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AEW Dynamite preview (June 21, 2023): The Elite’s absence opens the door for CM Punk’s return

AEW Collision

Dynamite airs tonight (June 21) with a live show from Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois. This is the final episode of Dynamite during the four week build towards Forbidden Door, which takes place this Sunday (June 25).

The Elite’s absence opens the door for CM Punk’s return

CM Punk returned to AEW for the premiere episode of Collision last weekend. Punk implied that he’s the real AEW world champion, because nobody ever beat him for the title after he won it last year at All Out 2022.

CM is expected to be a fixture on Collision rather than Dynamite, as part of an effort to keep him separated from The Elite. However, tonight might already be an exception to the rule, because Dynamite is in Punk’s hometown of Chicago. It sounds like Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks won’t be in the building tonight, possibly opening the door for Punk to show up.

It’s worth noting that CM Punk is not currently advertised for this show, so it’s not a lock that he will be on TV tonight; perhaps there is some other explanation for what’s going on with The Elite.

If Punk does indeed make an appearance tonight, he could confront AEW World Champion MJF, or maybe take part in an angle for a match at Forbidden Door. Is Punk vs. KENTA on the table for this weekend’s pay-per-view?

As for the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega, even if they aren’t in the building, they could still be on tonight’s broadcast via pre-taped material. The Young Bucks need something to do at Forbidden Door, whereas Omega may very well be main eventing the PPV against Will Ospreay. Missing the go-home show is not ideal given these circumstances.

F4WOnline’s Dave Meltzer says The Elite’s absence tonight is a Tony Khan decision. If it’s true that they aren’t around tonight in order to accommodate the presence of CM Punk, then I suppose we should start getting used to this very awkward arrangement.

The rest of tonight’s lineup

AEW International Champion Orange Cassidy teams up with ROH Pure Champion Katsuyori Shibata to take on NJPW World Television Champion Zack Sabre Jr. and Daniel Garcia. Garcia must not have received the memo about needing to hold a championship to be part of this fight. It looks like this match is leading to Cassidy vs. Sabre Jr. at Forbidden Door.

TBS Champion Kris Statlander defends the belt tonight against Taya Valkyrie. Taya is sore about the way Kris took advantage of the damage she did to Jade Cargill en route to winning the title, so now Taya has a chance to do something about it in the ring.

Chris Jericho, Minoru Suzuki, and Sammy Guevara are in trios action tonight against AR Fox, Action Andretti, and Darius Martin. Guevara finally seems ready to move on from Jericho and carve his own path, creating tension between the longtime allies. Chris and Sammy better play nice tonight, though, because I don’t think Minoru is interested in dealing with all their drama. Either way, Sting and Darby Allin are likely waiting in the shadows, and could be looking at a match at Forbidden Door against Jericho’s group.

AEW World Tag Team Champions FTR need some new competition. To that end, AEW has announced a Blind Eliminator Tournament, with the winning team earning a title shot. We should find out more tonight about what the rules are for this tournament. For example, will the wrestlers involved not even know who they are teaming with?

Mark Briscoe and Jeff Jarrett are scheduled tonight for a Concession Stand Brawl. There’s guaranteed to be lots of plunder and interference, and maybe even some wrestlers covered in ketchup and mustard before this one is finished.

The Hardys and The Gunns wrestle tonight to see which duo is the best brother tag team in AEW. I guess neither pair has ever heard of the Lucha Bros or the Young Bucks. Matt and Jeff plan to use the Gunns as stepping stones on their way to winning tag team gold in AEW.

Bryan Danielson has a dream match at Forbidden Door against NJPW star Kazuchika Okada. The American Dragon plans to call out Okada tonight. Is Danielson setting him up for a trap?

After wrestling AEW World Champion MJF to a time limit draw last week, Adam Cole will have the microphone in his hand tonight to let us know what’s on his mind. Does Adam have a backup plan in mind for securing a title match?

We’re also going to hear from Eddie Kingston. Kingston showed up last week as a surprise and took the fight to his rival, Claudio Castagnoli. The main issue here is that Claudio is aligned with one of Eddie’s closest friends, Jon Moxley. Eddie and Jon might each have to make a difficult decision on how to handle this delicate situation.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Jungle Boy will challenge Sanada for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship at Forbidden Door, with FTW Champion HOOK in Boy’s corner. There’s potential for this arrangement to blow up in Jungle’s face if he ultimately loses the match and then blames HOOK for not doing enough to help him win.

- MJF is scheduled to defend the AEW world championship against Tanahashi at Forbidden Door, but Max has no interest in lowering himself to compete at an NJPW event. AEW President Tony Khan will have to make it clear tonight that MJF doesn’t actually have a choice in the matter.

- AEW Women’s World Champion Toni Storm defeated Skye Blue last week. Is NJPW Strong Women’s Champion Willow Nightingale next in line for a shot at the champ? Or does that spot belong to either Britt Baker or Hikaru Shida?

- Wardlow lost the TNT Championship to Luchasaurus on the premiere episode of Collision. Will Christian be in the house tonight to brag about his role in the title change?

- AEW World Trios Champions House of Black are still in the sights of Daddy Ass and The Acclaimed. The babyfaces should start brainstorming to figure out a better Dealer’s Choice rule they can add to a potential rematch.

What will you be looking for on Dynamite?

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