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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (June 21, 2023): Overstuffed go-home show

AEW Dynamite (June 21, 2023) emanated from Wintrust Arena in Chicago, IL. The show featured a forbidden face-off between Bryan Danielson and Kazuchika Okada, Eddie Kingston teasing tension with Jon Moxley, a CM Punk sighting, and much more in the go-home to Forbidden Door.

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

This episode of Dynamite was stuffed with information and activity. Too stuffed. Over stuffed. Mega stuffed. It was stuffed fatter than a triple-stuffed Oreo cookie. It came at a detriment to the product on screen. The entertainment factor was high, but it was hard to focus on individual aspects with so much swirling in my head. There was build for three tournaments, Rampage, Collision, and the Forbidden Door PPV, which only had four official matches with five days until the event.

Where to start...

Forbidden face-off

The main event segment to hype the Forbidden Door revolved around the Blackpool Combat Club, the Elite, Eddie Kingston, and Kazuchika Okada. It went down in several pieces throughout the show.

BCC challenged the Elite to 5-on-5 at the PPV. Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli, Wheeler Yuta, Konosuke Takeshita, and Shota Umino formed the BCC side.

Bryan Danielson had his eye on calling out Okada for a face-off in the ring. If Okada didn’t answer, then that would confirm his cowardice.

The Elite accepted the challenge. Hangman Page and the Young Bucks welcomed Eddie Kingston as their partner. The Mad King took the spot with the condition that he gets to choose the fifth teammate.

Kingston was in the ring to kick off the main event scene. He was alone, since the Elite left the arena due to Kingston’s insults toward them. Kingston explained that his motivation was to go after Claudio. And if that puts him sore with Moxley, then so be it. Moxley came out for a tense encounter between friends. Mox warned that Kingston was drawing a line in the sand by standing with the Elite. Kingston pushed the blame to Moxley for palling with Claudio. Mox stopped short of saying some hard truths. Kingston wasn’t in the mood, so he introduced Tomohiro Ishii as the fifth man. Chaos erupted after that.

BCC stormed the ring to stomp Kingston, and Moxley went after Ishii. Danielson demanded the presence of Okada. The Rainmaker obliged. This was their first face-to-face, and the atmosphere was electric. Yuta attacked Okada from behind. When Yuta held Okada in place for a running knee from Danielson, Okada broke free. Danielson clobbered Yuta instead. Okada grabbed Danielson for his signature ripcord lariat, but Danielson ducked and escaped to safety. Yuta was not so lucky. Okada knocked his block off with the lariat. That was the closing moment.

There were a lot of moving parts in this scene. The aspects building to Forbidden Door were energetic and effective. Teasing a fifth man reveal will always work to capture attention. I don’t know if Ishii was worth the wait as the surprise, but Okada’s presence certainly was.

One person stuck out like a sore thumb in this storyline, and that would be Kingston. I’m still befuddled why fans want to root for the success of his character. I understand the rough appeal of his promos and fighting style. There is no denying that Kingston is entertaining. Peeling the onion back on his character is where I get lost. He is arguably the most selfish person on the roster. Kingston butt into business that doesn’t involve him, because he’s a sad boy that has no control over his feelings to get back at Claudio. Give me a break. Not to mention, Kingston made the Elite look bad by trashing them to their faces. And they did nothing about it. The Elite stood their like schmucks. Kingston once again lacks accountability by blaming Moxley. The friendship story is intriguing, but it feels too forced into this Elite storyline. Part of the problem is that the BCC and Elite feud is never-ending. I guess Kingston would need numbers as backup or else suffer constant beatdowns until he quits again.

Speaking of the Elite, their storyline excuse for not being there for the main event segment was paper thin. I can buy it for the story, but it’s real hard to overlook the elephant that the Elite and CM Punk can’t coexist in the same building. It makes AEW look bush-league.

In other Forbidden Door news, Chris Jericho called out Sting. Jericho acknowledged the monumental moment with Sting last week, but he claimed Sting was selfish always following the money to the highest bidder. Le Suzuki Gods challenged Sting, Darby Allin, and a partner to a trios match at the PPV. Sting entered the scene to accept. Jericho has made a lot of enemies over the years, and their third partner will be revealed Saturday night on Collision.

MJF and Adam Cole exchanged words about their draw last week. MJF declined the request for a rematch. Cole then tricked MJF into accepting the Forbidden Door challenge from Hiroshi Tanahashi. Cole played reverse psychology once again goading MJF. If the champ claims to be the greatest, then he shouldn’t be afraid to wrestle anyone. This part of their segment worked to box MJF in for the PPV, but it was stupid silly. MJF looked like a doofus with his ego being suckered by the exact same tactic. I imagine that making him look foolish was the intent, but it’s not a good look for the world champion.

AEW announced the Owen Hart tournament brackets. More on that in a bit. The Forbidden Door focus for this section is CM Punk versus Satoshi Kojima in an opening round contest to take place on the PPV. That is unique matchmaking and the spirit for what Forbidden Door is all about. Kojima is a legend in his own right. Also of note, Athena will wrestle Billie Starkz on the women’s side of the Owen Hart tournament to take place on the PPV pre-show.

Orange Cassidy will defend the AEW International Championship against three challengers. Katsuyori Shibata, Zack Sabre Jr., and Daniel Garcia tugged at the belt, so the match was announced. This bout was made in a lackluster manner.

Toni Storm will defend the AEW Women’s World Championship against NJPW Strong women’s champion Willow Nightingale.

Will Ospreay was concerned for his safety in Canada for the Forbidden Door match against Kenny Omega. Don Callis offered his personal security squad. Ospreay inquired what Callis desired in exchange. The Invisible Hand wanted Ospreay to win.

That is all the important information as it pertains to the Forbidden Door PPV.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Gunns defeated Hardys. When Jeff Hardy was in reach of victory, Juice Robinson ran in to shove him off the turnbuckles. The Gunns pounced for the 3:10 to Yuma to steal the win. Commentary explained that Bullet Club Gold was repaying the favor for the Gunns interfering in “Switchblade” Jay White’s win over Ricky Starks a few weeks back.

After the match, the bad guys stomped the Hardys. Starks ran in. The numbers got him. FTR ran in. The numbers got them. The Chicago fans starting chanting for hometown hero CM Punk, and out he came for the babyfaces to clear the ring. Punk proposed an 8-man tag for Collision. It will be Punk, FTR, & Starks against Bullet Club Gold & the Ass Boys.

The match had a surprising result. Thumbs up for that. It was the kind of surprise that didn’t really matter in the large scheme of the tag team division, but it set the mood to put viewers on their toes all night long for surprises and chaos. The Collision matchmaking here is weak. It is pretty much a repeat from last week’s debut main event, only bigger. The 8-man makes sense from a story perspective, but it doesn’t excite me at all.

Concession Stand Brawl: Mark Briscoe defeated Jeff Jarrett. This match was ridiculous in all the right ways. It started as a brawl by the hot dog stand. Karen Jarrett, Sonjay Dutt, and Jay Lethal were all in disguise and took turns revealing themselves at opportune times for interference.

The action made way to the ring, and it was a 4-on-1 beatdown. I hoped Satnam Singh was humorously hiding incognito with his size. That didn’t happen, but Singh showed up later in his well-dressed suit. The tide turned when Papa Briscoe was revealed as playing the timekeeper. He chokeslammed Lethal through a table then ran wild with clotheslines.

When Mark went for the Jay Driller, Singh stomped to the ring to save Jarrett and chokeslam Mark. The Best Friends, Christopher Daniels, and the Lucha Bros ran out to take care of giant man jones. Pentagon Jr. superkicked Jarrett into a roll-up for Mark to win.

This match was a blast of fun. The heel shenanigans were amusing and a perfect setup for babyface allies to return fire. I appreciate how Singh’s giant status was protected. He wrecked shop, then it took five men to put him down. The finish could have been better. Mark should have won on a move more substantial than a roll-up. That feels like a soft way to win a concession stand brawl.

Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara, & Minoru Suzuki defeated Action Andretti, Darius Martin, & AR Fox. Le Suzuki Gods were victorious when Jericho caught a flying Martin with the Lion Tamer submission.

This was a good match. Suzuki lived up to his special attraction status as Murder Grandpa. Jericho added a cool finish. Their high-flying opponents delivered excitement. They even had Jericho close to defeat on two occasions before well-timed kick outs. On the story tip, Sammy worked well with his team for the sake of being a professional, but it didn’t look like his heart was in it as a JAS member. The Sammy story took a backseat on this evening. I’d expect it to bubble at Forbidden Door in the trios match against Sting, Darby Allin, and their partner. Heck, what if Sammy is their partner?

Blind Tag Team Tournament. AEW announced a tournament for a shot at the AEW World Tag Team Championship. Teammates were chosen out of a tumbler, thus the blind aspect. It was revealed that MJF and Adam Cole were selected as the first team. The rest of the bracket will be revealed next week.

The blind concept sounds interesting. I think MJF is too big of a deal as world champ for this tournament, but his comedic chemistry with Cole is worth observing.

Owen Hart tournament. AEW revealed the brackets for the men and the women. CM Punk versus Satoshi Kajima, Roderick Strong versus Samoa Joe, Dustin Rhodes versus Will Hobbs, and Ricky Starks versus Juice Robinson are the lineup for the men. Dr. Britt Baker DMD versus Ruby Soho, Anna Jay versus Skye Blue, Nyla Rose versus Willow Nightingale, and Athena versus Billie Starkz round out the lineup for the women. I couldn’t help but notice that there are no Canadians at all in the tournaments. (Dates for each match.)

My main hope is that AEW doesn’t rely on forcing babyface versus heel matchups as the tournament progresses, which would diminish the unpredictability of results. A quick prediction for the men is Punk beating Starks in the final. That is a fresh matchup. It would be nice if Starks got the rub by winning, but I don’t see Punk losing a match until his uncrowned champion story gets resolved. It is a smart call having Joe in Punk’s path for the tournament. That serves up a great match, and it also protects Joe from dropping the ROH television title. For the women, Baker seems like a lock as two-time tournament winner. The upset special alert is Starkz beating Athena. I suspect that could be used to advance toward a ROH PPV rematch with the women’s title on the line.

Zack Sabre Jr. & Daniel Garcia defeated Orange Cassidy & Katsuyori Shibata. Garcia deserves a special commendation for ripping the crotch of the his dance pants and continuing the match like a trooper. That focus paid off. Cassidy accidentally superman punched Shibata, and Garcia scored a roll-up win.

This was another surprising result. Even though AEW appeared to be backed into a corner for this decision, they made a good call. The three champions were unlikely to lose, and Garcia needed to win to bolster his case at a ROH Pure Championship shot. Garcia did just that by punning Shibata, and Shibata didn’t look weak since it was OC’s accidental punch that took him out. Aside from the funny business, Garcia represented well in physical exchanges with Shibata.

TBS Championship: Kris Statlander retained against Taya Valkyrie. This was a rugged affair. Statlander took Taya’s best and came out on top. The tide turned on a superplex. Statlander seized the moment to win on a piledriver.

This match had the big-fight feel in my eyes. It benefit from the electricity in the air overall, but Statlander and Taya still brought the thunder. This is one that I’d like to watch again to soak it all in away from the overstuffed show.

Stud of the Show: Minoru Suzuki

Suzuki’s badass aura never disappoints.

Dud of the Show: Cameras missing Suzuki’s Le Sex Gods pose

This was infuriatingly bad on the production side. Stoic killer Suzuki paused to pose with Chris Jericho in Le Sex Gods style, and it wasn’t shown clearly on TV. What bullshit is that? AEW robbed the world of joy. I demand the image of Le Sex Grandpas be tweeted out for world peace, so it can take its place alongside the epic artwork of the Don Callis paintings with Kenny Omega and Konosuke Takeshita in the halls of AEW history.

Match of the Night: Kris Statlander vs. Taya Valkyrie

It was a title fight that lived up to the billing.

Grade: B-

This show had an overload of information. There was no time to reflect on anything. It was hard to focus in the moment at times, because there was so much to absorb. If anyone rates Dynamite in the A-level for entertainment, I would not disagree. It’s the overall cram job that diminished Dynamite as a whole.

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

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