By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Shaquille O’Neal and Jade Cargill vs. Cody Rhodes and Red Velvet: The build to this match was atrocious. Plus, you never know what to expect from a celebrity wrestler, and there were plenty of questions regarding Jade’s in-ring ability given that this was her first AEW match. This had all the makings for a disaster and thus my expectations were low, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. The jury is still out on Jade’s in-ring skills, but she has a great look and AEW can work around her weaknesses similar to how the NWA has with Kamille or even like WWE did with Chyna during her early in-ring days. I am baffled by the decision to start the show with this match rather than use it as a hook to keep viewers watching throughout the night, but it came off far better than anyone could have anticipated.
Tully Blanchard, Dax Harwood, and Cash Wheeler vs. Luchasaurus, Jungle Boy, and Marko Stunt: Blanchard’s return to the ring and the surprise appearance of JJ Dillon were great throwbacks for longtime fans. It will be interesting to see if the interference of Shawn Spears is simply to set up future six-man tag matches or if this is leading to that long rumored Horsemen-like faction.
Ryo Mizunami vs. Nyla Rose in the AEW Eliminator tournament final: A good match to close out the tournament. AEW’s women’s division got off to a rough start, but the U.S. side of the tournament showcased the improvement made by several wrestlers. Rose is one of those wrestlers who has come a long way. She had a really good tournament, but it would have been a mistake to have her win the tournament simply because she’s already been in the title picture and it would have felt like a letdown to go through an entire tournament just to go right back to her winning the title shot. On the flip side, I really didn’t understand the idea of having Hikaru Shida drop Mizunami with forearms afterward. Why not put heat on Mizunami heading into the match?
Chris Jericho, MJF, and the Young Bucks: The Bucks showed good fire while delivering the promo about their father and this was a good final push for Sunday’s AEW Tag Title match.
Pac and Rey Fenix vs. John Skyler and D3: A brief squash match with Pac and Fenix performing their crowd pleasing offense and picking up a quick win.
Overall show: I have more Misses than usual, but I was definitely entertained by this week’s Dynamite.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Kenny Omega vs. Jon Moxley hype: The video package with the appearance of Atsushi Onita was a nice surprise for the super fans who are familiar with him, but I’m guessing that the vast majority of the Dynamite audience had no clue who he was. I assume the idea behind not having the champion and his pay-per-view challenger on Dynamite was due to the show being followed by the countdown special, which spotlighted Omega vs. Moxley right out of the gate. So why not tell Dynamite viewers consistently throughout the night to stick around right after Dynamite to hear from Omega and Moxley?
Hangman Page and John Silver vs. Matt Hardy and Marq Quen: This match would have been fine elsewhere on the card, but it just didn’t feel like it belonged in the main event slot, particularly on the go-home show for a pay-per-view. This felt like a spot to give Hardy a win to put some heat on him heading into the pay-per-view. In fact, I came away surprised by just how little heat they put on the heels on this go-home show. The big brawl afterward oddly seemed to spotlight the tag team battle royal rather than one of the bigger AEW Revolution matches.
Paul Wight debut: Why did AEW feel the need to announce this last week when it could have been positioned as a big surprise? On the bright side, I liked the tease for the Hall of Fame worthy wrestler who will debut at Sunday’s AEW Revolution.
Dark Order’s 10 vs. Max Caster in a Face of the Revolution ladder match qualifier: The actual match was fine, but I wish someone bothered to explain why these two wrestlers were giving a chance to quality for the ladder match. 10 spends most of his time on Dark, and Caster was working tag matches until his partner Anthony Bowens suffered an injury.
Shaq disappears: Did he borrow Sami Callihan’s magical phone that somehow allows him to teleport in Impact Wrestling? I assume that AEW will follow up on this eventually, but it sure was strange that the celebrity disappeared and no one seemed to care about what happened to him.