Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (11-11-2020)

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

We’re just a few days out from Full Gear which means it’s been a VERY busy week here what with three shows in a seven day period of time.  The time after a PPV is usually a good time to cleanse the pallet and begin things anew as the major storylines up to this point had gotten definitive payoffs on Saturday.  With a clean slate to work from, what new stories will AEW start to tell and will they be as good as the ones we have just closed the book on?  Let’s find out!!

 Team Taz comes out to announce that Brian Cage will be wrestling RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW, but before we can get on with the carnage, Taz calls out to Darby Allin (the new TNT champion) up in the cheap seats and advises him to not interfere or else he’ll be turned into a bloody smear on the ground.  He then starts talking smack to the visibly nonplussed Darby Allin about how he’s a TRUE wrestler and has no respect for the legends that came before.  Cage’s opponent on the other hand, is a WONDERFUL athlete and a genuine challenger for Brian Cage, and that challenger is…

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Brian Cage Vs. Matt Sydal

Kind of a random note here, but I have never seen Sydal wrestle anywhere else but here, and do you know who he reminds me of?  Dolph Ziggler.  They KIND of have similar faces and they both seem to have a retro cornball thing going on, but while I GENUINELY love Ziggler and think he’s a fine wrestler, Sydal is pretty amazing and I’m a little bit surprised at just how good this match is!  I figured it would just be another squash match to give Brian Cage an edge in wherever his story goes next, but was a fun competitive match between two guys with vastly different skill sets while still managing to work together seamlessly.  Sydal’s Achilles heel seems to be his ego as he takes every opportunity to mug to the crowd, and against another opponent that would probably be fine… but he’s up against THE MACHINE Brian Cage who is not easy to take down and is VERY quick to get back up.  After an initial flurry from Sydal, Cage takes firm control of this match and tosses Cage around the ring which under normal circumstances would be the end of Sydal, but he manages to tough out of it and gives Cage a run for his money.  Cage goes for some sort of move off the ropes but Sydal manages to reverse it into a Powerbomb and follows up with a Meteora.  Instead of pressing the advantage with a few moves on the ground though, Sydal goes back to the top rope which gives Cage enough time to roll out of the way.  Fortunately Sydal manages to avoid a Powerbomb from Cage and keeps up the offensive but just can’t put Cage away no matter how many kicks and flips he does.  Perhaps the most impressive moment is when Cage goes for a Powerbomb and Sydal somehow flips it into a Hurricanrana into a pin, and yet it’s STILL not enough to put Cage away!  Despite putting up a valiant fight, it’s not Sydal’s night to win as he once again goes for a move from the top rope but Cage grabs him out of mid-air and drops him into a Drillclaw; pinning Sydal and winning the match.  As soon as the match is over, Ricky Starks grabs the mic to proclaim his intentions of challenging Darby Allin for the TNT title because he is now finally ranked and he and his team will DESTROY anyone who dares to get in the way of his path to glory!  Considering the promo that came before it and how much Taz is pumping up his two boys for greatness it would have been the perfect time to have a squash match to make Cage look as strong as possible, but instead he had a great match with Sydal and still looked great by the end of it.  Team Taz’s story got derailed a bit by Lance Archer getting COVID, but it looks like things are back on track and I can only hope they have big plans for not just these three but for Will Hobbs as well!  He’s still owed that six man tag match, right?

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Cody’s Future – What’s Next For The Prince Of Wrestling!?

Cody comes out to the ring and through gritted teeth congratulates Darby Allin for his win at Full Gear and for being the new TNT Champion; not that he’s the least bit bitter about it!  No, that rictus scowl of a smile is full of nothing but sincerity!  And besides, this frees him up for his TRUE hobbies!  Perhaps cooking, or maybe stamp collecting, or how about righting wrongs in his past; particularly with that smug jerk MJF who still has a win over him?  Well before he can elaborate on his plans, a woman enters the ring and takes the microphone right out of his hands!  She identifies herself as Jade Cargill and seems to be peeved about SOMETHING that Cody did.  Cody calls himself a GIANT KILLER here at AEW, but she in fact knows a REAL giant who is certainly far from dead and is therefore here to set the record straight on Cody’s moniker!  Okay… I mean I guess that’s enough motivation in the world of wrestling, and if nothing else I’m guenuinely interested to find out who she works for.  I mean who’s on the open market right now that would be a big draw?  I mean shoot, Brock Lesner’s TECHNICALLY no signed with WWE at the moment, though I think it’d cost more than AEW’s net worth just to get him to grimace for ten seconds.  Well sadly it’s not him because just as Jade is about to leave, she reveals that the giant is… Shaq.

Shaq?  SHAQ!?

The shoulder shimmy guy!?  The man with a pizza named after him and the star of Kazaam!?  Most importantly, THE FORTY-EIGHT YEAR OLD GUY WHO’S BEEN IN ONE WRESTLING MATCH HIS ENTIRE LIFE!?  While he’s been at WWE multiple times before, as far as I can tell the ONLY time he got in the ring was the Andre the Giant Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 32 where he and Big Show stood around for five minutes before getting dumped out of the ring.  Needless to say I’m not all that eager for Cody to spend a few weeks being menaced by the guy who said yes to Steel, but before I could ruminate on that too long Brandi comes out hot and starts spitting fire and she starts telling Jade to back the heck off and never SPEAK to her man again!  Something about her talking smack to Jade here feels… performative I guess, though in the fake world of wrestling everything ultimately IS performative, but in any case Jade walks away as soon as Jerry Lynn (no seriously, THAT Jerry Lynn) comes out and separates the two.  Jade and Brandi both head to the back, but as soon as they’re gone and Cody is alone in the ring, Brian Cage and Ricky Starks come out to attack Cody.  Darby Allin comes in to make the save and he Cody manage to send Team Taz packing, though this will definitely not be end of it.  Oh, and Will Hobbs comes out after Team Taz is ALREADY LEAVING, so he doesn’t get to make his save.  I haven’t seen a confirmation of this, but it definitely looks like Will Hobbs missed his cue which frankly is the perfect end to an overly awkward segment.  Sure it started off great with Cody doing his thing in the ring, but Jade coming out to start grilling him set up some high expectations for who her client was… and it turned out to be Shaq of all people.  Perhaps I’m being overly negative and it’ll turn out great, but coming in as a monster bad guy seems like the least “Shaq” thing I can imagine considering how much of a good guy he is; or at least comes off as with all the marketing around him.  It certainly has my attention if nothing else, but probably not for the reasons that AEW wanted.

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Moxley is in the back being interviewed by Alex Marvez who asks him about his upcoming match with Omega.  The last time they had a match it wasn’t exactly a barn burner as it went on way too long and each consecutive brutal spot landed with diminishing returns, but now Moxley is faced with the prospect of having a proper match with Omega; one where he doesn’t have a bunch of garbage cans to throw or barb wire bats to swing.  Heck, if there’s one glaring oversight in Moxley’s run as champion it’s that he hasn’t had to face many people considered TOP TIER in terms of raw athleticism and finesse.  His challenges have almost exclusively been big dudes like Archer and Cage or hardcore guys like Kingston and Darby.  The only exception that comes to mind is MJF but even then his traditional wrestling bona-fides are undercut by his squirmy heel attitude.  It’ll be interesting to see him up against someone like Omega in a standard match where cardio and skill are going to be more important than the ability to take and inflict pain, and to a certain extent Moxley knows this as he’s fighting an uphill battle with very few people ever getting TWO wins over Omega.  The match is officially announced for the December 2 episode of Dynamite so thankfully we won’t have to wait until the Revolution PPV in January to see it all shake out!

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The Natural Nightmares Vs. The Butcher & The Blade – Bunkhouse Match

Butcher & Blade are accompanied to the ring by The Bunny

The rules of a bunkhouse match are that anything can happen as long as there’s a pinfall or submission inside the ring to determine a winner, and as far as I can tell the only thing that separates this from any other hardcore match is that everyone is wearing jeans and they put a few hay bales in the corners.  Needless to say that the match definitely feels corny in spots what with people bashing each other over the head with guitars (also known as The Jeff Jarrett, or for the even older crowd The El Kabong) and throwing one another into hay bales, but this was actually a pretty great match.  Perhaps not as good as the match that Butcher & The Blade had against The Young Bucks (which is supposedly when Matt Jackson got his injury), but a feud that’s been hitting all the wrong notes for me they manage to pull it off with a grotesque display of violence that complements the supposedly “heart-wrenching” story being told.  Dustin ends up being the star for most of this match as he does the biggest moves and takes the most damage from Butcher & Blade, and it’s a lot of fun, if perhaps overly gruesome spots.  Dustin lands a Final Reckoning on Butcher onto a chair that he hits so hard that it’s now bent at a forty-five degree angle.  THAT must have sucked, but perhaps not as much as when Dustin wraps a bull rope around Blade’s neck and punches him in the corner; that is until The Butcher spears him with a chair.  Things get a bit off track at this point as Bunny spends a full minute getting Dustin into handcuffs right as the commercial break is starting and by the time we return to the match he’s already broken out of them which feels like a wasted spot and certainly a wasted opportunity for QT to take the spotlight since this is supposedly his feud.  It’s not his time to shine yet I suppose as Dustin manages to fend both Butcher & Blade off at the same time and even stars hitting them with a ladder for a bit before The Butcher knocks him outside of the ring and the two start brawling on the stage.  Dustin gets the advantage with an assist from QT Marshall and a fire extinguisher (see?  He’s helping!), and he does a Bulldog on The Butcher off of the stage.  This takes Butcher and Dustin out for a little bit which finally gives QT a chance to hash out his differences with Blade; something they get right to as soon as they stagger back to the ring.  They are both bloody messes and start trading sloppy blows but QT gets the upper hand after a flying clothesline and smashes a trash can lid over The Blade’s head.  QT sets up the ladder and lands a GIANT Elbow Drop onto The Blade who somehow manages to get his shoulder up after a two count.  I’d probably have ended it with such a big ladder spot, but Dustin’s got a few more spots to land and he and Butcher make it back to the ring.  Now despite how intentionally messy and grotesque this match is, there’s only one spot that they botched which was when Dustin tried to do a Code Red (AKA Canadian Destroyer) onto The Butcher and I’m guessing the latter was just too tired to do the move properly so Dustin just kind of rolled him over instead of the crisp SLAM you get when done properly.  Butcher & Blade take Dustin out with a Full Death onto some chairs but QT breaks up the pin with an exceptional use of a trashcan lid, and QT manages to take out Butcher with a Diamond Cutter.  He tries to do the same to Blade but he hits with a low blow and goes to Bunny to get a chair to finish off QT.  However, QT knocks Blade in the head which knocks Bunny off the apron and into a table below.  Dustin somehow is standing after taking such a bad blow and bashes Blade over the head with a cowbell which QT follows up with another Diamond Cutter, and it’s finally enough to put Blade away and get the pin.  This isn’t my favorite kind of match and it didn’t have the WOW factor of Butcher & Blade’s match against The Young Bucks, but after a few minutes resisting the gore I eventually warmed up to it.  It’s not JUST that it was a bloody match (though it was definitely that), but that it told a good story and had creative moments throughout; particularly with Dustin and that cowbell!

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Matt Hardy promo recapping the feud up to this point and frankly I’m just glad that it’s seemingly over.  I don’t need these continue to try and kill one another whether it’s real life injuries or a Kayfabe storyline.

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MJF Joins The Inner Circle – An Induction Ceremony For The Ages!

Jericho comes out with The Inner Circle (sans Sammy who we’ll get to soon enough) first to introduce their newest members; MJF and Wardlow.  MJF, being as big a ham as Jericho, takes the lectern and starts giving a speech about how hard he works that just so happens to match lyrics from Drake songs.  This is the final straw for Ortiz who already didn’t like the idea and he grabs the mic to plead with Jericho to realize what a big phony MJF is and that he’ll tear their sacred brotherhood apart!  Jericho is ALMOST a naïve Babyface at this time as he still seems to think that MJF is worth trusting but isn’t simply commanding everyone to get along.  He listens to Ortiz, explains his position, and while he’s firm that everyone will find a way to make it work, he is confident that it will all come together sooner rather than later.  Frankly this is how I always wanted Brodie Lee to come across as the leader of The Dark Order instead of smacking his subordinates and yelling at them whenever he gets annoyed, but where I think a gentler approach will pay dividends for The Dark Order, I’m less confident that Jericho’s open arms for MJF will be a wise gamble.  MJF, to his credit, is doing his best to be the fun rich benefactor for the group as he announces that today is Jericho’s birthday before dropping balloons and confetti, and on top of that he has scheduled an all-expense paid trip to Vegas for The Inner Circle next week!  Ortiz is still not convinced, but for the time being The Inner Circle is more or less united in bringing MJF and Wardlow into the mix.  Can’t wait to see who screws it up first!

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Alex Marvez is in the back trying to get an interview with The Bucks, clearly against his will, and as soon as they open the door (and he flinches a good seven steps back) he asks them what’s next for the team.  Now I wanted them to give up the belts so that Matt Jackson can heel his leg, but instead he announces that they will be facing an indie tag team called Top Flight; not unlike Cody’s open challenge when he had the TNT title.  I’m always interested in seeing new talent so it should be fun, but I really hope that Matt Jackson isn’t pushing himself to the point that he’ll end up tearing his ACL.

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Scorpio Sky Vs. Shawn Spears

Shawn Spears is accompanied to the ring by Tully Blanchard

On Dynamite this whole feud has been what, one snide comment from Spears and a prank from Sky two weeks ago?  I mean sure there were some matches and segments on Dark that I didn’t see, but even with how little they showed us on the main show this feud is FAR more interesting than ANYTHING going on in the women’s division; especially the title picture which, if you recall, just had a match that was scheduled because the challenger was getting all huffy in the locker room.  My point here is that it really doesn’t need to be THAT complicated for a match to have compelling stakes, and sure perhaps this wouldn’t be enough for a PPV or even the main event of an episode of Dynamite, but the five minutes they took on Dynamite to let you know that these two don’t like each other is paying dividends right now!  The match itself is pretty good.  I wouldn’t say it’s an all-time classic, but the context definitely helps add some gravitas to it.  Sky in particular is going into this match hot and isn’t afraid to get dirty here with some cheap shots and even a few bites.  However, all this anger proves distracting as Shawn Spears manages to get in some moves that Sky should have otherwise avoided; particularly an early spot where Sky is on the turnbuckle but Spears is able to run up and throw him off.  Still, Sky manages to keep a solid advantage here with some great moves including a spot where he slingshots from the apron into a Stunner on Spears.  The match goes on for a while longer, including some impressive spots on the ring steps, but eventually Tully determines that things aren’t looking good for Spears which is where we should start talking about the glove.  I’ve NEVER seen a Tully Blanchard match, but apparently he would incorporate a loaded glove that he ended up giving to Spears a few months ago, but since almost all of his matches have been on Dark, I haven’t seen the glove in action.  When Spears came to the ring the ref checked the glove and it was empty so he allowed it into the match.  Now that Spears isn’t doing so well, Tully put a metal weight in the ring corner and distracts the ref while Spears loads it.  To make things even MORE confusing, Tully drops another metal weight in front of Sky who looks at it perplexed before tossing it into the crowd which is a noble gesture I guess but is his ultimate undoing as he turns around only to have Spears bash him in the head with the loaded glove.  Spears gets the pin and wins the match which certainly means that this feud is going to continue, but I’m not sure I like the whole glove thing (it feels too much like MJF’s ring and I think he does a better job of selling it) which is unfortunately because it’s basically Spears’s whole gimmick now.  Still, it was a solid match and I wouldn’t mind seeing these two lock up again on Dynamite; just as long as they come up with a new finish.

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Alex Marvez manages to chase down Kenny Omega who SEEMS to be leaving and is not interested in giving an interview but gives one anyway, and it certainly sounds like one that he was eager to give!  As the story goes, Kenny Omega hasn’t been living up to his potential as a wrestler since joining AEW, what with his loss to Jericho at Double or Nothing, his loss to Moxley at last year’s Full Gear, and now having lost the tag team title due to that loser Adam Page.  It’s time for him to get back on top and to be the Kenny Omega that people want him to be, and the first step to getting there is to beat Jon Moxley for the AEW World Title.  It’s not a bad promo, but I feel like this point has been made a dozen times by now and Kenny doesn’t add much more to it here.  I’m hoping that next week involves an actual confrontation between the two which would definitely be more interesting than just reiterating the obvious.

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Tay Conti Vs. Red Velvet

Tay Conti is accompanied to the ring by Anna Jay while Red Velvet is accompanied by Bradi Rhodes

Unlike the Sky/Spears situation where a little went a long way, this is a feud where more backstory and context is sorely needed.  I don’t know why Brandi is helping out Red Velvet and the brief backstory we’re given here on the goings on in AEW Dark aren’t sufficient enough for me to particularly care about their feud with Anna Jay and Tay Conti.  I guess you could argue that Brandi is still upset about what The Dark Order did to Cody and what Jay did to her specifically, but it’d be nice to have at least one promo or at least one angle play out on Dynamite since then; especially one involving the two protégés who are the ones actually fighting it out in the ring.  Still, it’s good that we’re seeing more women wrestle on Dynamite and the two in this match seem perfectly fine if a bit green. They definitely seems to have the basics down with roll ups, rope running, and even a bridge at one point, but there’s not much substance here as they don’t have distinctive move sets or even all that much in-ring charisma to make it feel like more than a basic exhibition.  Tay has some decent Judo throw in her repertoire and Velvet quite flexible which makes her hard to catch at points, but a lot of it devolves into throwing punches and running into each other; certainly better than NOT being able to do that but the only thing that anyone will remember about this match is going to be the ending.  Like Tully throwing the weight into the ring to help Spears, Anna Jay offers Tay a chair to bash Red Velvet over the head with.  Tay, either realizing this is going to get her disqualified or simply not wanting to cheat, kicks the chair back out of the ring and faces Red Velvet fairly.  It doesn’t look good for Tay at first as Velvet gets the advantage, but she ends up winning the match with something that KIND of looks like a GTS.  Anna Jay isn’t too happy that Tay didn’t cheat for reasons I can’t fathom as she DID win the match, but they still leave the ring together so I guess things are just fine between them.  A completely unmemorable match but still a competent one that tried to push two people who don’t often get the spotlight in Dynamite, so I’ll give it credit for that at least.

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Alex Marvez is interviewing Jericho and The Inner Circle in the back.  Everyone is celebrating about going to Vegas, but Sammy comes in and is not too happy with MJF.  See, for whatever reason MJF sent EVERYONE in the Inner Circle e-mails saying to meet him at the beach before getting a SECOND e-mail to meet him in the ring during the show, which… yeah where else would you be?  Why would you tell everyone to go to the beach in the middle of Dynamite!?  In any case, Sammy “mysteriously” only got the first e-mail which is why he wasn’t there at the induction ceremony, but not to worry!  MJF has his ticket for Vegas right here, and he can’t wait for them to spend some quality time on the trip!  Shenanigans will most certainly ensue on this trip, but I’m curious what MJF’s plan is here by intentionally needling Sammy.  It would make sense if he truly wanted to destroy The Inner Circle, but to what end?  It seems like a win-win at the moment for him to be a part of the group, but then MJF is a capricious fellow and he’ll no doubt explain in detail his reasons for being a jerk to them and to Sammy once the time comes.

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Eddie Kingston comes out to address the crowd about his loss at Full Gear.  He promises that he’s not about to give up despite saying “I Quit”, and that he’ll be champion soon enough!  With that out of the way, he introduces the next match which is…

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Rey Fénix Vs. Penta El Zero Miedo

Oh look!  Someone who did the RESPONSIBLE thing and stopped wrestling when he got hurt!  That match against Penta from a few weeks ago wasn’t PERFECT and had the unfortunate side effect of messing with Fénix’s neck, but it was still a fantastic match and I’m hopeful that this one will be even better!  It starts off well with both of them pulling off some AMAZING moves with agility and grace as they jump around, dodge moves, and trade kicks for a few minutes before eventually slowing things down a bit into a more deliberate pace.  Penta manages to toss Fenix right over the top ropes which Fénix repays with a drop kick, but Penta is not to be underestimated as he puts Fénix into this very interesting standing submission hold.  However, things take a turn for the worse, at least in my opinion, when Penta starts pulling away at Fenix’s mask; ripping it open and leaving him to clutch at his head while trying to fend off Penta.  I remember when FTR ripped the mask off in a match months ago and NOTHING came about because of it, so perhaps I have too much invested in it, but it GENUINELY feels like someone going WAY too far to do that to a luchador and that Penta doing in particular makes him an utterly detestable heel.  Then again, Fénix ends up doing it to Penta a few minutes later, so I guess he got his revenge and they’re both even… or something like that.  The whole mask thing was definitely a distraction for me for the rest of the match, but it’s still clear that these are two of the best guys in the business and they can put on a great match even if they have to keep clutching their head to make sure their masks don’t fall off entirely.  The only thing that bothered me in terms of the actual fighting is some of the moves where it seems like they are INTENTIONALLY tempting fate.  Fénix JUST got back from a neck injury, and Pentagon not only drops him on the apron with a pile driver, he follows it up with a Canadian Destroyer outside the ring and then rolls him back in to do ANOTHER pile driver to get the win.  Can we NOT try to screw up his neck again?  PLEASE!?  Well in any case, Pentagon manages to come out on top of this fight and Kingston comes into the ring to congratulate him… while booting Fénix out of the ring.  What?  I remember Pentagon and Fenix having issues a few weeks ago, but wasn’t it Kingston who insisted that they were family and that family sticks together?  So now he’s out here telling one guy he sucks and telling the other that they’re best friends?  It seems like an odd direction to take Kingston’s character, but it’s far from the most important thing that happens after the match.  While he’s yammering in the ring, none other than THE BASTARD PAC comes out with a microphone and calls out Kingston for trying to take his boys away from him just because he’s been gone for a few months!  Pac then rushes Kingston in the ring which prompts all the refs to run out and keep the two separated as they yell at each other, though sadly they dropped their microphones so we can’t hear what they’re saying, and the episode comes to a close with the promise of this feud being far from over!

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I might be feeling the burnout again because despite the matches being solid and the promos being just fine, I’m not feeling this episode all that much.  As good as Moxley and Omega’s promos were I just didn’t feel like they did anything all that different from what we’ve seen from them before, and while I’ve love the Jericho/MJF story up to this point, it’s starting to plateau a bit for me and I’m not sure exactly where it’s going.  On top of that, the whole Cody/Shaq thing feels like a total non-sequitur which COULD work out but I’m leaning towards it not doing a whole lot as untrained celebrities getting in the ring have rarely been moments worth remembering; other than for precisely the wrong reasons. Still, the action was good for the most part even if the Spears/Sky ending was a bit of a squib and the women’s match didn’t stand out, and even if the Lucha Bros match made me a bit squeamish, there’s no denying how good those two are.  We’re coming right off of a PPV and they have to start somewhere with these storylines, so even if things are a bit wonky right now, I’m hopeful that they have a plan for everything and this early weirdness will be worth sitting through for whatever amazing plans they have in store.

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