By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Cody vs. Ricky Starks for the TNT Championship: Starks is a nice addition to the AEW roster, but they oversold his debut by playing him up as the hottest free agent in pro wrestling after framing FTR the same way. There was no reason to think that Starks had a chance to win because they’d already set up Cody vs. Jake Hager for Fyter Fest. I don’t know how long Cody’s title reign will last, but they should be mindful of how setting up his bigger matches weeks out make his other title defenses feel predictable. Of course, they could play into that by booking an upset at some point. Overall, the match was entertaining and Starks looked good in defeat.
Anna Jay vs. Abadon: I really like the way this was framed as a showcase for Jay only to become a dominant win for Abadon. Jay has major upside and her time will come, but it was fun to see this take an unexpected turn. I’m not so crazy about the idea of Jay joining the Dark Order. Abadon actually strikes me as a better fit in the cult faction, but I guess we’ll see where it goes.
Kenny Omega and Hangman Page vs. Dustin Rhodes and QT Marshall for the AEW Tag Titles: A solid opening match with the champions going over clean. I’m still not sold on the story of Marshall being smitten with Allie, but only time will tell whether the payoff is worth it.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara vs. “Best Friends” Chuck Taylor and Trent for a tag title shot at Fyter Fest: A mostly entertaining match that felt out of place in the main event slot, in part because it needed a strong build. The explanation that Best Friends put their tag title shot on the line just to get Jericho and Guevara in the ring was something that viewers really needed to see play out rather than simply hear about it from the broadcast team. Jericho seemed more concerned with Orange Cassidy than earning a tag title shot during his promo and thus there was very little mystery regarding the match outcome. I’ve already seen enough of Jericho’s baseball bat. The idea of a wrestler taking two full swing bat shots to the ribs and then coming back to win the match for his team was just too much. The post match angle with Orange Cassidy revealing that he’d been dressed as a cameraman felt a little flat since he just stood there and waited for Jericho to see him. What was the point of the disguise when he could have walked out after the match and did the same thing?
MJF vs. Billy Gunn: This felt like an opportunity to give MJF an in-ring credibility boost by having him beat a legend clean. Instead, he needed Wardlow’s distraction to avoid being pinned, and then needed to use the Dynamite diamond ring as a weapon in order to beat Gunn. AEW has shown signs that they want to position MJF as a real player, but this was a pest heel finish that protected a 56 year-old part-time wrestler for no good reason.
The Young Bucks vs. Jimmy Havoc and Kip Sabian: A well worked match, but this felt like a throwback to the early weeks of Dynamite when several matches overstayed their welcome. The post match angle with these two teams along with FTR and The Butcher & The Blade was decent. I’m just not buying that the other teams are at the same level as the Bucks and FTR, so I could do without their continued involvement, though the company is obviously doing a long build to the Bucks vs. FTR showdown match.