By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Samoa Joe vs. Roderick Strong in the Grand Slam tournament final: An enjoyable main event despite both wrestlers being slotted as heels. There was some sense of mystery regarding the outcome given that both wrestlers have issues with MJF. The post match angle with Strong blowing off the need for his neck brace only to fall to the mat as if he’d been shot when Adam Cole walked out was hilarious. This is the most entertaining Strong has been as a character. Joe choking out Cole at the end put the spotlight back on him heading into next week’s title match with MJF.
Jon Moxley vs. Big Bill for the AEW International Championship: This match got the show off to a strong start with hometown hero Moxley fighting off the believable big man. But Bill still desperately needs a better name and more creative attention. I was happy to see that the Bryan Danielson and Ricky Starks feud is still alive. But I’m not a fan of the tweener approach with the Blackpool Combat Club. Hell, I’m not a fan of the BCC even existing at this point because I think everyone other than Wheeler Yuta would be better off on their own. But if they are sticking around, then some sense of consistency would be nice. Danielson is a babyface when he works against Starks and seemingly a heel when he’s working against most others. Moxley changes with the wind. Castagnoli will presumably be a babyface when he teams with Danielson on Collision, but then he’ll be a heel when he faces Eddie Kingston next week.
Hangman Page vs. Brian Cage: A quality match with Page showing good fire on the heels of Swerve Strickland’s scathing promo from last week’s show. I consider it good news that they are saving Page vs. Strickland for the pay-per-view. It’s an appealing match that I want to see from start to finish (picture-in-picture breaks do nothing for me). It’s also encouraging that at least some of the build to the WrestleDream event is taking place more than two weeks out from the pay-per-view.
Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara: The segment had its flaws. For instance, the video package made me dislike both wrestlers. And Jericho claiming that their match would be one of the biggest of his career just doesn’t ring true. But they managed to do a good job of setting the table for their match by the time it was all said and done.
Darby Allin and Nick Wayne vs. Matt Menard and Angelo Parker: A brief showcase win for Allin and Wayne in an unadvertised match. Christian Cage’s sleazy lines regarding Wayne’s mother are laugh out loud funny, yet more importantly continue to generate good heat.
Toni Storm vs. Britt Baker vs. Hikaru Shida vs. Nyla Rose in a four-way for a shot at the AEW Women’s Championship at Grand Slam: A soft Hit. The match was nothing special, but the right person went over. Storm’s new persona is really fun and the fans are taking to it. But AEW has to stop setting up the majority of their title matches via tournaments, four-ways, battle royals, and open challenges. It’s okay to take those paths occasionally, but AEW has gone overboard. We just don’t see enough title matches come together because the challenger has put together an impressive run of wins and has earned the right to be considered number one contender.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Hype for Kris Statlander vs. Jade Cargill: The brief video package and the surprising announcement that their rematch will take place on AEW Rampage just wasn’t enough. It doesn’t matter if Cargill is truly WWE bound. This is a potential ratings draw for AEW and presumably a big spotlight match for the TBS Champion. But AEW didn’t even bother to run the match graphic again when Excalibur speed read through upcoming show lineups. AEW really should have made time to push this properly with promos from both wrestlers and repeated plugs throughout the night.