SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Nick Jackson vs. Fenix – HIT: Going into this match fans of these guys knew what to expect. Nick Jackson and Fenix over delivered with a highly athletic match that was enhanced by the hot the crowd. At times, as a viewer you can take their precision for granted. One slight slip off the ropes could lead to a catastrophic injury. Nick Jackson was without his brother, Matt, which led to his first singles match in several years. While I don’t believe this is going to lead to him having a big singles run, it proves that Nick can hold up his own and be used in singles competition when needed. Fenix has been a solo star in other places. This win sets up the potential for Fenix to start being featured as a singles competitor while also tagging with Pentagon.
Britt Baker vs. Hikaru Shida – MISS: Clunky match to start, but they recaptured the crowd by the end. Hikaru Shida has gotten over her knees strikes and has the ability to become something more for the promotion. As for Britt Baker, AEW has tried to push Britt Baker as an up and coming star. She has some of the intangibles needed to get to the next level, but I feel her connection with the crowd is not nearly where AEW had hoped it would be at this point. At the earlier pay-per-views, Baker received great reactions from the crowd, but somewhere along the way those reactions started to wane. AEW has hit the audience over the head with the fact that she’s a practicing dentist while missing out on laying out her goals in wrestling. Her ability in the ring also needs to improve from where she’s at now. I don’t think she’s way off track, but it may be time to rethink where she stands in the women’s division.
Dark Order Vignette – HIT: Dark Order may have found a winning formula. Since their debut at Double or Nothing, almost everything this tag team had done has fallen flat. From chants of “who are you?” to silent reactions, it seemed as though this team was doomed. Following last week’s attempted recruitment of Marko Stunt, AEW put together and a high budget vignette of the Dark Order being a cult. Reactions from the video have been positive and even likened to The Fiend’s “Firefly Funhouse.” The idea of being a cult adds more logic to their human throne and opens up the possibility of someone joining the group.
Dynamite Dozen Battle Royal – MISS: This was another weirdly booked battle royal. It echoed what happened at the Double or Nothing with Hangman and MJF being the last competitors. 56 year-old Billy Gunn was one of the central focuses of the match while he towered over almost everyone involved. Gunn was a crowd favorite having a fun spot with Orange Cassidy before being eliminated by Hangman Page. The crowd booed the Page for the elimination placing him behind the eight ball again. Page had built up a lot of good will with his cowboy s*** promo and a win over Pac, but he seems to be back to his mid-card position instead of an upward trajectory. MJF’s final elimination of Jungle Boy took away a potential elevating match for him. MJF is the right one to win, but the crowd was ready to see Jungle Boy be bumped up to the next level.
Chris Jericho Announcement – HIT: Chris Jericho continues to put on some of the best mic work of his career. After being pigeon holed into a one-note act in WWE, Jericho has broken free into an ever evolving top-level entertainer. The audience holds on his every word and while some of his antics warrant laughter and cheers, he never loses sight that he’s a heel. The story with Scorpio Sky has been a great diversion in-between pay-per-views. There hasn’t been a promotion before AEW that has seen Sky as anything more than the third person in SCU. Sky has embraced the frontman role and has the talent to back it up. Being free of the scripted promos allows each of these wrestlers to elevate one another.
Luchasaurus vs Peter Avalon – HIT: Luchasaurus seems limited in his physical ability coming off a hamstring injury. A squash match is the perfect use for him to get back into the mix. I’m fine with Peter Avalon getting his butt kicked every time he comes to the ring. For awhile the Librarian gimmick had strong go away heat and now it seems to be hitting the right chords of not overstaying its welcome.
Santana & Ortiz vs. Private Party – MISS: Both teams delivered in the ring, but the botch/missed camera shot took the audience out of the match. It’s still unclear exactly what happened whether the wrong wrestler was tagged in or the referee just stopped the count. Either way, the announcers and TV viewers were left confused while the in-arena audience incessantly booed. The wrestlers were able to recover for a good finish, but this second occurance in a few weeks time that the referee stopped a count.
Jon Moxley vs. Darby Allin – HIT: The crowd was really into both guys. Jon Moxley has regained a lot of the superstar status that he seemed to be lacking the first few weeks of Dynamite. Darby Allin is one of the fastest rising stars in AEW. He went from being an under-sized mid to lower card talent to someone who can visit the main event scene. Both of these guys feel like they are on the up-swing determined for big things. That is that exact feeling AEW was going for following the main event.