By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Swerve Strickland: The hard hitting promo on Hangman Page registered because Swerve’s jabs actually felt like fair criticisms. I didn’t include Page in the Hit because he ended up being nothing more than a punching bag. I was waiting for a fiery rebuttal from Page. Rather, he told Swerve to talk to management about getting his match and then just left the ring. Really? I hope this feud will bring out the best in Page because it’s been far too long since he was in a meaningful singles program.
MJF and Samoa Joe: An enjoyable verbal exchange. MJF’s fat jokes were underwhelming by his standards, but he and Joe had a good back and forth exchange that left me assuming that Joe will win the tournament to earn a title shot. MJF selling his neck as aggressively as he is makes him look like a vulnerable champion, yet will presumably play a role in whatever they are doing with him and Adam Cole going forward. Joe feels teflon in that we’ve seen him take two high profile losses to CM Punk over the last two months and yet he still doesn’t feel out of place in the world title picture.
Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara vs. “Aussie Open” Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis: My only issue with this match was the outcome. If the company is going to pull the trigger on a Jericho vs. Guevara feud, then why not have Jericho accidentally hitting his own partner lead to Aussie Open getting a needed win? Perhaps there’s a storyline reason and this will make more sense at some point. Either way, the actual match was enjoyable and Aussie Open continued their streak of having quality matches with every team they work with.
Jon Moxley vs. AR Fox for the AEW International Championship: First off, it was refreshing to see the post pay-per-view edition open with something other than a match. Orange Cassidy’s promo didn’t last long, but it was nice to open the show with something directly related to pay-per-view follow-up. The actual match was competitive without overstaying its welcome.
Roderick Strong vs. Trent Beretta in a Grand Slam tournament match: An enjoyable match and the right person went over. This is the most fun I’ve had watching Strong play a character. While Strong always been a terrific wrestler, mic work has never been one of his strengths. But he is thriving while playing Adam Cole’s over the top jealous friend.
Kris Statlander vs. Emi Sakura for the TBS Title: A solid showcase for Statlander. They kept the match brief and put Statlander over strong. There’s nothing wrong with keeping things simple.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Tournaments: Tony Khan loves tournaments and battle royals, and apparently we can add four-way women’s No. 1 contenders matches to the list. It’s bad enough that AEW has too many tournaments, but the thing that really gets me is that they are often for title shots and include wrestlers who don’t have any business being in title contention. What has anyone in the tournament not named Darby Allin or Samoa Joe done recently in the singles division to earn spots in this tournament? It comes off like the AEW creative forces think about what tournament matches would be fun with no regard for justifying why these characters belong in the championship mix. Ideally, AEW will start to book in a way where it feels logical when wrestlers are awarded title shots so they can get away from these repetitive booking crutches to determine their top contenders.
Darby Allin vs. Nick Wayne in a Grand Slam tournament match: Case in point, Nick Wayne has yet to win his first singles match in AEW, yet he was one of eight wrestlers selected for an opportunity to earn a title match? The actual match was well worked and Hit worthy. My issue with it is the decision to give away the first Allin vs. Wayne match without any build or fanfare. This feels like something they should have saved for somewhere down the road when Wayne is more over. On the bright side, I am enjoying the hell out of Christian Cage recruiting Wayne while working in insults about his late father and expressing interest in the kid’s mother. Cage’s promos are among the most see moments in all of pro wrestling.