By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Grand Slam Dynamite Hits
MJF vs. Samoa Joe for the AEW World Championship: A terrific television main event. Joe was a dominant badass while MJF looked resilient and even sympathetic by fighting through his neck injury. I’m happy that MJF’s proclamation that he would choke out Joe didn’t lead to the usual Dynamite Diamond Ring shot. That said, I’m over MJF calling his shot. It was fun when he did it for his Full Gear match with Darby Allin in 2021 because it didn’t feel like a slam dunk that he would actually make good on that claim. But now it feels like a needless pre-match spoiler. Of course, he could eventually be wrong, but I’d rather not have the outcome of future title matches spoiled in this manner. Again, though, this was a heck of a match and it had to be a special night for both men to be in the main event in the New York market. Here’s hoping that Adam Cole simply tweaked something when he jumped from the stage. Losing Cole for a substantial amount of time while he’s in the midst of his brochaco run with MJF would be a huge blow for him and the company.
Claudio Castagnoli vs. Eddie Kingston for the ROH and NJPW Strong titles: As much as I rolled my eyes at the story that this feud started because Castagnoli didn’t put over Kingston in Chikara before he went to WWE, the charisma of Kingston was enough to keep me engaged in their feud. And they saved the best for last by producing a hell of an opening match that saw Kingston get a crowd pleasing win in his native New York. At some point, I really hope we see Kingston challenge for the AEW World Championship at a Grand Slam event.
Chris Jericho vs. Sammy Guevara: Was it a lack of communication or an intentional theme that saw this match and the two matches listed above it conclude with handshakes? Either way, I enjoyed the back and forth nature of this match. Neither wrestler was in offensive control for a significant amount of time and therefore it felt like a battle that either wrestler could have won. The post match angle with Guevara kicking Jericho in the balls (just as Jericho did to Shawn Michaels back in the day) means Konosuke Takeshita is no longer an only child in the Don Callis Family. But I hope they give us an explanation for why the heels didn’t conspire in a way that led to Guevara actually winning the match as opposed to waiting until it was over to reveal their alliance.
Saraya vs. Toni Storm for the AEW Women’s Championship: More of an in the middle than a Hit or a Miss. The finish of the match looked downright awful. Storm could clearly see Saraya rolling out of the way before she turned for her hip attack in the corner. And then Storm sold hitting the exposed turnbuckle even though her backside clearly went between the lower and middle turnbuckle. But the body of the match seemed to click with the live crowd. In fact, the fans would have popped huge had Storm pinned Saraya after hitting her with the shoe. Storm really has something with this character. Only time will tell whether it has staying power, but it’s a lot of fun in the moment and the fans are embracing it.
Overall Show: For all the talk about the low ticket sales, the venue actually looked good on television. It was not nearly as impressive as when they packed the venue for the first Grand Slam, but it still looked like a good crowd and the fans created a fun atmosphere. I enjoyed the pay-per-view style format with five matches that were given time without lot a lot in between. As someone who enjoys a good mix of wrestling, angles, and promos, that’s not what I’m looking for on a weekly basis, but it is the right approach to take for a special edition. I’m surprised that the Grand Slam show isn’t a special three-hour live edition of Dynamite with a standard one-hour edition of Rampage airing on Friday night. I’m no fan of weekly three-hour shows (God help us with Smackdown moving to USA Network next year), but AEW would surely do better numbers by having a third live hour in prime time once a year compared to what they will draw for the bonus late night hour of Rampage.
AEW Grand Slam Dynamite Hits
Jon Moxley vs. Rey Fenix for the AEW International Championship: Given the belief that Moxley was concussed while taking a pre-match dive at ringside, they actually produced a good match. But the fact that the broadcast team called out Moxley for being glassy-eyed and yet the match was allowed to continue raises some obvious questions. And there may be acceptable answers, specifically if those in charge of watching for things of that nature simply believed that Moxley was selling. But between the concussion and referee Rick Knox failing to end the match at the right time, this turned out to be a mess. Most importantly, here’s wishing Moxley the best. While the description of this being a “minor concussion” is encouraging, there’s no way of knowing how this will affect him or how long it will take for him to recover. One can only hope that he will err on the side of caution and take that long awaited and deserved vacation.