The Direction Of Dynamite

After the very mixed reaction to Adam Cole as the one under the devil mask at last weekend’s Worlds End pay-per-view, I was wondering what type of follow-up, especially given Tony Khan’s slapstick booking tendencies, there would be on Dynamite this week.

After the broadcast went off the air, I’m not sure there was a clear answer as to the direction of the organization in 2024, but taking into account the placement of some of the bouts on television, as well as who was spotlighted, this might be an indication of a new chapter of the company, if Tony Khan can focus on such an imitative.

In many ways, it was a typical Dynamite in terms of its format with promos, interruptions, and run-ins. What stood out was that new champion, Samoa Joe was only featured during the opening video package, Chris Jericho wasn’t there, Bryan Danielson, and Jon Moxley were in Tokyo for Wrestle Kingdom, Adam Copeland didn’t make an appearence, and MJF wasn’t scheduled for the TV taping either. With Danielson and Moxley working for New Japan this week, maybe the talented featured on Dynamite was a fluke based on who was available, but perhaps, Tony Khan should give some thought to taking the TV show in a different direction.

The show opened with Adam Cole and the henchmen for the post-PPV promo that you’d expect before they were interrupted by Bullet Club Gold and The Acclaimed, both teams were attacked by the mysterious stable as the angle unfolded. As I wrote in the review of the Worlds End event, one of the big problems with the reveal of Adam Cole as the devil is that he’s injured and expected to be on the sidelines for several months. So any baby face, MJF or otherwise, can’t get any type of retribution against Cole. Sure, you can buy time with someone challenging Roderick Strong, Wardlow, and then The Kingdom, but the payoff is still a match against Adam Cole, who won’t be cleared to compete. That limits not only what can be done with the storyline, but also how effective it can be because there’s not a definitive conclusion in the cards right now. How long can they realistically stretch a baby face feuding with the faction without a match against the leader? Furthermore, MJF is expected to be out of action for several months with a myriad of injuries so again, how can a payoff to the angle, the baby face getting a form of revenge for the heel turn, be planned if Friedman is on the shelf? Considering how long the reveal was dragged out on television, will the audience care about the angle by the time the MJF/Cole match can take place?

Still, it was the main event angle of a pay-per-view so it makes sense that someone confronted the heel group, and it looks like Bullet Club Gold might be a makeshift baby face stable to feud with the henchmen to give the faction some type of direction on television.

Dante Martin challenged Orange Cassidy for the International Championship, and despite still being in the formative stages of his career, Martin has a major upside if he can continue to develop his character. Martin suffered a gruesome leg injury in April of last year, which should be a cautionary tale for any of the youngsters on the roster about measuring the risk/reward ratio of dangerous bumps. It’s great to see him back in the ring and it looks like he hasn’t lost a step since he returned to action in November. At just 22, Martin’s prime is still a head of him and he has at least a few years to continue to develop before he would enter the prime of his career so if Tony Khan thinks that Martin could be one of the featured stars in the future, it makes sense to showcase him regularly on television. In my opinion, if the selling point of All Elite Wrestling, especially going forward, is going to be an all-action approach with young talent that provide a fresh presentation to the show then Tony should decide on a handful of newer talent to spotlight. The problem is, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we don’t see Dante Martin on Dynamite again for another two months, which makes the entire scenario pointless.

In a similar fashion, Private Party returned to television, and much of the same equation applies to them. Marq Quen suffered an injury that kept him out of action for the majority of last year so Isiah Kassidy was paired with The Hardy Boyz, mostly as a way to give him something to do on the show. These guys are a younger team and while some of their in-ring work can be sloppy, if Tony Khan thinks they have a chance to be future stars then it makes sense to spotlight them in this segment. However, and this is often the problem with Tony’s approach to the presentation of talent, if Private Party was reunited this week, simply because Khan had to find something to take the place of what usually would be formatted for that spot on the show since names like Danielson and Moxley weren’t there then it was a total waste of television time. Again, the follow-up and regular exposure are key if AEW truly wants to run with a newer generation of talent, but that’s also the most common problem, as the shows have a disjointed presentation.

Mariah May made her in-ring debut, and while I had vaguely heard the name before because of her association with Stardom, this match was average at best Deonna Purrazzo made her All Elite debut during the post-match segment, and while the former Knockouts champion is decent in the ring, the addition to the roster is rather moot. Purrazzo doesn’t have the star power to change the direction of the women’s division, and ultimately is just another competitor that will get lost in the shuffle in a few weeks. When was the last time Taya Valkyrie, another former Knockouts champion, was on television

Konosuke Takeshita beat Darby Allin in a mostly one-sided match, and he should’ve. As I’ve said before Takeshita is money and he has all the tools to be a major star for All Elite. The heel turn worked very well for him and he looks like a movie villain. He has the size and in-ring ability to be a top guy for AEW. At 28, Takeshita might not even be in his prime yet and could only get better so he’s a talent to build for the future. Darby has cooled off significantly within the past two years and the association with Sting is the only thing that has kept him in the conversation. Don’t get me wrong, Darby has a unique charisma and can connect with the audience, but his reckless style will undoubtedly shorten his career. Unfortunately, when he’s not doing ridiculous tricycle stunts at skateboard events, he takes bumps that add zero to his matches. Some might try to compare him to Cactus Jack, but he isn’t the level of performer that Mick Foley was, and because of that Darby Allin’s bumps are mostly cannon fodder that are usually forgotten after the segment concludes. Furthermore, Allin claims he wants to climb Mount Everest this year, and he can’t draw money for AEW if he’s climbing through the snow so there’s no reason to truly spotlight him.

The main event of Daniel Garcia vs. Swerve Strickland was puzzling. Garcia is a good athlete and seems to have some potential, but he was more or less used as a glorified jobber in the Continental Classic so his stock as a character is at a rather low point. Swerve’s popularity is on an upswing, but he was booked in a rather pointless match at the Worlds End pay-per-view against Keith Lee before Dustin Rhodes was added as a replacement. As noted, Dustin’s selling did more to establish Swerve’s character than anything from his other recent matches. I still think Strickland is rather bland from a character prospective, but he’s undoubtedly over with the AEW audience. The biggest takeaway from this segment should be that if management thinks that Garcia, and more specifically, Swerve can have major roles in the company this year then there should be a specific effort to feature them in more prominent segments on television.

Granted, this episode of Dynamite didn’t have the usual level of star power, but it gave a glimpse at a different direction. Make no mistake about it, star power is important, that’s why the show is on national TV, but there must be a push toward where AEW looks to be two or three years from now. Bryan Danielson is one of the best in-ring performers of all-time, and I hope he can wrestle as long as his health allows it, but he already confirmed that he will retire from full-time action this year. Adam Copeland is 50, Sting is retiring in two months, Kenny Omega was sidelined with diverticulitis, and Chris Jericho probably shouldn’t be back on television until the recent accusations against him are resolved. All Elite Wrestling has a lot of names on the roster, but how many stars do they truly have?

The opportunity for a new direction for the television show is there and the talent has the potential to be money-drawing stars, but the problem is, there will probably be very little or any follow-up next week on Dynamite.

What do you think? Share your thoughts, opinions, feedback, and anything else that was raised on Twitter @PWMania and

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

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