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AEW Dynamite Breakdown: MMA Cage Fight

This week’s edition of AEW Dynamite featured a first for the company: An MMA Cage Fight. I analyze whether that experiment was a success alongside the rest of the show on this week’s Dynamite Breakdown.


HITS

Jake Hager and Wardlow in the MMA Cage Fight

I loved this. It was so unique compared with much of what AEW usually does. Because the presentation was bright and legitimate, with an octagon and corner men, the match had a big fight feel. The little touches were genius, like the omniscient Taz on commentary and Jericho applying petroleum jelly to Hager’s face.

The match itself really couldn’t have been done much better. The MMA simulation came across better than many shoot-style matches because Hager and Wardlow eschewed the boring parts (laying down in holds) and added some much-needed spectacle (the off-the-cage Superman punch, the running hurricanrana), creating a full package of entertainment. Hager got a clean win, but that didn’t diminish Wardlow at all: the cage is Hager’s domain.

Brock Anderson’s debut

This is exactly how you set someone up for success. Leave Brock getting a clean pin out of it for a second. Everything before the match was crystal clear in making this all about Brock. He’s got the pedigree with Arn, he’s associated with a top star in Cody, and he’s going against a heel stable.

The match layout established that Brock is new, but he’s got all the potential in the world. He had flashes of brilliance, showing great athleticism and power alongside moments of indecision. And he slapped on a jackknife pin for the win against Solow, a member of the roster but one who is quite low on the totem pole: the most natural first step for a future star. Brock’s got something. Hopefully AEW follows up on it better than they did with Ogogo.

MISSES

The current direction of AEW’s women’s division

AEW is very clear in stating they’re not simply “an alternative to WWE,” they do their own thing. Well, when it comes to their women’s division, I’d prefer a clear goal of being an alternative to WWE than whatever they’re doing right now.

This goes beyond my skepticism regarding Britt Baker as I know I’m in the minority on that. Apparently, in AEW, there is only room for one women’s storyline at a time. Out of 20+ women on the roster, only two, Baker and Nyla Rose, are currently booked and busy. This is despite having big stars like Hikaru Shida, Riho, Tay Conti, and Serena Deeb. Speaking of Shida, where is she? She anchors your women’s division for a year and is rewarded with “we don’t have anything for you?”

Tonight’s token AEW women’s match was just a cheap setup for Miro vs. Brian Pillman. If that’s all AEW sees their women as being useful for, they’re no different than WWE.

Orange Cassidy and the Wingmen: A complete waste of time

This was the definition of TV time filler. Nothing of note happened in the match, it wasn’t entertaining, nothing developed, and everyone involved is worse off.

There was so much nonsense and BS going on here. Legitimately a half-dozen people interfered in the match, which is fine for a house show but doesn’t work live on TNT. The Wingmen are legitimately awful television, a “comedy” jobber stable that somehow is less funny than their opponents.

The worst part is that AEW clearly could have found *something* to fill that time. I just hate the idea that AEW is mostly punting on these pre-empted shows, which doesn’t make sense, because putting on a great show this week doesn’t preclude you from putting on a great show the following week.

Jungle Boy as a total geek

While last week’s Kenny Omega-Jungle Boy segment established the challenger as a cool, level-headed guy, this week’s established him as a dumb idiot who doesn’t watch the show.

Omega, just like last week, tries to goad Jungle Boy into attacking him. He even gives him a free shot. The cool babyface thing for Jungle Boy to do in that situation would be to walk away and say “I’ll just beat you in the ring.” But for some baffling reason, he’s booked to slowly get ready, unbutton his shirt, and hand Alex Marvez his phone, only to be whacked with a laptop by Michael Nakazawa.

Why would Jungle Boy ever feel like he’s safe around this crew, considering what they do? For that matter, why is Jungle Boy taking Omega up on the free punch? I didn’t get this segment at all, and it’s taken away some of my interest regarding their upcoming title match.

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