AEW DYNAMITE HITS & MISSES 5/18: Strong in-ring action leads the show, talking segments too long, more

BY SCOTT YOUNG, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Samoa Joe addresses not appearing on Slammiversary
PHOTO CREDIT: ROH

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AEW DYNAMITE HITS & MISSES

Samoa Joe Defeated Johnny Elite – HIT

Part of the fun of watching AEW is the atmosphere they’ve cultivated. That anything can happen. Whether it’s the shock of seeing Sting on TNT for the first time in years, or Malakai Black making a shock debut, exploiting a legal technicality all in the pursuit of dropping fans’ jaws, these types of surprises can be an important booking tool when used correctly.

Johnny Elite pulled that off, but it walked that tightrope of feeling a little too TNA, and not in a good way.

I’m not saying that the match was bad. Far from it. Aside from a botch from Mr. Elite that would’ve been covered well if it weren’t shot straight on. No, Johnny Elite just doesn’t feel worthy of the Joker treatment. Johnny has always been an incredible athlete, and has highlights from nearly every promotion on Earth. But that’s kind of the thing. He’s not the guy that would make the wrestling layman go “holy Shida”. Elite will only pop a very select niche of the Dynamite audience. There’s nothing wrong with that, but this type of roster enhancement feels like a football GM furiously adding splashy named players who may make waves in the media, but may not be a scheme fit or are injury prone. (*Cough* Trent Baalke *cough*) Outside of Johnny Gargano, who has vintage NXT cred and plenty of potential dream matches up and down the AEW roster, I can’t see many other names that would be worth the surprise. Given hindsight, I would have wished for an internal name like a Miro, or even an NJPW name to start promoting the Forbidden Door PPV. Johnny may be coming in Elite, but he won’t be bringing fans to watch Dynamite.

Post Match Angle with Sonjay Dutt, Jay Lethal, Satnam Singh and The Best Friends – MINOR HIT

This was fine, it’s a small enough program that Satnam Singh can build some reps but not big enough to draw a ton of eyes.

Young Bucks/Hardy Boy’s Segment – HIT

This played well, with Lexy Nair indicating that Jeff Hardy had been cleared to compete (was that ever in question?) The Bucks did a good job playing the slimy heels. The pace of this seemed to suggest they’re shooting for Double or Nothing for this match.

Hangman Adam Page Defeated Konosuke Takeshita – MAJOR HIT

This was a fantastic match, with Takeshita pushing Hangman to his limits. This felt like one of those matches in the vein of the first Daniel Bryan match or the Archer Texas Death Match where Page needed to learn something about himself in order to win. Learning to tap into his vicious side allowed him to earn the GTS finisher, and earn the attitude he had as he won. Punk saw that and knew that, and encouraged it.

Post Match Angle with C.M. Punk – MINOR HIT

Punk exuded a sadistic side on commentary, at times seeming to channel his inner Commodus from 2000’s Gladiator. When the match ended, there was no duel over the mic. Punk and Page let the fans do the talking. I do want a Page/Punk promo session next week. I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t happen, because Page deserves this chance to see where he stacks up against the Best in the World.

Fuego Del Sol/Dark Order Segment – MISS

This was fine as a segment, but it doesn’t belong on Dynamite. Save this for Rampage or Elevation and give those shows a decent storyline to play up and attract viewers.

Swerve Strickland/Keith Lee Defeat JD Drake and Anthony Henry – HIT

Great showcase match for Swerve and Lee. They had great chemistry in the ring, with a fluid style and a good ability to flow with each other. While they’ve spent their time cutting their teeth on Rampage, Lee and Strickland showed they can hang on the main show.

Post Match Angle with Ricky Starks, Powerhouse Hobbs and Christian Cage – MINOR MISS

This played well for showing Jurassic Express as being fighting champions. Christian doing the talking for the team doesn’t really help but will surely play into the upcoming Cage heel turn.

Kris Statlander/Red Velvet/Jade Cargill Segment – MINOR MISS

This was good for giving Velvet and Kris some character time. Velvet did her best to come off as a bigger heel than her physical frame, something that can be tougher for smaller performers. Statlander’s performance felt pretty blasé in comparison. With neither wrestler making a major play to stand out, Jade Cargill stole the show once she got on screen. The way she’s taking to screen time is remarkable.

MJF whipped Wardlow 16 Times – MAJOR WHIP

This was a really fun segment. Seeing Wardlow no sell basically everything from MJF and Spears was a great way of changing this from the same style segment that MJF did with Cody Rhodes. Adding whips and the ring ended the segment strong.

Roppongi Vice Promo – MINOR HIT

This was fine. Setting up a match between Romero and Beretta and FTR sounds like a blast. The significance of Ring of Honor beyond a line item on Tony Khan’s 2023 taxes, so the stakes of making this a match for ROHs tag titles doesn’t mean much to the AEW crowd. Hopefully AEW spends time explaining that.

Kyle O’Reilly Defeated Rey Fenix – MAJOR HIT

Fantastic outing from both competitors. The match was solid from start to finish but really came alive is it started to wrap up. O’Reilly’s ability to slow down and ground Fenix paid off, but Fenix’s athleticism pushed Kyle to his absolute limit.

Jericho Appreciation Society/Blackpool Combat Club/Eddie Kingston/Santana and Ortiz Segment – HIT

This had the potential to be an epic promo segment. Hell it was halfway there. Jericho’s contributions didn’t stick with me. It felt like he was trying way too hard to get cheap heat and tried to use snippets from his past podcast episodes to sound edgy. It just didn’t work for me. Once the faces got in on the mic action it clicked. It had purpose. It felt authentic. It encapsulated how sports entertainment can crash and burn.

Matt Sydal/Dante Martin Segment – MINOR MISS

This was fine, but I could’ve sworn Bryan Danielson has had matches with both wrestlers in singles action and beat them both. Have Sydal and Dante done enough since then to warrant this kind of challenge?

Britt Baker Defeated Maki Itoh – HIT

The re-introduction of Maki Itoh worked to me because of how they showcased it. They gave Johnny Elite his non-AEW credentials to show why he’s getting a shot. For Itoh they were able to utilize old footage from last year. Showing that history gave the match more oomph. The match itself worked well. It had the goofiness we’ve seen from past Itoh matches, but she looked like she had improved in the ring.

Post Match Angle with Toni Storm – MINOR HIT

Simple stare down. Fans didn’t seem to be leaning more for one performer over the other. Should be a fun match.

Serena Deeb/Thunder Rosa Segment – MINOR MISS

This was ok. Deeb can pull off the slimy type of heel, but trying to get you to feel for her as a bad guy doesn’t work. When she tries that kind of promo work, her words come off sounding fake. Rosa running down didn’t have much weight, as she instantly got knocked down.

Adam Cole Defeated Jeff Hardy – MINOR HIT

This was a fun match but felt really rushed. Would have liked to have seen this given some more room to breathe.

Post Match Angle with Young Bucks, ReDRagon, Sting and Darby Allin – MINOR HIT

It’s been awhile since AEW did a huge multi man brawl like this but this worked. The Bucks setting themselves up for a match with the Hardy’s, having Sting take an injury stood out.

Overall – HIT

This episode of Dynamite was quite strong. It had some fantastic in-ring action, good promo work and some excellent build up for Double or Nothing. While some segments needed a rewrite or work on execution, it didn’t bring down the quality of the show that much. Between the Wardlow/Spears match and the Owen Hart Tournament continuing, next week should be an excellent go-home for Double or Nothing.


CATCH-UP: 5/18 AEW DYNAMITE RESULTS: Keller’s report on Hangman Page vs. Takeshita, Cole vs. Hardy, Fenix vs. O’Reilly, Jokers revealed, Wardlow lashings

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