By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Cody Rhodes vs. Sonny Kiss: This was Sonny Kiss’s best showcase in AEW by far, and I hope it leads to better things for him. His tag partnership with Joey Janela feels fresh, their vignettes have been fun, and Sonny stepped up his ring work for this match. The match continued to tell the story of Cody’s character transformation. He is frustrated, off his game, and searching for something in himself. In terms of the match, I liked the tempo and energy level, the finish was well executed, and it didn’t overstay its welcome.
FTR vs. Pentagon Jr. and Fenix: A good match that left a lot in the tank for their next encounter. The finish with the mask pull off wasn’t a new one, but it was clever in that it provided cover for Fenix while allowing the story FTR are telling with The Elite to continue. It also furthers the characters of FTR, who have not explicitly been defined as heels yet, but continue to exploit the rules and take shortcuts whenever they can. They also got under the skin of Kenny Omega, which led to further developments later in the show.
“The Elite” Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks vs. “Jurassic Express” Luchasaurus, Jungle Boy, and Marko Stunt: Another wild six-man spot fest that has become one of the calling cards of AEW. It barely resembles a real fight, but the athleticism on display is undeniable, and the energy of these matches never fails to impress. Jungle Boy continues to stand out as a major rising star, and Omega got to do some character work that has been somewhat lacking in his AEW run thus far. FTR drawing him off his game caused him to lash out at Marko Stunt, which may be the beginning of a wedge between himself and the rest of The Elite. Will we see a new iteration of the Canadian Destroyer every week now?
Jon Moxley vs. Brian Cage for the AEW Championship: I enjoyed the psychology on display in this match. I wish they had made more of Cage’s arm injury ahead of time and had Moxley speak about targeting it prior to this episode of Dynamite, but the match was laid out very well to tell that story. Cage was shown to be a monster, as everyone expected, but Moxley was tenacious and clever and got the win because he knew the monster’s weakness. Forcing Taz to throw in the towel at the finish was smart business because it protected Cage, and it also allowed Moxley to get a measure of revenge for the slander and abuse he’s been subjected to since Cage earned his title shot. There is room to go back to this, but I think transitioning Cage into a feud with Darby Allin was the best path forward.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Nyla Rose and Vickie Guerrero: A minor Miss due to Vicki simply resuming the character people know and recognize her for. I’m not down on the concept of her representing Nyla Rose, but I hope it comes with a bit of reinvention from Vickie. She improved dramatically as a performer throughout her on screen career that it would be a shame to see her continue to play a character that is a little past its expiration date.
“The Nightmare Sisters” Brandi Rhodes and Allie: What is the goal of forming a women’s tag team without a tag division? Is this Nightmare Family dynamic they are setting up worthy of television time over the other female talent in the company?
Chris Jericho promo with Orange Cassidy: A minor Miss for a couple of reasons. One, I do not think most fans care that much about ratings, and it was the centerpiece of Jericho’s promo. If you were unaware of the fatuous Twitter debate about AEW and NXT ratings, it probably did not make a lot of sense, and no one made any effort to give it proper context on commentary. Secondly, the Orange Juice drop from the ceiling pulls the feud back from being serious into silly territory. I think Jericho vs. Cassidy, and particularly Cassidy, had to dive into more serious content for the feud to build more traction. All that said, Jericho successfully attached the “Demo God” nickname to himself, which will be on a T-Shirt if it is not already.