Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (11-20-19)

AEWDYNAMITE

AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT

With the last episode doing a lot differently and doing it well in my opinion, I’m pumped to see how AEW follows up on it and hope they continue to try new things going forward, because if I’m being honest here there’s been a lot of great stuff but it’s been a lot of the SAME great stuff for weeks now; all of it still good, but a little variety never hurt anyone (unless you have a hereto unknown allergy) and even if they go back to some of the same stuff in this episode they at least have the ideas set up last week to make it all feel fresh again!  Let’s get started!!

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Nick Jackson Vs. Rey Fénix

Following the brawl from last week, it seems that Matt Jackson (in storyline at least) has been injured and so Nick is fighting in his first singles match since AEW began against Rey Fénix who ALSO hasn’t had a singles match since AEW began!  Sure, it’s Young Bucks vs The Lucha Bros yet again, but at least they’re mixing it up again by making it one on one which, if nothing else, means they won’t even have a CHANCE to fail to tag correctly!  I actually did manage to get into this match a lot easier than I had with other Young Buck Lucha Bros matches even though they’re both still doing basically the same thing.  There are a billion moves pulled off between the two of them, but the fact that they don’t have someone to tag with makes each move feel like it has more impact because they can’t switch out once they get tired to recuperate.  They clearly start to get tired after a while and the moves become more simplistic while the flashier ones come fewer and further between.  Contrast that with some of their tag team matches where that sense of progression and (degradation?) just never came across even when it was time to come to an end.   Speaking of endings, Rey Fénix eventually gets the pin when he does this terrifying looking pile driver thing where he carries Nick on his shoulders, drops his head down and drives it right into the mat.  They don’t REALLY set anything up at the end of this as Rey Fénix refuses to shake Nick’s hand in a show of good sportsmanship, but The Lucha Bros being cocky heels is about as surprising as the sun rise.  The match went on maybe a bit TOO long and maybe a bit TOO hard for an opening match (I’m also starting to get annoyed with just how often they use hard hits on the apron), but it’s still a lot of fun and certainly got the crowd going!

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Britt Baker Vs. Hikaru Shida

They make a point of noting that these two are the number one and number two contenders which is a clear indication that the winner is in line for a shot at Riho’s title, and while I’ve had my problems with Britt Baker, she really has improved quite a bit; probably more than anyone else at the company!  Their match is fast and furious with Baker even drawing blood from her nose (I don’t know if she gigged for it) which, as simple a tactic as it is, does give her a bit of legitimacy as a fighter; similar to when Becky Lynch’s face got messed up by accident but then became an iconic moment for her story arc.  They’re also doing a great job of trying to get her submission finisher over as they teased her doing it towards the end of the match, but Shida got her boot on the ropes before she could apply it; insinuating that it would have ended the match then and there if she locked it in.  What’s even better though is the ending which had Baker losing to Shida, and I’m not saying that as some sort of backhanded snark at her!  It’s pretty clear that AEW has their sights set on Baker becoming the champion at some point, but Riho is just way too over with the crowd to drop the belt yet and having Baker lose to her at this point right when she’s picking up steam would halt that in its tracks.  Let Riho work through a few more challengers while Baker hones her skills and then I might only complain a LITTLE bit when Riho loses it to her!

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After the match we get… well basically what I’d been SAYING we should get for two weeks now which is a video promo for The Dark Order, and a pretty good one at that!  Instead of having them come to the camera and talk about how COOL and DARK they are, it’s basically an infomercial for joining The Dark Order that makes it look like a fun life coaching service when it’s really a recruitment ad for a sinister cult.  If Tim and Eric had made a commercial for The League of Assassins it would probably look something like this, though that description can only do it so much justice.  The only thing is that I couldn’t really tell if Stu Greyson or Evil Uno were even in the video (I have NO idea what they’re supposed to look like outside of their costumes), so that felt like  wasted opportunity since the wrestlers themselves need to get over as much as the gimmick, but it’s still a strong start to hopefully turning things around for them.

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Dynamite Dozen Battle Royal

Hangman Adam Page, Orange Cassidy, Chuck Taylor, Kip Sabian, Jimmy Havoc, Marko Stunt, Jungle Boy, Pentagón Jr, Sonnny Kiss, Joey Janela, MJF, and Billy Gunn

Now that I think about it, have we gotten a single gimmick match on Dynamite since it began?  Sure, a couple of Triple Threats and Six Man Tag matches, but did we even get a hardcore match yet?  If they did then I don’t recall, but in any case I’m PRETTY sure this is the first Battle Royal on Dynamite and I’m glad we’re expanding the kind of matches we can expect to see on this show!  Matches like this are always a chaotic match and neigh impossible to recap without going on too long and undercutting its effect, similar to having someone overly explaining the nuances of a joke after hearing it, so I’ll try to just hit the highlights of which there were MANY here.  The first guy out of the ring is Pentagón Jr as Christopher Daniels comes out as Fénix which distracts Pentagón and gives everyone else an opportunity to gang up on him and throws him over the ropes.  I guess Daniels’s feud with them isn’t over just yet, though we did kind of get the blowoff to that when SCU won the belts AND humiliated The Lucha Bros at Full Gear.  Billy Gunn who I’m assuming is a big name wrestler from the past was basically the star throughout as he got a HUGE pop from the audience and the rest of the combatants did their best to make him look like an unstoppable beast.  They do that bit where everyone starts beating on one guy until he shoves them all off at the same time, Marko Stunt gets on his back at some point which Gunn sells like he’s giving someone a piggy back ride, and the beautiful bastard MJF does such a great job stooging out for Gunn.  TWICE in this match they do the bit where MJF is gloating at the audience before realizing that the big scary monster is standing right behind him, and this works both times they do it!  Jimmy Havoc, returning after his… incident with Excalibur a few weeks ago, pulls out a staple gun and goes to town on everyone in sight before getting tossed out by the refs which is hopefully a signal to the audience that the refs are actually gonna enforce the rules more going forward.  Also, Joey Janela gets eliminated when Shawn Spears comes out of nowhere and knocks him off the top rope with a chair.  See THAT makes a bit more sense than Daniels coming out to start something with The Lucha Bros!  Janela and Spears have had a back and forth going on while SCU effectively closed the book and got the last word in on their feud with The Lucha Bros, so why restart it at this point?  There’s a lot more worth talking about here but I can tell this is getting long, so let’s jump to the ending!  The final two are Jungle Boy and Hangman Adam Page who clearly want to have an honorable fight, but MJF (who got tossed out earlier) pulls Jungle Boy off the apron; eliminating him and infuriating Page despite getting the win.  MJF’s ACTUAL heel turn instead of just being a goofy face is going rather well so far and I’m glad they’re swiftly giving him things to do outside of Cody as there’s already going to be a match between him and Page next week.  He’s one of the top talents this company has so they better use them!  In any case, this was a FANTASTIC match that managed to do so much in its relatively short run time; setting up future storylines, telling stories within the match, and being outright hilarious throughout!  PLEASE DO MORE OF THESE, AEW!!

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Chris Jericho Special Announcement

Chris Jericho comes out and in a rare moment of humility, he admits that his temper tantrum after losing his match last week was not appropriate for a champion and attempts to apologize.  However, the words get stuck in his throat and so he has Jake Hager, who has YET to speak on this show, say the word “sorry” for him and then moves on to another topic as quickly as possible.  If there really aren’t any writers and this is all Jericho and the Inner Circle hashing out these promos, I gotta give them all the credit in the world because they have been coming up with funny idea after funny idea week after week, and this “sorry” bit with him and Hager is hilarious!  After the sort of apology, Jericho starts talking about how great he is and why AEW management should STILL be saying THANK YOU every single day for him deigning to show up which is why next week’s show will have a special Thanksgiving Celebration thrown by the Le Champion himself to make sure everyone gets a chance to say how thankful they are for him!  Well shoot, it sounds like a blast!  Can I bring the vegetarian alternative!?  Before we can start making too many plans for next Wednesday however (I can make a mean Eggplant Parm!), SCU comes out to remind Jericho WHY he threw tantrum in the first place which is how Scorpio Sky pinned him in that tag match.  Now obviously THE CHAMP isn’t too thrilled about this little upstart coming out here in the middle of his big and obviously humble promo, so he schedules a Scorpio Sky vs Chris Jericho match for next week despite Sky not even wanting the match in the first place.  Not that he’s gonna turn it down; it just seems rude to not even ask him first!  After the two shake hands which makes it official, the Inner Circle rush the ring and start pounding on SCU and apparently the only two people who care that this is going on are Michael Nakazawa and Brian Cutler; both of whom are knocked out dead with a single punch before they can get in the ring.  Good job guys!  Jurassic Express comes in after that with Marko Stunt and Jungle Boy going down almost immediately, but no one wants any of what Luchasaurus is offering and scamper away… except for Jake Hagerr who stares him down before slowly and confidently leaving the ring.  I REALLY hope this leads to an actual match between those two!  Jake Haggar hasn’t done much of anything since he arrived other than punch people in the back of the head and saying the word “sorry”.  I wouldn’t say that this was the most explosive promo that Jericho has ever given, but it still did a great job of setting up and getting the crowd excited for next week!

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Luchasaurus Vs. The Librarian Peter Avalon

Luchasaurus is accompanied to the ring by Jungle Boy and Marko Stunt while The Librarian Peter Avalon is accompanied to the ring by The Librarian Leva Bates.

Yeah, this is a total squash match; not even lasting two minutes before Luchasaurus pounds Peter Avalon into pudding.  Everyone loves to see the guy though, so I don’t have a problem with it!

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Proud N’ Powerful (Santana & Ortiz) Vs. Private Party (Isiah Kassidy & Marq Quen)

It was certainly about time for me to lose interest in one of the matches on this show, but even if it hadn’t fallen into my “fatigue time”, I doubt I would have called it an all-time classic.  In fact… it’s kind of bad.  The majority of this match is Proud N Powerful just torturing and humiliating Marq Quen and it’s not even an impressive display of that; particularly one spot where they hold him up in a Stalled Suplex for what, TEN freaking minutes?  Okay, maybe not that long but it was ridiculously extended and just not impressive enough to justify how much time they spent on it.  Then they stripped him of his AMAZING jacket with the coat tails and put him in a tandem submission hold for yet another eternity.  Not exactly a thrilling start to a match; especially with a team that’s been as over as Private Party’s been!  THEN there was the confusion with the ref that only made matters worse as at some point Isaiah Cassidy gets in the ring and manages to get the pin on Ortiz, but the ref doesn’t count it because… I actually don’t know why.  SOMETHING to do with one of them not being the legal man which I GUESS is them trying to address the ref issue in these tag team matches, but I couldn’t IMAGINE a worse way of doing it.  I certainly couldn’t tell you if one of them wasn’t legal, and the ref did such a poor job of conveying any of this to the audience with the announcers having to basically try and explain to us at home.  I mean if he KNEW one of them wasn’t the legal man, then why would he start counting in the first place!?  The guy gets to TWO before he just stops and I thought there was either ref interference or a heel ref situation going on, but nope; some sort of dispute on the legality of the pin that SHOULD have been clear before he started hitting the mat!  The ref by the way doesn’t see when Santana goes for a sock full of doorknobs or whatever it is, but then Nick Jackson comes out of nowhere and grabs the weapon away, so I guess we’re bring The Bucks into this match as well.  Thankfully the match ends with Private Party getting the pin on Santana with their Gin and Juice, but we’re not done quite yet because Nick Jackson gets curb stomped by Sammy Guevara and then Dustin Rhodes comes in the to clean house while stilling wearing his arm cast.  I don’t know, this just felt like a bunch of overbooked nonsense that unfortunately dragged two really great tag teams down with it.  AEW has done a good job of balancing story, action, swerves, and explosive beat downs, so them fumbling the ball every once and a while isn’t a big deal, but let’s not do something like THIS again anytime soon, okay?

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Before the next match, Kenny Omega cuts a promo where he explains how much he’s changed since joining AEW and that he’ll be on a path to getting his revenge on Moxley.  I THINK there was supposed to be a gag here where he’s lifting tiny weights and pretending they are super heavy, but I’m pretty sure he was still benching more than my limit.

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Jon Moxley Vs. Darby Allin

Before the match begins, we get this arty black and white video of Darby Allin going on stage at some sort of rock show, getting in a body bag labeled MOX, and then being carried off by the crowd.  When he comes to the ring, it’s of course being carried in that body bag.  Not a bad way to start off; especially since he gets a huge pop from the audience and comes off like a genuine superstar, even in a match against someone who is inarguably a much bigger name.  Jon Moxley of course has nothing quite as elaborate planned, which he doesn’t need BECAUSE he’s such a big name, as he just comes out from backstage; finishing off a water bottle before tossing it in the crowd and heading towards the ring.  Before he can even get in it though, Darby Allin throws himself at the guy with a Suicide Dive of irresponsible speed and they start brawling outside the ring and into the crowd before eventually finding their way back into the ring.  They really play with the size difference in this match as Moxley shakes off a lot of Allin’s moves and Allin oversells the crap out of what Moxley dishes out which at least gives this brawl something of a unique selling point and actually reminds me of Moxley’s match against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 32; one of the first matches I saw when I started watching wrestling in earnest.  You’ve got to worry about Allin though as he seems MORE than willing to absolutely destroy himself whenever he gets in the ring with the aforementioned dive and the amount of abuse he suffers at the hands of Moxley; all staged of course, but you can only do so much to tuck and roll when getting flung across the ring over and over again!  The crowd was definitely into it with a chant of THIS IS AWESOME breaking out at one point and I’d have to say that I was as well.  I’ll trust that Darby Allin knows what he’s doing here and that Moxley is a smart enough worker to not hurt him because other than that this was a fun little brawl between the two.  There was one odd spot where Moxley puts Allin in the body bag (it takes him forever to zip it up) and then the ref takes him out of it a minute later.  Well if he didn’t want Allin in the bag, then why did he let Moxley put him in it in the first place!?  Anyway Moxley ends up winning the match after doing a REALLY paradigm shift from the middle ropes that certainly didn’t KILL Darby Allin but was quite the decisive victory for Moxley who celebrates and trash talks to the camera as the show ends.

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This was a really solid episode that doesn’t do anything all that special but continues to fire on all cylinders the way AEW has done up to this point.  Even the really bad low point which was the Tag Team match is completely made up for by the EXCELLENT Battle Royal, and with the card they have set up for next week, they’re doing a great job of making this feel like a continuous ongoing thing that you want to tune in next week to see progress rather than one off shows you can skip here and there.  I’m not too thrilled with ANY promotion having people work over the holidays, but I’ll be darned if I miss out on whatever this Thanksgiving celebration with Jericho will be!

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