POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: AEW Dynamite marks its two-year anniversary

John Pollock looks at the growth of AEW over the past two years, Tony Khan reflects on Grand Slam, Rampage quarters, Bellator adding non-title five-round fights, Justin Thornton's death, Patricio vacates title, Dynamite line-up, MLW story in Washington Post & more.

Photo courtesy: All Elite Wrestling


**Rewind-A-Dynamite is LIVE tonight at 10:15 p.m. ET with Wai Ting and I reviewing Dynamite’s second-anniversary show from Philadelphia that has a strong line-up. We will also discuss the viewership figures from the draft episode of WWE Raw, NXT 2.0, and all the latest news. POST Wrestling Café members at the Double Double, Iced Capp & Espresso level have live access every week for Rewind-A-Raw and Rewind-A-Dynamite.

**Rewind-A-Wai #96 features a review of the 2020 documentary Ospreay – Rise of an International Pro Wrestler, which was a crowd-funded project chronicling the rise of Will Ospreay out of Essex and becoming an international star when he joined NJPW in 2016 and the lead-up to his first Tokyo Dome appearance the following January. In this episode, we are joined by Benno from the British Wrestling Experience to share his views of the Britwres scene at the time of the documentary being filmed and contrast it to today along with the overall state of the Britwres scene and Ospreay’s place within it. This show is available now for all POST Wrestling Café members.

**For the Tuesday Café bonus shows, we will be putting out a G1 show next Tuesday and then holding off on the next Rewind-A-Wai until October 26th after the G1 ends. The next Rewind-A-Wai will cover WrestleMania 19 from March 2003 in Seattle and was chosen by Espresso Executive Producer Daniel Holmes.

**There will be a special live edition of MCU L8R on Thursday night at 10 p.m. ET. Wai Ting and WH Park will be joined by Rich Fann from the Pro Wrestling Torch and our own Nate Milton to review the final episode of What…If? They will be taking calls during the live show and is exclusive to members of the POST Wrestling Café.


Tonight: Rewind-A-Dynamite with John & Wai (LIVE at 10:15 p.m. ET)
Thursday: MCU L8R with Wai Ting, WH Park, Nate Milton & Rich Fann (LIVE at 10 p.m. ET for Patrons)
Friday: Rewind-A-SmackDown (LIVE at 11:15 p.m. for all Patrons)
Saturday: G1 Climax – Days 11-13 Podcast (Patreon)
Sunday: The NWA Podcast with Nate Milton, Kris Ealy & Andrew Thompson


AEW Dynamite celebrates its second anniversary tonight with a show from the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia as the promotion enjoys its highest level of success to date.

It feels like far more than two years where Dynamite launched on October 2, 2019, setting off the “counterprogramming collision” (because we need a new title) with NXT that was hardly the competitive battle expected, instead, playing out for 18 months and placing NXT on a new night with a facelift.

While there were many skeptics of the AEW model and type of professional wrestling they presented, it found its audience but not without struggle along the way with room for improvement today. The overall health of the industry is far greater with a legitimate competitor that has become a haven for talent seeking an outlet that promotes their vision of pro wrestling, something that WWE has veered from, and in many cases, never was.

The company has expanded its television footprint with the addition of Rampage that has performed well given its timeslot and far better than the alternatives TNT has for that time of the evening. The true value will be seen when AEW’s television rights come due with WarnerMedia, which runs through 2023 but is believed to have an option for 2024. Those negotiations and deals are the largest long-term story to watch in concert with WWE’s own television rights that run through the fall of 2024. It’s pure guesswork to assess the landscape that far in advance but the best-case scenario for the industry is a healthy renewal of WWE’s rights with the belief in the industry that AEW is undervalued and receives a dramatic increase.

But the story of AEW cannot be told without the central figure that is Tony Khan. For two decades the talk of a competitor to WWE has centered around the financial strength to compete with minimal attention to the wrestling acumen required to thrive in an industry few have succeeded in outside of one family for the past generation. Yes, AEW had the requisite financing to get this off the ground but it was Tony Khan’s ability to land a deal with TNT and more importantly, secure a renewal just months into the deal and right before the pandemic. We will never know how crucial that deal was but there is no doubt that the company would have had to operate throughout the pandemic in a radically different way with the loss of live gates, which were essential.

It’s been outlined and reiterated over the past few days how the low point for AEW occurred after the December 18, 2019, episode, which was the lone week that NXT topped Dynamite in both viewers and in the 18-49 demographic. NXT put forth a women’s championship match that saw Rhea Ripley unseat Shayna Baszler while Adam Cole defended the NXT title against Finn Balor. For AEW’s audience, they went off the air with a Dark Order beatdown of The Elite that was universally panned and a strong statement in opposition to the direction.

Rather than dig in his heels and fight his audience, Khan regrouped as AEW was off for Christmas week and assumed more control of the booking and confidence in his own instincts, and came back with a solid show on New Year’s Day 2020.

Fast forward to today and Dynamite is performing at its highest level both in viewership and 18-49 while also consistently delivering a strong television product. They have plenty of room for growth as outlined for months in the Wrestling Observer with a breakdown of their audiences and failing to attract a female audience at the level of WWE. It becomes tricky when you are often among the top shows on cable, sometimes #1, and how much do you deviate from that formula in hopes of growing it or affecting the audience that is watching? There is a central question that more female fans are watching the WWE product, so why is that?

WWE has a strong female presence on their shows, although it’s a misnomer to assume that female fans just want to watch female wrestlers, but it is a notable difference between the two. AEW has a star in Britt Baker but has yet to create a stable of challengers that are featured parts of the program. In terms of a major rival, the closest is Thunder Rosa, although has been seen sparingly since that excellent Lights Out match in March. A formula that has worked well for AEW in creating new stars is attaching them to proven commodities (Darby Allin with Sting, Jungle Boy with Christian Cage, Hangman Page with The Elite, Sammy Guevara with Chris Jericho, etc.) To me, those associations have helped while keeping the focus on the younger star whereas a lot of the female matches on Dynamite are contained to their segment on the show where the match is cold and without context if you are not following the shoulder programming on YouTube where the stories develop.

In closing, this is the most competitive period we have seen in North America in two decades. The gap between Raw and Dynamite is far less than anyone could have imagined and that has led to a heightened urgency by WWE as evidenced by their programming over the past month. The next few months will see Dynamite move to TBS, the introduction of quarterly specials on the network in 2022, and with the hope of travel restrictions easing that AEW can explore its international opportunities – both in terms of taking their product to other countries but also exploring their relationship with NJPW further and seeing major names and matches come to the forefront next year.

Year two was an undeniable success for AEW and sets the bar high for three and how we will be viewing this company in October 2022.


**Here are the matches set for AEW Dynamite tonight from the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia at 8 p.m. ET on TNT and TSN 5 in Canada (note that Dynamite isn’t listed for its usual slot on TSN 2 tonight):
*Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks & Adam Cole vs. Bryan Danielson, Christian Cage, Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus
*TNT Championship: Sammy Guevara (champion) vs. Bobby Fish
*Casino Ladder Match: Jon Moxley vs. PAC vs. Matt Hardy vs. Orange Cassidy vs. Andrade El Idolo vs. Lance Archer vs. “The Joker”
*Hikaru Shida vs. Serena Deeb

**Dynamite is followed by the second episode of Rhodes to the Top at 10 p.m. ET on TNT.

**In an interview with PWinsider.com, AEW president Tony Khan noted he would have a “huge announcement” on tonight’s episode. In the same interview, Khan was asked about the recent show at Arthur Ashe Stadium and plans for a return to the venue:

I would love to return for AEW Grand Slam next year, and I think we’re working towards doing that and I think it’s a great annual event for us. I know that we’ll be back in Long Island in December, and I have plans to return to the market several times between now and the next Grand Slam event.  Even though we may not always run the same venues or in the same exact parts of the New York area, New York-New Jersey area, I should say we, it means a lot to be up there. There’s great fans, and we had great turnout when we ran Newark. We had great turnout at Arthur Ashe and I expect a great turnout in Long Island when we we’re one of the first events at the new UBS Arena. 

**Bryan Danielson was interviewed on Fite.tv earlier today to promote AEW Plus and tonight’s episode of Dynamite.

**The Washington Post has a story covering MLW’s Fightland event from this past Saturday and the state of the company. MLW just surpassed the four-year mark since it relaunched in 2017 after its initial run from 2002-04. In the piece, company CEO Court Bauer stated that MLW was “in the black” and considers themselves free agents when it comes to a major television or streaming deal out there. The company is hopeful of finding new eyes on the product with their launch on VICE TV tomorrow night featuring an hour from the Fightland card including its big Jacob Fatu vs. Alex Hammerstone match. When the names Brian Pillman Jr. and MJF were brought up, Bauer acknowledged, “We couldn’t afford to keep them” as the two have left for AEW after being involved with MLW’s re-launch. The Fightland special on VICE TV airs Thursday at 10 p.m. ET immediately following Dark Side of the Ring.

**The G1 Climax returns Thursday for the start of a three-day stretch of consecutive shows. Thursday’s card in Hiroshima is an A Block show and is going to be the biggest test for the block without any major pairings. The A Block is wide open with Kota Ibushi, Zack Sabre Jr., Great O-Khan, and KENTA all tied with eight points followed by Shingo Takahi, Tomohiro Ishii, and Toru Yano with six points. The B Block is seeing Kazuchika Okada and Jeff Cobb separate from the pack as both are 5-0 with ten points and are set up to meet on the final night of the B Block at Budokan Hall in two weeks. You could see Okada and Cobb run the table and meet with undefeated records, or have one of them lose along the way but get the win at Budokan and advance on the tiebreaker while also setting up a match for November with whoever beats them prior. The downside to having two undefeated members is that it eliminates the others earlier and makes for a lot of meaningless matches before the final night.

Here is the lineup for Thursday’s show that streams at 5:30 a.m. ET on New Japan World:
*Tomohiro Ishii (6) vs. Great O-Khan (8)
*Shingo Takagi (6) vs. Toru Yano (6)
*Zack Sabre Jr. (8) vs. Yujiro (4)
*Kota Ibushi (8) vs. Tanga Loa (4)
*Non-tournament: KENTA vs. Hiromu Takahashi
*Non-tournament: El Desperado vs. Ryohei Oiwa

Friday’s B Block show in Kochi streams at 6 a.m. ET with the following matches:
*Kazuchika Okada (10) vs. Taichi (4)
*Hiroshi Tanahashi (6) vs. EVIL (8)
*Jeff Cobb (10) vs. SANADA (4)
*Hirooki Goto (2) vs. Chase Owens (2)
*Tama Tonga (2) vs. YOSHI-HASHI (2)
*Non-tournament: El Desperado vs. Kosei Fujita

**Brandon Thurston has the quarter-hour breakdown from Rampage last Friday for the show from Rochester, New York. It was Rampage’s lowest figure over the eight episodes since it launched. The peak in both viewers and 18-49 was for the Hair vs. Hair match between Orange Cassidy and Jack Evans. The show opened with 633,000 viewers and 334,000 in 18-49 for the beginning of Bryan Danielson vs. Nick Jackson, although the second quarter featuring the conclusion of the match dropped.

**NXT has announced that the October 26th edition of the show will be promoted as Halloween Havoc featuring Tommaso Ciampa defending the NXT Championship against Bron Breakker. The themed event did very well in 2020 with the show averaging 876,000 viewers and 0.25 in 18-49, which are figures NXT has not hit since that show. Ciampa and Breakker has been teased since the relaunch last month and they have added Ciampa vs. Joe Gacy for next week’s program where Gacy will be added to the title match if he beats Ciampa.

**Bobby Fish is interviewed on the All Real Wrestling Podcast.

**The schedule for this weekend is insane when you look at the major events. On Friday night, you have the regular SmackDown and Rampage programs and Stardom will hold their pay-per-view at Midnight ET featuring Utami Hayashishita vs. Takumi Iroha for the World of Stardom title and should be a phenomenal match. Saturday is Game Changer Wrestling’s big card with Jon Moxley vs. Nick Gage and Mick Foley will present the title to the winner, AAA’s Heroes Inmortales card will be streaming on Luchablog’s Twitch stream with the big match consisting of The Lucha Brothers vs. El Hijo del Vikingo & Laredo Kid, IMPACT has a taped Knockouts Knockdown pay-per-view, and the UFC Fight Night card features Mackenzie Dern vs. Marina Rodriguez from the UFC Apex. Sunday’s major shows include Pro Wrestling NOAH’s card in Osaka with Naomichi Marufuji vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima for the GHC Heavyweight Championship and Game Changer has its second show at The Showboat with Minoru Suzuki vs. Joey Janela.

**Calvin Tankman vs. ASF has been added to Game Changer Wrestling’s Aftermath card this Sunday in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

**Drew McIntyre spoke with Kevin Kellam of Sportskeeda and 104.9 The X to promote the WWE Supershow on 12/18 in Rockford, Illinois. McIntyre is pushing hard to see a major pay-per-view in the U.K. and pushed the idea of doing the match with Tyson Fury that the two were teasing before the pandemic. He also reflected on the recent U.K. tour and working against Jinder Mahal in Glasgow, Scotland with members of his family in attendance including his father and wife.

**As a glimpse into the business of the NHL, commissioner Gary Bettman appeared on Sportsnet this week noting that the league is expecting over $5 billion in revenue if everything is normal this season. He added that the league has 17 new or renewed sponsors, nearly all of their buildings will be able to operate at full capacity, and stated that all but five players in the league have been vaccinated as well as all their officials and off-ice personnel are vaccinated.

**Prime Time Wrestling is running its first event in Chorzow, Poland this Saturday with Nick Aldis, Anthony Carelli (Santino Marella), Chris Adonis, and Joe E. Legend announced for the card. The card will air at 7 p.m. local time in Poland on the TVP Sport online platforms as well as Twitch and local Polish TV, according to the promotion’s press release. The group is led by Arkadiusz Pan Pawlowski and Marcin Rzezniczek with their inaugural show promoted as “Kinguin Prime Time Wrestling #1 Revolucja gala”.

**The WWE stock closed at $58.28 on Wednesday.


**Bellator president Scott Coker appeared on The MMA Hour on Wednesday and made several significant announcements:
*Beginning January 1, 2022, all main event non-title fights will now be five-round fights. He said it’s been in the works for a while and the tipping point was the recent three-round fights with Phil Davis vs. Yoel Romero and this past Friday’s fight between Michael Venom Page and Douglas Lima.
*Patricio “Pitbull” Freire is vacating the Bellator lightweight title effective immediately and the vacant title will be awarded to the winner of the Patricky “Pitbull” Freire vs. Peter Queally fight at Bellator 270 on November 5th in Dublin, Ireland.
*Coker also announced that 145-pound champion Cris Cyborg will defend her title against Sinead Kavanagh at Bellator 271 on November 12th at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. This will be Cyborg’s third title defense and last fought in May where she stopped Leslie Smith. Kavanagh is 7-4 and has only fought twice since November 2019. Her last fight was in October 2020 where she beat Katharina Lehner by unanimous decision.

**The industry is reacting to the death of Justin Thornton, who was a bare-knuckle fighter who died this past Monday as a result of the effects of a 19-second knockout in August. Thornton had a 6-18 record in MMA and a 0-1 boxing record prior to the Bare Knuckle FC event that was held in Mississippi.  It was reported after the fight that Thornton had been hospitalized and placed on a ventilator. Dr. Michael Schwartz, who is part of the medical advisory board for the Association of Boxing Commissions wrote a statement that ESPN has published, which includes the following excerpt:

Given the limited data regarding the medical risks of [bare-knuckle boxing], the ABC medical committee implores commissions who are considering licensing these events to proceed with caution. Furthermore, we encourage those jurisdictions who are still deficient in these minimum medical recommendations and guidelines to immediately update and revise their requirements to include a CT scan, MRI scan and/or neurological clearance performed by a board-certified neurologist prior to clearing a fighter to compete.

**Here are the results from Dana White’s Contender Series on Tuesday night from the Apex where four fighters received contracts:
*Mike Malott def. Shimon Smotritsky by guillotine choke in 0:39 of Round 1
*Carlos Hernandez def. Daniel Barez by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
*Fernie Garcia def. Josh Weems by TKO at 2:10 of Round 1
*Joseph Holmes def. Shonte Barnes by rear-naked choke at 2:46 of Round 2
*Genaro Valdez def. Patrik White by TKO at 0:44 of Round 2

The contracts were awarded to Malott, Hernandez, Garcia, and Valdez.

**This Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card from the Apex is headlined by a 115-pound fight between Mackenzie Dern (11-1) and Marina Rodriguez (14-1-2). Dern has won her last four fights and is coming off a submission win against Nina Nunes this past April. Rodriguez is coming off wins against Amanda Ribas and Michelle Waterson, so this is an important fight at the strawweight division.


The UFC presented its biggest pay-per-view of all time with Khabib Nurmagomedov submitting Conor McGregor at UFC 229. The card generated a reported 2.4 million buys and a $17.1 million gate at the T-Mobile Arena but was marred by a post-fight brawl involving both camps and was a scary scene until order was restored. It was McGregor’s first MMA fight in two years after missing all of 2017 when he fought Floyd Mayweather Jr.

The Rock appears on Raw at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for a segment with Rusev and Lana:


Day 10 – Kazuchika Okada vs. SANADA
Day 9 – Shingo Takagi vs. Kota Ibushi
Day 8 – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. SANADA [FREE]
Day 6 & 7 – Shingo Takagi vs. KENTA, Okada vs. YOSHI-HASHI
Day 5 – Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Kota Ibushi
Day 4 – Kazuchika Okada vs. EVIL [FREE SHOW]
Day 3 – Shingo Takagi vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Day 2 – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada
Day 1 – Shingo Takagi vs. Tomohiro Ishii

SHOT IN THE DARK: Strictly Business Turn on Nick Aldis, Charlie Dempsey Debuts
John Siino reviews this week’s editions of AEW Dark, AEW Dark: Elevation, NXT UK, 205 Live, NJPW Strong, NWA Powerrr, Ring of Honor, and Main Event in under 15 minutes on Shot In The Dark.
upNXT 10/5/21: “Woker Stars”
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman talk about the October 5th 2021 episode of WWE NXT 2.0 featuring a Fatal Four Way Elimination Match for the NXT Tag Team Championship!
REWIND-A-WAI #96: Ospreay – The Rise of an International Pro Wrestler
John Pollock & Wai Ting are joined by Benno to review Ospreay: The Rise of an International Pro Wrestler, a crowd-funded 2020 documentary profiling the early career of Will Ospreay and the UK independent wrestling scene
REWIND-A-RAW 10/4/21: WWE Draft Night 2
John Pollock & Wai Ting are back to chat about WWE Raw and the second night of the WWE Draft with an overview of all the changes
POST PURO Bonus: Stardom 5* Grand Prix, G1 Climax 31
WH Park is joined by returning guest host, Karen Peterson. They share their thoughts on the outcome of the Stardom 5* Grand Prix and discuss its ramifications for the promotion’s next major shows.
REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN: WWE Draft Night 1, Bryan Danielson vs. Nick Jackson
John Pollock & Wai Ting review WWE SmackDown with the first night of the WWE Draft from Baltimore and AEW Rampage with Bryan Danielson vs. Nick Jackson.

Browse the POST Wrestling Store

Subscribe to POST Wrestling

POST Wrestling Forum

Support our Patreon – The POST Wrestling Café

Follow us
Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

About John Pollock 5428 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.