Faction Warfare Rages On | AEW Dynamite Roundtable #14
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:
-Jacob Burns: @SaltyAyyycob [JB]
-Daisy Foster: @boutmachines [DF]
-Gareth Ford-Elliot: @RHWGareth [GFE]
-Craig William @CraigPWMusings [CW]
1) The Nightmare Family vs The Factory feud is rolling on with Brock Anderson, son of Arn, teaming with Cody as well as QT Marshall vs Cody in a strap match announced for July. Are you still into this feud? Has it been effective in getting over the less experienced talent? If not, do you have faith they can turn it around?
[CW] I actually really enjoy QT Marshall in the ring and on the microphone. His in-ring style always seems really thought out and the last time he wrestled Cody he seemed to have just collected up a random array of unoriginal moves.
I’m very into seeing Brrrrrrrrock Lesnanderson. It adds a fascinating element to the Arn Anderson-Cody-Horsemen family trees of drama. Getting over talent? They’ve certainly had screen time, sometimes with great talent screen time and a platform alongside established talent is all you need.
[JB] I had such high hopes for The Factory as a faction in AEW. But I don’t think any of the members have actually been put over in a meaningful way. I get looking good in defeat, but too many defeats can spoil the broth. QT lost to Cody, Ogogo lost to Cody, Comoroto lost to Dustin, and Solow lost to Austin Gunn of all people on Dark mere weeks after their debut. I don’t think they’ve been handled in a way that makes me want to keep seeing them get screen time. And that sucks because I thoroughly enjoy them as characters.
The prospect of adding Brock Anderson to this feud is an exciting one. It was a fun moment hearing the fanbase’s heart collectively come to a halt when they almost announced Brock Lesnar. And he’s a young guy who has all the potential in the world. The only reason I’m excited for another Cody/Factory match is because of his involvement, but this feud has become to outstay it’s welcome for me.
[DF] I think the problem here, and why I find myself unenthused with the Factory/Family shenanigans, is that I’m just not that invested in the presented talent. This storyline could continue, and I do appreciate that the spotlight is being put on younger guys, but they’re taking up far too much screen time for my liking. New talent needs to be eased in slowly, and when you have them taking up so many weekly match slots over the established, seasoned talent on the roster, they can get kind of… Irritating.
Do I feel guilty for saying that? Yes. Yes, I do. But this is slowly starting to wear me out. As for the strap match, I don’t see it coming even close to the dog collar match against Brodie Lee or the cage match against Wardlow in quality, and as a result, I have my reservations. I think I’d just much rather see a fun gimmick match between any two other wrestlers on this roster. Sorry Cody.
2) Every member of The Pinnacle accepted challenges from their opposites in the Inner Circle. All except for MJF who turned down Jericho challenge, instead calling out Guevara. Obviously, the two factions are going to have a series of matches, but where do you see this building to considering we’ve already had Blood & Guts and Stadium Stampede?
[CW] Fantastic stuff. A slick way of getting MJF/Guevara and MJF/Jericho. But I’m going back to what I’ve been saying for weeks. The Pinnacle need to start winning and decisively, arguably the Inner Circle got another win over The Pinnacle this week. The only times The Pinnacle has got one over on Inner Circle was when they destroyed them during their debut and Blood and Guts.
For a debuting stable that is supposed to be the Four Horsemen reborn, The Pinnacle have spent most of their time selling for the Inner Circle. It almost doesn’t matter how they do it, as long as they do win decisively in the end over the Inner Circle.
[GFE] I agree with Craig. However, I would add that I think, or hope, this feud ends with a 5v5 elimination match with the losing faction disbanding. Most likely at All Out. Craig suggested on Twitter that it be a gauntlet style match. This could end with MJF vs Jericho without having to do a full rematch, which just doesn't interest me as much.
If something along that line is the plan, then The Pinnacle having a series of decisive wins to kill off The Inner Circle will leave The Pinnacle looking strong. AEW may be building Inner Circle up so that when The Pinnacle finishes them it means more and hits harder. If that is not the plan, then I completely agree with Craig above.
[JB] I said it last week and I’ll say it again. I would like to see a Pinnacle vs. Inner Circle TV special. I think a lot of the shine is coming off this feud for a lot of people, because they started with Blood & Guts and worked backwards. I think it will benefit them to end each feud in one fell swoop.
I was not expecting them to also throw out MJF vs Guevara in the same feud, because the pairs seemed to be set in stone. But I could see them doing that match as a main event in the build-up to a tv special between the two factions. Maybe as a way to earn Jericho a match with MJF.
[DF] I’m happy to watch this play out as long as it doesn’t end in Jericho somehow finding a way to have a match against MJF as was suggested above. Swerving us with the MJF/Guevara match was the best choice they could have made here, and I’m genuinely very excited to see it. They’re both fantastic and are the obvious singles stars of their respective factions, so I predict this one getting great crowd reactions, which is exactly what AEW need going into their tour.
As for where this is building to – I've stopped trying to guess. I thought Blood and Guts would be the end of it. Then I thought Stadium Stampede would be the end of it. Now here we are, seemingly no closer to the finish line. I’ll just cross my fingers that this thing is over before All Out. In an ideal world, that pay-per-view will be completely void of Pinnacle/Inner Circle stuff.
3) There was major progression in the Team Taz saga, with Ricky Starks slapping Brian Cage, provoking Cage to abandon his station to chase Starks to the back. What do you think this means for the future of Team Taz?
[CW] Surprised Team Taz is breaking up, I don’t really see Brian Cage as a babyface. He’s got boss bad guy written all over him, just look at him… Where do Team Taz go without him? Is it the Ricky Starks vehicle? If that sees Starks pushed to the stratosphere, I don’t mind, but something tells me that’s not the case!
[JB] Cage is an interesting performer. And it’s strange because my interest in him comes from how uninteresting he is. Not as far as in-ring work. I could watch Cage move around a ring for hours without getting bored. He honestly might be one of my favourite in-ring guys right now. But he’s never had much more of a character than muscular and athletic. Besides the time he was a knock-off Thanos in Lucha Underground... And that other time when he was literally Thanos in AAA... But when he isn’t Thanos, he just doesn’t have the natural charisma that you’d expect from a key figure in an important feud.
That’s why it’s interesting that he’s the one they’ve decided to split from Team Taz, and not someone more charismatic (as well as someone the fans would like to see break out more) like Ricky Starks. But I get why they’re doing it, and the answer lies in the same reason why it might not make sense initially. Ricky Starks’ overwhelming charisma would make him a better babyface than Cage. But having him as a face next to Hangman would clash, and maybe even overshadow someone who’s pinned to be the top babyface. Cage’s bland character only helps to compliment Hangman in what is ultimately Hangman’s ascension to the main event scene. And Ricky Starks can use his charisma to elevate Page and Cage as faces, and Team Taz as its new ace.
4) Who was your AEW stand-out performer of the week?
[GFE] Leyla Hirsch is fantastic and always steps up to the plate when tasked with her Dynamite spots. Her match against Nyla Rose was no difference. She sold really well and her comeback towards the end of the match was really exciting. Hirsch understands how to use her size (or lack thereof) and momentum to her advantage. It makes for really exhilarating offence and I am just always left wanting more.
[CW] Miro. He is just so fantastic in the role. He comes across like the hardest man in the world and oozes charisma. He communicates and projects himself non-verbally throughout the match against Ten, with apparent ease. An incredibly effective heel champion who will jump straight into the main event scene as soon as he’s done with the TNT Championship and/or Kip Sabian.
[JB] Evil Uno. In recent weeks I’ve seen a number of people talk about how underrated of a worker Evil Uno is, but even then, this guy does not get the recognition he deserves. Coming from THAT class of PWG alums, he’s seemed like a backburner guy in AEW. But the guy knows wrestling. So much so that I feel the need to sing his praises, even in a match where he was selling the whole time. But I will get into that match in the next section. It’s just amazing to watch a man named EVIL Uno be the most sympathetic babyface, even while wearing a mask.
5) What was your AEW match of the week?
[GFE] Hikaru Shida vs Diamanté on Elevation is my match of the week. There were some strong matches on all shows this week, but Shida vs Diamanté really stood out, particularly for Diamanté’s work. She was fantastic in this match and it made me hopeful of some form of push in the near future.
I’m loving the slight teases for Shida turning heel and I’m *really* hoping I’m not just reading into nothing on this one. Because Hikaru Shida as a heel just sounds incredible.
[CW] *That* Trios match between Death Triangle and Kingston against the Bucks and Cutler. The story bubbled throughout and the action was unreal. The Bucks have gone from being the purveyors of plentiful offence to selling machines. Their style was my favourite when they were putting offence rich performances before joining Omega once again and now a love their offence-lite but attitude heavy character-rich selling! Multifaceted talents.
[JB] Before I get into my match of the week, quick honourable mention to Evil Uno vs Danny Limelight. I was hype AF. But it could not compare to the emotional bludgeoning that was Evil Uno vs Miro for the TNT Championship. It was clear from the beginning of this match that Uno stood no chance against Miro. That continued to be clear even after the rest of the Dark Order including –1. The moments that were supposed to be hope spots, never for a moment did I believe Evil Uno could win, because against Miro, there is no hope. Miro has become a monster of biblical proportions. And Uno was the perfect Dark Order member to play a sympathetic punching bag.
6) How would you rate this episode of AEW Dynamite? Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
[CW] B-. It was very good. However, there was no 4* in-ring action or promo segment. Solid all round, stories were progressed and the in-ring was enjoyable. More of a primer episode than a deliverer one!
[JB] B. Far better than last week’s skippable affair. Storylines progressed well, which is the baseline of quality for Dynamite. Though it wasn’t mentioned in the article, this episode did successfully get me more hyped for Jungle Boy vs Omega. An average successful show.
[DF] B! Such an improvement from last week, with a lot of great promo and story-building between a handful of enjoyable matches. Personally, the Sting/Darby segment was a highlight this week. Jungle Boy getting some mic time was also great, as was the short Andrade vignette. And my god, that heel elite video package had me almost in tears with laughter. More of those, please.
[GFE] B- by Dynamite standards. A consistently good show with a masterful Young Bucks performance. A lot to enjoy to build towards better episodes. Considering the circumstances of Dynamite being on at a strange time where ratings will be low, this is as good as we can realistically expect.