AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT
We’re back with even more AEW! After Jericho revealed his heel faction last week, will Cody and the rest of THE ELITE band together to face this latest threat? More importantly though, WILL LUCHASAURUS SHOW UP THIS TIME!? Seriously, he wasn’t on LAST week and that’s one too many weeks without Luchasaurus! Let’s hope for the best and take a look at the second episode of AEW Dynamite!
The Young Bucks (Nick Jackson and Matt Jackson) Vs. Private Party (Marq Quen and Isaiah Kassidy) – Tag Team Tournament
Now THIS is a great way to start the show! I’m a bit cooler on the Young Bucks than a lot of people but there’s no doubt that they are IMMENSELY popular, and I really like what I’ve seen of Private Party so far as they already look poised to be the fan favorites of the company. Hopefully AEW (unlike what WWE does with a lot of their more talented tag teams) won’t let these two sit on the sidelines for half of their career with this match is a good indication that they won’t. The match itself was pretty great as both teams are so absolutely fantastic as tag team wrestlers, and Private Party being a lot more straightforward in their style helped to minimize some of the issues I tend to have with The Young Bucks when they’re up against teams like The Lucha Bros. In fact, what I found particularly interesting is that The Bucks fought like heels for the most part as Private Party were the ones fighting earnestly with big moves and lots of effort while The Bucks come off as much more cocky and taking their time to show off. Heck, they even use a few underhanded moves like when Nick does a blind tag and another instance where Matt drops Kassidy on the steel ramp. When they were doing the PPVs, it was a bit hard to tell where they would fall with their endless feud against the Lucha Bros (pretty much being baby faces by default), but I’m all for it if they real are planning on being heels. They don’t have to be the nastiest players in this (I’m pretty Jericho and his crew have that covered), but being part of THE ELITE has always felt more like a heel position and it’s what has made Cody’s status as a face always feel a bit questionable. Surprising absolutely everyone (myself included), Private Party actually won against The Young Bucks which puts them in a VERY good position in the tournament taking down the odds on favorite so early. Like I said, AEW seems to know what to do with young talent like this and I’m glad that The Bucks are willing to step aside to give them such a huge push right now. It’s probably my favorite thing they’ve done since I’ve started watching AEW!
After the match, Jericho comes out with his merry men of bad guys (Sammy Guevara, Jake Hager, and LAX) and takes a good ten minutes to jabber on the mic and make sweet audible love to the teeming masses. A lot of it is exposition to make sure everyone is up to speed on the title picture, but he can make reading a thesaurus look good and I’m glad that AEW hasn’t COMPLETELY abandoned larger than life characters who are allowed to just talk in the ring. What we learn from all this is that Jericho’s faction is called THE INNER CIRCLE (so far it’s reminding me of Ric Flair’s faction in TNA known as Four-tune) and that Jake Hager’s collared shirt from the last episode was not a one off; apparently that’s his look going forward which is a shame because it makes him look like a TOTAL dork. Look, maybe this is yet another unbridled talent that will finally have a chance to shine in a promotion that knows what the heck to do with him, but I don’t know who Jack Swagger or Jake Hager is, and him just staring blankly into the camera with a silly shirt on doesn’t scream AMAZING WRESTLING TALENT as it does I FORGOT ALL MY LINES. Aside from that though, it was a great way to solidify them as the big heel faction of the company which will certainly keep things interesting in the weeks leading up to the next PPV.
Jimmy Havoc Vs. Darby Allin – Winner faces Jericho for the AEW Championship
Before the match we get a promo from Jimmy Havoc which is actually the first time I’ve heard him speak… and he sounded kinda weird to me. In fact, the more I see of Jimmy Havoc, the more I need to reevaluate my initial assessment of the guy. With the way he dresses as well as his slender and lanky frame, I first pegged him as being rather young with a very Raven style character; more or less a goth or emo kid taking revenge against the jocks. However, the more I see of him the more seasoned he comes off as and I’m not quite sure how to classify him in terms of other professional wrestlers we’ve seen. Perhaps the guy he most resembles is Dean Ambrose back before he got injured; back when he looked like a cross between Liam McPoyle and City Mac. That version of Dean which I also see in Jimmy has a very non-traditional wrestler look which makes them almost an outsider by default and I like that quite a bit, though it’s not quite as stark a distinction in AEW which is definitely after a lot more non-traditional talent that WWE goes for. Overall, it was a solid match. Jimmy and Darby Allin aren’t over the top gymnasts that The Bucks and Private Party are, but they manage to hold their own with some very impressive moves in a one on one match that ISN’T using hardcore rules. They’re not just a bunch of meat heads smashing each other over the head with garbage cans; they can work a match just fine without relying on weapons or bloodshed which I definitely appreciate seeing. Darby Allin wins the match with a coffin drop from the top rope which means that he’s going up against Jericho next week for the AEW championship. While I would have preferred Jimmy Havoc get the chance even if it’s obvious that Jericho is keeping the belt, the match will no doubt be impressive and as good an incentive as any to tune in next week.
Emi Sakura & Bea Priestley Vs. Riho & Britt Baker
It seems a bit odd to me that the Women’s champ is in a thrown together tag team match instead of defending her title, but if it means we get to see both Emi Sakura (aka The Magnificent Freddy Mercury Impersonator) and Bea Priestly, then I guess I can’t complain too much. Britt Baker on the other hand… I don’t know. To me, it feels like half the reason she’s even on this show is the novelty of a doctor who is also a wrestler, but I just haven’t been impressed with what I’ve seen from her so far; especially since the last time she teamed up with Riho at Fight for the Fallen where she tagged the wrong partner and didn’t do much else of note. I hope AEW doesn’t try to push her too quickly; not just because of her own greenness, but because Riho really is a wrestling champ and proves it once again here. She throws a hundred and ten percent into every move she makes which really gets the crowd cheering and she is more than willing to get flung around the room like a rag doll which only adds to the drama of the match. I did like this match for the most part, but the thrown together feeling of the setup reflects a lot of the match itself. Bea Priestly is really underutilized here and I couldn’t even tell if she was ever officially tagged in because any moves she DID do were outside the ring. Riho pops like nobody’s business, but even she feels a bit like an afterthought by the end with most of the finish being between Britt Baker and Emi Saukura; the former of whom I will admit has improved quite a bit. I think she does hold her own in the match and doesn’t feel out of place like she did in her Fight for the Fallen match, and the more I see of Sakura the more impressed I am with her skills as well as her Queen gimmick, which is admittedly a rather simplistic thing to mark out for but I enjoy it regardless. Overall, some VERY great maneuvers with Riho proving once again that she really does deserve to be the most prominent women in this division, and everyone else getting a chance to shine in their own way even if the overall package is a bit slapdash and messy. There’s a post-match brawl between Britt Baker and Bea Priestly which I guess is setting up some sort of rivalry for the two of them, but honestly I’m not going to get invested in that until at least one of them explains what their beef is with the other.
After the match we get a brief promo with The Best Friends who admittedly aren’t great on the mic, but their buddy Orange Cassidy does make an appearance and basically saves the bit all by himself. SOME people (I won’t name names her but you can probably guess who the cranky wrestling dude is) may say that he’s an absolute disgrace to the business, but the guy has some serious charisma and found a way to make such a low key gimmick actually work which is a lot more than some other wrestlers can manage with much larger than life personas.
Jon Moxley Vs. Shawn Spears (accompanied to the ring by Tully Blanchard)
For the first third of this match I thought that Shawn Spears was being a ridiculously good sport as John Moxley beat the CRAP out of him like he’s some low level jobber. After that initial burst of brutal offense from Moxley however, it feels like he loses steam and rather pretty quickly; to the point that Shawn seems to be carrying him through the match. For a while there I was starting to worry that Moxley reinjured himself, especially with how much he was nursing his arm, but I haven’t found any news yet to confirm if that was the case. Maybe it was a work, but for me it kinda dragged the match down; the same way that seeing Daniel Bryan do ANY injury spot immediately gets me more scared than excited. Even if I didn’t have that in the back of my mind, the pacing felt a bit off with SO much speed and offense at first but then an almost instantaneous switch to a slower more methodical pace before ramping back up at the end. I understand that you don’t want to go at full speed for an ENTIRE match (especially one that’s more than a few minutes), but the balance wasn’t quite right here and it made for an uneven match for me and it wasn’t quite what I wanted to see from Moxley right out of the gate. He perhaps needed something more like the MJF match from last week where he could run roughshod the entire time and win impressively rather than squeak by with his endurance which is what the match LOOKED like it was going to do before it stomped on the breaks. Then again, if we go into this with TOO high expectations for the guy then there’s no way he can live up to them, so I won’t be too critical on it. What actually made the whole thing worth it was after the match (Moxley won with something called a Paradigm Shift) when Kenny Omega came out with a barb wire bat and a barb wire broom; both of which were as equally baffling as they were AWESOME! Kenny tosses the bat at Moxley so they can have a fair barb wire weapon fight, but Pac comes from behind and bashes Omega in the head with a chair. This gave Moxley an opening to really lay into Omega now that he’s clutching his head on the ground, but Moxely throws down his weapon and just heads to the back. I’m glad they bothered to establish that Moxley is not an out and out heel (something more like a chaotic neutral) and hopefully they’ll keep building up this Omega feud until the PPV.
Hangman Adam Page & Dustin Rhodes Vs. Chris Jericho & Sammy Guevara (accompanied to the ring by Jake Hager)
In what is surely to be the first of many fights between these two factions, we’ve got another thrown together tag team match. I guess The Young Bucks couldn’t go up against LAX this week since they were fought Private Party at the start of the show (perhaps being a part of this feud is why they were removed from the tournament so quickly), so let’s just get a bunch of people in the ring and make sure Jericho is there to bump it up a bit. It’s a sound if somewhat bland setup for a main event, but the match ends up being pretty impressive for the most part so I can’t complain. Hangman looks better here than he has since AEW began and frankly so does Dustin as they hey actually work pretty well together which is surprising since, as far as I know, they haven’t worked as a team before. Both have a lot more pop to their movements with a fire that makes it feel like they’re really fighting for something. It helps that Sammy and Jericho are so willing to take the punishment that these two are dishing out with the former taking some especially brutal hits from both of them. Dustin remains in control as the match comes closer to the end, but Jake Haggar runs in like a freaking cannonball and just runs over Dustin while Sammy distracts the ref. Jericho takes this opportunity to pin Dustin to win the match. Naturally the bad guys start to beat up the faces after the match, but the lights go out and when they come back, CODY IS IN THE RING!! HE destroys Sammy in half a second and is face to face with Jericho, foreshadowing their match at Full Gear, but LAX runs in and lays waste to him which just leads to more and more Chaos. MJF runs in with a chair and a PHENOMENAL scarf, and he is soon followed by The Young Bucks to back up Cody’s faction that seems to get the upper hand, and then out of nowhere Darby Allin comes in to pound Jericho into the dirt as a preview to his match with him next week and is the last straw to driving off the heels who all head to the back with Jericho hurling insults along the way. The last episode established the heels of AEW while this one establishes the face faction led up by THE ELITE as a competent foe against them which will presumably be the overarching story for AEW over the next few months. It’s a great way to finish the episode and it was a great episode for the most part as well.
Some of the matches felt a bit thrown together and I do feel there is a problem with the refereeing (they need to have a bit more authority and the wrestlers need to stop pushing their boundaries as hard), but I’m still encouraged by what I see; especially Jericho’s heel faction which is the best decision they could have made and I’ll continue to admit that I was wrong to say he shouldn’t get the belt at the end of the All Out PPV. With this heel faction backing him up (and compensating for some his shortcomings as a physical performer at this point), they genuinely have something that will grab people’s attention which is what they really need right now to stay afloat and keep the competition feeling nervous. Let’s hope they can keep up the momentum next week, and for crying out loud put Jurassic Express on TV already!!