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Hall’s AEW Dynamite: Grand Slam 2023 Review

September 20, 2023 | Posted by Thomas Hall
AEW Dynamite MJF Image Credit: AEW
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Hall’s AEW Dynamite: Grand Slam 2023 Review  

Date: September 20, 2023
Location: Arthur Ashe Stadium, New York City, New York
Commentators: Excalibur, Tony Schiavone, Taz

It’s time for a(nother) big show with Grand Slam from a big old tennis stadium in New York. This time around we have a major main event as well, with MJF defending the World Title against Samoa Joe. That should make for a heck of a match, with some more title matches sprinkled throughout. Let’s get to it.

Opening sequence.

Ring Of Honor World Title/New Japan Strong Openweight Title: Claudio Castagnoli vs. Eddie Kingston

Title for title and Wheeler Yuta is here with Castagnoli. They waste no time in exchanging the forearms and going to the floor. Kingston chops away against the barricade before going after the knee back inside. Castagnoli is fine enough to gutwrench him into a powerbomb but the Neutralizer is blocked. Kingston knocks him to the ramp (because there’s a ramp) but gets suplexed hard onto said ramp. Back in and Castagnoli goes up for a middle rope double stomp but a Swan Dive misses.

We take a break and come back with Kingston Hulking Up and getting two off a backslide. An enziguri sets up a t-bone suplex and a Saito suplex gets two. The rapid fire chops in the corner wake Castagnoli up but a right hand puts him down. They do the big slow motion chop off until Castagnoli hits a clothesline for two.

A Riccola Bomb is countered into a sunset flip for two but Castagnoli uppercuts the heck out of him for two. The Riccola Bomb connects for two more and the New York fans are VERY pleased. Back up and Kingston hits some spinning backfists into the half and half suplex into the third backfist into the northern lights bomb for a very near fall. Another backfist into a powerbomb gives Kingston the pin and the title at 15:16.

Rating: B+. This was a good back and forth match that was carried that much higher by the crowd. The fans were begging to see Kingston win the thing and he FINALLY does so, which thankfully didn’t have to go all the way to Final Battle. I’m not sure I buy Kingston as a long term champion, but they had to do this or Kingston would look like an even bigger choker than before.

Post match Castagnoli begrudgingly shows respect and hands over the title before leaving. Kingston gets the big moment and the fans seem rather pleased.

Earlier this week, the Kingdom was by Roderick Strong’s bedside in the hospital, where he has received a card from Olga thanking him for promoting Neck Health Awareness Month. Strong calls out for Adam Cole, who shows up immediately. Cole trades some barbs with the Kingdom before the two of them leave. Cole has to go as well because of MJF’s title match at Grand Slam, so Roderick tells him to just freaking go.

Christian Cage is ready to take out Sting and Darby Allin, but he’s also ready for Luchasaurus to get a TNT Title shot on Collision, but Sting is barred from ringside. New York baseball jokes are included.

Chris Jericho vs. Sammy Guevara

Guevara has a Jericho style light up vest and gets rapped to the ring by Monteasy. They try the wrestling to start before switching to chopping away. Guevara hits a dropkick but Jericho isn’t happy with him trying the Sex Gods pose. Jericho hits a backbreaker to send him outside but misses the triangle dropkick. Guevara’s dive is broken up and they both crash out to the floor as we take a break.

Back with Jericho hitting a heck of a clothesline for two but Guevara grabs a Codebreaker. Jericho bails to the floor and gets taken out with a moonsault, only to dropkick Guevara out of the air back inside. Another triangle dropkick doesn’t work as Sammy kicks…the air in the general vicinity of Jericho’s head.

A top rope cutter connects but the GTH is countered into the Walls. Guevara breaks that up as well and they both go up top, where Guevara grabs a twisting cutter (cool) for two more. Jericho hits the bulldog but comes back with a knee to the face. The GTH connects this time and Guevara goes up, only to shooting star into the Codebreaker (ok that was awesome) for the pin at 15:09.

Rating: B. Hey look, Jericho wins. I’m not sure what that helps as the whole point was that Jericho was trying to prove he wasn’t a follower but the ending was pretty awesome. They were trying to have Jericho wrestle like he did in the old days and he did that well enough, though there were some not so smooth looking sequences. For now though, good match, albeit with an odd ending.

Post match they hug until Guevara kicks him low. Cue Don Callis, who has a new member of the family, because this was getting interesting and we needed Callis to destroy that as quickly as possible.

MJF has been mad at Samoa Joe for eight years and promises to choke him out. Adam Cole is there for the fist bump but answers a call from Roderick Strong instead. Cole goes off to assure Strong that he isn’t going to die, leaving MJF to promise victory over Joe.

Don Callis promises answers on Rampage. Daniel Garcia comes in and almost gets in an argument with Sammy Guevara but Callis gets Guevara out of there.

International Title: Rey Fenix vs. Jon Moxley

Fenix, with Alex Abrahantes, is challenging. They fight on the ramp before the bell, with Fenix getting the better of things and sending him inside to officially start. Moxley stomps him down and they’re already back on the floor, with Moxley knocking him over the barricade. Fenix tries a barricade walk but gets pulled into a double arm DDT on the floor instead.

Back in and Fenix hits a rolling cutter into a frog splash for two. Fenix knocks him to the floor and drapes him over the apron for a top rope…I think knee? Either way it sends us to a break and we come back with Moxley sending him to the ramp for the stomp. Back in and Moxley hits a piledriver for two. Fenix comes back with a hard shot and the Black Fire Driver for…..two, despite Moxley absolutely not moving. Fenix picks him up and hits another for the pin and the title at 11:34.

Rating: C+. I’m not sure what that was at the end but Moxley looked more than a bit out of it more than once here. He absolutely did not flinch on that first two count and the referee stopped anyway. That was either a really weirdly booked ending or Moxley’s bell was rung. Other than that, this was a lot of Fenix doing his big stuff and getting cut off by Moxley. That started to get old after a bit but then everything went wacky at the end.

Samoa Joe is ready to end MJF.

Post break we’re told that Jon Moxley left the ring under his own power. That’s great to hear.

There’s a big multi-team match on Rampage for a Ring Of Honor Tag Team Title shot.

Women’s Title: Saraya vs. Toni Storm

Saraya, with Ruby Soho, is defending and slaps away to start. Storm smiles at her (Saraya: “WHY ARE YOU SMILING?”) and the brawl is on with Storm taking over. Storm crawls under the ring and comes up with some shoes to beat up Soho. Another shoe to the face gives Storm two on Saraya and we take a break.

Back with Saraya in trouble but Soho steals the spray paint from Storm. Said paint is slipped to Saraya, who blasts Storm in the face and hits the Nightcap for two. Back up and Storm kisses Saraya, setting up Storm Zero for two. The hup attack in the corner misses Saraya (by a lot) but hits exposed buckle. The Nightcap retains the title at 8:49.

Rating: C. Three shoes, an exposed buckle, a kiss and spray paint. That’s more than a bit much for a match that didn’t last nine minutes and it was a mess almost all around. The Outcasts has been kind of all over the place for the last few weeks but there is a good chance that this is going to continue.

Here’s what’s coming on various shows.

Video on Samoa Joe vs. MJF.

AEW World Title: Samoa Joe vs. Maxwell Jacob Friedman

Only MJF’s AEW World Title is on the line. MJF gets a Bret Hart tribute entrance, with a fan catching MJF in the hallway and saying “go get em champ.” MJF gives him his scarf….and tells him he’s adopted. MJF’s jacket and gear is rather New York sports themed and Joe takes over fast to start. A running big boot into the backsplash gets two and we take a break with MJF in trouble.

Back with MJF scoring with a kick to the chest and some clotheslines but Joe won’t go down. Instead Joe drops him again and rips off his Mets inspired jersey. That’s enough to fire MJF up and he hammers away in the corner, setting up a Hulk Hogan impression and the Kangaroo Kick to send Joe outside. Joe is right back up with a Death Valley Driver on the apron and Joe laughs like a villain. Joe release Rock Bottoms him through a table at ringside for two back inside.

They head outside again with Joe peeling back the floor mat for a piledriver and here are the trainers to check on MJF. Joe beats up said trainers and gets two back inside (39 seconds after a piledriver on the exposed floor). MJF spits in his face and grabs a sitout powerbomb before throwing on a sleeper. That’s countered into the Koquina Clutch in all of a second but MJF kicks him low for the escape.

The diamond ring is loaded up but the referee takes it away, allowing Joe to hit his own low blow. The Muscle Buster gets two (that’s a rare kickout) so Joe grabs a sleeper. Cue Adam Cole to cheer MJF on and the third arm drop doesn’t go through. MJF gets his own sleeper but the referee gets bumped. Joe slips out and goes after Cole so MJF unravels some tape to choke Joe out and retain at 18:30.

Rating: B. This worked rather well and it felt like a big time main event, which is all you can ask for in something like this. Well maybe not having another piledriver on the (exposed this time) floor only getting two but that’s an AEW thing. Other than that, MJF cheating to win fit him well and the match didn’t feel long at all. Solid main event here, and MJF is really starting to find himself in this role.

Post match Cole hides the tape and Joe shakes MJF’s hand to end the show (with Cole limping, apparently having hurt his ankle running in).

Eddie Kingston b. Claudio Castagnoli – Powerbomb
Chris Jericho b. Sammy Guevara – Codebreaker
Rey Fenix b. Jon Moxley – Black Fire Driver
Saraya b. Toni Storm – Nightcap
Maxwell Jacob Friedman b. Samoa Joe – Rear naked choke

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
The two International and Women’s Title matches weren’t great but other than that, this was a pretty strong in-ring show. The opener and main event both went very well and I got more into the Kingston win than I expected. There were some not so great moments though, such as Callis being involved and whatever that mess with the Moxley/Fenix ending was (I’m aware that Moxley looked banged up, but it’s hard to believe that was their best way out). Overall, it was a very good show that mostly lived up to the hype, though having this many special shows in a row took away some of big feeling this would have had otherwise. AEW needs a change to take a breather from the big events, but with WrestleDream a week and a half away, that isn’t happening anytime soon.