AEW Dynamite 1/31/24: 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

Welcome to Wrestling Inc.'s weekly review of "AEW Dynamite!" Tonight's episode of AEW's flagship show offered fans some interesting developments this week — "Hangman" Adam Page and Swerve Strickland chose each other's opponents, some luchadores from CMLL attacked Jon Moxley, and "Timeless" Toni Storm claimed that someone pissed in her chair during a match between Deonna Purrazzo and Taya Valkyrie. That wasn't all, of course; check out our live coverage/results page for a full rundown of the rest of the evening's festivities.

But if you're here, we're guessing you're looking for commentary, opinion, and analysis, all of which you're free to reject outright and let us know your own thoughts. What did the WINC staff make of Moxley's match against Jeff Hardy? Were we amused by Matt and Nick Matthew and Nicholas Jackson's heelish actions? What'd we think of the opponents Strickland and Page chose for each other? These are three things we hated and three things we loved about the 1/31/24 episode of "AEW Dynamite."

LOVED: Swerve... swerved with two surprises

Last week, I wrote that I loved the concept of the "Dealer's Choice" matches where "Hangman" Adam Page and Swerve Strickland would choose each other's opponents. Page and Strickland are two of my favorites in the company right now, and I love how they're competing with each other to get a shot at Samoa Joe's AEW World Championship. I will admit, that one opponent, once revealed, didn't 100% thrill me. Page's match with Toa Liona was perfectly acceptable, but I don't think it really put butts in seats when it comes to drawing power for ticket sales in New Orleans. But I digress, the match I really loved, my favorite match on tonight's "Dynamite," was Swerve versus Rob Van Dam. What can I say – I'm a sucker for a good legend appearance, ESPECIALLY when that legend can still go. Like the chants in the crowd said, RVD has still got it.

What really got me for this main event was the fact "Hangman" pulled a swerve on Swerve and let him know on the jumbotron that he didn't just choose the opponent — he chose the match stipulation. And boy, am I a sucker for a good hardcore match, and you're telling me you're putting an ECW guy in one? Sign me up. Yes, please. On a show that was pretty darn lackluster in my humble opinion, a surprise hardcore match did a lot of good. From chairs, to tables, to even a little interference with Brian Cage and Hook, it really had it all. I also thought RVD and Swerve worked extremely well together.

Page coming out after the match to settle things with Strickland logistically, for lack of a better term, was also what "Dynamite" needed. Strickland had a good point that he has already beaten Page twice, but Page countered with the fact it took the entire Mogul Embassy to take him out. Strickland said he'd give Page one more shot at him, and it will officially be happening next week on "Dynamite." As a newer "Dynamite" viewer, when exciting things get set up a week in advance, it makes me very happy to have something to look forward to. The winner of that match will then go on to face Joe at Revolution, thus wrapping all of this up in a nice little bow ahead of AEW's next pay-per-view. It was a 10/10 match and following segment, in my book.

Written by Daisy Ruth

HATED: Wardlow Outstays His Welcome

Wardlow's booking for the past year has been puzzling at best, and terrible at worst. However, placing him in the Undisputed Kingdom has given him some direction as of late, with "Mr. Mayhem" being the heater of the group. He's been getting ring time lately to put on dominant displays, but his match tonight against Komander suffered the same issue as his bout with Trent Beretta last week: it lasted too long. 

AEW doesn't tend to do many all-out squashes, as the company prefers encounters to be competitive, therefore the masked man was able to have some moments to shine here. But when it is Wardlow who the creative is for, it would have been in everyone's interest to just let him run through Komander, rather than seeing him attempt to sell and act like he was beaten down by just a few light kicks. 

There were times when it seemed like the match could've been wrapped up, but then it dragged on another few minutes, and that didn't help Wardlow. Instead, it hurts him, and in the case of this week that was in the literal sense. The match dragged on too long and things got sloppy, with Kommander landing a move from the top turnbuckle directly onto Wardlow's throat, while his knee then seemed to give way as he delivered his Powerbomb finisher. 

The big man could be seen visibly clutching at his neck while he also limped around the ring at points, which was concerning. Of course, everyone is hoping that he walked away from this with just a few scrapes and that he will be good to go as soon as possible, and these were just freak accidents that do happen in the ring. However, keeping this short and sweet and allowing Wardlow to look more dominant until AEW has a real rivalry for him to sink his teeth into would have worked out better in this particular slot. 

Written by Matthew Wilkinson

LOVED: Adam Page Outlasts a Dude

I have love in my heart, "AEW Dynamite" friends. I don't start out looking for stuff to rail on here. And with that, I'm excited to praise what I see as logic applied to logical situations. Tonight, I was most pleased, not with the choice by Swerve Strickland of Mogul Embassy member Toa Liona of, you know, ALL people, as Adam Page's opponent, but with the end result, which was a Page win.

It was rather cool to see the majority of the first portion of the match — and all of picture-in-picture (why are we still doing picture-in-picture?) — in Liona's favor (because good for him!), only for the main event player that Page is supposed to be take right over after the fact. I mean, at some point, your former World Heavyweight Champion (and purported current contender) should probably outright wax a guy who is 0-4 in singles competition in AEW and also below .500 in tag team appearances (you know, because rankings matter!)

And I'm not even all that bothered by the fact that Liona essentially no-sold a Deadeye, if only because the hero prevailed in the end here. See, gang? What I'm pleased with and loving all over here is simply this: Adam "Hangman" Page beat a guy he was supposed to beat. I could have hated the fact that he lost to said guy but he didn't. So here we are, praising a logical finish to an AEW match with (egad!) no post-match shenanigans either!

HATED: The New Young Bucks

Wow, these new characters are not working out very well for Matt and Nick Jackson.

Sorry, let me try that again.

These new characters are not working out for Nicholas Lee and Matthew Ron John, EVPs of All Elite Wrestling.

From fining an employee for not calling them by the names on their birth certificates to confronting Darby Allin backstage and taking shots at Sting, The Young Bucks left an impression — and not a good one. There's something about these new heel personas that just isn't gelling with me, and over the past few weeks, they've accomplished nothing except using their high status within AEW to get television time and put themselves over.

If all that wasn't enough, it seems to be pretty clear that The Bucks will get involved in Allin and Sting's match for the AEW World Tag Team Championships next week to act as a catalyst for the inevitable Revolution match between all four men. I've accepted the fact that they insist on doing it for Sting's final wrestling match ever, but there are more creative ways that the build-up to it could be done aside from the usual shenanigans especially when you consider that they have just a little more than a full month left before the pay-per-view.

LOVED: Deonna Purrazzo Looks Like A Star

AEW's women's division has been the biggest complaint that fans have had about the company from day one, and Tony Khan has brought in a plethora of people to try to fix that such as Saraya. However, it appears that Deonna Purrazzo could be the answer people have been looking for all along, as she might just have what it takes to be the catalyst that gets the division going to the level that the roster deserves with her rivalry against Toni Storm. 

Her presentation since joining the company has been perfect, and that continued on this show. From the small detail of explaining the history of her and Storm's matching tattoo — which added backstory to the rivalry, thus creating some emotional connection — to the fact that she is presented as a legitimate star all help to create a compelling character that people can invest in. 

While this was still only one female segment on the show, constricted to its usual timeslot, Purrazzo and Taya Valkyrie more than made the most of their time. They had a competitive match — which was one of Valkyrie's strongest showings in an AEW ring — that didn't overstay its welcome to the point where it hurt the eventual winner, Purrazzo. She allowed Valkyrie to get her stuff in, but dominated enough to show why she's the one chasing after Storm. 

The AEW Women's World Champion was on commentary to play her part as well, but it was Purrazzo truly doing all the heavy lifting this week. Whether or not the company goes all the way and puts the strap on her at AEW Revolution remains to be seen, but with all the whispers about a potential "Legit Boss" arriving soon, Purrazzo is certainly positioning herself at the top of the division and proving why people should be just as hyped about her. 

HATED: The opening match, featuring Jon Moxley vs. Jeff Hardy

This one is hard, because we really root for Jeff Hardy. He seems to be battling his demons one day at a time and admirably so, but he's been on such a downturn of late that it's hard to separate the hard times the man himself has endured from the singles record he's maintained, if you want to approach it from a smark perspective.

For three consecutive weeks, Hardy has done the job in singles action and it's obvious his dedication to his craft, specifically when it comes to elevating other talent, is about as strong as his appreciation for his fans. Stories abound about Hardy and the grace he's show in fan interactions at live events and the patience with which he's handled demanding autograph seekers.

While it's a bummer to see how the match was booked, it's also understandable, considering what we saw in the ring. Hardy looked like he was moving in slow motion in some spots, including a Twist of Fate on the ring apron. He's still very agile; there's no debating that. But watching Jeff Hardy perform feels like seeing a well oiled machine that has, nonetheless, seen better days.

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