Like the rest of the world, there’s a lot wrong with pro wrestling in the year 2020. Beyond the simple fact that it’s inherently unsafe to run events during a pandemic, no matter how much testing is done, you’ve got to contend with things like WWE running layoffs despite seeing massive profits, the revelation of widespread sexual abuse and harassment throughout every level of the industry, AEW’s repeated mishandling of concussed wrestlers (seriously, watch this clip of Alex Reynolds getting ignored in the middle of the ring and then dragged around after clearly getting knocked cold last night), WWE absurdly limiting its “independent contractors” from profiting off third-party work on Twitch and Cameo, independent promotions like Game Changer Wrestling running shows that could easily turn into superspreader events, and more.
So when something that’s unquestionably good happens in wrestling this year—whether it’s New Japan’s G1 tournament, AEW’s Stadium Stampede match, or John Cena’s Lynchian mindfuck of a WrestleMania match—it’s good to highlight it. And last night Chris Jericho and MJF did something on AEW’s Dynamite show that isn’t just good, but is one of the most unexpected and memorable things I’ve ever seen in 35 years of watching wrestling.
Jericho and MJF have had a passive aggressive frenemy relationship going on for a few weeks now. As conceited, condescending heels it makes sense they’d feel a kinship, but their characters are so similar and so arrogant that there’s no way they could coexist for long. AEW has been gradually teasing that out on Dynamite, with MJF unwilling to outright ask to join Jericho’s Inner Circle stable, and Jericho unsure if he wants this younger version of him to potentially undermine the stability of his gang. Their whole deal is a delicate web of suspicion, cautious respect, and slight contempt, and last night it culminated in what was billed as a steak dinner between the two so that they could clear the air and figure out what exactly each of them wants from the other. What we got from “Le Dinner Debonair” was something far more than a wrestling riff on My Dinner with Andre.
It really helps to not know what’s coming, so here’s the whole segment. Watch it before reading on.
Okay, did you watch the whole thing?
I’m leaving some space here in case you haven’t.
I realize this looks awkward, but I’m doing this for your own good.
Yep, that’s the only full-blown song-and-dance musical number I can think of in the history of pro wrestling. There’s a long list of wrestling characters who sing, or videos set to music, or even wrestlers singing and dancing on other programs. (Hell, Vince McMahon’s WWF put out two entire albums of wrestlers singing back in the ‘80s, with accompanying music videos and a TV special.) But this is the first time I can think of a wrestling segment following the logic and flow of an actual musical. Jericho and MJF transition seamlessly from conversation into a fully fleshed out and choreographed routine where they lay out their characters’ goals and motivations through song. They lift “Me and My Shadow” from Frank and Sammy (no, not Guevara) but rewrite the lyrics to perfectly fit their characters, furthering both the storyline they’re currently telling while referencing what their characters have gone through over AEW’s 20-month history. And although they aren’t the best dancers, they both do a commendable job singing, with MJF in particular showing off a surprisingly strong set of pipes. Unsurprisingly a lot of wrestling fans hate this whole thing because it’s not “serious” enough, but forget those nerds: Le Dinner Debonair is one of the most creative, unexpected, and legitimately funny wrestling moments I’ve ever seen, and an instant highlight of what’s otherwise been an absolutely terrible year.
Even if you aren’t a wrestling fan, you might enjoy this. It’s certainly worth six minutes of your time. What else are you going to watch, another meaningless presidential debate? C’mon, you’re smarter than that.