Welcome to the AEW Dynamite Roundtable, where Pro Wrestling Musings' contributors share their thoughts on the biggest talking points arising from AEW Dynamite. Please note writer's views are their own.
This week's contributors are:
-Ryan Gorneault: @RyanGorneault [RG]
-Craig William @CraigPWMusings [CW]
-Gareth Ford-Elliot: @RHWGareth [GFE]
-Jacob Burns: @SaltyAyyycob [JB]
1) Christian Cage vs Matt Sydal was a respectable showcase between two veterans of the industry. This match existed to hype up a Casino Battle Royale with the winner getting at shot at Kenny Omega. Who do you think wins that? Who will the surprise Joker entrant be?
[GFE] I personally want Jungle Boy to win this. The big ball booking of having JB fall short at Revolution in the tag-team Casino Battle Royale before going on to win the Casino Battle Royale at Double or Nothing would be beautiful. Beyond that though, Jungle Boy vs *THIS* Kenny Omega in a Dynamite main event truly is the stuff of dreams.
Not to mention the long-term storytelling flex which is Omega first teased heelish tendencies against Jurassic Express in a trio's match teaming with The Young Bucks.
It'll likely be Christian and that match will be great, I'm sure. I'll hardly be mad with that. However, I feel like with Christian's mantra of "Out Work Everyone" doesn't exactly stand up with a 3-0 record and a battle royal win. Even though you could spin it as "he outlasted 20 other men". I'd rather see Christian go on a bit more of a run and properly earn a title shot.
[CW] I’m pretty into seeing Omega vs Christian, however the Christian singles run is wearing a bit thin on me, however it may just be this match. His match with Kazarian was great and the Dynamic against Hobbs was fresh. Meaningless matches with guys like Sydal don’t seem to work for me.
I love the idea of Jungle Boy vs Omega, that could be a match that strays into the Omega/Fenix quality. I just think we need to get to the Christian match sooner rather than later so everyone can get it out of their systems and move onto more interesting narratives.
The joker? I really don’t know... Obligatory and long-long-shot Daniel Bryan mention aside, could it be Andrade? That’s the most exciting scenario I can muster!
[JB] A week ago I would have said that Christian is a lock to win. That was until Jungle Boy cut his promo on Dark this week, officially putting his name in the hat of potential winners. Thinking further, with how AEW handles their ranking systems, I believe it’s more likely we see a Jungle Boy victory at the PPV. Simply because Christian has an obvious path towards the title, which includes a detour against more members of Team Taz. While Jungle Boy will make the perfect TV feud for Omega in the interim.
The Joker has been hard to clock this time around. Usually the “Casino” brand of matches is paired with a number of recent releases or the ends of non-compete clauses. But this year most of the major WWE releases are still unable to compete, or in the case of Daniel Bryan, highly unlikely to make the jump.
That leaves the number of exciting options low heading into the year’s match. Nick Gage, deathmatch legend and recent Dark Side of the Ring subject is the name I’ve seen tossed around, but I think that this year’s Joker may be someone crossing over from IMPACT. The two companies have had a partnership since late 2020, but you wouldn’t really know it solely watching Dynamite. Kenny Omega currently has 3 feuds running in Impact wrestling, and I believe we could see one could bleed over into AEW in this year’s Casino Battle Royal.
And who better to do the bleeding than “The Death Machine’ himself, Sami Callihan? Callihan was cost a shot at Omega’s IMPACT World Championship at Under Siege, and I could see him entering and winning the Casino Battle Royal to take his pound of flesh.
[RG] Pro Wrestling Musings' own @WrestlingRhymes expressed that they wanted Eddie Edwards to be the Joker, and while I’m not sure how likely it is, it sounds a heck of a lot more feasible than a Bryan Danielson appearance. Sure, Andrade would be cool, but he already has a match against Kenny Omega coming up, so he really does not need to be there. As cool as Nick Gage would be, if the purpose of him showing up was to advance his feud with Jon Moxley, the Casino Battle Royal does not feel like the most effective way to do that.
Eddie Edwards feels like a safe option; he doesn’t need a grand introduction to AEW because a lot of hardcore fans would already know who he is. Plus, he’s already won two (tag team) matches against Kenny Omega, so in storyline, it would make sense for him to want to come to AEW to possibly gain a shot at the AEW World title.
2) Kenny Omega and Don Callis gave Orange Cassidy a choice as to whether he challenges for the AEW Championship at Double or Nothing or at a later date. What do you think happens with this?
[GFE] This was a fascinating development. My guess is that as this episode of Dynamite was taped, AEW wanted to make 100% sure that Orange Cassidy would be ready to go and are giving themselves a get out of jail free card if he isn't fit to wrestle.
Personally, I would prefer Pac vs Omega in a one-on-one match at Double or Nothing with Orange Cassidy challenging at a later date. But out of not wanting to wish injury on Orange Cassidy, let's hope he's good to go. The triple threat match is fascinating in its own right and I'm hyped for either outcome.
[JB] The one thing I felt about this segment was that AEW is better at pivoting than anyone else in the business. If we weren’t in a post-kayfabe era, no one would know this was born out of a botch. This segment, as well as the PAC promo later in the night, worked in the personalities and motivations of all involved so well that I could be convinced that this was always the plan.
I don’t think there’s any chance that Orange Cassidy signs this contract next week. I believe that we’ll get an in-ring segment, followed by a brawl between Omega and Cassidy. Omega will set up a OWA, Cassidy will slip out, and PAC will come out at the end and ultimately feel like a third wheel. But in my opinion, third wheeling only makes PAC’s motivations stronger.
3) How good was Red Velvet vs Serena Deeb? We’re led to believe that the full card has been announced for Double or Nothing, but could we get NWA title match on the buy-in? Is one women’s match for a PPV acceptable?
[RG] If I counted right, 47 men are confirmed to be wrestling on the show (with a 48th counting the unannounced Casino Battle Royale competitor). There are 22 women signed to the AEW roster according to their website and MANY unsigned women who have competed for the company on Dark, Dark: Elevation, during the Deadly Draw tournament, and during the Women’s Eliminator tournament. The fact that only 4 percent of the competitors on the PPV are women is completely unacceptable, especially considering how many women have appeared on AEW programming.
Sure, AEW having a high quantity of women on their events would be purely performative without enough time for matches and without quality storylines, but that would be an okay-ish start, right? AEW still clearly has SO much work to do.
[GFE] Red Velvet vs Deeb was amazing. Easily match of the night and it's so great to see Deeb back. She is an expert and probably deserving of at least a buy-in title defence, in my opinion.
For the reasons Ryan gives above it is not acceptable to have just one women's match on the PPV.
Despite the good work and progress made in AEW's women's division this year, the company continues to not do as much as they could be and continue to be left with few excuses for doing so.
This episode was one of the better weeks for the women's division, but despite Deeb vs Red Velvet being great, which was represented in the ratings breakdown with the highest quarterly viewing figure, this episode still left a lot to be desired.
[CW] I think the answer to this question was signposted by the change in attitude of Serena Deeb in her title defence against Red Velvet. Deeb was working a considerably more heel style and was excellent in her execution of it. I think and I hope that we are getting Thunder Rosa versus Serena Deeb in the Buy-in, which will rule and is very necessary for all the reasons Ryan has out-lined above.
4) Anthony Ogogo pummelled Austin Gunn and then threw Cody’s flag across the ring. How good is Ogogo and should he defeat Cody at Double or Nothing?
[GFE] Ogogo just knows his role and exactly how to play it and judging by the reaction online I am not alone in my love of Anthony Ogogo. His entire presentation from his logo to his music to his booking thus far has been brilliant.
Many people want him to win. However, he is a character coming into a new sport against a master of pro-wrestling. Would Tyson Fury go into the UFC octagon and defeat Francis Ngannou? Probably not. I urge fans of Ogogo to calm it if Cody does win this match.
It's a match I could see either man winning, until Cody put his father's moniker on himself. I now expect Cody to win and I've made my peace with that. I trust Cody will do a good job of getting Ogogo in defeat, likely targeting the legs and tapping Ogogo out after a struggle. This will act as a lesson in pro-wrestling for Ogogo and he will learn a lot as a performer in this match.
I presume the feud between the factions continues to boil over into a multi-man Bunkhouse Match where I hope the likes of Ogogo and Nick Comoroto in particular are made to look like absolute killers to end the feud on a high for The Factory.
[CW] In response to the issues of whether or not Ogogo should win, I am unsure. Usually, a loss to someone positioned as highly as Cody is not a death blow and is in fact the complete opposite, much in the vein of how a loss to John Cena in his United States Championship Open Challenge was an opportunity. However, how does Ogogo lose whilst getting over the deadliness of his style?
Even if Cody has colour as he is so attached to doing, him surviving numerous punches and coming out on top surely dims Ogogo’s burgeoning aura? Cody is positioned only to allow a select few to beat him therefore making those wins significant; Darby and Brodie were elevated ahead of terrific talents such as Cassidy, Penta and Archer, this way. Do AEW see Ogogo in this way? He’s new, it’d be a risk... I’d do it! But Cody is the American Dream for one night only. I think this one goes to Cody.
[JB] I’ve never rooted for a murder more than Anthony Ogogo punching the guts out of Austin Gunn. I haven’t always been drawn to the “Killer Babyface” archetype, but I will never get tired of watching Ogogo punching tummies. I know he’s not technically a face right now, but he’s going to be one at DoN, and AEW need to run with it.
Having said that, I don’t believe Ogogo is going over Cody at the PPV. As pointed out by Gareth he’s coming into a new sport, and he’s going against one of the best. But something I feel got lost in what I believe was Austin Gunn’s retirement match, was Ogogo’s selling for the small flurry of offence Gunn got in. Just from that small sample size, I saw a ton potential for what he could do in a full match.
[RG] Anthony Ogogo is such an interesting person because his in-ring persona, while scathing, is absolutely correct in his critiques, and ss a person, he’s very clearly an inspiration, rallying against bigots, fighting through the numerous eye surgeries that forced him to retire from boxing, and generally standing up for what he believes in. I’m sure AEW expected that some people would boo him for his anti-American stances, but there’s no way they expected THAT many people to turn on Cody Rhodes in support of him.
The fact that their feud is so heavily predicated on themes of patriotism leads me to believe that Rhodes will win this despite such a groundswell of support for Ogogo. I could not name a single time an American versus Foreigner feud in wrestling ended without the American getting their comeuppance in some way or another. It would probably make most sense for Ogogo to win since The Factory has taken some noteworthy losses, but I don’t see that happening.
5) Frankie Kazarian appeared to wage war on the entirety of The Elite. How do you see this playing out?
[CW] Is this a QT Marshall situation? I was surprised at this positioning of Kazarian. Will he amass a force from which a younger star emerges and gets over as Ogogo is doing? Such a prominent spot seems wasted on just a veteran such as Kazarian as would the spot Marshall is currently in would be if not for Ogogo.
[GFE] I like Craig's suggestions above. If that is the direction with youngsters to benefit off the back of Kazarian and Christopher Daniels' guidance, then I'm all for it.
Alternatively, Kazarian running through Nakazawa and Cutler in order to get to the Good Brothers, Bucks and Omega would be good. Omega already has a line of babyfaces ready to knock down before he hopefully drops the title to Hangman. Adding Kazarian would be something I'm in favour of.
[RG] I thought this was an interesting development, because Frankie Kazarian and the Young Bucks have crossed paths numerous times before AEW came to be (Impact Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, and Ring Of Honor, among other promotions). I'm honestly not sure how this plays out, but I think it could be cool to see more and more people despise The Elite and attempt to fully push them off their pedestals.
As for Kazarian’s progression, I hope this storyline can help him become a more fully-fleshed character. While he definitely has great wrestling ability, I’ve always thought his promos were lacklustre and that everyone around him tended to shine brighter than him in that regard. Hopefully, this storyline changes that and he gets to shine.
6) With Eddie Kingston and Jon Moxley beating The Acclaimed and Young Bucks defeating Varsity Blonde, Bucks vs Mox & Eddie is finally confirmed for Double or Nothing. With Eddie Kingston stealing The Bucks’ shoes, do you think he can steal their titles too? And how much did you enjoy these two tag matches?
[GFE] This is one of the best booked feuds I can remember and I can say that because regardless of the result I only see this ending as a great story.
The booking of putting these two matches on the same show was masterful. Neither match was a 5-star classic but what they were is extremely nuanced character-pieces. The juxtaposition of the two teams couldn't be more obvious.
That's before you start speaking about the establishment of two tag-team finishers for Mox & Eddie on the same night The Bucks tap out Brian Pillman Jr. with the sharpshooter which would target Eddie Kingston's injured legs and broken down back.
A masterclass of character work and storytelling.
[CW] This is going to be class. Matt Jackson may be my favourite wrestler out there right now. I love his in-ring antics. Nick Jackson’s use of his athleticism to convey arrogance was exceptional. Eddie Kingston is the most endearing character in wrestling right now and Jon Moxley is a charisma machine that I did not expect to love this much! This match will be gold.
[JB] With the way AEW book championship reigns, I’m not going to put money on The Young Bucks losing the belts at DoN. But with the way AEW tell stories, I have a hard time believing Moxley & Kingston having a gigantic babyface victory in front of a roaring crowd.Either way it goes, this match is going to be match of the night, but I have a theory about where this is going.
The Young Bucks lost a title match to Page & Omega last year at Revolution. Page & Omega then lost the titles to FTR. Who then lost the titles to TYB. So, I believe that if Mox & Kingston beat TYB, they should the lose the titles back to FTR, creating a Rock/Paper/Scissors loop between TYB, FTR, and singles teams comprised of top stars.
7) We had what we are led to believe is the full Double or Nothing card announced on Dynamite. How excited are you for the PPV as of now?
[RG] With any wrestling event, I adopt the mantra, “Expect the worst, hope for the best.” The same thing applies here. For every Double or Nothing 2020, there’s an All Out 2020, and for every Full Gear 2020, there’s a Revolution 2021. AEW’s pay-per-views (at least their Daily Place pandemic pay-per-views) have been hit-or-miss for me; I think on some level, they don’t feel like they need their PPVs to be bangers each and every time, just as long as they continue producing great television content.
So, I guess my excitement is not the highest level it could be, but I’m still looking forward to watching, because regardless of its quality, the pay-per-view will surely inform the direction of the company as it enters its TBS era.
[GFE] The build for Double or Nothing hasn't been the best. Some matches have been built exceptionally well. Mox & Eddie vs Young Bucks, for example. However, some matches have really lacked a solid build. The men's and women's world title matches in particular.
Either way, the card itself looks amazing! I think it'll deliver on the night, but I do adopt Ryan's mantra above; "expect the worst, hope for the best." AEW have a tendency to try to overdeliver on PPV and sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't.
8) What did you make of this episode of Dynamite as a whole? Is there anything else you’d like to highlight?
[GFE] Overall I felt this was a fun episode of Dynamite. I'm just excited for Double or Nothing now. The main negative I have for this show is that I have to go through another Dynamite to get there, as this felt like a good go-home show. Regardless, I have faith they'll make me even more excited next Friday.
[JB] This episode of Dynamite was one of the overall strongest episodes we’ve had in a while. No filler and no missteps, but I want to take time to highlight the level of promos we had this week. From everybody. The Acclaimed, Moxley/Kingston, The Pinnacle, Inner Circle, Ricky Starks, Ethan Page, Scorpio Sky, Kenny Omega, PAC, Kazarian, Miro, Lance Archer, and even Varsity Blondes who hadn’t had mic time on Dynamite until this week. The promos produced by this company are higher than they’ve ever been in the modern era. Letting performers cut promos without a script elevated this week’s show to another level.