The SmarK Rant for AEW Dynamite – 09.20.23
By Scott Keith on 20th September 2023
The SmarK Rant for AEW Dynamite – 09.20.23
“Grand Slam 2023”
Live from Queens, New York
Your hosts are Excalibur, Tony Schiavone & Taz
ROH World title v. New Japan Openweight title: Claudio Castagnoli v. Eddie Kingston
Claudio charges in with a big boot and they slug it out, and quickly fight to the floor and brawl out there. Back in the ring, Eddie catches him with a leg whip in the ropes, but Claudio deadlifts him into a powerbomb because he’s a freak. Eddie fires back with a german suplex and Claudio bails to the ramp and absorbs Eddie’s shots with his head before suplexing him out onto the ramp. And then he stomps on Eddie’s hand to be a dick and tosses him back in for a double stomp onto the arm. Flying splash misses, but Claudio recovers with an uppercut for two as we take a break. Back with Claudio hitting a TKO for two. Claudio puts the boots to his face, but he ain’t getting any uglier anyway and fights back with a backslide for two. Exploder and Saito suplex gets two for Eddie. Eddie with the chops in the corner, but Claudio just sucks it up and comes at Eddie. So Eddie punches him down instead and they have WORDS. One more slugfest, but Claudio headbutts him into a lariat for two. Ricola Bomb is reversed to a rana for two, but Claudio hits the uppercut for two. Another Ricola Bomb gets two. So Claudio gives him more forearms, but Eddie suplexes him and hits the backfist, and Northern Lights Bomb…for two. Eddie tries a piledriver and Claudio reverses out of that, so Eddie backfists him again and powerbombs this time for the pin and the titles at 15:30. Damn, finally Eddie gets to be a World champion for the first time. And as promised, Claudio shakes his hand to bury the beef, and hands over the title. They just beat each other into hamburger here and settled their issues like men. Mediation is for COWARDS. Pro wrestling is just terrific. ****1/4
Man they better have something big to close with in order to top this one.
Meanwhile, we join Roderick Strong in the hospital, with the Kingdom at bedside reading him inspirational fan letters about neck strength. Adam Cole finally shows up, but Roddy is unable to see him because his eyes are closed. “Oh, you show up just as we have to leave, how convenient, Adam!” But then Adam has to leave and Roddy does the most hilariously annoying raising of the bed and puts a guilt trip on him.
Meanwhile, Christian is bored with Darby Allin and challenges Darby to a handicap…er….three-way match on Collision against himself and Luchasaurus.
Chris Jericho v. Sammy Guevara
They slug it out to start and trade chops, and then stop for a pose before Jericho chases him out of the ring. Back in, they trade cradles and Jericho beats on him with chops and follows with the backbreaker, but misses the springboard dropkick and lands on the floor. Sammy hits him with a dive and back in with a flying bodypress for two. They fight to the apron and Jericho suplexes him to the floor, as we take a break. Back with Jericho continuing to beat on Sammy with chops, but Sammy catches him with a Spanish fly for two. Jericho with a lariat for two. Sammy catches him with his own codebreaker, which gets two. Jericho bails to the apron and Sammy sends him into the table and follows with a moonsault that gets lots of airtime but not much impact. Back in the ring, Jericho catches him with a dropkick and tries the springboard one, but the timing is way off and Sammy recovers with a superkick after they both miss. Sammy with a springboard cutter for two. These two have a surprising lack of chemistry given their long history. Sammy with the GTH, but Jericho reverses it into the Walls and Sammy has to power out of that. They head back to the top and something else goes wrong and Sammy gets another cutter instead for two. He tries a Lionsault and hits Jericho’s knees, and Jericho bulldogs him and hits his own Lionsault for two. Sammy with a knee strike and GTH, but he goes up for a shooting star press and Jericho catches him with a codebreaker on the way down and pins him at 15:18. I don’t know if Jericho was hurt or what was going on but they were missing stuff left and right all match. **3/4. And they hug it out afterwards, only for Sammy to kick him in the nuts just like Jericho did to Shawn Michaels…and then Don Callis is revealed to be his new manager. That would have been a lot more effective if Sammy had actually won the match.
Meanwhile, MJF again promises to choke out Samoa Joe, to avenge his brother Adam Cole. But then Adam gets an emergency phone call from Roddy and has to go.
Meanwhile, Don Callis promises all will be revealed on Rampage. But Daniel Garcia doesn’t seem happy about it.
AEW International title: Jon Moxley v. Rey Fenix
They fight on the ramp right away and Fenix cannonballs him to the floor and bounces Mox’s head off the mats. Back in, Fenix with a sunset flip for two as we apparently are already at the one hour mark. I would have bet money that we were only like 40 minutes in, that’s crazy. Moxley puts him down with a curb stomp for two to take over and goes to work on the arm, then boots him out to the floor to block his fancy lucha moves. Fenix tries to run the railing, and Moxley just shoves him off and then DDTs him onto the floor, and back in for two. Moxley beats on him with forearms, but misses a blind charge and Fenix comes back with a rolling cutter for two. Frog splash gets two. Moxley puts him down with the lariat, but Fenix gets all fired up and hauls Mox to the floor for a guillotine legdrop on the railing as we take a break. Back with them fighting on the top rope, and Fenix puts him down with a diving double stomp for two. They fight to the ramp again and Moxley curb stomps him out there, and back in for a piledriver that gets two. They fight to the top and Fenix puts him down and follows with a swanton, and a sit-out piledriver for two, although Moxley clearly doesn’t kick out. But before the crowd can protest too much, Fenix hits a second one, and WINS THE TITLE at 13:14?!? Holy cow, that was definitely a result I would not have seen coming. Hopefully Mox wasn’t hurt because he was obviously out cold after that first one. I’m assuming they had to call an audible there, and Mox can always win it back later. Crazy fast paced match here. ***3/4
AEW World Women’s title: Saraya v. Toni Storm
Toni’s new entrance is the BEST, complete with black and white filter and 1920s music. Saraya slaps her around and Toni is heartbroken but fights back, only to walk into a superkick. Saraya with the knees on the apron, so Toni hides under the ring and emerges with a pair of shoes and hits Saraya with a pump for two. We take a break and return with Saraya in control, but Toni slugs back and pulls off a turnbuckle. This allows Saraya to get the spray can and she blinds Toni and hits the Rampaige for two. She beats on Storm in the corner but can’t bring herself to us the exposed buckle, so Toni plants a kiss on her and hits Storm Zero for two. Hip attack misses and hits the exposed steel, and Saraya finishes with the Rampaige at 9:00. This was, to once again quote Kim Mitchell, a lot of feathers and not much chicken. Saraya was very, very protected here. But the Toni Storm character is money and she’s going to be a huge babyface. **1/4
AEW World title: MJF v. Samoa Joe
MJF has his own twist on the famous Bret Hart “go get ‘em champ” skit before his entrance. But you will note that Adam Cole is not there to watch his back tonight. Max tries for the choke right away and Joe snaps him down onto his neck. Joe beats him down in the corner and puts him in a neck vice, but he misses the lariat and Max goes for the choke again. So Joe lays him out and hits the senton for two. Max fights back and Joe drops him with the uranage in the corner as we take a break. Back with Joe going for the Muscle Buster, but Max rolls him up for two and comes back with short clotheslines. But that hurts his neck worse, and Joe puts him down with his own lariat for two. But then he tears off Max’s New York shirt and MJF comes back and slugs away in the corner. This sets up a KANGAROO KICK, but Joe luckily rolls to the floor to escape certain doom after taking it. You don’t come back from that. Max even tries a babyface dive, but Joe kicks him from the floor and hits him with a death valley driver on the apron, THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING. Back in, that gets two. Next up, Joe sets up a table on the railing and slams MJF through that while cackling like a supervillain. Back in, that gets two. Next up, Joe pulls up the mats on the floor, but Max bites his leg in desperation to escape a piledriver. But a second one doesn’t miss and that’s not gonna be good for his neck. The doctors want to stop the match and check on Max, but Joe beats them up as well, and back in the ring for two. Max won’t stay down, so Joe smacks him down again, only for Max to fight back with a powerbomb for two. And people thought MJF couldn’t be a babyface! They slug it out and Max tries the sleeper again, but Joe reverses, so Max goes low and pulls out the ring. But Joe hides behind the ref and Max gets caught, and the Muscle Buster gets two. Joe with the choke…but Adam Cole finally returns for moral support and Max fights back on the third arm drop. Cradle gets two for MJF. He tries the choke on Joe again, and Joe gets distracted by Adam while the ref is also distracted, and Max uses a chain to choke Joe out and retain at 18:38. Not only did he make the babyface comeback to win, he kept his promise and choked Joe out. And Joe even gives him the handshake afterwards to put him over. Also a nice touch with Max almost getting caught with the chain after the match, but Adam quickly hid it for him to cover it up. Fantastic performance from MJF here that cemented him as the top babyface. ****
Well this show was wildly entertaining from start to finish, absolutely tearing through the two hours in what felt like 15 minutes. No big surprise this year, unless you count the unexpected International title change, and really the only match that didn’t live up to expectations was the Jericho one. Thumbs way up for this week!