All Elite Wrestling (AEW) finally had the opportunity to hit the road once again this past Wednesday.
Professional wrestling, like all sports and entertainment outlets, have been badly damaged by the on-going pandemic.
Lockdown protocols in the United States meant spectators could no longer attend live shows. Leading to copious amounts of smaller independent organisations been forced to cease operations.
However, AEW were somewhat fortunate.
They turned to Daily’s Place, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and made it their home for well over a year throughout the pandemic.
The company has now spent over half of its lifespan taping weekly shows and holding live pay-per-view events from the Florida venue.
Most of these showcases took place in front of zero fans. Which is far from ideal for such an engaging spectacle like wrestling.
AEW were forced to think on their feet and come up with creative ways to nullify the lack of crowd noise. In fairness, they soldiered on and provided an outlet for their loyal fanbase, when many of them needed it the most.
Countless excellent matches, shocking debuts and outlandish moments transpired from Daily’s Place, and today the Big Kick Off will run through some of the most memorable.
While Wednesdays ‘Road Rager’ event in Miami kicked off the touring scheduled in front of a packed house. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of reminiscing, when all is said and done.
Of course, your favourite moment from AEW’s Daily’s Place era may not be included. So, shout that out in the comment section below.
5. Kicking Off the Pandemic Era
A major wrestling television show taking place in an empty arena was a completely alien concept to most modern-day fans.
On the 18th of March 2020, the first episode of AEW Dynamite aired from Daily’s Place. Starting over a year of programming from that building.
AEW Executive Vice President and star, Cody Rhodes opened the show as he often does. He stood alone in the ring, surrounded by an empty arena, ominous dark lighting, and addressed the viewers straight down the camera. Despite the eeriness, the show that followed was extremely memorable.
Following the shows main event, a recognisable drone lowered into the ring to confront Chris Jericho. The veteran couldn’t believe his eyes as Matt Hardy made his presence felt as he appeared and disappeared in the stands. Announcing himself as an active member of the AEW roster.
Plus, this was the night the Dark Order promised to reveal their leader, the Exalted One.
After a captivating vignette, a hooded figure appeared through the mist, and showed himself as the late, great, Brodie Lee. The charismatic Lee instantly revitalised the fledgling Dark Order faction and became an instant fan favourite.
While these debuts would’ve been more impactful in front of a packed house. They’re still extremely memorable, and kicked off a string of unmissable episodes of AEW Dynamite.
4. The Mother of All Brawls
The idiotic “war” between AEW and WWE is contested between two staunch fanbases that can’t just appreciate the wealth of wrestling goodness at their disposal.
Saying that, no matter what side of the fence you may fall on, it’s not a hot take to say AEW deliver a more consistent quality, in terms of the standard of matches.
WWE, particularly the NXT brand, do regularly knock it out of the park. But the non-restricted in-ring style of AEW provides fans with jaw dropping encounters on an almost weekly basis.
While it’s a topic up for debate, the parking lot fight between Proud & Powerful, and the Best Friends may be the most memorable from the Daily’s Place era.
The two teams were embroiled in a blood feud, throughout the latter half of 2020. With them clashing in a fight during the 16th of September edition of, Dynamite.
The TV-14 rating of the show allowed all involved to throw caution to the wind and offer up a bloody, wild scrap.
Fans witnessed crazy stunts, weapon-based violence and bombastic vehicle related brutality.
Britt Baker vs Thunder Rosa is an impromptu honourable mention for the best match during the ‘pandemic era’, but this parking lot fight is one every AEW fan was gripped by.
3. “It’s Stiiiiiiiiing”
As exciting as the debuts of Brodie Lee, Matt Hardy, FTR and Andrade El Idolo were. They pale in comparison to the dramatic execution of Sting’s arrival.
Ricky Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs, of Team Taz fame, took on Cody Rhodes and Darby Allin, on the ‘Winter is Coming’ episode of Dynamite.
After the match, Hobbs and Starks began to attack their counterparts. Just as things got out of hand, the lights went down.
Unfamiliar music began to crescendo around the arena, snow started to fall. While a cold video package played on the giant titantron.
Out walked the legendary Sting, appearing on the TNT network for the first time since 2001.
It was truly shocking and came completely out of left field.
Later, it was revealed that Sting had signed a multi-year contract with AEW. He subsequently took Darby Allin under his wing.
2. Stadium Stampede
AEW had the unenviable task of climaxing the feud between their apex factions, the Inner Circle, and the Elite.
Both teams feed off the energy of the crowd, and with those absent from the stands, the company certainly had to think outside the box.
It was announced that all ten men would go to war, in a Stadium Stampede match.
Nobody knew what this match would entail, all the fans knew was, it would take place on the football field at Daily’s Place.
It was utter carnage, while it won’t be to everybody’s taste, it truly was wrestling at its chaotic finest.
Flips from a goal post, bar brawls, dangerous maneuverers off high balconies, attempted drownings in a swimming pool and Adam ‘Hangman’ Page riding around on a horse, were just some of the notable highlights.
It was non-stop action from start to finish.
The bout featured moments of hilarity, major talking points and throw backs for older established wrestling fans to enjoy.
It was so much of a hit, AEW put the match on a year later at Double or Nothing back in May. But nothing compares to your first time.
1. Brodie Lee Tribute Show
The wrestling community was devastated to hear about the death of Jon Huber, aka Brodie Lee, just after Christmas in 2020.
The out pour of emotional tributes for the beloved wrestler, and well wishes towards his young family showed how much Lee meant to everyone that had the pleasure of knowing him.
The episode of Dynamite following his passing, was in memory of Brodie Lee. Acting as a celebration of his life.
Every match on the card featured a member of his Dark Order stable. With special appearances from people that knew him best, most notably, his long-time teammate in WWE, Rowan.
The family of Huber were also in attendance, in what must have been the most difficult period of their lives.
AEW opened the show with an emotional ten-bell salute for their fallen comrade, and had other wrestlers sharing stories about Lee interspersed throughout the episode.
Nobody can fault the actions of AEW during this horrific time.
They did everything in their power to console the family of Brodie Lee. And made his children smile during a time when that was extremely difficult.
Huber’s eldest son got in on the action, as he hit MJF with a kendo stick. After the main event, AEW President Tony Kahn presented Brodie Jr with the TNT Championship and declared him “TNT Champion for Life”, as the red strapped belt was retired.
It was a situation nobody wanted to be involved in. But AEW did an outstanding job of paying respect to one of the most adored members of their wrestling family.