Welcome to the AEW Dynamite Roundtable, where Pro Wrestling Musings' contributors share their thoughts on the biggest talking points and answering the moustache questions arising from AEW Dynamite. Please note writer's views are their own.
This week's contributors are:
-Ryan Gorneault: @RyanGorneault [RG]
-Dan: @WrestlingRhymes [DH]
-Harry Walker: @HarryWalker63 [HW]
-Gareth Ford-Elliot: @RHWGareth [GFE]
-Joe Cabana: @JoeProWrestling [JC] -Sergei Alderman: @SergeiAlderman [SA]
1) Dark Order came out and hinted that they knew of someone worthy of challenging Kenny Omega after the AEW champion expressed that his work as champion was done. ‘Hangman’ Adam Page then confronted Dark Order about this backstage, and they encouraged Page to challenge Kenny. Are you excited by this development in the Hangman vs Omega story?
[JC] Absolutely. When you think back to Adam telling the Bucks that he wanted his friends out there with him for his title match against Chris Jericho, it was actually heart-warming to see that the direction of this story will progress around The Hangman finally having friends in his corner to push him and back him up, so that he can achieve what everyone (except Adam himself) knows he can achieve. When The Hangman finally enters the ring, microphone in hand, and utters the sentence “Kenny Omega, I challenge you”, my expectations are no less than for this to be one of AEWs all-time great stories.
[SA] Without question, this is—and has been for some time—one of the most compelling long-term storylines in all of pro wrestling and it seems to finally be coming to a head. The Dark Order seemed to be setting themselves up for trouble by issuing a challenge on behalf of the Hangman without checking with him. But it turned out that they knew exactly what they were getting into, and rightly called Hangman out for encouraging them to pursue their opportunities but not applying the same standard to himself. It was a genuine and heartfelt moment, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
[RG] For a long while, it seemed like AEW dropped the Adam Page – Dark Order storyline, so I’m just happy they didn’t forget those relationships existed. AEW should never forget that wholesomeness is an equally important commodity in wrestling as badassery and vulgarity.
Now, Page is a unique character because he represents the two major pieces of the “Piece of Shit at The Center of The Universe” philosophy; he has horrible self-esteem outside of the ring but knows he’s a boss inside of the ring. Hopefully, the Dark Order could help him realize that he is not a piece of shit so that he could conquer and become the center of the AEW universe.
[DH] AEW have built the most magnificent heel possible in Kenny Omega and the Super-Elite arseholes that stand behind him. AEW have also built the most sympathetic babyface in the business in Hangman Page and his self-doubting, flawed cowboy hero figure. Tag onto that the ‘impossible not to love’ element of the Dark Order and this is set up to be absolutely stupendous pro-wrestling television.
Kenny in particular was wonderful as the guy filling Hangman’s head with the doubts he already has (whilst also sneaking in a well-deserved dig at Ryan Satin and Michael Cole) and I cannot wait to see how this escalates in the next few weeks.
[HW] AEW have always benefitted from having amazing promos on their show that are able to make a match feel must-see at a week’s notice; Eddie Kingston, MJF and Chris Jericho are just some of the names that have done this for them in the past.
One man who is almost universally critically acclaimed for his in-ring work but often overlooked for his microphone skills is Kenny Omega, but he was amazing here in his war of words with Evil Uno and suddenly I think him versus Hangman is the match they MUST do at All Out even though there is still SEVERAL other challengers on the roster I’d like to see Omega wrestle before he (possibly) loses the belt.
I loved this segment and the Hangman character arc is suddenly my favourite thing in wrestling once again. I can’t wait to see the next chapter in this story.
2) Britt Baker and Rebel defeated Nyla Rose and Vickie Guerrero in what was the only contribution to this Dynamite from the women’s division. What are your thoughts on the match and division as a whole?
[JC] A Dynamite rarity, in the sense that it was legitimately hard to watch. Frustrating on so many levels I don’t know where to begin. I suppose I’ll go with this, what are they trying to achieve with Britt Baker’s title run? She’s acting like a heel in every promo, but the booking is setting her up for cheers. Why is she feuding with Nyla Rose and Vickie in the first place? I can’t make sense of it, but if they want Britt to regain her heat, they are failing miserably.
Riho, Tay Conti, Leyla Hirsch, Red Velvet, Statlander, they’re all there! Why last night was 1) booked and 2) approved for TV, I’d legitimately like answers to from the people in charge.
[SA] The biggest thing that stood out to me about this match was just how much Nyla has improved in the ring. The draped knee drop is an incredibly impactful move, but the long set up has always been a difficulty for suspension of disbelief, and when particularly slow could completely take you out of the story of a match. Last night, on the other hand, we saw a Nyla Rose who clambered to the top turnbuckle with genuinely catlike quickness to drop that move with no delay whatever.
I had a ton of fun with this match, and had no problem with the story of an arrogant monster sure that pairing with her non-wrestler second wouldn’t keep her from beating up the champion. I agree though that we need to start seeing more than one women’s match and more than one women’s division storyline advanced every Dynamite. The excuses for not being there yet are in the past.
[RG] Expect The Worst. Hope For The Best.
Live by this motto to make wrestling at lot more fun for yourself, but don’t let this way of thinking blind you from the very real problems this match represented. In a vacuum, this match had pretty fun moments, and I’ll agree with Sergei that Nyla Rose has improved tremendously (it’s not like she was bad to begin with).
With added context though, this match pretty much represented everything wrong with AEW’s booking of the women’s division. It would be one thing if they booked women who don’t wrestle or wrestle on a part-time basis on a card that featured multiple women’s matches, but the fact that the one women’s match on the card (that only lasted seven minutes and accounted for a measly 12.7% of the in-ring action) featured a part timer and a non-wrestler makes it seem like the company doesn’t have faith in their own wrestlers.
From a storyline perspective, it made the full-timers in the match look like chumps for having to rely on who they relied on, and it made the rest of the women’s division look like chumps for not stepping up to the plate. To put it bluntly, it makes EVERYONE look bad.
[DH] All of the above points are spot on, and another thing caught my attention this week. In the, admittedly excellent, farewell to Dailys Place video, it was noticeable how few moments from the women’s division were included. In the past there have been genuine reasons why the division wasn’t given the same attention as the men, but more than two years into the run of AEW those excuses simply aren’t there anymore.
The matches should be of a higher quality than this (i.e. use wrestlers not managers). The representation across the board should be better (a female commentator maybe?) And the women’s title should not be built around Vickie Guerrero and cheeseburgers. It’s not good enough.
[HW] My biggest problem with the women’s division is the quality, or lack thereof, in all of the stories, rather than the amount. I just want a reason to care. There is so much talent in the women’s division, finally, but there has been nothing entertaining in it since Double or Nothing. Also, Vickie Guerrero should not be on TV in 2021; not with Nyla and definitely not with Andrade.
3) MJF defeated Sammy Guevara with the help of The Pinnacle. What did you make of the main event?
[JC] A magnificent main event that still managed to leave me wanting more, and I expect we’re going to get a lot more between these two in the years to come. There were a lot of crazy moves and spots here, but everything was backed up by the story they were trying to tell. My biggest complaint is that MJF should have sold the knee a little longer, before making the pinfall attempt after the second rope piledriver, some adjustments on little things like that and they’d have been close to perfection.
[SA] I hate when a great match ends in a cop-out ending in order to serve some completely different feud. That’s one of the great things about telling stories with factions—the run-ins are all still relevant to the feud of the match. Just an absolutely fantastic and entertaining match, and the high-speed opening segment was just jaw-dropping in execution. No complaints about the Pinnacle getting the W and no complaints about them doing it dirty as hell. It’s what’s right for the story now.
[DH] Brilliant from start to finish, and conducted by two guys who epitomise what AEW is all about. It was a fusion of very simple, but tremendous, heel v face work, coupled with the sort of in-ring action which, when done well, really does set AEW apart from its competitors.
The leap from Sammy over the railings to the outside was exhilarating, and the tombstone from the ropes was terrifying. All the while other stories were playing out around the ring and all of it made complete sense. A superb end to the show and a fitting end to the imposed era of Dailys Place isolation.
[HW] Something I never considered but that I do agree with is JC’s above comment that it would’ve been nice if MJF had taken longer to making the pin-fall attempt after the second rope Tombstone to protect it slightly more. Otherwise, I loved this main event so much!
I think it was Jericho who said this will be a future AEW World title match in years to come, and he’s completely right. In fact, if this exact match had been a world title match, then I would have zero qualms with the quality of what I had just watched; it was excellent.
4) Who was your AEW stand-out performer of the week?
[GFE] Eddie Kingston for me. As much as I loved The Moustache Elite, Eddie showed what a great wrestler he actually is. He’s known for his talking but I was so into him in his match with Penta against the Bucks. Penta was also fantastic, but we all knew that. Eddie showed me something different this week.
[JC] I think Miro has really found something in AEW and that gets clearer and clearer with every week to me. The way he talks, looks and presents himself is on another level right now. God’s favorite champion, with a hot wife, and now final boss theme music? Miro feels unstoppable, I hope we get to see this version of him in New Japan one day.
[SA] The performer of the week is unquestionably Sammy Guevara. For speed, skill, execution, and character, he was on fire, and they used the sacrifice of all of that momentum to build the legend of the Pinnacle and of MJF. An amazing performance by an amazing performer, serving a great story!
[RG] Nyla Rose. She worked OVERTIME to make that match as good as she could, so she should be commended for that. Unfortunately, because of the circumstances surrounding the match, her performance probably will not get the recognition it probably deserves. Just let it be known that she is an excellent performer.
[DH] Quick shout out to Brian Pillman JR for delivering a fantastic underdog babyface performance against a man who is now effectively being portrayed as a god. His selling was superb and when he got his mini-comeback he absolutely made the most of it. I have now doubt that he will be in the upper echelons of AEW sooner rather than later.
[HW] I’d like to give a special mention to Kazarian. I’m not entirely sure where the Elite Hunter gimmick is heading, but it is super over and very exciting every time he appears.
5) What was your AEW match of the week?
[RG] Just hear me out. Kenny Bengal versus Lance Archer.
Okay, yes. Their June 29th, 2021 AEW Dark match was Bengal’s only match for the company. Yes, he only lasted two minutes and one second against Archer. Still, has any wrestler in AEW, whether a jobber, indie guy, or signed AEW wrestler, been smart enough to just try and walk away from Archer? Afterwards, he simply tweeted, “Hey, momma ain’t raise no fool.” I happen to agree...
[DH] As nobody has mentioned it yet it has to be Sammy v MJF for all the reasons I gave above. Two extremely talented performers who have had their characters developed superbly telling a brilliant story both in and out of the ring. As far as I’m concerned, it’s what wrestling is meant to be.
[HW] MJF v Sammy Guevara, 100%. I loved everything about this match and it was way better than I expected. Both men once again proving they are talented beyond their years and MJF in particular showing he is not just a great gimmick and promo, but can put on an absolutely fantastic match as well.
6) How would you rate this episode of AEW Dynamite? Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
[GFE] B-. There were some good things on this show and overall, it’s probably the best episode for a while. But I simply cannot deal with Jericho’s commentary. He shouts over the others, constantly talks about things that aren’t relevant, taking shine from the talent and hogging the limelight. So, what might have been a B+, gets a B- because he made everything less enjoyable, bar the main event where he fit.
[JC] B. I was enjoying myself for all but 10 minutes of the women’s tag, the rest of the episode was steadily entertaining, where the opener and the main event both stood out as really REALLY good TV. I can deal with Jericho’s commentary, but it’s going to be harder when it’s a weekly situation on Rampage.
[RG] C+ feels like a deserved grade because it is not much of an improvement compared to some of the non-Wednesday night episodes of WWE Dynamite (haha) we have been subjected to. The Death Triangle (and friends) versus The Young Bucks matches are almost guaranteed to be at least decent but are getting repetitive, Jack Evans versus Jungle Boy was nothing to write home about, and the women’s tag team match was pretty darn bad (except for Nyla Rose). I feel it would be best just to wish Rebel a speedy recovery!
[DH] B+ for me. The opening match and the main event were both electric, and Miro v Pillman Jr was also a roaring success. Outside of that the battle of the Jacks was entertaining enough and the segments threaded through the show were also very well crafted. Unfortunately, it was the women’s division (or more accurately AEW’s booking of the women’s division) that let the show down again, and I think AEW will be running out of goodwill on that front very soon.
[HW] B. I thought it was a great show with almost no misses. The women’s division is still a huge issue but the promo work and three of the matches were brilliant. It’s not an all-time classic, but that is not a negative; it was a very strong, mostly good, episode of TV which made me excited for the following week. I hope the return to the road next week brings back the feel we had before June when every single week was a stacked card that was a guaranteed hit throughout.