By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Jon Moxley vs. Hangman Page: My favorite match on a show filled with great in-ring action. Moxley kicking out of Page’s finishers would have annoyed me if this was a first-time encounter on television, but they’ve reached a place in the feud where it felt appropriate. On the other hand, Moxley’s near weekly blade jobs are too much. Moxley bleeding will always get a reaction out of live crowds, but I suspect that a lot of the weekly viewers are becoming just as numb to it as I am. This feud is intense enough for blood, so the real issue is that Moxley has overdone it against other opponents. Nevertheless, this was a pay-per-view caliber match that concluded with a clean finish. What’s not to like? I assumed that the feud would conclude with this rubber match, but the post match tension between Moxley and Page suggests that there’s more to come.
Darby Allin vs. Samoa Joe in a No Holds Barred match for the TNT Title: A great wild brawl. Joe and Allin are ideal opponents for one another in that Allin makes Joe’s punishing offense look phenomenal, and Allin comes off like he’s showing a ton of heart when he fights from underneath against badass Joe. The post match angle with Wardlow was solid, though I really didn’t need any reminders of Wardlow’s awful feud with AEW security guards. If this was the end of the Allin and Joe feud, I wonder what comes next for Allin.
Bryan Danielson vs. Timothy Thatcher: A very good, logical match with Thatcher targeting Danielson’s injured shoulder in a believable manner. The only thing working against the match was the same predictability that has hindered Danielson’s matches ever since it was announced that he had to win out in order to get his title match with MJF. The presentation also left a little something to be desired. A brief promo or even a shot of Thatcher looking menacing while arriving at the building with MJF would have gone a long way. I hope this wasn’t a one and done for Thatcher in AEW. I’d love to see him work with Claudio Castagnoli and many others.
Konosuke Takeshita vs. Brian Cage: The in-ring action was strong and this landed in the Hit section despite my frustration with the no-selling of a brainbuster and Cage kicking out of a second brainbuster. I was okay with Jon Moxley kicking out of Hangman Page’s key moves because they are three matches deep in a heated feud, whereas Takeshita vs. Cage was likely just a one-off match. Even so, it was nice to see Takeshita get a meaningful win on television and I am looking forward to his eliminator match with MJF next week. It will be interesting to see what’s next for Cage given recent reports that his AEW deal expires soon.
The Acclaimed and The Gunns: The Max Caster and Anthony Bowens squash match win over Truth Magnum and Turbo Floyd was pretty basic. The post match angle that followed was brief and yet effective in that it left viewers wondering whether Billy Gunn will do right by The Acclaimed or if he’s going to help out his sons when the teams meet for the AEW Tag Team Titles next week.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Jade Cargill vs. Red Velvet for the TBS Title: The story of Cargill working with her former Baddies continues to be a hot mess in that I have no idea who they want the fans to side with. Velvet getting a visual pinfall over the dominant Cargill felt like a big moment when it happened. The broadcast team didn’t give it any attention after Cargill came back and won the match, so I’m not sure if the visual pinfall was done to create the need for another match or whether it served any purpose at all. But I do know that Cargill feels like she’s spinning her wheels. Is Cargill in a holding pattern until Kris Statlander returns?
The Elite: Are they heels? Are they babyfaces? They cut their cool guys promo on a random basketball court and basically set up a match against the babyface trio of Top Flight and AR Fox, then accepted a challenge from whatever Ethan Page, Matt Hardy, and Isiah Kassidy are. There are no stories. There’s nothing to get emotionally invested in. It’s left up to the viewers to decide whether Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson, and Nick Jackson are cool or obnoxious. Why don’t we get even a fraction of the great storytelling from Omega in AEW that we do when he works for New Japan Pro Wrestling?
I really liked the way the commentary team framed the Moxley win as slightly dissatisfying for both men, because Moxley had promised a decisive win but ended up sneaking one when behind “on points”.
Thatcher has a really great, unique look – not a spectacular physique but he is a classic example of the sort of guy you would hate to get into a bar fight with.