AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT
AEW has done a great job of building up its shows; not only by actually letting us know what’s coming up in the week head but by planting the seeds of big ideas long before they get around to doing them. We heard about that Cage Match WEEKS ago and they kept reminding us of it every episode, so now that the day is finally here, well I found myself getting REALLY excited to see it for myself which is exactly what you want in a wrestling show; a reason to come back to it! Does the match live up to the weeks of hype, and is the rest of the episode just as good? Let’s find out!!
Tag Team Battle Royale
Starting the show off in highest gear possible, we’re not even a minute in before the Battle Royale is on and like twenty dudes are beating the crap out of each other in the ring. It is a RIDICULOUS amount of guys that are in here taking abuse and doing wacky spots that are pretty much all great but is far too much to try and recap in its entirety, but I’ll hit the highlights. The first one for me was when Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, and that turtle neck guy in those Dark Order promos started to taunt SCU which was enough of a distraction for John Silver and Alex Reynolds (representing The Dark Order in this match) to knock them out of the ring and eliminating them from the Battle Royale. Don’t worry though! The Young Bucks IMMEDIATELY Superkick the both of them out of the ring, just in case you thought The Dark Order were gonna win at some point, though they WERE the two clear jobbers of the group. SCU start brawling with Stu Grayson right after they’re thrown out of the ring who manages to hold his own, so while The Dark Order may not have had MUCH success, they’ve been doing a good job of building up its key members with Evil Uno as the brains behind the operation and Stu Grayson being the one always ready for a fight. Later on in the match, Cima of Strong Heart (yes, they’re in this too!) gets tossed out and Evil Uno offers him a mask to join The Dark Order. It LOOKS like he accepted it, but we’re left unsure as to what’s going on there. Other big standout moments include Orange Cassidy saving Trent from being eliminated by carrying him on his shoulders, some REALLY fun spots with Luchasarus who unfortunately gets eliminated with the combined effort of four dudes, and of course Santana and Ortiz as the heel group refuses to get in the ring for the first few minutes. This is a really common thing with Battle Royales and frankly I’m wondering why they can’t just institute a ten count for those who didn’t go over the top but are outside the ring as a way to prevent these shenanigans. So they all fight and fight and fight until it’s down to Santana and Ortiz alone with Matt Jackson. The dude is getting a beating on both sides within an inch of his life, but he manages to take out Ortiz with a Superkick leaving just him and Ortiz. Sammy Guevara, sensing a need for his particular set of skills goes into the ring, climbs to the top rope, and jumps at Matt like a missile, before Matt Superkick’s him out of midair; leaving him a crumpled and presumably DEAD mess on the mat. In the confusion Santana is gasping for air on the ropes and Matt charges at him with a clothesline; knocking him over the ropes and winning The Young Bucks their shot at the Tag Team Titles at Revolution. This was a really great match in terms of Battle Royales which are always a bit messy and all over the place, but a lot of the spots really connected and they managed to tell a few stories within it to build up a few matches in the following weeks; not the least of which being The Young Bucks getting a shot at the Tag Team Title at Full Gear. The only thing that’s kind of disappointing about it is that they start it off so quickly when I really would have liked a roll call; especially when teams like Strong Heart are back for this which should feel like a big deal. Other than that, it was a great way to start the show!
Kris Statlander Vs. Shanna
I’m glad that we’re having just a match here because frankly title picture has become a bit stale. Yes, Nyla Rose won the belt last week but it was like the third shot she had at it, and there’s just so much talent in this division that we need to focus on someone other than Rose, Baker, and even Riho. Statlander came out of the gate HUGE, and sure there was a bit of a cool off there where some of her greenness was exposed, but I’m glad to see her again as well as Shanna who may not have as high a profile but is also very talented. One thing that bugs me about Statlander matches though is the announcers always want to interrogate the space alien gimmick. I mean this is WRESTLING we’re talking about here; JR can’t say nothing about Statlander’s alien gimmick when The Undertaker is STILL wrestling as an undead guy! As far as the match itself, the both of them looked very good here and I didn’t notice any obvious botches. What I particularly liked is that Statlander does that spinning pile driver thing once again, only Shanna landed on her back instead of right on her which looks MUCH safer and makes it easier for me to enjoy the match. This however was not enough to defeat the Galaxy’s Greatest Champion as she makes a pretty remarkable comeback with the goal being to show off Shanna’s skill as well as Statlander’s endurance. Statlander eventually gets the advantage back however and right after I praised her for changing up that one pile drover move, she wins with what looks like a Tombstone Pile Driver but with a jump instead of dropping to her knees which looks PRETTY scary to me! Again, I just don’t like pile drivers. I don’t like ANY move that goes for the head and neck like that. Aside from that, this was a really good match and I hope to see more of them going forward!
Nyla Rose Promo
I mean we DID get a new champion last week, so it only makes sense for her to have a promo here! She comes out to a chorus of boos and immediately starts yelling at the audience for being annoying and whatnot. She’s angry that she had to wait this long for the title which… I mean she got three shots at it but whatever, and she even talks smack about Riho who she did manage to beat… eventually. Okay, I’m being overly snarky as this was a really good heel promo and is definitely the kind I prefer over Britt Baker’s overly bratty spat with Tony, and she gets across her point VERY clear. She’s unstoppable, unbeatable, and isn’t about to lose to anyone! And then Kris Statander comes out and boops the title belt; making it clear that she’s gunning for a title shot. WHAT A TWIST! THEN Big Swole comes out and bucks up to Nyla Rose; showing up her guns and begging Rose to do something about it. WHAT ANOTHER TWIST!! This is great because it’s putting over newish stars who only kind of sort of got a chance at the title (certainly not as much as Rose, Baker, or Shida), and we don’t want the division to get stale. Remember how great it was when Jericho faced guys like Jungle Boy and Darby Allin? I hope that Nyla Rose being around a lot more than RIho (she was flying to and from Japan to make her appearances on Dynamite) will end up doing something similar for the women’s division.
Jon Moxley Vs. Jeff Cobb
Jon Moxley is not only still rocking the eyepatch this week; he’s got bandages across his stomach due to the beating he suffered at the hands of The Inner Circle and Jeff Cobb at the end of the last episode which puts Moxley in a very different situation than he’s used to. The guy has never really been overpowered by an opponent as he’s a fairly big guy, but Cobb is not only a larger dude by at LEAST twenty pounds of muscle, he’s also fighting this bigger guy with a lot of injuries that he’s built up over his interactions with The Inner Circle. Because of this, Cobb manages to toss him around the ring for most of the match, and he No Sells Moxley’s offense for the most part. All this makes the ending even stranger as Cobb goes for a Suplex on the top rope, but then Moxley just kind of flips it around and rolls up Cobb for the pin despite Cobb being in control of the match for so long. I understand not wanting to put a Loss on Moxley’s record right before the PPV, but his win here doesn’t feel particularly earned considering how the match was playing out. After the match The Inner Circle storm the ring to lay out yet another beat down, but FINALLY after all this time they do what I’ve been BEGGING them to do for weeks now; give Moxley a bit of backup in this big feud. The story so far has been that Moxley is leading the charge by himself and that despite his immense skills he can only do so much against Jericho’s Inner Circle who have been wearing him down more and more each week; providing more and more evidence that Moxley’s Achilles Heel is his Lone Wolf attitude and that his only way to victory (or at least a better chance at it) would be to let someone else help him out. In this case, the backup that comes to his rescue are Dustin Rhodes and Darby Allin who come down to the ring to get their revenge on the Inner Circle. See, not only does this give Moxley a renewed chance at winning at the PPV, it’s also comeuppance for The Inner Circle which could prove to be their downfall as Dustin is angry at Hagar for breaking his arm and Allin is angry at Sammy for bashing his throat. Overall, I wasn’t all THAT impressed with the match as it was just fine, but this is EXACTLY the ending I was looking for and I’m glad they finally pulled the trigger on this aspect of the ongoing story.
Kenny Omega & Hangman Adam Page Vs. The Lucha Bros (Rey Fénix and Pentagón Jr) – Tag Team Title Match
So while ALL the other tag teams were knocking themselves all over the place to get a shot at the title, The Lucha Bros just sail past all that nonsense and just have a match with the champion tonight! Hey, I don’t blame them! When you’re a team as awesome as The Lucha Bros, and with a schedule as tight as theirs, you get to jump right to the front of the line! Frankly The Lucha Bros DO NOT GIVE A CRAP about the rules; not just in getting the match but what they do in the match as well. Throughout this title fight they are flagrantly breaking the ten count rule for Tag Team matches and the ref isn’t doing anything about it; nor are Omega and Hangman who still seem to be TRYING to follow them for some reason. It’s actually kind of a brilliant power play for guys who are legitimate legends at this company so can get away with it; probably the closest thing to a worked shoot we have at AEW. Regardless of how this match got together or how the Lucha Bros act in it, both teams are SO freaking good in this match! There’s an amazing exchange here where Page and Omega are just tossing The Lucha Bros to each other for moves, but then the Lucha Bros turn it around and everyone ends up on the floor to a chorus of This Is Awesome from the crowd. This match is so good that there was a moment where I ACTUALLY believed that Kenny and Page were going to LOSE their titles, and it’s not often that a match even as good as this one will make you believe in the drama like that. With the Battle Royale I was fairly certain that The Young Bucks were gonna win, but at a certain point in here I had no idea what they were going to do and it was awesome! As it turned out however there was no upset as Kenny and Page eventually win with that Buckshot V-Trigger combo that is the death sentence for any tag team unfortunate enough to get caught in the middle of that. I certainly liked this match more than the women’s match and the Moxley fight and it had a certain amount of finesse to it that the Battle Royale didn’t. However, I won’t jump the gun and say this is the best match of the night considering what’s to come, which is…
AEW Toy Commercial!!
Okay, we aren’t waiting for THAT, but before we can get to the horrifying blood bath of a Steel Cage Match they decided to give us this extended look at the action figures being made for AEW from Wicked Cool Tools that you’ll be able to buy soon! I didn’t see a Luchasaurus or Evil Uno figure though which seems like a waste to me!! Okay, this time for real!
Cody Vs. Wardlow – Steel Cage Match
Wardlow is accompanied to the ring by MJF while Cody is accompanied by Brandi and Arn Anderson
They start by clarifying the rules which is that the winner can only be determined by pin fall or submission; NOT by escaping the cage. I’m not sure how I feel about that as having the cage be completely incidental to the win conditions of the match just make it seem like an accessory rather than an integral part of it, but we’ll have to see how it plays out. Wardlow comes out first followed by Cody and they both get in the ring as the cage is lowered and smoke starts to rise from outside the ring. They want to give this match as much gravitas as possible considering the fact that it’s their very first one in a Steel Cage, AND the implications involved as its Cody’s last challenge on his way to facing MJF at the PPV. It starts off pretty good with Wardlow tossing Cody around like a ragdoll, but during the commercial Cody starts bleeding PROFUSELY from the head. I couldn’t tell you if he bladed (it was pretty convenient timing is all I’m saying!) but he was just red all over for the rest of this match which certainly added a bit of savagery to it all. A major spot here was when Cody ends up being put through the door which swings open (since there’s no escape stipulation, I guess they don’t bother locking it) and he’s left crumpled halfway on the steps. MJF and Arn are right at the door and the former tries to get the latter to bash Cody in the face with the door since apparently that’s something Arn did to Dusty Rhodes back in the day. Arn grabs the door like he’s about to do it, but he swings it the other way which knocks MJF about ten feet back and flat on his ass. Sure it was a bit silly to try and sell Arn as turning heel, but the payoff was SO worth it! MJF, feeling particularly perturbed by this, hands Wardlow his Dynamite Diamond Ring through the cage to try and bean Cody over the head, but Cody manages to land a low blow and steals the ring for himself. MJF is so peeved by this that he starts to climb the cage (why doesn’t he just go through the unlocked door!?), but Brandi starts hitting him with a chair which don’t seem to HURT but are definitely annoying. MJF comes back down to stare down Brandi which is when Arn comes from behind, lifts him from his collar and his belt and THROWS him over the barricade! MJF is really great at playing the humiliated heel and with these two spots he became the best thing about this match; not that the two guys inside the ring weren’t great as well, but there also wasn’t anything that particularly blew me away about their performance. Well… at least until the end, but then I don’t think what happened was ENTIRELY a good thing. Cody lands a Cross Rhodes on Wardlow which is normally all it takes to put an opponent down for the count, but Wardlow manages to kick out of the pin. Desperate to put this match to bed, Cody then does the ONE thing you simply have to do in a Steel Cage Match, and that’s climb up to the top and jump back down on the other guy. Admittedly it’s not as bad as say when Shane McMahon jumped off the cage onto Undertaker, but it’s always a bit terrifying in a bad way when someone does that; at least as far as I’m concerned. Still, it was a GREAT image and after Cody gets the pin he climbs back up to the top of the cage as his music plays and MJF runs up the ramp; the match at Revolution becoming that much more real for him which is a thought he’s liking less and less.
I couldn’t tell you if EVERYONE will or will not love this cage match, but in a show as stacked with great content as this one it wasn’t quite the EXPLOSIVE FINALE I was expected. Still, that’s mostly a good thing considering how much I did like this show and that I still have mostly positive feelings about the cage match despite it not quite living up to the hype that they’ve built over the last few weeks and the amazing show that had preceded it. Easily another thumbs up from me for this episode of Dynamite and I can’t wait to see what happens next week as its the final stop before the PPV!