AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT
We’re back with another week of AEW action, and with the Tag Team Tournament coming to a close as well as the ever closer PPV on the horizon, they’ve got more than enough momentum to put on a dazzling display of wrestling glory! Will they continue to capitalize on their runaway successes, or will this be the week that everything starts to derail? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with SO much stuff before we even get to the opening credits! Essentially they’re trying to build up the PPV Full Gear which will be on 11/9 with a couple of scripted promos, which is basically the opposite of last week which started out with a match that didn’t even get proper ring entrances, and I personally really liked this approach. I’m all about the storylines when it comes to wrestling and while this might not be THE MOST AMAZING PROMOS OF ALL TIME, it’s just another example of AEW showing off that they are on top of EVERYTHING when it comes to the wrestling business. Last week they started us with amazing tag team action and now they’re giving us a reason to care about the upcoming show. So what exactly DID they show us? Well there’s a scene with Cody Rhodes and Tony Schiavone chatting at the airport about his upcoming match against Jericho at the PPV where he will try to strip the heel champion and leader of the Inner Circle of his title. Last week Jim Valley gave an interesting argument as to why Cody is the best wrestling at this period of time and I kind of see it. He comes off like a genuine superstar; one who’s larger than life but not quite a cartoon. He has a great balance of innate charisma and strong showman sensibilities that makes even the obviously staged action of this show come off as something much more real. After that we get reminded that Pac and Hangman have a match as well with a montage of their interactions. No new footage here, but it’s a solid enough package. The BIG promo though comes with Jon Moxley who we see go into a room and we hear a conversation between him and Tony Khan where we learn that the match between him and Kenny Omega has been changed to a Lights Out match; i.e. an unsanctioned match which means that the results will not go on either person’s record and Moxley is VERY upset about this. I think this is a good SETUP, but they definitely need to give Moxley and Omega more time to talk about it for it to really be something special.
Sammy Guevara Vs. Hangman Adam Page
I liked this one right off the bat because it was telling a story other than the one about how awesomely two dudes can beat the crap out of each other. Adam Page is the frustrated face going up against the cocky heel that’s getting a too big for his britches since joining up with the other bad guys. They just let Adam Page go to TOWN on Sammy and it’s EXACTLY what the dude needs to be taken seriously at this point. The reason I initially had a problem with Jericho winning the title is that it made Adam Page (and to an extent the newer guys on the roster) seem lesser than the old school legend they were elevating to the top which is a trap many bad wrestling promotions can fall into. Since then Adam Page really hasn’t done much to impress me, but here it feels like they finally get it and are giving him a real chance to stake his claim. He fights clean but aggressively while Sammy can only get an edge in with underhanded tactics. It makes Adam Page look like an absolute BEAST (especially after two AMAZING spots where he lifts up Sammy like he’s a loaf of bread) but it also continues to show how smart Sammy is who has GREAT ring awareness on top of his already impressive athleticism. Hangman eventually wins with a buckshot lariat (that is SUCH a devastating looking move!) and he gives a brief promo where he acknowledges his slump but vows to show us what he’s REALLY made of at Full Gear! THAT’S how you sell a PPV, THAT’S how you tell a story in a match, and THAT’S how you turn a face into a superstar! I still think they mishandled Page a bit leading up to this moment, but this has turned me around quite a bit on the Hangman!
Shanna Vs. Hikaru Shida
This is the debut match for Shanna which is as good a time as any for me to say… they MIGHT be getting to the point where they have too many wrestlers, or at least they need to dole them out a bit more slowly. I’m pretty sure in the last two weeks, including AEW Dark, we’ve gotten four more women wrestlers, and I’m having trouble distinguishing them. Heck, the only reason I know this is Shanna’s first match and that she WASN’T on AEW Dark last night is that they put her zero win zero loss record on screen. Anyway, the match itself was quite fun with Shida looking REALLY good here; especially with those impressive knee shots. She eventually wins after giving Shanna ALL OF THE KNEES TO THE FACE, and she’s VERY over with the crowd so I hope they have some big plans for Shida soon.
After the match we get a promo about Brandi Rhodes who you may recall attacked Jaime Hayter for absolutely no reason in last week’s show. So why did she do that? I DON’T KNOW!! The video package they showed had no dialogue as it was just Brandi doing all sorts of… DEMONIC stuff I guess? There were a lot of candles and skulls, she screamed for a bit, and Awesome Kong was walking around menacingly with a blonde wig in her hand. Yeah… I mean I don’t have any issue with Brandi, but I don’t think she’s quite ready to pull off a DARK AND EDGY persona just yet. Maybe down the road a bit, but we really haven’t seen her for a while and this just feels a bit out of place.
After THAT, we get a bit with the Rock N Roll Express (Robert Gibson and Ricky Morton) who are supposedly a big important tag team from decades ago (I’ve never seen a single match with them) who are there to present the Tag Team belts the same way Brett Hart did with the AEW title on Double or Nothing, but before they can even get to the ring they get attacked by Santana and Ortiz who… I guess are just trying to be jerks. You know, if they were on hand to beat up two dudes who were just there to show off a belt and do a few poses, why couldn’t they have helped out Sammy during the Adam Page match? Isn’t that the Inner Circle’s M.O.; attack the competition behind the ref’s back? It was an alright segment I guess. Hats off to Ricky for taking such a big bump for Not-LAX, and it put those two that much more in the Tag Team title picture.
Alex Reynolds, John Silver, and QT Marshall Vs. Best Friends (Chuck Taylor and Trent Barreta) and Orange Cassidy – Six Man Tag Match
This was a WEIRD one, and I don’t think the crowd knew what to think about it either. First, Reynolds, Silver, and Marshall were already in the ring without entrances, and they got booed IMMEDIATELY! I know who Marshall is because he was on AEW Dark, but I didn’t know these other two and they just felt like a bunch of jobbers. It got weirder still when Best Friends and Orange Cassidy started to come out and their entrance video was intercut with Rick and Morty clips followed by the voice of Morty (Justin Roiland) announcing them to the ring. AND THEN when we actually SEE them, they’re dressed like two Ricks and a Morty! They mentioned that Rick and Morty were “invading AEW” at the top of the show so this isn’t exactly coming out of nowhere, but it just feels… odd. The crowd was also full of people wearing Rick and Morty heads, and it just made the whole thing that much more surreal which I guess is better than the Kevin Smith appearance in the first episode that just fell kind of flat, but I guess I just wasn’t all that impressed by the product placement here. If nothing else, at least we finally get to see Orange Cassidy in an official match which hasn’t happened since the Casino Battle Royale back in Double or Nothing. That made the match worth watching on its own as Orange Cassidy really has something with this nonchalant gimmick as the crowd eats it up every time and it really does pop when he actually starts to move and pull off moves with his hands still in his pockets. Best Friends and Orange Cassidy naturally won the match as it was a bit of a squash, but it was still fun all the same. I felt the Rick and Morty stuff was more of a distraction than anything else, but it didn’t really take away from the talent on screen and Orange Cassidy’s continuing rise to stardom.
Contract Signing – Chris Jericho Vs. Cody Rhodes at Full Gear
Contract signings have always felt kind of silly to me as it’s kind of the perfect encapsulation of what separates PRO WRESTLING from an actual sport. What should be the simplest and most straightforward part of ANYTHING which is signing a piece of paper, and yet they get blown up into these huge dramatic events with double crosses, sudden changes, and battling egos. This signing between Cody and Jericho… well I haven’t seen THAT many contract signing but this might be the best one! You don’t need me to tell you that Jericho is fantastic as a smarmy jerk and that Cody is darn good at projecting authentic power and charm, but the stare down that these two have here is more exciting than a heck of a lot of matches I’ve seen, and the places it goes has more engaging drama than most whole episodes of wrestling can fit in. Jericho keeps egging on Cody as if he’s about to pull some heel move like flip the table or attack him with the pen or something, but he’s simply messing around to try and get under his skin. Cody is trying to stay as cool and collected as possible and seems to get the upper hand in this little confrontation… until Jericho points to the screen which is showing a live feed of Jack Haggar beating the crap out of Dustin Rhodes. MAN does Dustin take a beating here, and it doesn’t look like there’s any real tricks at play! He REALLY seemed to have let his head get smashed into a car and then let his arm get nearly crushed by the door either shows an impressive commitment to his craft or an utter disregard for his own wellbeing. Cody of course runs out to check on him and Jericho and his crew speed off before having to face another beat down like they did last week. Pretty great stuff and even more reason to buy the PPV!
The Hybrid Two (Angélico and Jack Evans) and Kip Sabian Vs. The Elite (Kenny Omega, Nick Jackson, and Matt Jackson)
I don’t even know what to say about this one, but let’s get the elephant out of the room first. If you haven’t heard, Kenny Omega came out dressed as Sans from Undertale; a game I’m sure MANY of other people have enjoyed but one I didn’t really get all that into. It was a weird intro where it looked like someone hijacked the entrance video which I thought was some sort of angle for a new heel faction or something, but then… it just ended and Kenny came out in his costume and no one mentions it at all. At least with the Rick and Morty bit, they established it ahead of time as a sponsored bit, but that just felt REALLY indulgent in a match that didn’t seem like a barn burner in the first place; especially since this is yet another six-man tag match in a show that already had one of those as well as the Tag Team Champion match later on. It was fine I guess. The Bucks aren’t my favorite team on the show and I find Kenny to be kind of hit and miss, so this match was just kinda… fine for the most part. On another show I might have been more impressed, but this has been an EXCEPTIONAL episode and if anything felt like a low point, it was probably this. You could argue the Rick and Morty match was worse which is a fair point, but I found that at least fascinating in just how bizarre it was, while Kenny and The Bucks doing video game stuff is already their shtick. The crowd was definitely for it though and Kenny is SUCH a great performer that it elevates the rest of the match, so it still gets a thumbs-up from me. Oh, and Not-LAX attacked the Young Bucks after the match, but they do that so often that they should probably be expecting it by now instead of looking shocked when they show up.
The Librarians make their Dynamite debut and as much flak as they get, they are pretty good at getting heat from the audience. Not quite as good as MJF as far as heel mic skills, but I still appreciate their presence in the company! They’re just there to set up Moxley though who comes in through the crowd, beat the hell out of Peter Avalon, and then takes the ring for himself. Whatever Peter Avalon was there to do, it just got canceled because Moxley has something to say! Dude just spits straight FIRE (as well as actual spit as some of it got on the camera) for about five straight minutes of uncontrollable fury that the crowd was eating up! We know at this point how stifled Moxley felt over at WWE and it feels like he’s getting all of his frustration and pent up energy out in this one promo which feels like one for the record books and is gonna sell a HECK of a lot PPVs on its own! GREAT stuff!!
SCU (Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky) Vs. Lucha Bros (Pentagón Jr and Fénix) – Tag Team Championship
This was AMAZING right off the bat! Right as the match was about to begin, the crowd started chanting loudly and straight down the middle for both of the teams! That faith in them was absolutely rewarded as these two teams tore the freaking house down! In an episode of impressive matches, this was utterly electric with The Lucha Bros pulling off moves I’ve never seen before and SCU doing a great job of taking the endless abuse! If there’s one criticism I have and it’s not a BIG one, it’s that the match slows down a bit in the second half which makes sense considering how explosively the Lucha Bros come out of the gate, but even when we get to the ending it doesn’t quite have the same punch. Also, I’m PRETTY sure Kazarian botched a move where he tried to do a hurricanrana against Pentagon Jr who was on the apron, but during the move he hits his back HARD against the apron. The dude is no spring chicken in the world of wrestling and yet he takes A LOT of hard hits in this match which made me a bit uneasy, but it doesn’t look like he ACTUALLY got injured and it was such a good match regardless. Also, Bryan Alvarez at Wrestling Observer pointed this out which is that The Lucha Bros NEVER tag in and out, and I was looking out for that this episode to see if that was the case, and yeah; they don’t even try to do that more than like once or twice here. I can understand if that annoys you as it KIND of bugs me a bit (yet another thing the refs are powerless about), but again; the wrestling itself was SO good to watch regardless! So who won the match!? Well it’s looking pretty bad for SCU since Kazarian had just gone through a table, but while the Lucha Bros were setting up Scorpio Sky for some ridiculous team attack, Sky squirms out of Pentagon’s hold, rolls him up, and manages to get the three count. A bit anti-climactic? Sure, but it’s also believable that a team as offensively inclined as The Lucha Bros would succumb to something rather basic, so I had no trouble buying it and the team I wanted to win ended up getting the belts, so I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth on this one!
This was my favorite episode of Dynamite by far with some of the best matches to date and DEFINITELY the best promos! For me, I need a solid mix of those two elements to truly enjoy a wrestling show and while AEW has been getting better about the latter, they were still only a small fraction of the running time up to this point. The promos here were AMAZING and the matches were better paced because they had to squeeze into a smaller amount of time and I hope they keep this balanced formula at least for next week which is the last episode before Full Gera on the ninth. They’ve done such a great job setting up the matches for that show already that I can only imagine what they have in store for us for their very first Go-Home Show!