Home AEW ‘Dynasty’ review: Swerve Strickland is your new world champ. Good move?

AEW ‘Dynasty’ review: Swerve Strickland is your new world champ. Good move?

Chris Graham
swerve strickland aew champ
Photo: AEW

WWE’s world champ is Cody Rhodes, who left AEW in 2022 because of bad booking and backstage shenanigans involving the other EVPs.

AEW’s new world champ, Swerve Strickland, was gifted to Tony Khan in similar fashion.

Strickland, who defeated Samoa Joe in the main event at Sunday’s “Dynasty” pay-per-view, was released by WWE in 2021, another of those head-scratching late-Vince McMahon-era moves that you have to assume Paul Levesque wishes he could undo.

Khan almost had to book Strickland into winning the AEW world title at some point in 2024. Strickland is very much a “people’s champion”-type. I was in attendance at the Greensboro Coliseum for the “Revolution” pay-per-view last month, and as much as that show was about Sting’s retirement match, it was also about Strickland, with the organic “Who’s house? Swerve’s house” chants dominating the night with the live crowd.

Credit here to Khan for actually booking his company in concert with what the fans want; he has shown the ability to do this from time to time (see: The Acclaimed, Jamie Hayter).

There were missteps along the way: what, for instance, was the deal with giving him the two white guys covered in tattoos who looked like refugees from the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol for his entourage?

And the interlude with Keith Lee that included a brief run with the tag belts, to set up a feud that never did get going, probably because of Lee’s health issues, but still?

Strickland’s win gives AEW its first Black world champion. From what I’ve been reading on the wrestling interwebs, this is being treated both as long overdue, and also another sign of the wokeness that is a sign of America’s decline.

The latter group, I’m guessing, is butthurt that the insurrectionist white guys got dropped from Swerve’s entourage.

The only issue I have with the title change last night was that it made Samoa Joe into having been a transitional world champ, with a reign that didn’t get to the four-month mark when all was said and done.

With Will Ospreay heating up after his win over Bryan Danielson at “Dynasty,” and a big crowd awaiting AEW for its return to Wembley in the summer, all signs are pointing to another world title change in four months.

If that’s to be the case, Khan needs to use these next four months to get Strickland over as a top guy so that a loss to Ospreay in London doesn’t diminish him going forward.

Hits and misses from ‘Dynasty’

will ospreay
Photo: AEW

Big Hit: Ospreay-Danielson was the match of the night, match of the year, match of the decade. Seriously, if you didn’t catch last night’s show, this match alone is worth the purchase price.

Big Hit #2: Kazuchika Okada-Pac would have been the match of the night on any other show, if it weren’t for Ospreay-Danielson. Khan went with this one as the show opener – smart move. Also a smart move to use Pac as the opponent to help showcase Okada in his first major AEW match.

jack perry
Photo: AEW

Big Hit #3: The return of Jack Perry was something I’d been dreading basically since “All In,” and if you’d have told me before last night’s Young Bucks-FTR match, Hey, Jack Perry is going to interfere at the end and help the Bucks win, I might have skipped this show entirely. But the way it was done, in the aftermath of the fallout from the CM Punk footage being aired on “Dynamite” a couple of weeks ago, and Perry smirking at the live crowd after his run-in, I surprised myself by saying out loud, Well done.

The old saying about “personal issues draw money” would seem to apply here. A lot of AEW fans have personal issues with Perry for what ended up happening with Punk. I’m sensing fans having personal issues here that, if done right, could make Perry a nuclear-heat heel.

Big Miss: Chris Jericho-Hook. I’ve been thinking for months that Jericho needs some time off TV, in line with the theory, how can you miss me if I never leave. The live crowd serenaded Jericho last night with chants including “Go home, Jericho, go home” and “Please retire.” And then Jericho went on to win the match, meaning we’re going to get at least one more Jericho-Hook match, so that Hook can get his heat back. Literal “go home” heat is not good for anybody.

Big Miss #2: I don’t get the sense that the Mercedes Mone rollout is going well at all. It was made obvious that Willow Nightingale was going to win the TBS title from Julia Hart to set up a match between Nightingale and Mone at “Double or Nothing” next month in Vegas. When that happened, and Mone made her way to the ring for the staredown, I don’t know, it just didn’t seem to register.

The booking for that match is going to be awkward – it’s being sold that Nightingale beat Mone last year in an NJPW match after Mone broke her ankle in their match, and that Nightingale was somehow responsible for that, so, what, I guess Nightingale, a natural, over, babyface, has to be the heel here, against the natural heel, Mone?

Khan had Mone debut at the Boston show in March; he’s not having her wrestle her first match until Memorial Day weekend.

In the meantime, he’s having her cut a series of lackluster babyface promos and piping in crowd noise to make it seem like she’s getting her new CEO character over.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, unfortunately.

Put this one down as money not well spent.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].