By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Bryan Danielson vs. Bandido: Much like Danielson vs. Konosuke Takeshita last week, this was a very entertaining match that had zero mystery when it came to the outcome. It’s not that the wrestlers didn’t work hard to make it seem like Bandido might win, but the stipulation that Danielson must win all of his matches to get his title match with MJF has made his match outcomes feel predictable. That said, the in-ring work was strong and I hope we get a rematch somewhere down the road. The MJF post match promo and his angle with Brian Cage was well done. MJF ditched the insult comedy approach in favor of showing off a more sinister side as he attempts to stop Danielson from making it to the Iron Man match at the Revolution pay-per-view.
“The Young Bucks” Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson vs. “Top Flight” Darius Martin and Dante Martin: A good and logically booked upset win for Top Flight. Excalibur did a nice job of working in the explanation that the Bucks hadn’t wrestled a traditional tag team match since July and were also fresh off a grueling best of seven series for the AEW Trios Titles. The Top Flight win is probably meant to put them in position to find a partner to challenge for the trios belts. I’d actually prefer to see the Martins move on and continue to build up wins in the actual tag team division and then face the Bucks in a rematch somewhere down the road.
Darby Allin vs. Kushida for the TNT Title: I toyed with the idea of putting this match in the Miss section. The match quality and my enjoyment of the work caused me settle on the Hit section. My frustration is that AEW brought in Kushida and labeled this a dream match without providing a real build. For some diehard fans, yes, it’s a dream match. But there are a lot of fans out there whose main exposure to Kushida was from his hot and cold run in NXT, where he was last seen goofing around with Ikemen Jiro. Why not bring in Kushida and give him a few wins to build him up for this match?
Toni Storm vs. Willow Nightingale: While the abrupt personality shift for Storm and Saraya was a bit jarring, I like the direction. AEW seems to be correcting course by making Storm and Saraya heels, while presumably booking Jamie Hayter and Britt Baker as babyfaces. The audience wants it and it seems like AEW is listening. I was waiting for Ruby Soho to turn on Nightingale after the solid match to make this a total former WWE vs. AEW originals feud. It didn’t happen last night, but my guess remains that Soho joins Storm and Saraya, while Hikaru Shida ends up siding with the originals.
Ricky Starks vs. Jake Hager: A soft Hit for a basic momentum building win for Starks over one of Chris Jericho’s sidekicks.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Orange Cassidy vs. Jay Lethal for the AEW All-Atlantic Championship: The live crowd seemed to enjoy it and I’m sure a portion of the viewing audience had fun with it, but the silliness with all of the sidekicks just wasn’t for me. File this one in the category of different strokes for different folks.
Jay Briscoe tribute: The memorial graphic and various wrestlers paying tribute via armbands were nice gestures. And I also look forward to watching the tribute show that was filmed after Dynamite concluded. This Miss is due to a report from Dave Meltzer of WrestlingObserver.com that AEW was only able to do what the network would allow when it came to paying tribute to Briscoe during this episode. Shame on whoever made this decision. I could not have disagreed more with Jay’s controversial tweets from roughly a decade ago. People can change. Jay eventually labeled those tweets “the most dumbest, immature, obnoxious shit I’ve ever done.” Countless co-workers and peers have stated that Jay learned from his mistakes. Wrestlers from the LGBTQ+ community were among those who shared their positive experiences of working with or sharing a locker room with Jay as part of the wave of social media tributes that have followed his untimely death. Actions have consequences. But I also believe in forgiving those who have earned it. By all accounts, Jay Briscoe put the work in to earn forgiveness and no one should have stood in the way of the company doing more to honor him during Dynamite.