By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Christian Cage and Adam Copeland: Cage’s ploy to convince Copeland that he was sorry for his behavior was perfectly done. It’s so frustrating when babyfaces are put in these positions and have to act like the only people in the building gullible enough to believe the heel. Copeland never bought in despite the Cage character’s best efforts to play on their past and even Copeland’s late mother’s desire to see them reform their tag team. Copeland’s character was far too nonchalant regarding Cage’s actions when Copeland joined the company and wanted to reform their team, but he’s making up for that now.
Swerve Strickland vs. Jay White in a Continental Classic tournament Gold League match: An enjoyable heel vs. heel main event. As heinous as Swerve’s actions have been, I hope company officials are working toward making him a top babyface. Many fans cheer for him regardless of what he does, and it feels like those who root against him just need to be given a reason to rally behind him. If they do move in that direction, the key would be to change very little about his act. Swerve is an anti-hero and the last thing he should do is turn him into a smiling babyface.
Mark Briscoe vs. Rush in a Continental Classic tournament Gold League match: A really physical match with a fairly predictable outcome. But taking the predictable path wasn’t a negative in this case, as Rush feels like more of a player in the tournament than Briscoe does, and he needed this win to earn his first points. Meanwhile, the broadcast team continued to do an effective job of explaining the basics of the round robin format. I’m surprised that AEW hasn’t released a full schedule of tournament matches, as that would give them a chance to promote those matches in the various host cities.
MJF promo: It packed a punch when the insult spewing MJF did a 180 by putting over Samoa Joe in a big way. The only line I didn’t care for was when MJF said that Joe was never afforded the opportunity to be a world champion in WWE. In the storyline universe, wrestlers earn championships by winning title matches, and Joe’s character simply came up short in many title matches. But the rest of the promo was really effective and they are on a good path toward the Worlds End main event.
Jon Moxley vs. Jay Lethal in a Continental Classic tournament Gold League match: A fine opening match carried by Moxley’s star power. Lethal continues to feel like the weak link of the tournament. Lethal can always be counted on to have a good match, but he spent so much time with Jeff Jarrett and their wacky crew that it’s hard to take him seriously.
Dante Martin, Darius Martin, and Action Andretti vs. Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, and Brother Zay: A nice comeback for Dante in his hometown. It’s a shame that AEW didn’t document his recovery from the gruesome ankle injury. It’s amazing that he’s back in the ring and they missed out on an opportunity to make his triumphant return feel much bigger. Nevertheless, I’m happy he’s back, and I really liked the simple and effective way that Penta El Zero Miedo set up the next trios match during their backstage segment.
Wardlow vs. AR Fox: A quick win for Wardlow over an actual roster member as opposed to the local enhancement talent that he’s been destroying.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Devil Mask crew: The four guys who went after MJF looked and came off like hapless lackeys, and being aligned with scrubs makes the Devil Mask character look weak by association. I like that AEW attempted to explain that the Devil Mask character has somehow tapped into the lighting and broadcast system. Yet while AEW is taking that step to make the segments feel realistic, they also continue to frame Devil Mask’s allies as meaningless henchmen when they shouldn’t have any clue about their identities or level of importance. I suppose this is their way of telling viewers to focus on the Devil Mask because his sidekicks are nobodies.
Julia Hart vs. Emi Sakura for the TBS Championship with House Rules: A soft Miss. Hart’s homecoming match was solid until whatever happened when Sakura rolled over while Hart was executing the moonsault that finished the match. I’m also not sure what Sakura has done to earn a title shot. Sure, she’s won some ROH matches, but she hasn’t won a match on AEW “television” since AEW Dark Elevation was still a thing.
Censor failure: As much as I got a kick out of Copeland telling Cage to go f— himself, the failure to actually censor the line is a negative for the company regardless of whether AEW or the network is at fault. Excessive blood and the f-bombs play to AEW’s adult male base, but it’s also limiting, as it’s something that will make parents think twice about allowing their children to watch or attend shows. I’m not suggesting that AEW has to be a firm PG product, but I think they would be wise to make themselves more family friendly than they currently are.