AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT
We’re back with more explosive wrestling action, but this week isn’t just ANY episode of Dynamite! For a month now they’ve been advertising this show as the CHRIS JERICHO THIRTIETH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION to commemorate his three decades of butt kicking and smack talking in this business! Does this mean the bubbly will flow thru sprinklers? Will there be a song and dance number or an impromptu Fozzy concert!? We’ll we’re not going to find out by speculating about it, so let’s get started!!
The episode begins with a sincere out of kayfabe segment where the wrestlers of AEW explain just how important Chris Jericho was to them and to making this company what it is today. Of course they can’t show ninety percent of his career because despite wrestling outside of WWE quite a bit that footage STILL ended up in WWE’s hands, but it was still a nice little moment for the promotion! Jericho doesn’t come out to start the show however. Instead we get an unrelated but still pretty darn awesome match!
Brian Cage Vs. Will Hobbs – FTR Title Match
Taz and Ricky Starks are on commentary
Will Hobbs has been the talk of AEW for weeks now and our appetite for some WILL POWER has only grown more desperate as his big match was canceled due to Lance Archer getting sick. Fortunately Brian Cage is on hand to have a hell of a Big Man fight with this rising talent, and unsurprisingly the end result is a fantastic opening fight! Will definitely comes out of this looking strong as Cage doesn’t squash him right away (pour one out for Pineapple Pete), and both are VERY athletic while projecting so much power in everything they do. It’s almost like watching a Kaiju film on fast forward as all of their moves feel big and heavy, but they can still pull off an impressive amount of speed and dexterity when the need arises. It’s not too complicated of a match as far as the moves. Chops, body checks, suplexes, it’s all very standard and very well executed, but moments like when Cage does a Standing Moonsault or when Hobbs does a Jumping Shoulder Tackle punctuate the action and keeps it exciting all the way through. The only part where things felt a bit off was a moment where Hobbs and Cage seem to forget what they were supposed to do as they just stare at each other before Brian Cage jumps up and takes a Powerbomb from Hobbs. Other than that I found this match to be close to perfect in terms of what it’s trying to accomplish with the wrestlers they have to work with. Cage does something that I THINK was an F5 and only gets a two count, they start trading German Suplexes before giving each other simultaneous clotheslines that knock them flat on their backs, and as soon as they get up from all that they just start trading blows to try and annihilate the other; piece by piece. Hobbs’s fatal mistake in this match however comes after he lands his finisher, The Last Will and Testament, but only gets a two count. Instead of pressing the advantage that he has, he goes for something risky to try to put the match away quickly, namely a Frog Splash from the top rope, but Cage rolls out of the way with easy and with Hobbs on the ground he picks him up to land a Drill Claw for the win. Hobbs may be an exciting talent for the company, but his inexperience showed in that moment and Cage made him pay dearly for it! It was a very simple story with very straightforward action, but the two men did a PHENOMENAL job here and I loved every minute of it! It’s not just a revelation for Will Hobbs who looked amazing; Cage as well managed to look like more than just a big scary guy which is where he’s kind of been stuck at ever since his debut; a little bit above Wardlow, but not quite as compelling as Lance Archer. A great match that did a lot for both men; and really what more could you ask for?
After the match, Taz grabs the mic and tells Hobbs how much he respects him as a fighter and offers the guy a chance to join Team Taz. It’s a very simple choice, really! Say yes and win matches with the best faction around, or say no and get his butt kicked by Starks and Cage. Before Hobbs can give an answer though, Darby Allin comes out with a skateboard which is enough for Cage and Starks to back off and for Taz to start raving on the microphone. Clearly this feud isn’t ending anytime soon, but as long as Will Hobbs has a role to play in it then I’m more than happy to see it play out a bit longer.
To remind you all that this is a Chris Jericho appreciation show, we get a series of brief videos from celebrities who want to congratulate him and wish him well! We’ve got Slash from Guns and Roses which is cool, Dennis Miller which is… not as cool (the hell is even doing these days, and is any of it NOT embarrassing?), Tanahashi from New Japan which was fun to see, and we even get a nice heartfelt message from his father Ted Irvine. Oh, and Bully Ray drinks a beer before throwing up the rock horns which is about as high an honor as that man can give!
We get a Lance Archer promo after that for his match next week against Moxley where he does all of the talking and leaves Jake Roberts to simply mug at the camera. It was actually a nice change of pace as Lance can often get overshadowed by Roberts’s bizarre and compelling promos, and even if the script is nothing special (tough guy challenging the champ machismo nonsense), Archer’s got a big personality and does a good job at selling the material.
FTR Vs. The Hybrid 2 – AEW Tag Team Title Match
FTR are accompanied to the ring by Tully Blanchard
So I haven’t been the BIGGEST fan o FTR, especially when they got the belts and were just smug punks about it, but these BRUSH WITH GREATEST matches as they’re called have been pretty good so far! SCU had a heck of a showing last week, and now The Hybrid 2 get a chance at the spotlight in their first Dynamite match in what, SIX months maybe? The story of this match is that TH2 presents a big challenge for FTR who are better suited against opponents much like themselves. TH2, like The Young Bucks and The Lucha Bros, are much more high-flying and acrobatic, so they can move around FTR with ease and can press the offensive in unexpected ways. So what does FTR do? What they always do of course; cheat! Tully distracts the ref so that Cash can run off the corner and quickly knock Jack Evans off the top rope which halts his momentum in its tracks, and for good measure Dax Hardwood finishes the job by dropping his knee onto the barricade outside; effectively grounding him while FTR get the heat. A commercial break later and after some considerable effort, Jack Evans manages to fight his way back to the corner and get the hot tag on Angélico. He runs wild for a bit and FTR does a great job selling (especially when Angélico manages to get BOTH of them in simultaneous submissions), but with Jack Evans still hurt they just can’t do enough damage to put FTR away. They eventually regain the advantage with a series of very impressive looking German Suplexes, and Cash takes Angélico out with a bump into the apron. He fights mightily, but Jack Evans is just too weary to defend himself, and as soon as FTR lands dual splashes from the top rope, it’s all over with Cash getting the three-count and winning the match. The story as I see it developing is that FTR are going to keep these titles as long as Tully is allowed to act freely outside the ring. This is a problem for The Bucks who have basically alienated everyone who liked them so they may end up losing their title shot due to Tully. Or perhaps it will be the impetus for a cage match? Not sure, but it’s a really good story that they’re telling with these matches so far and I think FTR is really coming into their own.
We cut to The Bucks in the back who were watching the match and in irritation, they Superkick the camera man; further indicating that they’re going to have a hard time finding someone to watch their back when the time comes. We then cut BACK to the ring where the titantron displays a photo-shopped picture of FTR in giant wiener suits which leads to The Best Friends coming out wearing FTR wiener shirts. Now APPARENTLY The Best Friends are the number one contenders in the tag division which is news to me, and because of that they got Tony Khan to schedule a title match on next week’s show. So hey, who’s got two thumbs and is a reliable buddy of The Best Friends who could be outside the ring to bogard Tully’s attempts at cheating? Well you may have a hard time seeing them due to his lackadaisical technique, but I assure you that Orange Cassidy has two of them!
MJF gives a rather glowing and cloying speech about how awesome Jericho is which makes sense as they’ve got a Will They Won’t They storyline going on right now, and after that we get some more well wishes from celebrities. We’ve got Shaq (yay!), Gene Simmons (boo…), Don Callis (who?) Lars Ulrich (sure!), and finally DDP who’s almost fifteen years older than Jericho but looks pretty good for his age! In fact, he doesn’t look THAT much older than Jericho; though I guess doing Yoga is easier on the body than wrestling in the ring and rocking out on the stage.
Brodie Lee Vs. Cody – TNT Title Dog Collar Match
Brodie Lee is accompanied by Anna Jay and John Silver while Cody is accompanied by Brandi and Arn Anderson
So the elephant in the room regarding this show that is pretty unavoidable as soon as this match starts is that for a show that touted itself as JERICHO’S THIRTIETH ANNIVERSARY, it’s really been about everything else BUT him with the only acknowledgment being those interstitial video packages as he STILL hasn’t shown up in the ring. Even with how light the theming is though, it doesn’t do this match any favors for it be on THIS particular show as it just feels too soon and too cramped with everything else going on. This should be JERICHO’S night, and this match should be THE STAR of its own episode or be a semi-main event at the next PPV. They even brought Greg Valentine out to watch the match who apparently had a famous dog collar match with Roddy Piper about a bajillion years ago. If we’re going to do it tonight though, let’s go ahead and do it; so what the heck is a dog collar match in the first place? Well I thought it was a match where the loser had to put on a dog collar and be dragged around by the winner which sounded delightfully kinky, but instead it’s a variation on a strap match where instead of being connected by a rope on their arms, it’s a chain on their necks. It’s a simple enough concept and it certainly lends itself to creativity, but the big problem with this match is that an element like that is very unpredictable and it makes itself known in awkward ways throughout. Now sure there are some FANTASTIC moments like this one part where they’re fighting on the apron so Cody jumps off, pulls the chain, and gives Brodie Lee a Cutter as he’s pulled off the apron, but the parts that stood out more were the things that either didn’t work because they weren’t great ideas or simply happened because you can’t always account for a giant chain being in the way. Right at the start of the match, Cody rushes to the corner and Brodie dodges so that Cody instead smashes into John Silver who’s on the apron and the dude starts bleeding immediately which I’m THINKING was either a gig or fake blood. In any case it’s an excuse for Cody and Brodie to fight this alone as he orders Anna Jay to take Silver to the back, but in hindsight this seems like an odd decision which we’ll get back to soon enough. Silver wasn’t the only one bleeding however as Cody AND Brodie seem to have taken some intentional hard shots to get the blood flowing, which frankly happens far too early for my taste and means they just keep having to wipe blood out of their eyes throughout the match. Now the match is definitely a GOOD match, but as I said it has its weird moments. For instance, Cody tries to pile driver Brodie Lee thru a table outside the ring, and to his credit it works… but the way the table breaks causes Brodie to basically land on him, so I’d call it a wash. Later Cody throws the chain around the turnbuckle to choke Brodie Lee for like five seconds before stopping and trying to get the chain back. He can’t do it though as it got caught on the post so he has to climb the rope and untangle it himself; meaning he spent more time removing the chain than he ended up using it against Brodie Lee. Speaking of whom, he has a GREAT moment here where he goes for a Superkick and straight up slips on the chain like a banana peel; falling right on his ass and forcing him to get back up while Cody waits so they can do the spot again. Alright, that’s enough complaining (or I guess pointing and laughing in this case), so let’s jump to the end where things get PRETTY darn good! Brodie at one point throws a chair at Arn Anderson who gets super pissed over it and gets into the ring. Alex Reynolds tries to run in and attack Arn, but Arn slams him down with ease which was REALLY awesome to see, but then Arn eats a low blow from Brodie Lee which sets Cody off and he starts to take the advantage. Brodie manages to hold his own though and he gives Cody the BIGGEST Powerbomb I’ve probably ever seen (it looks like Cody went up twenty feet!) but it wasn’t enough to put him away. We then get some VERY impressive looking Superplex from Brodie Lee, but by now he’s too exhausted to win this match and goes for a halfhearted Discus Lariat that Cody easily avoids and responds with [something]. He then lands a Cross Rhodes and actually gets the pin on Brodie Lee; winning the match and winning back his title. Personally, I wouldn’t have had Cody win on this night. Have Brodie cheat, have The Dark Order interfere, whatever it takes to keep Cody looking strong, but Brodie should have keep the belt. What more does Cody need to do with the belt that he didn’t accomplish in his first title run, at least right now? The Dark Order have become main event stars off the back of this title and they could do so much more with Brodie Lee holding onto it, but that’s not the direction they went with and I guess we’ll have to see where they take it next. It was perhaps the most INTERESTING match of the night which is better than having a bad match or a boring one, but it was still a very odd thing to see.
With the belt in hand and all his friends around him, Cody gives the ultimate Babyface promo (even breaking kayfabe to talk about how people thought his hair color change meant he was going heel) where he vows to defend the belt on next week’s Anniversary show. At this point Orange Cassidy comes out and gives his halfhearted thumbs up. Cody returns it with a full body and energetic thumbs up of his own, so I guess that’s as good as a contract being signed. It’s Cassidy Vs. Cody next week, and I don’t THINK we’ve had that match before? Either way it should be fun, though I hope The Dark Order doesn’t got lost in the shuffle now.
We get an update on the upcoming tournament to determine the next Number One Contender at the company. Jungle Boy, Rey Fenix, and Kenny Omega were already announced, and now we have Wardlow, Colt Cabana, and Hangman Adam Page joining the fray. We then cut to Kenny Omega being interviewed in the back and he is EXCITED about becoming a singles wrestler once again! He’s also excited for the tournament, though it’s clear he’s at least a little bit thrown off about the announcement that Hangman Adam Page will be there as well. It’s almost certainly going to come down to him and Hangman in the final round, but with so much talent on hand it should still be a great to see!
Big Swole Vs.Serena Deeb
Big Swole definitely has SOMETHING, but it’s been such an anemic few months for the women’s division that I’m hard pressed to think of much to say here. I know I had almost nothing to say about LAST week’s match, but that one at least did a good job of getting across her character and the way she wrestles a match. There’s just not as much personality in this match as she and Serena are almost equally matched which is fine for Serena but doesn’t do much to get Swole over. Frankly, I’d have the top five or six women have squash matches every week to show off what makes them great and why the division should circle around them, and while you can argue they did enough of that with Baker’s match last week, it’s just not coming across for Swole here. Perhaps the best moment in the whole match is a really good head butt from Big Swole which got her a two count and felt like something UNIQUE to her style, but other than that there’s not much to say here. Nothing particularly bad, but you’re just kind of waiting around for them to get the finish. Said finish by the way is a solid kick followed by another head butt and then a spinning elbow which I THINK is supposed to be her finisher Dirty Dancing, but the announcers didn’t say as much when the move hit. We cut almost immediately to the next segment without any promo from Swole or a hint at an upcoming angle, so I guess they’re as eager to move on as I am!
Jon Moxley gives another one of his amazing promos, but what makes this one different from the rest we’ve seen is that he seems genuinely concerned that he will drop the belt to Lance Archer, and that like a Samurai contemplating his own death he thinks about how every time he goes into that ring it may be the last time he gets to walk away with the belt. Even with all those thoughts however, he’s going to go in there and give Archer the fight of his life, because he’s the champion and he’s not about to let someone take it from him who doesn’t deserve it! I guess this tone is to try and make the match feel more important as if there’s a CHANCE he’s gonna drop the belt (I’m VERY skeptical of that happening outside of a PPV), but his delivery is as strong as ever and I’m excited to see what these two do in the ring next week!
We get a few more well wishes for Jericho, including Lance Storm (yay!), Kevin Smith (also yay!), Eli Roth (ehh…), and Gabriel Iglesias with Chavo Gurrero Jr; the latter of whom I’m sure is a person of note but I have no idea who he is. I don’t know, but look! It’s Steel Panther! I’ve heard of them before! And look! The NOT AS BAD dude from Kiss Paul Stanley! Honestly I don’t know the first thing about the guy, but I’d be shocked if he as big of a tool as Simmons is. Oh, and we get a shout out from Ultimo Dragon who is also a guy I know OF but don’t know anything about in case you wanted even MORE proof of how unqualified I am to talk about wrestling!
Chris Jericho & Jake Hager Vs. Luther & Serpentico
Jericho and Hager are accompanied to the ring by The Inner Circle.
Twenty minutes before the end of the show, and Jericho finally shows up which I guess is pretty on brand for his superstar persona, but it STILL feels a bit lacking for him to be so absent from the rest of the show. On top of that, tis a WEIRD match! I wouldn’t say that Jericho and Hager are fighting from underneath, but it plays out more like an evenly fought match between good guys and The Inner Circle should NEVER be fighting as anything other than heels. For the entire match, Hager nor Jericho cheat, take cheap shots, or even smugly mug for the camera. It’s just so weird to see someone get the heat ON Jericho instead of Jericho being the one getting the heat, but hey; I guess this is Jericho’s night so he can do whatever he wants. He wants to have a competitive and fair match against his buddy from thirty years that almost no one has heard of? Of COURSE he can swing that, and they’ll even put it on the main event. The ONLY time Jericho does anything duplicitous is when he asks for Floyd The Bat, but even then Luther manages to grab it and hits Jericho instead! That manages to get Luther a two count and as soon as Jericho kicks out, Sammy gets on the apron to start yelling. Luther knocks him off with ease, but it gives Jericho JUST enough time to recover and he lands a Judas Effect; effectively knocking Luther out and giving Jericho the three-count for the win.
Jericho grabs the mic after the match to the thunderous applause of the audience, but before he can go all in on a feel good speech about how happy he is about his thirty years in this business, MJF and Wardlow come out with another speech and even a gift for the man of honor. What’s the gift? Umm… it’s a clown. Okay… I mean MAYBE it’s a reference to something, but said clown is holding ANOTHER gift which is a picture of… MJF. Yeah, Jericho seems pretty annoyed by all this nonsense and so smashes the picture of the clowns head before telling MJF to NEVER interrupt him again if he knows what’s good for him!
JUST KIDDING! Maybe. Jericho and MJF break out into laughter and the episode ends with all the heels coming out to the ring to party with Jericho as the credits roll with his name in place of all the crew members. Apparently he was an associate producer, lighting director, AND all the cameramen at the same time!
When this episode was good, it was GREAT, and when this episode was weird it was still pretty good. The Cody match and the Jericho match just felt kind of off, but in an oddly compelling way, and I think the Cody match in particular will be remembered for quite some time. Aside from that, the debut of Will Hobbs was everything you could have hoped it would be, and the tag match was just a delight to see. The women’s division is still suffering sadly, but I have hope that they’ll get it straightened out soon enough. The only thing that I could say was genuine disappointment was how little Jericho was even on this show despite it being HIS night. Heck, he got even more time to showboat on the Thanksgiving show than on this one! Still, it’s hard to complain when the action was as good as it was here, and next week is looking to be even better what with it being the AEW Dynamite anniversary show! Sure it’s only a one year anniversary which seems rather cute compared to Jericho’s MIGHTY THIRTY YEARS, but it’s something at least!