All Elite Wrestling’s Dynamite will celebrate its first anniversary this week, bringing to an end a riveting first year of weekly episodic programming. Though roughly half of this has been without crowds as a result of the pandemic, which resulted in a sparse couple of months content wise given the absence of key performers, they have continued to drive storylines, build their pool of wrestlers and develop new stars, putting themselves in a strong position for their forthcoming second year.
It hasn’t been perfect, but the company have enjoyed far more successes than misfires over the last twelve months. They have still had missteps aplenty, however, and cannot ever lose focus in the so-called ‘Wednesday Night War’ against WWE’s NXT brand, which has endured something of a fallow year after a long period of unrivalled brilliance. Backed by the might of Vince McMahon’s global behemoth, they can be expected from their history and resources to keep fighting no matter what.
Here are five key challenges that Tony Khan and company may face going forwards, and how they might overcome them as they attempt to grow and improve even further.
5. Building A Stronger Women's Division
Perhaps the most enduring criticism that AEW have faced over the last year has been the lack of attention paid to their female performers. Many shows have boasted just a single women’s match and the depth of talent has been noticeably thin, exemplified by how Britt Baker was recently the main focus of the division for several months despite being out of action with a foot injury.
One of the main issues seems to have been an overall lack of direction. Some stories flopped and were aborted (Brandi Rhodes’ Nightmare Collective and Allie as the Bunny), the Japanese performers brought in by Kenny Omega bar current champion Hikaru Shida were struggling to make an impact even before the pandemic prevented them from travelling and the promising pairing between Nyla Rose and Vickie Guerrero seems to have been put on ice for the time being given that the ‘Native Beast’ has had just one Dynamite match since the formation of their partnership.
There is a lot of potential on the roster. Penelope Ford has come on leaps and bounds; Anna Jay seems to be quickly developing as both a company and fan favourite and Kris Statlander’s quirky gimmick could easily catch on for its ridiculousness once fans return en masse. Throw in seasoned hands like Thunder Rosa (if she sticks around) and new signing Serena Deeb and all of the foundations of a solid division are there - they just need to be sufficiently and creatively utilised.