By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
MJF gives Wardlow ten lashes: Another home run segment. Wardlow no-selling most of the lashes was perfect and the total opposite of the last time we saw MJF whipping an adversary with a belt. MJF still got his heat by kicking Wardlow below the belt and then attacking Wardlow while he was down with the usual help from Shawn Spears. The build to the first MJF vs. Wardlow match has been terrific and their match is as much of a selling point as anything on the Double Or Nothing card.
AEW World Champion “Hangman” Adam Page vs. Konosuke Takeshita in a non-title match: A big Hit for match quality. This was a great back and forth match with terrific work from both men. The timing of the match is questionable in that it felt odd to see the AEW Champion working such a competitive match with someone who is essentially new to the company less than two weeks before a pay-per-view title defense. Is there a reason this match needed to happen before Double Or Nothing? Either way, it was a hell of a match and a potential launch point for Takeshita, though the follow-up is always the key in these situations.
Rey Fenix vs. Kyle O’Reilly in an Owen Hart Cup tournament first-round match: A good match that may have been the in-ring highlight on a different night. The outcome was mildly surprising, but it sets up what should be an excellent match between O’Reilly and Samoa Joe in the semifinals of the tournament.
Samoa Joe vs. Johnny Elite in an Owen Hart Cup tournament first-round match: AEW wasted no time in revealing the former John Morrison as the first of the two Jokers (a/k/a mystery wrestlers). Although Elite’s name was not popular candidate in fan speculation, he was a satisfying surprise (especially since he left the Dripstick at home). The match was entertaining and this felt like a good win for Joe heading into the semifinals.
Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland vs. JD Drake and Anthony Henry: This was the quick showcase win for Lee and Strickland that it needed to be. They are a new team who are being thrust into a tag title match, so they had to go over strong. The post match angle that made the three-way tag title match official for the pay-per-view felt rushed and didn’t pack much of a punch.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Adam Cole vs. Jeff Hardy in an Owen Hart Cup tournament semifinal match: A main event match that seemed totally rushed and therefore underwhelming. I assume the post match attack by the Young Bucks will lead to them facing the Hardys at Double Or Nothing. The first hour of Dynamite was highly entertaining. Things really fell apart during the second hour to the point that it came across like amateur hour. Last week’s show was really good. AEW took a step back this week with timing issues and Tony Khan falling back into his bad habit of cramming too many angles and too many people into the show.
Serena Deeb and Thunder Rosa: If the show was running long, it should have been an easy call to cut this segment’s time or even to cut it from the show completely. Deeb taking offense to broadcast team members and Dustin Rhodes offering match predictions that no one cares about made for a terrible segment. I really enjoy Deeb and Rosa as wrestlers, but their mic work during the build to their match has been rough to say the least. While Rosa didn’t stand out as a great talker during her time with the NWA, she was significantly better on that promotion’s interview set than she has been at any point during her AEW run. AEW officials need to figure out why that is and make the proper adjustments.
Jericho Appreciation Society, Blackpool Combat Club, Eddie Kingston, Santana, and Ortiz: A needlessly long segment with way too much talk about William Regal shoving toothbrushes up his ass. JAS feels like a flat mid-card act and is a big step down for Jericho. Santana and Ortiz are finally out of the Inner Circle and yet they are still being wasted as sidekicks when they should be featured as the great tag team that they are. Everyone involved with Blackpool Combat Club seems to be having a blast and there is entertainment value in watching them destroy opponents in six-man tag matches, but I still feel that Bryan Danielson and Jon Moxley are far more valuable to AEW when cast as singles stars. What happened to Kingston’s burns from that fireball that AEW production inexplicably felt the need to air in slow motion last week to show viewers see that the fireball mostly shot over Kingston’s head?
Britt Baker vs. Maki Itoh in an Owen Hart Cup tournament first round match: Why in the world was Itoh billed as a Joker? Did something fall through or did Tony Khan really think that this would be a satisfying surprise to the masses? Granted, AEW didn’t go overboard in hyping the Jokers this time around, but fan speculation always runs wild in these situations and it’s hard to imagine that this pleased anyone other than the most diehard members of the AEW fanbase. Why not just announce Itoh for the tournament rather than set her up to be a letdown?