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AEW Dynamite Breakdown: “I’m a top guy”

This week’s edition of AEW Dynamite featured two big title matches, and both were resounding successes. What else worked—or didn’t—on tonight’s show? 

HITS

MJF: “I’m a top guy”

This was the best promo of MJF’s young career. That may sound blasphemous to any MJF fans who saw his unbelievable Pinnacle debut promo, but it’s true.

The best heels in wrestling cut promos with some truth to them. That doesn’t mean MJF isn’t still a delusional megalomaniac, but some of what he says is convincing. The “he’s great for his age ” talk must be annoying; at what point do you become simply “great?”

Jericho has not brought his best to the table when cutting promos in recent weeks. As such, when MJF says that he’s better than this legend, it stings just a little bit more, because it might actually be true. When MJF snapped and fired up, his words had almost a touch of babyface flair. Eventually, though, he’ll turn, and he may just become the company’s top star.

Two great title matches, all featuring young stars

The first title match was Hikaru Shida defending the women’s title against Tay Conti, with the story being that it’s completely insane how good Conti looks after showing absolutely no progress in her three years with WWE. Conti felt like she belonged in there with Shida.

Tonight’s main event, Darby Allin vs. Jungle Boy, was even better, aside from some wacky outside brawling between Sting and Luchasaurus. Allin and Jungle Boy are preternaturally gifted at what they do. Nobody wrestles quite like Allin, and Jungle Boy has limitless potential. While the main event wasn’t quite a classic like Allin’s matches with Cody Rhodes and Brian Cage, it was still back-and-forth with a surprising amount of drama for a TV title match.

Of note here are the competitors’ youth: Shida is 32, Conti is 25, Allin is 28, and Jungle Boy is 23. These four should all become AEW staples eventually.

“Penta says . . . “

What a great act. Who knew that intense, out-of-his-mind Penta El Zero Miedo would find a perfect mouthpiece in the smarmy Alex Abrahantes?

There’s a surprising amount of utility to the catchphrase. It allows Penta to cut his own promos without relying on subtitles. It’s also heelish without appearing so right away. On paper, there’s no reason for this to come across as a heel move. But in practice, Abrahantes is just a little too excited to relay Penta’s messages of violence.

Penta has been stagnant for over a year now; perhaps this is the shot in the arm his character needs.

MISSES

Distractions, interference, and post-match beatdowns are a booking crutch

Please, stop! This is by far the worst part of AEW programming. There were six matches on tonight’s show, with two featuring a ton of interference leading to the finish. Guess which two matches are almost certainly going to be the most negatively received matches on the show?

There is no justification for why Penta can’t beat Trent clean, have Abrahantes cut the “your mom” promo after the match, and go from there. The HEAT of Penta’s geek manager cracking Trent with the microphone gets nobody other and devalues everyone involved.

Why did QT Marshall, the leader of the newest stable in the company, need help to defeat BILLY GUNN, of all people? It’s okay to let heels win matches without interference sometimes. That’s what gives them legitimacy as a threat!

The post-match beatdowns courtesy of Team Taz and Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky respectively furthered no storylines. But in doing so, they devalued the use of a beatdown or brawl later on. The Dynamite viewer, at this point, is conditioned to believe that none of that matters.

They’re missing the point of rankings and a win-loss record

Tonight’s show was pretty good, so this is just a general nitpick I have. Billy Gunn, tonight, was a perfect example of how the win-loss records in AEW have no value or weight to them.

On Gunn’s graphic ahead of the match, it was noted that Gunn was undefeated in his last 17 matches, yet he’s portrayed at the lowest possible rung of the pecking order. Do you see the issue here?

The whole point of tracking win-loss records is to differentiate the main event players from the midcarders from the jobbers. If everyone but Lee Johnson has a .500 record or better, it doesn’t mean anything. As a result, their rankings lose value and feel completely random outside of the top spot.

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