All Elite Wrestling (AEW) is the brainchild of Tony Khan and professional wrestlers Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks, and Kenny Omega.
Over a year before AEW Dynamite took the air, these wrestlers tested the waters with a PPV called All In and it was such a major success that AEW formed just months later. After a series of PPV events, AEW Dynamite premiered on TNT and has become a huge success for the network.
With veterans like the Young Bucks, Cody, Omega, Chris Jericho, and more onboard, it has become must-see television and has created its own Wednesday Night Wars with WWE’s NXT brand.
Nick Jackson and Matt Jackson, the brothers who team up as the Young Bucks, took the time to talk to Shawn S. Lealos about what makes AEW Dynamite different from the competition, what has surprised them most about developing their own company, and what fans can expect from AEW in the future.
Shawn S. Lealos: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. I’d like to start off talking to you about the success of Wednesday night wrestling. Last Wednesday night’s live ratings showed 1.7 million people watching wrestling live, between AEW and NXT. What is it you guys are offering on Wednesday nights that people aren’t seeing on Mondays and Fridays?
Matt Jackson: Right off, like right out of the gate for me, I don’t even watch Mondays. That’s a harder question for me to answer, but I can tell you what we are bringing that maybe, from what I’ve seen on Twitter, or people told me that the other show isn’t doing.Sign up for our Wrestling newsletter!
We have great wrestling matches and, you know, you can watch four to five, even sometimes six matches on the show, and these matches are all going the distance. We’re always going to have a clear victor in these matches there’s no BS finishes. It’s great pro wrestling with a payoff conclusion.
And I think it’s crazy because that’s what wrestling really is like, right? You know, historically back in the day, that’s what wrestling always was. And somehow it kind of became this really super soapy thing with these two finishes in every match. And really, it seems crazy, but it’s like we advertise something and then we go ahead and give the people what we advertise. It sounds nuts, right? But, so far, it’s working.
But I think that, right out of the gate, that’s one thing we’re doing. And if I can speak for Nick and I — tag team wrestling. You know, I don’t know the last time tag team wrestling has been so prominent on the scene. When was the last time it was the main event on a television show? I don’t know. You know, we did this tournament that was really successful. A lot of people liked it, and it established a lot of teams and it just feels like tag team wrestling is back.
I can’t really tell you how the tag wrestling’s been on Mondays and Fridays, but I can tell you that on our show, it’s definitely something that’s featured.
Nick Jackson: We’re trying to provide a whole division of those types of tag teams. We don’t necessarily want single stars joined together for just no reason. We want that dynamic to be back and to create just great tag team wrestling.
Shawn: When AEW started, a lot of people wondered if The Elite were gonna just put themselves over like the nWo or the Kliq. When you look at your first month plus the first pay per view, it seems it’s the other way around. You guys are putting over so many great young talents, whether it’s Private Party or MGF cutting probably the most amazing promo I’ve heard in a long time this last Wednesday night. What is it that you guys are doing as the big dogs to help put the younger talent over that no one’s seen before?
Nick Jackson: I feel like most of the audience that we have, have seen the Young Bucks wrestle and has seen Cody, has seen Kenny, and the acts like that. So, it’s important for us to help out the lesser acts that haven’t been on television at all or the mainstream audience hasn’t seen. Like you mentioned, Matt and I wrestling Private Party. I felt like, and I think the whole company agreed with us, after that match, we got backstage and we felt like we made those guys into stars overnight.
It’s funny because we have this argument with Tony all the time. And Tony was right about it. He goes, “if I didn’t have final say on who wins and who loses, you guys would be 0-10 by now.” It’s true because, in a very selfish business, Matt and I have never really been selfish. We’ve always looked out for other talents and other wrestlers because we almost get more out of helping others than helping ourselves at this point.
Even before we were in AEW, I just feel like if you could make someone as big as you are, then it only makes the company better.
Shawn: You guys have people like Dean Malenko, Arn Anderson, Jerry Lynn, DDP backstage, or at least on call. How much are they doing, helping the younger talents when it comes to a major TV show and to promo work, telling a story inside of the ring? What kind of hand do they have in the company?
Matt Jackson: So much. We have a really young roster, you know, and there really aren’t that many, you know, veteran wrestlers in the back. I mean, it’s funny now, someone pointed this out to us the other day, I think it was Jericho. He’s talking to Nick and I and said, “you guys realize you’re like the older wrestlers now right? You guys are the veterans,” and we’re like God, when did this happen?
You know, like, it’s so weird you know? We find ourselves being the ones giving the advice and helping out, and at the same time, you know, in wrestling you never stop learning. Like, the other day Dean Malenko ran a seminar before the show, and we all just sat under his learning tree and listened. Some of the stuff I’d heard for the first time and some of the stuff I’ve been hearing my entire career, you know.
It’s fun to sit there with younger guys. One of the Private Party kids is 22 or 23. These guys are so young and they’re hearing it for the first time but it’s nice to sit there all as one, we’re all equals, and we all learn together. And I think it’s never bad to ask any question for any of these guys. Like, we’ve also had Tommy Dreamer help out in the back and that guy is a wealth of knowledge. As far as live television goes, I don’t know if anybody’s as experienced as Chris Jericho.
So, Nick and I have had learned a lot about what it means to hit your times and when to do a certain spot, and commercial breaks, and how to entertain a live house during those three-minute breaks. Two minutes and 50 seconds could drag on forever but Chris Jericho is the master at selling those times and keeping everybody engaged and how to come back from break and have the people on their feet so it looks like it’s just been an exciting three minutes. So much of that these guys are the masters of because they’ve been working live television for decades.
You know, we’ve had a long career. Kenny, myself and Nick, we’ve been doing this close to 16 years now. But, you know, we have very minimal live television experience. So, it’s really been fun, actually, for me to have this new challenge. For a while. It’s like, we’re doing the same thing for so many years on the independents or in Japan, and we kind of mastered it, it felt like for a while. And now it’s this new huge thing that we’re working on, and I can’t wait to say that I mastered this.
Shawn: I was watching Wednesday night. MJF, I’m pretty sure he’s 23. Chris Jericho has been wrestling longer than MJF has been alive and the two of them face-to-face cut a huge great promo in that ring. How do promos work in AEW? I know you guys don’t script them, but do you just send them out there with Cliff Notes and saying, you know, this is your chance?
Nick Jackson: Pretty much just like you said. We give them pointers of what direction their character’s going with and what type of feud they are going forward with and pretty much say, “Hey, go hit a home run.”
Man, that was a money segment, I’ll tell you this — it’s hard to, like, know how long your promos going. That one in particular, the MJF and Jericho one, they went over the time that we gave them by like a few minutes. So, we actually had to cut some of Pac and Hangman’s match at the last minute. But that was such a money segment that no one told them to rush it because they were doing such a good job.
Shawn: I noticed there’s been some changes since the first episode in the pacing of the shows. You guys mentioned before that you pay attention to fans and what they’re saying online, their criticism, their praise, and so forth. That’s kind of hard to do, because, for every fan that loves Chris Jericho, there’s a fan that doesn’t want them in the company. It’s hard to make everyone happy. How do you measure that out when you’re listening to the fans online and making your decisions on changes to make when it comes to your show?
Nick Jackson: I was just gonna say right off the bat, we saw the criticism that The Librarian Peter Avalon had and we knew that it was going to be hated online, at least. But, we knew if they just allowed us to keep going with the story that they would get natural heat from the audience. And he debuted like four to six months ago and now he gets heat every time he comes out.
So, some of the things the fans just have to be patient with and some things we’ll see, and we’ll know right away what to change.
Matt Jackson: I was just gonna say that we love surveying and kind of looking at things and just try to see what people like and try to gauge it. At the same time, some of the stuff you do have to take with a grain of salt. I don’t know if there’s any other industry in the world with this many trolls that there are. I know that every show probably gets them, but man wrestling gets a lot of these people.
So, like, for example, sometimes someone will be completely hated online, but then it doesn’t translate when you’re out there with the live audience. Like, that might be the most over person on the show. So, it’s like, you really have to pick and choose what actually you want to take. Because sometimes some of the stuff is just not even worth reading. But sometimes you get really healthy criticism and you want to take things a different direction because of it.
But for us, it’s like, we kind of are still trying to find our footing with this. Like, we don’t want to have a set format, we want to always kind of trick the fans into thinking one way and giving them a different way. And we really want the show to be unpredictable, like we don’t want to fall into the same routine and formula.
That’s one thing I think wrestling, classically, does. You get into this routine and you kind of copy and paste and we don’t want to do that. That’s why our shows, sometimes it’s really heavy on the wrestling. And then sometimes it’s really heavy on the stories. I don’t think we really know exactly what we want to do every week. We just know that we want a mixture of both. And we want it to be different than the week before.
Shawn: What are some surprises that you guys have had since you started the show. Maybe things you didn’t expect that you’re like, wow, or things that you didn’t expect. You’re like, oh, we can’t do this.
Nick Jackson: I would say characters getting over right away. Like, we had no clue how popular Luchasaurus, Marko Stunt, and Jungle Boy would get. It seemed like they were on two shows and already were one of the top acts in the company. It was insane. So that’s definitely something that surprised us.
There’s things like that that are so cool to see that catches on so quickly. Another one is the Inner Circle — like how hated they became so quickly. It just shows you that the TV is working because they get booed out of the building every week. It’s crazy.
Shawn: I guess the last question I want to ask — I’m going to be trying to drive down to Texas for the TV show in the DFW area next month. I’ve noticed online — and maybe fans who don’t watch Being the Elite and the other shows don’t see — the after shows where you guys are in the ring. Maybe you guys and Kenny are in the ring, throwing out t-shirts, the fans getting involved. What will fans who come to the shows see that they might not expect if they just watch it on TV?
Matt Jackson: I mean, you just nailed it right there. Like I don’t think anybody does post-show stuff like us. We really wanted our shows to seem like a party and be very interactive. So, if you come to our show, you know, stay till the end. That is the other thing — the end of the show isn’t necessarily the end of the show. We also film our show Dark that airs on YouTube on Tuesday nights, you’re going to get at least two to three extra matches.
And we’re not just throwing out like, I don’t want to use the word “extra” because like, these are badass matches. Like, last week, Nick and I wrestled on Dark before the show was filmed and we wrestled the Strong Hearts and we had a killer match. Like these matches could be on Dynamite, basically, like this isn’t just extra content. We really want to make that show cool and must-see. So, you’re going to get at least two to three extra really competitive awesome matches.
Then stick around until the very end because there’s always some type of extra content being filmed, whether for Being the Elite or just for the house where we come out and give out free merchandise. We do something for every single city and it’s exclusive to that town because, usually, we’re calling it on the fly. And we’re kind of just going out there and having fun.
I know that a lot of fans have told me that that’s their favorite part. And then in most of the towns now we’re setting up meet-and-greets as well. So, if you’re interested in meeting wrestlers, getting a photo op, and getting an autograph, that’s one thing that we’re starting to implement on all of our shows.
AEW Dynamite airs on Wednesday nights at 8/7c on TNT.