Ever since crowds have come back to professional wrestling it has made the product so much better to watch. Especially for a company like All Elite Wrestling. AEW was building such momentum when they started in 2019 that the pandemic of 2020 caused them to change how they do business. Some of the wrestlers were hurt because of not having crowds there. And AEW did their best with having wrestlers surround the ring to give the product some atmosphere. And the product was good especially the PPVs at Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, Florida. However, having the crowds back has given AEW and other companies some extra that was missing.
With the calendar turning to 2021, AEW slowly reintroduced crowds in their Florida home before going back on tour. And what a difference touring has made for the company. Tony Kahn has been able to go to new venues and new markets. And return to some markets even was supposed to go to prior to the pandemic. Two of those markets are Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, and Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, NY. If you recall prior to the pandemic, AEW originally was going to have Blood and Guts in Newark. Despite not having that show, AEW still put on a good Dynamite program. The show featured the in-ring debut of Adam Cole, Jon Moxley, and Eddie Kingston main eventing and so much great action.
As Elfeterios Repantis said it best to me:
“The electricity. The buzz of the crowd. I haven’t felt that way about attending a live pro wrestling event in YEARS. The only thing that had come close are NXT shows when it was hot. Add in the fact that this show was 18 months in the making – the first time AEW came to New Jersey after being postponed twice due to the pandemic. This crowd was red hot from the get-go.”
And that is exactly how I felt going to this show as well. I was ready for it from the word go. The anticipation of 18 months in the making was palpable. This is what makes professional wrestling great. The crowds and the atmosphere. It does not hurt the product is good as well. Not only that but this crowd was hot on that September night. As a wrestling company, if you can make it in the NJ/NY area you are doing something right because the crowd will let you know it one way or another. For me, I just wanted to be entertained and that is what AEW did.
Repantis continued by saying:
Even the Dark squash matches got great reactions. It was so great to be amongst wrestling fans who truly just love wrestling and want to be entertained. AEW and Tony Kahn have brought the fun back into wrestling. Dynamite at the Rock harkened back to the WWE’s Attitude Era days. You just have to be in attendance to experience it. It’s hard to describe in words. What great news for pro wrestling.”
But the fun did not stop there because being in attendance for AEW Grand Slam Dynamite and Rampage inside a tennis venue was another unreal experience. Sometimes the best shows are the ones you go to by yourself and this show delivered above and beyond my expectations. While I do think the New Jersey crowd was louder, the New York crowd was red hot as well. Kicking off with Bryan Danielson vs Kenny Omega was so awesome. The crowd was into it for the 30-minute match. And while it might have been a mistake to open with such a hot match as the crowd was drained after, who else was going in that spot.
From there the show got better and better. MJF versus Brian Pilman Jr. got a great reaction from the crowd. So did CM Punk who cut a great promo. And let’s just say despite what Cody Rhodes says about not wanting to be a heel, the fans in New York clearly did not like him and cheered more for Malakai Black. And wrestling fans in the NY/NJ area know their stuff. Closing with the women’s match for the title was excellent and the crowd loved it. The experience for Rampage was just as good. Like with the Newark show, the hot crowd lasted all night long because they got to see their favorite wrestlers in action. I will say next time AEW does something like this, Rampage does not need to be two hours. An hour and a half tops.
But there is nothing like live professional wrestling especially when there is a company out there that gets you excited to go out and purchase a ticket. In addition, there is a company that is giving fans the opportunity to hold wrestling parties again something fans have not done in a long long time. Again this is not a knock against WWE or other companies, but AEW is giving life back to professional wrestling and it is something the fans needed.