It’s clear we’re once again entering what has become a very clear and obvious phase in AEW’s television cycle. The show is currently far enough away from the last PPV, but too far from the next one to really be gathering any steam, a continuous problem with a quarterly PPV cycle (that I actually prefer overall by the way). Aside from the BCC vs. The Elite story, everything else is either mid-tournament or still in it’s infancy. That’s all well and good but it more often than not results in Dynamite not reaching the highs of what it can achieve on its specials or it’s go-home shows.
This week was exactly that, a show that is essential for setting the table for what’s to come over the next few weeks meaning it couldn’t be a blow away show in its own right, and that’s fine! But that does not excuse the show from featuring filler segments and awful WWE-esque angles that AEW fans watch Dynamite to escape from. Luckily this episode was bookended by two incredible matches that kept this show closer to Elite than lousy sports entertainment.
Blind Eliminator: Orange Cassidy & Darby Allin vs. Swerve Strickland & Keith Lee
I often see the question “if you could show somebody one match to sell them on AEW, what would it be?” Now I’m not saying you’d show them this tag match over The Young Bucks vs. Omega & Hangman, or even over something like the Barbed Wire Death match, warts and all. But as an example of what AEW can do different to the competition on a week-to-week basis, it doesn’t get much better than this.
All four wrestlers involved were here to show out and the long history they all have together, even before AEW, was really evident here. As is the case every week, Cassidy is the best thing on the show. Darby is a nutcase an nearly died on multiple occasions in this match. Swerve is arguably the most underrated guy on the roster, and Keith Lee looked back to his old self and the best he’s looked on TV all year by a country mile. The miscommunications between Lee and Swerve was a little cliché but it worked nonetheless. Tremendous all round.
Sadly the hot start to Dynamite doesn’t last as we go on to receive a ton of backstage segments, promos, and video packages. With Collision appearing to be the more slower paced and wrestling focused show, it feels like Dynamite may be leaning into being more angle heavy, which is fine but not at the expense of top quality wrestling matches.
That doesn’t mean a lot of this wasn’t great though. There’s an excellent video package featuring Darby introducing fans to Nick Wayne and explaining exactly who he is before his debut next week. I may believe this show was too heavy on the promos but this was outstanding work. We also get Jack Perry chased off by Hook in basically a repeat of last week, as well as a comedic segment which saw a video crew follow MJF and Cole to the gym together. Don’t get me wrong, this was hilarious. The problem is that it doesn’t necessarily have the weight of a world title fued, at least not yet anyway.
The Acclaimed & Daddy Ass vs. The Blade & The Bollywood Boys
It was hard to figure out a reason for this match to exist outside of just getting The Acclaimed on the card. What turned out to be a dull trios match was only made worse when the reason for it happening became apparent.
Harley Cameron was used very effectively the other week on Rampage as a mild antagonist on route to Anthony Bowens coming out as gay on national TV. An absolute class move from all involved. But having this follow-up felt very much like a segment from a bad WWE show, Billy Gunn then assumingly going off-script to tell Harley to “Suck it” like it was 1999 gave me the complete opposite feeling to what I got out of the brilliant Rampage segment. Everything about QTV makes AEW look bad and the fact they keep pushing forward with it is baffling.
More video packages next but as this one is highlighting Eddie Kingston’s emotional big NJPW win earlier in the week, I guess we can let it slide.
Jericho is out next to a huge reaction from the Canadian crowd. He leans into the positive reception with a very babyface promo before being interrupted by Don Callis. Callis is booed out of the building, they go back and forth with Callis offering Jericho a spot in his faction to which Jericho says maybe. Again, this is what I mean with these middle of the road episodes. This segment is clearly table setting for something big down the line, but the segment itself was mostly boring this week.
Blind Eliminator: MJF & Adam Cole vs. The Butcher & Daddy Magic
The reaction this has received from the general AEW audience is really positive, so there’s a good chance I’m on a bit of an island here but I was slightly let down by all of this. The entrance in which MJF was mimicking Cole was genuinely hilarious, but there’s no getting away from the match itself and the post-match angle just being fine at best.
There’s no denying Cole & MJF have good chemistry in this frenemies role, they really do. However, the comedy and story woven into this match felt like more of a distraction and, once again, a bit too WWE. That’s not even me dunking on the fed, this stuff can be a lot of fun. It’s just not very elite, especially for a world title fued.
The post-match got even more silly with MJF throwing Cole a birthday celebration. They did the whole cake in the face gimmick and MJF even got a make a wish chant going at one point.. Again, if this was a lower card angle, I could probably appreciate the humour more and give it a pass for its sports entertainment inspiration. Sadly I cannot do so when the World Champion and his next opponent are both involved.
We then get back-to-back backstage interviews. The first is with Britt Baker who is kitted out in her Owen Hart attire from last year alongside her belt from winning the tournament in a lovely callback to the first Owen Hart cup final.
Then Jericho is giving a lecture to Sammy Guevara and Daniel Garcia who have both been drawn together in the blind eliminator tag tournament. In all honesty I found it difficult to judge what Jericho was saying as I couldn’t get past the contrived nature of Sammy and Garcia being drawn together. This entire blind eliminator tournament has been way too hokey with at least three of the teams “drawn” together already being closely involved with each other previously. AEW really had the opportunity to create a new and exciting tag team and tell some new stories, instead they chose to insult the audiences intelligence. Sounds familiar..
Owen Hart Cup: Ruby Soho vs. Britt Baker
Unfortunately this match got off to a sloppy start so it felt like these two were trying to claw it back in the early stages. Unsurpisingly there was lots of the usual Outcasts interference which begged the question where the likes of Sky Blue and Hikaru Shida were but I digress.
The Outcasts shenanigans was nearly all worth it though when Britt kicked out a belt shot behind the ref’s back in a moment that really brought the crowd to life. Soho gets the win in the end however. It was probably the right call but Britt has now eaten a lot of pinfalls.
Kenny Omega vs Wheeler Yuta
Main event time now and you’ll probably have noticed that I was in a bad mood going into this match. Dynamite had gotten off to the hottest of starts but had fizzled out beyond recognition by this point of the night. Thankfully Omega was in singles action so the quality of this final match was never in doubt.
Wheeler Yuta is the ultimate little bastard who everybody loves to hate, he’s incredible in this role and long may it continue. Omega was selling his injuries wonderfully from the Ospreay match meaning their next encounter was always lingering in my mind during this match. Omega becoming more desperate and resorting to big moves towards the end was fantastic. Even the interference at the end gets a bit of a pass as it led to a great kick out and Omega still overcame the odds to get the win. Not perfect but still a great main event.
The ending of the show saw run-ins from both members of the Blood n Guts teams in an effort to build excitement for that huge match on Dynamite in a couple of weeks. Annoyingly the way this was timed out will be more remembered than the angle itself. I’m still unsure how it played out for American viewers, but here in the UK we appeared to get the end of the show and a sign off from commentary before everybody had even hit the ring. The Elite and Dark Order then continued to carry out their angle with a confused sounding commentary team who may or may not have exclusively been talking to the fite.tv stream. I honestly love Dynamite’s chaotic nature more than most, but this isn’t really acceptable and just comes off as amateurish rather than chaotic.
Overall I couldn’t help but feel like Dynamite this week was a poor show saved by two matches. The amazing opener and closer bookended what was essentially a shit sandwich but made with the finest bread ever made. If not for those two incredible matches, we’d be talking about a rare bad Dynamite. Thankfully this one was saved and just about limped over the line of being good.