AEW Dynamite 10/25/23: 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

Welcome to Wrestling Inc's thunderous and financially solvent weekly review of "AEW Dynamite," now with 100% more "Nature Boy!" And yeah, we always do the thing here where we talk about how we can't cover everything, check out our live coverage/results page, etc, etc, but if you think we don't have opinions about the AEW debut of RIC FLAIR, you're out of your mind.

And that is what this article is for — opinions. In this case, specifically those of the WINC writing and editorial staff regarding Wednesday night's offering from AEW's A-show. Were we able to squeeze any enjoyment out of the Juice Robinson and/or Orange Cassidy matches? Did Toni Storm's new butler impress? How did we feel about Swerve Strickland cutting a promo on a baby? Here are three things we hated and three things we loved about the 10./25/23 episode of "AEW Dynamite."

Loved: MAAAAAAAAAAX! (Miles Schneiderman, WINC senior lead news editor)

Full disclosure: For those who don't know, I'm not an AEW guy in general, and this episode in particular had very little to offer that I enjoyed. However, I have long been a Roderick Strong guy, and on Wednesday night I found that the show was better pretty much any time he was on screen.

One of the problems with the recent run of Strong/Kingdom/Adam Cole vignettes has been that they've felt so removed from what's actually happening on the wrestling show. Whereas the pre-All In MJF/Adam Cole vignettes had direct consequences that we got to watch play out on TV, Strong annoying Cole to death didn't really have anything to anchor it to the primary product, because Cole is out with an injury and MJF suddenly decided to feud with ten million people at the same time, none of whom are involved with Adam Cole. If it's not directly impacting MJF — the guy who wrestles on the TV show — it just feels unimportant.

Fortunately, this week Roderick Strong directly impacted MJF, and it was great. Cole is finally going off to have surgery and now Strong is here to annoy Max to death (complete with a spectacularly irritating "MAAAAAAAAAX!" call from Strong) which makes his annoyingness more immediate and gives us a reason to care about it. It also changes the existing dynamic in fun ways — instead of Cole, who is a genuinely good guy, struggling against the urge to rudely tell his friend he's being insufferable, we have "Your Scumbag" MJF, struggling against the urge to just push this moron's wheelchair off a cliff, preferably with him still in it. Hell, the fact that Strong has been annoying enough at this point that MJF can basically lose that struggle and we're all fine with it almost serves to retroactively justify the Strong/Cole vignettes in the first place. I also really enjoyed the way AEW set up both Strong and the Kingdom and The Acclaimed as MJF's potential partners against Bullet Club Gold, only for him to choose neither because MJF is still a massive prick with no friends. Instead, we later get a moment backstage where Samoa Joe trades his "friendship" for another world title shot, and won't it be interesting when MJF shows up to fight BCG not with friends, but with enemies he's bribed?

Hated: Rushing MJF vs. Kenny Omega (Matthew Wilkinson, WINC news writer)

There are certain matches that just feel like they're built to be on a PPV due to the star power involved, and MJF competing against Kenny Omega certainly ticks that box. They're two of the biggest names in the company, yet tonight it was announced that they will be facing each other in singles action this weekend on "AEW Collision," with the AEW World Championship on the line.

It's an encounter that has relatively come out of nowhere, initially starting as a bit on "Being The Elite" with MJF whispering how many days it was until his reign as champion surpassed Omega's, which then translated onto television with a brief segment. However, MJF is currently feuding against Jay White, with the two men scheduled to compete at AEW's Full Gear, therefore fans are paying zero attention to any possible showdown with Omega, especially since MJF also has issues with Wardlow and Samoa Joe.

However, a brief (and very awkward promo) from Omega was all it took for the match to be confirmed for this weekend. It's a move that feels like a rather desperate ratings ploy, and that isn't how a huge encounter like this should be treated. AEW could easily have built this to be a PPV main event down the line, but instead, we are rushing to it without any build, or the physical title itself.

Bullet Club Gold currently holds the AEW World Championship as part of their storyline, so should Omega win what will he be holding? Rather than just concentrating on the entertaining work that White and MJF have been doing, AEW is trying to make MJF juggle too many plates simply because the company knows he will deliver entertaining moments. There's no doubt that Omega and MJF will have a fantastic match due to the talent they both bring, but rushing it with just a few day's build isn't the right way to bring it to fruition.

Loved: Toni Storm isn't just filling time (Ross Berman, WINC news writer)

While Toni Storm's silent film career has made for an entertaining picture-in-picture distraction from commercials, I was worried that it would become a placeholder role, but my fears were quelled on Wednesday.

Not only did Toni Storm debut a new film, titled "Hold That Butler," but Storm also added to her entourage, with International Deathmatch Superstar Dr. Luther becoming the starlet's actual butler. Later in the night, following AEW Women's World Champion Hikaru Shida's title retention over Ruby Soho, Storm appeared on the ramp with Butler Luther, as well as not-Ben Mankiewicz RJ City to make her intentions clear, as she'll be looking to regain the Women's Championship at AEW Full Gear.

It's nice to know that Storm is still going to be considered a contender-level competitor during her descent into Turner Classic Movies and RuPaul's Drag Race. She leaps off the screen in ways that much of the AEW women's division has failed to do. I just hope that her quest to regain the AEW Women's World Championship will lead to her healing whatever wound sent her spiraling in the first place. It would be a shame if Storm were to go back to being just another wrestler, when her new character has turned her into a true-blue star.

Loved: Swerve Strickland and Prince Nana Invade Adam Page's house (Olivia Quinlan, WINC news writer)

Man, Swerve Strickland and Prince Nana just keep getting better and better each week.

Home invasion angles, for me, can be hit or miss depending on how they are executed. Sometimes they can create higher stakes and make a storyline feel more personal while other times they can come off as silly or cartoonish. Strickland and Nana are a case of the former, showing themselves walking through "Hangman" Adam Page's house after The Elite successfully defended their ROH Six-Man World Tag Team Championship against The Hardys and Brother Zay.

Page raced to the back as Strickland looked at the children's pictures hanging on Page's fridge and stumbled across a book laying around in the living room. He made his way up to the bedroom of Page's young son and left a shirt for him, telling him that he owed him a debt for taking something away.

Having been a fan of this storyline for quite some time now, as well as their first match at AEW WrestleDream, I'm excited that it doesn't seem like things will be slowing down anytime soon. For what I felt like was a very lackluster and forgettable "Dynamite," this was definitely the standout moment for me.

Hated: Seriously though, what the hell was that ending? (Schneiderman)

It was pretty hard not to enjoy this week's "Dynamite" main event, since it was a tag team match involving three of AEW's best wrestlers and also Kazuchika Okada. A little weird to have Okada take a loss in his debut, even though he wasn't the one pinned, but it's leading to Orange Cassidy vs. Claudio Castagnoli, so that's fine. What was really weird was the post-match angle, which involved Bryan Danielson (presumably) selling the combination of an Orange Punch and a Rainmaker by rolling around and clutching his face. This led to the rest of Blackpool Combat Club coming out to check on him, which for some reason led to Best Friends, HOOK, and Rocky Romero coming out and doing ... nothing. They all just kind of stood around and stared at each other. Then the show went off the air — a little later than usual, because they got overrun time for this.

To be clear: I'm not against the idea of a BCC vs. CHAOS feud (even though I wouldn't blame anyone who doesn't keep up with AEW well enough to know that Chuck Taylor, Cassidy, and Statlander have all technically CHAOS members since 2021, and Rocky Romero is 100% a CHAOS member, and also HOOK is here now, apparently). I just don't understand what this segment was supposed to accomplish in the service of that feud. If the two sides had all started fighting at the end and had gone off the air mid-brawl, which AEW loves to do, it would have been cliched, but I would have at least understood. Instead, everyone just stands around awkwardly until the audience is sitting there wondering if Danielson is legitimately hurt again. Even commentary seemed confused. Okada is doing these taunting gestures toward Danielson referencing all his injuries, and the other CHAOS members are kind of mildly holding him back, and Wheeler Yuta is over here looking conflicted, which is at least interesting character-wise seeing as he was also made a member of CHAOS back when he ran with Best Friends, but Castagnoli and Jon Moxley are just sort of standing over Bryan or walking in circles, not doing anything, until it's time to go off the air. It's bizarre.

I don't think Okada would be taunting Danielson if the face injury wasn't part of the storyline, so I have to assume everything here went according to plan. If that's the case, I would advise a different plan, because "man hurts face" doesn't count as something actually, you know. Happening.

Hated: Ric Flair ... just in general (Berman)

Recently, AEW President Tony Khan spent a significant amount of time on social media criticizing Vince McMahon's history of sexual abuse and harassment. The AEW President's barbs were met with bloodthirsty glee from fans, happy to give Khan the moral victory over McMahon in the wake of his ratings loss to WWE. Which made it almost bitterly cruel that the terminally online Khan brought in infamous sex pest Ric Flair to this Wednesday's "AEW Dynamite."

Flair, making his AEW debut, was on this week's "Dynamite" to give a farewell message to his longtime friend and legendary rival Sting. Flair took over the segment, rambling and promising to ride with Sting until his retirement match in March. Flair is an understandable presence to have on Sting's road to retirement, but Khan's recent statements, as well as the fact that the segment didn't feel like any kind of deep moment between the two legends, made the entire thing feel small-time, like AEW was dragging itself through the mud for a cheap headline to slap on a middling episode of television.

The early days of AEW were refreshing for those who have tired of wrestling's Teflon cretins: Hulk Hogan, Disco Inferno, and Vince Russo were all banned, but those days are long gone. The revolution is over, the dream is dead, and AEW is in the muck just like everyone else now.