Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (11-18-2020)

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

Another week means another two hours of AEW wrestling goodness!  Well actually it’s THREE hours, but I’m still not caught up on Dark which is proving to be more and more of a problem as angles and storylines that affect Dynamite play out on that show.  Look, I’m a busy man!  I can’t be watching more wrestling AND keep up my absurdly tight schedule of a wrestling recap and a Sonic comic every week!  In any case, Does AEW have a fantastic night of Dynamite action in store for us or are they still finding their path after the big blow offs from the PPV?  Let’s find out!!

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Young Bucks Vs. Top Flight (Darius Martin & Duante Martin) – AEW Tag Team Title Match

They aren’t exactly taking my advice of vacating the titles while Matt Jackson heals his leg, but at least they took a week off to give them a bit of rest before jumping right into a match mere days after their thirty or so minute bout with FTR.  Now it seems like they might be going the Cody route and use the title as a chance to bring up some new talent with Top Flight getting not just a chance at the titles but also an extended video package explaining their backstory and why they want to wrestle in AEW.  Now it sounds like they have in fact signed with AEW which is a good thing for all involved; not just because it means a return on investment on all this TV time they’re giving them, but Top Flight seem to be a PHENOMENAL team!  A little green to be sure, but they put on a heck of a performance here against The Bucks.  Back when The Bucks were facing off with The Lucha Bros during those early PPVs, I was of the opinion that they were too spot heavy and didn’t tell a story or had any weight to it.  I don’t know if I’d feel the same way watching them again, but I definitely got that feeling watching this match with Top Flight.  They have spot on physicality and their gymnastic skills rival that of The Bucks, but you can tell which team is following a script and which one’s leading the show.  After an early flurry of flips and spins from Top Flight, The Bucks work to ground Top Flight with big moves and submissions, but the fresh young go getters prove to be more resilient than they expected and make a valiant rally to even things.  This is where they show a bit more of their technical side instead of just their flips and kicks which is solid but still could use some fine tuning, though perhaps the most impressive and devastating spot being a Hurricanrana onto Matt Jackson that takes him from the turnbuckle to flat on the mat for a two count.  What they do have down though (Duante in particular) is selling as the Bucks regain control and just tear these two apart.  Darius keeps getting swatted off the apron over and over again which leaves Duante in the middle against both Bucks who basically turn him into a crash test dummy.  A spear from Matt, an Assisted Sliced Bread off the top rope, and finally he eats a BTE trigger before getting pinned by Nick Jackson.  The Hybrid 2 for whatever reason start attacking Top Flight as soon as the match is over, but they get chased off by The Bucks rather quickly.  I guess I don’t mind that they’re building up a feud here so that Top Flight doesn’t get lost in the shuffle, but it does kind of come out of nowhere and Top Flight are not the ones who look good by the end of it.  Still, it was a really fun and really impressive match from Top Flight with a good amount of help from The Bucks.  It definitely feels like there’s room for Top Flight to grow and I’m very interested to see where they go from here.

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The Inner Circle “Slays” Las Vegas – Yas Queen or Nah Queen?

They separated this segment into two parts, but I’m just going to cover both of them here.  It feels like an episode of a great show that’s a few seasons past its prime; in that it’s trying way too hard to get back to the level it already achieved.  The stuff they shot in Vegas feels kind of cheap and not THAT much more impressive than the impromptu restaurant for the Dinner Debonair and a lot of it is rehashing jokes we’ve already seen.  MJF for whatever reason is picking on Sammy and gas lighting him (this time by switching his Black Jack cards when he isn’t looking), MJF and Jericho get into a pissing contest about who can order the strongest drink which admittedly has a funny payoff, and Wardlow and Hager stare at each other a whole bunch.  There are also a few different cameos in here, though I didn’t recognize them (other than Elvis of course), and I DID like the bit where Wardlow and Hager for absolutely no reason start beating people up, so I thought it was just fine if ultimately vapid.  That is until we get to PART TWO which is an extended Hangover parody.  Come on guys!  MJF was THIRTEEN when that movie came out; it’s officially in the nebulous time period of THE PAST along with Charlie Chaplin, Back to the Future, and flip-phones.  Ultimately it was a light and insubstantial little outing that didn’t do anything to further the storylines being established, but if you’re not completely tapped out on Hangover references then I guess you’ll find it quite hilarious.

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We get another promo from Moxley that LOOKS like it takes place in a port-a-john where he talks about his life and his dad.  Honestly, the whole thing sounds like Moxley is setting us up for his loss as he sounds beleaguered, tired, and even mentions that his wife Renee is pregnant, so perhaps he’s planning on taking some time away from the business to be with his family and this match is how he’s facilitating that.  It’s one thing for Moxley to build up a match with great promos, but rarely do you ACTUALLY believe that he’s going to lose.  This time however, it definitely sounds possible and I wouldn’t expect it to go to anyone else other than Omega at this point.

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Orange Cassidy Vs. Kip Sabian

Cassidy is accompanied to the ring by Best Friends while Sabian is accompanied by Penelope Ford.  Miro is on commentary.

Starts off a bit slow with them trading holds for a bit, but Cassidy looks good and signals his disdain for Kip by constantly going for the pockets instead of taking the match seriously.  That or it’s his unique martial arts style as he somehow manages to kick MORE butt without his hands than he does with them!  Eventually the shanningans settle down and turns into a more traditional match with some good moves but nothing out of this world.  Cassidy’s big moves include a flying Cross Body, a Swinging DDT, and a Diving DDT, while Sabian gets a few pile solid kicks and a solid pile driver for a two count.  Eventually though,  Cassidy manages to lock Sabian in the Mouse Trap which is locked in deep enough for him to get three count and win the match.  As soon as the bell rings, Miro goes FLYING towards the ring and lays out Cassidy as fast as he can before The Best Friends run in to break it up which means these groups will be feuding for some time.  It was a solid match, but nothing spectacular.  The biggest drawback is that this was SUPPOSED to be a grudge match as Kip was legitimately upset about Cassidy (arguably) putting Penelope Ford in danger, and yet the match didn’t play out like either wrestler had any stake in it.  Feels like a missed opportunity but like I said, this feud is FAR from over.

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Moxley & Omega Contract Signing – Why Is It So Hard For Two People To Sign A Piece Of Paper!?

Kenny Omega comes out with yet another overly long introduction which includes his indication into the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame this year, and when he comes out he is in the douchiest outfit imaginable in case it wasn’t clear that he’s supposed to be the bad guy in this feud.  Still, it’s kind of hard to root against him when his theme music hits.  I HEAR THE BATTLE CRYYYYY!!   For whatever reason though, Moxley doesn’t come out when his music hits!  What could possibly be keeping him?  Tony then gets word that something has happened in the back and they cut to backstage where Jon Moxley is laid out and bleeding.  Kenny isn’t buying this act and assumes it’s just another psychological tactic from the mastermind Jon Moxley, so he just goes ahead and signs the contract and expects Moxley to do the same.  The best part is that neither Kenny or Tony seem to know what to do now and so they awkwardly stare at each other until Kenny’s bombastic music hits and they just kind of shuffle their way to the back.  This seems like an odd direction to go in and I REALLY hope it doesn’t turn out that Kenny’s responsible for this, but even if he’s not whatever victory he has in two weeks will no doubt be undercut by Moxley’s injury, right?  I guess they’re setting us up for a BIG rematch sometime next year, but we’ll have to see what happens in the next few weeks before start making plans for 2021.

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Pac Vs. The Blade

The Blade is accompanied to the ring by The Butcher and The Bunny

Pac was easily one of the best wrestlers at AEW and his absence these last eight months has sorely been felt; an absence that couldn’t be soothed by super artsy mean mugging videos sent to us from the UK every blue moon.  He’s back, he’s ready to fight, and he’s got a darn good opponent with The Blade, so is this the return of a legend we’ve all been hoping for?  Frankly, I’m not sure.  I have no doubt that they have BIG plans for Pac now that he’s back, but if it was me I would have had his big return be one of overwhelming force; something that showed him to be the unstoppable monster we’ve been missing all this time.  This match is certainly BETTER than a one sided squash and it keeps The Blade from looking like a chump, but it’s similar to my problem with Miro so far.  You hire this person to BE a star, but you don’t push him to the moon; instead folding him into the mix with everyone else.  Noble in its own right, but still feels like a missed opportunity to build momentum from scratch instead of using the momentum they already had walking in the door.  To that end, it’s a fairly competitive match against The Blade.  Pac comes right out of the gate with a drop a drop kick so hard it’s like Blade got blasted in the chest with a cannonball, but it doesn’t take long for Pac to get bored and start menacing The Butcher outside.  This proves to be his undoing as The Blade smashes him in the back of the head and proceeds to toss him all around the outside and he continues to get the heat for some time.  Blade then tries to toss him to the outside but Pac reverses and lands a (DDT?) on Blade to regain the advantage; however The Bunny causes a distraction almost immediately and once again Pac goes to the outside instead of focusing on the match.  This time it’s The Butcher who smashes him on the back of the head and tosses him back into the ring for Blade who lands a Dr. Bomb and gets a two count.  He then starts getting the heat AGAIN throughout the commercial break before things even out and Pac manages to get a two count with a Superplex.  Now you’d think Pac would have learned his lesson after eating distraction shots not once but TWICE in this match, but sure enough The Bunny starts yelling at him as he goes up to the top rope for a Black Arrow and instead of just doing the move, he jumps down to confront her.  In his defenses, Pac manages to hits kick Butcher in the face when he goes for the cheap shot so at least he’s learned THAT much, but in that time Blade gets back up and rolls Pac into a pin to get a VERY close 2 count.  Pac FINALLY gets up to the top rope and lands a Shooting Star Press which he transitions into a Brutalizer that is finally enough for The Blade to tap out to; giving Pac the victory for his first match back at AEW.  Pac grabs a mic and Kingston immediately starts talking back at him.  As soon as he starts to speak, The Butcher smashes him from behind and him and The Blade lays him out.  Kingston saunters over to the ring and starts taunting Pac which is AWESOME because Kingston is always good at talking trash, but he doesn’t get through TOO much of his stand-up comedy routine before Rey Fenix runs out to try and make the save.  He tries valiantly, but the numbers are too much to overcome and he and Pac start getting stomped into oblivion.  Penta then comes out with a chair and Kingston presents Fenix to him; telling him to smash him to bits as a show loyalty to him.  Penta… DOES NOT GO FOR FENIX and instead takes a swipe at Kingston before going for Butcher and Blade.  The three of them flee the ring and it looks like Death Triangle has finally reunited.  I’m glad that they’re moving full steam ahead on this feud and that both sides are now evenly numbered, but the match itself was kind of eye-rolling as Pac proved over and over again what a fool he was for getting distracted when he could have been winning the match.  I guess you could argue that’s just a layer of depth to his character, that he’s his own worst enemy, but for me it took a bit of the wind out of the sails for his big return.  Still I have no doubt that this program with Kingston and company is going to be awesome like everything that Kingston touches, and with Pac on hand it will surely be a highlight of the next few shows even if the start was a TINY bit wonky for me.

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We cut to the back where Jade from last week is menacing Brandi and smashes her arm in a chair; all the while Nyla Rose and Vickie Gurrerro block the refs from interfering.  It’s not until after Brandi’s arm is Pilmanized that the Babyface women run in to make the save, and I can only assume that we’ll be seeing a match between them soon enough.  Will it be before Shaq shows up?  Who even knows at this point? I haven’t heard anything from Shaq specifically about being on AEW but hopefully they had SOMETHING locked down before going with this angle.

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Serena Deeb Vs.Thunder Rosa – NWA Women’s World Title Match

I’ve seen Deeb defend the title twice on AEW and so far she hasn’t exactly stood out compared to her opponents which is going to be even harder than ever now that she’s facing Thunder Rosa on Dynamite.  It starts with Thunder Roas trying to lock in a submission hold but Serena Deeb manages to avoid getting caught in anything, so if I know nothing else about Deeb it’s that she’s extremely flexible!  Even with that though, Thunder Rosa ends up maintaining a strong control of this match which makes Deeb look a bit lackluster as champion.  It would help if we got a few promos with her to set up her matches, but then again maybe AEW is cautious about giving TOO much time to NWA on national television.  Even so, it’s hard for me to get into this match as the action is fine but nothing to exciting.  There’s a nice Drop Toe-Hold that sends Deeb into the ropes and Rosa smashes her head with a dive through the ropes, but right after that Deeb lands a few Dragon Screws on Rosa while SHE’S in the ropes to try and ground her which technically does its job so was a good move for Deeb, but it means we’re right back to doing more mat work and submissions.  Thunder Rosa starts working Deeb over in the corner and it starts to look like she’s going to finish off Deeb for good, but out of nowhere comes Rebel who starts shouting at Ref Aubrey and distracting her while Brit Baker comes down the ramp and takes out Thunder Rosa with a Swinging Neckbreaker.  Deeb, who presumably saw nothing, staggers back into the ring and finds that Thunder Rosa JUST SO HAPPENS TO BE COMPLETELY HELPLESS IN THE RING (maybe she just got heatstroke or something!) and lands a Powerbomb into a pin which… IS NOT THE FINISH!  AEW has gotten criticized a few times by letting matches go on for too long, but this might be the most blatant example as the interference from Baker REALLY should have led to the finish and instead Deeb and Baker trade moves for a bit and even a submission predicament before Deeb finally lands a Facebuster to get the three count and win the match.  Baker is at ringside for whatever reason and so as soon as the match is over Thunder Rosa starts attacking her before being dragged off by the refs.  I guess they felt the need to protect Deeb and give her the win instead of having Baker cause Thunder Rosa’s loss, and supposedly this is setting up a feud between Baker and Rosa that started on twitter.  Whatever the context is and whatever they’re planning for the future, it didn’t really work for me as it was presented on TV, though I guess it’s worth praising AEW for building a feud on the women’s division that doesn’t involve the title belt.

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John Silver and Anna Jay are in the back where they announce that Jay is getting a title match next week.  Not much more to it other than that John Silver is always fun to watch!

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Cody Rhodes & Darby Allin Vs. Brian Cage & Ricky Starks

Cody is accompanied to the ring by Arn Anderson.  Taz is on commentary.

Before the match starts there’s another Darby Allin video where he’s hanging around a church; riding a skateboard, setting himself on fire, the usual artsy music video stuff.  What’s great about this video though is not so much what’s in it as Taz’s reaction where he calls it a bunch of pretentious nonsense and complains that his guys in the ring have to wait and sit through it for no reason; like he was forced to watch a Terrence Mallik trailer before seeing the latest Adam Sandler joint.  If that wasn’t enough, Cody comes out with a T-Shirt that’s mocking Shaq’s Papa John’s pizza box and Excalibur has to explain the joke to everyone which I’m glad he DID because I certainly didn’t get it!  As for the match itself, it starts with Darby and Starks with some very fast and scrappy mat work which was fun to see and an okay warm up for what’s to come.  It eventually switches to Cody and Cage which MIGHT be their first fight?  He has a reputation for fighting big dudes so perhaps I’m forgetting a match between them, but in any case they have a darn good exchange of moves.  Taz leaves the commentary booth at this point to join his team at ringside and in a BIG angle that happened during the commercial break, Taz grabs Cody’s leg during the match which incenses Arn Anderson so much that he throws a chair into the ring and threatens to get in himself.  Thank goodness the ref was wise enough to then eject Arn Anderson because we don’t want to see him even LOOK at Cage to hard lest he pull something, and honestly it really doesn’t do much to change the balance of the match.  Cody goes for a tag but Starks is ready for this and drags Darby off the apron so that Cage can continue to take Cody apart.  After a darn good German Suplex, Cage tags Starks into the match who works Cody over in the corner but eventually gives Cody an opening to make a tag to Darby.  They tussle for a bit before Brian Cage just runs into the ring and German Suplexes the both of them which is THEN Followed by Cody just running into the ring and cleaning house.  Seems to undercut the tension of a hot tag when it’s immediately followed by a free for all, but aside from that it’s a VERY impressive display of wrestling action from everyone that ends with Starks cutting Cody in half with a Spear.  Darby is back by this point and he does this AMAZING Powerbomb reversal into a Yoshi Tonic on Cage that really SHOULD have ended the match, but Spears runs in and breaks up the pin who… I GUESS is the legal man at this point?  It’s pretty muddled by now, but the action remains good with Cody running in and doing a Cross Rhodes which is followed by a Discus Clothesline from Cage to Darby and a Fireman’s Carry Driver to Cody for good measure!  Cage is alone in the ring with Darby, which I assume means they are the two legal competitors, and he puts him on the top turnbuckle.  He plans Darby with an AVALANCHE DRILL CLAW which I didn’t think was even possible as you’re basically PILE DRIVING SOMEONE FROM THE MIDDLE ROPE, and it’s enough to put Darby to sleep and get Cage the pin.  I really did like this match but it took a bit to rev up and then got a bit too out of control at the end.  I usually don’t mind when the action is this good, but it’s worth noting that it feels like a backslide for AEW who worked pretty hard to make their Tag Team matches follow proper rules to now have this be as big of a mess as it was.  It could have simply been that I just missed all the tags they were doing in and out, but they certainly didn’t make it easy to follow if that was the case.

Cage and Starks celebrate in the ring while their music plays, but they eventually go back to beating on Darby and Cody because they’re jerks like that.  Will Hobbs comes out to make the save, FINALLY hitting his spot after he seemingly screwed it up last week, and chases them out with a chair.  Cage dropped the FTW belt on the way and Hobbs holds it up the belt to taunt Team Taz… BUT THEN HE WAFFLES   CODY OVER THE HEAD WITH THE BELT!!  HE IS JOINING TEAM TAZ!!  WHAT!?  NO!!  WHY WOULD YOU TAKE SUCH A NATURAL BABYFACE AND START HIM OUT AS A HEEL!?  And this is how the episode ends; with Team Taz and their newest member gloating over Cody and Taz promising that this is just the beginning.

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Even though there are some genuinely good things about this episode, it just COMPLETELY washed over me and I don’t know if I’ll remember anything about it a week from now other than the baffling decision to turn Will Hobbs heel.  The opening and closing matches were genuinely good and I thought most of the other matches were fine, but aside from Moxley seemingly preparing us to see him drop the belt I don’t think there was much of consequence here outside of Hobbs joining up with the bad guys.  Even the Britt Baker/Thunder Rosa thing didn’t do a lot for me and I’m not exactly chomping at the bit to see that feud play out, nor am I all that interested in whatever’s going on with Shaq and Jade; the former of whom still hasn’t shown up yet.  As for Will Hobbs, I just don’t think now is the time to make this turn for him.  He’s not exactly a NEW guy, but he’s not been around long enough for this to feel like a betrayal like it was when MJF screwed Cody out of ever getting the title and it doesn’t have the weight behind it like when Roman Reigns finally turned heel.  I mean heck, I just talked about how AEW didn’t use Miro and Pac’s built in credibility and gravitas to start them out as strong as they could have, and now we’ve got a relative unknown with a heck of a lot of Babyface charisma that is instead going to have to work to convince us he’s a genuine heel.  It’s going to be a tough challenge to say the least, as is convincing us that Shaq can have a good match or that Baker and Rosa will be a compelling feud, but if AEW wants to do things the hard way then I guess I’ve got to give them respect for it.  Hopefully it will all make sense by next week’s show and maybe that added context will make me reconsider what I thought about this episode.

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