As For Dynamite: Quick Thoughts on AEW’s Double or Nothing, 2023

Let’s just acknowledge up front that no one really needs my thoughts on last night’s AEW show. For better or worse, these As For Dynamite spots aren’t exactly getting over with my particular audience. I suppose that this means you either care about Army Football and open water swimming, or you care about AEW pro-wrestling, but apparently, you absolutely cannot care about all of that stuff at the same time.


I got super-excited for this PPV. I’m a regular Dynamite viewer, but I’ve missed the last two AEW PPVs just because of family stuff, and I’ve also missed the last two Ring of Honor PPVs. So it’s been a good long while since I’ve been able to sit down and really dig into longform stuff from the Tony Khan-verse, and I’ve missed it. Moreover, there was a lot of stuff on this particular card that I thought looked cool. I got into it.

We grilled out on the back deck last night, watching the show outside via the power of Chromecast. We didn’t do anything fancy, just hamburgers and grilled asparagus, but we got the tiki torches lit, creating a fun atmosphere. 

I should say, though, that no one in the family particularly cares for pro-wrestling besides me. Even my younger daughter Emma, who started AEW with me back during the pandemic, has gotten away from it over the last eighteen months or so. I hoped that maybe Emma would watch some of it with me, and that maybe some of the rest of the family might be won over. But I wasn’t counting on it.

Cast of Characters

Me: Fifty-year-old competitive swimmer turned electrical engineer. Lapsed Attitude Era fan now into AEW. Go Army! Beat Navy!!!

Sally: My wife. Yoga/fitness instructor. Actively dislikes pro-wrestling.

Eilleen: Sally’s sister. New York City transplant now in Coastal Connecticut. No opinion on pro-wrestling.

Hannah: Nineteen-year-old Biochem Major. Swiftee. Likes chaos and insanity but has no opinion on pro-wrestling overall.

Emma: Eighteen-year-old lapsed AEW fan. Actively dislikes WWE and NXT.

Match: Buy-In Trios Match

Viewers: Everyone

I was in and out of this match, trying to grill while this went on. The girls liked Hook and Ethan Page. I saw that the good guys won this one, but I didn’t really see how. Will have to check back in at some point later this week.

Match: International Championship Battle Royal

Viewers: Me and Emma

Emma and I both really enjoyed this match. It’s telling, too, that she hasn’t watched AEW much in the past year and change, but she still knew who most of the players were. Personally, I thought they did a great job using this match too keep a bunch of simmering feuds on the boil without blowing them off, and I’ll add that I hope the addition of AEW Collision gives us more time for Swerve, Keith Lee, and most of the others who made it into the second half of this match.

This match also had a perfect finish. It gets double bonus points for reengaging Emma in AEW.

Match: Jericho vs. Adam Cole, Unsanctioned

Viewers: Me and Emma with others drifting in and out.

This was a weird match, and it was a little distracting at the house. Eileen left at some point during this match, and Hannah and Sally came in and out. I thought the match picked up once Adam Cole started beating Jericho with the chain -- Hannah liked that but Sally was repulsed by it -- but it went on second and had to compete on violence with Anarchy in the Arena. That’s a tough spot in every way.

Best thing about this match is that I had the whole family watching wrestling with me by the end of it.

Match: Tag Team Championship

Viewers: Me, Sally, Hannah, Emma

I explained to the girls that this was gonna be some old school 80s-style Southern rasslin’ and that it should be appreciated on that basis. They wrestled, sure, but the point of the match was always gonna be all the crazy extracurricular shenanigans at the end of it. So everybody loved this match, even my wife, and when Karen Jarrett hit referee Aubrey Edwards with the guitar, she made a pro-wrestling fan for life in my older daughter Hannah. 

That was worth the $50 for the PPV all by itself. 

More than any other factor, it seems like folks’ opinions of this one set the tone for what they thought of the PPV overall. If you were into Team TNA and all their crazy shenanigans, then you probably liked this show overall. I certainly did. The Wrestletalk team also liked this match a lot, and not coincidentally gave the overall show a 93% rating. If, however, this wasn’t for you, well, they did a lot like this, and you probably didn’t like it nearly as much.

Look. Serious wrestling is fine, but just so we’re clear, the wacky insanity on display in this match is why I personally continue to watch this stuff. I prefer it this way. Plus, FTR and Team TNA get quadruple bonus points for actually getting my wife into a match. That’s a literal miracle.

Match: TNT Title Ladder Match

Viewers: Me and Hannah

Emma and Sally both tapped right after the Tag Title Match. In fact, they both literally hit the showers. Emma had been in Lifeguard training for most of the past two days, and being in Coastal Connecticut, it started to get chilly outside. Sally had just sort of had enough. Hannah and I, though, got blankets and settled in for more chaos.

“So wait. They’re gonna jump off these ladders?” and “Why is that guy wrestling in a turtleneck?” Also: “Is that a dinosaur?

The joy of someone’s first experience with pro-wrestling.

Hannah and I both really liked this match, and we both hoped afterwards that no one was too badly busted up in any of those crazy spots. 

Booking-wise, this was kind of like the previous match in the sense that there was a lot of overarching insanity here. As I said, the whole PPV was like that. If you like that sort of thing, then you probably liked the show overall. We definitely did.

Match: Women's World Championship

Viewers: Me and Hannah

“It’s a shame that the one girl got hurt.”

Match: Trio’s Championship

Viewers: Me and Hannah

For me, the high point of this match came in the first few minutes, with Anthony Bowens vs. Malakai Black at opening. 

But my overall impression loses points because Hannah remembered that she had to work on some essays during this match. She’s transferring from Manhattan College -- probably -- to Vermont, and her transfer applications are due June 1st. So the clock was running starting right here.

Match: TBS Title Match

Viewers: Me & Hannah

I liked this match, and Hannah popped for Taya’s furry boots. But she bailed right after the initial match ended, and that made me sad. Not that she would have known who Kris Statlander was regardless, but still…

Yes, my daughter works Vampire Hours.

Personally, I thought that this was Jade’s best showing to date. She got put into a tough spot as a champ in her first year wrestling, and while I get why they did that, they’ve got a potentially much better way forward now with the belt on Statlander.

I loved using Smart Mark Sterling to set up the bullshit finish here, too. It protects Jade and clearly sets up a rematch. As I’ve said, there was a lot of that kind of thing on this PPV overall. But look, the TBS Title hasn’t had nearly enough actual feuds, so yeah, this was good.

Match: Pillars Fatal Four-Way

Viewer: Me

The last two matches on this card showed why the top guys in AEW are TOP GUYS. In that sense, the whole show was about finding out who could carry the company going forward. Ordinarily, you’d have the Elite, the BCC, and the Pillars spread evenly throughout the show, and since all of those guys are terrific, you’d see banger after banger all night long. Tonight, though, the vast majority of AEW’s established, original star power hit in just the last two matches. The rest of the card was filled with guys trying to prove that they can also deliver on that level.

Personally, I feel like Swerve, FTR, Lethal, Mark Briscoe, and Kris Statlander stood out in the show’s early going, and if I had to pick one guy as the first half MVP, it would be Swerve.

Starting with the Pillars Fatal Four-Way, though, we were back with AEW’s core cast, and friends, now you see why they’re there. This match was awesome. Everyone agrees that it was awesome. No one was surprised that it was awesome. These guys really ARE the foundational Pillars of AEW’s future. Really, they are the guys who’ve made the show work from Day One.

Match: Anarchy in the Arena

Viewer: Me

Man, I am usually in bed by this point. But who could sleep? 

This ruled.

So. This post is off-theme for Memorial Day for me, but it was a fun show that I thoroughly enjoyed. Enough that I decided to write about it.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.


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