AEW Dynamite 01/24/24: 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

Welcome to Wrestling Inc.'s weekly review of "AEW Dynamite," the show that has rankings again to make it easier to explain why certain people are getting title shots — pay no attention to the Gates of Agony trios title match behind the curtain! And indeed, the Gates of Agony vs. the Acclaimed is one of the many things from this week's "Dynamite" we will not be discussing here. Want to know more about what Samoa Joe said at the start of the show, or about Adam Page vs. Penta El Zero Miedo, or maybe about Sting and Darby Allin getting a tag team championship match? Check out our live coverage/results page, because that's where you'll find it. This column is dedicated only to the things that moved the WINC staff most strongly toward happiness or rage.

With that in mind — how do we think the Young Bucks' new characters are coming along? Were we excited to see Jeff Hardy? And most importantly, how significant is the shift from black and white to color during the reveal that Toni Storm and Deonna Purrazzo have matching ankle tattoos? Here are three things we hated and three things we loved about the 1/24/2024 episode of "AEW Dynamite."

Hated: The Young Bucks go full Vince Russo

The Young Bucks crossed the Rubicon on the twenty-fourth day of the first month of the year, at the worst time, and in the worst way.

On Wednesday's "Dynamite," the Bucks appeared, were promptly handed TV formats, and proceeded to read from them, declaring that certain matches were "bangers." They then ran into two of their employees and threatened to fine them. AEW programming has officially gone so far up its own ass that it is somehow coming out its own mouth, with the latest inside baseball bulls*** feeling like a direct homage to the classless, juiceless programming of Vince Russo's WCW, or TNA Wrestling in the Hogan/Bischoff years. It didn't help that the Bucks were channeling 2000s WCW on an undersold show with a woefully dead crowd. Do they want AEW to suffer the same fate? I've never seen a company come back from this in a way that mattered (sorry TNA fans, but it's true).

The history of televised wrestling suggests that wrestling fans don't like being reminded they're watching a scripted TV show with a format and production. They want to suspend disbelief for however long the show lasts. This isn't a play by Bertolt Brecht or a Jean-Luc Godard film — breaking the immersion only hurts the other wrestlers on the show and pushes fans away. It makes everything feel "fake," and "fake" is the kiss of death for wrestling.

I originally wanted this to be more vitriolic, to have a little more punch to it, but when I think about AEW going down the Vince Russo rabbit hole, I become depressed. Usually, AEW's badness leads to some kind of entertainment, or at least some kind of prose poem, but for the first time since the company opened in 2019, I got the vibe that it could die — and die quickly. I had a vision of the WWE-produced documentary, with talking heads lamenting the stacked roster being undone by feckless programming.

I've seen the future, brother, and it is fake.

Written by Ross Berman

Loved: Dealer's Choice for Hangman & Swerve

Since the "Dynamite" Homecoming special from Daily's Place two weeks ago, I've really been enjoying the AEW World Championship picture and Samoa Joe having multiple guys coming after him for the title, especially when it comes to two of my favorites within the company, "Hangman" Adam Page and Swerve Strickland. That doesn't mean I wasn't excited about last week's Hook match, I just think we all knew how that was going to end, and the unncessary social media banter started by AEW CEO Tony Khan around that match didn't help matters for me. But, I digress. When Strickland and Page came out to challenge Joe that night, I was hooked. Last week's show didn't do much for me in regards to these two men fighting for their shot at Joe's title, with Strickland just being shown in the crowd during a "Hangman" match, but this week definitely amped things back up.

Both Page and Strickland won their matches tonight against Penta and Jeff Hardy, respectively, keeping them looking strong and keeping their momentum up, but neither man, and this might sound terrible, defeated another wrestler that is currently on their level of star power. What I really was all about on this episode between Strickland and Page, however, was actually something that's going to take place next week, but just the announcement of it was exciting. They are going to be involved in "Dealer's Choice" matches, meaning Page will pick Strickland's opponent and vice versa. I feel like that is something I haven't seen in recent memory across both companies, and I really like that for its unknown aspect for both us the audience, as well as the competitors. Both these guys are gunning for the World Championship, so they're obviously going to pick opponents for each other that are going to absolutely smack the crap out of them and hopefully put on two great matches. Outside of Strickland probably picking a member of the Mogul Embassy, I don't have a single clue as to who "Hangman" is going to get on his side. With a show that was pretty lackluster across the board for me this week, I'm already looking forward to next week's "Dynamite" simply for these two matches thus far, and that's more than I could say heading into tonight's show.

Written by Daisy Ruth

Hated: We're not using our time wisely

I'm blessed to earn money by watching this show. Otherwise, honestly, at this point, I absolutely wouldn't. I want it to be better. I really do. Tonight, it was simply without a pulse. I don't know if that was the pathetic attendance numbers and the audio and lighting issues that came with that or what the deal was but for a show I'm not enthralled by eight times out of 10, this time, I could hardly stay awake — no exaggeration, if not for the WINC newsroom chat, I'd have been exploring Dream World halfway through. But what's more valuable than money? Why, kids, that would be our most precious commodity: time. And AEW didn't use its time wisely tonight at all.

Exhibit A: Eight-plus minutes for Wardlow and Trent Beretta (really?)

Exhibit B: A shade under 14 for Swerve Strickland and Jeff Hardy (what?)

Exhibit Punch-Me-In-the-Face: Roughly 9.5 for Adam Copeland (that's "Edge" to Taz) and Minoru Suzuki (which, okay, that match was fun, but we had to go into overrun? Really? TONIGHT?)

We could talk, as I'm sure we've done time and again, about how AEW missed the boat with Wardlow following his TNT title run(s), but let's live in the present for the moment which entails this dude, positioned as a monster more often than not, as well he should be, now playing lackey to "Hopalong" Adam Cole and his Midcard Menagerie. What's to come of that? Who knows? But if we're led to believe that he'll just hand the AEW World Championship to Cole someday, he'll have to be in the mix first. And if it takes him that long to dispose of Trent Beretta, that's a long way off.

We could talk about why in the world Jeff Hardy is even getting 14 minutes of television time on this company's centerpiece show at this point but I'm sure that point needs not even be made. Want to slow down someone as hot as Swerve, in storyline and in the match itself? Hot damn! Give him Jeff Hardy! That was a drag. And Swerve should not be involved in drags whatsoever.

And as for Copeland/Suzuki, I'd get after how Adam is just another dude now (already), main eventing against a fellow 50-something on a Wednesday, mind you, but unlike AEW, I'm mindful of your time. And I've had enough tonight too. Cheers.

Written by Jon Jordan

Loved: Toni Storm and Deonna Purrazzo bring out the best in each other

Toni Storm has been a one-woman show for the last few months. Sure, she's had opponents, but the entire draw to her on-screen presence has been "What is Toni Storm gonna do this week?"

That's changed with Deonna Purrazzo. The segment between Purrazzo and Storm on Wednesday was utterly inspired. AEW has finally worked out the kinks in Storm's black & white presentation, leading to some inventive staging for the war of words. The segment was already getting chuckles from me when Storm said she would "twist [Deonna's] lips so hard that [she'd] need an epidural" in a Hays Code-skirting threat that would be right at home in a Billy Wilder script, but when Purrazzo revealed the matching tattoos that the two women got during their time in Japan, the segment took on a deeper, personal element. When Storm showed her tattoo and it appeared in color instead of black & white, it became not only a reminder of their friendship, but a reminder of who Storm was before she was the delusional starlet that she is today.

I hope "Timeless" Toni Storm can stay "Timeless" forever, but if this is truly the way that Storm will be brought back to reality,\ I simply cannot gripe. It's a thoroughly well-told story, not only on an emotional level but on a cinematic level. The fact that both Storm and Purrazzo are good enough in the ring that the match is an assured hit is just icing on the already rich, delicious cake.

Written by Ross Berman

Hated: Setting the women's division up to fail

There was actually a decent amount of stuff going on with the AEW women's division this week (though of course, only one match), with Taya Valkyrie inserting herself into the feud between Toni Storm and Deonna Purrazzo. But then they announced that Serena Deeb's return match — her first match of any kind in 15 months — and it's on this Saturday's episode of "Collision." You know, while the Royal Rumble is happening.

It didn't help that the women's match this week involved Thunder Rosa, so I was already thinking about what should have been treated as big returns in the women's division that AEW completely botched. Rosa was also gone for over a year, aside from a single backstage cameo that teased her involvement in "Collision" over the summer. And while "Collision" was where the former AEW Women's World Champion did finally return, it wasn't until the very end of 2023, by which time any potential buzz about her comeback had evaporated. Now here she is, wrestling Red Velvet on "Dynamite," feeling significantly less important to the AEW landscape than the likes of Skye Blue or Mariah May. And now Deeb, Rosa's longtime rival, will get her big return to the ring on a show that's about to get absolutely crushed in the ratings by one of WWE's hottest events of the year.

There really seem to be people out there who believe the state of the AEW women's division is improving, especially if they land Mercedes Mone as many expect them to. But I've seen how AEW's big female free agent signings go over time (neither Saraya nor Ruby Soho was on this episode, so no updates on their respective relationship angles with Harley Cameron and Angelo Parker) and I'm currently witnessing how AEW treats their own female stars returning from injury, let alone outside talent, and I'm not sure even a superstar like Mone could overcome the division's utterly disinterested presentation. As I've been saying for almost two years now, I will believe Tony Khan cares about the women of AEW when I see it, and not before.

Written by Miles Schneiderman

Loved: Adam Copeland and Minoru Suzuki put on a must-see main event

There wasn't any doubt in my mind that this was going to be a good match, and it definitely lived up to my expectations.

Adam Copeland and Minoru Suzuki put on a fantastic back and forth bout that showcased the skills of two highly respected veterans in the business today. From Copeland sending Suzuki crashing through the barricade to the brutal Sleeper Suzuki locked in on Copeland to the many strikes that were exchanged, the main event was fantastic from top to bottom for me. For a show that I otherwise felt ambivalent about, this was easily the highlight and kept my attention from the opening moments.

"Dynamite" can be a hit-or-miss show from week to week, but one common thread I can't help but have noticed over the past several weeks is the feeling that everything is put together at the last second. The card seems to always be full of random matches that are unrelated to any sort of storyline, and although this match was no exception as it stemmed from Copeland's desire to wrestle Suzuki, it did tie into the TNT Championship feud between Copeland and Cage. While I do think the storyline is starting to lose a bit of steam, I can appreciate Copeland's use of the Killswitch to keep Suzuki down for the three count in order accomplish something other than simply giving Copeland a win and keeping him looking strong.

Written by Olivia Quinlan