AEW DYNAMITE HITS & MISSES 2/23: Punk and MJF shine in hype for Revolution, Hardy faction misses, more

BY SCOTT YOUNG, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

CM Punk wins AEW World Championship
C.M. Punk (artist Grant Gould © PWTorch)

SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

Kyle O’Reilly Won the Tag Team Battle Royale for Red Dragon – MISS

Khan had done some fun experimenting the last few weeks in starting Dynamite with some talking segments that furthered character and acted as a nice change of pace from the usual formula of the show.

This battle royale was none of that, and started the episode on a really awkward note.

While the performers did their best, the lack of time they had due to it being a weekly program and not a PPV didn’t do them any favors. Trying to shoehorn typical royale tropes like aid from an outside wrestler to keep a participant in the match made an already chaotically paced show like Dynamite feel that much tougher to follow. When your director gets lost on which camera angles to focus on and misses spots like the Best Friends hug, you know you’re doing too much.

Simplify and focus on storylines and the quality will take care of itself.

Post Royale Angle – HIT

The angle after the Royale was a lot of fun, and helped paint Page as the star he needs to be.

Having him swagger down the walkway, call back to his relationship with Dark Order and John Silver and cut a cocky yet calculating promo on Cole was the perfect recipe to build up some heat for Revolution.

This Hangman isn’t the Hangman from last week. This was a Hangman that dropped the Anxiety from the Millennial Cowboy. This was a Hangman that felt sure of himself. If the lifetimes worth of experience in the back can help Page refine his character and increase the consistency by which Page can show this side of himself, this can be a Hangman that can put butts in seats and live up to his potential as champ.

Bryan Danielson Promo – HIT

This was a great segment that put over Daniel Garcia, provided some nice fan service with a William Regal shoutout, and gave you something to tune in for later with a response to Moxley’s call for a fight.

(Side note – with a roster bursting at the seams with talent, especially after the reveal later in the episode, now would be a good time to bring Regal in. Whether as a producer/scout/coach or as an actual onscreen GM, this roster deserves to have the greatest minds supporting them with the greatest creative and direction they can get)

MJF Promo – BEGRUDGING HIT

There was a story Alfred Hitchcock used to tell, when asked how to create suspense, about people sitting at a table discussing baseball and after five minutes the table blows up and everyone dies. This will shock the audience but it will fade quickly. Rather, show the bomb and the timer from the beginning and let the audience squirm.

This is exactly what we got from MJF. An acting performance so good, it blurred the line between truth and fiction in a way most can’t in wrestling anymore. The bomb under the table is MJFs ability to lie. We’ve seen it before, but now we know it’s coming. The suspense is in the fact that we don’t know if Punk does.

We have all seen what happens when you believe a heel. We’ve seen what happens when faces play dumb and believe the half truths disguised under crocodile tears, but we haven’t seen this version play out. We haven’t seen C.M. Punk fall for this kind of thing. We still don’t quite know if he did, but what we do know is they both gave these performances their all, and the hype grows more for March 6th.

To paraphrase the line from Alan Moore’s magnum opus “Watchmen” (a story that feels even more timely given the current world landscape):

“Who Kayfabes the Kayfaber?”

2point0/Daniel Garcia Segment – MINOR MISS

Now that Cody Rhodes has departed AEW, 2point0 is in danger of creating the next “____ island”.

2point0 are great at what they do. I just wish what they did meant more than yelling and being entertaining without making me care what their names are. Daniel Garcia has everything it takes to be a gigantic star, and as his accolades continue to grow, it will become more important to leave 2point0 island and show what he is capable of.

Penta Oscuro and PAC Defeated Kings of the Black Throne – HIT

This match was a lot of fun. Giving Penta Oscuro the new entrance and theme made him feel like a bigger deal, and he’s excellent at showing a more violent style when he needs to.

Penta showed great chemistry with PAC, but the crowd wasn’t behind them at all. Black and King were the fan favorites by a mile.

Post Match Angle – MINOR HIT

This didn’t really make much sense, but the crowd being so into the debuting Buddy Matthews made it a net positive.

Based on how the post match angle was found, I thought for sure that Fenix was returning from that gnarly elbow injury on January 5th.

Instead we got Matthews, who was about as over as you could ask for. This fact made it all the more confusing when he attacked Penta and PAC and aligned with Malakai and Brody, even though the blocking suggested he was there to help Penta and PAC.

It just felt clunky, which was made clear by the fans raucous reaction turn to confused murmurs.

Eddie Kingston/Chris Jericho Segment – HIT

This segment had great performances from both wrestlers. Kingston was raw, feeling unhinged and uncontrollable, with Jericho coming off like a calculating heel. The lip service to fans were relatively subtle and didn’t stick out, which is a plus. My only hope is that Jericho leans into the heel nature he showed and not diminish Kingston.

AHFO Segment – MISS

This didn’t do much beyond suggesting a match with Andrade, Hardy and Isiah Kassidy against Sting, Darby and Sammy Guevara at Revolution.

Nothing was officially announced. They just suggested a match. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with that but now that Guevara is TNT champ, I would prefer to see him at Revolution in a singles match defending the belt. This set up just feels beneath where he should be.

Ricky Starks Defeated Pres10 Vance – HIT

Starks is criminally underused. He has the charisma and in-ring abilities bookers salivate at and getting to see him get some more screen time in the ring after his neck injury is a breath of fresh air.

Tony Khan has a tall task in front of him in learning to manage talents like Starks with incoming free agents like Matthews.

Young Bucks/Red Dragon Segment – MINOR HIT

Not much to this besides making the lines between the Bucks and Red Dragon clear and showing how out of Cole’s control it is. Putting the onus on Red Dragon to keep the peace assures that things will bubble over once the Young Bucks win the Tag Team Battle Royale 2: Electric Boogaloo next week.

Jade Cargill Defeated The Bunny – MINOR HIT

This was deceptively good. On the one hand it felt like Jade is becoming less green and raising her ceiling, while the Bunny showed what she can do when she uses her ring work to show her character rather than pandering to the camera and crowd. The Hardy/Sterling interaction felt kind of unnecessary and like it was just there to pad the match length, but it didn’t ruin the match. I want to see a lot more of this version of Jade and this version of Bunny.

The promo following the match was great and bringing Tay Conti in for Cargill’s next opponent feels like a fun challenge. Having Bunny attack Conti felt like a great extension to their rivalry, and letting Cargill stand tall was a great final shot.

Keith Lee/Team Taz Segment – MINOR MISS

This was ok in building hype for the Face of the Revolution ladder match, but not even someone of Starks caliber and charisma can keep me from “well actually”-ing his line that Team Taz has been running things.

They haven’t been running anything beyond their mouths for the majority of the last year. The only reason they’re more relevant than Inner Circle is that Taz sent Hook.

Bryan Danielson Defeated Daniel Garcia – HIT

This was really good, and a fun showcase for how good Garcia can and likely will be. This match could’ve used a little more room to breathe, and I could totally see a 15 minute match between these two later this year to see how far Garcia has improved.

Post Match Angle – HIT

Fun promo to prompt 2point0 run out and great to see Moxley get a big pop. Danielson accepting Jon’s request for a match with the line indicating that only one of them may bleed was a great touch, and created some great heat for an already hot match in a week and a half.

Overall – MINOR HIT

This episode was good, with the show focusing on solidifying the stories heading into Revolution. It was a promo heavy episode, which can be hard to process with Dynamite’s usual brisk pace.

Switching the first and last match would’ve probably made the entire show feel a lot bigger. Starting with the Garcia/Danielson match and adding Moxley in after the match and ending the episode with Adam Page standing tall with a banger of a promo would’ve made the show flow much better.


CATCH-UP: 2/23 AEW DYNAMITE RESULTS: Keller’s detailed report and analysis on Jade Cargill vs. Bunny for TBS Title, Tag Team Battle Royal, House of Black vs. Penta & Pac, Jericho-Kingston face-to-face

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