By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
MJF gives Cody ten lashes: An unconventional segment that clicked in a major way. Most of the fans in the crowd were standing from start to finish. The whipping was violent and downright barbaric (copyright VKM), and while I’m tempted to label it difficult to watch, it was actually gripping television that I couldn’t possibly turn off even if I wanted to. If this didn’t make you suspend your disbelief enough to make you want to see Cody get his hands on MJF at the pay-per-view then nothing will. I also liked the touch of Wardlow stepping in and dishing out the most vicious lash given that he’s facing Cody in the cage match in Atlanta. And it was encouraging to see Brandi Rhodes stray from her clunky Nightmare Collective leadership role to encourage her husband to take the final shot.
Jon Moxley vs. Ortiz: AEW came out of the gate strong with star power by having Moxley in the opening match and Chris Jericho on commentary. The match was entertaining and Jericho continues to shine at the broadcast table. The “eye for an eye” bit with Moxley stabbing Santana’s eye afterward was well received from the live crowd. The build to Jericho vs. Moxley for the AEW Championship at AEW Revolution continues to be strong and the violence of the build is setting the table for what I assume will be a wild brawl that plays to the in-ring strengths of both men. The promo that Santana delivered later in the show was solid. If this caught you by surprise, they you weren’t watching his late work in Impact Wrestling, as he and Ortiz both delivered even better promos when given an opportunity.
Kenny Omega, Hangman Page, and The Young Bucks vs. Pentagon Jr, Rey Fenix, The Butcher, and The Blade: The crowd pleasing spot-fest big tag match of the night. It was nice to see this match around the top of the second hour rather than in the main event slot given that we had a six-man tag main event last week. Page got off to a rough start when they built to him facing Chris Jericho to become the first AEW Champion, and then they drifted into some strange territory with his character seemingly having issues with alcohol. But the fans seem to be telling AEW’s creative forces that they want Page’s alcohol consumption to be more “Stone Cold” than Scott Hall or Road Warrior Hawk. At this point, there are mixed signals as to whether they are getting the message and adjusting accordingly.
Yuka Sakazaki vs. Britt Baker: One of the better AEW women’s matches to date. The match was quicker and crisper than we’ve seen from a lot of the other AEW women’s matches. Here’s hoping we see more of Sakazaki going forward. Did Danhausen lend Sakazaki a tooth for the gross post match angle? I thought this would be Baker’s week to heel on Excalibur since she’s already gone after Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone. Excalibur is good at what he does, but lord knows that a masked color commentator who never appeared on the national scene prior to AEW provides plenty of material.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky vs. Chuck Taylor and Trent: The usual strong and Hit worthy in-ring work from these teams aside from that oddball finish. Here’s hoping that Taylor and Trent costing themselves the match by stopping for their usual hug will lead to some sort of a change. I’m not holding my breath since the hug has been their entire act in Ring of Honor and AEW (and probably everywhere else they’ve worked as a team). It’s cute, but I’m still begging for some character development just as I did when they were in ROH because I feel they have the ability to be more than a one joke mid-card team. The post match angle with the Dark Order backing away from attacking Christopher Daniels plays into theories that he will be revealed as the exalted one. In fact, it actually felt a little too obvious to the extent that I’m hoping it was a red herring.
Joey Janela vs. Kip Sabian: The build for this match was so dragged out that I was convinced they were saving it for the pay-per-view. Instead, after all that build, they just randomly gave the match away without any fanfare. Meanwhile, AEW live crowds are typically hot and this was another good crowd, but they clearly haven’t caught Janela fever like other AEW host cities. Things got better as the match went on, but from the moment that Janela made his entrance it was obvious that they would have been better off holding this match in a different venue.