AEW Dynamite Preview (June 22, 2022): Feeling left behind

AEW Dynamite is back tonight at 8pm ET, emanating from the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena in Milwaukee (Alqoguin for “The Good Land”), Wisconsin. this is the last Dynamite before this sunday Forbidden Door pay-per-view (PPV) set with New Japan Pro Wrestling,

the header

AEW Union Forbidden Door The PPV with New Japan should be very exciting for fans of both promotions – seeing the best of one promotion collide with the best of the other. It’s a fantasy booker’s dream.

However, those who don’t consider themselves NJPW fans may be feeling left behind over the last month during this compilation.

For context, I don’t consider myself a current New Japan fan. I’m familiar with them. There was a time when I watched it semi-regularly, though it hasn’t been since Kenny Omega lost his world title. I know their top players, but I don’t know what they’re doing right now. Men who stepped in to fill the void, like Switchblade Jay White and Will Ospreay, were starting to make waves, but they weren’t quite there yet. So I’m not ignorant to them.

Even so, I’m struggling to care for half Dynamite how they set up this PPV.

To be fair, it’s not like AEW assumes their entire audience knows these Pacific players. Excalibur makes a point of explaining who the fighters are when they appear. But telling initiates who the people are and getting them to invest in them are two very important things. And that last part is something that Dynamite and Rampage has missed the mark.

Take tonight’s main event, for example. Jon Moxley and Tanahashi against Lance Archer and Chris Jericho. Mox and Tanahashi will face off for the AEW interim world title at the Forbidden Door so this is AEW’s version of opponents trying to coexist before a match. Jericho is involved because he and his Appreciation Society will face off against Moxley and a host of others in Blood & Guts next week. Archer is likely involved because New Japan trusts him to work with Tanahashi.

It’s a match trying to cater to multiple stories but loses the emotion in doing so. In that case, there might be enough stellar energy to make it work. (And to be fair, Tanahashi vs Moxley is the match that would interest me the most in PPV.)

Will Ospreay & Aussie Open vs Orange Cassidy & Roppongi Vice is an even better example. Even though they’ve been on TV several times, I still don’t feel like I know who the Aussie Open is. It’s a lot of “Wait, who are these guys again?” Roppongi Vice is a team that I also have no attachment to. I prefer to see Trent as part of the Best Friends team I’m familiar with. The match can be fun, but I certainly wouldn’t be upset if I lost.

If I had to hazard a guess, I’m not alone in my lack of knowledge of New Japan when it comes to audiences. The real base, who probably make up the people who go to the shows, probably know better. But I would venture that it represents about 25-33% of the weekly audience. (If it was significantly higher, NJPW would have a US TV deal.) It’s possible the ratings support that, with a poor showing this week for both. Dynamite and Rampage. Dynamite went up against a Stanley Cup game that fared well by hockey standards, but Dynamite also fared better against NBA games that had better numbers than the NHL. (One important caveat is that the ratings are weird and Dynamite was still in second place on cable. If the ratings go bad again this week, that could indicate more causality.)

The lack of big stars like CM Punk and Bryan Danielson definitely doesn’t help. The combination of these absences and the dedication of a sizable portion of weekly TV to introducing a host of people with whom some fans are unfamiliar has left Dynamite more lackluster than usual.

luckily, after Forbidden Door this Sunday, things should get back in full swing with Blood & Guts next week.

the title scene

One story that was only in the AEW world last week was the Young Bucks winning the AEW Tag Team Championships in a ladder fight against the Jurassic Express. Bucks are not yet reserved for Forbidden Door, which is surprising and could change this week. But the real point of note after that fight was Christian Cage’s excellent back-heel at the expense of Jungle Boy Jack. Cage is expected to address his actions tonight, continuing what should be an excellent show.

Toni Storm will challenge Thunder Rosa for the AEW Women’s Championship at the Forbidden Door, probably one of the only AEW talent-only matches. (Stardom is not part of the show, despite also being owned by Bushiroad.)

Wardlow just won his class action lawsuit against Smart Mark Sterling and AEW security for beating the shit out of plaintiffs. There is no need for justice reform here. Now he can focus on Scorpio Sky and the TNT championship. Wardlow actually couldn’t defeat Sky due to MJF’s antics, but with all that behind him, I think War Dog is the clear favorite here.

Jade Cargill and her thugs got into trouble with Athena and Kris Statlander. She will have to defend it TBS Championship against at least one of those two at one point.

As there aren’t enough titles in AEW with their own titles and those of Ring of Honor circulating, they recently introduced the Atlantic Championship. Penta Oscuro will face Malakai Black in a qualifier match tonight.

Other things to keep an eye out for:

– Bryan Danielson has been absent recently, probably due to injury. But he’ll be back tonight to tackle Zack Saber Jr.’s challenge. Forbidden Door. Since they’ve built so much anyway, the powers that be must feel that the American Dragon will be good for Sunday.

– Former champion Hangman Page and Adam Cole want a fight for the Switchblade’s NJPW heavyweight title. But Jay denied both. This is probably going into a multi-man match. My guess initially was just a tag team match where maybe Hangman would team up with Okada against White & Cole, but if that was the case, I think Okada would be a part of that story now. Looks like someone is going to be added to this fight.

– MJF is still missing after his filming job weeks ago. I wouldn’t wait for him back until Forbidden Door it’s in our rearview mirror. They can’t wait long or else the tinnitus will wear off.

– FTR may be able to earn more tag gold in the Forbidden Door by winning the NJPW tag titles (unless there are issues between AAA and CMLL regarding this). If they do, then it must finally be time to focus on AEW.


Dynamite airs tonight at 8pm ET on TNT. What will you be watching when you tune in?

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