CHICAGO – As AEW made its way back to its second home of Chicago, fresh off the heels of Forbidden Door, GM and CEO Tony Khan built up anticipation in media interviews and social media in the days leading up promising a big card. The show would be revealed as the return of the “Beach Break” Dynamite TV special in conjunction with Discovery TV “Shark Week.” It seems that the hype paid off as the Wintrust Arena, which has become a hot spot in recent years for AEW hosting various Dynamites, was able to get a solid attendance in the building, breaking 5,000 tickets which was able to basically fill the arena with the stage implemented.

As the crowd filed in, the show began featuring two hometown stars in Skye Blue and Colt Cabana who each participated in Ring Of Honor matches to get the crowd hot. This would be a good indicator that these fans were ready to see some action and this would be a crowd that cared about the wrestling they went to see. Local heroes are a way to get a pop from the fans early on a long show.

When the show began live on TBS, Bryan Danielson was be the first to make the walk and was welcomed with open arms by the Chicago crowd. As it was a hot opener between Danielson and PAC, as The American Dragon continues to tell the story of his injured neck and arm throughout this Owen Hart Foundation tournament and some audience members in sections around could be heard wondering if he was hurt and some even thinking that he would lose the bout. Bryan has done a great job with his overall selling of the injury, whether some of it is legitimate or not, the people in attendance are certainly getting a nail-biting experience watching who some might consider the greatest ever give it a go for his last full-time run.

As for the women’s bracket of The Owen, Willow Nightingale is a fan favorite by all accounts and is someone who AEW should be keeping around as a possible soon to be world champion. Willow who has been able to organically keep the crowd on her side whether it be on social media or in person, and she is receiving some of the biggest pops of the night in the arena, even in the pre-match backstage promo that was shown. The Wintrust Arena exploded when she hit her signature pounce on the stage to Kris Statlander. Good work here from both and two future world champions along with the possible future face of the brand in Willow.

The night rolled on as Mark Briscoe declared himself for Team AEW in the Blood and Guts match, occurring in the coming weeks. This is important to note for the fact that Jack Perry and the Elite continue to attract all the boos in the world in Chicago, getting one of the deepest heel reactions for the night but not the biggest, yet.

Merchandise at AEW Dynamite in Chicago on July 3, 2024. Photo by Gio Alvarez

Merchandise at AEW Dynamite in Chicago on July 3, 2024. Photo by Gio Alvarez

It was evident that after Forbidden Door this crowd was excited to see Britt Baker. Multiple Britt Baker DMD signs were spotted in the crowd and the leadup for this in the arena genuinely felt like something was important and the crowd knew why. When it was advertised that both Britt and Mercedes Moné would be on the card for separate segments, I was intrigued to see how they would blend the two, knowing that the two faces of the women’s division would have to come face to face. Britt received a nice reaction from the crowd which would ultimately be spoiled by Mercedes, who was shown entering the arena and getting kudos from the EVPs, cementing her as the top heel in the women’s division. If that was not enough, she was not even able to start off her promo without receiving heavy heat from Chicago, which quite frankly is where she should be character wise anyways. Everything looks to be leading to a classic face of AEW versus invading face (heel) of AEW matchup at Wembley Stadium and if most of the fans and promo can match the energy of this, there might be a classic build in store for AEW with a heel Mercedes possibly able to give the best work of her career to date.

Rounding out the night was the return of Hangman Adam Page, who entered the Wild Card spot of the opposite side of the men’s Owen bracket. Earlier in the night, I had the chance to see who fans thought would be the wild card and almost everyone was confident that the return of Hangman would be in that spot. A huge reaction for the ace of the company who looks to be heading for Swerve and the World Championship.

Lastly, the biggest reaction of the night bar none was for the current reigning and defending AEW International Champion, Will Ospreay, coming off a loss to Swerve for the World title at Forbidden Door. Despite the defeat over the weekend, Ospreay continues to win over the AEW audience week by week and proving that he is one of the best around in the ring. The crowd going to these shows absolutely love this guy, and he comes off as a big deal that is proud to be the guy to lead AEW into the future. Even with the “Ospreay” chants that are in his theme song, they might as well not be the way that this crowd was chanting it so loud.

It would be an injustice to close this piece without mentioning MJF, who is a true scumbag and someone who knows what to do to get people upset. MJF closed the show cementing himself as the top heel in the company and proving why he ended up re-signing with AEW going on a second run of what he does best. Nuclear heat for MJF here, turning on fan favorite Daniel Garcia, leaving him a bloody mess and having to be stretchered out.

Overall, it was a fun show and one of the better Dynamite episodes of the year. I feel as someone in the crowd, AEW might be finding their rhythm again with all the stories that are looking to form leading up the All In at Wembley. Multiple stories are forming, multiple characters are starting to get over and find themselves along with getting the fans to open up more on who they are confident in who they should be booing and cheering with new developments with stars like MJF and Mercedes Moné.

TOP PHOTO: Fans with signs at AEW Dynamite in Chicago on July 3, 2024. Photo by Gio Alvarez


AEW Dynamite: MJF reverts to scumbag ways