By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Chris Jericho and Cody: It was a nice touch to put the Inner Circle in the luxury box for a couple of matches, as Jericho has to be good for ratings. I got a kick out of the group taunting Cody with airhorns during his promo, and that set the stage nicely for Dustin Rhodes, MJF, and Dallas Page coming out to even the numbers. The visual of the babyfaces (it’s so odd to use that label for MJF) going up the arena steps to go after the heels was great, and it was a nice touch to have MJF give Cody his scarf so he could break the window of the door the heels were hiding behind. Cody’s dig at WWE was fun and well received, and Jericho asking MJF “Who wears a scarf?” was hilarious. Jericho is making the most of the creative and promo freedom and is delivering some outstanding performances.
Private Party vs. Pentagon Jr. and Fenix in an AEW Tag Title tournament semifinal match: A hot opening tag match with the best young team in the business facing one of the elite teams in all of pro wrestling. It was cool to see AEW shake up the format by starting the show with both teams in the ring. There were some spots that looked contrived, but there were also sensational athleticism that more than made up for it. It was fun to hear a Pittsburgh crowd so rowdy from the start. I have nothing against the Steel City, but they’ve stood out to me as some of the flatter live crowds for WWE events, but that wasn’t an issue for AEW’s debut in the market.
Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky vs. The Dark Order in an AEW Tag Title tournament semifinal match: They had a tough act to follow with the match taking place right after the crazy opener, but both teams did a nice job and this was the Dark Order’s best showing in AEW to date (I didn’t miss The Creepers). The finals of the tournament should be very good, and it will be interesting to see if SCU and the Lucha Brothers can top the Private Party vs. Lucha Brothers match.
Kenny Omega vs. Joey Janela: It was refreshing to see Janela take a night off from the hardcore style. Janela got his share of offense, but they made the right call in putting over Omega strong.
The Young Bucks vs. Best Friends: Another quality tag match. It would have been tough to top the insanity of the opening match and this was the third tag match in 90 minutes, so the involvement of Orange Cassidy helped keep things fresh. I may have missed the broadcast team the only one who wasn’t sure what the Young Bucks were referring to when they told Santana and Ortiz that they accepted?
Britt Baker vs. Jamie Hayter: A minor Hit for a match that received an assist from the live crowd, which rallied behind hometown heroine Baker.
Wardlow vignette: A simple and arguably even generic workout vignette, but I enjoyed this more than the odd Lucha Underground style fighting video the company went with for his first vignette at All Out.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Jon Moxley vs. Pac: A soft Miss for a good main event that concluded with an unsatisfying draw finish. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for AEW using time limits and draws in key places, but I must question whether it’s a good idea to close the fourth show with a draw that ended an otherwise high energy night on a flat note. And where was the hype and fanfare? Jon Moxley vs. Pac is a big match that will keep viewers watching if it’s promoted, yet it was barely mentioned throughout the course of the show. There were no promos (really, one throwaway Moxley promo in four weeks?!?), no backstage shots of the wrestlers, and no video package to recap their storyline. I realize the match ended in a draw and perhaps they may not have wanted to go overboard with the hype. In general, AEW should make their television main events feel as big as possible. They could even keep track of the wrestler’s won/loss record in television and main event matches, as there’s a story to be told with wrestlers who thrive or struggle in the main event spotlight. And if they brand their television main events properly, there’s also a story to be told with younger wrestlers climbing the ranks and earning their first spot in a Dynamite main event.
Lack of promos: Did Brandi shove Jamie Hayter out of the way and look angry with Jenn Decker because no wrestlers other than Chris Jericho and her husband Cody are allowed to speak on AEW television? Okay, we’ve heard from a few other people, but I’m shocked that a company run by wrestlers who hung their hats on not using writers and letting wrestlers speak for themselves is not giving more wrestlers promo time.