Write Forever: AEW Title Tuesday thrives with head-to-head competition
Wrestling is a weird world full of pettiness and sniping and general tomfoolery, and we're all the better for it.
Dynamite is on a Tuesday this week which means it goes head to head with NXT. That could just be a story in itself, but WWE decided to load up NXT with every huge name they could scrape together in a bid to beat AEW in a head-on battle – despite Triple H claiming that this wasn't a competition the last time the two shows went head to head with NXT losing the ratings battle.
This time around, Poster Tony Khan came out with some tweets fired off at weirdo tribalist fans on Twitter as well as at Triple H and Shawn Michaels directly.
To be honest, it's fun to watch Tony go off on these boobs but I couldn't care less about the ratings. WWE is loading up their C-Show with wrestlers who aren't usually on the show, so if they beat Dynamite it's only because they didn't believe enough in their own NXT wrestlers to let them stand on their own. And if they win, it's going to be perceived as winning only because they relied on these old stars.
Either way, watching WWE programming gives me a headache with the horrific camera work/production and being shouted at by commentators all night so I couldn't give a shit what they do. I'm here to see Bryan Danielson get stomped into the dirt!
Nothing too outrageously bad this week, or any other week for the most part on Dynamite, but some of the same problems I generally have with Dynamite cropped up like clockwork.
Same Old Stuff
The worst part of this week's show was easily the stuff they want to run into the ground as well as baffling or weirdo decisions.
I've mentioned before that I'm not fully bought in on this whole "Timeless" Toni Storm thing, though I do love how the character translates to her in-ring work. I guess the silent movie deal happened in picture-in-picture which is probably the best place to do something like that if you want to fill some time. Otherwise, it was just lame.
Speaking of lame, it's Wardlow! I don't care about Wardlow. I don't know if I'll ever care about Wardlow, or his new haircut. Squashing Matt Sydal in a way that makes Sydal look like a complete goober is also dumb. You gain nothing by having Wardlow squash guys on the roster when the same effect could be had by squashing local talent. The Powerbomb Symphony is boring and relegating Wardlow to this when he could have actual fun matches (evidenced by the match he had with Brian Cage a while back) does everybody a disservice.
I don't know what the plan was for the International Title, other than Mox wasn't supposed to lose it to Fenix. Now, possibly due to his own injuries, Fenix has dropped the belt back to Orange Cassidy. I love all three of these guys, but I could feel nothing but ambivalence about this ending.
Was the goal always to have OC retain the title but by beating Mox for it instead? Or is this entire thing a curve ball? I hope we don't wind up with the belt back on Mox in a vicious cycle of the "we can't stray from our original booking plans no matter what" style of booking AEW sometimes falls into.
I'm not mad or annoyed that OC is the International Champion again, it just feels like nothing after several weird weeks of International Title stuff. The circumstances around all of the title changes stink, but OC's incredible run and loss to Mox feel somewhat devalued with all of the chaos surrounding the belt.
Jay White's Spit
Please stop spitting on yourself. Please stop drooling on yourself. Nobody wants to see saliva dripping into your beard. It's just the worst.
It's hard to put something into this category when looking at the overall quality of the show, but while the matches and stories were basically all very good some of the outcomes could have been tweaked a bit.
Welcome to Bryan Danielson's House
Listen, Swerve Strickland vs Bryan Danielson kicked a lot of ass. Swerve looked strong and held his own against Danielson. This whole match seemed built around making Swerve look like a big star who can hang with guys who sit at the top of the card.
The problem is, that's where things seem to hit a wall for Swerve in AEW.
He looks strong but then never closes the final deal. He beat Hangman Page at WrestleDream, but only with help from Prince Nana. Here, he attempted to write the same story only to be thwarted by Page leading to a Danielson victory.
At some point, Swerve has to win something meaningful in a meaningful way.
I wrote last week that it seemed obvious that Swerve wouldn't pick up the win here because a Christian/Swerve matches makes less sense than a Christian/Danielson match if we're just looking at alignments.
However, what's the next step for Swerve? A rematch with Hangman which Swerve loses clean to even the odds? This would set Swerve back yet another step, which he doesn't deserve at this point in his AEW run. He's proven that he can get over with the crowd and put on ridiculously great matches, yet AEW refuses to push him to that next level in a permanent way.
All that said, the match was incredible and I only put it in the "In-Between" section because of the outcome.
I loved the spot toward the end of the match where Danielson, as he is accustomed to do, began hitting his repeated dropkicks in the corner. Due to the body work done during the match, when Danielson hit the buckle to deliver another dropkick he crumpled to his knees leaving him open for the House Call kick from Swerve.
This led into the ending sequence which was a nail-biter until it became clear that Hangman page was going to lead to the finish.
I'm not sure where I see Christian/Danielson going Saturday on Collision. I could see arguments for each man to walk away with the belt, especially since Christian doesn't necessarily need the TNT Title in his storyline with Adam Copeland. If Danielson wins the title, it opens up the door for another heel to rise up the card and try to upset the Dragon.
Honorable mention here to Powerhouse Hobbs essentially destroying Chris Jericho. I feel like Jericho got in a little too much offense after eating so many spinebusters, but putting Hobbs over as a world beater by crushing Jericho with spinebusters and World's Strongest Slams is a great way to establish him as a pivotal member of the Don Callis Family.
Wrestle Aunts and Murder Grandpas
On the pre-show, Eddie Kingston defeated Minoru Suzuki in exactly what you would have expected. It was rough and full of chops and a lot of fun. Overall, the pre-show did a great job of making this episode of Dynamite feel like a big event. And it really has no reason to feel that way!
This is a show that is simply preempted and could be a throwaway episode of Dynamite regardless of the NXT competition. But, they're going out of their way to try and get eyes on the episode by making it a specialty episode loaded with title matches and other big contests.
On the pre-show, we learned that Jon Moxley wasn't cleared to face Rey Fenix for the International Title which I feel two ways about. I assume the plan would have been to put the belt back on Mox, which I disagree with. You were dealt a specific hand, so just roll with it.
Otherwise, I feel that if they knew Mox wasn't going to be able to make it tonight – or even had doubts – they should have made that clear during the past week. If I was a fan who bought a ticket to see Mox, I'd be bummed out. I know "card subject to change" and all, but if you know or even think someone may not get cleared for a match I think it's the responsible thing to make that known.
Nonetheless, The Buy In was a net positive and got me feeling pretty excited for this show.
Jay White and Hangman Page had one hell of a match in an Eliminator for the AEW World Heavyweight Title*. Hangman and Switchblade are two guys who could absolutely carry AEW for the next several years. While this match had no real stakes at play, it was an important step in building Jay White as MJF's challenger at Full Gear.
The story here was Hangman's knee and Jay's focus on it, breaking it down with several dragon screw leg whips throughout the match. This came into play toward the end with Hangman attempting a Buckshot Lariat but hobbling on the injured knee allowing Jay to capitalize.
Earlier in the night, Hangman cost Swerve his match against Bryan Danielson and here Prince Nana returned the favor. As Hangman was ready to lower the boom on Jay, Nana appeared and attempted to clock Hangman with his crown. Hangman was too quick for it, though, and blocked the shot.
This was enough for Jay to roll Hangman up and, with a handful of tights, pickup the sneaky little victory.
Post-match, MJF came out in an attempt to promo the AEW World Heavyweight Championship into his possession again. This was a much better version of MJF than we got last week. Jay told MJF that if he wanted the belt back, he could scrounge up three people to team with him and face BCG and if they won then he could possibly have the belt back.
In a turn I didn't super enjoy, the promo closed out with Juice Robinson telling MJF that he had a present coming for him after declaring himself an entrant in next week's Dynamite Dozen Battle Royale – a roll of quarters. MJF has told the story about miserable shit bag antisemitic kids in high school using quarters as a way to harass MJF.
I assume that story is true because, well, kids are awful and it sounds like a thing terrible kids would do so crossing that bridge here feels a little gross to me. I know everyone must be on board with it so there's no use hand-wringing on the internet about it, but oof. Sometimes it feels too real.
Juice has used a roll of quarters before completely separate from MJF, so it's not unusual for him to pull that little chestnut out again – but obviously it was done to illicit some feelings and it surely did that.
*Jay White may not actually be the AEW World Heavyweight Champion.
Hikaru Shida became the first-ever three-time AEW Women's World Champion by ending Saraya's short reign as champion. I was fairly bummed to see Saraya win the title at All In. Yes, a great moment for her in her home country and all that – very nice and very sweet. But, from an interest level in regards to the actual AEW women's division it did nothing for me.
That said, she did have some fun matches after winning the title which I was surprised by! I don't know if folks expected much out of her in singles matches after coming back from such a terrible string of neck injuries, but she truly did show out a few times in an attempt to prove that her neck was ship shape.
This match wasn't anything crazy, but it was solid enough for what it needed to be. There was a little bit of chicanery on the outside with Ruby Soho and Toni Storm followed by some curve balls with Shida kicking out of two Knight Caps. After being blinded with spray paint, Shida eventually rolled Saraya up for the three!
The best part of the ending was easily the several times Paul Turner looked directly at Shida's face and didn't think twice about it suddenly being lime green. I guess that sort of thing just happens sometimes – wrestlers are fucking weird.