Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (01-20-2021)

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

Yes, this one is a tad on the late side which by now shouldn’t be a surprise for any of you, but it was a busy week for the rest of the site which, if you haven’t been perusing lately, is full of delightful articles and reviews for you all to enjoy!  In any case, we’re in a bit of an odd situation where we’re just coming off of their New Year’s Bash even and we’re already closing in another special in just a few weeks with their similarly titled Beach Bash.  The episode is certainly not in the most envious position as the very deliberate nadir between two big shows, but can AEW make even their slower and less explosive episodes pop like a PPV main event?  Let’s find out!!

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The Dark Order (Silver, Reynolds, and Colt Cabana) & Hangman Adam Page Vs. Chaos Project & The Hybrid2 – Eight Man Tag Match

This match was set up in celebration of Negative One’s birthday (Brodie Jr) and the best part is that they brought a cake out and tried to light it; only to realize that Daily’s Place is an OUTSIDE venue and so Grayson and Angels had to cover the candles while Anna Jay tried to light them.  Silver then leads the crowd in a rendition of Happy Birthday which is as endearing as it is out of tune.  Then Chaos Project come out so that Dr. Luther can heckle the birthday boy, and I didn’t know what I was expecting his voice to sound like but he kinda sounds like an off brand Chris Jericho which is perhaps why they get along so well.  Luther gets all up in this kid’s face and tells him that he’s going to RUIN his birthday which sets The Dark Order off as they start hammering this Mr. Burns wannabe, but then TH2 come out from the back to even the odds and the brawling makes its way to the outside of the ring.  Then Adam Page’s music hits and he has perhaps the BEST entrance of his entire AEW career!  He runs out and jumps from the stage onto the crowd below which is pretty standard, but the camera man was SO on point here that Page should send him a fruit basket.  Dude was right there below the stage so that he was pointing his camera UP at Page and followed him as he sailed through the air; making it look like he was straight up flying before crashing down like a meteorite!  As for the match itself, it’s pretty good and more or less a chaotic mess of dudes jumping around and taking bumps, but it definitely goes with super hero themed birthday party atmosphere of it all; right down to Dr Luther taking a bump into a cake.  Well he KINDA took the bump.  He instinctively put his arm between him and the table which is a good thing, but it also left his face about an inch over the cake so he had to mash himself into it to get the spot right.  With Luther out of the way and TH2 indisposed, Serpentico is alone in the ring which leaves Reynolds, Silver, and Hangman to do that awesome combination move that I love so much!  Forearm, Step Up, Stunner, Buckshot Lariat, and a bridged German Suplex for the pin!  Oh, but they aren’t done with him yet!  Negative One, the presumptive new leader of The Dark Order, has Stu Grayson hold up Serpentico so that he can wail on him with a Kendo Stick and then follows up with a stack of papers to the face that Serpentico sells like a face full of hydrochloric acid!  The match itself was probably shorter than all the shenanigans going on around it and I’m sure that’ll annoy a lot of people.  I certainly do hope that the Dark order retains at least some of its menace even if they are going in this lighthearted direction, but as a way to start off the show, it’s fun, it’s lighthearted, and how you can be mad about a kid getting to celebrate his birthday with a bunch of wrestlers?  So now that the match is over with Negative One getting his revenge and The Dark Order stand tall once again; it’s time for the big question and Jon Silver gets down on one knee to ask it!  Will Adam Page join The Dark Order!?  Well, the answer is… no.  Clearly The Dark Order wasn’t expecting that because before he can even get the full answer out they prematurely set off a pre-planned celebration; complete with confetti, titantron graphics, and cheesy fanfare to make the moment all the more tragic!  They even got a bunch of shirtless creepers in jeans and hats to boot scoot out from the back before being chased off by Stu Grayson!  Look it’s not them, it’s him!  He’s done the group thing before and he’s just not in a place in his life where he wants to do that again.  They can still be friends, right?  Well everyone looks utterly crushed about this and Page sheepishly heads to the back so maybe its choppy waters going forward as Page managed to tick off yet another faction in AEW.  Gotta feel sorry for the guy as he keeps getting himself stuck in these situations he’s just not equipped for.  A month ago I would have said this was a great time for the Dark Order to reassert themselves as bad guys and start feuding with Page, but it doesn’t look like we’re heading in that direction any time soon so we’ll have to wait and see what the plan is going forward.

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Marvez is interviewing Jericho and MJF in the back where MJF is expressing his concerns that this match will tear the Inner Circle apart.  Jericho, not concerned in the least, believes that this fight will only bring them closer together as the Inner Circle is bigger than any one of them and certainly bigger than any beef between them.  Jericho is overly confident about people’s words being stronger than their feelings as everyone PROMISED to let the negative attidues go after this match, but I’m pretty sure they’ve promised to do this like three times already and it’s just not working out.  The Inner Circel breaking up in some capacity seems like a certainty at this point, but they’ve done a great job of obfuscating which direction they’re going in.  Six months ago, it’d probably end with Sammy leaving the group to go Baby Face and probably teaming up with Matt Hardy while MJF poisons the Inner Circle from within, but Matt Hardy has his own thing going on now and I’m not sure I’m ready for Sammy to make that turn yet.

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IT’S STING!!  Oh, and also Darby Allin

Sting sure took his sweet time, but he DID finally do something significant last week when he stopped Ricky Starks from interfering in Darby’s title match.  With Darby still being the champ, does Sting come out looking to collect some reward; possibly demanding a title shot of his own?  Well if that is the case that Sting is keeping it close to his chest because once Darby is in the ring with him he starts singing his praises; saying how much he likes Darby and how much he reminds him of himself.  What Darby thinks about all this is still a mystery as he doesn’t seem like one to suck up to or graciously accept praise from a legend (the whole feud between him and Taz started because Darby kept blowing him off), but before we can get a real answer for that, Taz shows up on the titantron to say his peace.  He complains that the title match last week wasn’t fair which… I mean he’s kind of right considering that Darby DID use his belt in full view of the ref without consequence.  Sure, Team Taz TRIED to cheat, but Darby was the one who succeeded, and he just got away with it!  In any case, Taz challenges Darby in a very vague sense to a Street Fight.  Does this mean another title match?  Will it be Darby Vs. Cage again?  Will it be a tag team with Sting?  I sure hope it’s not the last one, but Darby accepts whatever this challenge is and I’m sure it’ll be another great fight.  I just kind of wish that they’d build up someone else for Darby to fight as he’s been messing with Team Taz for what, four months now?  Maybe longer?

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The Bucks are at Kenny Omega’s place for some sort of meeting but are surprised not to find the AEW champ but Michael Nakazawa greeting them and taking them to see Don Callis instead.  Surprisingly Nakazawa managed to keep his jock strap in his pants which is as far as I can tell a first for him, and he’s not even covered in baby oil!  Clearly things have changed over at Team Omega, and Callis wants The Bucks to know that they will always have a place here; just a place a LITTLE bit further back.  He tries bribing them with cash to not get in Kenny’s way, but they reject the offer and APPEAR to attack Don Callis.  I say APPEAR because they intentionally obscured the camera and Callis later goes to Kenny who gets outraged at what The Bucks supposedly did which definitely sounds like manager manipulation.  The Bucks have been kinda wishy washy between being Baby Faces and Heels ever since they started their feud with FTR and I guess this kind of plays into that as they seem more than willing to hear Kenny Omega out and are frankly only keeping their distance from him because they haven’t been given proper respect.  I’m curious how this will play into the tag title picture as FTR climbs the ranks for a rematch and it’d be interesting if the roles were reversed and The Bucks came out with extra help in the form of Gallows and Anderson to defeat the scrappier FTR.  The PPV isn’t THAT far away, so if that is the plan we should be seeing more of it in the next few weeks.

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Cody Rhodes Vs. Pretty Peter Avalon

Cody is accompanied to the ring by Arn Anderson

Wait, so Peter’s no longer The Librarian!?  And doesn’t come out with Leva Bates!?  Aww… I always liked that gimmick!  I guess I have to go back and finally catch up on Dark to see more of him as the librarian and to see his evolution into a pretty boy, but whatever the case is, he’s still a comedy job guy and Cody IMMEDIATELY takes him apart.  He hits a Cross Rhodes and is about to get the pin, but then Jade Cargill’s music hits and she stands on the entrance ramp which distracts Cody for like two minutes.  Avalon gets back up and gives Cody a low blow behind the ref’s back which is the only way this match could be the slightest bit competitive; at least competitive enough for Avalon to get the heat during a commercial break.  We come back and Cody is HEAVILY favoring his knee which is a bit odd considering the low blow was to… well the low blow area, but Cody manages to fight through it and lands a devastating Cutter on Peter Avalon which starts his comeback.  Now if you have a bad knee, what’s the one submission hold you don’t go for?  That’s right!  The Figure Four Leg Lock because your opponent can roll onto his stomach and reverse it so that it puts stress on your knee!  The only time you ever see the Figure Four Leg lock used is to do that spot where they switch between back and stomachs, but it seems particularly silly for Cody to do it with his injury.  Thankfully he powers through the pain and rolls off his stomach to face Peter directly.  Peter doesn’t end up tapping to the pain of the hold but instead starts tapping when Cody threatens to slap him in the face while in the hold which was pretty funny.  It was an okay match, but feel like they should have either done Avalon’s comedy spots or done the Jade Cargill distraction.  I can see why they thought combing them would work (even a loser might have a shot given the right thumbs on the scale), but it ended up making Cody look a bit sillier than he really should be as he shouldn’t have gotten so easily distracted, he shouldn’t have taken so long to fend of Peter Avalon, and he really shouldn’t have put himself in a position to make his injury worse.  Let’s just get Cargill at least one match to see if this even works, okay?  Just one against an opponent that can make her look good and maybe then I’ll start buying this feud.

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We cut to FTR in the back discussing their strategy when Jurassic Express runs in to turn this into a heated confrontation.  Jungle Boy is peeved that the supposed “best team in the world” needed to cheat to win and challenges any of them to a match next week.  Dax Harwood steps up and challenges Jungle Boy to a one on one bout which sounds great to me!  We could definitely use more Jungle Boy; especially if Sammy’s gonna break off from The Inner Circle and needs someone to feud with.

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Jon Moxley Vs. Nick Comoroto

One of the most obvious differences between AEW and WWE is the treatment of the talent as AEW doesn’t just pick like five or six people to be stars and let everyone else scrap and claw to be mid carders.  Instead, they give pretty much anyone a shot to be a name player, whether its Cody’s series of challenges while holding the TNT Title,  Griff Garrison making a name for himself after ONE match with MJF, and DEFINITELY Will Hobbs being an overnight sensation after his debut.  Now it’s Nick Comoroto’s turn, and dang is this dude awesome!  He’s got a great look, he’s got a HUGE presence, and he’s solid in the ring.  He can play the monster, but he’s also good at selling and makes Jon Moxley look like a champ in a rather competitive match.  Moxley comes off like the strategic one against such a big opponent, and manages to take whatever Comoroto has to offer with grim determination.  Which you normally wouldn’t see in a match with a superstar vs an unknown (at least unknown to TV audiences), but AEW is always willing to take that chance and are a better company for it.  Comoroto manages to get the advantage and is about to slam Moxley who’s up on his shoulders, but Moxley wriggles out and applies the choke which Comoroto immediately passes out to giving Moxley the win in this match.  Moxley gets the mic and calls out Kenny Omega once again for being the king slayer who failed to slay the former king.  Now he’s got a big Moxley shaped problem on his hands, and matter who he brings in from whatever dog and pony show promotion, he’s ready for it and is gonna have fun clawing his way back to the top of the mountain to dethrone this false king!  Solid match and solid promo from Moxley.  Not too different from what we’ve seen from the guy before, but he can still command the attention of an audience like few else can.

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Dasha is interviewing Eddie Kingston in the back where we learn that it’s going to be Kingston Vs. Lance Archer next week.  Kingston doesn’t seem too happy about this turn of events but is even less happy when Lance Archer comes out of nowhere and starts calling him out for being a loser.  Then Jake Roberts takes a bit out of Kingston who’s just been getting the short end of the stick lately.  I don’t know what the point is here and it’s getting to the point that Kingston is almost sympatric considering how little success he’s had lately.

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Top Flight & Matt Sydal Vs. Hardy Party

In case you hadn’t heard, Hardy Party and Tony Khan invaded Impact on their Tuesday show where the former got a match against Chris Sabin and James Storm; a match they WON and are now in line for a title shot against Gallows and Anderson for the Impact Tag Team Title.  On top of that, Kenny Omega with Gallows and Anderson won their PPV match, so at this rate I wouldn’t be surprised if Impact gets absorbed into AEW as some sort of developmental territory.  Regardless of any of that, we’ve got a match right now to talk about, so how was it?  Technically, I think it was quite solid with both teams having more than enough high flyers to make this a cavalcade of flippy moves and big dives, but I just wasn’t feeling it.  Part of it was a bit of greenness here as some of the moves felt a bit TOO choreographed (Marq Quen going under THREE leapfrogs at once looked a bit odd), but I think the problem is that there’s no stakes here.  Top Flight is too new to really get one over on established teams, and I’m pretty sure Matt Sydal hasn’t won a single match on Dynamite since he got here.  On the other side we Matt Hardy acting like a jerk and Private Party getting subsumed into his nonsense which I find pretty deflating to watch.  So I’m either rooting for a team that never wins or a team that SHOULDN’T win.  Not exactly a great combination there even if Matt Hardy lands a Side Effect on ALL THREE members of the other team.  Matt also takes a Suicide Dive into the barricade which was a bit scary as I’m constantly worried about him taking big moves, though it looks like he’s just fine.  Things definitely do pick up at the end when Private Party goes for the Silly String, but Top Flight manages to counter it in a very creative way.  They basically catch Isaiah Kassidy in the swing back portion of the move and Dante crushes him from above; all the while Kassidy is screaming which made it all the sweeter!  Hardy manages to get the advantage again by landing those aforementioned Side Effects, but it isn’t long until Top Flight seem to have the match in the bag.  In a last desperate attempt to turn the match in their favor, Isaiah Kassidy uses a chair on Dante behind the ref’s back.  Quen is a bit surprised at the blatant cheating, but gets over it long enough to land a splash on Darius and get the three count.   It looks like Private Party are fully embracing the Dark Side and they start attacking their opponents after the match so I guess it’s a united Heel faction going forward instead of Baby Faces being misled by a duplicitous mentor.  If they go full Heel than maybe I’ll start to care about it, but right now I’m just not into this whole Hardy Party thing.

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MJF goes to the back and gives a pep talk to The Inner Circle telling them to follow the leader and listen to Jericho even if they aren’t enthusiastic about the match.  Sammy in particular is not happy about MJF talking down to them like that, but the rest of them hold him back and MJF does his best to hold out an olive branch.  I’m still not feeling Sammy separating from the group just yet, but at least they’re putting in the time to build up this animosity between him and MJF/

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Layla Hirsch Vs. Penelope Ford

Ford is accompanied o the ring by Kip, Miro, and Chuck the Butler

Hirsch is one of AEW’s best acquisitions lately and Ford is one of their most underrated talents, so this match should be AWESOME, right!?  Well… not exactly.  It’s perfectly fine and I do think the women’s division has been stepping it up the last few weeks, but I was kind of expecting more from them.  Before we get into that though, can we talk about Chuck Taylor?  Chuck is wearing a suit and acting like a butler completely with a white towel draped over his forearm; all of which I find ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS!  I’m glad they were able to find a suit so quickly, and what I want to know is if this was Miro’s idea or if Chuck always wanted to one day look and act like Alfred.  Enough of that, let’s get to the match!  Hirsch is definitely more suited to mat work and so she keeps Penelope grounded for as long as possible.  Ford doesn’t seem AS suited for this so it’s a LITTLE bit awkward at first, but things start to click better once she starts getting more aggressive.  Still, Ford’s heart doesn’t seem to be in this all that much.  I’ve seen her do some darn good selling before, but she’s barely reacting to anything Hirsch hits her with which is bad because she pulls off some darn good moves here that should be getting a stronger reaction.  Hirsch manages to retake the advantage after an impressive German Suplex, but instead of finishing of Ford she instead dives on Kip and Chuck which proves to be her undoing as she immediately gets hit by Ford and she goes for a pin.  The dive proved to be nothing for Kip (perhaps the idea is that Chuck took most of the blow?) and so he runs in and holds Hirsch down outside of the ref’s view so that Ford can get a three count and win the match.  It certainly wasn’t as good as I hoped, but frankly I’ll take it over a lot of other women’s matches we’ve gotten in the last few months.  I do think the division is improving even if few agree with me that the Abadon match was awesome, but there’s still room to improve.  After the match, Miro calls Chuck into the ring to humiliate him and to promise him that if he sticks with him he’ll have a bright future!  Chuck doesn’t seem interested, but then Miro orders him to say that he’s his best friend while staring Orange Cassidy in the face… which he does!  It’s not like anyone BELIEVES it, but it definitely makes Miro look like a total scumbag!  Miro is definitely coming into his own now and I’m more interested than ever to see The Best Friends get their revenge which is sad because Trent is out for another few months at least.

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We cut to the back and Pénta El Zero M is getting attacked by Gallows, Anderson, and eventually Omega.  I guess this is revenge for… I don’t know, Fénix having the temerity to challenge Omega to a match?   Honestly it just seems like filler to remind everyone that Kenny is a VERY NAUGHTY BOY!

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Inner Circle Vs. Inner Circle Vs. Inner Circle – Inner Circle Tag Challenge

Inner Circle is accompanied to the ring by Wardlow

You know, despite how overwhelmingly popular they are with Jericho being the Demo God and all, The Inner Circle have been in a bit of a slump lately.  I mean they’ve spent more time feud with each other than finding worthy opponents to face or title to chase with the last substantial thing they did was helping MJF win the Dynamite Diamond ring!  The idea seems to be that we’ve been building to this moment that is either going to make or break the faction; and admittedly it is pretty cool to actually see guys like Sammy and Jericho lock up in the ring for the first time.  They are the ones who start this off and it’s tentative at first as both of them seem uninterested in really going after the other but that soon goes out the window as Sammy unloads on Jericho and even shows him up by tossing him out the ring.  That’s more or less what this match is about; letting this group hog the spotlight and show what each individual member brings to the table.  Hager gets doubled teamed by Proud N Powerful, MJF takes a big slam from Hager, and Sammy looks better here than at any point since his return.  It’s perhaps the closest we’ve gotten to making a solo run from him seem viable, though him and Hager together as the team Sammy Hager (nyuk-nyuk-nyuk) could work really well too as the latter brings a lot of muscle and brute force that is well complemented by Sammy’s more technical and high flying skills.  The best moment in the match is when Sammy manages to clear the ring to then be chased by Jericho and MJF who try and come in with weapons, only to eat a big boot and a right cross from Hager!  It looks like it’s their match to win, especially after Hager lands a Hager Bomb and Sammy follows up with a Senton onto MJF, but there’s some sort of interference from Wardlow catches Sammy off guard and frees MJF up to roll Sammy into a three count; winning the match by pulling on the trunks which for whatever reason Ref Aubrey wasn’t around to see.  They were cutting it close with this match, so the episode comes to an end almost as soon as MJF gets the pin; leaving the Inner Circle’s reaction to this a mystery until next week’s show.

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It’s not really a fantastic episode, but it was perfectly enjoyable.  Mostly it was decent matches that I just didn’t end up connecting with as The Dark Order seems to be the only faction who can deliver week after week.  Even the stuff with Omega and The Bucks just kinda washed over me as it’s not hard to suss out Don Callis’s sinister plots and The Bucks are not in much of a position for me to be overwhelmingly on their side, though perhaps I’m in the minority on that one.  I feel like I need a new hook; something different to really get me invested again like a new feud for Darby Allin or for Orange Cassidy and Miro to finally move forward on their program.  They definitely have SOMETHING brewing with Jungle Boy and FTR, but I worry that it’ll be cut short once FTR gets to the next step on their road to a Tag Title rematch.  Still, the action remains consistently good and the final match definitely ended on a note with a lot of possibilities, but it’s feeling a bit like a routine at this point and I can only hope their Beach Bash special will shake things up a bit.

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