AEW Dynamite: 28/12/22 and Rampage: 30/12/22
In this week's Wrestler Ratings article, we are looking at the in-ring performances of the wrestlers that performed on this past week’s episodes of AEW Dynamite, and AEW Rampage.
These wrestlers are professional wrestlers who 'compete' in the ring. However, as you know(!), the 'contests' are scripted and the finishes are pre-determined. This does not mean that the athletic feats and performances of the wrestlers are any less impressive than those of many professional athletes. So we are going to treat them as such and in the spirit of how professional football players are given numerical ratings after matches by journalists, we are going to attempt to do the same here. We will only be reviewing, and judging the performances of wrestlers who appear on Dynamite, and compete in-ring. Promos, and other interactions or appearances, are also taken into consideration for these competitors/
Like any opinion-based review, personal preferences, tastes, and enjoyment will impact scoring.
We will be using a ten-point scale:
10 - Perfection
9 - Outstanding
8 - Excellent
7 - Great
6 - Good
5 - Fine
4 - Below Average
3 - Poor
2 - Terrible
1 - Unwatchable
0 – Incompetent
Match Number 1: Bryan Danielson vs Ethan Page w/ Stokely Hathaway
Fascinating match heading into this. Two performers you could argue were sorely underutilized during 2022, getting the chance to prove their worth in the last show of the year. Intrigued by MJF’s presence during this match-up, and how The Firm will play a part in the Danielson feud going forward. Very technically sound match-up, no surprise given the two performers involved.
Bryan Danielson - 7
Very easy to make an argument that he is the greatest wrestler in the ring to ever live. Zero wasted motion. Striking is unparalleled in TV wrestling. So precise.
Although the much smaller man, I always love when he is able to portray being the much more vicious/dangerous of the two in the ring. Comedy with Stokely was funny, and understand its presence, but always think adding funny with seriousness, confuses the tone of the match. Love his selling so much. Knee, stomps, and Regal Stretch finishing combination were brilliant, with a nice touch in the final submission.
Great outing as per usual for the world’s best wrestler.
Ethan Page - 6.5
Visually looks like he had a great Christmas! Aside from that, his gear, presentation, tan, etc always makes him look like a start – more wrestlers should put this much effort into their appearance, and how they want to be treated by fans.
Always enjoy his work when given a platform. Great facials, and intensity throughout, and works hard to sell every moment of the match. Stokely’s presence in this may have taken the shine from Page in this match-up slightly, but to be expected given the MJF/Firm/Danielson story arc playing out. I thoroughly enjoy the simplicity of his offense and his patience in selling each moment to the audience.
Notable that the commentary team was actively advising Ethan should be more continuous with his offense. Something small to add to the viciousness of his character.
Clunky flip bump off the frankensteiner from BD. Didn’t get out of the way in time for Danielson’s apron knee attack, and commentators had to sell that he did, it incorrectly.
Avalanche power slam and bottom rope cutter both looked great.
Very good outing for All Ego.
Match Number 2: Blackpool Combat Club – Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli – vs Top Flight – Darius, Dante Martin
Enjoyed the continuation of the story being told between BCC, and Top Flight from last week’s Dynamite and Rampage. Huge learning opportunity for the Martin brothers, to move past just being high-spot performers, to hopefully be presented as two young men with fire, and the ability to fight when needed. Very much enjoy the matching BCC jackets – wish they had their own entrance theme to go with, makes Claudio feel less important coming out to Wild Thing. Nice TV match, led by two of the very best on the planet.
Jon Moxley - 6
Small things, like his ability to focus intricately on Darius’s wrist and hand at the outset, make him stand out in world wrestling. Although he’s technically a protagonist, he doesn’t change his offense and is thoroughly authentic in his presentation. His willingness to build the heat on the Martin brothers, in order for them to benefit and show their fire and fight, was incredibly giving of him. Truly an unselfish teacher. Pin breakup with firing Dante into Darius was nice.
Claudio Castagnoli - 7
Much like Mox, spent the majority of his screen time, helping to build heat on Martin's brothers and allowing them to shine. Happy to take quickly repeated bumps to put Martin’s over. His uppercut train is always brilliant. His feigned fatigue, before upping the intensity, into the running dropkick was awesome. So glad he’s getting his much-deserved. flowers is now under Tony Khan. All offences are immaculate. Uppercut like that finish should be used weekly.
Dante Martin - 5
Effortlessly athletic and agile, but the offense does not look as meaningful, or intense as his brother’s. Striking on Mox looked clunky and ineffectual in my view. Big area for growth for him in 2023. Jumps over the swing were visually lovely and easy. The elbows on Claudio looked poor, and a few too many super kick spots in quick succession. He just stood there watching Claudio destroy his brother with elbows – weird, zero urgencies displayed. The selling of Double arm DDT was great.
Darius Martin - 7
Very much enjoyed Darius trying to get the jump on Mox from the outset, continuing his improved aggression and intensity from last week. His selling from Mox, and willingness to attack Mox’s knee, stomp his arm and repeatedly strike his back stood out for me. View him in a much different light in the space of a week. Very nice standing Spanish fly. His last gasp pin kicks out, and sell off the Gotch Neutralizer was very good. Loved his fire after elbows, before being pinned.
Match Number 3: Hook vs Baylum Lynx
Not a lot to be said for this, some impressive, and some dangerous-looking offense from Hook, much the same as last week. Match used to continue Jungle Hook/Firm narrative.
Hook - 4
Taz stressed during entrance how he’s in a bad mood, no reason why provided, fair enough. Strong strikes to start, jiu Jitsu throw looked very clunky and unsafe, opponent landed on the neck/shoulder. High-angle suplex into red rum submission for the win. Carbon copy of last week, with not a lot else shown. Slightly dangerous offense. Stare down with Big Bill was a nice tease for the future.
Baylum Lynx - 4
Poor guy took a beatdown and was beaten within 1 minute.
Match Number 4: The Elite vs Death Triangle – Match 6 – Falls Count Anywhere
Best match of the series so far. Very much enjoyed the change of scene and pace, with them starting backstage. Didn’t enjoy the injury, and hammer narratives being entirely forgotten/dropped by participants – Tony Schiavone only one to remember these story points. The match was very well shot by the camera and production crew – added so much more to the match, and you weren’t seeing people lying around doing anything in the ring, waiting their turn to appear. Very well-deserved 4 out of 5 stars match. Didn’t like how the match sign posted weeks in advance, as well as the match 7 stipulation, made this result a foregone conclusion in my view, and took from drama.
Kenny Omega - 8
Love his outfit for this with the jeans and t-shirt, to sell the difference in match stipulations. The usual violent explosive offense implemented much more like a fight. Nearly murdered Fenix with a v trigger coming from the tunnels. V trigger into the nail can be so smooth and effortlessly explosive. The powerbomb on the trash can is also picture-perfect. Amazing one-winged angel through tables – no idea how Kenny and Fenix got there though.
Head and shoulders is the best all-around in the ring, in nearly every aspect.
Nick Jackson - 5
Unless he has had a miracle of some sort to help his near-broken ankle recover, he seems to have entirely forgotten that he suffered extreme trauma to his ankle in the past matches. Tony Schiavone commented on this but then had to change tack and say his arm was injured now, off a tough landing backstage. A nice running flips into Penta over Matt giving Northern Lights on the ramp. His constantly chewing gum looks stupid, wouldn’t have that in MMA or boxing contests. Nice striking combination on PAC in the corner.
Matt Jackson - 6
This match suited his skillset far more, much more capable of selling his offense, and selling for his opponents than his brother. Striking and northern lights series with PAC is very nice. Nice destroyer on Penta, great trios offense. Facially excellent at the conclusion for table/submission spot.
Penta El Zero M - 6
Nice violent intensity backstage, and enjoyed his violence against Nick in the crowd. Package Piledriver stomp combo on the outside on Omega did a great job protecting his opponent. Lay in the ring actively watching Bucks set up Meltzer Driver at the end.
Rey Fenix - 7
Lovely Torneo was off the stage but was standing up there for a good minute watching people fight which was strange. Took a tough bump off double northern lights from Nick and was selling for some time. His combination offense into the Bucks, 2 on 1, then into dive onto Nakazawa and Omega was incredible. Loved how he sold the dive and sold his utter exhaustion from the output.
PAC - 7
Moonsault backstage and German suplex on the stage were both visually incredible, His striking contest with Matt was also very good, into the northern lights series. Took and sold offense from Omega very well. Great explosive drop kick to break up a pin on outside on Penta. Sold one head kick incredibly, as if he was completely unconscious.
Match Number 5: Tay Conti and Anna Jay vs Rubo Soho and Willow Nightingale
First, the takeaway from this content, and presentation was it’s brilliant to see how much more comfortable Anna Jay and Tay Conti are in themselves, and who they are as performers. Commentators did a great job setting the scene for the various backstories with Ruby, Tay, etc.
Tay Conti - 6
Big fan of how she sells her own offense, her facials and audible expressions of effort are very good. Sells the offense she receives too, and the struggle she has trying to get out of moves. Very active on the ring apron, keeping herself involved. Pump kicks and selling of kicking out of pins were excellent. Wonderful DDT for close fall. Liked how she made sure to get the chair out of the ring before finishing.
Anna Jay - 4
Can do a lot more selling offense she takes, off slams, for example, tends to lie down and wait for the next movement, and doesn’t indicate she has sustained any offense. Can be a bit clunky getting herself into position for various spots. Scooting herself into the middle of the ring so openly for Willow’s running knee for example – needs better ring awareness. Anna’s confidence in her heel character though and her crowd and camera interactions are good. Sold snap suplex on the outside wall.
Ruby Soho - 5
Ruby tagging herself in at Willow’s expense, possibly foreshadowing a possible future turn. Ruby selling the hot tag on the apron building anticipation was very good. Her hot tag spear wasn’t great but her strikes following that looked very stiff but very safe. Always sells intensity very well. Footwork running into the corner to jump onto ropes was a bit clunky too. The pin attempt on Tay was poor, as flagged by commentators.
Willow Nightingale - 5
Willow has infectious energy and radiates positivity, so looking forward to seeing how far she goes. Given she has such a loveable personality; she can do more to sell offense upward toward the crowd and cameras, to let the audience see that she’s fighting or in pain. Lovely snap suplex on the outside.
Match Number 6: TNT Championship – Samoa Joe vs Wardlow
Despite there being some online backlash to this, I enjoyed the backstage angle of Wardlow's knee being injured. Firstly it protected Wardlow should he lose, and most importantly, as a face, it gives him the chance to sell and fight from underneath. Added greatly to the story of the match. Enjoyable TV main event, hoping to see more from these two down the line, as Wardlow can learn a lot with Joe.
Samoa Joe - 8
For the first time since joining the company, it felt like Joe truly had his swagger back, and is on a role. He looks confident in every movement, his offense and selling look far better than when he first joined, and the stories being told are much better. Made Wardlow look like a monster even with one leg. The Knee breaker was very innovative and looked tremendous. Joe doesn’t smother Wardlow, give him and production every opportunity to sell the damage sustained and sell the story of the match. Explosive, and low, the sweep was a brilliant maneuver, not often seen. How quickly he ran over to lock the choke in to finish Wardlow was brilliant, like a fighter seeing an opening. The post-match scalping was pretty needless, but a cool conclusion to the show nonetheless. Possible gimmick infringement with the acclaimed, using scissors!
Next week’s contest with Darby will be brilliant. Excellent outing, it is great having Joe back.
Wardlow - 9
I really, really enjoyed his selling throughout this match. Executive Vice President, Nick Jackson, and, ‘Pillar’, Jack Perry – please take note, this is the art of professional wrestling. The commentary did a great job throughout also, stressing the importance of adrenaline in Wardlow’s offense, for when he would have moments of explosive strength, or ability to use his busted wheel. Sold with every movement, excellent job. His punch strikes are brilliant. Selling on ropes and outside was brilliant. Senton Bomb off the top was lovely, but unlike so many in wrestling, he immediately went back to selling his injuries. Whisper in the wind was amazing but again went immediately back to selling, struggled to get to the pin, and could only drape one arm, such was the effort involved. The failed power bomb sale was amazing, commentators did a great job stressing how adrenaline was helping him do so. Wardlow coming to post-match, incredulous that he lost was very well done – so realistic like fighters in MMA, debating with officials on stoppages. By the end of 2023, he should be the face of AEW.
Match Number 1: All Atlantic Championship – Orange Cassidy vs Trent Beretta
Nice outing for both men, for an impromptu match given all of the travel issues affecting the rampage card. Paul Wight on commentary was refreshing also. Bit too much comedy in the opening moments of the match for my liking for a championship match. Chuck and Danuasen on the outside added more to the comedy than the title match itself. Enjoyed match-building with intensity throughout, to the point where comedy spots were forgotten.
Orange Cassidy - 7
Paul Wight commented what I thought myself, that it was strange to see Orange Cassidy as the much more aggressive of the two in the opening minutes. Very much how he’s evolved from the AEW mascot and is rightly recognized as a very good wrestler. Title matches have given him the opportunity to be serious from the outset of matches. Michinoku Driver, with the very last-second tuck of his opponent, looked amazing. Love how he feigns exhaustion and kicks out in desperation from pin attempts. His desperate climb to his feet in the corner before hitting the orange punch was really good, and the immediate selling of his neck post-match, from damage inflicted.
Trent Beretta - 7
Incredibly smooth and fundamentally sound wrestler. I much, much prefer seeing him as an aggressor that suits a lot of his offense more. Sold the internal conflict well, facing his friend but also fighting for a championship. Cassidy landing a big elbow strike seemed to waken Trent, and cause a more aggressive streak. The attempted spear into the barricade was excellent, followed by the sale of the shotgun dropkick. The delayed vertical suplex from the middle rope was amazing. His strong style and striking offense are very impressive too. Love his selling of the tornado DDT, and launching himself halfway across the ring, only to feed back into the diving DDT spot.
Match Number 2: Kip Sabian vs Atiba
Not a lot to be said for this, a quick shine match to continue the build to Orange vs Kip.
Kip Sabian - 4
Nice character work, and selling of his own offense. Knows who he is and what he's selling. Diving reverse cannonball in the corner was nice, likewise diving foot stomp. Very poor and strange-looking orange punch.
Atiba - 3
Nothing to say for this.
Match Number 3: TBS Championship - Jade Cargill vs Kiera Hogan
Glad to see both women get tv time. Jade has the most star power in the entire company, and Kiera has been crying out for exposure and tv time since Impact wrestling's departure. Nice continuation of ‘Baddies’ breakup storyline, keeps Cargill on tv weekly, and helps develop the characters around her is far better than convoluted stolen belt angles. Good sold match.
Jade Cargill - 6
While still improving, and still under 50 matches had so far in her wrestling career, what she does in every aspect is very sound, and safe, and makes her look like the star she is. Sells her own offense, and sells her strength, athletic ability, and personality from the moment she enters the arena. Her interactions with Aubrey Edwards were good too, giving her further opportunity to sell her domineering personality. Shock and disbelief facials at Red Velvet could have been more animated. Nice reversal sequence into Jaded finishing maneuver.
Kiera Hogan - 5
Nice outing Hogan, sold all of Cargill’s offense well, allowed the crowd to feel sympathy for her, and build to them rooting for her. Facials, vocals, and bumps are all good. Sells upwards, making sure the crowd and cameras see her struggle. The hip attack on ropes was nice, as well as the follow-up strikes. Showing she can be used and relied on for TV matches more. Takes a lot of steps around the ring, making her look small and un-dynamic at times.
Match Number 3: Swerve Strickland vs Wheeler Yuta:
Liked the backstage interaction this week setting up this match on Dynamite. Allowed Swerve to show off his new villainous edge, as well as Yuta to show his fire, and wanting competition. Glad both get a TV main event. The pre-match interview with Mark Henry wasn’t as good in my view. Wheeler looked like a kid with his parents, and his Dad, Jon Moxley, had to speak for him. Spoke well when given the chance. Nice match for both men.
Swerve Strickland - 6
Being an antagonist suit Swerve so much more. His offense as a protagonist can come across as a bit of a smart mark, ‘I’m really great at wrestling’, wrestler. Whereas as a heel, he simplifies things and gets to show his personality and character work more. Still have some convoluted combination, and rolling move attempts, hopefully, will see less the more heat he gets as a heel. Rolled Yuta into the ring at one point, then stepped out to use the inside ropes as a springboard, looked needless and weird. Utilized his heaters well, nice cut-off spot. Worked lower leg for heat well also. Roll into brainbuster combination looks strange in my view, particularly when he’s spent so much time working leg. Seemed to abandon that tactic strangely. The low blow looked great before the finish. Think he should have gone back to the leg following that though, makes heat built for it to be forgotten.
Wheeler Yuta - 6
Once he was allowed to speak, Wheeler spoke well. He’s a champion, and shouldn’t need to be spoken for. His entrance and gear all look great now, and he appears far more confident in himself than at the start of the year, as a member of the Best Friends, cheerleader crew. Can still telegraph a lot of his offensive moves, anticipating Swerve posting himself, etc. Sells his pain well when Yuta is working over his lower leg, and his fire-up offense is also much improved. Sold his leg well, his offense while injured was simplified and made sense. One-legged nip up was very impressive, the same as the one-legged German bridge pin. Very clever, and conscious of what he’s selling to the audience at all times. His Olympic slam-type maneuver is nice. Always sells his leg, and energy expenditure throughout.