When the first episode of AEW Dynamite aired in September 2019, they had a pair of very special guests in the front row.
Director/Actor Kevin Smith and his long time collaborator Kevin Mewes attended the show in order to promote their then new movie release, ‘Jay & Silent Bob Reboot’.
It was a fun appearance and smart for both parties. There is a huge crossover between wrestling fans and fans of Smith’s View Askew-niverse that stretches back over 25 years to his film debut, ‘Clerks’. There was even a cameo from self-confessed View Askew fan, Chris Jericho in the movie the duo were promoting.
Smith himself was a guest this week on Wrestling Inc’s Daily Podcast and he picked up the story of WWE wanting the duo for the first Smackdown on Fox but later pulling the offer. Smith picks up:
“Chris (Jericho) was like, ‘Hey man, we’re doing an opening match for AEW. I’m in the flick. Will you guys come?’ I thought absolutely as it was in Washington DC and we were in New York that day so we just hopped a train,” said Smith. “But when we said ‘yes,’ WWE was also asking if we wanted to go promote Jay and Silent Bob reboot there.
The publicist said if you’re gonna do a wrestling show, do WWE. But Chris is our boy and I’ve got no real ties to WWE while I have a direct tie to AEW. Then the publicist said if you choose AEW then WWE is probably gonna take their offer back. I was like, ‘I get it. So be it.’ We said we’re doing AEW and then the word came back, ‘WWE is fine with that. You can do them as well.’ So, I was like we’re doing both.”
It sounds like Smith became an instant fan when he took in Dynamite’s debut episode as he went on to talk about how much more fun he had than expected:
“We went to our seats and got a nice welcome. I honestly thought that everyone was paid to give us a nice welcome. But later on Jericho said, ‘Those are real human beings dude. They just happen to know your work.’ They sat us down ringside and I just fell in love. You can watch my face and I’m like a kid at Christmas. I become an instant mark and I’m concerned with these bodies that are flying at me. My reactions are absolutely genuine…
We were only supposed to stay the first half hour and Jay’s like, ‘Are you ready?’ I’m like, ‘I am not’ so we stayed for the whole show.”
However, after seeing the close association between Smith, Mewes and AEW, someone in WWE got cold feet about them appearing on SmackDown as well. Smith is pretty sure who’s call that was:
“It was strange to me that they said, ‘Oh, you can do AEW and do us’ because at first they were like one or the other. Then when we said we’re sticking with AEW, they then said you can do both,” recalled Smith. “It’s nice to know you’re wanted by both camps. But the morning after we did AEW and were trending, my publicist said that WWE pulled their offer.
I didn’t take it personally but I did derive a little bit of pleasure out of the fact that they’re scared of my boy and his league. There was a bit of delight that came for [Jericho]. But personally, I was like, ‘Vince McMahon is the hard guy that they say for all these years!’ That went right up to the top as there’s no way that Vince didn’t have anything to do with that decision because it involves Chris as well.”
As Smith points out later in the article, WWE went on to get The Rock for the opening episode as well as boxing superstar Tyson Fury, so they didn’t do too badly out of it. Meanwhile AEW got instant association with a pair stars held in extremely high regard with a large portion of their audience.
‘Jay & Silent Bob Reboot’ however did not fare so well, grossing only a fraction over its $4.5 million budget and not receiving a cinema release in the UK at all.