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AEW Dynamite in Charleston Review: New Tag Team Champs & Table Setting for ‘Full Gear’

AEW Dynamite in Charleston, West Virginia was a markedly different episode of television for All Elite Wrestling.

Last week in Pittsburgh (apologies for no review life and work got in the way), AEW delivered an episode I’ve gone back and watched three times — it was that good. That is the most times I’ve watched an episode of weekly wrestling content since the bygone days of ECW Hardcore TV. It was an episode filled with literal jaw-dropping action from Lucha Brothers and Private Party, and an outstanding, smash mouth match between Joey Janela and Kenny Omega — amongst a sea of other really terrific matches.

AEW Dynamite in Charleston, however, was more of a “Road To” show that you’d see in New Japan rather than a high octane episode of AEW. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not, however, if you were looking for a repeat of last week, this was not the episode for you.

Like any episodic wrestling or fictionalized series, you need “table setting” episodes like AEW Dynamite in Charleston. AEW needed to lay more groundwork for Cody and Chris Jericho’s title match. They needed to do the Rick & Morty promotion. They needed to further Moxley vs. Omega, PAC vs. Hangman, and get over Proud-N-Powerful (the former LAX) as the likely “next in line” for the tag titles while also furthering their feud with The Young Bucks. This meant matches there a bit one-sided, or with results that were fairly obvious.

“Hangman” Adam Page vs. “The Spanish God” Sammy Guevara was a HOT opener. Page was mega, mega over with the West Virginia crowd as if he were Magnum TA reborn (which I mean he kinda is already). Guevara is just naturally a heel, but it’s obvious he’s picking up little things here there from both working on TV more regularly, and running with one of the best to do it in the last three decades — Chris Jericho. Page fought with more fire, and viciousness than he has in his AEW run, and his chemistry with Sammy is undeniable. Page picks up the win with a big ass Buckshot Lariat (still one of the sickest moves out there). Post-match, he cuts, unequivocally his best promo — lacing into PAC and saying he’s going to do some “cowboy shit” at Full Gear. Cussing on TNT, definitely helps give AEW some edge, and for Page it added this fire we haven’t seen yet in his AEW run.

Next up was the lone women’s match on the show — the returning Hikaru Shida vs. the debuting Shanna. Here’s where the wild AEW crowd really helps matches out. This match was colder than ice. There was no real hype around Shida’s return, and that’s a shame because there was a lot made of her signing. While this match was not the smoothest, I’m glad it was on the show. First and foremost, AEW needs to give their women time on the main show, and this did get a lot of time. Second, AEW needs to establish more female talent, because despite their claims of how important their women’s division is going to be, it’s still the weakest division in the company — and that’s not from a lack of talent. The match itself really showed there’s a star to be made in Shida. Her knee strikes are wicked, and once she gets a few more big arena American television matches under her belt, she’s going to be in the running for Riho. Shanna, however, was the most impressive. She’s an absolute unknown to the majority of wrestling fans (outside of those who saw her in WSU and CZW), and she really brought it. Her facial expressions, her move set, and her willingness to fight won the crowd over. Her double footstomp spot — from her sly smile of “I’m going to destroy her with this move” to the actual stomp — was the highlight of the match. Shida got the W, and rightfully so. I’d like to see this one run back in a few months for sure.

Brandi Rhodes had vignette where she’s channeling the spirit world and is somehow psychically connected to Awesome Kong. Happy Halloween?

The next match up was the Rick & Morty “sponsored” crossover as John Silver and Alex Reynolds returned to team with QT Marshall against Chuck Taylor, Orange Cassidy and Trent Barretta — dressed as Rick & Morty. Orange Cassidy is stupid over. He quite possibly is one of the most over people in the company. This was short, sweet and to the point — Best Friends win convincingly and everyone has a laugh. The crossover was harmless, and it lended itself for the humor you’d get from Best Friends.

The Cody and Chris Jericho segments were good, but to be honest, not the best stuff either have done in AEW. The limo ride with Cody and Tony Schiavone was interesting, but I would’ve preferred it as an online promo video instead of it being in the live broadcast — especially since it cut into the Tag Title Match. The deconstruction of the contract signing segment which has become so tired, worked fine. However, there was something missing here. The wild heat we saw last week in Pittsburgh, or the cutting nature of both men’s promos from weeks prior weren’t there. However, we got some good stuff at the end when Sammy and Jake Hager (knee to the balls and all) broke Dustin Rhodes’ arm. Sure, it’s a bit of overbooking, but it’s a huge main event match, and I’m fine with it.

The Rock & Roll Express are still over like sons a bitches. Having Proud-N-Powerful lay waste to them, really got them strong heat with the crowd. I do believe this is not the last time Rock & Roll will be in AEW, and maybe we see them help The Bucks out at Full Gear.

Speaking of The Bucks, the team brought back their Street Fighter gear and Kenny Omega donned the persona of “Sans” from Undertale to take on Hybrid 2 (Jack Evans y Angelico) and “Superbad” Kip Sabian. This was exactly the match you’d expect when The Elite gets together. It was all pedal to metal, all high spots. Now, before we get into racket swinging outlaw mud show wringing of the hands — let me point out there was a lot to be taken away from this match — if you’re paying attention. First, Kip Sabian was made to look real good in this match, and Jack Evans keeps proving match after match that he is one hell of a heel.

MOX came out, and he cut a vicious promo. Earlier on social media and the beginning of the episode, we heard a closed door discussion between Moxley and Ton Khan. The discussion was basically Khan telling Mox he couldn’t sanction the Moxley/Omega match. It would be lights out — no rules at all. Moxley is cool with this, B U T, since the match isn’t official the decision does not officially count. Moxley loses his mind about it, and I am here for it. This is a great way to emphasize wins and losses. Love, love, love it. I like Moxley playing off real life about “being put in a box” and promising an even more violent, unhinged version of himself at Full Gear.

Finally, we have the main event for AEW Dyanmite in Charleston. And here was the biggest problem with this episode — there wasn’t enough time for a match of this magnitude. You could’ve easily shaved time off Cody’s segment, trimmed some time on the Elite six-man, and even trimmed time on the women’s match. SCU and Lucha Bros put on one hell of a match, and if given time to breathe and work out, this could’ve been even better. Both teams were just at the top of their game, and Scorpio Sky got his moments to really shine. He’s a star for AEW, and they need to make sure he’s made to look strong.

The little things in this match kept things interesting. First, Lucha Bros complained of a kick-out at the end, so we’ve got a rematch in the future (maybe at Full Gear?). You had all the tag teams eliminated from the tournament watching the match, that was good, and it reinforced that yes, everyone wants those belts. Good, small booking moments that help build for the future.

In the end, AEW Dynamite in Charleston was not the classic of the Pittsburgh episode, but it was still a blast to watch.

You can catch AEW Dynamite in Charleston on the TNT app, the TNT Drama website, and check your local listings from reruns of the show on TNT and TruTV. 

Bill Bodkin
Bill Bodkinhttps://thepopbreak.com
Bill Bodkin is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break, and most importantly a husband, and father. Ol' Graybeard writes way too much about wrestling, jam bands, Asbury Park music, HBO shows, and can often be seen under his season DJ alias, DJ Father Christmas. He is the co-host of the Socially Distanced Podcast (w/Al Mannarino) which drops weekly on Apple, Google, Anchor & Spotify. He is the co-host of the monthly podcasts -- Anchored in Asbury, TV Break and Bill vs. The MCU.
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