Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (12-04-19)

AEWDYNAMITE

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

So apparently last week’s show had some frighteningly low ratings which kind of surprised me. No, not that the ratings were low but that anyone besides me DID watch it last Wednesday as I myself, watching the show for this recap series as much as for its own sake, couldn’t dedicate the full two hours to just watching it as I had about a dozen other things to do that night before Thanksgiving. Look, I’m a millennial and TV as a thing you had to make time for on a fixed schedule is about as outdated to me as landline phones, so I’m surprised the ratings have been as good as they are; especially with TNT initially projecting about half a million viewers per episode which last week’s show still managed to clear easily despite being such a big dip. To me, that’s not as important as the quality of the show itself which has been pretty solid the last few weeks even if the last one felt like they were phoning it in a bit considering they were basically working on a holiday. Now that we’re back on a regular schedule with nothing else to get in the way, does AEW come back stronger than ever? Let’s find out!!

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The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) & Dustin Rhodes Vs. Proud and Powerful (Santana & Ortiz) & Sammy Guevara

The show begins with a six man tag match which had a bunch of wrestlers we haven’t seen in the ring for quite some time. The Young Bucks as well as Dustin Rhodes have been showing up here and there for brawls and what not, but it’s been close to a month since they’ve actually had a match and maybe even longer for Dustin. Yeah, maybe getting your arm slammed in the door by the muscle bound mo-fo in a polo known as Jake Hager was NOT the best idea since the dude still has a cast on now, but regardless of that how was the match? Actually pretty good! Despite being more or less the “old man” of the promotion (even though he’s only a year older than Jericho) Dustin is still a superstar who the crowd will put over at the drop of a hat. He manages to land a tandem Super Kick on Sammy with The Young Bucks, he does that worn out gimmick he’s been trying out that’s actually pretty endearing, and he is still fast, tough, and agile with some impressive snap suplexes and some sort of front flip dive from the apron. The other standout however is Sammy who takes SO much abuse in this match but makes it all look easy. He may not have the mic skills of MJF, but he may be the second most talented “new guy” in the promotion after him; especially after landing some very impressive moves. Dude does this AMAZING 630 splash from the top ropes, looking like Sonic the Hedgehog doing a Spin Dash, which was amazing to see but still not enough to put Dustin away who only gets more and more love from the crowd because of it. Now this isn’t to say that The Bucks and Proud and Powerful didn’t hold their own as Dustin and Sammy wouldn’t have looked quite as good with them, and they certainly do have the more refined tag team repertoire to fill in the gaps of the match. The finishing move was utterly ridiculous where Dustin and Nick were holding Santana and Ortiz upside down with Sammy on the mat. Matt then jumps from the top rope, kicks Proud N Powerful on his way down, and then lands on Sammy. Excessive to be sure since they didn’t NEED to damage Santana and Ortiz to get the win, but if you CAN show off you might as well do it. I really did enjoy this match quite a bit and everyone in it looked REALLY good, but I always prefer the opening matches to be a bit shorter and this one could have ended during the comeback following Dustin kicking out of the 630 instead of going on for another five to ten minutes or so. It also advances the storyline a bit as THE ELITE Vs. THE INNER CIRCLE is definitely an angle they’re building up steam towards, but I was really hoping Dustin would grab the mic after the match and challenge Jake Hager (the guy who fractured his arm) right then and there like when Darby Allin accepted Jon Moxley’s challenge. A few tweaks here and there might have improved it, but still a good way to start the show.

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Trent Vs. Fénix

Trent is accompanied to the ring by Chuck Taylor and Orange Cassidy

Serious question; Has Trent talked on AEW before? I honestly don’t remember if he has. Now you don’t necessarily need to have a gimmick like Orange Cassidy to get over, but one of the problems with The Best Friends is that there’s just something kind of no-descript about them. I mean Trent looks fine and has a solid physique (he even looks a bit like Seth Rollins), but outside of occasionally hugging Chuck Taylor, I don’t know anything about the guy and can’t get invested in whatever the goal of this match is. Both of them are primarily tag team wrestlers so having a few wins in the singles column isn’t gonna help them THAT much, so what’s the drama here? What’s the feud? What are the ramifications for the outcome of this match? With so little at stake and not enough personality for Trent (Fénix is at least part of the REALLY dynamic and interesting Lucha Bros) this definitely ends up being a filler match. Not necessarily a BAD one, but it is what it is. Anyway, Rey Fenix won with some sort of fireman’s carry into a pile driver (someone on the announce team said BUSTER, but I couldn’t hear the word before it), and… I THINK Fenix took a cheap shot against Trent after the match, but it was during that picture in picture thing they do for the commercials so I don’t count it as a legitimate angle. If it was building towards something, they would have put it in the show proper. So a short match with a post-fight conflict they don’t bother showing, and Orange Cassidy doesn’t ONCE put his hands in his pocket! BOO!!

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Cody Rhodes Promo

They’ve done a GREAT job of building up MJF after his betrayal at Full Gear, but I feel like they’ve kind of dropped the ball on Cody who’s barely shown up and hasn’t talked all that much since then. This is it though! We are FINALLY giving Cody an empty ring and loud microphone to blow us all away with his words once again, so what does Cody do with this opportunity? Interestingly enough, he kind of leans into the more awkward stuff that’s been going on for the last few weeks and comes off as rather bitter about it all; so much so that I was thinking we MIGHT get a heel turn from the guy! That didn’t happen, but he starts talking about how all his friends have either betrayed him or are too busy feuding with other people to have his back (has Dustin even talked about MJF since Full Gear?), and he even mentions that Brandi is out there cutting off women’s hair which seems more than a little perculiar and I question what dinner after the show is like for them. Oh, and let’s not forget that he got his butt kicked by some weirdos named Butcher, Blade, and Bunny last week who popped out of the ring like it was a Bugs Bunny cartoon. I liked the segment quite a bit as Cody continues to be the master of riding that line between over the top wrestling superstar and a guy who’s down to Earth enough to seem genuine. His frustration as well as his bewilderment at things going on at AEW is not too far off from our own, but being a part of this wild promotion means that he can definitely do something about it. To wit, the topic of MJF. While he may not be able to challenge for the title again, he CAN try to get his revenge on MJF and so he challenges him to a match. Now I believe MJF said on social media that he would NEVER face Cody in a match, so the executive vice president of AEW over here needs to start sweetening the pot to maybe cajole him from whatever hold he’s hiding in to keep Cody at bay. He offers MJF the keys to his cars, the watch on his wrist, and the designer shoes on his feet as well as a literal suitcase full of money just to get him in the ring. MJF does not take the bait however, but the point has been made and the crowd is really into the way this feud is building up. I hope for the best, but we’ve gotta have more Cody than what we’ve getting and this promo is a step in the right direction.

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Following that, we get an ACTUAL backstage promo with Joey Janela which is a nice change of pace, and he uses this rare opportunity to talk about his upcoming match with Jon Moxley which is a legitimate and sanctioned AEW bout; not a Lights Out match like they had at Fyter Fest. Out of nowhere, Moxley shows up in frame, belittles Janela by calling him a child, and just walks off. LOVED IT! More of this please!

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After that we get ANOTHER promo, though this one is yet another short film about The Dark Order where we see Evil Uno and Stu Grayson initiate a couple Angry Young MenTM into their evil organization. Of course one dude din’t give a good answer for why he wanted to join so the creepers… tore him limb from limb I guess? They’re becoming increasingly silly, but I still really like these promos and I hope that once these two actually DO show up in the ring again that they’ll finally start getting a positive reaction from the crowd. The only thing I would suggest is that we need there to be some sort of antagonist for them; someone they want to recruit or destroy. If there were pictures of The Jurassic Express they were setting on fire or something, that would do a lot of good for this team, but for now I still like what they’re doing.

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Nyla Rose Vs. The Librarian Leva Bates

The Librarian Leva Bates is accompanied to the ring by The Librarian Peter Avalon

Another total squash match, but a really fun one. Peter Avalon tries to interfere and Leva Bates starts attacking Nyla with books, but Nyla Rose shakes them off like dandruff and pins Bates within two minutes. It’s really short, but it had a bit of charm to it and I’m glad that we’re clearly setting up a RISING IN THE RANKS story for Nyla Rose here which I don’t think they’re doing for anyone else on the roster except for MAYBE Pac and Hikaru Shida.

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After the match, Nyla start putting more punishment on Leva Bates, but soon Shanna comes to the ring to try and get the jump on Nyla which seems to work for a bit at least but soon turns in Nyla’s favor. Again, this is an angle that mostly gets resolved in the picture in picture mode (I think Shanna gets thrown through a table?) and I’m still not counting those as legitimate parts of the show.

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Chris Jericho Promo

It’s no secret that Chris Jericho has been one of the greatest aspects of AEW and he proves it once again here. He brags about how well his chamagine is selling, he buries the home town and Tony Khan along with it, and he announces that he will indeed have a match on the last Dynamite of the year which will be December eighteenth. He then proceeds to run down a list, oh excuse me… it’s THE LEXICON of LE CHAMPION (chants of Nicely Done soon follow) and I can’t really do justice to how awesome this segment is where re lists of every wrestler and non-wrestler he refuses to fight; the key one being Jon Moxley who he mentions like six times during this bit. See, THIS is the Jericho I like and not so much the one from last week who just kind of stood around while everyone else gave him gifts for a really long time. A few names he didn’t mention however belong to the members of Jurassic Express who come out to the ring and somehow make this segment even better! I loved EVERY moment of this from Luchasaurus revealing that he has a master’s degree in medieval history to the endless belittlement Jericho bestows upon the lot of them (particularly Marko Stunt) with such effortless skill. The point of this is to set up a match between Jericho and Jungle Boy for the show in two weeks. I’m curious if Luchasaurus is still hurt and is only able to do a small bit of action as well as promos which would be fine as I’d rather him not exacerbate his injury trying to work at a hundred percent, but even if he’s fully healed I am glad that Jungle Boy is getting a chance to shine. All three of them are quite over, but Jack Perry feels like the one that doesn’t stand out as much what with Marko being REALLY small to the point that it’s noticeable and Luchasaurus being a freaking dinosaur. In any case, these Chris Jericho challenges have been great so far with Darby Allin, Cody Rhodes, and Scorpio Sky giving him some great material to work with, and I only hope that THE JUNGLE BOY can do the same.

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Kris Statlander Vs. Hikaru Shida

This is probably one of my favorite women’s matches in some time and it’s because the two competitors bring a lot of personality to the match. Shida already shines as a genuine badass who’s been tearing her way through the women’s division, but Stalander does a great job of establishing herself as a unique personality within the division which is a lot more than too many of the other women here. She has genuine talent and manages to stand on even ground with Shida which is exactly what you want from a match like this where there’s not really any heel or face dynamic going on. I didn’t like the ending however. I think Statlander did a great job but her getting the wind hurts Shida more than it helps her, and the WAY she won was REALLY scary looking as she did a pile driver and Shida’s neck looked like it bent 90 degrees. I’m not an expert so I’m probably overreacting and someone with more experience could probably tell you it was a perfectly safe maneuver. I honestly don’t know, but AEW wrestlers seem to have a habit of pushing these kind of injury prone maneuvers to the forefront (particularly Darby Allin and his coffin drops) and it’s far from my favorite thing about the show.

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After the match, Brandi comes out with Awesome Kong to cut a promo and reveal themselves to be… wait for it… THE NIGHTMARE COLLECTIVE. First, I don’t know if two people count as a collective, and second we really don’t need a female version of The Dark Order just yet. We’re already working overtime to get them over and I don’t think trying to do the same shtick, right down to them asking Statlander to pledge to their cause, is the best move for Brandi who’s already had a bit of a hard time getting over with the audience. Statlander obviously refuses, but instead of leading to a beat down like when Marko Stunt and Jungle Boy resisted The Dark Order, an obvious plant in the audience decides to pledge to THE NIGHTMARE COLLECTIVE for… reasons, and Brandi and Kong take a bit of her hair before the three of them go to the back. Yeah… not the best segment which is a shame considering how good the match was that came before it; even with the nasty looking finish.

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Christopher Daniels Vs. Pentagon Jr

Well here’s my Tune Out match of the night as I had some stuff to do during it. What really struck me though is realizing that Christopher Daniels is indeed almost fifty years old and still looks great for his age! I will say that he seemed to have a bit of trouble keeping up with Pentagón Jr, but then who ISN’T a step behind that guy considering just how much energy and skill him and Fénix bring to every match they’re in. It’s a shame that The Lucha Bros ended up being in the two most forgettable matches of the night and I think this one is probably the worst of the two because it had so much more going for it. Fénix and Trent feel like an afterthought, and yet this one SEEMS to be a blow off to the big feud that had been building up between Christopher Daniels and The Lucha Bros; the former of which was injured by the latter and he’s been slowly getting his revenge on them with disguises and trickery. I don’t even remember how this ends. Daniels gets pinned, I know that much, but beyond that… just meh.

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A quick promo from Bunny, Blade, and Butcher who I still know absolutely nothing about other than they’re SPOOKY! Seriously, if it took this long to something with The Dark Order, then why do we have not one but TWO knock offs in the works that will probably need just as much if not MORE of a push to get them over? Eh, I’m probably being too mean since I haven’t even seen them properly wrestle yet, but this promo doesn’t fill me with confidence.

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Joey Janela Vs. John Moxley

There was a Janela Vs. Omega match a few weeks ago and I remember saying that it was hard to take seriously because Janela just didn’t look like he was in Omega’s league. That might have been a bit harsh (or perhaps EVERYONE looks inferior when compared to Kenny shirtless) because Janela puts up quite the fight here against Moxley and he proves himself as very competent even without the hardcore gimmick. And yet despite how good of a showcase this is for Janela, he just can’t get over when up against Moxley. Dude makes an admirable comeback and even lands a near fall, yet the crowd still cheers for Moxley. I guess it makes sense considering how much we’re pushing the guy and his built in fan base who WANTED him to leave WWE, so it’ll come as no surprise to you that he eventually wins once he lands the Paradigm Shift and pins Janela clean. Like in last week’s episode where Moxley showed up in the crowd at the end of Jericho’s match, Jericho comes out with The Inner Circle to stare down Moxley after his victory. Sure we may not be getting their matchup in the next two weeks, but it’s clear that SOMETHING is coming down the pipeline for these two and AEW wants us to know it as this episode comes to a close with that intense staring contest.

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It’s still flawed, but I think it was an improvement over the last episode. Some of the lows were at about the same level, but there were a lot more highs than before and some of those highs (like Jungle Express showing up during Jericho’s promo) have been their best content in weeks. The audio issues at the beginning were baffeling and the commercials were especially obnoxious this episode, but it’s still a lot of fun and I can’t wait to see how they build up that Jungle Boy match!

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