AEW DYNAMITE HITS & MISSES 5/11: Owen Hart tournament matches deliver, questionable Wardlow booking, more

BY SCOTT YOUNG, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Full analysis of the hits and misses from AEW Dynamite
Adam Cole photo - Ring of Honor (c) ROHWrestling.com

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AEW DYNAMITE HITS & MISSES

Adam Cole Defeated Dax Harwood – MAJOR HIT

This was an excellent opening match, and achieved something I didn’t think we’d see in quite some time: Adam Cole getting booed. The match was remarkable as a technical affair, but the way the match ended, with Cole forcing Harwood to submit to the sharpshooter, was a creative way to set Cole up as the major heel of the Tournament, and with any luck cement him as a heel going forward.

Jeff Hardy/Darby Allin Video Segment – HIT

Simple stuff. You want people to tune in for a match, you promote it. There are many ways to do that, but like Nike says, just do it. This more than made up for the halfhearted deliveries and less than energetic performances last week when Darby and Sting phoned it in. It set stakes and hinted at the extreme action we could see later in the show. I hope the numbers are what TK wants to see in the coming days because this is how they will pull more fans in.

C.M. Punk Defeated John Silver – MINOR HIT

Punk made it quite clear he was leaning into being a heel right from his entrance, wearing a John Tavares Islanders jersey. It worked to his advantage as it made it easier for Silver to play into the crowd. The match probably could’ve been shorter, but Silver is a great worker and took advantage of the time. Punk winning makes sense in the build to the AEW Double or Nothings main event.

Post Match Angle with Hangman Page – HIT

This segment shares a lot of similarities to the MJF/Wardlow contract signing that airs later. Punk controls the mic and plays into the heel nature. Page is silent, but like Wardlow later, gets the final finger in the air as the face form of rebellion. I would argue that this was much more effective than the MJF segment. Punk and Page played well into their heel and face dynamics and worked the crowd in the correct way. Punk is charismatic enough that he knows what and how to illicit specific emotions, not just from a crowd but the home audience. This made the build to Double or Nothing much stronger.

Jamie Hayter/Britt Baker Segment – MINOR HIT

This was a good segment, and while it isn’t a HIT, it doesn’t need to be. Britt Baker spent the majority of this segment doing the talking, which is a shame because Hayter has a great and unique line delivery and deserves some extra reps. Baker is starting to develop a monotonous delivery that is starting to make her sound like a 90’s valley girl.

The brilliance in this segment was Schiavone introducing the idea of Baker and Hayter facing each other in the Owen Hart Tournament. Hardcore fans have likely already seen the bracket and know of the possibility, but the average fan doesn’t. Introducing that on tv for the performers to openly react to plants the story seeds that will make tonight’s match between Hayter and Storm more interesting. Can Hayter win? How will she do against Baker?

Tony Nese Defeated Danhausen – HIT

It seems weird but this was the right call. Danhausen’s popularity can survive the loss and Nese really needs the win. It keeps the mystique of Mr. Hausen intact while building up Nese as an opponent for Hook.

Post Match Angle with Smart Mark Sterling and Hook – HIT

Sterling did a great job as manager filling in the holes of the match. Playing off the lack of entrance music and the quick bell to bell time is giving Nese the tiniest sliver of a personality to live vicariously through. Hook got a huge ovation, especially when he shook Danhausen’s hand. Hook may be a potential star in the making, but there’s a specific type of wrestling fan whose favorite memories of The Rock are his time in the Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection. Hookhausen is weird, but the kind of weird that I’m personally interested to see unfold in AEW

MJF/Wardlow Contract Signing – MINOR MISS

This segment embodies the best and worst of AEW. On the one hand, you have MJF, whom analysts and aficionados could spend hours dissecting. In the span of 15 minutes, MJF had an excellently produced Dark Side of the Ring parody intro, and a barrage of words that were over the top and brutal. Popping cracks at Tony Khan in between cracks at Wardlow were rather expertly delivered and crafted. The way he elevated Spears by organically calling back to the NXT bit that got him over was excellent. Using his contract expiration date as script fodder is a thing of genius, and I couldn’t help but think of Mustafa Ali or Roderick Strong with how MJF is holding Mr. Low’s contract predicament over his head.

On the other hand, I have to really question holding this in MJFs hometown. AEW does not have the audience and ratings clout to pull off Wardlow being booed by a hot crowd. MJF is too charismatic of a performer for the average fan giving Dynamite a try to wonder whether he is right. The performances from the men in the ring was great, but not enough to make this work in Long Island.

Samoa Joe Video Segment – MINOR HIT

Not much to this. Joe putting over the mystery and unpredictability of a surprise joker spot in the Owen Hart Tournament. My guess is we see Jokers being in the same family, with Mr. and Mrs. Freaking Wrestling making their debuts.

Ricky Starks Defeated Jungle Boy – MINOR HIT

Well worked match. Starks is starting to get back into his in-ring groove following his neck injury. Hopefully TK remembers Starks exists and books him into some meaningful programs.

Post Match Angle with Keith Lee, Swerve Strickland and Will Hobbs – MISS

I completely forgot this happened by the main event, and wouldn’t have remembered if I didn’t write the note to myself. That’s not a shining endorsement of a any segment.

The Jericho Appreciation Society Segment – MINOR HIT

This was a fun segment. Jericho and his lackeys are having a blast playing up the smarmy sports entertainment characters. Seeing the faces (burnt or otherwise) not only come off as intelligent but have an actual numbers advantage nearly blew my mind. The numbers still don’t seem to match up quite right. Between the three active members of the Blackpool Combat Club, Eddie Kingston and Santana and Ortiz, the faces now overpower the JAS. This would seem to give them one odd man out should they want to do a Blood and Guts match or some other gimmick match. It was announced tonight that Frankie Kazarian will challenge Scorpio Sky for the TNT belt on Jason Voorhees’ birthday, Friday the 13th. That would leave him opponent-less for Double or Nothing. A short build isn’t ideal, but Wheeler Yuta vs. Scorpio Sky could be amazing.

Serena Deeb/Thunder Rosa Video Segment – HIT

Using the commentators in a more casual setting over footage of both women was a great touch in giving this a big match feel. Using these to break up the pace of live promos keeps the build simmering until Double or Nothing.

Scorpio Sky/Frankie Kazarian Video Segment – MINOR HIT

This worked well enough. Having one performer go solo and the other be interviewed plays into their individual strengths, but the way it was stitched together felt clunky. Separating these as different segments throughout the episode would’ve felt cleaner, but the content worked. Reintroducing Sammy as a clearer heel is smart and Kazarian did well to ward him off.

Jeff Hardy Defeated Darby Allin – MAJOR HIT

Wow. What a spectacle of spots. Poetry of pain. Ringwork of Ruin. Both men gave this their all. This didn’t feel like it had the same poor selling that drug the Sky/Guevara ladder match down in some fans eyes, mainly due to Hardy not being able to go enough to no sell spots anymore. The surprise came in Hardy not only withstanding Allin’s coffin drop, one of the most protected moves in AEW, but reversing it into a guillotine pin and winning the match. It’s easy to write off as making sense. Allin is young and inexperienced. No one kicks out of the coffin drop, so why expect that? Having a mat based ending made the bigger spots count more.

Post Match Angle with The Undisputed Elite – MINOR HIT

Not much to this, but notable in that the Bucks used subtle imagery to further the Elite story. By going back to dressing in obnoxiously patterned matching shorts and shirts, the brothers Jackson are subtly showing that they’re still divided from Fish, O’Reilly and Cole. This isn’t a story they’re getting to at Double or Nothing. They’re playing the long game with this, and it makes sense to further a program with the Hardy’s in the foreground while letting that story simmer in the background.

Overall – HIT

This episode of AEW Dynamite had a fair number of spots that didn’t hit, and some that didn’t hit well enough, but overall this was a fun episode with some great action and story beats. The crowd was hot all night, and while that wasn’t always a good thing, it was more often than not. The build to Double or Nothing is grows stronger.


CATCH-UP: 5/11 AEW DYNAMITE RESULTS: Keller’s detailed report and analysis on Toni Storm vs. Hayter, Jungle Boy vs. Starks, Wardlow-MJF contract signing, Punk vs. Silver, Dax vs. Cole

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