By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Hikaru Shida vs. Penelope Ford for the AEW Women’s Championship: A highly entertaining match aside from the bad spot with Kip Sabian interfering. Sabian looked weak while being roughed up by Shida, and that spot where he threw the cane into the air after being punched was corny. On the bright side, AEW’s women’s matches are getting better, and it’s no coincidence that they’ve scaled back on the four-way spot-fest style matches. Ford has shined in the ring since the company started setting her up for this title shot. Here’s hoping the creative forces will continue to showcase her and start dedicating more time to establishing her character.
MJF and Wardlow vs. Luchasaurus and Jungle Boy: A hot opening tag match with nonstop action. The finish was really well conceived in terms of protecting Wardlow, who took the Dynamite diamond ring to the face, a big kick and a standing moonsault from Luchasaurus, and still kicked out right after the three count. In fact, Wardlow wasn’t just protected, I would argue that he gained something in defeat. I wish we had more intelligent clean finishes like this rather than the abundance of “apparent disqualifications” or “apparent no-contests” that we see far too often on pro wrestling television shows.
Cody vs. Jake Hager for the TNT Championship: It was hard to feel any sense of excitement when Hager made his AEW debut. As I pointed out at the time, he seemed unmotivated late in his WWE run and that carried over to his post WWE work. But it’s time to give credit where it’s due. Hager has really stepped up his game in AEW. He is really well cast as the enforcer of the Inner Circle, and I’ve enjoyed the majority of his AEW matches. This match was solid and the effort was certainly there. The finish was done in a way that seemed to leave the door open for a rematch.
Brian Cage and Taz: They turned a negative into a positive. I love the way Taz heeled on Jon Moxley by questioning his reasoning for missing next week’s show even though everyone is fully aware that his wife tested positive for COVID-19. It made Taz and Cage look heartless as he used plausible heel logic. The highlight was the “we don’t run a sloppy shop” jab that WWE totally deserves.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Kenny Omega and Hangman Page vs. Best Friends for the AEW Tag Titles: “What they want are new tag team champions, not a damn hug.” God bless Jim Ross for calling out the Best Friends’ hug spot, which then blew up in their faces and led to the tag champions retaining. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Best Friends need to establish actual characters. The cutesy hug is cheered by live crowds and I’m fine with it happening in key places, but there needs to be more to this act than good in-ring action and the hug spot. The actual match was well worked, but I never bought into the possibility of Best Friends winning and this just didn’t feel main event worthy. The post match angle with FTR was solid and I’m already looking forward to their eventual match with Omega and Page.
Private Party vs. Santana and Ortiz: The usual off the charts athleticism from these teams, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Santana and Ortiz have become glorified henchmen in the Inner Circle. I doubt they have any complaints, but as an Impact viewer, I can tell you that I never felt disinterested in what their version of LAX was doing. AEW has a tremendous tag division, but they need to do more creatively to properly showcase some of these talented teams.