Le Dinner Debonair shows AEW is unafraid of being creative, even if it means being divisive
This past week’s edition of AEW Dynamite wasn’t a steak dinner so much as an overstuffed turkey, and it certainly took a while to fully digest.
Between four matches as part of a tournament, a women’s match, the usual expected promos/interviews, and a four-way tag team main event, it was hard not to be a little concerned about the show running out of time.
And yet, leave it to Chris Jericho to take a night with so many noteworthy matches and have the most memorable moment – for better or worse – with his Le Dinner Debonair turned full-on musical number alongside MJF.
Let me get this out of the way; I really liked Le Dinner Debonair.
It was certainly not what anyone was expecting, and was a very out of left field segment in an episode of Dynamite that was already filled to the brim with stuffing. Let’s just say that if it were obvious that the main event was cut short due to time, I’d be feeling a little more mixed about the segment.
But everything seemed to fit in the timeslot, mostly due to a Kenny Omega vs last-minute replacement Sonny Kiss squash match, and Le Dinner Debonair was a lot of fun, and I think ultimately it came down to a marriage of creative freedom and great character work. Oh, and it also helped that they knew it was going to be divisive.
AEW is a company that seems to be far more willing to allow its talent to come up with their own ideas than some of the competition. While having a sort of ‘inmates running the asylum’ mentality can have its drawbacks, it has led to some fun segments and solid character work.
When watching Le Dinner Debonair, there isn’t really a sense that Jericho and MJF are only performing because that’s what the script from Creative told them to do this week. No, it’s clear that the two heels wanted to do it, were enthusiastic about it, and Tony Khan approved.
Chris Jericho is at a point in his career where he just wants to play out his crazy ideas. With a track record that includes the Stadium Stampede, an impassioned attempt at recruiting a drone, and multiple orange juice-themed shenanigans, Le Dinner Debonair has his fingerprints all over it.
MJF, on the other hand, has this uncanny ability to turn every segment he’s involved with into gold, not to mention his well-documented vocal chops that – ironically enough given Jericho’s musical career – completely stole the show. I very strongly believe that the segment would have fallen flat if Jericho’s partner was not completely in tune and confident in their character.
If nothing else, Le Dinner Debonair was a truly fascinating generational collision in a unique format. Jericho is a heel legend with 30+ years of experience on the tail end of his career, MJF is a 24-year old extremely talented newcomer filled with potential, and they’re going to perform a showtune whether you like it or not.
Seriously though, you can’t look at the duo’s facial expressions and think that they didn’t know people would hate it, and isn’t that kind of obnoxiousness one of their most definable traits? It is pretty admirable for them to risk some go-away heat from some of the fanbase by doing this segment.
Liking Le Dinner Debonair isn’t required, but it represents a lot of good things for AEW.
To those who didn’t like Le Dinner Debonair: I understand. Again, it was pretty out of left field, Jericho definitely keeps straying further and further away from the more serious heel persona he portrayed during his amazing feud with Cody, and maybe musicals just aren’t to your personal taste. But hey, things like this simply a side effect of AEW giving their talent more creative freedom.
When you take risks, it might not work 100% of the time, but I know I’d prefer a dud segment every now and then over things becoming too streamlined. Of course, there’s the argument that this is a slippery slope, and that things like this could take over programming and weaken the product (if they haven’t already), but I really don’t think we’re at that point yet. AEW is still a solid wrestling promotion at its core, and they’ve proven to be impeccable at course correction when things start feeling a little too off.
Look, I’m not trying to convince any naysayers that the segment was good. What I am trying to say is that a lot of what the segment represents is good. In Le Dinner Debonair, we can clearly see two wrestlers from two different generations who are extremely confident in their characters in a promotion that lets them express those characters in fun – even if divisive – ways. It’s the same creative spirit that allowed an unconventional wrestler like Orange Cassidy to become an absolute star.
Ultimately, liking or disliking Le Dinner Debonair may come down to personal taste, but the budding friendship/feud of two fantastic heels and AEW’s willingness to take some risks should be far more exciting than concerning.