AEW DYNASTY HITS & MISSES (4/21): Danielson vs. Ospreay, Storm vs. Rosa, Julia vs. Willow, Hook vs. Jericho, Pac vs. Okada, FTR vs. Bucks, Pre-show, Overall Event

By Tony Donofrio, PWTorch contributor



Kazuchika Okada vs. Pac (Continental Title): These was a great way to start off the PPV. Part of me believed that maybe they’d start the night with Bryan Danielson and Will Ospreay but this worked just as well. So far, the Okada heel run definitely gets a “thumbs up” from me and I love that he actually stuck it to the live crowd near the end of the match considering most were still cheering him. I’m curious to see what is next for Pac though. He’s had multiple start and stop runs with AEW the past five years. He’s a crowd favorite for sure so it’ll be interesting to see where, if anywhere, he goes next.

Adam Copeland & Eddie Kingston & Mark Briscoe vs. The House of Black: Another solid match in what would be the standard on this card. I love that Copeland and Malakai Black mostly didn’t touch at all since it feels like this is the direction this story is heading coming out of the show. I could be picky and say that the referee in the match was made to look like a fool (an AEW trope) but it didn’t take away from the match and story that is being told. I’d love to see Black get a run with the TNT Title but there are the rumblings that Black doesn’t like to put others over. That could be a problem down the line if he’s given a title run. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing what Copeland and Black do with this feud.

Julia Hart vs. Willow Nightingale (TBS Title): This was a minor hit. The match didn’t go particularly long but considering Hart is working injured I applaud her effort. It feels like Willow is being set up to be a transitional champion with Mercedes Mone looming. Having said that, I’m really hoping that Mercedes stealing Willow’s moment means that she is turning heel soon. There’s a lot of problems with Mercedes’ presentation right now and her turning heel can hopefully start to fix some of those problems. There’s approximately four weeks until her Mercedes and Willow have this match so I’m hoping what they have in store will be entertaining considering these two do have a lot of charisma.

Roderick Strong vs. Kyle O’Reilly (International Title): There was not a lot of heat coming into this match but both guys certainly delivered. I was a bit surprised at first to see Strong go over clean but I feel this’ll play into the bigger picture that Wardlow was supposed to help this match to end much sooner. It was very obvious that Adam Cole is not happy with Wardlow and his glare was very noticeable. I am looking forward to seeing what will happen with this. Also, on a side note, I’d have liked to seen Cole’s reveal that he’s able to now walk without crutches to be more of a surprise at the right moment. Regardless though, I’m happy to see his rehab might be nearing its end.

Toni Storm vs. Thunder Rosa (AEW Women’s Title): This match overshot my expectation mainly because I didn’t expect Storm to work this style with the gimmick she’s currently in. Both women are good workers so I was very happy that we got the style of match that we did. It’s possible this was Storm’s best AEW match to date and Rosa’s best since her bloody match with Britt Baker. Since the finish wasn’t 100% clean it’s possible that this could be run back again and I’d be for it if the quality is the same that it was on this night. The women’s division in AEW still doesn’t get quite the amount of time that it should but baby steps have been taken the past few months.

Will Ospreay vs. Bryan Danielson: What can be said about this match that hasn’t already been stated? Is it possible that this was the best match in United States history? Maybe even North America? Perhaps, but that’s entirely subjective. However, it certainly should be in the conversation. The post-match with Danielson selling an injury wasn’t needed but it didn’t take much away from the match for me. After seeing a few replays it was obvious that Danielson took the move as best he could. That doesn’t mean that he wasn’t injured but the selling of it, while strong, was still a bit over the top and they moved on quickly to the next match so I never head a reason to believe that the injury was legit. This isn’t a shock to anyone but AEW really has something in Ospreay and I’m hoping his strong booking continues. I am curious to see where Danielson goes from here. A feud between Danielson and Nigel McGuinness has been teased for over a year now. If McGuinness is ready, I’d love to see that match one last time.

Young Bucks vs. FTR (Ladder Match for AEW Tag Titles): These four had the unfortunate responsibility of following Danielson and Ospreay. If you’re going to heap that responsibility on anyone, I suppose these are some of the best guys to choose for the job because they accomplished that mission. There were some really crazy bumps taken in this match and that helped get the crowd back into it. While the interference from Jack Perry was predictable I think it was right move with the story that’s being told. I will be curious to see how Perry is booked going forward though. He’s going to be booked as a heel to start, for sure. But, fans treated him like a huge babyface on this night. Whether that continues, only time will tell. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s now the fourth member of The Elite. Perry could have his work cut out for him though considering the core fan base of AEW will side with him over the CM Punk incident.

Samoa Joe vs. Swerve Strickland (AEW Title): Oddly enough, of all the hits on this show, this may have been the least exciting match of the evening from bell-to-bell. That also didn’t matter because the match was still very good and entertaining. I stated at Worlds End that Samoa Joe could be end up being a transitional champion. I was right on that but he did a great job in his 3.5 months as champion. Even though the reign was short, his run was dominant and Joe deserved it. I was also pleasantly surprised that Swerve had the crowd behind him from start to finish as Joe had been getting the lion’s share of cheers in the past month or so. That’s a testament to what Joe and Swerve were able to pull off in this feud, especially Joe because he’s a hard man to jeer at this point in his career. I’m excited to see what the Swerve run looks like and I hope there’s going to be an open mind to it and there’s no hard end date set. There’s been rumblings that Ospreay will win this title at Wembley Stadium. However, that’s never been confirmed. Swerve is in very much the same boat as Cody Rhodes is in WWE right now. Both are fresh babyface champions. Neither should have a “sell by date” in terms of their title runs. Both should be given the opportunity to run with the ball and see what happens. Here’s hoping it goes that way.

Overall Show: This was a hell of a show. Even the misses were mostly minor, especially the second one. It’s hard to find an AEW PPV that isn’t solid. I would argue that there have been two, at most. Having said that, the TV has been hit or miss the past few months. Some of that is due to AEW’s own detriment (i.e. playing the CM Punk footage and opening themselves up to scrutiny). When it comes to the PPVs though, you seem to always get your moneys worth with AEW. This time was no different. I’m hoping AEW will see start off the Swerve era as champion as a soft reboot of sorts. He got a hero’s celebration at the end of the PPV. It wasn’t nearly as huge as what WWE did for Cody Rhodes but there comparisons are there. There are things to be excited about in AEW right now but the direction of those is always a bit worrisome with Tony Khan and some of his checkered booking. Regardless, this was a great show. Overall Grade: A


Pre-show: You can file this under the “beating a dead horse” category but there was no reason for a one hour pre-show with three matches. The idea of having three matches to further along stories on a pre-show just doesn’t make sense. A fraction of the audience is paying attention to what happens on these Zero Hour shows. Furthermore, if you’d have told me a year ago today that Jay White was on a pre-show of an AEW PPV I’d have laughed in your face. If Tony Khan wants to do a warmup match for the crowd that is dark that’s completely fine. But, there’s no reason that any of these three matches couldn’t have been on AEW’s five hours of regular scheduled programming.

Hook vs. Chris Jericho (FTW Title): This was a minor miss if mostly because the match felt like it dragged and went about 5 minutes too long. I do like the story that they’re telling but would’ve loved to seen more fire from Taz considering Jericho used a baseball bat to the head and neck area of his son. I assume we’ll get that moment soon but I feel it would’ve played out better on this night. This feud has felt accelerated some, especially Jericho’s heel turn. But, having said that, it’s probably a good idea that Jericho has decided to lean into the reaction than fight it at this point.

Tony Donofrio is a Contributor for Follow Tony @TonyDonofrio.

RECOMMENDED NEXT: AEW FEUD TRACKER: Assessing and grading Joe-Strickland, Ospreay-Danielson, Cassidy-Trent, Hook-Jericho, Storm-Rosa, Willow-Julia, Bucks-FTR

OR CHECK THIS OUT AT PROWRESTLING.NET: Powell’s AEW Dynasty Hit List: Samoa Joe vs. Swerve Strickland for the AEW World Championship, Will Ospreay vs. Bryan Danielson, FTR vs. Young Bucks in a ladder match for the AEW Tag Titles

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