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Thumbs Up/Down: Dynamite 07/19/2023

UP

Adam Cole & MJF’s chemistry

So I was probably a little snide in reviewing their restaurant scene.  Max talking up the body slam was entertaining especially if taken as a spoof on Hogan, for whom exaggeration is oxygen.

Their pre-match promo was good.

And the way they worked the crowd was outstanding.  Fans in Boston ate up the dance-off, all four gave it everything, not worrying about how goofy they looked, especially Cole, who played the reluctant guy who once he gets going can’t be stopped role to a tee.

Several moments were laugh out loud funny.  And they’ve built an act people really want to see – as evidenced by their t-shirt sales.  It seems a while since AEW had a babyface act this hot.

Problem is it involves their top heel and champion.  On which more in the ‘Down’ section.

Less is More & Building Anticipation

But before that it’s time to heap more praise on the above duo.  I’m a less-is-more guy.  AEW are not a less-is-more promotion.  At least when it comes to Dynamite.

But Max & Cole have done more with and gotten more out of a bodyslam, a double clothesline and a single tope, than anything that’s happened on a Wednesday night in months (Okada perhaps the exception).

Because they all had a backstory.  A build.  Call it whatever you want.

Max has been faking that dive for years now, they’ve talked up and come close to hitting the clothesline for a good couple weeks and Max called for the bodyslam several times, failing miserably until overcoming his failure and landing the move.  In fact, he did the same last night with the dive.

Which is why the crowd went absolutely crazy for all three.  They had time to anticipate them.  And the match took time to highlight them, they weren’t part of a rushed sequence.

Sammy Guevara & Daniel Garcia

These two went out there to play total utter stooges and lose.  Yet put everything into their performance – both before and during the match.  Which took a backseat to the overall story but was entertaining in its own right.

Excellent foils.

Building Matches & Titles

Concluding the above, Chris Jericho was ignored by Sammy and Garcia on the ramp.  Meaning they built towards Cole vs MJF, Cole & MJF vs FTR, and Jericho vs Sammy/Garcia in the same segment.

And maintained an emphasis on the newly rejuvenated tag titles.

DOWN

MJF vs Adam Cole

I don’t want to see this match.  At all.  Partly because I don’t want this act to break up.  It’s too entertaining.  Partly because I don’t want a world title match involving a guy who spent time aggressively humping the air.  They have the wrong people in these roles.

Ordinarily, an act this hot’d see an audible called.  Like with Randy Orton & Matt Riddle.  But it (probably?) can’t be since it’s supposed to be the world title feud.

Meanwhile as fun as the match was, it was jarring seeing FTR come out to confront their contenders after an ultra-serious classic Saturday.  Presumably, said contenders will tone down the silliness when they meet, so as not to undo the rehab performed on the tag belts lately.

And there’s a danger Adam Cole won’t get any sympathy no matter what happens.  If he’s turned on, he should’ve known better; if he turns on Max, he might even get booed.  There’s even a danger MJF will just continue to be cheered even if he blindsides Cole.  It’s not like he wasn’t warned.

Perhaps they have an ingenious way to bring this to a serious world title match.  If that’s the case, I’m more than happy to be proven wrong.  But as it stands, I don’t see a good way out of this.

Perry vs Hook

They didn’t show this relationship for long enough and haven’t had any promos/packages to further the story.  It doesn’t help that they’re two of the thinnest characters on the roster.  Perry buried his ‘old self’ pre-match.  But who is the ‘new’ Perry?  Outside of an arrogant guy who wears open shirts.

Others seem to have reviewed the match favourably.  But it was lacking something: heat, aggression, oomph.

For a guy who’s been chasing Perry around parking garages for a month, Hook sauntered to the ring.  And his first ever loss should’ve meant much more.

Moxley, Blood & Weapons

It was noted above that MJF basically had his hand up the crowd’s collective ass by performing a single tope and a double clothesline.

Of course, not everyone is MJF.  There are guys who need to do cool moves and take shortcuts.  Jon Moxley is not one of them.  He’s over, he’s good in the ring, he’s great on the mic.

Yet he insists on bleeding and using dangerous weapons far more than is remotely necessary.  And unlike Max, there was no build, no time to anticipate, no pyschology.  To the degree that the announcers just assumed Mox was immediately going to work with a screwdriver because we couldn’t even see the implement in question.  Which turned out to be a fork.

It was also noted above that less is more.  And there was no greater example of this than when Taz noted ‘Mox is bleeding’ and Excalibur replied with ‘It’s a day that ends in a y’.

We all have things we do every day right?  Drink coffee, use the bathroom, whatever.  Anyone out there remember what last Tuesday’s cup of coffee tasted like?  Or how they backed out of the driveway?  Probably not, because they’re mundane, we don’t even think about them, they don’t have a lasting impact.

Blood & Guts

The question sticking out after this was what did it achieve?

It didn’t establish the debuting Ibushi, certainly not properly.  It didn’t establish Takeshita, who barely did anything.  And it didn’t seem like the hard-won victory it should have since the babyfaces had a two-man advantage by the end.

Moreover, setting aside all the gore, it just wasn’t all that good.  It certainly wasn’t bad.  But given the talent assembled and time allowed, it fell short.

Part of the problem being the ad breaks.  And camera work.  Which didn’t allow viewers to follow the thread of the match, cutting at will.  Hangman for example was on-screen for about three minutes all night.  It felt like he disappeared.

Another being that this feud just isn’t as hot as it might be after months of fighting among top stars.  We’ve still never really been given a reason why the factions are feuding.  And we’re back to the idea of anticipation.  Or lack thereof.

Notably the whole idea of the man advantage.  Which I’d completely forgotten about until they breezily mentioned the BCC had it as the match started.  Because they’d never mentioned it prior.

It’s an essential part of the story of the match.  And should have been discussed, campaigned for and shown on tv.  As a result, the match lacked drama – shock tactics a poor substitute.

Which is not to dismiss the enormous toll this surely took on all ten, quite the contrary.

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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