For the third week in a row, AEW Dynamite topped a million viewers, and one of the biggest draws of the show was the main event match between deathmatch legend Nick Gage and Chris Jericho, part of the Five Labors of Jericho, a series of matches with stipulations chosen by MJF that Jericho must overcome to earn another shot at MJF. The match featured several memorable moments, but one particular moment you may have missed if you were too busy wincing and looking away from the television showed Gage slicing Jericho's forehead with a pizza cutter right before AEW cut to a picture-in-picture commercial break where the first commercial was for Domino's Pizza. As Gage continued to slice away at Jericho, a faceless Domino's employee sliced away at what passes for a "pizza" at the national takeout chain.
Whether the move was planned by AEW or a mere coincidence, the serendipity, real or manufactured, wasn't lost on viewers who quickly made the transition a meme on social media.
But one place where the transition was not so appreciated was apparently the corporate offices of Domino's Pizza. In an article published by Front Office Sports, Michael McCarthy claims to have reached out to Domino's Pizza and received the following statement from a representative:
We share the concerns expressed about this incident and the content of this TV-14 rated program, and are assessing our advertising presence on it going forward.
McCarthy's report has garnered criticism from fellow wrestling journalists including former Deadspin writer David Bixenspan, who tweeted extensively about the report, pointing out that Front Office Sports prominently features advertising by WWE partner DraftKings but that no disclosure of a potential conflict was mentioned in the article. Bixenspan also noted that McCarthy fails to report exactly what he asked Dominos that caused them to agree with him, nor does he even attempt to delve into whether AEW might have been aware of the advertising schedule for the show.
Additionally, McCarthy's article was questioned for including a final paragraph that read: "Founded in 2019, AEW is trying to challenge wrestling giant WWE for fans and TV viewers. But it's bloody matches have turned off some fans and critics, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic." In addition to using the contraction "it's" where the possessive pronoun "its" should have been used (what is this, a Rich Johnston article?), McCarthy fails to cite any source for claims of turned-off fans and critics, giving the impression that the claim could be similar to when Donald Trump says "many people are saying" when what he really means is "I am saying." The article was later edited to add a sentence noting the episode garnered AEW Dynamite's fourth-highest viewership of all time without any mention of the article being edited.
But amateurism in the underpaid and under-edited realm of entertainment "journalism" is far from surprising. What is surprising, however, is the pizza chain's reaction to being involved in a viral meme. In truth, in a social media landscape where corporate brands constantly compete to be seen as a hip part of internet culture, pretty much any other brand would have been delighted to capitalize on the viral popularity of the incident. In fact, some are trying to capitalize on it despite not being involved at all.
Despite it all, does Domino's have a point? For more on that, we spoke with world-renowned wrestleologist and real person, Professor Thaddeus T. Puffinbottoms.
"It was sick and disgusting," said Professor Puffinbottoms. "The grossest thing I've ever experienced in my entire life, and something I never, ever want to do again."
Wow. You were really offended by Nick Gage slicing up Chris Jericho with that pizza cutter.
"Oh, no, I was fine with that," the professor clarified. "I'm talking about the last time I ate 'pizza' from Dominos. Yecch!"
So you don't think AEW took things too far by bringing on Nick Gage for a bloody, violent hardcore match?
"It's f**king wrestling, man," Puffinbottoms explained.