Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (03-03-2021) – Crossroads

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

It’s the Go Home show for AEW’s first PPV of the year, and it’s been an interesting journey; the least of which because of Shaq of all people entering the ring on this episode of Dynamite!  Still, AEW is nothing if not flexible and they’ve turned bad situations into pure gold in the past!  Will they manage to wrangle all their disparate pieces and wonky storylines into a cohesive final sendoff to get us all hyped for the PPV?  Let’s find out!!

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Cody Rhodes & Red Velvet Vs. Shaq & Jade Cargill

Starting things of with the feud that would not die, no matter how many things went wrong!  First Brandi had to be replaced by Red Velvet due to her and Cody getting pregnant which isn’t a BAD thing, but then Cody got hurt recently in one of his matches, the NBA All Star game happening on Sunday which meant the match had to be moved off the PPV, and more than anything else it feels like Shaq is barely even involved in this feud.  He’s not made a single live appearance on television and the few taped moments we got were rather underwhelming.  It just feels like something that AEW has to do; trading off Shaq’s popularity and the eyeballs this match will get versus what a mess it could easily turn into.  So after ALL that build up and after all the missteps, the match itself… is just fine.  It’s decent enough given the fact that they’ve got one (arguably two) untrained competitors in there and it helps that both Shaq and Jade have enough personality to not seem COMPLETELY lost in the ring while Cody and Red Velvet do a fine job selling for them. Cody knocks Shaq off the apron at which point Austin Gunn tries smashing him in the back with a chair which Shaq no sells and proceeds to suplex both him and his brother which was perhaps the biggest pop of the match.  Red Velvet then does a darn good Moonsault from the top rope to the floor, but it WAS a bit strange is just how much collateral damage there was as she took out not just Jade but Cody and QT Marshall as well.  Frankly the best aspects of this match are like that; all spots no smarts.  The moments that do feel more like a real wrestling match such as when Jade tries a Figure Four Leg Lock don’t look great, but then they start pulling out tables for absolutely no reason and you know that SOMEONE is going through them at some point which keeps the excitement and the momentum up; even though this isn’t a No-DQ match and there shouldn’t even BE tables.  In any case, they’re holding off on that for now as Shaq and Cody jump back in with the former landing a decent Power Bomb on the latter, but Cody follows up with His Kitty Cat Uppercut and he actually manages to just barely slam Shaq onto the mat which was pretty impressive, but the sloppiness kind of undercut the impact.  He goes for a pin but is tossed off with great force which looked a lot better than the slam, and he realizes it’s time to get Red Velvet back in there before he injures himself further.  There’s a Spine Buster from Jade that looked good (not as good as Will Hobbs’s, but still decent) which forces Cody to break up the pin and he finally decides it’s go big or go home as he dives at Shaq and they both tumble through the two tables from earlier.  It’s a huge pop from the crowd that forces Jade and Red Velvet to kind of stand around while waiting for everyone to calm down, and when they do Red Velvet gives Jade a Spear that the camera almost missed.  They start trading Suplex attempts as neither one can hold onto the other long enough to execute am over, but finally Jade hits Red Velvet with a move that I’m assuming is her finisher and gets the three count.  I’m not sure what it is exactly, but it kind of looks like a Sit-Out Powerbomb only with the opponent facing the other way so their face hits the mat instead of their back.  In any case, Jade and Shaq won which I’m sure the latter is going to be quite please about once he wakes up in the hospital.  Yes, apparently two particle board tables aren’t enough to break Shaq’s fall and so he’s wheeled out on a stretcher to an ambulance where, and I’m not making this up, the dude just DISAPPEARS!  Like a freaking wizard, or perhaps like Bray Wyatt, he’s apparently brushed up on his magic and just poofed out of existence as soon as he was in the ambulance!  I don’t know what the heck any of that means or frankly what this match was supposed to accomplish, but I had a decent time with it which is SO much more than I had expected.  I was prepared to write this match off completely as nothing more than a publicity stunt, and while the focus on big spots and flashy moves still kind of makes it one of those, everyone ended up looking good in it and no one embarrassed themselves.  Red Velvet is a fine worker, Jade Cargill is someone who can be darn good with some seasoning, and even Shaq managed to pull this off despite his clear lack of experience!  I don’t want to see another one of these anytime soon, but it was a better payoff to this boring story than it had any right to be.

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Death Triangle (Pac & Rey Fénix) Vs. D3 & Skyler

I’m not even sure those are the right names for these guys as they got SUPER Jobber entrances.  Not only were they already in the ring when Death Triangle showed up, we didn’t get a caption at the bottom of the screen for them, and I’m pretty sure their faces weren’t on camera at any point in the match.  Pac and Fénix just wreck these dudes for a minute and get the heck out of there which is fine because I’m glad that these two are being shown as superstars, but couldn’t they have spared just FIVE seconds to let us know who these guys are? Just one shot of them before the match and a title card; that’s all I’m asking for!

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Jericho & MJF Press Conference – What Do They Have To Say For Themselves!?

The buildup to the PPV match between The Bucks and The Inner Circle has felt pretty perfunctory (going so far as to involve a wrestler’s family member which is as old school as it gets), but now it’s time for AEW’s biggest loudmouths to show us what they’ve got, and similar to that town hall from months ago it’s mostly good stuff.  The questions are kind of immaterial as they’re just excuses for Jericho and MJF to brag about themselves and reiterate that Sammy is out of The Inner Circle for good, but we do get an appearance from our old friend Eric Bischoff who asks them why they were so foolish as to attack The Bucks’ papa right before their big match.  I mean if ANYTHING that would spur them to kick their butts even more, right?  Jericho and MJF try to put of a brave face about it to prove how little they care, but The Bucks come out and lecture them about what a good father is which… frankly isn’t all that intimidating, but then they start Super Kicking everyone and it turns into a free for all.  Brandon Cutler comes in to provide backup for The Bucks and they are soon joined by The Good Brothers who help The Bucks put Jericho and MJF through tables.  Look, if they gotta speed through an angle to make us care about the match at Revolution then they’re doing everything they can.  A straightforward emotional through line with the attack on Papa Buck, bad guys acting like arrogant jerks to get some heat, and a big brawl right before the fight to make it feel like a big deal; all decent and well executed stuff, but it just feels like filler for a PPV that just needed a reason for the Tag Team belts to be on the line and it just isn’t doing much for me.

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We get a video package about the EXPLODING BARB WIRE DEATH MATCH which at least shows some footage of previous matches of this type (mostly in Japan), but it still seems like a really silly concept and one that’s hard to take seriously.  TNA used to do stuff like this with electrified cages and guys pretending to sell for potentially lethal stuff like this and I can only hope that Moxley and Omega are good enough to sell it in a way that works; otherwise everyone’s just gonna be rolling their eyes when the flashy explosions go off outside the ring.

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Jurassic Express Vs. FTR & Tully Blanchard

FTR are accompanied to the ring by JJ Dillon

You hear that right!  Sexagenarian Tully freaking Blanchard is in this match and he starts things off by locking it up with Marko Stunt!  I mean if the guy can still go then why not let him play fight against a safe opponent like Stunt, and it certainly adds some novelty to this match.  I especially liked this one spot where Tully pretends to go for a Suicide Dive but stops short and does a little jig as he tags in Harwood which was a fun little beat and thankfully didn’t involve this dude ACTUALLY trying to fly through the air.  What I probably could have done without though is the overt references to The Four Horsemen; none of which I got, especially the inclusion of this JJ Dillion guy.  I have no idea who he is but he hands a shoe to Dax Harwood so I guess he’s legit.  Jungle Boy is the one who eats the wing tip and FTR get the heat on him for a while but the kid is tenacious and eventually gets the tag to Luchasaurus who frankly we need to see more of.  I know it’s kind of Jungle Boy’s time to shine and so he shouldn’t get in the way of that, but the dude is such a unique presence in the ring and his moves always get over with the crowd.  He moves at a deliberate pace, but it still looks intricate and purposeful; like a finely choreographed waltz or one of those videos where something explodes in slow motion.  The biggest bumps that Tully takes during the match happen during Luchasaurus’s hot tag when Marko Stunt being tossed in his general direction (as well as a Tail Whip that sends Tully to the mat a few minutes later), but his momentum is sadly brought to an end with a Swinging DDT from Cash Wheeler outside the ring and once again Jungle Boy is left to eat a bunch of offense from FTR.  Still, it looks like Jurassic Express’s match to win as all three of them are working together like clockwork, but then a camera man starts interfering and even clocks Luchasaurus with a camera which was enough for FTR to hold him down so the three of them can do a Spiked Piledriver which was enough to keep him down and for Tully to get the pin.  So who was the masked crew member?  Why it was none other than Shawn Spears!  Hopefully they actually have something for this guy to DO or else he’s going to have to go away again before long.  The match was fun and goofy, but I wasn’t in love with it the way I’ve been with other Jurassic Express matches.  Perhaps the inclusion of Tully meant that things had to be done a bit slower and more carefully, but in any case it was still pretty fun.

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Tony comes out to chase everyone out the ring because he’s got a HUGE announcement to make and a BIG GUY to introduce to the crowd.  Yes, this is the first appearance of Paul Wight; formerly The Big Show at WWE and The Giant all the way back in WCW.  He comes out to a HUGE ovation from the crowd and he’s even sporting a NO MORE BS shirt just to twist the knife a bit more into the back of Vince McMahon.  Just as he’s pulled his fair share of nonsense on Mr. Show in the past, but it is quite exciting to see a guy like this show up in AEW.  Unlike old timers like Sting and even Jericho, this dude was a pillar of WWE; a guy who always seemed like he would be there.  Heck, they were confident enough in his star power and value to the company that they got him a Netflix show last year.  He tells the AEW audience that he’s happy to be here and to work with all these fresh face talents who are going to be the next big thing in the wrestling industry.  He makes sure to plug the show he’ll be commentating with Tony Schiavone, AEW Dark Elevation, and for good measure he gives us the scoop that someone we’d have NEVER seen coming is going to show up at Revolution!  The guy is certainly likeable and he seems genuinely happy to be here so all the best to him, though I’m not sure how much I’m gonna be able to see of the guy as I can’t even catch up on regular old Dark; let alone this NEW version of Dark!

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Ryo Mizunami Vs. Nyla Rose – Women’s Championship Eliminator Tournament Finals

Nyla Rose is accompanied to the ring by Vickie Guerrero

I have not seen much of the Japanese side of this tournament, but DANG does Ryo make a great first impression!  Just right off the bat she’s full of energy, she’s brimming with charisma, and she’s just fun to watch as she struts around the ring and plays to the crowd; creating an infectious and fun energy that makes you fall in love with her instantly!  Nyla is no slouch either as she’s improved immensely since her debut, and she creates an instant rapport with Mizunami; making fun of her struts and grounding her at just the right times to maximize her heat.  She also gives quite a bit to Mizunami and even plays along with some of the more absurd things she does in the ring, but it’s all in good fun and makes for a compelling match!  It soon becomes clear that no matter how fabulous she makes her moves, they have to have a bit more impact to have any effect on Nyla and so Mizunami eventually buckles down and starts kicking things into overdrive.  She tries to recreate her win against Aja Kong by sending Nyla to the outside and landing a Leg Drop on her; rolling back into the ring and hoping that Nyla Stays down for the ten count.  It’s clear however that Rose isn’t about to go out that way but Ryo is prepared and has a SECOND Leg Drop ready for her as soon as she rolls into the ring.  Sadly this only gets a two count and Rose gets her second wind which is bad for Ryo who eats a Death Valley Driver, a Diving Knee Drop, and even a Superplex; none of which were enough to pin her but she’s clearly running on empty after such a devastating assault.  Ryo digs down deep and knocks Nyla down with a Spear which she follows with yet another Leg Drop and FINALLY she is able to keep Nyla down for the three count; winning the match, winning the tournament, and winning a title match against Hikaru Shida at Revolution!  Speaking of whom, Shida comes to the ring to present Ryo with the trophy, and she thanks her by punching her in the face!  It’s okay, though!  It’s not a heel move as Shida smiles and punches her back!  It’s a sign of affection and sportsmanship, you see!?  This tournament has been the best thing to happen to the women’s division in a long time; perhaps as long as there’s BEEN a women’s division!  The only thing that bothers me about it is that we didn’t get to see all the matches on Dynamite.  Sure, maybe you don’t want to have taped matches in an empty gym taking up time on national TV, but the US side of the bracket only had what; TWO matches on TV before the finals?  Heck, I don’t even know where I was supposed to watch the Rose/Rosa match but I sure wish I got to see it on Dynamite!  A fantastic match with two fantastic opponents that worked well together, and I cannot wait to see what Ryo and Shida do at the PPV!

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Sting comes out once again to give yet another promo, and once again someone from Team Taz interrupts.  This time it’s Ricky Starks who gives Sting credit for being able to go at his age, but he’s still not impressed with the icon and they start brawling.  The rest of team Taz come out to break it up, and Darby comes out to stop Brian Cage from landing yet another Power Bomb on Sting.  The match is in a few days so they had to give us something and it wasn’t bad at all, but I’m ready for this feud to be over and for Darby to do something else; preferably something that actually involves his title belt.

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Ten The Creeper Vs. Max Caster – Face the Revolution Ladder Match Qualifier

I guess Archer and Fénix weren’t the ONLY ones who had to qualify for the match, but there’s no question that either one of them going against either one of these two would have ended with much stronger competitors in the ladder match.  Still, good ol’ Ten is fun to watch whenever he shows up, and while I prefer Bowens to Caster, this guy isn’t exactly a slouch.  Green perhaps, as is Ten in many regards, but both have a lot of passion and bring that enthusiasm to this match.  Big moves, drop kicks, a lot of showboating from Caster, it checks all the boxes for a solid match and I really liked this spear that Ten did from the apron, but it was not a particularly inspiring one; especially following the women’s match.  The most interesting thing came at the end when Jack Evans out of nowhere smashed Ten over the head with a boom box.  Caster, none the wise to Evans’s shenanigans, goes for the pin and gets the win; qualifying for the ladder match.  But why was Evans so intent on Caster winning?  Well it’s because he was hired by Big Money Matt Hardy to take Ten out of the match; fulfilling his promise to make The Dark Order pay for their interference in his business with Adam Page.  It certainly makes things a bit heavy for what happens next, which is…

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Hangman Adam Page & Jon Silver Vs. Matt Hardy & Marq Quen

Perhaps it was just late in the show and I was feeling fatigued, but this match didn’t really do much for me despite how much I like everyone involved and how much I LOVE Jon Silver.  I think the big problem is that we JUST ended the last match with Hardy screwing over The Dark Order and yet the weight of that is never felt here.  Instead, it’s just Page and Matt’s little tiff that manifests as Matt tagging out whenever Page is in the ring.  There was some good stuff throughout the match from everyone there and Jon Silver once again gets the spotlight with some darn fine moves so there’s really nothing to complain about.  Hardy and Quen get the heat on Silver for a while until he lands an AWESOME Sliced Bread on Hardy that leads to Page’s hot tag where he utterly DESTROYS Marq Quen while Hardy does his best to stay out of it; at least until Quen softens up Page enough that he thinks he’ll have an easier time.  Hardy lands a Swinging Neck Breaker and signals for the Twist of Fate, but Page reverses it into a Back Suplex which spells certain doom for Hardy, but Page doesn’t get his revenge just yet as Silver tags himself in and Spears Matt Hardy, kicks him a couple time, and lands a Brain Buster to get a two count.  I guess he’s owed at least that much for Hardy tossing Alan Angels off the stage and costing Ten his match, but it’s not long before Quen is back in the match and starts taking Silver down a peg or two with some of his high flying moves.  Not able to finish this match himself, Silver tags in Page and they finish off Quen with a spectacular combination of moves that crescendo with the Buckshot Lariat.  Page makes sure to look Matt RIGHT in the eyes for a good while before finally dropping down and pinning Quen to win the match.  All well and good, but Hardy jumps him as soon as the bell is rung and it’s at that point that the whole arena erupts into pandemonium.  The Dark Order come out to stomp a mud hole into Matt Hardy but then EVERYONE involved in the Revolution Battle Royal hits the ring and starts brawling; ending the Go Home show with a preview of the utter carnage we will surely see at the Revolution show!

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The show kind of lost steam for me at the end, but this was a pretty good Go Home show that surprised me in a lot of ways.  The Shaq and Jade match was NOT a complete disaster which I found to be quite the surprise and the matches were all fun in their own way.  Perhaps something with a bit more serious somewhere in the middle of the show would have helped a bit as everything feels overly wacky and low stakes throughout, but then again the most serious bit was probably with The Bucks and The Inner Circle which I found to be kind of trite so I guess AEW can’t win with me this week.  Still, I am excited for the show on Sunday and there are several matches there that look like they will be a blast; both figuratively and literally!  The EXPLODING BARB WIRE DEATH MATCH sounds utterly ludicrous but I’m fascinated to see how it ends up playing out, the Big Money Match between Hardy and Page should be darn good, and the women’s tournament was an overwhelming success that has gotten me VERY interested in the title match; something I haven’t been able to say about the last what, three or four title defenses?  The show is stacked from top to bottom with a solid card of matches, and while the Go Home show felt a bit too light and inconsequential for such a big event, it did enough to keep me entertained which is really what we’re all looking for from week to week, right?

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