Updated: Oct 1, 2022
Casino Ladder Match
This was my most anticipated match of the night, and it was wise to kick off the show hot. Everyone in this match looked good, but I have to give a special shoutout to Dante Martin, who came out to almost no ovation and had the crowd on their feet in minutes. He was the Ricochet of this match- a uniquely talented high flyer who had everyone second-guessing the results. Stokely Hathaway and his clients cleared out the ring, paving the way for the Joker to enter and easily win this match. Coming out completely covered and masked, the Joker refused to reveal themselves, but I assumed it was MJF almost immediately based on the mannerisms and heel tendencies. To be honest, this match never really hit its stride, but it did have the expected high spots. The finish was just kind of lame, and it leaves a lot to be figured out in the coming weeks. Final Grade: 5/10 Average
The Elite vs. The Dark Order (Trios Championship)
This match was way more story driven than I expected in the trio's tournament. It played on the history of the Elite and Hangman Adam Page. Kenny Omega looked the best he has since his return, playing into his story of building confidence in his wrestling. When Omega and Page finally got in the ring, the crowd got on its feet. The end played into the finish of their world championship match, with the Young Bucks stopping Page this time and Page accidentally knocking out his own team for the pin. I also think this spot let John Silver and Alex Reynolds absolutely shine. Silver had some of the most believable false finish rollups of all time. By the end, I was even rooting for the Dark Order. It was the continuation of Page’s tragic story as a character, and I think the right team went over to be the inaugural trios champion. Final Grade: 9/10 Amazing
Jade Cargill vs. Athena (TBS Championship)
I think this is the best Jade Cargill has looked in the ring, and Athena worked well with her. Unfortunately, after two high-paced opening matches, this match was a short sprint in comparison. The length of the match felt genuinely disrespectful to the long-term feud. If Athena was handled so easily by Cargill, I’m not sure what is next for either wrestler. Final Grade: 4/10 Below Average
FTR and Wardlow vs. Jay Lethal and the Motor City Machine Guns
If the last match was way too short, this match was way too long, considering the lack of rationale for the match. The most memorable spot of this match was another Powerbomb Symphony from Wardlow. FTR honestly deserves more at these big shows. I loved the spot at the end with Samoa Joe returning and Dax Harwood’s daughter getting revenge on Sanjay Dutt. I think this should have been a shorter match and just emphasized the post-match. Final Grade: 5/10 Average
Ricky Starks vs. Powerhouse Hobbs
A package before played up that this was a blood rivalry. The match ended before it really hit its stride, with Powerhouse Hobbs hitting a vicious spine buster that surprisingly got the win. I don’t think I’ve seen a spinebuster finish a match ever. It’s even more disappointing that Ricky Starks promos positioned him to be a top babyface, and he got squashed by Hobbs. I don’t think the match did Hobbs any favors either, as this was his chance to steal the show. Final Grade: 3/10 Bad
Swerve In Our Glory vs. The Acclaimed (AEW Tag Team Championship)
I was unsure going into this match, but the Acclaimed proved they absolutely deserved this spot. The crowd was white hot for them, and this match was perfectly paced. By the end, I was rooting for them as hard as I did for anybody tonight. I think AEW made a mistake by not pulling the trigger on them, but the ride there was so much fun that I can’t be mad. Swerve in Our Glory are such an interesting team, and they are doing the babyface/heel team trope with so much nuance that I have to respect it. That being said, AEW should not be surprised that the crowd booed Keith Lee at the end of the match as he targeted Anthony Bowens’s leg as hard as Swerve did. The only thing keeping this from being another 9/10 was the decided winner. Final Grade: 8/10 Great
Britt Baker vs. Jamie Hayter vs. Hikaru Shida vs. Toni Storm (AEW Interim Women’s Championship)
I think AEW did the women wrong tonight. They put them after my two best matches of the night and gave them less time to work than meaningless matches like the trio's match. The women tried to work at a different pace, and they mixed in great spots like Hikaru Shida coming back out with double kendo sticks. The crowd was strangely behind Jamie Hayter, who had the match won before Britt Baker pulled the referee out of the ring and tried to take credit for her work. Toni Storm broke up their argument and ended up with the win. I think Storm’s credibility has been seriously hurt by losses in her early AEW career, so I’m not sure if this was the right decision for the interim champion. Final Grade: 5/10 Average
Jungle Boy vs. Christian
For what they were booked, they executed this as well as possible. The storyline was hot going into the night, but an injury to Christian necessitated alternate plans. Luchasaurus turning on Jungle Boy was welcome, as his presentation and execution as a heel were awesome. Christian won easily after the attack, and the match ended in seconds. I guess we needed a quick match tonight, and this won’t be the end of the feud, almost certainly. Final Grade: 5/10 Average
Bryan Danielson vs. Chris Jericho
This longer technical match would have been more welcome earlier in the night, but Bryan Danielson can make it damn entertaining. Chris Jericho looked the best he has technically in a long time. They went toe-to-toe for a while before Jericho needed to get a cheap shot in to beat Danielson. It all played into the storyline perfectly, and Daniel Garcia will have to decide if Jericho worked hard enough to earn his respect or if the cheap finish against Danielson is the final straw. Final Grade: 6/10 Above Average
House of Black vs. Sting, Darby Allin, and Miro
To be honest, this match could have been on the pre-show. They did the best job they possibly could, but I think everyone needed a breather before the main event, and this was not it. Because of that, I can’t really give this a fair grade. It seemed like all the guys worked hard, but I was disinterested. Final Grade: 5/10 Average
Jon Moxley vs. CM Punk (AEW Championship)
This was the least over (but still pretty over) CM Punk was in Chicago. With the crowd mostly behind Punk, there were definitely some Jon Moxley supporters. I felt like AEW booked themselves into a corner for this match, but these guys worked hard to make their payoff match here make sense. Punk came in with a different ferocity, and the blood in this match actually did add to the contest. Moxley seemed like he would do anything to retain the title, but this time Punk wouldn’t quit. The downside is that I love Moxley as a character, but his wrestling style is frankly boring to me, even in a high-stakes main event. At this stage in his career, Punk needed someone to bounce off of, and I could tell that many like me are starting to get tired of him. In the end, Punk winning didn’t make any sense to me coming off of Moxley’s squash of him weeks prior. I think this storyline would have made way more sense if Punk got squashed by someone other than Moxley more than two weeks prior, giving him time to train and regain his confidence for this match. The post-match press conference proved even more that Punk should not be champion, in my opinion, and it’s hard not to factor that in the grade. The best part of this segment was the return of MJF with the voicemail from Tony Khan and Punk’s devil promo. MJF has the opportunity to rehash the rivalry of the year with Punk. In my opinion, MJF should win that feud and become the new face of AEW. Final Grade: 4/10 Below Average
Reverse Hipster's Reviews
Casino Battle Ladder Match 6/10 D-
The Casino Ladder Match was a terrible opener. First off, the rules need to be changed. The idea that the match could be won before all the stars have entered the match is stupid. How is that even fair? You have earned the right to get into this match, and it's won before you even enter? Then, there's the fact that since it is foolish to book the match to end early, it means it won't happen. It also means all the wrestlers have to look stupid for not going for the win when they have the opportunity. Also, there were several moments when the spots in the match just didn't work and were too complicated to look practical, or a ladder got in the way.
Ultimately, Stokely Hathaway pulled down the chip and gave it to the joker, who never took off his mask and revealed who he was. This might be an exciting way to get people to watch Dynamite, but it's a terrible way to end the match.
The Dark Order vs. The Elite, Trios Title 8.8/10 B+
This match was great. Early in the match, Nick Jackson spat on The Dark Order and established that there was no friendship there. Of course, the match had great spots, but I was more impressed with the storytelling and close calls. So many times, it felt like The Dark Order should have won. Honestly, they should have. The Dark Order has been grinding, and they always show out, but lose in the end.
However, if The Elite had to win, I love how AEW did it. Adam Page accidentally hit the Buckshot on John Silver, and The Young Bucks held Adam Page down as Kenny Omega pinned Silver. It will be interesting to see how that finish affects The Dark Order.
Athena vs. Jade Cargill, TBS Title 8.4/10 B
The feud leading into this match was trash. It was largely ignored and only advanced in the most basic ways. However, the match was the best match in TBS Title history. Athena took it to Jade like nobody else ever has and nearly beat her right out of the gate. Nobody has had Jade reeling the way Athena did. However, Jade eventually overcame with a thunderous pump kick that connected with Athena in mid-air. Then, Jade hit her Jaded finisher, and it was over. She remains undefeated.
Wardlow and FTR vs. Jay Lethal and the Motor City Machine Guns 7.9/10 C+
I just found this match very hard to get into. Apart from Sonjay, the manager, dissing Dax Harwood's daughter, there wasn't much story going in. Then, during the match, there wasn't much story either. The wrestlers are talented, but their talents just didn't come together for a great match. The after match segment with Dax's daughter beating up Sonjay and Samoa Joe returning was way better than the match itself.
Ricky Starks vs. Powerhouse Hobbs 6/10 D-
This match was a big disappointment. First, it was way too quick. All that build-up for such a personal feud, and it ends up being a blink and you missed it match. Also, Starks is finished with a simple spine buster. The same guy that used to wrestle two matches a night, and he is finished with a spine buster. That's all he had to give? This match should have been so much better, and Starks and Hobbs deserved better. Especially Starks, he was on an ascent, and this match put a dent in that.
Swerve In Our Glory vs. The Acclaimed, AEW Tag Title Match 8.8/10 B+
This was a very interesting match. The match started out slow, but once Swerve Strickland and Keith Lee started wrestling heel, the match got much better. The crowd wanted The Acclaimed to win badly. The match was incredible. The highlight for me was when Max Caster lifted Keith Lee and slammed him. There were so many moments from The Acclaimed. In the end, Swerve and Lee stomped out The Acclaimed's fire. However, The Acclaimed is so popular that Lee and Swerve may be forced to wrestle heel after this win.
Hikaru Shida vs. Jamie Hayter vs. Toni Storm vs. Britt Baker, AEW Women's Title 8.3/10 B
This match was pretty cool. Definitely one of the better Women's Title bouts in a while. The match shined the most when the women were breaking up pins with their explosive offense. The crowd wanted Hayter to win, but Toni won in the end. The major knock on this match for me was that Britt and Hayter never fought. It seems illogical and disappointing that two of the four competitors wouldn't fight.
Christian Cage vs. Jungle Boy 7/10 C-
I don't love the direction of this match. You could have had a good match and then had Luchasaurus betray Jungle Boy in the end to give Christian the victory. Instead, we had Luchasaurus beat up Jungle Boy before the match, turning one of the most anticipated matches on the card into a squash. It's in line with Christian's character and it's an interesting story development. That's really the only saving grace. However, AEW is starting an alarming trend of paying off their heavy story matches in squash matches on big PPVs. This match reminds me of MJF and Wardlow on Double or Nothing.
Chris Jericho vs. Bryan Danielson 7.4/10 C
This match should have been a classic. But, for whatever reason, it just wasn't their night. The match was technical, but not smooth. The sequences weren't as good as they should have been. Despite commentary trying to sell everything, these two did as genius. They didn't raise their voice once in this match because it didn't have any explosive spots. Jericho beating Bryan didn't help. It was an uninspired choice that really doesn't help the story. Apparently, even AEW doesn't believe professional wrestlers are better than sports entertainers.
Darby Allin, Miro, and Sting vs. House of Black 8.3/10 B
This match was pretty fun. Each team got its highlights in, and Sting was definitely the MVP of the match. He had the best match moments. Sting kept the Scorpion Death Lock on as Brody King and Buddy Matthews blasted him with moves, and Sting hit Malakai Black with mist to give his team the win. As good as this match was, I do hope we can see Darby get away from matches like this on big PPVs. He is a pillar of the company and should be in featured singles matches.
CM Punk vs. Jon Moxley, AEW Championship 8.4/10 B
The match started out hot with CM Punk nearly squashing Moxley. But then, Moxley recovered. The match got slow, and CM Punk did the annoying thing where he bleeds, but the action in the ring wasn't intense enough to justify it. The middle of the match was the weakest part, but the ending made it all worth it.
CM Punk hits his finisher, the GTS, and collapses. Then, Moxley bounces on the ropes and falls on top of them. After a long match, bleeding and exhausted, CM Punk has to see if he has enough strength to lift Moxley one last time for the GTS and win the title back. One last mountain to climb. He lifts Moxley, hits his finisher, and becomes the second two-time AEW World Champion.
Rob's Final Grade
In a long night of ups and downs, I thought that AEW delivered good wrestling but bad booking. Many times in the night, I was waiting for a big babyface victory only to be disappointed. A wrestling show needs to have at least some levity, and AEW needs to give those big moments to some of its younger talents in order to be sustainable. Still delivering two match of the year candidates in one night is undeniable, as I loved the Trios and Tag Team Championship matches (unsurprisingly AEW’s specialty and their biggest competitive advantage). The backstage drama was hard to ignore on this show, and I feel like it did impact the in-ring product or at least the way I perceived and graded the in-ring product. That should be AEW’s focus going forward, and I think going back to their original model of booking where long-term story mattered and there felt like there was a plan for everyone. Final Grade: 5/10 Average
Reverse Hipster's Final Grade 7.75/10 C
This show was subpar compared to what AEW normally does. The matches were put together at the last minute, and Tony Khan seems to be off in terms of giving the fans what they want. There were several matches down the card where it felt like the crowd's favorite wrestler lost, and several times it felt like the winners had little to no momentum. In addition to last-minute matches and unsatisfying finishes, the pacing was off.
I appreciate the fact that AEW is trying to cut down the time of their PPVs. I think it will make them better. However, they are still trying to shove millions of matches in that timeslot, and that's just not it. They need to trim the fat. They need to focus on the biggest best matches and stop trying to get everyone on the PPV. Quality over quantity, I hope to see a much more meticulously crafted PPV in my next AEW review.