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AEW Dynamite Breakdown: Texas Deathmatch

The second night AEW’s Fyter Fest on Dynamite featured big title matches, debuts, and storyline advancements. Here’s what worked and what didn’t.


HITS

Jon Moxley vs. Lance Archer: Texas Deathmatch

After two excellent shows with fans, I thought tonight’s show lagged at points, especially in that middle hour. However, this main event between Moxley and Archer was phenomenal, and the perfect way to end the show.

Something that AEW does that other companies like WWE should do is actually call back to past interactions and booking. Getting a highlight reel of their two prior title matches was excellent hype, and the various callbacks therein (the “Texas deathmatch” stipulation, the inverted finish with the tables, etc.) made it feel like it was part of a long term story, and not in the sense that these two had to melodramatically emote at each other in drawn-out promo segments, but in the sense that these two are on differing career paths that happen to cross every once in a while.

The match itself was a ton of fun, and it was appropriately violent as the stipulation called for. Archer had a nasty gusher, and I can’t remember him bleeding that much in AEW yet. Using a fan as a weapon was something only Archer could pull off.

Finally, Archer’s presence as a hometown here somehow made a crowd actually turn on Jon Moxley, meaning the finish of Archer regaining the title was a powerful moment. The match itself was a spectacle, but the way we got there was as simple as pro wrestling storytelling gets.

Chris Jericho’s first and second “labors”

I thought Jericho’s match against Spears was booked perfectly. It would have been overwrought to have him struggle mightily to beat Spears, even with the stipulation, so putting Jericho over decisively worked. The match was enjoyable and the crowd was 100% behind Jericho.

MJF’s announcement after the match was a major shock. I don’t think anyone had Nick Gage pegged as the next guy in line for Jericho, but man, the place went crazy for his entrance. I considered giving this part a “miss” because it’s going to be tough to get a crowd to boo a debuting Gage, but Jericho’s intelligent enough that he’ll make it work.

Another fun aspect later on saw Jericho bringing up the “Painmaker” gimmick. I see a lot of people criticize it because they think it’s stupid or campy, but isn’t that the point? He’s an old guy with weird clown-ish makeup on; I don’t think people are supposed to take it seriously. Chris Jericho vs. Nick Gage is a fascinating match. It may not work out to the fullest extent, but I’m undoubtedly intrigued.

MISSES

Britt Baker vs. Nyla Rose was not a good championship match

I really don’t get AEW’s booking of their women’s division. This match had sloppy, boring action, tons of interference, and no babyface-heel dynamic. It made me actively not want to see Britt Baker matches in the future and was a disappointing first defense.

Even beyond the match itself in a vacuum, which is excusable because the crowd adored Baker, I couldn’t help but think of the opportunity cost here. There is so much talent on this roster, including Hikaru Shida, Riho, Serena Deeb, Thunder Rosa, Kris Statlander, and Yuka Sakazaki. Statlander was the only person on this show, and she was only there to get heat for the Blade of all people.

It’s ridiculous that I feel like AEW is just biding time until Rampage comes around to book fleshed-out women’s stories. They don’t even have a women’s match announced for next week. If Baker continues to put in performances like she did tonight, her fire may burn out.

Incessant interference, beatdowns, and heat

This has been perhaps my biggest criticism of AEW in 2021. Four out of the six matches tonight featured interference and three of the six had a post-match attack.  There are no companies outside of the United States that do this and they do just fine. It’s no coincidence that the one match tonight that anyone will remember more than a week from now is Moxley vs. Archer, and that match, while hardcore, was clean!

For example, the Elite beatdown of Frankie Kazarian and Hangman Page *technically* furthered the Page–Omega storyline—but did it really? What’s different this week compared to last week? All it ended up being was Gallows beating Kazarian to lead to a segment that was redundant after last week’s Elite/Dark Order interactions. Even little stuff like Orange Cassidy killing Blade with the brass knuckles is unnecessary. Cassidy won and he’s supposed to be a babyface. Why does he need his heat back?

The previous two weeks are going to be better received shows overall than this one. It’s not a coincidence based on the match layouts and finishes.

“Earlier today” recaps

Two weeks in a row, AEW has tried to recap angles set up before the show with brief videos. Last week, it was Brian Cage and Team Taz, and this week it was Jurassic Express & Christian Cage and Hardy Family Offices.

These need to be dropped immediately. They’re way too fast for even Excalibur to keep up with and don’t give people a sense of the gravity of the situation. Why not shoot an angle on the previous week’s Dark or Elevation and recap it here instead of this hastily put together video package that’s difficult to follow and sink your teeth into?

Finally, we’re six weeks away from All Out. Shouldn’t they be shooting angles for it? As of now, Omega vs. Page and MJF vs. Jericho are the only seemingly surefire matches for the pay-per-view. This was a problem with Double or Nothing as well.

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