By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Darby Allin vs. Brody King: The show peaked with this strong opening match. King looked like a monster badass by beating the hell out of his smaller opponent, while Allin showed the heart and reckless abandon that his character is known for. My guess is that the teases for Sting vs. Malakai Black end up leading to a six-man tag match with Miro, who walked out for a late staredown, will team with Allin and Sting to face the House of Black.
Chris Jericho vs. Eddie Kingston in a Barbed Wire Everywhere match: There was a time when a bloody barbed wire match would have appealed to me, but my tastes have changed and over the top hardcore matches are no longer for me. Having said that, the match delivered what was advertised. Well, aside from the silliness of the rest of Jericho Appreciation Society being unable to interfere due to being locked in a shark cage. I am already rolling my eyes at the thought of the company rolling out that gimmick for Shark Week 2023. But Jericho and Kingston worked hard, put their bodies through hell, and the live crowd ate it up. So while this wasn’t up my alley, it was good for its style and belongs in the Hit section.
Christian Cage and Luchasaurus vs. “The Varsity Blondes” Brian Pillman Jr. and Griff Garrison: The match was perfect in terms of storytelling. Cage teased starting the match only to tag out. Luchasaurus did all of the dirty work by dominating Pillman and Garrison, and then Cage tagged in and got the pin for his team. This was spot on for Cage’s weasel character. The post match angle with Luchasaurus letting Jungle Boy past him to go after Cage was surprising. I can’t imagine that they are already putting Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus back together, so it will be interesting to see what comes next.
FTR promo: It’s a shame that we can’t get a proper build for FTR vs. The Briscoes, but Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler did their best to sell the match by themselves. Harwood’s promo about his daughter’s heart condition was moving and memorable.
Ricky Starks vs. Cole Karter for the FTW Title: A solid television match. Karter is young and has a bright future. That said, it was a bad look for AEW to book him so quickly after he was released by NXT for a “policy issue.” There are way too many title belts on AEW television, and I just can’t get excited about a belt that isn’t officially recognized by the company. But I am hopeful that Starks doing the open challenge bit will eventually lead to Hook stepping up and making a play for the title belt that his father introduced in ECW many years ago.
Jon Moxley and Wheeler Yuta vs. “Best Friends” Trent Beretta and Chuck Taylor: A well worked match that spotlighted Yuta and his lingering issues with his former buddies. A lot of time has passed since Yuta left the Best Friends group to join Blackpool Combat Club, and a video package would have been helpful to remind viewers of the issues between the two sides. Oddly, Moxley felt like he was just along for the ride in this one since he doesn’t really have issues with Beretta or Taylor. Of course, Moxley brought star power to the match, so it likely held up well in the ratings.
Jade Cargill and Kiera Hogan vs. Athena and Willow Nightingale: A decent tag match. It’s sad that Athena has just sort of blended into the women’s roster and isn’t being showcased in a meaningful way. In fact, it feels like the company is positioning Kris Statlander as the bigger threat to Jade Cargill at this point, which begs the question of why they didn’t put Athena in the AEW Women’s Championship mix instead.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Mark Sterling’s petition: The campiness of Sterling collecting signatures to have Swerve Strickland fired because he’s not trustworthy is awful. Sterling is talented and he’s doing his best with this bit, but it’s a sports entertainment style concept that stands out in a negative way on AEW television. I won’t pretend to be familiar with Kevin Gates, but Sterling did a good job of heeling on him to set up the rapper punching out Tony Nese.