When you boil down what people love about AEW so much (and Tony Khan’s running of it), it’s that the company and he usually just do the simplest thing. Just give the people what they want. It sounds like it should be obvious, but there are a lot of ways to overthink it.
Bryan Danielson just wants to wrestle anyone he likes in all sorts of ways? OK, they’ll just let him do that. Jon Moxley wants to basically declare war on Japan? They’ll just let him do that. CM Punk wants to turn MJF into the industry’s biggest star? OK, go ahead.
And they do the same with the wrestlers that have been discarded by WWE. Malakai Black wants to be some weird, gothic, kickboxing demon monk? OK, he can just do that. We won’t touch it. His fans love it, we don’t have to explain it, just give them what they want.
Which is the same when it comes to Keith Lee, who made his debut with the company last night. It’s still unfathomable that “New York” couldn’t figure out what to do with this guy, because in reality you don’t have to do anything with him other than let him be KEITH GODDAMN LEE. He’s a 300-pound acrobat who can bulldoze through a backhoe with all the magnetism you could ask for. He couldn’t be more turnkey. Open the box, you have a star, no assembly required.
So that’s all AEW let him do in his first match. Look at this shit:
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Lee threw Isiah Kassidy just short of orbit. And he can do this all the time. The mind already reels, because we know that Lee will eventually be in the ring with better high-flyers like Dante Martin or Darby Allin. Because Tony Khan knows that’s what people want to see. And he’s going to throw them into dumpsters a football field away on the fly, because he can. And Lee didn’t even have to pull out the full bag of tricks for this match, and he still had fans practically frothing with glee. We didn’t see much of his own aerial ability and strong selling. That’s still to be unearthed.
After the match, Kassidy and his usual tag team partner Marq Quen tried to stage a surprise beatdown on Lee. Look how that went (stick around until Quen tries to do a moonsault over the top rope onto Lee):
That’s a grown man running at full speed and leading from a height of a good eight to ten feet onto Lee. Lee catches him like he was in the yard and his buddy just flipped him a beer. The woman at the end who can’t contain her laughter or disbelief is all of us.
Wrestling matches can get complicated, and go all sorts of directions. You can have your technical wizardry, your pathos-rich storytelling, your bloody violence. But sometimes, I just want to watch a big dude chuck another dude into the fucking sun.
We’re going to get a bunch of that with Lee in AEW. Simple, and wonderful, as can be.