Since its inception, AEW Dynamite has been the flagship show for All Elite Wrestling creating unforgettable moments for the past four years. Dynamite brought a caliber of matches to American television that had previously not been known for years, making Wednesday nights can’t-miss television. Throughout the years, some episodes stuck out more than others, and here are my top five AEW Dynamite episodes of all-time heading into Dynamite 200.
Number 5: AEW Dynamite Winter is Coming 2020
The pandemic era of AEW was possibly my favorite era of AEW and truly brought my love for wrestling back, and this episode combined all the reasons AEW was so terrific in 2020. Two AEW originals, MJF, and Orange Cassidy, kicked off the show by winning the Dynamite Diamond Ring battle royal, setting up a match between the two men the next week on Dynamite. Establishing MJF and Orange Cassidy has paid off massive dividends today and this was really just the beginning for these two men. Later in the night, Darby Allin and Cody Rhodes faced Ricky Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs, a very fun setup match that would eventually lead to the debut of ‘The Icon’ Sting.
This was one of the most unexpected, but well-received debuts, and started the expectation that these special Dynamites would be free pay-per-views on television. In the main event of the show, we saw the beginning of Kenny Omega’s belt collector gimmick. Omega would screw over Jon Moxley for the AEW World Championship, in some of the best heel work in AEW at the time. Overall, with the originals picking up a big win, the debut of Sting, and a World Title change on Dynamite this episode belongs in the top five.
Number 4: AEW Dynamite January 11, 2023
The show opened with the start of a massive rivalry match between Jon Moxley and ‘Hangman’ Adam Page. The match was rated four and a fourth stars by Wrestling Observer Newsletter, which is an extremely solid rating for a television opening match. Later in the night, Bryan Danielson took on Konosuke Takeshita in one of the best pure wrestling matches this year. The hard-hitting Danielson and the speed and quickness of Takeshita matched up perfectly. The women’s match on the show was a ton of fun with massive babyfaces Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D. and Jamie Hayter taking on Saraya and Toni Storm. In the main event, we saw match seven in the best-of-seven series between The Elite and Death Triangle.
The talent of these six men is unmatched, and when they were put in a ladder match it made for an exhilarating main event in the KIA Forum. Additionally, Adam Cole made his surprise return to this episode, which was kept a secret from nearly everyone in the arena that night. A very rare return not leaked by the dirt sheets these days. A perfect balance of well-done wrestling and big moments in this edition of Dynamite.
Number 3: AEW Dynamite Beach Break 2022
While we are on the subject of ladder matches, there is no better singles ladder match in the history of AEW than Sammy Guevara vs Cody Rhodes for the TNT championship. These two wrestlers went all out for Cody’s last match in AEW with insane spots that left Cody taking the majority of the bumps. A cutter and Cross Rhodes off the top of the ladder were the most memorable spots of this match, but you couldn’t ever write enough about how good this contest was. CM Punk and MJF had their final showdown on the mic before their first singles match against one another, really heating up the best feud in AEW history.
In the main event, Orange Cassidy took on Adam Cole in AEW’s first male lights-out match. Sure, a lot of people complained about the finish of this match, but if you go watch it back the match was better than you thought. I was there live for this episode of Dynamite, which is probably why I am so fond of it, but the talent and matches on this show made it unforgettable.
Number 2: AEW Dynamite Blood & Guts 2023
When Blood & Guts is advertised viewers know the match is going to get just about half the show to work with, so if the other hour is solid you have a chance for an all-timer, and boy was it ever. Jack Perry and HOOK put on a surprisingly good opening match, which saw Perry officially turn full heel and win the FTW championship. MJF and Adam Cole won the final match in the tag team eliminator tournament, which included a hilarious dance-off and of course a double clothesline. The perfect balance of comedy for the violence that was set to occur in the second hour.
The Blood and Guts match was glorious pro wrestling violence, with the debut of Kota Ibushi being the cherry on top of the already world-class wrestlers in the match. The Elite taking win signified the end of a tremendous feud between the Blackpool Combat Club and The Elite, putting an end to the argument of who is the best faction in All Elite Wrestling. The big stars showed out on this show making for the best Blood & Guts event in the three editions of the event.
Number 1: AEW Dynamite Grand Slam 2021
This event encapsulated the golden era of AEW. So many recent debuts either wrestled or appeared in AEW’s biggest event ever at the time. The show opened with Bryan Danielson making his AEW in-ring debut against Kenny Omega. A dream match, which fans were already going nuts for as soon as the bell rang. Two of the world’s best wrestlers in the world going at it for 30 minutes was just as good as you would expect and more. Malaki Black defeated Cody Rhodes later in the night, which fans hoped would push him into stardom but hasn’t worked out as such. Nonetheless, it felt like a star-making moment at the time, which is why I remember it being such a well-done moment.
CM Punk gave a tremendous babyface promo that reminded us that he was still the same star he always was. The mentor and protégé pairing of Darby Allin and Sting would tag against FTR in the co-main event. This was the match everyone learned that Sting could still go even after all these years. This match was sub-10 minutes, but man did they make the most of their time. In the main event, we saw the biggest spot women have ever got in AEW to date. A 13-minute contest between Britt Baker and Ruby Soho for the AEW World Championship in the main event of Dynamite. A perfect ending to a near-perfect episode, giving stars that don’t get a chance to shine often, a chance to shine in the main event of the biggest Dynamite ever.
Dynamite has given us fans so many tremendous moments and matches over the years, and tonight AEW celebrates 200 Dynamites, but we can still look back and appreciate the top five episodes of all time.