By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite Hits
Christian Cage vs. Adam Copeland for the TNT Championship: It would have been nice to have heard from both wrestlers throughout the show to help make the match feel bigger. The brief video package just wasn’t enough. But it was entertaining once the bell rang and they made the right call in keeping the title on Cage, even if it meant going with a wonky finish that that involved Bryce Remsburg selling a kick to the ball as if he’d been shot. Time stood still while Shayna Wayne acted conflicted, but I’m all for her joining Cage’s Patriarchy faction. The company has a great thing going with Cage and there was no reason to end it by having Copeland win the title on his first try. Copeland appears to be the most likely candidate to eventually take the title from Cage, but it will mean a lot more when it happens than it would have had he won the title in his first attempt.
Swerve Strickland vs. Mark Briscoe in a Continental Classic tournament match: An enjoyable match with Briscoe coming off like a wrestler who was doing everything he could to stay alive in the tournament. Going into the tournament, I didn’t expect Briscoe to win many matches and yet there’s something about him that makes him feel like a legitimate threat to pull off an upset against the top stars. Meanwhile, Swerve continues to strike me as the favorite to win the tournament and become the Triple Crown Champion. I hope the plan is to make him the face of the Collision show that is in desperate need of an identity.
Jon Moxley vs. Rush in a Continental Classic tournament match: An enjoyable physical battle. I’m not a fan of the wrestlers spending so much time at ringside, but at least Taz was there to explain that the referee was giving them a lot of leeway. The Moxley and Swerve backstage verbal exchange that occurred later in the show was brief, yet effective in terms of setting the table for next week’s match.
MJF attacked: As much as I was curious to see how the advertised match with MJF and Samoa Joe facing two of the Devil’s henchmen would go, the match being called off due to MJF being attacked was the much safer call. There was a risk that having two henchmen who are actually going to be part of the reveal work the match because viewers may have figured out their identities. And while they could have gone with two random wrestlers as surrogates, it still felt like it was going to be an awkward match without much upside. The Devil saga is generating interest. Who doesn’t love a good whodunnit mystery? The big question continues to be whether the reveal will be satisfying. Lord knows the AEW fanboy crowd will claim to love it even if the payoff sucks and the anti-AEW crowd will claim to hate it even if it’s the greatest reveal in the history of pro wrestling. The polarized fans make the most noise and yet they matter the least because they’ve dug their heels in. It’s all about pleasing the masses and I hope they can pull it off.
Continental Classic tournament presentation: The broadcast team has done a great job of consistently explaining the basics of the tournament along with some of the intricacies as it moves forward, and the company has provided frequent leaderboard updates. While I wish we heard more from the participants, AEW has succeeded in making the tournament feel important while making it easy to follow.
AEW Dynamite Misses
Toni Storm vs. Skye Blue for the AEW Women’s Title: They worked well together and produced a solid match, but the live crowd’s reaction was telling. The Montreal crowd was hot nearly everything other than this match. Sure, Storm had her share of vocal fans, yet it also seemed like there were a lot of fans who were sitting on their hands, and there wasn’t much support for Blue, who was meant to be the babyface. On the bright side, the post match angle with Riho returning was a pleasant surprise that did get a good reaction from the crowd.
Jay White vs. Jay Lethal in a Continental Classic tournament match: A soft Miss. This was a well worked match, yet it’s just really hard to invest in Lethal’s tournament matches because he continues to feel like the weak link. Don’t get me wrong, Lethal is a top notch wrestler, but they spent months making him out to be a joke along with the rest of Jeff Jarrett’s goof troop. I really wish they had done something before the tournament to reframe Lethal in some way. Perhaps he’ll still pick up an upset win in the tournament, but I continue to feel like they would have been better off giving his spot to someone else.