How AEW Turns Trash Into Treasure

Shawn Spears Tully Blanchard

Jon Moxley debuted in All Elite Wrestling as a major disrupting force by instantly targeting Kenny Omega. In a believable, captivating brawl, he couldn’t hook the DDT immediately. Omega showed the ability to counter it before his fatigue and Moxley’s bloodlust sent him sprawling off a pile of prop poker chips. AEW bet on Moxley’s ability to restore his own aura, and the gamble paid off: instantly, he became the hottest thing in the business, and the nuance of the angle built expertly towards two goals. The beat-down did not totally incapacitate Omega. AEW got a new star and match over. Two birds, one stone.

The Cody Vs. Shawn Spears rivalry was a tremendous bit of long-term business. Very long-term: the programme acknowledged their rich, shared history, and Cody instigated the last chapter of their years-long friendship by absent-mindedly writing off his new signee as a “good hand”. This motivated Spears into cracking him with a controversial unprotected chair shot at Fyter Fest, following which he revealed his motivation and mouthpiece. Old school in history and mentality, the arc of the storyline—and the tone of personal animosity— enabled suspension of disbelief. This was an outright blood feud crafted with a gripping attention to detail.

AEW did not typecast Dillinger, or had him interrupt a heel by doing his ’10!’ schtick to all but confirm a match: a real, concerted effort went into convincing the audience that he belonged on the roster.

Dillinger is kind of a d*ck on social media, too, which may not have caused AEW to cast him as a heel—but they knew he had it in him to pull it off. He lost, at All Out, but a 7/10 performance was some achievement, given how ironic the whole 10 bit had become.

Jake Hager’s Dynamite debut was the damnedest thing.

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Former Power Slam Magazine scribe and author of Development Hell: The NXT Story - available NOW on!