Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (12-23-2020)

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

There was zero chance of me getting this recap out in a reasonable amount of time considering they put the episode on Christmas Eve Eve, but with the tragedy that happened over the weekend it got even harder to just sit down and get this recap done.  Heck, I didn’t even finish watching the episode until last night with less than 2 days to go before the next one!  Still, AEW Dynamite, even during the times where it’s hardest to sit down and watch, is still a genuine highlight of my week and they’ve definitely had a solid string of shows during the holiday season.  Is their Christmas episode so good we’ll want to revisit it every Christmas, or is it one of those OTHER Christmas specials we only watch once and try to pretend never existed like Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer or December to Dismember?  Let’s find out!!

.

Top Flight (Darius Martin & Duante Martin) Vs. Jericho & MJF

Jericho is accompanied to the ring by Jake Hager

I’ve been a bit down on Top Flight, but it looks like AEW has a lot of faith in them to carry the company if given enough seasoning; otherwise why would they have been put up against not just The Bucks but JERICHO within weeks of debuting on Dynamite?  Jericho to his credit gives A LOT up to Top Flight right off the bat as they beat the ever loving crap out of him with a series of flippy moves, but they’re not about to outmatch the Demo God just yet because despite the relentless assault they can only manage to get a one count.  That’s perhaps what makes this match a LITTLE bit weird.  Jericho and MJF will bump all around for these two, but as soon as its time to get the heat it’s a complete 180 reversal; and they’re the dominate heels again bullying the fresh faced youngsters.  Sure, there’s SOME of that in any tag team match, but the turns feel a bit more jarring.  The ending was also a little bit much for me, but I guess I can buy it.  Top Flight are on the verge of winning the match after Daunte takes out Jericho by the time keeper’s table and Darius has MJF to himself, but Jake Hager manages to sweep Darius off the apron and smash his face on the way down; giving MJF the chance to pile drive the man and get the three count.  On the one hand, Jericho and MJF, two of the most protected people in the company, had to cheat to beat these two.  On the other hand, they are untested as a tag team so perhaps a lack of cohesion here or a strong defense against this kind of tag team is to be expected.  It wasn’t bad or anything and it definitely had some great spots; I just found it a bit curious just how hard they were trying to make sure EVERYONE looked good even if it made the selling look a bit silly.   

After the match, Hager grabs the mic to congratulate his fellow Inner Circle members, but there’s something that’s been perplexing him for two weeks now.  WHERE IS WARDLOW!?  He’s upset that Wardlow has been away on “family business” and so he had Tony Khan schedule a friendly little spar next week on Dynamite between the two of them and Wardlow better show up!  Hager actually has some good delivery here and it’s nice to hear him take the mic again, but I’d be cautious of using Wardlow’s absence in a storyline; especially if the family business in question is SERIOUS business.

.

The Acclaimed have a music video.  Where last week I wasn’t sure if they were SUPPOSED to be huge dorks, this music video where they trash talk The Bucks kinda cements that as their aesthetic.

.

IT’S STING!!  …  AGAIN!!

Alright, so Sting has been here for a few weeks now and he’s definitely still commanding the stage whenever he shows up, but he’s gotta give us something more than stare-downs, so what is he here to do?  Tony of course has to fawn over him for a bit (as would I if I was in that ring), but he eventually gets to the point and asks him to explain himself.  Sting goes into a story from his youth where he watched Dusty Rhodes from the back as a young upstart wrestler.  It turns out that Dusty was the one who told Sting to start wearing face paint (this was colorful Surfer Sting and not Crow Sting) which I’m PRETTY doubtful of, but it’s a decent enough motivation for him to want to join AEW; to continue the legacy of the man who gave him the break he needed all those years ago.  One person is far from impressed by this however, and that’s Taz who comes out with his entire team to call him on his nonsense to remind him that Sting has been in this business for himself all these years.  Starks in particular is unimpressed by the legend in the ring and is getting tired of him interrupting Team Taz business, so perhaps it’s time for Sting to learn his lesson before he REALLY gets hurt.  As soon as they start to approach the ring though, the lights go out for a second and then BOOM!  Darby Allin is in the ring to back Sting up.  Taz seeing the writing on the wall decides it’s better to fight another day, and that day is actually January sixth where Brian Cage will DEMOLISH Darby in their TNT Title Match!  It feels like we’re making SOME progress here, but things are still moving a bit too slowly.  I don’t know what Cody’s plans are now that he and Brandi are pregnant so perhaps they need a bit of time to find someone else to slot into his position for this feud, but for now they’re doing just enough to keep things interesting.

.

MJF is in the back to give his condolences to Santana who lost his father back in March, and tells him that he lost his grandfather recently as well.  It seems to be an attempt for MJF to bond with his fellow Inner Circle members, though how sincere this gesture is remains to be seen.

.

Jurassic Express Vs. The Dark Order (Colt Cabana & Five The Creeper & Ten The Creeper) – Six Man Tag Match

It’s been a VERY long time since Jurassic Express has had the spotlight, and this match is a great showcase of why they were so popular to begin with; especially Marko Stunt who looks GREAT here and is used in very creative ways!  It’s the kind of match I like to see in the middle of these shows where there isn’t THAT much in terms of big time angles but enough over the top action and well timed spots that you get something of a story in a very explosive package.  Colt Cabana spends most of this match acting like a goof ball which makes him easy pickings for Marko Stunt and gets him the ire of his masked teammates.  Colt puts Marko on the top rope and pats his head which gives Stunt the chant to devastate him with a Hurricanrana, and this is so embarrassing for The Dark Order that Five tags himself in… only to eat an arm drag from Stunt a moment later.  They aren’t total chumps however as Jungle Boy gets a decent Baby Face push here when The Dark Order gets the heat on him for several minutes.  He eventually manages to fight his way back to the corner and give Luchasaurus the hot tag who comes in like an actual dinosaur and MAULS the three of them with almost no effort!  Choke Slam on Five the Creeper followed by a Standing Moonsault would have led to the tree count, but Ten broke up the pin at the last second.  Five and Ten have definitely been the C tier dudes in The Dark Order as they don’t have names AND they have to wear masks, but they show that they aren’t simple job guys here as they isolate Marko Stunt and show some impressive moves before going for the pin, but THAT gets broken up at two by Jungle Boy.  It’s about time to bring this match to close though, so Jungle Boy gets in and knocks everyone to the floor.  Luchasaurus then takes Marko Stunt and HURLS him like a missile at Ten and Cabana to keep them busy; freeing up himself and Jungle Boy to land a Powerbomb and get the pin.  Like I said, there’s not TOO much going on in this match, but it everyone looked good in this match and I’d definitely like to see more matches like this in the future!

Schiavone goes to the ring to try and interview Jurassic Express, but he’s soon interrupted by Tully and FTR on the titantron to call them out and challenge them to a match on January Sixth.  Fair enough as FTR is on a quest to get their belts back and they need opponents who look good, but this probably means that Jurassic Express isn’t about to get a real push yet.

.

We cut to Alex Marvez trying to catch up with Don Callis and Kenny Omega at which point Callis goes into a rant about how the talent has run amuck and Tony Khan is taking marching orders from the likes of Pac and Fénix.  It’s an utter disgrace that Callis wants NO part of, but Kenny interjects and lets Fénix know that he’s not even in his LEAGUE; listing off all of Fénix’s losses in the last few months compared to Kenny’s overwhelming success.  Kenny has been KILLING it these last few weeks as the heel champion; mostly by selling this dude as THE WORLD’S champion and having him list off not just his opponent’s history here at AEW but where they’ve been throughout their career and taking snide shots at other promotions like AAA.  I don’t know if it’s playing as well to those who aren’t in the know (I’m like only 15% in the know for most of this stuff), but it’s been a compelling few weeks as he establishes what his heel run is going to be.

.

The Butcher Vs. Pac

Butcher is accompanied to the ring by The Blade, The Bunny, and Eddie Kingston while Pac is accompanied by Penta El Zero M

Kingston’s recent spates have had their high points, but there’s been a definite lack of COHESION with these matches and the story telling.  We understand that none of these people like each other, but it’s still unclear what they’re fighting FOR and what each much is supposed to mean.  That same issue is present here as I doubt that Kingston is gonna let The Butcher in the ring if this is supposed to be a genuine blow off, and the match is just kinda plodding and without much excitement.  The big problem for me was that Pac sold WAY too much for The Butcher as the match feels like one big heat spot for The Butcher as he tears Pac apart with relative ease for the majority of this match; leading to a VERY strange ending that I can’t quite explain.  Butcher has Pac dead to rights, but for reasons I cannot fathom, he just STANDS there and doesn’t do anything!  Kingston starts yelling at him to finish the guy off but before either one can DO anything, Lance Archer comes out and starts yelling at Kingston.  This is enough for Butcher to let Pac go and watch this for a bit before turning around to eat a kick from Pac who then follows up with a Black Arrow to get the pin.  Butcher spent ten minutes getting nothing but offense on Pac, but a few kicks and a jump from the top rope is enough to get the pin?  I don’t know, this whole match felt like filler and not very good filler on top of it which is a shame considering how talented EVERYONE involved is.

.

We cut to the back where Jade cuts a promo on Brandi; telling her that it’s REALLY convenient that she got pregnant right before their feud got up and running, which SOUNDS like a shoot but I don’t think it’s intended to be one.  In any case, she wants a worthy opponent so she can show the AEW audience what she can do which I can only assume means she’ll get a match in the next week or two to see if this whole Jade/Shaq thing is actually going anywhere.

.

You Are Cordially Invited to Kip and Penelope’s Wedding! – When’s The Date and Where Are They Registered!?

Okay, so Kip, Penelope, and Miro are out there to announce the date and Kip starts jabbering on the mic about whatever.  What I noticed is that Miro seems REALLY distracted by something!  He’s trying to hold a smile but at some point he looks REALLY glum, and when Kip tries to toss it back to him he can barely summon enough energy to shout “HERE WE GO” before tossing it back to Kip!  Now the Best Friends music hits a moment later, then after a minute we find out it was just a prank from Kip, Penelope, and Miro, and he seems back to his old self by now as he laughs uproariously at their own cleverness, but I’m curious if something WAS bothering him at that moment.  In any case, the three of them were in fact expecting Best Friends to pull something during the announcement so they preemptively beat the crap out of Trent before their segment began; so much so that we see him being wheeled out of the stadium into an ambulance with a concerned Chuck and Orange on either side.  With those three out of the way, they announce the wedding for the 2/3/2020 episode of Dynamite, and the show itself or just the wedding (it’s a bit unclear) will take place on a beach instead of at Daily’s Place.  It was fine I guess, and since we now have a destination they can start taking bigger steps as move closer and close to it.

.

Dustin Rhodes Vs. Evil Uno

This was the match I was most looking forward to this week, and I have to say that I was a LITTLE bi disappointed here.  Uno and Dustin are very good, but surprisingly it’s Uno who ends up being the aggressor right off the bat; laying a whole lot of chops on Dustin and knocking him to the outside of the ring.  See, my read on Evil Uno is that while he was no slouch in the ring, he should only have a shot of winning by outsmarting his opponent and not by trying to outpunch them; ESPECIALLY against a guy as big and tough as Dustin!  Heck, Dustin ends up having to do the thinking here as he moves himself so that he can duck a chop that sends Uno’s hand smashing into the post which Dustin follows up by slamming his hand into it a second time.  Uno does a good job fighting the rest of this match selling the hand injury, but even with that he’s primarily an aggressor here and even does a Senton Bomb from the top rope.  It was a good movie and I never expected him to be a guy with much aerial skills, but still felt a bit off for who is ostensibly the slick heel trying to overcome the badass Babyface.  Said Babyface by the way does his biggest moves (a Canadian Destoryer and a Cross Body from the top rope) during the commercial break, so something feels off across the board here but both guys are good enough that it just feels kind of off and not a complete mess.  The ending does kind of bring it all together though as both men are tired and are down to trading blows to see who can outlast the other.  Uno gets one last thrust kick as a last gasp of offense and it sends Dustin flying to the corner, but when he tries to capitalize on it he instead eats a Bulldog from Dustin and eats a three count.  Immediately after the match Uno tries to plead with Dustin one more time after the match is over; offering his friendship as well as his hand to shake.  Now I figured Dustin will take the hand and start squeezing it to exacerbate the injury, but instead he kicks Uno over and is immediately attacked by Stu Grayson who cleans his clock and has to be pulled away by Uno.  QT Marshall comes out to try and save the day but Grayson grabs him immediately so that Uno can punch him in the face.  Not sure why he decided to use the injured right instead of his perfectly good left, but it was enough to knock QT flat on his back!  Then Lee Johnson springboards off the ropes and drop kicks the both of them; forcing them to retreat and regroup for their next move.  Evil Uno is a consummate professional, and I guess that sometimes means you do the match you have to do and not the match that will get you five stars.  The match itself was the least interesting thing about this, especially since two of its best moments were left for the commercial, but it was well done for what it was and the angle afterwards was perfectly executed to move this story forward.  Everyone looked good here; particularly Stu Grayson who just hasn’t been on TV all that much despite The Dark Order being pushed so hard in recent weeks, and hopefully he can show us more of what he can do in whatever match this angle ultimately leads to.

.

Shawn Spears is in the back with Tony Schiavone and things get… a little weird.  The substance of the interview is that Shawn Spears feels wasted at AEW and is hinting that he plans on leaving the company.  Now obviously this is NOT a shoot as AEW wouldn’t have aired it on their show if it wasn’t planned, but in the last few days his information WAS removed from AEW’s website and Spears’s social media has gone dark, so while I don’t think there’s GENUINE bad blood here we may not be seeing Spears anytime soon.  I DOUBT he’s out on injury, but other than that I’m not sure why he’d be taking time away from the company as I thought they were working an angle between him and Scorpio Sky.  Sure it wasn’t a PPV caliber program, but it’s a lot better than nothing which is what’s going on for pretty much everyone who ISN’T at one of the big companies.  I guess the fact that I’m writing about all this proves that the angle is working, but for reasons that are probably quite obvious I’m not in the mood for “mysterious exits” right now.

.

Hikaru Shida Vs. Alex Garcia

Okay, so we need to talk about Abadon.  AEW is clearly setting Abadon up to be the next big challenger for Shida and she’s different enough from everyone else that Shdia’s faced that it could be a very compelling program.  To me though, they really dropped the ball here and this match is just a complete mess because of it.  The number one thing we need is for Abadon to look formidable going into her match against Shida, so having her pop up here and there to intimidate her and having her win a few squash matches is a good way to do it.  However, before this match begins while Shida is being interviewed in the back, Abadon just bum rushes her and gets IMMEDIATELY repelled by Shida who just goes to her match.  Well there you go!  You JUST showed us that Abadon isn’t much of a threat now, haven’t you?  To make matters worse, Abadon shows up at ring side during the match and once again Shida just utterly destroys her, pretty much knocking her unconscious, before going back into the ring and winning the match with next to no effort.  Say what you will about the ridiculous things they’ve had Bray Wyatt and The Fiend do to set up their matches, they work for me because they create an atmosphere of psychological tension and they make it difficult to gauge the relative effectiveness of his opponent’ offense.  For example, if Shida say LOST the match here after spending time beating up Abadon, you would question if Abadon MEANT for that to happen.  If she just stood outside the ring making glowering faces at Shida instead of trying to get into a fist fight, then you wouldn’t have to reveal their relative strength levels before the match.  The only thing they KIND of do right here is that after the match is over Abadon runs up and bites Shida’s neck before walking away.  It’s unorthodox, it’s intimidating, and it doesn’t give you that much of a clue as to how these two would fare in an actual match, but it felt like too little too late considering all much they gave up prior to that moment.  The match itself?  It was fine.  Just an extended squash match where Garcia got a LITTLE bit of offense in but was ultimately overcome by the Falcon Arrow.  I’m sure she’ll be joining Tesha Price, Kenzie Paige and everyone else in the stands singing Judas whenever Jericho shows up.

.

The Young Bucks Vs. The Acclaimed (Max Caster & Anthony Bowens) – AEW Tag Team Title Match

The Young Bucks can drag anyone to a good match, and even though The Acclaimed got utter SCHOOLED here in a way that would end a team’s credibility, they still managed to look good here and much more legitimate than they’ve been so far.  The Bucks take complete control of this match with utter ease (the only heat spot The Acclaimed got was mostly during the commercial break) but it’s a two way dance where The Bucks have to make the moves look good and The Acclaimed have to convincingly sell the offense; something that not every team can pull off convincing.  Still, considering how one sided this whole thing is I think it went on a bit too long; especially with a spot right in the middle that I felt would have been a PERFECT way to end the match but was just another spot for The Bucks to show off.  Matt Jackson has Bowens in a Sharpshooter and Caster comes in to try and break it up by smashing Matt over the head with a series of punches.  However, Matt REFUSES to let go and demands Caster to hit him even harder which momentarily stops him right in his tracks and gives Nick Jackson enough time to recover and put Caster in a Sharpshooter of his own.  I thought it would have been great to stop it here with The Bucks looking utterly dominant, but Bowens makes it to the ropes and break the hold.  It’s not like there’s any real REASON for it considering that The Bucks remain in control and just rebuild the momentum from there, but The Acclaimed do get one pretty cool near fall with a Superplex/Suplex combination that only gets a two count because Matt runs in to break up the pin.  They keep going from there and both teams are starting to wear down which causes Nick to accidently hit Ref Knox with a Superkick; knocking him out completely giving The Acclaimed an opening for a low blow and a bash in the head with a boom box.  Caster gets the pin on Nick but the ref isn’t there so by the time a new ref comes in to count it, Nick manages to kick out and not long after that The Bucks land a BTE trigger on Caster to get the ACTUAL pin.  Perhaps this is where the story is going to justify a rematch further down the road with Acclaimed claiming they won the match and The Bucks countering that they cheated, and I can certainly get behind that, but I still feel like it was a bit wasted for that AWESOME Sharpshooter spot to NOT be the finish.  Perhaps I’m just being too critical as the match was very good, especially if you like the Bucks style of spot heavy tag action, and the episode comes to an end with the champs standing strong with their belts held aloft; ready for their next challenger!

.

Frankly, I wasn’t too impressed with this episode but there were a lot of mitigating factors that no doubt dampened my enthusiasm.  It feels like we’re still struggling at the first few steps of new storylines and I don’t have a clear idea of where things are going; an issue that is especially egregious in the Pac/Kingston feud that’s been going on for what, a month now?  I’m willing to just write this one off because of its poor timing and my busy schedule, but let’s hope that next week gives us something with a bit more substance behind it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s