Home Review: Hits, misses from AEW’s final ‘Dynamite’ before ‘Forbidden Door’

Review: Hits, misses from AEW’s final ‘Dynamite’ before ‘Forbidden Door’

Ray Petree
aew swerve strickland
Photo: AEW

AEW returned to the KeyBank Center in Buffalo for its final Wednesday night “Dynamite” before “Forbidden Door.”

After last week’s crash in the ratings, there’s no denying that a shadow was cast over this week’s episode. Tony Khan responded with a homerun.

This week’s show was the perfect combination of phenomenal in-ring action, fascinating segments, and thrilling announcements for “Forbidden Door.”

Unfortunately, it all culminated in a lackluster main event.

Let’s dive in:

HIT: The MJF and Daniel Garcia Cold Open

The show opened with a rousing exchange between Maxwell Jacob Friedman and Buffalo’s own Daniel Garcia. MJF challenged Garcia to a match at AEW’s “All In” in London, acknowledging Garcia as a kindred spirit. Their exchange was interrupted by the International Champion, Will Ospreay, whose title Garcia has been eyeing for weeks. Ospreay accepted Garcia’s challenge, announcing that they’ll wrestle next week on the special “Beach Break” edition of “Dynamite.” However, Ospreay will not only put his International Title on the line, but the World Championship — assuming he wins at “Forbidden Door.”

MJF excels at using his unique platform within AEW to highlight other talent. In this instance, it was Daniel Garcia. This segment accomplished so much, in such a short amount of time: MJF challenged Garcia at “All In;” Ospreay accepted Garcia’s challenge for his International Title; and MJF and Ospreay’s acknowledgement of Garcia, as well as his own impassioned speech, helped establish the technician as a main-event player.

More importantly, it continued to plant the seeds for MJF and Ospreay’s inevitable feud. Is there enough oxygen for these two generational talents, who breathe such rarified air? This is the long term angle that AEW desperately needs.

HIT: The Stars Emerge from the “Forbidden Door” 

As a longtime fan of New Japan Pro Wrestling, seeing the promotion’s best and brightest invade AEW programming is always a spectacle to behold. Six years ago, seeing the “Ace of the Universe,” Hiroshi Tanahashi, on network television would have been inconceivable. Now, he’s challenging his eternal rival, Kazuchika Okada, to a multi-man tag-team match at “Forbidden Door” with the Acclaimed & Daddy Ass. Tetsuya Naito made a surprising appearance after the Blackpool Combat Club’s match with Los Ingobernables de Japon ended — brawling with the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, Jon Moxley. Minoru Suzuki double-crossed Chris Jericho, announcing that he wants to wrestle the “Learning Tree.” 

Wait… Minoru Suzuki wants to wrestle Chris Jericho?

MISS: Chris Jericho versus Minoru Suzuki 

When “Dynamite” is this good, there isn’t much to lament. So, while I enjoyed Suzuki’s dismissal of Jericho and his terrible new gimmick, the prospect of a match between the two has me mildly concerned. Normally, a man in his fifties is middle-aged. Fifty-year-old wrestlers are geriatric. I enjoy watching haggard veterans wrestle younger stars. I don’t enjoy watching wrestlers who are both well into their fifties struggle to move between sequences. Six years ago, this would have been a “dream match.” In the year of our lord 2024, I’m skeptical.

HIT: Zack Sabre Jr. versus Kyle O’Reilly 

Here’s a novel concept in wrestling today: grappling.

Chris Graham and I sang Zack Sabre Jr.’s praises during our podcast on Tuesday (like MJF, I’m done shilling), but I’m not finished:

I can confidently say Zack Sabre Jr. is the greatest technical wrestler in the world. Not only is he a man of 1,001 holds, but the rapid succession with which he can exchange holds — one reversal after another — is breathtaking. Throw a wrestler like Kyle O’Reilly into the equation, who effortlessly blends mixed-martial arts and professional wrestling, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This match was sublime.

MISS: Swerve Strickland and Will Ospreay’s Join Forces 

Booking a champion and challenger as a reluctant tag-team, days before they’re scheduled to wrestle, is a tired narrative device. There’s no intrigue in watching Will Ospreay and Swerve Strickland wrestle the Gates of Agony. If Tony Khan’s end goal was to double-down on Strickland being the antagonist in this scenario, then there were far more effective and interesting ways of doing that. I’m still looking forward to their match, but this was a waste of a main event.

HIT: The Elite’s Wildcard in the Owen Hart Foundation Tournament

While I am still dumbfounded by the Young Bucks’ decision to continue their Executive Vice President angle, the World Tag-Team Champions announced last night that they have already selected the wildcard in the Owen Hart Foundation Men’s Tournament; adamant that the AEW World Championship will return to the Elite at “All In.”

The wildcard will be revealed next week, at “Beach Break,” in a match against Jeff Jarrett. 

I will always be a sucker for the mystery wrestler gimmick. Who will it be!? Will Virginia’s own “Hangman” Adam Page return and rejoin The Elite? His disdain for Swerve Strickland is well-documented. Will it be Kazuchika Okada? That would mean that, at the very least, we could see the third installment between Danielson and Okada in the tournament’s finale.

I can’t wait to find out on next week’s episode of “Dynamite.”

We have two programs left before “Forbidden Door.” Here is what we have to look forward too:

Friday Night “Rampage”

  • Gabe Kidd & Roderick Strong vs. The Infantry
  • Orange Cassidy vs. the Outrunners
  • El Phantasmo vs. A.R. Fox (TNT Championship Qualifying Match)
  • Skye Blue vs. Queen Aminata 
  • Shingo Takagi vs. Dalton Castle 

Saturday Night “Collision”

  • Stephanie Vaquer vs. Lady Frost 
  • Deonna Purrazzo vs. Hikaru Shida (Owen Hart Foundation Women’s Tournament Quarterfinal Match) 
  • Daniel Garcia vs. The Butcher