By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Wardlow vs. Luchasaurus in a lumberjack match: A fun battle of big men. The lumberjack stipulation was a questionable move, but more on that later. Both wrestlers showed off some highly impressive athleticism for men of their size. This was easily Wardlow’s best outing on AEW television to date.
FTR vs. Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian: No offense to Dustin Rhodes and QT Marshall, this replacement match was much more attractive on paper. The SCU duo have been a high end team for years and it was really cool to see them work with FTR. It also packed more of a punch for FTR to defeat them than it would have had they topped the Natural Nightmares.
Chris Jericho and Orange Cassidy: Jericho did an excellent job of summing up a number of the complaints that Cassidy’s detractors have made about him and working it into his promo. Cassidy responding with the light kicks to taunt Jericho was fun, and it remains bizarre that detractors don’t seem to acknowledge that no one sells the light kicks in AEW. Anyway, the brawl that followed was strong and this all served as an effective final push for their Fyter Fest match.
Cody and Jake Hager press conference: A good segment that made next week’s TNT Title match feel more important. It was hard not to nod along while Cody heeled on ironic wrestling, but to each his own. Hager dressed the part for a change and his wife definitely adds to his act.
Hikaru Shida vs. Red Velvet in a non-title match: A quick squash win for the AEW Women’s Champion. The real story of the match was Shida’s pre and post match battle with Penelope Ford and Kip Sabian, which help set up next week’s AEW Women’s Championship match.
Brian Cage vs. Joe Cruz: Another logical, dominant squash match. In this case, the challenger for the AEW Championship at Fyter Fest plowed through his opponent in impressive fashion while Taz sang his praises on commentary. Taz’s post match promo on Jon Moxley was well done and I enjoyed the way the heel taunted Moxley for not being present despite the fact that Moxley had every reason not to be there.
Brodie Lee and Colt Cabana vs. Sonny Kiss and Joey Janela: The Kiss and Janela video package was really fun even if it was never really explained why the cameras were present when they stopped at a convenience store. The match itself was also entertaining and forwarded the storyline of Lee trying to lure Cabana into joining the Dark Order. The post match attack by Lance Archer was strong as he continues to bounce back from his loss to Cody.
Kenny Omega and Hangman Page vs. Best Friends video package: A good video. My complaint for years is that the character development for Chuck Taylor and Trent has in multiple companies has basically stopped at their mid-ring hug. The video didn’t cover a lot of new ground, but it was impactful to have a number of different personalities talking about how talented they are heading into their AEW Tag Title match.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Matt Hardy vs. Santana: The match quality was decent. And while I realize that Santana was a replacement for the suspended Sammy Guevara, the match just didn’t do much for me. The various faces of Hardy gimmick feels cold, though it’s impossible to say for sure without fans in attendance to let us know one way or the other.
COVID-19 precautions: AEW definitely deserves to be applauded for providing actual COVID testing before every taping. I also applaud Jon Moxley and QT Marshall for being honest with the AEW doctor about their exposure to people who have tested positive. Some will be content with saying that AEW has been better about testing than the shit show that WWE has been and leave it at that, but after watching Dynamite, it’s hard not to question whether AEW is letting its guard down to some extent. We saw a lumberjack match with a bunch wrestlers gathered together at ringside, and a brawl that spilled over the barricade into the spectator section. And that during the first two matches. WWE clearly deserves more scorn than AEW when it comes to the way they’ve handled their business during the pandemic. Sadly, some of WWE’s talent are paying the price for poor leadership decisions today. I just hope that AEW officials aren’t taking their proverbial foot off the gas pedal. As great as the actual COVID testing is, AEW officials know full well that UFC fighter Ronaldo Souza tested negative when he first reported to the Jacksonville hotel that the AEW crew shared with him and other UFC fighters last month. It wasn’t until two days later that Souza and two of his cornermen tested positive for the virus. In other words, the actual COVID tests are not foolproof and thus AEW should use more caution than they showed at times on Wednesday night.