By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
CM Punk and MJF: Punk coming out to MJF’s entrance theme was unexpected fun. Punk’s rant on the Long Island crowd about their support of MJF and the New York Islanders gave viewers a taste of heel Punk for one night. And I’d like to think that viewers who are not NHL fans can still enjoy a wrestler taking digs at a hometown team. I’m not an NBA fan, but I can still follow along with a wrestler insulting a host city’s team. I think it would be fun if this becomes a long term rivalry between Punk and the Long Island crowd regardless of who Punk is working. Meanwhile, I got a kick out of the video package with MJF at his high school football field. It was an especially cool moment to see the typically unflappable MJF get misty-eyed when he walked onto the stage in his hometown. Good for him.
Bryan Danielson vs. John Silver: The match was fine, but it felt like more of an AEW Rampage main event than an AEW Dynamite main event. Silver is from New York and the live crowd was into it, but it just didn’t feel like a big match to this viewer. On the plus side, Danielson continues to be a treat to watch as a sadistic heel. The post match angle with Hangman Page running off Danielson was good. I am surprised that this episode didn’t feature more of Page and Danielson building up next week’s AEW World Championship match.
Dynamite Diamond Battle Royale: A soft Hit for this being more than just a punch and kick battle royal. They told some stories within the match and it will be especially interesting to see how Wardlow reacts to being eliminated by MJF. The big negative of the match continues to be the anticlimactic finish with two men in the ring. I’ve never understood why they make viewers wait a week when they could simply hold the deciding match on the spot. Fortunately, they had the angle with MJF teasing that he would save Dante Martin only to join Ricky Starks in attacking Martin.
Jamie Hayter vs. Riho: A good, physical match, perhaps even a little too physical at times with some of the big bumps that Riho was taking. But both wrestlers worked hard and came through with a strong performance. The AEW women’s division is so much stronger than it was in the early days of the promotion.
Cody Rhodes and Sammy Guevara: A brief segment and yet the most intriguing moment of the night. Cody smiling at the booing crowd before informing Guevara that he will challenge him for the TNT Title on the Christmas night edition of AEW Rampage was interesting. And then Cody walking toward the heel entrance chute only to turn around and go back and exit through the babyface entrance chute was great. Last week’s flaming table spot with Andrade was a debacle and Cody had the scars on his arm to prove it. Cody came off like a guy who was downright desperate to be cheered last week, whereas this week’s angle took a turn in that they clearly want viewers to be thinking about whether he is a heel or a babyface. I hope this is a sign that Cody intends to lean into the boos because he and Brandi would be phenomenal heels.
Jungle Boy, Luchasaurus, and Varsity Blonds vs. The Acclaimed and 2point0: I was able to go back and watch the match after having some satellite receiver issues. It was fine and more of an in the middle than a Hit or a Miss. They got a lot of people on the show and furthered Eddie Kingston’s issues with 2point0 and Daniel Garcia trio. I assume the involvement of Ortiz is leading to Kingston teaming up with Santana and Ortiz at some point. It’s actually a fun twist for longtime Impact Wresting viewers, as Kingston led the original LAX team of Homicide and Hernandez against the modern LAX team of Santana and Ortiz in a good, memorable feud.
AEW Dynamite Misses
The Young Bucks vs. Rocky Romero and Chuck Taylor: The match was ruined for me when referee Rick Knox was once again made to look like an idiot by bickering with Brandon Cutler while a million things were happening right behind him. I’m not a hater of the Young Bucks style by any means, but it just feels lazy to repeatedly put Knox in these situations when they could put in a little extra thought to come up with ways to accomplish what they want to without asking the viewers to turn their brains off and accept the idea that a referee could be so consistently inept. On a positive note, it was nice to see Trent return from his long injury layoff.