AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT
We’re back with another week of Wednesday Night ACTION as AEW has one of their most impressively stacked cards in recent memory; even against their big sorta-PPV events as far as I’m concerned! Luchasaurus, The Dark Order, big stars like Omega and Moxley; what more could you ask for in a two hour show!? Is this the episode I’ve always wished to see, or will I find myself gripping a monkey’s paw by the end of it? Let’s find out!!
Luchasarus, Jungle Boy, Chuck Taylor, Trent, and Orange Cassidy Vs. The Inner Circle – Ten Man Tag Match
Hey, I’m as surprised as you are! I would have bet money this would be the main event instead of the opening match, but I guess Jon Moxley is still the biggest draw which is why this is going first; none of which I’m sure the Demo God isn’t pleased about. It starts off with Jake Hager and Orange Cassidy in the ring with the latter not the least bit afraid; keeping his hands in his pockets as Hager fails to menace him. Within two minutes of them squaring off, The Inner Circle jumps Cassidy and EVERYONE is in the ring in an instant. The match is absolute chaos at that point as everyone just runs to the outside and starts pounding on each other, including Marko Stunt who is thrown by Luchasaurus like a lawn dart at The Inner Circle. You’ve got to feel for Ref Aubrey here. This isn’t a No DQ match or even a Falls Count Anywhere match, but what are you supposed to do? Try to corral TEN FREAKING DUDES IN FUNNY OUTFITS at the same time!? She has the right idea of just staying in the ring and watching EVERYONE instead of setting herself up for obvious distraction spots, and for what it’s worth it’s at least a FUN descent into chaos which does eventually lead back to being a proper match. Honestly though, I like it better when it’s not trying to follow the rules because it feels like kind of a waste otherwise. Trent ends up having the worst of it as he gets stuck in the middle of the ring taking beatings from every member of The Inner Circle in turn and when there are FOUR people who could be making the save it just feels a bit tedious. Eventually, Luchasaurus gets the Hot Tag and runs wild on everyone; leaving him and Hager to smash each other over the head with fists and BIG clotheslines. For a moment the match has its momentum back, but then things get a bit off track when Luchasaurus’s mask threatens to fall off and Cassidy has to run in to make the save while Luchasaurus puts his face back on. The match devolves into chaos again with Jungle Boy getting his first big moment in the match by giving Jericho a Backbreaker which I thought was a Code Breaker at first just in case you were wondering how qualified I am to be doing these recaps. Sammy and Luchasaurus are left in the ring again and Sammy does manage to rally for a bit, but just as he’s about to jump from the top rope, Matt Hardy’s music hits for the distraction. While Aubrey is looking to see if someone comes out, Hardy sneaks up on Sammy and hits him in the back; knocking him to the floor and leaving him to get pinned by Luchasaurus. I’d have pegged this as the best match of the night, but in hindsight, it was probably doomed to being a mess. The thing is that if you’re going to have THIS many people in the ring you need a match type that is suitable for it, and a one-person-at-a-time tag match is not a good use of the immense talent there. Chuck Taylor did like one dive from the apron, but that’s it; I don’t think he even tagged in! They’ve been holding off on Blood and Guts for MONTHS now, and frankly this would have been a good candidate for the first one of those matches, but instead we got this. It’s not BAD, but I could have seen it be so much better.
Jon Moxley has a video promo about his upcoming MAIN EVENT MATCH (take THAT, Demo God!) where he explains how little he WANTS to be in the middle of everyone else’s business; but Brian Cage and Ricky Starks just HAD to unfairly double team Darby Allin last week. Now you’ve gone and pissed him off, and he’s not going to show any mercy tonight in their Tornado tag match! With the ten-man tag being a bit of a disappointment it was probably the right call to put this match on last, though I’m REALLY concerned about Darby Allin. The story all this week has been that Allin most likely got a concussion from Ricky Starks on the last show with that flying forearm strike, and while I would HOPE that AEW wouldn’t take any chances on this, it’s not a good sign that I haven’t found confirmation that Allin DIDN’T get hurt.
Cody Vs. Warhorse – TNT Championship Match
Cody’s match against Eddie Kingston last week was a pleasant surprise and I’m glad that AEW is so willing to bring in outside talent, but I wasn’t really feeling this one all that much; especially since Cody’s matches are starting to follow something of a formula. Cody spends a chunk of the match underestimating his opponent, Arn Anderson gives him a pep talk, and things get serious for a few minutes before Cody ends up getting the pin. We saw it with Sonny Kiss a few weeks ago, and it’s about the same here. Perhaps Warhorse is a powerhouse and a phenomenal worker, but I’m not getting the same POP from this match that I did seeing Cody face Ricky Starks or Eddie Kingston. There’s nothing WRONG with Warhorse, but something just feels missing here and I just didn’t engage much with this. There’s a running the ropes spot which looked kind of silly, Cody does a Superplex during the commercial break, and there’s a pretty good double stomp from Warhorse that’s followed by an elbow drop for a two count, but that’s about as EXCITING as the match got; at least for me. Warhorse goes for another stomp, this time from the top rope, and misses by a mile which tweaks his knee. Seeing this injury, Cody immediately locks him into a Figure Four Lock to work the knee over and gets the tap from Warhorse; once again securing his spot as TNT Champion.
As soon as the match is over, Silver and Reynolds from The Dark Order hit the ring to take out Cody, but Warhorse makes the save, and then Cody is saved a SECOND time by… some dude named Matt Cardona. Apparently he was Zack Ryder at WWE and I’ll be honest, I have no idea who he is. Was he one of those guys like Heath Slater and Kurt Hawkins who was just kind of hanging around to get jobbed out every once in a while? Well whatever his role was there he seems to be BURSTING at the seams to prove himself at AEW as he goes to TOWN on those two and makes the most of his fifteen seconds of fame before going down to shake Cody’s hand. My favorite part of this is that after Warhorse BRAVELY SAVED CODY FROM A VICIOUS BEATING, he’s NEVER seen again! He could be dead for all I know, or perhaps recruited by The Dark Order! In any case, the post-match shenanigans were definitely fun and elevated the match that preceded it a bit, but with this guy coming in as well as the guest appearances from Indie Darlings, the roster’s really starting to feel bloated. I’m guessing TNT is holding off on that second AEW show until this pandemic blows over, but it’s starting to feel pretty necessary right now.
Jericho’s Rant – The Sequel We’ve All Been Waiting For!?
After we get back from the commercial, Tony Schiavone is on stage about to tell us about the All Out PPV (wow, that’s coming up sooner than I thought) when The Inner Circle come out to start yelling at people. Sammy is upset at Matt Hardy for costing him the match and Jericho is upset at Orange Cassidy which has forced him to do something he has never wanted to do. In two weeks, it’s gonna be Jericho Vs. Cassidy PART TWO; The Demo God and the Glasses-Wearing Fraud, at least as far as Jericho is concerned anyway. To make the match that little extra bit spicy, if Cassidy loses he’ll have to pay Jericho seven grand for a new jacket. Not sure what Cassidy gets if he wins, but Jericho wasn’t concerned about that hypothetical because he has even MORE to tell us! So not only is there a match in two weeks, there’s going to a DEBATE between the two of them with a special guest moderator who will blow our wrestling mark minds! I guess we’re doing this instead of a contract signing and frankly I was more impressed with Jericho and Cassidy’s confrontations before AND after their match than the match itself, so I’m cautiously optimistic about whatever this will be!
We cut a video from earlier that day where Tony Schiavone is on hand to witness FTR signing their AEW contracts. Arn Anderson is on hand as a consultant of sorts and everything seems to be in order, so FTR signs the papers, and I’m actually rather intrigued by this because if there’s anyone else riding that very specific tweener line that Cody is on right now (so good that he’s kind of a jerk), it’s FTR who haven’t made any OVERTLY heel moves yet but seem to be biding their time until they can get away with it. Also, on top of THE GREATEST DEBATE EVER next week, it’ll also be the Tag Team Appreciation show hosted by FTR; as stipulated in their contract. I’m not sure that the company with THE MOST high-quality tag teams needs to have a special dedicated day to it, but whatever these dudes want to join the company! As soon as FTR signs the document, Hangman Adam Page comes in to celebrate with a cheap bottle of whiskey which FTR manages to chug down but Arn politely refuses. Speaking of tweener dudes, perhaps the eventual breakup between Omega and Page will bring him over to Arn’s side; a move that makes sense due to Arn’s affiliation with The Four Horsemen all those years ago. Cody, Page, and FTR as either the New Horsemen or some splinter faction of The Elite? I’d be interested to see how that works out!
Hangman Adam Page & Kenny Omega Vs. The Dark Order – Tag Team Championship Match
The Dark Order is accompanied to the ring by Brodie Lee with Colt Cabana on commentary
Before Kenny Omega can even do his full entrance, Adam Page rushes The Dark Order and they start brawling with a very confused Kenny on the ramp and a very pissed off ME because I don’t get to hear more of his song. All of a sudden Kenny’s lousy attitude is starting to feel more and more justified! Now next to the Ten Man Tag Match and MAYBE the Tornado Tag Match to end the show on, this was the match that got me the most excited… and sadly it was perhaps the biggest disappointment. Maybe it’s me and maybe I’m just not patient enough for this kind of match, but it just went on too long and felt way too predictable. It’s not really any of the wrestler’s fault because all four of them are great in their own way, but the highlights of this match when the wrestlers REALLY get to lean into their personas are few and far between as it’s pretty much a series of bully spots over and over again. This is partly why I wasn’t enthralled with the Jericho/Cassidy match as it did a lot of this stuff in the first few minutes, but there’s also another issue that hurts this match even more. Even Kenny and Page are obviously the faces in this match, BUT The Dark Order is fighting from underneath; not as the superior team. Adam Page gets wailed on for like six minutes straight by Stu and Uno, but does anyone buy for even a second that any of this offense will be enough to take him out, or at the very least prevent him from having a comeback? This goes on for far too long until Kenny gest the hot tag and things DO pick up a bit as he goes to town on the two Dark Order members who NOW have to be a bit cleverer than just hammering someone over the head a bunch of times. Stu hasn’t had enough time to REALLY cement himself as a genuine threat, but he does a great job here and manages to cut off Kenny a few times while also selling the offense with gusto! The most surprising moment of the entire match was Stu Grayson straight up JUMPING over his team’s corner, and the look on Kenny’s face was priceless. I have no idea if that was a botch or not (I’m ALMOST certain it was), but it was great to see! While Grayson is outside the ring in a crumpled heap, Uno manages to get an impressive advantage and by the time Grayson comes in to do a tandem maneuver, the tag champs are barely kicking out at two which, again, you never BELIEVE that The Dark Order is going to win, but this part of the match is a much more EXCITING form of predictable. Eventually the tag team champs isolate Uno in the wing and land the Last Call on him for Page to get the win. It LOOKS like Stu was supposed to break up the pin but couldn’t get there in time perhaps? I’m not sure, but the match ended exactly as you’d expect it to be. As much as I like Stu and Uno, the match didn’t really do much to play to their strengths. They didn’t stand out any more than the dozen or so tag teams that Kenny and Page have overcome in the past and the fact that they didn’t even try to CHEAT by having a creeper pop up here or there feels like a missed opportunity. On a second viewing I ended up appreciating it a bit more, but it’s still not everything I was hoping it would be when the match got announced last week.
After sending Colt Cabana to the back so he doesn’t have to witness what’s about to happen, Brodie Lee starts to yell at Evil Uno and Stu Grayson on the ram, even slapping Uno across the face, before getting on the mic and calling out Hangman for being a jerk. Speaking of Spooky Perverts, The Young Bucks hit the ring to back the tag team champs up when all of a sudden a bunch of creepers come out from the stands and surround the ring. Before the whole thing can turn into chaos, FTR comes out and bash Brodie Lee over the head with a cooler, and with everyone’s combined effort, they manage to repel the dozen or so jobbers and Brodie Lee has to retreat with his tail between his legs. I REALLY didn’t like the slapping as Grayson and Uno shouldn’t be cowering to Brodie Lee even if he IS THE EXALTED ONE as you want them to still look strong as leaders of the group and not just interchangeable Spooky Perverts which degrading them like this ends up doing. Other than that, it’s always fun to see a bunch of Faces repel the Spooky Perverts, and Brodie Lee is still great in his role; especially when wearing those slick suits!
Britt Baker takes the mic and calls out Big Swole and promises to give her the match she wants… but only if she defeats an opponent of her choice. Who is that? No idea; I guess we’ll find out next week.
Hikaru Shida Vs. Diamante – Non-Title Match
In exchange for getting the jobber entrance, Diamante gets a video promo before we head to the ring where she says that she’s busted her butt for a decade and is going to take this chance to earn her spot on the roster. Fair enough I suppose, but Shida’s a pretty tough target to go for right off the bat and we kind of run into the same problem with the last match. If you’ve got an OBVIOUSLY underdog opponent who is ALSO a heel, the match becomes far too predictable unless you do something unique to shake things up, and while Diamante gets some solid licks in here and there, there’s just not enough to really make this match feel more than routine. Even the beginning dabbles with cliché as Shida goes for the handshake and Diamante shoves her instead which is the kind of thing you learn in Being a Heel 101. The match devolves into a brawl on the mat rather quickly before they roll out of the ring and Shida hits her with the running knee. Shida then puts Diamante into the ring and goes to the top rope and lands a so-so Dropkick on Diamante which only gets a two count. Despite having enough fight in her to kick out of all that, Diamonte can’t get much momentum in this match as every time she gets a decent combination in, Shida would follow up with one of those running knees and she’d be back to square one. Even when Diamonte lands a surprise Cutter on Shida she only gets a one count, so it’s not like you’re on the edge of your seat the whole time wondering if there’ll be a surprise upset. The closest thing they attempt to that ends up being a botch (I think) as Diamante lands a mule kick followed by some weird roll up thing which I guess was SUPPOSED to be a nearfall, but they were so close to the ropes that Shida is completely tangled within them so the ref doesn’t even bother counting. The brawl for a bit longer and Diamante does a few more decent moves here, but Shida eventually lands a Sit Out Powerbomb on Diamante for a two count which is swiftly followed by another running knee strike for the pinfall. I was a pretty big fan of Diamante’s match with Ivelisse because it felt like the wrestlers had genuine stakes in the outcome and were on something of an even level. Shida doesn’t have any beef with Diamante nor is she putting her belt on the line, and while I’m sure Diamante would appreciate a win here, I think her style works best when she wants to DEFEAT her opponent just as much as badly as she wants the victory itself. In any case, it was a just fine match but it’s not a good sign that I’ve barely been invested in ANY of the matches on this card so far.
Women’s Tag Team Tournament – The Deadly Draw?
Okay, so get this. Instead of putting together REAL tag teams for this tournament, all the women are going to be randomly drawn into pairs and THAT’S who they’ll have to win the tournament with. WHAT!? This is sounding less like a tournament and more like a game show which is not exactly what I’m looking for in my wrestling programs and it’s sucked all the wind out of what I was hoping would be a HUGE boon to the women’s division! After they explain all that, we cut to Vickie Gurrero and Nyla Rose who are being interviewed backstage and we learn that she’s being teamed with… someone I don’t know. Her name is Ariane Andrew and apparently she was ANOTHER WWE Superstar that AEW has picked up, but unlike Zack Ryder her appearance is done with absolutely no fanfare so I didn’t even realize she WAS new and just assumed she’d had a few matches on Dark that I haven’t seen yet.
State Of The Wrestling Industry – Does MJF Have My Vote!?
We cut to backstage where MJF comes out of his room with all the swagger of a sitting President and gets in front of the podium to declare his intention to run for AEW Champion… by which I mean he’s calling out Moxley to give him a match. I mean I don’t know what the rankings are, but MJF has got to have one of the better records at the company so it probably isn’t going to be THAT hard to get Moxley’s approval. Heck, Brodie Lee beat the crap out of him and STILL gave him the match, though I’m guessing making MJF upset by denying the match is going to be hilarious enough to watch for Moxley to consider it. More importantly than the challenge itself though, does this President/Politician gimmick for MJF work? Eh… not as much as I would have hoped. For one thing, he starts his speech in a REALLY skeevy way as he has a female advisor or something and tells her she should smile more. Nope! I understand the guy is going for Heel Heat, but for me that’s Go Away Heat, so not a great start to his speech. MJF will never NOT be entertaining to watch on the mic, but I THINK he’s stretching it a bit here as it goes on WAY too long and his lines of attack against the champion are honestly more confusing than they are biting. He takes some overt shots at Moxley’s previous career at WWE which is good since MJF is in fact a very new talent and there may be a smidgen of truth to the fact that Moxley is here just as much for his star power as he is for his genuine talent. Not so good though is when he accuses Moxley of fostering an environment for the flippy fake kind of wrestling instead of genuine mat work which doesn’t make the least bit of sense to me. He’s one of the LAST guys I’d call a spot monkey as the most he’s probably ever done from the ropes is a middle rope DDT, but I think what he IS getting at (his wording is somewhat ambiguous here) is the one thing you COULD complain about Moxley’s run as champ which is just how detached he is from the zeitgeist of the show. Jericho as champ was front and center almost every week while Moxley is kind of still the loner on the outskirts of everything going on; especially now that Cody is on every week introducing new wrestlers to the people at home! That SEEMS to be what he’s getting at; that he’s not getting the rest of the roster in line and leaving them to do all their over the top nonsense instead of “true” wrestling, but it’s still a long way to go for a kinda decent point. All that said, I am excited for this matchup as MJF’s winning streak is one of the more interesting ongoing storylines and is something that I would say is a genuine threat against Moxley’s title; perhaps more so than anything else at AEW right now; though Kenny going Heel might be enough to put him back in the Title picture. In any case, it looks like the match is set for the All Out PPV, so we’ll have to see where this goes from here!
Jon Moxley & Darby Allin Vs. Brian Cage & Ricky Starks – No DQ Tornado Tag Match
Cage & Starks are accompanied to the ring by Taz
I’m not sure why they need to specify that it’s a Tornado Tag match (everyone can be in the ring at once instead of tagging in and out) when it’s also a DQ match, but regardless that’s what they’ve got lined up for us in the main event! Now as I said earlier, Darby Allin supposedly got a concussion, and the match starts with his music playing but no Darby Allin to be seen. I was actually pretty happy about this and was hoping we’d see Moxley fend off both Cage and Starks by himself with his barbwire bat, but it turns out to be a rather tasteless fake out as Darby Allin lands a Coffin Drop from the top the stage as Starks and Cage are coming out to hit the ring. It’s hard to pay attention to ANYTHING else here because I’m terrified that Darby isn’t well and is still taking this risk regardless. Taking bumps with a concussion is how Brett Hart ended up having to retire, and watching Darby being dropped all over the place and doing those Coffin Drops which LOOK like he’s smashing his head into the canvas just makes me worried that he’s going to have an incredibly short career. It’s possible that he’s absolutely fine and the hit from last week looked way worse than it was, but the fact is that they don’t TELL us if he’s hurt or not and they’re playing it up throughout the match which comes off as rather tasteless and is going to look AWFUL in hindsight if anything DOES happen to Darby in the near future. As for the match itself, everyone gets some good moves throughout and Ricky Starks takes quite a bit of abuse which I can only assume is him making up for his recklessness last week. Starks and Cage are a pretty good team with Starks having all the personality and charisma that Cage doesn’t quite have, and unlike Taz he can definitely still work inside of a ring. Moxley is almost incidental to this match if we’re being honest as his feud with Cage is pretty much settled and Allin’s the one who’s rightfully pissed at the two of them for what they’ve done in the last few weeks, but never let it be said that Moxley half-asses things as he gets some great moves in as well and even takes a brutal Alabama Slam onto a garbage can. After a few more minutes of moves, Starks is sent to the outside with Moxley in hot pursuit while Darby is in the ring beating Cage with the garbage can. He goes under the ring to grab a skateboard covered with thumbtacks on the underside and by now Starks is back in the ring and Cage is outside with Moxley. Darby kicks Starks who stumbles to the middle of the ring and Darby jumps from the top rope; landing his skateboard on the back of Starks and just cutting him to shreds on his way down. After such a vicious attack, Starks is in no position to fight back and gives Darby the pin; presumably hoping he doesn’t bleed to death before this is through! The Darby concussion thing really soured me on this match from the outside, so no matter how good the in-ring action is it just kind of fades to the background when the issue is so prominently flaunted before me. Still, if it was ALL a work and Darby is one hundred percent fine, this was a solid showing from the guy as well as from Starks who took a serious beating and has earned a lot of hardcore street cred for what he allowed Darby to do on his back.
Cage and Starks sheepishly crawl their way to the back leaving Moxley and Darby alone in the ring. While Moxley is showing off his belt, Darby is staring daggers at him as Tony Schiavone on commentary confirms that they will have a match next week for the AEW Championship. Jon Moxley simply stares back at Allin as the show fades to black; promising an absolute blowout in next week’s main event!
This is far from the WORST episode of AEW I’ve seen, but it might be the most disappointed I’ve been in an episode so far. Last week was a great show and the card for this one looked SPECTACULAR, but nothing really worked out the way I wanted it to. The opening match didn’t flow well, Warhorse didn’t stand out all that much to me, and despite my love for The Dark Order, Uno and Grayson just didn’t have the kind of match I wanted to see from them. Even the main event that I found genuinely good from bell to bell was undercut the entire time by the concussion angle and I just couldn’t get into it despite how well everyone did in the match. Maybe it’s just me and my wrestling funk is back again, but I think AEW can do better than this and I hope that next week’s show which seems similarly packed with great matches will be able to pull them off a bit better than they did here.