Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (02-10-2021)

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

We’re back with another week for Dynamite action!  Beach Break was a PRETTY big disappointment all things considered, but it did end on a particularly high note with a great main event and a HUGE surprise for anyone who’s a fan of New Japan.  Will they capitalize on this buzz and give us an episode worthy of this new union, or will we have to wait for the Revolution PPV for something interesting?  Let’s find out!!

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Darby Allin Vs. Joey Janela – TNT Title Match

So is it just me or is Joey’s role here to be a tune-up guy for champions?  Granted it’s better than being a jobber for mid-carders, but he really seems to LOSE a lot despite getting all these opportunities!  I guess I shouldn’t complain as long as it means Darby gets to spend five minutes focusing on something other than Team Taz, and frankly Janela does a darn good job making him look good!  Allin’s strength is not in his… well strength, but his endless tenacity so Joey gets to do a lot here and looks like a genuine competitor for Allin’s title; particularly an early flurry of offense including a drop onto the apron and a Suicide Dive.  Darby essentially has to outlast Janela as he’s one of the few people that Janela could physically intimidate, so he waits for his opportunities to strike and does what he can to survive devastating moves such as when he goes for a Coffin Drop but Janela catches him into a German Suplex followed by a Thrust Kick for a two count!  If there’s one thing that felt a bit disappointing about the match, it’s the ending which of course ends with a Coffin Drop.  Considering that the last few moves prior to that were a surprise Pile Driver from Janela and an Avalanche Code Red from Darby, neither of which were enough to finish the other guy off, it feels a bit anti-climactic that Joey stayed down because Darby dropped down on him.  It works as an ending in some matches, but in something this focused on endurance and devastating moves, it felt a bit underwhelming. Aside from that though, this was a GREAT match that did a darn good job of making both of them look like superstars!  Maybe you don’t want Darby having matches EVERY week because you know he’ll insist on destroying himself whenever he gets in the ring, but we definitely need more title defenses like this.

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Moxley gives another promo about the convoluted storyline he finds himself in, and frankly he should do this EVERY week!  See, it’s not just that his character is a devil may care bad boy who just goes with the flow whenever some ridiculous team-up occurs; he also does a great job of getting the pertinent points across to an audience who may not be all that familiar with everything else going on the wrestling world.  I certainly know that he won the US title in New Japan (even though I haven’t seen that match), but Moxley giving the name of the title before slapping the belt on his shoulder makes it clear what this new guy Kenta is after; not to mention that he makes sure to remind us that Lance Archer went after his AEW title a few times in some hellacious matches which is honestly something I kind of forgot about and am appreciative that he took the time to remind us about!  See, NOW I’m excited to see the main event tonight where Moxley and Archer go up against Kenta and Omega which is a testament to his promo skills and everyone should be studying him to learn what he does and how he does it.

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We cut to the back where Sammy finds MJF preaching to the Inner Circle flock and he has them all leave so that he and MJF can speak Mano-a-mano.  Sammy once again accuses him of manipulating everyone in The Inner Circle which MJF deflects by accusing him of wanting to be in charge of The Inner Circle; that he’s tired of being second fiddle to Chris Jericho.  Sammy indulges his little fantasy and in doing so gets some very incriminating words recorded on MJF’s phone which, as soon as Sammy figures it out, forces him to smash the phone and punch MJF in the ribs.  I’m not sure why Sammy needed to do this as the cameraman that they acknowledge is in the room is recording everything and will get the proper context, but things are clearly not well in this faction and Sammy might have just forced everyone else’s hand.

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Cody Rhodes & Lee Johnson Vs. Peter Avalon & Cezar Bononi

Cody is accompanied to the ring by Arn Anderson

Okay, so who is this Cezar Bononi guy!?  He is HUGE, he’s got a good look, and while I’m not sure about his wrestling skills I’m sure that QT Marshall can teach him a few things!  AEW has some darn fine talent scouts and there’s just something about this guy that makes me think he could be a superstar with some seasoning.  He’s not BAD I guess, but he definitely seems to be comfortable in the generic big man role with a lot of shoving, big knees, and some sloppy slams which probably isn’t going to cut it in a promotion as stacked with talent as this one.  He certainly catches the eye more easily than Lee Johnson who is probably better skilled than him but doesn’t seem to have that same magnetic presence and he definitely feels like a second fiddle here.  They do give him a very spicy hot tag where he fends off both of them, it’s only about a minute before Bononi comes in and Cody has to fend him off.  Johnson actually ends up getting the pin on Avalon, but the camera is uncertain who to focus on as it goes back and forth between him and Cody fighting Bononi on the floor during his big finish.  Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh here as this win definitely gives Johnson some shine and he even gets to interview with Schiavone afterward, so perhaps there are plans in the work for this guy.  Maybe that’s the case, but the one thing I’m going to remember about this match is Bononi and I hope this isn’t the last time we see him.

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We cut to the back where The Young Bucks are being interviewed by Dasha Gonzala who is asking them about the Battle Royale match.  The interview is crashed by The Good Brothers who say they were only at the Battle Royale to rattle Private Party’s cage and not The Bucks; a statement that Matt and Nick aren’t about to take at face value and they start accusing them of making them lose and that in doing so they robbed the fans of a Bucks/Good Brothers match to instead get a match with Jericho and MJF.  It’s kinda weird that they won’t be giving us a great match at Revolution and we’ll be getting a lesser one instead (which also kind of buries MJF and Jericho as a team), but honestly, the whole Battle Royale and the belt chase for the tag team titles feels VERY secondary to this Bullet Club war going on and I can only hope that MJF and Jericho’s side of the story can make up for how little The Bucks seem to be in it.

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Pac Vs. Hollywood Hunk Ryan Nemeth

Pac is accompanied to the ring by Rey Fénix

I thought Nemeth’s match against Adam Page was just fine two weeks ago, but others seem to have been less impressed with the guy.  I mean I never saw him before and didn’t even know he was Dolph Ziggler’s brother so nothing really stood out as particularly bad other than it was the least match on a VERY impressive show, but if there’s one person who can pull a darn good match out of someone… well it’s like half a dozen guys on this roster, but Pac is definitely one of them!  If nothing else, Nemeth is a FANTASTIC punching bag as he flops around the ring and sells the overwhelming pain that Pac dishes out on him.  Even his one hope spot where he gets a Dropkick and a Suplex is another moment of failure for the man as Pac rolls out of the ring with Nemeth desperately chasing after him to try and get a pin.  By the time he catches up to Pac, he’s already up and tosses Nemeth into the barricade; legs limply hanging over the side as Pac catches his breath.  Pac then drags him into the ring, stomps on him a few times, and then has enough time to do the Black Arrow without Nemeth moving an inch.  This could have easily been enough for Pac to get the pin, but he’s not done with Nemeth yet and puts him in the Brutalizer for good measure which Nemeth taps out to immediately.  AEW tends to make their matches a bit too long in an attempt to make everyone look good, but honestly I thought Nemeth proved himself here to be a solid worker with just how devastating he made Pac look throughout, and there was no need for it to go any longer than it did.  I really do hope that Nemeth gets a spot here after this performance, but the roster’s pretty crowded as is so we’ll have to see what the future holds for him.

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The Acclaimed Vs. Chris Jericho & MJF

So after Sammy’s “savage” beat down from earlier in the show, MJF is coming in injured which means the Inner Circle are (supposedly) fighting from underneath.  I’d bet dollars to donuts that MJF is faking his injury and is more than willing to cost his crew a match just to make a point, but regardless of that it’s perhaps the best excuse possible for MJF and Jericho to not just run roughshod over these new-ish guys.  Bowens, in particular, gets to work over MJF as he writhes in pain after every attack but The Inner Circle are dirty cheating jerks and they manage to retake the advantage despite one guy at less than a hundred percent.  At one point MJF has Caster in a stretch of some kind and is using Jericho for leverage; a scheme that eventually gets discovered by Ref Aubrey who kicks MJF and sends him back into recoiling fits of pain before Jericho can get back in the match.  Bowens gets a hot tag here and manages to fend off both of them without much effort and then Caster smashes Jericho in the head with a boom box.  Jericho may not be champ but he is still very much protected as this would have taken anyone else out (even Moxley considering how he lost his belt) but instead Jericho kicks out at two.  Jericho soon after lands the Judas Effect on Max Caster with a bit of help from Wardlow, and the one thing stronger than a metal bludgeon that plays music is the back elbow of Jericho as Max Caster lays down for the three count; giving Jericho and MJF a close but decisive victory.  It was a decent match, but I didn’t find it as interesting as the other two we’ve gotten on the show so far.  MJF is always good for a laugh and Jericho can still go, but it wasn’t anything that felt of particular consequence.  That is until…

Sammy comes out after the match to confront the Inner Circle who are all in the ring celebrating their victory which is a total buzzkill for everyone and Jericho wants to know what’s up with him recently.  Sammy doesn’t try to explain himself, he doesn’t give Jericho an ultimatum, he just lets him know that he’s out of the Inner Circle because of MJF and his shenanigans.  So the deed is finally done; Sammy is out of the group and it sounds like he’s going to be away from TV for a few weeks to plan whatever his next move is.  I’m still not sold on him being a Babyface, but I am curious where they take him going forward.

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Matt Hardy and Adam Page!  Getting Drunk, Signing Contracts, and Breaking the Law!

Matt Hardy is plying Hangman Page with alcohol on his own dime and thinks now is the perfect time to offer him a contract to be his manager.  So I’ve made it clear in previous recaps that this whole Matt Hardy Contract nonsense is straight up Hogan/Bischoff era TNA and it’s only gotten more so with this.  So Matt Hardy hands Page a contract while drunk and goes to the cameraman to whisper that he wants video evidence of this in case Hangman sobers up and realizes this is a bad deal, and all the camera footage will show is that Matt Hardy committed Fraud by intentionally intoxicating someone for the purposes of signing a contract.  Oh, but that’s not all!  Hangman is NOT actually that drunk and pulls a maneuver right out of Better Call Saul where he switches the contracts behind Hardy’s back and signs THAT one which he then presents to Hardy as the original contract and has him sign it which is ALSO fraud because both parties didn’t agree to the terms before signing it. Look, I like goofy stuff like dinosaur wrestlers, alien wrestlers, even the spooky nonsense from The Fiend and Abadon, but this?  I don’t know, this kind of silliness just doesn’t sit right with me and it just takes me out of the show.

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Sting comes out once again for another promo, and perhaps I’ve been a bit too harsh about these things.  I’m certainly sick to death of him and Darby standing in the ring while Taz yells at him from the Titantron, but it’s also true that they need to sell us on the PPV and a more casual fan of the show may not have seen this segment each week or might even be seeing it for the first time.  If nothing else, they thankfully kept it short here as Sting barely even gets a word out before Taz interrupts him; not to rant and rave for five minutes but to show that Team Taz captured Darby Allin and are dragging his unconscious body across the pavement.  I can only assume they put a sled or something in the body bag to keep Darby’s skin from peeling off as the truck drags the bag across the parking lot, but that STILL must have been sketchy as heck and I’d be surprised if Darby gout out of that completely unscathed.  I don’t particularly like that they showed the TNT champ getting punked out like this as we didn’t even see what masterful plan to capture him in the first place, but I’ll certainly take this over most of the Sting and Darby segments.

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We cut to an interview taped earlier in the day where Alex Marvez went to see Kenny Omega on the golf course, and let me tell ya, Kenny Omega in slacks and a collared tee is one of the most spectacularly ludicrous images in all of wrestling.  The interview is pretty standard with Alex wondering why Kenny is teaming with Kenta tonight and Kenny being an arrogant jerk who doesn’t NEED to prepare for his match when there are luscious greens like this waiting for him, but what makes the segment are the little details peppered throughout.  There is of course the aforementioned fashion nightmare complete with very douchey sunglasses, but Kenny Omega takes this wild slice from the bunker before the interview and we can see Don Callis and Kenny’s caddy in the background planting a golf ball into the hole so Kenny believes he got a chip-in.  Kenny Omega in delusional scumbag mode is an absolute delight and I’m curious just how far this Burns/Smithers relationship is going to go with Kenny and Callis.

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Leyla Hirsch Vs. Thunder Rosa – Women’s Championship Eliminator Tournament

Seriously, AEW should just by NWA considering how much use they’ve gotten out of Thunder Rosa alone.  She’s certainly on the show more than plenty of other AEW talent, and I mean who wouldn’t want The Pope to show up on AEW?  In any case, she’s here as part of the Women’s Championship tournament that is half in the US and half in Japan.  From what I can tell the Japanese matches will be posted to YouTube and the winner of that bracket will face the winner of the US bracket for a shot at Hikaru Shida’s title.  It’s a clever enough workaround for the Japanese talent being unable to come over en masse, and the individual matches look interesting; particularly this one. Now with Rosa having a big feud with Britt Baker right now, I had no compunctions that Leyla Hirsch was going to come out on top, but she still put on one heck of a performance here!  Mat work seems to be her strong suit, but she proves herself to be an adept high flyer with a solid Hurricanrana from the top rope and even a Suicide Dive that got the crowd chanting.  She’s also an effective seller when Thunder Rosa finally retakes the advantage and she takes a NASTY looking Neckbreaker on the middle rope, so while she doesn’t get to advance to the next stage of the tournament (which also means we’ll probably not be seeing her for a few weeks) she definitely proves once again what an immense talent she is.  Thunder Rosa as well looks good her.  She usually doesn’t look BAD but some of her matches are certainly less interesting than others and she seems to have put a lot more into this match than the one she had at Beach Break.  They start trading near falls after the commercial break with Hirsch having a slight advantage, but her fatal flaw here is that she keeps pushing her luck on the top ropes.  She goes for a cross body that works well, but then she goes for another that Rosa gets the knees up for.  Hirsch manages to get the advantage again, but then she goes for ANOTHER splash, and of course misses it which gives Rosa enough room to take over the match and force Hirsch to fight from underneath.  Unfortunately, she can’t overcome her opponent and Rosa gets the win with a Samoan Driver.  This tournament is certainly starting off well and the talent is certainly there, but AEW’s track record hasn’t been great so we’ll have to wait and see how it all shakes out.

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Tony is interviewing Jungle Boy about FTR who if you recall took Marko Stunt HOSTAGE last week, but he assures us that Marko Stunt is fine.  Yeah… gonna need a bit more proof than just your word on that one, because he certainly didn’t LOOK fine last time we saw him!  In any case, it’s another promo to build up the feud and to give Jungle Boy some practice cutting promos.  Hey, if they keep having matches as good as Dax Vs. Jungle Boy, you can do whatever ridiculous nonsense you want!

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Kenta & Kenny Omega Vs. Jon Moxley & Lance Archer – Unsanctioned Lights-Out Match

This is a GREAT match that goes on a LONG time and there’s no way I’m going to be able to cover everything awesome about this match without turning this into a novel, so let’s keep to the key details.  First and foremost, this is my first exposure to Kenta and he’s very impressive!  I was definitely getting some Finn Balor vibes off of him throughout the match, and he worked well with Omega the few times they actually tried to work this as a team.  Since it’s an unsanctioned match, it means that no one has to tag in and out which is a good thing as far as I’m concerned as I don’t want to see two guys on the ropes while one guy in the middle is getting the heat on another guy; especially with such explosive talents like these four.  Unsanctioned ALSO means that there are no DQs so weapon spots are all over the place with Kenta starting things off with a few shots from his title contract briefcase (I thought that was just a WWE thing, but I guess they have it in New Japan as well) and things only escalate from there.  Garbage cans, ladders, whatever they can find outside the ring, these wrestlers are definitely put through their paces in putting this match on, and honestly it’s the kind of thing that really should have been saved for PPV.  In fact, my one big complaint is that it gets a bit TOO brutal at points.  Not as brutal as the Moxley/Omega match, but Kenny is taking some rough bumps here.  The most terrifying has to be when Lance Archer snap suplexes Omega into a ladder and it makes this sickening crunch sound when he bumps right off of it.  You can even see towards the top of Omega’s back where the ladder cut him open and starts immediately bleeding which wasn’t fun to see.  I haven’t heard anything about injuries sustained during this match, but it definitely comes across as one you only want to do for special occasions.  I guess New Japan and AEW sanctifying their relationship is occasion enough, but it’s a bit hard to watch in spots.  I mean Kenta and Moxley are fighting on wobbly metal tables in the kitchen; no one dying by the end of this match is a freaking MIRACLE!  Moxley and Omega eventually fight their way back to the ring and Mox gets the advantage with a few well-placed Kendo shots.  Kenny is not a guy to be underestimated however as a few V-Triggers puts Moxley out of commission and Kenta follows up with this GIGANTIC Leaping Stomp that effectively takes them both out of the match.  Good for Kenny that he doesn’t have to deal with Omega, but now he’s alone in the ring with Lance Archer which is a situation you wouldn’t want to wish on your worst enemy!  Lance Archer just manhandles Omega throughout the entire ring and it’s not until The Good Brothers come I that Archer’s momentum is halted.  Jake Roberts does his best to try and stop them from interfering but he is ultimately subdued and is about to eat a V-Trigger from Omega… UNTIL MOXLEY COMES IN WITH THE BARBED WIRE BAT!!  The match devolves into an elegant sort of chaos as everyone runs in and does their super move on someone but eventually, Omega and The Good Brothers lift Archer up high enough for Omega to land the V-Trigger and FINALLY get the pin!  The episode ends with Kenny, and his crew standing tall with an ambivalent Kenta off to the side; hopefully getting what he wants in coming after Jon Moxley like this.

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I feel like AEW has been in this spot before where they consistently go back and forth each week between good episodes and bad ones, but the pendulum is DEFINITELY swinging in the good direction on this episode! Some of the long-running storylines are certainly getting long in the tooth like the Taz/Sting angle and Matt Hardy with his contract shenanigans, but the wrestling is as great as it’s ever been, and that main event was an absolute spectacle to behold!  Hopefully, AEW has realized this back and forth changing in quality and next week won’t be a big letdown after such a great episode, but I’m still going to cross my fingers just in case.

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