AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT
Now that Double or Nothing is in our rearview mirror, this week’s dynamite has the unenviable task of trying to pick things up where the big payoff of the show left off and start things fresh, all while making an entertaining wrestling program in the worst time to be running wrestling shows! Is this a successful follow-up enticing us with things to come, or are they gonna need another week or so to get their wind back? Let’s find out!!
The show begins with The Inner Circle at their lowest point; commiserating their lose in the Stadium Stampede match at Double or Nothing. It’s not just because this latest failure is yet another hit to their ego (and even more broken bones for Sammy), they had purchased boxes upon boxes of INNER CIRCLE STADIUM STAMPEDE CHAMPIONS shirts in anticipation of their victory, and now they won’t be able to sell them. I’m not sure why as I’d certainly buy one of those shirts, but in any case, this is yet another hilarious segment from The Inner Circle and really got the show off on the right note!
Young Bucks & Matt Hardy Vs. Private Party & Joey Janela – Six Man Tag Match
Speaking of great comedy segments, Matt Hardy and The Bucks have a promo before the match where they cycle through Hardy Personas to find the right fit for the match which is one upbeat pop song away from a Trying On Clothes Montage in an eighties film. I’m actually not sure which personality the settle on as it’s implied to be an even earlier version of Matt Hardy than the Hardy Boyz persona and I didn’t realize there was such a thing, but regardless of that it’s always fun to see what he comes up with and how he changes his style and presence depending on what side of him he settles on. It’s actually kind of a brilliant gimmick that I’m surprised more wrestlers don’t do! We were certainly begging for Christopher Daniels to be the Fallen Angel again during his feud with The Dark Order, right? As far as the match itself… well, it’s fine but perhaps a bit too straightforward. We haven’t seen The Bucks team together in some time and Matt Hardy is really hot right now, so Private Party and Joey Janela are once again on hand to make the other talent look good. Sure the whole thing is in no way a squash match as AEW is not about burying its talent, but it feels a bit too much like they’re just going through the motions to shake off the ring rust after The Bucks’ long sabbatical. Still, Isiah, Marq, and Joey put a lot of heart into this match and certainly hold their own against The Bucks and Hardy even if we know where it’s all headed. The match comes to an end when The Bucks land a Bang For Your Buck on Isiah Kassidy (which basically means they jump on him three times), and Matt Hardy pins whatever’s left for the win. As soon as the bell rings, Matt Hardy jumps down and helps Marq Quen to the back with the ref and a very bruised Isiah Kassidy in tow; leaving The Bucks alone in the ring and Joey… somewhere else I guess. They are then immediately jumped by The Butcher & The Blade, presumably still upset about the Superkick, when out of nowhere a car rolls up on Daily’s Stadium and none other than the former Revival who are now referred to as FTR get out and head to the ring. Initially, they feign assisting The Butcher & The Blade… but instead they turn around and whoop their butts; saving The Young Bucks from the savage beating they were in the middle of. After the ring is clear and it’s just FTR and The Bucks, FTR walks out of the ring and out of Daily’s place without a word but definitely making their mark. These guys have been MISERABLE for the past year or so under their WWE contract and I’m glad to see them on TV again and clearly enjoying what they’re doing!
Brian Cage Vs. Lee Johnson
Brian Cage is accompanied to the ring by Taz
Lee Johnson loses. What a shock. It hardly matters though because John Moxley has joined the commentary team for this match and it’s pretty much him giving a promo while Brian Cage utterly destroys this hapless fool in the middle of the ring. Moxley is actually a pretty good talker outside the context of a ring promo, and while I wouldn’t put him his name ahead of Jericho’s in case there’s a shakeup on the commentary team, he sounds genuine enough and doesn’t seem to run out of things to say which can be a problem when wrestlers get in the booth. Essentially, he puts over how absurdly difficult his match with Brodie Lee was as well as how tough this new Brian Cage seems to be along with his manager Taz who’s looking on this match with glee. As soon as the match is over, Taz grabs the mic and calls out Moxley to confirm that Cage’s title match will be at Fyter Fest. I’m guessing that will be the TV event they’re gonna do between now and the next PPV; like Bash at the Beach in January and what Blood and Guts was supposed to before it got postponed. Even if it’s not three months away like the next PPV, it still seems like quite a bit of time to build-up to the match; especially since there are no roadblocks between it. Cage already earned the match, so there’s literally nothing stopping them from doing it right now unlike with Lance Archer who had to go through the tournament to face Cody. Even so, it looks like it’ll be a great match as Brian Cage seems really good at utterly destroying fools, though I hope we’ll see more of what he’s like in a more evenly matched situation.
Britt Baker Update – When Will She Be Back?
Look, barring some huge change in either her or me, I just don’t think I’m ever gonna gel with Britt Baker. I wasn’t the biggest fan of her when she was a babyface (felt a bit too soon for her to be in the title picture), and while I think her in-ring work has improved since she’s turned heel I’ve just found this persona to be obnoxious and not fun to hate. Britt Baker rolls out in a wheelchair due to her injury at last week’s Dynamite and spends about ten minutes concocting a conspiracy theory about how everyone in the women’s division is trying to keep her down; an effort spearheaded by none other than Aubrey Edwards. Why? I don’t know, she’s popular I guess so that makes Britt jealous. In any case, she confirms that she’ll be back at All Out which is the next PPV scheduled three months from now, and even if I’m not the biggest fan of her I do hope for a successful and speedy recovery.
The Inner Circle is backstage getting interviewed which basically involves Jericho yelling at the interviewer, and he confirms that there will be an Inner Circle pep rally at the end of the show to lift everyone’s spirits and get them back on track. During this interview though, Orange Cassidy casually wanders into the background which is so flabbergasting to Jericho that he stops in his tracks and ends the interview with a promise to find him later. Now THAT’S a match I’d certainly like to see and would no doubt be a HUGE ratings bump!
Hikaru Shida Vs. Christi Jaynes – Non-Title Match
Non-title matches always seem bizarre to me. MAYBE in certain circumstances where the opponent isn’t getting a fair shot it’s the best way they could cajole a match out of the champ, but here? I don’t know, I can see the logic based on the rules that AEW has set forth (if this nobody DID get a title shot, then it’d interfere with the whole ranking system they’ve come up with), but it feels like we’re just jumping through hoops to get Shida in the ring instead of on a microphone. In any case, the match itself is pretty good with Christi Jaynes showing some genuine talent here. She brings a lot of personality to the ring which frankly was also the biggest strength of Nyla Rose and something that feels lacking in the Women’s division. Sure Hikaru Shida is absolutely great in the ring and out of everyone there is the most worthy champion, but her attitude isn’t all that different from everyone else’s; heart and determination with a gutsy mean streak when called for. Jaynes brings a certain enthusiasm to her wrestling that makes her stand out from the rest so I hope we get to see more of her soon, and perhaps another belt for the women at some point would be nice. In any case, Shida wins with the Falcon Arrow in a match that was just fine. Nothing to complain about and certainly some bright spots with Jaynes, but nothing all that special either.
Cody Speaks – What’s Next For The TNT Champion?
I’m not sure about this one. Cody puts on some great promos when he’s hungry and pissed, but whenever he’s at the top of the mountain he gets a bit too defensive of his pedigree. We know he’s the son of Dusty and an executive at the company, but the fans frankly don’t need him to try and justify himself when he gets anywhere at the company. Once he’s done with that, assuring everyone that he WORKED for this belt and the opportunity wasn’t handed to him, he declares that he will be a fighting champion and will defend it every week on Dynamite starting next week against the winner of tonight’s Battle Royal. I actually think this is a great idea and I remember when Seth Rollins did that a few years back when I first started watching wrestling. It was pretty good and lent him a great deal of gravitas that also led to the really great feud between him and Dolph Ziggler that gave us the new and improved Drew McIntyre.
Kip Sabian & Jimmy Havoc Vs. SCU (Kazarian & Scorpio Sky)
Sabian is accompanied to the ring by Penelope Ford
This is perhaps the best match on the show from a purely technical standpoint, but I just wasn’t feeling it as much as I should have. Jimmy Havoc and Kip Sabian are pretty good as a tag team as they work together quite well and pull off some impressive moves, no doubt helped by SCU being the phenomenal professionals that they are, and unlike the other two matches, I had no idea who was going to win this one and so it had some genuine tension at points. So what was missing? I don’t know, maybe I was just getting tired of the show at this point and it hasn’t exactly been the most exciting follow up to a PPV; even with FTR finally showing up. SCU eventually go for the SCU later on Jimmy Havoc, but Penelope Ford grabs Kazarian from outside the ring and gets the distraction which gives Sabian enough time to throw Kazarian out of the ring and double team Scorpio Sky with Jimmy for the pin. Out of all the managers at AEW, Penelope Ford has to be the most effective, and I think she’s done wonders for making Sabian a credible threat in the ring. This was no doubt the best match on the card no matter how much of a sourpuss I was watching it.
We get a video from MJF with Wardlow in the background as usual as the crown prince of douchebaggery has decided that he will win the Battle Royal and strip Cody of his title before he gets too comfortable with it. Wardlow tries to speak up about something but MJF shouts him down and then laughs it off, so we may be building towards a break up sooner rather than later.
Battle Royale – TNT Title Opportunity
Participants include MJF, Wardlow, Luther, Peter Avalon, Brandon Cutler, Marko Stunt, Jungle Boy, Luchasaurus, Sonny Kiss, Colt Cabana, Christopher Daniels, Billy Gunn, and Orange Cassidy
I normally like Battle Royals, but this one didn’t click for me. The big problem is that, at least on my broadcast, we got two commercial breaks; one while everyone was doing their entrances (it took me half the match to figure out who everyone in it was) and again right in the middle of it so I never got a really good sense of the story being told or an ebb and flow of the action. Peter Avalon and Brandon Cutler were eliminated during the break, Luther took a pretty nasty Choke Slam from Luchasaurus to the apron, and Sonny Kiss gets eliminated by Wardlow. It was a bit hard to see what happened there, but I THINK Sonny managed to get one punch on MJF which is why Wardlow eliminated him, and then to make him out to be that much more of a bastard MJF goes under the ropes and stomps Sonny a few times for good measure. Frankly I’d LOVE to see Sonny Kiss have a match or two with MJF. He’d lose obviously (if Jungle Boy couldn’t beat him, I don’t think anyone other than Cody or Jon Moxley will anytime soon), but Sonny doesn’t get nearly enough air time as it is! Colt Cabana gets eliminated somehow and is given a JOIN THE DARK ORDER flyer from the turtleneck guy we haven’t seen in awhile, which seems like a pretty hard sell to me considering Colt Cabana began his AEW career beating the crap out of Dark Order dudes, but I guess you miss all the opportunities you don’t take so good on you, turtleneck guy! Christopher Daniels goes to get Mark Stunt eliminated but Stunt is able to reverse it and gets Daniels eliminated instead which was great, but then. Wardlow throws Mark Stunt over the top rope soon after. Billy Gunn and Luchasaurus have a fun little stare down before being eliminated by MJF and Wardlow which leaves just four in the ring; MJF, Wardlow, Jungleboy, and Orange Cassidy who had been hanging on the outskirts of the match this whole time and this is when the match really starts to heat up. MJF goes to his Cassidy with his ring but hits Wardlow instead by accident. Cassidy then throws MJF over the top ropes and he and Jungle Boy eliminate Wardlow which I’m sure is doing nothing to ease Wardlow’s frustrations at his blowhard of a boss. With just Jungle Boy and Cassidy in the ring, they start trading some impressive moves including a few Superman Punches from Orange Cassidy, but in the end, Jungle Boy wins the match by landing this ridiculous Hurricanrana on Orange Cassidy. Jungle Boy wrapped his legs around Cassidy while grabbing the top rope at the same time; letting his momentum carry Cassidy over the top rope while holding on for dear life to keep himself from getting eliminated! It was a VERY strong ending for an otherwise not terribly exciting Battle Royal and I can’t wait to see the match between him and Cody next week!
The Inner Circle Pep Rally – They’ve Got Spirit, Yes They Do!
Flanked by cheerleaders and a marching band (Social Distancing? What’s that?), The Inner Circle comes out from the back with Vickie Guerrero announcing each of their entrances which was certainly a nice touch. The rest of it had its ups and downs and reminded me of that not so great Thanksgiving celebration they had last year. I liked the joke about Sammy finding second-hand Participation Trophies to hand out, and Jake Hager’s poem actually wasn’t all that bad, but it just kind of drags and is an odd thing to end the show on instead of a main event match. Of course, the reason why this HAD to go on last is what happens at the end where Jericho starts shouting about how he wants to fight Mike Tyson because of something that happened all the way back in 2010. I have no idea what he’s on about and the fact that they don’t go into specifics means it was likely a WWE thing, but sure enough, Mr. Tyson comes out from the back with his entire entourage (Social Distancing!? WHAT’S THAT!?) and they just kinda mean mug each other for a bit before someone throws a punch and the whole place goes off. The two groups are brawling, wrestling from the crowd as well as in the back come in to break it up, and Tyson takes his shirt off at one point to show he’s serious! Look, I wasn’t a fan of Ronda Rousey coming into the WWE Women’s Division and claiming the throne for no other reason than her celebrity status and I’m sure as heck not keen to see the same thing happen at AEW. I guess if they think this will pop a few ratings then fine, but I’m already tuning out of this feud before it’s even begun.
This was far from my favorite episode of Dynamite, and while some of it can be excused for coming off a big PPV, the addition of Mike Tyson just feels like a bad decision aimed at an older audience than the younger one they’ve been building up all this time. Then again, maybe Mike Tyson is super hip with the youngsters these days (apparently he had a workout video go viral recently?) so maybe I’m just here on my little soapbox grousing against the tide. Everything else on the show was fine and I do like some of the stuff they’re building up for future shows; let’s just hope that next week has a bit more bang to it and not so many things you can see coming a mile away.