Austin Gunn is the secret weapon of AEW’s Pandemic-era

AEW Logo (photo courtesy of AEW)
AEW Logo (photo courtesy of AEW) /

AEW’s Austin Gunn has filled some much-needed roles on Dynamite

AEW and its flagship program, Dynamite, has had plenty of roadblocks to overcome in its near year of operation. From your standard injuries and roster building problems, to the attempted Dark Order takeover and botch on the Dec. 18 episode (you know the one), and yet, perhaps the most interesting issue they have had to adapt to is the global pandemic.

While the show appears to have a relatively consistent system going now, at the start of the pandemic, it was kind of the wild west. Storylines were dropped, fill-ins were needed for announcer spots, and there were a few weeks where the show had to film at the Nightmare Factory in Georgia due to restrictions.

One could certainly argue how safe it was to actually run these shows – and perhaps still is despite commitments to testing and Daily’s Place being an outdoor venue certainly helping – but run them they did, with a lot of memorable and crazy results.

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And through it all, there’s been one wrestler who has been somewhat of an unsung hero for the promotion, despite not actually wrestling on Dynamite. That wrestler is Austin Gunn.

Yep, Austin Gunn, son of ex-WWE superstar Billy Gunn, or “Billy” as he’s known now due to trademark issues. He signed with AEW back in January, but according to the man himself, was injured in his debut, and remained out of action until July. Since then, he’s been on a few episodes of AEW Dark along with his pops, forming the Gunn Club.

Now, those have been his appearances as a wrestler. He has a very exciting future ahead of him in the ring, but where the young Gunn has really been shining for the company has been his consistent role as a ringside audience member.

That’s right. Since the pandemic hit, AEW has fairly consistently kept other wrestlers ringside behind barricades during show segments. While the specific talent may vary depending on which roster members and indie wrestlers happen to be available at the time, you can almost always expect to see Austin Gunn not only there, but having the time of his life.

It can be fairly easy to find Gunn’s voice among the other noises during any given segment. You can count on him to cheer for the face of a match and boo or even sometimes directly heckle the heel. Even with little to no crowds at shows, seeing and hearing at least one person be so enthusiastic is infectious, and helps to soften the blow of the terrible situation the world is in.

Austin is usually accompanied by his father, and seeing the father-son bonding right before our eyes is really endearing. I personally didn’t grow up watching Billy Gunn during his WWF/E tenure, but I am always excited to watch a Gunn Club match because of their ringside participation. If getting over by being at ringside doesn’t show true charisma, I don’t know what would.

At times, Austin Gunn’s involvement even extends beyond the expected audience reactions. Take current AEW Women’s champion Hikaru Shida. Shida’s entrance involves her coming out with a downright majestic robe as well as her signature kendo stick. Now, unless it’s some sort of no DQ match like the one that won her the title, she has to put that extra gear somewhere, right? Well, leave it to Austin Gunn to take on the job. Gunn holding her gear has practically become an official part of her entrance at this point, and it’s always funny to see him cheer her on while wearing the robe himself.

Shida isn’t the only wrestler that has been assisted by Gunn recently. When the pandemic started, MJF and Shawn Spears had a pretty funny gag going that involved betting on match results which also included Austin Gunn at certain points. Then, on the September 16th episode of Dynamite, Gunn threw Hangman Adam Page a beer after his win over Frankie Kazarian – as confirmed by Gunn’s own Twitter – thus keeping an aspect of Page’s extremely over character alive.

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Pandemic-era wrestling will never quite match the feeling of “normal” programming, but any wrestler that puts serious effort into putting on as good of a show as possible deserves praise. So, major props to you, Austin Gunn. You’ve been one real Son of a Gunn, or Son of a Bill…