Powell’s AEW Hit List: MJF vs. Rush, Swerve Strickland and Will Ospreay, Claudio Castagnoli vs. Pac and Kris Statlander vs. Nyla Rose in Owen Hart Cup tournament matches

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

AEW Dynamite Hits

MJF vs. Rush: An pay-per-view caliber match with a clean finish. This was a great way to open the show. It was surprising to see MJF go over strong, as I thought this might be the first match of a program between the two. There’s been a lot of speculation that CMLL would object to Rush working the Forbidden Door show. If that’s truly the case, it’s absurd that AEW bends over backwards to please a promotion that isn’t helping AEW’s television ratings and at best helps move some tickets in select markets. What is AEW actually getting out of this partnership? Great, they have access to CMLL wrestlers when Tony Khan already has far more wrestlers under AEW contract than he knows what to do with.

Swerve Strickland and Will Ospreay verbal exchange: The show peaked with the opening match and this segment. Swerve and Ospreay had a strong back and forth verbal exchange that added more tension heading into their AEW World Championship match at Forbidden Door. It’s hard to say what Swerve was going for when he spoke about his non-wrestling endeavors, as that’s typically not what fans want to hear from a babyface champion. Swerve’s dropping the names of Ospreay’s wife and son to rile him up was effective. Ospreay did a really nice job of flipping the switch and showing anger once Swerve chose to make things personal.

Pac vs. Claudio Castagnoli in an Owen Hart Cup tournament match: A good match that actually felt a little out of place in the main event slot. Pac and Castagnoli are tremendous pro wrestlers, but they have not been positioned as main event singles stars in AEW. That said, putting this match in the main event slot was the most effective thing the company did on this show when it came to making the tournament feel important.

Toni Storm and Mina Shirakawa contract signing: A fun exchange between the charismatic Shirakawa and the AEW Women’s Champion. The attack by Saraya, Harley Cameron, and Anna Jay fell flat, but it set up next week’s the six-woman tag match.

Mark Briscoe, Kyle O’Reilly, Orange Cassidy, and Dante Martin vs. Kyle Fletcher, Konosuke Takeshita, Zack Sabre Jr., and Roderick Strong: A soft Hit. If you’re a fan who is just looking for action, then this was the match for you. And this type of match will always get a rise out of live crowds. But there was a disconnect for this viewer because there was nothing at stake and it didn’t feel like the outcome mattered in any way.

Kris Statlander vs. Nyla Rose in an Owen Hart Cup tournament match: A soft Hit for a solid first-round match. It really should have felt bigger given Rose’s status as a former AEW Women’s Champion, but she hasn’t been booked in anything meaningful for a long time, so there was zero mystery regarding the outcome.

AEW Dynamite Misses

Owen Hart Cup tournament brackets: The blink and you missed it unveiling of the brackets is another case of the company struggling to make things feel special. While I could be way off, my first reaction was that Bryan Danielson and Mariah May will win the tournaments. The wild card spot on the men’s side could shake things up. AEW holds so many tournaments and yet they never load them up with the top stars. This year’s tournament gives the winners shots at the world titles at the company’s biggest event of the year. Apparently, none of the secondary singles champions nor former world champions such as Jon Moxley, MJF, Samoa Joe, or Chris Jericho have any interest in competing for a shot at the championship at the company’s biggest event. Rey Fenix just lost to Will Ospreay and yet he’s included in the tournament? On the women’s side, I remain baffled by the decision to keep Athena behind the ROH paywall, and I’m starting to wonder if Jamie Hayter and Britt Baker will ever return. The bracket lineups are solid, but the company really should have went all out to make them great.

AEW Tag Team Champions “The Young Bucks” Matthew Jackson and Nicholas Jackson vs. “The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Anthony Bowens in an eliminator match: AEW has booked so many predictable eliminator matches with the champions going over. They finally booked challengers to win and yet somehow it felt just as predictable. Furthermore, it came off like Bowens pulled off a minor miracle by winning the match despite working through a quad injury. It didn’t come off like The Acclaimed have momentum and will win the title match as much as it felt like the Bowens’ injury is now worse than it was going into the match and will cost The Acclaimed when the title are on the line.

MJF vs. Hechicero announced for Forbidden Door: Meh. Yes, Hechicero is a very good wrestler and they should have a quality match together. But this feels completely random and like something one might expect to see on Collision rather than pay-per-view. Putting Hechicero in a faction with Brian Cage, Bishop Kaun, and Toa Liona defines him down. It’s a shame because I really dig the Kaun and Liona tag team, but Cage, Kaun, and Liona have lost every meaningful match they’ve had on AEW television.


Readers Comments (5)

  1. Nice audio review last night and a nice hit list today, Powell-a-mino.

    MJF previously said he would be paired with a random guy from Japan or Mexican at FD. I didn’t realize just how correct he would be.

    Could Ospreay maybe dress up a little more than the shirt and sweatpants when in a program for the world title? I know being a hooligan is his character, etc, but we still need him to look like a star sometimes, Bruv.

  2. The women’s division is a disaster and all of that Toni Storm stuff jumped the shark some time ago. It’s terrible. This is actually the one area of the promotion I would rather see focus on match quality and less on bad early 2000s stories.

    MJF is arguably their top guy (yeah you can make an argument for WO) why is he not coming back as a bigger deal and instead is wrestling random matches. At the least he should just destroy Adam Coles awful faction over a couple of weeks and then be in the mix for the main title

    Speaking of the main title wasn’t Joe champ just a little while ago and now he is in a lower mid tag team with Hook? Shouldn’t Joes character be upset for at least a while he lost the title to Swerve?

    More examples of how “putting on fantasy matches” takes precedent over cohesive storytelling.

    One more question. Exactly how many tournaments is AEW running simultaneously?

  3. Another list of “hits” that each has a negative-type comment, but we’ll just pretend that’s not happening every week with AEW hits.
    Even though it happens every….single….week.

    BTW, Swerve gets a crowd reaction live out of the “WHO”S HOUSE” say-along, and….that’s it. I understand why we are “supposed” (almost “required” to nowadays) to think otherwise, but facts are facts.

    • Cry more, Angry Mike. Raw was great this week. I gave it an A- and didn’t have many quibbles. Dynamite was solid and I offered my usual constructive criticism. Keep on bitching, Angry Mike, you creepy polarized weirdo.

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