By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Andrade El Idolo vs. Darby Allin: An entertaining main event that gave Andrade a needed win while also protecting Allin. The Family Office faction is only slightly better under new management. I like the tag teams and Andrade, but I think it would be best for everyone if the faction dissolved soon because there’s just no onscreen chemistry between these wrestlers. And while it’s fine for The Hardys to get some early wins over Private Party and The Butcher and The Blade, they really need to have a bigger purpose than Matt getting a measure of revenge on his former faction. While the live crowds are hot for the Hardy reunion tour currently, it could run out of steam quickly if they spend too much time working with teams that fans don’t see as being at their level. To put it simply, get to the good stuff quickly.
Bryan Danielson vs. Wheeler Yuta: The best match of the night with Danielson making Yuta look really good in defeat. I just hope they’ve picked the right guy for this spot. Yuta is very good in the ring, but he has yet to show much personality. In fairness, his opportunities have been limited, but it will ultimately be the key to determining whether he’s a good hand or a rising star.
Jon Moxley vs. Jay Lethal: It was good to see Moxley and Danielson working singles matches again. It’s a blast to watch them work as a tag team, but I think they are more valuable to AEW as singles stars who are working in the same faction. I was surprised by the dueling chants that broke out at one point during the match. AEW crowds continue to rally behind Lethal despite the fact that he’s yet to win a match on Dynamite or Rampage.
“FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler vs. “Gunn Club” Austin Gunn and Colten Gunn: The FTR babyface turn is off to a good start. I really wasn’t sure what to make of the idea of FTR working as babyfaces after seeing them work as heels for so long, but they’ve already won me over. The Gunn brothers have improved and should have a bright future as a team. Wardlow attempting to run out during this match only to be hauled off by security was well done. The post match angle with FTR no longer buying what MJF is selling was intriguing in that it will be interesting to see if there’s a new version of Pinnacle now that the original is imploding.
Toni Storm vs. The Bunny in a qualifier for the Owen Hart Cup tournament: The match felt like it went longer than necessary, but it was still a good debut for Storm. I was disappointed that Tony Khan didn’t cough up the coin to get a Motley Crue song for Storm’s entrance. Okay, so the band probably charges a small fortune for their hits, but I would personally enjoy what I would assume would be a far more affordable “Hooligan’s Holiday” from the underrated album recorded during the stretch when John Corabi replaced Vince Neil as the lead singer. Okay, so I’m clearly in the minority in my enjoyment of that album if record sales are any indication.
CM Punk vs. Max Caster: A solid opening match. Much like last week’s excellent Punk vs. Dax Harwood match, there was no mystery regarding the outcome and yet it was still a good showcase win for Punk. The post match promo with Punk confirming that he’s going after the AEW Championship was brief and effective.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, and Kyle O’Reilly: The build to Cole getting a rematch with Hangman Page has been puzzling. With Cole losing their first match clean, one would think that he would be booked as strong as possible to establish him as a strong threat to Page. Rather, he forgettably pinned Jungle Boy in six-man tag match and stole the AEW World Championship for a week. At this point, it feels like they are trying to hook us on waiting to see Cole take the Buckshot Lariat rather than selling us on the idea that he may win the championship. For that matter, Fish and O’Reilly often come off like bumbling henchmen rather than strong threats to take the AEW Tag Titles.