Show stopper: Thousands of wrestling fans fill Queens’ Arthur Ashe Stadium for AEW’s first NYC show

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Bryan Danielson makes his AEW debut.
Photo by Dean Moses

New York is an AEW town.

The hard-hitting, smack-talking antics of All Elite Wrestling (AEW) has struck a chord with grapple fans thanks to its more coherent storyline, match booking, and creative freedom of its stars when compared to the time-worn formula of the WWE.

Utilizing a mixture of icons such as WCW veteran Sting, longtime fan favorite Chris Jericho, and the newly acquired CM Punk and Bryan Danielson, in addition to some of the best young wrestlers currently stepping into the ring such as Adam Cole, Darby Allin, Kenny Omega, Dr. Britt Baker, MJF and Ruby Soho, AEW has proven itself to be a viable alternative to Vince McMahon’s mainstream WWE product.

The wrestlers of AEW descended upon the Big Apple on Sept. 22, for AEW Grand Slam, one of the biggest and most highly anticipated events to hit the city following the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Battling within Queens’ Arthur Ashe Stadium , the extravaganza drew New Yorkers from all across the city. Chanting wrestling catchphrases, hordes of excited fans rushed to the arena brandishing signs and championship belts.

Fans line up for the show. Photo by Dean Moses
Kip Sabian greets a young fan. Photo by Dean Moses

For many, AEW has reignited the passion for flashy fights and high-flying action that they loved as children and teens.

“I grew out of wrestling, but I saw the AEW pay per view with CM Punk, and this is not WWE, this is wrestling — the stuff I grew up with,” Jorge Briones said, explaining that this was his first live show in eight years. “Here they give you sportsmanship and athleticism. I am 41 now; I have been watching since I was 7 and then I grew out of it, it wasn’t what it used to be. But AEW has been a spark plug,” Briones said.

amNewYork Metro heard sentiments like this time and time again throughout the night. Max Lasky and Joe Fowler are not native New Yorkers, however, that wasn’t going to stop them from missing the bouts.

Sting take a jaw-dropping shot. Photo by Dean Moses
Chris Jericho and Jake Hager make their entrance. Photo by Dean Moses
Ruby Soho takes the fight to Britt Baker. Photo by Dean Moses

“As soon as CM Punk got back in the game there was no doubt I had to be here, and neither of us are from New York,” Lasky said, going on to explain that the cty’s COVID-19 protocols made him feel safe to share space with such a large amount of fellow fans. “With the vaccine being as good as it is in the states right now it was a no-brainer that we needed to be here,” Lasky said.

Fowler, who recently moved to New York from Australia, came with one match in mind: “Omega and Bryan is going to be unreal; I am so excited for that. I am going to be singing his theme. Being from Australia, not much comes to Australia, so we just watch it on TV. I grew up watching the WWE, so being able to come here… I am just so excited.”

With Bryan Danielson versus Kenny Omega being one of the most anticipated matches in history, the face-off at the start of the AEW Dynamite program did not disappoint with the pair giving the roaring crowd a historic fight that ended in a draw thanks to a time out.

In addition to this earth-shattering moment, attendees were treated to a tag team match involving Sting and Darby Allin, and a women’s championship showdown between Dr. Britt Baker DMD and Ruby Soho that served as the main event, sending the fans home happy.

Bryan Danielson faces off with AEW champion Kenny Omega. Photo by Dean Moses
Bryan Danielson unleashes a flying kick. Photo by Dean Moses
Bryan Danielson drops in on Omega. Photo by Dean Moses
The pair took to the sky. Photo by Dean Moses

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