By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
AEW World Champion Kenny Omega vs. Bryan Danielson in a non-title match: An outstanding match. The 30-minute draw felt like the right move, as Omega’s loss to Christian Cage is still fairly fresh in the minds of viewers. I appreciated the way that the wrestlers were simply battling when the time limit expired rather than go with the overused finish of having the babyface be just a second away from winning when the time expired. The match was entertaining from bell to bell and accomplished its goal of being satisfying for what it was in the moment, yet still leaving the fans wanting more all at the same time. Here’s hoping we get a 60-minute rematch for the title at the Full Gear pay-per-view.
CM Punk promo: What was wrong with the Punk love fest promos? I’ve heard a lot of grumbling about those promos, but it would have felt forced for him to take any other approach while he and the fans were still in the honeymoon phase of his return. He started to flip the switch last night and the timing felt right. This segment was a great choice to follow Omega and Bryan, and Punk did an effective job of hyping his own match with Powerhouse Hobbs for Friday’s two-hour AEW Rampage special.
Sting and Darby Allin vs. “FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler: A hot tag match. Sting continues to overachieve in the ring for a guy his age who has so much milage on his body. FTR are a fantastic tag team and I would love to see more of the AEW teams slow down and work FTR’s more traditional style. Allin’s latest Coffin Drop spot onto Wheeler on the apron was insane. All in all, this match was just plain fun.
Britt Baker vs. Ruby Soho for the AEW Women’s Championship: It took them a few minutes to settle in, but it was very good once they found their groove. I wasn’t opposed to the idea of Soho taking the title, but I think they made the right call in sticking with Baker and hopefully keeping Soho in chase mode. Her character has a logical reason to demand a rematch given the interference of Jamie Hayter. AEW isn’t known for booking a lot of rematches, so it will be interesting to see if they do go back to this match at the pay-per-view or which direction both women will go in if the plan is to move them apart from one another.
Cody Rhodes vs. Malakai Black: The crowd turned on Cody in favor of Black. While it’s possible that Cody would still be cheered against a heat seeking heel such as MJF, I actually hope that AEW is a step ahead with the plan of pulling the trigger on a heel Cody run. The fan backlash to Cody would have been an issue for AEW early in the company’s run when he and Jon Moxley felt like the top two babyfaces. AEW has had an influx of key talent since then and there’s no shortage of meaningful babyfaces. Of course, Cody also has a reality show coming out next week, so there may be some hesitancy to turn him. I don’t think it matters since “Miz & Mrs.” does well for USA Network, but it’s possible that AEW or TNT will feel differently. If they opt to keep him in a babyface role, it will be fun to see what they do creatively with Cody in an attempt to win over the fans again.
MJF vs. Brian Pillman Jr.: It gets no better than MJF telling his own mother to F Off on Twitter. Anyway, you never know when pro wrestling fans will cheer for one of their own regardless of how hard that wrestler might try to turn the fans against him. We’re still not at that point with MJF, who drew the same great heat from his home state fans that he gets in every other market. The match was what it needed to be with Pillman showing good fire, yet ultimately losing clean. Pillman has made progress, but he’s still better off honing his craft while teaming with Griff Garrison as The Varsity Blonds than being rushed into a babyface singles role.
AEW Dynamite Misses
None: A great show with a big, vocal crowd in a cool setting. AEW built this up to be a major event and they overdelivered. I am already looking forward to Friday’s two-hour edition of Rampage that was taped in front of this same hot crowd. Here’s hoping that this venue is used for a future AEW pay-per-view event.
This was a fantastic show. Regarding Cody, they can’t keep him babyface now, no matter what TNT want. The AEW crowd are not going to cheer a guy who, whether it’s his desire or his wife’s, is clearly trying to use wrestling and AEW as a vehicle for fame and social climbing.
Cody is a natural heel, but he doesn’t seem to realize it. A good booker would have him playing into that by cutting promos on the crowd booing him, where he starts tearing them down for not responding positively to him since he’s “doing it for them.”
He could go full on into taking credit for AEW existing, saying something like the other EVPs would still be doing their little shows in Japan if he didn’t have the connections to make things happen for them in the US.
He just needs to lean into the way he carries himself instead of thinking he’s over as a face.
The way that fans are souring on Cody reminds me of the manner in which the audience would boo Davey Richards in ROH when he was feuding with Kevin Steen.
I can see that. Sometimes you’ve got to take what the crowd is doing and adjust. The obvious example is the Bret-Austin double switch.
AEW just needs to go with it. Cody hasn’t really been over as the babyface he wants to be at any point there, and unless he’s got a jackass heel like MJF to work with, the crowds aren’t behind him the way they are the other top faces.
Brandi also just has the look and attitude that either needs to be a heel or not be on TV at all (preferably the latter).
Fantastic show and I loved it. I would have given a miss to MJF vs Pillman JR. though honestly, a slight miss. Pillman to me didnt show fire, not the fire he needed. He came down with Julia Hart and they were all smiles, he showboated to the crowd. The double leg taken down and ground and pound dodn’t seem intense to me.
For all the things MJF has said, I think Pillman should have rushed the ring and tackled MJF before the bell. We should have hot him dragging him around the arena, beating the hell out of him. Truly pissed. I was fine with the finish, and keep it, but I didnt feel like leading up to it we got the anger we wanted to see. And I’m not sure why.
I wouldn’t say it was a miss, but Pillman hasn’t yet figured out how to convey emotion in the ring to the level he needs.
Mandy Patinkin spoke about his role as Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, and how he got the emotion into his line, “I want my father back, you son of a bitch.” Patinkin’s father died of cancer about 6 months before filming, so he drew on the anger and frustration of that real life event to put the appropriate feeling into the line in the movie.
That’s the kind of thing that Pillman needs to figure out, especially in a story line where the heel is going after his family.