By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
MJF and Adam Cole: The end is near. Or it least it better be. The bromance between MJF and Cole has been the best story that AEW has ever told. I wasn’t a big fan of a few of the comedic videos they produced, but their various in-ring segments have been terrific. I really hope they can stick the landing and that it occurs at All In. I understand the temptation of stretching this out because it’s performing so well in the ratings, but there’s no better place for the angle’s conclusion than at the company’s biggest event. And I believe they will do it on Sunday given that Roderick Strong stated that we’ll see the real Adam Cole and the real MJF at All In. My guess remains that Cole has been stringing MJF along from the start and will reform The Kingdom with Strong, Matt Taven, Mike Bennett, and perhaps even Britt Baker. Whether I’m right or wrong, I just hope they have something great in mind that will end this excellent story in a satisfying manner that sets up a heated feud between MJF and Cole.
Will Ospreay and Chris Jericho contract signing: If you only read a transcript of what these two actually said, then you’d probably think this was a poor go-home angle. The heel spoke about fighting to earn his young son’s school money, while the babyface spoke of crippling the heel. But the intensity exhibited by both men was off the charts and made this a strong go-home angle. It reminded me of some UFC press conference exchanges in that the back and forth dialogue is choppy because emotions are running high, yet the fighters display so much passion for the fight or venom for their opponent that it pulls you in.
Jon Moxley vs. Rey Fenix: A strong opener and my pick for best match of the night. It was great to see Santana and Ortiz return during the post match angle. I hope we hear from the Blackpool Combat Club members sometime between now and Sunday to explain why they feel confident in aligning with them after being burned by Pac and Konosuke Takeshita in the Anarchy in the Arena match. The injury angle with Fenix being taken out by a crowbar shot felt over the top and it didn’t help the cause that it was the latest key moment that the production team missed. Excalibur using a somber voice to sell the angle was more than he usually does in this situations, but I can’t believe they kept the daily fantasy sports ad in this slot. I laughed out loud listening to Excalibur read their copy while using the same somber voice.
The Elite brawl with Bullet Club Gold: They really needed to make the feud seem more heated heading into All In and they accomplished that with a good brawl. I continue to wish that Konosuke Takeshita was being showcased with dominant wins on a weekly basis. He’s slipped into the background and it seems like whenever see him he’s either part of a group attack or Kenny Omega is getting the better of him.
Darby Allin and Nick Wayne vs. Swerve Strickland and AR Fox in a tornado match: Really good action from start to finish. While I’m all for making Wayne look resilient, some of the moves he kicked out of were a bit much. The post match angle with Swerve and Prince Nana firing Fox from the Mogul Embassy faction came out of nowhere and yet worked out nicely. Christian Cage is an excellent replacement for Fox, who felt like the most likely candidate to take the loss in the original version of the match. Cage’s scathing promo on Wayne regarding his late father was ruthless. If the Wayne family doesn’t have a problem with Cage going heeling on the late Buddy Wayne, then neither do I.
“Aussie Open” Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis vs. Jeff Hardy and Matt Hardy for the ROH Tag Team Titles: A quality match. In facf, this is the best that the Hardys have looked since Jeff returned. Aussie Open going over didn’t pack much of a punch because we just saw the Hardys lose to the Young Bucks in a recent Dynamite main event. The post match angle involving MJF and Adam Cole was great. They had a quick moment with Aussie Open, and then wisely shifted the focus to their own issues.
Overall show: While I have some criticisms below, the good far outweighed the bad. This was a really good bounce back edition coming off of last week’s debacle of an episode. Most of the final segments heading into All In increased my interest in those matches and thus the overall event. And unless there’s more we don’t know about, Tony Khan coming off so dejected during his media call while talking about the All In lineup changes felt unwarranted in retrospect. I feel bad for Rey Fenix and AR Fox on a personal level for not being able to take part in the stadium show, but from a business standpoint, it’s not like they were in key money drawing positions on the card.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Ruby Soho vs. Skye Blue: This came off like Tony Khan feels obligated to have one women’s match on every Dynamite. The match was fine, but it didn’t play into anything related to All In. It felt like this match could have appeared on any random edition of AEW Rampage.
FTR and Young Bucks: Thank goodness their match sells itself because the build to their rubber match has been a huge disappointment. It primarily consisted of each team saying the other team’s name once, followed by FTR saving the Bucks so that both teams will be healthy on Sunday. I was hopeful that this sit-down segment would heat things up, but it felt lifeless and uninspired compared to the other All In match related segments.
The Acclaimed and the House of Black: The predictable storyline played out just as expected, with Daddy Ass returning just in time to set up a match for the needless AEW Trios Titles at All In. But wait, “Badass” Billy Gunn is back. Aside from his love of neon gear, I’m not even sure how Badass differs from Daddy Ass. On the bright side, The Acclaimed and Gunn remain one of the most popular acts with live crowds and I’m sure they’ll get a huge reaction at Wembley. I’m also curious to see how the crowd responds to Malakai Black, who came up on the UK independent scene as Tommy End.