For the second time in its short history, AEW brought Dynamite to Boston.
And the show opened in style, with “Cult of Personality” raising the decibel level at Boston University’s Agganis Arena as CM Punk made his way to the ring. This was Punk’s first Boston match since he joined Bryan Danielson (then Daniel Bryan in WWE) in Survival series in 2013. He played his biggest hits, including elbow drop from above and the GTS, while sleeping Bobby Fish in the opening game.
Just hours after Ring of Honor announced that it will be releasing its full roster, overshadowing the business and soon leaving a plethora of talented people out of work, the AEW roster (with a significant number of ROH alumni) came together to add a few. . enthusiasm for the industry.
The highlight of the night was that Hikaru Shida won a home and away match against Serena Deeb, advancing to the quarterfinals in the tournament to crown the first ever TBS champion. The post-match story made sense, as Deeb unleashed an assault on Shida’s knee. A former women’s champion, Shida plays the role of babyface incredibly well, and the injury from the story will add another element to her next match against Nyla Rose.
“After losing the title, I was very frustrated,” says Shida, speaking directly after his match. “I thought I could have done more and be better as a champion. So this TBS title tournament means a lot to me. It’s a great opportunity to get back to the top ”.
Shida has adapted to wrestling on live television in an extremely smooth way while also improving her English. He conducted the post-match interview with a translator, giving him the option to speak in Japanese, but still answered many of the questions in English.
“I’ve been learning a lot from Kenny Omega and Dustin Rhodes, and they teach what it takes to be on a TV show,” he says. “Being on television is something an actress does, so I took acting classes. And my English has improved a lot by seeing Sherlock Holmes on the BBC “.
Shida’s encounter with Deeb opens the door to a lengthy history between the two, which has the potential to be outstanding. But for now, his focus is the next match of the tournament against Nyla Rose.
“Nyla is such a tough girl,” says Shida. “She likes hard-hitting fighting style, and that’s my favorite. I’m going to kick it. “
In addition to Shida’s good performance, Dynamite delivered on all levels. Here are my takeaways from the night, including spoiler-free notes on the recordings of Elevation and Rampage:
- Before Dynamite went live, Tony Khan turned the crowd on fire by sharing that CM Punk would be the first to come out. Khan also made sure the crowd stayed for Rampage by announcing that Bryan Danielson vs. Eddie Kingston would take place on the undercard. While a healthy part of the crowd left after Danielson-Kingston, it was a strategy that worked.
- As cool as it was to see Punk live, last night was an impressive performance from Bobby Fish. At the age of 45, the perpetually underrated Fish showed a top-notch performance in his match against Punk. There was no doubt that Punk would win here, but to Fish’s credit, he planted a seed of doubt in what should have been a certainty. The only problem was with the ending, where a miscommunication caused Fish to attempt to throw the winning pinfall.
- Sting was, surprisingly, someone who simply never fit in with WWE. The wrestling icon was put aside and saved for an occasional special moment, like a birthday celebration for Ric Flair, but it was never consistently treated with the prestige of a legend. That’s completely different in AEW, where Sting is an integral (but never overused) piece of the puzzle. And instead of what we see with Goldberg in WWE, running through opponents, Sting has been a team player in AEW, selling for members of Team Taz and now MJF.
- On the subject of MJF, you will meet Darby Allin at Full Gear. Both are coming off losses in the last pay-per-view, so it will be particularly interesting to see how this match plays out.
- Dynamite was especially good in the first two games, which were Punk-Fish and then MJF crushing Bryce Donovan. That changed in Game 3, where Sammy Guevara and Ethan Page worked in ambitious style. They slowed down and then increased to a crescendo, with Guevara taking some outrageous risks in the match. The crowd was also able to enjoy the return of Chris Jericho and The Inner Circle, which officially formed two years ago in Boston, to a beating of Page and Scorpio Sky, setting up a 10-man street fight on Full Gear (with the last three Sky and Page team members will be announced next week).
- Cody Rhodes was greeted with a chorus of boos, but then did a sensational promotion before continuing his show with Andrade and Malakai Black. There is no one in wrestling like Rhodes. He has a unique equity with his long family history, and he has also sacrificed and committed his life to the industry. Stipulations aside, Rhodes will eventually take his place as AEW champion, and it will inevitably be an emotional and controversial moment. Plus, Andrade is clearly more comfortable on the mic than he’s ever been in WWE, and this was a solid segment that included PAC as well.
- It remains puzzling that WWE allowed Adam Cole to leave the company, especially after four years of presenting him as one of the best artists in the world (which also clearly shows the way Vince McMahon and Paul “Triple H” Levesque value and evaluate the talent ). Cole can speak and work at an elite level, which was showcased in The Elite – Dark Order main event, and is generating phenomenal reaction from the crowds every week.
Dressed as Ghostbusters, The Elite, all ROH alumni, put on an entertaining performance at the main event, but lost to The Dark Order after Hangman Page turned the tide by revealing himself as Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. The reaction was strong, the story is compelling and the time is right for Page to dethrone Omega for the world title in Complete team in November.
- The most popular performer for Elevation, which was filmed before Dynamite, was Orange Cassidy. Another highlight was the way FTR sold for Waves and Curls, which are the extremely talented Jaylen Brandyn and Traevon Jordan.
- This week, Tony Khan shared with Illustrated Sports that Wednesday’s Dynamite had more at stake than usual because the show was returning to Wednesdays after TNT’s coverage of the NHL changed it to Saturdays. And that was the case, as Punk, Jericho, Rhodes, Jon Moxley, The Young Bucks, Cole, and Omega starred on the show, while still saving Danielson and Dr. Britt Baker for Rampage. And for those wondering, the Bryan-Kingston game that will air on Rampage is fantastic.
- AEW once again showcased its ability to create a masterful two-hour show, reminding the wrestling world why Dynamite is so unmissable.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.