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AEW Dynamite’s Anniversary was ‘fine,’ and not much more

Pro Wrestling

AEW Dynamite’s Anniversary was ‘fine,’ and not much more

This week’s show was your typical live episode of TV, and it probably won’t be anyone’s favorite despite the hype.

The first year of All Elite Wrestling’s Wednesday show has come to a close, and now — two weeks later (don’t tell Tony Khan) — Dynamite has finally celebrated their 1-year anniversary with a show for the ages.

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Four championships were put on the line, MJF promised a huge announcement for Chris Jericho, and a month-and-a-half of storytelling between main men Jon Moxley and Lance Archer were set to pay off all on one incredible night of action.

And now that the show has passed, it honestly felt like just another episode of Dynamite.

While the Homecoming show, Bash at the Beach, and Fyter Fest all brought a certain energy with them — with fresh set designs, cold opens, and DDP matches — this show could have been plopped anywhere in the past six months without much fanfare.

Is that a bad thing? For a typical show, not really. Dynamite has been a generally enjoyable show since its inception, and that didn’t change tonight. There were captivating matches, we got some fun promos, and I almost left the show without any aggravation. Almost.

But for a special show, this one just didn’t hit the mark for me, nor most of the people I’ve spoken to about it since Dynamite went off the air.

This week’s recap and review is going to look a little different since I’m going solo here like a regular Joey Styles. So, without further ado, let’s suicide dive into this week’s Dynamite and try to break down exactly where this show succeeded and where it fell flat.

First Things First

The story of this show since All Out has been that Lance Archer and Jon Moxley were on a collision course, and now that Archer is back from quarantining, the collision finally happened.

And I have to say, that part lived up to my expectations. After the opening segment ended and we cut to Archer destroying Moxley backstage, I was once again pulled in by the hype that comes with a Moxley match. It’s something that I love about Mox’s championship reign, as it only took one promo earlier in their respective shows to get me excited for his recent matches against Darby Allin and Eddie Kingston.

While this match also had some solid promos behind it — I was definitely a fan of Moxley’s Death-Rider-esque video in the bar last week — these brawls throughout the night pretty much took the place of those on-the-show talking segments, and I think it worked well. After both brawls, the main event becoming a no holds barred contest only made sense.

The AEW Championship match wasn’t something I’m going to tell my kids about in 20 years, but it was definitely a fun time and served its purpose for the night. We got a table spot, Moxley hit an ankle lock to avoid getting his neck broken, Archer looked strong, and we returned to the Kingston vs. Moxley storyline while the Championship Tournament gets underway.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that Kenny Omega didn’t attack Moxley after the main event in a reverse of last year, though I suppose that’s my fault for getting emotionally attached to Reddit fantasy booking.

The Rest of the Show

The Tag Team Championship match between Best Friends and FTR was a fun little time. There weren’t as many heel shenanigans as I’m used to from FTR, and both teams have had much better matches recently, so it could be seen as a letdown in that sense. In a vacuum, however, I definitely think it was a solid affair.

I also believe that there’s no better image to capture the spirit of AEW Dynamite this past year than a tag team match where one of the competitors runs headfirst through an arcade cabinet. It’s wild, it’s geeky, and it’s a tag team match. That’s definitely some sort of Dynamite celebration in my book.

The Kip and Miro match afterward was just kind of there. Most Dynamites have that one short match, and with the women and MJF both busy, Miro and Kip got slotted in.

I will say this match did one good thing in terms of further defining the pair’s relationship. During the previous match, Penelope ran off to get Miro, who’s the angrier and more powerful piece of this team’s puzzle. While Miro could have handled the whole match with Johnson and Maluta himself, he tagged in Kip to hit ONE move, then finished the rest himself.

Details like that will keep me interested in whatever program they do next, and the fact that they’re about to pair up Miro and Chuck Taylor makes me one happy camper (even if it’s a slight retread on Best Friends’ previous feud with Sabian and Havoc).

MJF’s big announcement for Chris Jericho was a hilarious segment, if comparatively uneventful. I love that MJF is continuing to slight Sammy Guevara and that at least Ortiz is willing to speak up against the Ratings Ruler.

It’s also cool that we’re seeing payoff to a story between MJF and Chris Jericho that was actually set up in November of last year. For context, that’s the seventh episode of Dynamite and the night where Wardlow made his first appearance.

But MJF isn’t in the Inner Circle now, and he didn’t take over or cause fractions like many people expected, so with a segment that took up that much time, walking away with nothing more than the promise of a steak dinner — no matter how hilarious the payoff — didn’t really rock the boat much.

Britt Baker and Tony Schiavonne’s spa day was up next, and I have zero problems with that bit. Baker, Reba/Rebel, and Schiavonne have terrific comedic chemistry, and I’m always here for more Impact-style segments where wrestlers leave the arena.

The next big match was Cody vs. Orange Cassidy, and this is where the show first started to lose me.

It wasn’t immediate at all. Watching the born-again blonde Cody try to grapple and figure out how to deal with the non-wrestler that is Orange Cassidy was perfect, and the fact that Orange got a mega-pop for a simple collar-and-elbow was beautiful. I swear Orange is around Brock Lesnar level when it comes to the smartest wrestlers in wrestling.

But as the match went on, it became clear that this was about to be “the long match.” There were Dark Order shenanigans that teased an Orange Cassidy heel turn that no one could buy into, and there were very few moves after that point that made me think, “Oh, this match could end here.” I was just positive that the match was going to a draw, and maybe that has more to do with my personal inability to buy into the show, but it just felt like 20 minutes of both of them holding back moves for a later match.

Actually, that’s exactly it: it reminds me of the first two Orange Cassidy vs Chris Jericho matches.

I think the time between the TNT title match and Lance Archer’s awesome entrance in the main event is where the show lost me. Matt Hardy’s ringside promo wasn’t great, even if it was nice seeing his family, and the setup for next week’s tag team match was pretty easy to predict, though I was shocked and excited by Silver and Reynolds getting a shot.

But with the whole Women’s Championship segment, I couldn’t find much to enjoy.

I can’t place all the blame on AEW management this week: the actual in-ring work was sloppy. I think I was starting to get into it from the second Dirty Dancing attempt onward, but there were botches, and there were spots that seemed to go as planned but were ugly, and it just didn’t click with me. It’s a shame, too, because Big Swole and Hikaru Shida are two of my favorites (just under Britt Baker and KiLynn King), but I hope we don’t get a rematch for a while.

And now it is time to complain about AEW management.

Even if you watched last week’s Dynamite, this week’s Dark, the Dynamite pre-show, AND the first hour of this week’s Dynamite, you still wouldn’t know this match was happening. Jim Ross even made a comment right before the match where he said, “We did mention it,” and Excalibur grinned alongside him.

But they did not mention it. The pre-show intro even said there were three titles on the line and specified that they meant the AEW, TNT, and Tag Team Championships.

I feel like I was a little too nice when I last discussed the problems plaguing AEW’s women’s division, because this is unreasonable now. And with that being the last segment before the main event, that means we have to end this segment on the one true down note of the night.

Overall Feelings

Like I said earlier, this wasn’t a bad episode of TV, but it’s probably dead center quality-wise when comparing the last year of Dynamite.

While I enjoyed Moxley vs Archer, it wasn’t leaps and bounds better than anything else on the show, and there’s nothing else that stands out as my second favorite. It wasn’t anyone’s best night, and there weren’t any huge moments that felt fitting of the night.

Next week has the 4-way tag team match, which should be fun and will set up a huge match at Full Gear. The World Title Eliminator Tournament is also kicking off, and if you didn’t hear Excalibur mention it during the main event, Pentagon and Fenix are facing off in what will be one of the two best matches all tournament.

But while I’m certainly going to watch next week, as the show didn’t leave me with a lot of cause for ill will, I’m not going to remember this one, and I’m not chomping at the bit for next week’s broadcast. So, in that case, did this week’s Dynamite fail to accomplish its goal?

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