AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT
Did you know the PPV is less than a month away!? Doesn’t it feel like we JUST got done with a PPV a month ago? Oh who even knows anymore; it’s not like time MEANS anything at this point. We’re all just barreling through this ridiculous world at ten billion miles per hour, and hey if nothing else, since it’s happening the Saturday after the election (PLEASE GO VOTE!!) it’ll be either a nice treat for a world that just saved itself from the brink of destruction or it’ll be the last spot of joy before this country inevitably crumbles into a fascist dictatorship. In any case, I hope that Will Hobbs gets a title shot on that show! Before we look towards the future however, let’s keep our eyes squarely on the present and take a look at this show right now. Will this episode start building up to the PPV in fun and exciting ways, or do they need a bit more time to get everything into place? Let’s find out!!
FTR Vs. Best Friends – AEW Tag Team Title Match
FTR is accompanied to the ring by Tully Blanchard
Look, we know that both teams are good and that they can have great matches, so I don’t want to sound negative about this on the outset. It’s not a bad match, but BOY is it a non-descript one for what’s supposed to be a title defense! Trent is in command for a good chunk of this match before FTR get the upper hand and start generating heat for what feels like an hour before Trent eventually gets the hot tag on Chuck who goes wild for a bit. Things at least get a bit interesting there when Tully interferes and Chuck retaliates by chocking him with his own jacket, and there was a pretty impressive nearfall where Best Friends land a Soul Food on Cash to get a two count, but there’s just not a whole lot going on here. Aside from the nearfalls, the only move that really stuck out for me was when Cash dropped Trent’s leg onto the ring ropes which was an interesting visual, but Trent doesn’t sell the leg at any point in the match (he even uses the knees to counter a Vader Bomb), so what was the point of specifically targeting it? Speaking of nearfalls, FTR manages to regain the advantage and are getting the heat on Trent with a series of suplexes, but Trent won’t stay down for the three-count and tries to fight his way out of this rough spot. They eventually brawl to the outside where Kip Sabian is playing away on an arcade cabinet, and Cash throws Trent right through it; destroying it utterly and leaving Kip with nothing but a fight stick to entertain him. The match eventually returns to the ring and Trent manages to get the tag to Chuck, but it’s ultimately futile as Cash manages to smash Chuck in the face with the title belt while the ref was distracted which is enough for Dax to get the pin and retain their titles. Like I said, there wasn’t a whole lot going on with this match and the stuff at the end, while entertaining, wasn’t exactly the most THRILLING directions for a match to take and I’d honestly take the match they had last week with TH2 than this one.
While Best Friends are commiserating in the ring, Miro runs out from the back having been informed of Trent’s crime against video games, and he and Kip start pounding on the two exhausted men to avenge their fallen mechanical comrade. This is actually quite fortuitous because the two of them have a match next!
Kip Sabian & Miro Vs. Lee Johnson & Sean Maluta
Kip is accompanied to the ring by Penelope Ford
Miro didn’t have a great debut with his match two weeks ago, so I guess the goal of this match is to VERY carefully and VERY deliberately give him an overwhelming win against someone here. To that end, the match works! Miro utterly destroys Maluta and doesn’t get himself or anyone else hurt in the process with the only sloppy looking spot was when he didn’t quite lock in his submission finisher on the first try and had to readjust to put in place and get Maluta to tap out. He and Kip then get on the mic to challenge the Best Friends to a match for destroying the arcade machine and for Miro to say his GAME OVER catchphrase. It wasn’t much, but they didn’t spend a lot of time on it so I thought it was a fun little distraction that at least gave Miro a chance to shine.
In the back, Lance Archer is attacking Jon Moxley. I’d imagine something like this would be an automatic disqualification for Archer, but I guess in the wrestling world this is the equivalent of a high five as two people pass down a hallway.
MJF Makes His Choice – Will He Join The Inner Circle!?
MJF comes out with Wardlow to taunt the audience before inviting Le Champion to take the stage with him. Jericho comes out with the entire Inner Circle wearing the jackets MJF gave them. Well, everyone except Sammy who’s still VERY suspicious of MJF’s offer, but jericho manages to berate him into putting it on which seems like a jerk move considering it’s OBVIOUSLY six sizes too big, but I guess Jericho is trying to convince MJF to come on board without outright saying it. MJF continues the flattery and even praises Jericho’s hair, but Jericho is ready for this show to get on the road and for MJF to tell him why he called him out here. Well after a few minutes of hemming and hawing, he finally comes out and says that he MAYBE wants to join The Inner Circle, but before Jericho can say yes or no, Ortiz grabs the mic and tells him that they don’t WANT him in The Inner Circle. Jericho however isn’t ready to say no just yet, so he agrees to think it over this week and to meet MJF next week for a steak dinner which is clearly the most macho thing they could think of as they stare each other down and have the stiffest handshake imaginable. Is this a genuine attempt from MJF to join a winning team, or a Machiavellian scheme to destroy Jericho and The Inner Circle from the inside out? Either way, I’m definitely interested to see where this go and to find out how MJF and Jericho like their meat cooked!
We get another Britt Baker segment where she and Tony Schiavone are getting massages while Baker does her Role Model shtick which is… fine I guess (I was never a fan of these in the first place), but then it turns into a “shoot” of sorts as Tony starts getting his chest waxed while Baker and Reba laugh. In any case, the point of this is to put the women’s division on notice and to announce that she will be in action next week. I know people like these segments so I can appreciate them going all out with the Britt Baker character, but it’s just not for me.
Cody Vs. Orange Cassidy – TNT Title Match
Cody is accompanied to the ring by Brandi Rhodes and Arn Anderson
The match is primarily a mind game as Cody could clearly overtake Cassidy with a smart flurry of offensives, but he’s hesitating because he assumes that Cassidy has something up his sleeve for whatever Cody dishes out. It’s not an UNFOUNDED fear as Cassidy is a crafty wrestler; putting his hands in his pockets and giving light kicks to try and get under Cody’s skin while also dodging all of his attacks. They eventually lock up but both sides are still hesitant to go all out, at least until Cassidy starts tapping Cody on the chest, at which point he is done with all this and starts throwing Cassidy around by the waist. Despite this ridiculous tight lock around him, Orange manages to wiggle his hands into his pockets and pushes Cody off like Goku when he’s powering up which was a fun little spot, but Cody maintains control for quite a few minutes here as he works him over. Cassidy is still trying to outwit the Prince of Wrestling by giving the light kicks before DESTROYING Cody with a Superkick and a Suicide Dive, but he is still an HONORABLE competitor as he proves moments later. The Dark Order B-Team start menacing Cody from outside the ring which distracts the ref and gives John Silver enough time to grab the title belt and go after Cody, but before he can get there Cassidy takes the belt back and the ref ejects ALL of The Dark Order from ringside. That was a good spot that does a lot for Cassidy’s Babyface cred, and from there the match goes into overdrive as both guys start hitting big moves and finishers before slugging it out in the middle of the ring. Cody starts to lean towards Heel Mode as he starts working over Cassidy’s legs and starts getting the heat in the match, but after a Figure Four Leg Lock ends with both men rolling onto the apron, Cassidy lands something called the Beach Break which looks like a lethargic back body drop and sends Cody crashing onto the apron. Cody is no longer in control of the match after that as it goes back to back and forth offense from both of them, but as soon as Cassidy gets the upper hand and is about to win the match by pinfall, the twenty minute timer goes off and the match ends; leaving Cody as the TNT champion with some doubts as to whether Cassidy should have won the match. Frankly I’ve always been of the opinion that if a pin IS IN PROGRESS that you finish out the pinfall as you’d go AT MOST a little over two seconds past the time limit, but I guess this was the best outcome of a not so great situation. The match would definitely get attention since both of them are big names at AEW, but neither is in a position where they should be LOSING a match, so making it a draw does make sense here. The only thing off about it is the fact that the time limit was in fact only twenty minutes. We just saw a Tag Team title match where the announcers explicitly said it was a sixty minute time limit, so why the difference here; other than to facilitate this ending? In any case, it wasn’t the most AMAZING match from either guy, but it was a solid bout with a wonky but satisfying ending.
Alex Marvez is interviewing Lance Archer about why he attacked Jon Moxley earlier, and Jake Roberts gives the phenomenal answer of… he was there. Yeah, sounds about right to me, and Jon Moxley must agree because he blasts into the scene to attack Lance Archer and the two of them have to be separated by the refs.
Matt Hardy is out in the crowd with his family which consists of three VERY young looking children who aren’t wearing masks and his wife who IS wearing a mask. Not what I’d call a GREAT picture considering how bad Florida is right now, but we don’t have long to dwell on it as Matt Hardy reveals that he’s finally cleared for in ring action and as soon as he does that, Sammy shows up on the big screen and cuts a promo on Hardy. Nope! No way! Nuh-uh! Sammy reveals that he was the one who “attacked” Matt Hardy with a bat a few weeks ago and that he’ll “send Matt Hardy home for good.” Okay fine, it’s leaning a bit towards superstitious to assume that that Matt Hardy will get hurt again if he’s in the ring with Sammy Guevara, but is there really NOTHING else they could do with these two right now? Hardy announces he’s just been medically cleared, and we want to remind people of WHY he was out of action in the first place!?
Tag Team Contender’s Match – Who Will Face FTR At Full Gear!?
We return from the commercial break to find the tag team division out on the stage and Tony Schiavone explaining that there will be a four-way tag team match to determine the number one contender and to face FTR at the Full Gear PPV. So who will be participating in this match? Well it certainly won’t be the top four teams in the division! That’s for sure! The refs have a giant bingo cage that has the names of all the tag teams, and they just pick four at random. Those teams are
Silver & Reynolds
The Butcher & The Blade
Well I guess we can see where this is going. The Bucks get up in FTR’s face, but instead of attacking them they start Superkicking the other teams which breaks things down into one big brawl, and I’m not sure why. It’s not like The Butcher & The Blade did anything, and yet Private Party start attacking them and The Butcher & The Blade start attacking Silver and Reynolds, and it’s just a bunch of meaningless violence until Private Party and The Young Bucks are alone in the ring. Private Party, being the naïve Babyfaces thinks The Bucks are on their side, but they eat a Superkick like everyone else. Where the Singles Tournament feels like there’s enough going on for it to NOT simply be a pre-text for Omega and Hangman to have their feud match, this feels like exactly that for The Bucks and FTR, and I didn’t find the segment all that entertaining.
Hikaru Shida Vs. Big Swole
So Big Swole and a kinda-sorta okay match last week against a nobody, and now she’s got a title shot against Shida. I know that Kris Statlander is still out and that they’re taking their time building Britt Baker back up, but it REALLY feels like there should be at least SOMETHING going on with this division in the four months they’ve had to build up some stars. They’re off to a good start with Diamante and Ivelisse, but Big Swole kind of stalled out after the Baker feud and for whatever reason Nyla Rose has fallen off the face of the Earth. Who does that leave us with? Thunder Rosa? She’s a part timer. The Japanese women? Not while our Pandemic response is the worst in the world. MAYBE Brandi, Allie, Ford, and Anna Jay, but they’re not so much in THIS division as they are extensions of the feuds in the men’s division. But that’s not really the problem, is it? They’ve GOT the talent there; Leva Bates, Abadon, even Mel who as far as I’m concerned is getting paid to do nothing. The problem is that no one has any IDEAS for this division other than a belt chase. Where are the factions!? Where are the promos!? Where are the blood feuds between bitter rivals constantly trying to get one over the other!? Give the women an extra match or an extra segment each week to try something new and to get the ball rolling on a different storyline. It may not be a ratings grabber or even all that popular with fans, but they’ve GOT to start somewhere to make this whole division not feel utterly perfunctory.
Wasn’t there a match I was supposed to talk about? Yeah, maybe this wasn’t the best time to get that off my chest because all in all it was a pretty good match! Swole is still a bit green as last week’s match clearly showed, but Shida does a good job of making her look good and very few women can put as much energy into their matches as she can. Swole even manages to get a few very close nearfalls on the champ which will hopefully get her a bit of cred with the fans, but again; to what end? ANOTHER title shot against Shida down the road? Alright, fine; I’ll cut it out. They trade finishers and both of them are refusing to stay down, but it gets REALLY close when Swole lands the Dirty Dancing on Shida who only saves herself by grabbing the ropes. Seeing an opportunity, Swole goes for the Dirty Dancing again which turns out to be a BIG mistake as Shida reverses it and lands two knee strikes to get the win. It was a fine match to be sure, but it also feels about as good as these matches can get, at least until they come up with something for them to do; whether it’s more promos or a second belt to chase.
We get a Shawn Spears/Scorpio Sky video package to set up a future match between then, and while the script is fine, the only thing I’m going to remember is that Shawn Spears decided to shave his beard off and looks SO WEIRD without it!
Jon Moxley Vs. Lance Archer – No DQ AEW Title Match
Archer is accompanied to the ring by Jake Roberts
Eddie Kingston and The Lucha Bros are on commentary
Before the match is properly announced, Moxley rushes in and tries to get the pin within the first few seconds; a tactic that ALMOST works as he gets a two count on the befuddled Murder Hawk. Speaking of befuddled, that’s how I’M feeling after seeing Lance Archer’s mutton chops! It’s not as jarring as Shawn Spears’s naked face, but why is everyone changing their styles all of a sudden!? There’s a lot of fighting on the outside and Archer takes control of the match pretty early so Moxley just has to tough out the assault, but what’s great about this match (as is the case with most Moxley matches) is the utter brutality of it. Any chance he gets to hit back, he hits back HARD against Archer, and Archer as well is doing some pretty nasty stuff like when he gives Moxley a HELLACIOUS shoulder tackle that sends him flying through the air! Despite his overwhelming advantage though, Archer, like a lot of big guys, spends way too much time taunting his opponent and playing to the crowd, so every advantage he gets is squandered as he gives Moxley another opportunity to fight back. At some point Moxley throws a chair right at Archer’s face which knocks him down immediately (don’t worry, he got his hands up!) and Moxley proceeds to set up some torture device with two other chairs. Moxley tries to get Archer on his shoulders, but Archer manages to wriggle out pretty easily and instead throws MOXLEY into the chairs for a two count. Moxley gets Archer into a leg lock and he tries to go for the ropes which doesn’t break up the hold because it’s a no DQ match. I get that it’s a spot to reinforce the rules, but it always makes the guy look silly for forgetting what kind of match he’s in. Archer does manage to wiggle his way out and so Moxley goes for a Suicide Dive, but Archer has a trashcan ready to put in his path which pretty much knocks him out and so Archer rolls him onto the apron. He goes for a… Pedigree I think? But Moxley lands a low blow and instead lands a Paradigm Shift on Archer through two tables set up below. They eventually stagger their way back into the ring and Moxley put Archer in the Bulldog choke which he used against Kingston just a few weeks prior, but unlike Kingston who LEGITIMATELY LOST THAT MATCH, Archer doesn’t pass out and the match continues. Lance Archer fights as hard as he can against Moxley and softens him up JUST enough to land the Blackout Slam which is sure to finish him off, but the way that Archer sets up the pin gives Moxley just enough wiggle room to rotate it into a pin on Archer, which he holds just long enough to get the three count and retain the title. It was a bit of an odd ending to undercut his finisher like that, but it was still a fun match between two dudes who like to beat the hell out of each other and I hope that Archer doesn’t just disappear like he did after losing his TNT title match to Cody.
Archer is VERY upset about this so he starts attacking Moxley after the bell has rung, and he’s soon joined by The Lucha Bros. Eddie Kingston, in no particularly hurry, saunters to the ring and tells The Lucha Bros to ease up as Lance Archer and Jake Roberts head to the back. After a few minutes sucking up to Moxley and getting the crowd to cheer for his win, he smashes him in the face and chokes him out until he’s unconscious. Kingston continues to rant about never actually losing his title match since he didn’t tap out and the episode comes to close as we see Moxley’s half dead face far too close to the camera for comfort.
Aside from the opening match and the continued disappointment of the women’s division, this was a pretty good episode! There wasn’t much that moved the storylines forward as there were three title defenses and NONE of them switched hands, but I’m curious to see where the MJF/Jericho thing goes and the upcoming singles tournament should really get the ball rolling as we start building up toward the PPV. I’m dubious about Matt Hardy and Sammy locking it up again so soon though and I hope like everyone else that we don’t get ANOTHER PPV match between these two that ends in a disaster, but considering their track record it’s hard not to assume the worst. Can’t we just have Broken Matt Hardy back and have him… I don’t know, face Moxley one week or something? That would be fun right!?