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AEW Dynasty 2024 review – where the best wrestle

Late to the show = late to this.  Apologies.

Let’s get right to it.

Pac/Okada

Nearly twenty minutes in, the Rainmaker fired a flurry, signature pose coming, crowd roaring, with him all the way and… middle finger.  Eliciting serious boos on a show where true heel heat was hard to come by.  The former IWGP champ is elevating denying fans what they want into an art form.

Delightful.

And created a heated last few minutes of what was an excellent match.

It wasn’t a ‘bang’ as a show starter.  It was patient.  It was incredibly real – nobody just took a move or hold, they tried to block, mitigate, counter.  Okada’s selling and heel mannerisms tremendous.  Cackling with glee after spiking Pac to the ringside mats via draping ddt.  Raking the eyes to escape a Brutalizer while the crowd yelled ‘Tap!’

Cheating to win by dragging the ref in the way of a Black Arrow.  As noted, true heels are rare in AEW; Okada’s writing a damn textbook and it still might not be enough.  While afterward a forlorn Pac wondered what else he might’ve done: the agony of defeat.

All of which was prefaced nicely by Excalibur in a cheap but effective hook linking both guys to Ultimo Dragon.  In a match where the announcers were really on.  JR’s great in these short bursts.

Copeland, Kingston, Briscoe vs House of Black

If you highlight two possible finishes but don’t ultimately choose the one they go with, your prediction’s still right, right?  Sweet.

Very entertaining match which did everything it could to keep Copeland/Malakai apart until mist, Kick, win.  Very nice booking.  Which hopefully won’t be spoiled by a screwy non-finish when finally they meet.

Willow/Julia

Mercedes must be a heel at this point, even the announcers emphasizing how she’d deliberately rained on Nightingale’s parade.  If this was the plan from the start, the ‘believe in your dreams’ speech on night one was strange.

If it wasn’t, it continues a streak of AEW having to alter plans after misreading the audience.  Intended or not, turning somebody this quickly is bad booking.

Strong/O’Reilly

Adam Cole can stand again.  His eyes don’t like Wardlow much.

Hook/Jericho

Didn’t actually watch this.  Just aghast at it going seventeen minutes.  Ten would’ve been optimistic.

Danielson/Ospreay

After thirty seconds, this was better than anything on the show.  After five minutes, it was better than anything this year.  There aren’t really words for why – these two, Ospreay in particular – are just on another level.  Smooth, fluid, crisp, everything perfectly timed.

Will over like a god, atmosphere incredible, ‘Ospreay! Ospreay!’ enough to give you chills.  If AEW can regularly get the Brit in front of crowds like these, he just might be that difference-making star.

But it was Danielson calling the tune.  As per the pre-match story, he needed to ground the younger guy, expertly controlling the pace while allowing Ospreay perfectly punctuated moments to sing, bringing the crowd up before taking them down again.

First targeting the waist and Will’s wind; then the arm and the Hidden Blade.  Easily winning the strike battle until finally Ospreay had enough, slugging Danielson down with a big forearm as the crowd chanted ‘We’re not worthy!’

So Danielson switched to counter wrestling – LeBell, la mistica into a LeBell – until it was time for the big moves to be teased, feigned, countered and hit, pace picking up.  Before again bringing the crowd down only to bring them right back up by doing it all again.  Danielson’s ‘Yes!’s being turned to ‘No!’s for perhaps the first time ever by a crowd so thoroughly behind the new guy.

Until finally, finally, they setup one of the most creative finishes in a long time.

Since some thirty minutes had failed to separate them, it was time for a shootout, in the Old West sense.  Each to their corner, locking eyes, cocking weapons, fastest gun wins.  And as the story’s told us, Ospreay’s faster.

So the Blade beat the Busaiku.

Before they spoiled things a little by having Danielson sell a legitimate neck injury after a tiger driver before a second Hidden Blade settled things.

Bucks/FTR

So man were these guys in a sucky position.  And for ten minutes the crowd were quiet outside of a brief Punk chant which was quickly booed down.

But this was so good that those in the Louis just could not ignore it for long.  Tremendously dramatic, brutal, bodies on the line, full of big moves – Cash balls-first onto a ladder bridge into an EVP Trigger, both parts of a Powerplex off ladders, Dax 450’d through a table by Nick, Matt piledriven on a ladder bridge (which buckled and nearly ended badly) by Cash.

Who might have been the star of this match, wrestling a frantic pace with Dax out of it for long periods, including a tope Darby would’ve appreciated, brilliant selling which admittedly, might’ve just been genuine pain but at the point it’s being debated you’ve already won.

Even the crowd deciding this was all a bit much after Dax was sunset bombed off a ladder by Nick, sparking a chant of ‘Please be careful!’

Until Dax bumped Nick off a ladder, match all-but won, when a Sting mask-clad fan interfered, unveiled by security to be one Jack Perry (who undoubtedly got a nice reaction but continued a night where true heels were hard to come by) and hauled away as Excalibur accused him of ‘trespassing.’

The predictable (which is not necessarily bad) conclusion capping a hell of match.  And one which, most importantly, both teams were trying to win.  Constantly.  Right from the word go.

Swerve/Joe

For numerous reasons, didn’t actually watch this but saw the entrances and the aftermath.  Strickland incredibly over in the land of the Cardinals.  Getting several minutes afterward to bask in cheers was a nice touch to make the moment feel big.

Flipside, that bodysuit was niche AF for a guy who’s now supposed to be the top guy.  As is facing Kyle Fletcher in an Eliminator match.  It’s a very AEW way to begin a reign.  Unless it’s more than a ‘good match’ and Swerve’s being knitted into the Ospreay/BCC/Family feud?

Anyway, very good show.  Though my favourite (remembering favourite does not equal best) thing all weekend might still have been that Collision six-man.  ‘Where the best wrestle’ indeed.  Matchmaking not a problem.  Now about that booking…

Paul Hemming
Paul Hemminghttps://h00kedon.weebly.com/
Paul Hemming got into AEW during the pandemic, lives in Liverpool, England, and is a huge Liverpool fan, Playstation player and history lover.

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