SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
AEW DYNAMITE HITS & MISSES
Orange Cassidy Defeated Ethan Page – MAJOR HIT
As this match started, it felt like a core memory was triggered of the early episodes of Dynamite. Sure, OC was an AEW OG. Sure, AEW crowds are notoriously raucous. What set this episode apart was how the arena was lit. You could SEE the crowd. You could put faces to the drone of the fan roar. Go back and watch any episode from the last few months and it’s lit noticeably darker. It’s like those early (and even still now sometimes) 3D movies in theaters 13 years ago. The 3D tech didn’t play well with a slower frame rate and it would appear dark. Noticeably darker than a 2D print of the same movie. Same idea here. It’s not a big difference, but one that can really impact the home presentation.
The match itself was a lot of fun. Dan Lambert played his role well and Ethan Page hammed it up in a very complementary way to Orange Cassidy. Cassidy using OJ as a Popeye-style real world power up is something I can totally get behind if played right.
I do feel compelled to point out the weird plot hole of having this match in Ethan Page’s “hometown” of Detroit, MI, while also touting his participation in the All-Atlantic championship tournament. Or maybe I shouldn’t, since Detroit borders as much of the Atlantic as Japan does.
Christian Cage Segment – HIT
This started off a little shaky but as soon as the crowd boos started raining down, Christian leaned into it and this whole segment worked very well. Christian is hitting all the right heel moves and his veteran savvy is coming through in the best ways.
Luchasaurus Oscuro Defeated Serpentico – HIT
I was intrigued at rye possibility of a Luchasaurus heel turn after last weeks Dynamite, but this is fantastic. Luchasaurus Dark is played extremely well, focusing more on the power moves. I can’t wait to see how this plays out.
Scorpio Sky/Wardlow Segment – MINOR MISS
This didn’t work as well as it should’ve. Scorps was fine but Wardlow appeared stiff and uncomfortable. Wardlow is a hell of a talent but he needs to loosen up when he’s not in the ring, otherwise he’ll only be able to reach half of what his potential may be.
Danhausen and FTR Defeated Max Caster and the Ass Boys – HIT
If Ethan Page was getting the “hometown” love as a heel, Danhausen was getting the pop of the night, he introduces his partners in FTR. Feel the rainbow came out looking like a million bucks with their three title belts and cleaned house. Fuel the rabbit are one of a few teams I can think of right now who’s floor as performers will pop a crowd more than most wrestlers ceiling performances. Something as simple as dual German suplexes that land close enough to the same time to not cause two different mar crashes really enhances their view as a team. I will take that just as much as I’ll take the flippy shit.
Post Match Angle With Billy Gunn – HIT
Is this really as intriguing as I feel like it is? Like a dad choosing the kids he sees as winners over his own sons? This is after school soap opera stuff in the best way and I can’t wait for the Father Ass on a Pole match that will inevitably main event All Out.
Sonjay Dutt/Jay Lethal Segment – MISS
Not much to this. Simple promo setting up a Lethal/Joe match at Death Before Dishonor. Hopefully they can use the time they have before July 23rd to make this match feel exciting.
Jade Cargill Defeated Leila Grey – MINOR HIT
Squash match for Jade. She’s really coming along and moving from move to move markedly smoother than even Double or Nothing. Great to see.
Post Match Angle With Stokely Hathaway, Kris Statlander, Athena, Leia Grey – MINOR MISS
I liked it up until the Leila Grey part. That just felt forced and didn’t work for me. I was more interested in Cargill getting beat down and seeing her bounce back.
AEW Grand Slam Hype Video – MINOR HIT
Nothing to this. Same video they played during Forbidden Door.
Young Bucks Segment – HIT
Nice segment from the Bucks. Started slow but ramped up well and the idea of keeping NJPW talent incorporated after Forbidden Door is smart.
Blood and Guts Video Segment – HIT
This was great. AEW is so good at these types of videos when they want to be. Finding the right clips to tell the story through the interviewees words works so well when done right and they did it right here.
Blackpool Combat Club Defeated Jericho Appreciation Society – HOME RUN
This was so much fun. This felt like a big deal. It felt like a spectacle. Starting the main event festivities before the second hour started felt important. It makes you want to see what’s going on. They gave the cage theme music that felt ripped from the start screen of WWE No Mercy back in the day.
Giving Claudio one of the entrance theme spots was smart. It’s great to see him getting the fan appreciation he’s gotten thus far. Rich Fann said on this weeks Everything with Rich and Wade suggested he could see an AEW title run in Castagnoli with how fans have responded, and it’s hard to disagree. Also got to appreciate how Moxley is the “break glass in case of emergency” for AEW. Sure, Tanahashi winning the belt would’ve certainly been interesting, but CM Punk may be the only one who’s more believed than Mox.
JR being absent for most of the last two shows seems concerning, though I do like how Taz, Excalibur and Schiavone were meshing together. The commentary feels tighter.
Seeing Claudio fit in with Wheeler and Moxley is so much better than I thought it would be. This isn’t Cesaro cosplaying as a brawler. This feels like a revitalized performer and we’re lucky to get to see it.
The match exploded once all competitors were locked in. The crowd ate it up and made it that much more exciting. It was amazing to see the dominance of the Combat Club of Blackpool. After the All-Atlantic Championship coronation, AEW is good on titles for now, but BCC would make great inaugural champs for a trios title. Seeing each performers willingness to not shy away from the painful stuff really sold this. These guys were getting hurt, and the brutality was amazing.
The ending will be polarizing, but for good and bad reasons. Anyone complaining about Sammy’s fall needs to genuinely go out and see how far a 15 foot fall is. Getting upset that he’s not hitting concrete says a lot more about the people getting mad then it does about the product. The fall was done to perfection. Claudio’s spin on top of the cage was great too. The very end was a little underwhelming, but only in the fact that the whole story started with Eddie trying to prove himself to Jericho. He did that in there first match. He did that here. What are they still fighting for? This story is long concluded in my eyes, so to plant the seeds towards transitioning to Eddie and Claudio works. I didn’t previously know that they had a long-standing beef with each other, but Eddie has a short fuse and even if they didn’t, not being the one to put Jericho away would be enough to set Kingston off.
Overall – MAJOR HIT
It feels weird giving an episode this much praise. The implication is not that it was perfect, but they certainly strived for it. There’s a non-profit music organization near me who’s motto is “tradition through innovation”, and that’s a good way of describing this episode. This felt like an early era (weird to say that for such a young company) episode of Dynamite with performers and ideas mixed in from the now. Dynamite would have never worked if they immediately went to Blood and Guts in 2019. They had to build to it. Dynamite would’ve never worked if they immediately had a partnership with NJPW. Too many cooks in the kitchen and it would’ve felt disjointed. This was a best of both worlds. Taking what worked at the start and evolving it with new ideas. To me that’s how you grow your audience, and I hope they continue this direction.