AEW Dynamite 08/30/23: 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

Welcome to Wrestling Inc.'s review of "AEW Dynamite," now with at least 300% more contributors! This was, shall we say, an interesting episode. We were coming off All In, one of the biggest wrestling shows of all time, an historic event at Wembley stadium and a huge success for AEW. We were also coming off the latest backstage incident involving CM Punk, whose "physical confrontation" with Jack Perry has reportedly gotten both of them suspended (AEW, naturally, chose not to address these reports in any way on Wednesday's broadcast). That suspension, if it holds, has major implications for All Out, a pay-per-view whose placement one week after All In was already dubious at best. And to top it all off, several talent couldn't make the show, supposedly due to illness and travel issues. In other words, we had no idea what we were getting.


What we do have, however, are opinions about what we got! As always, you can check out our live coverage for a more comprehensive, objective look at all Wednesday's happenings. For the things that stood out to us, in both the best and the worst ways, here are three things we hated and three things we loved about the 8/30/23 episode of "AEW Dynamite."

Hated: This Is No Time For An 8-Man Tag On PPV (Matthew Carlins, WINC News Editor)

I'm still trying to wrap my head around a major professional wrestling company running full-priced pay-per-views on back-to-back weekends. From the outside looking in, it appears to be a nearly impossible booking balancing act, one that's guaranteed to leave at least some fans disappointed.


And alas, here we are.

More matches for AEW's All Out pay-per-view were officially announced during Wednesday night's "Dynamite," including Jon Moxley challenging Orange Cassidy for the AEW International title and a Ring of Honor World Tag Team Title defense for Adam Cole and MJF. We're also getting an eight-man tag team match with AEW Tag Team Champions FTR and The Young Bucks going up against Bullet Club Gold's Jay White, Juice Robinson, and The Gunns. This is where my disappointment with the All Out build started to set in Wednesday night.

We had multi-man tag matches at All In on Sunday, but that show had something All Out will not: the pure spectacle of more than 81,000 ticket-buying fans packing Wembley Stadium in London, England. The atmosphere for All Out will not be able to match that, which means the action in the ring will be even more important. This is not the time to be hiding some of your best in-ring talents in an eight-man tag with virtually zero stakes. This is a time to showcase Jay White in a singles match or conjure up fresh challengers for FTR.


We don't know what matches will be added to the All Out card between now and Sunday, but at this moment, it feels like a huge letdown, especially from what we were all treated to just days ago at All In. Wembley was a tough act to follow, and Tony Khan and his crew are learning that lesson this week.

Loved: Toni Storm is big, it's the matches that got small (Miles Schneiderman, WINC senior lead news editor)

The following things are true: (1) This week's "AEW Dynamite" once again featured just one women's match; (2) that match once again lacked any sort hook or resonance due to the lack of storytelling in the division, and (3) they'll apparently use Emi Sakura when they have to scrap the card at the last minute, but not when they're going to Wembley Stadium and paying for a Queen song. These are all true things. But you know what? I'm not going to complain about those things this week, because AEW is never going to get better in this department and it's pointless to yell at them for it. So instead, let's celebrate the person who, all of a sudden, has the best and most interesting character in the women's division: Toni Storm.


I have personally never been a huge fan of Storm, whether she was working in "NXT," "NXT UK," the WWE main roster, AEW, or even STARDOM. I never had a problem with her, she was fine, but she never totally clicked with me. This character she's been doing since losing the women's title, though? This is incredible. And the backstage interview she did with Renee Young was, for me, the high point of the entire episode. I thought it couldn't get better than Toni saying that of course she's thrilled for Saraya, but "she completely forgot her part in my performance at All In," and then we got "It's safe to say that Wembley went TITS UP," a line that almost breaks Renee's straight face, and then she wanders off muttering about how "I can't trust anyone, I can't trust Ruby or Saraya, I can't trust these BLOODY SHOES!" *throws shoes at Renee from off camera*


It's just ... it's perfect. It's utterly flawless. There might not be much storytelling going on in the women's division, but dammit, we finally have a compelling and well-executed character. It's a low bar, but at this point I will absolutely take it. Toni Storm forever.

Hated: Le Sucks Gods (Olivia Quinlan, WINC news writer)

First we get a feud with Chris Jericho and the Jericho Appreciation Society and now we get one with Jericho and Sammy Guevara. Oh, boy.

Jericho opened his segment this week with what felt like ten minutes of putting over All In, and as much as I understand why, I had already heard it one too many times by that point. He then called Sammy Guevara out to the ring to apologize for shoving him following his loss to Will Ospreay at the pay-per-view. Once Guevara appeared, Jericho gave him an "I'm sorry" spiel and the two shook hands. Things got a bit more interesting once Jericho started doing some reflection and pondering whether he'd have won if Guevara had hit Ospreay harder with the bat, but it wasn't enough to save the segment. After arguing, Jericho then decides that it's a great idea for them to reunite and tag once again in an AEW World Tag Team Championship match, a move that I felt was a bit abrupt and did nothing but contribute to the dull nature of the segment.


This just fell really flat for me, and didn't add anything to what was an already lackluster episode of "Dynamite", especially for the go-home show for All Out.

Loved: Don Callis Has A Backup Plan (Ross Berman, WINC news writer)

Nothing is simple with Don Callis. The head of the Don Callis Family's feuds with both Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega have become so convoluted that at times they can be hard to follow. Which made it so refreshing to see Callis backstage on AEW, coaching Konosuke Takeshita about Kenny Omega's medical issues and pointing out moves in Takeshita's arsenal that would weaken, break, or in any way compromise Omega's various weak spots. In a goofy detail that only endeared me further to the segment, Callis struggled with the screen that he used to coach Takeshita, seemingly confused about whether it was a touchscreen or not (it appeared to not be).


On its own, the coaching was an effective way to sell Takeshita as a threat, with Callis very simply staying on topic, repeating that Omega is a broken man, and that there are moves that can break him further. The pièce de résistance of the segment, however, was Callis revealing that — should none of Takeshita's moves get the job done — Callis had a backup plan: stabbing Omega in the head with a screwdriver like he's done in the past.

The video of Callis doing just that was a perfect punchline to a segment full of medical jargon and dry analysis. It's the kind of thing I desperately want to see more of from Callis. Too often am I left uncertain how to react, as Callis usually reveals some kind of labyrinth story, full of personal lore that goes back 20 or 30 years and often includes a few novelty paintings, but the simple coaching and hilarious punchline left this writer hooting, howling, and 100% sold on Takeshita's match against Omega at All Out.


Loved: The Patient Integration Of The Kingdom (Carlins)

I'll admit, I was worried when The Kingdom's Matt Taven and Mike Bennett were introduced into the storyline involving AEW World Champion MJF, Adam Cole, and Roderick Strong. I assumed that their roles in the story were going to be rushed, as the dread of Cole turning on his "best friend" MJF hung over the duo for weeks. We've seen AEW rush through promising storylines in the past, and my fear was that Bennett and Taven's addition to this one served only as a suddenly necessary plot point, coming just in time for a shocking turn by Cole.


But that's not what happened. Instead, AEW kept Cole and MJF united, despite their suspicions of one another. And that gave Bennett and Taven the time they needed to more organically establish themselves as part of the storyline.

On Wednesday night's "Dynamite," both Bennett and Taven got a live mic and the chance to explain their backstories with Cole to fans who may not know. I thought they both did a great job, as one should expect from two polished veterans of their stature. Strong got to talk too, and he felt perfectly cast in this segment as a whiney, delusional geek. After seeing Strong often struggle to find his voice in "WWE NXT," it's fun to see something actually clicking for him, and it's exciting to know that when the time comes (and it is coming), he's going to deliver the goods in the ring.


Hated: This Orange Cassidy title reign has officially gone sour (Schneiderman)

I'm not the world's biggest AEW fan, but I've really enjoyed the story of Orange Cassidy's International title reign. I've written as much in this space on several occasions. But watching him wrestle Penta El Zero Miedo Wednesday night, I got the very strong feeling that this thing is past its expiration date. I'm about 99% sure Jon Moxley is taking that title on Sunday at All Out, but I can't shake the feeling that All In was the time and the place. Because the only thing I really felt while watching Orange and Penta wrestle was a horrible sense of boredom that I rarely get when either of these guys is wrestling. And as the match went on, that boredom turned to something more like irritation, bordering on contempt.


Once, very early in these columns, I lamented the way AEW has turned the unique Orange Cassidy into just another guy on the roster who has great matches. This week's "Dynamite" felt like the culmination of that. I'm very happy for the performer himself that he's being presented as a top star, because he deserves it, but there was very little Orange Cassidy in this match. It was just a bog-standard AEW main event, complete with the standard Lord-of-the-Ring-esque parade of false finishes. Cassidy surviving a package piledriver on the apron by grabbing the bottom rope? Sure, I guess. Cassidy then kicking out of another package piledriver and the getting a flash pin for the win? Nah, sorry. I'm not usually the kind of guy who complains about wrestling needing to be realistic, but at a certain point it gets so ridiculous that it takes you completely out of what you're watching. Cassidy's International title run, which has largely been an excuse to roll him out for 20-30 minutes of epic pro graps every week or so, got more and more difficult to believe every time he notched another successful defense, but he grounded it in the human world with the storyline about his body breaking down.


This, though? This was basically Cassidy turning into John Cena. And he followed that up by cutting a very John Cena promo, which ... look, I'm sure it was nice to hear if you're an AEW fan who's had a rough week, but for me, it was the culmination of AEW taking one of their most unique characters and making him as bland as possible. The line about not having a catchphrase was funny on its face, but it also felt strangely out of place, like it didn't belong to this version of the character anymore. Now, Orange Cassidy talks in video packages, kicks out of everything under the sun, and cuts white meat babyface promos about how he'll never stop fighting because that's what AEW is, and to me, it's just kind of depressing. His promo emphasized a history of being told he's different, and I'm sure that's true. But these days, to me, he sounds just like everyone else.

Oh, and on the subject of once-unique things that are now just something everyone does, the Canadian Destroyer is officially over. We're done. Retire the move. I never want to see another one in my life.