Updated: Oct 12
Reverse Hipster's Reviews
MJF vs. The Righteous ROH Tag Team Match 6.6/10
This match was ridiculously booked. I understand that you had to try getting MJF to retain somehow, but this wasn't it. It just felt like a circus out there with all the antics. I like comedy wrestling, but the joke didn't land. The only real joke was The Righteous. This felt like a small college paying to play Alabama in its prime. The Righteous were humiliated. They lost a two-on-one and let MJF put one partner's head in the butt of the other. They were happy to be on TV, but the booking of that match did them no favors.
Eddie Kingston vs. Shibata Undisputed NJPN Strong Open Weight Title & ROH World Title 7.8/10 C+
Most of this action just didn't do it for me. The match was pretty standard. There wasn't anything bad in the match, but there wasn't much great either. The ending really bumped up the grade because of the violence. Kingston caught Shibata with such a hard back fist that it was easy to believe that he was knocked out on his feet, but then he followed it up with a powerbomb, ensuring there was no doubt about the result.
Julia vs. Statlander TBS Tittle 7.5/10 C
This match was okay. Everyone likes Julia Hart, and they should because she is awesome. However, it was clear that while Julia has improved her in-ring skills, she still needs some polishing. There were quite a few sloppy spots, all of which were big moments. Statlander won and retained her title after a fine defense.
The Lucha Bros vs. Hook and Orange Cassidy vs. The Gunns vs. Young Bucks 8/10 B-
This match set a new bar on the PPV. This match had a predictable winner in The Young Bucks, but it was a fun ride. The match was more fast-paced, and everyone got their stuff in. Still, the match was standard for AEW.
Adam Page vs. Swerve 8.5/10 B
Easily the best match of the night so far. This was a breakout performance by Swerve. Swerve has been stacking wins and impressive performances, and now that he's beaten Page, he's announced himself as a main-event contender. Swerve and Adam Page went blow for blow, and Adam Page, former AEW champion, probably thought his championship pedigree would allow him to drag Swerve to deeper waters than he'd ever been.
However, it was Adam Page who drowned. Swerve destroyed Page's arm in a moment that was hard to watch. He then proceeded to stomp on Page from the top rope. Swerve would go on to win after repeatedly hitting Page with kicks to the head and then slamming him so hard they could have gone through the mat. However, this match would have been rated higher if Swerve hadn't had help. Swerve didn't need it, and to truly put Swerve over, Page should have taken the loss clean. It was like a half measure like you can beat Page, but you have to use a weapon, so he has an excuse.
Ricky Starks vs. Wheeler Yuta 8.05/10 B-
This match started with some chain wrestling, which was very interesting. From that point on, the match was intense, but I was concerned about how they would pull off the booking. Ricky Starks is a rising star who is getting some serious attention, so he can't lose, or his momentum would be stunted. Wheeler Yuta is the second member of the Blackpool Combat Club to fight Ricky. It makes Yuta look like a goon or an underboss, and a loss to Ricky would only validate that.
Yuta is a former champion, but his usage doesn't tell you that. Even Moxley couldn't really say much on commentary to pump Yuta up until after the match. I don't think Moxley was a fan of the booking, and I wasn't either. It hindered this match from reaching a level where I could give it a better grade.
Bryan Danielson vs. Zack Sabre Junior 8.6/10 B
Bryan and Zack had a match that was different from everybody else. The whole match basically took place on the mat. It was like Bryan and Zack were in their own world once the bell rang. They went counter for counter, switching in and out of holds like they were attached. They would periodically break apart to deliver a kick or slam, but that was the exception.
These two were having a wrestling chess match to test how quickly each other's minds and bodies reacted under pressure. In this match, you had to counter and fight for your right to have enough space from your opponent to pull off a move. In the end, it was Bryan who damaged Zack enough to break away and hit two knees to win the match. Bryan gets a heartwarming win in his hometown.
Jericho Kota and Omega vs. Sammy, Will Ospreay, and Konosuke 8.7/10 B
This match had a lot of sloppy moments where it looked like one wrestler nearly killed the other or where spots were mistimed and telegraphed. However, this match had so many elite competitors that the action just couldn't be denied. These wrestlers pulled off so many highlight-reel moments that I was on the edge of my seat. This was an excellent spotfest.
FTR vs. Aussie Open AEW Tag Team Championship 9.1/10 A
This match took me through so many emotions. At first, if Aussie Open loses, then what was the point of doing this rematch? Then, when the match picked up, it was like, man, FTR is the best tag team in the world. Then, the Aussie Open began to take over and pull off all these insane offensive maneuvers. Then I was like, am I rooting for Aussie Open? But they were so good that they legitimately had me believing that they would be the ones to win the titles, and It wouldn't have even been a bad choice. This match is what wrestling is all about. Despite my previous opinions, these wrestlers took me on a ride and controlled my emotions with the story they told. This was an excellent wrestling match!
Darby vs. Christian Cage TNT Championship 2/3 Falls match 9.5/10 A
This match was crazy! This two-out-of-three falls match was so brutal that even seasoned fans would cringe at the risk and bumps Darby took. Darby was dumped onto the steel steps from the apron. His back hit the edges of the steps. It's one of the most brutal spots I've seen. Then, as Darby was getting wheeled out on a stretcher, Christian Cage jumped off the top rope and frog-splashed on top of him. Christian Cage still wasn't done, though. Darby rolled up Christian for the first fall, and Christian got a count-out after the steps slam. It was down to the last fall, and Christian hit Darby with a Killswitch on the wooden part of the ring.
I would have understood if Christian had won right there, but Darby kicked out. At that point, I was asking what does Christian have to do to put Darby down for good, kill him? Christian had done everything short of killing him, but then again, in the infamous words of Lena Duchanes, there are all kinds of ways someone you love can die. While the ref was down and Luchasaurus and Cage were jumping Darby, Nick Wayne ran out to help his buddy. However, when Darby and Wayne had the upper hand, Wayne shockingly betrayed Darby, helping Christian retain. This match was the ride of the night, filled with superb storytelling and hard-hitting action. This match would have already been a hit if they faded away after that, but then after a group beat down on Sting and Darby post-match, EDGE RETURNED and saved the day! Great end to the show.
Rob’s WrestleDream Review
MJF vs. the Righteous (ROH Tag Team Championships)
Having your World Champion defend secondary tag team championships on two PPVs in a row is a bold strategy, but it worked out alright here. With Adam Cole’s injury, MJF had to take on the Righteous 2-on-1. He promised to hit a bodyslam and shove one of them up the other’s ass by the end of the match, and I’ll be damned, the champ came through on his promise again. MJF won the match, but I can’t rate it highly because it was largely a comedic match and really undermined the ability of the Righteous in their AEW PPV debut.
Final Grade: 5/10 Average
Eddie Kingston vs. Katsuyori Shibata (ROH World Championship and NJPW Strong Championship)
Eddie Kingston is finally getting his roses for an intense and white-hot run in AEW. Kingston took on Katsuyori Shibata, who attempted to defeat Kingston and hold three championships in the wrestling sphere. This match was hard-hitting and intense. While that style is not necessarily my favorite, I have to admit it was well done here. Kingston won, and part of my inkling is telling me that he isn’t going to drop the NJPW Strong Championship on a non-NJPW show.
Final Grade: 6/10 Above Average
Kris Statlander vs. Julia Hart (TBS Championship)
It was cool to see the TBS Championship featured in this spot, and this match slowly burned up to a great level. AEW is excellent at making fans want to see a title change. By the time they got on the top rope, fans were ravenous for Julia Hart to hit it. They didn’t pull the trigger on Hart today, but I think it was the right choice, as Kris Statlander is just getting established in her TBS reign.
Final Grade: 7/10 Good
The Gunns vs. the Young Bucks vs. Lucha Bros vs. Orange Cassidy and Hook
Without fail, there is always one match on an AEW PPV that makes little to no sense with lots of people involved. However, the match almost always over-delivers in-ring, so it’s hard to be mad. For me, the Young Bucks held this match together, having pre-established chemistry with almost everyone else in the match. This was a spotfest but a fun one worth watching, nevertheless. In the end, the Young Bucks won to earn a shot against FTR in the future. I’m not sure if this is how I would have reignited the Bucks/FTR feud, but I don’t hate it.
Final Grade: 6/10 Above Average
Swerve Strickland vs. Adam Page
This feud came out of nowhere and quickly became a must-watch match. The match built slowly but surely with back-and-forth spots. The crowd was firmly behind their local guy, Swerve Strickland. Adam Page has been somewhat forgotten on AEW for months, but this performance reminded fans who he is. Strickland is on the rise in AEW, and he needed this win. Strickland got the win with some help, and it could be a signature win for the AEW upstart. While the abrupt finish was a little bit of a downer for me, this whole match was so good.
Final Grade: 7/10 Good
Ricky Starks vs. Wheeler Yuta
After the last match, this felt like a little bit of a break for the crowd. For fans who forgot how good Wheeler Yuta is in-ring, this was a good reminder. Ricky Starks is still a breakout wrestler in the waiting. For my money, Starks could win the championship tomorrow and be credible. In this match, Starks got the win, and Yuta took another big loss. The Blackpool Combat Club has still yet to address how Yuta keeps taking big loss after big loss for the otherwise acclaimed faction.
Final Grade: 5/10 Average
Bryan Danielson vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
This dream match could have main evented the PPV, but I liked it in this spot. Bryan Danielson and Zack Sabre Jr. went back and forth with insane mat wrestling and chain maneuvers. The storytelling was insane as the commentators focused on how Sabre Jr. targeted Danielson’s forearm. It took Danielson two running knees to put away Sabre Jr. in a match that was largely focused on submission-based wrestling. It definitely left room for a rematch that would be submission only. My biggest knock on this match is that it abruptly ended after the second knee when the crowd reached its peak. My biggest takeaway from this match is that after some time watching wrestling, you believe you have seen it all and nothing can impact you. These two were able to make me pop for moves, wince in empathy, and cheer for them without leaving the mat.
Final Grade: 9/10 Amazing
Chris Jericho, Kenny Omega, and Kota Ibushi vs. Konosuke Takeshita, Sammy Guevara, and Will Ospreay
This was another multi-man match that didn’t make complete sense. However, there was still a lot of storytelling to do between the guys in-ring. Kota Ibushi looked the best he has in AEW for me. Chris Jericho looked the best he has in a while doing babyface work with Ibushi and Kenny Omega. Sammy Guevara looked smart for joining the Don Callis family. Will Ospreay and Omega did their usual elite level of work. The timing of everyone in this match was insane. My biggest takeaway is that in consecutive PPVs, Konosuke Takeshita is a bonafide star. His team picked up the win against three of the greatest wrestlers in the last decade. Put the rockets on him now.
Final Grade: 8/10 Great
FTR vs. Aussie Open (AEW Tag Team Championships)
For many people, these are the two contenders for tag team of the year. While I was curious to see how it played out, this match didn’t match the level of the previous two matches. For that reason, it was hard to stay invested. FTR worked their typical style of match, and they brought it to the next level with some spots like the top rope shatter machine. I think it was necessary to keep the belts on FTR. Whoever is able to take it from them will become immediate contenders for the best tag team in the world.
Final Grade: 6/10 Above Average
Christian Cage vs. Darby Allin (2-out-of-3 falls, TNT Championship)
For once, AEW did a great job keeping extreme wrestling off the rest of the show, which allowed this main event to truly shine. Christian Cage is doing some of the best character work of his career, and the whole crowd wanted to see hometown Darby Allin kick his ass. Allin is known for taking some of the most extreme bumps. Going into the night, I wondered if he would bring it up a notch for the main event spot, and boy, did he. Allin took an insane spot where Christian dumped him from the ring to the edge of the steel steps. Then, Cage hit Allin with a splash on a completely unforgiving stretcher. By then, Allin had 1 fall from pin, and Cage had 1 fall from countout.
The final fall got more brutal as Cage exposed the wood of the ring. I love this spot because it makes every normal move more high impact and devastating. Allin was gutsy as usual, kicking out of insane bumps. By this point, Nick Wayne came out to help Allin but ended up betraying him. With rumors of Adam Copeland (WWE’s Edge) coming to the show tonight, it worked so well because nobody was thinking about Wayne. Cage got the win to retain the TNT championship, and he has a new protege in Wayne. After the match, Wayne and Cage roughed up Allin more, leading to Sting coming out. Sting got the upper hand briefly until Luchasaurus came out, setting up a spot for Cage to con-chair-to Sting.
Finally, it was time for the moment everyone waited for. The lights cut out, and a vignette played before the same entrance theme played, and Copeland came out to a great reception from AEW. He teased helping his former partner Cage before hitting Wayne with a chair and Luchasaurus with a spear. While AEW has secured big debuts of CM Punk, Adam Cole, and Bryan Danielson before, I’m not sure that any of them has felt as big as Copeland. Copeland is a career WWE guy, while the others have had long indy runs and history with everyone else on AEW’s rosters. For fans in the know, Copeland is a huge fan of professional wrestling as a whole, and I’m excited to see what he can do with the freedom of AEW and new feuds with AEW’s roster. By the end, this match and segment was beyond deserving of the main event spot.
Final Grade: 8/10 Great
Rob's 2023 WrestleDream Review Final Thoughts
AEW 2023 WrestleDream Review, much like AEW All Out, was a PPV that came out of nowhere with some very good wrestling matches. With adding more PPVs to the lineup, I think AEW needs to work on building its feuds and stories. However, we have overwhelming evidence that the action in-ring will always deliver. WrestleDream will mostly be remembered for the debut of Edge. My biggest complaint is that aside from a few matches, a tribute to Antonio Inoki felt like an afterthought on this show. If AEW goes forward with more of these shows, I think it will be important to distinguish that. In terms of in-ring quality, this PPV again delivered more hits than not and multiple great matches that, in a less stacked year, could be MOTY candidates.
Final Grade: 8/10 Great
Reverse Hipster's 2023 WrestleDream Review Final Grade 82.35/100 B
This PPV really struggled to get going early. You could take off all the pre-Adam Page matches and the Ricky Starks match, and this PPV would receive a much better grade. All the matches I would take off were AEW-level matches. The PPV really starts with Adam Page and Swerve, and from then on, it's high-level wrestling that lives up to the PPV name. Unfortunately, half the PPV dragged the grade down.