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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (July 12, 2023): Thank you for being a friend

AEW Dynamite (July 12, 2023) emanated from Sasktel Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The show featured MJF and Adam Cole strengthening their bond of friendship, the reveal of Kota Ibushi for Blood & Guts, the energetic debut of Nick Wayne, and much more.

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

Thank you for being a friend

MJF and Adam Cole have quickly become friends as unlikely partners in the Blind Eliminator Tag Team Tournament. They were back for another bonding session this week in the bar. MJF escorted four ladies to the bathroom for the maximum ride, while Cole stayed true to his beloved Dr. Britt Baker DMD. MJF was a little disappointed that Cole wasn’t wearing his Better Than You Bay Bay shirt yet, but Cole promised to don it if they did an activity he enjoys. Video games! Both admitted to original plans of stabbing the other in the back. With the air cleared, the friendship between MJF and Cole grew as they won the tag team titles in the AEW Fight Forever. The scene closed with a slow motion high five.

Later, Cole was getting chewed out on the phone by Baker. Roderick Strong questioned Cole’s fondness for his new pal. Cole tried to convince Strong that MJF is not all bad. MJF sent a text message trying to weasel out of their match after seeing the size of Brian Cage. Cole exited the scene to handle the situation.

MJF and Cole were called to duty to wrestle Cage and Big Bill Morrissey in the Blind Eliminator Tag Team Tournament semifinal. There were two bits of note to mention. MJF started by calling out Bill for a body slam. He failed several times throughout the fight before finally muscling up to plant Bill on the mat. The great motivator was Bill ripping off MJF’s Better Than You Bay Bay t-shirt. That disrespect of his cherished memento lit a fire in MJF.

Down the stretch, the friends had momentum, and they went for the teamwork double clothesline. Cage was able to stop short, but the stage has been set for the crowd to pop in a big way once MJF and Cole hit that move successfully in the future.

The finish came when Cole superkicked Bill on the outside, MJF hit a Heatseeker piledriver on Cage, then Cole finished by lowering the boom on Cage.

Confidence was strong after a pair of victories in this tournament. If they can stay on the same page, then the AEW tag titles will be theirs. MJF and Cole closed the post-match promo with their combo catchphrase.

This story with MJF and Cole so far has potential to be one of the best stories in the history of AEW. If played right, I think the emotion involved can rival Kenny Omega & Hangman Page versus the Young Bucks tag title match. For that to happen, AEW has to give this time for us all to get attached to the friendship. We all know it will explode eventually. The trick will be for it to end when we least expect it. That’s a tough task, but I think everyone involved can pull it off. They are already setting up the various layers with Baker and Strong.

And for however long this story of friendship lasts, I hope we get as many bro bonding sessions as they can squeeze in. These vignettes are hilarious. Their chemistry clowning around in the ring is excellent as well. I can’t wait for that double clothesline. I just want to say thank you to MJF and Cole for being friends. They have become a must-watch story that makes me excited to see what happens next.

MJF and Cole wasn’t the only friendship on display during Dynamite. The main event segment announced the reunion of the Golden Lovers.

The Golden Elite with Kota Ibushi

Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi will be together again. Ibushi was introduced as the fifth teammate for the Elite in Blood & Guts on July 19. The main event segment was designed to hype that match, and it pulled a double reveal for the Blackpool Combat Club’s fifth member.

Don Callis took the spotlight to make the announcement. Kenny Omega interrupted to come down stage solo. BCC was ready and waiting with Jon Moxley and Konosuke Takeshita on the attack. The special teammate turned out to be PAC. The Bastard carried a chair to take out his frustrations on Omega.

PAC explained that he was waiting a long time for payback from their previous feud. When BCC placed Omega’s head in the chair, the God of Wrestling laughed it up. Omega played his hand for a special video to announce Ibushi as the Elite’s man for Blood & Guts.

Hangman Page and the Young Bucks ran in from the back side to clear the ring. Ibushi was not present live. Omega spoke about how the Golden Elite fight with heart, passion, and love.

There are two contrasting opinions to look at this segment, and I think both are correct. On the bad, this scene was logically stupid. The plan was for Omega to get beat up alone, wait for the perfect time to air the video, then have the Elite save him? It didn’t make a lot of sense in how it played out.

On the good, it sure was entertaining. PAC was a pleasant surprise. I never even considered him in the mix, and he fits the story well with his hatred of Omega. To be clear, I don’t think this was an admission that PAC is part of the Callis Family. As for Ibushi, I’m not familiar with his career, but I can appreciate that the announcement was a big moment for the fans. His name has been bandied about a long time for this story, and the pay-off finally came with the Golden Elite.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Chris Jericho defeated Komander. Jericho physically bullied the luchador, but he also played the putz for Komander to score athletic offense. The masked man had a handful of near falls, such as a rope-walking shooting star press.

In the end, Jericho caught Komander in the air to counter for the Liontamer submission.

Komander looked good in defeat with flashy moves to wow the crowd. His springboard phoenix splash was slick. Jericho earned a quality win to keep his spot as an upper level star. The finishing sequence was super cool. The old dog showed he has new tricks to trap Komander in that Liontamer.

Afterward, Don Callis touched up on his offer for Jericho to join his new group. Callis reminisced how they were both in a stable led by Bad News Allen. It was Allen’s wish for them to always stick together. Even though Callis and Jericho took different paths throughout their careers, this was an opportunity to unite again. Allen would be looking down on them with a smile. Callis exited without pressuring Jericho to provide an answer. Jericho pondered the proposal and pointed to the heavens to honor Allen.

Callis is a smooth salesman. He clearly used an emotional angle to encourage Jericho to join the Callis Family, but his pitch actually came off as genuine. I like how AEW is showing us their history together and not just telling us. That was great use of archived footage. The background has been laid so that it makes sense if Jericho does accept the offer. That makes it feel like a fuller story rather than throwing darts at a board to form new alliances on screen.

Also part of this story, Jake Hager approached Jericho looking for answers. Hager made sacrifices to help his friend over the years, and he deserves to know the truth. Hager handed in his hat, and he didn’t even say he loves that hat.

Blind Eliminator Tag Team Tournament semifinal: Sammy Guevara & Daniel Garcia defeated Orange Cassidy & Darby Allin. This match had lots of fun moments, such as Garcia executing a front chancery airplane spin.

The finish came down to dirty business. Prince Nana ran in to convince Garcia to hit Allin with his skateboard. The referee caught them plotting with the foreign object, then Swerve ran in from the blind side to kick Allin. Even though Sammy wasn’t exactly sure what went down, he shrugged and finished Allin with the GTH. Afterward, Sammy pleaded innocence of that plan and apologized to Allin for the shenanigans.

AEW delivered bullshit garbage for this match finish. The whole point of a tournament is to build momentum for the final to make the fans believe in an epic matchup. They have done a good job with that in MJF & Cole. The way Sammy & Danny won was whack. It was basically a fluke aided by illegal interference that wasn’t of their own doing to advance a story that has nothing to do with the tournament. As a result, the JAS duo are cruising in to the final as lame ducks. Unless MJF and Cole combust, there is zero reason to believe Guevara and Garcia could win.

Owen Hart women’s tournament semifinal: Ruby Soho defeated Skye Blue. The Outcasts were ejected early when caught smashing Blue’s knee into the ring steps. Soho targeted that joint for the rest of the match, and the pain prevented Blue from executing moves at full strength. Blue took a chance climbing the corner. Soho sprang up to knock Blue off-balance and finished with the No Future Kick. Soho will wrestle the winner of Athena versus Willow Nightingale in the final.

Nice victory by Soho. She used her wits to fake a nose injury to set up the finish. That’s the kind of win that has me wondering if Soho is the favorite to win the trophy. I appreciate AEW switching up the formula with an early ejection of the Outcasts. Blue showed heart fighting through pain.

Swerve Strickland defeated Nick Wayne. AEW aired a hype video for the 18-year-old prospect. He started training under his father as a child. Unfortunately, Buddy Wayne died. Nick wants to continue the family legacy in wrestling. Is Nick ready for the pressure of debuting in AEW? He has been ready his entire life.

Wayne worked a speedy pace and shocked the fans when he countered for an avalanche poison rana and his springboard cutter finisher. Swerve barely placed his foot on the ropes in time to break the three-count. The crowd went bonkers for that sequence.

Swerve took control in the end to block a hurricanrana on the turnbuckles and counter for an avalanche powerbomb. Swerve snapped Wayne’s shoulder then finished with the JML Driver. On a story note, Darby Allin had come out during the match to support Wayne. Swerve stared with malice at Allin as he executed the closing maneuver.

Wayne made a heck of a positive impression in his AEW debut. They did a good job with the introduction vignettes to bring awareness for him as a babyface. That set the table for a rooting interest in the young lad, and it helped that Swerve is such a sleazy heel to work off of. It will be interesting to see how AEW utilizes Wayne going forward.

Notes: Jungle Boy refused to leave his vehicle due to the unsafe working environment. Hook entered the car from the other side, and JB ran away. I think Jungle Boy somehow got back in the car, because the driver hit the gas pedal to escape from Hook.

QTV introduced Harley Cameron’s music video dissing The Acclaimed.

Stud of the Show: MJF

Great job by MJF in getting a standard body slam over to cause a huge reaction.

Match of the Night: Swerve Strickland vs. Nick Wayne

Wayne lived up to the hype. The near fall on his finisher tore the house down. It was a two-man dance, and Swerve played his part well. They gave the fans just enough hope before Swerve snatched it away for an emphatic victory.

Grade: B

Entertaining show overall with meaningful matches and stories advancing to genuinely build interest and anticipation.

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

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