AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT
We’re back with another week of AEW Thunderdome where the wanders of the empty world battle it out for supremacy, at least that’s I how I figure Lance Archer sees it whenever he steps into the ring! The last few weeks have been quite solid with Jericho’s commentary bringing a lot of life to the show and the TNT Tournament giving us something to grab onto while all the other storylines are put on hold, but with the announcement that AEW will be going live next week (despite PLENTY of reasons not to), this is perhaps the end of an era for this show. Do they go out on a high note or will we be begging for the changes that next week will bring? Let’s find out!!
Cody Vs. Darby Allin – TNT Tournament Semi-Final
Cody is accompanied to the ring by Cody Rhodes
The TNT tournament by all accounts has been a success. The matches have been solid, they’ve worked hard to sell the belt as something worth chasing, and having Lance Archer in the background as an unstoppable monster like Toguro has certainly raised the stakes in every one of these matches. The only real problem is that the one that no one can control; namely that the matches feel undercut being in such a small arena with such a small crowd. Then again, it MIGHT help the rest of us not notice if they didn’t try to recreate PPV matches like the Darby/Sammy match from last week or even this match right here, but they have to work with what they’ve got and if nothing else the show starts with a REALLY solid promo for the match. It’s not Darby Allin’s usual black and white shtick, but there is some genuine artistry on display here with some serious mood lighting as the two talk portentously about how much they want to win the belt. It puts us in the best possible mindset for the upcoming match
The match starts off with a band as both of them want to end it as soon as possible; trading blows and zero count pins faster than Jericho can throw out wiseacre jabs. There’s a spot early on where Darby charges at Cody who dodges it easily, but Brandi what RIGHT in front of him when he did and so Darby smashes right into her. Come on dude, what did you THINK was gonna happen? Even Jericho calls Cody out for putting his wife in the path of destruction like that! However, it does seem to get Cody all fired up and he maintains control of the match for a good bit which allows Darby to do the one thing he’s best at; namely take an obscene amount of damage and look darn good doing it! There is a weird spot later in the match where it LOOKS like Darby is distracting ref Aubrey while Cody is outside the ring and he gets bashed over the head by Britt Baker wielding a sandal. I’m not sure what that’s about as Darby may not be exactly a GOOD guy, but I’ve never known him to be a straight up cheater, nor a particular friend of Britt Baker. Maybe she just felt like hitting someone and Darby JUST SO HAPPENED to have something important to say to the ref, but in any case it manages to even things out between them as we head into the final stretch of the match. They start trading finishers, Cody teases the weight belt but doesn’t use it, and Darby even nails Cody with the Cross-Rhodes which got a nearfall so close that I genuinely thought for a minute there that they were gonna swerve us! T’was not to be however as Cody kicks out of it, and after a few more moves from both men including a Cross-Rhodes from Cody himself, the match does come to a close in an… interesting fashion. Cody goes for a Moonsault off the top rope but Darby gets his knees up and follows it up IMMEDIATELY with the Coffin Drop. From the angle they showed it, looked like Darby actually got the pin off of this, but it turns out that Cody was able to grab him and twist him slightly backwards so that HIS shoulders were on the mat and Cody did indeed just barely get the pin! Admittedly the ending looked a BIT silly, but this match was GREAT because despite the ending feeling rather pre-determined it did manage to feel competitive. Letting Darby get THAT close to victory and having him do Cody’s own move against him created genuine drama that Cody MIGHT just lose the match which made it one of the better matches we’ve gotten in the last few weeks!
Scorpio Sky Part 2 – SCU Boogaloo!
It’s less the second HALF of the Scorpio Sky story than it is the proper ending to the segment from last week that got cut off early. This was what, three minutes total? And it’s not like we actually learned anything here about SCU that we didn’t know already; they don’t even bother to get interviews with Kazarian or Daniels to hear why THEY wanted to bring Scorpio Sky into their team. It’s all just fluff without much meat to it and frankly feels a bit too much like a WWE promo than what I associate with AEW, but for what it’s worth it’s not a bad version of that if you like that kind of thing.
We get another video from MJF who informs us that he has MIRACULOUSLY healed from his hangnail injury from last week… but in his excitement to get back on TV he nicked his neck shaving and now has to wear a neck brace. The segment is funny enough if a bit corny, but now I have no idea what his ACTUAL injury is. I thought the cast he was wearing last week was legit but now it’s clear that isn’t the case, so whatever is going on with him I hope he gets well soon.
Wardlow Vs. Musa
First thing I noticed is that Wardlow’s ring entrance? It’s pretty terrifying! Some horrific distorted voice is rattling off THIS IS WAR over and over again like a malfunctioning hell-bots, and along with the mushroom clouds on screen, well it kind of makes me think that Wardlow is actually some sort of monster birthed from the lab in Jonathan Hickman’s Manhattan Project. Then the song kind goes into generic wrestler jock-rock and the effect is lost, but still! Anyway, Musa is another victim for the big guys, but like many of these recent squash matches they at least give Musa a chance to show off instead of just turning him into a pile of meat for the big stars to beat on. Musa puts up a bit of a fight and does a few flippy moves, but then Wardlow does that spinning F5 thing and gets the pin. A perfectly fine and very quick match that I’m sure we’ll be seeing plenty more of until this pandemic is in our rearview mirror.
The Bubbly Bunch 3 – The Bubbly Warriors!
More wackiness ensues as The Inner Circle argue about who REALLY won the dance contest from last week, and the best part is Chris Jericho is on an exercise bike in full sparkly ring gear; including leather pants and leather gloves. I wish I could look that good doing ANYTHING; let alone working out. Now being the Inner Circle and such good friends they decide to NOT fight over the dance contest; rather they decide to have a DIFFERENT kind of fight. Did you all see that video on twitter, the stuntman challenge? Basically a bunch of people staring directly at the camera would pretend they were getting hit and the come back and punch the camera with each successive person appearing to take the previous person’s hit and hitting the next one in line. That’s what they did here, but what made it even better is that it wasn’t JUST The Inner Circle in this video! It starts off with them, but then a few AEW guys jump in like Peter Avalon and Jungle Boy, but then it gets weird with guys like Lou Ferrigno with a Taser, and then gets AWESOME when Kevin Smith as Silent Bob takes a bunch and then Vickie Guerrero ends it by yelling at the camera right in Jericho’s face! It was pretty fun, and I’m curious to see how if they’ll be able to top it next week.
Best Friends Vs. Jimmy Havoc and Kip Sabian
Best Friends are accompanied to the ring by Orange Cassidy while Kip Sabian is accompanied by Penelope Ford
I wasn’t a big fan of that Orange Cassidy match from last week, but I do like the setup they have here with Kip, Havoc, and Ford teaming up to have wacky matches with Best Friends and Cassidy, so hopefully this match will go a bit smoother (and zanier) than the last one. Once again the heels start bashing Best Friends before the bell even rings which you’d think they’d be expecting by now, but even with that slight disadvantage, Best Friends take quick control of the match and start pounding on Kip and Jimmy. Early into the match, Jimm gets a chair and teases hitting Trent across the back with it, but PLOT TWIST; he smashes Orange Cassidy right in the FACE with it which must have SUCKED! Without their best friend cheering them on in the wings, the Best Friends start to lose the advantage as Jimmy Havoc is in his element in this No DQ match and starts doing some creative and painful stuff with whatever pieces of hardware he can find. It’s a bit like last week’s match where the heels bash on the good guys for too long, but it’s not nearly as one sided and the beatings on the Best Friends are at least creatively executed. Still, I didn’t get a whole lot of drama out of this match as it did feel very much like a hardcore showcase than anything else, so a lot of the match just blurs together for me. One spot that DID stand out was Trent being propped some sort of chair based torture contraption before Kip lands a double stomp from top rope which again, must have SUCKED! Orange Cassidy eventually wakes up from his chair nap and manages to save Chuck Taylor from whatever Jimmy had planned for him, but then Kip grabs him from behind and sets him up for a kick from Ford. Orange ducks however and so Ford kicks Sabian in the face which she then tries to make up for with a spear on Orange… which he ALSO dodges and she hits Sabian once again. Oh what a bunch of bumblers they are! While this is going on, Chuck does one of the SCARIEST FREAKING THINGS I’VE EVER SEEN and that’s land a RUNNING PILE DRIVER on Jimmy Havoc onto a pile of chairs for the pin. Freaking hell! That looked worse than the spot that broke Steve Austin’s neck, but thankfully the showed a replay at a different angel to assure us that Havoc’s head was nowhere NEAR the chairs so I guess I’ll give them pass here but Pile Drivers ALWAYS make me antsy. In any case, it was a good match and certainly gave us something different from everything else on the card, but it also didn’t quite have the POP that it should, at least not until the end which has kind of been the running theme with this Best Friends/Kip & Jimmy feud. Still fun though, and I certainly wouldn’t have problem seeing it continue.
We get another Role Model segment from Dr. Britt Baker, and… I don’t know. Everyone else seems to like her heel turn, but this one in particular felt extra corny and was full of mugging; especially from her make-up artist who couldn’t just roll her eyes but has to ROLL HER EYES at everything Britt says. I did like this one small moment where Britt nearly trips over a chair, and not so subtly shows off her twitter handle. What WASN’T funny though were the fat jokes. I get she’s a bad guy, but making fun of people’s weight is the wrong kind of heat and after that I just kind of tuned it out until the next match.
Shawn Spears Vs. Baron Black
Perhaps I was a bit harsh about the last squash match Spears had. Sure he’s not exactly in a position to be making light of other wrestlers, but he did almost lose in the match to his own hubris so at least they were aware of the problem. This match is a lot more even handed as Mr. Black seems like a genuine threat and most importantly seems confident in his skills as a wrestler. He’s not a lifelong loser with no great ambitions than squeaking a victory here and there from overly cocky jerks (and still inevitably losing to said jerks); this guy is the real deal and out of all the new talent they’ve brought in during this time, I immediately pegged him as someone worth keeping an eye on. It’s ALSO good for Shawn as facing someone who’s a legitimate threat is more impressive than knocking over a nobody, and he ends up looking pretty good here even if his smugness is a bit much. Spears retakes the advantage with a boot to Baron’s face, and he lands a C4 on the guy before putting him in the Sharp Shooter and gets Baron to tap. I enjoyed this match WAY better than his last one and frankly I’d like to see a program built between these two as Baron Black could be good fit at AEW.
We get another Techniques By Taz segment, and this time he goes over Lance Archer’s Blackhole finisher where he lifts the dude up SO high into the air, and then flips him over onto the mat. It’s definitely a devastating move, and Taz does a good job explaining it. I’m just terrified that he’s actually gonna try it on Dustin Rhodes who’s probably too big to pull it off with and is not the kind of move I’d want to see done on a dude in his fifties.
Marko Stunt Vs. Brodie Lee
I basically said everything I needed to about the Brodie Lee situation last week, and frankly Marko isn’t in a much better position himself as the rest of Jurassic Express wasn’t there when AEW did these recordings, so Marko’s struggled a bit to find anything to do outside of jobbing himself out to bigger guys. That’s probably why he’s going to be the latest victim of Brodie Lee’s big boot and lethal lariat; no matter how much the pre-match video package set him out to be a legitimate underdog. Sure enough, Brodie tosses him around like a rag doll and to both competitors credit it looks REALLY good, but we’ve seen it before and it’d be nice if there was more to this.
Jon Moxley Speaks – The Pep Talk of a Generation!
In perhaps his most earnest speech since joining AEW, he talks about the melancholy of becoming a champion right before the world came to a screeching halt while still acknowledging the necessity of all these measures we’ve taken to protect ourselves. Still, it looks like AEW is indeed going live next week which I’m absolutely NOT in favor of, but Moxley is excited and will be there with bells on. Well I guess it’ll be nice to see him again, but I just don’t get the obsession with live shows without an actual audience. Just pre-tape the stuff and let these wrestlers quarantine themselves! If they want to take the risk of being there for a few days in a row before getting a bunch of time off, then fine; but making them take that risk every single week? That’s just irresponsible.
Dustin Rhodes Vs. Lance Archer – TNT Tournament Semi-Final
Dustin is accompanied to the ring by Brandi Rhodes
What, no RETIREMENT STIPULATION this time Dustin? I’m still a bit miffed over the rather lousy addition to the match from last week and thankfully they aren’t trotting it out here because there is no way that Dustin is going to come out on top in this match; nor should he. I love Dustin, but the story they’ve been building up with Lance Archer and Cody has been one of the better story lines on the show recently, and what better way to kick it into overdrive than by having Lance utterly DESTROY Cody’s brother? To his credit, Dustin holds his own quite well against Archer. The dude is about as tall as Archer, and while he doesn’t exactly have the same absurdly muscular build, the guy’s experience definitely shines through here. However, Archer’s overwhelming power is proving difficult for Dustin to overcome, and a chair shot to his head that opens up his scalp is not helping matters. Dustin eventually gets the advantage long enough to land a nut shot on Archer which… I don’t know, it’s called a LOW BLOW for a reason and it doesn’t really endear me to Dustin that he’s resorting to those tactics. Then again, Archer’s the one who bashed him in the face with a chair, so I guess we’ll call it even. Dustin follows up with a good bout of offense including a Code Red and even a Cross Rhodes, but despite the monumental effort on display he can’t even get a one count on Archer. Lance regains his momentum after that and ATTEMPTS that scary as hell Blackhole on Dustin, but thankfully Dustin wiggles out of it. Instead Archer just SLAMS him to the ground like a sack of very bloody potatoes and Archer nearly gets the pin, but Dustin cannot be stopped and even gets a two count with a surprise pin attempt! Archer is pissed now and so he rips off the turnbuckle and just smashes Dustin’s face three times into the corner. At this point, Cody comes and threatens to throw in the towel, but like in Rocky IV he doesn’t do it and Archer smashes Dustin’s head into the canvas over and over again until he finally stays down for the three count. The Nightmare Family rushes in to keep Dustin stable while Archer glares at Cody as the show comes to an end. I kind of lost track of this match as the lateness of the hour was starting to get to me, but that was a great fight and does a fantastic job of setting up the final match scheduled for Double or Nothing at the end of May.
This was another really solid episode of AEW, but I’m worried about them going live next week and what that’ll mean for the show going forward; especially considering how much unaired content they still have on tape. Will that get discarded, or will they still show those after they go live next week? I have no idea and I’m not the biggest fan of them advertising it in the middle of this show, but for what it’s worth the wrestling was really good and the I got a BIG kick out of that Bubbly Bunch segment. Let’s just hope this won’t be the last time I get to say that I liked an episode of Dynamite, for the time being at least.