By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Orange Cassidy vs. Claudio Castagnoli for the AEW International Championship: A pay-per-view caliber match with a clean finish made for a hot start to the night. It was encouraging that the referee ejected Wheeler Yuta and Hook from ringside even though they never got physical or involved in the match. I hope it’s the start of an initiative to cut back or ideally eliminate all of the bad interference and distraction finishes that make the referees look like buffoons. The post match angle with Jon Moxley violently attacking Cassidy was an effective way to set up their rematch for Full Gear.
Opening recap video: This needs to become a feature on every AEW television show. The company has five hours of weekly television and the ratings show that fans are not watching it all. This is a simple way to help these viewers catch up on what they missed.
MJF searches for tag team partners: It wasn’t so much the content as much as it was the concept. Some of the backstage skits were better than others, but it was encouraging to see this play out throughout the course of the night. Ideally, this type of show-long angle will keep viewers engaged while they wait to see the payoff.
MJF, Max Caster, Anthony Bowens, and Billy Gunn vs. “Bullet Club Gold” Jay White, Juice Robinson, Austin Gunn, and Colten Gunn: While I get the arguments against having the world champion take a loss on television, I liked the way it was established that White’s finisher is enough to beat MJF clean heading into their title match at Full Gear. Obviously, the world champion shouldn’t lose often, but it packs a punch if it happens once or twice a year at most.
Hikaru Shida vs. Willow Nightingale for the AEW Women’s Championship: You had to turn your brain off to accept that Willow was given a title shot in her very next match after she came up short in a No. 1 contenders match. And while I also think they should have saved this match for a time when it could have received a real build, I did enjoy the bell to bell action. The post match angle with Skye Blue spraying blue mist at Julia Hart seems to suggest that House of Black’s mist is no longer effective. Here’s hoping this means the company is moving on from this evil mist nonsense once and for all.
Adam Copeland joins Sting and Darby Allin’s team: A simple angle with Cage going too far and pushing Copeland to join the babyface team at Full Gear.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Tony Khan’s important announcement: Any defense of this is either misguided or just plain disingenuous. Yes, All In is a huge event, but let’s not pretend that Khan didn’t know exactly what he was doing when he put out his latest big announcement tease. This was a cheap ratings ploy. Khan could have labeled it as an important announcement regarding All In and it would have been fine. Rather, he once again chose to raise the hopes of fans while knowing they would let their imaginations run wild only to be left feeling let down. And for what? Any one night ratings boost this latest announcement stunt generated just isn’t enough to justify pissing off the fan base and doing even more damage to his own credibility.
Hangman Page, Matt Jackson, and Nick Jackson vs. Toa Liona, Bishop Kaun, and Brian Cage for the ROH Six-Man Tag Titles: The match was fine, but I couldn’t care less about Ring of Honor or its titles. And what was the point of putting the titles on Page and the Jacksons, who never had a single match on the ROH on HonorClub streaming show after winning the titles? Matt’s petulant post match meltdown felt really over the top for a guy who lost meaningless titles, but hopefully the bitter Bucks will be more entertaining than what they’ve been doing since they reformed The Elite. That said, going back to infighting amongst The Elite members feels repetitive.
Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho vs. Matt Menard and Angelo Parker: They lost me when referee Aubrey Edwards stood and watched Menard hand Parker a baseball bat, which he then swung wildly at Jericho. We see referees step in and stop wrestlers from using weapons routinely, so this looked silly even though Jericho ducked the bat shot. The post match angle involving the Callis Family once again left me wondering why Konosuke Takeshita just stands around wearing a leather jacket when he should be following up his key wins by racking up victories on television. Will Powerhouse Hobbs end up doing something similar? It was really sad to see Paul Wight seemingly unable to stand up straight on the stage while he was announced for a match that is taking place in just two weeks. I admire Wight’s heart, but I really hope he gets through that match without doing more damage to his body.