SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Hangman Page vs. Sammy Guevara – HIT: This was my favorite presentation of Hangman Page in AEW thus far. Hangman was in desperate need of a singles win building to his match against Pac at Full Gear. Guevara had great heat during his entrance accentuating his body. Another really great match to kick off the show. Hangman was super over with this crowd and it felt like he had regained his mojo. His post-match promo came across great on TV continuing to use the term “cowboy sh**”. Post match promos are a simple and effective way to continue to build a bond with the audience. It worked well here, so hopefully we see more of the down the line.
Shanna vs. Hikaru Shida – MISS: Hikaru Shida has potential to be a big star in the women’s division. She has the experience and charisma to become something. Her striking was over big, but this match was a bit of a drag. Shanna still has a way to go as far as her in-ring ability. The in-arena crowd got into the action towards the end, but on television this match felt like a slog going 11 minutes. Excalibur was excellent at explaining Shanna’s background to the TV audience that likely had no idea who she was.
Rock ‘N’ Roll Express – MISS: Is it possible to get and interview segment that doesn’t end in some sort of brawl? The segment put some good heat on the Proud N’ Powerful, but it felt almost like a cliche at this point that yet another interview segment was interrupted to get heat. That being said, the execution was very good. Hopefully there will be some sort of repercussions towards the Proud N’ Powerful so that when something like this happens again, it will have a bigger meaning.
John Silver & Alex Reynolds & QT Marshall vs. Best Friends & Orange Cassidy – HIT: The Rick and Morty tie-in was brilliant. AEW and Rick and Morty share a lot of the same demographics so it was a natural fit to tie-in the announcement of the new season on Warner Media’s sister network, Adult Swim. Having Best Friends and Orange Cassidy dawn the attire of Rick and Morty worked because it fits the goofiness of their characters. Cassidy had his shining moments where the crowd ate it up as well as the hug spot between the three.
Cody-Jericho Contract Signing – HIT: These Jericho-Cody segments keep hitting it out of the park. Jericho is at his absolute best right now. He’s the only serious heel who can wear a pumpkin jacket for a contract signing and make it work. He touted he’s taking the contract signing seriously, but kept teasing a brawl and lashing out at the crowd. Cody came out looking like the main event baby face he’s been positioned as. The limo ride and jet plane segments were a throwback to early WCW where Mean Gene sat with Ric Flair. Tony Schiavone also felt like Bob Costas on Sunday Night Football doing an intimate sit down interview. After the contract was signed, Jake Hager slammed Dustin’s hand in the limo door as another WCW callback. Hager is in such a better role in AEW as the silent vicious muscle.
The Elite vs. Kip Sabian & TH2 – HIT: I feel like a broken record when saying that not everything on Dynamite is going to be for everyone. This match delivered high speed action with limited selling. It’s hard to argue how much this style hurts the business if at all because of the crowd reactions and money drawn. The Young Bucks wore their Street Fighter attires they had at Fyter Fest while Kenny Omega dressed at Sans from the video game, Undertale. The Bucks and Omega continue to excel in the ring and show why they are some of the best in the world. It helps that Kip Sabian and TH2 are some of the most athletic wrestlers on the roster. The post match beat down by Proud N’ Powerful give a little boost to their forthcoming match. After Moxley’s in-ring promo, Omega is in prime position to give to give the promo we’ve been waiting for.
Jon Moxley Promo – HIT: This was the Jon Moxley promo we’d been waiting for. He emoted all of the intensity like we had hoped for when he broke free from WWE. Avalon was the perfect heel from Moxley to take out quickly before laying out who he is going to be from here on out. With the backstage package from earlier, Moxley is being portrayed as an outsider who is being held down by Tony Khan and the promotion. He was rightfully upset that his match with Omega is going to be unsanctioned therefore not counting towards his overall record. I still firmly believe this should have happened in week one when they had a larger audience sampling the product. Moxley got his heat back, but unfortunately it happened on a night a ton of television competition.
Lucha Brothers vs. SCU – HIT: It’s going to be quite difficult to get the audience to boo The Lucha Brothers. They are mega talented in the ring creating new sequences every match. Most people including myself thought the Lucha Brothers were a near lock to win the first tag championships. The match seemed to be cut short with no ramp entrances for the teams and a finish that felt anti-climactic. The crowd was surprised the match was from a small package that wasn’t the central point of focus. The audience was still pleased with the victory, but it didn’t have that epic title match feeling we’ve become accustomed to in AEW. The finish leads me to believe there may be a rematch at Full Gear.