AEW Dynamite 12/27/2023: 3 Things We Loved And 3 Things We Hated

The final "AEW Dynamite" of 2023 has come and gone and it was ultimately a mixed bag. There were some immense highs, especially for the winners of the Gold and Blue Leagues in the AEW Continental Classic, but there were also troubling lows, especially for AEW World Champion and now-former ROH World Tag Team Champion MJF, who found himself with absolutely no friends by the end of Dynamite, his tentative ally swayed by the Devil.

Here are three things the Wrestling Inc. staff loved about "Dynamite" and three things we didn't.

Loved: Samoa Joe vs. MJF Finally Gets Some Heat (Matthew Wilkinson, WINC News Writer)

Samoa Joe challenging MJF for the AEW World Championship was an exciting idea on paper, but the build-up to their match this weekend has been lacking something. A big reason for that is MJF's biggest angle right now is dealing with The Devil, whether it's proving it wasn't him, getting attacked by the henchman, or trying to wrestle against them.

It has taken away some of the heat that had existed between the two of them, and while The Devil is an ongoing angle the World title storyline needs to have some interest from the audience. That is something that AEW attempted to fix tonight with a bit of course direction, as it was revealed that Joe – at the very least – has been working with The Devil.

Joe faked being injured backstage which left MJF to defend his ROH World Tag Team titles alone, and that's something he was unable to do. The big twist came at the end when The Devil popped up on the titantron saying it was a pleasure doing business with you, with Joe then attacking MJF with a steel chair. It was a fun twist that hadn't been speculated on, and showcases that Joe has been working with The Devil.

It's unlikely he is the man behind the mask, but seeing them work together is a smart decision. Joe effectively cost MJF his tag titles – which can play into a wider storyline with Adam Cole, especially if he is The Devil. But most importantly, it gave fans a genuine reason to hate Joe, and not just see him as someone who has acted as MJF's protector. While it's a little late in the game given their match is this weekend, at least AEW attempted to inject some heat between them with a unique twist.

Hated: No One Knows Who The ROH Tag Champions Are (Ross Berman, WINC News Writer)

Ring of Honor is a whole promotion and yet the tag titles are wrapped up in some of AEW's biggest nonsense. While I agree with my esteemed colleague, Mr. Wilkinson, that Samoa Joe going into business with The Devil adds some needed heat to the AEW World Championship Match at Worlds End, the end of "Dynamite" just shows just how far the ROH Tag Titles have fallen since MJF and Adam Cole won them at All In in August. It feels like the belts could be used to help gin up some promotion for ROH's streaming program but instead, the titles have been stuck in the mire.

Even at All In it was a bit frustrating that the tag titles were essentially a warm-up for MJF and Cole before their main event match later that night, but now the titles are literally held by faceless goons. It could be anyone under that mask, but unless it is a team that can actually restore some vim and vigor to the ROH tag division, then it's just more nonsense weighing down a once-prestigious tag title.

Hated: Continental Classic Gold League Doesn't End Clean (Wilkinson)

When AEW announced that the Continental Classic would be a clean tournament most fans rolled their eyes. People expected that at some point someone would turn up at ringside or some shenanigans would come into play, but that hasn't happened and it is one of the reasons the tournament has been so simple and enjoyable to follow. It's simply all about good wrestling with the best man getting the win.

Sadly, that wasn't the case with the finals – at least as far as the Gold League was concerned. While there was some flexibility here due to it being a triple threat match, which means that weapons are technically allowed, that doesn't mean it was needed. The encounter started out with Jay White, Swerve Strickland, and Jon Moxley brawling throughout the fans, and it's something that felt unnecessary.

Those wild brawls are something AEW does well, and this match was very good if it was just looked at as a one-off encounter. However, in the grand scheme of the tournament, it felt out of place to see them wrestling that style, particularly when a steel chair ended up being used several times. While it showcased the wrestlers leaning into the triple threat rules, they're three excellent wrestlers who didn't need to do that.

They could easily have told just as good of a story, and had a match that was equally as entertaining without having to result to that. While it wasn't a disqualification so technically the tournament did remain clean, it was slightly marred in a manner that it didn't need to be, because the use of the chair didn't make the encounter any better.

Loved: Eddie Kingston Slays The Dragon (Berman)

Eddie Kingston's dream of being a Triple Crown Champion like his heroes Kenta Kobashi, Mitsuharu Misawa, Toshiaki Kawada, and Akira Taue is one step closer to being a reality. Kingston's Blue League final match against Bryan Danielson on Wednesday was a thing of beauty. Two men with a long-running history and what can only be described as temperamental personalities smacking the snot out of each other, what more could you ask for from a professional wrestling match.

Danielson tested Kingston's spirit and his body in the punishing match and it took extra effort from Kingston, who struggled initially to lift Danielson for his Kawada-influenced Powerbomb, but the ROH World and NJPW STRONG Openweight Double Champion triumphed over Danielson. The match was a monumental feat of epic proportion, and it's main event weight and luster felt out of place in the middle of an admittedly-flat episode of "Dynamite."

If not for the personal stakes of Kingston's upcoming AEW Continental Classic Final match against Jon Moxley, the match with Danielson would've made a thrilling addition to the Worlds End PPV. Where the Three-Way Gold League final felt like an odd mish-mash of ornery heels, fighting to be the foil to whichever valiant fighter won the Blue League Final, Kingston and Danielson's bout was every bit the Arthurian Legend it needed to be. Kingston's destiny seems steadfast and headed for Triple Crown Glory at Worlds End.

And while we're on the subject of Eddie Kingston...

Loved: Moxley and Kingston's War Of Words (Berman)

Since we're on the topic of Kingston's victory over Bryan Danielson, the win brought him face-to-face with his former friend and bitter rival Jon Moxley. The two men will face each other on Saturday at AEW World's End and had less than 10 minutes to sell fans on the match. While I can't speak for the rest of the fans, the war of words between the two men was bitter, cruel, and heartfelt.

Kingston reminded Moxley that the former AEW World Champion inspired him to not retire from wrestling and Kingston promised to make Moxley regret that, after Moxley promised Kingston he'd have to fight for every inch. Nothing felt rehearsed, Kingston even cut Moxley off mid-promo, reminding the younger star who broke whom into the wrestling business. It's hard to truly convey just how awe-inspiring both men's threats were, without devolving into a myriad of "and then he said this, and then he said that." Simply put, much like the brutal, battering match that preceded it, the final confrontation between Moxley and Kingston before Worlds End was everything that makes professional wrestling great.

Hated: Wasted Days (Berman)

It's been over a year since Swerve Strickland and Keith Lee stopped tagging and became rivals. So long has it been, since their tandem dissolved, that I honestly thought everyone in AEW had simply given up on the program. The two men are now set to face each other on just a few days notice at AEW Worlds End, as if fans are expected to have been keeping this feud in the back of their minds with the one-thousand other active stories in the promotion. AEW is known for long-term storytelling but this is ridiculous.

Strickland is on a hot streak, coming out of the Continental Classic without a truly definitive, crushing loss, meaning that none of his momentum from his bitter war against Hangman Page has not been lost. Bringing back Keith Lee in the name of trying to reignite a cold feud feels like the worst use of Swerve's current heat. AEW wasted time getting to this feud and now it looks like they could end up wasting time with the feud. Just a sad state of affairs for two of the most entertaining wrestlers that the company has, and hopefully a small stepping stone to greater things for Strickland.