Did Dustin Rhodes vs CM Punk meet your expectations in their AEW Dynamite encounter?
Dustin Rhodes in AEW has been a mixed bag so far, for the casual AEW fan. He seemed to disappear from time to time from AEW Dynamite, with some fans presuming he was a part-timer who was slowing down so much that he could only wrestle on AEW Dark whilst training the next generation of superstars.
However, when he does pop up on AEW Dynamite, he always puts on an incredible show and showcases just why he has been known as The Natural since he first stepped into the ring. While fans remember his incredible match against Cody Rhodes at AEW Double or Nothing 2019, he has put on classic after classic every time he steps into the ring on AEW Dynamite, in a old-school style of match that is seldom seen in an AEW ring, where high-paced spot fest are the usual dish of the day.
Dustin Rhodes vs CM Punk proved that there is still a place for Old-School wrestling in AEW, and there is still room for Dustin Rhodes in the main event of AEW.
Dustin Rhodes vs CM Punk
Dustin Rhodes took on CM Punk on this weeks AEW Dynamite, in only his third match of 2023. The Natural has taken on a part time schedule in AEW in recent years, as he trains recruits in The Nightmare Factory to become the stars of tomorrow in wrestling.
However, when he does make an appearance on AEW Dynamite, Dustin Rhodes brings his A-Game and always impresses. His most impressive match prior to this came in October, when he took on Bryan Danielson in the AEW eliminator tournament. Rhodes lost the match, but the pair pulled of a 4.25 star match that had the live crowd in a frenzy at the well-crafted story that transpired in the ring.
Dustin Rhodes vs CM Punk followed in the footsteps of Danielson vs Rhodes, but told a different story in the ring that took the crowd on a ride. CM Punk almost played a heel in this match, targeting the knee of the aging Dustin Rhodes, systematically tearing him down and stopping the former Intercontinental champion in his tracks.
The match told a simple story, with a slow pace and an old-school feel to it. CM Punk was on top of the larger Rhodes, using his technical wrestling ability and limb-focused attacks to neutralise his mobility. CM Punk targeting the knee of Rhodes even garnered boos from the crowd, who sympathised with Dustin Rhodes and his incredible selling.
CM Punk even paid tribute to Bret Hart, who is rumoured to be signing for AEW to manage either FTR or CM Punk. CM Punk vs Dustin Rhodes featured spots from Bret Hart vs Goldust matches in WWE in the 1990s, harkening back to both men’s alleged peaks.
CM Punk would even win the match with the same pinfall as Bret Hart’s defeat against British Bulldog at Summerslam 1992. It was a clear nod to the careers of both Hart and Rhodes, combined with a simple yet compelling story that both men performed to perfection.
CM Punk beat Dustin Rhodes to further his chase for the AEW Championship, even being greeted on the ramp by Adam Page after the match. Adam Page vs CM Punk is heavily rumoured for AEW Double or Nothing 2022, and fans will be torn on whether they want to see Adam Page or CM Punk walk out with the AEW Championship.
Dustin Rhodes in AEW
After Dustin Rhodes vs CM Punk, fans have been asking to see more of The Natural in an AEW ring. Rhodes has shown that he has the ability to work a top class match in AEW, and even has a championship run in his future.
Whilst an AEW Championship reign is out of the question for the 53 year old, Dustin Rhodes lust for gold could look further afield. A TNT Championship win is not impossible, but his future may lie in winning gold in AEW’s sister promotion Ring of Honor. A ROH Championship reign would top a wonderful career for Rhodes, would could have incredible matches with the likes of Samoa Joe, Jonathan Gresham and Dalton Castle.
CM Punk vs Dustin Rhodes showed that Dustin can still be a main event level talent in the right environment, and Ring of Honor might just be the place for it.
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Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.