By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
The Inner Circle and The Pinnacle: AEW did a great job of establishing the possibility that this may have been the last time the Inner Circle would be together due to the pay-per-view stipulation that they must disband if they lose. Bringing in former Chris Jericho’s storyline nemesis Eric Bischoff as the host of the segment was a nice touch, though I thought I saw his nose grow when he implied that the Inner Circle could eclipse the NWO. The Pinnacle using Dean Malenko as bait was well done, and the segment put good heat on the heels heading into the Stadium Stampede match. Will AEW close Double or Nothing with Stadium Stampede? If so, one can only hope that the closing minutes will spill over to Daily’s Place, as it would be a strange move to close a show with a live crowd watching the big screen. By the way, I suspect that Jericho’s elbow will lead to the finish one way or another. Either MJF exploits the injury with his finisher or, more likely, Jericho uses a loaded elbow brace while hitting the Judas Effect.
Miro vs. Dante Martin for the TNT Title: A good heat building showcase win for Miro. The build to Miro vs. Lance Archer has been really rushed, but it’s a testament to the popularity of both men that I’m more excited about their hoss fight than the AEW Championship match at Double or Nothing. In fact, it feels like Miro vs. Archer could have been the featured pay-per-view main event had it been given a better build.
Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky vs. Evil Uno and Stu Grayson: The best match of the night. That’s not saying a lot because this show was more about pushing the pay-per-view than strong matches, but it was an enjoyable match and obviously the right team went over in the end. That said, perhaps it would have been better to showcase Page and Sky with a dominant win heading into their match with Sting and Darby Allin. The post match angle with Sting was a copycat angle from Impact Wrestling, but it seemed to work with the live crowd. Despite the final push on this show, AEW could have done a better job of making Sting’s return to the ring feel special.
Hikaru Shida and Britt Baker: It wasn’t a good night for the AEW Dark Elevation broadcast team. First, time stood still while Paul Wight tried to get accurate weights on Cody Rhodes and Anthony Ogogo, and then poor Tony Schiavone couldn’t strap the new AEW Women’s Championship belt around the waist of Shida. If nothing else, they had a better night than the Spanish broadcast team, but that’s another story. Anyway, the ceremony marking Shida’s year as champion was a nice touch. Britt Baker’s promo was surprisingly more straight forward than heat seeking to the point that the crowd cheered and chanted along with her at the end. Baker is over and yet she’s an awesome heel, so it will be interesting to see if they lean into her popularity or have her heel on the fans to get her heat back. Either way, Shida vs. Baker is one of the big draws of the pay-per-view.
Darby Allin vs. Cezar Bononi: Allin sold his recent injuries and gave up a lot of offense before going over clean in the end. The post match angle put some quick heat on the heel duo of Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page headed into their match with Allin and Sting at the pay-per-view, though some of that was erased due to the angle later in the show. I’m not sure why Dark Order keeps saving Allin and Sting. I get the feeling that Tony Khan recognizes the mid-card popularity of the Dark Order, yet doesn’t exactly know what to do with the oversized faction.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Pac, Kenny Omega, and Orange Cassidy segment: The great live crowd died for Pac’s promo. Pac just hasn’t been booked well in AEW this year. He was working tag matches with Rey Fenix before he was awkwardly thrown into the Double or Nothing main event. And as much as I enjoy Pac’s work, if you’ve heard one promo from him you’ve heard them all. It didn’t get much better when Kenny Omega failed with his sneak attack. Did we really need Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson, Fenix, and Penta El Zero Miedo running out? On the bright side, Cassidy was really over with the live crowd and the way he was showcased at the end made for a strong finish to an otherwise clunky segment.
Anthony Ogogo and Cody Rhodes weigh-in: A long and uneventful weigh-in. Poor Paul Wight took the weigh-in way too seriously given the amount of time it took for him to get accurate numbers. I assumed there would be some quality mic work or some type of angle, but this was just two dudes weighing in while surrounded by huge entourages. This segment failed to move me in any way regarding their Double or Nothing match. Who would have guessed that the fans stuck behind the giant flags were the lucky ones?
Jade Cargill vs. KiLynn King: It felt premature for Cargill to be facing a similar sized wrestler rather than attempting to showcase Cargill’s size and strength. Ultimately, Cargill went over clean, so there wasn’t much damage done. Meanwhile, Mark Sterling is a good talker and hopefully he’ll grow into the role, but he came off a bit indy-riffic while working the ringside area. For that matter, I wasn’t a fan of Matt Hardy’s hammy reaction to Sterling informing him that he’d already signed Cargill during the backstage segment.