AEW put on a solid episode of Dynamite this week. All of the stars showed up for work in Philadelphia in a big way, and the crowd was super-hot for what was largely a very good two hours of wrestling on television.
- Jon Moxley cut a short but good promo about the main event before CM Punk did a live interview for the Philly fans. Punk is just the coolest dude in this promotion. He’s out there being him, it’s crystal clear that he’s super happy here. He did his thing and challenged Daniel Garcia to a match on Rampage, which is a massive compliment to the young Garcia. Punk gave his expensive Jordans to a young fan dressed as Orange Cassidy, a man of the people.
- After a good VTR for the challenger, Sammy Guevara’s first defense of the TNT title was a great bout against Bobby Fish. It was one of my favorite Guevara All Elite matches. The post-match angle with Dan Lambert’s crew then Chris Jericho, Jake Hager, and Fuego Del Sol started out clunky, and it wasn’t exactly what I like, but the crowd was so hot for it that I couldn’t call it a miss.
- The unveiling of the TBS title was great. My only problem is that I would’ve gone with white leather for it, which would’ve complimented the light blue “CHAMPION” banner, but apart from that this was perfect. We later got promos from contenders for the belt, which were good. Britt Baker later cut a fantastic promo, calling the women’s locker room “jealous bitches” and saying she was hoping for a Cartoon Network title. It’s a shame she didn’t wrestle on the show.
- The Darby Allin sit-down with Jim Ross was great, these always are. J.R. being in the frame adds an air of grandeur with his standing with the fans. Allin beat Nick Comorotto in a quick match after this which was fine. It was refreshing to see a swift, convincing victory. Q.T. tried to cause trouble afterward but got a Scorpion Death Drop for his efforts. Darby would later get mugged by the Pinnacle in the back (who for some reason wore ski masks), and they lawn-darted him into a stop sign, then Wardlow hit an F10 on Darby tossing him onto guard rails. Where was Sting, though?
- Tony Schiavone interviewed Dante Martin, who I’d never heard cut a promo before and sounded great, and he issued a challenge for anyone in the locker room which was answered by Malakai Black who just shitcanned him. That should be a fun little match when it goes down. Lio Rush would later cut a promo where he seemed to want to be a mentor to Dante and offer him guidance.
- The Acclaimed had a pre-tape promo/rap ahead of their challenging the Lucha Brothers for the tag titles. I initially found it funny that it was taped, but it makes sense seeing as they weren’t wrestling on the show.
- Ricky Starks cut a good promo about the FTW title and Brian Cage, who would run down before the rest of Team Taz got Starks out of trouble. It’s just hard to be invested in Cage right now as he doesn’t offer much as a babyface.
- I loved Hikaru Shida vs. Serena Deeb. It was a great match with serious stakes in Shida’s 50th win if victorious, but she wasn’t! Deeb worked and officially turned heel in this match, winning it with the half-crab. I loved this. I bet 98/100 people thought Shida was going to win this match.
- I didn’t like the match itself, but it was awesome to see Hangman Page back. He was as over as ever in Philadelphia and he’s right back in the main event scene with a title shot against Kenny Omega imminent by winning the Casino Ladder match.
- The opening eight-man tag match, while it featured a stacked lineup, suffered from sloppy execution. For these kinds of matches to make sense, they need to bill it as with Tornado Rules. The rules are abandoned so quickly that it made no sense to anticipate hot tags. The Super Elite (Kenny Omega, Adam Cole & the Young Bucks) beat Bryan Danielson, Christian Cage, Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus when Cole pinned Jungle Boy. The crowd loved it, but this wasn’t for me.
- One of the more perplexing segments in a long time was Arn Anderson burning clothes in a drum in Cody Rhodes’ backyard. It already looks phony when Cody comes down wearing a lapel microphone. For me, this took any type of albeit meme-fuelled momentum that Arn had as a manager and just ruined it. It just felt like a way for Cody to shoehorn in some acting.
- I didn’t like the Dark Order VTR. They seem to just act like a bunch of little boys. It’s hard to root for someone that reminds me of my 9th-grade self. I’ll praise John Silver in that he is funny without trying too hard, and if he was the only one that was acting silly it might work better, but it feels like everyone is trying too hard to channel that Silver energy when he’s the only one that pulls it off.
- I’m not a massive fan of modern ladder matches, especially when they’re just thrown together for a random title shot. This main event didn’t do it for me. I don’t think staggered entrances work in a ladder match, or any other match except the Royal Rumble, and I just couldn’t help but feel like it was a car crash that no one will remember in a month besides the Hangman return.