Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (02-24-2021)

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

Revolution is creeping up on us each and every week and the last episode was a particularly awkward attempt to jam in as much storyline as possible and to the expense of the otherwise great matches on the show.  Now that so much of the groundwork for the PPV has been set, does this episode find a better balance between the stories they wish to tell and the matches they want to put on?  Let’s find out!!

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Jon Moxley Vs. Hollywood Hunk Ryan Nemeth

Not even gonna save him for the main event?  Considering the GIANT news (nyuk-nyuk-nyuk) that broke before the show, I’m guessing AEW was anticipating a larger than usual audience at the start of the show and they wanted to give the people their money’s worth.  Now Ryan Nemeth gave Pac a darn good squash match last week and it’s basically the same thing here.  Moxley is so overpowered for this that he gives Nemeth a slap and the dude flops over like he got speared by a truck.  Nemeth is tenacious though and he gets a few knees in as well as a good looking Drop Kick, but Moxley just needs a few suplexes to put Nemeth away less than five minutes into the show.  I kind of wish they had done a bit more here as Nemeth could have DEFINITELY sold for longer and Moxley could have done a few more super moves, but the point here is less to put on a memorable match as it is to set the stage for Moxley’s post-match promo.  He needs to address Kenny Omega’s challenge to an EXPLODING BARB WIRE DEATH MATCH and frankly he just seems tired and exasperated.  He knows this is utterly ridiculous and that there are better ways to handle this, but he doesn’t have it in him to turn it down.  In his own words, he’s an addict and even if he knows this is a bad idea he can’t stop himself from diving headfirst into it.  In this way, Kenny may have an advantage as there are ample opportunities for chicanery in something as ludicrous as an EXPLODING BARB WIRE DEATH MATCH, but as he says to everyone who tries to step up to him, the most important thing is to not miss.  If Kenny bungles this and doesn’t finish Moxley off, he’s gonna regret it and may even lose his belt in the process.  Moxley’s character is exactly who he’s always been so even if the promo feels like a lot of his other promos, it’s still quite compelling to hear.  I’m very skeptical about something called an EXPLODING BARB WIRE DEATH MATCH which APPARENTLY includes land mines outside the ring (yeah, sure. Whatever you say), but Moxley and Omega are two of the best guys at this company and hopefully the gimmicks don’t get in the way too much of what will surely be a great match.

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So apparently The Big Show becoming All Elite wasn’t the only news AEW had this week as a bunch of the Revolution card got filled out while I wasn’t looking.  One of the matches is a Face of the Revolution Ladder Match which MOST of the participants just get to be in (Cody, Scorpio Sky, and Penta El Zero M), but for whatever reason Lance Archer and Rey Fénix have a match tonight to earn a spot in it.  The two are being interviewed in the back about all this and Archer brags about being the best while Rey Fénix spills the tea on him being the WORST partner he’s ever had.  Oh snap, I guess?

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 Varsity Blondes Vs. Ricky Starks & Brian Cage

HOLY CRAP!!  They’re ACTUALLY wrestling instead of just mean mugging behind Taz as he rambles on and on about Sting!  It must be a miracle or something; especially since they got The Varsity Blondes here as well who just don’t get enough time on TV for my liking!  Garrison and Pillman Jr have a great look and they’re solid wrestlers, so I don’t know why they don’t show up more!  Things definitely start off well for the two of them as Starks gives up A LOT for Pillman who looks like a real star here, but his momentum is halted when Starks distracts the ref so that Cage can Power Bomb him into the steel post!  THAT looked like it SUCKED and is the start of the heat segment for Starks and Cage who also look good tearing this guy apart.  Unfortunately it just goes on way too long and feels like extended filler until a very fun and explosive finale (kicked off by Garrison’s hot tag) that pulls out all the stops and ends with Cage landing a devastating Drill Claw onto Brian Pillman Jr.  By the end of this match it felt like I spent most of it slogging through the heat segment and I really wanted to see Pillman and Garrison shine here. It eventually gave me what I wanted as they still looked good even in defeat, but it was too little too late and the match just never clicked for me.  Once again though, it’s less about the match itself than what happens afterwards as the lights go out during Team Taz’s celebration and we get a Darby video on the big screen where he’s being dragged around by a car driven by Sting; only to pop out of the body bag happy as a clam and holding his TNT belt.  After the video, Sting comes out with a body bag which presumably has Darby Allin inside… BUT NO!  Sting opens it to reveal a very dazed Hook and he points to the rafters to show Darby Allin coming to the ring on a zip line!  The two of them clean house in the ring and Sting even manages to land a Scorpion Death Drop on Brian Cage!  We didn’t need countless weeks of buildup to get to this point, but it was a darn good payoff for this storyline and a great way to set up the Revolution match.  The only thing missing?  NO WILL HOBBS!  Come on, that guy is GREAT!!

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Miro, Kip, and Penelope are being interviewed by Ton Schiavone about the disastrous wedding, and while everyone is still pretty raw about it, Miro wants to extend an olive branch to Chuck Taylor.  Apparently he was a REALLY good butler and so Miro wants him to come back to his side and stop hanging out with that bad egg Orange Cassidy!  Before Miro can finish his After School Special however, someone passes Tony a note to hand to Miro; asking him and Kip if they want to have a match at Revolution.  I’m certainly intrigued to see the match, but I’m trying to recall if Miro and Kip have had a great match together and the only thing I can recall is that somewhat disastrous first match with Joey Janela and Sonny Kiss so I’m not exactly getting my hopes up for it just yet.

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Brandon Cutler Vs. Jake Hager

Well it’s about TIME Cutler got a match on Dynamite!  He was unceremoniously pulled from the twelve man tag match after Wardlow had to no-show due to family issues, so I guess him getting utterly wrecked by Hager is AEW’s way of saying sorry!  Cutler puts up a valiant effort as he tries to use his speed and agility to overcome Hager’s strength, but a few well-placed punches and some devastating () is enough to put Cutler away.  Heck, the only reason it took as long as it did was because Hager is a drama queen and LOVES to take his time, so he stalks the ring, keeps Cutler on the ground, occasionally humoring him with a hope spot, and then finally takes his head off with a clothesline to get the pin.  After that, Santana, Ortiz, and Wardlow come out to pound on Cutler until The Bucks come out so they can cut a promo on Jericho and MJF to set up their Revolution match.  Of course, Jericho and MJF’s absence is no mistake as they pop up on the big screen with The Bucks’ dad all bloody and bruised.  The Bucks rush to the back to help him, but by the MJF and Jericho are speeding away in their fancy car.  I get that they don’t want to pull the trigger on the Bullet Club schism just yet, but I can’t believe an angle with former AEW Chris Jericho is feeling this perfunctory.  You don’t get wrestler’s family involved unless you don’t have a better idea, and I guess with all the Kenny Omega, Impact, and New Japan stuff, this match just kinda crept up on them and they need to push this angle hard and fast for the match on the PPV to mean anything.

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Hangman Adam page Vs. Isaiah Kassidy

Kassidy is accompanied to the ring by Matt Hardy & TH2

I was very skeptical about the Page/Hardy angle when they were first teasing it, but after the events of last week it has become one of the more interesting storylines going into the PPV and this match is a solid continuation of that.  Page is just TEARING into Kassidy for the first part of this match as Matt Hardy watches on with exasperation, but sure enough the lone wolf gets himself caught in a trap as TH2 distracts the ref so that Matt and Kassidy can wreck Hangman’s arm.  Thankfully Silver and Reynolds come out to tattle on the ref who ejects Hardy from ringside, but the damage is already done and Hangman spends most of the match fighting from underneath.  Kassidy looks fine here as a competitor and even eschews his usual high flying skillset for one that’s more submission and strike based, but it may have been to his disadvantage as Hangman simply has more power even with one arm than Kassidy does and so he holds his own until Kassidy suffers enough wear and tear for things to even out between them.  Hangman tries repeatedly to land his super moves to no avail despite the cheers of Silver and Reynolds, but eventually he gets Kassidy into a Deadshot and finally wins the match.  It definitely had its impressive moments, particularly Hangman’s overwhelming offense in the first few minutes, but I think that having Page be hurt throughout and grounding Kassidy somewhat robbed the match of momentum, but then again this is another match here to tell a story first and foremost, and the post-match angle is kinda brilliant!  Matt Hardy, presumably grabbing a mic backstage, promises to destroy not only Page but The Dark Order for being associated with him, and to prove it he comes out with Alan Angles to toss him off the stage.  What this does is attack Adam Page where he is most vulnerable which is his fear of forming attachments that could end up hurting him further down the line, and in essence he Hardy has FORCED Page into such a situation.  Sure The Dark Order are being earnest in their attempts to help Hardy, but now one of their own has suffered due to their attempts to protect him, and whether they actually end up asking Page to make up for this, I wouldn’t be surprised if Page feels guilty and becomes even more apprehensive in the weeks leading up to the match at the PPV.  I’m curious what The Dark Order’s next move is here as they seem to have the most control over what happens next; at least until Matt Hardy tries some other underhanded tactic, and if they can find a way to help Page in a way that doesn’t hold him back or distract him from his own goals.  If they find a way for Silver to thread that needle and be instrumental in Page’s victory over Hardy, then it will shoot him straight to the moon and I genuinely hope they have that much confidence in him as a superstar.

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We get more Kenny Omega silliness as Marvez tracks him and Callis down inside a metal shop where Kenny is in full-on welder cosplay while trying to have a serious discussion about the *checks notes* EXPLODING BARB WIRE DEATH MATCH.  I don’t know exactly what he’s planning here and what diabolical feats of engineering he has planned for Moxley, but apparently it involves banging a sheet of metal with a hammer so best of luck to him I guess.

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Nyla Rose Vs. Britt Baker – Women’s Championship Eliminator Tournament

Baker is accompanied to the ring by Rebel (not Reba)

The only thing that’s grabbed my attention more than the sudden turnaround of the Hardy/Page story is this Women’s tournament.  I’ve only seen bits and pieces of the Japanese side and I didn’t see the US matches they put online, but that match with Serena Deeb and Riho was fantastic, and the whole tournament looks ripe for even more great matches like that.  Now we’ve got something of a challenge here as Nyla Rose is not the easiest person to have a match with, so Baker needs to pull out all the stops to make it work.  For the most part, it does.  This is honestly one of Rose’s better matches and Baker finds a way to make her heel character more of a heel than Rose’s which is no easy feat.  Rose isn’t exactly playing Baby Face here as she spends most of her time tossing Baker around and using her size to keep her grounded, but Baker’s bestest buddy Rebel (not Reba) interferes throughout the match so Baker’s the heel by virtue of cheating.  It’s a good thing too because if Baker DIDN’T scheme her way through this than it would be one extended heat segment as Rose is in control for most of the match, but every underhanded tactic Baker uses only makes it that much more satisfying to see her get her comeuppance.  Baker briefly gets the advantage after wrecking Rose’s arm in the post, but she eventually overpowers Baker and even slams Rebel on the apron for good measure.  Even without her ace in the hole however, Baker manages to keep in this and manages to bring Nyla down to the mat and goes for the Lock Jaw to put her away.  After a few attempts that Nyla fights out of, she’s all out of tricks and succumbs to a series of Beast Bombs; giving Nyla Rose the win and advancing her to the semi-finals.  I was quite surprised that they didn’t have Baker win this since I figured they were going to continue her feud with Thunder Rosa, but this is the first legitimate surprise win I’ve seen on the show in a while, and the spat between those two can be put on the back burner for now.  It wasn’t as good as the Riho/Deeb match from last week, but the women’s division’s upward momentum is only getting stronger with this tournament and I hope that next week’s match will be even more impressive!

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Rey Fénix Vs. Lance Archer – Face the Revolution Ladder Match Qualifier

Archer is accompanied to the ring by Jake Roberts

Rey Fénix is one of the most valuable wrestlers in the industry today and he proves it once again here in this fantastic main event match!  Oh Archer is great as well and I’m just as happy to see him as I am to see Rey, but no matter what he’s getting paid it’s still not enough for what he does almost every single week.  Heck, he’s so good that I wish he WOULDN’T do this much each match as it’s gonna catch up to him at some point if he’s not careful!  His thighs in particular take a SAVAGE beating here as he lands on the outside railing like half a dozen times doing ridiculous high flying moves, and yet he never seems to be bothered by it; just shaking it off and doing yet ANOTHER spectacular move to show up the entire business!  Archer eventually manages to ground Fénix and takes his time wearing him down and it’s pretty amusing to see Rey try to beat Archer at his own game to absolutely no avail, but it is a bit deflating to see Rey take THIS much abuse for this long in the match.  He eventually manages to get his second wind after a failed Blackout from Archer and the match kicks all sorts of butt then as the crowd is cheering and Archer is selling these spectacular high spots!  This forces Archer to kick his game up a notch and he’s no slouch when it comes to flippy stuff as he does a top rope walk into a back flip and just CRUSHES Rey like a cartoon character under a giant bolder, but the little guy is tenacious and is not willing to give up just yet! The last six or so minutes of the match are an impressive display of endurance and bursts of stamina as both of them are gasping for air and digging deeper and deeper to come up with just ONE more super move to try and put the other away to no avail (including a top rope Spanish Fly that sends Archer CRASHING to the mat), and it’s so good that I could watch these two go at it like this for another half hour.  Sadly all good things must come to an end and while I would have preferred a Time Limit Draw that would lead to both of them going to Revolution, Archer Choke Slams Rey which softens him up enough to land the Blackout and get the pin; winning the fight, earning his spot in the ladder match, and bringing this episode to an end.  I honestly don’t know how AEW looks at a guy THIS good and concludes that he has to keep losing his matches.  Perhaps Rey doesn’t WANT a top guy spot here and is happy to be tied down here with a belt or something, but it’s not like he’s working anywhere else at the moment, so it continues to be a mystery to me that he does the job almost every single time he enters that ring. 

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Aside from the main event which is one of the better matches I’ve seen in a while, I wasn’t as impressed with the overall match quality in this episode as I was with last week’s but there’s definitely a better balance between story and action so I think it averages out to a SLIGHTLY better episode.  The Revolution PPV is certainly being built up, but I’m a bit skeptical about some of the matches; at least as far as the promos have been.  The tag title is being built up in the most clichéd way possible, I have absolutely NO idea how that Sting and Darby Allin match is gonna turn out, and there’s no way I can POSSIBLY take an EXPLODING BARB WIRE DEATH MATCH seriously no matter how solid Moxley’s promos are.  Still, we do have the match between Matt Hardy and Adam Page which looks to be great (and hopefully doesn’t end with Matt’s head getting split open again), and they did pepper the card with some gimmick matches like the ladder match and a Battle Royale which I always like to see on the big shows, and even if I’m not exactly feeling the story there’s little doubt that everyone involved is going to put on a heck of a show.  Next week is the Go Home show that’ll have the Shaq match, so hopefully there will be a lot of eyeballs and that AEW will pull out all the stops to make it the best show it can be.  I’m hopeful, but still a little cautious.

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