By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
AEW/NJPW Forbidden Door announcement: It’s happening. The actual announcement being highjacked by Adam Cole was decent. While he has worked NJPW shows in the past, he’s not high on the list of AEW wrestlers that come to mind when I think of their NJPW backgrounds. Still, it was a wise call to have a good talker make the actual announcement rather than leave it up to Tony Khan and Takami Ohbari. Jay White showing up would have felt bigger had he not had that brief and underwhelming week in AEW previously. As great as White is, Bullet Club continues to feel like yesterday’s news in both AEW and Impact Wrestling. An actual angle to generate some friction between some AEW and NJPW wrestlers would have been more intriguing than all of this. Nevertheless, the joint event is cause for celebration for fans of both companies. The key now is selling this event in a way that will excite more casual viewers who don’t follow NJPW. Hopefully AEW intends to introduce the NJPW talent properly rather than make the ROH mistake of assuming that all of their viewers follow NJPW closely. I don’t have great faith in that happening because it would require a significant change to the chaotic pacing of Dynamite. I hope I’m wrong about that. This event sells itself to a lot of fans, but the goal should be to bring all viewers up to speed to make this and future joint shows feel like mega events to everyone and not just the diehard fans.
CM Punk vs. Dustin Rhodes: Another fun Punk opening match. It seemed like this match meant a lot to both wrestlers. The post match scene between the two was great. For that matter, so was the simple staredown on the stage between Punk and Hangman Page that followed with Punk spending part of that time looking at the AEW World Championship belt. It was a small thing, but I like that Page initiated the first meeting of the two by walking out after Punk made the belt motion with his hands. It sends the message that Page is a fighting champion who isn’t just ignoring Punk.
Wardlow vs. The Butcher: A good ol’ fashion Hoss Fight, as a certain guy who called this show likes to say. The Butcher has really improved his physique and upped his game in general, but obviously Wardlow had to win this match. Wardlow being forced to wear handcuffs likely means that a beating is coming his way (hopefully not a silly moment when he breaks the handcuffs), but I like that AEW showed discipline by not having MJF and company attack him on the first night the handcuffs were introduced.
Jungle Boy vs. Kyle O’Reilly in an Owen Hart tournament qualifier: It was good to see a qualifying match that didn’t feel highly predictable. Red Velvet vs. Willow Nightingale was the only other qualifier with an outcome that didn’t feel like a slam dunk going in. Fortunately, things are looking up with some of the newly announced qualifiers. O’Reilly really needed a win, as do his allies Adam Cole and Bobby Fish. It would have been fun to see Jungle Boy in the tournament, but he is an AEW Tag Team Champion and can easily absorb this loss.
Jon Moxley, Bryan Danielson, and Wheeler Yuta vs. Dante Martin, Lee Moriarty, and Brock Anderson: A crowd pleasing win for the Blackpool Combat Club. There was no mystery regarding the outcome of the match, but it was still fun to watch BCC do their thing.
Britt Baker vs. Danielle Kamela in an Owen Hart tournament qualifier: A spotlight win for Baker in her latest homecoming. She was accompanied to the ring by Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth of the Steelers. For those who don’t follow the NFL, they are high level players, not just random guys known only in the local market. Baker heeling on other wrestlers on the AEW women’s roster par for the course, and yet still felt counterproductive.
Hook vs. Anthony Henry: The usual dominant win for Hook. Inserting Danhausen into Hook’s storyline is a strange call and yet I am curious to see where it goes.
Darby Allin vs. Andrade El Idolo in a Coffin Match: Although it belongs in the Hit section, this was my least favorite match of the night. Both men worked hard, but I don’t even remember what they are feuding over and I hope this was the blowoff. The Family Office faction needs to end. Everyone involved in the faction is talented, but there’s just no chemistry between the wrestlers involved.
AEW Dynamite Misses
House of Black vignette: The weekly deep thoughts with Malakai Black videos are well produced, but they are so vague that they don’t seem to be building much interest in whatever is coming next for the faction.
Sammy Guevara and Tay Conti: More of an in the middle. They are so unlikable together that they have somehow managed to turn Dan Lambert into a babyface. Wow. If Sammy and Tay are the new Cody and Brandi, I’d love to see AEW go all the way with it. Give them an over the top entrance (complete with two songs) and a Sammy-vator. Hook them up with a personalized tour bus. Film some clips that can be labeled as a reality show pilot. There’s plenty of good spirited fun to be had that goes beyond the two of them just making out in the ring for easy heat.