By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Cody vs. Wardlow in a cage match: AEW did a good job of making a the cage match important via the overall presentation. I had mixed feelings on a couple things that happened during the match. I enjoyed the spot of MJF encouraging Arn Anderson to swing the door at Cody’s head just as Arn did to Cody’s late father, only to have Anderson to swing the door at MJF instead. At the same time, I wasn’t crazy about seeing the cage door pop open the first time AEW held a cage match. The cage was monstrous and I was also hoping that they would try to establish that there’s no way in or out. And while Cody’s moonsault was awesome, part of me was hoping that they’d hold off on the first dive from the cage for a future match with the goal of establishing the height of the massive structure. All of that said, the match was very entertaining, the blood helped make it stand out as being grittier than WWE cage matches, and Wardlow did a nice job of holding up his end of the match.
Kenny Omega and Hangman Page vs. Pentagon Jr. and Rey Fenix for the AEW Tag Titles: If you’re looking for classic tag team wrestling rules or pro wrestling psychology then this wasn’t the match for you. But the live crowd absolutely loved what was one of the stronger Dynamite crazy spot fest tag team matches of the week. The action was off the charts good and the near falls were excellent despite everything pointing to Omega and Page retaining to set up their tag title match with the Young Bucks. The post match angle was simple and easy to follow with Omega being pulled in opposite directions by the Bucks and Page, which was followed by Page leaving the ring to drink beer with fans before he walked to the back without The Elite members.
Jon Moxley vs. Jeff Cobb: A very good match that made Cobb look strong before Moxley hooked him in a pin to get the win. Cody stated in his media call that Cobb isn’t under a full-time AEW deal. While Cody also indicated that Cobb’s deal isn’t just a one-off, there was no need to protect him by booking a DQ or a no-contest. The post match angle was clunky to say the least. Darby Allin took his sweet time getting to the ring and Dustin Rhodes had to awkwardly cut in front of Sammy Guevara to perform his spot on Jake Hager. But the important part with Moxley and Chris Jericho trading punches was a strong close as the build continues to their pay-per-view main event.
Tag Team Battle Royal: This wasn’t your grandfather’s battle royal with a bunch of wrestlers standing around throwing punches and kicks against the ropes. AEW always seems to have a hot opening match and this was no exception. It felt fairly obvious that the Young Bucks would win to challenge Hangman Page and Kenny Omega at the pay-per-view given the recent storylines. But I like the way the end of the match was laid out to stack the deck against Matt Jackson, who had to eliminate Santana and Ortiz while fighting off Sammy Guevara’s interference. By the way, Guevara springboarding into Matt’s superkick looked amazing.
Nyla Rose: The video package recapping her AEW Women’s Championship win was well produced. It seemed like that might be it for Rose this week, so it was a nice surprise when she delivered a promo from the stage. Rose showed good poise on the mic and I liked her moment with Kris Statlander. I want to like Big Swole, but we haven’t learned anything about her on Dynamite and her involvement made the segment feel crowded. I also didn’t care for the way that the division’s monster Rose had to stand there and take it while Swole jawed in her face.
Shanna vs. Kris Statlander: A good, physical match. There were some rough moments early, but they got tighter and more snug coming out of the commercial break as they went deeper into the match. As much as I want to know more about the women’s characters in AEW, I laughed out loud and nodded along when Jim Ross stopped Excalibur from running through Statlander’s space woman gimmick bio. Here’s hoping the creative forces will make it seem like she’s playing head games with opponents or that they will simply play it up as if she might be crazy. Yes, we’ve seen all sorts of strange gimmicks in WWE over the years, but I really hope that AEW will strive to be more realistic.
AEW Dynamite Misses
None: AEW has really found its groove over the last two weeks. The product isn’t flawless, but it’s improving and is in a great place, especially when you consider that they are only twenty episodes in. By the way, I like the moment of Raven being shown in the crowd behind Evil Uno and Stu Grayson following the tease for the Exalted One. I assume it’s another red herring as we inch closer to the big reveal.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Brian Fritz of Sporting News and Between The Ropes discussing WrestleMania 36, WWE television from the empty WWE Performance Center, his own travel woes, NFL free agency, and more...