By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Chris Jericho vs. Bandido for the ROH Championship: A great reminder of what makes Bandido so great for those who familiar with his work and a terrific introduction for those who were not. Jericho went above and beyond to help make Bandido shine before beating him in the end. The live crowd gave Bandido a solid reaction coming out, and he completely won over the crowd by the end of the match despite taking the loss. As much as I enjoyed the match, I really question the logic of focussing so heavily on ROH. More on that later.
MJF and Wheeler Yuta: The verbal exchange was pretty routine. MJF is a great heel, but I keep waiting for a storyline that makes him feel like the smartest wrestler in the company and plays into his devil theme. The Hit is for Yuta attacking MJF in the luxury box, which came off really well and set the stage nicely for next week’s match.
Ricky Starks vs. Eli Isom: A simple showcase win for Starks coming off his Grand Slam win over Powerhouse Hobbs. I wish it hadn’t come at the expense of Isom, who was showing real upside during the final years of ROH under previous management. That said, this match will be quickly forgotten and they can always reintroduce Isom when and if ROH ever becomes more than a promotion within another promotion.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Ring of Honor focus: Chris Jericho stating his plan to essentially spit on everything that ROH stands for would have been a really good story when ROH still felt relevant. ROH was so beaten down during its final years (despite producing some really good television during the pandemic) that the number of people who would be bothered by Jericho’s intentions seems minimal, particularly when this angle is playing out on AEW television. If the feedback coming out of this show is any indication, the majority of AEW fans want to see AEW matches and storylines when they watch Dynamite. The poor ratings that led up to the Forbidden Door event seem to support this. I like that AEW has working relationships with other companies, and I am looking forward to seeing what Tony Khan does with ROH, but unless this storyline is leading to the announcement of a television or streaming deal for the ROH brand, then focusing so heavily on ROH during Dynamite feels misguided. This isn’t going to stop given that Jericho challenged Bryan Danielson to face him in a title match in Toronto. Here’s hoping that Danielson can work his magic on the mic and make AEW fans care about ROH and what it represents. Either way, is Claudio Castagnoli’s’ character content with losing the title and moving on?
Saraya promo: A poor performance from the latest AEW signee. Or as Britt Baker so aptly put it, the company’s latest shiny new toy. Saraya stating that she’s starting another revolution felt empty and her overall promo was directionless. Even the announcement that the Toni Storm vs. Serena Deeb match would be a lumberjack match felt off. Was there anything in the build to Storm vs. Deeb that suggested one of them was a threat to run away if they didn’t have lumberjacks at ringside? Of course not, because there was no actual build to the match. Rather, it was just a random match that was given an even more random stipulation.
AEW World Champion Jon Moxley vs. Juice Robinson in an eliminator match: A Hit if this were simply based on match quality. However, the live crowd’s flat reaction to Robinson said it all. Tony Khan took to social media this week to assure fans who were unfamiliar with Robinson and Bandido that there would be video packages on both wrestlers that would help introduce them. Those brief video packages also dedicated time to their opponents and offered very little about Robinson or Bandido. Robinson is a very good wrestler and he would be a good fit in AEW if he ever opted to leave New Japan Pro Wrestling. But the idea of just having him show up on AEW television to continue his NJPW feud with Moxley was a head-scratcher, particularly when there are so many unused and frustrated AEW wrestlers sitting backstage every week.
Toni Storm vs. Serena Deeb for the Interim AEW Women’s Championship: A well worked match and yet another example of Storm giving up too much offense at a time when she would be building momentum with strong and decisive wins. Storm was completely overshadowed by Saraya and Britt Baker in the verbal segment, and Deeb kicked out of her Storm Zero finisher for no reason other than that they wanted to work in an over the top second rope piledriver to serve as the actual finish. Storm is great, but AEW viewers know little about her character and her matches are laid out in a way that don’t make her feel special.
The Acclaimed: Regardless of when the decision was actually made to put the AEW Tag Team Titles on Max Caster and Anthony Bowens, it felt like the fans willed it to happen starting at All Out. Their title win received one of the biggest pops of the night at the Grand Slam event. Yet the first time we saw them after they win the title was in a brief backstage segment? If two title celebrations was too much for one show or they just didn’t want to have another in-ring verbal segment, then they should have come up with a storyline reason to keep The Acclaimed off television until next week when they could have had the in-ring moment that fans were clamoring for. Their random Triple Threat title defense on Rampage could have waited a week. What’s worse is that Keith Lee pointed out the obvious, which is that they only won the tag titles due to Billy Gunn’s interference. I have no idea why that was booked to happen in the first place. It’s bizarre to have a tarnished title change for babyface wrestlers.