AEW Dynamite 10/04/23: 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

Welcome to Wrestling Inc.'s timeless (but also weekly) review of "AEW Dynamite," the show that always reminds you to watch for the shoe! It was AEW's first show following WrestleDream, the PPV event where (among other things) Adam Copeland, the wrestler formerly known throughout his lengthy WWE career as Edge, made his AEW debut, confronting old partner Christian Cage in the aftermath of the main event. Copeland's first match with his new company comes next Tuesday, but the wrestling world was still waiting to hear what he had to say on Wednesday night, and fans were looking forward to announced matchups like Fenix vs. Nick Jackson and Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho vs. Konosuke Takeshita and Sammy Guevara Kyle Fletcher!

Now, are we going to talk about everything that went down Wednesday night? Of course not, that would be silly. We have our live coverage to do that for us, and our live coverage is thoroughly objective. This, on the other hand? Subjective as hell, and coming to you from across the spectrum of WINC's writing and editorial staff! Here are three things we hated and three things we loved about the 10/4/23 episode of "AEW Dynamite."

Loved: Wardlow Returns, Destroys Griff Garrison (Jon Jordan, WINC news writer)

I must admit, I wasn't sure we'd ever see Wardlow on AEW television again. I have no idea what his contract status is like, but there's already a precedent in this company for making someone look unbeatable and pushing them to the moon, only to let them fade into oblivion, and then boom, Jade Cargill is off to WWE. Wardlow very well could have been (and could still be) on that track himself. He's been the unbeatable beast umpteen times over, only to win and lose a midcard championship (named after a network that can't get its audio right all of a sudden) three times in less than a year — most recently to a guy in a dinosaur mask.

But forget all that, because he's back! He's back, and he's getting a squash match showcase against Griff Garrison! He's back and he's hitting the Powerbomb Symphony five times on Garrison before quickly and confidently waltzing his way out through the crowd and presumably off to go do Wardlow s***. (I see him instantly smashing a protein shake, catching a shower, hitting the closest steakhouse and crushing a tomahawk before banging out a late night workout at the hotel and catching some shut-eye, all in the name of waking up tomorrow for more badassery.)

I'll call this one a win, for now, but for the love of whatever people love nowadays, if you've got this guy signed for a good while, Tony, let him be his badass self and give him an uninterrupted run that ends up actually meaning something. You had gold here for a while and you let it turn into mush. You've seen (and you're about to see) how that story ends with Cargill, and it'll happen again with Wardlow if you let it. Take advantage of a star-in-the-making situation while you have it; who knows? Maybe you'll hang onto this one.

(Side note: Poor Griff Garrison. This guy needs something new. I was calling him a poor man's Jungle Boy back when Jungle Boy was a thing; now he's getting blasted through the mat by Wardlow and watching his old tag team partner Brian Pillman Jr. getting ready to do his thing over at "NXT." So yeah, let's start with a haircut and a new name and maybe we'll all forget about old Griff.)

Hated: Moves Don't Matter Anymore (Matthew Wilkinson, WINC news writer)

A complaint that has been lobbied at AEW consistently is an overall lack of selling, with wrestlers taking crazy bumps and frequently kicking out of them, whether it was the recent Canadian Destroyer debacle or the crazy levels of punishment Darby Allin took at AEW WrestleDream. Tonight's AEW International Championship match was no different; however, the constant kicking out of major moves was even more frustrating here, because the whole match was built around both men being injured.

Rey Fenix was selling a back injury while Nick Jackson pushed a foot problem, and that should have led to them telling an interesting and unique story — something they're both capable of. While they did target those specific areas to push that idea, it all becomes pointless when they're both kicking out of huge moves throughout the entire match, from an Avalanche Cutter to a Poisoned Rana followed by a Canadian Destroyer. It all just felt completely detached from the story they were telling.

While AEW matches tend to feature a lot of big bumps, if the story of the match is that both men are injured, that's something that should be peeled back. If several huge shots to Fenix's back won't keep him down, then what's the point in telling the story? Sure, it helps to make him look like a fighting champion as he grits his teeth and powers through the pain, but all it does is serve to hurt the moves in the long term, as they simply don't mean anything.

The reason a cutter gets such a good pop is that people like DDP and Randy Orton have used it to end matches. It provides a devastating impact that gets a reaction. However, the more moves like this and the Destroyer are treated like secondary spots to simply pop a crowd, the quicker it will be before the reactions decrease, and they become just the next DDT.

Loved: Powerhouse Hobbs Gets To Work With Top Guys (Ross Berman, WINC news writer)

Powerhouse Hobbs has often been seen as one of AEW's fumbles — a seemingly can't-miss presence, but with so much stop-start momentum that it feels like the company has never fulfilled his immense potential. And like Charlie Brown gearing up to kick a football, I am once again prepared to believe in Powerhouse Hobbs.

Hobbs made a surprise appearance on "Dynamite," attacking Kenny Omega and aligning with the Don Callis Family. To be completely honest, the segment itself was awful — awkward, slow, and ultimately a big miss (let Jon tell you about the duct tape). But Hobbs being involved in Don Callis's quest to replace his old friends with impressionable young men has tremendous potential.

The Don Callis Family is one of AEW's most hated heel factions at the moment, with Callis earning boos that would make Dominik Mysterio blush some weeks, but his waifish group of Konosuke Takeshita, Sammy Guevara, and occasionally Kyle Fletcher, Will Ospreay, or Daniel Garcia mostly look like they could be knocked over by a stiff breeze. Enter the massive Powerhouse Hobbs, who adds a significant amount of muscle to the villainous group. And targeting Kenny Omega puts Hobbs in a feud with a wrestler that is a bonafide star, possibly elevating Hobbs's star power if properly handled.

The segment as a whole was ugly and grey as concrete, but the possibility of Powerhouse Hobbs teaming with the Don Callis Family burst through the cold, hard booking like a bright red rose, and this writer is ready to get hurt again.

Hated: Duct Tape Is Not Difficult (Jordan)

First, let's get a few things clear:

1. I'm not here to hate on this entire segment. I actually think there's a lot afoot here and it could turn into some really good stuff. Powerhouse Hobbs as a monster and perhaps part of The Don Callis Family can help elevate him quickly; a position for which I believe he is ready and in which he can flourish. Chris Jericho aligned in some fashion with Kenny Omega against their dastardly fellow Winnipegger and his minions also makes a lot of sense (and is so much better than Jericho with yet another faction and Omega wasting his time chasing trivial trio titles with his buddies). And a heel Sammy Guevara ... never mind, he wasn't clear to wrestle so we got Kyle Fletcher with Takeshita instead. So kudos to Kyle Fletcher for getting a little reward for his job well done of late by getting placed into this match in Guevara's absence.

2. I actually love duct tape. None of what I'm about to say is duct tape's fault. Duct tape has save me in many situations for many years. Until you learn how to repair a certain something, duct tape. Run out of other adhesives during Christmas decorating season? Duct tape. Bike seat break mid-ride? Duct tape. Golf shoe lose a sole in the middle of a round? Yes, duct tape. Duct tape and I have helped each other through all of these tough spots over the years. It is an invaluable asset for all things adulting. And sure, I suppose it could be used to restrain an opponent in the wild world of professional wrestling.

But here's the thing about duct tape: It's not hard to apply, almost ever. Yet when Callis and Co. went to totally compromise Omega, taping his hands to the top rope, none of them could figure out how to wrap the roll around successfully, with Omega accidentally breaking out of it with one hand at one point then having to pretend that didn't happen, then the heels leaving not addressing the situation for a time, then leaving the roll hanging off one of his wrists before starting to try to tape him up all over again and OH MY GOD THIS SEGMENT WAS ALREADY WAY TOO LONG.

Did we not practice this earlier? Sure, when a guy is as sweaty as he'd tend to be after just wrestling, this can be a bit more difficult, but you can account for that. (Again, it's duct tape. MacGyver could make a bomb with this stuff!)

And if it's not working, it's not working. Just come up with something on the fly! That's part of your job here. And trust me, for as long as that went on, nobody would have cared.

Pair that with some production guffaws during various scrums prior to Ducttapegate and unprotected head shots (really, again?) and I'm reminded of why I often come away from these AEW shows all huffy puffy.

It's the little things. AEW does have a lot going for it. But the little things kill. And from exploding death matches coming off like lighting a fart to referees blatantly ignoring obvious rule infractions to, yes, besmirching the good name of the almighty duct tape, with this company, blowing it with the little things happens all too often.

Loved: AEW Needs More Toni Storm (Olivia Quinlan, WINC news writer)

Toni Storm is the gift that just keeps on giving.

We say some iteration of this pretty much every week at this point, but here's my take, because I feel it truly deserves to be said time and time again. Tonight was no exception to what has become the rule, as Storm premiered a new nickname and defeated an old foe in Skye Blue after catching her with a Storm Zero in an enjoyable bout.

When looking at the landscape of current characters in the world of professional wrestling, they can sometimes start to all blend together, and it's hard to stand out from the bunch. Part of what makes this version of Toni Storm my favorite version to date — as a longtime fan — is that she manages to accomplish just that through her commitment to the character, evoking the "timeless" feeling of the Golden Age to play her role to perfection.

(By the way, can you tell I had fun coming up with all these Hollywood-themed puns?)

Hated: The Copeland/Christian story so far does not reek of awesomeness (Miles Schneiderman, WINC senior lead news editor)

In our WrestleDream review, I wrote about how happy I was that Edge, one of my all-time favorite wrestlers, had arrived in AEW as Adam Copeland. Not just happy for him and the fact that he gets to spend the last leg of his career with his best friend, but happy for me, as a fan who wants to love AEW but usually doesn't.

Well, we've had Edge's first "Dynamite" appearance now, and it gives me no pleasure to say that we're 0-1.

One thing I want to emphasize: The segment with Edge and Christian (gonna be REALLY hard not calling them that) was incredibly well-performed. Copeland has legit acting chops, which most wrestlers don't, and Christian was doing some amazing stuff here with his facial expressions alone. As usual with AEW, my problem isn't with the performances, but with the writing.

So at WrestleDream, Copeland came out to oppose Christian and prevent him from hitting Sting with a chair while Christian looked like he'd seen a ghost. Great, that's rad. You can go lots of places from there, but you have established one thing: Copeland stands in opposition to Christian. Christian tried to do an evil thing; Copeland stopped him. Right there, you've immediately set up the expectation that Copeland is here to stop Christian from doing bad things, which is maybe a little simplistic but basically what you'd expect from this kind of storyline. And it works well, because Copeland is naturally going to be a massive babyface in AEW, whereas Christian has been a heartless monster for more than a year now.

...except they can't just do it that way. First, Copeland has to bring in his post-WrestleDream press conference line about how his daughter told him to come to AEW so he can "have fun with Uncle Jay." This immediately muddies the waters, because why would anyone think they could just show up to AEW in 2023 and "have fun" with Christian Cage? Adam, buddy, did you watch the part of that same press conference where they asked Christian about you and he reiterated that he has no friends except Luchasaurus? Have you been paying attention to anything the man has been doing lately? Because I assumed you had been, which is why you ran in to stop him, but apparently you only did that because his victim was Sting, a man you suddenly idolize. (I'm not saying Copeland doesn't idolize Sting; maybe he does, but it was beyond weird hearing the man whose Hulk Hogan fandom was so well-known that they won the tag titles together talking about his lifelong reverence for Sting, of all people.)

So then Copeland tells Christian he wants to be a tag team again, which is very on-the-nose for the audience who also would like that to happen, but still an odd choice for the character. If Christian's attack on Sting was so heinous, why would you then want to be in a tag team with him? They hug it out, but then Christian says "Go f*** yourself" and leaves, which doesn't make him look more evil so much as it makes Copeland look like a moron for not seeing The Most Predictable Thing coming. And best of all, nothing has been accomplished from a character standpoint. At the end of WrestleDream, Copeland and Christian were on opposite sides. At the end of "Dynamite," Copeland and Christian were on opposite sides. Everything in between was just a route recommended by Google Maps — a pointless detour that leaves you back where you started, but more confused.