This week’s AEW Dynamite featured two big championship matches and appearances from Mike Tyson. Don Callis said last week’s big Young Bucks turn was “just the beginning of the story,” but for now, I’ll analyze AEW’s hits and misses from tonight.
The best Dynamite tag title match since the pandemic
The Young Bucks are now revitalized as heels. Despite all the criticisms I had (and still have) about the creative here, I still can’t deny how good in the ring they are. I bet that most Dynamite viewers have never seen their incredible PWG heel-work, since tonight’s tag title match gave me flashbacks to the old PWG HQ in Reseda.
Of course, it helps when you’re working against two of the best Western wrestlers out there in PAC and Rey Fénix. Both men, but particularly Fénix, were phenomenal in this match. He has established himself firmly as AEW’s in-ring MVP for the first half of 2021.
The match was everything you want out of a heel Bucks match, with all the crazy spots you’d expect, but instead of Matt Jackson getting selling his back for five minutes, we got the Bucks destroying their opponents. This morning, I desperately wanted a title change to happen. Now, I’m fine, as long as the Bucks hold the titles for months on end.
Jade Cargill vs. Red Velvet: Two superstars
These two are such incredible finds for AEW. Cargill is a cyborg, a six-foot tall machine with a perfectly sculpted physique and insane power and athleticism. Velvet, on the other hand, is a pro wrestling throwback, a smaller-sized babyface who overcomes her stature with great fire and intensity. Considering their combined experience, this was very good, and exactly what it should’ve been: Big moves and nonstop action. Cargill tossing Velvet around with ease made for great visuals. Once the contest was over, the only question I had was, “What’s next?”
The Inner Circle, the Pinnacle, and Mike Tyson creating great television
These is the type of segments AEW should be pursuing more often. Both Jericho and MJF got to briefly be themselves and speak, establishing themselves as the lead authorities for their groups. Tyson, meanwhile, came across like a major babyface, performing well in both promo segments and the Jericho vs. Harwood match itself.
Speaking of, Jericho vs. Harwood is how you book matches with shenanigans and interference. AEW relies on those two things as a crutch all the time, but it was done well here. The rules were clear: Guevara and Wheeler were to be the only seconds out there, and anyone else would have to answer to Tyson.
So once those rules were established, we just got a really fun match. We knew the Pinnacle would try to interfere, and the Inner Circle aren’t stupid, so they knew too. We also got our big Tyson punch moment and the right man won. Matches like this would stand out so beautifully from the rest of the show if interference was kept to a minimum.
The entire main event segment
Two weeks ago, I praised AEW for consistently delivering on their wacky hardcore matches like Arcade Anarchy and the Parking Lot Brawl. Darby Allin vs. Matt Hardy, unfortunately, was a miss.
The match itself was passable. We got a couple cool hardcore spots and a great Allin dive at the end, but that was it. Since AEW simply must have every single storyline get air time on every single show, we had: Private Party, The Butcher & The Blade, the entire Dark Order, Sting, Lance Archer, and most bafflingly, Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page all get involved. That’s almost twenty people!
And it’s not like any storylines were furthered. The Dark Order and Hardy Family Offices have no more heat between the other than they did last week. Sting and Archer still have this “frenemies” thing going on. And Sky and Page were treated like complete dorks, being dispatched by a solitary Sting.
The biggest criticism I have of AEW right now is that they spin in circles. Good storytelling gives the viewer an idea of what’s going to happen next. When the viewer is correct, they’re validated; when they’re wrong, they’re shocked. I have no indication as to what will happen next with any of the dozen-plus people involved in this main event angle. And with Double or Nothing only six weeks away, it’s time to get moving.
Taz is too good, but Christian Cage isn’t good enough right now
Let me explain. I felt as if the psychology of the Taz and Christian promo was completely backwards. Taz genuinely gave Christian an offer to join Team Taz last week, so even if he’s a heel, he should be frustrated that he hasn’t received an answer. And then, Christian doesn’t just turn him down, he insults him!
We got a back-and-forth that showed the gap between these two on the mic: Taz was fiery and likable, whereas Christian was stoic and patterned. Christian ends his promo by saying he’s here to win championships. But he’s been with the company for a month and a half now and has won one match, a fifteen-minute snoozer with Frankie Kazarian.
I like Christian as a performer, but he needs to step up his game if he’s going to be a main event player going forward.
Ricky Starks, Max Caster, and phony top-contender matches
This is a more mild criticism than the others, but I can’t stand when wrestling promotions insult their fans’ intelligence. Last week, Max Caster was inexplicably the #3-ranked singles competitor in all of All Elite Wrestling. This occurred despite Caster winning *one* singles match on Dynamite in his career, over glorified jobber Preston Vance.
The same thing happens next week. Hangman Page vs. Ricky Starks is being billed as a top contender’s match, but Starks’ track record is that of a consistent loser. I couldn’t believe my eyes when they told me he was on a 10-match win streak.
Starks has won zero singles matches and one tag match on Dynamite. No, defeating VSK and Jorel Nelson and Mike Verna do not count as big wins. So, don’t tell me Starks is a big star when he can’t beat anyone on the roster.