AEW World Champion Chris Jericho and Cody signed the contract for their 'Full Gear' title match on 'AEW: Dynamite'
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AEW: Dynamite took a step backward after four straight weeks of near-perfection with its fifth episode.

Much of the show took a back seat from providing a fresh look at pro wrestling. While the in-ring action remained strong, some of the storytelling felt a little too familiar.

As in WWE-familiar. And that’s not a good thing.

That’s not to say that AEW’s fifth outing on TNT was a dud. The first-ever AEW Tag Team Champions were crowned, and more members of the All Elite women’s division got a chance to shine.

What did work worked like a dream. But the things that didn’t quite work on AEW: Dynamite were glaring.

Jon Moxley's match with Kenny Omega was made unsanctioned on 'AEW: Dynamite'

HIT — Moxley’s Direction

Before the credit sequence, AEW: Dynamite flashed back to last week. Specifically, we got audio of a closed-door meeting between AEW president Tony Khan and Moxley. Khan declared that the match between Moxley and Kenny Omega at the Full Gear pay-per-view would be non-sanctioned.

Moxley was furious, as he felt he’s being robbed of a recorded win over Omega at the PPV. And he added that he felt he was being “boxed in” as an “unsanctionable” wrestler.

The subtext being that AEW is pigeonholing him the same way WWE typecast Dean Ambrose. As a wildman who can’t be contained. A “lunatic,” you might say. That’s how you reference a wrestler’s past with another company.

And his appearance later in the show smacked of the early days of some guy named Steve Austin in all the right ways.

Keep it subtle, keep it smart.

Hangman Page faced Sammy Guevara in the opening match of 'AEW: Dynamite'

HIT — Hangman And Guevara Deliver Another Strong Opener

The opening match on AEW: Dynamite between ‘Hangman’ Adam Page and Sammy Guevara continued a trend of strong opening matches.

Page and Guevara took to the big stage and showed why they’re going to be major players for AEW’s future. Guevara had major heat with the Charleston crowd, a testament to his star-making performance on the inaugural edition of AEW: Dynamite.

It wasn’t as fast-paced as some of the other openers, but it showcased both guys’ talents. Page was able to show off his rare combination of strength and agility, and Guevara really got a chance to cut his heel teeth. The brawling was stiff and believable, and the acrobatics all had a storytelling purpose.

Guevara and Page took the opportunity to show their stuff, and they tried to set a deliberate, exciting tone for the rest of the show.

Page came off strong in the win, and Jim Ross got his storytelling groove back. He made frequent mention of Guevara being “well-schooled” by his Inner Circle stablemate, AEW Champion Chris Jericho.

The Hangman’s post-match promo hyping his match with Pac at Full Gear also connected. It was short and sweet and sold the match. AEW: Dynamite did everything right in this segment.

HIT — Women’s Division Builds Steam

Shanna made her AEW debut, and Hikaru Shida made her AEW: Dynamite debut. It was Shida’s first appearance since falling to eventual-AEW Women’s Champion Riho at AEW All Out.

And both women took advantage of their big stage and put on a match with a big-fight feel. The crowd was fairly quiet for it, likely because neither woman has had real exposure on AEW television. But gradually, Shanna and Shida had the Charleston crowd excited.

From Shida’s super stiff flying knee off a chair outside the ring, the live audience was into this match. As with the opener, the action was good, the psychology was strong, and the realism factor was turned up to 11.

Shida picking up the win went a long way to building her back up after the All Out loss. Like the best matches this show has offered so far, it had a singular point (get Shida over) but did so with a strong, competitive match.

We still need to see more of the AEW Women’s Champion on AEW’s flagship series, but it’s nice to see the women get some time to show their stuff on AEW: Dynamite.

HIT — Brandi Rhodes

AEW: Dynamite ran a video package recapping Brandi Rhodes’s post-match attack on Jamie Hayter.

It was enigmatic and engaging, and it went a long way to selling Brandi as a big deal in the women’s division.

Some of her performance this past summer (particularly a rough outing at AEW Fight For The Fallen) dropped her in-ring stock somewhat.

Last week’s segment and this week’s video package went a long way to rising it again.

MISS — Rock ‘N Roll Nightmare

Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson, the Rock ‘N Roll Express, were out to present the AEW Tag Team Championship belts. But they got jumped from behind by Proud-N-Powerful, Ortiz and Santana.

I get that we want to show how dastardly and evil the Inner Circle is. But this is just cheap heat.

For one thing, it doesn’t do anything for Proud-N-Powerful to beat up a couple of elderly people. And for another (sorry, Jim Cornette), this is a Rick and Morty crowd (more on that later). Not a Ricky and Gibson crowd. Outside of wrestling superfans, the rank-and-file TV viewer just sees a dangerous tag team beating up a couple of random old guys.

It’s clear what this AEW: Dynamite segment was going for, but it doesn’t help get Proud-N-Powerful over.  And it doesn’t do anything to sell their match with the Young Bucks at Full Gear. Even after the Bucks ran out for the save (about five minutes too late), there didn’t seem to be much in the way of personal connective tissue between them and Proud-N-Powerful.

As Dusty Rhodes might have asked, “Where’s the money?”

Kudos to Morton for still being able to take a powerbomb.

MISS — That Limousine Segment

So, a runner through the first part of the show was Tony Schiavone riding along in Cody’s limo en route to Cody’s contract signing with Jericho.

And it was absolutely pointless.

Schiavone told Dusty stories that belong on Wrestling Podcast 4,876. Catch it on iTunes.

We all love and miss Dusty Rhodes, but Dusty isn’t on the card at Full Gear, and he isn’t part of the AEW: Dynamite contract signing with Jericho. It even drew chants of “This is awful” from the live crowd. AEW needs more out-of-the-ring segments, but this was not the way to do it.

This ground AEW: Dynamite ‘s momentum to a screeching halt.

MISS — Cosplay Makes Best Friends A Joke

I don’t fault AEW for doing cross-promotion with Rick and Morty. Hell, I’m surprised it took them this long to connect with their WarnerMedia sister channel, Adult Swim.

The “ring introductions” from Rick and Morty voice actor Justin Rolland was lame, and the whole thing just smacked of corporate committee thinking of the laziest variety.

This is something WWE would do. And that’s a bad, bad, bad sign. And Excalibur’s meta-comment about “corporate synergy” wasn’t enough to make this smart or interesting.

There was nothing to this but the Best Friends and Orange Cassidy donning Rick and Morty cosplay going 10 minutes with a trio of  jobbers.

Also, I still don’t get Orange Cassidy.

NEAR MISS — Contract Signings Are Boring

No matter what company it is, be it WWE, AEW, Impact, whoever. Contract signings are lame and boring.

And the signing between Cody and Jericho on AEW: Dynamite wasn’t much different.

If All Elite Wrestling wants to present itself as being more on the “sports” end of sports entertainment, that needs to be the approach to contract signings. Make it a pre-taped segment and stage it like an MMA signing.

To make thousands in an arena watch a couple of guys sit across a table at each other (to say nothing of potentially millions on TV) is just not a good hook.

The segment was saved somewhat by Jericho’s ability to work a crowd. And Jake Hager’s backstage attack on Dustin Rhodes helped keep the rivalry alive and personal.

It wasn’t a total dud, but it was something AEW: Dynamite would do well to avoid going forward.

The Elite faced The Hybrid2 on 'Dynamite'

NEAR MISS — The Elite Vs. Sabian And Hybrid2

The Hybrid2 (Evans and Angelico) were last seen dueling with Jay and Silent Bob on the premiere AEW: Dynamite. So to see them team with Kip Sabian and get some in-ring time with quality opponents in the form of the Elite was a welcome change.

But the story of this match was the Elite. Specifically, it did what the earlier segment with Proud-N-Powerful didn’t. After both teams put on a solid match, Proud-N-Powerful (disguised as Rick and Morty – sigh) attacked the Bucks at ringside.

The earlier segment with the Rock-N-Roll Express was redeemed somewhat, but if the goal is just to have Santana and Ortiz be nefarious and get into a brawl with the Bucks, why did we need that earlier segment?

Also, AEW is going to have to stop indulging Omega’s fascination with 16-bit games. His entrance went on for way too long and was completely lost on anyone who isn’t a video game encyclopedia. I know, I’m elderly.

At the end of the day, the match did what it was supposed to be. It kept Omega in the limelight and pushed the Bucks’ feud with Santana and Ortiz.

But it would’ve taken very little to turn this AEW: Dynamite segment into a decisive “miss.”

The Lucha Bros and SCU battled to become the first AEW Tag Team Champions on 'Dynamite'

HIT — And NEW Tag Team Champions

The tournament to crown the first AEW Tag Team Champions ended as it began on AEW: Dynamite.

With SCU and the Lucha Bros locked in battle. This match crowned first-ever tag champs as Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky defeated the Luchas. But it also reinforced AEW’s repeated commitment to tag team wrestling.

It was an incredible match, and it highlighted that AEW simply has the best tag team division in all of pro wrestling.

With a division this stacked, it’s hard to imagine that SCU will hold the titles for very long. But their victory felt big, and it felt special. AEW’s tag team division is just getting started.

And there’s a potential storyline built-in. I try to shy away with armchair booking, but this does present a potential story for Christopher Daniels’s return.

Like the tag team division itself, it could go just about anywhere.

SCU claimed the tag team gold on 'AEW: Dynamite.'

The Breakdown

Nothing lasts forever.

This week’s AEW: Dynamite was far from an absolute flop, but it lacked the excitement and unpredictability of previous installments.

And yet, I hesitate to even refer to this as a “weak” outing. Even at its worst, AEW: Dynamite stands head-and-shoulders above anything WWE is putting out.

Images courtesy of All Elite Wrestling.

'AEW: Dynamite' - October 30, 2019

7.7

In-Ring Action

8.5/10

Booking

6.5/10

Production Value/Video Packages

8.8/10

Entertainment Value

7.0/10

Pros

  • Moxley's Character stays strong
  • HIkaru Shida positioned as a player
  • Brandi's new direction raises all the right questions
  • S-C-U!

Cons

  • The show peaked with the opener
  • Old timers' segments don't sell pay-per-views
  • Contract. Signings. Are. Boring.
  • That limousine segment was DEATH
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