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TV CRITIC'S CORNER

The explosive fun of All Elite Wrestling’s ‘Dynamite’

Jungle Boy goes airborne against Jake Hager in an AEW match.
Jungle Boy goes airborne against Jake Hager in an AEW match.Courtesy of TNT

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.)

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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.