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AEW Dynamite Hits & Misses
Adam Cole Defeated Christian Cage – HIT
This was a hell of an opening match. The excitement was there from the very start of the episode. Hearing Cole’s music hit followed by a crazy fan pop showed what Seth Rollins may hate to admit: attending a Dynamite taping is a PARTY, and no amount of corporate buzzwords can change that.
Once the action got started, it felt like the perfect test for Cole. Christian has never been an uber athletic performer, instead focusing on crisp technical work to tell a story in the ring. Adam Cole can obviously do that type of work too, but the challenge for him lies in trying to tell a heel story in the ring that keeps fans from cheering him over the course of 15 minutes. Cole did well in that regard, as the fans erupted with each kick out from Cage as the match ended.
Post Match Angle – MAJOR HIT
Adam Cole taking to the middle of the ring to demand a title match was an excellent setup for Hangman, but I wasn’t expecting this Hangman that came to the ring.
Page came out like a rockstar. He exuded confidence both in his body language and his words. He left Cole mesmerized as he told him he had his rematch but hinting at the brutality the stipulation would bring. By the time Page told Cole they’d wrestle in a Texas Death Match, Cole was stunned and speechless.
This was excellent character work from Page. This felt like a Hangman who understood that people are gunning for him and his title, and believes he has the confidence to stand up to them. Page’s line about making sure Cole “has his affairs in order” before their match felt like it was stolen from Rooster Cogburn. This match being on next week’s Rampage ensures people will tune in to see what happens. My only critique has nothing to do with the performers. It feels like AEW has done a few Texas Death Matches recently, and I’d be totally fine with them shelving the stip through the end of the year.
Ring of Honor Highlights – MINOR HIT
This was a fun video recap of Friday’s PPV. The show had great action and a match many have on their best of the year lists, but highlighting Jonathan Gresham and his win to become undisputed ROH World Champion was great in getting AEW fans ready to see him on Dynamite. Showcasing the end of show action was perfect as a lead up to…
Samoa Joe Defeated Max Caster – HIT
What a great introductory match. The highlight reel leading into Samoa Joe’s debut in AEWOH was the perfect appetizer for fans who may not be familiar with Joe. Caster was excellent in his rap out to the ring. My personal favorite line was the final one, “-and Tony, why we give this guy a chance? When we beat them in the ratings, this guy was their champ”. It was the perfect level of cheesy that felt like it was pulled from 8 Mile. The match itself was quick and to the point. Joe’s athleticism was on display, including a dive through the ropes and a top rope brain buster, and Caster continued to excel as a heel performer.
Post Match Angle – MINOR MISS
Nothing inherently wrong with this, but a post match ‘tron promo feels inherently less interesting than a meeting in the ring. Obviously the match before this had a post match in-ring promo and you don’t want to come off repetitive, in which case I’d flip the Spears/Dean match with this one that way you can get away with it.
Blackpool Combat Club Promo – HIT
Great little segment promoting Wheeler Yuta vs Jon Moxley and Bryan Danielson vs Trent Beretta next week. Hearing Regal gush about Yuta makes the possibilities between the BCC and Yuta quite intriguing. If he can survive a match with Moxley.
Shawn Dean Defeated Shawn Spears – MINOR HIT
This match was alright. Seeing Wardlow continue to get good fan responses is encouraging while they play out the story with him not wrestling. Having Dean get the surprise win over Spears was a good extension in the story of Dean having a win over MJF.
Best Friends Segment – MINOR MISS
This segment would’ve played a lot better with a script rewrite or two. Focusing on the kinship between the Best Friends and Yuta is what will drive this story. Wheeler obviously can’t be the best wrestler he can be when one of his stablemates doesn’t even care, so don’t focus on that and don’t bring it up.
Sammy Guevara Segment – MAJOR MISS
The content of the cue cards was bad. Like really bad. Mid-2000’s FOX sitcom bad. Sammy and Tay playing it up, not realizing how bad the content was makes it even worse. Hearing scattered crowd approval for Sammy’s entrance was bad, but hearing the crowd pop harder for Tay was worse. They really need to rethink all of this. Send Tay and Sammy back to the drawing board and have Sky, Page and VanZant cut some promos without Lambert. Both groups can be much better if they can focus their energy into ideas that have a chance of getting over.
Eddie Kingston, Santana and Ortiz/Jericho Appreciation Society Segment – HIT
This was the most sports entertainment-y moment of the night. Between a backstage brawl followed by a live promo segment in the ring, this segment was given quite a bit of precious TV time, and it worked for the most part. The logic of Kingston, Santana and Ortiz challenging for a six-man tag match feels flawed after last week, seeing the numbers game catch up and allowing the JAS to overtake Kingston, Santana and Ortiz. Should be a fun match regardless.
Hook Video Segment – MINOR HIT
Perfectly fine video segment, though it’d be nice to see Hook exit the Marshall-verse. Hook feels like he’s treading water right now, which won’t help them build up his popularity.
Jade Cargill Segment – MINOR MISS
Not much to this. Jade continues to grow her confidence on the mic. This program is moving at a really weird pace. With Battle of the Belts II next week, I would’ve expected an announcement or something by now, and if they’re aiming for Double or Nothing, it feels weird we haven’t gotten any word from Shafir yet whatsoever. Hope we get some clarity next week.
MJF/Shawn Spears Segment – MINOR HIT
This segment was fine. I like the idea of MJF reclaiming his win over Dean. Making it clear they’re setting a trap for Wardlow next week seems intriguing.
The Hardy’s Defeated the Butcher and the Blade – MINOR HIT
Major flustercuck of a match, in good and bad ways. The action was fun at first but became tough to follow as things unraveled. That part I can understand as the idea of a tidy weapons match feels oxymoronic, but the ending made no sense. If Jeff Hardy was eliminated, why is he able to eliminate the final opponent? Shouldn’t Matt have to win the match? Could be a nitpick, but with Justin Roberts doing a good job of explaining the rules as the wrestlers walked to the ring, that seems like the kind of thing you should clarify, especially if it plays into the ending.
Post Match Angle – MINOR MISS
Nothing wrong with this. Just an excuse to get Sting on AEW TV.
Luchasaurus/Christian Cage Segment – MISS
Why do faces give unworthy heels a title match? Jungle Boy specifically said ReDRagon hadn’t earned a title shot yet. Doesn’t that send a bad signal to the guys in the back? Who cares about improving and winning matches. If you’re a nuisance you can achieve greatness! Christian’s hissy fit works if they’re planning to break him off as heel, though that’s been building a little too slow for my taste.
Nyla Rose/Thunder Rosa Video Segment – MINOR HIT
This setup a time and place for Rose’s title match. The sooner they do that, the sooner Rosa can move on to more complex feuds.
Jamie Hayter/Toni Storm Segment – MINOR HIT
Hayter is an underrated heel, and seeing her play well off of Storm is a good sign they’ll put on a banger later on during the Owen Hart Tournament.
Hikaru Shida Defeated Julia Hart – MINOR HIT
Great start to this match as Hart continues to lean into her dark side and attacked Hikaru before the bell, with the ref starting the match with Shida on the ground, because reasons. Giving Shida an uphill baffle to climb for a win felt like a fun way of making this match tougher, as she would beat Hart handily all things equal. The final sequence leading into the Falcon Arrow was great. Hart is doing a great job building her heel turn.
Post Match Angle – HIT
To me, this was Deeb’s best character work as a heel. From trying to surprise Shida from behind to the look Deeb gave Hikaru as they circled each other, it was excellent work. I was low on Deeb as a heel before but she’s winning me over.
Swerve Strickland Promo – HIT THROUGH A WALL
No need for a lull before the main event, we’re throwing people through walls! This started off slow and gradually picked up until a great climax that the crowd popped for. The inevitable Swerve/Lee vs Hobbs/Starks tag match should be fun.
FTR Defeated the Young Bucks – MAJOR HIT
This was absolutely fantastic, and could’ve been the main event at an AEW PPV. Having the announcer for Ring of Honor introduce the match was a great touch, and I wouldn’t have mind if they went a step further and replaced Schiavone with Riccaboni.
The familiarity FTR and the Bucks have with each other was on full display, as all performers moved seamlessly from spot to spot. Everything felt organic and free flowing, which made it easier to get sucked into the match. By the time it built towards the false finish, the crowd was electric and on their feet. When FTR finally hit the Big Rig for the win, the arena came unglued. The only downside to this match with the picture-in-picture, as it broke the viewers concentration on the action.
Overall – HIT
This episode of AEW Dynamite felt similar in energy to Jon Moxley. It was tough. It was brutal at times. There wasn’t any major fluff. The crowd really elevated this episode and if I hadn’t known better I’d have thought AEW had a PPV this past weekend. Really fun show and next weeks programming looks just as good.