By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
MJF and Adam Cole in-ring segment: Another strong exchange between the champion and his challenger at All in. Both wrestlers did the best job that anyone in the company has done of putting over the magnitude of the stadium show. All signs continue to point to Cole turning on MJF and I really think it’s the right move given how over MJF is with the fans. I could have done without Cole teasing that he was thinking about taking out MJF, but hopefully it serves some purpose to the storyline.
Orange Cassidy vs. Wheeler Yuta for the AEW International Championship: The show peaked from a match quality segment with this opener. I’m surprised that Cassidy isn’t defending the AEW International Title on the big international stadium show, but I’m guessing he will put the title on the line against Jon Moxley at All Out. The Stadium Stampede match will get a lot of people on the show and should be quite the spectacle. Here’s hoping the production team is up for what should be quite the challenge.
Chris Jericho and Don Callis: Strong performances and more good than bad. I didn’t care for the Jericho swerve if this is a babyface turn. He was happy to join someone he described as being as low as he is, which isn’t endearing. It also seemed very shortsighted of Callis to only have one painting and not be prepared for the possibility of Jericho agreeing to join his faction. It felt like it would have worked better if a pro-Jericho painting had been somehow knocked over to reveal the painting of Callis holding Jericho’s severed head. Even so, I enjoyed the story of Jericho’s decision and the episodic nature of it. My guess is that Sammy Guevara will be revealed as the next member of the Don Callis Family.
Darby Allin and Nick Wayne vs. “Gates of Agony” Bishop Kaun and Toa Liona: A solid tag team match with a fun finish that saw the babyfaces hit top rope moves off the same turnbuckle. While there was no reason for them to win this match, it is disappointing to see the Gates of Agony take so many losses. It feels like they should be destroying enhancement and undercard tag teams to be built up as monsters rather than putting over the stars.
“The Young Bucks” Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson vs. Austin Gunn and Colten Gunn: More of an in the middle than a Hit or a Miss. The match was fine, but nothing about it felt like it belonged in the main event slot. And I have no idea what they were going for with the Bucks cheating to get a leverage pin. Tony Schiavone acted stunned, while Taz just blew it off. The post match angle was really basic and the build to the Bucks vs. FTR continues to be disappointing. As much as I’m looking forward to seeing these teams work together again, I can’t believe that they are not leaning into the real life friction with some good mic work. Neither team has to go for the jugular with shoot comments, but even a made up story that plays into the friction would have been better than the mostly silent segments they’ve had thus far.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Jeff Hardy vs. Jeff Jarrett in a Texas Chain Saw Massacre death match: This was the worst thing I’ve seen on a pro wrestling show since zombies took part in a WWE match. No, the fact that AEW donated the money they received from the video game sponsor to charity does not make up for this nonsense. Don’t get me wrong, the donation is great, but a shitty segment is still a shitty segment. We’ve come to expect this type of occasional crap from WWE. AEW branded itself as an alternative with the promise of providing a more authentic product. This was the worst of sports entertainment, the dying days of WCW, and terrible TNA all rolled into one ridiculous match.
MJF and Adam Cole video: Bad comedy, including Tony Khan acting like a hard ass boss. You see, it’s funny because the real Tony Khan comes off like a complete pushover who has no control over his own locker room(s). Isn’t it hilarious? Yikes.
Britt Baker vs. The Bunny in a qualifier for the AEW Women’s Championship match at All In: A clunky match with a late superkick that missed by a mile. I’m still not sure why they felt they need to even have these predictable qualifying matches.
The Acclaimed and House of Black: I can’t be the only one who could have done without Max Caster’s hairy penis talk. Anyway, The Acclaimed carrying around the boots of Billy Gunn is corny. Worse yet, it was bizarre to watch Julia Hart pick up the boots, give them to Brody King, who handed them to Malakai Black, and then nothing actually happened. I’m sure Gunn will get a big pop whenever he returns, but this story and the AEW Trios Titles aren’t doing anything for this viewer.
Overall show: A frantically paced show filled with one beatdown angle after another. As was the case with Tuesday’s NXT show and all of its distraction and interference finishes, I’m not holding it against any one match in particular. But it was absurd to have so many heel beatdowns on the babyfaces on the same show. There’s no good reason why AEW couldn’t have started the build to All In sooner to avoid having to cram in as much as they did into the penultimate edition of Dynamite before the stadium show. This is the biggest show in the history of AEW and it should have had a unique build as opposed to the usual AEW approach of cramming most of the build into the last two weeks of television. Yes, I know polarized what abouters, WWE is taking a similar approach for Payback. It’s f’n Payback, not the biggest show in the history of the company. Furthermore, there will surely be fewer matches on Payback to promote, and they’re not trying to sell the show to a pay-per-view audience. I don’t know why Tony Khan has convinced himself that this late push formula is the only way to build to his pay-per-views. Yes, the company has been a big pay-per-view success, but perhaps they would be even more successful if he’d dare to take a different approach.