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:
- Wrestling Poet: @WrestlingRhymes [WP]
- Gareth Ford-Elliot: @RHWGareth [GFE]
- Ryan Gorneault: @RyanGorneault [RG] - Sergei Alderman: @SergeiAlderman [SA]
- Daisy Foster: @boutmachines [DF]
- Anthony Bennett: @AnthonyDownUnda [AB]
- Craig William: @CraigPWMusings [CW]
1) ‘Hangman’ Adam Page further established himself as No. 1 Contender with a win over Max Caster on Dynamite. How long before we see the inevitable Omega vs Hangman match for the world title?
[GFE] It felt perfect for Hangman vs Omega to come at All Out given that is where Hangman has always suffered his big losses. But it currently feels to me that he is the one they’re building for Double or Nothing.
However, I have a piece of fantasy booking that gets us out of this pickle. There are various ways you can get there but in short; last year Omega first teased a heel turn in a trio's match teaming with The Young Bucks against Jurassic Express. In my scenario you do this trios match again but this time Omega looks to bully Jungle Boy and instead of questioning him, The Bucks reluctantly help Omega. You could even have Nick Jackson vs Jungle Boy which would bang and build to Jungle Boy vs Omega at Double or Nothing.
The fault in this theory is that Jungle Boy isn't really a PPV headlining talent yet. But I want it's a nice dream. Maybe more appropriate for a TV main event. The prospect of Jungle Boy versus heel Kenny Omega is just mouth-watering.
[CW] This is a really interesting question. Omega has a few things going on right now and is very far away from Page, narratively. Page on the other hand is rather treading water. How we get to Page/Omega is unclear.
The Get the Table WhatCulture podcast suggested that Page won’t want to be the number one contender at this time due to his past with Omega and the Elite. Having just put his pieces back together with some help from the Dark Order, he’ll be comfortable where he is and won’t wish to leave his comfort zone too soon. This is a fascinating perspective that I hope they explore thoughtfully.
Adam Page has brought thoughtful storytelling to the wrestling world with much of his narrative work thus far. I want sensitive conversations with Jon Silver where he works through his memories of failure against both Jericho and Omega. I also want to see him tempted by a return to the Elite as Omega tries to neutralise a massive threat.
[WP] I’m quite surprised that they are already talking about Hangman going for the AEW Title as there seems to be so much else going on with Kenny Omega at the moment. I would hate for the build to this match to get lost in amongst the 67 different feuds Kenny is already in right now.
Similarly, though the current Elite storyline could serve as a fascinating background to Hangman’s climb back up to facing the champ. It feels as if an Elite story, complete with heel Young Bucks, cannot fail to include Hangman Page.
Personally, I’d like to see Hangman get a couple more big wins, and more importantly big performances, under his belt. The Caster match was only okay at best, and Hangman’s previous major win was the uninspiring victory over Matt Hardy at Revolution. We all know just how good Hangman is, but I think I’d like to see that a bit more on show before we see him building towards what will hopefully be an epic with Kenny Omega.
[SA] I’m also surprised that they’re hinting at a World title shot for Page. Maybe it’s just talk right now, and Kenny will claim that he beat Page too recently to owe him a shot. Or there’ll be a #1 contender’s match for Page to get screwed out of to set up his next big feud. It’s too soon to say, I think.
[RG] Assuming that Christian Cage and Eddie Kingston are both in line for a championship opportunity as previously teased (both matches are probably worthy of main-eventing a pay-per-view) I could see them wait until Full Gear. Kingston seems like the best option to have fight against Omega, which gives Cage enough time to establish himself in the company and rack up enough wins to be deserving of a title shot for All Out.
Obviously, Omega would win against both Kingston and Cage, but the point is, this plan gives Adam Page a little more than half a year to secure some big wins and get to a higher position in on AEW totem pole. He has cooled off so much over the past year, so the process of him regaining that fire will take him a little while. An added bonus of waiting until Full Gear to give Page the opportunity for Omega’s championship is that they get to fight on the (just about) one year anniversary of their second singles match (first in AEW).
2) What is happening with Sting, Lance Archer, Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page?
[GFE] I'm not quite sure what on Earth is going on here. But I have a weird feeling that they might be aligning Archer with Sting and Darby Allin. Sting spoke down to Jake Roberts and hinted that he is the one holding Archer back. No idea what they're planning but I feel like they hinted at that.
[CW] Who cares… Sorry but I’m struggling with Scorpio Sky. His tag run was tremendous, but I’ve never been interested in his singles stuff. Ethan Page is yet to catch my attention. I love Lance Archer in general but I’m struggling with him at the moment. I would like to see more all-action singles matches involving Archer, he’s being wasted at the moment. In fact, I believe he could even do a wonderful job of ‘bring on all comers’ TNT Champion.
[WP] This all feels very messy at the moment. Archer gunning for the TNT championship makes sense, and they could easily play off the Sting and Jake Roberts dynamic to help build that. I think Archer would make a great next TNT champ as well, and in fact needs that title win to re-legitimise him after a string of losses on the big stage.
But where do Sky and Page fit in? One has already lost a TNT title match in recent weeks and the other has only been here for about a month. Neither really make sense as opponents for Darby Allin, and in a packed tag-title scene it seems odd to try and set up a new team at this stage.
Feels like an example of AEW trying to do 100 things, when maybe just a few would do.
[DF] I don’t have many good things to say about this. I watched Ethan Page livestream on YouTube about a week after Revolution, and he chatted excitedly about finally being able to work as a singles wrestler after being type-cast as a tag-team contender for so long. Scorpio Sky has never interested me with his babyface work, and I was eagerly anticipating a heel turn so that I could stop falling asleep whenever he popped up on screen.
It’s disappointing, I think, to pair these two competent singles guys together. Ethan Page has the potential to do some stellar solo work, and the last thing AEW really needs right now is more tag teams. With a tag division so stacked, why create a group out of these two?
[SA] I mean, it’s pretty clear to me, that this is about Lance wanting a shot at Sting. Could lead to a regular in-ring match, or a cinematic back at Lance and Jake’s white-trash paradise. Either way, Darby seems to have his own stuff going on. I don’t see any reason to think Page & Sky’s Statler & Waldorf act are related at all!
3) Red Velvet vs Jade Cargill comes next week. How do you see this playing out for both performers moving forward?
[CW] It’ll be a big test for Jade Cargill, her first proper singles match on the big stage. Everything she has done thus far has been excellent but a singles match on TV is a microscope. I would expect things to go well due to the presence of her opponent, Red Velvet, who have grabbed her opportunity with both hands in recent weeks.
[WP] Cargill has to win, and I think has to win dominantly at the end. Red Velvet can play the very plucky underdog, and from the little I’ve seen of her she will play that role very well. But when the end comes, it needs to be brutal and it needs to be decisive.
As I’ve said before it’s far too early for Cargill to be looking at the title, but she needs to be built as this presence in the background of the title scene that looms over the other competitors.
As for Red Velvet she can easily eat a loss here and fight her way back up the ranks. Perhaps even to be a contender to Cargill if and when she does win the big one.
[AB] I’m looking forward to this, I feel it’s been a good short story. It will defiantly be a test for both the ladies, but I have faith because both have looked strong. Jade needs to win but Velvet can still look good.
[RG] I am SO excited for this match. These two exude charisma and have been excellent promos during their collective times in AEW. In terms of wrestling ability, neither of them are the best, but they don’t need to be because they literally have everything else they need to be successful in the wrestling industry.
In the grand scheme of things, neither have been wrestling for that long; if Cagematch is to be trusted, and is up to date, Red Velvet has only had 76 career matches, and we already know Jade Cargill is only two matches into her career. For having competed in such a relatively small number of matches, those two are damn good in the ring, so I have no doubt their match will be pretty great.
I imagine both competitors will be major players in the company’s Woman’s Division, but considering that Cargill has been booked a lot more dominantly than her opponent, I imagine she’ll win the match. Velvet doesn’t need the win as long as somewhere down the line (preferably sooner than later) she picked up a win against a more established wrestler.
4) After defeating JD Drake, Darby Allin puts his title on the line against Matt Hardy in a Falls Count Anywhere match. Given there’s no disqualification, what do you envisage for this match?
[CW] I like Matt Hardy on AEW Dynamite, I like the character and I like the role he is fulfilling of mid-card mob-boss. However, I don’t want to see him in one-on-one singles matches, even with plunder. Multi-man matches are a different thing, he fits just fine there but there are so many more interesting opponents for Darby. Give us Wardlow/Allin, Johnson/Allin or even Jungle Boy/Allin.
[WP] This stipulation gives me a lot more hope for this match than a pure singles match would have done. We know Darby Allin can do incredible things in a No DQ environment, and assuming that Matt Hardy doesn’t concuss himself again, AEW should be able to protect him with the various interventions from Matt’s army of knobheads.
Having said all of that I would rather see Allin against any of Butcher, Blade or Private Party, and this Matt Hardy match doesn’t feel like it’s going to kick-start what has been a bit of a faltering TNT title run (although credit to JD Drake who looked like he was ready to step up when needed).
[DF] It really says something that my first thought about this match was “I’m glad this is pre-recorded”. Like Craig said above, I am not all too keen on seeing Hardy in singles competition anymore. Unfortunately, he drags down the talent that he’s wrestling with. I’m not sure why they keep pairing him with the likes of young, athletic and flashy wrestlers like Darby, Guevara and Hangman; unfortunately, at this stage of his career, he can’t believably keep up.
[GFE] I echo some of the sentiments above. Hardy isn't super interesting as a singles guy anymore but there is something to this match I enjoy. Darby Allin is very similar in style to the young Hardy Boyz. Not that Darby needs it, but this is a great way to get over his daredevil style. I imagine some crazy finish to this match, given it'll go all over the place and Hardy's gaggle of goons gives Darby an uphill battle. No doubt Sting gets involved.
It's good to have established talents who can take losses to get others over and that is an important role that Matt Hardy serves in AEW. So whilst the match-up doesn't fill me with excitement, it should be fun and will serve a bigger purpose.
5) QT Marshall and Anthony Ogogo delivered powerful promos on Dynamite and next week the latter debuts. How are you feeling about QT’s new stable moving forward?
[GFE] I'm really enjoying QT Marshall's heel turn and formation of a new stable. Anthony Ogogo and Nick Comoroto are believable monsters with Ogogo's boxing skills and Comoroto's intensity. Aaron Solow adds to the numbers but that's where I'd have questions to ask. QT already comes across to me as a leader and an inspiration to these inexperienced performers.
I'm not sure what the long-term value of this group are beyond establishing some inexperienced talents. But for the short-term it's rather exciting.
[CW] I really liked this. QT Marshall did a superb job as a villain with a point and his line about doing the work for Cody was excellent. The magic of this line was it potentially strips away the complete essence of Cody. ‘Do the Work’ has been his thing for years and has been part of many an impassioned promo. Marshall going on to talk about ‘Ted Jr’ was a great nugget for long time Elite/Cody fans who may have heard Cody’s accounts of feeling inferior to the more pushed, piano-playing Ted DiBiase Jr.
[WP] It was a brilliant promo from QT Marshall, and I don’t think many of us had that on our bingo cards for 2021. As Craig mentions, digging into Cody’s past was brilliant and you actually believed every word QT was saying.
As for Ogogo they clearly think they’ve got something special with him as they’ve given him a big role in this feud so far and he is making his debut next week. I think that match will tell us a lot about what the next steps are between the Nightmare Family and the Nightmare Spare Parts.
Just a final note... Nick Comoroto is a terrifying beast of a man and I wouldn’t want to anger him in any way. But...he needs to work on his paint throwing skills.
[RG] I was not one hundred percent sold on the stable following their initial debut when they attacked everyone and everything in sight; the angle was excellent, but I felt like there was something missing in each member's presentation.
The promos pretty much filled the gap for me and completely convinced me that they can be a powerful collective. QT Marshall has always been a decent wrestler, but he never screamed “star-power,” so the fact that his promo was so effective does a lot to boost my perception of him, and the perception many others might have of him.
Meanwhile Anthony Ogogo and Nick Comoroto are absolute bruisers who don’t necessarily need to be great promos to be successful (luckily, Ogogo turned out to be an EXCELLENT promo as well). The only one in the group I’m not sold on yet is Aaron Solow, who, like Marshall, is a fine wrestler at best, but I do not see much more out of him quite yet. I would LOVE for him to prove me wrong...
6) Mike Tyson is special ringside enforcer next week for Dax Harwood vs Chris Jericho. How do you see this building into the larger Pinnacle vs Inner Circle feud?
[WP] I want it to build with Tyson being led out of the building and told never to return. His presence on Dynamite is controversial at best, and downright tone-deaf at worst in the wake of the Speaking Out revelations. Quite apart from that side of things, it makes no sense at all. Why would Tyson suddenly befriend Jericho? Why are we already making the Pinnacle look weak, three weeks after their inception? Why is any celebrity needed to be involved in such a well-worked long-term feud?
I can’t find satisfactory answers to any of this, and I just want Tyson to go away.
[DF] In all honesty, I think they’ve sacrificed a lot for these last-minute Mike Tyson appearances. I’m going to put my personal feelings about Tyson aside for a moment (trust me, they’re negative) to try and answer this question.
The Inner Circle have been established for a long time, and while all of the wrestlers in the Pinnacle are also established, they haven’t yet shown strength yet as a group. Why are they following MJF? What connects them? What makes them stronger as a team? These are the questions that need to be answered, not “who or what is going to beat them up this week?”
Having Tyson - a retiree who can’t even tear his shirt off right - run in to save the day and scare them all away doesn’t help at all in establishing the Pinnacle as a power inside AEW. It doesn’t even help The Inner Circle as a freshly-turned babyface faction when feelings on Tyson are so mixed.
Furthermore, Tyson showing up as an “enforcer” next week is going to be more of the same. He’ll be there to show his face and draw the viewers in, but do nothing meaningful for the match or any of the performers. All in all, he’s going to do next to nothing for the actual Blood & Guts build, and I hope this is the last time we see him.
[AB] Tyson should not be involved in this build at all. After the speaking out movement you can’t have someone with Tyson’s background being promoted like he is. He is killing this build for me and I’m not going to watch anything that involves him. If bringing him in cost long term fans, is it worth it? I know I'm not the only one who doesn’t want him in AEW. Pinnacle now feel lame and weak and that's not a good position to be in.
7) What happens next in the women’s division with Britt Baker setting her sights on the Women’s Championship whilst Tay Conti further establishes herself as No. 1 Contender?
[GFE] There seems to be a few available routes. A No. 1 contender's match between Tay and Britt Baker, Tay vs Shida for the title or Tay being Britt's first challenger. All of these are possible.
However, the more I see Tay Conti wrestle the more I think she's an absolute star in the ring. I kind of want to see her be the one to topple Hikaru Shida and have a short title reign which is ended by a furious Britt Baker. I rarely like short title reigns but I feel like Conti has gone above and beyond and has earned that moment.
[CW] How long can they hold off coronating Britt Baker as the undisputed face of the AEW Women’s Division? They’ve already done so far longer than I thought they would/could. To me it seemed Revolution was the end point, but that has come and gone and there still seems like some work to get Baker into the title picture. Double or Nothing, surely.
[WP] Firstly, I loved Britt Baker’s promo. Railing against the ratings system was both a great way to further underline her heel credentials, and also take a couple of pot-shots at another well-known wrestling promotion to whom wins and losses are as important as a flea.
I think we need to see Tay vs Shida in the interim, and I think there is scope for a great face v face match between the two, with Tay losing but losing upwards. Either way, Conti is now a key part of that division and who saw that coming when we last saw her in NXT?
After that though, it has to be Baker who dethrones Shida. She is the star of the division and with her at the top I think there are a huge number of possible next challengers...not least Thunder Rosa who seems to have been largely absent since their brilliant and bloody war.
[RG] I’m probably going against the grain here, but I want to see Tay Conti take on Hikaru Shida for the championship before Britt Baker does. That being said, Britt Baker absolutely needs to be the next champion, which is crazy for me to say because I’ve previously been so high on Hikaru Shida and sceptical of Baker.
The only reason I want Conti to get that shot before Baker is because, despite the fact that a Conti versus Shida match is almost a guaranteed banger, it would mean a heck of a lot more as a title match than as a random occurrence. Baker needs to get her title match shortly after though, and more importantly, she needs the win.
8) What did you make of the fall-out of the main event trios match?
[GFE] I'm torn on it. On one hand I think this will be a good thing in the long-run. The way AEW presents many of its characters as complex humans means you are bound to have wrestlers making decisions that aren't black and white. But in the short-term I'm not looking forward to it much.
The Young Bucks have been manipulated by Kenny Omega who has used their love for him against them. I'm unsure if we will see Young Bucks fully commit to this supposed heel turn because I don't see it lasting long.
It's clear that Kenny Omega and Adam Page are on a collision course and inevitably The Bucks will be forced to pick between them again. But in the meantime, it's going to be a lot of Young Bucks struggling with their conscious.
[CW] We’ve seen the end scenes of this week’s Dynamite before, we’ve seen Nick and Matt somewhat conflictedly aligning with the ‘Bullet Club’. When that happened before I was very excited for a more complete version of the Bullet Club in AEW, ultimately that didn’t materialise. That needs to be different this time around otherwise we are going around in circles.
[WP] I’m all for this sort of melodrama, but this did feel a bit hackneyed with the overacting (and not good overacting) and exposition going on throughout. There is still a great story to be told here, and some further awesome matches as well (it shouldn’t be forgotten that this was a great match before the ending).
But the Bucks need to pick a side and stick with it for a bit now. I’m fine with shades of grey in terms of heel/face dynamics, but at this stage the flip-flopping from Matt and Nick actually doesn’t make a lot of sense. If they now finally turn to the dark side for a bit, it at least gives the story a sense of stability.
Next week I just want to see them come out together and act like arseholes. No conflicted hand-wringing, no subtle nods and glances...just bastards. [DF] I’m definitely in the minority here for really enjoying this match for what it was. I’ve always thought the Bucks and Kenny work better together - hell, we can see how badly Kenny is suffering with the viewership numbers by teaming up with Callis and the Good Brothers, and I think it’s the right move to re-align the Bucks with him - at least for now.
Until Kenny can meaningfully get rid of his parasitic Impact friends in storyline, they need something to make the group at least a little likeable. There’s a thin line between heel heat and “go away” heat, and the addition of Callis and the Brothers has made skirting that line an arduous task for Kenny, who was previously a beloved and likeable heel.
Yes, it was messy in execution, but the pros outweigh the cons long-term.
[RG] Nobody in that match was good enough of an actor to pull that off effectively, so, even if the angle was beneficial for everybody involved in the long run, its execution was disappointing. Trust me, I’m a sucker for overbooking and melodrama in wrestling, but this angle just isn’t it. Outside of the acting, I think my major gripe with the angle is the fact that it acts as the resurrector of the Bullet Club on American soil, and, if we’re being real, Bullet Club hasn’t exactly been cool since 2017.
9) How does the Young Bucks behaviour affect their match with Pac & Rey Fenix next week?
[WP] Well we don’t know as the two teams were not permitted to interact even though the match is on next week’s Dynamite. There’s been no story told between the Bucks and Death Triangle and that leaves me feeling a bit cold on a match that should be absolutely electric.
The whole segment with Best Friends and Death Triangle was decidedly odd and not really needed. It could have been covered in a 20 second interaction backstage leaving some time for them to actually build to this massive title match.
And for me, because there has been no build and no story, it would feel very ‘nothingy’ if Pac and Fenix won the belts next week. And that’s not good.
[AB] I was so keen to see this match, you have four amazing wrestlers in the ring at once and thought Bucks were going to lose. Now I don’t really care what happens. I feel Death Triangle will lose then Bucks will go to face Eddie and Mox. But they have really dropped the ball with this and to be honest the tag division is felling weighed down by the bucks as champions. I want them to lose and the titles to go back to being defended regularly but for now it feels like the tag team belts ae taking a back seat to Omega’s story.