By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
MJF and Ricky Starks verbal exchange: MJF hit hard with his “Dime Store Dwayne” and “Pebble” comments to the point that I was actually concerned that it would be damaging to Starks. And then Starks took the mic and delivered the best promo of his career and perhaps even the best promo of the year. This has to be the first time that MJF brought his A-Game and he wasn’t the person the fans were talking about coming out of a verbal exchange. Starks was so good that he may have just earned another zero at the end of the dollar side of the compensation line on his next contract.
Samoa Joe vs. Darby Allin for the TNT Title: Darby Allin is insane. As if the suicide dive onto the floor wasn’t enough, taking a powerbomb onto a flipped over skateboard confirmed it. Damn. Anyway, this was a hell of a match. Say what you will about Allin’s death wish, but his ability to take punishment makes him an ideal opponent for Joe. Allin lost the match and managed to gain something in defeat. The only problem is that this match left me more anxious to see a rematch than it did to see Joe face Juice Robinson or Wardlow.
“The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Anthony Bowens vs. “FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler for the AEW Tag Titles: A very good tag team main event. It wasn’t an FTR instant classic because they’ve set the bar so high, but it was a very enjoyable match with a hot live crowd and good drama down the stretch. There was a lot to like about this episode, but one area where AEW needs to improve is doing more to making big TV main events feel important. They showed match graphics and the broadcast team hyped the match at differ times, but they really needed to do more to make this showdown match stand out as special. Even something as simple as opening with a shot of the teams arriving and then working in backstage shots of them throughout the rest of the show would have helped send the message that this was a big time main event. The post match angle that set up FTR vs. The Briscoes in a double dog collar match was rare good hook for Final Battle, but it was so rushed that they never even bothered to say whether the tag team titles will be on the line.
Jamie Hayter promo: Hayter did really nice work in the sit-down interview with Tony Schiavone. In fact, it left me wondering why we’ve heard so little from her. I get the story of Britt Baker stealing the spotlight from Hayter at times, but we definitely need to hear more from the well spoken AEW Women’s Champion going forward.
Claudio Castagnoli and Wheeler Yuta vs. Jake Hager and Daniel Garcia: A momentum building match for Castagnoli and Yuta heading into their respective title matches at Final Battle. The huracanrana spot from the ropes was rough, but it wasn’t enough to ruin what was a quality match overall. Unfortunately, this match just didn’t leave me any more excited about seeing Castagnoli and especially Yuta challenge for titles at Final Battle. It continues to look like a huge mistake to put Garcia back in the Jericho Appreciation Society. On a side note, as much as I groaned about it last week, I must admit that the live crowds seem to be getting a kick out of Hager’s silly purple hat. Hey, whatever works.
Dynamite Diamond battle royal: More of an in the middle. The right person won the match, but it’s not like they built up any other wrestler to feel like a threat to win. At this point, I wish the first Dynamite Diamond battle royal would have been the only one so that they didn’t have to come up with strange ways to let MJF keep the diamond ring every year. It also didn’t help that Jon Moxley recently felt the need to state in a recent promo that the prize is a fake diamond ring.
AEW Dynamite Misses
William Regal promo: You know this was a hot mess when Jon Moxley just moved on after it was shown on the big screen. We’re really supposed to believe that Regal’s character would cost Moxley the championship to make life more difficult for MJF and to teach Moxley the lesson that you need to have eyes in the back of your head. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Regal apparently forgot his own lesson given the way MJF punched him in the back of the head with brass knuckles after this promo was supposedly recorded.
Jade Cargill, Leila Grey, and Red Velvet vs. Kiera Hogan, Madison Rayne, and Skye Blue: Cargill is dominant. We get it. Don’t get me wrong, Cargill is a terrific talent, but I really saw this match as an opportunity to show Hogan looking competitive enough to set up a match between the two. Rather, it was just Cargill plowing through everyone again. On the bright side, at least we got a break from Cargill’s oddball feud with Bow Wow.