By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite “Grand Slam” (Episode 207)
Queens, New York at Arthur Ashe Stadium
Aired live September 20, 2023 on TBS
[Hour One] The Dynamite opening aired. A shot of New York aired while Excalibur introduced the show. Pryo shot off on the stage while Excalibur noted that he was joined on commentary by Taz, Tony Schiavone, and Ian Riccaboni. The broadcast team was at ringside due to the bigger set.
A short aired of Claudio Castagnoli warming up with Wheeler Yuta in the back and then he made his entrance while ring announcer Justin Roberts handled the introductions. “Eddie” chants broke out and then Eddie Kingston was shown slapping hands with Penta El Zero Miedo and Alex Abrahantes backstage before he made his entrance…
1. ROH Champion Claudio Castagnoli (w/Wheeler Yuta) vs. NJPW Strong Openweight Champion Eddie Kingston for both titles. The “Eddie” chants continued as the match started. The action quickly spilled over to ringside where Castagnoli caught Kingston with a clothesline. Castagnoli eventually dumped Kingston on the ramp, which meets the top of the ring apron.
Back in the ring, Castagnoli performed a double stomp from the middle rope. Kingston avoided a splash from the ropes heading into a picture-in-picture commercial break. [C] Kingston battled back and fired chops at Castagnoli, who no-sold them despite having welts on his chest. Kingston dropped Castagnoli with a punch.
Both men stood in the middle of the ring and traded strikes. Castagnoli brushed off a chop and then blocked another before headbutting Kingston and covering him for a two count. Castagnoli went for a Ricola Bomb. Kingston countered into a rollup for a near fall, but then Castagnoli rolled him over for one of his own.
Castagnoli hit the Ricola Bomb, but Kingston kicked out at the last moment. The “Eddie” chants resumed. Excalibur said Castagnoli has defeated Kingston in ten of their 12 matches. Kingston fired up and caught Castagnoli with a spinning back fist and then hit the Northern Lights Bomb for a near fall.
Kingston tried to power up Castgnoli, who stuffed it and then hit Kingston with an uppercut. Kingston fired back with another spinning back fist and then performed another Northern Lights Bomb and got the 1-2-3.
NJPW Strong Openweight Champion Eddie Kingston defeated Claudio Castagnoli in 15:15 in a title vs. title match to win the ROH Championship.
After the match, Castagnoli offered Kingston a handshake. Kingston accepted it and then Castagnoli handed him the ROH Championship belt before leaving the ring with Yuta. Kingston looked into the hard camera and said thank you while the crowd cheered loudly…
Powell’s POV: A pay-per-view style match to open the show. The live crowd was red hot for New York native Kingston and both wrestlers came through with a strong match. That was fun. Ticket sales for this show were down compared to last year and the company offered a lot of discount deals leading up to the show. The sections we are seeing on television look mostly filled and the fans are loud, so it’s a really good atmosphere.
Footage aired from “last week” of Roderick Strong lying in a hospital bed with his neck brace and glasses on. A nurse tended to Strong while Mike Bennett and Matt Taven sat bedside. Adam Cole called out, which led to Strong’s trademark “Adam!” Strong was surprised that Cole visited him. Cole said of course he did. Taven and Bennett said they had to get to Grand Slam and made their exit. Cole told Strong that he also had to get going because of MJF’s title match with Samoa Joe. Strong gave Cole a guilt trip and then told him to just go…
Powell’s POV: If this was filmed last week as the graphic indicated, then just how much time did it take for Bennett, Taven, and Cole to get to New York?!?
The broadcast team hyped the AEW World Championship match and then said Chris Jericho vs. Sammy Guevara was up next… [C]
Renee Paquette interviewed Christian Cage and Luchasaurus. Cage said they would walk through Sting and Darby Allin on Rampage. He said he’s bored by Allin and is ready to move on from him. Cage proposed that Allin face him and Luchasaurus in a three-way for the TNT Championship on Saturday’s AEW Collision. Cage said that if Allin takes the match, Sting won’t be allowed at ringside. Cage said that if Allin accepted the “handicap, er, three-way match” then he’d have just as much chance of winning as the Yankees and Mets have of winning the World Series this year…
Chris Jericho made his “Judas” entrance while the fans sang along. The lights went out and then Guevara made his entrance wearing a vest with lights on it. Monteasy came out and rapped while Guevara headed to the ring…
2. Chris Jericho vs. Sammy Guevara. Jericho and Guevara shook hands to start the match. Jericho put Guevara down with a shoulder block. Guevara kipped up. Jericho slapped Guevara, who returned the favor. Guevara got the better of a chop exchange and put Jericho down with a dropkick. Jericho came back and posed over Guevara. Jericho reached down to gouge Guevara’s eyes, but Guevara saw it coming and rolled away to avoid it.
Jericho jumped from the second rope and went for a crossbody block on Guevara on the apron, but Jericho crashed and burned when Guevara moved. Guevara followed up with a flip dive. Back inside the ring, Jericho put Guevara down with a Code Breaker. Guevara ended up under the bottom rope to avoid being pinned. Jericho got Guevara back on the apron and then suplexed him to the floor heading into a PIP break. [C]
Guevara caught Jericho with a Codebreaker. Jericho ended up on the apron. Guevara knocked him off the apron and into the side of the broadcast table. Guevara went up top and moonsaulted onto Jericho on the floor. The broadcast team noted that Guevara came up holding his knee for a moment. Guevara let out a war cry and went for a springboard move, but Jericho caught him with a dropkick.
Guevara came right back and went up top and then hit Jericho with a cutter on the way down. Guevara covered Jericho for a two count. Jericho caught Guevara going for a move and put him in the Walls of Jericho. Guevara teased tapping, but he crawled toward the ropes. Jericho dragged Guevara back to the middle of the ring, but Guevara rolled out of the hold to break it.
Jericho brought Guevara to the ropes where they traded light punches. Guevara performed a cutter from the top rope and covered Jericho for a two count. Guevara went for a springboard moonsault, but Jericho put his knees up. Jericho performed a one-armed bulldog. Jericho followed up with a Lionsault and got a two count.
Guevara caught Jericho with a knee strike and then hit him with his GTH finisher. Guevara didn’t go for the pin. Rather, he went up top and went for a shooting star press, but Jericho caught him with a Codebreaker on the way down and pinned him.
Chris Jericho defeated Sammy Guevara in 16:10.
After the match, Jericho extended his hand. Guevara accepted the handshake and then hugged Jericho. Once the embrace ended, Guevara kicked Jericho in the balls. Guevara closed his eyes and tilted his head back. Don Callis made his entrance without music and joined Guevara in the ring. Callis put his arm around Guevara and then they left the ring together while Jericho sold the nut shot…
Powell’s POV: Another quality match. There were some awkward spots where Jericho was waiting to catch Guevara at ringside when Guevara went for top rope dives. Otherwise, it was a true back and forth match with neither wrestler staying on the offensive for long. The post match angle means Konosuke Takeshita is no longer an only child in the Callis Family. Guevara has turned too many times, but he’s always struck me as a natural heel.
Footage aired of MJF and Adam Cole arriving at the building in a sports car. When they got out of the car, MJF cut a promo on Samoa Joe. He said Joe was trying to take the AEW World Championship and hurt Cole. MJF said he would choke out Joe and the last thing he would hear would be MJF chants. “Because we’re better than you,” MJF said. MJF held up his fist, but Cole’s phone rang and he took an “emergency” call from Roderick Strong. MJF asked Cole if he would have his back. Cole said he would, but he said it was an emergency. “Roddy, you’re not gonna die, dude,” Cole said before exiting the picture. MJF looked into the camera and said, “Your ass is mine, Joe”… [C]
Backstage, Paquette approached Guevara and Callis and asked if Guevara is in the Callis Family. Callis cut her off and said all would be revealed on Rampage. As Guevara and Callis were walking, they encountered Daniel Garcia, who looked Guevara up and down. Guevara started to chip at Garcia, but Callis pulled Guevara away…
Entrances took place for the AEW International Championship match. Rey Fenix and Alex Abrahantes entered via the stage, and then Jon Moxley made his “Wild Thing” entrance through the crowd. Moxley went to the stage. Fenix joined him and fought him there. Fenix went Moxley off the ramp and down to the floor and then did a flip dive onto him.
3. Jon Moxley (w/Alex Abrahantes) vs. Rey Fenix for the AEW International Championship. Fenix rolled Moxley inside the ring and then referee Rick Knox called for the bell to start the match.
[Hour Two] Moxley battled back and sent Fenix into the ropes. Fenix tried to swing between the top and middle rope, but Moxley drilled him with a shot and then they went to ringside. Moxley chopped Fenix over the barricade. Fenix fought him off and then climbed onto the guardrail and walked until Moxley shoved him off. Moxley pulled Fenix onto the apron, flipped off the camera, and then performed a draping DDT on the floor.
Back in the ring, Moxley covered Fenix for a two count. They returned to ringside. Fenix draped Moxley over the barricade. Fenix returned to the ring and then dove from the top rope and hit the back of Moxley. Both men were down on the floor heading into a PIP break. [C] Footage aired from during the break of Moxley executing a Gotch style piledriver.
Both wrestlers stood on the ropes and fought. Fenix knocked Moxley to the mat with a headbutt and then double stomped him. A short time later, they fought on the ropes again. Fenix got the better of it and sent Moxley to the mat before hitting him with a springboard Swanton. Fenix followed up with an inverted piledriver and had the pin, but the referee stopped counting for reasons that only make sense to him. Fenix hit the move again and this time the referee made the three count.
Rey Fenix defeated Jon Moxley in 11:35 to win the AEW International Championship.
The trainer entered the ring and tended to Moxley while Fenix and Abrahantes celebrated the title change.
Powell’s POV: I’m not sure what happened with Rick Knox not making the three count. I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary with Moxley when he took either piledriver, so hopefully he was just selling. It’s hard to say because that style of piledriver looks brutal, but Fenix showed no concern and went right into celebration mode afterward. By the way, Ian Riccaboni was only on commentary for the first match, presumably because the ROH Championship was on the line. If it were my call (and it’s obviously not!), Riccaboni would be the voice of Dynamite.
Samoa Joe delivered a backstage promo and spoke about how MJF has held a grudge against him for over eight years. He told him to prepare to hold it longer because he will beat him in front of his own people… [C]
Excalibur said Moxley left the ring under his own power during the commercial break…
A video package promoted what seemed to be a Rampage four-way with Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Taven and Mike Bennett vs. Vincent and Dutch vs. Trent Beretta and Chuck Taylor for a shot at the ROH Tag Team Titles at WrestleDream…
Toni Storm made a black and white entrance and then Saraya’s entrance followed…
4. Saraya (w/Ruby Soho) vs. Toni Storm for the AEW Women’s Championship. Saraya slapped Storm a few times, which drew boos from the crowd. Storm smiled after the third slap and then fired back with chops to the chest of Saraya. Soho climbed onto the apron and was knocked off by Storm, who then turned into a superkick from Saraya.
A short time later, Storm ended up at ringside and went underneath the ring. Soho pulled Storm out. Storm had a shoe that she beat Soho with. When Storm returned to the ring, the referee took the shoe away. As the ref was clearing the shoe from the ring, Storm pulled out another shoe and hit Saraya with hit, which led to a two count heading into a PIP break. [C]
Saraya hit a sunset bomb for a two count during the break, which was replayed when they returned to full picture. Storm threw a series of punches at Saraya, which got a rise out of the crowd. Storm removed the bottom turnbuckle pad. The referee took it away. Storm picked up a spray paint can. Soho climbed onto the apron and took it away.
Saraya ended up with the spray paint cant and sprayed Storm’s face with it. Saraya put Storm down with a DDT and only got a two count. Saraya slammed Storm’s head on the top and middle turnbuckle, but she decided against slamming it onto the exposed lower turnbuckle. Saraya tried to kick Storm, who blocked it. Once they stood up, Storm kissed Saraya and hit her with Storm Zero, which led to only a near fall.
Storm placed Saraya in front of the exposed turnbuckle. Storm mouthed that she loved Saraya. Storm went for a hip attack. Saraya moved out of the way early and Storm still followed through. Saraya hit her DDT finisher and scored the pin…
Saraya defeated Toni Storm in 8:30 to retain the AEW Women’s Championship.
Powell’s POV: That finish looked really bad. Storm had plenty of time to see that Saraya moved and could have stopped. Storm’s backside didn’t even hit the exposed turnbuckle. Too bad. But the building would have popped huge had Storm pinned Saraya after that shoe spot. They definitely have something with this over the top Storm character. Meanwhile, Dot Net’s Jake Barnett reached out and said that Moxley’s head clearly hit the mat on both of Fenix’s piledrivers and it appeared as though Moxley’s neck was compressed. I’ll take another look after the show, but fortunately Moxley was able to leave the ring under his own power.
Excalibur ran through the Rampage Grand Slam lineup and added Mike Santana being in action along with the new four-way tag match for a shot at the ROH Tag Team Titles. He also added Julia Hart vs. Skye Blue…
Excalibur hyped the following matches for AEW Collision: Luchasaurus vs. Darby Allin vs. Christian Cage in a three-way for the TNT Championship, Andrade El Idolo vs. Jay White, Rob Van Dam in action, FTR vs. The Workhorsemen for the AEW Tag Titles, and Ricky Starks vs. Bryan Danielson in a Texas Death Match…
Excalibur announced the Swerve Strickland and Hangman Page contract signing for their WrestleDream match. He also ran through the WrestleDream lineup…
A video package aired on the main event and then Samoa Joe was shown walking backstage while security escorted him… [C]
Samoa Joe made his entrance with the ROH TV Title draped over his shoulder. A video aired with MJF walking through the back. A boy and his father watched him and the boy called out to MJF, who turned and gave him the scarf from around his neck. MJF whispered in the kid’s ear and then walked away. The kid asked his father if he was really adopted…
Powell’s POV: That was a fun spoof on the old “Mean” Joe Greene commercial for Coca-Cola. Normally, I’d say “Look it up, kids,” but here you go…
MJF made his entrance while an MJF logo with a New York Mets theme was on the big screen. MJF came out wearing a jacket that had the logos of the Mets, Bills, Giants, and Islanders. Schiavone let us know that Tony Khan (drink!) let him know that they would stick with the match as long as they needed to…
5. MJF vs. Samoa Joe for the AEW World Championship. Justin Roberts delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. MJF also wore Mets inspired gear. Joe took offensive control and put MJF down with a uranage slam. MJF sold his neck heading into a break. [C]
Joe sent for a Muscle Buster, but MJF slipped away and rolled him up for a two count. MJF sold neck pain as he threw short-arm clotheslines. MJF ran the ropes and right into a big lariat from Joe, who covered him for a near fall. Joe ripped MJF’s Mets themed t-shirt off and rubbed a piece of it on his groin.
MJF started to fire up and no-sold a headbutt and a forearm. MJF threw a series of punches at Joe and raked his back. MJF slammed Joe’s head on the top turnbuckle pad ten times, then mounted him and threw nine punches at him. Rather than follow through with ten, MJF bit Joe.
MJF signaled for the Kangaroo Kick, which got a rise out of the crowd. MJF threw the Kangaroo Kick at Joe, who was knocked out of the ring. MJF shook the ropes Ultimate Warrior style and then fell to the mat while selling neck pain. MJF got up and went for a suicide dive, but Joe caught him with a kick from the floor. Joe powered up MJF and dumped him on the apron with a Death Valley Driver. Joe knelt on the ringside floor and laughed.
Joe pulled a table out from underneath the ring and leaned it against the ringside barricade. Joe returned to the ring and then pulled MJF to the floor with him. Joe uranage slammed MJF through the table and laughed again. Joe threw MJF back inside the ring and covered him for a near fall.
Joe removed the ringside pad in front of the broadcast table. Joe set up for a piledriver, but MJF bit him. Joe came right back and executed the pildriver on the wood that was under the pad. Trainers rushed in to check on MJF. Joe scared off all of the trainers. Joe rolled MJF back inside the ring and covered him for another two count.
Joe picked up MJF and told him to give up. MJF spat in Joe’s face. Joe headbutted MJF, who then fell to the mat. Joe picked up MJF again and then charged him, but MJF flipped over him and hit a Liger Bomb for a near fall. Both men stayed down.
A short time later, Joe caught MJF in the Coquina Clutch. MJF pulled the referee in and then caught Joe with a low blow. MJF pulled out the Dynamite Diamond Ring. MJF tried to use it, but the referee caught him and took it away. Joe kicked MJF in the balls and then hit him with a Muscle Buster. Joe covered MJF for another near fall. Joe acted stunned over MJF kicking out of his finisher.
Joe put MJF in the Coquina Clutch again. MJF started to fade. Adam Cole ran to ringside and shouted encouragement to MJF, who came to life and got back to his feet. MJF bit Joe’s hand to break the hold and then rolled him up for a two count.
[Overrun] MJF applied a sleeper hold of his own, but Joe shoved him into the corner. Referee Paul Turner dove out the ring to avoid being hit by Joe and MJF and stayed down. As a trainer checked on the ref, Cole distracted Joe. MJF used some of his wrist tape to choke Joe with, then put him in a sleeper hold. The referee returned and checked on Joe before calling for the bell.
MJF defeated Samoa Joe in 18:40 to retain the AEW World Championship.
After the match, Joe woke up and shoved Cole. MJF got between Joe and Cole while selling neck pain. Joe offered MJF his hand. MJF looked at it and then looked to the crowd. MJF accepted it and then Joe shook his hand and left the ring without further incident.
Cole held up MJF’s arm. Cole was noticeably limping. A trainer entered the ring and checked on MJF, who went back to selling his neck. MJF sat on the mat and held up his title belt and then the trainer and the referee helped him to his feet. MJF and Cole held up their title belts. MJF kissed Cole on the cheek. Excalibur ran through the Rampage lineup. MJF posed on the ropes with his title belt while Cole applauded…
Powell’s POV: Man, those trainers got a workout tonight. The main event delivered. Joe plays the remorseless badass so well, but I actually like that he shook MJF’s hand afterward. The feud was over the lack of respect that Joe showed MJF when he shoved him in NXT, and now MJF has earned his respect.
By the way, I watched it back and Cole actually appeared to hurt his knee when he ran to the ring and jumped off the ramp to the ringside floor. He fell down and then got right up and limped over to his spot opposite the stage. As with Moxley, here’s hoping it’s nothing major for Cole.
Overall, a great show. I get on AEW for going overboard with “matches, matches, and more matches” too often. But that’s exactly what this show needed to be and was. It was similar to watching a pay-per-view on television and the crowd provided a really good atmosphere. Why don’t they go with a three-hour Dynamite and a single hour of Rampage for Grand Slam week?