Tony Khan was not lying when he said that June would be a huge month for AEW. With Dynamite steadily improving on Wednesdays, Rampage cards becoming more and more stacked on Fridays, Collision changing the pace on Saturdays, and Forbidden Door having the potential to be the show of the year on Sunday, AEW currently feels like it’s coming at us non-stop. And that’s without even mentioning Fight Forever that releases next week.
With this much AEW content coming at fans every week, it just means that the OG in all of this, Dynamite, needs to be at it’s chaotic best to stand out. Collision has already established itself as the calmer, more slower paced of the two big shows, so it was expected that Dynamite would double down on it’s fast-paced style and that’s exactly what happened last night. But did it actually result in a good show? Let’s find out.
The Hardys vs. The Gunn Club
There likely wasn’t many fans who would have predicted this match to open the show. On a stacked card, this was the one outlier, the one match that felt like it should have gone on last on Rampage let alone open a red-hot Dynamite in Chicago. With all that being said, this match actually over delivered in a way, at least with the post match angle anyway.
The match itself was a well worked classic tag with the Gunns gaining good heat from a lively crowd. The Hardys are clearly still over in most buildings so any babyface comeback from the old veterans worked surprisingly well here. The finish came with an interference from Bullet Club Gold, further adding to the question of whether the Gunn Club has actually joined the faction from which they shamelessly stole their name in the first place.
The aftermath which featured run-ins from Ricky Starks, FTR, and none other than CM Punk himself felt enormous and instantly justified why this match opened the show. Punk leaning into the camera and saying “4 on 1? I like those odds. 4 on 4? Thats your funeral” was probably meant to be aimed at Bullet Club Gold and their upcoming match at Collision, but one could easily be mistaken for believing he’s aiming that at somebody else.. The match itself was only around the 3 to 3.5 stars level, but the aftermath easily raises all of this to a 4.
Concession Stand Brawl – Jeff Jarrett vs. Mark Briscoe
Dynamite was off to a thunderous start and the great vibes only continued with this over-the-top brawl that was as ridiculous as it was exciting. Depending on your tolerance for plunder brawls, you’ll likely either love or hate this entire match. Personally I had a really fun time, much like every fan in attendance watching this one live.
Everybody from Karen Jarrett to Papa Briscoe were getting involved in this hilarious and chaotic free-for-all. Even the Lucha Bros who, to my knowledge at least, have no previous history in this story were excused due to how stupidly fun this was. Maybe 4 stars is too high for a comedy match, but I’d be lying through my teeth if I didn’t admit to watching this one with an ear-to-ear grin from start to finish.
We then get a quick backstage promo from The BCC with Don Callis & Takeshita challenging The Elite to a 10-man tag match at Forbidden Door. This was excellent, as was the first half hour of this show which had flown by in a blink of an eye up to this point.
Chris Jericho, Sammy Guavara & Minoru Suzuki vs. AR Fox, Action Andretti & Darius Martin
This was a really fun trios match that not only made fantastic use of Suzuki (that Kaze Ni Nare oh my god) but also continued to build the Sammy and Jericho fued as Jericho used Suzuki like a new girlfriend to make his ex jealous. Also, having Jericho continuously come close to losing to Andretti over and over again is a really cool long-term story they can tell for a long time. The lion tamer finish and Suzuki doing the sex gods pose were the main highlights here.
Equally hilarious as it was action packed, this trios match was another home run in what was a perfect first half of AEW Dynamite. The following angle confirming that Sting and Darby (alongside a mystery NJPW talent) will take on the winning team of Jericho, Suzuki and Sammy at Forbidden Door only added to another great segment.
We then go backstage for a promo from The Elite which we learned earlier in the day was pre-recorded last week. Knowing this alongside the obvious reasons why made what was a great promo feel a little bittersweet. Eddie Kingston was the highlight by basically just screaming that he hates everybody but lucky for the Bucks he hates Claudio Castagnoli more than anybody else. Thank the wrestling gods that Eddie is back
Adam Cole calls out MJF
Cole goes over exactly what you would expect him to given the result of last week’s incredible title eliminator match. Unsurpisingly Cole asks for a rematch to which MJF begins to concern-troll Cole by saying he lost track of time due to his very real-life head injuries.
There was an interesting moment here where MJF opened his jacket to show off his World Title. But look closely and you’d have noticed a Pinnacle patch stitched to the inside of his jacket. Now we already know that MJF does nothing by accident, so could this be a tease for some sort of Pinnacle reboot soon? Wardlow seems lost again following his TNT title loss and Spears has nothing to do so it would make complete sense for these two to come crawling back. Could we even see FTR turn on Punk to further the incredible Punk/MJF rivalry and fully re-establish the Pinnacle in it’s original form? Maybe I’m getting carried away, but watch this space.
The segment is interrupted by Tony Schiavone who is told to “SHUT UP TONY” by both Cole and MJF who both have a history of disliking everybody’s favourite AEW grandad. This genuinely laugh out loud moment helped get the segment back on course before we found out that both men will be partnering in the upcoming blind partners tag team tournament. It also leads to Cole tricking MJF into accepting Tanahashi’s challenge at the PPV. This was a little too WWE for my tastes but let’s wait to see how it plays out as MJF rarely misses.
Orange Cassidy & Katsuyori Shibata vs. ZSJ & Daniel Garcia
What a treat this was. We’re so lucky to have Shibata back working matches like this given his history, and having him team up with AEW’s best workhorse could only result in success. Even on the other team, ZSJ & Garcia are somewhat of a dream tag team for wrestling purists, even if Garcia is currently a “sports entertainer”. That’s what made this special though, Garcia is constantly being reminded by everybody around him that he’s a pro wrestler. Having Zack here trying to upstage him with his own technical brilliance only furthered this excellent story.
The match did unfortunately suffer towards the middle where it began to feel a little bloated and probably would have benefited by being cut short a few minutes and trimming some of the fat between ad breaks, especially on such a blisteringly fast-paced episode. The ending, however, was top quality and bodes well for the 4-way match between these guys on Sunday, even if how we got to the announcement of said 4-way in the post-match angle was both clunky and contrived.
Next up we see Will Ospreay backstage who appears to be either arriving or leaving for no good reason at all as he isn’t booked on the show but I digress. He goes on to bad mouth Canada in order to unquestionably set himself up as the heel in his Forbidden Door encounter with Kenny Omega this Sunday. This wasn’t great but serviceable in a fued that is already established.
We’re then treated to a cool video package setting up AEW Women’s Champion Toni Storm vs. NJPW Strong Women’s Champion Willow Nightingale at Forbidden Door.
TBS Championship: Kris Statlander vs. Taya Valkyrie
I guess you could technically say the women’s division main evented Dynamite this week as this was the final match of the night. In truth it was set up in it’s usual spot with Eddie Kingston and Bryan Danielson promos being advertised as the true main event. Even so, these two set out to have a main event worthy match that never truly got going.
As is usually the case with the women’s match, it was once again battered by ad breaks that resulted in both ladies struggling to pull the crowd back in after every lull. It was a good effort from two very talented workers, sadly it just didn’t come together.
Eddie Kingston Promo/Danielson Calls Out Okada
Before the final segment could even get started there was a very rushed feeling around the place. By the time Dynamite was back from another ad break, there was only around 5 minutes of air time left and neither Eddie nor Danielson had been out yet. It felt like whatever they had planned likely needed resetting on the fly so they were lucky it was one of wrestling’s greatest talkers who was out there ready to take this final segment by the balls.
Eddie Kingston does what Eddie Kingston does best and nails a great promo saying how he doesn’t want to work with The Elite but his hatred for Claudio outweighs that. Moxley is then out to confront his old friend to which Eddie berates him for joining up with Claudio in the first place. He then comically announces the 5th man in Team Elite/Eddie to be none other than Tomohiro Ishii who hits the ring.
Before we know it everything breaks down and The BCC are all over Eddie and Ishii with Danielson on the mic calling for Okada. The NJPW ace then arrives to a gigantic pop before drilling Yuta with the rain maker while Danielson makes a run for it.
This entire segment may have felt rushed, but thanks to the top level professionals involved it achieved exactly what it set out to do in getting fans hyped for multiple Forbidden Door matches while also sending the Dynamite crowd home happy. Win win. As I seem to be rating overall segments today, here’s another.
Overall Dynamite wasn’t quite as good as last week’s stellar episode, but then again that was one of the best episodes of the year. As a go-home show for Forbidden Door, however, it worked near perfectly. The card was filled out nicely, and aside from SANADA vs. Jack Perry, all the big matches were given time and made to feel larger than life.
The show itself was nothing short of frantic in the first half but, just like Dynamites of old, it did fizzle out slightly in the second half. Say it quietly, but it appears that Dynamite might be back in top form once again.
Current Dynamite Form:
June 14th: 9.5/10
June 6th: 7/10
May 31st: 9/10
May 24th: 7.5/10
May 17th: 8/10
May 10th: 9/10
Before we finish up, I just want to quickly mention that we will indeed be reviewing AEW Fight Forever so make sure to check that out once the game is released! Until then, check out this awesome video showing off the new barbed wire deathmatch mode: