AEW DYNAMITE HITS & MISSES 2/16: Punk adds smart stipulation to MJF rematch, Danielson and Moriarty shine on the mat, more


CM Punk says he had garbage match with Adam Page at Double or Nothing


C.M. Punk Promo – HIT

This segment was quite fun, and AEW is doing a good job of subtly letting the viewer know that when an episode starts with a talking segment, it’s going to be good and it’s going to mean something. Tony Khan premiered Dynamite in 2019 and went quite some time before starting a show with a promo segment. Now we know that when it happens, they matter.

Punk is at his best, to me personally, when he has what most medical doctors would diagnose as “‘Dem Crazy Eyes”

You know the ones. The ones that remind you of Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. The ones that evoke the stoic sadism of Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka on the riverboat. The ones that tell you that whomever Punk is talking about, will need to kill Punk to stop Punk.

The match stipulation is a great idea, as it’s a theme that Punk has been talking about since the feud began: stopping MJF from being able to run away. Using a stipulation that goes back to the past and weaves through the history of this feud is inspired booking. Making the thing that silences MJF at the end of the segment be the photo of the two of them was excellent storytelling.

Bryan Danielson Video Package – HIT

This was great and worth discussing. A video package that was all of 60 seconds and quickly got the viewer caught up on Danielson’s character and motivations. It made what you will see later in the episode feel that much more important.

Having these kinds of video packages air earlier in the episode while they still have their lead in could be a great way to keep viewers and grow the audience.

Jurassic Express Promo – MINOR HIT

This was fine. Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus are charismatic and can make even the lowest of brows of humor entertaining.

Bryan Danielson Defeated Lee Moriarty – MAJOR HIT

This was a stupendous match. So much so that it actually did warrant that term and I would highly recommend those in WWE watch this to see a match qualify that should be the floor for the upcoming event, and build from that.

Moriarty is improving by leaps and bounds. He showed that in pure athleticism he can hang with the best of ’em. He just needs to build experience and gain some ring IQ.

Danielson was excellent in selling yet still showing that he never fully lost control of the match. He was like a cat playing with its food before devouring it. Seeing Lee fight like he had throughout the match made the ending feel that much more brutal.

Bryan Danielson/Jon Moxley Segment – HIT

Both men were great on the mic. Moxley did a great job weaving a story about his history with Danielson before eventually getting to the idea of a match between the two. While I’m team Danielson/Moxley Dojo in AEW (Doxley Dojo?) I’m just excited that we’re even getting this match.

Keith Lee Video Package – HIT

This was a great video package. It keeps Lee in the viewers mind after his debut last week and showcases his charisma away from the ring. Putting this kind of time into a performer makes me think he may be the favorite to win the Face of the Revolution ladder match.

Wardlow Defeated Max Caster – HIT

They played with some fun ideas in this match. If you think of Caster’s rap segments as voicing the opinions of the viewer, pointing out to Wardlow that Wardlow is being controlled by MJF to Wardlow’s face is quite the achievement.

Caster creating some believable offense with the help of Bowens was a great way of giving Mr. Low some time to sell and never allowed Caster to make him look weak. The ending and post match work gave Wardlow some great acting reps.

Mercedes Martinez/Britt Baker Segment – MISS

This just didn’t work for me. It felt like Martinez and Baker were on completely separate wavelengths and were not meshing together well at all.

The only redeeming quality to this segment was treating Kove from Cobra Kai as his actual character. It’s one of those weird things that only wrestling can get away with.

Hangman Adam Page/Adam Cole Segment – HIT

This shares quite the similarities to the segment that came before it. Page and Cole started this in a very rocky way. They felt like two musicians who were still learning how to play together and still playing at different speeds. Page has a legato, flowing style to his deliveries, whereas Cole has a punchier style with his words. Once they got on the same wavelength they did a great job.

Both men had great lines. Cole showcasing his arrogance and Page rode a fine line between smooth confidence and anxiousness, but the deliveries to me limited the impact.

There’s plenty of time to get Cole and Page on the same page, but they’ll need to put some extra time in together to do it.

Darby Allin/Sammy Guevara Video Package – HIT

Much like the video package earlier in the program showing the viewer why they should care about Bryan Danielson, this video showed you why Allin and Guevara were likely going to have a great match. Working in more videos like this and less cue card segments will make Guevara feel like a much bigger deal and may attract some new fans.

Santana and Ortiz Defeat Chris Jericho and Jake Hager – MISS

This match was fine, but it’s not the elevating win you would hope it would be for Santana and Ortiz. Hager was quite limited in the ring, either due to ring rust (Hager’s last match was in November at Full Gear, where the Inner Circle defeated American Top Team) or not but he wasn’t able to make up for Jericho’s limitations. This was Jericho’s best match in months, but he still felt a step too slow and like he was hampering the chemistry of the other performers.

Santana and Ortiz’s win was further diminished after the match, when Chris Jericho stole their spotlight by attacking Eddie Kingston and Santana and Or-teasing a match with him at Revolution.

Young Bucks/ReDragon Segment – MINOR HIT

Fine segment planting more seeds at the eventual rift that will develop for Cole between the Bucks/Elite and ReDragon.

Thunder Rosa Defeated Mercedes Martinez – HIT

This was a lot of fun and showcased how much of a star Thunder Rosa already is.

(I hope she isn’t burning through all of her ring gear ideas too quick. The nod to Uma Thurman’s Bride from Kill Bill was exquisite)

Both performers did a great job of making this feel violent without resorting to the blood that these types of matches usually use in AEW. They relied on storytelling to show their ferocity.

The post match angle was alright and hopefully sets up Rosa vs. Baker at Revolution. A sadistic and Kove-led Baker could make for a very fun match. Cole better watch his back, with Baker being Kove-ted by other men.

Kings of the Black Throne Segment – HIT

Malakai Black and Brody King’s video packages always remind me of the scene from “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” when Ricky Bobby’s children are found running around yelling “Anarchy! I don’t know what that means but I love it!”

Half of the time I have no idea what Black and King are talking about, but the production value and charisma between the two is so great you get sucked in no matter what. I quite like the idea of adding a third King to the Black Throne. (when does a Black Throne become a Black Parade?) My personal guess is we see a debuting Buddy Matthews in the near future.

Switchblade Jay White Promo – HIT

Excellent video package showing what makes White special. He oozed machismo and made his upcoming debut in AEW feel like a big deal. Hopefully the storyline doesn’t fizzle out quickly as it did with Kenta and we can see some different opponents for White.

Sammy Guevara Defeated Darby Allin – HIT

This was a great main event. Both men excelled at meshing their styles and showcased their athleticism and abilities to sell. Guevara especially did a much better job selling tonight and added another layer to his performance.

AEW has gone from having very few dusty finishes to having quite a few in the last few weeks. It’s nice when they mean something (and sure seems it will) but having them so often feels like a booking crutch rather than a paint brush used to spice up a canvas. You don’t want so many of your PPV matches in a few weeks come from DQ finishes. It just feels too repetitive.

Overall – HIT

Great performances up and down the card, which made the show feel that much more cohesive. I’m personally glad they didn’t address the Cody Rhode’s sized elephant in the arena. They didn’t need to, because they showed they’re quite fine without him.

CATCH-UP: 2/16 AEW DYNAMITE RESULTS: Keller’s detailed report and analysis on Darby challenging Guevara for TNT Title, Punk picks the time and stips for MJF, Jericho & Hager vs. Santana & Ortiz

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