AEW Dynamite:Road Rager 6/15/2022 Review


This event came from the Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis, MO and seemed pretty hot as far as the crowd was concerned. However, to me the show was lukewarm at best in terms of presentation and I felt like the bad people were in charge again because this was a pure stinker.

Jericho Vs. Ortiz Hair vs Hair Match

There have been hair vs hair matches in the past that stood out to me. Manami Toyota vs Toshiyo Yamada, Kerry/Kevin Von Erich vs Gino Hernandez/Gentleman Chris Adams, Aja Kong/Bison Kimura vs Bull Nakano/Kyoko Inoue, Roddy Piper vs “Adorable” Adrian Adonis. This match was just bleh as there was no emotion behind it which would put the baby face in peril to really get the crowd going compared to what these other matches did. Maybe in Chris Jericho’s mind he thought his hair was important enough to make this seem like a big deal but the problem was that no one could ever believe that Ortiz would win. His hair never has been an issue and probably he needed a hair cut. In the other cases I’ve mentioned, the stipulation was always a big deal because of the people involved. Like when Toyota saw her partner getting her hair being shaved off, she went into an emotional tantrum where the kohai’s at ringside had to hold her down. Or in that Von Erich vs Hernandez/Adams match the girls in the crowd would go wild whenever there was a near pinfall, especially on the Von Erichs because they didn’t want to see Kerry (especially) have his beautiful locks shorn. And Adonis was so hated after what he had done to Piper in ’86 that this was the pay off everyone wanted to see.

Because Ortiz has been classified as a tag wrestler, him facing Jericho with this stipulation was worthless. If maybe the stipulation was against 2.0, then perhaps the match would’ve had more heat because both teams are more on an equal playing field and 2.0 in particular are jokers that could use the bald cut to be akin to the two cadets in the original Police Academy movie. The only way this stipulation would’ve been worth something is if Bryan Danielson was the one involved since both are on a similar level and that Bryan has long hair. Otherwise, this match was meh with too many stupid elements that is typical of Jericho matches lately to disguise his age and the fact that he doesn’t have a good mind for pro-wrestling anymore without someone in charge producing his segments for him and limiting his bad ideas.

The Sammy Guevara “turn” here (or rather official turn) was the only good thing about the match just because it solidifies him and it’s consistent with his “character”. They need to get rid of Jake Hager but I’m willing to bet Jericho is protecting him in a Brutus Beefcake manner to Hulk Hogan. Tony, just remember that Brutus cost WCW and other promotions a ton of money that ended up going nowhere except up some guy’s nose.

Wardlow Vs. More Job Guys

I couldn’t watch more than a minute of this garbage. There were moments where these idiots facing Wardlow just waited until he was ready so that they could get in position to be throttled. I hated it and it’s not Wardlow’s fault here because the guy in charge has no clue how to produce him. All this shit has to be over the top rather than letting the guy just wrestle. Goldberg’s success wasn’t about him going through 20 guys simultaneously. It was the slow build where people noticed he was beating lower tiered guys one by one every week and getting momentum. He looked strong, had a great visual and the climb to the top was gradual. The moment where he got really over, he took out a bunch of NWO guys. But it wasn’t 20 guys simultaneously in a bad stipulation. He basically was representing WCW and was one of the few figures besides Sting that looked like a huge difference maker in that WCW vs NWO war. But watch Tony Khan just throw this shit into oblivion because he’s paired Wardlow with another outlaw indy guy with a terrible gimmick who should be tossed.

There was some aftermath with Wardlow getting confronted by two UFC guys at the behest of Dan Lambert, who has long worn out his welcome. And they shook so that Wardlow could powerbomb Mark Sterling. Thanks for coming indy job guy. Hope you get back to the indies where you belong.

Dax Harwood Vs. Will Ospreay

They hyped this as a “dream match” but you gotta wonder who’s fevered dream? People in the know realize Dax is good. And Ospreay mostly has a reputation from various past flippy fake fights against Riccochet. But just like Ortiz vs Jericho, this match wasn’t about a strong singles competitor vs a top guy. This was a guy that internally people know can wrestle going against a cult favorite. So this is Tony Khan masturbating with ketchup without realizing that he’s hurting his tag team division putting him in a match that has a bunch of fancy moves but doesn’t move the needle on his business. Also, once more we knew who would win because Dax isn’t a singles wrestler, even though he probably can be if they pushed him as well as Will needing to get his win back since his team lost to a guy who had been positioned as a job guy for a long time on the Rampage show.

This was a one off match because both guys got a lot in with near falls on a bunch of end game moves that got the crowd going. But whoever produced this match probably thought, “Well if both guys continue to kick out of each others’ top moves, it’ll make them look strong!” No, only the winner looks strong.

Then the bullshit started to happen with all the NJPW run ins and Cash coming out solo to help his partner, only to look like shit because he was overwhelmed and the rest of the clusterfuck until look who’s back comes in. They cleared the ring so that everything would stop for Orange Cassidy to get his in ring moment that no one really cared about in a face off against Will Ospreay. So a clown guy facing another person whom I think wrestles like a clown. You mean, you couldn’t just have Orange Cassidy face Will Ospready in singles at this event because AEW needs to have the music entrance comeback gift wrapped surprise for stroking a wrestler’s ego moment? It was so bad that the face team (i.e. AEW) came back in the ring to collectively give the thumbs up. God this was horrible. NJPW vs UWF it ain’t.

Jon Moxley and Tanahashi Face Off

Will the pain ever end? I honestly did not mind Moxley’s promo. I thought he did a reasonable job summing up what he wanted and his hunt for Tanahashi. Then Jericho inexplicably came out and the whole segment fell apart. Poor Tanahashi got two words in after Jericho showed up. It’s like why are you putting one of the most disappointing people back out there again? Why can’t we just get a mano-e-mano segment where two people can get their promos in? It got worse because more people showed up in some NJPW guy I couldn’t recognize, Sammy coming out with Tay Conti so that they could get cheap heat in tonguing and it took forever until people chased Jericho’s group out of the ring. Right now Forbidden Door should be called Forbidden to Buy because I wouldn’t put a penny down if that’s how much it would cost to watch that thing. Does Tony Khan think that just by flooding the ring with a bunch of people that it’ll make people want to buy this garbage PPV? This is partly why I’m scared of what’s going on with the WWE right now (more on that later).

Oh yeah, also Lance Archer showed up. Huh? Tony needs to get rid of this guy so he can go back to Impact and win a title. Stop shoving a guy that hasn’t been over and won’t get over with all the fresh talent in place. Just having a guy on TV in a nobody position doesn’t mean it’s worth the effort/spot. He adds nothing just like Jake Hager and a bunch of other guys Tony should let their contracts expire. I’m not sorry for saying that. Time to freshen up that roster.

Ethan Page Vs. Miro All-Atlantic Qualifier Title Match

I’ll get to the whole All-Atlantic Title thing in a second but I was originally intrigued by this match. Miro hadn’t been on TV for some time and Page needs a push. I tried to avoid spoilers before watching this because I had no idea who would actually win. But I did see the winner while trying to get updates on the latest WWE controversy so that just left the match. I actually gave Ethan Page a chance here because he is a big guy, can move and isn’t that bad in the ring. When you size up Miro against Ethan, Ethan actually comes out taller of the two, which surprised me.

Now, Miro was (surprisingly) the babyface here. He actually sold a lot in this match for Ethan surprisingly and I would’ve accepted that except that Miro needs to look like a beast to be over. However, Miro is good with his limited arsenal at getting the crowd involved because he pauses, signals to the crowd and calls out to them. So people stay with him even though him selling against Ethan isn’t what the crowd wants to see. This wasn’t a great match but I enjoyed it because it wasn’t goofy and showed a new side to Miro while having the right result. I still predict Miro will win this thing. Hopefully, it’s not Pac because Pac just hasn’t proved much to me but Miro is great and I like the guy and his gimmick. However, I have no idea what his promos are going to be like going forward because he is the babyface that’s speaking against God. Maybe “God” in this case is just a metaphor for Tony Khan?

Let’s segue slightly and talk about the All-Atlantic Title. Obviously, this was become their version of the Intercontinental title but it’s such a stupid name with a stupid stipulation. Why not call it the Non-American title or something that has nothing to doing with a geographic body of water? Also, how did the people get qualified for this? Why isn’t there a specific ranking system that’s visible to show who can qualify for such a thing given Tony’s masturbatory fetishism for stats? At any rate, it’s just another gratuitous title to make some guy who won’t see world title gold. I still say that they should’ve gotten their own version of a cruiserweight title so the goofball gymnasts can be categorized and play with each other and not embarrass the heavyweights.

Sydal and Dante Martin Backstage Promo

And this is exactly why they need a cruiserweight title. So Dante Martin, a lanky high flyer, will be taking on Jon Moxley, who is taking on Tanahashi and probably is AEW’s #4 biggest star. Is anyone willing to give Dante Martin a lick of a chance to beat Moxley while Moxley is en route to focusing on NJPW’s biggest star? Dante’s abyssal promo skills coupled with the pre-puberty voice of Matt Sydal is like shoving a rusted needle through your pee hole. The chance of you avoiding tetanus is probably the same percentage as Dante winning that match and it’s the same reason that this type of booking doesn’t draw ratings.

Toni Storm Vs. Britt Baker

This was the other thing I wanted to see. Britt Baker has reached that stale point in AEW where she needs to go away for a while because she’s been overexposed, she’s not improving, her gimmick is as interesting right now as counting the holes on my ceiling and she needs to start losing. But the good thing is that she did lose finally and to a worthy opponent who can add some freshness to this division. The match itself wasn’t very good and again to me shows that Britt can’t carry as someone who has been positioned in a top spot in the company. Toni isn’t great either but at least she’s fresh. They did a thing where Thunder Rosa chased off Jamie Hayter (but not Rebel, what?) and later came back out so that Toni and Thunder could point at each other, signaling that Toni will probably be her next opponent. I don’t think that match will be good but at least it positions Toni further up the card and gives Thunder someone new to work with.

The one good spot in the match that I liked was where Toni seemingly hit Britt with a stiff looking corner hip attack. Britt sold it with the ref checking her out as though she might’ve been had a concussion and for a second I bought it. It turned out to be a feint but Toni eventually got the Storm’s End for the pin. Quite honestly, I wish Britt would sell more like that in her matches because I was convinced she was legitimately hurt. See, that’s why selling is good! You feel the drama arise from your concern with the people.

Stokely Hathaway Backstage Segment

Stokely can talk without a doubt. He reminds me a bit of Theodore R Long back in the day. It’s a shame that modern wrestling makes a guy like that goofier than he should be because he definitely has the verbal skills. Then out comes Willow Nightengale who got promo time in. She’s been jobbed non-stop in AEW on the Dark shows so why does she suddenly get this moment? Her promo was very cringe. Just artificial, too much winking to the camera, trying to be smart without saying anything witty or of value. So again I ask this rhetorical question: why should anyone care about this upcoming match? It’s just another gratuitous win for Jade until she faces Athena. But I have a feeling Jade is going to be more over as time passes because she’s got height, she seems to have a great attitude behind the scenes, she’s quite beautiful, she looks fantastic physically. She just needs the critical reps to get her skills down and for whatever reason Tony Khan won’t let her wrestle as much as possible. She’s one person I wish would take a bunch of indy bookings or show up on Impact, NWA, etc. so that she can get more experience without the whole AEW TV umbrella putting pressure on her to be perfect.

Adam Page Promo

What the hell was this? This was just flat out confusing. Can’t they just send Adam Page back home for a while so that he’s given time to rethink himself and be repackaged? So he’s now a face again for no good reason after having all those doubts and decides to go after the IWGP title where he calls himself a dumb ass since the guy he wanted to face no longer is the champion. Then Adam Cole comes back out so that they, again, for whatever reason, re-ignite their heatless feud so that Jay White can ambush Page, make Page look like an even dumber ass while he just lied on the ring as Jay White gave an inordinately lengthy and equally meandering speech so that he brushes off Adam Cole, who supposedly had been cheering this jobber on, to make Adam Cole look like the fool that he is as he’s now speechless while Jay White prances around thinking he’s the star. What the fuck just went on? Can people stop turning on each other for no good reason? Is Tony Khan that bitter of an individual that he only sees people constantly as backstabbers that must shove their fingers up each others’ bungholes every week because that’s Tony Khan’s view on life? Does Tony Khan have an original thought in his head that does not involve constant swerves and turns that have no impact because there’s no precedent set, no motivation, no real emotional investment? This whole segment was garbage because it made no sense and went nowhere.

You can’t tell me that they needed this convoluted segment just so that Adam Cole can eventually face Jay White. You can’t tell me that this should set up Adam Page vs Jay White because Jay White’s interview made zero sense. When Jay starts saying, “I’ll call the shots!” then who is he going to face? Is it going to be a nonsense three way just to allow White to retain? Man, if I was NJPW I’d stay away from AEW just because it’s embarrassingly bad. The creative is so bad and nonsensical that without a guy like Punk or MJF to hold together a segment, the whole show just falls apart quickly. Guys like Adam Page need an HBK, HHH etc producing them to get the most effectiveness. It’s so bloody clear now.

Jurassic Express Vs. Young Bucks for the Tag Title Belts in a Ladder Match

I basically skipped this. It went on forever, I didn’t care and either result was going to be wrong. So the Young Bucks won their titles back and now we have to suffer through them while FTR and O’Reilly/Fish are off doing their own things rather than being the guys at the top. There were a few good things that came out of this situation (because I refuse to call what they do a match): 1) Luchasaurus no longer is a title holder (thank god!); 2) Christian Cage FINALLY turned on Jungle Boy. Now, this was the ONLY turn I could accept. Christian has been building towards this for a while. He’s been clearly frustrated, they showed the small moments leading up to this point and he’s not been used in any meaningful manner. Plus I fucking hate Jungle Jabronie and seeing the con chairto shot made me happy.

People have been calling for the Christian Cage turn on Jungle Boy for sometime because people think it’ll elevate Jungle Boy while having him get away from Luchasaurus who has been nothing more than deadweight the entire time. I think Christian is good enough to carry the promo side of things but I won’t believe anything that Jungle Boy says because his promo skills suck and his matches suck. He’s plateaued a while back as a wrestler. Despite Christian’s efforts, I think it’ll be a case similar to Wardlow’s where Christian can elevate Jungle Boy because Christian is one of the best all around wrestlers but once Jungle Boy goes off on his own without Christian, he’ll flounder because he doesn’t have enough of a foundation that shows promise. It really will be a waste of effort. Obviously, Christian doesn’t need anything more at this stage of his career but the guy is so vastly underrated and underutilized that it sucks seeing him used to get younger talent over.

Final Thoughts

Rotten and insipid barely could describe the cloned week in and week out formula of this Dynamite. Nothing really happened outside of Toni Storm finally getting a key win, Miro rightfully advancing in a tournament so that he has some sort of gold around his waist and Christian turning after a torturous run seeing the Jurassic Express flounder as the #5 tag team in AEW. I won’t say that the issue is a lack of star power because they have a very capable roster. But how people are used and the bad creative make watching this show a job in itself. It’s why I stopped writing reviews because I haven’t been given anything really to write home about.

Quite frankly, I’ve been far more interested in the past week or two’s latest  behind the scenes drama than what these companies can produce on screen. The Jeff Hardy incident was just sad and pretty much showed that everyone was right in begging Tony Khan not to sign an unreliable guy. The only match they managed to pull out of Jeff was the Hardys vs Hardlyz (i.e. Bucks) in terms of trying to get any worth out of Jeff besides his initial debut. After that, it became sadder every week to watch Jeff literally crash and burn doing stunt men moves that might’ve made his demons worse. I saw a lot of people giving Booker T shit for saying the obvious in how AEW should have taken more responsibility with Jeff. I mean, no one wants to pin Tony Khan as the bad guy because he’s paying these idiots a ton for going out and hurting themselves while not putting his foot down in slowing his promotion down.

And while Jeff ultimately has to take responsibility for his own actions, AEW has to provide a better environment to ensure that their wrestlers don’t go down this kind of path. Tony didn’t do his due diligence in signing the guy, except using Matt as a reference obviously. It seemed he along with others like the Bucks were all too eager to get a hold of Jeff just to get a nostalgia act on screen without seeing that the guy no longer could go anymore like he did 20+ years ago or at least making them a special attraction type of deal. They didn’t need to rush out these “dream” matches or even the job matches with perpetual underneath guys like the Blade/Butcher in matches that probably shortened Jeff’s stay by allowing the job guys their wet dream of doing some sort of stupid ladder spot, etc. It just shows how little control this moron billionaire has over his promotion.

Then apparently, they’re suspending Jeff without pay so he could go to rehab. People painted the WWE as the bad guys but I have a feeling that they actually know what they are doing. Sure, the WWE has their issues but I do think they have their reasons beyond “financial reasons” for letting certain talent go. And when they show up in AEW and they underperform it becomes blatantly obvious why they were let go.

I don’t think Tony Khan gets enough heat for his decision making in all of this. Unlike the WWE, AEW is a privately owned company so the buck stops with Tony (and his dad to a degree). Whatever internal structure Tony has might be good for some of the wrestlers only at first because “they get to do what they want.” At what expense though? You need people who have the mind to produce these matches and segments as well as understanding that sometimes the wrestlers need to be protected against themselves. Jeff Hardy is one clear example. I’ve seen where Matt constantly tries to defend Jeff but you can’t defend this. He has to be upset that his brother effectively fuck them both over for being irresponsible. And he’s talked about how “those ladder bumps aren’t as bad as some wrestling moves.” Really? Last time I checked physics never lied about the amount of force and impact something has when they’re dropped in a certain matter. You mean to tell me that Jeff believes the only way he’ll stay over is to do things he barely can do from 20 years ago when his body clearly cannot handle it anymore? He can’t suddenly go heel, become a technical wrestler, just tease high spots and then give the crowd the finger for not supporting his desire to change because he’s unwilling to improve? This is sheer hubris and stupidity.

Now, something I said within this post referenced how I am fearful about the ongoings of the current situation in the WWE. As a wrestling fan, I don’t want the WWE to go out of business. That’ll just be bad in general for wrestling. Part of that is because I don’t want AEW to be the only major company around either. When Cody went back to WWE, he proved all the doubters wrong. And MJF possibly could go too which will hopefully catapult him into the next level that he deserves. Then Tony Khan will start learning the hard lessons in life about how to run a promotion and hopefully he’ll learn from them rather than be within his little billion dollar self-absorbed basement. Heck, I’d love Impact to do better just to have a 3rd strong option where Impact gets a major TV deal and doesn’t look like another bad indy promotion. Last time I checked I found it hard to watch with the tiny audience in that limited building. In that instance, it wasn’t necessarily their fault because of COVID but it was very painful to watch. Hell, give me a strong 4th promotion just so that these wrestlers have more options and that these promotions do a better job in having a variety of creative rather than shitty sports entertainment.

It’s so weird watching wrestling right now. I honestly hate most of the current products because the wrestling itself for the most part is wretched. But I am far more intrigued about the drama behind the scenes than ever before.

 

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