All Elite Wrestling returned to the Sears Centre outside of Chicago the night before Thanksgiving for its first “Dynamite” television taping at that arena.
AEW last ran the Sears Centre for its “All Out” pay-per-view on August 31. The Sears Centre is also home to the “All In” event over last year’s Labor Day weekend where this whole idea for a new wrestling company started.
Date: Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019
Place: Sears Centre Arena (5333 Prairie Stone Parkway; Hoffman Estates, Illinois 60192)
Ticket price: $64 total on StubHub (Section 110 lower level, Row 9, Seat 9); $20 Parking
Impressions and Observations:
- AEW Dynamite was a fun show to attend to live. For a television taping it didn’t drag on and moved at a good pace the whole night.
- I wasn’t able to get a ticket when they first went on sale so I had to grab one off StubHub before the show.
- The doors were advertised to open at 5:30 Central Time but there was already a huge line/group of people before that. The Sears Centre only has one entrance with like a few doors. It’s not designed to handle that amount of people all at once. Everyone crammed together in a large group that divided into several rows of people all trying to get it and then get past the security/ticket check. Even when I lined up right before 5:30, I didn’t get past security and my ticket scanned right after the doors until 6:10. It was freezing and incredibly windy outside, which made it absolutely suck waiting that long to get in the building. Behind me there were still a lot of people waiting to get inside.
- They need to leave the Sears Centre and run somewhere bigger, like a place closer to Chicago or actually inside the city. I know it’s a special building for the guys but it feels like the company has already outgrown the Sears Centre. It’s also a pretty far drive to get to from Chicago and there’s really no good public transportation around the building either. If the show wasn’t happening the night before a holiday, I’m not sure that I would make the drive out to the arena on a Wednesday during a work week.
- There was a pretty good selection of shirts and other merchandise, with most of the main talent covered. All the shirts were $30.
- There was no AEW Dark content taped before Dynamite. The show was advertised to start at 6:30 so I figured they were going to do at least one match before Dynamite. Justin Roberts introduced some special Olympic (I think) athletes that came out in groups with Sonny Kiss, Luchasaurus and Hangman Page. Afterwards there was about 20 minutes of waiting around until Dynamite started.
- The building looked to be mostly sold out. There was a whole section opposite the hard camera where it was almost entirely empty but I’m not sure if those seats were even available to the public. It seemed odd that the entire section would just be empty with small groups of random people sitting in them in a spread out manner when the rest of the arena was packed. I figured they were maybe using that area for production or something. There were hardly any tickets still available through the official site and even on StubHub there weren’t that many tickets being sold the week leading up to the show.
- The crowd was hot most of the night. Even with some of its drawbacks the Sears Centre is actually a great place to see wrestling once you’re in the building. Most of the seats give a good view of the ring so there’s probably not any terrible spots in the arena. The crowd makes it a fantastic and fun atmosphere.
- Jon Moxley got the loudest reaction of the night, followed by Cody, Kenny Omega, Chris Jericho and then maybe Hangman Page.
- The opening segment with Jericho’s celebration was hilarious. Virgil got a big reaction. Proud and Powerful giving Jericho a 40 ounce instead of bubbly got the crowd to chant 40, which was awesome. It was kind of hard to hear in the building what everyone in the ring were saying though. Jericho was awesome on the mic and just super funny. It was great when Ted Irvine, who played in the NHL for teams like the New York Rangers and is also Chris Jericho’s dad, made fun of the Chicago Blackhawks saying how much they sucked and how weak they were during his day. The crowd hated him for that and started loud “Blackhawks”chants.
- Orange Cassidy was over big, especially dressed up as a turkey for Thanksgiving.
- The Best Friends versus the Lucha Bros was a decent match. It never kicked into that next level though, which is kind of disappointing considering the talent of all four guys in the match.
- The women’s tag match started off real cold but eventually picked up and turned out pretty good. I liked it.
- Hikaru Shida got a great reaction from the crowd when she came out for her entrance.
- Emi Sakura trying to get the Queen “We Will Rock You” clap going just doesn’t work live. I don’t think people in the U.S. are that big on Queen and Freddie Mercury from a general pop culture standpoint where it would trigger some huge outpouring response. That’s one of those things that probably works well in Japan but doesn’t fully translate for a western audience. It especially doesn’t work when she’s trying to get this babyface fan response while always being on the opposite side, either in singles competition or in tag matches.
- Matt Knicks got loud “Freelance Wrestling” chants when he was out there, who quickly lost to Cody in his first match since the Full Gear PPV on Nov. 9. Freelance is a local independent group that runs in Chicago at the Logan Square Auditorium a lot.
- Cody came across like a huge star, which he’s basically cemented as at this point. The fans loved him.
- The Butcher and The Blade debut was a huge dud. Hardly anyone knew who these guys were. In the building there was hardly any reaction to them beating up Cody. It wasn’t good. AEW has an overkill of tag teams at this point. They really need to focus on getting a solid roster of credible talent in the undercard, a stronger women’s roster and more guys into the main event scene. Having Cody get attacked by them when he hasn’t even addressed the MJF feud yet is also a bad move.
- Omega vs. Pac was a great live match. Both guys got a great reaction but Kenny especially did. Pac’s falcon arrow to Omega from the top rope was nuts.
- Hearing MJF’s theme song live will probably never get old. He’s got one of the best themes going right now.
- MJF is fantastic live, especially for only being 23 years old. He knows when to pause or slow down to get the biggest reactions from the crowd. It’s also interesting to see the contrast of his own portrayal in AEW compared to MLW, where he does a slightly different gimmick and has his own stable in that company.
- Page’s Buckshot Lariat to MJF looked fantastic live. It looked like he about killed MJF.
- The Hangman Page and MJF match was another one on the card that felt disappointing. This is a match/feud that was built up on the AEW PPV events earlier this year before there was even a weekly Dynamite show. I thought this match could have even waited and main evented a future Dynamite episode with more time given, or even be a top match on a PPV. I don’t get the point of the Dynamite Ring since it doesn’t come with any bonuses like a title opportunity or something like that. Other than having a cool moment with DDP making an appearance to present the ring there was no real strong build up for the gimmick. Hopefully the eventual second match between both guys is better.
- DDP got a huge pop when he came out. His pyro was super loud. Most of the crowd did the DDP bang hand sign when he came out. MJF sticking his gum in DDP’s hand when Page extended it for a handshake was awesome and pissed the fans off. The pull apart between DDP and MJF/Wardlow was great. The crowd got really into it with loud, “Let them fight” chants.
- After The Young Bucks saved Dustin Rhodes from the Inner Circle, they cut a promo during the commerical break promoting a six man tag match for the following week. Matt Jackson said that as they drove into the area today that the building feels like home for them. Afterwards the Bucks thanked everyone for coming. They both come across as real genuine and likable guys.
- During the commercial break before the main event, the crowd broke out into loud chants for Aubrey Edwards, the referee of the match. She’s extremely popular.
- Scorpio Sky got a good reaction when he came out. Jericho came across like a big time star on a different level than everyone else.
- The main event itself was pretty good. I liked the match a lot. Sky’s offense looked really good and crisp, like his dropkicks and overall movements. Jericho seriously knows how to work the live crowd and get them to go from cheering to booing rather quickly. Sky’s nearfall pins got huge reactions in the building. There were loud “Scorpio” chants throughout the match. Sky reversing the Judas Effect by Jericho into a backside pin attempt for a real close count was awesome. The crowd was really into that moment. Even though he lost, Scorpio looked strong in the match. It was a great main event live.
- Moxley is a big time superstar. He has this incredible presence about him in the live setting. He got such a huge reaction when his music hit and he came out from the crowd. The stare down between him and Jericho was well done. You could feel the tension and excitement in the building even though neither guy did anything to the other. Later when Moxley was inside the ring standing on the turnbuckle the crowd was going nuts. When he left through the floor area out of the arena entrance the crowd was wild. He’s got this unique charisma that almost automatically makes him the top guy or at least in the top three of the company.
- Some people did leave after Dynamite was over but most of the audience stayed for AEW Dark.
- AEW Dark was pretty boring this week. Jimmy Havoc versus Brandon Cutler was a lame match with not much to it. Shawn Spears and Sonny Kiss was less than five minutes long.
- Proud and Powerful vs. Marko Stunt and Jungle Boy was alright but completely skippable. Santana and Ortiz repeated their spot they’ve done where they transfer the opponent they have in a suplex position to each other as they continually tag in and out of the match. They did this spot like a million times, which was just too much. Some fan sitting in front of me (who didn’t look or come across as your stereotypical wrestling fan) was complaining about how stupid it was. Marko did eventually reverse it into a pin attempt but the sequence went on too long. The ending of the match had a good sequence of moves done on Stunt that just about killed him given his size.
- Marko Stunt looks even smaller in person than he does on television. If the crowd and television audience likes him then it works but it can be hard to suspend disbelief sometimes. The high spots with Marko work well though when he’s flying around or being thrown at his opponents. The crowd did get into the match as it went on because of Marko’s offensive attempts.
- The Inner Circle beat down on Stunt and Jungle Boy after the match led to Luchasaurus coming down for the save. He got a huge reaction and took everyone out. At the end he had a stare down with Jake Hager. It’s been a good build towards that eventual match and Hager’s possible first in the company. There was an awesome spot where the Bucks and the rest of Jurassic Express darted Marko into Sammy Guevara for a Canadian Destroyer, which looked awesome.
- The fans these days already know all this pro wrestling stuff is “fake” or predetermined, even the newer audience. There were these young girls (at the most like seven or eight years old) sitting next to me talking during the AEW Dark main event about how the wrestlers plan the matches and they aren’t really fighting each other. When even small children are in on the secret then there’s really no going back to the “old days.” Complaining about how the business is being exposed or ruined by groups like AEW or some of their talent is just silly.
- After AEW Dark was over Cody came back out with Dustin Rhodes with the Bucks and Jurassic Express still in the ring. Some fan near the front row wearing a banana suit costume had a sign that said, “I’m bananas 4 Aubrey.” Cody told Aubrey to come down to the ring and everyone cheered for her. Cody called him out and brought the guy into the ring. The banana fan pinned Brandon Cutler (in street clothes) after the Bucks told him to lay down and do the job. Cutler initially laid down but kicked out at two. He cut a promo saying he was tired of losing all the time, that he just lost again tonight and couldn’t lay down again. The Bucks superkicked him and had the banana fan pin him. It was pretty funny.
- They were all tossing out a lot of shirts to the crowd and making jokes on the mic. There was a fan with a poster in the shape of a picture frame near the front row. While they were tossing out shirts, Nick Jackson said if he could throw one through the sign then they would come back to the Sears Centre for a PPV. Matt was like no, they can’t make promises like that because they will get in trouble. He jokingly changed the statement that they would come back to the building in the future if Nick made the toss. Nick tossed the shirt through the sign and everyone went crazy. One of the guys from Pro Wrestling Tees was also in the front row. They were trying to toss more shirts to the crowd and were looking for a t-shirt gun, which the guy from Pro Wrestling Tees had with him. Cody joked that this man had a gun with him the entire time, that it would be our secret and that the security in the building wasn’t the best. That was really funny. Jungle Boy got on Luchasaurus’ shoulders and shot off a few shirts. They told Cutler to give up his shirt he was wearing and then teased taking his pants from him and tossing them to the crowd. Towards the end Nick had a hilarious line where he joked about taking down the titantron and throwing it out to the crowd.
- Cody even threw each of his wrestling boots to opposite sides of the crowd. He said the Sears Centre was his favorite building in the world. He also said they were serious about coming back for a PPV.
- The whole arena was going absolutely nuts for the free merch, like it was the big main event of a PPV. Even that late into the show the crowd still had all that energy. Seeing it in person was hilarious.
- They ended everything around 10:09. The group was out there after AEW Dark for probably over 20 minutes just tossing out merch and joking with the fans. All the guys were pretty hilarious.
“Chris Jericho’s Thanksgiving Thank You Celebrashon for Le Champion” opened the show
Best Friends (Trent and Chuck Taylor) defeated the Lucha Brothers (Pentagon Jr. and Rey Fenix)
Bea Priestly and Emi Sakura defeated Hikaru Shida and Kris Statlander
Cody defeated Matt Knicks
Cody attacked by the debuting The Butcher and The Blade (Braxton Sutter and Andy Williams) with Allie
Kenny Omega defeated Pac
MJF defeated Hangman Adam Page for the Dynamite Diamond Ring
Diamond Dallas Page presents MJF with the Dynamite Diamond Ring
Dustin Rhodes cut an in-ring promo, got attacked by the Inner Circle but The Young Bucks made the save
Chris Jericho (champion) defeated Scorpio Sky to retain the AEW heavyweight title
Jon Moxley came out from the crowd and confronted Chris Jericho after the match to close the show
Nyla Rose came out for commentary
Jimmy Havoc defeated Brandon Cutler
Shawn Spears defeated Sonny Kiss. After the match Spears gave Kiss a pilediver outside of the ring.
Proud and Powerful (Santana and Ortiz) defeated Jurassic Express (Marko Stunt and Jungle Boy). After the match the Inner Circle and Jurrasic Express got into it with Luchasaurus taking them all out. Luchasaurus and Jake Hager also confronted each other after the match. The Young Bucks got involved after the Inner Circle all attacked Luchasaurus
The Young Bucks, Cody, Jurassic Express and Dustin Rhodes throw merchandise to the crowd