Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (04-22-20)

AEWDYNAMITE

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

We’re back with more AEW goodness for all of your post-apocalyptic entertainment needs, and with the TNT Tournament in full swing we have more than enough amazing story lines and matches to keep us going through this lean period, right?  Well truth be told the new normal has felt a bit lacking here and there and the TNT Tournament isn’t exactly the best substitute for their Blood and Guts match, but given how things are going they’ve been trucking along just fine.  Does that continue with this week’s episode, or are the wheels starting to look wobbly on this road trip thru the wastelands?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with yet another promo, but this time it’s NOT from Jake Roberts sitting in a lawn chair; rather it’s Cody sitting in a very NICE chair!  The setup is that e’s in some sort of control room watching multiple monitors of the wrestlers involved in the TNT Tournament and he does his absolute best to imbue it with gravitas and prestige since it’s what they’ll be focusing on after the big championship match blow off from last week.  From what I understand, Cody and crew have been a bit hesitant to introduce a new belt to the company because they didn’t want something that would just be a Midcard Belt; something that isn’t as good as the main championship, but gives the lower tier wrestlers to fight over.  I’m not sure I fully agree with that sentiment though because there are wrestlers who aren’t going to be big name stars but you still want them to have something to do, and having a “secondary” belt makes sense to me for those purposes, but I guess it’s all in the framing.  Instead of saying this belt is for the losers (like the 24/7 title at WWE or even arguably the Intercontinental and USA belts) you do what Cody is doing here and try to make into something that should be rightfully worn by a great competitor; not someone who couldn’t hack it in the big leagues.  Does he succeed?  Well, it’s hard to say because we’re still limited with a limited crew so it still feels a bit like something for “the other guys” in AEW to fight over, but once the world gets back on track and AEW is in full swing again, we’ll see what comes of it.  For what it’s worth Cody does a good job with the promo and the extra editing time they have for stuff like this is definitely paying off with some flashy visuals, but I’m not sure if it’s doing much more to convince me of the greatness of this belt than the matches themselves.  Speaking of which…

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Darby Allin Vs. Sammy Guevara – TNT Tournament Quarter Final

These two are easily the best up and coming stars of wrestling (not just AEW) which will make this a fantastic match, though I’m not sure they’re making the most of this as we’ve seen Allin and Guevara lock it up before and it feels like we need to have more of a reason for them to do it again.  Still, we are living in rough times and I guess we have to do the best we can with the resources we have, and they at least give the two of them VERY good video promos prior to the match.  The start of the match is very reminiscent of their match at Revolution where they utterly DESTROY each other before the bell even rings, and while I appreciate them wanting to put on a match as high caliber as that to make this tournament (and their feud) feel like a big deal, I’m not sure if Sammy and Darby should be doing freaking ladder spots in a nearly empty arena like this.  Even with the wrestlers on the outside doing their best to whoop and holler, it feels like a spot that only had a fraction of the impact it should have.  Things just kinda get worse from there.  Sammy tries to press the advantage he has by putting Darby on the top rope, but he reverses it and manages to get Sammy upside down which lets him then take off his boot to… I guess more effectively work the ankle?  I don’t know, trying to take your opponent’s clothes off comes off as pretty goofy to me and it has the opposite of the intended effect on me; the idea being that without his boot it’s even MORE brutal when Allin works the ankle, but the guy NOT having a boot on highlights the unreal nature of the sport.  This also has the effect of making Allin out to be the bigger heel with Sammy having to constantly fight from underneath which I don’t exactly mind as Sammy is a fantastic wrestler, but with all the goofy spots and Jericho doing such a great job announcing, I’m wondering if AEW wants to give The Inner Circle a softer image.  Sadly, this doesn’t mean we’ll be seeing Sammy Vs. Cody in the semi-finals as Darby gives the over the shoulder stunner and tries to follow it up with another move, but Sammy reverses it into another move which Darby THEN reverses again into a roll up for the win.  Overall I wasn’t the biggest fan of this match.  It felt kind of oddly paced to me as these two spent a lot more time recovering from big moves than trading fast and furious blows, and the best part was right at the end when they were trading counters which sadly didn’t go on long enough for my liking.  I also kind of wish Sammy won because I feel like a match between him and Cody would be a BIT more interesting right now, but I have no doubt that Cody and Allin have the potential to tear the house down!

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Matt Hardy Speaks – What The Heck Is He Saying!?

Now according to Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer, when Jericho and Hardy were doing their little back and forth about the former coming to the Hardy compound for a match, AEW didn’t actually have it planned; more of a “it would be nice if we COULD do it” situation.  Whether or not that’s the case (I’m leaning towards yes), they’re still moving forward with the feud and Broken Matt Hardy admonishes Jericho for ducking his challenge.  What his NEW offer is (an offer he gives both as Broken Matt Hardy and Regular Matt Hardy which was a neat little device here), he will work his way through the Inner Circle starting with Sammy before he gets his hands on Jericho.  I’m not about to speculate on whether this was the original plan or if this is something new they’ll have to find a way to film now despite AEW shows being in the can for a few more weeks, so instead I’ll just say that I’m looking forward to whatever they end up doing with Matt Hardy and these promos are still a lot of fun to watch!

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After that we get another segment from Taz where he explains some fighting moves to the audience, and while I wasn’t all THAT interested in it last time I understand that it got a good response so I’m glad that Taz has something to do and that they have something they can fill the time with.  The problem I had last week is that they focused on Jake Hager and his MMA centric moves which I thought was kinda boring (I’m just not an MMA guy), but THIS week they focused on Kenny Omega’s V-Trigger and Snap Dragon Suplex which are AWESOME pro wrestling moves and so I liked this segment quite a bit; especially since they show clips of him doing those moves over and over again which always looks great!

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Kenny Omega Vs. Alan Angels

I’ve got to say that Alan Angels, despite being thrown at the biggest lion at the company which usually indicates jobber status, seems like a legit guy if given a chance.  Kind of reminds me of Sammy Zane crossed with John Moxley, though admittedly a rather green looking version of that.  Now Kenny may be one of the absolute best wrestlers in the world, but he’s also not in the business of jobbing people out if he can help it, so while there’s never a doubt that he’ll be the winner of the match, Angels looks pretty decent throughout and even gets to kick out of one of Kenny’s pins.  I hope he enjoyed it while it lasted though because Kenny stops his momentum with a snap dragon and follows up with a V-Trigger to… NOT get the pin!?  Say WHAT!?  Dude managed to kick out of that!?  Maybe he has a chance!  No wait, Kenny slams him to the ground and lands ANOTHER V-Trigger to get the pin.  Good effort though, and a darn fine match overall!

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The Scorpio Sky Story – Everything SCU Need To Know!

I’ve always been a big fan of SCU and Scorpio Sky is definitely the workhorse of the group with his tireless speed and high flying antics.  Hearing the story of this guy… I don’t know, I guess it’s fine.  Kind of sappy I guess, but I’m sure that he’s at least happy to have a platform to tell it.  I’m curious about his MAGICALLY healing back injury though that was supposed to take him out of wrestling.  Did he ever follow up on that with his doctor?  It’s not like you can’t SEE if the discs are better now, or more importantly if there’s been further deterioration despite the lack of pain.  I guess that’s not the point here though, and for what it’s worth Scorpio Sky seems like a decent enough dude.

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We get another segment with Cody who’s listening to a voicemail that was left by his brother Dustin about the upcoming match with Kip Sabian where if he loses, he vows to retire. I don’t know, unless they ACTUALLY plan on retiring Dustin which would be a bad idea unless he WANTS to retire (can’t imagine his doctors are happy about him still doing this at fifty-one), and if it’s NOT going to be the case then it kind of feels like a pointless thing to bring up; especially for nothing more than a preliminary round in a tournament against a guy he’s never had a beef with!

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Orange Cassidy Vs. Jimmy Havoc

Orange Cassidy is accompanied to the ring by The Best Friends

This is actually a pretty good paring for a match even if it doesn’t seem all that exciting on the surface.  With the limited resources they have available to them, AEW has given quite a few of the mid-tier talent a chance to shine, and I think that Jimmy Havoc sits right on the boarder of genuine threat and goofy stooge for a match against Orange Cassidy to not feel like a complete joke.  You get someone too zany like Michael Nakazawa and Orange Cassidy doesn’t shine as bright, but get someone too serious and you risk it coming off as completely phony, like if he were all of a sudden about to be a serious contender against Cody or Lance Archer.  I’ve got say though that I wasn’t into this match for the first half of it.  Orange is just getting BRUTALIZED by Jimmy Havoc, and I’m not sure Orange is a guy who should spend most of a match writhing on the floor and not even put up a fight.  It’s not until SEVERAL minutes in that Cassidy kicks him back a few times but then immediately eats a bunch of moves again!  I can’t imagine this match would be all that interesting with anyone else here (MAYBE a heel like MJF getting hurt would be fun to watch), but for Cassidy it just feels like a mistake.  Not the kind of mistake that would ruin his particular mystique, but definitely not gonna be a match on his highlight reel.  He does EVENTUALLY get a second wind and the match gets a hundred times better from there; even for Havoc who takes a really nasty bump from the top rope.  I HOPE that was planned and he’s okay, because it looked pretty good!  Cassidy has the advantage which means that Ford jumps on the apron for the distraction, but Chuck is right behind her and tries to pull her off by sweeping her leg.  The move backfires however as Ford just does a VERY impressive looking split on the apron which distracts Chuck and Trent and Sabian OUT OF NOWHERE runs through the ring and jumps over the top ropes; crashing into The Best Friends and freeing Ford up to do another Hurricanrana like she did last week.  Cassidy sees it coming however and rolls out of the way so that Ford nearly hits Jimmy which is enough of a distraction for Cassidy to roll up Havoc for the win!  That’s not the end of it though as a wrestler FINALLY does what you SHOULD do after losing to a roll up, and that’s to IMMEDIATELY get back up and pound the crap out of your opponent!  The Best Friends jump in to make the save, but Sabian stops them in their tracks which allows all three of them to escape; leaving The Best Friends and Orange in the ring and presumably setting up a future six person tag match!  I really didn’t like the way this match started, but I’m enjoying these wacky finishes between the two teams, so it manages to get a passing grad from me; though definitely with a NEEDS IMPROVEMENT across the top!

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So if you hadn’t heard, MJF gave some rather cryptic tweets a few days ago that left people seriously wondering if he was hurt or worse yet sick with the virus.  We get a video update with the man himself and the “story” is that he got a hangnail throwing cash around the last time he was on the show.  It’s not clear exactly what his real injury is (I’m sure someone will figure it out soon enough), but we can see that he’s in a sling and that at least one of his fingers is splint.  I’m in no position to speculate, but yeah; he’s probably not going to be wrestling for a bit if there is a problem with his arm and fingers, but these are dark times all around and it could be worse, so I wish him a speedy recovery.

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Wardlow Vs. Lee Johnson

Oh yeah!  Wasn’t this the big scary guy who started to feel a little bit redundant after Lance Archer showed up?  Okay, that’s probably a bit mean and it can’t be helped given MJF’s recent injury, so maybe he just needs a bit of time in the spotlight for everyone to be reminded of why he was brought to the company in the first place!  Well I mean he’s still big and scary, but then he’s facing off with a jobber instead of anyone truly threatening so there’s only so much he’s gonna get from this.  Still, Lee Johnson does a GREAT job of being thrown around like a ragdoll which isn’t as easy as it looks, and they kept the match short and sweet.  It’s a fun little distraction if nothing else.

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After the match we get another Dark Order segment, but unlike the recent ones which were very comedic in tone this one goes back to the more serious (with a little lounge in cheek) nature of the JOIN THE DARK ORDER promos we started getting towards the end of 2019.  Now before we go further, I just want to say that in the way tippy top tier of people who don’t ACTUALLY have problems during this crisis, Brodie Lee might have one of the shortest end of the stick of any wrestler still actively appearing on these recent episodes of AEW.  The guy came in RIGHT when the arenas started to empty out so he never got his big I’M HERE pop with the crowd, and since Stu and Uno are nowhere to be seen he’s forced to come in as the new guy to The Dark Order faction and carry it on his shoulder’s alone; a task that would have been insurmountable even before you remember that The Dark Order had only recently turned things around for the better.  His Vince McMahon shtick was funny at first but it was starting to feel a bit long in the tooth so I’m glad they’re switching gears here.  In the segment we see a guy (though we never see his face) drinking beer and looking at a news article that indicates he was a football player who got injured right when he was about to hit it big, so he’s a natural fit for The Dark Order and sends a message to them on their website.  We cut to Brodie Lee who is still clearly doing his Vince character, but with a lot more solemnity as he tries to figure out what this guy wants, and what use he will be to The Dark Order.  He seems happy with what he sees and hands him a mask; flashing a sinister smile at the camera and leaving us wondering who it is The Dark Order has recruited.  The Dark Order does need to be taken a bit more seriously with a few key wins, and hopefully they found someone who can believably kick ass and is more than willing to be a part of this group rather than be a star himself.

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Brodie Lee Vs. Justin Law

Justin Law if you don’t recall was the fifteen-year-old kid who they got to fight Shawn Spears last week, and since Brodie Lee is a much tougher opponent, it goes even worse for the poor guy with boring hair.  Super Kicks, suplexes, HEAVY strikes to the chest, we’re basically watching Bonesaw matches BEFORE he got his butt whooped by Spider-Man!  I’m still hopeful for Brodie Lee and The Dark Order, but I hope that they find something more to do with them instead of just this holding pattern stuff and maybe the new recruit will be the key.

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We get a brief interview with Orange Cassidy and The Best Friends where Trent and Chuckie challenge Kip and Havoc to a tag match.  Sadly, it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting a six person tag match, but there’s no doubt that Cassidy and Ford will be interfering all over that fight!

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The Bubbly Bunch 2: Electric Boogaloo!!

Because it was such a hit last time we’re getting another episode today and presumably for the foreseeable future, and on THIS edition of The Inner Circle’s social isolation support network meeting Sammy is feeling particularly down while everyone else tries to cheer him up.  Seriously!  How can you even call this a heel faction at this point when they’re so caring, adorable, and take time out of their day to cheer each other up?  Even Jake Hager who spent the last four weeks doing his best Beast Mode shtick comes off as a giant teddy bear here, and it works!  It’s funny, charming, and fills up a few minutes without feeling like a simple distraction.  Well okay, the Tic-Tok knock off dancing was MAYBE a bit too to pandering, but it was still funny to see Jericho and Hager try to bust a few moves!

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Dustin Rhodes Vs. Kip Sabian – TNT Tournament Quarter Final

Kip Sabian is accompanied to the ring by Penelope Ford while Dustin is accompanied by Brandi Rhodes

Dustin is probably the best wrestler for his age bracket so it’s always fun to watch him work, but I honestly can’t say much of this match stuck with me.  Dustin runs the ropes a bunch, he does that uppercut from his knees things, and he flips Sabian all over the place in a way that you’d only expect a wizard to be able to, but I just wasn’t feeling this match very much.  Things got a bit interesting in the last few moments as Sabian distracts ref Aubrey so that Ford can try to interfere on Dustin, but Brandi manages to stop her and even gives her a spear for her trouble.  With the interference avoided, Dustin lands a Canadian Destroyer on Kip and gets the pin.  It was fine, I just didn’t think it was anything all that special.  The semi-final match however should be interesting as he’ll be facing off against Lance Archer.  Now THAT’S gonna be a bloodbath for sure!

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AEW has a solid enough groove going with these taped shows which are frankly now starting to feel normal rather than watching this kind of thing in a packed stadium.  Some of my complaints are due to the circumstances so I won’t be too snarky here, but I can definitely see places where things can be tightened up a bit in the individual matches.  Don’t have Orange Cassidy getting punked out like that, give Sammy and Darby more to do than just working an injury, hopefully the matches will be better the closer we get to the TNT Tournament finale, and even with all my problems it’s still solid wrestling and a good way to spend a Wednesday evening.

 

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