Welcome to the inaugural issue of the AEW Dynamite Roundtable, where Pro Wrestling Musings' contributors share their thoughts on the biggest talking points arising from AEW Dynamite.
This week's contributors are:
- Craig William @CraigPWMusings
- Wrestling Poet @WrestlingRhymes
- Allison Jung @AllieGolem
- Gareth Ford-Elliot @RHWGareth
- Sergei Alderman @SergeiAlderman
- Daisy Foster@BoutMachines
1) Did Penta get over against Cody?
[CW] The short answer is no. Penta used a nasty looking move targeted at Cody's well-publicised dodgy shoulder and then Cody used that arm to pin Penta just moments later. It was a strange move that most of the AEW reviewers have intelligently pointed out.
Therefore, I'm hoping that this is just a blunder and the following few weeks will see Penta take out a couple of lower card talents with that very move. The Alex Abrahantes and Penta duo have been excellent over the last week or so and Penta is a unique character/talent that deserves a major spotlight.
[WP] I don't think Penta was really in need of getting over here, as he is already pretty firmly over in AEW. Having said that I'm not sure how this match improved his standing at all. For me Penta either needed to win the match, or destroy Cody properly in the aftermath, and we didn't really get that. I do think there are now a few potential interesting matches in Penta's future after he upset the Nightmare Family. A decimation of Dustin Rhodes would work, and I think the various members of the Gunn Club may also be on Penta's hit-list.
[AJ] It's hard to define "over" in this scenario, especially as a former Lucha Underground fan, who has seen Penta be a Main Event player. Do I think this performance changes his crowd reaction or booking plans for him? Probably not. Penta and Fenix both seem solidly slotted in the "upper midcard" as guys who are dangerous enough to easily build up for someone else to go over. I'm not sure who "wins" the feud, but I don't think this pushes Penta any higher than he is now.
[GFE] Short answer, no. But, I feel like this match was more functional than it was a blow-off for a feud. Penta attacking Cody after the match suggests we’ll have a rematch where people’s hopes will be better delivered upon.
Cody didn’t need to get over here. I feel this existed more to hold Penta back before a rematch allows him to become unleashed further. So, the purpose wasn’t for Cody to get over particularly. And if we get Cody & Bucks vs Death Triangle, I’m all for it! I hope, anyway.
[SA] Cody Rhodes's purpose is to get over his opponents... But not ALL of his opponents! I like to compare him with Kassius Ohno in NXT. His purpose was to get his opponent's over, and he had to convince the audience anew every time... even though he put his opponent over EVERY time. AEW understands that a gatekeeper is only convincing if he almost always wins. Cody Rhodes is like a spring, storing potential energy for the guy who eventually beats him. But he needs to beat a lot of guys to store that energy up and last week Penta was just one more.
Penta won't be much hurt: he kicked out of more than one of Cody's (increasingly ineffectual) finishers, while Cody snuck a pin in while he was prematurely celebrating, demonstrating the weakness of arrogance and showboating that's alway been part of Penta's character. But make no mistake, the match clarified that Cody is a level above Penta, and that's not for Cody's benefit, (he has nothing to win, nothing to prove,) but solely for the benefit of whoever is next to defeat Cody.
2) Where would you go next with Jade Cargill?
[CW] I am anti Lesnar/Angle push, because as talented as she very obviously is, those guys were generational talents that had extensive wrestling backgrounds. With Jade Cargill, you risk the Goldberg outcome. A wonderful spectacle but ultimately lacking proper in-ring credentials. By holding off, I wouldn't give her the belt in 2021, you can have her work with Deeb, Rosa and Shida and build her skills. Play the long-game here.
[WP] The future looks very bright for Jade Cargill after two superb, although limited exhibitions of her talents so far. It's hard to predict too much with Cargill after such limited viewing, but you can understand why people may be getting excited already. In the short-term I would continue to have Jade beat goobers and perhaps build to a further show-down with Red Velvet. From there I would keep Cargill unbeaten for as long as possible. I think it's too early to talk of her taking the title, but having her as an inevitable and unbeaten presence over the division would be excellent.
[AJ] Jade and Red Velvet still clearly have some issues between them, and I see it going 1 of 2 ways. Option 1, Velvet parlays her #1 ranking into a title shot, loses, then scraps with Jade, while Jade builds up her rep and record in the meantime. Option 2, Jade and Velvet meet before Velvet gets her title match, and losing to Jade costs Velvet her spot in the rankings, and any potential shot. Either way, Jade looks very crisp for her experience level, and getting pushed to fight Shida would be good for her.
[GFE] Jade Cargill looks fantastic for her experience level. In terms of facial expressions, charisma and star potential, she’s got it all. But her work is being VERY protected thus far. I could see her developed further on Elevation where she’ll have some dominant performances, build a record, work behind the scenes and build to another big match on Dynamite.
Ideally though, Jade Cargill and Nyla Rose join Rebel as backup for Britt Baker when as she becomes champion. They’re too dominant to be able to take regular losses and will begin stagnating if a kayfabe reason for their absence is explained, as Nyla did last year. A women’s stable could be great for the division and Britt Baker becoming the ‘Chris Jericho’ of a women’s ‘Inner Circle’ would be great for the division as a whole.
[SA] In my view, it's too soon to be asking, "what next" regarding Jade Cargill. She is pretty clearly in a feud with Red Velvet, so that's what is now for Jade Cargill: continue her tour of jabronis to squash while slowly building up hostilties to a blow off with Red Velvet. After she wraps up unfinished business it will be time to ask "what next?" But I think that it's clear that the sky is the limit.
[DF] Jade is tremendously poised for someone so new to TV; natural in front of the camera and genuinely impressive in the ring next to her more experienced peers. But where to next? Keeping her out of the title picture for as long as possible is the best way to go here as she’s likely not ready to carry title matches on her own. Establish her as a monster and use her sparingly, similarly to a Wardlow, until she’s ready for the belt.
She’s a future champion for sure, but it’s not her time just yet. I’d like to see her working with some of the roster veterans like Serena Deeb and Hikaru Shida (who is likely very close to the end of her title reign) in the meantime.
3) What did you make of Christian Cage’s promo?
[CW] This was one part wrestling promo and one part conversation with the fans. Which is a great approach in 2021. No Christian Cage is not going to walk into the biggest match available in AEW. No he is not going to be the *literal* embodiment of AEW becoming TNAEW! He is going to 'Out Work Everyone', that's what the promo said anyway. I'm hoping to see matches with Starks, Jungle Boy and Fenix in the next couple of months.
[WP] The main thing here was answering the criticisms that he had immediately walked into the title picture, an accusation that actually wasn't based on very much anyway. Christian Cage did exactly that and has now made people look forward to seeing him in the ring. Unfortunately Cage is still suffering from the fact that he isn't CM Punk or Brock Lesnar, and it will take time to recover from AEW's ludicrous over-promotion of his arrival, but hopefully that really starts in earnest next week.
[AJ] Christian was always a solid promo, but this didn't knock my socks off. I get the "Out Work Everyone" gimmick/catchphrase, but at his age, I get the vibe that he needs to work so hard to overcome his age, and it hurts the gimmick, compared to if say, Brian Cage had it. A very solid B+ promo hurt by a gimmick that isn't clicking with me.
[SA] This promo, I think was unfortunately made necessary by fans seriously over-reacting to Cage teasing his World title intentions. It shouldn't be necessary to say that nobody can come into AEW with a 0-0 record and get a World championship match from the jump. But if it needed saying, well, now it's been said. I look forward to seeing how his campaign towards his goal plays out.
4) How do the Young Bucks respond to Kenny Omega’s disrespect, next week?
[CW] Physicality is coming, isn't it? The question that I have on my mind is how it will be presented. To an AEW Dynamite circa 2019 viewer, that's a big deal and a noteworthy occurrence but to a pre-AEW, BTE and NJPW following fan this is something else entirely.
This has happened once before but after one, outstanding Golden Lovers versus Young Bucks match things eventually came good as the Bucks reunited with Kenny to celebrate winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. But this was a story of outside manipulation, split loyalties and jealousy. Kenny Omega straight up ditching the Bucks would be a wholly different proposition entirely.
[WP] I have no idea where this storyline with the Bucks is going, and I love that. There are so many options and I think all would work. They could lose the titles to PAC and Fenix having taken their eye off the ball. They could retain and move on to a Bullet Club feud with The Good Brothers and Kenny. They could even change tack and decide to go back to being the New Japan Bucks that Don Callis was talking about, meaning a turn back to the dark-side. Personally I'd love to see them in Hangman Page's corner when that match with Kenny eventually happens, closing off a two year long story, but I'd be happy with any of the above directions.
[SA] Well, the Bucks, they aren't going to do a damn thing, now are they? Sure, Kenny disrespects them, but he's not attacking them or anything. Just treating them as lackies. And from Kenny's point of view, hasn't that always been their role? They might not like it, but they're reactive, not proactive.
That was the whole thrust of Callis's critique of them, fundamentally. Which is basically the bad guy telling the good guy: "your problem is you're the good guy." Kenny will keep provoking them, but not enough that they actually have a good enough reason to respond physically. Because he wants to test their loyalty, not actually turn them against him. Don, on the other hand, doesn't want anybody close to Kenny that he doesn't control, and does want to turn them against him, and will eventually build up to some chicanery that will push one side or the other to escalate, even though neither side actually wants that.
5) What will The Pinnacle's first move be?
[CW] Well they are scheduled to destroy the Varsity Blondes and Dante Martin next week! I'd also venture the beef with the Jurassic Express may not be quite over especially as they are such good potential foil for establishing this act as a force. Two underdog babyfaces that capture the emotion and a quirky and loveable big man. They just need to be the most dominant force really. Don't have the Inner Circle get successful revenge at all.
[WP] The issue here will be how long it will be until the Inner Circle return. It wasn't a beatdown that should see them off TV for months, but as soon as they are back, surely they go straight after MJF and The Pinnacle? Either way, a few weeks of dominance from The Pinnacle beckons. A destruction of the Varsity Blondes and Dante Martin is inevitable, and then perhaps some further tag and trios matches against other babyface factions will follow. Again, the Nightmare Family might be ripe for this treatment sooner rather than later.
Also just a quick note of praise for MJF this week. His promo was superb. Funny as ever, but now with an added level of menace, he really does look set for something massive, and him coming out alongside Tully Blanchard just looked magnificent.
[AJ] I think the Pinnacle made their first move when they took out the Inner Circle, and if not then, when they took the ring and the Inner Circle dressing room. I think next week we see the return of the Inner Circle via video message, followed by little scuffles, but I don't see the war taking place for quite some time.
[GFE] There are so many potential dream matches between The Pinnacle and Inner Circle now. When do you do them? How do you build them? It doesn’t *quite* feel time yet.
I feel like The Pinnacle destroying a babyface group in the short-term could be a good way to go and AEW have something in their back pocket. FTR vs Jurassic Express never really ended. You could easily leave it where it was but why not build a few matches extending that feud now that FTR have more allies? Build that for the next TV special, and then move onto Inner Circle for the Double or Nothing build.
I also feel like Inner Circle need to be the ones to take the next action in that storyline. Otherwise, you risk Inner Circle’s face turn as passive babyfaces and if you’re trying to turn a group as dislikeable as Inner Circle face.
[SA] Sometime soon they need to address the obvious question: why do they exist? A group like theirs needs gold as the gravity to overbalance the repulsive force of their egos and keep their orbit stable. But there's a logical reason that they haven't adressed this yet: MJF and Tully are smart enough strategists not to declare war on the Elite with the Inner Circle still lurking for their revenge. They'll spin their wheels in little feuds, and bide their time for the Inner Circle's counter=attack. Once they've crushed the Inner Circle with finality, then they'll go after all the gold.
6) Just how significant was that main event?
[CW] Time will tell, really. My initial response is that this is a marker in the ground from AEW. A very visual response to criticism and hopefully a promise of what is to come in the future. There aren't really any excuses now. This didn't lose viewers but certainly wasn't a fleshed out story of length like they attempted to, last minute, present.
I love the AEW women's division now and want to see more of it. I'd rather watch it as opposed to any division in North America, yes even NXT. Britt Baker must now be elevated to the long-expected position of AEW Women's World Champion. It's time.
[WP] On it's own this match was hugely important. It's taken AEW far too long to have a women's main event on Dynamite, and there was a huge amount of pressure on Baker and Rosa to deliver having been given that opportunity. And deliver they did. For my money this was easily better than Omega and Moxley's Lights Out equivalent, and was certainly one of the best matches on AEW this year. The division as a whole needs to build on this and the excellent tournament that has just concluded, and it really does feel that AEW are now finally giving the division the care and attention it deserves.
[GFE] It’ll become more evident as we go forward. AEW were always going to be hit with “well WWE did it first” in regards to most women’s milestones in mainstream American wrestling. Even though Impact actually did a lot of it before WWE but “SHHHH DON’T DISCREDIT WWE!”
So, it’s good to see AEW do something that WWE actually haven’t done. A women’s match that truly shatters the expectations of what women’s wrestling can and should be. Of course, this has been done in other companies and in Japan plenty of times. But part of what makes this so significant is that on mainstream American TV, this was unique. In the long term though, it’s just another step forward that should have been made years ago. Hopefully it's the first of many steps AEW takes forward.
[SA] The historic importance of this match absolutely cannot be overstated. First in terms of inter-promotional co-operation. Lest we forget, Thunder Rosa is NOT "All Elite", she is a contracted member of the NWA roster with a big #1 contender's match on NWA's comeback Supershow Back for the Attack on Sunday night. There was a time when the obvious promotional move when you control the booking of a competitor's wrestler would be to job them out. AEW is changing that and we can only guess where that may lead in time.
And of course, for AEW's women's division, this was a huge statement. That they have arrived and can no longer be delayed. They built their division from scratch and that took time, but that time had been well spent and the fruits of that labor are ripe NOW.
This was a huge moment for all of those guiding the storyline, as well as all of the agents, trainers, and especially the competitors involved with AEW women's division, and with women's wrestling around the world. But more than anyone, it was a career making moment for the two competitors who bled the blood and paid the price. Thunder Rosa will carry this moment with her back to the NWA and a chase of the NWA World Championship Serena Deeb took from her, and whatever lies beyond that for her.
But Doctor Baker is actually in a difficut spot: we all saw her spend her blood, sweat and tears for our entertainment. But her character is mean, condescending, vindictive, in short: irredeemable. On one level, people want to see her succeed for her hard work, but being rooted for isn't her role after all. It's a difficult tightrope, but not unique one (I'm talking Flair, people.) Let's all try not to make it any harder by jumping to any conclusions about what her next step must be.
[DF] It’s tough to know just how significant it will be on a cultural level until some time passes. For Britt Baker and Thunder Rosa, this was a star-making match - there’s no doubt about that. For the division? I hesitate to jump the gun on this being proof that a new era of women’s wrestling is about to begin in AEW, but I am optimistic. There will be stumbling blocks ahead, but I do think this can be a turning point if it’s capitalized on correctly.
It was a huge success, and it’s been the most talked-about dynamite match in months - if this doesn’t prove to TNT/Tony Khan that the people want good women’s wrestling, then I don’t know what will. Rosa and Britt always had it in them, they just needed the opportunity to show it. And boy, they showed it.