By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Jon Moxley vs. Kenny Omega for the AEW World Championship: Impact Wrestling gets involved with AEW and suddenly we get an overbooked main event. Coincidence? Ultimately, I enjoyed the match and I like where it gets them. The match really kicked into gear once Moxley set the chairs in the middle of the ring so that both men could sit down and traded slaps and punches. This wasn’t the in-ring classic that Omega was known for during his New Japan run, but they told a good story with Omega blowing off the gentlemen’s agreement to have a straight forward wrestling match. The post match scene with Omega and Don Callis making a quick exit as if they’d just committed the crime of the century was a bit much considering that Omega merely hit Moxley with a microphone. But the line at the end with Callis telling viewers that the next chapter would play out on Tuesday’s Impact Wrestling was a big moment.
Sting arrives: I like that AEW didn’t foreshadow the arrival of Sting. They loaded up the show with the big main event and then delivered their biggest surprise to date. It was a cool image to see Sting in the ring with Cody Rhodes, Dustin Rhodes, and Arn Anderson while Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross called the segment on commentary for TNT. In some ways, it felt like old times. I don’t have any desire to watch Sting work more than perhaps a retirement match, but it should be fun to see him become a regular character on the show.
Darby Allin and Cody Rhodes vs. Powerhouse Hobbs and Ricky Starks: I was surprised to see Allin pin Starks. There was no reason for Hobbs to take a loss, but I thought they would avoid having Allin beat Starks again to avoid making their feud feel lopsided. Still, the match was entertaining and set the stage for the arrival of Sting.
Dynamite Diamond Battle Royal: This was a fun way to open the show. As much as hardcore fans complain about battle royals, I continue to maintain that the casual fans enjoy the spectacle. And this was better than a typical battle royal where nothing really matters until the final four. AEW told good stories throughout the match with Miro, Matt Hardy, Adam Page and the Dark Order, Scorpio Sky and Shawn Spears, and my favorite moment with MJF eliminating Jungle Boy and having plausible deniability when it came to eliminating Sammy Guevara at the same time. Cassidy and MJF being the final two to set up their match for the diamond ring was fine, but it really is anticlimactic to have the match end without an actual winner. It might be better if they took a commercial break and then started the match between the last two entrants rather than pushing it out a week.
Chris Jericho vs. Frankie Kazarian: Congratulations to Kazarian for being the smartest babyface in modern pro wrestling. While every other babyface will will release a hold at the mere hint of a heel interfering, Kazarian paid no attention to Ortiz, who teased hitting him from the apron. It’s the little things sometimes, folks. The match was solid. I got a kick out of MJF teasing the idea of throwing in the towel when Jericho was in a submission hold. While I enjoyed both of those moments, it also felt like they had a bit too much going on. As much as I liked Kazarian ignoring Ortiz, what purpose did it actually serve to have Ortiz tease interfering?
Britt Baker vs. Leyla Hirsch: Baker threw an awful kick to the face of Hirsch and the broadcast team didn’t even try to explain it away. Once they got through that awkward moment, it turned out to be a decent match. The post match angle with Thunder Rosa attacking Baker was effective as they continue to the build to their match.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Jon Moxley vs. Kenny Omega presentation: AEW did a really nice job of building up to the match on previous shows, but they get a minor Miss for the presentation within the actual episode. The broadcast team spoke about the match, but it would have been cool to see some early shots of both men arriving at the building or warming up backstage to help create the big fight feel. Even airing the strong Moxley promo (complete with the great homage to Pat Patterson at the end) at the beginning of the show would have been sufficient. All of that noted, I did like the way the broadcast team told viewers that the match had a 60-minute time limit and TNT was sticking with it until there was a finish.
Hikaru Shida: As much as Shida needs more mic time and character development, the idea of having her display a childlike fear of Abandon is too much. With AEW and Impact working together, one can only hope that the loaded Knockouts division can help prop up the AEW women’s division.