SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Chris Jericho Thank You – HIT: Chris Jericho continues to be the all encompassing entertainer. He worked every part of his schtick, including a release of actually bottled Little Bit of The Bubbly. Jericho even brought his dad, Ted Irvine, for some cheap heat with the crowd over the Ranger-Blackhawks rivalry. The crowd seemed to be into a lot of this, but it was hard to tell at times because of the persisting audio issues. Much of what Jericho said came through echoing and distorted. AEW took a risk opening with a long in-ring segment, but this has been the same stuff that the audience has been loving from Jericho.
Lucha Bros. vs. Best Friends – MISS: AEW sees big things in Trent. They’ve given him a bit of a spotlight with a few wins. What is curious is that Fenix took the pin. He came off of a fantastic win over Nick Jackson last week. Is this leading to a split of the Lucha Brothers? The Lucha Brothers were some of the biggest stars AEW was able to acquire. When they were brought in, they were on par with The Young Bucks in the conversation regarding best tag team in the world. Now they are losing clean to a team that has been portrayed as a comedy act. Trent may have this great untapped potential, but the 50/50 booking of the tag division is bringing everyone down instead of establishing stars.
Emi Sakura & Bea Priestley vs. Hikaru Shida & Kris Statlander – MISS: This was clunky tag match. AEW continues to book these tag matches with irregular teams that force the competitor to attempt these double team moves that don’t look smooth. The Chicago crowd gave a nice ovation to everyone in the match including Kris Statlander who has hardly appeared for AEW. I’m a fan of all of these women and think they have potential to fit different roles within the company, but some of these thrown together tag matches either need to be cut-down or eliminated.
Cody vs. Matt Knicks and Post-match beat down – MISS: I continue to be a fan of AEW’s use of squash matches. It’s a great way to reintroduce wrestlers who’ve been out of action and show off their signature spots for a satisfying fix. It was the perfect setup for Cody to cut a post-match promo to discuss his long awaited thoughts on his match with Chris Jericho and betrayal from his closest friend MJF. It couldn’t have been in front of a better crowd in Chicago where it all began. I can’t imagine a better time to pull out the rug from everyone and debut The Butcher and The Blade… and Bunny! Why does AEW continue to have new acts debut by beating down the stars they should be building up? It doesn’t help either when the crowd is sitting their confused and chanting, “Who are you?” instead of outraged. It doesn’t do any favors for the debuting act as scene by the Dark Order. I guess the only difference here is The Butcher and The Blade entered through a hole in the ring instead of turning the lights off.
Pac vs. Kenny Omega – HIT: A highly athletic and crisp match as you would expect from these two. The match only went about 12 minutes so it didn’t have a chance to become as great as their bout back in August. Kenny Omega has strung together a number of key victories including beating the #1 ranked Pac. Omega isn’t at the star level I had imagined he’d be at this point in AEW, but it seems like that may be turning around. In hindsight, I don’t mind a promotion building up someone like Pac to being a top contender who then becomes a major win for someone who is being set up for something bigger.
MJF vs. Hangman Page – MISS: Why does Hangman keep getting booked to look like a chump? AEW is wasting his potential by having him stay at the same spot instead of moving him up the card. MJF could have afforded the loss to give something to Hangman to get back on an upward trajectory. It felt like they were laying the groundwork for something to come with Excalibur reminding us that Hangman recently left The Elite. The pull apart between Diamond Dallas Page and Wardlow was fine for what it was. Wardlow still has the feeling of a cartoonish bruting heel.
Dustin Rhodes Promo – HIT: Really nice to see Dustin back in the ring as he can be a valuable veteran to what AEW wants to do going forward. Unfortunately, this segment ended with yet another beat down instead of allowing the entertainment to be the wrestler laying out their goals to fire up a crowd that’s already behind them. The Inner Circle didn’t need the added heat, but it works to advance the storyline with the AEW establishment.
Chris Jericho vs. Scorpio Sky – HIT: Really good match to end off Dynamite. Scorpio Sky looked credible against Chris Jericho with several near falls that had the crowd believing there could be a championship change. Jericho submitted Sky with the Walls of Jericho to retain his championship re establishing himself at the top. Sky earned good will with the crowd from this program which only strengthens him going forward. Jon Moxley came out to close the show and challenge Jericho for the title at some point. After Pac suffered a loss earlier in the evening, Moxley became the most logical challenger for the AEW Championship.