Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (06-24-2020)

AEWDYNAMITE

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

It’s been a heck of a week in the wrestling world, hasn’t it?  Needless to say that my already drained enthusiasm from last week’s recap took a very significant hit with all the news coming out, but the show must go on and it’s of some comfort to me that I have something locked in a scheduled every week to try and keep my brain puttering along during these less than ideal times.  So then!  Does AEW still have what it takes to put on a good series of wrestling matches and entertaining promos, or is the world in a funk that even the very best the industry has to offer can’t drag us all out of?  Let’s find out!!

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Wardlow Vs. Luchasaurus – Lumberjack Match

Wardlow is accompanied to the ring by MJF while Luchasaurus is accompanied by Marko Stunt and Jungleboy

In case you didn’t know, a Lumberjack match is one where wrestlers stand outside of the ring and if either wrestler in the match gets thrown out of the ring or tries to run away, the lumberjacks will put them back in the ring.  Seems like an odd match for two guys who WANT to fight as you usually do a Lumberjack match to wrangle a cowardly heel, not to mention that these two being as big as they are won’t likely be stopped from leaving if they REALLY want to, and on top of that it’s not the best look in the world to have THIS many people participating in a match and being this close to each other in the middle of a pandemic.  On the other hand, it’s become clear this week that AEW’s testing policies have been pretty effective as no one at their company has wrestled positive while WWE just had a huge outbreak due to the incredibly lax testing that they’ve done.  Frankly, though, I wouldn’t even call this a Lumberjack match as they don’t REALLY do their job and it’s more of a Rumble.  No, not a Royal Rumble; more like a West Side Story Rumble where the ones on the outskirts are there to antagonize the other side, and Luchasaurus or Wardlow getting tossed over the wrong side of the ropes will certainly mean bad news and a few cheap shots.  It also comes off a bit like an attempt to drill it into everyone’s heads that THEY NEED TO CATCH PEOPLE because there are so many dives in this and it’s not like they couldn’t use a refresher course considering how many people have gotten hurt recently!  So the two of them fight all over the place occasionally having to toss off the lumberjacks and throw people over things, but eventually, Luchasaurus gets a chokeslam and goes for the pin… when MJF manages to distract the ref.  SERIOUSLY!?  The ONE THING you need to look for is pinfalls, and when one happens you stop to instead chat with this dude?  Luchasaurus should have gotten the win as he’s got Wardlow for more than a three count, so in retaliation, Jungle Boy spears MJF off the apron and into a crowd of heel lumberjacks waiting below.  Unfortunately, this gives Wardlow enough time to do a low blow behind the ref’s back and gets the pin with an F-10; an impressive feat considering how big Lucahsaurus is.  The scene then devolves into chaos as the Sharks and the Jets… I mean the Heels and the Faces, all storm the ring and start hitting each other for a few minutes before things calm down and Tony Schiavone announces that at Fyter Fest it will be MJF & Wardlow Vs. Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus.  This was a great match and I really enjoyed the interplay between these two competitors as both are way more flexible and agile than their size would lead you to believe; with Wardlow landing a Hurricanrana on Luchasaurus and Luchasaurus doing some sort of clothesline reversal where he flips around the arm and forces Wardlow into a near fall.  I’d be interested to see if they do more Lumberjack matches like this in the future, especially since we won’t be having fans for a while longer, but all in all, it was a great way to start the show; just as long as everyone used hand sanitizer afterward.

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We get a promo from Taz where he does his EXPLAINING THE MOVES thing only it’s for how awesome Brian Cage is.  I mean sure… I guess he’s strong and all, but it was kind of a boring explanation; mostly because it didn’t really go INTO the mechanics of any of his moves!  He’s got good leg muscles, he works out his core, and he can drop you on your head, but then I’m pretty sure Brodie Lee could do all that as well and look how that turned out!

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Not necessarily its own segment, but we find out that Britt Baker is now in a plexiglass cage to protect herself from further dumpster related attacks, though I get the feeling Big Swole isn’t about to be deterred so easily.

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Hikaru Shida Vs. Red Velvet

Velvet gets the jobber entrance so I guess AEW hasn’t figured out what they want to do with Shida outside of squash matches and being needled by Kip and Penelope.  In fact, Penelope yelling at Shida as she goes to the ring takes longer than the match itself as Velvet takes one knee, a Falcon Arrow, and eats the pin within eleven seconds.  THEN Shida goes out and brawls with Ford and Sabian on the outside in another instance of ignoring social distancing as everyone on that side of the stands have to hold these two apart.  The two of them have a match at Fyter Fest next week so I guess it makes sense for them to have a confrontation here, but I wish the match wasn’t so obviously perfunctory.  Heck, if it was me I’d have Penelope win a solid match while Shida watches and then have her run to the outside to attack the champ to show that she means business.  I’m not the one booking this show though, so I guess I can’t judge it on what I’d do and for what it was it at was just fine.

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After that, we get a REALLY BORING press conference where Cody, Arn, Brandi, Dustin, and a few other people (including one guy whose job it is to just stand there and hold the belt the whole time, and it’s… well, it’s what it is; a fake press conference.  Press conferences aren’t usually the most interesting thing in the world but it doesn’t exactly matter because the point is the information you get out of it, and scripted promos in this style just don’t have the same oomph to it than doing it inside the ring on a microphone; even if the crowds are smaller.  It takes FOREVER for Jake Hager to deign to show himself

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We follow that with something MUCH better which is another Joey/Sonny video which is GREAT because there’s cinematography, music, snappy dialogue, a bit of humor, and even a fight scene where Sonny gets harassed by street thugs straight out of a bad eighties movie, and the two of them fight them off!  I get that there are parts of wrestling that SHOULD be taken more seriously and I do enjoy Cody’s earnestness with which he approaches his profession, but that press conference just felt staged and tedious while this was goofy and fun, and I know which of the two I’d rather see!

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Sonny Kiss & Joey Janela Vs. Brodie Lee & Colt Cabana

Brodie Lee is accompanied to the ring by John Silver and Alex Reynolds

This was a really good match with some solid storytelling that did a lot to advance the Dark Order storyline which is great because it’s a storyline that DOESN’T rely on a belt chase; at least for the time being.  Brodie Lee is actually trying to convince Colt Cabana to join his crew through victories, respect, and protection as he does most of the legwork in the match and allows Cabana to pick apart the bones.  He also runs interference whenever Joey or Sonny tries to take a shot at him and he even shows the value of being part of The Dark Order instead of just being Brodie’s Buddy by having Reynolds and Silver pull shenanigans from the outside to undercut their opponent’s momentum.  The only thing that still feels a bit off is Cabana himself, but we’ll get to the specifics on that later.  The point is that Cabana keeps messing up but Lee is there to catch him, and for the first time in a long time Cabana gets a victory at AEW when he pins Joey after Brodie Lee takes him out with a Discus Lariat.

We’re gonna jump ahead a bit as this next segment isn’t until later, but since we’re already talking about Colt Cabana and The Dark Order, We get a candid camera moment between Colt Cabana and Brodie Lee where the latter is sweet-talking his latest prospect and declares that they will be taking on SCU at Fyter Fest.  The Dark Order has certainly been working well with their slow burn, but I’m still not feeling the darkness within Colt Cabana that would allow him to give up his principals for guaranteed success.  He was more or less brought IN to back up SCU with their Dark Order problem, so this is the best match for him to decide one way or the other if he will join, but whatever he chooses he HAS to commit to it; either as a truly dastardly heel or as a heroic babyface who was playing the long game.  I’m kind of hoping for the former, but only if Cabana can pull off being THAT bad and I’m not one hundred percent confident in that yet.  Anyway, onto what ACTUALLY happened after the match!

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For whatever reason, Lance Archer comes out of nowhere and lays out both Joey Janela and Sonny Kiss which I can only hope is leading to a handicap match between the three of them.  As much as I’d like to see Kiss and Janela win a few matches, it’d be pretty awesome for Archer to handily take down two competitors at once and will certainly be a step towards reestablishing his cred after his loss to Cody.

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SCU (Christopher Daniels & Kazarian) Vs. FTR

I’ve been a bit unimpressed with FTR in that they haven’t come off as THE GREATEST TAG TEAM OF ALL TIME to live up to the hype.  This match however definitely gave me a heck of showcase for the two, so while I still haven’t seen a Bucks Vs. Omega/Hangman match out of them, I’m much more interested in seeing if they CAN pull off a match that great.  Kazarian and Daniels look great as well which is good considering how long it’s been since I’ve seen them put on a show anywhere near this level, and for a guy over fifty Daniels is holding his own without making it look lie it’s taking a lot out of him; even taking a Superplex that wasn’t anywhere close to the finisher.  Eventually, though he gets caught in a Goodnight Express and the match comes to an end with another victory for FTR.

It doesn’t end there however as FTR takes the mic and calls out THE ENTIRE tag team division; promising to run thru everyone who steps up to the plate.  This is perhaps a BIT arrogant of them as their call is answered immediately by The Butcher & The Blade who have stolen their truck and are holding it hostage while they run their mouths which distracts FTR from noticing that none other than Pentagón Jr and Rey Fénix, the former of whom we haven’t seen since the Pandemic, have entered the ring.  The Butcher & The Blade propose an EIGHT MAN TAG MATCH at Fyter Fest; them and The Lucha Bros Vs. FTR and The Young Bucks!  FTR agrees, though I suspect The Young Bucks may not be too keen on this whole idea, and The Lucha Bros proceed to tear FTR apart right in the middle of the ring.  As soon as their devastation has completed, The Young Bucks run out and chase off The Lucha Bros who run to FTR’s truck and drive off with The Butcher & The Blade.  Well, if they want to give FTR a chance to have that ONE GREAT MATCH that will get them over with nonplussed fans like me, I think this is the best shot they have at doing it which is only making the Fyter Fest card look that much more exciting!

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We get a promo about the Tag Team Title Match between Kenny/Hangman and The Best Friends, and it’s actually pretty good!  I wouldn’t say it’s a FANTASTIC promo as The Best Friends are a bit underwhelming with their promos, but it’s got a light tone to it that makes it fun and Omega and Page are always fun when they don’t take themselves too seriously.

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The segment of Moxley getting tossed into a car by Brian Cage was TWO weeks ago and in case the recap from last week wasn’t enough we have ANOTHER recap just so we don’t forget that Brian Cage is strong which I thought we covered in the other Brian Cage promo we got this episode, but I guess we needed SOMETHING to introduce the upcoming match.

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Brian Cage Vs. John Cruise

It went a bit longer than the Shida match, but I don’t think it went as long as the promo that preceded it, but Brian Cage fights aren’t about him winning matches; it’s about letting Taz stare directly into the camera, spit his fire with the fury of a thousand suns, and at some point take off his sunglasses so that you know he’s serious.  Dude can still send shivers down your spine and him speaking into the camera is doing much more than the other Brian Cage promos we’ve gotten.

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While running down the Fyter Fest Card, Tony Schiavone gets a letter from Brit Baker where she declares Big Swole to be trash and reiterating how she’ll have her revenge soon enough.  Big Swole then walks up to the plexiglass cage and starts talking smack to Britt Baker who’s loving this barrier between them.  However, she fails to see the major flaw in her clear plastic fortress which is the lack of a ceiling, and so big Swole just grabs a garbage can and dumps trash all over her; turning her sanctum of superiority into a trashy cage of horror.  These segments are still solid fun but I’m wondering how many trash based shenanigans they can come up with before the joke gets stale.

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Matt Hardy Vs. Santana

Santana is accompanied to the ring by Ortiz

This was supposed to be a Sammy/Matt match, but Sammy Guevara was suspended a few days ago so Santana is here to fill his place.  You can look up the reasons why if you want to, but what was intended to be the next step in an ongoing storyline has basically become just another exhibition on the show that they didn’t have a whole lot of time to prepare for, so on that curve is the match any good?  I’d certainly say so, though I’d say most of the credit goes to Santana who along with Ortiz is kind of underrated at the company.  Yes, they’re a solid tag team match and great as part of the Inner Circle, but as singles competitors, they fight with A LOT of charisma and genuine skill.  Matt’s great as well with some great moves that Santana sells like he’s fighting a pissed off Superman, and like Daniels in the match earlier I’m surprised at how much bumping this older dude is willing to take in these matches.  Matt almost gets the pin with a Twist of Fate but once again the ref gets distracted from someone on the outside when they SHOULD just be counting, and Santana launches an offensive right after that which leads to the pinfall.  No wait!  Matt rolls Satana over at the last second and HE gets the pin!  Well, Ortiz isn’t about to take the defeat of his best friend lying down so he jumps in the ring and pounds on Matt Hardy until Private Party arrives to chase them off.  This would have been a solid match had the circumstances not been what they were and I hope that Santana (as well as Ortiz) get more chances to have matches like this.

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Orange Cassidy & Chris Jericho – The Final Confrontation Before The Fight!!

These two have been feuding for a few weeks now due almost entirely to Cassidy harmlessly wandering around Jericho during an interview, and after orange bashings, surprise attacks, and dastardly disguises, it’s all coming to a head with their match at Fyter Fest.  For several minutes straight, Jericho cuts this REALLY awesome promo on Orange Cassidy that weaves a tale of unearned opportunities, bad decisions from AEW management, and a joke that got old a long time ago.  Jericho didn’t want Cassidy in AEW and he has no time for his shtick eight months later, so if Cassidy is going to step in the ring with him he better bring his A-game because Le Champion doesn’t suffer fools lightly!  Cassidy responds to these accusations by giving Jericho his patented shin kicks.  Not looking to be outdone, Jericho carefully takes Cassidy’s glasses and slowly breaks them which successfully gets under Cassidy’s skin and the two start brawling around the arena.  This is FANTASTIC and hits with more gravitas than Cody doing a boring press conference or Brian Cage’s one shining moment being reiterated for the third time.  Jericho’s promo is on point and believable, Cassidy’s reaction is what you want from this character, but the key moment is that Jericho got to Cassidy; the man who is nonchalant about everything has been baited into a fight, and it feels like it MATTERS.  Jericho manages to put up a good fight and is the first one to draw blood, but Cassidy gives as well as he takes and puts Jericho down with a Superman Punch right as the episode comes to an end.

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I took a lot longer to watch this show and get this recap out than usual so maybe that had something to do with it, but I think this is the best episode they’ve done in a while, which is GOOD considering it is a Go Home show of sorts.  NO ONE has had good luck these last few months and AEW has had its fair share to deal with which has led to some of its more recent failings, but they’ve also managed to rise above their limitations when it really counts and this episode was full of those moments.  I’m hoping that Fyter Fest is as good as it’s been advertised to be, but we have no idea what’s going to happen between now and then which is PRESUMABLY only five days but I’ve got the feeling it’ll feel like five years.

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