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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Nov. 15, 2023): MJF soap opera treads water

AEW Dynamite (Nov. 15, 2023) emanated from Toyota Arena in Ontario, California. The show featured MJF receiving a reminder of his perilous situation, Kenny Omega earning bragging rights on the Callis Family in a street fight, the Young Bucks heeling at home, and more on the go-home to Full Gear.

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

MJF soap opera

MJF has two matches on his fight card for Full Gear. He is set to defend the ROH World Tag Team Championship against the Gunns on the pre-show, then he’ll star in the main event against Jay White for the AEW World Championship. MJF also has a rogue’s gallery in pursuit of his gold.

Checking in with the Neck Strong crew, Roderick Strong tried to convince Adam Cole that MJF is the devil. Cole hung up the phone on that nonsense.

Samoa Joe dominated Jon Cruz to submit his opponent with the Coquina Clutch. Afterward, Joe reminded MJF that his offer still stands. Accept his help in exchange for a world title shot.

The Gunns squashed a pair of jobbers via 3:10 to Yuma. Austin and Colten were confident in their numbers advantage to win the ROH tag titles from MJF at Full Gear.

Wardlow’s appearance came in a training montage. He smashed in the ring while narrating that MJF’s time is running out. Wardlow saw fear in the devil’s eyes. He was referring to MJF’s devilish behavior, however, the masked devil flashed on screen to close the scene. I don’t know what to glean from that particular devil appearance.

The final segment for Dynamite was MJF addressing the world about his world. He apologized to the Acclaimed for the devil’s attack last week. MJF’s rationale is that people get hurt when entering his orbit, and he felt guilty about it as karma coming to collect on a curse. Despite the troubles, MJF refuses to quit his journey at the top as world champion. This was a babyface rallying cry for the people.

White chimed in with claims that MJF is not the hero of this story. MJF is the villain. White pushed forth the idea that MJF is actually the masked devil.

Ambush! White called in the Bang Bang Gang. The numbers were too much for Maxwell. Switchblade stood tall with a Blade Runner. Joe watched the carnage unfold backstage on a monitor as another tease that MJF needs his help.

The MJF soap opera tread water throughout the night. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It set the table with all the players and their angles in the larger picture. If you missed some episodes of AEW programming, then this show was a good primer to follow along. It was fine in that sense. Where it fell short for me was no new revelations for the PPV. We’re pretty much in the same position as last week. There is still Friday night for Collision, so perhaps AEW will bait us then to get the juices flowing the night before the PPV.

Video game street fight

Kenny Omega, Chris Jericho, Paul Wight, and Kota Ibushi went to war against Konosuke Takeshita, Will Hobbs, Kyle Fletcher, and Brian Cage in this Callis Family feud. The special street fight was sponsored by the video game Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name. I’ve never played the games in that series, so I can’t provide insight on any Easter eggs. What I can say is that the ring appeared to have appropriate decoration in honor of the sponsor.

It was a wild fight scattering around the venue. The first highlight was Wight chokeslamming Fletcher off the stage. The Callis Family got payback with Hobbs powerslamming Wight outside onto a car. The strength from Hobbs was impressive.

Ibushi pedaled a bicycle around the ring hitting opponents with a pipe. Cage hilariously delivered a clothesline sending Ibushi head over heels off his ride.

The action was intense. There was also a suplex through tables, a piledriver into chairs, a Judas Effect through the cloud of a fire extinguisher. The best moment was the final blow when Omega delivered a One Winged Angel to Cage for victory.

The street fight was a blast. This wasn’t a story driven match in the sense of delivering finality, especially since Cage took the pin. The Machine isn’t even a member of the Callis Family. There were enough details connecting dots from past chapters, such as duct taping Hobbs to the ropes for a beatdown. However, this fight was more about delivering ‘holy shit’ moments. Hobbs was a beast slamming Wight. They stood on an elevated surface to make it look larger than life. Shout out to Wight for maximizing his minutes. He packed a punch early for throwback glory then put over Hobbs on his way out. Cage’s bicycle clothesline was slapstick. Omega’s One Winged Angel on Cage was mesmerizing. It left me wondering if Cage is the largest man to take that move. This street fight was sponsored by a video game, so it was fitting that the action had the spirit of a video game.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Jon Moxley & Wheeler Yuta defeated Orange Cassidy & Hook. The story of the match was Moxley being superior to Cassidy prior to their international title fight at Full Gear. OC picked his spot for the superman punch, and it did nothing. Moxley shook it off like child’s play. The Blackpool Combat Club finished Hook with a Paradigm Shift from Mox and a seat belt pin from Yuta. Afterward, Moxley cut a promo threatening to grind Cassidy to dust, and there is nothing OC can do about it.

This match was a case of making the PPV clash more intriguing. They worked it strong with Moxley as a buzzsaw. Cassidy played his role well showing shock at Moxley shaking off the superman punch. That move is Cassidy’s ace in the hole, and it did diddly-squat. This line of events really has me torn on choosing a winner. The signs point to Cassidy triumphing as a babyface underdog for a happy moment, however, I can easily believe that Moxley will be tougher in the end again. Based on this tag match, there is material for long-term storytelling as Cassidy improves on his craft over time to finally topple Moxley down the line. If Cassidy needs to get stronger, AEW can debut Ryback in that role pretending he is Cassidy after hitting the gym to build muscle. I jest, but the point is that angles are laid out for Cassidy and Moxley to justify whoever wins. That’s good for suspense.

The match itself was an entertaining mix of tag team synergy and aggression. Both teams had creative moments moving in the flow of the action. My favorite part was seeing Hook engage with Moxley. That is a true measuring stick to see how Hook handles himself against a top star. Hook tossed Moxley with a few suplexes, and Mox dished out a pounding in response. It was enough to whet the appetite for Hook to battle top competition.

Texas Death Match hype. Hangman Page and Swerve Strickland shared a promo segment for their PPV match, but the cowboy did all the taking. He unloaded verbal shots insulting his enemy as a pathetic coward not worthy of taking his spot. Hangman will be judge, jury, and executioner for Swerve crossing the line entering his home. There was an agreement in place for no physical contact between Hangman and Swerve, or else both would be suspended for the rest of the year. That agreement didn’t cover Prince Nana, so Hangman beat him up until security intervened.

Hangman’s passion showed why this feud is deserving of a Texas Death Match. I like how Hangman painted a picture with his words to create an image relevant to the stipulation. The anger in his soul sells the PPV match. It could be argued that Hangman’s promo buried Swerve to a fault, however, this feud is deeply personal for the cowboy after the mogul’s dastardly deeds. For that reason, those insults were fair game. It makes the emotion feel real.

Skye Blue defeated Red Velvet. This match was a qualifier for the PPV title belt three-way against TBS champion Kris Statlander and Julia Hart. The contest was physical on the outside. The counter game was slick by both women. In the end, Blue caught a corkscrew kick to answer with a knee strike. That stunned Velvet long enough to hit the Code Red for victory.

This was a pretty good match clouded by an awkward finish. It’s a shame that the Code Red was so ugly. They sort of fell to the mat rather than executing the impact with force. Besides that moment, this was a crackerjack of a fight. Red Velvet was particularly impressive in her second week back from injury. She pulled out a super cool avalanche cazadora bomb that even had Taz popping on commentary. In my mind, Velvet’s performance cements her as worthy of a steady role on television.

Young Bucks defeated Pentagon & Komander. Fenix was not medically cleared to compete, thus Komander filled in for his lucha libre brethren. The athletic chemistry delivered on a high level from all parties involved. Komander stole the show within the match executing amazing moves, such as this rope-walking stepping stone destroyer.

As the match progressed I couldn’t tell if the Bucks were leaning heel or were just their usual selves. It’s hard to be sure sometimes. They made it clear in the end when Nick Jackson doled out a pair of low blows as the referee’s back was turned. Nick unloaded a Judas Effect to Komander as a message to Chris Jericho, then the Bucks finished the luchador with a BTE Trigger.

The Bucks went even further down the hole backstage by arguing with Kenny Omega. Matt Jackson took a cheap shot on Chris Jericho. Security crowded the scene to silence the skirmish.

Hmm, drama intensifies with the Young Bucks’ attitudes. Their hometown crowd was surprisingly mixed during the match by cheering support for the crazy moves of the luchadores. The Bucks actually managed to turn the local fans against them with the low blows. The implications of their behavior are interesting to project forward for various possibilities depending on the outcomes of relevant PPV matches. The Bucks earned my attention to see how it all shakes out.

Notes: Miro warned that CJ Perry’s quest for glory brings out the worst in her. The Redeemer is going to make an example out of Daniel Garcia for dancing up on his wife.

RJ City ushered a meeting between Mariah May and Toni Storm. The starlet demonstrated diva behavior brushing off her fan.

Stud of the Show: Kenny Omega

One Winged Angel of the gods.

Match of the Night: Young Bucks vs. Pentagon & Komander

The Young Bucks and the Lucha Bros have amazing chemistry. Komander isn’t part of the family, but he didn’t skip a beat to fit right in.

Grade: B

For the most part, the events from Dynamite worked well to hype anticipation for Full Gear. AEW generally has weak matchmaking on go-home shows to save the fireworks for the PPV. This episode was much better in that regard with meaningful contests and the wild street fight as a feature attraction.

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

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