By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Sammy Guevara vs. Jay Lethal for the TNT Title: A hot match involving one of AEW’s brightest young stars and the longtime face of Ring of Honor. They did a nice job of playing up Guevara’s rib injury during the commercial break. I never really bought into the possibility of Lethal winning, but I really enjoyed the match. The post match scene with the other Inner Circle members arriving and Guevara offering a handshake to Lethal was nice, but given Lethal’s history with ROH and the Code of Honor, I couldn’t help but think that it would have been a big moment he had surprised everyone by declining the handshake.
Hangman Page’s AEW Championship celebration: This segment was a reminder that there’s nothing wrong with a long show opening verbal segment. Sure, it’s regarded as a negative because WWE made it formula and ran it into the ground, but I loved so many of their lengthy verbal segments over the years. And this Dynamite segment was a gem. Page celebrating with the Dark Order and his home state fans was nice. Bryan Danielson interrupting the celebration and trading some great verbal jabs with Page was awesome. It’s great that their rivalry isn’t so friendly. The intensity between the two was excellent and they made their AEW Championship match feel must see. Sure, it already was for those anticipating an in-ring classic, but they made it even better by making it so personal between their characters.
Bryan Danielson vs. Evil Uno: Danielson picked up where he left off in the verbal segment by showing more of a mean streak than we’ve seen from him in AEW. He soaked up the boos in Page’s hometown and he’ll be aiming to do the same when he faces Colt Cabana in Chicago next week. Sadistic heel Bryan Danielson has arrived and I’m all for it.
Tomohiro Ishii and Orange Cassidy vs. The Butcher and The Blade: It was a treat to see Ishii on Dynamite. Obviously, it’s another step in the working relationship between AEW and NJPW, which looks really intriguing on paper with so many potential dream matches. They did lose me late in the match when The Blade and Matt Hardy were shown staring at Orange Cassidy as he stood on the top rope before diving onto them. This happens too often in pro wrestling. If the wrestlers feel the need to look up, perhaps the production teams should shift the camera’s focus to the person on the ropes rather than showing the wrestlers waiting below?
Nyla Rose vs. Hikaru Shida in a TBS Title tournament match: A renewal of one of AEW’s better women’s division rivalries. They told a really good story with Rose targeting the knee that Serena Deeb injured, and it eventually resulted in Shida submitting to the stretch muffler.
MJF and CM Punk: MJF’s mic work was top notch, as always. But the real story was Punk coming out, staring at MJF, and not saying a word before smirking at him and walking away. Punk may not have spoken here, but I can’t wait to hear these two unload on one another.
Lio Rush and Dante Martin vs. “The Acclaimed” Anthony Bowens and Max Caster: A fun crowd pleasing match. While Martin had a great weekend in his hometown of Minneapolis at Rampage and Full Gear, I attended both shows and I also came away a believer in the upside of the Bowens and Caster team. They have a presence and seem to be coming into their own as a tag team.
Overall Show: A really good show coming out of the pay-per-view. AEW made the key events of Full Gear feel important while also turning the page by setting up some new and intriguing programs. There was a good balance of mic work and in-ring action. We’ve seen bigger matches on Dynamite in the past, but this was still one of my favorite episodes to date.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Darby Allin promo: I get that AEW seems to be moving in a different direction with MJF feuding with CM Punk, but it struck me as odd that Allin’s character didn’t demand a rematch given the way that MJF beat him at Full Gear. Allin simply stated that MJF didn’t break him mentally and spoke about facing him again somewhere down the road. If Allin’s character isn’t upset about MJF using the Dynamite Diamond Ring behind the referee’s back, why should his fans be?