AEW Dynamite 09/13/23: 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

Welcome to Wrestling Inc.'s explosive weekly review of "AEW Dynamite," the show where like four people are running around AEW TV wearing Ring of Honor titles and none of them are Athena for some reason! We somehow find ourselves talking about what was essentially another go-home show, as next week's episode is "Grand Slam," and there was a lot of work to be done when it came to setting up all the matches for the company's latest highly-touted card. Not to mention the fact that less than two weeks after that is WrestleDream, which they're also setting up! So much to cover!


But of course, we can't cover everything. That's what our live coverage is for; you should go read that if all you want is to know what happened on the show. To learn what stood out to various members of the WINC crew, you need something different. Specifically, you need three things we hated and three things we loved about the 9/13/23 episode of "AEW Dynamite."

Hated: And I will drag you down (MIles Schneiderman, WINC senior lead news editor)

So here we are. The grand culmination (maybe) of the last 2-3 months of Chris Jericho-related storytelling, the place we always knew this was going: Jericho vs. Sammy Guevara. And as we all expected, it's a friendly face vs. face match that's happening because Sammy has to beat Jericho to become the man Jericho always knew he could be. Or ... something like that, right? To be honest my brain kind of slipped off what they were saying at some point, because this segment was bad, this feud is stupid, and I don't care.


Like, what is the point of all this? Is it just that they don't think Sammy is a big enough pillar or whatever, they have to give him a win over Jericho? Because let me tell you, (a) all "Four Pillars of AEW" talk is officially suspended until Jack Perry isn't, and (b) getting a clean win over Jericho doesn't mean you've done anything important. Ricky Starks got a clean win over Jericho, and a few months later they had to turn him heel to try and salvage him. Beating Jericho isn't some massive milestone. And yet, presumably in the name of that milestone, AEW has divorced the Jericho Appreciation Society from all its biggest stars (they're basically just the J.O.B. Squad with harder nipples now) to set up a match that never needed the JAS to split up (because it was just going to end up an fight between friends anyway), between two wrestlers who are both playing babyfaces, badly (because they're both natural heels and always have been) with no stakes (because afterwards they're going to shake hands and hug and chase the tag titles) taking place in front of a crowd that (if it's anything like Cincinnati Wednesday night) is going to lose interest the moment "Judas" stops playing. Cool. Great job, everyone.


But hey, at least that video package was funny. I enjoyed that.

Loved: Don Callis Promises To Cuck Kenny Omega (Ross Berman, WINC news writer)

When Don Callis stabbed Kenny Omega in the head with a screwdriver earlier this year, I thought it was overkill; an unnecessarily big escalation of absurd violence. But on Wednesday, Don Callis turned the screwdriver into a phallic symbol and suddenly put his psychosexual relationship/obsession with Kenny Omega into a clearer focus.


On "AEW Dynamite," Callis revealed that the next opponent for Konosuke Takeshita will be Kenny Omega's Golden Lovers tag team partner, Kota Ibushi, even outright promising to "cuck" Omega. With this, Callis has come as close as anyone to lampshading the homoerotic — albeit seemingly chaste — relationship between Omega and Ibushi. Callis didn't just say he would cuck Omega, he also unveiled a painting of Takeshita and Callis standing over a kneeling Ibushi, with Takeshita preparing to stab Ibushi with a sword. Callis, screwdriver in hand, then drove his spike into the image of Ibushi's face. The promise of cucking, combined with the imagery of the sword and the spike, seemed an overt message to Omega: that Callis and Takeshita plan to assault Ibushi in front of his lover. It was a dark, nasty speech, but the kind of grime that makes a heel truly, utterly contemptible, like a villain in a pulpy, exploitative horror movie.


Callis has always had a predatory subtext to his character, which was seemingly underlined later in the program when Callis was seen backstage leering at Daniel Garcia's hip thrusting like a lascivious old man lusting over a gogo boy. The ugly, cruel promo completely erased any complaints about Callis recycling Jericho's "Alpha" nickname for Takeshita, as Callis continues to replace his aging friends with younger, more impressionable men.

So much of wrestling is squeaky clean. This sick, sad twist in Callis's story is almost refreshing, like falling into a dark, murky river on a hot night, and this viewer is interested to see where the black water takes us.

Hated: AEW's Growing Aversion To Women's Wrestling On Dynamite (Matthew Carlins, WINC News Editor)

It's time for everyone's favorite AEW punchline: women's wrestling!

I want to believe this company is serious about better featuring its female talent, but the data says otherwise. Tonight's "Dynamite" was a new low, with a four-way match for a shot at the AEW Women's World Championship receiving less than three and a half minutes of television time (excluding the three-minute picture-in-picture commercial break). By the way, Toni Storm got the win (blink and you'll miss it) and she'll be challenging Saraya for the title next week at "Dynamite: Grand Slam."


It's been just over a month since Hikaru Shida defeated Storm for the AEW Women's title, a match that was the main event of "Dynamite" and got more than ten minutes of TV time on top of a picture-in-picture break. It was a good match and a great moment for Shida, but it's now clearly an anomaly amidst the recent trend of drastically dwindling time for women's matches on "Dynamite."

The following is a list of the total TV time the women's matches got on recent episodes of "Dynamite," excluding the picture-in-picture commercial break:

  • August 9: Hikaru Shida vs. Anna Jay – 6:00
  • August 16: Britt Baker vs. The Bunny – 4:45
  • August 23: Ruby Soho vs. Skye Blue – 4:45
  • August 30: Britt Baker, Hikaru Shida & Kris Statlander vs. Emi Sakura, Nyla Rose & Marina Shafir – 4:30
  • September 6: Kris Statlander vs. Emi Sakura – 4:25 (no picture-in-picture commercial break)
  • September 13: Toni Storm vs. Hikaru Shida vs. Britt Baker vs. Nyla Rose – 3:30

Noticing a pattern here?

In the weeks prior to Shida's main event title win, things were different. Here's the total TV time (again, excluding the picture-in-picture commercial breaks) that the women's matches on "Dynamite" got during the weeks leading up to the Shida-Storm title match.

  • July 5: Britt Baker vs. Ruby Soho – 7:20
  • July 12: Ruby Soho vs. Skye Blue – 6:00
  • July 19: Britt Baker vs. Kayla Sparks – 1:05 (no picture-in-picture commercial break*)
  • July 26: Britt Baker vs. Taya Valkyrie – 7:00

*The Baker-Sparks match stands out as an outlier; that was the "Dynamite" episode that included the lengthy Blood & Guts match in the main event.

Professional wrestling is about more than just the matches, and we did get a backstage interview with Saraya and a hype video for a TBS Title match between Kris Statlander and Jade Cargill coming up on Friday's "Rampage," but this is getting ridiculous.

Loved: Okay but Toni Storm still rules though (Schneiderman)

At this point, probably best to just assume everyone who works here loves everything Toni Storm does every time she's on screen. And look, obviously I agree that the women's division gets treated like dirt in terms of TV time. It hasn't gotten any better (as noted above, it's actively getting worse) and from Tony Khan's attitude every time he's asked about it — which is not often enough, incidentally — I don't expect it to get better any time soon. But if someone from the future arrived and told me "Hey, it actually does get better," my immediate response would be "Well, I assume that's because Toni Storm was just too amazing to be contained."


She's so good at playing this character, and crucially, she's completely changing her in-ring style to match this character. She wrestles in-character, she sells in-character, she embodies the character every time there's a camera on her. And I just need AEW to look at what's happening and embrace it and realign the entire division around Storm, because eventually she is going to need other characters to interact with besides Renee Paquette, and right now the women's division doesn't really have any. Britt Baker's character is "dentist." Willow Nightingale's character is "happy." Until her magical transformation, Storm's character, like the rest of the Outcasts, was "mean." But you need more than that if you're going to build a fully-realized wrestling character. Storm has more now, and she's going to need more from those around her. And that's the only way I can see this division breaking free from Tony Khan's prison.


Hated: MJF Sings Karaoke (Berman)

MJF is the poet laureate of douchebags. Despite his young age, the AEW World Champion is quite simply one of the best promos in the business currently. Even when he's delivering less-than-stellar content, his delivery, his confidence — it's impossible to not be swept away by an MJF promo. Which is what made it so disheartening to see one of the most original voices of the 21st century singing somebody else's song.


A large portion of Wednesday's "AEW Dynamite" audience erupted in Pavlovian cheers as MJF, injured after last week's confrontation with Samoa Joe, began to deliver a seemingly word-for-word recitation of Scott Steiner's famous "Steiner Math" promo. This writer is as big a fan as anyone of Steiner's rambling, incoherent promo — in which he ran down Samoa Joe's odds of winning the main event of TNA Sacrifice in 2008 and which was almost instantly turned into one of online wrestling fandom's longest-running memes — but this version felt like one of MJF's worst instincts laid bare: running what works into the ground. Now the AEW World Champion wasn't just plucking from his greatest hits, but outright stealing one of the most famous promos of the 21st century. Not only was it too "inside baseball" — MJF preaching to his nerdy bully pulpit and them responding like trained seals — but it was lazy, like watching a great opera singer take the stage and sing a karaoke rendition of Smash Mouth's "All Star."


Last week, I wrote that MJF was scraping the bottom of the barrel, but I would rather hear another tale of him being bullied in high school or turned down by WWE than hear the inorganic slop he fed the audience on Wednesday. He's regressing, choosing lazy retreads where he used to shoot for the moon and land among the stars with his promos.

It's a damn shame since, as the late Steve Harwell once sang, "Only shooting stars break the mold," and at one time it looked like MJF would do just that. Now he seems to have found the mold comfortable, and decided to leave it intact.

LOVED: The Main Event Scene Just Got A Whole Lot More Interesting (Olivia Quinlan, WINC news writer)

When I saw that there were six minutes still left on the clock after Samoa Joe defeated Roderick Strong and won the Grand Slam World Title Eliminator Tournament, I thought that the rest of the show would just be spent dedicated to some sort of post-match beatdown. Not being a fan of ending shows on that note, I naturally set my expectations pretty low ... but I was pleasantly surprised when such turned out not to be the case.


Instead, Joe grabbed a mic and warned MJF that he was coming for all that he had before heading to the back, leaving Roderick Strong and The Kingdom alone in the ring. Adam Cole headed out to check on his longtime friend, who was being given medical attention after playing up his "neck injury," while arguing with The Kingdom, who didn't want Cole around. It's been pretty apparent that this storyline is heading for full-on heel turn on Strong's behalf, but this added a new, interesting element to something that was becoming pretty predictable and – dare I say – even lackluster.

And just when I thought it was all over, Joe reemerged and caught Cole in the Coquina Clutch, staying true to his word. It's become commonplace for wrestlers to tell other wrestlers that they'll take everything from one another, so seeing someone actually do that was quite the refreshing change. I'm excited to see where this is headed next, and have high hopes for it.