By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
MJF vs. Juice Robinson for the Dynamite Diamond Ring: MJF brought the level of intensity that was fitting for this program. As silly as MJF winning the ring year after year has become, he absolutely had to beat Robinson after the abandoned and yet not forgotten quarters storyline. There was way too much happening after the match before we eventually got to the angle that set up MJF vs. Kenny Omega for AEW Collision. It’s a big match and it feels like AEW needed to do something to generate some buzz, but I wish they would have worked hard to push the match as a major happening throughout the remainder of the night. It’s a pay-per-view main event worthy match and it should have been treated as a major happening that it’s being given away on Collision.
Bryan Danielson and Claudio Castagnoli vs. Kazuchika Okada and Orange Cassidy: A strong main event with a mildly surprising outcome. I thought we would see Okada get the pin for his team since he was on loan from NJPW, but I like the idea of having Castagnoli beat Cassidy to set up next week’s AEW International Championship match. The only negative is that Danielson injury tease took the life out of the live crowd and made for an awkward close to the show.
Sting, Ric Flair, and Christian Cage segment: I can’t blame anyone who has no interest in seeing Flair coming out of the Dark Side of the Ring episode, but the live crowd’s favorable reaction suggests that the masses are still onboard with him. Framing Flair as Tony Khan’s gift to Sting was downright strange, but I get the feeling that Khan really wants to remind viewers that he’s the man behind the curtain. He needs you to know that he’s the person giving you dream matches, bonus television time, and big surprises such as Flair. It’s Khan’s company and he can do what he wants, but it’s a bit much and you’d think he’d be over hearing his name on television by now. Anyway, Cage heeling on Flair was great and I like the story of Sting trying to convince Adam Copeland to change his stance on facing Cage. Will Sting succeed? Even if he does, will Copeland turn and align with his longtime friend?
Wardlow promo: Wardlow offered a logical explanation for his character’s new coldhearted approach. It makes storyline sense that he would be bothered by MJF’s success and even more so the way the fans have embraced him. Wardlow destroyed MJF in their only meeting and it felt odd that he didn’t show any interest in the AEW World Championship after MJF won the belt, so it’s good to see him take this logical path.
Chris Jericho sit-down interview: A good promo segment with Jericho offering no excuses for taking a clean loss to Powerhouse Hobbs. The tease for Jericho calling friends who are even bigger than Hobbs left me wondering if Paul Wight is returning to the ring or if they have someone else in mind.
Rob Van Dam and Hook vs. Alex Reynolds and John Silver: A crowd pleasing Philadelphia return for RVD. Hook logically did the selling for his team, so it was a nice idea to go with a finish that let fans see RVD hit his finisher before Hook was spotlighted by getting the submission win for his team.
Hangman Page, Matt Jackson, and Nick Jackson vs. Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, and Brother Zay for the ROH Six-Man Tag Team Titles: A minor Hit for a match that won over the live crowd. I’m not a fan Zay’s playing a Hardy fanboy, but he did a really nice job of doing the heavy lifting for his team.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Hikaru Shida vs. Ruby Soho for the AEW Women’s Championship: A rough match, which is surprising given that it featured two veterans. The spray paint spots continue to be lousy and the crowd didn’t even offer up much of a reaction when Shida used her title belt to shield herself from the spay paint.
Swerve Strickland breaks into Hangman Page’s home: The tone of the segment was just too dark for my taste. It always feels too far fetched when wrestlers break into the homes of other wrestlers and face no punishment whatsoever. On the bright side, Swerve’s performance was strong and I like that they made an effort to make it visually realistic by using a single camera that Swerve and Prince Nana brought with them.
Devil Mask: It’s good that they are reminding viewers of the devil mask angle, they really need to move this story forward.