By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
CM Punk vs. Bobby Fish: A strong match. I really like the style of in-ring work that both men have brought to AEW. I enjoy a good variety of wrestling styles and we’re getting a better mix from AEW these days. It feels like Punk is starting to work his way into wrestling more name talent after beating Matt Sydal and now Bobby Fish. I’m anxious to see what Punk does at Full Gear. Meanwhile, Fish appeared to be on his last legs from a creative standpoint in NXT even before the company made the switch to 2.0. So kudos to Fish and the AEW’s creative forces for making him feel relevant again so quickly.
Sammy Guevara vs. Ethan Page for the TNT Title: AEW could have done more to play into the stipulation that Guevara would be kicked out of the Inner Circle had he lost the match. Fortunately, the actual match was really fun. Page does an excellent job of working with big spot wrestlers like Guevara and Darby Allin. The post match angle was fine to cement the ten-man tag match for Full Gear. And now that Chris Jericho paraphrased Aerosmith lyrics, I assume that it’s only a matter of time before we get a “Big 10 Inch” reference.
Serena Deeb vs. Hikaru Shida in a TBS Title tournament match: An excellent match. Shida getting the win this time around moves her forward in the tournament. Deeb’s post match attack may be their way of setting up an out for Shida if the plan is for her to lose in the next round. Either way, they cemented the need for a rubber match between the two, which I don’t think anyone would object to. By the way, Shida is a former AEW Women’s Champion and the first woman to reach fifty wins. So from a storyline standpoint, why didn’t she get one of the four first-round byes?
MJF, Darby Allin, and Sting: The MJF match was a total squash, but the post match angle really clicked with Allin showing up in the crowd. AEW has done a good job of building up the friction between the characters and I am looking forward to their match at the Full Gear pay-per-view.
Cody Rhodes promo: I really hope that this is all leading to a heel turn, but I tend to believe that Cody is serious about not wanting to turn. If so, I really don’t understand his decision. Sure, you can point to John Cena as the one big example of a wrestler getting that New York Yankees reaction where fans felt passionately about him regardless of whether they loved his character or hated his character. But you can just as easily point to Roman Reigns as an example of a company stubbornly trying to push through with a babyface that fans were rejecting. It took years, but there’s no denying that Reigns is much better off as a heel than he was as a babyface, and someday he’ll be more successful as a babyface because of his heel run. Cody and Brandi Rhodes would be phenomenal heels. Is Cody in the business of listening to the fans or forcing his will on them? All of that said, I’d be lying if I said that his attempt to win back the fans didn’t make for compelling television. Wherever this is going, I’m along for the ride as long as it remains interesting and continues to get passionate reactions from the fans.
AEW Dynamite Misses
The Elite vs. The Dark Order: Nope, not for me. The live crowd had a lot of fun with the cosplay match and there is clearly an audience that enjoys the over the top silliness. To each their own, of course, but I don’t like it when WWE goes into campy sports entertainment mode, and this fell into the same category. I prefer a more serious style, especially from a match that involved the AEW World Champion and his next pay-per-view challenger. If nothing else, the swerve of Page being in the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man suit really got over (I can’t believe I just wrote those words).