By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Ricky Starks and Chris Jericho opening: This was the perfect way to keep Starks strong coming out of his low-blow loss to MJF. Starks delivered strong mic work and Jericho did his usual good job of selling verbal jabs that were hurled at him. Action Andretti saving Starks from the Jericho Appreciation Society attack was also a great way to follow up on his upset win over Jericho right out of the gate.
Jamie Hayter vs. Hikaru Shida for the AEW Women’s Title: A very good match that felt worthy of the main event slot. The promotion could have done a better job with the presentation. They got it right for MJF vs. Ricky Starks last week and then reverted to their usual graphic and brief video package approach this time around. Nevertheless, the wrestlers delivered in a big way and had a lot of the fans standing during the closing minutes. I could have done without the spot where the referee was made to look like an idiot while being distracted by Rebel while all sorts of commotion was happening behind him, especially since it didn’t serve any purpose whatsoever, but it wasn’t enough to ruin an otherwise top notch match. The post match angle with Saraya and Toni Storm saving Shida was also well done and could set up a six-woman tag match.
Jon Moxley vs. Darius Martin: I love the way Moxley addressed knocking out Hangman Page with a lariat and then tied it together with hype for this match by questioning whether people are also going to blame him for Darius developing the injury prone reputation. There was never any question regarding the outcome of this match and it was interesting to see Moxley taunt Dante Martin at various points during the match. I’m curious to see if this was done to set up something for the Trios Casino Battle Royale for Rampage or if this was done to set up a Moxley vs. Dante singles match.
Bryan Danielson, Ethan Page, and Stokely Hathaway: Danielson calling out Page for the lame “Vegetable Man” line was great, and Hathaway immediately labeling Danielson “a raggedy bitch” was laugh out loud funny. I can’t say that this segment made me anxious to see Danielson vs. Page next week, but I was entertained by it.
Hook vs. Exodus Prime for the FTW Championship: More of the same for Hook, but I like that he’s being featured on Dynamite rather than being a Rampage regular. The post match angle with Big Bill and Lee Moriarty attacking “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry backstage was fine in the moment. Unfortunately, it came off like Hook couldn’t have cared less when he was shown walking backstage, and the show just moved on and never looked back.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Swerve Strickland, Keith Lee, and Rick Ross segment: Did Rick Ross really drop an uncensored F-Bomb on the holiday edition?!? Yikes. Sadly, that regrettable moment was the most interesting thing about this lousy segment. It’s hard to be excited about Parker Boudreaux when he jumped Lee and was then manhandled by him seconds later. His new stable mate showing up to help was slightly better, but their attack on Lee looked really weak. Fortunately, Strickland performing the top rope double stomp onto the cinderblock looked good, so at least the company got that clip out of this mess of a segment.
“Death Triangle” Pac, Penta El Zero Miedo, and Rey Fenix vs. “The Elite” Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson, and Nick Jackson in a No DQ match in the fifth match of a Best of Seven series for the AEW Trios Titles: The action was terrific and the live crowd had a blast with the match, but the ongoing use of ring bell hammers is a huge turnoff for this viewer. The match completely lost me when Omega was hit over the head with a hammer and then kicked out of a pin just seconds later. From a storytelling standpoint, I’m baffled by Fenix hitting Omega with the the hammer. Fenix has cast as the member of his team who is against the idea using the hammer as a weapon and yet this was the second time that he’s used one during this series. And then he seemed to follow that up by reverting to reluctant heel mode afterward, as he was pulling his brother off The Elite members at the end of the post match beatdown. I know there are some fans and critics who can’t wait to crap all over anything The Elite trio does. I actually want to love this series. I enjoy the athleticism of The Young Bucks and I loved Omega’s great matches in New Japan Pro Wrestling. But the ring bell hammers and the complete disregard for logic in these matches has soured me on the entire series.
Chris Jericho throws a fireball at Action Andretti: Actually, the fireball wasn’t the problem. The real issue was the lack of follow-up. A wrestler having a fireball thrown in his face should be treated like a major event. There should be an on-screen update from a concerned broadcast team, even if it’s just a cliche announcement that Andretti had been transported to the hospital. But AEW just moved on, which sent the message that there was nothing out of the ordinary about the fireball spot. On a side note, Andretti’s first promo was rough in that it felt like he should have been more humble rather than boast about pulling off the upset of the decade.
“FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler vs. Austin Gunn and Colten Gunn: A soft Miss. Between Harwood playing up an assortment of injuries and the assisted leverage pin, FTR had too many outs for losing for this to register as a meaningful upset win for Gunn Club.
FTR is in Mexico next week. Do they drop the AAA belts? They are in Japan the following week. Dropping the NJPW belts? Then free agency?