By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Cody Rhodes and Malakai Black: Awesome. The symbolism of Cody dressed in white while Black’s attire matched his last name was cool. Cody cut a fiery promo in response to Black taking out Arn Anderson with a kick last week. Black’s verbal response was strong and the last line with him saying he hoped Cody would ask him to come take a better look followed by the lights going out was fantastic.
Darby Allin vs. Ethan Page in a Coffin Match: Scorpio Sky emerging from the coffin and attacking Allin was a nice touch that led to the crowd pleasing appearance of Sting. That said, I was happy that both men cleared out so that Allin and Page could take center stage coming out of the commercial break. The Ego’s Edge onto the ring steps in the middle of the ring made my spine hurt just watching it. Allin went over a little sooner than I would prefer after taking such a hellacious bump, but the crowd was behind him every step of the way. And just about the time I was thinking the finish was a tad underwhelming compared to some of the other insanity, Allin closed the show with the craziest spot of all by performing a Coffin Drop through the coffin. Wow. I don’t know whether to marvel over the spot or feel guilty about enjoying it.
The Elite, Hangman Page, and The Dark Order: A good verbal segment to continue the build to Kenny Omega vs. Hangman Page. It was refreshing that the heel champions didn’t moronically agree to a match where they had everything to lose and nothing to gain. Rather, they made Page agree to forgo his title shot if his team fails to win the elimination match. The big negative of the segment was that it left me confused as to when this ten-man elimination match will take place. Based on the way they were talking, it felt like something they were setting up for later in the show, and I’m still not sure when this match will happen.
Jon Moxley vs. Karl Anderson for the IWGP U.S. Title: Moxley made his return, but it also felt like a return for Karl Anderson. He spends most of his time playing henchmen for Kenny Omega in two companies these days, so it was nice to see him in a good singles match. As much as I enjoyed this match, the Moxley vs. Lance Archer Texas Death rematch on next week’s show should blow it away.
Brian Cage vs. Ricky Starks for the FTW Title: I wasn’t sure if this was going to be a match or an angle due to Starks’ neck injury, so it was great to see that he was legitimately cleared to return following his neck injury. The in-ring action was good and the crowd was hot for home state hero Starks. The negative was that it felt contrived that Powerhouse Hobbs would take the belt away from Starks and run the risk of Starks losing the match just so that they could attempt one final swerve. AEW creative tried repeatedly to convince viewers that Cage wasn’t the odd man out of Team Taz. There’s nothing wrong with that going into the match, but doing an illogical sequence during the match was too much.
Christian Cage vs. Matt Hardy: A quality match from the veteran rivals. The build didn’t do much for me, but it was fun once the bell rang. The right guy went over given that Hardy is doing a mix of wrestling and managing. The post match angle with Jurassic Express running off the Hardy Family Office before they could attack Cage served the purpose of further establishing the Cage and Jungle Boy friendship that will presumably lead to a Cage heel turn.
Sammy Guevara vs. Wheeler Yuta: A nice match. The crowd gave Guevara a big home state reaction. The guy is over enough that he probably would have received a similar reaction in many other states. Guevara went over fairly quickly, but Yuta gained a little something in defeat, thanks in part to the way Jim Ross put over his bright future on commentary.
Yuka Sakazaki vs. Penelope Ford: More of an in the middle rather than a Hit or a Miss. I don’t know if it was by design, but this brought the crowd down heading into the main event, which is not a bad thing. The match seemed to overstay its welcome with the live crowd, which wasn’t an issue for those of us watching from home due to the mid-match commercial break. This was Sakazaki’s return to the company after 16 months, so a video package would have been helpful to remind viewers what she’s all about. Meanwhile, I must continue my streak of calling for bigger and better things for Ford following each of her Dynamite losses.
AEW Dynamite Misses
None: This was one of my favorite editions of Dynamite to date. The live crowd was hot and there was plenty of in-ring action, but they also made room for a fair amount of promo time. It was a loaded show that avoided the chaotic pace that has worked against other Dynamite shows.