There are many reasons why Dynamite is considered to be such a strong show: it’s a well-paced 2-hour weekly wrestling show; stories are always developed before being patiently resolved in some way; and at the end of the day, the wrestling and the stories themselves are mostly rewarding and varied. Plus, given the quarterly pay-per-view calendar, there is all the more reason to watch Dynamite weekly, with the promise of seeing good pro wrestling unfold all year round. Here’s some of the best that AEW’s flagship product put on in the year 2022 (so far)!
“Hangman” Adam Page (c) v Bryan Danielson
AEW World Championship
In the match to kick-off Dynamite’s move from TNT to TBS, “Hangman” Adam Page would defend the World Championship against Bryan Danielson, in a rematch from their hour-long time-limit draw the previous month. The match started off rather slow and lopsided in favor of Page, who always seemed to be one step ahead of Danielson’s short-sighted counters. But as soon as Danielson had the chance to use Page’s own momentum sending the latter face-first into the steel steps, and the blood came pouring of “Hangman,” Danielson’s sense of urgency came kicking in, forcing Page to do the same—and this match couldn’t be stopped. This was a near 30-minute display of two heavy strikers throwing headbutts and haymakers when the powerslams and the triangles didn’t work. This was by far Adam Page’s best World Championship defense, against the opponent that pushed him the hardest by a country mile.
MJF v CM Punk
Before the rivalry got kicked into high gear when MJF decided to open up about his experiences being bullied as an adolescent, and looking up to the unabashed CM Punk for inspiration, MJF versus CM Punk was simply about MJF wanting to prove that he is better than the best in the world: “better than Piper in Portland, better than Bret in Canada, and better than CM Punk in Chicago.”
MJF made Punk play the MJF game, forcing him to wrestle members of the Pinnacle, and treating his childhood hero like he did everyone else; all in an effort to let “PG Punk” know that he’s not the same wrestler he once was. Then, in one of the longest and most thrilling one-on-one matches on Dynamite—and in Chicago—MJF destroyed Punk with a dubious sleeper hold and a loaded punch to the skull. Say what we might about dubious match endings, but these two wrestled a fine and well-paced match, then MJF defeated Punk, in Punk’s hometown, twice, in one night.
Britt Baker (c) v Thunder Rosa
Steel Cage, AEW Women’s World Championship
The Britt Baker-Thunder Rosa series is one of AEW’s most successful women’s rivalries; so after all the redundant outside chicanery involving Baker, including her World Championship defense against Rosa at Revolution; this Steel Cage match 2 weeks later had no choice but to deliver.
And did it ever.
It seems Baker and Rosa specialize in anything-goes warfare, and this match was captivating because of it. In a 1-year-in-the-making rematch of their pandemic classic, the first-ever Lights Out match on Dynamite, Baker and Rosa again partook in a gnarly brawl and called unto all their favorites—the mounds of steel chairs, the thumbtacks, and (who could forget) the worst of them all, the dentist’s glove. With the two women relying on only their grit inside the cage, Baker and Rosa had one of the most cathartic Women’s World Championship matches, in the most fitting way to close out this chapter of their rivalry.
FTR (c, c) v Young Bucks
AAA and ROH World Tag Team Championship
It seems as though the bar to determine whether or not a tag team is among the best in the world is if they produce the best matches with the Young Bucks. In that sense, FTR sure are up there above most of the past World Tag Team Champions.
FTR are really interesting when they’re not taking shortcuts, being the naturally slower-paced team and much of their offense being punches, brainbusters, and DDTs. As much as we give credit to CM Punk and the Briscoes for encouraging a side of FTR that is committed to honorable pro wrestling, we also have to give a lot of credit to the Young Bucks, who not only wrestle a style opposite to FTR, but approach pro wrestling in general with a lot of sarcasm.
Matches like FTR’s defense the Young Bucks for the AAA and ROH World Tag Team Championship make a tag division world class. Putting it in the main event of Dynamite is an even bigger statement that this is not just a division relegated to being match number 2 on a 9-match card. It is the cornerstone of AEW.
Minoru Suzuki (c) v Samoa Joe
ROH World Television Championship
What more do we need to know from Minoru Suzuki versus Samoa Joe? That both men will imprint their hands on their opponent’s chest in a chop and strike exchanges? That Suzuki will play the role of the smaller, perhaps even underdog wrestler? (Not that it matters too much when both are submission experts and throw big bombs for their finisher.) That at the end of the match, either the newly-crowned champion Suzuki or the debuting Joe, will leave as ROH World Television Champion? And will likely return to have more matches just like this?
Dynamite thrives on its consistency and surprises like these that drop straightforwardly, or largely unannounced. Matches like these don’t need to destroy expectations, and certainly don’t need too much build-up. Sold.
Kyle O’Reilly v Rey Fenix
Owen Hart Foundation Tournament
The inaugural Owen Hart Foundation Tournament may not have produced too many standout matches especially in the late game, but Kyle O’Reilly versus Rey Fenix in the 1st round ranks at the top of its best matches.
In many ways, O’Reilly and Fenix were the perfect opponents for each other. O’Reilly had been a largely underrated technical savant, while Fenix had been an established black belt luchador, which already makes for a great clash of styles. But Fenix was also coming off of an arm injury, and after (effortlessly) getting his aerial reps in against Dante Martin in his return singles match in the tournament, perhaps Fenix needed to cover his technical bases against someone as adept as O’Reilly; while O’Reilly needed to defeat Fenix to firmly establish himself in the upper echelon.
Each man’s counters, bursts of offense, and even their exhaustion fit each other’s game-plan like a puzzle, and Kyle O’Reilly advancing was the piece he needed to have a breakout month in AEW.
Jon Moxley v Daniel Garcia
Only 3 days after the beautiful violence of the Anarchy in the Arena match, and a little over an hour after MJF held the pro wrestling world hostage with a verbal tirade, Jon Moxley and Daniel Garcia put on a low-key hellacious singles match in the main event of Dynamite.
This match is the rough equivalent of how Moxley might have fought Wheeler Yuta, if Yuta had been a no good shortcut-taker, rather than someone who valued the respect of William Regal and the Blackpool Combat Club’s brand of dirty technical wrestling. When Moxley beat and bloodied Yuta on Rampage 2 months prior to this match, it showed Yuta’s gutsiness and experience beyond his years. But when Garcia bloodied Moxley in this match, it was because the latter was wrestling with stitches in his head that won’t have healed in 3 days. So Moxley needed to fight the vicious, opportunistic prodigy of the Jericho Appreciation Society with malice of his own (at one point, delivering a nasty x-plex to Garcia onto the steel steps), and by the end, the two had put on a great match that will likely be a sleeper hit in Moxley’s momentous run of 2022.