The night is upon us; for the third consecutive year, All Elite Wrestling descends upon the historic Arthur Ashe Stadium for GRAND SLAM, and with it comes two hours of the greatest professional wrestling in the world live on DYNAMITE this Wednesday! After winning the Grand Slam Eliminator Tournament, ROH World TV Champ Samoa Joe will challenge MJF for the AEW World Championship while Toni Storm takes on her former Outcasts’ ally Saraya with the AEW Women’s World Championship on the line!
Plus, the long-standing grudge between Claudio Castagnoli and Eddie Kingston comes to the forefront when both men put their respective championships on the line in a title versus title fight, and two long-time friends collide for the first-time when Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara lock horns! And in his fourth championship fight in seventeen days, Jon Moxley will meet Rey Fenix in an International Championship fight!
DYNAMITE gets underway at 8pm ET/7pm CT LIVE on TBS, as well as at AEWPlus.com for our international fans, so be sure to check in on the official AEW YouTube channel and watch the highlights from last week’s action during DYNAMITE, RAMPAGE, and COLLISION, plus the CONTROL CENTER, and more!
AEW WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH…
MJF(c) vs. ROH World TV Champion Samoa Joe
In the span of five days from 9/8 to 9/13, the ROH World Television Champion conquered three of the toughest competitors in All Elite Wrestling on path through the Grand Slam World Championship Eliminator Tournament. It began with Jeff Hardy on the 9/8 edition of RAMPAGE, continued with Penta El Zero Miedo the following night on COLLISION, and culminated in a 2023 Owen Hart Foundation Tournament rematch with Roderick Strong. Nearly thirty-five minutes of battle was what it took to get Samoa Joe to the precipice of the AEW World Championship, now he just has to complete the mission by taking Maxwell Jacob Friedman down this Wednesday night at DYNAMITE: GRAND SLAM 2023.
For Joe, this is an issue that became more than just the desire to be AEW World Champion after MJF chose to attack Joe at ALL OUT 2023 following the ROH World TV Champion giving him a little shove as they crossed paths between matches. Given that MJF was coming out of a ROH World Tag Team Championship defense with a hurt neck, perhaps attacking the guy whose primary moves consist of either choking a man out or dropping them on their head with a Muscle Buster may not have been the brightest idea, but for Max it was about the insult of that moment, as well as an insult buried in their history.
As MJF tells it, and as video shows it, one day many years ago, long before Maxwell Jacob Freidman was a name on anyone’s lips, Samoa Joe showed him the kind of disregard that can often befall a rookie when engaging with their seniors. For Joe it was a moment he likely forgot about until MJF began to make his name thus leading the internet to incessantly share the clip, especially once Joe and Max came to share the same space here in AEW. But for MJF, much like his interactions with William Regal many years ago, it was not something that ever left his head space, and in truth something that helped to motivate Max to the heights he’s reached today. It’s pretty clear by now that MJF has had a career fueled by a mix of anger, self-loathing, a need for retribution, and false bravado.
In fact, it would be reasonable to say that it’s only through this friendship with Adam Cole that MJF has found a semblance of motivation based on more than just those things, based on discovering actual self-worth, and an appreciation for those who have supported him despite his massive shortcomings as a decent human being. So the fact that Joe chose to attack Adam Cole as his last statement to MJF prior to this fight, well that is something sure to push Maxwell back into his darkest places, deep into the devil inside, and to add those actions to the ones Samoa Joe committed in 2016 to further motivate his desire to smash the Samoan monster.
There’s just one problem: MJF’s neck, and that it represents a huge target for a man as merciless as the ROH World Television Champion. He will look to suplex Max on that weakened neck until MJF looks like a bobblehead, Joe will look to wrap his arms around that stem and squeeze it until no breath remains in the lungs of Maxwell Jacob Friedman, and he will aim to hoist Max from the top rope, his neck flush against Joe’s shoulder, and to drop the AEW World Champion down with a Muscle Buster to end the misery. Be it the Choke, the Muscle Buster, his signature Island Driver, a massive lariat, or even his underrated Brainbuster, Samoa Joe has a million ways to grind that injured neck of MJF’s to dust.
MJF is going to have to dip into every dirty trick he has in his book to survive this fight with the AEW World Championship still in his possession. Max’s devil will have to come out in all its wretched glory, and even then, it may not be enough to stop Samoa Joe from claiming his first AEW championship title. Just as was the case when he claimed the Ring of Honor Title on March 2003, it would be appropriate if Joe’s first AEW championship was the AEW World Championship, and at this point, in his condition, there may not be anything Max can do to stop Joe’s ascension.
TITLE VS. TITLE…
ROH World Champion Claudio Castagnoli vs.
NJPW STRONG Openweight Champion Eddie Kingston
This is a journey that has encompassed the last two decades in the lives of Claudio Castagnoli and Eddie Kingston, a journey that started during the dawning days of their wrestling careers, and with their first time sharing the ring somewhere in Indiana back in October 2004. They trained together, lived together, fought together, and most importantly, fought each other both inside the ring and out. From their first singles match back in January 2006, through eleven bouts across five different wrestling promotions, up to March 13, 2011, the scales tipped heavily in favor of Claudio with nine wins to Kingston’s two.
One of those bouts was a Respect Match where, upon losing, Eddie was supposed to tell Claudio he respected him, but instead Kingston told the man he did not respect him, and then leveled him with a spinning backfist. As Claudio lay there unconscious, Kingston’s last words to him as he left the ring were “I know you”, and later that night Double C proved Eddie right when he betrayed the entire promotion they were working for at the time, but this is why several weeks ago, Claudio claimed Kingston still owed him a handshake.
There certainly wasn’t going to be respect shown after what ended up being their last one-on-one bout for twelve years, not after the match ended with Claudio beating Eddie thanks to a chain-assisted European Uppercut, and then proceeding to whip him with a belt. Sadly for Kingston, there was a chance to rectify the situation as Claudio departed for “the land of make-believe” as Eddie called it, and did so in a fashion that only served to further infuriate “The Mad King”.
Thus when Claudio came to All Elite Wrestling to join The Blackpool Combat Club, making him an immediate ally of Kingston’s in the second Blood & Guts Cage Match, it infuriated Eddie and it was only due to his relationship with Jon Moxley that Eddie played nice throughout the bout. Still, the hate burned strong, the kind of hate that not time nor distance can quell, the kind of hate that follows both men wherever they go, even to ROH’s SUPERCARD OF HONOR 2023 event where Kingston failed once more to defeat Claudio when the ROH World Championship was at stake.
It was a fight Kingston took injured, an injury that kept him on the shelf for three months, but the hate brought him back for FORBIDDEN DOOR 2023 and even united him with The Elite, men he despises but strange bedfellows and all that, to defeat The Blackpool Combat Club. Just like that, the war with Claudio picked up right where it left off, just as it had after a dozen years apart, and now it has brought them to this point, on Eddie Kingston’s home turf, in front of his family and loved ones, where he will put his NJPW STRONG Openweight Championship on the line against the ROH World Championship of Claudio Castagnoli. Two titles are on the line, but after two decades, this is a fight that means so much more than words can encapsulate, they can only hope to convey a fragment of what it all means.
Will this be the end? Can there ever be an end with hate that runs this deep, with disrespect this ingrained in their dynamic, and bonds shattered so completely? Are Eddie Kingston and Claudio Castagnoli destined for mutually assured destruction, or will Arthur Ashe Stadium finally be the place where their demons are exorcised?
AEW WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH…
Saraya(c) vs. Toni Storm
Speaking of demons, just what has possessed Toni Storm in the weeks since she lost the AEW Women’s World Championship to Hikaru Shida, and had her psyche further fractured by the actions of her fellow Outcasts? Since their formation, it’s always been a lingering question of what may happen should multiple members of The Outcasts find themselves in contention for the AEW Women’s World Champions, and while Saraya, Ruby Soho, and Toni Storm all insisted that things would be fine between them, the reality reared its ugly head as ALL IN: LONDON drew closer.
Then that night, when both Saraya and Toni Storm were in the title match aiming to end Shida’s second reign as champion, it became clear as crystal just what mattered most, and that was getting the championship title around the waist of Saraya. It didn’t matter that Toni striking Saraya’s mother was completely accidental, a fight still broke out between the two Outcasts, and it didn’t matter that Ruby had done nothing in that moment but try to quell the situation, she still got laid out by Toni for her efforts, and it all ultimately led to Saraya pinning Toni to claim the AEW Women’s World Championship.
And then the wheels fell off, though The Outcasts seemed to keep it together for a few days prior to ALL OUT 2023, but that was clearly not the case as Toni Storm cost Ruby Soho the TBS Championship, or rather it be said, prevented Soho from cheating to defeat Kris Statlander, and instead made sure the playing field was a bit more level. That choice made it clear that Toni Storm was an Outcast no more, and her winning the Four Way Eliminator Match to earn this championship fight absolutely solidifies Toni’s excommunication from the group.
But what has Toni become in the last several weeks? She’s clearly not in the same head space she was prior DYNAMITE #200 when she lost the belt to Shida, but just what is this space Toni occupies now? Is this all a mind game? Is it something Saraya and Ruby Soho can even prepare for heading into GRAND SLAM 2023 for the champ’s first title defense? One has to figure that no one knows Saraya like Ruby and Toni, but do Ruby and Saraya know this Toni Storm? After working so hard to come back from a career-ending injury, and having the fans embrace her a year ago at GRAND SLAM 2022 only to turn their backs on what she brought to the table, walking out of Arthur Ashe still champion is essential to Saraya. Can Toni Storm crush that dream and become the first 3-Time AEW Women’s World Champion? Or will Saraya find a way to not only top her old friend, but also rub it in the face of all those who turned away from her since last year?
AEW INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH…
Jon Moxley(c) vs. Rey Fenix
This Wednesday night, in a first-ever match-up, Jon Moxley will defend his AEW International Champion against one-half of the Lucha Brothers, a former AEW & ROH World Tag Team Champion, the incomparable Rey Fenix! As much as this is about the title, it’s also about revenge for Rey Fenix for what went down on the 8/9/23 edition of DYNAMITE between The Blackpool Combat Club and The Lucha Brothers, what was done to his brother in that match, and the injury that kept Fenix from competing in Stadium Stampede at ALL IN: LONDON.
Fenix has never held a singles championship in AEW, though he’s challenged Kenny Omega for the World Title, Hobbs for the TNT Title, Orange Cassidy for the All-Atlantic prior to its leveling up, even taking part in the Blackjack Battle Royale for the International Title at DOUBLE OR NOTHING 2023, but has yet to achieve that singles success to rival his tag team accolades.
So right here, this fight with Jon Moxley, it’s a chance to kill those two proverbial birds, Fenix can get his revenge for that Mox and The BCC did to him and his brother and claim his first AEW singles championship at the same time! Though Fenix prefers his competition honorable, he’s shown in the past a willingness to get down and dirty, even spilling blood in a fight with his own brother several years ago, so Moxley best be prepared for a man as willing to go there as he.
It is clear the defending International Champion intends to keep the same pace as the man he dethroned, likely aiming to surpass the lofty standard set by Orange Cassidy during his reign, but just like it did with “Freshly Squeezed”, eventually it will catch up to Moxley, the question is whether it will be sooner or later, and just who the man will be to lay him low? Will it be Rey Fenix this Wednesday night at GRAND SLAM 2023? Tune into TNT starting at 8pm ET/7pm CT to find out!
Chris Jericho vs. Sammy Guevara
With a history dating back to the very first episode of DYNAMITE, looping from The Inner Circle to The Jericho Appreciation Society, Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara have been through a great deal together, most of it standing side-by-side. They went through the introduction of concepts like Stadium Stampede and Blood & Guts together, competed for the AEW World Trios Championship and were early challengers to the AEW World Tag Team Championship together, and even fought each other over the ROH World Championship at FULL GEAR 2022.
Though Sammy walked away from Jericho and The Inner Circle when it was needed for his own well-being, he came back to the fold when The Jericho Appreciation Society was born, and even spoke of his allegiance to “The DemoGod” when all the others in The J.A.S. abandoned the man for how they felt he took them for granted.
But even with the closest of friends, between the dearest of partners, there comes a time when not all is right, and when even brothers come to blows. That is what is about to happen this Wednesday night on DYNAMITE when, for the first time, Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara collide in singles competition! Though they’ve expressed their desire to unite and pursue tag team success, their egos, and pershaps even some ill will for recent events, has made it difficult for the two men to stay on the same page, even in victory. Perhaps Jericho feels that Sammy is more underling than equal, perhaps Guevara feels the student has surpassed the teacher, whatever the case may be, these two brothers came to the conclusion that the only way past their issues is to confront them with violence done unto each other.
So like a pair of Cain’s without an Abel in sight, Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara will lock horns inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, and we shall see if either survives to pursue their supposed tag team aspirations!
DYNAMITE begins at 8pm ET/7pm CT LIVE on TBS, as well as at AEWPlus.com for our international fans, so be sure to visit the official AEW YouTube channel and catch up on highlights from last week’s episodes of DYNAMITE, RAMPAGE, and COLLISION, as well the newest edition of THE CONTROL CENTER, and so much more!