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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (May 31, 2023): Happy ending

AEW Dynamite (May 31, 2023) emanated from Viejas Arena in San Diego, CA. The show featured Adam Cole and Dr. Britt Baker DMD in a happy ending, Kris Statlander conquering a beast in her TBS Championship defense, Tony Khan with a huge announcement, and much more fallout to Double or Nothing.

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

Happy ending

Sometimes, a happy ending just feels good. That was certainly the case when Adam Cole & Dr. Britt Baker DMD prevailed over Chris Jericho & Saraya in the main event.

Mixed tag rules were in effect. Jericho played that to his advantage by entering the ring and taunting Baker in times of trouble. Baker flipped the script on Jericho when he tried to protect Saraya by lying on top of her. Baker didn’t care and leaped off the turnbuckles for a tadpole splash on top of Jericho.

Of course, the Outcasts had to make an appearance. Toni Storm and Ruby Soho stomped on Baker. Hikaru Shida saved the day by swinging her kendo stick.

On the closing sequence, Jericho had Cole trapped in the Walls of Jericho. Baker placed a glove upon her hand, entered the ring, and applied the Lockjaw. Jericho’s hands were tied up with Cole, so he couldn’t defend himself.

Saraya ran in to help her partner. Cole stomped the mat loudly in anticipation of a superkick, but all that noise tipped Jericho to counter with a Codebreaker. Saraya planted Baker with a cradle DDT. The dentist kicked out on the cover. Jericho grabbed his trusty baseball bat only to get tuned up by a superkick party from Cole and Baker. Cole lowered the boom for victory.

This match wasn’t the cleanest and it wasn’t the most logical, but it did pop the crowd in dumb fun entertainment. I was confused why the referee allowed Baker to blatantly break the rules with the Lockjaw on Jericho. I understand the line that referees don’t want to rob fans of a match finish, but then what’s the point of special rules if they aren’t enforced. I guess what matters most is giving fans the happy ending. This result feels like it should close the feud between Cole and Jericho. There’s nowhere to take this in escalation after Cole swept the series in unsanctioned combat and mixed tag action.

TBS Championship

Kris Statlander didn’t waste any time establishing her reign as TBS champion after winning the title from Jade Cargill at Double or Nothing. Statlander was eager for action, and her next test was Nyla Rose.

The Native Beast used her power advantage and worked the knee. Statlander is no pushover with a lot of strength in her own right. She took Rose for a ride on a blue thunder bomb.

Statlander showed resolve by kicking out of a chokeslam. The champ rallied on a jawbreaker to stun Rose long enough to hit a 450 splash for victory.

That was a quality win by Statlander as she gets back in the groove. Defeating Rose will never be an easy task. Statlander hung in there with the will to win. As long as health permits, an active Statlander should be enjoyable with the TBS Championship.

Of note, Taya Valkyrie was watching the match from a monitor backstage. Taya did not have a facial expression of peace. Commentary put over the idea that Taya may be annoyed with Statlander, since La Wera Loca did all the work to soften up Jade. It was like Statlander stole Taya’s thunder as the one to finally snap Jade’s 60-0 unbeaten streak.

CM Punk to return!

Tony Khan made it official. The bookerman announced that CM Punk will return to AEW for the new Collision show.

It’s funny that AEW downplayed the hugeness of this announcement in their pre-show marketing, and then this news over-delivered. Even though it was strongly assumed that Punk would return for that show, this is still major information now that it is officially official.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli, & Wheeler Yuta defeated Fenix, Pentagon, & Bandido. Alex Abrahantes was ringside, and Bryan Danielson was on commentary. This was an intriguing clash in styles of smash-mouth and high-flying. Bandido had momentum down the stretch trying to execute the 21-plex on Yuta. Moxley grabbed Yuta and acted as an anchor to prevent the finisher. Yuta sent Bandido into the ropes, where Claudio was waiting to deliver a brutal uppercut. Yuta exploded for a running knee and pinned Bandido in the seat belt cradle.

Yuta and Bandido were the standouts in a match where everyone performed well. The finish was slick with Blackpool Combat Club teamwork. That was a strong win by Yuta. I like how AEW is capitalizing on his pin over Kenny Omega at Double or Nothing. The PPV win was more fluke, and this one on Dynamite was more as a way to establish the improvement of young Yuta. Bandido was dressed like El Chapulin Colorado. His top highlight was a 60-second delayed vertical suplex to Yuta.

The BCC coined a new phrase, Death Jitsu. Danielson explained that Death Jitsu is using technical wrestling in violent ways. That is a great description of how the BCC operates. It also sounds like how a Cobra Kai villainous facsimile would behave.

As for the BCC’s nemeses, the Young Bucks and Hangman Page are still standing. One setback won’t keep them down. The Dark Order interrupted with jealous eyes over Hangman’s relationship with the Elite. The Dark Order scurried away like scorned partners. Hangman was visibly concerned about their tender feelings. Before exiting, the cowboy planted a seed that Omega is not in the country. And he’s not in Canada either. That is pretty convenient with the Forbidden Door PPV coming soon on June 25 with talent from NJPW.

In other Elite business...

Don Callis will destroy the Elite. Callis and Konosuke Takeshita tried to explain the betrayal of Kenneth Omega, but they were drown out with loud boos. It was nuclear heat. Callis aims to build a new family and cut the Elite out of AEW.

Damn. The crowd was hooked on this segment. That felt like one of the loudest emotional reactions to a heel in the history of AEW. The most interesting part is that Callis is not done building his family. Intrigue is abound.

Swerve Strickland defeated Trent Beretta and Big Bill Morrissey. Three-way action stemming from the Blackjack Battle Royale. Bill lived up to his Big moniker by crushing Swerve and Trent throughout. Swerve outwitted them in the end. Bill chokeslammed Trent from the apron over the ropes into the ring. Swerve pounced for a flying stomp to Bill, then the mogul swooped in for a crucifix pin on Trent.

Big Bill imposed his will in an impressive manner. It’s about time AEW unleashed the 7-footer. The problem with big guys in the modern era is weekly TV leads to a lot of losses. AEW seems to keep their big men protected, but it comes at the price of not getting used enough. Hopefully there can be a happy medium for Bill in the near future.

Orange Cassidy & Darby Allin defeated Gates of Agony; plus, it’s Sting! Bishop Kaun and Toa Liona were wrecking balls of destruction against their toothpick-limbed opponents. The babyfaces rallied with speed. Cassidy clobbered Liona with a superman punch on the apron. Allin followed with a suicide cannonball. Cassidy struck Kaun with a stunner and held him in place for a Code Red from Allin. Cassidy launched for a suicide dive to prevent Liona from returning. Allin finished with the Coffin Drop on Kaun.

This was a surprising contest. The Gates of Agony were given the green light to showcase their muscle power in destroying Cassidy and Allin for much of the match. In doing so, Kaun and Liona shined bright on the big stage of Dynamite. Fast-track these two into the AEW tag team division for a consistent diet of televised matches. They deserve to be elevated from ROH. Their overwhelming power also set up the babyfaces for a heroic comeback. I thought Cassidy’s games made the Gates of Agony look too foolish at times, but the finish rocked hard. Cassidy and Allin showed intelligence in their divide and conquer strategy.

The segment continued for post-match roughing. Swerve Strickland, Brian Cage, and Prince Nana were on stage scouting the contest, so they rushed the ring afterward. Sting came out to make the save. It’s Sting! That will never get old.

It is unclear if this is formulating Sting’s next match. One thing that is clear is that Swerve was booked to challenge Cassidy for the AEW International Championship next week.

Notes: Bullet Club Gold called out FTR for interfering in their business. Juice Robinson sucker punched Dax Harwood with a role of quarters in his hand. Bullet Club Gold hit their finishers on FTR. Sweet boy Ricky Starks made the save and challenged White to a match next week. AEW made it official with Juice banned from ringside. This has the makings of Bullet Club Gold bringing in a third member from NJPW, but that means next week’s match would settle nothing. Perhaps a reveal will take place to help White?

Billy Gunn took the blame for the loss to the House of Black. He’s sorry to let down the boys he loves most. The Acclaimed gave Daddy Ass a pep-talk that they are the people’s choice. They believe that Billy deserves to hold gold again, and they will regroup to make it happen. This was a quality babyface moment to explain motivation. The Acclaimed provided an easy rooting interest for the fans.

MJF confidently chirped that it is clear nobody is on the level of the devil. AEW is running out of gladiators who could claim they are better than him.

Hook was interrupted by Jose The Assistant, Dralistico, and Preston Vance. Los Ingobernables were angry about not getting opportunities, so they created one by attacking Hook. Jungle Boy ran in for the save. With JB out of the world title picture, it will be interesting to see if JungleHook develops into a tag team partnership.

The Outcasts hyped up Toni Storm as a fighting champion. She will defend the women’s world title on the House Rules circuit.

AEW also aired highlights from Double or Nothing and promo content from Road to San Diego during the broadcast.

Studs of the Show: Gates of Agony

Bishop Kaun and Toa Liona made a powerful impression that left me wanting more.

Match of the Night: Blackpool Combat Club vs. Lucha Bros & Bandido

This was one of those matches with a hectic pace that could be perceived as chaos, however, it often made tactical sense. Just look at the finish as a perfect example.

Grade: B

There was high energy in the ring for each bout, and the action delivered entertainment in that sense. Unfortunately, this episode lacked that special story sizzle, especially for a fallout show. It’s not realistic to expect massive surprises for every fallout, but this one didn’t do much to spark anticipation for what is to come. Seeds were planted for Forbidden Door development, so we’ll have to wait to see how those bloom.

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

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