Updated: Mar 16
Dynamite 08/02/2023 – El Paso, Texas Debut
In this brand-new 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. Today we will be focusing on the 8th of February edition 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 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: MJF vs Konosuke Takeshita
Fascinating match up heading into this. The infrequency of MJF wrestling on television always leads to additional intrigue, when he does perform in the ring, particularly on the weekly television shows. The clash of styles heading into this also adds to the curiosity. MJF adopts a predominantly 80’s traditional American wrestling style, often focusing on a body part, building heat, throwing in a few hope spots, before ultimately the opponent succumbs to a tactic MJF employs to win. Takeshita comes from the DDT wrestling dojo in Japan, and is known for his hard hitting, and dynamic movements. Very hot crowd for this also. Very enjoyable match. Did not enjoy post match blood, and openly handing blade to referee while camera on him.
Really enjoyed the quick takedown into the rapid knee drops, to isolate the opponents arm early on. Quickly establishes his tactic to be used, and shows his tactic in using the Fujiwara Armbar later on. Enjoyed the Irish whips from the corner and back into the corner the opponent came from too. Again straining the arm, and bringing the opponent back down. He has lovely chain wrestling. Love his deliberate pace, the simplicity and accuracy of his movements. For someone so young, he is a master of getting across his emotions and finding cameras. Every so often he reminds you, he can actually do every style. His backflip off the top, into a super kick, into the strong style forearm strikes, into an amazing back bump selling the lariat from Takeshita was so impressive. But again – he doesn’t do these all match long, they are specifically placed so you appreciate it all the more, and brings the pace back down after to digest. Can often find his screaming selling a bit much, can come across as acting, and take you out of the match – example off the powerbomb to knee. - 7
Always love the speed in which Takeshita hits the ropes, and moves across the ring, he does not sacrifice any foot work or accuracy in his movements when doing so. For such a big man he is incredibly dynamic, his running corner boots in particular. Love his sheer drop brain buster, and his ability to tuck at the very last moment, and keeping his opponent entirely safe. Realise they were in El Paso, but the Frog Splash so early in the match seemed so out of place with the beats of the match. Chain, Tombstone sequence leading into the deadlift german suplex was very nice. His hang time off the vaulting body press is amazing. Very impressed by his ability to wrestle this far more deliberate pace, wish he would find the cameras more to sell his pain and struggle, selling upwards. Can sell his arm a lot more in my view, to sell the contrasting story beats. Very enjoyable performance nonetheless. - 6
Match Number 2: AEW Women’s World Championship – Jamie Hayter vs The Bunny
Few thoughts before match started – initial reaction upon hearing these themes, I was so happy that the women got to perform in such an early segment. I was very happy that it was Hayter in particular, as in my view, shes in the top 3 women’s wrestlers in the world. Also happy that Allie got the opportunity. Something small, but I was also happy that Hayter came out on her own for a number of seconds, before Britt Baker came out – not sure what Rebel’s role is now that Britt and Hater are face characters. Also confused as to why they shook hands before hand.
Love nearly everything the champion does in ring. The intent and purpose in which she moves demands your attention. Her natural physicality and dynamic movements make her stand head and shoulders above the rest of the division. She sells very well, and always gets that across to the audience. I’m sure there was a lot more of the match planned, but I was impressed with her taking charge when her opponent was hurt, going to the finish, clearly protecting her opponent in the finishing move, but making it look very good still. Covered her opponents face in the pinning sequence, to make sure the cameras didn’t see her colleague was in distress also – proper leadership.- 5
I enjoyed her traditional heel tactics, suplex to the corner, eye poke cut offs, but a lot of small things, she seems hesitant to kick hard, to make contact, and there was a specific spot where they were on the apron and she was pushed to the turnbuckle, and she stopped before hitting it, and sold as if she had. Unfortunately we learned afterwards that she hit her head on the follow up apron spot when they both took a front bump, and had to go to the finish shortly after. While on camera she didn’t appear out of sorts thankfully, and hope she is ok. She took an exploder well, then the second one she couldn’t flip bump over for. Seemed to be upset off the second exploder, and after the closing pin. Hope she is ok above all else. - 3
Match Number 3: Jericho Appreciation Society vs Ricky Starks
It’s a damning indictment if the creative authority that Chris Jericho holds, that at the turn of the year, Ricky Starks was red hot, but now that has nearly all been extinguished. The convoluted, repetitive, rivalry formulae that Jericho employs with his various factions, creates an apathy for what he is involved in, and from afar, seems designed to keep him on top, and not to get his opponents over – see Eddie Kingston..
Due to the nature of this over the top, clichéd gauntlet, and the speed in which it was executed, we will only be reviewing the performance of Starks in this match up. Stupid ending – referee wasn’t distracted, and Starks was clearly attacked by someone outside of the match up. Less of this please Tony Khan.
Through no fault of his own, Starks was booked into this bizarre gauntlet match, with on paper seemingly insurmountable odds, in order to face Chris Jericho. The psychology employed in terms of looking for quick wins in order to conserve energy made perfect sense, although the quick nature of his two wins over 2.0 – would in my mind have led to him having full energy before facing Daniel Garcia, rather than fighting from underneath and being fatigued as they portrayed in this. Again, Ricky sold fatigue, struggle well, and made the best of a very bad creative direction in my opinion. Always really like his sprinting running the ropes, building up momentum for his eventual spear. Brilliantly emotive character, sells his fire, fatigue, pain, struggle, incredulity always so well throughout his performances. - 6
Match Number 4: Bryan Danielson vs RUSH
Match of the night, and this series of matches, Danielson has been involved in the last number of weeks are the highlights of the weekly broadcast. Not sure if I can argue against Danielson being the greatest wrestler of all time now. Rush proving yet again he is a main event player in AEW, and a massive 2023 should await him and LFI.
In a normal, non Meltzer, 5 star maximum scale for a match, this easily gets 4.5 for me. Loved it. Only thing I thought was weird was the locking of Danielson, Takeshita Renee, a camera man and a doctor into a room beforehand, with Danielson making the match comfortably. I understand why it was employed, and builds more heat leading to revolution and the stakes for the match involved, just didn’t enjoy. Much preferred the post match to the pre match
A bloodied, fired up, Bryan Danielson is one of my favourite visuals in all of wrestling! The punishment he took from Rush for the majority of the opening of this match, leading to him being busted open, and bleeding profusely, was expertly executed. His fire up, hope spot punches on the apron looked brilliant on camera. Love the slapping and chopping back and forth. His willingness to sell, and make his opponent look over, separates him from the rest of the roster. The flip bump off the belly to belly on the apron looked bloody sore. His running dropkicks, drop kick off the top, all the well selling his arm injury was masterful. Most believable seller in wrestling too. Doesn’t take you out of the contest, or look over the top either. Brilliant as per usual - 9
Rush is possibly the most believable wrestler in AEW. Although all of his strikes are by in large done to very safe areas, there is very little holding back for a lot of them – and I thoroughly enjoy it. He carries himself as someone who is there for a fight – which above all else should be the case. His selling revolves largely around his own intensity, anger and getting fired up by his opponents strikes. Enjoy his disdain and anger show to all referees. His kick to the face off the feigned corner drop kick was lovely. He’s amazing at connecting with the audience and getting his visuals over too. Hi s LFI pose was expertly inserted. Straight jacket pile driver was a nice touch, as well as being incredibly well, and safely, done. His slaps are wonderful to watch. Closing sequence and his movements between moves were somewhat clunky. Really enjoyable otherwise - 7
Match Number 5: Top Flight & AR Fox vs The Elite
Glad Top Flight got this opportunity, particularly after the growth they went through versus Blackpool Combat Club, and their win against the Young Bucks in tag action. This type of wrestling isn’t necessarily my cup of tea, but very much appreciate the efforts, athleticisim, creativity and high paced action employed. The Elite, with their entrance, very much come across as rock stars pre match. Their matches are very Harlem globetrotter-esque, comes across like a treat for the live audience to see and appreciate their greatness, rather than being used as tools to build stories, get other characters over, or to help grow their audience with emotional story telling. Spot fest. Just my opinion however. Seemingly zero rules in these matches also. Rick Knox referee completely buried as an authority.
Has all the tricks, but doesn’t appear to get any emotions or expressions across. More interested in his big moves and spots from what I can see. Comes across as a wrestler who is more interested in showing how many flips and rolls he can do before big spots. Very athletically impressive and talented at all of these maneuvers. His three diving over the top side to side, really annoyed me. Did three dives over the top, sold nothing, got straight back up each time, then did a senton off the top, again sold zero. - 3
Looks far more solid and bigger as a man, glad he appears to be eating more and taking his appearance more seriously. With the additional physicality he has employed since the BCC matches, and improved physique, his potential grows by the day. Liked the attitude from him with Nick Jackson. Off hot tag, offence is somewhat too choreographed for me, but I enjoyed the time he took between move to taunt or pose. Nose dive finish is very cool - 6
Very much my favourite of this trio, understands and employs the importance of selling his struggle, the most physical of the three also. Glad he is the one chosen in these matches to build heat, and to hot tags. In my view, this ability to express himself, gives him a higher ceiling as a wrestler. Spanish fly on Matt very nice, great hope spot. Very smooth tandem offence with Dante. - 6
Rock star. Enjoy his deliberate pace and offence building heat on Darius. Incredibly giving letting AR Fox do all of his convoluted flips and dives, selling all of the damage received, while Fox sold none of it himself. Missed breaking up a pin on Nick towards the end. Snap dragon was my favourite move in this whole match. Really enjoyed the gut wrench doctor bomb, into V trigger, again Fox didn’t sell any of this. Very giving performance from Omega in my opinion again - 7
Rules evidently don’t apply to these matches. Ran in out of nowhere to set up a convoluted flip from Top Flight at start. Much much better as a heel, building heat on Darius. Under rated fundamental wrestler. The northern lights suplex on two men, while pinning Dante was ridiculous. - 4
Opening interactions were fine, didn’t sell a lot, but took a lot of offence and had some overly complicated spots. Better as a heel building heat. Could have taken more time off the Spanish fly hope spot before coming in. Took nose dive finish, 450 splash, and still kicked out. - 4
Match Number 6: AEW World Tag Team Championships – The Acclaimed vs The Gunns
Incredible to see how far all four of these men have come in the less than a year. From comedy jobber roles, separately, and then subsequently together less than a year ago, to The Acclaimed being the most over fun act in AEW, and The Gunn’s being the most natural heel act in AEW. This match really highlighted the importance of tag team wrestling, none of the four men are strong enough as personalities or wrestlers to be singles acts, however as separate unit’s they are incredibly strong acts. A lot of people were unhappy with the result of this match, but I very much enjoyed it, and like the possibilities going forward from it. A big shout out to referee Stephan Smith also, for his performance, bump and selling also. Match appeared to be several minutes short. Structure and finish of this match, much like the FTR match, I imagine, was done to draw in a reaction of shock – all four men achieved this.
Great hot tag, great fire and intensity, very good at finding cameras and selling his facials to the audience. Easily the best technical wrestler in ring. Rolling elbow strike and spot on the referee was so well done on both parts. Lifeless selling off belt show was great. - 6
Started the match, and thought it was apparent from the outset, he is probably the least comfortable in ring performer of the four. Nontheless, glad to see him get a lot of the initial in ring time. His selling is the weakest of the four, in my view, his face a lot of the time looks like he is thinking about the next move, rather than selling intensity, pain or anything else. - 4
Best athlete of all four easily, again like Caster, looks somewhat uncomfortable in himself compared with the other participants. The growth he has shown in less than a year in every aspect is remarkable. His standing drop kick, I believe, is the best in the company. Could have sold his emotions and facials after dropping his father with the title belt a lot better - 5
His dynamic selling, and energetic movements with everything he does stood out as always. The posting and flip bump off the hip toss when he first came into the match was amazing. A performer who realizes the absolute most important thing in wrestling is selling. Like the simplistic, tandem offence, and the work in keeping their opponent away from their corner. Textbook tag team wrestling psychology. Movements and facials post referee bump spot were amazing. Everyone in the arena and at home were in no doubt about his intentions and motivations. Desperation, banana peel finish was very well executed - 6
Editor's Note - Mark O'Brien is a trainee wrestler who uses his experience in watching to learn from these performers to provide an insightful read for the reader.
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