By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Kenny Omega and Bryan Danielson: A good angle as AEW appears to be wasting no time in getting to this showdown match rather than making Danielson jump through hoops to climb the rankings. I’m all for using a rankings system, but boxing and MMA promoters will toss those rankings aside to get to money matches every time. The logic behind having Danielson jump the line is pretty simple in my mind. Main eventing WrestleMania earlier this year along with all of Danielson’s other accolades trumps the meaningless wins on AEW Dark and AEW Dark Elevation that other contenders have accumulated.
Malakai Black vs. Dustin Rhodes: If ever there was an episode of Dynamite that I wanted to open with a WWE-like, 20-minute verbal segment, it was this one due to all of the new additions. But they stuck to their usual approach of opening with a match and it turned out to be a good one aside from the rough spinning heel kick that hit Dustin’s shoulder rather than his head. Nevertheless, unleashed Black continues to be compelling, and I’m amazed that Dustin can still go at age 52. I was surprised that there wasn’t any fanfare around the announcement of Black vs. Cody Rhodes for the New York show. We all knew it was coming sooner or later, but they could have done more to make it feel special.
CM Punk promo: Punk fired up the crowd by mentioning all of the new additions, and it was very cool that he acknowledged Linda Pillman. The angle with Taz was a bit clunky at first, but they made it work. It feels like Punk is on the Christian Cage plan by working against Team Taz members early in his AEW run. These are not necessarily pay-per-view money matches at this point, but they should be good television matches.
Jon Moxley vs. Minoru Suzuki: An underwhelming main event, but not so disappointing that it belongs in the Miss section. This felt like a sprint speed version of what they had laid out. The show clearly ran long and I wish that some audibles had been called along the way to give this match the time it needed and deserved.
Powerhouse Hobbs vs. Dante Martin: An enjoyable match with Hobbs dominating early with his power before Martin rallied with his crowd pleasing offense. Hobbs going over clean in the end was the right call, especially if he’s going to end up working with Punk sometime soon. Bonus points to young Hook, whose cockiness allows him to draw heat without saying a word.
MJF, Wardlow, Brian Pillman Jr., and Griff Garrison: A good segment with MJF drawing strong heat while taking another dig at Wardlow, who then took an extra second or two before saving MJF from a beatdown. I could have done without MJF going with the aborted line. He’s a gifted talker and while the line didn’t offend me, it felt tacky and unimaginative coming from someone so talented. But the overall angle worked in terms of putting heat on MJF while also building up hometown boy Pillman.
Overall Show: While there were aspects that I didn’t enjoy or felt were underwhelming, this still felt like another hot episode as AEW continues to build momentum on the heels of their big free agent signings. Every episode feels like a party with excitable crowds that have to make a lot of viewers at home want to be part of the unique atmosphere when the show comes to their town.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Dan Lambert: I continue to go back and forth on Lambert. While he has the gift of gab, his latest promo felt too similar to his previous promos. I get that he’s doing a spoof of Jim Cornette, but his act needs to be more about building up Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky and less about Lambert mocking the size of AEW’s wrestlers and its millennial fanbase. Perhaps it’s time for Lambert to start emulating the qualities that made Cornette such a great manager and spend far less time mimicking Cornette the podcast host.
Ruby Soho vs. Jamie Hayter: The match fell apart a bit down the stretch. Soho lost a lot of matches on WWE television and, as Britt Baker pointed out, spent far too much time in catering. As such, it felt like the situation called for her to debut on Dynamite with a true spotlight match rather than having a competitive match with Hayter. For that matter, I’m not a fan of Hayter being introduced as Baker’s muscle only to lose more matches than she’s won so far.
FTR and Shawn Spears vs. Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, and John Silver: A quick win for The Pinnacle trio. This was more about showcasing the issues between the Dark Order members. I’m ready for the Dark Order to split, but I suspect this is leading to either Hangman Page returning and getting them all back on the same page or Bray Wyatt debuting and taking over as the new leader of the faction. The main reason this fell in the Miss section is that this didn’t feel like it needed to be on the show this week and could have been cut from the lineup once they show started running long.