DANTE MARTIN SHINES IN BRITTSBURGH | AEW Dynamite Roundtable Review #23
Welcome to the AEW Dynamite Roundtable, where Pro Wrestling Musings' contributors share their thoughts on the biggest talking points arising from AEW Dynamite. Check out the preview to see how right or wrong we were. Please note writer's views are their own.
This week's contributors are:
-With thanks to Scott Lesh for photography.
1) The Elite defeated Dante Martin, Matt and Mike Sydal. After the match it was announced that Christian Cage would face Omega for the Impact title on Rampage as well as for the AEW championship at All Out. Furthermore, The Young Bucks will defend their AEW Tag Team championships against Jurassic Express on next week’s Dynamite. What did you make of the match as well as these announcements?
[Sergei] Dante Martin and the Sydals are perfect pure & honorable foils for the Elite’s epic douchebaggery. The match was an absolutely thrilling, star-making turn, especially for Dante, who seemed completely unbound by any strictures of physics.
Christian Cage being scheduled for two separate title challenges for two different titles Kenny holds was certainly surprising! But I won’t judge it till I see how it plays out. My bet is that the Elite do some especially outrageous shenanigans to keep the belt on Kenny, and as a result "Jack Tunney" declares a stip for the PPV that prevents such shenanigans. Maybe put the Elite in a cell at ringside? But I’m not set on it; there are many ways they could go with this, and I don’t think we should declare it a terrible idea before the fact.
[Shreyas] As I mention later on in this roundtable, I loved The Elite vs Sydal Bros and Dante.
As for the Christian vs Kenny announcement(s), I am sure that the match they have on Rampage for the IMPACT title is the only one they're going to have. I am convinced that after the match (which Kenny wins), the Elite are going to triple BTE trigger him several times (I still prefer to call it the Golden BTE trigger) and he's going to be written off from the All Out match (playing into his well-documented history of concussions).
I honestly don't know who Kenny is facing at the PPV but I doubt they're going to do a rematch between him and Cage so soon. As for the match itself, I am very excited for it, since it is kind of my number one dream match of all time, my favourite wrestler of all time vs the man who I believe is the greatest of all time. I hope they get at least 20 minutes because I believe they can truly create something special if given the right amount of time. Looking forward to the Bucks vs Jurassic Express too!
[Peter] A star was born in Dante Martin. What an absolutely fantastic performance from the kid and the way he was beat, with all three of The Elite needed to get him down for the 3-count made Dante look strong.
As for the Christian/Omega announcement, I like the idea of the IMPACT title match as a Christian win will get people thinking “Has Christian got Kenny’s number?”. I expect both matches to be excellent with Christian’s and Kenny’s abilities to construct matches being unmatched by anyone else in wrestling today. The crowd reaction could be interesting though with hints of rebellion from the fans with the Yes and CM Punk chants during the announcement of the match at All Out.
2) What are your thoughts on the build to Red Velvet vs Britt Baker? Last week we saw a challenged laid down and accepted as words were exchanged. This week we heard from Velvet and Baker separately and got a coming together as Red Velvet attacked Britt. With this announced as Rampage’s first main event, does it excite you? With Kris Statlander getting a convincing win over Nyla Rose, is she next in line at All Out?
[Gareth] It’s kind of exciting, kind of weird. Baker’s challengers so far have provided a very weird heel/face dynamic. Nyla was a heel and so was Baker, and Baker was the one being cheered. Red Velvet is as pure a babyface as you’ll find in that division, but Baker’s pull with the crowd is too strong. It feels like Baker needs to be turned babyface ASAP. My pitch for which is a double turn in a match against Thunder Rosa.
It’s super exciting that a women’s match will main event the first Rampage. Hopefully a statement of intent and not an empty gesture like the Dynamite main event was. Statlander is likely the All Out opponent, although Thunder Rosa is still number one contender, so I’m holding out hope for that. Stat will not be a disappointment, though.
[Sergei] It is strange that Britt’s first two feuds are against a fellow heel and a fiery babyface and they choose to do the babyface feud with the rabid towel-spinners of her hometown. But I hope they don’t blatantly have her change her ways to match her reactions, and definitely not try to swerve us on Thunder Rosa, who has such a natural and organic connection with the fans.
I’m extremely excited for Rampage to kick off with a women’s division main event, and am cautiously hopeful that the additional hour will allow the women’s division to really flower.
[Peter] Rampage will be a showcase for the mayoress of Brittsburgh. I expect a decent main event with Britt being a clean winner. I also think we might end up seeing a Thunder Rosa vs Kris Statlander No. 1 contenders match with the winner getting a shot at Britt at All Out. Like Sergei, I’m hopeful that tonight can really get some momentum for the women’s division which has stalled in the last few months.
3) Chris Jericho overcame Wardlow in the fourth ‘Labour of Jericho’, utilising Floyd the baseball bat to do so. How do you feel about this match and how do you reflect of the ‘Labours of Jericho’ overall?
[Sergei] I called it that there would be shenanigans that would protect Wardlow from the loss and that Friedman would cost him the match. For my taste, it could have been made even more blatant that it was really all Max’s fault, but it was fine.
[Shreyas] I might be in the minority here, but I have done a full 180 on the Labours of Jericho storyline from when it was announced. I wasn’t really intrigued by it at first but it has been a fun month of very different matches, and Jericho despite my recent opinions on him, has stepped up for what seems like the last full-time singles run for him. MJF has been excellent on the mic throughout as expected.
I’m not really a fan of Wardlow losing so soon after losing to Hager (which is why I would’ve preferred someone else as labour #4) and I would’ve tried protecting him in this match even more than they did, but it is what it is.
[Peter] I thought the Wardlow match was weak. I like the expected event of the fans singing “Judas” without the backing track next week but in hindsight, I would have had Jericho needing to beat 4 or 5 guys in a Ladder Match playing off the whole “Jericho invented the Money in the Bank match” story that used to be in WWE canon. Regards the “Labours” story it has been fun and we got to see Nick Gage on national wrestling television, which made me very happy.
[Gareth] The match kind of stunk. Jericho got beat down for the duration and then cheats to win. There’s very little to it and it was predictable in the worst way. The passivity in the responses above proves my point. This is supposed to be the most dramatic point of this story. “It’s fine” should not be the response.
It’s very convenient and plain booking rather than something genuinely intriguing and it made Wardlow look extremely ordinary.
The worst of Jericho’s labours by a long distance which has been an okay strand of the story. The Gage match was certainly the highlight, the rest seriously lacked drama. But as filler I guess it was okay. Still, nowhere near its potential and that’s where the critique comes in.
4) Who was your AEW stand-out performer of the week?
[Gareth] I’m going to let someone else say the obvious and go for my boi, Daniel Garcia. He tore, kicked and stretched the crap out of Darby Allin’s arm. I’ve been aware of this man’s existence for about two weeks and I’m already a huge fan. I get serious Bryan Danielson vibes from him, which is far from a bad thing... Bryan being my favourite of all time and that.
[Peter] Dante Martin, Dante Martin, Dante Martin, Dante Martin, Dante Martin, Dante Martin, Dante Martin. Seriously, I fell in love with that guy during Dynamite. I want to sing 80’s ballads to him when he wrestles on television after that match. Just magnificent.
5) What was your AEW match of the week?
[Shreyas] The Elite vs Sydals and Dante Martin was a barrel of fun and definitely my match of the week. The Elite once again showed why they're the absolute best wrestlers in the world and the best heels in the business. (They are my favourites but I still want them to get punched hard by the babyfaces).
The Sydals were very good in this match too (Matt in my opinion is the most underrated person on the AEW roster), but the person who stole the show here was 20-year-old prodigy Dante Martin. And it wasn't just in a "damn this kid can fly!" way either, it was in a "damn this kid is probably going to be the best wrestler in the world someday!" Way.
Kenny and the Jacksons sold their asses off for him. There were many incredible spots in the match, and the finish was absolutely genius, putting over the young upstart even though he took the pin. A star-making performance in a great match to kick off Dynamite.
[Gareth] Shreyas has given the correct answer and I’ve already raved about Daniel Garcia. So, I’ll just say that Lucha Bros vs Sydal Bros from Dark: Elevation was exceptional. Really fun action that would be match of the week most other weeks. What a showing from Matt and Mike Sydal as of recent!
6) How would you rate this episode of AEW Dynamite? Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
[Sergei] An exciting first hour couldn’t be ruined for me by a relatively lackluster second hour. Even if I didn’t love the second half of the show, it wasn’t enough to blunt the amazing momentum they’ve built over the weeks of exciting, near-perfect Dynamites and I remain psyched for the first episode of Rampage.
Re: “Anything Else”? I feel that somebody needs to make note that Excalibur made a second reference to “the best in the world” during Darby’s match. STAY HYPE, friends!
Also: I want my flowers. I called it two weeks ago that Paul Wight would interrupt Marshall screwing with Schiavone to kick off a feud with the Factory. Never said that I wanted it or expected it to be good, just sort of inevitable...
[Shreyas] 7.5/10, same as last week for me. Very good episode but the standard for Dynamite is on such a level now that even a great episode such as this one seems average in comparison. Very well paced with some good segments, although the matches weren’t particularly mind-blowing barring the opener.
[Peter] 7 out of 10, the second hour was weaker than the first by a margin but some fun stuff from Daniel Garcia and Darby Allin and I’m not sure if you’re aware but I rather enjoyed Dante’s performance.
[Gareth] 6/10 by Dynamite standards. AEW should be held to a high standard and 6/10 is still a very watchable show. 8/10 for the first hour, 4/10 for the second. Screw it, the crowd were so good, we'll give it 7/10.