Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (07-01-2020) – Fyter Fest Week 1

AEWDYNAMITE

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

The day has finally come for AEW’s much-hyped in-between PPV event Fyter Fest!  With a stacked card of top tier talent and three belts on the line, will they come out on top this week against NXT who JUST SO HAPPENED to be hosting their own two-week in-between PPV event!?  Let’s find out!!

We’re greeted to Fyter Fest with lots of crowd shots where no one is wearing masks), bikini babes who aren’t wearing masks either, and Chris Jericho joining the commentary booth where NO ONE IS WEARING A MASK!  We JUST had a massive outbreak of COVID at WWE which included Renee Young, Jon Moxley’s wife, so seeing the AEW crowds laxer then they have been in recent weeks feels REALLY badly timed; even if they’re doing full COVID testing on everyone there and have the benefit of an open-air arena!  They haven’t had an outbreak yet, but it sure feels like they’re tempting fate!

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Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus) Vs. MJF & Wardlow

Jurassic Express is accompanied to the ring by Marko Stunt

MJF starts this off with one of his best promos in a long time; perhaps since he gave his demands to Cody for their match at Revolution and what stings about it is how much truth is in buried within his caustic words.  Yes, AEW did get beat in the ratings last week, and while this match was scheduled BEFORE those came in it certainly helps to have MJF and the Jurassic Express start off the show since both have proven to be quite popular even if we’re basically repeating a PPV match and the Lumberjack match from last week.  The match itself is really solid work from all four involved with some impressive move as you’d expect from such professionals, but what sets it apart is that they do tell a compelling story within it.  MJF and Wardlow have been so dominate that the hardest thing to sell about this match is that Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus have a chance of winning since you know at some point MJF will get the diamond ring, will go for a low blow, or will distract the ref during a pin.  Because of that, the story throughout is that MJF and Wardlow go for all the cheap shenanigans you’d expect, but they don’t work because Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus either see it coming or are able to kick out of it.  Perhaps the biggest moment in the match is when Luchasaurus ducks a shot from MJF who’s wearing the ring and almost hits Wardlow instead; only to ACTUALLY hit Wardlow when Luchasaurus kicks him in the back.  CLEARLY, MJF needs to switch up his strategy if he wants to protect his unpinned streak, but for now, he’s going to have to eat another loss as Luchasaurus Chokeslams Wardlow, Kicks him in the face, and does a Standing Shooting Star Press before getting the pin; giving MJF only his second loss of the year.  I’m glad that Jurassic Express has found a solid niche to fill as the thorn in MJF’s side and I hope they keep this feud going as long as we keep getting matches this good!

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Before the next match, we get something… let’s call it INTERESTING.  There’s a promo for a previously unannounced match that will be on Fyter Fest Part II next week, and it’s gonna be… All Elite Wrestling Puppy Battle Royale.  This is either a last-minute attempt to fill air time since Jon Moxley can’t make it next week (screw you, WWE), or someone got spooked by last week’s low numbers and are hoping that puppies will bring in ratings.  I mean credit where it’s due, I’m certainly interested to see what it is, but if this proves to bring in big numbers than I dread whatever get ratings quick schemes they come up with like maybe a mysterious luchador singer or a Kip Sabian/Penelope Ford wedding.  Speaking of whom!

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Okay, not quite yet.  We’ve got one more thing to cover which is Lance Archer who just starts pounding Joey Janela in the back of the head for no apparent reason other than to be a punk.  Luckily Sonny Kiss was on hand to hold Joey back because the dude was hopping mad about the cowardly sucker punch and would have probably gotten the whole arena bloody trying to beat the hell out of him; instead, he’ll save up all that aggression for their match next week!

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Hikaru Shida Vs. Penelope Ford – AEW Women’s Title Match

Penelope Ford is accompanied to the ring by Kip Sabian

Before the match even begins Kip Sabian gets tossed by Ref Aubrey basically as a preemptive measure since he’s obviously going to interfere at some point which is probably the smartest move a ref at AEW has ever made!  The thing of it though is that Penelope proves that she doesn’t NEED Kip there as the whole point of the match is to show that Penelope is a top-level contender in the division and a genuine talent.  I don’t think I ever thought she had a chance to WIN, but she got quite a few licks in there with some seriously close near falls on Shida who’s good enough of a worker to sell Penelope’s offense.  Look, I’m still far from an expert at this so perhaps there were some awkward movements or mistimed moves (MAYBE Ford’s strikes aren’t the best ever and her cross face submission looked a bit underwhelming), but my memory of this match is of these two going at it with silky smooth precision to create one heck of a showcase!  If there’s one thing I guess I could criticize, it’s that Penelope got A LOT out of this match while Shida is pretty much exactly where she was before it.  Granted she’s already the high bar of this division, but she’s still missing that extra something (*cough* promos *cough*) to put her over the top as a TRULY great champion.  The highlight of the match was Shida landing a Falcon Arrow on Ford which is usually the end of the match but Ford manages to flip Shida over and gets a REALLY close near fall.  Not only that, but Shida goes for a missile dropkick which Ford manages to dodge and follows up with a Stunner for yet another near fall!  Unfortunately, she doesn’t press the advantage and instead starts distracting the ref so that Kip can come in and try to take out Shida which of COURSE fails immediately and Shida gets the advantage once again.  She dodges a Moonsault from Ford, hits her with TWO running knees, and finally lands a second Falcon Arrow for… NOT THE PIN!  Say WHAT!?  That was a pretty amazing moment, but it felt a bit undercut when Shida just does another running knee and gets the pin with that.  I thought this was a fantastic showing from both women who admittedly have felt a bit overexposed as of late (THEY’VE GOT A HUGE WOMEN’S DIVISION; WHY ARE WE GETTING THE SAME FIVE WOMEN ON DYNAMITE!?) and while the ending wasn’t all I hoped it would be, it was still a lot of fun to watch!

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We get another one of those TECHNIQUES BY TAZ segments with Jon Moxley’s Paradigm Shift being the topic of discussion.  Apparently, Brian Cage’s neck is SO THINK that Mox is gonna have a hard time hooking his arms around him so that he can do the move which… sure, I guess.  I’m not in a position to question Taz’s authority on this but I can’t help but think he’s MAYBE a tiny bit biased!

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Cody Vs. Jake Hager – TNT Title Match

Cody is accompanied to the ring by Arn Anderson

The buildup for this match hasn’t been that great with Cody basically announcing it on a whim like two weeks ago and a rather underwhelming press conference from last week.  On top of that I don’t feel that Jake Hager has REALLY lived up to his potential; especially compared to other guys like Brock Lesner or even Bobby Lashley that lean into their MMA backgrounds.  He’s got size and is certainly a good foil for any number of Babyfaces, but being part of The Inner Circle was the best thing that could have happened to him; at least until he finds his groove as a singles competitor.  Does he find it here?  Well, it helps that he’s up against Cody, but I’m still not all the way THERE yet with him the way I’m with everyone else I’ve seen on this show so far.  He definitely knows how to FIGHT like a big dude with a lot of hard punches, tosses, and submission holds, and Cody is great at fighting from underneath as he’s constantly looking for ways to get an edge.  It also helps that Arn Anderson is on ringside to keep yelling at Cody’s opponents which STILL feels like a sign that Cody’s going to turn Heel at some point but that certainly didn’t happen over the course of this match.  In fact, Arn Anderson becomes a liability when Hager goes after him and Cody tries to make the save only to eat a German Suplex outside the ring.   Things keep going back and forth, but Cody maintains the advantage for the most part with some impressive moves like a Diamond Cutter from the top rope and even landing a Snap Suplex on a charging Hager.  Hager proves to be a hard guy to take down however and Cody ends up getting a Hail Mary from Arn and his brother; the former distracting the ref while the other runs out to sucker punch Hager.  Cody tries to press the advantage with a Cross Rhodes but Hager manages to reverse it and puts Cody in some sort of chokehold which ends up being his undoing as Cody gets Hager to pin himself while applying the hold.  Hager was just as surprised as I was by this finish and ends up punching out the ref which means we may not be seeing Hager again soon, but in any case, Cody manages to hold onto his title for another week.  Not a bad match but not the best thing on the show so far and I’m feeling a bit unenthused about Cody since he keeps winning over the big guys by cheating, or at least not stopping his friends and family from cheating on his behalf.

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We get a Darby Allin video after that who’s still not cleared to wrestle (the PPV was what, a month ago now!?) so instead, he does some impressive skateboarding tricks which probably hurt WAY more than whatever injury he’s supposedly suffering from.  I’m calling it now though; Darby Allin’s gonna be an unlockable character in that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater remake thingy!

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Private Party Vs. Proud N Powerful

Private Party is accompanied to the ring by Matt Hardy

I remember these two teams had a match pretty early into Dynamite that I just didn’t care for at all.  It’s been a while, but I remember it just going on way too long and that people were running in and out from the back like a bad episode of Monday Night Nitro, so if nothing else they don’t have a particularly high bar to clear!  The match is pretty good all things considered as both teams do a great job of playing to their strengths and weaknesses.  Private Party may have the edge on acrobatics and stamina, but Santana and Ortiz work like a well-oiled machine which proves to be more than Private Party can overcome for most of this match.  In fact, they’re doing so good that for the second time in this show a match feels diminished by attempts to cheat.  Proud N Powerful have the match in hand, yet Ortiz felt the need to try and bring a weapon into the match which Matt Hardy puts a stop to and Private Party gets the win like two minutes later!  It was a bit of a letdown that the match ended the way it did, but it was quick enough to not overstay its welcome and Private Party definitely feel like a more complete team than they did all those months ago the first time they fought these two!

Before the match, Orange Cassidy decided to quietly take a seat next to the announcer’s booth which bugged Jericho to no end, and when his fellow Inner Circle buddies lost, Jericho took his frustration out on Orange Cassidy by throwing his drink at him.  Cassidy just walks off not wanting to engage while Jericho is being held back by like four dudes (NONE OF WHOM ARE WEARING MASKS) and is screaming his head off about next week’s match.  Sadly this is where Jericho jumps off of commentary for the evening, but it was certainly fun while it lasted.

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Taz and Brian Cage Speak – Where Is Jon Moxley!?

All that’s left for tonight is the main event, but before we get to that there’s a bit of an elephant in the room that must be addressed.  Due to WWE’s shamefully poor handling of this pandemic, Renee Young was diagnosed with COVID-19 and so Jon Moxley won’t be able to come to next week’s show which means his match against Brian Cage has been pushed to the week after.  Taz and Cage come out to cut a promo about this with a… dubious amount of taste, though I guess that’s what you want to strive for when you’re a Heel.  What I liked about the promo is that Tax throws SO much shade at WWE as he compares AEW’s COVID polices to SOME OTHER COMPANIES to show how great AEW has been at handling it.  Perhaps not as well as they COULD be now that everyone’s decided to stop wearing masks, but the point is clear and completely factual, so well don there, Taz!  He then uses this as an excuse to bash Moxley for not showing up next week which is where the tastelessness comes in, and I know that he doesn’t ACTUALLY think Moxley’s a coward for not showing up and getting tested (he hasn’t gotten a positive COVID test yet, so why doesn’t he let AEW test him the day of the fight?), but even in the FAKE WORLD OF WRESTLING, it feels tacky in the bad way for a Heel to take COVID related shots at someone.

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Kenny Omega & Hangman Adam Page Vs. The Best Friends – AEW Tag Team Title Match

Because The Best Friends are… well, The Best Friends, their big title match entrance is tumbling out the back seat of Trent’s Mom’s car.  An amusing little aside I guess which is about as good as any description of the match itself.  Neither team is bad, they’re both great in fact, but… I just wasn’t feeling this one all that much.  They’ve basically dropped the Adam Page Might Turn Heel angle which is probably for the best considering how much Page had gotten over with his new persona (and they may pick it back up when fans return), but they haven’t really replaced it with anything so the two are just competently working together which isn’t all that interesting.  Similarly, The Best Friends never seem to have much going on besides being friends with Orange Cassidy, and since he has nothing to do with this fight it just feels like something for them to do rather than something they’re genuinely striving for.  Still, the action is solid with both teams giving their all to make each other look good, and Kenny looks like he took a nasty bump on the outside and onto the railing.  Almost as painful to watch is just how many pile drivers there are in this as everyone eats a hit to the head at some point in this match, and while they SEEM to be doing them pretty safely (Page’s Dead Eye had Trent’s head like six inches off the ground), it’s always at least a little uncomfortable for me to see that move busted out so liberally. If there are two MVPs, it’s Page and Trent who at least look like they’re fighting for something whenever they’re in the ring together and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an angle between these two in the future; especially since the ending of this match had those two going at it by themselves for like five minutes.  Trent and Page trade near falls including the aforementioned Dead Eye, but it isn’t until he lands his Buckshot Lariat that he finally keeps Trent’s shoulders pinned for the full three count; keeping their belts just like the other two champions on this show.  It was a fun match like all the others on this show, but I think Page and Omega need a bit more story behind them to keep their matches interesting.

FTR who was watching from the sidelines enter the ring and offer Page and Omega beers for their victory.  Page drinks his with relish as you’d expect, but Omega doesn’t drink so he just pours it out which FTR takes as an insult.  Before fists can be thrown, The Young Bucks come out to break up the dispute and the episode ends with all three teams arguing with each other; an auspicious sight since The Bucks and FTR have to work together on next week’s show!

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The show did peter out a bit in the second half, but this was a sold and entertaining showcase from AEW that did a lot to get me back in the spirit of things.  I’m still feeling a bit tired of the show as should be evident since this recap is also late just like last week’s, but there’s a reason I started watching AEW and this episode was a decent reminder of it.  I hope next week’s show is even better, especially that Cassidy/Jericho match, and that they remember to wear their masks next week!  SERIOUSLY, did everyone just lose them!?

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