By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Bryan Danielson vs. Swerve Strickland to become No. 1 contender to the TNT Championship: My favorite match from Tuesday’s head-to-head battle between AEW and NXT. But this really needs to be Swerve’s last loss for the foreseeable future. As much as AEW protects wrestlers through its booking, Swerve continues to take more clean losses than he should for a guy who feels like he should be on the rise.
Adam Copeland vs. Luchasaurus: A good start for Copeland in AEW. He didn’t enter the company and plow through one of its monster heels on night one. Rather, he sold for a good portion of the match and needed a belt shot to put the big man away. While AEW goes too far to protect wrestlers in some cases, a monster heel such as Luchasaurus should be protected. The big post match brawl was decent and served as an energetic way to close the show. That said, I am tired of watching the Blackpool Combat Club members drift back and forth between being babyfaces and heels. It continues to feel like Yuta is the only character who benefits from being in the faction, whereas the other three members would be better off on their own.
Jay White vs. Hangman Page: A very good match with a flat interference finish. There was simply too much outside interference on this episode, so while I get the idea that White is a heel and that Swerve Strickland got a measure of revenge, the fan frustration ends up being directed more at the company than the heels. But it really was a strong match until the finish, which wouldn’t have been so bad had there not been so much outside interference in other matches.
Saraya vs. Hikaru Shida for the AEW Women’s Championship: A crowd pleasing title change. Saraya’s title reign seemed to occur mostly because of the big Wembley Stadium show, and they really needed to get the title away from her since they can’t stop themselves from doing awful spray paint finishes. In this case, Shida kicking out after taking the spray paint to the face did receive great reaction. Shida is now a three-time champion and I couldn’t tell you anything about her character other than that she likes to carry around kendo sticks. She is a very good wrestler, but AEW really needs to find a way to showcase what her character is all about.
Rey Fenix vs. Orange Cassidy for the AEW International Championship: AEW waiting until the last minute to announce that Moxley had not been medically cleared was disappointing. I don’t really understand why they waited given that Cassidy is also among the more popular acts in the company, so it’s not like they would have taken a big ratings hit. The actual match was a Hit. They kept it brief and they delivered a crowd pleasing title change. I could have done without Fenix being protected via the injury. It’s okay to have a winner and a loser.
Powerhouse Hobbs vs. Chris Jericho: The biggest win of Hobbs’ career. It packed a punch to watch him dominate Jericho. I kept waiting for him to slip on a banana and end up taking a rollup loss, so it was a nice surprise when he actually pinned Jericho clean. The key is the follow-up for Hobbs, and there’s no way it should include Jericho getting his win back.
Toni Storm and cards: AEW did a great job of keeping things interesting during some of their picture-in-picture breaks. It’s a disconnect moment for this viewer when wrestling companies show matches during PIP breaks because I know that there’s very little chance of the match actually concluding and anything that’s truly relevant will be replayed coming out of the break. It’s easier to remain focused when they do something unconventional, as was the case with Storm’s movie and Don Callis and Konosuke Takeshita bringing back Sammy Guevara’s card gimmick.
Wardlow vs. Matt Sydal: A soft Hit for a repeat of last week’s Wardlow domination. He showed zero interest in playing to the fans before or after either match. It looks like he’s a heel now. He beat MJF in dominant fashion in a match that’s mostly forgotten because of MJF doing his best Brian Pillman, so perhaps the idea is that he’s upset that the fans have embraced MJF and is now out to take his championship.
Eddie Kingston vs. Minoru Suzuki for the ROH Championship and the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship: A soft Hit for the pre-show match. The more I see Kingston engage in these chop fest battles with NJPW talent, the less impactful it feels. But it was exactly the match that one would expect from these two and that seemed good enough for the live crowd.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Adam Cole and Roderick Strong: Another bad comedy video with Strong having the injured Cole mow his lawn while the able-bodied Matt Taven and Mike Bennett stood by. It’s making Cole look like a fool for agreeing to do these chores more than it’s actually comical. The MJF and Cole saga was the hottest thing in AEW and it’s quickly fizzled out. Cole’s injury (is he ever having surgery?) may have forced them to change plans, but I saw nothing coming out of the All Out pay-per-view that made me think they made the right decision to stretch out the storyline as opposed to paying it off at All In or All Out. I enjoyed the devil mask cliffhanger, but that’s because I thought the payoff was next. The only development we’ve had since that angle is MJF denying his involvement unless you count the all out weirdness with Max Caster that requires viewers to care about what happens on social media. Even if it’s somehow related, the pacing of this story is atrocious.
MJF and Juice Robinson angle: What were they thinking? This would have been a controversial angle to do during normal times, but it was just plain tasteless to do it while a war is being fought in Israel. I didn’t even make the connection while trying to keep up with my live review last night, but it was quickly pointed out to me by readers and multiple staff members. I am disappointed that I didn’t wake up to a public apology from Tony Khan this morning. People make mistakes. In this case, AEW should own it, apologize, and make a pledge to be better going forward. Rather, MJF is trying to justify it because it stems from his life story (see below). I don’t know MJF, but I suspect that his heart is in the right place. Perhaps he thinks this is the perfect time for a Jewish character to be the hero who puts the anti-Semetic villain in his place. I just know that the NXT show will be remembered for big appearances from main roster stars and legends, whereas this insensitive angle is the thing that most viewers will remember about this episode of Dynamite. I just don’t think the backlash to the initial angle and the hurt feelings it generated with some viewers is worth whatever comes next.
Muhammad Hassan was portraying an evil Muslim terrorist.
I’m actually Jewish. I’ve actually gone through this. This is my real life!!!!! MY STORY!
And I Look forward to giving Catharsis to every single person who’s ever been oppressed or bullied.
If you think I’d play with…
— Maxwell Jacob Friedman™️ (@The_MJF) October 11, 2023