By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Jon Moxley vs. Kyle O’Reilly for a spot in the Interim AEW World Championship match at the Forbidden Door PPV: Although there was only slightly more predictability regarding the outcome of his match than there is for the Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Hirooki Goto match that will determine Moxley’s opponent, this lands in the Hit section for match quality alone. This came off like a hell of a fight from bell to bell. That said, while AEW has been consistent in pushing O’Reilly in recent weeks, he just doesn’t feel like a top star or a legitimate contender to the AEW World Championship.
Pac vs. Buddy Matthews in an AEW All-Atlantic Championship match qualifier: This is no way an endorsement of the company’s newest title belt, but more on that later. Rather, this was the strong match one would expect from these two. I really hope we see more of Pac as a single wrestler. He is one of the many AEW singles stars who spends way too much time tied up in faction warfare.
Will Ospreay’s United Empire appears: The presentation left a lot to be desired in terms of having four wrestlers appear on the show without much introduction, but the live crowd popped big for the arrival of Ospreay (not so much for the others). Ospreay is one of the most talented wrestlers in the world and the six-man tag match that was announced for AEW Rampage looks fantastic on paper. Ideally, AEW will give Ospreay some mic time and slow down long enough on the next two episodes of Dynamite to air some video packages that offer proper introductions to the top NJPW wrestlers who will work the Forbidden Door event.
“Hangman” Adam Page vs. David Finlay: A bounce back win for Page and a quality match overall. Page opting to challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship sets up what should be a fantastic match between him and either Kazuchika Okada or Jay White depending on the outcome of their match at NJPW Dominion. Page’s line about not being offered a spot in the battle royal was interesting. I previously questioned if the story could turn out to be that the MJF character was in the ear of Page heading into Double Or Nothing, as that could explain why Page felt he needed to save AEW from Punk. If that’s the story they are telling, then the battle royal snub gives Page’s character a reason to join MJF in being upset with AEW management.
AEW Dynamite Misses
AEW All-Atlantic Championship: Why? This company has the AEW World Championship (and the forthcoming interim championship), the TNT Title, the FTW Title, the ROH Title, the ROH TV Title, the ROH Pure Rules Title, and Adam Cole is carrying around an Owen Hart tournament title belt. And those are just the men’s singles titles. They also want us to care about the IWGP Heavyweight Championship (and possibly other NJPW titles), the AEW, ROH, and AAA tag titles, the AEW Women’s Championship and the TBS Title, and Britt Baker is also walking around with her Owen Hart tournament title belt. In fairness, it’s been a few weeks since FTR brought out the AAA Tag Titles, but this is still an absurd number of title belts for a company with three hours of weekly television. And let’s not forget that Tony Khan stated that the AEW Trios Title belts have already been created and thus it’s only a matter of time before those belts are introduced. Will we get an AEW All-Pacific Championship for the women too? Enough already.
The Casino Battle Royale: There were too many wrestlers who had no storyline business being in the match ahead of true top contenders. Wardlow offered a somewhat admirable yet mostly screwball and counterproductive explanation for not being in the match, and Hangman Page simply stated that he wasn’t invited. The company didn’t even bother to explain why other top stars were left out. The crowd went nearly silent when Kyle O’Reilly eliminated Wheeler Yuta to win the match. So while I gave Moxley vs. O’Reilly a Hit for match quality, it really was a questionable to feature it as an interim title match qualifier and in the show’s main event. The most interesting aspect of the battle royal was Swerve Strickland eliminating Keith Lee, which I pray will spare us all from their awful “swerve in our glory” tag team catchphrase going forward.
Thunder Rosa vs. Marina Shafir for the AEW Women’s Championship: A clunky match that finished better than it started. Rosa going over clean was the right call. Shafir was protected more than she needed to be unless the company is going to surprise me by featuring her consistently on Dynamite and Rampage. If she’s heading back to the online shows, then there’s no reason why the AEW Women’s Champion couldn’t have made fairly quick and decisive work of her. This felt like an example of Tony Khan trying too hard to protect the person losing the match to the detriment of the star who won the match. On the bright side, the post match angle with Toni Storm seemed to set her up as an upcoming challenger for Rosa in what could be a compelling title program.
Lack of MJF follow-up: Assuming MJF and Tony Khan are on the same page, then I feel it was a mistake to essentially act like MJF no longer exists. I didn’t need a major angle, but even something as simple as MJF showing up and being escorted from the building would have kept him fresh in the minds of viewers. The MJF drama was the hottest thing in pro wrestling last week. I’m sure it will be a big deal whenever MJF returns, but I just wouldn’t run the risk of losing any momentum between now and then. And, no, trying to sell the masses on the idea that this is a shoot is not worth the risk either, nor do I feel that MJF should be put on ice until after the Forbidden Door event. There’s no reason why they can’t give viewers small doses until the pay-per-view rather than act like nothing happened while risking the possibility that fan interest will fade.