arena and announced he was now the owner of WCW. To add salt to the wound, McMahon simulcast his announcement both in Cleveland, where Raw was occurring and during the WCW telecast in Panama City, Florida. To put into perspective just how huge of a deal this was, it would be the equivalent of Iron Man appearing in the next Avengers movie, turning to the camera, breaking the fourth wall and announcing that Marvel now owns all D.C. property. It was a huge deal and the world of professional wrestling has never been the same since.

sammy guevara

Wednesday Night Wars

The downfall of WCW is a long, complicated tale, written about ad nauseam and often told one-sidedly in various WWE documentaries released over the years but if you’re wondering how it connects to AEW, the answer is simple…

When AEW Dynamite premiered last month on TNT, it marked the first time in 18 years there was a legit competitor to McMahon’s empire. Not only is AEW going head-to-head with the wrestling behemoth’s live NXT show on Wednesday nights, but the upstart pro wrestling company’s weekly show Dynamite has beaten WWE’s NXT each and every week in the ratings, averaging well over a million viewers with a fanbase growing by the day. And with both shows airing at the same time on the same day, fans have dubbed this new wave of competition, the Wednesday Night Wars — a return to the aforementioned Monday Night Wars when WWE feuded with WCW for ratings and global supremacy. And much like the good ‘old days, the rivalry is heating up with wrestlers from both companies repeatedly taking jabs at each other during interviews and calling each other out on social media. With AEW gaining momentum, the landscape of professional wrestling is certainly chainging and some would argue for the better.

Funded by the billionaire businessman Tony Khan, All Elite Wrestling was launched last fall with the help of executive vice president Cody Rhodes, his wife, and chief brand officer Brandi and co-EVPs the Young Bucks, a.k.a. the greatest tag team in the world. On New Year’s Day, they officially announced their formation and ever since the AEW has been defying expectations. After making history in 2018 by becoming the first independent wrestling show to sell over 10,000 tickets in North America, the pre-sale tickets for the Las Vegas’ Double or Nothing pay-per-view sold out in record time. The success didn’t end there with every future show being a commercial success and the company gaining widespread media attention across the globe. As it stands, AEW has so done what no other wrestling promotion has been able to do in decades thanks to the all-star roster, enthusiastic fanbase and incredibly entertaining style of wrestling that most people aren’t used to seeing.

AEW

Why is AEW Such a Success?

There’s a long list of reasons as to why AEW is one of the best shows on television and at the top of that list of reasons is the league’s dedication and passion to the art of wrestling. The action in AEW is so relentless, I sometimes wonder if the wrestlers asked for stunt doubles. Week after week the incredibly talented roster of athletes perform dazzling stunts that sometimes have me rewind my PVR to see it done again. Only six episodes in, the newfound professional wrestling promotion has not disappointed viewers with their adrenaline-fuelled spectacle of flying fists, whirling kicks and daredevil antics that have left fans shouting for more. Thanks to the combination of experienced professionals and various fighting styles, every episode of Dynamite has found new ways to energize the crowd.

If you’re a fan of the high-flying precision of Mexico’s Lucha libre style of wrestling, you’re going to love AEW. If you prefer the anything-goes attitude of the American backyard wrestling scene, you’ll be happy to learn AEW has that too. If like me, you’re interested in seeing more of Japan’s hard-hitting strong style (Puroresu), it’s worth noting it’s also fearued in AEW. And if you’re a casual wrestling fan who grew up watching the likes of the Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels or The Rock, Dwayne Johnson, you should know that AEW also has the spectacle and showmanship of the WWE.

Watch Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley go at it with barbed wire weapons and I promise you’ll be gripping on to the armrests of your chair. Watch any of the jaw-dropping tag team matches and you’ll be inviting your friends over for the next pay-per-view event. Overall, the wrestling of AEW has lived up to the hype and even includes the sort of hardcore matches you would see back in the days on ECW. Hell, even its Tuesday YouTube show AEW Dark has consistently produced at least one match that rivals anything WWE does—see the Joey Janela vs. Kenny Omega unsanctioned match as just one example.

Double or Nothing
Dustin Rhodes vs. his brother Cody at Double or Nothing

Over the years, WWE has done everything in their power to scrub the word “wrestling” from their glossary. Prior to WrestleMania 36, the company went so far as to request that local officials refer to their talent as WWE Superstars and NOT as professional wrestlers— and their company as WWE and not World Wrestling Entertainment. They even asked that the press use the term Sports Entertainment to describe the brand and went so far as insisting on using the word “title” and not “belt” or a “strap.” As David Shoemaker once wrote, “I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that they’re pulling the wrestling out of the product so cavalierly. It’s like Coca-Cola changing its name to “Coke” and messing with the recipe.”

Unlike the WWE which puts wrestling on the backseat and produces shows that consist mostly of just men and women yelling at each other, AEW actually puts the wrestling front and center. The league even brought back the time limit knowing that even if it isn’t the most satisfactory way to end a match, it does still create the feel of real competition. And unlike the WWE in where it doesn’t matter who wins or loses; All Elite has made it a point to specify that wins and losses matter and that the ranking of their talent roster will help determine who will get a title shot. The wins-losses-draws are even listed next to the names of each wrestler as they make their entrances and if every win and loss matters, that means every match matters, keeping fans in suspense each and every week. AEW isn’t just trying to be different, it wants to be better and in doing so, feels closer to a professional sport than any other form of pro wrestling.

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AEW Signals Professional Wrestling is Alive and Well

The glory of Monday Night Wars may be long and gone but Wednesday Night Wars is just getting started. It’s an amazing time to be a wrestling fan as AEW looks to bring back many of the fans who stopped watching wrestling over the past 18 years. If you are one of those fans, I strongly encourage you to check out AEW. Make no mistake about it, AEW is changing the landscape of the wrestling world and Wednesday Night Dynamite is an electrifyingly kinetic and insanely frenetic spectacle stacked with a level of athleticism at which the WWE stars of yesteryear would marvel. It sure did leave me feeling black-and-blue and breathless.

As I said, there are plenty of reasons to take interest in AEW; the star-studded roster itself is worthy of its own article— but all in all, it’s the wrestling that takes center stage and makes a show like Dynamite the rawest and most intense wrestling spectacle we’ve seen on broadcast television in years. AEW is an unstoppable wrecking ball and signals professional wrestling is alive and well.

  • Ricky D

Some people take my heart, others take my shoes, and some take me home. I write, I blog, I podcast, I edit, and I design websites. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Goomba Stomp and the NXpress Nintendo Podcast. Former Editor-In-Chief of Sound On Sight, and host of several podcasts including the Game of Thrones and Walking Dead podcasts, as well as the Sound On Sight and Sordid Cinema shows. There is nothing I like more than basketball, travelling, and animals. You can find me online writing about anime, TV, movies, games and so much more.

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Greatest Royal Rumble Matches: Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker Casket Match

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Greatest Royal Rumble Matches Casket Match

Royal Rumble 1998

WWF World Heavyweight Championship

The 1998 Royal Rumble was the eleventh entry in the annual pay-per-view event. It took place on January 18, 1998, at the San Jose Arena and is remembered best for two things: Stone Cold Steve Austin winning his second Royal Rumble by eliminating The Rock– and the thrilling Casket Match between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship.

Unfortunately, it is also remembered as the match that temporarily ended the career of Shawn Michaels.

It was ‘The Last Outlaw’ Undertaker versus Mr. WrestleMania a.k.a. The Main Event a.k.a. The Heartbreak Kid a.k.a. The Showstopper. After costing him the Championship in a match against Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart at Summerslam 1997, The Undertaker was out for revenge.

Shawn Michaels was the champion heading into the match, and he was also the favourite thanks to ample support from his fellow Degeneration X members Triple H and Chyna standing ringside.

Undertaker and Michaels had previously met in an outstanding match at Ground Zero: In Your House before going on to star in the first Hell in a Cell where Undertaker beat the hell out of Shawn, only to lose in the end no thanks to Kane interfering. This time around, however, Kane and Undertaker were now on good terms— or so we thought.

Needless to say, expectations were high for this one!

Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker Casket Match

Despite his age, Shawn Michaels was in the prime of his career, and every one of his matches with The Undertaker during this era became legendary. Unlike many other rivalries in WWE history, every time these two men went toe-to-toe in the center of the squared circle; fans knew they were in for something special.

The match itself isn’t necessarily their best work but it’s arguably the best Casket Match ever and it culminated with a truly unforgettable ending that had many fans glued to their seats.

The Undertaker controlled most of the match despite the constant interference from Triple H and Chyna, which in retrospect makes sense since early in the match, Shawn Michaels herniated two disks in his back and completely crushed another after receiving a back body drop on the side of the casket. Being the champ that he was, Michaels continued to wrestle, and Undertaker eventually began to lose his dominance as things moved outside of the ring with Michaels delivering a piledriver on top of the steel steps. Following a high-flying elbow drop and Sweet Chin Music, Shawn Michaels seemed to have the match finally in his control but as all good heels do, he blew the opportunity to seal the deal and instead chose to taunt his opponent, giving Taker enough time to recuperate.

Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker Casket Match

The rest of the match saw the two men go back and forth, rolling in and out of the casket and delivering their respected finishers. Eventually, the two men made it back to the ring where Undertaker gave Shawn Michaels a chokeslam before dragging him to the edge of the ring and hitting a jumping tombstone piledriver into the casket. The match looked to be over but before Undertaker could close it, the New Age Outlaws and Los Boricuas ran in and collectively pummeled Undertaker until the lights went out in the arena. Kane’s music played and the Big Red Machine made his way to the ring to save the day.

Only he didn’t…

Kane instead turned on Undertaker, and choke slammed his own flesh and blood into the casket thus allowing Triple H and Chyna to shut the lid, and end the match.

Royal Rumble 1998 Casket Match HBK Undertaker

As mentioned above, the match itself isn’t the best match we would see from HBK and The Phenom but in my eyes, they are two of the ten greatest superstars in WWE history and even their worst match is still far better than 90% of the other matches the WWE offers. But what really made the night memorable was the ending!

With the Undertaker trapped inside, Paul Bearer came to the ringside carrying giant padlocks and with the help of Kane, they locked the Undertaker inside the casket and proceeded to roll it to the top of the entrance ramp where Kane took an axe and began to dispatch the coffin before dousing it with gasoline and setting it on fire. And the entire time, Undertaker was supposedly inside.

If you were a young fan watching at the time, the ending of this match might have given you nightmares. It was like something straight out of a horror movie and it was an ending everyone was talking about for months.

As we watched various emergency officials extinguish the fire, Commissioner Slaughter and others desperately tried to break open the casket to free Undertaker. And when the casket was finally wedged opened, Undertaker was nowhere to be seen.

Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker Casket Match

Regardless if you agree this is one of the greatest Royal Rumble matches, the match itself is historically significant for many reasons. It was the match that forced Michaels to take an extended hiatus due to a legitimate back injury and it also marked the last time Undertaker wrestled Shawn Michaels before their historic WrestleMania XIV match. Meanwhile, Kane’s interference set up an o ongoing rivalry between the brothers of destruction. In the end, the 1998 Royal Rumble Championship Match delivered a great story complete with stellar performances from everyone involved.

  • Ricky D

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series. Click here to see every entry.

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Greatest Royal Rumble Matches: The First-Ever Tag Team Tables Match

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First-Ever Tag Team Tables Match

Royal Rumble 2000

The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz

The 2000 edition of the Royal Rumble, which was held at the Madison Square Garden on January 23, is without a doubt one of the best WWE pay-per-views ever! It’s an absolute classic filled with memorable moments such as The Rock’s unforgettable Royal Rumble win and the street fight between Triple H and Cactus Jack. It also featured the first-ever Tag Team Championship Tables Match between two of the most significant tag teams a the time.

The WWF WWE has always had some truly amazing tag teams— from The British Bulldogs to The Rockers to The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express— but it was at the turn of the century that the tag team division really started heating up with competitors taking it to a whole new level in jaw-dropping hardcore matches, table matches, ladder matches and of course, TLC matches.

Leading this resurgence were The Hardy Boyz and the recent ECW defectors, The Dudley Boyz and at the 2000 Royal Rumble, the two teams would showcase their stuff in an unforgettable championship match that featured high-flying, no holds barred action.

The First-Ever Tag Team Tables Match

It was the second match of the night and it was a match that would foreshadow the legendary TLC series between The Hardyz, The Dudleyz and fellow tag team competitors Edge and Christian. Taking the opportunity to impress a large pay-per-view audience, the two teams delivered a phenomenal showcase filled with several high-octane stunts and high-risk maneuvers.

In order to win the match, you had to put both members of the opposing team through a table. This meant that fans would be treated to seeing at least three tables smashed before the end of the match. However, these trailblazers wouldn’t settle for just three; by the time the bell rang, at least nine tables had been destroyed.

The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz Royal Rumble 2000

The match only lasted about twelve minutes, but it was an astonishing tag team match no less, and one filled with plenty of highlights including a mid-rope Powerbomb that sent Matt Hardy through a table. At one point, the Hardy Boyz gained the advantage with a double superplex to Bubba Ray and after a devastating chair hit across Bubba’s forehead, Matt and Jeff Hardy simultaneously performed a diving leg drop and a diving splash, sending their opponent through the table.

The match eventually carried onto the entrance as the Dudley Boyz stacked two tables on top of two other tables under a balcony. In a moment that would define what the tag team division would like over the next several years, Jeff Hardy dove off the balcony and delivered a Swanton Bomb to seal the victory.

The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz Royal Rumble Tag Team Championship Tables Match

There are many reasons why wrestling fans remember the Attitude Era as the peak period of the WWE. Not only did it have edgier, controversial storylines, often pushing of the boundaries of what could be shown on national television, but the Attitude Era also featured a plethora of incredible performers, and yes, that includes many legendary tag teams. In the eyes of many wrestling fans, the Attitude Era featured the best tag team matches — and you’d be hard-pressed to find any other era in the WWE that had as much talent in the division.

The match between the Hardy Boyz and the Dudley Boyz at the Royal Rumble not only put both teams on the map, but it set up one of the greatest rivalries in the history of the WWE. It was the first-ever Tag Team Tables Match, and in my opinion, it is also one of the most underrated matches of the pay-per-view.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series. Click here to see every entry.

  • Ricky D
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Greatest Royal Rumble Matches: Triple H and Cactus Jack Street Fight

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Royal Rumble 2000 Triple H Street and Cactus Jack Street Fight

Royal Rumble 2000

WWE Championship: Triple H vs. Cactus Jack

The thirteenth annual Royal Rumble gave us one of the best matches in WWE history.

The event took place on January 23, 2000, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It was the start of a new decade and the WWE was gearing up to build their next great champ. And this was the match that gave one participant the push he needed to become a heavyweight legend over the next decade and arguably the greatest heel for the entire Attitude Era.

Of course, I’m referring to the Street Fight match between Triple H and Cactus Jack for the WWF WWE Championship.

It was the match the helped Triple H earn everyone’s respect; in fact, in retrospect, it’s clear the whole match was designed as one giant promo in order to give Triple H a believable physical prowess as an ongoing champion contender. And for WWE fans who weren’t familiar with Mick Foley’s earlier hardcore wrestling, the match pretty much certified the man was indeed, truly insane.

Yes, Mankind and Undertaker had already wrestled their legendary Hell in the Cell match two years prior at King of the Ring— and yes, we had already seen plenty of street fights in the WWE— but the WWE Championship match at the 2000 Royal Rumble was a brutal, violent, and extremely bloody affair. By WWE standards, it pushed the boundaries, delivering a level of violence that casual WWE fans weren’t accustomed to seeing.

It was also a match that told an excellent story and had a remarkable buildup leading into the event.

Greatest Royal Rumble Matches: Triple H Street and Cactus Jack

By the summer of ’99, Triple H was finally getting the main event push he deserved thanks to the McMahon-Helmsley Faction, a partnership that benefited from that fact that at the time, Stephanie McMahon had almost full control over the WWE. Great power means great responsibility but for Stephanie McMahon, it meant scheduling unreasonable matches for the wrestlers who were deemed a major threat to her husband. The superstar most affected was none other than, Mick Foley.

Triple H and Mick Foley put on a series of exciting matches in the first year of the new millennium and with this rivalry, came some of the best writing in the history of the WWE. The compelling storyline featured legendary promos, unforgettable drama, and unusual matches designed to wear down Triple H’s main competition. One such match was the “Pink Slip on a Pole Match” between The Rock and Mankind, with the loser forced to leave the WWE. Mankind lost, and thus was fired unceremoniously, only to return two weeks later when the Rock and the rest of the WWE superstars threatened to walk out unless Mick Foley was reinstated. That night, Foley requested a Street Fight for the WWF WWE Championship at Royal Rumble— and on a January 13 episode of SmackDown!, Foley shocked the world when he returned to the ring in his Cactus Jack persona! It wasn’t Mankind set to fight Triple H at the Royal Rumble— instead, it would be the hardcore legend.

WWE Championship: Triple H vs. Cactus Jack

With Mick Foley entering his final year as a full-time professional wrestler, fans were expecting big things from the legend, and the 2000 Royal Rumble Championship match did not disappoint. There have been plenty of Street Fights in World Wrestling Entertainment history, but one would be hard-pressed to find one better than this classic. It was the fifth match of the night— in one of the best Royal Rumble pay-per-view events to date— and by far the most memorable match on the card.  

Royal Rumble Matches: Triple H Street and Cactus Jack Street Fight

Cactus Jack gained the early advantage after repeated punches but it didn’t take long before both men took to the outside the ring using everything in their reach including the ring bell, the stairs, a couple of trash cans and more. The match featured multiple chair shots to the head along with the destruction of both announce tables and at one point, the two men even took the fight into the crowd. But the real turn of the match came earlier when Cactus brought out a 2×4 wrapped in barbed wire, and slammed it across the skull of Triple H, busting his forehead wide open. It was brutal. It was bloody, and for some fans, it was hard to watch.

Royal Rumble Matches: Triple H Street and Cactus Jack Street Fight

Reminiscent of prior a Royal Rumble, Triple H managed to handcuff Cactus Jack and continue to use the steel chair as a weapon, taking advantage of a man who could barely defend himself. Eventually, The Rock made a brief cameo, striking Triple H across the head with a chair, and allowing a police officer enough time to remove Jack’s handcuffs so he could continue to fight. Soon after, Cactus Jack was ready to seal the match but made the mistake of pouring hundreds of thumbtacks onto the ring. In a quick turn of events, Triple H fought back to take control of the match and hit his Pedigree finisher on his opponent, slamming the challenger face-first onto a large pile of thumbtacks and in the process and sealing the victory. The finish was gut-wrenching and graphic but well-scripted given the level of hatred and disdain the Superstars had for each other. Both men took a beating, but in the end, it was Triple H who escaped the victor.

Royal Rumble Matches: Triple H Street and Cactus Jack Street Fight

The brutality of the match is a reminder of the differences between the current WWE and the Attitude Era. Nowadays, the WWE doesn’t allow blood in their matches, never mind the use of barbwire and thumbtacks as weapons to use against your opponents. It was a match of its time; a match that stands the test of time— and one of the greatest matches in Royal Rumble history, fueled by the emotion of the competitors, and an epic storyline that would prove Triple H a legitimate headliner.

On a night filled with memorable moments such as the Tables Match between the Hardy Boyz and the Dudely Boyz, not to mention The Rock’s unforgettable Royal Rumble win, Triple H and Mick Foley ended up stealing the show— but it was far from the latest chapter in their rivalry. With the stage set for another iconic battle, the Hardcore Legend and Triple H would step inside a Hell in the Cell for yet, another epic encounter.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series. Click here to see every entry.

  • Ricky D
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