Best AEW Dynamite Matches of 2023 (So Far)
2023 Matches of the Year: AEW Dynamite
Dynamite was responsible for most of AEW’s 2022 Match of the Year catalogue. Hayter and Shida. FTR and Young Bucks. Cody and Sammy. Punk and Moxley. Death Triangle and The Elite. All these and many more showcased why Dynamite is the flagship product. But this year, which names will hold down the fort on the Wednesday stage?
Bryan Danielson v Bandido
Bryan Danielson came into AEW as an antagonizer, a bully. But one who was irrevocably adored. In the ring, he remained the most dangerous technical wrestler in the world, who also happened to love striking opponents down with blistering chops and reverberating kicks. But perhaps the best the version of Bryan Danielson is the technical wrestler with showoff as opposed to bully tendencies.
Bandido, known to many as one of the top luchadors of the past five years, shined in this excellent match. The magic was there from the get-go. For instance, Bandido’s smooth aerial ability and delivery of power moves is always great to see. But paired with equally fluid escapes from an opponent who cuts him down so efficiently? Well, that’s our first Match of the Year contender, peripheral build-up notwithstanding.
MJF v Konosuke Takeshita (World Championship Eliminator)
I predict that about eight times this year, MJF will prove he’s World Champion material. He’s going to prove it in the around eight matches he’ll have, and people are going to forget each time and act like everything less than perfect in AEW is his fault. MJF v Konosuke Takeshita is the first of these matches. The fact that it even took place came as a pleasant surprise, given the champion’s wrestling allergy.
This match showed that MJF has really honed his classic mat wrestling style. But what it best showed off was his agility against an opponent with no holes in his game. And how Takeshita responds to the champion’s dissection of his arm and shoulder shows that Takeshita’s skill floor is higher than that of virtually every recent AEW signee. Some people new to pro wrestling might not be able to spot who the “good wrestlers” are outside of their favorites. I imagine they would be able to tell right away that this guy is good at minimum.
I did feel that the match had a bit of an awkward dynamic to it. In a “I’m-not-booing-Takeshita-but-I’m-not-cheering-for-MJF-either” kind of way. But when I’m watching compelling and succinct wrestling, it wasn’t hard to just shut it out and adore this match.
Bryan Danielson v Rush
This was just two rams in the rocky mountains clashing heads. Bryan Danielson and Rush took centerstage ahead of Revolution looking like the toughest men alive with their tenacity and power. A bloody Danielson looked disgusting in the best way, and Rush was tested like never before in his best AEW showing yet. Like the Bandido match, this had such a high ceiling with such little prequel. But the glorious result only makes both men look like absolute beasts.
Orange Cassidy (c) v Wheeler Yuta (All-Atlantic Championship)
This was both Orange Cassidy and Wheeler Yuta’s biggest showing since Cassidy’s reign began, and since Yuta joined Blackpool Combat Club a year ago. The pinfall-centric style was a breath of fresh air for the aspiring-bully Yuta. Or the detached, and I guess normal, Orange Cassidy. Most of all, it showed the former Best Friends in their element: each other.
The post-match olive branch, and the intercession of BCC’s Claudio Castagnoli, creates much intrigue — and hope? — for this broken friendship.
- Bryan Danielson v Konosuke Takeshita (Jan)
- Death Triangle (c) v The Elite — Escalera de la Muerte, World Trios Championship (Jan)
- Jade Cargill (c) v Red Velvet — TBS Championship (Feb)