AEW Dynamite 2/14/24: 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

Welcome to Wrestling Inc.'s weekly review of "AEW Dynamite," the show where Tony Khan is really banking on the hope that more people will start watching "Collision" if he makes it absolutely vital to understanding anything that happens on Wednesdays. This week's episode officially added Will Ospreay vs. Konosuke Takeshita and The Young Bucks vs. Darby Allin and Sting to the Revolution card, featured a showdown between the three participants in Revolution's AEW world title match, and bizarrely ended with a random Texas Death Match, because Texas. The good news: These are all things we're going to talk about here! The bad news: There's other stuff we're not really talking about, like Adam Copeland vs. Daniel Garcia, or the two segments from the women's division. You can read more about that stuff by going to our live coverage/results page. It won't come up here only because there are other things we felt more strongly about discussing.


Because this is, after all, the home of the WINC staff's strongest opinions, both positive and negative. Did we appreciate Wardlow's dominant performance? Did we take issue with Jon Moxley vs. Dax Harwood? And most importantly, are the Bucks ever going to wash those suits, because they must be starting to reek. Here are three things we hated and three things we loved from the 2/14/24 episode of "AEW Dynamite."

Loved: Dax Harwood and Jon Moxley keep it simple, stupid

Dax Harwood and Jon Moxley are two mean sumbitches that like to fight and it made for dumb, simple, tough guy action to open up this week's "AEW Dynamite."

Dax Harwood is essentially like the band The Black Keys — he wears his influences on his sleeve and rarely does his homages better than the original. Still, none of his influences are "bad," so a serviceable Bret Hart imitation, with shades of Mid-South Scrappers like Ted DiBiase, will always be better than the many love children of Ospreay and Ricochet that populate professional wrestling. Harwood is a journeyman storyteller, a country music singer in the body of a professional wrestler, and he has truly become the definition of his WWE slogan "No Flips, Just Fists."


Moxley also is a seemingly incorruptible presence in the ring. He is seemingly living his dream whenever he's pummeling someone on Wednesday nights. A one-of-a-kind combatant, even his most forgettable matches feel like fights, with just enough blood to set your teeth on edge and enough drama get your heart pumping. Wrestlers who live for combat are a dying breed, making slugfests like this one special.

It's not going to end up on my match-of-the-year list, and it's entirely possible that I will have forgotten about the match by the time next week rolls around, but for roughly 15-20 minutes, Harwood and Moxley brought some classic hard-nosed, knockdown, drag-out professional wrestling to "Dynamite."


Written by Ross Berman

Loved: A squash match! Hooray!

Finally, Wardlow gets the squash match treatment! After going eight-plus minutes with Trent Beretta two weeks ago and five with Komander last week, with Komander getting in a fair amount of offense in against "Mr. Mayhem" and Beretta far more, the big fella was able to get in and out of the ring with a win against Barrett Brown in less than 90 seconds.


It was as simple as a one-handed choke, a knee in the corner to a top rope-perched Brown, and a powerbomb for Wardlow, who even had time to admire himself on the TonyTron (™), flexing and posing and doing something with his singlet straps that I'm sure some folks out there really enjoyed. And then he excused poor, poor Barrett Brown from the ring and back into obscurity with an appropriately impolite nudge of the foot.

Squash matches serve a distinct purpose, and for someone like Wardlow, who previously had his run of referee stoppages thanks to Powerbomb Symphonies, they can be utilized to rebuild the equity he lost when that run of dominance stopped for whatever reason. I still don't understand his inclusion in the Undisputed Kingdom faction or how, when, and where they'll get to whatever that payoff is but hey, we're being positive here, so three cheers for a good ol' squash! (And get well soon, Barrett Brown.)


Written by Jon Jordan

Hated: The Swerve/Hangman double turn isn't working

I've been informed by reliable sources that the finish to Swerve Strickland vs. "Hangman" Adam Page last week was supposed to be a double turn, and judging by the crowd reaction, that is evidently true. I just can't get behind it, probably because I prefer face/heel turns to come in the form of some kind of, like, good or evil act, as opposed to "because one of them started getting bigger pops."


If last week was a double turn, that means that Page is a heel because he refused to go five more minutes with Swerve. That is the weakest heel turn I've ever heard of in my life. It's not even explicitly villainous — Page has been very clear about the fact that his goal here is to prevent Swerve, a legit villain who once broke into Page's house and cut a promo on his sleeping baby, from winning the world title. So no, he wasn't going to give Swerve five more minutes; that would be stupid. It's only seen as a heel move because the guy he's denying is now a babyface, because ... why, exactly? Has Swerve Strickland done one single thing, in character, to merit such a turn? Sure, he cut that "Collision" promo about Black history and shouted out Kofi Kingston and Athena, but that was also the promo where he admitted he's done horrible things and regrets none of them, because he had to do those things to get to the title. That's not a babyface, I'm sorry. AEW's single scariest heel doesn't get to suddenly be a good guy because he wanted five more minutes added to a time limit draw.


But here we are. This week, Swerve is out there cutting the same promo every AEW babyface cuts about how people told him he would never make it, etc, etc, and after Page is finished inexplicably recycling dril tweets, he's already in full-on delusional heel mode. And this is why AEW's programming almost never connects with me — the characters and the narratives are too inconsistent to resonate. They don't grow or change in ways that feel natural, they just become whatever Tony Khan needs them to be. I don't believe any of it, at least not from these two. Personally, at Revolution, I will be rooting for the champion to retain, because Samoa Joe was so much better this week than everyone around him. As usual.

Written by Miles Schneiderman

Loved: An AEW PPV with an actual build

AEW and Tony Khan are notorious for announcing an entire pay-per-view card of random matches in one night, but it seems as though that might be changing. While there are some interesting choices being made in the build-up to Revolution, such as Will Ospreay and Konosuke Takeshita going up against one another and Darby Allin and Sting defending the AEW World Tag Team Championship in Sting's retirement match rather than facing each other one-on-one, there is actual build-up to the pay-per-view card this time.


Storytelling is such an integral part of professional wrestling, but has been something that I have personally felt has been a lacking component of AEW programming. Not having it makes matches feel less special or important, and has definitely impacted weekly programming for better or for worse. That being said, there are actual storylines heading into the March 3 show, and reasons for matches being on the card. It's quite the welcome change from last year's habit of having seven matches either with limited build — or for no other reason beyond just being cool to see play out.

Written by Olivia Quinlan

Hated: Rankings be damned, already

In a declaration that surprised absolutely nobody, The Young Bucks will now officially challenge Darby Allin and Sting for the AEW Tag Team Championships at Revolution on March 3. Matt(hew) and Nick(holas), apparently, have enough stroke to launch themselves up the new-and-not-so-improved-or-important AEW rankings on the heels of a win over Top Flight despite the fact that they came in outside the top five, leapfrogging FTR, Private Party, Top Flight themselves, Jon Moxley & Claudio Castagnoli, and Ricky Starks & Big Bill. Plus, the rankings are still not updated here at press time, so how can I take these things seriously? Answer: I can't. What in the world is the point?


Beyond that, there was more mess from this segment to sift through, starting with The Bucks still wearing the same blood-stained suits from last week when they busted up Allin and wore his bodily fluid like a badge of honor. The week gone by has rendered said stains to look more like diarrhea splotches than actual blood (at least on TV) but that wasn't the biggest question mark I took out of this portion of tonight's show.

When Allin hit the ring to prevent The Bucks from hitting the EVP Trigger on Tony Schiavone of all people, he dressed down his soon-to-be Revolution opponents, railing on them for making him have to beg for a job when AEW began, while their "s*** friends" got hired (and he crapped all over Brandon Cutler, specifically). That's all well and good, but as he expounded on his point, he referenced "an EVP here with a cent of brains" at the time he was hired (and made sure everyone knew he wasn't talking about Kenny Omega), which inspired the Austin, Texas crowd to let loose with a "Cody" chant! You know, Cody? The guy who left AEW two years ago and is currently feuding with The Rock and Roman Reigns and about to headline WrestleMania for the second year in a row?


Who thought that was a good idea?

This wasn't the worst segment I've ever seen, but it was messy through and through, from interesting rankings math to poop stains to chants for a WWE star. Can they not do better?

Written by Jon Jordan

Hated: Matt Taven losing hurts an already wounded Undisputed Kingdom

Booking a last-minute Texas Death Match is one thing, but the finish of the match was another. There's no denying that Orange Cassidy is a much bigger star in AEW than Matt Taven, being a current champion and someone who Tony Khan is always behind, but there's a time and a place for a champion to lose. Tonight's main event was one of those times.


Sure, Taven isn't one of the main event singles stars, but he is a member of AEW's newest and supposedly hottest faction. The Undisputed Kingdom has already got off to a difficult start due to Adam Cole being injured, the storyline with MJF being on halt, and Wardlow almost getting hurt. Therefore having one of their members lose a main event match when they have a numbers advantage and a plethora of weapons makes no sense.

With Cassidy set to defend his International Championship against Roderick Strong at AEW Revolution, having him lose here would've added another layer to that story. Strong and Mike Benett got involved in the match, and the idea that a bloodied and beaten Cassidy could get past them all to win didn't make the group look good. If AEW wants fans to still care about Undisputed Kingdom by the time MJF and Cole are back, then the other members have to be taken seriously and not just as goons who can be beaten up with ease.


Taven was involved in several major bumps throughout the match, so he didn't exactly look weak. However, this would've been an opportune to time to provide an upset win, and stacked the deck against Cassidy even more heading into the upcoming PPV.

Written by Matthew Wilkinson