AEW Dynamite 11/15/23: 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

Welcome to Wrestling Inc.'s weekly review of "AEW Dynamite," the wrestling column equivalent of dropping a beat-up quinquagenarian onto a car! Wednesday night featured the final "Dynamite" before Full Gear, and you can't say it wasn't impactful, from Jon Moxley no-selling the Orange Punch to Jay White hip-thrusting atop MJF's prone body. That's what we're all about in this space — the impact. The things that hit you hard and made you feel a way. This isn't a place for covering all the events of the episode in detail; we have our live coverage/results page for that. This is about the things that stood out.

So, what stood out to the WINC writing and editorial staff this week? Did promos from the likes of Bullet Club Gold and "Hangman" Adam Page successfully sell us on Saturday's pay-per-view?  Did the Red vs. Blue match color our perspective? And most importantly, do we think Paul Wight is actually dead now? Here are three things we hated and three things we loved about the 11/15/23 episode of "AEW Dynamite."

Loved: Adam Page shows some fire (Matthew Wilkinson, WINC news writer)

The storyline between Swerve Strickland and Adam "Hangman" Page has been one of the highlights on AEW television as of late, and that trend continued on Wednesday's "Dynamite." The two had a promo face-off, and it was the former AEW World Champion who thrived in the moment, with Strickland not even managing to get a word in.

The entire angle has been about Strickland pushing Page to his limit. From trash-talking Page to invading his home and talking to his child, Strickland has claimed that Page has lost his edge. But that came full circle as Page cut an excellent promo that showcased real fire and passion. That's something that fans have been eager to see ever since the home invasion, as that low blow was something that should have brought a lot of anger out of him, and it did.

With no contact being allowed in this segment, Page instead opted to cut down his rival with his words. Whether it was mocking Strickland for losing his job in WWE or pointing out some situations closer to home about Strickland's relationship with his former partner and his children, he was attempting to cover as many bases as possible. While not everything landed perfectly, the cowboy was able to land more blows than he missed with his verbal jabs. And he finished by beating up Prince Nana, which provided a great ending to the segment, heating this rivalry up even further ahead of their Texas Death Match. With a stipulation like that in place for Full Gear, it was necessary to have this style of promo to ramp things up to the next level and demonstrate that the fire still burns inside of Page, while pushing the idea that he truly hates Strickland.

Hated: Decent match, bad landing (Miles Schneiderman, WINC senior lead news editor)

I was a little less than thrilled about the prospect of Red Velvet vs. Skye Blue to determine who gets entered into a TBS Championship match that neither of them is going to win, but I have to say, for a little while there, these two had a stew going. It was happening in the first hour, for once, which was a fun diversion from formula, and it was a really enjoyable match — until the end, at which point it just became a thoroughly depressing match.

And I'm not talking about Blue's botched finisher. Or at least, not only that. Things started going off the rails beforehand, when the match passed over at least two natural endpoints by having somebody kick out of a big move instead of losing to it. I know I'm always the person advocating for more ring time for the women's division, but that should be happening via more women's matches, not having one women's match go too long. You can usually feel when it's time for a good match to take it home, and this one zoomed right past that point, ultimately landing in a place where I was no longer invested because they were just trading moves for the sake of trading moves. For Blue vs. Velvet to bypass numerous endings that would have made it one to go back and re-watch, only to horrifically botch the actual finish while the ref counts the three anyway is ... yeah, that's rough.

Hated: The Gunns anticlimactically win (Olivia Quinlan, WINC news writer)

Look, keeping The Gunns looking strong heading into their ROH World Championship match against MJF and his mystery partner at Full Gear is sound logic and makes perfect sense to me. As a matter of fact, that's exactly what AEW should be doing. However, there are much better ways to accomplish this than to have them win in about 30 seconds and cut a promo that didn't really have a point to it.

Despite this match being on the Zero Hour Pre-Show, it has potential to be good, especially when you consider the intrigue surrounding who MJF will be teaming with. Yes, squash matches are an effective way of keeping opponents strong, but they are a rather boring and predictable way of doing so. Beyond that, it just felt as though this segment was simply a way to eat up time on what overall felt like a lackluster show, especially for a go-home edition of "AEW Dynamite".

Loved: Duct tape done right! (Jon Jordan, WINC news writer)

In early October, I crapped on a segment in which Don Callis and Powerhouse Hobbs attempted to duct tape Kenny Omega to the top rope after a match. To say they failed miserably then would be an understatement, but as I said at the time, things happen — though it's your job as the entertainer to improvise when something doesn't go exactly as planned. They didn't then, and I absolutely hated it.

Now here we are, a little over a month later, and not only do we get a callback to Ducttapegate, just when I thought certain elements of "AEW Dynamite” couldn't get any dumber, they go and do something like this ... and totally redeem themselves! Omega and Chris Jericho, elder statesmen that they are, know how to wield a couple of rolls of duct tape, damn it, and I for one respect the hell out of that. It's a lazy man's resource, sure, but there's a right way and a wrong way, and the two Winnipeggers taped Hobbs up like true pros. Sweaty or not, they fastened his massive arms with ease, and to take things a step further, taped up his mouth as well.

Don't fault Hobbs for so easily getting neutralized, by the way. I'm sure he was tired for murdering Paul Wight outside the arena earlier in the match. At the same time, don't gloss over the fact that Omega slung duct tape effortlessly, despite apparently cutting his hand on a glass bottle earlier in the night. And kudos to Jericho as well, for handling his business, duct tape and all, in suit-and-tie fashion. That's not typical wrestling attire, nor is it typical gear one wears whence duct taping to one's heart's delight. But he got it done. And most importantly, the sins of abhorrent duct taping efforts from October 4th are now forgiven.

Loved: The blissfully dumb Like A Dragon Street Fight (Ross Berman, WINC news writer)

When wrestling is dumb — and I mean blissfully dumb, just serenely stupid — that's the good stuff, and much of the main event of "AEW Dynamite" was exactly that. It was the kind of match that could only be put together by eight men sharing two brain cells. 51-year-old, barely mobile Paul Wight was bodyslammed off a pallet and onto a car. Kota Ibushi rode a bicycle around the ring and smacked people with a giant pipe. Kenny Omega cut his hand open on a bottle and wrestled with such reckless abandon that I have to assume he was desperate to get out of his upcoming PPV tag team match against The Young Bucks.

The match was an absolute mess, but at no point was anyone ever doing something that wasn't either reckless, stupid, violent, or funny. Amidst the chaos, the camera would cut back to Paul Wight, gravely injured by his tumble from the bodyslam, or to Jericho wandering through the arena, hitting Konosuke Takeshita with anything he could get his hands on. Everyone was either hit with a bike or slammed on a bike. Kyle Fletcher nearly killed several wrestlers with suplexes and piledrivers onto foreign objects. Quite simply, the match was 20 minutes of edge-of-your-seat adrenaline, and I spent much of it completely unable to guess what the collection of mostly 40-year-old men would do next.

Unfortunately, when the dust settled and the chaos ended, the result left one of AEW's bright flames smothered by the over-indulgence of the plunderous, SEGA-sponsored street fight.

Hated: A great match kills two of AEW's up-and-coming stars (Berman)

It is criminal that AEW can't seem to keep Powerhouse Hobbs in a dominant faction for very long, as the former AEW TNT Champion has now been a part of three factions that have been run into the ground. First there was Team Taz, where Hobbs was forced to take a backseat to the more charismatic Ricky Starks and HOOK. Then there was QTV, which felt dated and doomed from the jump. Then he attacked Kenny Omega and beat Chris Jericho in a mauling, and it seemed The Don Callis Family would be the place where Hobbs finally flourished — until the entire Don Callis Family was slaughtered by The Golden Jets, Kota Ibushi and a barely-mobile Paul Wight.

It wasn't so much a defeat as it was a drawing and quartering, Hobbs was duct-taped to the ropes and beaten repeatedly by Omega and Jericho, left unconscious and dangling as the veterans pinned Brian Cage. But Hobbs wasn't the only victim of the lopsided booking on Wednesday. Remember when Konosuke Takeshita got two wins over Kenny Omega in the course of a week, including in Wembley Stadium and at AEW All Out? Well, that was fun while it lasted. Takeshita was seemingly a non-entity here, forced to walk-and-brawl around the arena with Chris Jericho for much of the match. Any momentum that Takeshita had after beating Omega has been snuffed by Wednesday's massacre.

What is left for Don Callis to do, except gather the broken, scattered limbs and viscera and try to rebuild, to make a Frankenstein of his Family? Even then, all that will remain is an undead, zombified version of a once dominant faction. Sad state of affairs for the young stars Callis was shepherding — and he didn't even try and interfere to save them.