By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Sting, Tony Schiavone, and Cody Rhodes: A really fun segment with the Sting and Schiavone reunion, and an interesting exchange between Sting and Rhodes. Sting came off like the coolest guy in the building, thanks in part to the strong “See you around, kid,” closing line. I like that the segment delivered what was promised with Sting speaking in AEW for the first time, yet they still left viewers wanting more by not having him say too much about what his plans are.
Kenny Omega and Don Callis: The verbiage was fairly similar to their Impact Wrestling segment, which is understandable since Dynamite has the bigger viewing audience and there were points that they needed to get across. But one point that they need to give up on is the idea that Omega’s title win was the biggest screwjob since Montreal. Omega hit Moxley with a microphone. This wasn’t the crime of the century. It was booked in a way that made it seem like they took advantage of something in the spur of the moment rather than it being the diabolical plan they are acting like it was. And Tony Schiavone claiming that he’s never been more disgusted by anything he’s witnessed during his career was absurd. The Omega and Callis pairing is terrific and the company just doesn’t need to spin the match in this manner.
AEW Tag Champions The Young Bucks vs. The Hybrid 2 in a non-title match: A really good opening tag match between two top notch tag teams. There was actually some mystery regarding the outcome thanks to the non-title stipulation. There was no reason to think that Hybrid 2 would win if the tag titles had been on the line, but it was conceivable that they could steal a win last night to set up a title match. I’m actually disappointed that it didn’t play out that way because I would have welcomed the chance to see another match from these teams.
Abadon vs. Tesha Price: A showcase win for Abadon followed by Hikaru Shida finally working up the courage to stand up to her. I like that Shida was more leery than downright terrified this week. I also liked the way Abadon popped up quickly after taking the kendo stick shot from Shida.
“FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler vs. “The Varsity Blondes” Brian Pillman Jr. and Griff Garrison: A nice tag match in which FTR made their young opponents look good in defeat. As much as viewers focus on Pillman due to his father’s history in the business, don’t sleep on Garrison, who is showing real upside potential.
Dustin Rhodes vs. Dark Order’s 10: The match was forgettable, but the post match angle with Evil Uno trying to recruit Dustin was good for a soft Hit. I also got a kick out of Dark Order offering Dustin the Seven name, which he used in WCW.
Lance Archer, Penta El Zero Miedo, and Rey Fenix vs. Eddie Kingston, The Butcher, and The Blade: A solid match with the Penta injury angle giving his team an out for losing. Are Penta and Fenix babyfaces now that they left Kingston for Pac? Is Archer turning babyface too? Or is everyone who was involved in this match a heel? As you can see, there are still some unanswered questions.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Brandi Rhodes: Brandi’s character feels like a Being The Elite spoof. She has gone back and forth between heel and babyface so many times that I have no clue what role she will be playing from week to week. At the rate she is going, she will break Big Show’s record for career turns in less than two years. Her character actually got upset with Tony Schiavone for giving NBA icon Shaquille O’Neal a bigger introduction than he gave her. So she’s a heel, right? A short time later, we watched Shaq’s storyline sidekick Jade Cargill team up with Nyla Rose in a heelish backstage beatdown on Brandi’s protege Red Velvet, which seems to indicate that Cargill is still a heel. Spare me any arguments that the concept of babyfaces and heels is antiquated. Even if you actually believe that, there’s still no denying that the Brandi character is an inconsistent hot mess. On the bright side, it’s still a coup to get Shaq. I assumed this would be done in “via satellite” fashion based on the way it was hyped, so it was a pleasant surprise to see him in the same room with Brandi and Schiavone.
MJF vs. Orange Cassidy for the Dynamite Diamond Ring: The match was fine, but I just don’t care about the Dynamite Diamond Ring, and MJF winning it for the second straight year felt uneventful. Here’s hoping that AEW will revamp the format to have the battle royal and the match between the final two entrants on the same night to avoid that anticlimactic feel of a battle royal ending without a winner.
Build to next week: AEW did a terrific job of creating a buzz for last week’s big Jon Moxley vs. Kenny Omega title match and then surprising fans with the arrival of Sting and the working relationship with Impact. They loaded up this week’s show to the extent that it’s fair to speculate whether Dynamite can top the one million viewer mark when the ratings come out later today. Unfortunately, they didn’t keep the ball rolling with the build for next week’s show. They can still add to the card and I assume they will, but they presumably had a bigger audience than usual and offered no major hooks for next week. In retrospect, did they really need to air the Shaq angle this week? Perhaps there’s a reason they did. If not, then why not hype it a week out and use it to entice viewers for next week with the goal of keeping the momentum going? AEW didn’t advertise anything involving Omega and Callis, Sting, Shaq, or Jon Moxley for next week, and there were no teases for the Impact Wrestling alliance continuing. Even if the number shoots up this week, there’s nothing advertised for next week that makes me think that Dynamite will be able to maintain this week’s viewership count.