Sports have been coming back in fits and starts in recent weeks, but pro wrestling — the blend of drama, dance, and all-out brawling that’s long been a TV staple — has kept at it even during lockdown; quite a few of my homebound weeks’ highlights have involved All Elite Wrestling, the newly minted promotion whose next episode of its flagship show, “AEW: Dynamite,” airs live from the Jacksonville amphitheater Daily’s Place at 8 p.m. Wednesday on TNT.
Born out of Jacksonville Jaguars co-owner Tony Khan’s love of the sport, as well as the creativity shown by the company’s team of wrestler-executives both in the ring and on their YouTube channels, AEW hooked me when its first pay-per-view, which included the crowning of inaugural champ Chris Jericho, aired in May 2019. Each episode of “Dynamite,” which premiered last October, has crammed a lot into its seemingly scant two hours: matches, intrigue, unexpected humor. (The team of Best Friends — Trent and Chuck Taylor — being dropped off at Daily’s Place by Trent’s mother, and Trent giving her a smooch before settling back into pre-match mean mugging, is a bit I regularly rewatch on YouTube to give myself a pick-me-up.) New-to-national-TV wrestlers add even more fun: the thrillingly loathsome heel MJF, the enterprising high-flyer Jungle Boy (a.k.a. Jack Perry, son of Luke), the deathwishing skater Darby Allin, the madball-toting troublemakers Santana and Ortiz, the hard-hitting Women’s World Champion Hikaru Shida, and the conspiracy-minded Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. (She’s a bona fide dentist whose ringside villainy puts Steve Martin to shame.)
This week, Allin takes on AEW World Champion Jon Moxley, once known in WWE as Dean Ambrose; Moxley’s traded in his old guise’s comical loose-cannonry for lone-wolf hunger, and he’ll have a formidable opponent in Allin, one of AEW’s breakout stars. Meanwhile, World Tag Team Champs Kenny Omega and Adam Page, a recent king of Japanese wrestling and an existentially minded cowboy, are in a 12-man tag match that will likely move along the story of their seemingly inevitable breakup, while Jericho will have a “verbal debate” with Orange Cassidy, whose slacker anomie is balanced out by his in-ring ingenuity. Expect it to mushroom into a bigger brawl — and expect the rest of “Dynamite” to be utterly entertaining.