I’m on record as saying that I prefer AEW Rampage to Dynamite. And it was clear in this episode why I think that.
This Dynamite had some great wrestling. But some terrible angles. And real issues as well.
Issue 1: The Sammy Guevara Problem
There were Sammy Guevara and Tay Conti in the ring. He’d just won the TNT championship again. Should have been a celebration. He heard boos. And he seemed surprised. He shouldn’t have been:
- Fans don’t seem to like wrestling couples. Just look at Brandi and Cody. The loved-up, kissy-face Sammy and Tay just look as if they’re saying ‘we’re already wrestling stars and now we have even more.’ That can come off as arrogant.
- Scorpio Sky’s TNT reign was all about Sammy. People like Sky. I’m one of them. But his arguments with Sammy showcased the challenger, not the champion.
Yeah, some will say that AEW leaned into the fan reactions. And they did. But this is a heel turn that has a knock-on face turn and it was given less than a week’s build.
Less than a week. Sammy went some of the ways toward the heel life with his low blow which helped him win the belt at Battle Of The Belts II. But that’s all. It didn’t feel like AEW was in control of it, because it wasn’t – Sammy Guevara and Tay Conti have go home heat, not even heel heat so they’ve been forced to turn them because they might as well get some form of heat.
That has a knock-on effect. Scorpio Sky has been so badly used recently by AEW. Ethan Page too, both of whom can really wrestle, really speak, and have great personas too; should be a slam dunk.
Yet he was placed with someone who took care of his talking, placed with a partner he didn’t wrestle with, given the TNT title, and then not allowed to make it his own. And then had it taken from him on his 2nd defense.
And now he’s been forced to turn face because of the Sami heel turn. And how did they do it?
Bring out, Frankie Kazarian. Does he still work there? Apparently so. Not on Dynamite or Rampage for ages, here’s Sky telling Frankie how much he helped him and how he had his back, really meaning it, not even kicking him in the gut nor anything. As if that wasn’t enough, Sky then asked Frankie to hold his TNT title match because he wanted his rematch challenge.
Wait, what? Frankie Kazarian is the No1 contender? How? He hasn’t been around. Unless he’s racked up a record of 150,000 -0, just on Dark and Elevation, a bit like Scorpio. It just seemed ridiculous.
And when Sky got his rematch after agreeing to a mixed tag match they rightly thought was a low admission price, the crowd was quiet, you could almost feel the confusion.
Of course, they were, Sky, Page, and Lambert have been horrible (and somewhat ineffective) heels for months. Suddenly we were expected to cheer them.
Bad booking. Even fearful booking. Hasty. And not properly booked.
Issue 2: The Big Announcement Is No Surprise
It was well done. Even though we had an excitable Tony Khan and NJPW President Ohbari, Adam Cole interrupted and made the announcement, which was fair enough, then Jay White came out and didn’t really enthuse us.
The announcement? A PPV with NJPW. As so many thought. And the name of this event? ‘Forbidden Door’; that’s not overused at all.
The crowd popped for Cole v Ishii on Rampage though. So did I. Another reason to watch that program…
Let’s Have Some Good Wrestling Then
The Blackpool Combat Club will provide.
Along with William Regal singing The Carpenters on commentary – he’s enjoying his new job, isn’t he? – the BCC had a barn smoulderer with Brock Anderson, Dante Martin, and Lee Moriarty.
Yuta showed his bow and arrow early on, but Moriarty got the biggest pop, Danielson helping as the target of a Suplex and Border City Stretch, until Danielson turned it around into a Shoulder Capture Suplex, anyway.
Martin produced something special; he hesitated on the top rope, allowing Moxley to compose himself and catch Dante in his rear-naked choke as he Moonsaulted towards him.
The ending was good too, BCC all got in their licks at the same time and when the smoke cleared, Moxley’s Paradigm Shift took the pin.
BCC are the Hottest thing on Dynamite at the moment.
Issue 3 : Lance Archer To Be Sacrificed To Wardlow?
After Wardrobe (I believe he has the charisma of one) disposed of The Butcher and Jake Roberts (yay, he’s back!) accepted MJF’s money, Archer declared he would fight for nothing. Needs an agent, the boy.
And so here is a man with the word ‘monster’ in his title who has been superseded by the new monster. It’s the continued slip of Archer, who was given championship chances on Dynamite and couldn’t get it done.
Such a shame. Wardlow is so fantastic he’s going to be a long-term brilliance for AEW. I disagree. He’s a standard big fella and although over at the moment, he’s having help. I don’t see much more than a big man, but I know I’m in the minority.
Some Good Wrestling, Quickly!
Messrs O’Reilly and Boy will oblige. Kyle and Jungle fought in the Owen Hart tournament and turned in brilliance.
Some of that brilliance?
O’Reilly countering a flip into an armbar then hitting 2 lovely Butterfly Suplexes and a kind of flapjack.
Jungle Boy hitting a Tornado DDT but seeing his Guillotine attempt turned into a Pumphandle Exploder Suplex – yes, one of them.
Eventually, O’Reilly triumphed with a brutal-looking knee off the top straight into the back, but this Dynamite performance burnished both men.
To open, CM Punk and Dustin Rhodes really melded. You’ll know if you’ve listened to my podcast that I’m not sold on CM. I want around for his genre-changing WWE work and so I just remember him in ROH. His being out of the ring for 7 years so make allowances storyline leaves me cold and I think he unbalanced Dynamite, his misfiring feud with MJF certainly did.
Here, not the case. And that may have been because they wrestled an older feel, a psychological match. The main thrust was that Dustin, after a Piledriver, a Code Red, couldn’t put Punk away and, as commentators excellently told us, he may not have much left.
There were also figure 4 into Indian Death Lock shenanigans and eventually Punk simply rolled Rhodes up after he couldn’t hit the GTS.
Ross told us ‘it wasn’t pretty’; it wasn’t, but it meant something. Not to this rather silly Heavyweight champ chase for Punk, but as 2 Seasoned wrestlers who like to wrestle.
If Rhodes can take him into the deep water though, what will Hangman Page do to him?
Issue 4 : Britt Baker Miscommunication? Hook Confusion?
Baker was sold like a wholesome babyface in her hometown, she didn’t come down with her entourage but 2 Steelers players, as we were told she was connecting with her community.
Babyface, see? She dispatched Danielle Kamela after a struggle with the spoiler, locking on the Lockjaw with a Steelers-colours glove, then as the crowd cheered, undid all that good babyface work.
She dissed. She was arrogant. She talked up her entourage. She left Dynamite as a Tweener at best.
Hook got a hooray on his Dynamite debut. Facing Anthony Henry, 1 match in AEW, and apparently ‘no slouch’, he was able to enjoy an Ankle Lock, punches, a Suplex Throw, and the RedRum DDT for the pin.
And then Dannhausen got angry and challenged Hook, even poking him in the chest. Shortly after he did his ‘what have I done?’ face, H pushed past him and left.
To quietude. Why?; Hook looks good and has a wrestler who looks like a fighter demeanor; I like him. I like Dannhausen too, who isn’t just shtick, there’s real intelligence too. But fans aren’t sure who to cheer for; they like them both, but they both come off a little like jerks at the moment.
AEW should get a handle on this before it strangles them.
The Mini Main Event
I say mini because it wasn’t grand. But that wasn’t a problem at all.
The coffin match split early, as Sting, wearing a Sting mask (so meta) death with The Blade and Marc Quen by jumping off a low stairwell onto them, because an over 60’s wrestler hurtling towards wrestlers in their prime always makes them crumble.
In the ring though, Andrade can deliver such stylish punishment and Darby can take it.
So after tasting a nice Darby Code Red, Andrada caught him on a Coffin Drop to the outside and Suplexed him. Then, just to put the exclamation point on it, backed up the walkway with his opponent in a Suplex position, unloaded that move, and then threw him off the stage into a metal grid that satisfyingly clanked.
There was a half-hearted ‘this is awesome’ chant, but it was better than that – the coffin lid had thumbtacks, for goodness sake!
Eventually, they both ended up in the coffin from a Darby Topé Suicida, a good way to do it, Andrade’s mate Jose arrived and took his shirt off perhaps to make the backdrop onto the lid look better and that…
Broke the lid. And when Darby slammed it on Andrade, the coffin began to fall apart. Good job Darby averted disaster by laying on the coffin for the end.
And this was a very pleasing Dynamite main event because it didn’t try to do too much, it worked as a tight, nasty intentioned battle; all the better.
So What’s The Verdict On AEW Dynamite This Week?
2 hours to fill. Too many angles. Too many clunky decisions. And some oases of great wrestling. Just imagine how sleek and stunning Dynamite would be at 90 minutes.
Until then, it will give with one hand and take with the other.