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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (June 14, 2023): World title draw

AEW Dynamite (June 14, 2023) emanated from Capital One Arena in Washington DC. The show featured Adam Cole battling MJF to a draw, the Elite besting the Blackpool Combat Club, Forbidden Door surprises, Sting in 8-man tag action, and much more.

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

World title draw

Dynamite opened with a doozy. Adam Cole had a chance to earn a shot at the AEW World Championship. All he had to do was defeat MJF. That is no easy feat. Cole came close, but time ran out.

This was a PPV-level match. Cole and MJF started slow with taunts to earn vocal reactions from the crowd. The arena was rocking. The pace picked up in the second half, and the action intensified for a wild climax.

The juicy spots began with MJF landing a flying elbow drop onto Cole through the timekeeper table. Cole barely beat the ten-count back into the ring.

The match progressed to MJF leaping for a double stomp into Cole’s shoulder. MJF took that moment to shove referee Bryce Remsburg for failing to count out Cole. Remsburg shoved back, and Cole scooped a roll-up. That moment was tailor-made for an upset, but MJF kicked out.

When MJF kicked out, he sent Cole crashing into Remsburg. Ref down! MJF tried to capitalize by using the title belt as a foreign object. Once MJF noticed the referee stirring upward, the champ tried to lie, cheat, and steal by tossing the belt to Cole and flopping onto the mat. That tactic didn’t work, because Remsburg also flopped and never put eyes on the situation. Cole took advantage to wallop MJF with the foreign object. The challenger lowered the boom with a running knee strike. Remsburg conveniently recovered, but he was slow to start and also slow on the count. That inadvertently enabled MJF recovery time to kick out. That was another tailor-made moment for the upset.

MJF had another trick up his sleeve. MJF grabbed the ref to shield his view of a mule kick to Cole. As Remsburg checked on Cole, MJF put on his Dynamite Diamond Ring. The cheater wound up, but Remsburg blocked the punch and removed the ring. In the process, Cole uncorked a superkick. After a Panama Sunrise, Cole lowered the boom. Upset city, baby! 1, 2, ding ding ding. The bell rang before the count of three, and a time limit draw was issued.

MJF escaped by the skin of his teeth. Cole requested five more minutes. After teasing tension over the belt, MJF did the smart thing and exited.

The story of that match delivered quality entertainment. There was plenty of intrigue entering the evening. Would MJF find a way to win and close the door on Cole so quickly? That didn’t seem likely. Would MJF get disqualified in some manner? Or would Cole do the unthinkable and win clean? AEW teased both those scenarios believably. One result I wasn’t anticipating to advance the feud was a draw. AEW kept the time limit on the down low for maximum surprise on the finish to set up Cole as a sympathetic babyface coming one second away from victory. I thought the referee theatrics were a bit overdone, but it did complement the match as the first chapter of this drama.

The actual wrestling was engaging with slick counters, timely defensive tactics, and intensity increasing toward the finish. They made this match feel important. Cole showed he is on the level of the devil in more ways that one. He matched MJF hold for hold throughout, and he didn’t hesitate to cheat when the opportunity was handed to him. Looks can be deceiving, because Cole just may be MJF’s most dangerous threat yet.

Forbidden Door build

Forbidden Door is fast approaching on June 25, and we only had two official matches heading into Wednesday night’s broadcast. NJPW sent in some big guns to produce a few more contests, but the memorable moment came in the aftermath of the main event with run-ins from Eddie Kingston, Konosuke Takeshita, and Will Ospreay.

The Dynamite closer was Hangman Page & the Young Bucks against Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli, & Wheeler Yuta. Bryan Danielson sat in with commentary. The Hung Bucks were aggressive from the start. They forced the action into an Elite style rather than allowing the BCC to impose their Death Jitsu style.

Down the stretch, the rocket launcher splash was blocked. The Bucks blasted a superkick party to the BCC. Hangman powerbombed Yuta, the Bucks hit a BTE Trigger, then the cowboy hammered the buckshot lariat for victory.

That installment of Elite versus BCC was very enjoyable. In my opinion, it was the first time in this feud that the Elite felt like the stars that they are. I’m not talking about being fan favorites. I’m talking about being at the top of the food chain. This performance from the Hung Bucks looked like they would beat any trios team on the roster. That’s how strong they brought the fight.

The fun was just getting started.

BCC resumed the fisticuffs after the bell. Eddie Kingston made a surprise return to bash Claudio with a spinning backfist. Mox stopped short of attacking his pal. Kingston repaid the favor by stopping the Young Bucks from pounding on Moxley.

Takeshita ran in to hit Kingston. Kenny Omega returned to fight Takeshita. The Elite was riding high with Omega standing tall. That was until Ospreay hit a sneak attack to pummel Omega. Ospreay was the stalwart in the end as the cameras faded to black.

That post-match scene was bonkers. Ospreay’s attack was a great way to re-ignite that fire with Omega for those that don’t watch NJPW, such as myself. It picked up on the emotion from last time Ospreay was on screen in AEW. Eddie Kingston popped the crowd hard, but he felt shoe-horned into this situation. The friendship and rival dramas with Moxley and Claudio was interesting by itself, however, it came across as an unhinged attack once again from the Mad King. We’ll see if this was done with the purpose of creating a match for Kingston at Forbidden Door.

In other Forbidden Door dealings, Hiroshi Tanahashi challenged MJF for the AEW World Championship. Renee Paquette informed MJF that the match was official. The champ declined. He didn’t feel like giving a shot to a random wrestler from a rinky-dink indie fed in Japan.

Sanada issued an open challenge for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship at Forbidden Door.

Jungle Boy accepted Sanada’s challenge. JB views Hook as his best friend and would be honored if Hook had his back for the match. Hook silently accepted.

Zack Sabre Jr. strolled in eyeing the AEW International Championship held by Orange Cassidy. Daniel Garcia was antsy about tracking down Katsuyori Shibata for a shot at the ROH Pure Championship. Cassidy suggested a tag match next week.

The pieces for Forbidden Door are starting to come together. After this evening’s events, my interest is rising for the PPV.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Chris Jericho and Sting bat battle. Sammy Guevara was interviewed in the ring regarding his plans moving forward. He acknowledged that he will have to make some tough changes to reach his goal of winning the world title. Darby Allin interrupted encouraging Sammy to stand out from the shadow of the JAS. Chris Jericho entered the scene aiming to put Sammy back in his place within the group. Sting was the final piece to the puzzle. He came to the ring when Jericho threatened a beatdown on Allin. Jericho held his bat up to Sting’s throat, so the Icon did the same to Le Champion. Stinger batted the bat out of Jericho’s hand.

Ooh. That staredown between Jericho and Sting was electric. The tension was hot for violence. Jericho versus Sting is a match that sounds nice on a checklist, but their brief encounter forced me to get excited about it. As for Sammy, I am curious how he will transition to a babyface. I’m not all that interested in seeing yet another drawn out drama of breaking away from Jericho. We’ve seen that story before with Sammy, Santana, Ortiz, and Garcia.

Orange Cassidy, Darby Allin, Sting, & Keith Lee defeated the Mogul Embassy. Dustin Rhodes and Prince Nana were ringside. Swerve Strickland hit a flying double stomp onto Lee into a triple powerbomb from the Embassy.

After the break on that pin, chaos erupted with moves all around. Brian Cage lifted Sting in a fireman’s carry, so Cassidy connected on a superman punch to save the day. Sting finished with the Scorpion Death Drop.

It’s Sting! I had to squeeze that in there. As always with Sting matches, they are loads of fun. The Embassy were formidable foes for the Icon to topple. The power moves were a delight, especially Lee running wild on the hot tag. The finish was a creative way to make Cassidy look strong while handing the spotlight to Sting. It was only fitting that Cage took the loss, since he showed up dressed in Stinger pants and face paint.

TNT Championship: Wardlow retained against Jake Hager. Hoss fight! The JAS’ muscle answered the open challenge. Hager came prepared by attacking from behind on stage as well as relying on timely distractions from Daddy Magic and Cool Hand Ang. Arn Anderson was there to stop the hijinx. The Enforcer pulled his glock, while Brock Anderson rumbled in for fisticuffs with the JAS goons. They all brawled to the back, and that cleared the way for Wardlow to focus on victory. Two powerbombs sealed the deal.

This hoss fight was a good time. Arn unholstered his finger gun, Daddy Magic’s nipples were hard, and Wardlow hit powerbombs. The champ also showed off some high flying. What more could you want from this match with no build?

Afterward, Christian Cage accepted the open challenge for Luchasaurus to fight Wardlow on Collision. The camera panned out to show bloody Arn beaten in the stairwell.

AEW Women’s World Championship: Toni Storm retained against Skye Blue. The underdog came out with fire in her belly. The Outcasts resorted to underhanded tactics. They spray painted Blue’s mom in the front row. Ruby Soho distracted the referee for Storm to spray Blue. That tactic backfired when Blue had paint of her own to spray at Storm. Blue hit the Code Red for what should have been a win, but Soho grabbed the ref’s attention to prevent a count. Storm gained control for a piledriver to win. Afterward, the Outcasts dished out more punishment. Willow Nightingale ran in for the save.

Blue looked like a star taking the fight to the champ. She came off a little too strong by earning the unofficial win. The ref spot ignoring the Code Red was questionable booking. Sure, it created drama, but it wasn’t necessary for this situation when Blue is so low in the pecking order. On the other hand, it did present Blue as a rising star. Whether AEW pushes that momentum remains to be seen. This match diminished Storm’s stock in my eyes. She got her butt kicked for most of the contest and only survived due to cheating. It did nothing to make me eager for Storm’s next bout as champion.

Notes: CM Punk spoke about his return to AEW on Collision. He is coming back to settle some scores. Punk also has a lot of things to get off his chest.

Bullet Club Gold plans to ruin Punk’s return by winning the Collision trios match.

The Gunns brushed off a question about a relationship with Bullet Club Gold. They have their eyes on the washed-up Hardys. The Gunns want to prove who is the best brothers tag team in AEW.

Studs of the Show: Hangman Page & the Young Bucks

The Hung Bucks brought their best for an impressive victory over Blackpool Combat Club.

Match of the Night: MJF vs. Adam Cole

MJF and Cole went 30 minutes, and I never looked at the clock. They held my attention the entire time in the moment. Add in quality action and a riveting finish.

Grade: A-

The matches hit hard with excitement, and story moments had purpose. Mix in Forbidden Door surprises to get the PPV cooking. This was the type of show that has me eager for next week.

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

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