This week’s edition of AEW Dynamite was capped off by a thrilling, brutal hardcore match between “MDK” Nick Gage and Chris Jericho. With the rest of Fight For The Fallen stuffed with classic pro wrestling HEAT~, I broke down what worked and what didn’t.
Jericho’s Second Labor: Chris Jericho vs. Nick Gage
This was everything we could’ve hoped it’d be, and both did exactly what they needed to make this match work. Gage came in as the perfect wildcard to be thrown into the mix. Jericho, meanwhile, was the Painmaker, a campy and un-serious gimmick that doesn’t fit his age and pedigree.
But I loved that they didn’t hold back on the violence. I’m a self-professed deathmatch lover, so seeing light tubes and pizza cutters on national television warmed my heart. The storytelling here was classic, too. It wasn’t Jericho becoming a master of deathmatches that gave him the victory. It was him outsmarting the Deathmatch King and using those weapons and structures against him.
There was worry that the crowd wouldn’t know who Nick Gage was, though dueling “MDK” and “Painmaker” chants tonight put that idea to rest. Gage should absolutely be brought back at some point.
Hiroshi Tanahashi is here!
It’s hard to believe, but it’s actually been six months since KENTA showed up on Dynamite. This “Forbidden Door” stuff between AEW and NJPW has taken its time, but if there was any question about whether the two sides are fully committed, here’s your answer: NJPW legend Hiroshi Tanahashi, the company’s top star for over the last 15 years, got a promo segment on Dynamite.
The story looks like this: he will challenge Lance Archer for the IWGP United States championship. Then, assuming he wins, Jon Moxley will challenge Tanahashi, set up by a promo later on in the show.
I’m reserved about the AEW-NJPW relationship than some because I have no idea what it will look like. That said, I really couldn’t be more excited for Tanahashi showing up in a top American pro wrestling company.
Beating Hangman Page
As it stands right now, this is the most baffling booking decision in company history.
You’re AEW. You go through the trouble of building up this incredible babyface challenger in Hangman Page, with a perfectly natural story built in, only to . . . cut him off at his hottest?
I genuinely don’t get it. I have no idea where AEW goes for All Out at this point. If they have Page challenge anyway, then what was the point of all this? If it’s an upper card wrestler like Darby Allin or Christian Cage, how does extending the Page story-line an extra three months, with yet another challenger with no chance to win the title, make the company any better? And if it’s a major signing like Bryan Danielson or CM Punk, don’t you think a proper build would be best?
I’m fascinated to see what AEW does for All Out because they had the perfect build laid out in front of them, and they decided to deny it. Even if I had faith in AEW’s booking (hint: I don’t), I’d have a hard time giving them the benefit of the doubt. There are four more episodes of Dynamite until the pay-per-view, and there’s a lot of build that needs to be done.
More women’s division woes
A running joke I’ve been making on Twitter is that AEW’s women’s division is currently running a “disbandment” story-line. This has come from the fact that AEW has barely featured women at all in recent months.
Somehow, incredibly, that seems to have come true! Here was the extent of AEW’s women on tonight’s show. Their champion, Britt Baker, has a broken wrist, and cut a minute-long promo. Then, fresh signing Thunder Rosa won a terrible match against the awfully inexperienced Julia Hart. That’s it!
Next week is somehow even worse. Leyla Hirsch and the Bunny will face off in a top contender’s match for . . . the NWA women’s title. That’s right, two low card wrestlers will get the customary women’s spot next week for a title outside of AEW. The streak of not having Riho or Hikaru Shida or Tay Conti or Serena Deeb or Red Velvet on the show continues.