Write Forever: AEW Dynamite 9/13/23
I'm still experimenting with how I want to write this sort of stuff, as I don't necessarily love the writing of move-for-move recaps, especially since it takes away from being in the moment and watching the show. That's not so much an issue with the REWIND series where I can, well, rewind at will and watch something multiple times.
So, I'm trying to mess around with formats until I find what fits.
Tonight's Dynamite was a story of friendship, of family, of dancing, of rematches – all in service of building to next week's big Grand Slam show at Arthur Ashe. In next week's main event, MJF will defend the World Heavyweight Title against either Samoa Joe or Roderick Strong. Who was able to pull off the tournament win and secure their spot against the champ? Let's find out!
Dynamite: A Show About Friendship and Family
Dynamite kicked off with Jon Moxley making his way to the ring first for his International Title defense against Big Bill (who is, in fact, big). Large William made his entrance second, led to the ring by his newfound friend Ricky Starks.
With friendship and sneakiness on their side, Bill and Starks found their way to some advantages throughout the contest. At one point, Mox climbed the top rope to dive on Bill but was shoved off by Starks. This brought out Bryan Danielson, good friend of Jon Moxley, to attack Starks and restrain him at ringside.
As Danielson and Starks tussled on the floor, Mox locked Bill in a triangle choke forcing a tap to retain the championship. Post-match, Starks and Bill continued the attack until another friend of Mox, Claudio Castagnoli, made the save to drive the duo away. Friendship!
Backstage, The Kingdom and Roderick Strong were interviewed by Renee Paquette looking very cool in a leather jacket. Former friend of Roderick Strong (and necks) Adam Cole appeared to plead with Roddy that the match with Joe was a bad idea considering it was Joe who hurt his neck in the first place. Roderick stormed off after saying he was going to break Joe's back tonight. Friendship!
In the ring, Don Callis and Konosuke Takeshita arrived to unveil the latest Callis Family Masterpiece which would enshrine in art history Takeshita's next target. Callis spoke about the great Aces of wrestling past and suggested that beating Kenny Omega once makes you the Ace – but beating him twice makes you The Alpha.
Callis continued that it wasn't enough to beat Kenny twice. They want to break the spirit of Kenny Omega, and they'll do so by targeting the very heart and soul of Omega – Kota Ibushi. Callis promised to not only beat but to burn, skin, and all sorts of other things to Ibushi while Kenny sat at home watching like a cuck. Family!
Dynamite: A Show About Ruined Friendships
Backstage, Alex Marvez caught up with the BCC who challenged Ricky Starks and Big Bill to a match against Danielson and Claudio on Collision. When Marvez brought up the fact that Mox and Claudio will have title matches at Grand Slam (Mox vs Fenix and Claudio vs Eddie Kingston), the Lucha Bros stormed onto the scene with Fenix shouting at Mox that he'll be the new champion next week.
In the background, a calm Eddie Kingston sauntered up to Claudio and stared him down with his hands behind his back. Kingston's remarks were brief – "next week!" with a cackle before backing away. Broken friendship!
In a quick little backstage segment, Hook was about to be interviewed by Renee when Orange Cassidy appeared. He asked Hook what it was he had to be so unhappy about since he has a title and can actually wrestle, unlike himself who is wrapped up in more tape than The Yet-tay. OC and Hook exchanged pleasantries, telling each other that they were both great champions, before Hook departed and Cassidy confided in Renee that he was still so tired.
The next match was a 4-way women's match to determine who would face Saraya for the Women's Title. I found it interesting how middling of a reaction Britt Baker got coming out; the commentators wrote this off as a football rivalry thing, but I'm not sure. Is it just that, or have live crowds begun to sour on Britt?
I wish AEW could do more for its women's division than just multi-person matches when they can't seem to figure out a storyline. Maybe they could, you know, just figure out a storyline instead. There are stories in this match, specifically Toni's break from The Outcasts and rising tensions between Britt and Shida.
It just feels like the women's division has never really been on track. There's a roster of great women but the best we can ever get is one women's match per episode of TV oftentimes without any deep storyline stakes. Would it kill them to put more than one women's match on Dynamite or Collision each week and develop some branching storylines between the entire roster?
With the men's roster, it often feels as though there are threads weaving between different wrestlers and stories all of the time. It creates a deeper pool of potential matches and feuds between your entire roster, and it's not all that hard to do. I don't know. I'm just griping!
In the end of this one, tensions boiling over between Shida and Britt allowed Toni Storm to sneak a roll-up pin on Britt. Shida and Britt shoved each other a bit after the match before Britt bailed to the outside. A decent match but 4-way matches are generally a bit rough around the edges trying to balance all of the story points and action between four wrestlers.
Post-match we threw to the back for a promo from Saraya and Ruby Soho. Saraya spoke about the roles being reversed for herself and Toni heading into Grand Slam – a year ago, Toni was the champion and Saraya was the new kid on the block. Now, Saraya is the champion and Toni has lost everything.
Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara were out next to speak on their upcoming Grand Slam match where Le Sex Gods will explode. Jericho threw to a cheesy video package detailing the AEW relationship between Guevara and Jericho and then spoke a bit about how much he loves, and has always loved, Sammy Guevara. Jericho wrapped up his comments by telling Sammy how proud he is of him.
Sammy thanked Jericho for changing the life of himself and so many others in the back because without Chris Jericho, there would be no AEW. Sammy claimed that he would beat Jericho next week, but not as the 2018 version of himself or any other prior iteration. Next week, Sammy will beat Jericho as the man he is today.
Both men traded words a bit and got a bit heated at the end, but both men promised to beat the hell out of each other at Grand Slam before refocusing on the AEW Tag Team Titles.
In a pre-tape from after last week's Dynamite, MJF broke out into Steiner Math reciting Scott Steiner's numbers-heavy promo almost word-for-word (with necessary replacements) to Samoa Joe, whom MJF promised to choke out next week in Arthur Ashe if he makes it past Roderick Strong.
Dynamite: A Show About Rematches and Dancing
The third showdown between Cage and Page went down with Brian Cage battling "Hangman" Adam Page. Is it just me, or is Hangman a lot more present on Dynamite since the departure of a certain individual? Maybe this was already planned out to be a Hangman renaissance period and it's just coincidental timing.
Hanger fell victim to the oldest trick in the book ("wrestler can't ignore theme music") as he prepped for the Buckshot Lariat on Cage. It was the music of Swerve Strickland catching Page off guard, bringing Swerve to the ramp to keep an eye on the action (and his friend Brian Cage).
It seems like people forget about how good Brian Cage can be. If I recall, I think he's said and/or done some bonehead things in real life, but nothing that would make him a monster. Just basic ding dong stuff. He was off of AEW/ROH TV for a long time and it felt like most people wrote him off as a loss. I'm so glad he ended up with a new deal, because he truly is one of the hidden gems in AEW and ROH.
At one point in the match, Cage went for an F5 and Hangman countered it into a small package in what I think is the smoothest I've ever seen something like that done. It was just so fluid, and obviously a good part of that was on the back of Cage using his power to support Hangman on the way down.
Hangman picked up the win with the Deadeye bringing the standings to 2-1 in his favor against Cage. Post-match, Hangman called out Swerve for not fighting for himself and instead sending Cage out to fight for him. He also rudely insulted Prince Nana who has a lifetime free pass from being mocked or made fun of due to his dance moves and general can-do attitude.
Swerve responded that the Hangman/Swerve match will happen when and where he chooses – and he chooses his hometown of Seattle on October 1 at WrestleDream. This led to Cage attacking Hangman before The Young Bucks made the save – but not before Prince Nana showed off the extended cut of his dance moves straight into the hardcam.
Backstage, Renee attempted to interview Daniel Garcia about the looming Jericho/Guevara match. Frustrated, Garcia complained that nobody wanted to ask him about himself. This brought out scum of the earth Don Callis who attempted the quick hard sell of The Don Callis Family – only to be danced away by Daniel Garcia and his leather-clad hips.
In big "wait, what the fuck?!" news it was announced that the newly returned Jade Cargill would be challenging Kris Statlander for the TBS Championship this week on Rampage. Okay??
Darby Allin and Nick Wayne set out to face Daddy Magic and Cool Hang Ang, but once again we saw the "distraction by music" trick as Christian Cage made a surprise entrance. This caught Wayne off-guard, allowing him to fall victim to those sweet sweet Montreal boys.
Darbo and The 18-Year-Old Buddy Wayne Son picked up the win relatively quickly leading to a Christian promo after the bout. Christian said he was getting sick of hearing about Darby and Sting winning at All In, especially since Christian wasn't even with his usual partner. So, to fix that problem, Christian challenged Darby and Sting to a match against himself and Luchasaurus at Grand Slam.
Was Christian really talking about Luchasaurus when he delivered the line about his "usual partner", though? Or was he referring to the recently-out-of-a-contract Edge? It's a fun little seed to plant, even if it never grows to be anything.
In the main event, NECK STRONG Roderick Strong battled Samoa Joe in the finals of the Grand Slam Eliminator Tournament. Ole S'moey Joey was the one who hurt Roddy's neck in the first place in what feels like an attack that occurred 25 years ago. Can Roderick avenge his neck tonight and then his former best friend next week at Grand Slam?
Joe made it clear that he has zero regard for neck health by focusing on Roderick's neck throughout the match. Roderick Strong is so brave for wrestling with a broken neck. The past several months have been fairly revelatory for both Joe and Strong in AEW.
Roddy came in as just Roderick Strong, Friend of Adam Cole which is fine but not a character that creates its own excitement. Over the past few months as a third wheel to Cole/MJF, he's really developed a little weiner of a character unlike anything I remember seeing from Strong. I have fond memories of watching Roddy on local TV in Florida in a tag team with Sedrick Strong in the early 2000s, and it's fun basically following along for someone's entire career.
When Joe came to AEW, it didn't seem as though he was in top form or the Samoa Joe of old. Understandable given age and wrestler body and all of the things that naturally happen to a person as they age. But, with his run with the ROH TV Title he's ignited the Samoa Joe of yesteryear and has been burning on all cylinders for quite some time.
Despite a late burst fueled by Kingdom distraction, Roderick found himself locked in the Coquina Clutch and had no other option but to tap out to Samoa Joe. Joe delivered some pointed comments to MJF post-match, telling the champ that he'd be taking everything from him at Grand Slam.
Adam Cole came out to the ring to check on Roddy and Roddy collapsed to the mat after turning to see who was coming to the ring. Did Roddy wrench his neck and cause an actual flare up of his injury, or was it all a ploy to lay even more guilt on Cole?
As Strong was stretchered out, he gurgled out "AAADDDAAAAMMM" repeatedly while Mike Bennett shouted out "I'M VERY CONCERNED!" As Cole watched Roddy get wheeled away from the stage, Joe reappeared and choked out Adam Cole leaving one half of the ROH Tag Team Champions in a heap at the feet of the #1 contender to the AEW World Heavyweight Title.
These guys are doing great work here and this whole story is simply one of the best things happening in AEW, and it all rests on the splintered neck of Roderick Strong.