In this brand new article we are looking at the in-ring performances of the wrestlers that performed on yesterday's episode of AEW Dynamite.
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 profession 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 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
Ricky Starks - 5
Due to the story that Starks has been telling and the 2v1 situation he found himself in, he wasn't the most active part of this match. Instead he use playing punch drunk to assist The Firm's drama and often to put over Ethan Page's threat in the dying moments of the match; watch the way he sells punches though, it's pretty darn convincing. A job well done in the role he was playing.
Ethan Page - 5
The way he was eliminated was so smooth that it completely camouflaged the co-operative nature of the action. His work with Hardy was compelling enough and added an easy-watching edge to the Battle Royale.
Matt Hardy - 5
His age showed in places, he was a little slow or too measured when clinging to the roses. The character work was pretty 'hammy' in places. However his work with Ethan Page was interesting here, and his in-ring kept up it's side of the deal.
Shawn Dean - 5
He did his job in the Battle Royale; he stuck around till the end to remind you of his 'wins' over MJF last year and had a convincing fiery spot near the end to justify his inclusion in the final four.
Samoa Joe - 6
A really really good performance from the ageing star. His character work was backed up by some timely viciousness in the ring. There was a back elbow cut-off in there where he followed through with malice, a credit to him. He also showed that he still possesses a sharp first three steps of speed during a nice combination. However he looked painfully slow when moving across the entire ring with the intention to dive to the outside.
Darby Allin - 8
This man made his opponent look like an utter monster/colossus. He used wonderful comeback theatrics in parallel with a peerless willingness to take scary bumps. In this just over ten minute match, Darby missed his patented full sprint 'Lowpe' landing in a painful heap into the barrier, he took a 'no-room-for-error' speed Powerslam onto the concrete, and he allowed Joe to fling him headfirst towards the post and thundering out of the ring. Incredible.
Jake Hager - 6
Plays his role well in tag team matches. This performance included some really impressive lifting slams and the always impressive 'duck-under' shoulder tackle. Hager has had more success in-ring as a tag guy in AEW and should look to establish a long-term Steiner-esque duo.
Daniel Garcia - 5
A lot of his work in this match had a nasty edge; striking with Yuta and a lot of illegal raking of the face with convincing snarls to the crowd. However due to the match's structure, Garcia spend a lot of time grounding Yuta to highlight the need for the babyfaces hot tags. The more impactful parts of this function were often carried out by Hager as he dashed potential hot tags impactfully.
Claudio Castagnoli - 5
As mentioned, a lot of this match centred around Yuta trying to get Claudio into the match, as tags often do. Claudio did everything right when he was in; hitting impactful Uppercuts, and feats of strength. He did some nice and importantly different double team moves with Yuta, but a lot of Claudio's in-ring can begin to feel 'samey'. He's been watered down to uppercuts and the swing by spending too long in WWE it seems.
Wheeler Yuta - 6
Yuta spent a lot of time selling for his opposition and to build the Claudio-hot tag. He hid however buy into the theme of the match and hit some impactful moves; particularly a lovely Arm-Capture Olymic slam and some really loud chops early on. This match wasn't really about him however, as the Pure clash took a back seat to spotlighting Claudio.
Jade Cargill - 4
There was nothing wrong with her work. It was convincing, her brief sells for Hogan were good, but it was a short and sharp performance.
Red Velvet - 5
She held this match together for her team. Her work is convincing, her heel character jumps off the screen and her move-set is varied and interesting.
Leyla Grey - 4
She was in this match as much as Velvet was but it always felt as if the action turned up a notch when Velvet tagged in. She didn't do much wrong and carried the action for her team.
Keira Hogan - 3
A good flurry against Jade but she offered little else int he way or intensity or impact against her former friends; who are now trying to put her away in service of the woman that cast her aside. Her wrestling completely betrayed this and meant the match was fairly pedestrian until Jade entered.
Skye Blue - 5
The lion's share of the lifting for her team was done by Skye Blue. She pulled out interesting and athletic offence as she continues to blossom on-screen. Her hometown crowd are really behind her as well. She's going places, in terms of her wrestling too, an unusually inventive performer.
Madison Rayne - 3
The most senior member of her team and probably the most forgettable in terms of contributions to this match. She jumped back up on the apron and didn't interfere after Velvet took a cheap shot which I felt was an intelligent move for her character.
Max Caster - 7
Caster can hold up his end of the deal in the ring. But in this match he was the sympathetic babyface who was picked apart by his opponents. Therefore he spent a lot of time taking offence and selling to build FTR's dominance and the anticipation for Bowens' comeback sequence. His likability and size make him a compelling performer in his role; his character makes fans rout for him but his added to the fact his size makes his opponents offence look all the more impactfully, therefore multiplying the fans sympathy.
Anthony Bowens - 7
Bowens is blossoming into the heart of tag team match after tag team match. He is technically sound in a manner that deserves more acknowledgement; this was shown in his early reversal exchanges with both members of FTR. But he's also an athletic monster when he needs to be too; his hot tag is boosted by an ability to bounce around the ring throwing convincing knockdown strikes.
Dax Harwood - 7
Dax took a back seat to Cash in this one. Usually he is the emotional hub of this team but here it was Cash who conveyed a lot of the story on his face. Dax brought his usual stiff striking, heavy suplexes and took a fair few high impact moves himself. He didn't wrestle badly compared to the others in this match, in fact his stepping back allowed his partner to make this match his own; he did all the quiet stuff right and was always where he needed to be.
Cash Wheeler - 8
This man moves his body through the ring and around, over and under his opponents with a strength and smoothness of a gymnast. There are many points in this match where the commentators remark about FTR's perpetual motion and it's usually in regards to how Dax uses his offensive movements to transition into a changing of position or into another attack. In fact, Cash's performance here is the perfect marriage of new and old; the old-school heavy handed clubbing blows with the poise associated with a wrestler like Omega or Nick Jackson.