By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
CM Punk and Jon Moxley confrontation: The best verbal exchange of the year and it’s not even close. Punk and Moxley fired insults at one another that felt realistic and on point, and it was established that they both felt they needed to beat the other in order to lay claim to be the true AEW World Champion. I’ll be disappointed if they actually go through with the advertised match next week and then move on to different opponents, as this left me wanting more dynamic verbal exchanges from the two. The physicality was also handled well with neither man backing down before they were pulled apart. I loved this segment and I really hope there is more to come. As for Punk calling out Hangman Page, I have a hard time believing that Punk went into business for himself as reports suggest. It’s not that I can tell you that the reports are inaccurate, nor is it a shot at anyone’s reporting. It’s just hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea that nice guy Adam Page somehow got Punk so worked up that he spent his injury layoff seething and then came back so bitter with Page that he immediately went of his way to make him look bad in a manner so unprofessional that it makes Punk look worse to his peers in the locker room. I could be wrong, but my hunch is that this was more about setting the table for something storyline related than it was about a personal grudge between the two.
Bryan Danielson vs. Daniel Garcia in a best of three falls match: An outstanding match. This along with the Punk and Moxley exchange made the first hour of Dynamite one of the best hours in the show’s history. Danielson is teflon so any thoughts that him struggling to beat Garcia will somehow make Danielson look bad in the eyes of the fans is silly. Danielson went above and beyond to make Garcia, and he succeeded far more in doing so in this match than he did in the match that Garcia actually won with help from Jake Hager. The post match angle with friction between Garcia and Chris Jericho was really well done. I hope we get a change in direction from Jericho Appreciation Society. What’s the point of doing a sports entertainment spoof when the company you are spoofing is pulling away from the sports entertainment style? Either way, this was a great match and I’m anxious to see what comes next for Garcia.
Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks vs. Andrade, Rush, and Dragon Lee in an AEW Trios Titles tournament match: An entertaining main event with some unique storytelling in terms of Omega playing up ring rust and health issues coming out of his various surgeries. Some freak athletes handle returns from major injuries better than others do in sports, but there is typically a process that athletes go through before they return to their peak form. So why not tell that story in pro wrestling? The post match angle was another case of AEW trying to cram too many things into one show. With the Punk vs. Moxley exchange and the announcement of their match taking place next week, Omega’s return, and the great best of three falls match, Andrade and Rush turning on a fairly new to the show Dragon Lee at the end of the night felt rushed and unnecessary, regardless of whatever footage they are teasing for Rampage.
Gunn Club vs. The Varsity Blonds: A dominant win for the Gunns heading into the breakup angle with their own father. Jim Ross helped get this over by expressing believable outrage over Austin and Colten attacking their own father. I like the idea of Austin and Colten moving out of their father’s shadow, and Billy’s presence makes his sons look smaller than they actually are. I was surprised to see the scissors reunion with The Acclaimed happen so quickly. Hopefully this was just a way to give the fans a payoff before Billy fades into the background, a there’s no reason to make hm a regular part of Max Cater and Anthony Bowens’ act.
AEW Dynamite Misses
The presentation of CM Punk vs. Jon Moxley match announcement: As crazy as it seems to put this match on television rather than feature it as the pay-per-view main event, I’m doing my best to reserve judgement given that it’s always possible that next week will be more of an angle that keeps Punk vs. Moxley in the All Out main event slot. Either way, the announcement of this match coming at the end of Excalibur’s breathless sprint through all of the upcoming television and pay-per-view matches was absurd. Perhaps it’s time for AEW to introduce an on-air commissioner who only shows up to deliver major announcements or storyline punishments. I give Tony Khan credit for showing more discipline lately by not putting himself on television or having all of the company’s announcements labeled as “Tony Khan’s big announcement.” And I’m not calling for Khan to play this part, as they need someone who is more polished as a television performer to give big announcements more pizzaz. Whether it’s a commissioner or something else entirely, this company has to get better about making big announcements actually feel big time. And don’t even get me started on the strange call to not advertise Punk and Moxley meeting face to face on this episode.
Jungle Boy and Christian Cage: Jungle Boy’s mic work left a lot to be desired, but he’s sure to benefit from the reps that he’s getting lately. The Miss is for the needless physicality between the two. A big part of the payoff of seeing them wrestle was knowing that Jungle Boy would finally get his hands on the wormy Cage. I’m not sure why they felt the need to take that away, let alone cap it off with Jungle Boy getting the better of the brawl and closing it out by stomping Cage’s arm.
Toni Storm vs. KiLynn King: A needlessly long match. This should have been a brief showcase win or Storm since it was announced that she will be challenging Thunder Rosa for the AEW Women’s Championship at All Out. It just wasn’t the time to show that King’s character could hang. Storm naming her crushing hip attack Sweet Cheek Music is a big miss with this viewer. The name is just way too cutesy for a move that looks so punishing. Also, why did they make it seem like Rosa wanted to avoid giving Storm a title match on last week’s show only to just randomly announce the title match this week?