We kick off AEW GRAND SLAM 2023 with a huge opener, Eddie Kingston, finally defeats Claudio Castignoli for the Ring of Honor World Championship in the Champion vs. Champion, ROH vs. NJPW Strong title bout. A match full of moves intended to overpower the other, each with an arsenal of chops, strikes, suplexes, and some heavy slams. Lots of near-falls, at no point was it clear who would come out the victor. Eddie and Claudio often no-sold strikes, earning stronger strikes throughout the match. In the end, Eddie scored with multiple back-hand strikes, Claudio unable to win with the Ricola Bomb, allowing Eddie to counter, and score with a falling powerbomb, Kawada-style, for the decisive and clean pinfall victory.
The New York crowd and fans at home leapt from their seats in a collective eruption. Eddie Kingston, finally, a world champion! Ring of Honor World Champion. Incredible. In the span of months Eddie has claimed two singles championships in a career mostly devoid of title runs.
As the smoke cleared, Claudio and Eddie shook hands with the former champion handing over the championship title belt in dismissive fashion. Eddie thanks the fans, basking in the moment.
The level of story-telling from AEW in uncanny in certain matches. Eddie and Claudio’s ring gear were oddly similar to those of Kawada and Kobashi. The final powerbomb, right from Kawada’s playbook. I try to be impartial, but finally! I am thrilled to Eddie as ROH World Champion.
Backstage with Renee: Christian Cage and Dark Luchasaurus propose a number of challenges to Darby Allin, in an effort to defeat him once and for all, one to take place on Collision, a triple-threat for the TNT Championship. I am wondering if this is how he legitimately takes the title from Luchasaurus.
Christian notably has a number of likely intentional slip-ups referring to himself as TNT Champion.
Backstage? Not really sure where this was supposed to take place, but The Kingdom hovers over Roderick Strong lying in a hospital bed. Adam Cole arrives has the duo leave to prepare for their upcoming tag contenders match. Cole doesn’t stay long, which infuriates Roddy. Comical segment.
Chris Jericho defeated Sammy Guevara
Another clean match tonight, solid showing from the long time friends. The friendship factor quickly went by the wayside, as each tried to outmatch the other. At a few points, it appears Sammy got hurt or dazed, as evidenced by a few sluggish spots and miscues. Regardless, a fun match where the classic one-move-too-many is the cause for Sammy failing to triumph when by all appearances had victory in hand. A caught Shooting Star is countered by a Code Breaker, giving Jericho the pinfall.
After the match, the two shake hands and hug it out… until, shades of WrestleMania 19! Sammy kicks Jericho in the groin, akin to when Y2J punted HBK following their epic match. Had I paid more attention, I would have realized this from the start, as Sammy’s ring trunks were nearly identical to Jericho’s in that very match from WrestleMania!
Don Callis arrives and Sammy leaves with him. Another stab in the back of Chris Jericho. Later on backstage, Callis tells Renee all will be explained on Rampage. Meanwhile they run into Daniel Garcia who appears nonplussed about the situation. Sammy is about the get into it, but Callis warns him off saying “This man is money.”
Does Callis mean recruiting Garia is money, or perhaps a one-on-one with him will be money.
Prior to the backstage segment we see a pre-tape of MJF and Cole arriving to the arena, Max has words for Samoa Joe while Cole is interrupted by an urgent call from Roderick Strong. My guess is this preceded the segment with Cole visiting Roddy in a makeshift hospital bed.
Rey Fenix defeated Jon Moxley for the AEW International Championship
Great match. It was a fantastic match, both of them pulling out great moves throughout. I won’t belay where the attention is focused on. Mox appeared to get hurt at some point, many believe the Thunder Driver spot. Fenix went for a pinfall and Referee Rick Knox counted two, but stopped before three, even though Mox failed to kick out. The live crowd jumped on it immediately. A glaring mishap. Fenix hit a second Thunder Driver, given the circumstances probably not the best idea, but did so and pinned Mox for the official three-count by Knox. It looked pretty clear this was not supposed to happen.
Like many on social media, I truly hope Jon Moxley will come out of this okay.
Saraya retains the AEW Women’s Championship against Toni Storm
Storm’s entrance is fantastic. Good match. Saraya, despite reigning as champion, was the aggressor, trying to put down the ever-resilient Storm. So many close calls in Storm’s favor. It appears Storm would outsmart the underhanded tactics from Ruby Soho, but a mis-timed hip attack into an exposed turnbuckle would allow Saraya to retain.
AEW GRAND SLAM 2023 MAIN EVENT: MJF retains the AEW World Championship against Samoa Joe
Fantastic show from MJF and Samoa Joe. MJF comes out in uber-hometown favorite, with a comical nod to the Bret Hart promo.
MJF sporting a Mets-themed logo, firing up the New York crowd. Truly a big fight feel to this main event. The facial expressions and body language told more of the story than the wrestling. MJF had the babyface fire moment more than once, but each time Joe extinguished it to the ire of the live audience.
"Go get him, Champ!"
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) September 21, 2023
Joe hit a brutal Death Valley Driver, crashing Max onto the apron, later on smashing him through a table with a Uranagi. Things take an ugly turn as Joe then piledrives Max onto the hard plastic arena floor, and I mean arena floor as Joe had pulled up all the padding. Joe loses his mind and starts decking AEW crew and staff. Despite all the punishment, MJF manages to kick out at two. Joe scoring with the Muscle Buster scared everyone into thinking Joe would become AEW Champion, but the champ kicked out. After Adam Cole rushed to ringside to rally his best friend, MJF used some underhanded tactics of his own, nearly hitting Joe with the Dynamite Diamond RIng, but was caught by the ref. MJF used a low blow to sucker Joe, then grabbed the corner tag rope to choke out Joe, as he promised to do.
Before going off the air, Samoa Joe offered and shook hands with the champ. Classy. A lot of handshakes tonight.
Fantastic main event. Fantastic edition of Dynamite. Top to bottom, A+ show. This was a PPV quality event on free TV.