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AEW DYNAMITE HITS & MISSES
Wardlow Defeated Shawn Spears – HOME RUN
While I’ve been critical in recent weeks of MJF/Tony Khans decision to recycle the labors concept that some of AEWs biggest stars have endured, this was great and redeemed the storyline for me. Wardlow was never going to be as gifted of the gab as Cody Rhodes or Chris Jericho, and instead they adapted the bare bones of the story to Wardlow’s strengths. The 10 lashes was never going to work as it was done in the past. Selling it up to Dustin Rhodes would ruin Wardlow’s credibility. So he no sold them. He took away Wardlow’s music. So the crowds got louder. Friedman’s last shot was the man Maxwell believed in over Wardlow. His plan was to bury Wardlow.
MJFs plan backfired, and instead AEW has created a monster for a new generation of wrestling fans. As Wardlow wove from backstage towards the ring, he carried the bravado and chutzpah of a star. Wardlow was quoted recently as saying “Wardlow is Wardlow. He is Ric Flair meets James Bond meets John Wick,” but I would add Uma Thurman’s Bride from the Kill Bill films to that list. While Mr. Low may not have been shot in the head by his former lover, he is portraying the focused drive Miss Kiddo displayed on her roaring rampage of revenge. This was the perfect appetizer for what will come on Sunday.
Jericho Appreciation Society Segment – MINOR BURN
Well this was uncalled for. Chris Jericho did his best fire Mario impression and maimed a backstage worker, possibly permanently. This just cannot stand, as it sets a bad precedent. Cultivating an environment where it is impossible for any backstage worker for AEW to feel safe. Despicable. Their match at Double or Nothing should be relegated to pre-show as punishment.
C.M. Punk/Hangman Adam Page Segment – MINOR MISS
This felt like everything we were afraid would happen when Chick Magnet Punk and Hangman Adam Page got on the mic together. Punk came out wearing the shirt for a local to the SF/Bay Area punk band, so he instantly gained points from me. When Punk started talking, he had the determination and passion you expect.
The problem was Page.
Hangman was not bad per say. His delivery was great. He had the same fire in his words that he had leading up to his match with Kenny Omega. Hangman just lacked authenticity. It felt like Punk was in a promo with everything he hates about WWE. Gone are the phrases that take me back to watching The Magnificent Seven and Fistful of Dollars as a kid, and in came buzzwords and phrases that feel scripted. Like I said. He wasn’t bad. It just feels like he may not live up to his ceiling. If I were a betting man, it feels like they are preparing for a Summer of Punk, with a potential loss to MJF in Chicago Labor Day weekend.
Anna Jay/Jade Cargill Video Segment – MISS
Sorry. As far as I’m concerned, Jay should not be getting a title match when her last match on television was a title match. That she lost. I do not care if she has been racking up wins on Dark and Elevation. I don’t care if she has been out in the woods killing boar to level up. Dark and Elevation don’t have the credibility to make that kind of logic work. So this match already feels like it doesn’t matter. Jade was great. Heck even Anna Jay was noticeably better in her promo work, but it still doesn’t make sense to me, and I reckon to all the fans Tony Khan should be striving to turn into regular viewers,
Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston Defeated Private Party – MINOR HIT
Not much to this. Just a set up for Sundays match between the Jericho Appreciation Society and the Blackpool Combat Club, Eddie Kingston, Santana and Ortiz. Jericho continues to sound like a Will Ferrell character, and I can’t wait to see him come at Eddie Kingston like a spider monkey.
Owen Hart Tournament Video Segment – MINOR HIT
Great video segment hyping up the semifinals and finals of the Owen Hart Tournament. I would’ve liked an extra 15-20 seconds explaining what Owen Hart means for the wrestling world, but the wrestler contributions for their matches wasn’t bad.
FTR and Roppongi Vice Were Interrupted by Jeff Cobb and Great-O-Khan – HIT
Excellent classic style between FTR and Roppongi-Roppongi-Roppongi Vice. The standout to me though was Caprice Coleman on commentary. I’m sure he was envisioned solely as a way to remind viewers this is an ROH match, but he added an energy to the broadcast that was a breath of fresh air. The Cobb and Khan connection interfering was a fun surprise and led to the rare AEW no contest. If they have more NJPW wrestlers invade Dynamite and Rampage, it’ll make Forbidden Door a must see show. Now all they need are AEW wrestlers showing up on NJPW.
Matt and Jeff Hardy Segment – MINOR MISS
This was fine. The Hardy’s trying to justify the match by pointing out they are past their prime and trying to sell themselves as a threat against the Young Bucks was just strange. Their performances were great and maybe a rewrite or second set of eyes on what they were going to say would’ve helped, but this didn’t sell the match as well as it should’ve.
Swerve Strickland Defeated Ricky Starks and Jungle Boy – MINOR HIT
The problem with keeping wrestlers on Rampage is that when they get time on Dynamite, they think putting on the best performance means putting on a spot fest where no one sells for each other. The match was a blast, but tightening up the action and telling a story that involves selling for each other would’ve worked so much better.
Post Match Angle with Keith Lee, Luchasaurus and Powerhouse Hobbs – MINOR HIT
Not much to this. That topé from Lee was fun though.
Dan Lambert Promo – MINOR HIT
Short but sweet promo announcing there will be a revamped TNT title on Sunday.
Thunder Rosa Promo – HIT
This was great. This reminded me why I’m a fan of Rosa and showcased how much her passion adds to her promos. Sad to see her music seem to cut her short, but she should have pivoted and cut it there. If it would’ve worked perfectly well and no one would’ve noticed.
Red Velvet/Ruby Soho Segment – HIT
Excellent character work from Velvet here. Playing sour loser by handing over her friends injury history is incredible. I mean she’s going to get sued into oblivion for breaking HIPPA law but it’s such a great move.
Britt Baker Defeated Toni Storm – HIT
Great action from both women in this match. This felt like what the Swerve/Starks/Boy match could’ve been like if they sold properly. Both women made each other look fantastic and told a great story. The ending was a little iffy but they played it well. Only downside is Britt winning telegraphs the winner of Soho and Statlander, and will likely telegraph the winner of the mens finals on Sunday depending which match goes first on the card.
Samoa Joe Defeated Kyle O’Reilly – HIT
Excellent, hard hitting match with chops a’plenty. This was as physical as we’ve seen in AEW and such a fun contrast to the steel cage match to start the show.
Post Match Angle with Adam Cole – HIT
Just an excuse to send the fans home happy with Coles theme music.
Overall Show – HIT
This show had many more ups and downs than I expected for a go home to a PPV. The strength to me was the in-ring action. It’s no secret that the live show is the priority, and tonight made that clearer than ever. An emotional steel cage match, a CM Punk/Hangman Page promo segment, a Moxley/Kingston tag match, an ROH Tag Title match, a triple threat match, a women’s champ promo segment, followed by an excellent women’s match and a physical mens match. That is a diverse selection of in-ring action and is a reason why fans flock to the promotion. If they can tighten the show and fix glaring issues, they will start to earn new viewers, which would lead to a new TV contract as well as earn the right to make MJF not worry about a new contract until 2028 or beyond.