This past Wednesday, I made the two and half hour trek from Raleigh to Charlotte, North Carolina to attend AEW Dynamite at the Bojangles Coliseum. This was my first time attending an AEW show and my second time seeing a wrestling show at the Bojangles Coliseum (The first being TNA Genesis in 2009). The Bojangles Coliseum, was formerly known as the Charlotte Coliseum/Independence Arena, and hosted numerous NWA/WCW events including Starrcade 1993 and Slamboree 1997.
My girlfriend, Brandy, accompanied me on my trip to Dynamite and we arrived around 5:45 PM with the doors scheduled to open at 6:30 PM. There was already a line wrapped around the building for fans waiting to get in. We paid our eight dollars and hopped in line. I was surprised by how organized the Bojangles Coliseum staff was as they started breaking up this massive line and creating new lines at other entrances of the arena. I’ve never been to an event that’s done that before and it really made getting into the building much easier than trying to funnel this one massive line into one door.
I had read online that the merch stand got busy, so as soon as we made it through security we hopped in line. T-shirts were priced at $30, the hoodie was $60, hats were $30, a flag was $20, patches and pin were $10, and a sticker was $5. I’d say that all the prices were very reasonable, when you take into consideration the shipping costs (and time) when ordering from ProWrestlingTees.com. I’ve had my eye on the AEW hoodie since it was released earlier this year, and the grey AEW shirt, so I picked up both. Brandy decided on the Riho baseball tee and we left quite satisfied with our purchases.
If there is any complaint to be made about the merch stand it’s the selection. Obviously, they can’t bring all the goodies from ProWrestlingTees to each arena, but the selection was quite limited as you can see from this picture. What you see up here is all that was for sale. On the far left you can see the outline of something black, that was one of those cheap bags that sold for $15.
Once we had changed into our new AEW garb, we made grabbed some Bojangles from the concession stand and made it to our seats. I didn’t buy our tickets the day they went on sale, so I had to settle for tickets a little higher than I prefer. Our view from section 122 wasn’t bad at all though, and the crowd was actually very cool around us. Everyone in attendance seemed to be all for AEW and that made for a great environment.
Justin Roberts came out first, accompanied by this amazing graphic of The Golden Girls all over him.
I can’t say enough good things about Justin, he was fantastic the entire night. He kept the crowd entertained between commercials and ring set ups, and gave everyone enough information to keep us anticipating what was coming next, without spoiling anything. He introduced Golden Boy and Excalibur, to announce the first AEW Dark Match, which consisted of Hikaru Shida vs. Big Swoll. Then he announced Arn Anderson as a guest commentator and the place went nuts. It was arguably one of the biggest pops of the night and I’d say the stands weren’t even full yet.
After seeing Shida last week on Dynamite against Shanna, I became a fan. This match wasn’t nearly as good, but it was still a very entertaining women’s match, something AEW has been struggling with. I won’t spoil the results since it hasn’t aired yet, but it was a decent match definitely worth watching.
Following the match, Justin Roberts announced Tony Shiavone and Jim Ross, who came out to a big ovation. It warmed my heart to see a sign that said “Welcome Home Tony” and if I had any complaint its that Tony deserves his own graphic card not just JR.
During some of the downtime waiting for the show to start, the cameras focused on various fans signs and Justin Roberts made little quips about them. My favorite was when it stopped on a sign for Marty Scrull. It mentioned how the last Elite member needed to come home and the crowd cheered. I couldn’t agree more, and really hope Marty shows up sometime after his contract is up.
The show started off with a bang with PAC taking on Trent. I wasn’t expecting Trent to put up such a fight and it was a great match that got the crowd fired up. Orange Cassidy was great to see in person, and I’m not sure how much it made it on TV, but his slow motion actions had everyone in the arena cracking up. He does small things like, hit the mat to cheer on Trent in slow motion and it was great to see such dedication to the character.
This may have been my favorite match of the night, with PAC getting the win. It would have killed any momentum he has going into the pay per view had he lost, but I think Trent only made him look better and it really made me take notice of Trent’s single skills.
Cody arrived to a massive pop. If you are a wrestling fan, I’m sure you’ve seen this promo by now, but if for some reason you missed it, I’ll post it below. This is one of those promos that is going to go down in history. The arena was so loud, I completely missed the “undesirable to God damn undeniable” line. It amazes me how Cody has turned into such a white hot babyface. I’ll be honest, I didn’t see this in him. I liked Cody, but wow, you can see his father’s influence the older he gets and this promo just screamed a “modern day Dusty” to me. I just can’t say enough great things about being in the arena to experience this moment live.
When I first read the card for this event The Dark Order vs. Private Party leaped off the page to me. I haven’t been overly impressed with The Dark Order, but Private Party has exceeded my expectations in every match. Well, this match had the opposite effect on me. I finally saw some bright spots in The Dark Order but felt like Private Party didn’t really do enough to keep me invested. The highlight of the match was Private Party finally making the hot tag and it being shut down immediately by the The Dark Order. It’s so incredibly rare to see that, I actually heard an fellow audience member turn to another and go, “Can they do that? I’ve never seen that done before.”
The match was entertaining, but it didn’t live up to the expectations I had in my head.
Then the Chris Jericho parody video aired and well… if it hadn’t been for Cody’s amazing promo this may have stolen the show. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth the watch for sure.
A women’s tag match was up next with Riho and Shanna facing off against Emi Sakura and Jamie Hayter and this was definitely one of my favorite women matches thus far in AEW. I like all of the contestants and Hayter really impressed me a few weeks ago when she faced off against Britt Baker.
These four ladies are who the women’s division really needs to be built around in my opinion and they did a fantastic job with everyone getting a moments in the spotlight. Sakura and Hayter got the win, which I think was needed to show that Riho is not invincible and could possibly lose this Saturday at Full Gear.
Then came Brandy’s video package, which was met with the same confusion as the last one. This may be the one thing that AEW is doing that I could care totally less about. I don’t want to see Brandy as a heel and these strange overly evil vignettes make no sense, when her husband is the top babyface of the company. They really need to scrap this and retool.
Brandon Cutler got squashed by Shawn Spears w/ Tully Blanchard. I expected a bigger pop for Tully, but I think his association with the heel Shawn Spears might have taken away some of the usual cheers. This was a squash match that made me happy once Joey Janella ran out for the save. It’s nice to see storylines in AEW Dark carrying over into Dynamite. Plus Joey has done nothing but impress since making his AEW debut and I would love to see him in a hot feud. I think Spears and he may work well together.
We were given plenty of time to get in our main event which saw Kenny Omega and Hangman Adam Page vs. Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara.
The match was solid, with no one going too crazy. Sammy took one hell of a beating and his poor chest looked terrible after Kenny got done with him. Hager coming out and getting involved was a nice touch. Ultimately, this match was leading up to the massive brawl that ended the show and well… I can only describe it as amazing.
Moxley coming through the crowd, Omega with the barbwire broom, MJF throwing Jericho into the ring, Nick flying off the top of the entrance circle onto The Inner Circle… I could just go on and on. It was a fantastic brawl and a great way to the end the show.
Following the chaos, Justin Roberts came out to remind us that they still had two more AEW Dark Matches to go, with one scheduled to air this Friday on AEW’s YouTube Channel. I’d say around 25% of the crowd left anyway, and the rest of us were treated to one terrible match and one decent match.
The first match was Leva Bates and Nyla Rose vs. Shalandra Royla and Shazza McKenzie. I’m going to ruin this match, because I’ll be doing you a favor. Leva never gets tagged in and Nyla just destroys her opponents. It goes on way too long and at one point Shazza broke up a pin and someone in our section let out a massive, “WHY!?” It was hilarious, because we were all thinking the same thing. Honestly, I see where Nyla has a spot in the women’s division, but the rest of these ladies are maybe better kept off TV for the time being. It was frustrating seeing two good women’s matches and then this disappointment.
The final AEW Dark Match was a six man tag match featuring SCU and Cima vs. Kip Sabian and The Hybrid 2. With SCU having a huge PPV match in a few short days, they didn’t get much offense in, so CIMA carried the match for them. It was an okay match, but I’d argue it was quite skippable.
Following the match, SCU did some promo work and Kazarian threw out some free t-shirts. Eventually the Bucks and Cody made their way to the ring to make some jokes, throw out some shirts, and even plucked a child from the crowd whose birthday was that day to have a match for the “Charlotte Championship.” Brandon Cutler was recording, so they told him to lay down and take the pin because his recorded sucked anyway. After he lost, they proclaimed he was now zero and twenty.
It was a great way to end the night and the crowd had a lot of fun. It was one of the better crowds I’ve been around and overall the entire night was a blast. AEW puts on a great TV product and it’s equally great live.
My only real issue with their production is their sound, which sometimes seems to have issues on TV as well. The music is extremely low in the arena. My girlfriend even mentioned how the NWA seemed to do better with their sounds at the Crockett Cup and I agree. The pyro was amazing, but you just never got that pulse thumping feeling when a wrestler came out because someone had the volume set on six and not eleven.
I will definitely attend more AEW events in the future and recommend it to any wrestling fans if they come nearby. It’s a great wrestling event and the best show I’ve been to all year.