Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (02-17-2021)

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

With the Revolution PPV only a few weeks away, it’s time for AEW to kick things into gear and get us excited to pay for one of their shows instead of watching it for free on TNT or on YouTube!  There are definitely a few plates that AEW have dutifully been spinning for the last few weeks, but the card still feels a bit underweight especially without an announced Main Event, so will this week prove to be the jumping off point for THE ROAD TO REVOLUTION, or will we be getting more of the same old same old?  Let’s find out!!

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Hangman Adam Page & Matt Hardy Vs. The Hybrid2

So this was supposed to be an eight man tag match with Hardy Party and Page going up against TH2 and Chaos Project, right?  I haven’t found any word on WHY this was changed (AEW is usually good about letting people know about COVID cancellations) but I guess that Private Party is busy with their Impact storyline which is  a bit disappointing as I’d like to see how Page works with the duo, but we’re still in for a good match regardless.  TH2 have certainly come into their own in the last month or so becoming regulars on the program where before they were stuck on Dark, and while I don’t like Hardy’s gimmick right now (I guess I should stop calling him Huckster Matt and use his proper name Big Money Matt) he’s definitely gotten back into the groove of things after his disastrous feud with Sammy Guevara.  TH2 prove to be worthier foes than Chaos Project so Matt Hardy spends most of the time taking moves from Evans and Angélico while Page is on the sidelines waiting for the hot tag.  Angélico once again is a standout for some of his inventive mat work, and while Jack Evans is no slouch and definitely shows off his acrobatics here, he’s the one who eventually screws up and allows Page to get the hot tag and runs wild over both of them.  Elbows, suplexes, Powerbombs, the only reason I didn’t expect this onslaught to actually end the match is that we’re barely five minutes into it!  Now I said Jack Evans was no slouch and I DO mean that, but the one thing that people will remember about this match is his botched Phoenix Splash.  He has Matt Hardy on the mat and jumps up to do his twisty thing, but he doesn’t get enough distance and just lands on the mat; having to fall over to pretend that he actually HIT Matt Hardy with the movie.  I can’t imagine this would have been the ending of the match in any case, but thankfully Hardy gets his shoulder up and a minute later Hangman lands a Buckshot Lariat on BOTH of TH2 at the same time.  With both men down and Page keeping an eye on Jack Evans, Hardy gets the pin on Angélico to get the win.  After the match, Matt Hardy is ecstatic about his thirty percent contact with Page because apparently Matt Hardy doesn’t watch the show, and Page has to give him the heartbreaking news that the contact is not what he seemed.  The revised contact is brought by the Jaguar’s mascot Jaxson de Ville for some reason and we learn that it was NOT for a management contract but for a match at Revolution between Page and Hardy which, after a bit of negotiation (and baby face teasing), has their first quarter earnings on the line.  Hardy is not happy that he’s literally going to have fight for his pay and promises that Page is going to regret this at which point Jaxson de Ville starts attacking him!  Oh no!  It was Isaiah Kassidy the whole time!  Well not to be outdone by Hardy Party, The Dark Order along with Negative One run out to fend off Page’s attackers and show that they are still on his side even if he ditched them a few weeks ago!  I guess they don’t give homework these days considering how often Negative One is on national television, but in any case this was a fun segment.  The match was okay but ultimately perfunctory as it was all about the post-match angle which was a pretty excellent build up for a Revolution match.  The PPV has been a bit anemic as far as booked matches (especially with the Shaq match getting moved to Dynamite), so it’s impressive that they managed to do so much in this one angle.  Heck, I was VERY down on this whole storyline for weeks now, and this is one of the more interesting matches on the PPV card!

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We cut to the back where Marvez is interviewing The Inner Circle, and credit where it’s due Chris Jericho is NOT a fool.  Unlike Matt Hardy he actually watches the show each week and knows that MJF has been needling and pushing Sammy; going so far as to trick him into thinking he’s recording him for some nefarious ends.  As I (and several others) explained last week, it did seem a bit odd for MJF to try and record someone when he was being recorded on camera, and while I don’t think they PLANNED to address that, they at least gave us a reasonable explanation.  The point is that MJF is on thin ice and is gonna have to prove himself as a genuine team player in Jericho’s eyes, but while MJF is a total punk Sammy is the one who left.  He QUIT on this family and for that, Jericho will NEVER forgive him!  I’m still not confident about Babyface Sammy, but at least they’re giving him a solid story to work with.

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Serena Deeb Vs. Riho – Women’s Championship Eliminator Tournament

I won’t be covering the Japan side of this tournament as there simply aren’t enough hours in the day, but they’ve already finished their half of the opening brackets and we’re only on the second match here in the US.  It looks like the remaining two matches will be on YouTube as well so they won’t be covered here either.  With all that out of the way, this match is the triumphant return of AEW’s first Woman’s Champion Riho who’s been gone for a year now due to the pandemic, and WOW is it clear just how much she brought to the division!  Serena Deeb has had good matches but she never really stood out to me as strong personality and always seemed to be as good as their opponent; a good quality against great wrestlers but less so against more green ones.  Riho being as good as she is manages to bring the best out of Deeb and they have a darn good match here, though it’s REALLY stark to think that the last time we saw Riho was with giant crowds and now she’s in a mostly empty arena.  She DOES get the crowd going more than in most matches and it’s great to see her old routines again like the 619 and the cartwheels, but the GIANT pops aren’t there like in her other AEW matches.  Things slow down a bit after the commercial break as the two women just start slugging it out and trying to hurt each other (Riho’s selling is FANTASTIC here), but Deeb’s bad knee proves to be her undoing and Riho lands a 619 followed by a Stomp from the top rope that puts Deeb in bad shape.  Riho goes back up top for a Diving Cross Body which lands with pin point precision, but Deeb is too stubborn to give up just yet and kicks out only to roll to the outside and hug her knee until Riho tosses her back in.  Deeb to her credit tries to rally with a Powerbomb and a Stretch Muffler, but Riho manages to escape and they trade a bunch of near falls (including a REALLY cool bit of back and forth pin attempts on the mat) until Riho holds her down JUST long enough to get to three; wining the match and advancing to the next round of the tournament.  It’s a little bittersweet seeing Riho back on Dynamite as it’s a reminder of just how much things have changed in the last year, but aside from that there’s really nothing to complain about.  Riho is fantastic to watch and Deeb is always good against the right opponent which made for a great match and only builds my expectations for the rest of this tournament.  I doubt that Riho is going all the way as Thunder Rosa and Brit Baker are on the same side of the bracket as she is, but hopefully we’ll get at least one more great match out of her and hopefully she’s sticking around to give us great matches from here on out!

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We get another Jade Cargill video where once again she doesn’t do any actual wrestling but instead does a workout.  This time she’s working out with Shaq so finally they are in the same place at the same time, and apparently becoming a great wrestler means landing a bunch of three pointers which I guess means that Shaq is screwed.  Oh don’t you worry though!  At the end of the video we see Shaq land nothing but net from the free throw line, though what we DON’T see was the what, ten or twenty attempts before that it must have taken for him to land that basket?  We’re not too far out from the match and it seems almost certain at this point that we won’t get a match with her before she’s in the ring as Shaq’s partner.  I can only hope that AEW is getting the press they want out of this and that the match is entertaining in SOME way; Even if it’s not in the way they want it to be.

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Orange Cassidy Vs. Luther

Cassidy is accompanied to the ring by Chuck Taylor while Luther is accompanied by Serpentico

So wait, Luther and Serpentico are here!?  And for that matter Isaiah Kassidy was here, so why did they change the opening match!?  Oh whatever, Orange Cassidy was a highlight of the rather underwhelming wedding a few weeks back, so it’s good to see him in the ring for a singles match again; especially since he hasn’t had one since December of last year.  They keep it short and sweet with Luther landing a few big guy moves on Cassidy and Chuck and Serpentico brawling all over the place.  It doesn’t take long for Cassidy to outsmart Luther and land a Powerbomb from the apron to the ground, and Cassidy wins the match soon after that with an Orange Punch.  No angle afterwards, no appearance from Miro or Kip, just a quick two minute match which frankly I enjoyed!  Not every match needs to be a ten minute nail biter or end with a series of near falls, sometimes it’s fun just to see a guy we like to get a quick win.

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Taz & Sting – We’re All In Purgatory, Aren’t We?

You know the drill by now, and the match is only a few weeks away so they might as well keep these going.  Thankfully they change things up a bit as Sting comes out and actually takes a few swings at Brian Cage before eating a Powerbomb from the guy.  Sting may not be the same guy he was twenty (thirty) years ago, but he can still take a bump like a champ and it was pretty cool to see him get THAT physical in the ring.  Other than that, it’s just reiterating what we already know.  Same stuff, different week.

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We get a segment with Kenny Omega reading The Young Bucks’ book to a group of kindergarteners and he barely has time to talk about how great HE was at Wrestle Kingdom 12 before Don Callis tells him that they’re already out of time, but to make the kids feel better they let them beat up on Michael Nakazawa for a bit.  This segment would be pretty good, except for the fact that none of the adults are wearing masks around these children which is a bit irksome considering we aren’t over this PANDEMIC quite yet.

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The Young Bucks Vs Proud N Powerful – AEW Tag Team Title Match

I’m not the first one to bring this up, but it’s A LITTLE bit odd that we bothered to have The Inner Circle determine who their preferred tag team is (Jericho & MJF) and they even won a Battle Royale to get a shot at the belts at Revolution… and yet despite all that Santana & Ortiz get a title shot out of the blue.  Needless to say that it kind of makes the match feel a bit perfunctory, but you don’t need THAT much of an excuse for teams this good to have a match, and once again Proud N Powerful prove to be fantastic workers even if they are sometimes overshadowed by everyone else in the tag division.  No one’s burning down the house here, but it’s all good stuff with an opening that has a lot of arm drags and frankly I like it when they get a big role in a match.  They’re a quick way to build up momentum and with guys as athletic as these four they can REALLY sail through the air when yanked by the arm.  It does slow down a bit as Proud N Powerful get the heat on Nick Jackson, but Matt gets the hot tag eventually and does his best to clean house.  It doesn’t exactly go as planned however as this match REALLY seems to be an attempt to make Proud N Powerful look unstoppable, and in a match as predetermined as this one I did flinch for a second when Santana lands an Avalanche Falcon Arrow (imagine trying to do a pile driver in mid-air and NOT killing the other person) and gets a VERY close two count on Nick Jackson.  While all this is going on, MJF is trying to pull some nonsense and gets The Inner Circle banned from ringside which was a bit surprising considering how lenient the AEW refs usually are, and I’m sure Jericho is going to have some words for him about costing Proud N Powerful the match because spoiler alert, they end up losing.  It’s a pretty even bout though and Ortiz puts Nick in a submission for a LONG time with Santana running interference on Matt Jackson, but Matt eventually gets past him and lands an elbow drop from the top rope to break the hold.  On top of that, Santana manages to dodge the BTE Trigger which causes Matt and Nick to hilariously smash their knees together and they end up landing a Street Sweeper on Nick Jackson for another very close two count.  It’s all this amazing action that makes the ending such a disappointment as Nick Jackson out of nowhere rolls up Ortiz with an Inside Cradle and gets the pin which doesn’t feel like the climatic ending this match should have had.  At least in the Riho/Deeb match they spent a lot of time doing mat work and showing that they were getting desperate so the close call three count works for that story.  Here, it would have benefited from a little more RAZZLE DAZZLE to along with the rest of the match, but it was still fun to watch.

As soon as the match is over, The Inner Circle rush from the back and start beating up on The Young Bucks; all of which Kenny, Don, and The Good Brothers can see from a monitor in the back.  I guess in an attempt to make Kenny not completely heartless and ultimately reachable, he tries to run out and make the save, but Don holds him back and has The Good Brothers go out to break up The Inner Circle’s fun.  This is either a redemption arc in the making or the last vestige of his Baby Face persona that he will CRUSH under the weight of his title belt, and honestly I’m hoping for the latter.  Oh, and for whatever reason, The Bucks’ parents are there and Daddy Buck gets in an argument with Jericho which hopefully won’t lead to a match with Daddy Buck or even whatever it was they did with The Miz’s dad a few years ago.  It was certainly a good match, but everything just kinda fell apart at the end, and the chaos in the post-match brawl just didn’t do much for me.  The Inner Circle frankly have no stake in this feud between The Bucks and Don Callis, so why are we bothering to set something up between Jericho and The Bucks?

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Before the start of the next match, Cody and Brandi come out to the stage for the gender reveal of their baby and we learn that Brandi is carrying… A GIRL!  There was in fact pyro as pink confetti sprayed everywhere, but at least when PROFESSIONALS do it, these things don’t end in a body count.  Cody then goes to join the announce team for the next match, which is…

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FTR Vs. Matt & Mike Sydal

 I’ve had less than kind things to say about Matt Sydal as one of AEW’s perpetual losers, but him and his brother have a VERY cool match here with FTR!  It’s not as fast and acrobatic as The Bucks and Proud N Powerful, but there are some HEAVY moves here that looked utterly DEVASTATING!  Within the first few minutes we have uppercuts, drop kicks, Double Foot Stomps from the top rope, and even a German Suplex from the middle rope that looked smooth as butter and must have SUCKED for Mike to take!  Matt and Mike eventually take the advantage with a few high flying spots, but FTR prove to be too tough to take down with a few dives and they retake the advantage after a HELLACIOUS uppercut from Cash Wheeler that should have knocked Matt out cold!  A few kicks from the Sydals here, a bunch of Suplexes from FTR there, until FTR lands the Big Rig and gets the pin on Mike.  Once the match is over, they try to cut Mike’s hair but the lights go out and Jurassic Express appears in the ring to clean house and show FTR whose boss!  I liked the match quite a bit and it didn’t overstay its welcome, but this late into the show I’m starting to check my metaphorical watch as it just seems to be going through the motions.  Perhaps the main event will perk me back up and bring this episode to a thrilling close!

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Eddie Kingston & The Butcher & The Blade Vs. Lance Archer & Rey Fénix & Jon Moxley – Six Man Tag Match

Butcher & Blade are accompanied by The Bunny while Archer is accompanied by Jake Roberts

It’s certainly a setup that gets me all that excited as Eddie Kingston’s constant beefs have almost gotten as tired as Taz and Sting yelling at each other, and the idea that this match will “settle all business” with Kingston certainly drew a wry chuckle from me.  The match is much like everything else on the show; GREAT action, but feels a bit hollow.  Butcher & Blade definitely get some time to shine early on with a bit of heat on Moxley and Archer, but it’s mostly the three arguable Baby Faces running wild on Kingston’s crew.  Archer’s a big dude so no matter what gets thrown at him he just shakes it off, and Rey Fénix once again proves to be one of the top wrestlers working today with a hot tag that shows up every other high flyer out there and gets the crowd roaring!  I don’t even know WHAT you’d call some of his moves!  A Springboard Roundhouse Kick?  A Phoenix Arm Drag?  A 360 Cutter!?  The dude is unstoppable when he’s NOT getting himself injured, and the only thing that kinda damped my enthusiasm is that I knew better than to expect him to win the match himself, and sure enough Kingston stops his momentum so that Archer can come in and make the save.  The rest of the match at least has a good deal of weight to it as it focuses on Moxley and Kingston.  The two of them, fueled by their mutual hatred and conflicted love for one another, start hammering each other over the head.  Moxely maintains a solid control of the match, but any time Kingston gets an edge Archer and Fénix run interference; symbolizing Kingston’s chickens coming home to roost for his duplicitous behavior the last few months.  Moxley ends up knocking Kingston to the ground and lifts him up for a VERY high Paradigm Shift to win the match.  With this business supposedly “settled”, it’s time for Moxley’s comeuppance as The Good Brothers rush in and take out Moxely.  I’m not sure where Fénix and Archer are as they weren’t completely wiped out by the end of the match, but in any case Omega and Callis come out to taunt Jon and issue a challenge.  We finally get our main event for Revolution which will be a rematch between Moxley and Omega for the AEW World Title.  Not just ANY rematch though!  An… *checks notes*… Exploding Barb Wire Death Match?  Who came up with this; a twelve year old after looking at too many death metal album covers?  I mean I guess it makes sense considering Kenny Omega as a heel is basically a giant kid with problems sharing, but I’m not sure I want to see someone die if it’s all the same to you, Kenny.  It’s unclear if Moxley accepts the match, but he does head butt Omega who retaliates with a series of V-Triggers to show him who’s boss.  The episode ends with Don and Kenny screaming in Moxley’s face and the Callis faction standing strong in the middle of the ring; an ending that certainly raises more questions than answers.

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There really isn’t anything I can say that’s a genuine negative about this show, but something about this episode failed to really capture my interest.  Honestly, I think the promos just haven’t been up to par here with the in between match segments either being dull, repetitive, or kinda humdrum.  As happy as I am for Cody and Brandi I wasn’t all THAT invested in the gender of their baby, and Jade Cargill is gonna continue to be Jade Cargill until we see what she can do in the ring.  The Inner Circle clearing the air on the whole Sammy/MJF stuff was perhaps the most interesting bit story not told via wrestling moves and I’m DEFINITELY happy where the Matt Hardy/Adam Page story is going, but everything else feeling underwhelming just threw off the balance for me.  Perhaps the matches aren’t blameless either as the action is good but there simply wasn’t anything surprising about them.  Sure, everyone showed some impressive moves and the announcers talked EVERYONE up throughout the show, but every match ended exactly as I expected them to which isn’t ALWAYS a bad thing but it kind of muted the impact of otherwise solid matches. Then again, maybe I’m just an unpleasable jerk which could very much be the case!

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