AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
So last week’s show was a real disappointment, especially coming hot on the heels of a FANTASTIC episode, but I’ve never expected AEW to knock it out of the park each and every week and they always find a way to get back on track. Heck, remember how bad things got immediately after the disappointing fireworks show at the end of the Exploding Barb Wire Death match? They managed to turn that around in three days, so I’m more than confident they can turn around last week’s show when given seven. Let’s find out!!
So in case there was ANY confusion over the end of the last episode (honestly, that includes me), the Bucks start things off by saying point blank that they are now Heels and will be throwing their weight behind Kenny Omega and Don Callis, and for good measure the whole group has a segment towards the end of the show to declare their commitment to one another and their utter dominance of AEW. Also, in case you were wondering about this as well, we get a brief video of Mike Tyson and MJF to confirm that Tyson is all in on the Baby Face Jericho and there’s a segment later where Jericho and Tyson shake on their truce in preparation for the Jericho/Dax Harwood match which will have Tyson as a Special Enforcer. I’m actually kind of glad that they just get this all up front because The Bucks being wishy-washy tweeners has been an issue on the show before, and Tyson has been gone for so long after such a brief appearance that seeing him again this week and interacting with people gives me hope that this run is not going to be as perfunctory. Now last week started with a match that didn’t make a lot of sense as Max Caster was apparently the third ranking guy in AEW, but thankfully this isn’t an issue with this opening match which is…
The Young Bucks Vs. Death Triangle (Pac & Rey Fénix) – AEW Tag Team Title Match
I can’t say that I love the idea of The Bucks being more or less brow beaten into joining up with Professional Gas lighter Don Callis, but however they got here they are truly relishing in their Heel status. They’re wearing white suits to the ring to the raucous booing of the crowd, they start playing around and showboating in the ring, and Matt Jackson even runs away in terror of getting in the ring with Rey. Those two getting in the ring is what REALLY starts the match as both are evenly skilled and can’t seem to land a move on the other. They throw a lot of flashy kicks and flips at one another (the best was probably when Jackson back flipped of the apron to avoid a 619), and yet despite Nick Jackson ultimately getting the upper hand in this exchange it’s not long before Matt Jackson ends up alone with him and he and Pac take their sweet time destroying this guy! Chops to the chest, suplexes to the mat, and Death Triangle’s own variation on The BTE Trigger which consists of simultaneous kicks followed by stereo Drop Kicks which should leave Matt with a MASSIVE headache but was sadly not enough to keep him down for a three count. Matt takes a bit more abuse from Pac, but after The Bucks manage to land simultaneous Powerbombs onto the apron, Pac is left to take the heat for quite a while. Perhaps too long as Matt gets WAY too much time to show off his drama skills, but Pac eventually turns him inside out with a clothesline and brings in Rey to save the day. He has a freaking AMAZING comeback with more of his phenomenal rope walking skills, but it’s not enough to put Nick Jackson away; not even when he brings in Pac to slam him a few times for good measure! Things only get more ridiculous from there as both teams show off some amazing skills and it does genuinely come down to the wire as to who is going to come out on top. Pac manages to land a Black Arrow on Matt Jackson which should be the end of the match, but even with Rey running interference on Nick he still manages to slip through and break up the pin at the last possible moment, and sadly that is more or less the last chance that Pac and Fénix had as The Bucks go straight to cheating after that; first with a low blow to Pac and then removing Rey’s mask. Sure enough, as soon as the mask is off and Rey’s covering his face, The Bucks land a Superkick and get the pin. It was such a fantastic match up to that point that I’m really disappointed at the mask ending being used once again. At this point, the might as well follow Mexico rules and make it a DQ; not JUST because it is such a scumbag thing to do that someone who does it shouldn’t be rewarded, but because it’s always a GET OUT OF MATCH FREE car whenever Rey is in there kicking butt. All I’m saying is that if they want Rey Fénix to lose than they need to come up with a better reason than that.
Now someone who’s been kind of on the sidelines of this whole DISSOLUTION OF THE ELITE thing… well it’s been Cody Rhodes, but ALSO Hangman Adam Page who was kicked out after his stunt against The Bucks but now the tides have turned with HIM being the Babyface with his new Dark Order buddies and them Heeling it up with Don Callis. Alex Marvez tries to get a quote out of him but he swiftly changes the subject and walks away without giving an answer. A lot of storylines in AEW are on a bit too slow of a burn for me, but this is one where I don’t want them to rush into a resolution. The Elite becoming an unstoppable Heel faction will need to be addressed by an unstoppable Baby Face at some point, and while they could just have Jon Moxley run through them in a month or two, I think a strong case can be made for Hangman being that guy IF THEY DON’T RUSH IT. He’s in the DENY THE CALL stage of the heroes journey and he’s got to choose to try and become someone worth taking seriously again instead of just a fun booze drinking guy, and that’s not something I’d want them to do overnight.
Red Velvet Vs. Jade Cargill
Jade Cargill and Red Velvet are growing on me the more I see of them and this match is no exception. Jade’s entrance is REALLY good with some fun music to back her up, and Velvet knows her way around the ring to compensate for Jade’s greenness on certain areas. The story is that Velvet’s only chance is to use Cargill’s aforementioned inexperience to her advantage so she has to fight smart; luring her into traps and taking opportunities whenever they show themselves like when she dropped the ropes on a charging Cargill and followed up with a Suicide Dive. However, Jade can only be avoided for so long and she is DEVASTATING whenever she gets her hand on Red Velvet; managing to throw her into the barricade and follows up with a Fallaway Slam that almost leads to a count out. Red Velvet is definitely fighting from underneath after a Stalled Vertical Suplex lets Jade get the heat, but Velvet eventually retakes the advantage with a kick and by sidestepping a charge from Cargill so that she eats the turnbuckle. She goes for the Moonsault on the top rope, which is always a risky proposition and sure enough she misses and eats a Jaded from Cargill (her finisher which is like a Reverse Sit Out Powerbomb) which gives her the win. Both women were very impressive here and got didn’t waste a lot of time telling this story which is a plus considering the opener was an exhausting thirty minute slugfest. I’m not sure where Red Velvet goes from here and I hope she doesn’t get lost in the shuffle, but Jade is definitely moving on to bigger things from here and I’m curious if she will get good enough fast enough to keep up with the top tier talent in the division.
Tony is interviewing Baker in the back who one week ago was disparaging the ranking system but is all for it now that Velvet’s loss will put her as the number two ranked woman in the division and is angling to get another title shot. There’s a similar promo later on where Thunder Rosa declares her intention of going after both the AEW Women’s title and the NWA Women’s title which is still held by Serena Deeb, but honestly I think I’m ready for them to step back at least a little bit as there are more women in the division that could use a bit of airtime. Not just Jade Cargill and Red Velvet, but Kris Statlander is back, Abadon’s been a no-show since her match against Shida, and Penelope Ford is PROBABLY gonna have more to do once she and Kip split from Miro. As good as these two women are, they’re feeling a bit over exposed and I think they should take a cue from Nyla Rose and give us some time to miss them rather than showing up every other week.
Anthony Ogogo Vs. Cole Carter
Cole, who’s haircut alone makes him a jobber, gets a waist lock on Ogogo for like ten seconds before he eats a punch to the gut and the ref IMMEDIATELY stops the match. Now I normally like short matches like this if the point is to get over someone in a big way, but they couldn’t even let the guy pin his opponent? A ref stoppage just doesn’t have the same weight behind it and ends up making this match feel even MORE perfunctory than it already was.
Jericho Vs. Dax Harwood
Jericho is accompanied to the ring by Sammy Guevara while Dax is accompanied by Cash Wheeler
Mike Tyson is the Special Enforcer
Considering how each side has their handpicked buddy backing them up and Mike Tyson, in his pink shorts and white loafers, watching over everything, this was bound to be a ridiculous spectacle that may not have been what I wanted from these two but did deliver on what it was trying to accomplish. More than anything else it seems to be here to try and get Tyson over who plays the role of ENFORCER which seems to be a pretty loose term that frankly sounds like a ref with no authority. He takes the chair away from Jericho and Dax early on in the match, but then he doesn’t seem to bother stopping the mic shots and pen jabs. The work itself is pretty darn good considering who’s involved, but it keeps defaulting to over the top antics when guys like Harwood are better suited to something much more technical and hard hitting. Jericho maintains the advantage for most of the match and does all the Babyface spots which look a little bit weird from Jericho; particularly a Cross Body from the top rope which looked GOOD but didn’t exactly look like a Jericho move. Thankfully he does the greatest hits as well like the Lionsault and the Walls of Jericho, but despite maintaining the advantage he just can’t put Harwood away. Fortune turns in Dax’s favor when he escape from a beating in the corner to give Jericho a Rebound Sit Out Powerbomb (the rebound makes it hurt more I guess) but he then goes for a Diving Headbutt which seems like a bad move for ANYONE to go for, and sure enough Dax misses it and makes himself vulnerable to the Walls of Jericho. Cash Wheeler bashes Jericho over the back to break up the hold which forces Sammy to beat his down viciously outside of the ring though it may not be enough to save Jericho as Harwood is once again in control. The Pinnacle then tries to run out to interfere but The Inner Circle are right behind them and it more or less turns into the Wild West brawl at the end of Blazing Saddles. Cash goes to smash Jericho over the back with his own bat, but Tyson catches him in the act and gives him a gut punch that I’m PRETTY sure put Cash into a coma. Dax is still in control however and is about to set Jericho up for another Power Bomb, but Sammy distracts him from the apron and Jericho escapes to then immediately give him the Judas Effect for the win. It’s probably gonna take a bit for me to buy Jericho as a Baby Face wrestler and I think Dax isn’t exactly served being in SILLY matches, but it was still a solid match that entertained the crowd and pushes us that much closer to the Blood and Guts match that’s coming up very soon.
Kris Statlander Vs. Amber Nova
Statlander is accompanied to the ring by The Best Friends and Orange Cassidy
So in case you don’t remember as it’s been TEN MONTHS since her last match, Kris Statlander was one of the rising stars in the women’s division. She had her rough edges to be sure, but her size and presence made her stand out in the roster and she was gonna get shot to the moon if her push wasn’t derailed by an unfortunate ACL injury. This match, her big proper in ring return to AEW, is a celebration and a chance to remind everyone why she was going to be a star in the first place and I think she delivered. She’ll need more than just a squash match to prove herself, but she looked great here with some great moves, solid work, and plenty of stage presence. Her moves have a definite SNAP to them that makes them look that much more impressive and her height, as it’s always been, is a serious asset to her. She looks BIG without also looking like a MONSTER and doesn’t fight like one either incorporating a lot of flips and agility into her move set, and when standing next to Cassidy and Friends she seems like a perfect fit. A very good squash match that ends with Statlander’s Super Nova (much better than Ogogo’s match) and a promising sign of things to come for one of AEW’s promising talents!
Christian Cage Open Challenge – Who Will Answer The Call!?
Cage coming out to the ring and ready to face anyone who comes to meet him is a good way to put over his OUTWORK EVERYONE gimmick, but before someone like Peter Avalon or Griff Garrison can come out, Taz and half his crew come out to demand an explanation for why he hasn’t given them a yay or nay on joining Team Taz. As you’d expect, Cage doesn’t have any interest in joining them and gives Taz an unequivocal no in response, so he sends Will Hobbs in there to teach him a lesson. Sadly this isn’t an official match and we don’t get one of those from Cage this week, but I’m glad that FINALLY we get to see Hobbs in the ring again. How long has it been since he’s had a match, especially if you don’t count the interference he did from the PPV Cinematic match with Sting and Darby? Has he had a Dynamite match THIS YEAR? It’s astounding to me that a guy who got over as quickly as he did has been sidelined as hard has he has; always getting to be on camera as Taz’s backup, but never saying much and not doing nearly enough. Cage tries to rush him to keep one step ahead, but Hobbs is just too much to handle and he tosses Cage around for a few minutes before stomping on his skull that was resting on the steel steps. I’m glad that I FINALLY got to see Hobbs in action again, but I wanted to see an ACTUAL match here and I hope that that’s the plan for next week’s show.
Darby Allin Vs. Matt Hardy – Falls Count Anywhere TNT Title Match
I can’t say I love that Matt Hardy is no longer doing his Broken persona, but he has been a reliable heel for a few months now and his feud with Darby Allin has been no exception. It all comes to ahead tonight as Matt finally challenges Darby (who is inexplicably wearing some ugly brown pants) for his TNT title, and right off the bat it’s clear that Hardy is much more prepared than Darby as he’s got a chair ready to go and starts beating Darby over the back with it. Now I get that Darby’s deal is just how much damage he’s willing to take and come back from, but him not coming into this with a game plan and just taking all of those chair shots make him seem more foolish than tenacious. This goes on for a bit until Matt goes for the Twist of Fate while Darby’s head is INSIDE the chair which he thankfully escapes from and uses the chair on Hardy. Matt, being the SMART one in this match, doesn’t just roll over once Darby gets the chair; he has his cronies come in with weapons of their own and stomp a mud hole into the kid! Again, what was Darby’s plan here? Just hope that Matt Hardy fights honorably in a match with no rules? Thankfully The Dark Order along with Sting come out to even the odds which I’m guessing was not part of Darby’s plan, and Sting takes care of Private Party while The Dark Order overwhelms Bucher & Blade. Then out of nowhere, Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky come out to attack Sting but are stopped by Lance Archer who comes out and looks menacing. It’s a weird aside, especially since Sky and Page haven’t had a match on Dynamite yet to let us know what their deal is, but I guess the TITLE MATCH wasn’t interesting enough so they had to go through a few other angles as well. Once everything starts to calm down, Sting tosses Darby the bat to finish off Matt Hardy who starts cowering in fear… only to land a low blow while Darby is winding up his strike! I’m honestly kind of hoping for Matt to win considering how resourceful he’s been so far and he goes for the Twist of Fate while Darby’s head is in the chair and he actually does it this time, but thankfully it looked pretty safe. Darby didn’t drop down like you normally would which would have had the chair snap tight around his neck. Instead, he kinda crouches down and then flops over. Thank goodness I say, as I don’t want Darby to die, but the move is still sold as utterly devastating as Matt goes for the pin and only manages to get a two count. Darby is still in bad shape though and hardy is throwing him all over the place with reckless abandon to his health and safety. He gets him on a table and lands a leg drop from the top of a nearby ladder, goes for the pin, and Darby STILL kicks out at two to the astonishment of Hardy and the delight of the fans! Not deterred, Matt drags him back through the tunnel and Darby Allin is about to eat a Powerbomb off the stage, but he wriggles out of it and gives Hardy a low blow of his own which keeps him down long enough for Darby to retrieve Sting’s bat. He goes to town on Hardy and even gets him on the announce table for the big finale which was UTTERLY terrifying to watch. Darby starts climbing one of the steel beams off the side of the stage (not unlike the beam Hardy and Sammy climbed in that PPV match), and does a Coffin Drop from there. It’s WAY too high, and the beam is not exactly a firm launching off point so this could have gone TERRIBLY wrong, but Darby hit his spot and managed to pin Hardy to get the win and retain his title just as the episode comes to an end.
There’s no doubt that this is a SIGNIFICANT improvement over the show from last week which was probably one of the worst that AEW have done in some time, but it’s not all there yet. It’s hard to tell AEW that they should start moving away from their biggest stars, but my favorite moments in this episode are not the ones that had The Bucks, Chris Jericho, or even Matt Hardy. I liked the two women’s matches here, I liked seeing Hobbs in action again, and even if he is a total fool in his match, Darby is still a good champion to have. Maybe I’m just feeling a bit jaded at the moment which tends to happen every few months or so, but regardless of my own nonplussed reaction, this show did deliver on a lot of what it needed to and I’m hoping they throw a few more mid-carders at us sooner rather than later. Heck, you’ve got Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky that need to have a match, so why not get The Varsity Blondes? What’s Joey Janela been up to recently? I’m sure he’d have a great match with… I don’t know, Matt Cardona? I’m just spit balling here but it sounds pretty good to me!