AEW Dynamite 12/06/23: 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

Welcome to Wrestling Inc.'s weekly review of "AEW Dynamite," the exclusive home of Adam Page being extremely sad, like, all the time. He's honestly made it into its own art form at this point. We're actually not going to touch on Adam Page's most recent sadness on this episode, which is a shame, but we can't cover everything here. Now, our live coverage/results page? That covers everything, in detail and without playing favorites. Here, we absolutely play favorites, because it's all about how various segments and matches made us feel.

So, what did the WINC writing and editorial staff think of the latest Continental Classic tournament matches? Did we enjoy Riho's return, or Nick Wayne's mom hitting Adam Copeland with a title belt? And most importantly, was that really the Turner Classic Movies guy? (Spoiler: Yes. Yes, it was.) Here are three things we hated and three things we loved about the 12/6/23 episode of "AEW Dynamite."

Loved: Roderick Strong finally takes a stand (literally)

Roderick Strong's pathetic, wheelchair-bound manchild character has run it's course. What started as a goofy running joke ran dry weeks ago, but there's a certain kind of wrestling fan that takes comfort in repetition, so it just ... kept ... happening.

Which is why I'm thrilled to say that Strong kicked the wheelchair to the curb on Wednesday, and not a moment too soon. Strong began talking about how the chair had become his life in a way that bordered on appropriation of the disabled community, so when Strong stood up and kicked away the chair, I breathed a massive sigh of relief. Strong is still annoying as hell, and his storyline with MJF and Adam Cole is going nowhere quickly, but he's also one of the best bell-to-bell wrestlers in the world today, and the prospect of him finally being an active, serious competitor again is too good to let the middling storyline he's in undercut it.

There is still plenty of time for this story to wear out its welcome, since Cole is still injured and it seems The Kingdom and Strong have been stuck in stasis during said injury. If Strong can't wrap up this stupid, childish storyline, then at least let him break some backs and wear his trademark sh**ty little boots.

Written by Ross Berman

Hated: What is happening with MJF, Samoa Joe, and the Devil?

Look, when this MJF/Devil storyline began, I was very invested in it and thought it would be quite interesting to watch it play out. It started off great, with lots of intrigue surrounding who the identity of the masked assailant was as they caused mayhem backstage with attacks on anyone connected to "The Salt Of The Earth". Then, Samoa Joe got involved.

While I am very happy to see Joe finally get some shots at the AEW World Championship and think they're both long overdue and well-earned, I can't shake this feeling that him positioning himself as essentially MJF's personal bodyguard to keep him 100% for their Worlds End match is taking away from things and creating a bit of a confusing, contradictory mess as to what the relationship between the pair is supposed to be with the Devil watching them both like a hawk.

Wednesday's show did nothing to change my feelings about any of this. I didn't mind the fact that MJF was taken out prior to his and Joe's tag team match against two of the Devil's henchmen, but I almost laughed when four of the henchmen surrounded the ring as the lights flashed and Joe found out what had happened to MJF. Not only did it look comical, but Joe rushed to MJF's aid and the angle was never really followed up on during the rest of the show.

Written by Olivia Quinlan

Hated: The Continental Classic continues to be predictable

The Continental Classic has produced excellent wrestling every week, but excellent wrestling isn't something AEW has ever lacked. The company has done plenty of tournaments over the years, and this one was being pushed as something different and unique, and while the format is slightly different, it suffers from the same issue that many of the others in the past have: It's predictable.

Wednesday's "AEW Dynamite" saw three enjoyable encounters, all of which offered something slightly different — the brawling aspect of RUSH vs. Jon Moxley, the desperation of Mark Briscoe trying to stay in the tournament, and Jay Lethal and Jay White brinigng a little more technique to the ring. However, every single one of the results went the way that people would've expected ahead of time.

The Continental Classic is supposed to be done in a legitimate sports manner, but if that was the case then eventually there would be a shocking underdog win. Surprises happen in tournaments across all sports, but apparently not in the Gold League. The tournament is filled with AEW's top stars, and seeing them trade more victories would have made things far more competitive and easier to invest in.

Tony Khan is giving a huge chunk of television time every week up until AEW's Worlds End PPV, and the idea that that time is being wasted on predictable, safe booking is a real shame. The tournament has legs, and the idea is certainly in the right place, but it's time to shake things up with a few surprise results moving forward to try and keep fans on the edge of their seats rather than just sitting back to enjoy three nice matches each week.

Written by Matthew Wilkinson

Loved: Money in the Mank

At this point I think it's pretty obvious that the "Timeless" Toni Storm gimmick isn't really going anywhere until they're ready to have her feud with Mariah May, at least not in terms of story. Her match with Skye Blue was good, but it didn't really have a build and it didn't really play off the "Timeless" character, and I highly doubt that changes in a feud between Storm and Riho. Tony Khan still doesn't really know how to do actual storytelling in the women's division, but he very much does know how to use his considerable resources to take an idea to its logical extreme — hence the appearance of Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz.

Mankiewicz' appearance was just delightful in every way, and occupies a space AEW thrives in — things that only Tony Khan both could do and would do. Mankiewicz plays his introduction of Storm completely straight, listing off the names of her "short films" and advising the audience to watch for the shoe, reinforcing the bizarre collective delusion we're all suddenly under whenever it's time for her segment. Does this make sense? Where is it ultimately going? How long can this gimmick survive in a promotion like AEW? There's only one answer to all these questions, and that answer is, who cares?  The actual Ben Mankiewicz just said the words, "Her every slam brings a smile; every piledriver paints a picture." That's what's important. That's awesome.

Written by Miles Schneiderman

Loved: Riho is back!

It feels like the AEW women's division has unfortunately been a bit of an afterthought over the last few weeks, with talent making sporadic appearances or the same handful of individuals being thrown into random matches against each other. Furthermore, Toni Storm has been slated for random defenses since winning the AEW Women's World Championship against opponents who she has no running storyline with. This doesn't look to be the case for much longer, though, with the surprise return of Riho on "Dynamite." The former AEW Women's Champion ran down to the ring after Storm retained her title against Skye Blue, making it clear she was coming for the title.

Riho has been with AEW since its inception and is someone who I feel is massively underrated as a performer. After her long absence from the company, it's nice to see her be given a feud that will inevitably lead to a title match straight away, instead of just making an impact only to slip down the card within a matter of weeks.

Written by Olivia Quinlan

Hated: Adam Copeland and Christian Cage let the air out of the balloon

Adam Copeland and Christian Cage had done a tremendous job building to Wednesday's AEW TNT Championship Match, crafting a bitter, personal story between the two men. Unfortunately, the match was god-awful.

Cage and Copeland's storyline has been so centered on Nick Wayne and Wayne's mother, Shayna, that it felt like Shayna getting involved in the match was a forgone conclusion, forcing Copeland and Cage to sleepwalk their way through a slow, turgid match that refused to ever kick into anything resembling a second gear. They seemed to just be killing time until Shayna finally showed up, hit Copeland with the title, and joined up with Christian's Patriarchy. And for the record, the finish played out exactly as it should have. No swerve, no second-guessing, just do the thing. But it turned the match itself into a sluggish back and forth contest that was mostly bluster, often feeling like an "NXT" main event in slow motion.

Clearly Copeland and Christian are not done — hopefully this is building to a much more heated, much more violent match between the bilious rivals. But Wednesday's match sucked so much drama out of the story that the two stars have a long way back up that particular mountain.

Written by Ross Berman

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