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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (June 8, 2022): Moxley’s path to gold

AEW Dynamite (June 8, 2022) emanated from Cable Dahmer Arena in Kansas City, MO. The show featured Jon Moxley one step closer to regaining the AEW world title, NJPW build for the Forbidden Door PPV, and the introduction of a new championship.

Get caught up on all the Dynamite details with the excellent play-by-play from Claire Elizabeth.

AEW Interim World Championship Eliminator Series

CM Punk’s injury threw a monkey wrench into AEW’s plans. To salvage the situation, Tony Khan decided to crown an interim world champion. The show opened with a battle royal. The winner advanced to wrestle Jon Moxley in the main event. The winner of that match advances to the Forbidden Door PPV on June 26 for a bout against the NJPW winner of Hiroshi Tanahashi versus Hirooki Goto to crown the interim titleholder.

Casino rules were in effect for the 21-man battle royal. The first wave included Eddie Kingston, Darby Allin, Tony Nese, Daniel Garcia, and Lance Archer. The second wave contained Ricky Starks, Jake Hager, Fenix, Swerve Strickland, and Keith Lee. The third wave formed with John Silver, Konosuke Takeshita, Max Caster, Austin Gunn, and Colten Gunn. The fourth wave consisted of Will Hobbs, Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly, Dante Martin, and Wheeler Yuta. The final Joker surprise was Andrade returning to action for the first time since his Coffin Match loss to Allin.

The final four came down to Andrade, Kyle O’Reilly, Fenix, and Wheeler Yuta. The bad guys teamed up to duel with the good guys. Fenix went for a rolling cutter, but Andrade anticipated the move and struck with a high-impact low-blow. El Idolo tossed Fenix out of the ring for an elimination. Andrade and O’Reilly double-teamed Yuta, but Yuta turned the tables by dipping his shoulder to eject a running Andrade from the ring.

O’Reilly and Yuta duked it out on the apron. Yuta kicked with such force that he knocked O’Reilly through the ropes back into the ring. As Yuta reentered, O’Reilly pounced for a dragon screw. O’Reilly ran the ropes to deliver a big boot for victory.

Casino Battle Royale full order of elimination:

1. Tony Nese by Keith Lee
2. Lance Archer by Keith Lee
3. Max Caster by Fenix
4. & 5. Gunn sons by Keith Lee
6. Keith Lee by Swerve Strickland
7. John Silver by Will Hobbs
8. Daniel Garcia by Eddie Kingston
9. Eddie Kingston by Jake Hager
10. Jake Hager by Wheeler Yuta
11. Konosuke Takeshita by Will Hobbs & Ricky Starks
12. Dante Martin by Ricky Starks
13. Ricky Starks by Fenix
14. Bobby Fish by Darby Allin
15. Darby Allin by Swerve Strickland
16. Swerve Strickland by Andrade
17. Will Hobbs by Wheeler Yuta
18. Fenix by Andrade
19. Andrade by Wheeler Yuta
20. Wheeler Yuta by Kyle O’Reilly
Winner: Kyle O’Reilly

The Casino Battle Royale was a fun match overall with a surprise winner. Half the field were strong options to advance, and AEW picked O’Reilly for the task. It is more like they rewarded him for his consistently good singles matches of late. I have no issues with the choice. That is part of the journey to elevating wrestlers into a higher position.

There was one storyline of note during the battle royal. Swerve Strickland swerved his pals for sneaky eliminations. After Keith Lee clotheslined the Gunns over the top rope, Swerve celebrated with Limitless. Strickland then dumped Lee out of the ring. Swerve grinned, while Lee seethed.

The second opportunistic move from Swerve came at the expense of Allin. They had been working together as a unit to take control of the action. When Allin ran into the corner, Swerve followed to wedgie Allin out for an elimination.

And just like that Swerve became interesting as a character. He was already interesting in the ring. Now, he gave us a reason to care about him. When I say care, I care about booing him after that treachery. I’m looking forward to Lee and Allin getting retribution.

One of the keys to a good battle royal is limiting stupidity to a low level. This match succeeded on that front. Hot beefs were not ignored, such as Kingston beelining for Garcia and Andrade focusing on Allin. There was creativity in cool moves and cool moments, such as a scissor party and Starks ducking a hook kick from Fenix to pose in his signature style.

The action also provided a few future directions for intriguing matchups. Based off interactions, I want to see Allin versus Archer, Allin versus Kingston, Lee versus Archer, Swerve versus Silver, Swerve versus Lee, Fenix versus Starks, Swerve versus Allin, and Fenix versus Andrade. I’m sure other viewers will have a different list, and that’s the beauty of it.

Unfortunately, production wasn’t the best. The camera missed a few eliminations. Replays were shown later down the line, but it’s not the same as catching it live. The countdown clock botched once. The time went to zero during a hoss showdown between Lee and Archer. AEW let that play out before proceeding with the next wave of wrestlers. Speaking of entrances, staggering them doesn’t have the same effect as singular. The action was non-stop in the ring, so there was no time to soak in new arrivals. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in theory. AEW just needs to work on the execution of the entrances. I preferred the fisticuffs not stalling over the played-out method of each new wrestler hitting a flurry of moves while others stay down on the mat.

Enough battle royal analysis. Time for the main event.

Moxley and O’Reilly hyped the contest with backstage promos. Moxley served his session immediately after the battle royal. He has been big game hunting in NJPW and blazing a trail in AEW. That will all pay off by winning the interim belt at Forbidden Door. This was a typical strong promo from Mox to set the mood.

William Regal chatted with O’Reilly for his turn on the mic. Regal was confident that Moxley would crack O’Reilly’s head open. O’Reilly framed his promo as coming to AEW to fight the best and fight for the world title.

Ding, ding, ding. The main event was underway with primo fisticuffs. Moxley openly invited a firefight, and O’Reilly obliged. Mox had the advantage as the fresher fighter, but O’Reilly did not back down. The underdog found an opening to trap Moxley in the ropes and attack with a flying elbow drop to weaken Mox’s knee.

Moxley rallied with a suplex out of the corner and a vicious hammerlock choke. O’Reilly bit the ropes for the break, so Mox kicked the cord into O’Reilly’s teeth. Good thing the Undisputed Elite can receive dental discounts from Dr. Britt Baker DMD.

The action intensified into a rugged slugfest. Blows were exchanged back and forth. Moxley hammered elbows. O’Reilly sandbagged to block a Paradigm Shift then fired away with strikes. Mox struck with a flash cutter. O’Reilly countered a Gotch piledriver with a triangle sleeper. When O’Reilly transitioned to a leg submission, Moxley landed a closed-fist punch to break free.

More strikes were thrown all around. An exchange of Saito suplexes and a stalemate of clotheslines had both men down on one knee. O’Reilly rose to throw blows. As he turned for a discus windup, Moxley snatched him from behind for a choke. Mox released to pounce for a running knee and a Paradigm Shift for victory.

As soon as the interim setup was announced, it was obvious that Moxley would win to fight at the Forbidden Door PPV. He is a main event player worthy of a PPV main event. Even though the end result was predictable, the journey throughout Dynamite was still enjoyable. Credit to O’Reilly for stepping up to the plate. He convincingly went toe-to-toe with one of AEW’s biggest stars. The action was rugged and strategic for a high-quality affair.

NJPW Forbidden Door PPV build

In addition to the AEW Interim World Championship bout, AEW worked to plant seeds to fill out the rest of the Forbidden Door card. Hangman Page called out the IWGP champ, and Will Ospreay crashed the party to debut.

Hangman aimed to return to his winning ways. Next up was the debuting David Finlay from NJPW. I was pleased to see Fit’s son bring a shillelagh to the ring. Hangman was feeling good when the crowd cheered his success. Finlay attacked the knee to ground the cowboy. Hangman rallied with a flurry of clotheslines, chops, and a slingshot plancha. The two tussled a while longer, then Hangman unloaded a hefty lariat. He finished with the Buckshot Lariat.

This was AEW’s style of meat and potatoes. Working a body part, overcoming with fire, and plenty of hot moves were on the menu. Hangman looked as good as usual. Finlay represented well for his AEW debut. If Finlay returns soon, then I hope he hits someone with his shillelagh.

Drama in the aftermath was the newsworthy portion. Hangman observed that he probably won’t be getting a shot at the AEW World Championship anytime soon, so he pointed his focus toward a different world title. Hangman called out Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. Adam Cole stood up from commentary to protest. He’s been on a roll winning the Owen Hart tournament, so he should get a crack at the NJPW prize.

In a different story, Trent called FTR to the ring looking for a rematch for the ROH tag titles. FTR would happily oblige, but Rocky Romero was not currently available. FTR pointed out that Trent’s frustration should be pointed toward the United Empire stable, since members Jeff Cobb and Great-O-Khan ruined it with physical interference.

At the mention of the United Empire, Ospreay stepped out on stage. It was a distraction for Aaron Henare, Kyle Fletcher, and Mark Davis to attack from behind. The United Empire stood tall after the beatdown.

My lack of reaction won’t do the NJPW moments justice. For me, these are strangers or names without a face. That said, the surprise factor seems to be working as a quick build for the Forbidden Door. We’ll get a taste of what the United Empire has to offer when Ospreay, Fletcher, & Davis compete in a trios bout against FTR & Trent on Rampage.

New championship in the mix

You want more surprises? AEW has more surprises. They introduced a new championship out of nowhere.

The inaugural All-Atlantic Championship has four qualifying matches:

  • Buddy Matthews vs. PAC
  • Ethan Page vs. Miro
  • Penta Oscuro vs. Malakai Black
  • NJPW matchup

The winners will square off in a four-way final at the Forbidden Door PPV.

PAC and Matthews were up first for Dynamite action. They delivered as expected with wild athleticism. PAC turned up the heat in the end for a poison rana, pump kick, and Black Arrow to win.

Well, that announcement was completely unexpected. Kudos for that. My first impression of the title design is positive for the shiny gold. It looks like a genuine prize worth fighting for.

As for the name, I’m not so hot on that. All-Atlantic Championship sounds like it is coming from a mid-major basketball conference. It is not clear how this new title distinguishes itself from the rest of the pack, but I’m hopeful that it will develop its own personality and prestige over time.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

TNT title scene. Wardlow explained that CM Punk is the true world champ. He will wait until Punk is healthy before challenging for the world title. Instead, Wardlow wants to focus on bringing respect back to the TNT Championship. Scorpio Sky limped out ready to throw down. Dan Lambert and Ethan Page rushed on stage to protect their injured teammate. Wardlow was content to wait until Sky is healthy.

That segment segued to Mark Sterling with an ultimatum about the lawsuit towards Wardlow. Either they go to court for the security guard injury settlement, or Wardlow agrees to a 20-on-1 elimination match for next week. Needless to say, the match was booked.

This was a good segment to keep focus on Wardlow. His motives were explained, and the Sterling part was pure comedy. That match next week is going to be a hoot.

AEW tag title scene. The Young Bucks gloated about their recent wins over Jurassic Express in ten-man action and against the Lucha Bros. The Jacksons are back and want the titles. The Hardys overheard and stepped in. They should be first in line thanks to beating the Bucks. Christian Cage overheard and entered with Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus. He proposed a three-way ladder match for the gold next week.

The takeaway from this scene was Jungle Boy’s facial expressions at Christian’s backhanded insults and matchmaking. JB might be close to his boiling point taking orders from Christian. The match should rock though. My first thought was a way to hotshot the titles onto the Bucks, so they have a reason to compete on the Forbidden Door PPV. However, the Hardys are wrestling against Dragon Lee & Dralistico in the main event of Triplemania XXX: Chapter 2 on June 18. Gold around the Hardys’ waists could add extra importance to the AAA show. Basically, there is reason to believe it is anyone’s game to win, and that is a great thing.

AEW Women’s World Championship: Thunder Rosa retained against Marina Shafir. Earlier, the champ was open to fight anyone. Shafir stepped in. The challenger’s technical skill was a problem for Thunder. Shafir grounded Thunder often. The champ rallied with fiery spirit. In the end, Thunder prevailed with a roll-up after back and forth counters.

Shafir was not pleased in defeat and blindsided Thunder. When she locked in a submission, Toni Storm ran out for the save. A German suplex from Storm and a Fire Thunder Driver from the champ sent Shafir packing. Storm picked up the title belt with desire in her eyes. She handed the championship to Thunder, who snatched it back with attitude.

Solid bout playing to both wrestlers’ strengths. When Shafir sort of fell over on a Boston Crab, I appreciated that she transitioned to different submissions instead of sticking with an ugly one. Thunder is close to clearing out the heel side of the division, so Storm is an enticing opponent as a fellow fan favorite. If they engage, it will be a slobberknocker.

Notes: MJF was not present on the broadcast after his defiant promo last week.

Commentary relayed news that CM Punk had successful surgery on his lower leg.

Eddie Kingston played his entitled tough guy routine to challenge Jake Hager for Rampage as payback for eliminating him in the battle royal. Kingston was also a jerk to production staff trying to do their job.

The Baddies hyped Red Velvet versus Kris Statlander for Rampage. There are a lot of gems packed into this quick promo, such as Stokely Hathaway boxing out Tony Schiavone, Kristin Highlander, and a Keith Sweat reference just to list a few.

Stud of the Show: Kyle O’Reilly

Moving on up with an impressive showing.

Match of the Night: Casino Battle Royale

I love battle royals, and this one had enough action, swerves, and surprises to justify the pick.

Grade: A-

Strong wrestling action, surprises aplenty, and developing stories were bright spots for Dynamite.

Share your thoughts about Dynamite. How do you rate it? Who stole the show?

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