Following on from my review of AEW Revolution last month, here's my review of AEW Dynasty, which broadcast on the 21st April. This is a new event on All Elite's Wrestling calendar and coming off the back of such a strong event a month prior, I wasn't expecting a Pay Per View that exceeded it so soon. Yet, Dynasty delivered.

Trent Beretta vs Matt Sydal (Pre Show)

Trent Beretta, having recently turned on 'best friend' Orange Cassidy, begins his heel run in earnest with a fairly decent fight against the high-flying Matt Sydal. These two work well together, and I've always thought that Trent's moveset works well with a heel character. In the New-Japn style, he's strong and quick, delivering gotch-style piledrivers, brainbusters and suplexes. Sydal put on a good showing too, hitting an Air Raid Crash and a meteora, scoring a near fall. In the end, Trent makes Sydal tap out with a choke-hold. More enjoyable than I'd expected and my favourite of the pre-show matches.

Orange Cassidy and Katsuyori Shibata vs Shane Taylor Promotions (Pre Show)

Nice transition from the former match, as while Trent walks back from the ring victorious, he's met by Orange Cassidy making his entrance to the ring. There's a face-off for the inevitable grudge match later in the year. Orange Cassidy teams with "The Wrestler" Katsuyori Shibata against the mid-card heel faction Shane Taylor Promotions. STP have had a strong showing on TV recently, adding the returning Anthony Ogogo to the stable and presenting a threat. I enjoyed Shibata and Shane Taylor exchanging chops and forearm punches. Orange Cassidy picks up the win with the orange punch. An entertaining pre-show opener.

The Acclaimed vs Bullet Club Gold (Pre Show)


I fully expect Bullet Club Gold to turn on The Acclaimed and unify the AEW Trios and ROH 6-Man tag belts at some point.

It happened! As Tony Khan owns the rights to both AEW and Ring of Honour, which is used in a somewhat-kind-of development capacity, there's been criticism of a belt proliferation on the main product. This isn't just the titles of the two Khan-run promotions, but due to working relationships with other promotions, New-Japan and AAA belts frequently appear on the promotion too, with the "Continental Crown" being a triple-crown holding of AEW, ROH and NJPW championships. All this said, there is room to consolidate some of the championships. In particular, this match unifies the AEW and Ring of Honour trios championships. Following a rather explicit introduction rap from Max Caster (even for him), the match begins in earnest. Truth is, The Acclaimed don't need the championships, having done pretty much nothing with them since winning them from House of Black at All In. Bullet Club Gold went through a period of running rampant over teams on the AEW Collision TV show, but this has died off a little bit. Putting the championships on Bullet Club Gold puts an end to the feud, elevates Austin and Colten Gunn and keeps gold on Jay White, who remains a main event-level contender.

Okada vs Pac

Moving on to the main show now, what an opener! Okada, the reigning and defending International Championship defends against the inaugural champion (back when it was bizarrely-known as the All Atlantic championship, despite having a Japanese flag on it, but I digress) and returning Pac. This was an absolute barnstormer of a match with both competitors giving it their all. Pac delivered his combination of hard-hitting kicks, suplexes and top-rope aerial moves - including a springboard moonsault off the top rope to the outside. Okada countered the brutalizer with an eye gouge, delivered some excellent dropkicks during the match, including grabbing the referee's leg to break a near fall. In the end, Pac overcommitted with his Black Arrow from the turnbuckle, Okada got his knees up and delivered a Rainmaker lariat clothesline to finish the match. An excellent introduction to the show, an excellent title defense and an excellent showing from the competitor. This match elevates both.

Adam Copeland, Mark Briscoe and Eddie Kingston vs House of Black

This is an interesting set up. Three singles champions (Copeland - TNT, Briscoe - Ring of Honour, Kingston - NJPW Strong Openweight) against an established trios team. I'd pipped the faces to pick up the win here and got it wrong. This was a fast and hard-hitting match, which in typical trios style descends into the rules being abandoned very quickly. I particularly enjoyed the synchronised spears from Copeland, Briscoe and Kingston. Brody King yet again looked indomitable. I now expect this feud will culminate in a singles match between Malakai Black and Adam Copeland for the TNT Championship.

Julia Hart vs Willow Nightingale

Julia Hart defends her TBS title against Willow Nightingale, in a culmination of a long-running feud. Last month, I remarked:

down the road Willow Nightingale challenging Julia Hart for her TBS title should happen

And here we are. As it turns out, Julia Hart had sustained a legitimate injury and so this was a relatively short match, in which Willow Nightingale overcome the odds to pick up her first (defendable) championship in AEW. Celebrations in front of her family were interrupted by the arrival of her challenger at May's "Double or Nothing", Mercedes Mone. There's backstory here - Mone picked up an injury in a match against Willow in Japan, leading to Willow picking up a victory. Given that this future match is going to be Mone's first match in a while, I sincerely hope that Willow doesn't have a short title reign. Rather, I hope the story here is that Willow can defeat the "big business" star.

Roderick Strong vs Kyle O'Reilly

Roderick Strong defends his International Championship against his former stable-mate Kyle O'Reilly, who has recently returned from an almost career-ending neck injury. From these competitors you'd expect a strong technical match and this is what was delivered. At the beginning of the match, Strong and O'Reilly were exchanging grapple holds, takedowns and submissions. O'Reilly delivered some lethal-looking martial arts-style kicks, but then Roderick Strong started to apply pressure with some explosive backbreakers, playing into the injury. There was a fantastic segment where Strong and O'Reilly were exchanging chops and kicks, respectively. Roderick Strong eventually picked up the win, after a failed interference attempt from Wardlow. I enjoyed this match on its own terms, it really demonstrates how strong of a midcard AEW have. Following the match, we see Adam Cole return from his own injury and walk out of his wheelchair. I think that there needs to be a rethink about the Undisputed Kingdom, especially if MJF is going to remain on the shelf for longer than expected. Roderick Strong and Adam Cole ought to be fighting for control of the faction.

Chris Jericho vs Hook

Chris Jericho has been described as having "go away heat" of late. The crowds have been rejecting Jericho as a face ('goodie') and this story, of Jericho taking Hook under his wings, has had a bit of a rocky start. In the run up to the PPV, Hook defeated Jericho one-on-one. This rematch is for Hook's unrecognised FTW Championship, which means a no-disqualification match. Hook starts brightly, demonstrating his capable suplex abilities. Hook kicked out of the Judas Effect twice, which has been a well-protected finisher. To some degree this 'protects' Hook while taking the loss, which Jericho delivered via a low blow and a baseball bat to the head. Although an okay hardcore match in and of itself, against the other matches on the card this did feel off the pace. I think it is time that Jericho leans deeper into the emerging gimmick to turn that crowd heat into another run as a heel character.

'Timeless' Toni Storm vs Thunder Rosa

Last month, I wasn't massively impressed by the Storm/Purrazzo match. The 'Timeless' gimmick is still amazing, it hasn't yet became boring. The returning Thunder Rosa, a former champion who had to relinquish that championship due to injury, challenges Toni Storm to regain the championship she didn't lose. This was a competitive match in which Toni Storm worked Thunder Rosa's back with offense throughout the match. Rosa started to get the upper hand, hitting a Death Valley Driver onto the ring apron. Then, the classic heel interference begun with Toni Storm's butler, Luther, and understudy Mariah May. Deonna Purazzo interfered to even the odds, but this led to Toni Storm stealing the win with a low blow. I like how this gave the champion a decent showing while setting up a new feud for Thunder Rosa and Purazzo.

Will Ospreay vs Bryan Danielson

Oh my word. There's a reason people call Danielson the greatest of all time. There's a reason people call Ospreay the greatest going at the moment. This isn't just a dream match, it's a statement match about what wrestling can be. This match has it all - physicality, athleticism, strong technical wrestling, high-flying maneouvers, fast-paced counters. The in-ring storytelling, of two GOATs going at it purely for the enjoyment of having the match itself, carries you on the edge of your seat to a thrilling conclusion. Amongst all of the things that Danielson is amazing at is selling injuries. At the end of the match, Ospreay hits the Tiger Drive '91, a legitimately dangerous move that demands perfection in its execution. Danielson sells the move as inflicting a career-ending injury, writhing on the floor in pain as the referees and medical staff tend to him with concerned looks. We all know wrestling is staged, but when it hits the uncanny space between not knowing whether something's legit, that's when it becomes an art. I'm struggling so much to describe just how good this match is. And here's the thing - in some regards, I think they were holding back. Jot that one down for when they run this again.

The Young Bucks vs FTR

How can you top Ospreay/Danielson? You put on a ladder match between the two greatest tag teams in the game right now. This is the fourth encounter in AEW between The Young Bucks and FTR, the last of which I saw live at Wembley last year. FTR are 2-1 up in the head-to-head, with this match being the culmination of the ongoing Team Team Championship tournament, following Sting and Darby Allin vacating the titles upon Sting's retirement at Revolution. The winners of this match become the first three-time AEW Tag Team Champions. Adding the ladder stipulation adds an excellent escalation both to the feud, and to the tournament. It's literally reaching for the top!

Nicholas and Matthew Jackson, EVPs of AEW, have been leaning heavily into the meta storytelling, blurring reality and storyline expertly. AEW took the risky move of broadcasting the backstage altercation between CM Punk and Jack Perry from Wembley - a move which divided the Internet but got the attention on the product. Jack Perry was suspended after that incident and has been away from AEW since. He took an excursion to Japan with a 'scapegoat' character and returned at the end of this match to interfere in the Young Bucks' favour. The match itself was everything you'd expect from two teams who put it all on the line - a 450 Splash through a table and a spike piledriver onto a ladder. The Young Bucks had the upper hand for the vast majority of the match, starting strong. Dax and Cash, classic to their throwback gimmick, never gave up and pretty much had the win before the interference. Of course, at 2-2, they'll run this once more down the line.

Samoa Joe vs Swerve Strickland

This match felt like the crowning of a superstar, which is not to say the match was a squash. It was anything but. Samoa Joe, a fighting champion at the top of his game, performed his part well. He made life difficult for Swerve Strickland. But in the end, this was Swerve's night. The first African-American AEW World Champion. He pulled off an amazing offense against the champion, including ground submmissions and aerial top-rope moves such as his amazing 450 Splash. Swerve Strickland has been on a hot run since the fued with Hangman Adam Page at the back end of last year. To me, this match felt like a celebration, and well deserved.

Closing Thoughts

Revolution was a spectacular Pay Per View. Dynasty follows only weeks later with an equally astounding event that demonstrates the new company slogan "where the best wrestle" is not hot air. Coming in to 2024, AEW used the World's End event as a soft reset, closing down most of the ongoing storylines and establishing a new champion in Samoa Joe. I anticipated that Samoa Joe would act as a somewhat transitional champion. With the introduction of big names like Will Ospreay, Okada and Mercedes Mone, and the crowning of a new champion in Swerve Strickland, AEW embraces a new era. This year has an increased Pay Per View schedule, so next month the promotion will be hosting one of its "big four" events in Double or Nothing.

Dynasty was close to being a perfect card. A good amount of title changes, with solid title defences for those retaining. Jericho/Hook wasn't 'bad', but it wasn't good with respect to the extremely high standard elsewhere. Okada/Pac, Ospreay/Danielson and Bucks/FTR are my top three matches from the night, with Ospreay/Danielson being quite possibly the best wrestling match I've ever seen. It's that good.