Home AEW invades Northern Virginia: Hits, misses from this week’s ‘Dynamite’
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AEW invades Northern Virginia: Hits, misses from this week’s ‘Dynamite’

Ray Petree
swerve strickland will ospreay aew
Photo: AEW

The road to “Forbidden Door” continued last night in Fairfax at the EagleBank Arena, home of the George Mason University hoops teams.

AEW “Dynamite” kicked off with a brutal, commercial-free contest between Maxwell Jacob Friedman and Rush. Like all Rush affairs, this was a no-holds barred brawl that could have easily slotted in on the upcoming pay-per-view in terms of pace and match-quality. Once the dust had settled, it was MJF who stood victorious via a brainbuster.

This match set the tone for an action-packed episode of “Dynamite,” which focused more on sports, rather than entertainment — save for two segments featuring the AEW men’s and women’s world champions. With the bulk of the “Forbidden Door” card already having been constructed over the last three weeks, AEW was finally able to focus on what it does best — professional wrestling.

Hits and Misses

HIT: All of This Week’s In-Ring Action 

This week’s Dynamite was jam-packed with great in-ring work, from some of the greatest technicians in professional wrestling today. Somehow MJF, Rush, Zack Sabre Jr, Konosuke Takeshita, Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong, Orange Cassidy, Mark Briscoe, Kris Statlander, The Young Bucks, The Acclaimed, Claudio Castagnoli, and PAC all wrestled on last night’s episode; yet it still didn’t feel overwhelming.

It’s remarkable to see nearly one hour and forty-five minutes of uninterrupted wrestling on “free television.” All of the matches were phenomenal, whether they were Owen Hart Cup Tournament qualifying matches, title eliminator matches in the cases of the Young Bucks, or preludes to “Forbidden Door.” Tony Khan thrives when he can book matches that organically help progress his storylines. This week’s episode was proof-positive of that.

MISS: The Outcasts 

I’ve enjoyed “Timeless” Toni Storm, Mariah May, and Mina Shirakawa’s platonic love-triangle over the past few weeks. It’s only a matter of time until Storm and May’s odd-relationship ends in tragedy, and Shirakawa has organically become a fascinating wrinkle in this ongoing saga.

Since Rossy Ogawa’s departure from World Wonder Ring Stardom, the Japanese women’s professional wrestling organization has been more inclined to cooperate with AEW, like their men’s wrestling counterpart, New Japan Pro Wrestling. Given the fact that Toni Storm is a former World of Stardom champion (Stardom’s equivalent of a world championship), it’s been interesting to see Storm’s legacy in Stardom woven into her relationship with May and interactions with Shirakawa. This is the benefit of opening the proverbial “Forbidden Door.”

While contract signings are an overused device in professional wrestling, I enjoyed the principal parties’ contributions. However, the Outcasts (Saraya, Harley Cameron, and newcomer Anna Jay) interference felt unnecessary and contrived. This segment either served one-of-two purposes: Saraya will be slotted into the women’s world championship match at “Forbidden Door,” there will be a trios match next week on “Dynamite,” “Rampage” or “Collision” between all six women. Either way, I wasn’t thrilled to see Storm, May, and Shirakawa’s segment interrupted. Sometimes, less is more.

HIT: Swerve Strickland face-to-face with Will Ospreay 

This segment was nothing short of extraordinary. Last week, these two men openly professed that there is no personal animosity between them. This week, that all changed.

Swerve Strickland is such a fascinating wrestler, because he has become so comfortable in his own skin — perfectly portraying a man who will do anything, as long as the ends justify the means. Like Strickland, Will Ospreay exudes supreme confidence — an air of superiority befitting the “Aerial Assassin.”

Ospreay’s remarks were littered with clever references and callbacks to his previous accomplishments, while Strickland was a little more direct. Swerve wants to know if Ospreay will be able to sacrifice everything to be champion, even the love of his wife and son? Now, things are “personal.” Ospreay’s anger was palpable, who now seems determined to defeat Strickland at “Forbidden Door.”

Still, there’s the undercurrent of the Don Callis Family, who Swerve aptly mentioned during this segment. Despite Ospreay’s assurance that he doesn’t need Don Callis to succeed, it would certainly appear as though they’ll play a role in the main event of “Forbidden Door” — whether Ospreay wants them too or not.

All in all, this was a tremendous segment that only drove my excitement for this main event through the roof. While I’m not thrilled to see how Don Callis will affect the main event, I know Strickland and Ospreay will burn the house down.

Weekend preview

We’re only a week and a half away from “Forbidden Door,” so this weekend’s programming is full of great matches that will preview the event:

Friday Night ‘Rampage’

  • Lio Rush vs. Action Andretti 
  • Private Party vs. Metalik & Komander
  • AR Fox vs. Shingo Takagi 
  • Rey Fenix vs. Turbo Floyd 
  • Willow Nightingale vs. Serena Deeb (Owen Hart Cup Qualifying Match)

Saturday Night ‘Collision’

  • Will Ospreay vs. Brian Cage
  • Kazuchika Okada vs. Ultimo Guerrero

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