Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (03-31-2021)

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

We’re back with another week of Dynamite action and frankly I’m excited to see what they do!  They’ve been on something of a hot streak lately with great matches from top to bottom with this week looking to be no different!  Can they keep up the momentum they’ve worked hard to build, or are they running out of steam sooner rather than later?  Let’s find out!!

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Christian Cage Vs. Frankie Kazarian

We start things off with the self-proclaimed Work Horse of AEW finally lacing up his boots and getting in the ring with the ACTUAL workhorse of the company.  Frankly, that’s the big issue I had with this match; Christian Cage is good, but I just don’t buy the gimmick.  Now they DO seem to be playing with that a little bit as Kazarian is the heel who just keeps overwhelming the Baby Face, but it’s not exactly the first match I would have if my gimmick is that I’m the best worker around.  Still, Cage isn’t here to coast as he takes a NASTY bump early on from the top turnbuckle to the ground (managing to smash his side on the apron on his way down) and even though he looks COMPLETELY exhausted by the halfway point he manages to make his way to the end of the match without missing a step.  Well… maybe a LITTLE bit.  There’s an awkward looking escape from here where he rolls over Kazarian’s back at one point, and there are a couple of submission holds that look suspiciously like rest holds, but it’s still a solid match with a decent arc to it. Kazarian knows he’s running away with this as he gets in Cage’s face during his advantage, and even when Cage fires back Kazarian is always ready to reverse his fortunes.  To make matters worse, Kazarian starts choking out Cage and the guy nearly passes out which is not doing much for his stamina.  Cage EVENTUALLY manages to fight back to a standing position, but Kazarian knocks him back down to further cement his domination this early on in the match.  Eventually Cage mounts a comeback with a Swinging DDT from the middle rope that Kazarian bumps big for but still kicks out at two, but even with that he’s finally gets his second wind and starts fighting off Kazarian with a bunch of chops followed by a Diving European Uppercut which also gets a two count.  The rest of the match is not unlike Kenny Omega’s usual shtick where Cage keeps going for his finisher The Killswitch but Kazarian finds more and more ways to slip out of it and continue his offensive with moves like a Springboard Leg Drop, the Flux Capacitor, and a the dreaded Crossface Chicken Wing.  To Cage’s credit he manages to survive by fighting smart and using rules like rope breaks to his advantage, but Kazarian seems to barely be fazed after all this time while Cage is hanging on for dear life.  The tide finally turns when Cage manages to snap his neck on the top rope and lands a Frog Splash from the top turnbuckle.  With Kazarian nice and softened up and with the match’s time limit looming, Cage finally lands the Killswitch and gets the pin; winning his first match at AEW.  It was a solid match to be sure, but after watching it I think they need to rethink Christian Cage’s character.  I like what I saw of Cage, but not in terms of OUT WORKING EVERYONE.  Out SMARTING Everyone?  Maybe even Out WRESTLING Everyone?  Perhaps those would work better because WORK has a specific connotation in wrestling and I just didn’t see Cage as the best exemplar of it; especially when there’s no better example of someone who works harder than Kazarian who proved it here even in giving Cage the win. 

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Darby Allin and Sting have one of their super artsy videos where they talk about Matt Hardy having nothing but his money to back him up and that it’s not going to be enough to stop them.  I mean hey, it at least makes more sense than most of his other videos.  Remember the one where he was on fire in a church?

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Cody Rhodes Vs. QT Marshall – Unsanctioned Exhibition Match

Arn Anderson is the Guest Referee

We’ve been building to this confrontation for a few weeks now, but it still feels early in the feud as it’s clear that Cody is not taking this seriously and is practically toying with QT who is outclassed for most of this match.  The only way for him to get any heat is to work over Cody’s bad shoulder, but even then Cody is able to power through it retakes the advantage.  Then again, he keeps opening himself up for disaster as he goes for moves like The Figure Four and the Cross Rhodes but just lets him go; as he SAID he would do, but you can tell that QT is looking for any opportunity to hurt him and Cody’s condescension isn’t releasing any of this tension between them.  QT eventually gets frustrated with all this and just straight up cold clocks Arn Anderson.  The entire Nightmare Family storms the ring as QT scampers out of it and they check to see if Arn is okay… but then the shoe drops and a bunch of dudes start attacking everyone else.  Aaron Solow, Nick Comoroto, and Anthony Ogogo start to clean house and even manage to take out Cody while QT Marshall watches on.  Once everyone is on the ground, QT throws Arn Anderson into to the guard rail, and even lands a Pile Driver on Dustin who is bleeding like a sieve.  Cody’s all that’s left and Solow and Comoroto hold him up so that Ogogo, who the announcers tell us is a Olympic bronze medalist in boxing, takes a nasty body shot at Cody.  They then drag him to the steps so that QT can bash his head in with a chair, but thankfully Red Velvet comes out to shame the lot of them who decide now is a good time to slink off into the night.  Honestly, this is EXACTLY where QT’s story should have gone.  He’s a good worker, but he’s not exactly formidable in the ring.  What he IS known for though is being a FANTASTIC trainer, so having him serve as the leader of a group of up and coming stars is a perfect way to work around his deficiencies as a main event player himself.

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We get a video where Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky spend a few minutes complaining about how little air time they get, and they decide to form a tag team that will dominate the division.  It’s a bit disappointing that for a SECOND time Scorpio Sky’s singles career is cut short, but he is a great tag team wrestler and I’m very interested to see how well he and Page can work together.

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Red Velvet is being interviewed in the back about saving Cody, but before she can say much Jade Cargill comes out of nowhere and throws her into a bunch of cases.  Cargill has had a few AEW promos since her match with Shaq, but aside from one squash against Dani Jordyn she hasn’t done anything in the ring or even shown up on live television so I’m glad they’re finally moving forward with her feud against Velvet.

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Moxley gives another one of his FANTASTIC promos, but this might be one of my favorites as he just seems DONE with all this drama.  He’s annoyed at Kenny, he’s still got wounds from all that barb wire, The Bucks are being all wishy washy about going on the offensive against The Good Brothers and Callis, and now they want him to fight Cezar Bononi.  I mean he’s good and all, but he’s not going to do much for Dynamite if Moxley WRECKS him tonight, now are they!?  Exasperated Moxley might be my favorite Moxley, and it’s the perfect way to set up the next match which is…

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Jon Moxley Vs. Cezar Bononi

Bononi is accompanied to the ring by Ryan Nemeth and JD Drake

As the world’s number one Cezar Bononi fan, I was once again keeping a close eye on the guy to see if anything seemed particularly sloppy or dangerous, and once again I’m left with mostly positive feelings about this guy.  I don’t expect him to be in the title picture or to even win any matches on Dynamite in the foreseeable future, but like his newfound buddy Ryan Nemeth I think he fills a very important role at AEW and that his matches do a good job of making their opponents look good.  Unlike last week where Page managed to out wrestle him within a few minutes despite his overwhelming size, Moxley decides to take a different approach and just grab the bull by the horns to try and out muscle him out of sheer furious determination.  This means that while Moxley certainly could have ended the match as quickly as Hangman did, he sticks around for a while longer which only gives Bononi more time to prove himself.  Yeah, he comes off a LITTLE awkward and a LITTLE slow in the ring, but you’d be hard pressed to find big wrestlers like him that DON’T have those issues, and he makes up for it with a lot of ring presence.  Just by looking at his face you can see his ego being drained much faster than his stamina, and he fights like a guy with something to prove than someone who needs to win a match; not unlike his opponent who is also futzing around in this match to work through his issues.  Bononi starts getting the heat with the help of his buddies outside the ring and it seems to be taking a lot out of Moxley (there’s a REALLY great flop that sadly was relegated to Picture in Picture) he eventually gets his strength back and swiftly turns the tables on Bononi who just can’t keep up now that Moxley has decided to take this seriously.  A German Suplex from Moxley followed by a Superplex gets him a two count, but as soon as soon as he locks in an arm breaker to try and get Bononi to tap, JD distracts the ref while Nemeth attempts to interfere; a foolish endeavor to be sure as Moxley has no problem schooling that guy with a Paradigm Shift.  Nemeth’s utter foolishness DOES give Bononi a small window to try and set up Moxley for a slam, but Moxley twists his way out of it and applies the Rear Naked Choke to Bononi who passes out almost immediately; winning the match for Moxley.  Look, I’m still fairly new to this so perhaps I’m missing something major here, but I think Bononi did well here against Moxley and I’ve liked what I’ve seen of him in pretty much every match he’s been in.  This was another good match on the show, and Bononi is certainly one of the reasons why.

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We get another Team Taz segment which is exactly like the one from last week.  Taz assures us everything is fine, Hook and Hobbs agree with him, but Cage and Starks seem to be getting through this through gritted teeth.  Team Taz has always been one of the slower burning factions, but after so many weeks of seeing them do the same thing with Sting I’m not exactly in the mood to see them just do the same thing every week again.

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MJF’s Gift To The Pinnacle!  What Can He Offer The Team Already At The Top!?

Thankfully he doesn’t blow his money on another trip to Vegas (I can only handle so many Hangover jokes in a twelve month period) but instead hires a professional stylist and an interior decorator to make them all look their best and turn this dump of a private locker room into something halfway decent; starting with this lousy bathroom!  He opens the door ready to get to work at turning into a true throne of the gods… and opens it to find The Inner Circle waiting there for him.  Like a Looney Tunes cartoon he closes the door while they’re still standing there and scurries to the exit only to find Jake Hager on the other side.  Utter pandemonium breaks out and none of The Pinnacle are safe!  Sammy smashes Shawn Spears’s head in a door, Jake Hager Side Slams Wardlow through a table, and Santana & Ortiz take out FTR before turning their fury on Tully Blanchard!  The one who gets it worst of all however is MJF as Jericho gives him a swirly in the aforementioned filthy bathroom before throwing his head through the glass door of a drink machine; leaving him a bloody broken mess as The Inner Circle drags his carcass out of the room and once again claims it for themselves.  Seeing MJF get his comeuppance will always be fun and The Inner Circle coming out on top in such an overwhelming display of violence will give them some much needed momentum.  Can the matches that will surely arise because of this hope to be as good as this all out brawl?  We’ll have to see, but this was a darn good way to escalate the feud!

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The Bucks are being interviewed and are once again interrupted by Don Callis.  This time Don focuses his attention on Matt Jackson and tries to blame him for everything that’s gone wrong the last few weeks.  It’s frustrating to listen to in the way that heel speeches like this should be, but I’m starting to get tired of Don Callis’s gas lighting nonsense; especially with this feud seemingly getting stretched out until the next PPV at least.

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The Lucha Bros & Laredo Kid Vs. Kenny Omega & The Good Brothers – Six Man Tag Match

Despite the angle at the end of last week’s match to set up this one, there’s really not much STORY going on here as its just six dudes with a lot of flashy moves doing their best to make the crowd pop from beginning to end.  It starts of strong with the Luchadores getting the advantage on The Bullet Club with lots of dives and flips, but eventually things start to settle down as Laredo Kid and Kenny Omega start trading moves in the ring.  Kenny gets some good offense in but he soon tags in Doc who gets the heat on Laredo Kid for a good while before he manages to escape with a Swinging DDT and tags in Pentagon who then starts throwing Sling Blades at everyone within arm’s reach.  Fenix finds his way to the ring as well and gets a double Stunner before all three of them lands top rope splashes onto Karl Anderson who would have stayed down for the three count but the pin is broken by Kenny Omega.  The three of them then start smashing Anderson in the corner, but he manages to escape with the help of his teammates who take turns destroying Fenix before Anderson goes for a pin that Pentagon manages to break up.  Things just get more wild from there with everyone bouncing around the ring landing big moves to the delight of everyone watching.  It slows down long enough for Laredo Kid and Omega to start going back and forth (echoing the opening of the match) and it looks like Kenny’s gonna win with the V-Trigger but Laredo Kid manages to kick out of it.  He then goes for the One Winged Angel which Laredo Kid manages to escape from and follows up with a Suicide Dive to chase after the escaping Kenny Omega.   What happens next is a thing of absolute beauty and is one of the best spots I’ve seen in a while.  The Good Brothers and The Lucha Bros do a few things in the ring to give Kenny and Kid time to recover, and as soon as they get back in they pick up right where the left off.  Kid blocks a V-Trigger and wrecks Kenny’s shoulder with an Enziguri.  Kenny stumbles to the ropes to catch his breath when out of NOWHERE Rey Fenix is RUNNING on that top rope and kicks Omega RIGHT in the face in one of the most amazing displays of athleticism I’ve ever seen, and Kenny stumbles right back into Laredo Kid who picks up and gives him a Michiko Driver.  Somehow Kenny kicks out of all that, but what a fantastic combination of moves!  Sadly it’s to be the highlight of the Baby Face’s run as Kenny soon after lands the V-Trigger followed by the One Winged Angel to get the pin and win the match.  I’m not ALWAYS up for spot fest matches like this (for some reason they particularly fall short for me when it’s The Bucks Vs. The Lucha Bros), but this was a FANTASTIC fight to watch unfold and it’s going to be hard for anything else on this episode to top that!

Moxley comes out while Kenny and Co are posing in the ring, but they feel confident that they can take him!  That is until The Bucks come out to back up Moxley which gest Kenny and Co skittish and they eventually head for the hills as soon as this trio enters the ring.  I’m still skeptical of this feud moving at anything faster than a crawl, but hopefully getting Moxley in the mix will light a fire under everyone and we can maybe justify letting this simmer for as long as they plan it to.

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Tay Conti & Hikaru Shida Vs. The Bunny & Nyla Rose

Rose is accompanied to the ring by Vickie Guerrero, The Bunny is accompanied by Hardy Family Office, and Conti is accompanied by The Dark Order

Bit of a packed house for this match as everyone and their third cousin is outside that ring looking out for their respective buddies!  Sure, The Bunny doesn’t stand much of a chance against Shida, but with Matt Hardy out there causing distractions, she manages to turn things around; at least long enough to tag in Rose who gets the heat on Shida during the commercial break.  She eventually gets back to her corner to give Tay Conti the hot tag, and she runs wild for a bit; further cementing her spot as the up and coming star in the division.  She even manages to not get distracted by Matt Hardy when outside the ring, and let’s Alan Angles from The Dark Order rush headlong into him to start a big brawl.  With everyone outside the ring occupied, Tay throws Bunny back into the ring and attempts to finish her off with a Tay-K-O which is broken up by Rose at the two count.  Shida and Tay also take the time to jump on the crowd outside which was a nice visual but didn’t do much to affect the match, and as soon as Tay is back in the ring she’s hit by a Kendo Stick from The Bunny.  Bunny then lands a Down The Rabbit Hole and gets the win.  I mean look, NOTHING was going to top what we saw in that Six Man Tag Match, but they put on a decent show here.  Nothing all that memorable, but the division is still riding high after some VERY solid weeks.

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There’s a whole Bear Country Vs. Jurassic Express feud that’s been playing out on the Dark shows, but in the grand tradition of Wrestling Brand Deals, they’re going to have a match next week that is brought to us by Godzilla Vs. Kong!  I guess I understand why they got Jurassic Express here as they can be Team Godzilla, but Bears are in NO WAY comparable to Kong, so the theming feels a LITTLE bit stretched here.

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Orange Cassidy & Chuck Taylor Vs. Miro & Kip Sabian – Arcade Anarchy Match

Kip is accompanied to the ring by Penelope Ford

A lot of people seem to be ready for Miro to move on from Kip and this feud with The Best Friends, but I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit as AEW could use some decent mid-card feuds.  Perhaps Miro COULD succeed in a higher placed storyline, but it feels like the title pictures are locked up by The Elite and Moxley so him finding a nice little corner to carve for himself seems like a good move and perhaps one that shouldn’t be disturbed.  Still, all good things must come to an end and it looks like this ARCADE ANARCHY MATCH (essentially a Bunkhouse Match with different stuff to play with) looks to be the blow off for the last few months of tension between these two sides.  A few things before we get into the match though.  First, there are definitely REAL arcade machines out there with Primal Rage, Killer Instinct, and Mortal Kombat being the most visible ones, but there’s no need to worry as they have fake ones as well which is what they throw each other into as well as a “prize wall” of standard wrestling weapons which is a cute touch.  Point is, there’s no need to worry about them destroying hard to replace classic machines in this match which certainly made me a TINY bit wary when they announced this.  After all, those CRT monitors aren’t easy to find these days!  Is ANYONE still making them!?  Second, they have new music for Orange Cassidy, presumably following the success of Jungle Boy’s new theme, and they went with… Where Is My Mind by The Pixies.  Okay… well it’s an interesting choice to be sure, but I don’t think there’s much of a hook there for the crowd to start chanting like they do with Tarzan Boy.  It’s kind of a melancholy song too despite that pretty solid guitar riff, so… yeah.  INTERESTING CHOICE.  Anyway, onto the match!  Despite getting a jump on Miro and Kip early on, it soon becomes clear that Miro is just going to roll right through them and takes out Chuck with a Suplex onto the steel railing.  Orange fares a bit better against Kip, but Miro isn’t about to let that slide drags him back into the ring while carrying a chair.  However, instead of just HITTING him with it, Miro wedges the chair between the middle and top turnbuckles and slams Cassidy’s head into it which seems a bit roundabout, but it certainly has an effect on Orange who rolls out of the ring immediately.  Miro leisurely gives chase which the recently revived Chuck uses to his advantage as he jumps off the  top of the Mortal Kombat machine to flatten out Miro.  With the combined effort of Cassidy and Chuck wielding kendo sticks and garbage can lids, they FINALLY overtake the Bulgarian Badass and bury him under a pile of random junk around the ring; confirming that Miro is neigh unstoppable one on one but can be overwhelmed against a well-oiled machine like The Best Friends and Orange.  Kip who’s been out of this match almost since it began, runs in to save Miro from the pin he’s taking under this mountain of garbage, and he actually gets some good offense in as he smashes Cassidy right through the prize wall, but Chuck drags him to the ring and empties a bunch of Legos onto the mat before attempting to Superplex him right into it.  As the Laws of Wrestling Physics will tell you though, the person who placed the sharp objects on the mat is the one almost certainly going into it, and Kip escapes to give him a Power Bomb right into the Legos.  It looks like Kip is holding his own and is proving himself a necessary ally for Miro, but then Orange Cassidy EXPLODES into the ring and gives Kip a tour of his Greatest hits including the Beach Break and the Orange Punch, so we’ll call it fifty percent helpful and fifty percent liability.   Right as he’s about to win the match Penelope Ford drags Aubrey Edwards out of the ring to interrupt the count, and when Orange tries to get Edwards back into the ring Ford kicks him in the balls.  Just as she’s about to whip him with her belt when none other than Kris Statlander rises up from the nearby claw machine and pushes the plastic window with such force that it smashes right into Ford’s face!  Ford tries to fight back but Statlander is ready to kick butt after such a long hiatus and gives her a Pile Driver from the apron into an Air Hockey table below.  THAT was pretty terrifying to see but I watched again and Ford was VERY well protected (landed on her back and her neck was on top of Kris’s legs), so quite the comeback for someone who was positioned to be one of the biggest stars of the division!  The surprises don’t end there as Miro has the upper hand on Cassidy and Chuck, when all of a sudden Sue drives to the arena to drop off none other than Trent who is ALSO coming back from an injury, and the reunited Best Friends along with Orange Cassidy start triple teaming Miro!  And yet even with ALL of them attacking him at once he just shakes them off and even goes to intimidate Sue!  Trent, not about to take this lightly, chases after him and gets the hope spot for a minute there before Miro beats him back down.  He then grabs the FAKEST Mortal Kombat 2 arcade cabinet you’ve ever seen (WHY WOULD YOU SHOW US THE BOTTOM WHICH IS JUST A GIANT EMPTY HOLE!?) and tosses it at Trent who manages to avoid the lightweight cardboard in the vague shape of an arcade cabinet.  Trent hits Miro with a chair (a real one at that) and spears him through a propped up table which seems to have finally quelled the beast.  Chuck has Kip on the stage and without Miro there to back him up, Kip eats a Running Powerslam that sends them both into the table below; the move that finally gets Chuck the win and keeps him from becoming Miro’s lifelong butler.  The reunited Best Friends, Orange Cassidy, and Even Kris Statlander have a big hug in the ring and they all give Sue a thumbs-up right as the episode comes to an end.

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Looking back over everything that happened, this is probably one of AEW’s best shows of the year so far!  They checked all the boxes the need to with the ongoing storylines, all the matches in here were no worse than GOOD with a couple being outright GREAT like the Omega match and Arcade Anarchy, and we even got a few surprises thrown in to keep things feeling fresh!  It didn’t exactly have anything that blew me away or felt like a startling change of pace which is why I had to look over it again to realize how good it was, but there’s no denying that AEW can put on a darn good show week in and week out.  Where WWE can SOMETIMES give us something worth looking at with most of those being in the PPVs, Dynamite is giving us better content all the time.  Perhaps that high level of quality can feel a LITTLE bit monotonous and I think the Omega/Bucks things is starting to feel a bit long in tooth, but this is definitely one of the episodes worth going out of your way to see and I can only hope that they have something even better planned for the next one!

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