Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (09-30-2020)

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

So last episode had some wonky moments and a rather ho-hum finish, but they were also dealing with an unexpected change in plans due to Lance Archer contracting COVID-19, so a bit of sloppiness to try and fill in the cracks is understandable, and while Archer isn’t back YET, they did at least have more time to prepare which hopefully means a more cohesive night of wrestling action!  Is AEW back on track after the unexpected fumble from last week?  Let’s find out!!

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Before we get to the opening match, we get a video promo for Darby Allin that stars a guy named JPEG MAFIA.  I don’t know who this guy is, but he pushes Darby down a giant slide while calling Ricky Starks a punk, so fair enough I suppose.  Wait, is that the opening match!?

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Ricky Starks Vs. Darby Allin

So what, we’re not gonna hold this one off until the PPV?  Heck, we’re not even going to wait for Archer to come back so they can fight it out in the Six Man Tag match?  Well I guess it DOES take two weeks to recover from the virus so they had to do something here to keep the feud hot, and for what it’s worth it’s a pretty excellent match!  There’s a lot of athleticism and a really nice spot where Darby manages to kick Starks into the air, and Starks as always has a PHENOMENAL spear that’s always exciting to see!  Then out of nowhere, Brian Cage comes out from the back! While we knew for sure that Archer had COVID-19, Cage merely said he “felt sick” so I guess he passed the tests and was able to come back here, but before he can properly hit the ring and put Darby in traction, WILL HOBBS runs out and they punch each other all the way to the back!  YES!  MORE WILL HOBBS PLEASE!  Well sadly that’s all the Hobbs we get for the moment as Starks and Allin are back in the ring and beating the crap out of one another.  The only spot that felt a LITTLE bit sloppy is when Starks puts Allin in a one leg Boston Crab, but before he can even GRAB the ropes, Starks release the hold.  A bit of bad timing there, but it’s a BIG EXPLOSIVE match between two fast guys, so it’s not a big deal.  The BETTER submission spot was a bit after that where Allin has Starks on the ground in a Fujiwara Armbar, and while Starks is reaching for the ropes with his other arm, Darby grabs it and ALSO puts it in a submission.  Ricky, pretty much having to crawl with his CHIN just barely makes it underneath the ropes; just far enough for his constricted hand to still grab the ropes.  It returns to a slug fest after that as both are standing on wobbly legs and smacking each other with Darby getting the advantage.  Darby manages to land a stunner and goes for a Springboard attack, but before we can figure out what he’s going to do now that he’s in the air, Starks SPEARS HIM OUT OF THE SKY; like an ICBM hitting a rocket ship!!  THAT was amazing and I probably would have ended the match there, but Darby somehow manages to kick out.  Stark puts Allin on the turnbuckle and tries to land an Avalanche Roshambo which to me seems like a REALLY bad move to try and land on a guy from the top rope, but thankfully Darby manages to wriggle out of it and knocks Starks off the top rope.  With Starks having nothing left in the tank, Darby Allin lands the Coffin Drop and gets the three count to win the match.  It felt perhaps a bit wasted for them to have this blow off match here instead of at a bigger event, but that was a GREAT opening fight, and unlike the Matt Hardy/Sammy Guevara match, NO ONE HAS ALMOST DIED YET FOR THIS FEUD!  Okay, Darby Allin almost got a broken neck, Ricky Starks got his back shredded, and Darby got thrown around in a body bag, but still!

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The Return of Cody – Will He Accept Brodie Lee’s challenge!?

Cody, like many of the people at AEW, is always great on the mic.  He doesn’t have the bombastic fire of Moxley and Kingston, or the smug wit of MJF, but he’s definitely got a magnetism that makes people look up and pay attention whenever he talks about something; hence why TBS tapped him to do a game show which he made sure to plug here!  As much as I like Cody though, this promo does get WAY too corny when the topic of Brodie Lee comes up.  He’s asked point blank by Dasha Gonzalez if he will accept Brodie Lee’s challenge to a Dog Collar match, and after waffling for a bit he says… no.

Wait for it.

NO WAY IN HECK HE WON’T ACCEPT THAT CHALLENGE AND HE WILL FACE BRODIE LEE NEXT WEEK!!  Yeah, he really went for a double negative fake out (which won’t be the ONLY fake out this segment but we’ll get to that soon enough) which is silly and all that, but Cody does his best to sell it and his screed against Brodie Lee does have a lot of fire behind it.  The Dark Order hits the ring at that point and the whole scene turns into pandemonium comparable to the final fight in Blazing Saddles.  Everyone within driving distances somehow manages to hit this ring (even Vickie Guerrero who’s just standing back and filming the whole thing) and I’m waiting for the cream pies to start flying, but instead everyone does their best to keep Brodie Lee and Cody separated.  Eventually Brodie Lee goes to the back with The Dark Order as it seems that everyone has come back to their sense.

NO WAIT, he comes back out and starts going for Cody!  Okay, okay.  NOW they’re done and Brodie goes to the back.

WAIT AGAIN!  He’s back for ONE more slugfest before this wacky nonsense finally comes to an end!  I wouldn’t exactly have done it this way as the segment seems to imply more out and out anger from Brodie Lee than Cody as he’s the one instigating all these brawls.  If it was me, I would have him act extremely smug and call Cody a loser from the titantron to get under his skin, but that’s not the segment they did and for what it’s worth it was at least very well executed.

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Tony Schiavone is interviewing FTR in the back who talk about The Best Friends being Backyard Wrestling losers and SCU being VERY “seasoned” veterans, but as these conversations always must, it ends going right back around to The Young Bucks who FTR frankly don’t have any interest in fighting right now.  They’re record isn’t great, they’ve squandered every opportunity they’ve had at getting the title, so right now they’re gonna give everyone else an opportunity instead of those shmucks.  Before Tony can start asking them about the Full Gear PPV, Matt and Nick Jackson Superkick Tony who does a FANTASTIC job selling it (he gets lightly tapped on the forearm and shoulder, but is groaning like he got waffled over the head with a lead pipe), and The Young Bucks walk off after that with FTR taunting them as they go.  Honestly, I like this segment WAY better than any of their in ring ones, like their celebration for becoming the tag team champs a few weeks ago or last week’s announcement of a rather confusing list of stipulations.  Speaking of which!

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FTR Vs. SCU (Scorpio Sky & Kazarian) – Tag Team Title Match

FTR is accompanied to the ring by Tully Blanchard while SCU is accompanied by Christopher Daniels

So I guess Scorpio Sky is back on the team for some reason?  I don’t know why he they broke up in the first place, so I guess it’s fitting that I have no idea why they’ve gotten back together!  Hey, I’m not complaining!  SCU are always great at reminding you that they should be the most popular team at the company because they always put on FANTASTIC matches which is definitely the case here.  FTR does a great job of keeping pace with SCU as both teams are clearly kicking it into overdrive, and while you don’t believe for a second that SCU are going to win THIS match, they still have what it takes to win the championship down the road.  FTR however are craftier and willing to manipulate which is what you’d expect from any good heel, but I was rather impressed with how well Cash Wheeler managed to get Christopher Daniels sent to the back.  He and Sky are running the ropes with ludicrous speed as they leapfrog over each other with flawless precision, and when Cash runs against the rope that Daniels just so happens to be standing next to; Cash drops down and claims that Daniels tripped him.  Now normally the ref lets this kind of thing go when they SEE it happen, let alone when they have to be TOLD it happened, but it’s enough for Daniels to get ejected.  Very slick move from FTR, though the usefulness of it is somewhat dubious as Daniels wasn’t DOING anything to help his teammates and they still maintain the advantage in this fight.  As great as the action is, it’s somewhat undercut by the twenty minute time limit which the match is clearly heading towards, and so they have to fill the time with move after move after move.  SCU gets nearfall after nearfall on FTR to the point that it becomes silly, and while the moves are all REALLY good, it’s perhaps too much to fit into one match.  We’re minutes away from the time expiring and Sky has put on an impressive series of constant near falls against Cash Wheeler, and before he can finally put him away, Tully grabs Sky’s leg and trips him so that Cash falls right on top of him and manages to get the pin.  The very thing that Cash accused Daniels of doing, Tully does for Cash right here and FTR retain the belt.  SCU is a team that is far too good to be a punching bag for the other tag teams and while they did their jobs like champs, I wish this was a more important match.  Still, you can’t argue with the talent on display as this an impressive spectacle and I can only hope this isn’t the last time these two teams meet up in the ring.

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Isiah Kassidy Vs. Chris Jericho

Kassidy is accompanied to the ring by Marq Quen and Matt Hardy while Jericho is accompanied by The Inner Circle

One-off Jericho matches like this follow a pretty basic formula.  You give the new guy a chance to show off with an explosive opening salvo before Jericho grounds his opponent and bullies him for a bit.  You then trade a few near falls before the challenger throws out his best moves that just can’t put Jericho away, and then finally Jericho lands one of his finishers against his exhausted opponent to get the win.  Sure enough, that’s what happened here with the only real twist being that Kassidy used one of Jericho’s own finishers against him, but he got up on that top rope one too many times ate a Judas Effect on his way down; giving Jericho yet another win over someone named Kassidy.  It’s not the SAME Kassidy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Jericho tries to claim that he and Orange are tied at 2 wins 2 loses each.  The Inner Circle rush in to try and beat on Kassidy, but they are swiftly held back by Marq Quen and Matt Hardy with a chair, but before they leave the ring entirely, Jericho and Hager start pounding on Luther and Serpentico… for some reason.  I’m going to assume it was either a Dark thing or was on that Late Night Dynamite show I didn’t bother to watch, but it would have been nice if someone let us know what was going on here.  As for the match?  It was perfectly fine!  Both guys did their job and nothing looked bad, but it still just ends up falling short compared to the two other matches we’ve already seen tonight.

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What follows next is an… interesting segment.  So Kip Sabian and Miro are discussing the bachelor party and I guess I can only assume they are pre-gaming here as they’re out and about doing fun and extremely dorky activities including ax throwing and playing at an empty arcade.  Sabian is absolutely ecstatic and is enjoying every minute of it, but something is weighing on Miro’s mind, and while Sabian is in the bathroom, he’s approached by someone who claims they can help.  This person is in fact… BILLY FREAKING MITCHELL!?  So this is going to take a bit of explaining.  Billy Mitchell’s entire claim to fame is getting the highest score in the world on Donkey Kong; officially recorded by Twin Galaxies who track this sort of thing.  Since then he’s become something of a celebrity in the world of retro gaming with appearances all over the place in flashy suits and even hocking his own brand of hot sauce.  I mean sure; we had JPEG MAFIA introduce Darby Allin at the beginning of the show, so why not?  What makes this kind of odd though is that Billy Mitchell is KIND of a giant asshole; a reputation that started to bubble up after his appearance in the documentary King of Kong and ultimately cemented when he was proven to have… well I wouldn’t EXACTLY say “cheated” in his famous game of Donkey Kong, but certain aspects of how he played it made the score illegitimate which forced Twin Galaxies to remove his records.  The guy is currently suing Twin Galaxies to get his records reinstated despite the fact that he did indeed play on modified hardware, though I’m not sure if that’s still ongoing since there was supposed to be an anti-SLAAP hearing on July sixth, and I haven’t found any news since then.  I know that’s a lot to explain for a simple cameo here, but what I’m getting at is that the people who even KNOW who Billy Mitchell is and the people who think he’s an asshole is almost a circle, and unlike with say Mike Tyson who you could argue has a high enough profile to justify the baggage that comes with him, I don’t exactly see that being the case with Billy here.  We’ll have to see how this plays out as it doesn’t look like it will be the LAST time we see Billy as the video ends on a cliffhanger, but I’m curious if it’s getting enough positive attention to outweigh any negativity it conjures up.

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The Best Friend are being interviewed in the back about what punks FTR are when FTR shows up and condescends to them about not getting a title shot yet, and Orange Cassidy just walks up with a mic and says “weenies”.  Simple enough I suppose, and it leads us into the next match which is…

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Orange Cassidy Vs. Ten The Creeper

Cassidy is accompanied to the ring by Best Friends while Ten is accompanied by a bunch of Creepers.

The Dark Order dudes who ACTUALLY wear the masks are AMAZING, and I love seeing these dorks try and come off as cool and intimidating.  It’s much more in line with what I imagine The Dark Order to be than watching their leader scream at people and turn people into mush.  Sure, his role is VERY important to giving legitimacy to the whole group, but the REAL heart is in these guys; particularly John Silver who is just so much fun to watch as he tries to mock Cassidy from outside the ring.  The match itself, while not the MOST impressive spectacle of the night, is AWESOME because it’s half moves and half needling.  Both sides are doing their best to not just beat up the other but to get under their opponents skin with smug mockery and disinterested disdain.   Ten manages to put Cassidy’s hands in his own pockets before landing a Powerbomb, and there’s a great moment where the match goes outside the ring for a bit and both Silver and Five The Creeper give Ten a Best Friends hug.  Cassidy isn’t particularly fazed by any of this though and manages to maintain the advantage despite Ten putting up a very good fight, and as soon as he gives the Orange Punch followed by The Beach Break, it’s all over with Cassidy getting the three count and winning the match.  That was short, sweet, and did a great job of making The Dark Order look scrappy instead of just a bunch of unlikable jobbers.  Certainly not the best match on the show, but I certainly was smiling while watching it!

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We cut to the back where MJF is apparently trying to make nice with Jericho and the Inner Circle; though how sincere this is remains up for debate.  He’s brought a box of Inner Circle branded letterman jackets for all of them (except Sammy), and he and Jericho dance around the issue for a few minutes before MJF decides to leave wishing them all the best.  If you recall from MONTHS ago (this would have been right after MJF’s heel turn), there was a point where Jericho was asking MJF if he wanted to join The Inner Circle and MJF in turn asking Jericho if he WANTS him to join The Inner Circle.  Nothing ended up coming from this interaction as they both went their separate ways after that, but with MJF being all cozy right now, the questions still hang in the air unanswered.  MJF DID say he wanted to join a faction so The Inner Circle would certainly be a good fit, but I don’t see it being as simple as that and I’m sure MJF has much more up his sleeve.

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Britt Baker Vs. Red Velvet

Baker is accompanied to the ring by Reba

Seemingly recovered from being DRUGGED IN HER LAST MATCH, Baker is back for her first match in an ACTUAL wrestling ring since what, June maybe?  It’s been a while to be sure, but she seems to be in back to tip-top shape with this match serving as an opportunity to shake off any remaining ring rust.  I’ve watched this match twice now and I’ll be darned if I could tell you anything about it, but it wasn’t BAD or anything.  AEW rarely does unqualified squash matches (MJF and Chris Jericho non-withstanding) so Red Velvet gets plenty of time to shine, but it’s Baker’s match through and through as she more or less bullies Red Velvet the whole time.   If there’s one thing that didn’t exactly work it’s Red Velvet’s selling as I think she does it a bit TOO much, but Baker has definitely honed her style and is very convincing in her role as a heel.  Anyway, Baker manages to land a Superkick on Red Velvet which more or less knocks her out on her feet, and Baker follows up with a Fisherman’s Neckbreaker and a Stomp to get the pin.  She then puts Red Velvet in her finisher The Lockjaw just to prove how bad she is and to put the women’s division on notice that she’s back.  Like I said, it’s kind of a non-descript match but it was a well-executed one that did its job of showing us what kind of Wrestler Baker is and what to expect from her going forward.

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Eddie Kingston seems to have a bone to pick tonight, so he comes out to the ring with The Lucha Bros and is practically dragging Ref Remsberg out there with him.  He spends a few minutes whining about the fact that he DIDN’T TAP OUT last week and therefore he didn’t REALLY lose the match.  Uh… yes he did.  He was passed out and the ref called it which is a perfectly legal outcome, but despite how obvious that is, he still starts to question Remsberg for his decision.  Remsberg tells him exactly what we already know and so Kingston orders The Lucha Bros to start menacing him which is when Moxley’s music hits and he rushes to the ring.  Now apparently, presumably due to Keep Kingston from whining about it, Eddie has been given the chance to name Moxley’s opponent in the main event tonight which he hasn’t done yet.  As soon as Moxley is alone in the ring however, Kingston lets him know that his opponent… is standing right behind him!

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Jon Moxley Vs. The Butcher – AEW World Title Match

The Butcher is definitely one of those guys who is PERFECT if given the right match, and we’ve seen him and The Blade live up to their potential before; particularly in their match against The Young Bucks a month or so back.  He’s BIG, he’s got a unique look, and his in-ring style works great with a much more grounded and rough guy like Moxley.  The Butcher has a firm control of this match for quite a while as Moxley just can’t seem to get an advantage of this guy.  Throws, punches, submissions, working over his bad knee, all of which is keeping Moxley down and getting The Butcher closer to the title.  Sure Moxley gets his licks in like when he threw The Butcher into the barricade or landing a Superplex on him when he’s on the top rope, but his knee is simply giving him too much trouble to gain momentum.  It’s pretty straightforward all things considered as it’s almost entirely heat spots for The Butcher who to his credit gives a VERY Good performance as all of his moves look utterly devastating.  Still, we’re not about to change the title on the weekly show, and Moxley eventually lands a Paradigm Shift which he then transitions into another Bulldog Choke; knocking out The Butcher the same way he did to Kingston last week, and managing to retain his title.  Much like the women’s match before there’s not a whole lot to this, but it’s not bad for what they were trying to do; just maybe a bit more back and forth and maybe push the bad knee angle to a little bit later in the match.

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It ended on a bit of a squib with those last two matches feeling somewhat perfunctory, but this was a really good episode that gave us some very fun matches and did what it could to build towards future storylines.  Moxley’s title picture is still up in the air with Lance being gone so perhaps that’s why his matches just haven’t been clicking for me the way they usually do, but they’re still perfectly fine placeholders while Lance takes the time he needs to get better, and it looks like the TNT title will be getting A LOT of attention for a bit to put less pressure on Moxley.  Next week is also going to be Jericho’s thirtieth anniversary special, so barring another outbreak I think we’re going to be back on track and will have an amazing show to look forward to!

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