Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (01-01-20)

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

Happy New Year and TGI Wednesdays! It’s the start of a new year and AEW is ready to bring us some more of that great wrestling action, only now they’ve reset everyone’s win lose records from 2019 so everyone is now at zero-zero and they can all start fresh! Only everyone is still ranked exactly where they were last year… and they still show each wrestler’s CAREER win lose records instead of just this year’s… but I guess it’s still important! Somehow! Aside from that odd little lurch in year change, does AEW come out on New Year’s Day swinging for the fences, or is this just another day ending in Y for them? Let’s find out!!

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Cody Rhodes Vs. Darby Allin

The match starts off a bit odd as both guys come out with dudes who just seem to be there to be eye candy; Allin with some guy from some band I’ve never heard of and Arn Anderson who I highly doubt is going to get in the ring or interfere in the match, but whatever; it’s the new year so they wanted to add a bit of pizazz to their first match! Once they get to the match it’s actually quite great as both guys show off a heck of a lot of athleticism even if neither one of them come off as big powerhouse. I mean they’re not quite at Lucha Bros level of raw acrobatic athleticism, but the amount of twists, spins, rolls, and flips is quite impressive here and works to Darby Allin’s strengths which are NOT inflicting huge amounts of pain in a single punch. I think one of the things about Cody is that he’s so… right down the middle I guess that he can work with almost anyone and it can come off as believable. He doesn’t have the over the top physiques of Kenny Omega or Pac, and he isn’t as nimble as small guys like Allin or Jungle Boy, but his move set is dynamic enough that he can more or less adapt to any opponent he’s facing. The turning point in the match is when Allin knocks Cody right on his shoulder on the apron which Cody sells like a broken arm, and so now Allin has a chance to pull off some bigger moves on the guy like his famous Coffin Drop on the apron as well as working the arm for maximum damage. However, the match does come to an end with Darby Allin going for a second coffin drop on Cody who’s ready for it this time and gets his legs up way in advanced; destroying Allin’s back on impact and getting pinned by Cody immediately after he lands. I like this because it plays into Allin’s character and doesn’t necessarily make him look bad. Darby Allin is definitely a risk taker; always willing to put his body on the line at the drop of a hat. In a lot of case this is good because he’s willing to do the big dangerous moves that no one else will, but it’s also his fatal flaw as Cody so aptly exploited here. It was a solid match to start the show out on and best of all it didn’t wear out its welcome or burn out the crowd; preferring to leave them wanting more to get them hyped for the rest of the show.

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After the match we get a brief interview with SCU that gets interrupted when Sammy Guevara who’s out making old guy jokes at Christopher Daniels who’s still probably not feeling to great about how much he botched his Pentagón Jr match, and so he challenges Guevara to a fight next week which will hopefully go a lot smoother. I really like SCU and I like Daniels a lot, but we really need to see if he’s still got anything left in the tank if he’s going to continue being an in ring performer and hopefully my fears will be assuaged by this time next week.

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Nyla Rose Vs. Hikaru Shida Vs. Britt Baker Vs. Riho – 4 Way Championship Match

Okay, so this one’s a bit weird because the last few weeks of the AEW Women’s Division have all been about the race to be the top contender with what I THOUGHT was a definitive victory for Kris Statlander who came out of the blue to run roughshod over everyone else. Instead, we get two of her losing opponent and Nyla Rose; the latter of whom has been suspended for a month and yet is still somehow ranked fourth in this Women’s division. As odd as this setup was for me considering how much work they put into the match being something OTHER than this, I did find it be quite enjoyable as all of these women are at the peak of their game and they have an interesting story to tell which isn’t the easiest thing to do with four people in the ring. The story is basically that Nyla and Shida were fighting hard while Riho and Baker were fighting smart as the latter two did the BIG moves and got the most pops from the audience, but the other two had the sounder strategies and nearly stole the win several times throughout. Hikaru Shida gets the heat when she manages to backdrop Nyla Rose, but Rose swiftly puts that fire out when she absolutely DESTROYS Shida with two moves that by all rights should have killed Shida. First she drapes Shida over the top rope and does a Flying Guillotine on her which bounces her forward and then backwards out of the ring. THEN Rose puts Shida on a table that’s been set up outside the ring, gets up on the apron, and then just jumps on her like a cannonball! As great as these moves are however, they end up having difficulty converting them into pin fall or following up on them in any meaningful way as the other two are there to cut them off or take advantage of how taxing these moves are to perform. Eventually Baker tries to put Shida in the LOCK JAW which would no doubt end the match, but Shida reverses it and gets a two count on Baker. As soon as Baker is up though, Riho flips her over, get in a pin, and gets the Three Count which means that she retains the title. Nyla Rose isn’t happy about this however and immediately knocks Riho to the ground after the bell has rung. She then sets up a table in the ring (Baker and Shida have already cleared out) and gets up on the top rope where she jumps right on Riho; breaking her right through it. I feel like we need a bit more for Nyla to do other than be a bully and a brute whenever she loses, but overall this was a REALLY great women’s match and is one of the best we’ve gotten in a while. Everyone looked good here with a lot of great moments to shine; Even Baker who I’ve accused of being a bit green landed some solid moves in here and took some nasty hits herself. Next week will be Riho Vs. Kris Statlander so at least they didn’t forget about her entirely, and considering how quickly she blew up at this company she might have a chance of dethroning Riho. I guess we’ll have to wait until next week to find out!

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After all that we get a brief promo with Joey Janela where Penelope knocks him right in the balls indicating an upcoming feud between him and her partner in crime Kip Sabian; good news as far as I’m concerned as his Shawn Spears feud, while enjoyable (especially that Christmas bout), had run its course and is better left in 2019. We also get a Dark Order video package which recaps the beat down they gave The Elite on the last show, and while I thought it was good it seems that a lot of people are still down on The Dark Order. I’m not sure why as I’ve turned around on them considerably, but we’ll have to see if there’s still any hope of them becoming more than a sideshow.

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Jon Moxley Vs. Trent

This was a good match but I don’t have a whole lot to say about it. Really the only thing that stuck out for me is that Trent of The Best Friends definitely has the look to be a full on superstar. Sure Chuck Taylor is fine and Orange Cassidy fills a niche so perfect that you wouldn’t want him to do anything else, but Trent’s got that Adam Page thing going where he looks like half a dozen WWE guys melded together to create the company’s perfect superstar. Perhaps that’s why Moxley is fighting him in the first place! Displaced and petty revenge which frankly isn’t off brand for the guy who leaves spit on the camera whenever he shouts into it. The highlight of the match was of course Orange Cassidy getting on the apron and dramatically putting his hands in his pockets. Moxley surprisingly does NOT immediately rip his head off but instead dramatically puts HIS hands in his pockets as way of mocking the guy which gives Trent an opening to attack Moxley and ALMOST get the Three Count. Moxley kicks out however, does a few finishes on Trent, and gets the pin as you’d expect him to. I’m PRETTY sure he didn’t lose a match last year with the closest being a tie between him and Pac, so I doubt they’re gonna give the honor of his first pin fall to one half a tag team. Sure they let Jungle Boy land a fluke pin on Jericho, but that one didn’t count and he certainly couldn’t do it to him again in an OFFICIAL match!

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After the match, Sammy Guevara comes through the crowd to let Moxley know that The Inner Circle is still interested in having him join their ranks, and if the deal wasn’t sweet enough already then Chris Jericho has even more to offer. We cut to a video where Jericho tells Moxley that he wouldn’t JUST be joining The Inner Circle, he’ll be a co-owner with a forty-nine percent stake in the Inner Circle LLC, and yes they even got the guy a brand new car if he agrees to become a member. Moxley tells the crowd that he’ll have his answer (the answer is going to be no) on next week’s episode. I’m not sure exactly why they’re dragging this out and it feels a bit uncharacteristic of Moxley to be so coy right now, but for the most part this was a solid match with a solid post-match storyline, so it gets a thumbs up from me.

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Dustin Rhodes Vs. Sammy Guevara

Well since he’s already in the ring we might as well get to Sammy’s match against Dustin! If you don’t recall, The Inner Circle broke Dustin’s arm a few months ago and he’s had his mind set on revenge since then, so now that it’s healed he’s starting with Sammy. Dustin’s music hits and Sammy is waiting for him to come out, but being the crafty mastermind that he is, Dustin climbs into the ring from the OPPOSITE side and sucker punches Sammy before the bell rings. From here it’s all Dustin’s show as he completely destroys the little whippersnapper! He loses his momentum ever so briefly when Jake Hager makes his expected appearance and distracts Dustin enough for Sammy to land a few solid hits, but it doesn’t take long for Dustin to regain the advantage and show just how great he is despite his age. He pulls off a Canadian Destroyer on Sammy on the apron which is a movie that looks like it would take a wire team to pull off! At this point Sammy is DONE FOR. He is now in the corner, beaten and bruised, out of breath, and he even has a wedgie to make it that much more humiliating. Dustin rushes at him to finish him off… but the ref stops him. Now I THINK because one of Sammy’s legs is wrapped around the middle rope that he can’t touch him (you’ll sometimes see wrestlers stick their heads between the middle and top ropes as a stalling tactic) but I’m still kind of guessing there and it of course opens up the match for a Lousy Ref spot as he tries to untangle Sammy at the same time Hager comes in and bashes Dustin in the nuts. The ref turns around to see Dustin on the floor with no Hager in sight, and Sammy rushes over to steal the pin. It was definitely a heel move which is what you want from a heel faction like this, but I don’t think this was the BEST way to end the match. People really like Dustin and to see him get screwed over like this doesn’t exactly light a fire under me to see him overcome as it does make me feel a bit deflated; especially if he wants to run through the rest of the Inner Circle now that his momentum has been cut down. Still a solid match though and I’m continually impressed at just how good Dustin looks at this point in his career. Are you paying attention, Christopher Daniels!?

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After the match we get a fun little interview with Private Party who are still presumably jacked from their New Year’s party, but it gets interrupted by Adam Page wandering into the background wearing a VERY unfortunate shirt and pouring himself a drink from Private Party’s stash. This off course gets the ire of Private Party (reacting like The New Day finding out you don’t like pancakes) and Adam Page tells them to back off because he’s a mean mo-fo and can drink when he wants to. Now I get that this supposed to be getting us closer and closer to an Adam Page heel turn, but frankly I’m on his side here. Just share your booze, Private Party! Don’t be selfish like that, and CERTAINLY don’t try to take a man’s drink away after he’s already poured it!

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MJF Promo

I won’t bore you by reiterating once again that MJF is fantastic at everything he does, so let’s get the meat of this promo and you can just assume he delivers it with eloquence and wit. He is willing to face Cody in a match but with the following stipulations. Number one, he will ONLY face Cody at the upcoming PPV Revolution and if Cody were to lay a hand on him between now and then, the match is off. Number two, before the match, Cody has to face his bodyguard Wardlow (basically another Jake Hager in that he’s a big dude who doesn’t talk much and is someone I probably should know already) in a Steel Cage match and win before their match at Revolution. Number three, Live on television, Cody needs to get down on his knees and let MJF whip him TEN TIMES with his belt.

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After that we get an interview with Jurassic Express where Jungle Boy explains how happy he was that he went the distance with Jericho on the last episode and that he’s ready to start racking up wins for the New Year. This would be a fine if not especially interesting segment, if it weren’t for the fact that for some reason Marko Stunt is acting like a creep; trying to poke or hug the interviewer while she’s talking to Jungle Boy. Yeah… let’s hope someone realizes how… bad that is, and we don’t have to see that again. Thankfully we get ANOTHER interview segment right afterwards which we can use to memory-hole that Marko Stunt nonsense where Riho is getting interviewed about her victory when Britt Baker comes in and starts yelling at her about how much she doesn’t deserve the belt which sounds like they’re planning to push Britt as a sorta heel the same way they’re currently doing with Adam Page. Speaking of whom, he’s joining the announcers on commentary (still wearing that awful shirt and with a drink in hand) for the main event match which is coming up next!

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The Elite (Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks) Vs. Pac & The Lucha Bros

So I don’t watch any of the BEING THE ELITE stuff and I don’t know much of their careers before AEW, but the whole “elite” thing never made much sense to me; particularly for what is supposed to be a Babyface faction. Like… it’s an acknowledgement that they are in fact management and probably get paid WAY more than the other wrestlers, but in what way is the audience supposed to relate to that? On top of that, it doesn’t even seem to connect to their characters outside the group, excepting Cody of course, as Omega and The Bucks never mention their status as executives or incorporate it into their on screen personas. Aside from that, this was a very good match. I really like both The Lucha Bros and The Young Bucks when they aren’t in matches with just them (those two teams going at it is like really spicy hot sauce; it’s a perfect complement to a much bigger meal, but can be a bit overwhelming by itself), and having Kenny and Pac on hand to spread out the tag team action a bit definitely helps. The storyline between those two has been that Pac wants a rematch against Kenny and every week he doesn’t get one he’ll make his life a little bit worse; having already attacked and essentially kidnapped Michael Nakazawa on the last episode. Sadly I don’t feel that they incorporate that story into this match too much. We DO get some great Kenny on Pac violence which definitely POINTS to a proper rematch down the road, but you’d think Kenny would be a LITTLE bit angrier at Pac and they would devolve into their own little street fight while The Bucks and Lucha Bros finish out the proper match. Kenny doesn’t even get to finish off Pac as he gets the win after landing a One Winged Angel on Fenix Jr, and ending it in THAT way isn’t doing much to sell the raging blood feud that’s supposed to be going on between the two. The disconnected context to the storyline does bring it down somewhat, but overall this is still a great match with some of the most talented people at the company and solid main event. Afterwards The Elite celebrate in the ring (Cody even comes out to join them) and they wave to Adam Page to come down as well, but he refuses and just leaves the arena; ending the episode on a positive if somewhat bittersweet note as this Adam Page thing will surely come to a head at some point.

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I don’t have much to say here as this was just another really solid episode of AEW that’s still managing to hold my attention and keeps me coming back for more. Heck, there really wasn’t even a match that I disliked in here or tuned out for as everything moved along at a very stead and engaging pace. It perhaps wasn’t my FAVORITE episode as it feels a bit like a holding pattern where all the important stuff is going to happen further down the line, but it does a decent job of reminding us of the status quo without making it feel like tedious continuity management. Let’s hope we never get to THAT point with this show… or have a pointless wedding inside the ring…

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