AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT
We’re back with another week of exciting wrestling action! Well, at least I HOPE it is, because last week’s show was a pretty big disappointment all things considered. Certainly not as bad as SOME shows I could mention (I’m STILL reeling from that Extreme Rules PPV…), but far below the expectations I had for the card they advertised and certainly below the expectations I have for AEW in general. Have they fixed whatever issues prevented last week’s show from being all it could be? Let’s find out!!
The Elite & FTR Vs. The Dark Order – Twelve-Man Tag Match
Now if you read my recap of last week’s show which, why wouldn’t you (it’s so convenient and easy to find on this website!), you’ll recall that I was rather disappointed by the ten-man tag match from last week and I didn’t think that adding TWO more people into the mix was going to solve anything. Needless to say that my expectations had been lowered significantly for this one, but to my surprise, they pulled it off here and gave us a solid show opener! I remember a LONG time ago that there was like a four-team tag match that was a beautiful display of over the top violence and spots, and while this wasn’t quite up to that level, it was still a fun spectacle that fixed many of the problems I had with last week’s match. I think a drawback with this (as well as last week’s) match is that these are two teams of twelve instead of six teams of two (or even four teams of three if they’re feeling spicy) because you want a match like this to have variety; to see how all these disparate parts react when allowed to bounce off of each other which is somewhat lost when so many of the competitors are just standing off to the side waiting for their turn. The action ultimately feels limited with just so many people hanging onto the ropes with the same objective in mind, but they do their darnedest to compensate for this with a really fast pace and enough leeway from the ref to basically let them do whatever the heck they want. For example, the match basically starts with Brodie Lee facing off against both of The Bucks and it’s basically two guys trying to take down one giant monster; not necessarily the most ORIGINAL setup, but usually this happens so that the one monster can squash the tag teams which always feels silly (*cough* WrestleMania 34 *cough*) but this makes it more of an even fight which is far more interesting to watch. It does perhaps slow down a bit too much when they get Nine The Creeper in there to essentially take move after move after move from the good guys without getting pinned, but this is all compensated by just how explosive everyone is in the match and how much effort they’re putting into every move. So a lot of stuff happens with both sides getting their chance to show off some moves until the bald member of FTR ends up hurting his knee, and so both FTR members along with Page head to the back; leaving The Bucks and Kenny to face all six members of The Dark Order. The Bucks certainly put up a valiant effort, especially since Kenny is nowhere to be seen for whatever reason, and Matt Jackson in particular eats six consecutive corner splashes before Cabana goes up to the top rope; smashing into him and going for the pin but only getting a two count off of Matt. Probably my favorite individual spot in the match, at least on the heel side, is when Evil Uno catches a kick from Matt Jackson and tosses the leg to the ref who is perplexed and just sits there holding it; allowing Uno to go for a Cutter but only getting a two count. See, THAT’S what I want from Evil Uno; a guy who’s just fine in the ring but comes up with clever moments like that to really set him apart from everyone else there. It’s why I was so annoyed at Brodie Lee for treating him and Grayson like mere jobbers when they lost their match last week because those two are a genuinely talented pair when given the chance to shine. In any case, Matt Jackson goes to give Nick the hot tag, but Uno snatches him from the corner and he and Grayson take him out. I still don’t know where Kenny is, but Matt is all alone taking on all the Dark Order members, and sure enough he manages to rally and takes them ALL out before going for the corner again to find no one. Stuck with Five The Creeper, he fights valiantly until Page finally shows back up and Matt makes the tag to the Hangman. The fresh Page runs roughshod over everyone as I’m sure he has no idea who he can actually pin (I’m right there with him), but eventually, it comes down to him Brodie Lee; both legal and ready to rip each other’s head off. Brodie Lee, GIANT MO-FO that he is, does a SUICIDE DIVE and destroys Hangman Page. They feed him to Colt Cabana who gives Page a Chicago Skyline (where he drops Page onto the top ropes) and is about to get the pin before Kenny runs in out of nowhere and breaks it up. Oh, so NOW he shows up! TOOK HIM LONG ENOUGH! Despite Kenny making the save, Page is still the legal man and in bad shape, but he’s not about to quit even after taking a top rope splash from Stu Grayson which gives The Elite JUST enough time to jump the rest of the Dark Order and team up on Brodie Lee. Lee takes a surprising amount of punishment from The Elite, but it’s not going to be enough to put him away unless Page musters up his strength and gives him a Buckshot Lariat. Kenny’s got him in a Full Nelson, The Bucks are off to the side, and Page flips over the rope… but then the Creepers in a beautiful display of teamwork drag Kenny and The Bucks out of the ring at the same time; freeing Brodie Lee who ducks the Buckshot, and follows up with a Discus Lariat of his own; sending Page flying through the air and giving Lee the pin when he comes back down to Earth! That was a really fun match with the right level of goofiness and the kind of energetic tone you want for an opening match. I PROBABLY would have shortened it a bit and I think twelve people is a bit excessive (something they must have realized when they contrived for FTR to leave the match), but I LOVED the ending and overall it was better than any match we got last week!
We get a Moxley promo after the match where explains just how much him and Darby Allin are alike and how much that fact is weighing on his conscious. Moxley describes himself as a guy who struggled with demons; he goes to the ring and wrestles ghosts. The people who cared for him tried to get him to stop from doing asinine things, and while he regrets doing some things, there are still some things he’s glad he did. Because of that, he gets Darby Allin and why he wanted to make the challenge as he sees a lot of himself in the man… but now Moxley is the one pleading for someone to change their mind. He knows that neither one of them are going to stop until they can’t move, so because he likes Allin so much, he wants him to really think over what he’s about to do tonight… even though he knows he won’t. This promo is good, and I like the relationship they’re building between these two (hopefully it goes beyond just a few one off matches here and there), but on its own it feels incomplete. If we get a follow up to this promo from Darby Allin I think it’ll put the whole match over the top, but if this is all we get before the match then it’s a pretty good speech from the champ to generate buzz for the main event.
Best Friends Vs. Proud N Powerful
I’m assuming this match is taking place due to Cassidy and Jericho feuding, but I’m not sure what they plan to accomplish here. The only way I can see where this match will MATTER a week from now is if Proud N Powerful hurt The Best Friends in some way; like if they poke Chuckie’s eye out or steal Trent’s bandana. That doesn’t happen unfortunately, and while it’s not a BAD match, it’s nothing all that special. Chuck and Santana have some fun acrobatic moments, and Ortiz, never missing a chance to make a match even better, calls out Trent’s mom DIRECTLY INTO THE CAMERA as he’s beating the crap out of the guy, so that was fun at least. Okay, maybe that’s too harsh. There are some really cool moves in here and both teams have some great tandem maneuvers up their sleeves; particularly Santana and Ortiz who nearly get the win with a flurry of offense on Trent that is almost balletic in terms of skill. Sadly it only gets them a two count and so Santana and Ortiz decide to set him up for a Street Sweeper which gets interrupted by Chuck who throws Santana off the top rope as soon as he gets there. Santana crashes into Ortiz who lets go of Trent, and Trent takes the advantage to roll him up to just BARELY get the three count; a finish that’s a bit underwhelming but is made up for by Ortiz and Santana’s priceless faces after they realized they lost. A fine if rather meaningless match as it doesn’t really advance anything for the Jericho/Cassidy match next week, but considering how lackluster last week’s matches were I’m not about to complain about one that’s as well-executed as this one.
It looks like the MJF election motif isn’t about to end anytime soon which is particularly baffling when you remember there’s a DEBATE later tonight that he has absolutely no part in, and so we get a tour of his campaign headquarters which I just assume are a bunch of bodyguards that MJF is paying to sit around and pretend to be busy and create fake polls for him. Nothing much here other than MJF being a bastard which is usually fun, but I think this whole premise strains JUST enough credulity to make his shtick not as fun as it usually is; particularly in the way he picks on his one female staffer. In any case, he confirms that he’s been granted the title match at the next PPV and that he doesn’t care who wins tonight as he’d be GLAD to take on the skinny Goth kid if he happens to beat Moxley.
Matt Hardy Speaks – What News Has The Broken One Brought For Us Today!?
After that we cut to Matt Hardy who is in the ring as regular Matt Hardy, and he talks about how much fun he’s had at AEW and how much talent the roster has, but it’s also a company that listens to its audience and he knows that the audience wants to see more of him. I mean I GUESS he’s been off TV a bit since the Stadium Stampede match, but I’ll be honest; I haven’t been missing him THAT much. Sure it’s always fun to watch him do his Broken Matt Hardy shtick, but it’s also good that they don’t overexpose him at the expense of the younger talent. In any case, he puts over Private Party as the best up and coming tag team and that he will always have his back whenever they need it, but that there’s another person on this roster who is just as talented yet has REJECTED his offers of guidance, and therefore Sammy Guevara is no longer a friend… but an enemy! I guess Sammy’s suspension cut the legs out from under this storyline which was slowly burning in the background a few weeks ago, but I’m not sure that jumping straight to a feud between them is the best way to redirect it; other than I guess they want something else to build to at the PPV and a match between them would be pretty great no matter the circumstances. While Matt Hardy is talking mad smack about the guy, Sammy tries to sneak up on him but does a poor job of it because The Broken One knows he’s there and wheels around to start pounding him in the face. The two brawl outside of the ring and destroy the ring announcer’s table with relative ease before bringing out ANOTHER table to put him through as well. He underestimated the Spanish God though and manages to find himself beaten and lying on the table with what appears to be a HUMONGOUS bleeding gash right on his forehead; presumably from a chair shot he received moments earlier! Sammy goes up to the stage, gets a god running start, and lands what I believe was a 540 splash on Hardy; putting him right thru the table and making his bleeding situation that much worse. I wouldn’t say that I’m HAPPY with the direction this is going, but I am curious to see where they go from here.
While Matt Hardy is being taken to the back, we cut to Santana and Ortiz who start wrecking the crap out of Trent’s mom’s car like it’s a Street Fighter 2 mini-game! So remember a few paragraphs ago when I said that the match was pretty meaningless? I guess someone at AEW was anticipating my pedantic whining because they decided to shoot an angle for the match AFTER it was over which is better than nothing I suppose, but I’m not sure what having ANOTHER match after The Best Friends pretty decisively (if narrowly) just won against them.
Cody & Matt Cardona Vs. John Silver & Alex Reynolds
So with Matt Cardona being something of a joke at WWE (at least from what I’ve heard; I don’t remember even seeing the guy on there), this was basically his chance to show that world that he’s not just a jobber WWE cast off, but is a genuine talent in his own right and worthy of a spot on this program. I don’t think this match particularly succeeded OR failed at doing that because not only did he do a perfectly fine job in the match, he somehow got overshadowed by John Silver of all people who ran away with this match and in my eyes is a MUCH bigger star now because of it. I never noticed it before, but Silver looks a lot like Gimli; not just because of his epic beard because the dude is TINY! His default standing position has him crouching over a lot and in doing so barely reaches Cody’s nipples, and I don’t know how tall he ACTUALLY is (for all I know he towers over me), but you almost get a Marco Stunt vibe off of the guy; someone who doesn’t LOOK the part of a traditional wrestler but can definitely surprise you with his moves! A lot of this has to do with Cody who’s actually pretty darn good at building up other wrestlers. After an initial flurry of one sided offense, Cody ends up eating a lot of damage from Silver who gets to make the champion scream in pain, show off his muscles, and basically make the most of his fifteen minutes of fame. Watching it a second time and trying to REALLY focus on Cardona as well, I think he’s got something that makes him more than a WWE reject, but it’s also a lot of what I saw in Colt Cabana and he had a pretty big struggle to find a place at the company despite having some REALLY fantastic matches, and we’ll have to see if Cardona can deliver matches that good as well. Speaking of whom, Cody and Silver end up fighting to the outside of the ring which leaves Reynolds and Cardona in the ring, and it doesn’t take long for the latter to land his finisher Radio Silence (he basically jumps up onto his opponent’s shoulders and falls on him) and immediately gets the three count. Overall, the match was fine. It wasn’t as good as the Tag Championship Match from last week which I had a lot of issues with, but the lower stakes involved and its shorter length kept it from overstaying its welcome and I’m pleasantly surprised at just how great Silver looked in this.
As Cody is leaving the ring, belt over his shoulder, Scorpio Sky is waiting for him at the ramp entrance, and by the laws of Wrestling Physics, the fact that the two of them stopped and locked eyes means that there will eventually be a match between them.
We cut to The Best Friends who are at Trent’s mom’s car and are all for a rematch if they REALLY want it (all they had to do was ask!), but when they win then Santana and Ortiz will have to apologize to Trent’s mom in person for wrecking her car, so I guess that’s the big stakes involved in whatever rematch that will eventually take place. At least the Jericho/Cassidy match involves money changing hands! Why don’t they just have Santana and Ortiz to pay for a new car as the stipulation?
Jericho and Orange Cassidy Debate – Who Will The Mystery Moderator Be!?
Jericho is accompanied to the stage by Jake Hager
Sammy comes out ahead of Jericho doing his cue card thing during the Picture in Picture commercial which is fine all (he accidently writes that Chris Jericho is a MASTER DEBATOR on one of the cards), but I’m still hoping against hope that at SOME point they will address why he was gone for a month.
When we come back, the podiums are inside the ring and Justin Roberts announces that the guest moderator is… the guy we knew it was for like four days. It’s none other than Eric Bischoff; the dude who brought WCW to the height of popularity before cratering its ratings just a few years later, and he’s back on TNT! The same company by the way who ALSO let Chris Jericho slip away because they never thought he could be a main event star, but I guess history did enough of a job proving Eric wrong on that one so let’s let bygones be bygones and get to the questions!
First Question: Why do Chris Jericho and Orange Cassidy hate each other so much?
Jericho starts by criticizing Cassidy’s outfit as he didn’t dress up for this event while Jericho is wearing a SUPER snazzy suit! Feeling attacked by his lack of style, Cassidy compensates by putting a clip on tie directly onto his iconic t-shirt and we move on from there. Basically, Jericho calls Cassidy a flash in the pan nobody who takes nothing seriously and yields the rest of his time to Cassidy whose response is… nothing. NEXT QUESTION!
Second Question: Who is the better wrestler, and who is the biggest star? Chris Jericho or Orange Cassidy?
Jericho spends a few minutes explaining why HE’S the better wrestler with all his titles and accolades while Cassidy is a dork he would have beat up in high school. The best part of this was when Jake Hager, who’s off to the side, touches Jericho and quickly withdraws his finger; indicating that that was INDEED a sick burn! Cassidy continues to say nothing.
Third Question: Global sea levels have been rising over the past century and the rate has increased in recent decades. What are your thoughts on this very serious global situation?
Jericho is confused by the question which has nothing to do with anything and demands they move on. Typical boomer response! Cassidy on the other hand does NOT yield his time and gives a long thoughtful answer that leaves Jericho baffled. Apparently, Cassidy CAN speak; it’s just that Jericho hasn’t said anything worth responding to! Now THAT’S a sick burn!!
Fourth Question: Why is Orange Cassidy so popular?
Jericho says he’s the epitome of everything wrong with the Smark-Centric wrestling world they’re in today and that when HE’S done with Cassidy, he’ll be working at the Jamaba Juice and filling out his orders for protein shakes. Cassidy continues to say nothing.
Fifth and Final Question: Why does this rematch mean so much to both of them?
Jericho starts to answer but Cassidy interrupts and tells him to simply shut up. He finally talks straight from the heart and lets Jericho know that he KNOWS what’s going on; what Jericho is trying to do with all this. Whatever shenanigans Jericho tries to pull, whether it’s a debate, a promo, or even getting his boys to cheat on his behalf, Cassidy is not embarrassed or rattled in the slightest. No, the one who SHOULD be concerned is Jericho because, what if Cassidy DOES win? What if Le Champion, The Demo God, the GREATEST WRESTLER OF ALL TIME… falls shorts to the dude with glasses who puts his hands in his pockets?
Apparently, Bischoff was not just the moderator but the guy who declares a winner, and so after hearing such rousing words from the man, he gives the win to Cassidy. Jericho is outraged and shouts at Bischoff that he NEVER liked him with Bischoff confirming that the feeling is mutual which I thought was a hilarious little moment there. Jericho then sics Hager on Cassidy who beats the hell out of him and Jericho finishes it with a Judas Effect. It’s not until AFTER Cassidy is out that The Best Friends come out to chase off Hager and Jericho which feels a BIT off to me as I always prefer something a bit more 50/50 in the final segment before a match like this, but overall this was a phenomenal segment from the two with Cassidy showing some real chops playing the straight man to Jericho’s cartoonishly oversized ego. The only thing that felt off a bit was the ending; not just because Cassidy took the beating, but because he a tumble into the ropes from a mighty Hager shove and for a moment I was concerned that we had another Darby Allin situation where a guy took too hard of a hit for absolutely nothing. I haven’t seen anything to indicate that Cassidy DID get hurt, but AEW has got to be more careful with these guys if they want to build the company’s future around them.
After the commercial break, Tony is in the crowd interviewing Britt Baker about her challenge to Big Swole; how Swole will have to beat a competitor of her choosing if she wants to have a match at the next PPV. After thinking about it for a week now, she decided that for whatever reason her assistant Reba will be the one to face Big Swole, which by the way is news to Reba and is a VERY poorly timed revealed as the match is happening… RIGHT NOW!!
Big Swole Vs. Reba
In case you’re like me and didn’t know this when Reba first started showing up as Baker’s assistant, Reba used to wrestle in TNA as Rebel and the story seems to be that she’s REALLY out of practice which only makes it more confusing that Baker chose her to fight Swole. Swole drags her all over the mat with barely any effort and the offense Reba manages to land is a sloppy looking Moonsault on Swole to almost no effect. Swole lands her Dirty Dancing finisher and wins on her very first pin attempt to the consternation of Baker. I get that the women’s division is tied up in the tag tournament and this is basically the ONLY angle you can do with them on Dynamite, but this just felt like a waste of a good angle. Remember when Jericho hired Jeff Cobb to beat the crap out of Jon Moxley? We could have had something like that here where Baker hires a prominent Indie talent to show off their stuff on national television while also giving Swole a chance to genuinely fight for a victory and maybe get some Babyface heat behind her. Instead, it was yet another silly bit with these two and I just didn’t find it all that entertaining.
Jon Moxley Vs. Darby Allin – AEW Championship Match
Sadly Darby Allin did not get a promo before the match, but he does get a decent ring entrance where he’s stapled a picture of Jon Moxley to his face, so that’s something at least! Moxley on the other hand is not impressed with this and rips it off. Allin slaps Moxley in retaliation which stings a bit, and then Moxley punches Allin right in the face which knocks him right to the ground which is basically what we’ll be seeing for most of this match. I’m assuming they’re playing into Darby Allin still being hurt because he can barely put up even a token offense against Moxley who is just beating the crap out of him and throwing him all over the ring. Moxley goes for a pin early hoping to end it, but Allin kicks out after one which he’s not particularly pleased about because he doesn’t WANT to hurt the guy! He wants to end this fast so that Allin still has a career after this, but if it comes down to the wire, Moxley knows what he’s got to do. Allin manages to get the upper hand after the pinfall attempt with a few high flying moves, but Moxley is just too big and too strong for Allin, and his next act of brutality is to throw Allin FROM THE STAGE into one of the ring posts. Unfortunately, we cut to commercial there with barely more than ten minutes left in the match which doesn’t bode well for Allin’s comeback, and sure enough Allin is still eating an unholy amount of pain from Moxley when we come back. Moxley has him a chokehold on the ground but Allin is refusing to give in; giving Moxley the finger to make his intention clear that this isn’t going to end easy and Moxley might start to genuinely get rattled because once again Darby gets a bit of an advantage once he breaks free from the hold. He eventually manages to crush Moxley’s hand on the ring post and follows up with a Senton from the top rope to the floor which probably hurt him just as much as it hurt Moxley, and after that he even manages to reverse Moxley’s Paradigm Shift into a Code Red (which looks suspiciously like a Canadian Destroyer) and gets a two count on Moxley. Darby goes to the top rope to try and put Moxley away for good, but Moxley runs up after him and does a German Suplex from the top rope which puts them both down on the ground for a bit to catch their breaths and regain a semblance of consciousness. While they’re both laid out, Wardlow comes out to distract the ref and MJF runs in out of nowhere to smash Moxley with his own belt behind the ref’s back. Darby presses the advantage and does a Coffin Drop from the top rope, lands it and gets a two count SO close that I thought Moxley was going to lose the belt here which is how you WANT a match like this to go! Sure, you go into it knowing that Moxley isn’t going to drop his belt on TV, but if a match is done right it can still convince you in that moment that something might happen. Moxley’s face is bleeding from the belt attack and he can barely stand up while Allin is much fresher and lands a flurry of offense that Moxley just can’t overcome. Allin does a stunner that looks a bit sloppy and goes for ANOTHER Top Rope Coffin Drop, but Moxley is ready this time and puts Allin in a choke hold so tight that Allin nearly passes out. He stays awake though and so Moxley forces Allin to his feet so he can bring him back down with a pile driver… and still Moxley only gets a two count. With nothing else in the tank and his title genuinely on the line, Moxley lifts Darby up with a REALLY high Paradigm Shift (usually he just falls backwards but Darby goes WAY up into the air) and finally manages to get the pin. MJF is absolutely furious backstage that his scheme of getting the little guy to win the title didn’t work, and Moxley holds Darby Allin’s beaten and broken body as the episode comes to an end. This was a REALLY great main event that told an engaging story and also built towards the upcoming PPV match which is all you could ask for on a weekly television show. I’m not the BIGGEST fan of Darby taking bumps like this so soon after his injury, but I guess he had to have gotten medically cleared for something like this and I can only hope AEW is taking the health of its workers seriously even if it looks a bit worrisome to me.
This wasn’t a PERFECT episode as the Best Friends/Proud N Powerful build feels a bit anemic and the Britt Baker segment felt like a placeholder at best, but it’s a definite improvement over last week which had everything in place to be fantastic but fell rather short. Sometimes that happens as the best-laid plans can always turn out bad, but what’s important is to do better the next time around which AEW certainly did here and I can’t wait to see what next week has in store for us!