Our first edition of AEW Dynamite outside of Daily’s Place since March of last year was this Road Rager special. There were quite a few big moments and announcements, highlighted by a phenomenal debut. While Malakai Black will be the major story, I broke down all the hits and misses from the rest of Road Rager.
Malakai Black’s debut
“Simple, but effective” is the only real way to describe it: Malakai Black,the former Aleister Black & Tommy End, debuted in a big way, practically killing Arn Anderson and Cody Rhodes with his Black Mass spinning heel kick and looking like a crazed monster in doing so. The segment immediately made me excited to see what was coming next. Black was intense, and he put his all into making his moment as hot as possible.
I’ll go more in-depth on why Black’s debut was almost frustratingly good later in this breakdown. But Black is somebody who WWE at one point had WrestleMania main event-caliber expectations for. He has a chance to live up to that in AEW.
Kenny Omega and Hangman Page face off
This is the biggest possible program AEW can put on right now, and they’re telling the story perfectly. I love that this week’s segment built on last week’s in a completely natural way. Omega and Callis are being wacky, Evil Uno and the Dark Order interrupt, and Omega dismisses them – except this time, Omega punts Uno and his lackeys attack the Dark Order, resulting in Page running out to save the day.
The Buckshot Lariat tease was beautiful. Whatever crowd is fortunate enough to see the moment when Page finally hits it will come completely unglued. Page should (and probably will) challenge at All Out and win the AEW World Championship.
Side-note: When did Evil Uno get this good? He exudes confidence out there, despite his completely unintimidating stature and wacky presentation. Brodie Lee’s death left a gargantuan hole at the top of the Dark Order; Evil Uno has somehow filled that gap admirably.
Strong wrestling to open and close the show
AEW’s first match on the road was a four-corner strap match between Cody Rhodes and QT Marshall. I’m always skeptical of that stipulation, but thankfully these two put together one of the better editions of that match style I can remember. The power outage tease threatened to take the crowd out of it, but Cody’s fiery comeback pulled everyone back in. The “One, two, three, four!” to close the match was as loud as I’ve heard a wrestling crowd since the start of the pandemic.
While the Young Bucks vs. Eddie Kingston and Penta El Zero Miedo wasn’t the blow-away barn burner I expected, it was still an eminently enjoyable and chaotic street fight from start to finish. These four are pros at stunt work at this point. At a certain point, there’s diminishing returns with “The Good Brothers interfere but are chased off by Frankie Kazarian,” but the Bucks are good enough that they make it fun every time.
At its core, AEW is a professional wrestling show. Great matches are all I really ask for out of the company.
AEW’s women’s division
Here’s the weekly AEW women’s division report:
– Britt Baker promo
– Kris Statlander hit a 450 splash on the Blade
It’s not enough. Do better. You have a month’s access to Yuka Sakazaki starting this week. Use it wisely.
Andrade El Idolo’s in-ring debut
Compare Malakai Black’s debut with Andrade El Idolo’s, who has now been with AEW for a month. AEW bafflingly associated Andrade with Vickie Guerrero, leading to an underwhelming first appearance. He didn’t even have music! After a couple weeks of forced English promos, Andrade then goes 50/50 with Matt Sydal, who has never won on Dynamite? Shouldn’t he be a top star?
Andrade immediately feels like just another guy in the company. For someone who’s been a top draw in Mexico, Japan, and the United States, that’s disappointing. He feels no more valuable or essential than when he was being used his last main roster run in WWE.