This week’s AEW Dynamite was a solid if uninspired show with tons of uncertainty at the top. The wrestling was very good, but the build to All Out left more questions than answers in the end. Here are the hits and misses from the show.
Showcasing young, up-and-coming talent
In the same week we got that baffling WWE report about prioritizing people “under 30,” Dynamite showed them how it’s done. Dante Martin, Darby Allin, Daniel Garcia, Wheeler YUTA, both members of Private Party, and Kris Statlander were all specifically showcased members of their respective matches without any sort of special Performance Center training.
Allin and Garcia had a quick, fiery face-to-face in the latter’s first AEW singles match. Statlander essentially squashed Nyla Rose. YUTA continued his association with Orange Cassidy and Private Party showed why they’re among the most underrated talent on the roster.
The best example, however, was Martin. On the indies, his older brother (who then wrestled as Air Wolf) was always the star. But in tonight’s opener, Martin got the one of the best hot tags of AEW’s year. He then proceeded to have an extended sequence with Kenny Omega, getting some extremely close near falls. He’s 20 years old, by the way. AEW’s future is in great hands.
Jericho’s Labours: The most consistent storyline in the company
You don’t need to re-invent the wheel to tell a good story. Aside from some wacky opponent choices in Nick Gage and Juventud Guerrera, nothing about Jericho vs. MJF has been surprising. Jericho beats the odds every week and gets one step closer to MJF.
It helps that everyone plays their role perfectly. MJF is just the most hatable guy in the company, whereas Wardlow plays convincing muscle and Jericho plays up the old-guy persona to up the adversity level even further.
I’ve seen some criticism of the order of Jericho’s Labours, but they make sense for the story they’re telling. Wardlow needed to be before MJF, because it was MJF’s directions to weaken Jericho that cost Wardlow the match. Whatever the end of the story is next week, AEW has proven they know how to get the job done under these circumstances.
The World Title situation is a mess
What’s going on here? I’m going to give AEW the benefit of the doubt and speculate that Hangman Page has a legitimate reason keeping off All Out. Even if AEW had to scramble to fill something in, the air of uncertainty around the world title picture is just baffling.
The best guy AEW had to put against Kenny Omega was . . . Christian Cage? The retired-for-five-years, undoubtedly beloved but eternal WWE midcarder outside of one run a decade ago, who has been underwhelming since joining the company, Christian? I don’t get it. Here’s a list of potential replacements:
- Darby Allin
- Jungle Boy
- Penta El Zero Miedo
- Lance Archer
- Eddie Kingston
- Andrade El Idolo (Speaking of Andrade, AEW didn’t promote the Omega-Andrade AAA Mega Championship that’s this weekend one bit, adding more uncertainty.)
- Malakai Black
- CM Punk
- Bryan Danielson
Making things even worse is the decision to have Omega vs. Christian this Friday at Rampage, except for the Impact title. So even if Omega wins, we’re still getting the rematch that we just saw on TV for pay-per-view?
None of this makes any sense to me. I hate the idea that AEW is coasting for one of two reasons: (1) they already sold All Out out and don’t feel they need to put the best card together, or (2) they’re waiting for the perfect ~moment~ to debut Danielson or Punk at the expense of a natural build and a good television show. The goal should be to put the best show together and then consider things like finances and moments, not the other way around.
Where are the big-time “star vs. star” feuds?
A really unfortunate aspect of Dynamite in recent weeks is that the shows have only contained one or two matches between established upper-card wrestlers, which is disappointing, because those all-star matchups are what make Dynamite so exciting.
In fact, aside from the muddled world title picture and Jericho vs. MJF, these feuds exclusively happen through video promos and packages. Look at FTR/Santana & Ortiz, Andrade/Death Triangle, and Brian Cage/Ricky Starks as your examples. Guys like the Sydals and H.F.O., two acts with a very low ceiling, are eating up massive amounts of Dynamite‘s runtime.
It’s the big stuff that attracts viewership and sells pay-per-views. There’s nothing wrong with an upper-card guy taking a loss every now and then if it means treating viewers to a great match.