By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Orange Cassidy vs. AR Fox for the AEW International Title: A quality match with a post match angle that helped set the table for Fox’s heel turn later in the show. But I do have to ask how Cassidy’s hand miraculously recovered since last week. Sure, he had it taped, but he threw multiple Orange Punches and regular punches throughout the night. Anyway, Jon Moxley attacking Cassidy sets up what should be Cassidy’s most high profile title defense.
Darby Allin vs. Swerve Strickland: The usual strong work from Allin and Swerve. The angle with AR Fox turning on Allin and joining the Mogul Embassy was nicely done, particularly with the Allin video package that aired earlier in the show and really established his history with Fox. But there’s only so much excitement that I can muster up for the Mogul Affiliates at this point. Swerve is finally winning singles match, while the rest of the group needs character development and spend most of their time in ROH. And will someone ever take the time to explain who Prince Nana is?
Don Callis and Chris Jericho: The latest Callis commissioned painting is another masterpiece and the true top Hit of the show. Seriously, those paintings crack me up. Anyway, I loved the way Callis got Jericho to agree to team with Konosuke Takeshita only to then inform him that their opponents would be Sammy Guevara and Daniel Garcia. It was also the perfect time to move this episodic story forward.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Overall show: Where was everyone? Kenny Omega, Hangman Page, and The Young Bucks weren’t around a week after they won the Blood & Guts match. MJF, Adam Cole, and FTR delivered pre-taped promos. Konosuke Takeshita, who should be destroying undercard wrestlers in squash matches, was nowhere to be found. Hook was taking the midnight train going anywhere. Wardlow is MIA. Keith Lee apparently went back into hibernation. I just assume that AEW Women’s Champion Toni Storm was in the director’s chair in the production truck when the “Book The Women’s Division Better” sign was spotlighted. I get that there’s only so much television time and you can’t have everyone on every show, but this episode felt really light on star power. And can anyone explain why we’re a month out from the first of the back-to-back weekend pay-per-views and they’ve announced a grand total of one match? Technically, they haven’t even announced whether All In is an actual pay-per-view.
Taya Valkyrie vs. Britt Baker: A slow paced match with some really rough moments. Why is Athena stuck behind the paywall for a show that only appeals to the super fans when she could be tearing it up on Dynamite and/or Collision?
Jon Moxley and Claudio Castagnoli vs. “Lucha Bros” Rey Fenix and Penta El Zero Miedo vs. “Best Friends” Trent Beretta and Chuck Taylor: This isn’t a knock on match quality. Rather, it was a flat main event because it lacked purpose. It can’t even be said that teams are fighting to earn tag team title shots, as most of those seem to go to teams that win battle royales or blind tournaments. The Best Friends felt like they were in the match to lose. And it sure was a strange call to have Trent Beretta take the pin moments before they announced he would be in next week’s random Triple Threat match with Moxley and Penta.
Pac vs. Gravity: This was fine from a match quality standpoint. There was zero mystery regarding the outcome and I’m fine with Pac getting a spotlight match early in his return. My real issue with the match is that it was so uneventful in that there was no follow-up to Pac walking out on Blackpool Combat Club the Blood & Guts match. The BCC members were foaming at the mouth and yet they never even bothered to confront Pac when he was alone in the ring? Even if the weak argument is that Castagnoli got revenge at the ROH pay-per-view, it was watched by a fraction of the Dynamite audience.