By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Wardlow promo: Wardlow took a big step toward becoming a major player in AEW by showing that he can deliver a quality promo. He didn’t dazzle anyone with one-liners or catchphrases. Rather, he came off as a down to earth guy with a sympathetic backstory that explained why he aligned with MJF in a way that made it easy for fans to forgive the things he did while serving as MJF’s bodyguard. Next week’s follow-up with Wardlow challenging for the TNT Championship should be very interesting. One has to assume that MJF will make a big splash in his first appearance since losing the dog collar match. It’s hard to imagine MJF’s character simply letting Wardlow out of his contract without getting something in return. Will that something be the TNT Championship?
Sammy Guevara vs. Scorpio Sky for the TNT Championship: A decent match and yet another TNT Title change. Guevara was protected with all of the interference. I wish AEW had done a better job of building up Sky for this moment. Sure, he was undefeated, but it’s not a streak that anyone was really thinking about, and he felt like more of a tag team wrestler than a singles wrestler. It will be interesting to see if Sky is a transitional champion who drops the title to Wardlow/MJF next week or if they actually intend to keep the title on him.
“Hangman” Adam Page vs. Dante Martin for the AEW World Championship: A nice showcase win for Page. I don’t know if anyone really viewed Martin as a threat to the championship or as the second ranked wrestler in the singles division, but having him lose to Page was a good move in that Martin will be heading back to the tag team division now that his brother Darius is back from a long injury layoff. The post match angle with Adam Cole was decent. It was strange that Page seemed willing to give Cole whatever match he wanted only to have Cole ask for a six-man tag match rather than request a rematch or the AEW Championship, but I assume that rematch will be happening soon. Meanwhile, Page having issues with The Dark Order is a welcome development, as their friendship has felt played out since Page won the championship at Full Gear.
Chris Jericho and Eddie Kingston: A good angle with Jericho delivering a convincing babyface promo before shaking Kingston’s hand and then stabbing him in the back. I’m not big on factions named after one member, but it could give Daniel Garcia, Jeff Parker, and Matt Lee a big boost to be aligned with Jericho and Jake Hager in the Jericho Appreciation Society. The Inner Circle ran out of gas a while ago, so it was good to see them put an end to the faction by having Jericho’s crew attack Santana and Ortiz. Most importantly, here’s hoping Kingston is okay after taking that rough powerbomb from Hager.
Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus vs. “The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Anthony Bowens for the AEW Tag Titles: I enjoyed the match, but I continue to question why it took place on this crowded episode. With the right build, this could have been a key match on a future Dynamite or a main event on Rampage.
Jon Moxley and Bryan Danielson vs. “The Workhorsemen” JD Drake and Anthony Henry: AEW got this one right by making it a four-minute showcase win for Moxley and Danielson. These teams certainly could have produce a stronger, more competitive match, but this was wisely about spotlighting Moxley and Danielson in their first match as a team. The post match promo from William Regal was enjoyable. I’m looking forward to seeing if Regal’s character takes a darker turn that’s more in line with the vicious slaps he gave Moxley and Danielson at Revolution.
Jeff Hardy debut: A poorly kept secret in that everyone knew it was coming sooner or later, and yet it still felt like a big deal when his music hit and he walked onto the AEW stage for the first time. When Jeff re-signed with WWE, I actually wondered if we’d seen the Hardy brothers team up for the last time, so it felt special to see their latest reunion. It also gets Matt out of the throwaway undercard act that was the Andrade Hardy Family Office. The angle with Private Party voting out Matt was predictable from the moment that they established who had the voting power, but it should lead to some fun matches between them and the Hardys.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Thunder Rosa vs. Leyla Hirsch for a shot at the AEW Women’s Championship: A flat match with the highly predictable outcome of Rosa winning to earn a title shot in her hometown next week. It felt like an angle between Rosa and Britt Baker would have been a better way to get to their rematch after all the interference that took place in their match at Revolution.
FTR fire Tully Blanchard: An awkward segment in that I found myself nodding along with the Blanchard character when he said Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler should be focussed on the AEW Tag Titles. We’ll see where this goes, but a manager trying to get his team to focus on the prize hardly seems like a fireable offense.
Tony Nese and Shane “Swerve” Strickland: The backstage segment was fine aside from Nese mentioning that they had history working against one another on Friday nights. I don’t think of 205 Live when I think of Strickland, but I do when I think of Nese, and that’s not a good thing. While I respect that Nese and others worked hard to make the most out of a bad situation, he should be doing everything he can to make us forget about that part of his career rather than making on-air references to it.
Pac vs. Wheeler Yuta: The well worked match that one would expect from these two, but most of the match was shown during a picture-in-picture break. As impressive as Yuta is in the ring, I’m still waiting to see some sign of a personality from him in AEW. He doesn’t get much mic time and just feels like the silent member of the Best Friends. What happened to the tension between Yuta and Trent Beretta that was hinted at?