Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (01-15-20)

AEWDYNAMITE

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

Welcome back to another episode of AEW Dynamite where we’re partying like its 1997!!  Despite WWE basically owning everything wrestling related in the US prior to 2000, they let their trademark for Bash at the Beach expire which allowed Cody Rhodes to get it for AEW; a fitting change of hands considering his father Dusty Rhodes was the one who created the concept in the first place!  Does this revival of an old school wrestling tradition still hold up twenty years later, even with a BEACH show taking place in the middle of winter!?  Let’s find out!!

The big thing to note about this show is that the major angles are put on the back burner a bit to focus on a new round of tournaments for the belts; presumably as a way to make this BASH AT THE BEACH thing feel like something other than another episode of Dynamite shot in a slightly different way.  To that end, the Tag Match is a Number One Contender match, and there’s a two bracket tournament tonight (Jon Moxley Vs. Sammy Guevara & Pac Vs. Darby Allin) with the two winners of this week’s matches facing off next week for a shot at Jericho.  Fair enough I suppose as there could certainly be a bit more excitement around the belts themselves which haven’t changed hands once since AEW started, and we start things off with that GINORMOUS tag match!

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Hangman Adam Page & Kenny Omega Vs. Proud N Powerful Vs. Best Friends Vs. The Young Bucks – Four Way Tag Team Match for Number One Contender

Best Friends is accompanied to the ring by Orange Cassidy

The best way that I can describe this match is that it has as much in common with an actual sporting contest as It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World has with actual racing.  For twenty minutes these eight dudes did their best to recreate the mad cap of Buster Keaton, and Charlie Chaplin in that the physicality of their bits are just as impressive to watch as it is hilarious.  No, you don’t really buy it as a REAL wrestling match, but the timing and the spectacle were out of this world and I enjoyed every minute of it once it kicked into high gear!  It actually took me a minute to get what they were going for, especially when JR just blurted out that it was a non-DQ match two minutes after the bell ring which calls into question why anyone is even bothering to tag in and out, but honestly that’s always going to be a thing in wrestling where if the goal is to knock someone into submission then why are they doing high flying moves and whatnot instead of MMA beat downs.  I can understand that going THIS far into wackiness will be past some people’s suspension of disbelief and that’s a fair criticism as it really does descend into chaos multiple times here, but if you can groove on that understand that it’s all one elaboarately planned out showcase of moves, spots, and well timed interference, then there’s a lot of wacky fun to be had in this opening match.  The match does eventually have to come to an end though with Kenny and Page landing that combo V-Trigger and Buckshot Lariat on Chuck Taylor which knocks him out cold and leads to the three count.  They’re definitely playing the long game here with Page’s heel turn as they’ve made it ALL the way to the number one contender slot, so hopefully next week in their match against SCU they’ll finally pull the trigger on it.  I’m guessing they’re going to lose relatively cleanly against SCU and that’s when Page finally turns heel on Kenny which will set up a feud for those and possibly a match at Revolution; possibly a Triple Threat if they wanted to get Pac in there as well.

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Cody’s Decision – Will he agree to MJF’s stipulations?

Before we get into this segment, I’ve heard some people criticize last week’s show for Cody not coming out during MJF’s promo which happened right after Cody and Dustin’s match against The Lucha Bros, and here’s why that didn’t bother me.  First, if he had come out he would have HAD to take some physical action otherwise he would have looked like a dweeb, and therefore would have broken the No Hitting stipulation that MJF had laid out.  You may then ask, well doesn’t it make Cody look bad that he wants his match more than helping out DDP?  To answer that, think of who came out to make the save as well as who would have been backstage with him.  His brother and QT Marshall probably insisted that he not come out and that they could handle it themselves, and on top of that Cody has put a lot of trust into Arn Anderson in recent weeks who was probably telling him the same thing.  They didn’t SHOW us Arn, Dustin, and QT talking Cody down from charging the ring, but I could infer as much and it’s a good enough explanation for me.  This week however, Cody DOES come out and he is sporting a BEAUTIFUL white leisure suit, because if he’s going to tell MJF to shove it, he’s going to do it in STYLE!  So just to reiterate, the stipulations are the following; Cody will not touch MJF until their match at Revolution, Cody will submit to ten lashes from MJF on a live episode of Dynamite, and Cody will face Wardlow in a cage match before Revolution.  Cody’s final decision is… YES!  After considering the cost of what is being asked of him by MJF, he decides that it is worth accepting these ridiculous stipulations because no matter how much humiliation MJF may THINK he can extract from Cody with those lashings or how much he can infuriate him with the No Touching rule, it will pale in comparison to the righteous fury that will be unleashed up on him the moment they are in a fair fight.  So let him have his whippings!  Let him sic Wardlow on him in a cage match!  None of that will matter when MJF is on his back and Cody is standing over him victorious at Revolution!  This was a great segment where Cody proves once again how great he is on the mic and what a babyface he is for the audience who clearly had mixed feelings on these stipulations (particularly the whipping), but Cody managed to get them all on his side and cheering for him which goes to show how much of a natural he is in this role and how well he understands the theatrical angle of this business.  The only thing that felt a bit off is that Cody actually referred to MJF as a heel, and I tend to not think it’s a good idea to break the fourth wall like that within the sacred ropes of the ring, but other than that this was a great segment!

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After Cody is done talking, we get a brief promo from Joey Janela as he talks smack at Penelope Ford who punched him in the nuts last week and is apparently his ex-girlfriend, so he challenges Kip Sabian to a match, lets everyone know that he will be wrestling Rey Fenix next week, and promises to be the baddest bad boy at AEW for 2020!  I’m not sure why they’re pushing Sabian and Ford so hard especially considering how few matches they’ve had, but hopefully it’s building towards something and doesn’t just kind of peter out like Janela’s feud with Shawn Spears.

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Kris Statlander & Hikaru Shida Vs.  The Nightmare Collective (Brandi Rhodes and Mel)

The Nightmare Collective is accompanied to the ring by Luther

I could have sworn this match was announced as Mel and Awesome Kong instead of Mel and Brandi, but regardless this is the big chance for THE NIGHTMARE COLLECTIVE to prove themselves as a legitimate force to be reckoned with at AEW.  Now I was one of the few people who didn’t outright hate THE NIGHTMARE COLLECTIVE nonsense from last week’s show, but it was definitely a starting point that they really needed to build off of here… and they don’t really do that unfortunately.  The match got off to a rocky start as Statlander looked pretty green on a few moves and Shida had a hard time convincingly selling some of Brandi’s moves, but the match itself was fine overall; it was the enduing that I had an issue with.  Based on everything we’ve seen so far of THE NIGHTMARE COLLECTIVE, they are a bunch of cheating jerks who will use their cult like mentality to win or influence matches in a dirty way, and yet they fight a more or less clean match here and lose cleanly.  You’d think that if nothing else THIS would be the perfect time for someone to get a DQ as Luther could have jumped in and punched Statlander or something when The Nightmare Collective were starting to lose, but no!  They just have a regular old match where one side wins and the other loses… so where does that leave THE NIGHTMARE COLLECTIVE?  They’ve proven that they’re not that formidable and they also aren’t willing to cheat to get the win despite everything we’ve seen up to now, so what purpose do they serve?  They didn’t even bother to beat up Statlander and Shida after losing the match, so why can they possibly intimidate!?  I don’t know, like I said it was a decent enough match, but there was a definite lack of drama and story building here to make anything more than just okay which isn’t a good thing for a faction who’s having trouble justifying their own existence.

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The Dark Order Promo

I’m a big fan of what they’ve done with The Dark Order in the last few weeks which is a testament to how good it is considering they were my least favorite thing in the entire company just a few months prior, but this promo was not the best they’ve done.  They’ve got that one motivational speaker looking dude talking to the mysterious leader of The Dark Order (not Evil Uno or Stu Grayson), and the guy is laying out who they feel are vulnerable targets for recruitment.  I don’t know, it feels almost like spoilers for them to just lay their targets out like that when I think it would work better if they came out as some sort of surprise.  We see a guy that we like who loses over and over again and you wonder if the company really has any plans for them… and then BOOM!  Evil Uno comes out with an offer they’d be foolish to refuse!  THAT’S how The Dark Order should be portrayed; as someone we like going to the dark side rather than a bunch of pestering proselytizers.  In any case, their newest targets are Michael Nakazawa, Brandon Cutler, and Hangman Adam Page.  No mention of Christopher Daniels who I STILL feel is in a vulnerable enough spot for them to go after (and I still REALLY think he should have joined them last week), and frankly I don’t know if getting the oil guy, the DnD guy, and the drunk guy are going to be the key pieces on this overly elaborate chess board for taking over AEW.

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John Moxley Vs. Sammy Guevara – Number One Contender Match Qualifier

Like with the women’s match, the problem with this is that it was JUST a match.  Given everything that happened last week with Moxley declaring open warfare on The Inner Circle (he even showed up to the ring driving the car he sort of stole from them), this shouldn’t have been a straight up, clean as a sheet, competitive match.  Moxley either needed to bury this dude as quickly as possible to keep him looking unstoppable, or Sammy should have cheated his way through the match.  The wrestling itself was pretty good overall, but the context made everything feel off as I had a hard time believing that Sammy, a guy who’s ONLY ever won a match due to interference, was able to hold his own against Moxley like this, and that The Inner Circle chose this to be the ONE MATCH they didn’t bother to get involved with.  Those guys LOVE to interfere and no one has given them a better excuse to do so than Moxley, and yet the match just went off without a hitch.  Jon Moxley eventually wins after putting Sammy in… a headlock I guess, and Sammy taps out immediately so at least we have Sammy going out like a punk if nothing else, and then AFTER the match The Inner Circle rush to the ring and jump Moxley; giving him the unholy beat down that was by all means coming to the guy after what he did last week.  See, THIS should have happened halfway through the match instead of after it had already ended!  On top of curb stomping the guy, Chris Jericho takes one of the spikes off of his jacket and jabs Jon Moxley in the eye with it; possibly blinding him and stymying his chances at the championship.  This actually shows a clever bit of writing as I was wondering why this tournament was even going on with Moxley in it considering he said in no uncertain terms that he will not face Moxley, but if it was all a set up to blind the guy then it works even better as a revenge because you gave the guy a taste at the championship before ripping it away from him, and on top of that, Jon Moxley, being the loner that he is, had no one coming out to back him up so maybe this will lead to him making a few friends down the line or even make his own stable; one that I would call The Mox Box!

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The Butcher and the Blade & MJF Vs. QT Marshall & Dustin Rhodes & Diamond Dallas Page

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

MJF is accompanied to the ring by Wardlow

There’s usually one match that I kind of tune out in the show and for this one I had to take a phone call so I don’t remember EVERYTHING that went on here, but I remember it being a pretty good match; basically a more constrained version of the opener where people were following the rules but the spots were all over the top nonsense.  Dustin Rhodes proves that he’s still one of the best performers at this company and still carries a lot of weight in the ring, while MJF is almost as good as Sammy at wrestling like a heel instead of just talking like one.  The big gimmick here of course is that DDP who’s over sixty years old, was one of the competitors in this match, but they did a good job using him as the match didn’t rely on his performance and when he DID get tagged in he basically cleaned house.  Unrealistic?  Obviously, but it was still fun to see MJF and the other two selling almost as hard as HBK did against Hogan back in 2005.  If that wasn’t enough DDP action for you though, the foolish bastard gets up on the top rope, and JUMPS to the outside of the ring!  Thankfully ALL FIVE of the other people in this match were there to catch him, but it was still scary as heck to watch this dude risk life and limb doing something that would hurt a man less than half his age!  Sadly the ending is pretty disappointing because while we’re getting replays of DDP’s massive jump, MJF just rolls up QT Marshall for the three count; one that they had to THEN show in replay because it happened while ANOTHER replay was going on!  Not the best note to end the match on, but it was still a lot of fun!

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Pac Vs. Darby Allin – Number One Contender Match Qualifier

DAMN was this match hard to watch, but in a REALLY good way!  What happens when you take the man who fights like a monster and pit him against the man who wants nothing but pain?  You basically get a horror movie as Pac does some truly inexcusable things to Darby Allin who in turn takes it like a champ and even manages to get a few near falls on the guy despite how much punishment he has to endure!  I’ll bring it up once again that I think Darby Allin is way too willing to put himself in harm’s way and that he’s lucky he hasn’t gotten any serious injuries so far, but as long as he understands the risks and as long as we works with guys as good as Pac, he’ll hopefully be alright and I certainly enjoy seeing him whenever he shows up.  Despite the most valiant of efforts, Pac ends up winning after landing a Black Arrow on Allin.  Pac then starts gloating to Tony Schiavone and declares that he’s going to be the one to face Jericho since Moxley is most assuredly out with an eye injury after what The Inner Circle did to him.  All of a sudden we cut to Jon Moxley in the back of an Ambulance and PRESUMABLY he was able to hear Pac talking smack because he jumps out of the thing, goes through the back stage to the ramp, and ends the show to tell Pac he’s gonna kick his ass next week despite the fact that he’s now wearing a Snake Plissken eyepatch and only has a week to get used to it!

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Halfway through this episode I thought that this was a PPV quality show as it may not have contained my FAVORITE matches they’ve ever done but it had that big SCOPE to it.  The Bash at the Beach branding along with the fact that most of the matches were part of some sort of tournament definitely made this feel like more than just another episode of Dynamite, and while I have my quibbles here and there about what ended up going down in this episode, a lot DID happen that’s going to set up future shows.  As much as my wallet is thanking them for not doing monthly PPV shows I have been a bit worried that it would mean things would move at too slow a pace as you still want to do the payoffs on the shows you pay for, but with this I think they’ve struck a great balance between moving angles forward and letting other stuff simmer for a few months that companies like WWE should learn from.  Next week is going to be the Jericho Cruise episode which I was already very curious to see as I wasn’t sure how wrestling would work on a boat (wouldn’t the ring be rocking the whole time!?) but now I’m even more invested as they did a great job building up that show with everything that happened here!  If nothing else, I want to see Jon Moxley with his spiffy new eyepatch try to shanghai Chris Jericho’s ship!  Maybe he can stick a sail on top of his new car and call it the SS Go Mox Yourself!

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