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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Oct. 25, 2023): It pays to have friends

AEW Dynamite (Oct. 25, 2023) emanated from The Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, PA. The show featured MJF finding an unlikely friend, Ric Flair arriving to support Sting, Kazuchika Okada dueling with Bryan Danielson, and more.

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

Friendship, or lack thereof, was a theme through the whole show.

MJF finds an unlikely ally

Place on your bets on who MJF will find for help against Bullet Club Gold. He has been outnumbered 4-to-1 in recent weeks without the injured Adam Cole. The Acclaimed have tried to cozy up to the world champ. Roderick Strong and the Kingdom returned to get in the good graces of Cole. Turns out it was none of them. If you put your money on Samoa Joe, well, collect your winnings and know that Joe’s going to kill MJF.

MJF’s evening began with a visit from the Neck Strong crew. They wanted to help MJF with his problems. MJF’s response was to comically shove Strong’s wheelchair out of picture. MJF was fired up to take revenge on Juice Robinson. I love the intensity of MJF’s fighting words.

That scene was then interrupted by the masked devil on screen.

MJF brought that same ferociousness to the ring for the opening bout against Juice for the Dynamite Diamond Ring. He bloodied Juice from pillar to post. The Gunns caused distractions throughout to help the Collision Cowboy of the Month. MJF rallied with the beloved kangaroo kick and wild rope shake.

In the end, it came down to the diamond ring against the fugazi ring. Both men ringed up as the Gunns distracted the referee. MJF ducked the punch, then he walloped Juice in the kisser. MJF popped the Gunns too to take them out of the game. The champ finished with a Heatseeker piledriver to become a five-time Dynamite Diamond Ring winner.

MJF knocked one down, but several more challengers lie ahead. The Bang Bang Gang attacked him after the bout. Strong led the Kingdom to the ring, but Matt Taven and Mike Bennett were promptly clotheslined over the ropes like a pair of incompetent stooges. The Acclaimed arrived next, and the bad guys scattered.

Jay White trash-talked on stage for the world title bout at Full Gear on November 18. The Gunns challenged MJF for the ROH tag titles, also for Full Gear. MJF agreed to double duty, and he pushed back to get that 8-man tag challenge previously discussed a few weeks ago. White was game, but MJF still needed partners. Max Caster was ready to jump in with Anthony Bowens and Billy Gunn, however, MJF vowed never to team with Caster. Upon request for friendly scissoring, MJF shot him down.

Continuing with the same scene, MJF was confronted by Kenny Omega on stage requesting the opportunity to defend his record. MJF is a few days away from breaking the longest reign with the AEW World Championship. He agreed to Omega’s match for Saturday night on Collision.

So, where does Samoa Joe fit in the mix? Later in the locker room, Joe approached MJF with a proposition. He’ll team with Maxwell to watch his back in exchange for an AEW world title shot.

Oh, one more piece of the puzzle to address. Wardlow explained his motivation to target MJF. He was sick that MJF rose to prominence as a fan favorite after all his dastardly deeds. Wardlow is coming to take everything from MJF.

There were a lot of parts weaving in and out of that story on this episode. AEW pulled the story off excellently for it all to make sense and also build excitement for the future.

I darn near messed my pants at the confrontation between MJF and Omega for a free title bout on Collision. That is an epic matchup on paper. Just seeing those two peacocking on stage was a moment in itself. Omega came prepared with a pump and bulging veins. The star power was off the charts.

The match between MJF and Juice lived up to expectations. I love that MJF rocked hard with intensity. He truly backed up his threats, and it gave the action a sense of genuine hatred among the characters. The finish was fitting with the two rings, and it was a satisfying win for MJF to overcome.

All the relationships in and out of MJF’s world on this evening were so much fun. I cracked up at MJF gullibly accepting Joe’s help without thinking strings would be attached. I like that we finally heard Wardlow’s motivation. I also like how AEW used the city’s landmarks to make the promo video special. It’s one of those little details that makes their world feel more real. Strong and the Kingdom were rubes in the best way possible.

Poor Caster was denied his scissor party. I still believe deep down in my heart that the MJF will scissor Caster one day. It doesn’t seem likely soon, so that makes me think we could be in store for a long-term angle to build hard for that moment. That might be better reserved for MJF’s fight with the masked devil down the line.

Speaking of the devil, I’m starting to wonder if it is a ruse by Bullet Club Gold. Juice was missing on Collision, and the devil popped up. White was conveniently late to commentary, which could be from him pulling devil tricks. I don’t think that’s the likely outcome, but I’m not crossing it off the list. I do think it is safe to eliminate Strong and Cole. The details don’t jive well enough.

From rivals to friends

It’s Sting! And Ric Flair too.

Sting was in the ring for his gift from Tony Khan. Enter the Nature Boy. Woo!!! Flair is going along for Sting’s last ride until retirement.

We can never have a nice moment on Dynamite without an interruption. Christian Cage came out to flap his gums with insults. He realized that he’ll never be rid of Sting and Darby Allin until he makes this problem go away himself. Christian issued a challenge for a trios match at Full Gear. It will be Christian, Luchasaurus, & Nick Wayne versus Sting, Darby Allin, and a third. Christian suggested Flair, but Sting had other ideas.

Sting approached Adam Copeland backstage to join their squad. Sting’s message was basically for Copeland to pull his head out of his ass and join the fight against Christian. Copeland is blinded through friendship. Sting can relate, and that’s why he spoke so harshly with conviction.

Tony Khan’s gift reveal turning out to be Flair was a pleasant surprise. I did not have that on my list of possibilities. I’m not really sure how it fits the historic hype, but I’m excited nonetheless. Fans are already plotting a Flair swerve turn on Sting, so that adds a cloud of mystery on everything. I’m curious about Copeland. If Sting pushes too hard, I could see Copeland embracing the dark side with Christian. That’s another layer of intrigue to keep an eye on. Not to forget Christian in this scene. He spiced it up with wicked insults worthy of hatred.

Best Friends Combat Club

Friends. How many does Orange Cassidy have? Friends. Ones he can depend on include Kazuchika Okada. The NJPW superstar graced the AEW ring for the main event in tag team action against Bryan Danielson and Claudio Castagnoli.

This match cooked from the get-go. Danielson wasn’t having any of Cassidy’s silly games and immediately flipped the switch to aggressively pound his opponent. I found great joy in that moment. Finally someone didn’t play along and went berserker style on Cassidy.

The primary appeal of this contest was a showdown between Okada and Danielson. The match built to the moment, and they went strong for a stalemate. Okada gained the upper hand in the end with help from Cassidy. Okada had Danielson in position for the ripcord Rainmaker, but Danielson was too stubborn to let it happen. Cassidy landed a superman punch to daze Danielson, then Okada ripped into the Rainmaker. Danielson clutched his face in pain.

The Blackpool Combat Club had the last laugh on this evening. Claudio mauled Cassidy in a magnificent manner to win. Earlier in the match, Claudio had an awesome moment countering a superman punch into the giant swing.

Claudio was a one-man wrecking crew in the end. He popped Okada with a springboard uppercut. Cassidy went for the blindside attack, however, Claudio countered into a vicious pop-up uppercut of death to win.

The post-match focus was on Danielson’s potential injury. Jon Moxley and Wheeler Yuta came out to attend to their friend. Best Friends, Rocky Romero, Kris Statlander, and Hook came out to help Cassidy. Okada was jawing at Danielson to hype a future singles rematch. Yuta and Hook were getting up close and personal. Commentary announced that Claudio’s pin earned him a shot at Cassidy for the AEW International Championship next week.

That main event was fantastic. They sold me on wanting to see the rematch between Danielson and Okada. It was just enough mingling not to overdo it. Okada’s attitude at the end standing over Danielson was icing on the cake to give it a personal grudge. Claudio was a total badass. As the match played out, I feared he would be eating the pin from Cassidy. That helped produce shock and awe when Claudio dropped the hammer for victory. The post-match posturing added fuel to the fire. AEW can mix and match a lot of different ways for interesting matchmaking.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Rob Van Dam & Hook defeated Alex Reynolds & John Silver. RVD was the spark plug for victory. Evil Uno tried to interfere with a chair, so RVD hit the Van Daminator. He landed a frog splash on Reynolds. Silver tried to blindside RVD with a running knee. RVD ducked, and Hook snatched the meat man for the Redrum submission. Silver tapped out.

This match was a lot of fun showcasing RVD. The legend can still put on a show hitting his classic moves. Hook was feisty wrestling circles around Reynolds after tough guy taunts. Reynolds and Silver executed their roles well as jabrones.

ROH World Six-Man Championship: Hung Bucks retained against Hardy Party. The challengers put up a good fight, but the Elite were elite. The finish was scattershot with Hangman connecting on a buckshot lariat to Isiah Kassidy. The Young Bucks unloaded a superkick party to the Hardys on the apron. BTE Trigger to close on Brother Zay.

This was a solid match with everyone looking good hitting their moves to pop the crowd. The overall movement was pretty slick throughout with lots of shifting through traffic smoothly.

Afterward, video aired on screen of Swerve Strickland and Prince Nana pilfering Hangman’s home. Swerve put the debt on the head of Hangman’s baby.

Wow, that was some straight-up evil villain shit from Swerve. Putting some kind of omen curse on the baby is definitely worth an ass beating from Hangman. This feud just heated up to the highest notch and demands satisfaction be paid off in a violent affair. I can’t wait. That shows how effective it heaped heel heat on Swerve. Even Prince Nana was uncomfortable during that scene, and you know he’s down to steal anything of value to buy shrimp cocktail.

AEW Women’s World Championship: Hikaru Shida retained against Ruby Soho. The finish was marred with funny business. Soho tried all her tricks to cheat, and it backfired in the end. Shida blocked a No Future Kick to counter for a Falcon Arrow slam. On the cover, Soho reversed for top position on a roll-up. Shida kicked out with force sending Soho colliding into the steel of an exposed turnbuckle. Shida closed with the Katana strike.

That match was rowdy and interesting. Some of the shenanigans were clunky, such as the sequence of Soho faking spray paint victimhood to trying to use the title belt as a foreign object to actually being sprayed in the face with paint. The wrestling was pretty exciting. Shida seemed like a foregone conclusion to win, however, they worked her hard to leave it up in the air as best they could.

Who’s next for Shida? Toni Storm produced a silent film to set up the challenge for Full Gear. She also introduced Luther as her butler, which I assume will be her ringside valet moving forward.

I’m not excited about this contest just yet. Storm lost a title challenge to Saraya last month, and now she gets another crack without putting in much work. Knowing AEW’s booking tendencies, it sure feels like Luther will help Storm cheat to screw Shida, which is worn out rinse and repeat for the women’s division heels. I hope they prove me wrong to keep the PPV result feeling fresh.

Notes: Chris Jericho can’t remember suffering a beatdown as bad as Will Hobbs gave him in all of his career. His ego hurt the most. Jericho did some self-reflection, and it sounds like he’s coming back more intense intent on revenge. Hobbs has friends with the Callis Family. Well, Jericho has friends too. Some are bigger than Hobbs. Mystery tease...

AEW announced a new PPV. Worlds End takes place on December 30.

Stud of the Show: Claudio Castagnoli

Claudio was a stud. The way he won was very nice, however, he earned this honor by countering the superman punch into the giant swing. So sweet.

Match of the Night: Bryan Danielson & Claudio Castagnoli vs. Orange Cassidy & Kazuchika Okada

This match checked of all the boxes of a satisfying affair.

Grade: A

AEW pulled out the fireworks for a big-time show. Surprises, a Forbidden Door special guest, legends, and superstars doing their thing. The storytelling was excellent all night long building emotion toward Full Gear.

Share your thoughts about Dynamite. How do you rate it? What were your favorite moments from the show?

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