A Collective Review of WWE Raw vs. AEW Dynamite Live by Lance Augustine

It’s been a busy week in the Lance camp as I attended WWE Raw in Cleveland on Monday and AEW Dynamite in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. I wanted to compare both live experiences since this is the “wrestling war” we are in the midst of right now. I won’t be reviewing all the matches in-depth because John Canton covers them extensively for us (here’s WWE Raw and here’s AEW Dynamite), but more about the actual live environment with some thoughts on the matches for each show, in or out of order. Let’s get to it.

WWE Raw Live
Cleveland, Ohio

*Let me start with this is the first time I have ever been on the floor for any wrestling show. The view was really fantastic as we were right by the entrance and could see the ring perfectly. The first Main Event match taped was Mojo Rawley vs. No Way Jose. The match was quick with Mojo talking a lot to Jose’s line behind him before defeating Jose in pretty short order. The crowd was lukewarm for both guys, but at least the kids were entertained by Jose.

*The second Main Event match was between Natalya and Sarah Logan. This was the first time I have seen Logan in a little bit and it looks like she cut some weight and looks great. The crowd was dead for the most part although people made some noise for Natayla. As far as the match goes, it was a nice back and forth for the time given. They let Logan get some offense in and didn’t look overmatched in any way. Natalya has fit nicely into her role of the veteran going out there and getting the younger talent over. Natalya wins the competitive match with a sharpshooter.

*Obviously, the pyro is back in full force. It has always been a nice touch to the live wrestling experience and I am glad they brought it back. Ric Flair is always a treat and to see the man that close was something else. Mcintyre made his return and had a pretty good match against Ricochet in a King of the Ring rematch. Ricochet bumped all over the ring and Mcintyre showed good power and eventually won with the Claymore Kick. Ricochet gets some major air when he flys, especially when you’re there live. Also, that mid-match promo cut by Flair you couldn’t hear in the arena at all.

*The “what” chants started as soon as the King’s Court segment started. I haven’t gone back and watch the show, but if it didn’t pick up on TV it was definitely throughout the arena. Obviously, Rusev addressed it mid-promo so it eventually was heard on the show. This whole program is very whatever, at least to me, and you could tell the live crowd wasn’t all that into it. I like Rusev and Lashley, but I don’t like this angle.

*Aleister Black’s entrance is something to behold. Coming out of the stage like that separates him from most of the roster and that music is fantastic. He dispatched the local talent pretty easily, although he got a lot more offense in than in most squash matches.

*The Viking Raiders beating Hawkins and Ryder wasn’t a shock because they are building to the tag team gauntlet at Crown Jewel. I distinctly remember someone talking about tag team wrestling having a renaissance in the mainstream. The crowd was into the match as a whole, as much as you could be for a squash anyway. Ryder and Hawkins deserve so much better.

*Andrade had a match with Sin Cara, who hasn’t been on TV for a long while. The match was competitive for the most part, but we all know what this match was meant for. I do like the fact that even in squash matches the other guy gets some offense in. The live crowd wasn’t into this match as much as they should have been. Andrade is a star.

* The Street Profits finally wrestled and were in the main event. You can clearly see your boy on TV as they walk through the aisle way “partying” with everyone. They had a good match with the OC at the end of the night. Changing it from a six-man tag to a straight tag match with no explanation was a bit curious. Kevin Owens coming out drew a big reaction from the crowd. Why they don’t use this guy more is a mystery to me.

*After the show, the dark match was Seth Rollins and the Fiend in a steel cage. The red lighting came back, and they didn’t do themselves any favors in doing this again, televised or not. The match was short and didn’t really do anything but make the crowd hate it. They booed Seth out of the building and the ending was Seth hitting a bunch of Curb Stomps before escaping the cage and beating the Fiend again. This character is dead in the water at this point.

* I thought the show was pretty good. We have covered it extensively on the site, but being there just brings another perspective. The new Raw set is a beast of a setup, just in the sheer size of it. AEW will always be secondary on the production level which is fine because this is a wrestling company, not a beauty contest. Check out John’s full review of Raw here.

AEW Dynamite Live
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

*The AEW Dark matches this week were really good. I will have the full review up on Wednesday, but just a heads up that it will be a decent show.

*This week got right to it with the wrestlers already in the ring. The live crowd saw the entrances but for those on TV, they were already in the ring, obviously. John covered Dynamite this week and just like he wrote in that review, this opening tag team match was something else. I get that matches like this aren’t for everybody, but for the live experience that night, it was insane. The guys in Private Party are both green, there is no doubt about it, but their talent can’t be denied. The Lucha Brothers are the best tag team in the world. This match was definitely the best match of the night, which everyone knows by now.

*The SCU and Dark Order match also exceeded my expectations. Scorpio Sky is a star and Kazarian is a seasoned veteran that is a hell of a hand. SCU had positive reactions from the crowd all night long, and the Dark Order actually held their own in the match. A lot of back and forth action with SCU getting the win and moving on to the finals of the Tag Team tournament against the Lucha Brothers.

*Joey Janela and Kenny Omega had a rematch from their outstanding Dark match a few weeks ago, which you can read my review of here. While this wasn’t as good as that match, it still served a good purpose. Janela has been trying to get away from “deathmatches” and start to be looked at as a good pro wrestler. These series of matches with Omega has made him look good and shows he can handle himself in the ring. For what it is worth, the crowd was very into this match and I thoroughly enjoyed it as well.

*The Cody and Jericho segment was actually well-received live. Jericho has always been fantastic on the mic and with the added element of the brawl, I think this segment was great. Jericho at the end of it all holding up the ticket was classic Jericho and he is doing everything he can to make AEW a viable product. Personally, I think there is going to be a title switch at Full Gear, but I think it’s too soon for that.

*The Young Bucks and Best Friends had another great tag team match on this show. It obviously wasn’t on the level of the two before it, but the crowd was super into what everyone was doing, especially when Orange Cassidy came into the fold. I popped big for the double superkick spot myself. The match was back and forth with both teams getting plenty of stuff in. After the match, The Young Bucks accepted the challenge thrown out by Santana and Ortiz for a match at Full Gear.

*Britt Baker had a match with Pittsburgh being billed as her “hometown”. Being raised in the area myself, I know this isn’t completely accurate, but I will let her run with it. The crowd was super into her the whole match, so it doesn’t really matter where she is from. Her opponent, Jamie Hayter, held her own but I think she played to the crowd a little too much. This was her first exposure in AEW and I don’t think she did anything to sour fans to her. I will go on record to say that I don’t like Britt Baker’s finisher much, but what do I know? Just my opinion.

*The Main Event with Moxley and Pac was another barn-burner for sure. Both of these guys know what they are doing and I think WWE did Pac a great disservice not using him the right way. The crowd always reacts to Moxley because he is a huge star. I also happen to believe that Pac could win the AEW World Title at some point. So anytime you have two stars like this colliding you’re going to a recipe for success. The draw finish made people a little upset, but I get it. You have to make the time limits matter if that’s what you are going for, which means draws from time to time are going to happen. That 450 splash from the apron to the floor was impressive and I feel like the action never really let up the whole time. Good way to end the show. After the match was over, Moxley was pissed about the finish and gave the referee a DDT for good measure. Pac attacked Moxley from behind and put a chair around his head. Kenny Omega came down to the ring to make the save. As Pac was backing up the ramp, Hangman Page came out to confront him. Pac ran into the crowd and Hangman challenged him to a match at Full Gear. Without seeing the show yet, I am not sure how much of this was caught on the actual broadcast.

(Note from John: They signed off after Moxley gave the referee the DDT aka Paradigm Shift. Pac vs. Page at Full Gear was not announced on the show, but AEW is promoting a replay of Dynamite tonight where they are going to show that part.)

Final Verdict

Both shows were very fun and kept the crowds entertained throughout the night. Obviously, AEW can’t compete with WWE in a production sense. I honestly don’t think they ever will, but in their defense, they probably don’t want to. AEW is very wrestle-heavy and that makes for a more exciting live show, to me anyway. The crowd was eating everything up and they knew that had a hell of a show on their hands. The crowd for Raw on Monday definitely had more kids at it, but that has come to be expected. Overall though, Raw wasn’t bad by any stretch. I just think that for me personally, it’s hard to follow along with video packages being played so much throughout the night. Another glaring difference was the way the matches were laid out. On Raw, you can definitely tell when they are in a commercial break. With AEW, it never felt like they were in a commercial at all. Obviously, they had to kill time with Justin Roberts talking to the crowd, but for the most part it felt like a more complete experience. Overall though, throughout both nights, I was entertained and had a good time regardless.

As always, follow me on twitter over @collectiveheel and let me know your thoughts. I have some more reviews and columns in the works and of course, will be back on Wednesday with the full review of AEW Dark. Support the site, and support each other and I’ll be back with some more Collective Thoughts.