AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT
We’re back with another episode of Wednesday Night Modern Warfare with a particularly spicy bout between NXT and AEW! For the most part, AEW has been leading NXT in the rating EXCEPT when a SmackDown or RAW superstar graces the Full Sail arena, and with Charlotte Flair’s victory at The Royal Rumble she might just be challenging Rhea Ripley for the NXT title. Sounds like a pretty hard act to compete against, but AEW has put on some amazing shows in the past and from the look of the announced card they may just have a shot here as well! Let’s find out!!
Jon Moxley Vs. Ortiz
AEW has found a winning formula and by god they are going to stick to it! Jon Moxley once again kicks off the show by working his way through the crowd to his music while wearing an eyepatch, though instead of getting on the mic and talking smack towards Jericho, he instead is here to face Ortiz in a one on one bout. Well… about as one on one as you can get with Santana skulking outside the ring AND the rest of The Inner Circle butting in on commentary! This was a great match with a lot of great moves and smart storytelling which is what you want from the biggest angle they have going right now. They play up the eye, they play up Ortiz’s ego, and they even play up how much of an asset Santana is being outside the ring and covering Ortiz’s back. Moxley is still flying solo on his quest here and I hope they find a way to work that into a genuine fault for the guy rather than just a self-imposed restriction to make him look more badass which frankly seems to be what they’re going for. If I could say one thing about Moxley that’s negative, it’s that he’s just SO unflappable that he becomes a BIT hard to take seriously; especially when it comes to selling other people’s moves which he struggles with just a LITTLE bit. Sure he can stumble and look a bit groggy, but he never screams, flails, or holds body parts in pain despite the amount of damage his opponents lay on him. I was paying attention to the pin falls in particular and he looks like he’s WAITING to kick out rather than nearly incapacitated, so that’s one place where things could be a BIT better here, but like I said it was a great match overall and one heck of a way to start off the show! It comes to an end when Jon Moxley avoids a running strike from Ortiz who then accidently hits Santana off of the ropes (this will be something of a running theme by the way) and so Ortiz tries to rush Moxley again, but Moxley is prepared for it and lands a Paradigm Shift for the pin. After the match Santanta tries to rush Moxley as retribution for the defeat of his tag team partner but ends up eating a Paradigm shift just like Ortiz, and then Moxley pulls out the car keys to the Ford GT that Jericho “gave him” as a gift for joining The Inner Circle which he ultimately didn’t do, and Jericho is great here as he freaks the heck out on commentary yelling about how it’s his car and that Moxley is a THIEF! A THIEF I SAY!! If that wasn’t bad enough, Moxley sticks the key between the fingers of his hand as he makes a fist, he picks up Santana who is still dazed from the Paradigm Shift, and then jabs the poor sucker in the eye; taking his revenge for what The Inner Circle had done to him a few weeks ago. The Inner Circle rushes the ring at this point but Jon Moxley is long gone; having made his escape in the crowd. Moxley is second only to Cody as far as people over with the crowd, and while this definitely feels more like a heel move than anything a face would do, the crowd was into it and cheered him endlessly for his Eye For An Eye stunt here.
Best Friends (Chuck Taylor & Trent) Vs. SCU (Kazarian & Scorpio Sky)
Best Friends are accompanied to the ring by Orange Cassidy and
Where is Christopher Daniels?
Not much to say about the match itself as neither team has any particular beef with each other, but they know how to put on a good match. It had a lot of holds and strikes which is a bit odd for SCU who are really great high flyers, but this was great regardless because they still managed to take advantage of their speed and athleticism without necessarily going over the top with it; allowing the match to build more naturally and to show a bit of variety in their repertoire. Really, the most over the top the match gets is when they all end up outside the ring and do a few spots there. Speaking of the outside spots, AEW knows what we’re all here for and that’s the Orange Cassidy moment, so what does he do this time? Well after both teams take some brutal looking bumps on the floor and all of them are laid out; Orange Cassidy saunters over, lies down in the middle of them and just chills for a few moments. I mean it’s not as good as putting his hands in his pockets, but the guy is still great to watch no matter what he does! The match picks up after that with a few good spots leading into the explosive finale. Trent looks like he might have been hurt but he and Chuck Taylor power through it and get Scorpio outside the ring with Kazarian on the ground. After their signature hug, Trent sets ups Kazarian for some sort of devastating move, but Scorpio Sky rushes back into the ring, takes out Chuck, and then kicks Trent in such a way that he flips over with Kazarian, and lands so that Kazarian has him in a pin position which the ref counts the pin. SCU wins with… whatever the heck that was! It was awesome!
Immediately after the match, The Dark Order storms the ring and the creepers along with Stu Grayson lay out both SCU and The Best Friends; fulfilling the promise Evil Uno made last week about Christopher Daniels’s friends suffering the consequences of his refusal to join them. There is ONE person who avoided the onslaught however, and as soon as Evil Uno makes his way into the ring Orange Cassidy is right there; ready to either throw down or shrug his shoulders. It’s hard to tell which one sometimes. Evil Uno, sensing a real boon to their credibility, offers Orange Cassidy a mask who reaches to grab it… but then puts his hands in his pockets instead! SEE!? SO AWESOME!! The crowd seems to agree as they continue to cheer Cassidy on, but Stu Grayson is less than impressed and shoulder checks the guy straight to the ground where the creepers begin to stomp him. Christopher Daniels FINALLY comes out from the back (WHY THE HECK DIDN’T HE GO OUT WITH SCU AT THE START OF THE MATCH!?) and tries to get them to fight him instead. Evil Uno, being a shrewd evil cult leader, doesn’t give Daniels what he wants and orders Stu and the creepers to leave peacefully; their work having already done. Seriously, The Dark Order has somehow become one of the best things on this entire show and I want to see SO much more of them; especially if they have a REAL plan for Christopher Daniels going forward!
Britt Baker Vs. Yuka Sakazaki
Oh hey! WE haven’t seen Yuka Sakazaki in a while! She had a few matches back in the original pay per views (she’s the one who dressed kind of like a genie), but this is her debut on Dynamite proper! She was really great in those matches and she manages to have another one with Baker here. It’s a solid competitive match between the two of them with Sakazaki maintaining a SLIGHT advantage for the most part. Not too long into the match, Britt Baker tries to put Sakazaki in the Lock Jaw, but Yuki manages to turn it around and rolls Baker up for a pin; earning her first victory on Dynamite and ticking off Britt Baker to no end. As punishment for the audacity of winning, Baker goes out the ring and grabs the bell from the timekeeper’s table which she then uses to smack Yuka in the back of the head; effectively ringing her bell… with a bell. Baker tries to go for a second hit but the ref Aubrey Edwards snatches it away in the nick of time which was good, but Baker is not done yet and takes Yuka down to the mat where she puts her mouth around the bottom rope and smashes her boot onto her head. Now this is where I might be splitting away from other wrestling fans, but I really don’t like what happens next. I’m ALMOST CERTAIN that this was a work (i.e. fake), but one of Yuka’s teeth appears to have broken off due to this impact from the rope and we can see her mouth filling with blood as well. I have to believe it’s fake because I doubt they would have continued on after that if it wasn’t planned, but the fact that it might NOT be fake really ruins it for me. I want to like Baker as a heel and this was a good match for her to solidify herself as one, the tooth thing was just too much for me. I’m fine with cuts, bumps, bruises, and whatnot if it’s used effectively, but someone losing a tooth for a random episode of a weekly show? Nah, I just can’t enjoy that or even give it much credit as a bad guy move. It’s just too much for me and makes me squeamish; much like whenever Daniel Bryan takes a head bump nowadays. Anyway, after spitting out a tooth and covering the ring in blood, Britt Baker grabs Yuka again and tries to put the Lockjaw on her. The mouth being TOO SLICK WITH BLOOD however makes it impossible to pull of the move effectively (I genuinely doubt that they’d have Baker put her hand in Yuka’s mouth if the injury was real), but the point has been made and Yuka is escorted out of the ring to seek medical attention. It would have been a fine match if they quit when they were ahead, but that final bit there really sucked the wind out of it which is a shame.
Hangman Adam Page & Kenny Omega with The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) Vs. The Butcher and The Blade (Andy Williams & Braxton Sutter) with The Lucha Bros (Pentagón Jr & Rey Fénix) – Eight Man Tag Match
The Butcher and The Blade are accompanied to the ring by The Bunny (Allie)
The match starts off brilliantly with The Elite’s ring entrance where Hangman Adam Page is absolutely embarrassed to be around these dorks and so he rushes right to the ring while Kenny and The Bucks go through their whole silly routine at the entrance. While it’s still not clear if they’re gonna go full heel with Adam Page, the division between him and his allies continues to be developed as time goes on, and it’s been working well so far with little touches here and there and with well thought out moments like this. For a guy who looked to have fizzled out really early, he’s gotten the crowd on his side and frankly seems to have so much more confidence in this new persona he’s adopted than he ever had before. Anyway, getting to the match PROPER, it ends up being absolute chaos, but it’s the FUN kind of chaos! Sure Lucha Bros and The Young Bucks are showing off quite a bit which is why I’m not the biggest fan of them getting in the ring together, but everyone else involved ends up balancing it out. The Butcher and The Blade in particular are very good at grounding things for a bit and putting some serious hurt on The Elite which Kenny Omega takes like a champ whenever he’s alone with The Butcher who could STILL maybe use a bit more oomph to his character but at least has a great deal of presence and power. With so many moving parts, varying styles, and talented guys going at it at full tilt, the whole thing comes off as utter mayhem and as we get closer to the end it ends up having some of the most exciting exchanges I’ve seen in wrestling for some time! The match does eventually have to come to an end however and it ends on a solid if tragic note. Hangman Adam Page is doing alright but The Young Bucks are fresher and are reaching out for a tag. Page ignores them however to instead try and finish this match on his own which technically he KIND of does because he immediately eats a Sling Blade from Pentagón Jr who then follows up with some sort of pile driver finisher to land the pin on Page. I mean he didn’t WIN, but the match certainly ENDED! The Bucks try to confront Adam Page about blowing the match and Page is ready to throw down, but Omega is still playing peacekeeper and stops this from coming to blows, though for how much longer will he be able to cool their tempers? Like I said, this was a PHENOMENAL match that had so much skill, momentum, and energy, and it even managed to advance the Adam Page storyline a bit, so a success all around!
The Bucks and Page have gone to the back while Tony Schiavone heads to the ring to interview Omega. It SEEMS like he’s gonna ask about the fracturing alliance between Hangman and The Bucks, but we never get to that interview because Pac pops up on the big screen to remind Omega that he DEMANDS another match, and this scene… was a bit off. Pac is once again threatening to beat someone up if Omega doesn’t give him his match, but instead of Michael Nakazawa or some other guy, he’s standing menacingly next to Riho who looks scared for her life and adds an overtly sinister undertone to the whole thing. Now the topic of mixed gender matches has come up recently due to AEW’s one and only match on the Jericho Cruise which INVOLVED Riho and Omega (a pretty good match by the way which they put on the most recent episode of Dark), and one of the reasons some people are against it is that it can look like some form of abuse. I don’t necessarily agree with that and I have read experts on the subject who have said as much, but there are some extra considerations you have to make when you’re setting up inter-gender matches and angles. Then again, I probably would have been just as skeeved out if someone like Michael Nakazawa was giving Pac the look that Riho was giving here. It didn’t convey annoyance, anger, determination, or even dread at the prospect of a fight; it was straight up fear and I don’t like people who do this kind of dangerous and physically demanding work to look like they’re scared to be there. Now all that said, it DOES lead to a really great ending as Kenny immediately caves and gives Pac his match which leads to Pac confirming that he was never going to hurt Riho! He’s a fighter; not a beast! No, he’s got someone ELSE to do the dirty work for him, and then Nyla Rose pops out of NOWHERE and choke slams Riho into a table! See, THAT’S the kind of mood I feel comfortable with as the violence being threatened is clearly within the realms of competition and battle, but to an extent I guess the subversion did its job well enough even if I still didn’t like the way it was set up.
Darby Allin’s Artsy Video
After that bit of awkwardness we get this short film from Allin and WOW this guy has some genuine talent! I mean he’s no David Lynch, but the dude shot a fun little black and white art piece that ends with him using a FLAME THROWER on cardboard standees of Jericho and Sammy. Again, I feel convinced that after Jon Moxley made the save last week that we are setting up an alliance between him and Allin, and this promo where he sets his sights on The Inner Circle feels like further confirmation of that. We’ll just have to see if that plays out in the coming weeks!
Kip Sabian Vs. Joey Janela
Kip Sabian is accompanied to the ring by Penelope Ford
Is it just me, are we blowing off the feud way too early with this match? I was kinda hoping that they would continue to build up this animosity between Kip and Joey for a while longer (at LEAST until the PPV!) but now that they’re having the match, where does it go from here? A hardcore match perhaps, but I don’t know if we need ANOTHER one of those after the Moxley/Omega match from Full Gear. Now that said, if this IS going to be the blow off match then they’re at least fighting it the right way. They aren’t locking up or doing holds; it’s all aggressive strikes and macho posturing which is what a fight between two people who REALLY hate each other is supposed to look like. The best spot in the entire match is when Janela is knocked to the ground and Kip kick him right in the back, but he refuses to break his composure out of a sense of manly pride. Joey then slowly stands up, knocks Kip to the ground, and then kicks HIM in the back; Kip also refusing to break his composure. Joey then sits himself down on the ground expecting another kick to show how tough he is, but Kip decides to cut the nonsense and puts a sleeper hold on Joey. This is AMAZING storytelling being done in this match because it demonstrates the animosity between them as well as the different approaches they take to it. Joey still treats everything like fun and games, but Kip is there to win by any means necessary which gives him an advantage in this match. Not only that, he has Penelope on his side who does some damage to Joey when he’s tossed out of the ring, so the deck is stacked even more against the bad boy. It’s a pretty good match overall, but the ending feels a BIT gimmicky given how well everything else ended up working here. Penelope is on the apron kissing Kip who is in the ring and for whatever reason has just forgotten about them atch. Joey tries to run the ropes to hit Kip, but Kip gets out of the way and Joey accidently elbows Penelope off the apron and onto the floor. In the confusion, Kip rolls up Joey to get the pin and that’s the end of it I guess. Okay fine, the feud is probably not over (it certainly took more than one match for him and Shawn Spears to cool off), but I’m still a bit unsure why they decided to put this match here even if it’s ultimately a pretty good one taken on its own merits.
After the match we get an update on Santana and The Inner Circle. Jericho is angry at Moxley and Santna promises his own Eye for an Eye deal. We also get a brief bit with Hangman and The Bucks backstage. The Bucks yell at Hangman for not making the tag and as soon as they walk away Page takes a swig on this comically oversized beer stein which of course gets a HUGE pop from the crowd. Seriously, they just LOVE this guy ever since he started developing a drinking problem!
Ten Lashes for Cody – Will He Endure!?
In order for Cody to get his match with MJF at the Revolution PPV, he will first need to take ten lashes with a belt on live TV which we’re finally getting to after weeks of building it up. MJF comes out first with Wardlow to overwhelming jeers and is soon followed by Cody who comes out to thunderous applause. MJF, petty jerk bag that he is, demands that Cody give him his own belt to lash him with which for whatever reason annoys Cody. I’m not sure why THIS in particular is getting his dander up, but he swallows his pride and gives it to him so they can get this over with.
FIRST LASH – Not too bad! Cody’s holding up just fine! MJF wanders around the ring preparing for the second one when all of a sudden most of the heels in the company come out for a better look. The Butcher, The Blade and The Bunny, Sammy Guevara, even Britt Baker all want to witness this humiliating display!
SECOND LASH – Cody takes it but he is PISSED! MJF dares him to punch him but Cody collects himself and prepares for the next one.
THIRD LASH – Now this one REALLY hurt and Cody is down to one knee. Arn Anderson comes out from the back and gives Cody a pep talk; telling him not to give MJF the satisfaction of hitting him and take the whippings like a champ!
FOURTH LASH – This one really hurts and brings Cody to the ground, but he’s cool and collected and gets back up for the next one.
FIFTH LASH – Cody is down again, but he’s feeding off the energy of the crowd who is right behind him. Dustin comes out from the back and enters the ring to negotiate with MJF about taking the rest of the lashes, but MJF naturally refuses and instead Dustin gives his own pep talk to Cody.
SIXTH LASH – SEVENTH LASH – Two of them back to back! Cody is really starting to feel it, but Dustin is keeping his head clear. The Bucks have come out from the back as well to show Cody their support. Just three more to go.
EIGHTH LASH – MJF is starting to get angry as it’s clear that Cody is going to finish taking these which means he’ll soon have nothing else to hold over him. He smacks him across the back and tells Cody to stay down in a manner that he wants everyone to THINK is a tough guy command but really just comes off like very aggressive pleading. It’s reminding me a bit of the Twilight Zone episode The Silence where one dude bets another guy to stay quiet for a whole year and has to tackle with the real life possibility that he may actually succeed. Cody flips off MJF in case you were wondering if he was about to break. Wardlow is now requesting that MJF let him do the next lash which he agrees to gladly.
NINTH LASH –He hits Cody like he’s wielding a bull whip and Cody is down once again. MJF takes Cody’s inability to get up as defeat and tries to call this all off. However, Brandi (who I believe has left the Nightmare Collective? I’ll have to catch up on Dark to make sure) comes out and encourages Cody to get up and take that one final lash. With great effort and with the cheers of the crowd behind him, Cody gets back up.
TENTH LASH – As soon as Cody is up, MJF lashes him across the chest, and it’s over. A bit anti-climactic as I expected it to break out into a brawl as soon as the last lash hit, but maybe that’s the point as MJF is left unsatisfied by his victory. He DOES take the opportunity to kick Cody in the balls again which leads to him and Wardlow scampering through the crowd to escape, but not exactly the same thing as a pull-apart brawl.
And that’s it! That’s how the episode ends. Cody took his beating, they play his music, and MJF looks really silly at the top of the stairs.
I was pretty disappointed with last week’s show, but I’ve got to say that they REALLY pulled out all the stops here and put on a FANTASTIC episode of Dynamite! Sure I can quibble here and there about small things that bugged me and perhaps one or two tasteless moments that I personally wouldn’t have done, but the good stuff is GREAT and the great stuff is LEGENDARY; especially that eight man tag match which still blows my mind just thinking about it! Just a few more weeks to the PPV and the momentum is really starting to pick up!