AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT
We’re back with even more AEW action! With Chris Jericho’s stable running roughshod over the AEW locker room and the Tag Team Tournament well underway, AEW already has a lot of balls in the air to keep track of this early into its run. Can they keep up this balancing act while continuing to put on great matches? Let’s find out!!
SCU (Scorpio Sky and Frankie Kazarian) Vs Best Friends (Chuck Taylor and Trent Beretta) – Tag Team Tournament
You may be wondering why I listed Scorpio Sky as a competitor when he made it clear he would NOT be in the match last week. Well before the match can even begin, SCU gets jumped by The Lucha Bros before they can even make it to the ramp. Christopher Daniels gets injured badly enough that Scorpio Sky has to sub for him. I’m sure I made this clear before, but I really don’t like injury spots on wrestling shows. It’s VERY clear here that it’s a work and that Daniels isn’t injured, but I really don’t think it makes for good television to have a guy being dragged out on a stretcher like this. Sure, if you’re REALLY goofing it up you can get away with it, but it just feels too real in an industry where that kind of thing can ACTUALLY happen. The match itself is as solid as AEW tag matches tend to be. SCU is one of my favorite teams there and their presence alone is enough to overcome the utter apathy I have for The Best Friends. The former team definitely come off as the underdog considering Kazarian was attacked just before the match and Scorpio Sky wasn’t prepared to fight tonight, and sure enough the get the hot tags and then ear falls while The Best Friends are the somewhat incompetent heels (Chuck Taylor dives right on top of Trent Beretta by accident) and it ends with SCU going to the next round of the tournament. While I would have preferred a straightforward match with Daniels instead of putting him out of the tournament so early (at least save it for round two!), it was the ending I wanted and I’m glad that we’ll see more of SCU in the coming weeks.
Santana & Ortiz Vs Jobbers (John Silver and Alex Reynolds… I think?)
Hey, don’t look at me like that! TNT played a commercial during that team’s introduction! How am I supposed to know who they are if they’d rather show us an advertisement for Thrifty than tell us who’s up against the former LAX!? It’s clear what the point of this match is and that’s for The Wrestlers Former Known as LAX to show that they are tough and worthy of being in Jericho’s stable of villainous heels. I mean it gets the job done and I’m glad that AEW is willing to have short matches like this to build up its superstars, but MAYBE they could have faced someone who could have put up a bit of a fight? When the jobbing is done THIS blatantly, it undercuts the impact that their work is supposed to have, but as an introduction to Not-LAX for those who haven’t seen them wrestle before (AKA me), then it does its job perfectly fine.
Jericho has a promo after the match to tell us how awesome they are and he is, while also announcing an upcoming match between this tag team and The Young Bucks at Full Gear in November, so hey! It serves the purpose of propping up the PPV as well! But that’s not all! There’s also this odd skit where Cody is apparently super depressed about having gotten his butt kicked by The Inner Circle that comes off less like a wrestling promo than the end of second act low point in a sports documentary. I mean I guess that’s the aesthetic they’re going for, more realistic and more respectable treatment of the sport, but it feels like a bit much and I think Jericho’s in-ring promos are doing just fine at selling their upcoming match.
Britt Baker Vs. Riho – Women’s World Championship Match
For a world championship match, they didn’t bother to build it up at all as I don’t remember them announcing it last week like they did the Darby Allin Vs Jericho match, and to me that means one of two things; either Baker’s going to lose it which makes this feel like a waste of time or Baker IS going to take the belt which eels like a complete waste of Riho’s immense talent and popularity. I mean it COULD just be a good match, but why would you want to see THAT instead of following a convoluted melodrama play out in the ring!? For what it’s worth, the match is good. AEW rarely has bad matches and even the ones I don’t like are still TECHNICALLY well executed, so seeing Riho continue to rule this division even if the storylines don’t really put her in the spotlight is still better than nothing and in some ways an improvement over the WWE. I’m still catching up on SmackDown from earlier in the year, and Asuka’s title run has been a huge disappointment as she’s basically just keeping the belt warm while the Becky/Charlotte story plays out elsewhere. Riho has been able to prove her skills as a great wrestlers on multiple occasions including right here where she controls most of the match and ends up winning by rolling up Britt Baker during her finishing submission hold that I believe is called THE LOCKJAR. I mean it makes for a great finish of the match, but I’m not sure what they want to do with Baker if they aren’t protecting her finishing move at all.
Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy and Marko Stunt) Vs The Lucha Bros (Pentagón Jr. and Fénix) – Tag Team Tournament
YES! Wait, hold on… they finally bring out Jurassic Express, but NOT Luchasaurus!? Apparently he suffered some sort of injury which I couldn’t tell you if it’s a work or not, but whatever the case may be it seems like a REALLY lousy way to introduce the team onto live television; especially in such a clearly pre-determined match. Now the wrestling itself is actually pretty good as Marko Stunt (seemingly with a good amount of teamwork and help from his opponents) pulls off a few impressive moves against The Lucha Bros, and as I’ve said before I don’t mind smaller guys getting an edge on much larger opponents. If the goal was to make him more believable as a competitor I think this match succeeds, but there’s no denying that the lack of Luchasaurus is palpable throughout the match. It’s actually a competitive bout which is more than what we got with the Not -LAX match, and I don’t think The Lucha Bros lost any gravitas or respect by making it competitive; especially with how brutally and overwhelmingly they managed to close it out by basically crushing Marko Stunt into paste and pinning what remained. This might be the best match in the episode which is so bizarre considering how annoyed I am at it!
Jon Moxley and Pac Vs “Hangman” Adam Page and Kenny Omega
Okay, this is a weird one to have only a few weeks from the PPV because they’ve been advertising the Omega/Moxley match quite heavily, and yet they’re giving it away here for free. Okay, there are two other wrestlers in the ring, but in some ways that means it’s a BETTER match than the one we’re getting in November; unless of course AEW thinks that Pac and Page only detract instead of add to a match. Now in terms of quality, this was actually pretty great with all four men being some of the best the company has to offer, and while it felt more like four dudes in one match than two well-honed tag teams, what was on display here was impressive. We won’t know until November if this is BETTER than the upcoming Moxley/Omega match, but they both have some great moments throughout and it seems hard to imagine that they would be MORE spectacular with fewer solid performers to work with. Kenny and Pac are in near perfect sync with their interactions being some of the fastest scenes of brutality I’ve seen since… well the LAST time they fought which was equally impressive! In fact, Pac is probably the MVP as he takes a HUGE amount of abuse from everyone and sells it like a true professional. Eventually Moxley and Kenny are the last two standing and they grab the weapons Omega teased in last week’s episode; the bat in barb wire nad the broom in barb wire. The ref doesn’t seem to mind this despite it NOT being a street match (again, the refereeing needs to be stronger) but Pac ends up back in the ring and he gets into an argument with Moxley about… something. I didn’t quite get what was going on, but Moxley gives Pac a DDT, walks out of the match, and leaves Pac to get pinned by Omega and Page. It was an amazing match that even outdoes the solid Lucha Bros/Jurassic Express match and the only downside I can think of is just how high the expectations are now for the PPV match; a good problem to have when you have wrestlers this good, but it’s an intimidatingly high bar all the same.
Darby Allin Vs Chris Jericho – Philadelphia Street Fight for the AEW World Championship
Was Jericho on ECW? I mean I could probably look it up, but I’m not too familiar with his track record as far as hardcore matches so I guess we can consider this new territory; at least for me! At least I would say that if the HARDCORE aspect of this didn’t feel somewhat token, but we’ll get to that soon enough. What the match ultimately comes down to is that no matter how fast Darby Allin is (and BOY is he fast), Jericho has him beat on power almost every time, so his strategy is to keep Allin’s momentum to a minimum with strong punches, kicks, and elbows to the face whenever Darby starts to flip around the ring. It’s a well-executed angle and both wrestlers seem to be in sync as to what this match needs to accomplish (build up Jericho’s match for the PPV), and really the only thing I can complain about is the fact that it’s a street fight. Sure letting Jericho use weapons means he doesn’t have to destroy himself as much to keep up with Allin, but they’re used so sparing that I honestly wished they didn’t even bother with the added gimmick. By the time Jericho pulls out the duct tape and ties Allin’s hands behind his back, the match is essentially over and we’re just showing off how much Allin is willing to do in absurd situations. Despite the handicap keeping him from using his arms, Allin gets the advantage in the match and looks to be coming close to winning it when Jake Haggard comes out of absolutely nowhere to punch Allin in the face behind the ref’s back and leave the kid as a broken heap for Jericho. There were a few things that kind of got in the way of the match (the duct tape as well as Jake’s interference) that I felt detracted from the goal of making Jericho look tough for the upcoming match against Cody Rhodes, but it was still fun to sit through and AEW seems to have a great understanding of how hardcore wrestling needs to evolve to stay relevant in the current market; prioritizing creative and novel situations over bloodshed and headshots, and Jericho with the belt again was a solid visual to close the show out on.
Ultimately, it’s an episode that continues AEW’s success in terms of straight up match quality and wrestling technique, but there are a few growing pains with its storylines. We need to sell the PPV while also putting in the time to build up this stable of wrestlers, but almost every match had something that I found questionable. Why does Riho feel like a secondary actor in her own title picture? Why are they having Moxley and Omega fight each other now instead of letting them tear through the locker room to build up their match at the PPV? None of this is necessarily bad as the wrestling itself might be the most consistently solid of any of the Dynamite shows so far and we’re still VERY early into its run so storylines need time to grow and settle in, so while this is still a point for improvement I’m not gonna say it’s THAT much of a detraction from the overall quality of the show. It’s still a heck of a lot better than the SmackDown and Raw episodes I’ve been catching up on, so at least AEW has THAT going for it!