Thanks to Wrestling Inc. reader Brian Reed-Baiotto, we’ve got the inside scoop on what happened when the cameras were off this past Wednesday and Friday when AEW came to Southern California for the first time.
Their first show was Wednesday’s “Dynamite” at the Kia Forum in Inglewood, and it will be one of the most memorable episodes of the show ever aired due to MJF’s promo. Beyond the attention MJF brought to AEW that night, there was also a brutal, bloody main event between Jon Moxley and Daniel Garcia that had the fans in awe.
You can see live notes from AEW “Dynamite” below:
* When tickets went on sale a couple of months ago for dates at the Kia Forum in Inglewood and the Toyota Arena in Ontario, I remember reading a number of wrestling sites stating that AEW was making a big mistake because it could not fill the Forum and Toyota Arena. After attending both events, and having gone to over 100 WWE shows, and 40 or more WCW events, I had never been around such passionate fans as I did for Dynamite and Rampage.
* The first sign I had that this was going to be a sold out show was pulling up and seeing the Forum and SoFi Stadium parking lots crammed with cars, and I ended up having to pay $60 to park at SoFi and make the 10-minute walk to the Forum.
* After a couple of dark matches, and before Dynamite went live, ring announcer Justin Roberts warmed up the crowd and then welcomed Excalibur, Tony Schiavone, and Jim Ross, all of whom received loud cheers.
* As the show opened, the crowd anticipated that CM Punk was coming out first, and once his theme song started, the Forum erupted.
* With that said, FTR, Max Caster, and the Gunn Club were very well received.
* Caster seemed to enjoy getting the crowd to call his tag partners “the ass boys,” instead of the Gunn Club.
* Punk had a botch or two and after the match, he had a noticeable limp.
* Up next was clearly the moment of the night, as MJF went on a profanity-laced tirade.
* He went from 90-percent of the crowd booing him as he came out, in fact, they started chanting for him to STFU, but MJF easily flipped that in his favor after calling Tony Khan “af***ing mark.”
* As the segment went to commercial, people were still chanting MJF, and at the same time, wondering if it was a work or a shoot.
* The two reasons people thought it was possibly a shoot was because we had never heard multiple f-bombs on a live wrestling broadcast, and when CM Punk limped out to confront him after MJF’s mic was cut off, Punk walked out without his entrance theme and circled back once MJF exited through the crowd.
* One thing that many didn’t catch during the Young Bucks/Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish & Hikuleo vs. Christian Cage, Matt Hardy, Darby Allin, and Jurassic Express match was Nick Jackson spitting towards the opposing corner and it went two to three rows deep at the stands. Jungleboy immediately jumped off the ring apron and apologized to the fans in that area.
* An odd moment on Wednesday’s show was when Wardlow was making his long walk to the ring, the crowd chanted “Goldberg” more than they did “Wardlow,” until Wardlow made his way down to the ramp.
* During the brutally physical main event, the crowd kept chanting “you sick f***” but they thoroughly appreciated the efforts by both Jon Moxley and Daniel Garcia.
* One of the things that stuck with me on the drive home was how loud the crowd sang entrance themes they knew, specifically for Ruby Soho, Jon Moxley, CM Punk, and Chris Jericho.
When Friday’s AEW “Rampage” rolled around, fans weren’t expecting more breaking news to emerge from the second AEW show in a week. But the newly crowned AEW World Champion CM Punk would defy those expectations when he announced that he had an injured foot and would have to step away for the time being as World Champion. In his absence, an interim AEW World Champion will be crowned at the AEW x NJPW event “Forbidden Door” later this month.
You can see notes from AEW “Rampage” below:
* In Friday’s Rampage at the Toyota Arena in Ontario, they did a number of AEW Dark matches that went from approximately 6-6:45 pm.
* As they changed the ring apron from AEW Dark to Dynamite, Justin Roberts welcomed Taz, Excalibur, and then Chris Jericho came out to Judas.
* Unlike Wednesday night, where he purposely cut the song short to annoy the crowd, tonight he actually cheered everyone on.
* Before Rampage went on the air, they ran about a 90-second message on the screens talking about what isn’t tolerated at their shows, and then several AEW wrestlers talked about how inclusive this company is and that everyone is welcome.
* The final message asked the crowd to support “Pride Month,” and they reacted in a very positive way.
* Rampage ran from 7-8 pm local time and then there were another 90 minutes of AEW Dark matches.
* The two biggest moments seemed to be CM Punk’s announcing he has to endure a surgery and will be out for a while, and then the return home for the Young Bucks who are billed just five minutes away from Ontario in Rancho Cucamonga.
* A moment that genuinely seemed to rattle those in attendance was when Matt Jackson pulled Penta’s mask off.
* After the match was over, Matt Jackson put the mask on and walked up the steps on the south side of the arena amongst the crowd, all the while Nick is flipping off fans on the opposite side that were booing his brother.
* In spite of being a heel with Dan Lambert and Ethan Page at his side, Scorpio Sky, for the most part, was the fan-favorite because of his affiliation with Southern California.
* On Friday night, SCU member Christopher Daniels won in the pre-Rampage dark matches, followed by Scorpio Sky’s main event victory. And Frankie Kazarian faced Ethan Page during the post-Rampage dark matches and lost after Page got some help from Dan Lambert. After Page attacked Kazarian, Daniels came down to help Frankie, and both got the crowd to chant SCU.
* The only glaring negative for me or the one area that WWE does far better than AEW is giving their fans a reason to stay for the whole show. At any Raw or SmackDown show, they almost always tell the crowd about the main event with big-name competitors. But after Rampage, they never mentioned the names of anyone that would be coming out.
* The closest they came to doing that was when Tony Khan came out a few minutes before Rampage went on the air and said he hoped this would be the best dark matches ever, and how much they all appreciated the support from the fans in Southern California .
* When he first came out, the crowd was booing Khan and chanting MJF, but Khan shrugged his shoulders, briefly spoke, and left to cheers from those in Ontario.
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