Last night’s (Apr. 13) episode of AEW Dynamite was a great show, but the main talking point among wrestling fans today is how the closing angle fell flat. Shortly after Samoa Joe won the ROH TV title from Minoru Suzuki, the lights went out. The stage was set for a surprise debut or return. Could it be Bray Wyatt? Cesaro? How about a wrestler fans are familiar with from Ring of Honor or New Japan Pro Wrestling?
Nope, it was Satnam Singh. The fans had no idea who this guy was other than the latest seven foot tall pro wrestling giant who uses a skull crushing vice grip as his go-to move, presumably because he is green and can’t do much else in a wrestling ring right now. It was a similar angle to what fans have seen in WWE so many times, and that’s not the vibe most AEW fans are looking for each Wednesday night on Dynamite.
So why did AEW shoot this angle? F4WOnline’s Dave Meltzer has the answer:
“The ending of Dynamite, which featured the debut of Satnam Singh, was designed to build the AEW brand in India, and has a lot to do with the WarnerMedia/Discovery merger.
AEW has been on television on the Discovery-owned channel Eurosport India, a deal Tony Khan made based on the impending merger. As part of the first week after the Discovery merger, Tony Khan wanted to shoot an angle that would be a breakthrough in that market using someone of some renown in that country as the only Indian-born player ever drafted by the NBA, when Singh was a second round draft choice of the Dallas Mavericks in 2015...”
Based on Meltzer’s report, Tony Khan’s motivation for shooting this angle is because it’s good for business. The merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery creates a lot of uncertainty for AEW’s future. For example, Discovery might be less interested in shelling out big bucks on AEW’s next television deal, for which negotiations will likely begin towards the end of 2022. Khan’s decision here is partially motivated by a desire to make Discovery happy, per Meltzer.
Debuting a seven foot tall pro wrestling giant isn’t inherently a bad thing, of course. But this isn’t the 1980’s anymore, and the performer has to be able to do something impressive in the ring (especially in a company with a loaded roster that prides itself on high work rate) other than just being tall. We didn’t get that last night on Dynamite. AEW didn’t do themselves any favors by putting the lights out for Singh’s debut, creating high expectations for what was to come. Perhaps the angle would have gone better if it wasn’t the closing moment of the show, or if Jay Lethal and Sonjay Dutt introduced Singh in a different way.
Even if the ‘it’s good for business!’ excuse isn’t just damage control following a poorly received ending, and Tony Khan truly believes this is a smart play for AEW’s future with Discovery, that doesn’t change the fact that Singh’s debut was a poorly executed pro wrestling angle.
Roughly 12 hours later, are you still dunking on AEW over Santam Singh’s lackluster debut, Cagesiders?