Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (01-13-2021) – New Year’s Smash Night 2

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

We’re back with night two of AEW’s New Year’s Spectacular; a good two weeks after the New Year came and went!  Yeah, look at me of all people pointing out that someone is late on something; glass houses and all that.  In any case, last week’s show didn’t really land for me, but I still found a lot of it to be quite entertaining.  Do things come together more smoothly this week, or will it somehow be an even bigger mess!?  Let’s find out!!

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Pac Vs. Eddie Kingston

Pac is accompanied to the ring by The Lucha Bros while Kingston is accompanied by The Butcher, The Blade, & The Bunny

I think the problem with Kingston lately is that he needs a real ace in the hole; not mid carders like Butcher & Blade but a big unstoppable beast that will do anything he says, or better yet maybe a tag team that is truly unstoppable and respected!  TOO BAD HE LOST THE LUCHA BROS, but I guess with Pac returning, AEW thought they were better off with him.  As for the match itself, Pac takes a deceive lead off the bat and it’s not until interference from The Bunny that Kingston starts getting the heat.  Pac definitely looks stronger here than he has in a while; even during the heat where he’s practically egging Kingston on and it’s ultimately a short lived advantage as he soon regains control of the match.  However, Pac’s fatal flaw seems to be that he takes his time; not in a sportsmanlike baby face way where he makes sure his opponent is okay to continue, but to admire his own work and these are the spots where Kingston can get a few shots.  He’s quickly put back down by Pac, particularly one spot where Eddie eats a VERY crisp kip up while sitting on the top turnbuckle and looks directly in the camera with a face like a cartoon character (only missing the tweeting birds circling his head), but Pac could have finished this a lot sooner if he just went for it at full force and didn’t give Kingston a chance to breath.  Pac ends up getting a Superplex off of the cartoon spot and Kingston sells his arm and neck which means he’s on borrowed time.  He goes for a DDIT spot but fails to land it due to his injury,  and he eats a Black Arrow from Pac which leads to the pin.   Pac, living up to his bad guy bona-fides, immediately puts Kingston in the Brutalizer after the bell rings.  Before it can turn into an all-out brawl, Lance Archer and Jake Roberts hit the ring to break it up… for some reason.  There’s something about Pac needing to be on the same page, but I don’t know what he’s talking about.  After all is said and done, not a bad opener!  The Bucks didn’t start things off this this week as Nick is healing from a pretty bad bruise, but it was still fun and definitely showed the strength of these two men better than their other recent matches have.  Kingston’s got the mouth, and there are few with a better mouth than him, but he doesn’t have the muscle to back it up and I hope someone else notices this if they plan on continuing this feud.

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Chuck Taylor Vs. Miro

Chuck is accompanied to the ring by Orange Cassidy while Miro is accompanied by Kip Sabian & Penelope Ford

Trent’s unfortunate injury has forced an angle that was already feeling long in the tooth to stretch out even further.  Thankfully they thought of this Young Boy angle for the match where the loser will essentially have to become the other’s servant until Kip and Penelope’s wedding in February, and that should keep the feud simmering at least for a little bit.  As for the match itself, well unfortunately it is not Chuck’s night to shine.  Admittedly Miro needs quick and decisive victories like this to sell him as a genuine threat, but boy does Chuck look like a chump.  He starts out fine as he sends Miro to the outside right off the bat and tosses him into a few walls, but Miro quickly shrugs that off and starts to brutalize Chuck.  A few giant fists in the corner, a nice looking German Suplex, it’s everything you want to see from the guy and why it was so frustrating to see him being underutilized at WWE.  My only problem is with the finish where after about two minutes of offense he puts Chuck in the Game Over and immediately taps out.  I was a bit glib earlier as Chuck really did look good when he was on the offense, but considering how much heat is between these two I wasn’t expecting an immediate tap out.  You want Miro to look strong for sure, but perhaps Chuck passing out would have done the job without making Chuck look so far beneath him.  Other than that, I think this was a great showcase for Miro and I hope he has matches much more often on the show.

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Dasha is interviewing Matt and Private Party in the back and there’s already trouble in paradise as Quen and Kassidy are paying Hardy 50% instead of the agreed upon 30%.  Okay, so there have been low points on Dynamite for sure, but this is definitely the first time I’m reminded of genuinely awful TNA booking.  So back in the Hogan years, there was a story where Eric Bischoff had current company president Dixie Carter sign papers ON NATIONAL TELEVISION where he told her it was to release a wrestler that had attacked her.  Turns out they had given her one of those cartoon contracts where one signature line means she handed over COMPLETE CONTROL OF THE COMPANY to him and Hogan.  I mean fair enough, the situation here isn’t THAT ridiculous, but the idea that Matt Hardy presented them with a contract last week and misrepresented it while being recorded on National Television is the kind of ridiculous wrestling logic that makes my head hurt, and frankly I have not been impressed with Huckster Matt as a character.  I hope I’m the only one that feels that because they seem committed to using him instead of Broken Matt which I thought was a much better character, but either way this just made me roll my eyes.

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The Inner Circle New Year’s Spectacular – They Decide When The New Year Starts!

Inner Circle haven’t had the best luck with these celebrations as they tend to go on a bit too long, but they kept this one relatively short and sweet.  They declare that their New Year’s resolution (on top of learning to cook) is to win ALL of the belts and get back on top; including the Tag Team Title belts that Jericho plans on winning with MJF.  Seems like a solid plan, except that they already HAVE a tag team in the form of Santana and Ortiz, and on top of that, wasn’t Jericho already teaming with Jake Hager and even Sammy before that?  Sammy is the one most displeased by this and calls Jericho… well he uses a name that I don’t feel like repeating here to imply Jericho has way too many tag team partners.  Sammy.  Buddy.  You’ve got to cut back on that crap.  You haven’t made the kind of splash or show of remorse that we’ve all been hoping for you to, so words like that are probably not the best to use right now.  I swear, this guy was supposed to be the next big thing and everything just fell apart, most of due to his own behavior, but he had some bad luck in 2020 with his feud against Matt Hardy and I am in NO way ready for a Sammy Babyface push; especially if he’s going to talk like that.  In any case, Jericho ends up playing peacemaker and decides that next week there will be a three way tag match; him and MJF, Proud N Powerful, and Sammy and Hager (nyuk-nyuk-nyuk) facing off with the winner being the official Tag Team of The Inner Circle.  I’m very interested to see that match as Jake Hager is always fun in tag matches and Proud N Powerful are kind of underrated (they aren’t the default tag team for their faction despite being the best one), but Sammy’s still a problem here and I don’t know what to do with him at this point.  Well at least nothing that doesn’t involve a bar of soap and a clean thesaurus.

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Alex Marvez is in the back interviewing The Dark Order where Evil Uno all but states their intention of becoming a Baby Face group going forward, and their first action as this new and improved faction is going to be a tag team match next week with Adam Page joining Silver and Reynolds once again.  Page promises to finally decide if he will be joining the group by the end of that match, so there’s a lot riding on Silver and Reynolds to deliver next week!  I’m not sure if I like the idea of them becoming Baby Faces as they have been FANTASTIC so far as incompetent yet endearing Heels, but we’ll see how it goes.

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Kenny Omega & The Good Brothers (Gallows & Anderson) Vs. Danny Limelight & The Varsity Blondes (Griff Garrison & Brian Pillman Jr)

Danny who?  I mean sure this is CLEARLY a one sided squash fest considering they got The Varsity Blondes for this, but doesn’t AEW have enough people who could use a shine like this?  Heck, the only reason Griff Garrison is even in The Varsity Blondes is because he got his butt kicked by MJF.  Frankly they should have given this to Brandon Cutler considering he was SUPPOSED to be in a match a few weeks ago and was cut from it by no fault of his own, but in any case we’re here to watch Kenny and The Good Brothers make short work of this team and establish their dominance.  They also seem to be thumbing their nose at The Bucks for some reason as The Bucks thought THEY were going be joining Kenny in this match but were replaced at the very last minute, but I’m not even sure why they’re doing that.  I thought they WANTED The Bucks on their side!  The match itself?  Honestly it was a bit glib of me to call this a squash as Kenny is not afraid to give some time to guys lower on the card than he is, but I kind think it would have been better if it was.  Nothing against The Blondes or Mr. LimeLight, but Gallows and Anderson are the ones who have something to prove here as there are PLENTY of AEW fans (myself included) who aren’t familiar with their work and if they’re going to “invade” the company I think they should pose a much stronger threat than eking out a victory against these three.  Still, they got the job done with something called a Magic Killer, and their opponents looked goo the entire time; especially Danny who pulled off a few Fénix-esque moves on the ropes.  Once the match is over though, Jon Moxley’s music hits and he slowly ambles to the ring while Kenny and The Good Brothers just stare at him instead of doing something product like leaving or at least getting a weapon.  Moxley hits the ring and rushes for Omega, the three of them fend off Moxley, and then The Lucha Bros come out to even the odds.  The locker room empties to try and break up the violence and SOMEONE eats a Paradigm Shift from Moxley.  I don’t know who it was (I watch this show every week and there are STILL people I don’t know!?), but he rolls out of the ring to make room for The Bucks who try to be peacemakers before eating Super Kicks from The Lucha Bros.  I guess it was a fine brawl and cements Moxley’s bad boy cred once again, but for me it was too long of a match to build up for an angle that itself didn’t do a lot for me.  A brawl like this needs to have something more to it than just a body count.  An injury angle, a dastardly plan coming to fruition, even a realignment of factions, but nothing really came about from it and didn’t feel like the best use of everyone’s talents.

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The Waiting Room – Daytime Television On A Prime Time Show!

I haven’t been the most enthusiastic about Britt Baker despite her rise in popularity since turning heel, so I want to start this off saying something nice.  I think the idea is actually pretty well realized.  It’s a paper thin set with barely any amenities that looks like a public access sitcom, and I REALLY like the studio audience that’s filled with wrestlers and refs.  That was pretty fun, especially as there’s still a canned laugh track throughout the segment.  I think this is an idea that can work and I do expect it to evolve over time, but they aren’t taking it seriously enough yet.  Baker and Rebel are a bit much here and I think it would serve them better to act like actual hosts of a talk show rather than as one giant prop to inflate Baker’s ego.  It can be funny and entertaining without itself feeling like one big joke, and perhaps that’s the direction we’ll go in, but for now it’s an excuse to get Cody and Jade Cargill in the same room again to rehash whatever this Shaq feud is going to be.  She comes in and starts spouting off about Brandi and her getting a match soon which Cody takes in stride, but once she slaps him in the face the scene gets crashed by Red Velvet; the protégé of Brandi who I assume will be fighting in her stead while she’s on maternity leave.  There’s yet another brawl where the studio audience runs in to break it up, and then we awkwardly transition to the clip of Britt Baker beating up Thunder Rosa on the titantron.  Thunder Rosa then shows up on the screen herself to challenge Baker at the Beach Break event in February.  To the consternation of Baker, the match is approved and a graphic of it appears on the Titantron.  My favorite detail here is that this was clearly shot in Thunder Rosa’s living room where she has some framed fan art of herself on the wall.  THAT’S awesome, but I can’t exactly say the same thing about the segment as a whole.  Have you ever see that clip from the 1987 Slammy Awards where Vince McMahon sings while a bunch of wrestlers are playing instruments and Hogan is “shredding” on the guitar?  That is TEN times funnier than it has any right to be because of the effort put into it.  We know it’s a joke, but the people on the stage are pretending it’s not.  If they had gone out there with kazoos and Vince intentionally sang off key, it would have been SILLIER but not nearly as entertaining.  I think we’re at that point with this Waiting Room segment, but as I said I have confidence that it will get better and more refined as time goes on.

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Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy & Marko Stunt) Vs. FTR

FTR is accompanied to the ring by Tully Blanchard

Sadly Luchasaurus only sticks around for the entrance which is a shame as I would LOVE to see him drop kick Tully when he inevitably tries to start something.

Marko is doing his best to buck up to these two bullies and to his credit he manages to show ZERO fear in the face of certain doom.  In fact, him and Jungle Boy make a darn good case for themselves to be taken seriously as a tag team considering how well the two work together, and frankly it’s never been TOO big a problem for me that he’s such a short guy.  Do enough flippy moves, make the combination attacks look really complicated, and I’ll buy what you’re selling.  Eventually though, FTR starts getting the heat on Marko who tries valiantly to keep his head above water but he eventually needs to make the tag and Jungle Boy gets into to cause utter mayhem who definitely maintains control of this match, but he ends up tagging Marko back in to try and finish off FTR.  He doesn’t, he gets sent to the outside, and Tully manages to throw him into the post.  See, THIS is why you bring a dinosaur to the ring!  Tully wouldn’t try that crap if Luchasaurus was around, but he does and it Jungle Boy goes after him only to get blindsided by Cash Wheeler.  With Jungle Boy out of the way, FTR lands the Big Rig on Marko and gets the pin.  It was alright I guess.  Marko showed a lot of heart here and Jungle Boy is still one of the rising stars of the company, but the ending was all but inevitable and I really wish they could have incorporated Luchasaurus in some way.

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Serena Deeb Vs. Tay Conti – NWA Women’s Title Match

Everything about this match should make it a great match.  It’s for a title, both wrestlers are very good at their style of wrestling, and ().  I am very confident in saying that this was a darn good match and that both women are legit stars in this division, but there’s just not enough weight behind it.  The match was announced a week ago and Serena Deeb didn’t cut one promo beforehand, so it doesn’t feel like there’s a title at stake.  And it’s not like you can’t have one off titles for this as we saw with Cody Rhodes, but the difference is that his run of weekly defenses against new challengers was the story and it was about Cody getting slowly worn down over time until a big bad mo-fo named Brodie Lee came by to clean his clock.  The NWA belt is from an outside promotion, Serena Deeb has barely been on the show as champion, and Tay hasn’t had anything close to a title chase, so what does it matter who wins here?  We don’t’ even have The Dark Order out there to run interference which was kind of the point of that faction, right?  As for the action, it’s pretty darn good as both have very strong mat skills and fight a match with a lot of complexity to the movements; Deeb in particular staying one step ahead with some very impressive counters.  Tay tries going for a Tay KO to end the match, but she can’t hold her Deeb and drops to a knee which allows Deeb to break the hold with a backslide and lands a Detox to get the pin; winning the match and retaining the belt.  A lot of people were down on the Shida/Abadon match last week and I wouldn’t argue that this was a better fought match overall, but that one still stick in my memory because they did almost everything right in building up to it (their final confrontation the week prior was a bit of a letdown) and the match felt like it was fought for something; not just the belt but for Shida to finally get Abadon out of her head.  If we can just get a few promos with Serena Deeb and have a challenger attack her or something to make the match mean something then I think we’ll have a genuine classic on our hands instead of just a really well fought but otherwise unimportant match.

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Darby Allin Vs. Brian Cage – TNT Title Match

Cage is accompanied to the ring by Hook and Ricky Starks

Speaking of matches that have a great buildup, while things got derailed here and there with unforeseen issues and running things into the dirt a bit (*cough* Sting *cough*), the buildup between Allin and Cage has been quite excellent and he’s a fitting opponent for Darby’s first title defense.  There’s also something a philosophical divide here that only adds layers to the match.  It’s not just a big guy vs a small guy; it’s a big guy who relies on his unstoppable strength to command respect from his peers and earn him accolades, so much so that Taz basically had to make up a belt for him to hold without actually earning it in the ring.  Darby on the other hand did scrape and claw his way to the top with everything to lose but everything to prove, and he cares more about what he’s done to earn the belt than holding onto the belt itself.  Cage and Team Taz as a whole are about rectifying grievances and how much they feel the DESERVE things.  They want the validation of holding that belt and everyone telling them they are the best, while Darby wants the matches to prove to HIMSELF that he is the best.  You can definitely argue that that dynamic is true in a lot of Baby Face/Heel feuds (The Miz is all about outside validation), but it’s the personalities involved here that make it feel fresh.  Cage is no slouch and he doesn’t spend most of his time mugging at the camera, while Darby isn’t here to play the superhero.  He’s getting the ever loving CRAP kicked out of him this whole time and clearly has his own agenda beyond just winning the match.  Heck, if he REALLY needed to win this, he’d put up SOME offense, but there he is getting thrown around like a rag doll and flipping off Cage right after eating a bunch of Power Bombs.  Frankly, they should SWITCH belts as no one seems to deserve a F**K The World belt as much as Darby, and Team Taz are SO THIRSTY for the respect that being the NETWORK’S NUMBER ONE WRESTLER can command.  Cage is getting frustrated at Darby’s ability to take punishment and still kick out, so he goes for the steel steps and threatens to toss him onto them, but Darby finally comes back to life and pushes him onto the steps in what had to be the softest landing I’ve EVER seen anyone take on them.  Good for him for not wanting to herniate a disc, but considering what Cage just dished out it doesn’t seem like THAT much of a comeback for him to fall over once and take a Coffin Drop from the top rope.  Still, it manages to even the odds a bit as both are barely able to make it back to the ring to beat the ten count and they start slugging it out in the ring.  Allin eventually gets the advantage and ties his belt around Cage’s ankles which REALLY should have been a DQ and I would have been very upset if it led to the finish, but Cage manages to fight back and removes the belt a few moments later.  Still, it looks like it’s now Darby’s match to win and so Hook and Starks try to run interference.  The lights go out, and of course Sting shows up to bash Starks a few times with the bat, and Darby manages to land a Crucifix Bomb on Cage to get the three count; retaining his title against such difficult odds. 

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I was pretty meh on this show, but it was saved by a VERY strong main event.  For whatever reason Darby Allin hasn’t defended the title until now and this match makes a strong case for that being a very poor decision on AEW’s part.  The guy has a lot of charisma and the belts should be defended regularly which will hopefully be the case going forward and I’m glad that they paid off this storyline in such a great way.  Sting FINALLY did something other than stand and stare, and frankly it was about as much as I want to see him do at this point, and even to Stark’s credit he sold those bat shots like he was getting his ribs cracked by the almighty hammer of Thor which only helps Sting feel like a genuine game changer for the company.  I’m not in love with any of the storylines going on right now, but this week had a bunch of solid matches and I can’t fault the talent for doing what they can with the material they are given.  Hopefully things are going to ramp up as we get closer to their next PPV, and we can start seeing some new ideas percolating to the forefront.

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