5 Big Takeaways from AEW Dynamite - Jan 18, 2023

It was a night filled with plenty of action, as AEW Dynamite was presented LIVE from the Save-Mart Center in Fresno, CA

5 Big Takeaways from AEW Dynamite - Jan 18, 2023

AEW continued their Road to Revolution as Dynamite aired live from the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California. This week's episode was filled with two dynamic title matches with All-Atlantic Champion Orange Cassidy defending against Jay Lethal, and TNT Champion Darby Allin defending against the debuting Kushida.

Once again, All Elite Wrestling made sure to keep the show packed with many of their biggest names, and 2023 has started off briskly for the promotion. They slumped toward the end of last year, but they have certainly fired back. It's made for a lot more compelling television in the past few weeks, as Tony Khan & Company have seemingly righted the ship - at least for now.

Revolution always seems to set the table for the year, so the build-up and follow-through right now will be critical for the weeks and months ahead. AEW will be dealing with a lot of roster turnover in short order, so it's to their advantage to set their chess pieces now.

They definitely did that again this week, with another strong performance. Here are five things that stuck out on this week's episode of AEW Dynamite.

#1 - A Freshly Squeezed Title Defense opened the show

Even after over three years, Orange Cassidy remains one of the most popular stars in AEW. And for good reason. He's got a fan-friendly gimmick and plays the role of the underdog perfectly. He especially relates to the younger members of the audience, many of whom dress up like the Freshly Squeezed One.

While the All-Atlantic Championship hasn't exactly blown the fans away, it's gaining prestige with Cassidy as the title holder. The 38-year-old star has finally struck gold in All Elite Wrestling after a long climb, and the faithful are loving every minute of him being on top.

Cassidy scored an impressive victory over veteran Jay Lethal, with Lethal's cohorts (Jeff Jarrett, Satnam Singh, and Sonjay Dutt) relegated to sitting ringside for the match. Right now, Orange is ripe for a long title run, and it's hard to imagine him getting picked off any time soon.

#2 - Is Top Flight the next tag team to soar in AEW?

Critics can say what they want about the promotion, but it's been home to some of the greatest tag teams in wrestling today. While The Acclaimed sits atop the division as the World Tag Team Champions, they have to be wary of the talent and depth that's currently chasing them.

The latest team that appears poised to take the next step forward is Top Flight. The dynamic duo grabbed an upset win over The Young Bucks in what has to be their biggest win thus far in AEW. They've been on a bit of a hot streak lately, and the pair would make a great match-up somewhere down the road with The Acclaimed.

In the meantime, all Top Flight can continue to do is keep mowing down the competition. Even a possible long-term feud would be a great stepping stool for the Martin Brothers, provided that they come out on top in the end. Now finally healthy, they could be realistically positioned to wear the gold before the end of 2023.

#3 -  After months of engaging in a 'sibling rivalry,' The Acclaimed and The Gunn Club will engage in some family therapy. At least... according to Daddy Ass

These five men started together, so they might as well end this whole thing together.

It's been months since Billy Gunn chose The Acclaimed over his own sons, Austin and Colten, as the group was torn apart by jealousy. After a long period of being on the outs, it appears that Daddy Ass wants everyone to make amends. He's called for a temporary truce and some 'family therapy' to solve all their issues.

This thing could be going in a lot of directions. It may lead to a reunification of the two teams - forming a super unit. However, the more likely scenario is Billy Gunn finally turning on his 'adopted sons' and re-aligning with his biological ones.

When it finally happens? It's really going to be a shame, as The Acclaimed, Billy, and their scissoring act have been ridiculously popular with the fans. However, this storyline arc always seemed like it was headed for a blood-is-thicker-than-water conclusion. If that's the case, it's likely taking shape right now.

#4 - The Bryan Danielson Saga should lead to him eventually dethroning MJF

AEW fans waited for months for the promotion to hand MJF the keys to the castle. And in somewhat melodramatic form, they did so. However, it hasn't been the windfall that they were hoping for thus far.

Could it be time for a change right now, and then return to The Salt of the Earth later? In short... Yes.

This wouldn't make Max Friedman's first reign a failure; it would have plenty of time behind it. At the same time, it gives the promotion a chance to step back and possibly have a better go at it when he regains the belt. Even Ric Flair went through the same type of growing process. His first championship run wasn't what many thought it should be. So, he dropped the gold, only to return as a better candidate the next time around. He would go on to dominate the belt from there for nearly a decade.

MJF could follow that same blueprint with the AEW World Championship. There would be no shame in him losing to a well-tested American Dragon. And it would mean even more to see Friedman rally back to recapture his title later.

#5 - Darby Allin retains the TNT Championship 

The two-time TNT Champion put the gold on the line in the main event against Kushida. The Japanese star emerged with his 'Back to the Future' gimmick and a nice reaction from the AEW audience.

However, he was going against one of the promotion's most popular figures. The pop for Darby was amplified when the icon Sting walked out by his side. Needless to say, the face-painted pair stole the show from there.

The rock-solid Kushida handed Allin one hell of a contest and gained lots of exciting near-falls. Throughout the entire bout, he countered Darby's high-flying offense with counters and submissions that told a terrific story.

Kushida's performance in this match alone is reason enough to hope that Khan continues to book him at this mid-card level. It's easy to picture this former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion being in the mix for a TNT or All-Atlantic title reign eventually.

While that may sound far-fetched considering AEW's plethora of talent, Kushida is an exciting performer nonetheless who (at the very least) deserves a closer look and more TV time. Let's hope he receives it.

In the end, Allin retained when he locked Kushida into a nifty pinfall and a quick conclusion. The two men then shared a moment of mutual respect and a friendly handshake.

Darby's momentum continues in his second run with the belt, and he doesn't look to be dropping it anytime soon. He remains one of AEW's most consistent performers - a homegrown superstar that has lived up to their expectations and more.