By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Chris Jericho vs. Nick Gage in a No Rules match: I am not a death match fan, but my eyes were glued to the television during the match and even throughout the picture-in-picture break. Jericho is a true master when it comes to creating a buzz. In this case, he put himself in what is sure to be one of the most talked about television matches in a long time. Love the match or hate it, Jericho deserves credit for working a true death match rather than a toned down version. Gage has a unique charisma even when working in front of a crowd that clearly wasn’t as familiar with him as a GCW crowd would be. It’s been a huge week for him between this match and the Matt Cardona match he had for GCW over the weekend. It would have been a disaster for Gage if he had come in and lost a watered down hardcore match on national television. But Jericho went all in on the death match style and Gage’s popularity will only grow despite him taking the loss.
CM Punk tease: It’s finally happening. And if it’s not, then this becomes a Mega Miss. But with the announcement of a show in Chicago at United Center just weeks from now followed by Darby Allin dropping “the best in the world” line in the very next segment, AEW did everything but officially announce that Punk is All Elite. This is huge. I hope that Punk has rediscovered his passion for pro wrestling and this is more than just a cash grab for him. If he shows even half as much enthusiasm for his pro wrestling return as he did for his MMA training and fights, then this run should be something special.
Lance Archer vs. Hikuleo for the IWPG U.S. Championship: A Minor Hit for a fairly one-sided win for Archer. There was nothing particularly memorable about the match, but they kept it fairly short and it featured the surprise appearance of King Haku, who looked terrific, especially considering his age and his long history in pro wrestling. Hikuleo has big long term upside, but he’s still a work in progress.
Thunder Rosa vs. Julia Hart: A showcase win for Rosa over the green Hart. The match was fine for what it was. But that J-U-L-I-A cheer that the Varsity Blonds did in the pre-tape was Spirit Squad corny. The difference is that the Spirit Squad were heels who were trying to be obnoxious, whereas the Blonds are babyfaces who felt about as uncool as they could get while doing that cheer.
FTR vs. Santana and Ortiz: The match was entertaining until Cash Wheeler suffered the unfortunate arm injury. Here’s wishing him the best. Dax Harwood, Santana, and Ortiz deserve a lot of credit for coming up with a good finish on the fly, especially with heel Harwood going over despite being in a handicap situation. I hope we get a rematch once Wheeler is healthy.
Overall Show: Dynamite has recreated the feeling of the Monday Night Wars in that you have to watch every week because you never know who might show up next. But it’s more than that. WWE has its formula and rarely strays from it, whereas AEW isn’t afraid to go outside the box. Too many wannabe rival promotions have come off as WWE Lite. Whether it’s featuring an extremely violent death match, working with other promotions, featuring a wide variety of in-ring styles, showcasing young and exciting talent, etc., AEW is paving its own way rather than making the mistake of trying to beat WWE at its own game.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Hangman Page and Dark Order vs. The Elite in an elimination match: The stakes were high and the company did a really good job of setting the table for this match. Dark Order typically doesn’t do much for me, but in this case they built up the match to feel like a showdown with some significant stipulations. The Elite doing their basketball bit ruined the big fight vibe that the build generated. I can see why some fans would enjoy this more than I did because there were some comedic moments and a lot of wild spots. But the comedy just felt out of place and self-indulgent.
Christian Cage, Jungle Boy, and Luchasaurus vs. Angelico, Marq Quen, and Isiah Kassidy: What happened to Private Party? They were the young team with all the buzz when AEW first started and they were given the upset win over the Young Bucks in the tournament to crown the first AEW Tag Champions. The buzz about the duo is all but gone since those early days of the company. That said, the right team went over in what felt like a rushed match. The post match angle with The Blade hitting Cage with brass knuckles was a groaner. Blade is essentially Shawn Spears only with brass knuckles rather than chairs.
I have never watched death match-style wrestling, and if Nick Gage is it’s biggest star then I can’t imagine how bad the others must be. I don’t mind ultra-violent matches in small doses, but all this did was highlight the difference between accomplished performers like Moxley and Archer having a hardcore match and a talentless circus freak just getting repeatedly hit with stuff for a living.
There are bad ones and there are great ones. The same as any other wrestling. Gage can wrestle. Primarily a brawling style, but he can go. There is even more wrestling in some of his death matches. That said, it’s not for everyone and you don’t ‘have’ to like that style. I enjoy it when done well. Then again, I enjoy most styles of wrestling.
Here’s an idea. Let’s bring Gage back next week and let him shoot Jehrico. Why not? It will put eyes on the product right?
You probably enjoyed GLOW
Hahaha. No. GLOW wasn’t my thing (the original or the Netflix reboot)
I enjoy wrestling. The art of “fake fighting” where the 2 goals are fan entertainment and not harming your opponent.
If people stabbing each other or cutting them with knives and glass is your thing that’s your thing but it’s def not professional wrestling
I’m a Philly guy. Spent many nights at ECW Arena. So I like seeing a match like that every once in a while. Jason is correct in that at least AEW will think outside the box.
Every once in awhile I guess I could live with it, but we literally had that kinda match main eventing 2 shows in a row(with a coffin match the week before). That seems a tad excessive.
Over the last month or so I have felt ALMOST as much excitement watching AEW as I did all those years ago watching ECW. Not quite as much, but kind of close. I think AEW is starting to develop their “style.” ECW had their own style. Everything from the laid back rules, to production, look… and even though there were several differentt types of matches and wrestlers in ECW, they all fit the ECW mold well. If AEW can achieve that and keep us on the edge of our seats every week, I’ll always watch. The variety and dose of violence is long overdue. I’ve had enough homogenized sports entertainment for one lifetime.