Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (12-11-19)

AEWDYNAMITE

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

If it was up to me, there’d be next to no wrestling from mid-November until January as it gets harder and harder to keep up with everything going on during this incredibly busy time of the year, and it can’t be all that fun for the wrestlers who have to travel the country instead of getting more time at home with their families, but if they can handle the stress of being on the road than I guess I can find some extra time in my schedule to watch them do what they do best!  Is this another great episode of AEW Dynamite, or is the pressure of the season getting to them as well?  Let’s find out!!

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Jon Moxley Vs. A Jobber

Right off the bat, the show starts with Moxley coming through the crowd to his music and he gets in the ring to face… some dude I’ve never seen before, and yeah this is an IMMEDIATE squash as the guy barely lasts ten seconds before Moxley gest the pin.  The point is that Jon Moxley is awesome and he deserves a chance at Jericho’s title which perhaps went without saying but it’s still fun to see him run roughshod over people even if it’s rather perfunctory.  Besides, the REAL point of this match is what happens afterwards where The Inner Circle comes out from the back and surrounds the ring as Jericho gets inside to have a little chat with Jon Moxley.  It’s a speech you’ve heard many times before if you’ve watched any amount of wrestling (I’m pretty sure Paul Hayman and Roman Reigns had this exact moment about a year ago) where the heel tries to get the good guy to join his side with promises of success and reminders of their contentious but ultimately respectful past with each other, though I wouldn’t exactly call Moxley a good guy as he’s just here to make people bleed, and it honestly felt a bit unnecessary if you ask me.  Jericho doesn’t have any great bits like he had with the Lexicon last week, and he comes off a bit TOO scared for a guy who’s already taken down Adam Page, Cody Rhodes, and Scorpio Sky; plus there’s not a single part of any fan that believes for a second that Moxley has any interest in joining forces.  It’s not a bad way to start the show, but it’s brought down a bit by one of Jericho’s more lackluster promos.

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Cody Rhodes and QT Marshall Vs. The Butcher and The Blade (Andy Williams & Braxton Sutter)

The Butcher and the Blade are accompanied to the ring by The Bunny Allie

I doubt I’m breaking any hearts here by saying that THE BUTCHER AND THE BLADE have not had the best introduction in AEW.  Their first appearance coming out through the bottom of the ring landed with a complete thud and the bland promo they gave on last week’s show didn’t improve matters much; leaving a rather poor first impression for the audience.  This is where things change however as we finally get an ACTUAL match with these two (as well as THE BUNNY) where we can see what they can do!  And the result is… they’re fine.  Their gimmick isn’t as immediately off putting or out there like The Dark Order, but then nothing about them is particularly interesting either.  The Blade is just kind of a dude while The Butcher is probably second only to Evil Uno as far as BIG dudes in these tag teams, and yet he’s not doing anything with his unique look!  With facial hair like that and the monocle he wears to the ring, you’d think he’d have some sort of SNOOTY gimmick, but no!  He’s just doing moves, and he’s FINE at doing moves, but we’re pretty good for tag teams right now; especially spooky ones as The Dark Order are finally getting over which took quite a lot of effort to do.  So the question is, what do we need THE BUTCHER AND THE BLADE for?  Honestly the guy who got over the most in this match (aside from Cody but it’s never fair to compare anyone to him) is QT Marshall who shows some impressive moves here against THE BUTCHER AND THE BLADE.  I’m not gonna write them off or anything like that, but this was not the course correction they needed after such a lackluster introduction.  Eventually they do win the match by pinning QT Marshall and just leave up the ramp without any real fanfare, but what’s interesting is that Darby Allin starts coming down it and goes straight to Cody; offering him his hand and perhaps an ongoing alliance.  I mean I’d certainly like to see that if we are ultimately going to some sort of War Games scenario with Team Cody vs The Inner Circle.  Darby Allin would be an interesting wild card to throw in the middle of that and he has gotten over quite tremendously in a rather short amount of time.  Certainly more so than THE BUTCHER AND THE BLADE, but we’ll have to see where that ends up going.

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MJF Promo

It took a minute to really ramp up, but MJF shows once again what an endless fount of talent he really is.  Unlike the Jericho promo which felt a bit too much like so many promos we’ve seen before, MJF finds the right balance between a legit shoot and maintaining the wall of fantasy that separates the hyper stylized world of pro-wrestling from everyday life.  Even though he’s ranting, raving, and practically spitting on the camera, he has such a way with words and manages to connect with the audience in such a way that you sit up and listen to the guy despite how much you know it’s not “real” in the strictest sense of the term.  Basically he continues to mock Cody for wanting to fight him and how much control he really has over the vice president because of it.  The fans want it, Cody wants it, and MJF is going to make sure all of them pay to get it; not with money or cars, but with something that will truly feel like a cost.  He agrees to a match further down the road, but with very specific stipulations that he will not reveal tonight, so we definitely have that to look forward to in a future show.  Sure nothing of PARTICULAR note got accomplished here as we seem to just be kicking this can further and further down the road until the next PPV in February, but it was a great reminder of WHY this feud is worth waiting for and just how much MJF brings to the table here at AEW.

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Dark Order Promo

It’s yet another video package about The Dark Order which I thought were starting to get a bit tedious, and yet they’ve found another interesting angle for the group that I can’t wait to see play out.  Remember the dude who got smashed by Moxley at the top of the show?  Apparently his name is Alex and the video shows him in a hotel room watching TV when that dude who is NOT Evil Uno or Stu Grayson (the guy in the turtle neck) starts talking to him directly and telling him to join The Dark Order.  WOW does this open up SO many possibilities for a storyline down the road!  I never watched any of the Nexus angle from WWE, but the idea of rookies or lower tier wrestlers teaming up to take down the top tier talent is one with a lot of potential, and if all the jobbers in this company like whoever this Alex guy is or that Brandon Cutler dude start to buff up the ranks of The Dark Order, they could be a truly formidable foe!  I really want to see the team back in the ring now that they have all this momentum, but at least they’re giving us new things to ponder with each video package which is making the wait a lot more tolerable than it could have been.
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Big Swole Vs. Emi Sakura

I don’t know about this one.  I mean I’ve liked what I’ve seen of Big Swole so far and think she should get a decent push at some point, but this match with Emi Sakura just didn’t do it for me.  It was overly gimmicky with wacky moves and an even wackier spot where they start fighting over Sakura’s mic stand, so I didn’t find it to be a particularly great showcase of their talents and once again the Women’s division ends up feeling secondary to the men’s.  Really, the best thing about the match is that Big Swole got the win so her star gets to rise a bit, but it just felt like a bunch of filler in an episode that already wasn’t doing much for me in terms of wrestling action.

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Kip Sabian & Shawn Spears Vs. Hangman Adam Page & Kenny Omega

Kip Sabian is accompanied to the ring by Penelope Ford

Well if I’ve been feeling a bit underwhelmed about the in-ring action up to this point, surely a matchup between these talented fellas will bring everything back on track, right?  Well for the most part that’s true, but I honestly still started tuning out around this part of the show.  Perhaps it was the lackluster matches up to this point or maybe I just didn’t have a great day leading up to the show, but despite some really great wrestling on display here I just couldn’t get into it.  Perhaps it has to do with NO ONE in this match being a part of an actual tag team at the company so it felt kind of superfluous, though I guess it’s possible that wins THIS way ultimately help their standing in the singles division.  That’s something about the rankings I still don’t understand, but ignoring all that, I will say that everyone did a solid job here.  Kenny Omega in particular is an absolute start who lights up the ring every time he enters it, and I don’t think anyone in AEW is quite as fast as that dude which makes it all the more fun to see him crop up.  Unfortunately he’s really the only person who stood out for me as everyone else was fine but I didn’t get a whole lot out of watching them work the same way I did for Kenny Omega.  If anything, Penelope Ford was the second most interesting person in the match as she pulls off some impressive moves here including a Hurricanrana on Adam Page when the ref isn’t looking.  I’m curious how much they’ll let her and even Bunny be a part of these matches as it’s still very unlikely that advertisers will warm up to mixed gender matches anytime soon and I’d hate for them to be just be hanging around for the occasional distraction.  The most interesting thing to happen in the match is at some point the lights go out and a few moments later there’s a spotlight on the top of the ramp where Tully Blanchard is gagged and tied to a chair with Joey Janela smirking from behind.  Shawn Spears is UTTERLY terrified and runs faster than I’ve ever seen him move to try and save Tully Blanchard which honestly seems more like a babyface move so I’m wondering if they’ve got some new plans with Spears down the line.  Anyway, he’s occupied by Joey Janela which leaves Kip alone to face Omega and Hangman which is a situation I don’t envy anyone being in which leads to Omega  landing a V Trigger and Adam Page following up with a Buckshot Lariat.  Whatever is left of Sabian is pinned immediately after that.  It was a solid enough match that probably would have worked better on a more interesting episode or if I was in a better mood at the time.

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Brandi Rhodes has another video promo after this match and frankly it’s a rather lousy one that is still doing nothing to convince me (or anyone else) that THE NIGHTMARE COLLECTIVE is a faction worth taking seriously.  She talks smack about a bunch of the women in the division which would be fine IF she had the slightest bit of credibility to back it up.  I mean what was her last match?  Fight for the fallen?  How many matches has Kong had?  Just the one from Double or Nothing?  They’ve gone months without doing anything of particular impact other than cutting hair AFTER other people’s matches, so Brandi’s mean girl shtick can take a back seat until she, Kong, or whoever else in this group gives us a reason to care.

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Luchasaurus Vs. Sammy Guevara

Luchasaurus is accompanied to the ring by Jungle Boy & Marko Stunt

Before the match begins, Jericho and Jake Hager kick Excalibur and Tony Schiavone out of the announcers booth so they can call the match with JR; a rather odd choice considering they usually like to be at ringside to interfere when possible, but I guess Jericho has much more trash talking to do and one segment on the episode simply wasn’t enough.  Now I’ve been theorizing that Luchasaurus is still hurt from the injury he sustained a few months ago as he came back a good month before anyone expected him to, so I figured he’d be staying in the background for the most part until January; backing up Jungle Boy and Marko Stunt, taking down a bunch of jobbers, and if there WAS a match to be had it would be a safe two minute squash to keep him from aggravating his hamstring.  If this match is any indication though, he’s truly at a hundred percent or he’s being incredibly reckless because despite going up against such a small guy he does take a few bumps, the match goes on for MUCH longer than two minutes, and he even lets Sammy work his legs which would be the last thing you’d want to do if you still needed to protect them.  Overall it was a good match.  Sammy is still perhaps the best guy at wrestling to his character as his smarmy millennial attitude shines through with every move he makes and every bump he takes.  The Butcher should seriously be watching how this guy wrestles and try to incorporate some of that into his own repertoire if that new team is going to get over.  Luchasaurus eventually smashes Sammy into the dirt which is great because The Jurassic Express is perhaps the most over team in the company; especially with people who aren’t exactly wrestling fans.  I don’t have a lot of evidence to back this up, but it sounds like a lot of younger people are taking to the three of them which is great because the demos for wrestling (even this fresh and new promotion) have been skewing older and older for several years now, and we need some fresh fans if AEW is going to be sustainable in the long run.  As soon as Sammy is pinned, Jericho and Jake Hager storm the ring to beat up on Luchasaurus, but Jungle Boy is ready for them and manages to keep Jericho occupied while Luchasarus deals with Hager.  Jungle Boy manages to out maneuver Jericho and even gets him into a pin at which point Marko Stunt jumps in to count it; one, two, three.  It’s not an official victory for Jungle Boy but it certainly rattled Jericho and has made their match next week that much more exciting to watch!  GREAT match, GREAT post-match angle, and GREAT storytelling!  Easily the highlight of the show for me!

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The Young Bucks vs Proud and Powerful – Texas Street Match

The main event of the show is something called a Texas Street Match which basically means that falls count anywhere, there are no DQs, and there is no time limit.  To wit, it makes sense that the first thing that happens is that Proud and Powerful bash The Young Bucks over the head while they’re still doing their entrances and Sammy Guevara comes out to kick them while they’re down.  A no DQ match is always a delicate balance as you don’t want to imply that someone can bring forty dudes to curb stomp one guy or a gun to shoot them in the face, but you also don’t want to make it just another match with a few minor bells and whistles.  By having things go south for The Bucks right off the bat like this, it sets a tone of chaos that I though was perfect for this kind of match and they proceed to throw everything at each other from there.  The funniest part of the match is that after Sammy comes out from the back, Brandon Cutler tries to do the same thing to make the save… and gets knocked out immediately.  I think we’re one step closer to him joining The Dark Order and it’d be interesting if all the big name baby faces had ONE dude they liked join that faction.  The Young Bucks lose Brandon Cutler, Kenny Omega loses Michael Nakazawa, heck Cody already lost MJF who could make a strategic alliance with The Dark Order!  I guess we’ll have to wait and see how that plays out in future episodes as right now we’ve got a street fight to watch which is… pretty good I’d say.  I mean I haven’t been the BIGGEST Buck fans and the justification for them fighting Proud and Powerful once again is kind of token (apparently the winner of this match gest a shot at SCU next week for the tag belts and I have no idea if these two are the top tag team contenders) but the action is pretty good and they go through A LOT of tables.  A COMICAL amount of tables!  There are so many tables that just pop up for someone to go through that I’m pretty sure they got a stage hand to hide under the ring and jump out to set another one up whenever the camera wasn’t looking!  There was also some interesting ref spots where the first guy accidentally eats a kick from one of the Bucks which required Aubrey Edwards to rush down the ramp like a freaking superhero to call the match from that point on and she is so over with the crowd that they started an Aubrey chant when she showed up.  She also gets pulled out the ring twice, once by each team, which throws a bit of shade on The Bucks’ status as Baby Faces, but since it’s no DQ it was probably the best move to make at the time and Aubrey sells the disbelief really well when it happens.  There’s not much more for me to say about it as I was REALLY tired by this point so I couldn’t tell you exactly what spots were done, but it does end with Santana eating a Meltzer Driver from The Bucks (a move named after the famous wrestling writer) and getting pinned right after.  The show ends with SCU entering the ring to stare down The Bucks in a friendly but clearly determined manner and we’ll see how that all gets resolved next week.

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There were certainly a lot of things working against this episode before it even started as I had a pretty lousy day and was actually feeling a bit sick that evening, but a better episode of AEW could have still won me over and the segments in this episode that DID only highlight the ones that didn’t.  We’ve got to do something more with The Butcher and The Blade, Brandi Rhodes has to either return to the ring or send someone else there soon if her gimmick is ever going to get over, and the women’s division needs more prominence as well as more promos if it’s to be on an equal level to the men’s division.  All these problems are nothing new of course as AEW has been struggling with these for a few weeks now, but I hope they get fixed sooner rather than later.  Next week might be a lot like this one since it’s another one right before the holidays (December seems to be a bad month for most wrestling companies), but there are some really interesting matches on the card that I’m definitely looking forward to seeing; especially that Jungle Boy match against Jericho!  If that turns out great, I’ll go ahead and call it a Christmas Miracle!  Wait, do dinosaurs celebrate Christmas?

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