Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (04-21-2021)

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

Another week, another episode of AEW action, though things have definitely changed now that WWE NXT is on a new night and AEW is going unopposed.  So far it has meant a pretty sizable bump in the ratings (no doubt helped by Mike Tyson’s recent appearances), but with a growing audience to satiate, can AEW put on a show that will keep the new fans coming back without losing the audience that got them here in the first place?  Let’s find out!!

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Hangman Adam Page Vs. Ricky Starks

Ricky Starks has NOT had a good go of it lately.  He came in strong with a show stealing match against Cody, but since then he’s been become kind of a joke by virtue of being the smallest guy in Taz’s stable.  Here he manages to show some great moves and hold his own against Hangman, but even then he’s fighting from underneath for most of the match.  Page is bigger, he’s faster, and even ends up fighting smarter as Starks can never seem to keep an advantage for more than a moment before Page stops his momentum in its tracks; at one point even hurting his ankle which only makes things that much more difficult for Starks.  Still, he gets in some good moves towards the end; especially a Sitout Powerbomb where he pretty much deadlifts The Hangman which was an impressive feat of core strength, before dropping him back down.  Sadly it only gets him a two count and Hangman manages to fight him back to the corner where he lands an Avalanche Fallaway Slam followed by a Lariat which gest him a two count in return.  Of course, there’s only one way to end this and so Hangman goes for his Buckshot Lariat, but Spears dodges the move and lands a hellacious looking Spear on the Hangman that gets him a VERY close two count!  Rethinking his strategy, Hangman doesn’t go for another Buckshot and instead gets Starks into a submission hold that focuses on the bad ankle which Starks is forced to tap out to; giving Hangman the win.  Starks looks good in almost every match he has and this is perhaps the best he’s looked in a while, but I’m left wondering what his role is at AEW and if Team Taz is ever going to get a significant win on this show.

Taz, seemingly just as frustrated, starts yelling at Page which allows Hook to run in and Chop Block him which gives him, Starks, and a fast arriving Brian Cage, to stomp a mud hole into the Hangman.  Before any serious damage can be done, The Dark Order rush out to chase Team Taz away; once again proving their loyalty to The Hangman who, as far as I can tell, STILL isn’t a member of the group and probably won’t be for some time.  It was a good opening match to be sure that gave Starks a bit of shine even in defeat, and if nothing else it was a MUCH better showing from The Hangman than his match against Max Caster two weeks ago.

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We see The Bucks arriving at the stadium and they go straight to their trailer with Kenny, Callis, and The Good Brothers.  What was interesting about this is that Brandon Cutler has joined up with the Heel Bucks; much like Michael Nakazawa did when Kenny Omega turned.  I’m BEGGING someone at AEW to see the wacky tag team potential here if these two tried to team up!  PLEASE MAKE IT HAPPEN!!

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Trent Vs. Penta El Zero M

Trent is accompanied to the ring by Orange Cassidy while Penta is accompanied by Alex Abrahantes

So I guess the new big feud for Death Triangle, now that they lost to the Bucks and aren’t feuding with Kingston anymore, is to hash out some old business with The Best Friends and Orange Cassidy with this match being the opening salvo.  For the most part, it’s a pretty even match with both guys getting more or less equal shots in at the other.  Trent gets a Swinging DDT, Penta gets a Canadian Destroyer.  Trent gets a Half and Half Suplex, Penta gets a Backstabber.  It’s all good stuff but there’s not a lot of ebb and flow to the match so the moves themselves have to hold everything up until shenanigans start to happen towards the end.  It seems to be the night of Spears as Trent gives one to Penta outside the ring which definitely puts him in the lead of this match which forces Alex Abrahantes to pull out the most devastating move in all of pro wrestling; Yo Mama jokes!  He grabs a mic and starts making fun of Trent’s mom Sue which is WAY over the line and so Trent chases him into the ring only to run into a waiting Orange Cassidy.  However, Cassidy does NOT take out Alex as Penta has made his way back into the ring and knocks Cassidy’s head off with a Superkick!  Cassidy is dead and rolls out of the ring which gives Alex an opening to bash Trent over the head with the mic; much like Omega did to Jon Moxley and with similarly devastating effect!  With Cassidy out of the picture and Trent in a dazed stupor, Penta hits him with the Package Pile Driver and finally gets the three count to win the match.  Like the opening match it was pretty good with both guys pulling off some impressive moves, but I’m not feeling much about it despite the baked in storyline here.  Sure, Penta had to cheat to win, but there wasn’t much in terms of stakes here; especially since there wasn’t even a post-match angle.  Good stuff so far, but nothing that’s really grabbing me by the feels!

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We cut to a recorded interview between JR and The Pinnacle; at least in theory.  Everyone but Tully is there and yet MJF talks for like ninety percent of it and the other ten percent is from Wardlow which is a surprise considering how rarely the guy opens his mouth.  He tries to take a shot at Jericho by making fun of how he flubbed his Wardlow insult last week… but it becomes clear that MJF is the one who should be talking.  I mean Wardlow is fine and all and I’m sure in a much more high energy situation he’d had room to excel, but he doesn’t have the same range as MJF who does much in this setting.  He also has much more biting remarks to make; particularly when he turns around Jericho’s insult about how MJF should prove himself by beating jobbers like Brandon Cutler.  Well that’s all well and good, but MJF DID technically beat Jericho which is how he got in The Inner Circle in the first place, so what does that say about Jericho?  It was a good promo from MJF, but where MJF found a place within the existing dynamic of The Inner Circle I still don’t feel that The Pinnacle is a cohesive unit; especially when most of its members barely have anything to say.

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Hikaru Shida Vs. Tay Conti – AEW Women’s Title Match

Shida’s been champ for a VERY long time and there’s no reason to believe she’d be dropping the belt on TV, but even so she gives a lot to Tay in this match that’s got a little bit of everything.  A bunch of strikes to start things out, transactions to mat work which Tay get the upper hand with, and even some brutal outside the ring antics that evens the odds in Shida’s favor.  A Running Knee on the apron AND a Brain Buster on the mat take a lot out of Tay before Shida, in an uncharacteristically heel manner, starts to get the heat with a bunch of stomps and submission holds through the commercial break.  She ends up taking Tay up to the middle rope for a Superplex, but Tay somehow bounces RIGHT back after getting smashed to the mat and kicks Shida in the face to start her comeback.  THAT was a weird lack of selling on Tay’s part, but her comeback is solid with a bunch of Judo throws and even a German Suplex.  After some rough kicks from Conti she lays Shida up on the top ropes (if the turnbuckle and ropes formed the two legs of a right triangle, her body would be the hypotenuse if you see what I’m saying) and lands a Senton from the turnbuckle right onto Shida’s back.  I can’t say I’ve seen THAT before, but sadly it wasn’t enough to win the belt as Shida kicks out at two.  At this point it becomes a contest of who can land the finisher first Tay goes for the D-D-Tay while Shida goes for the Falcon Arrow.  Tay goes running, but Shida hits her in the face with a knee and lands the Falcon Arrow… BUT TAY KICKS OUT AT TWO!  Kind of a surprise considering it’s the finisher of the champ, but she is not deterred as she gets her up on the top rope and now it’s HER turn to do something completely irresponsible to her opponent!  While on the middle ropes, she has Tay on her shoulders and then just throws her down onto the turnbuckle where she tumbles to the floor!  Thank goodness she briefly landed on the apron before flopping over or that could have been REALLY bad!  Once again however, grievous bodily harm only serves to encourage her as she gets back in the ring and quickly lands the Tay-K-O but once again only gets a two count.  With both of them at their end, it devolves into a slug fest until Tay can land a Back Breaker and follows up with a Spinning Knee Strike that is finally enough for her to get the pin!  I wasn’t exactly feeling this one at first as the matchup felt a bit rushed and perfunctory (as good as Shida is she rarely seems to have a personal connection to her opponents), but Tay proved herself as a darn good wrestler and gave Shida a run for her money.  So far it’s been good matches with people giving surprisingly good performances, and with this being the best one yet I can only hope this trend continues!

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Chris Jericho And The Inner Circle – Blood And Guts Is Almost Here!

Jericho and the gang come out for another promo to smack talk The Pinnacle and MJF.  What’s a bit different this time around is that most of them get a chance to speak which they point is VERY different from the way that The Pinnacle operates; relying on MJF and sometimes Tully to get their message across.  There are some good parts in here like Santana getting the mic to show off his brilliant way with words, an even Hager managed to sound great screaming his head off in stark contrast to Wardlow’s more subdued promo.  Less good though was Jericho trying to come up with a song to sing about MJF which sounds like total nonsense he came up with on the fly, but eventually he gets to the point and tells us that next week there will be a Parlay between The Inner Circle and The Pinnacle.  Yes, a Parlay; that thing that pirates do when they’re trying to decide whether to stab everyone now or in a few minutes.  I can’t IMAGINE this going well for either side, but it’ll certainly be interesting to see how fast it all falls apart!

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Billy Gunn Vs. QT Marshall

QT is accompanied to the ring by Nick Comoroto and Aaron Sollow

Some people have been a bit down on QT Marshall’s heel turn and I’ll be honest it hasn’t exactly worked for me either.  As good as his crew is, QT hasn’t had the best promos, but what’s kept me interested is that QT is a darn good worker and he sure as heck proves it here!  This match is essentially the first consequences that QT Marshall has had to face since turning on Cody, and there are very few people that would want to get in the way of a rampaging Billy Gunn.  Billy still has great ring presence, but QT makes him look like a freaking BEAST here as he just gets thrown around the ring, smashed into the outside railing, and he just has not even a prayer of getting out of this one on top; something that Comoroto seems to realize as he shoves Billy into the post when his back is turned.  Then, like two cannonballs blasted out of the gun port of a pirate ship, Austin and Colton Gunn LEAP over the railing and tackle Comarato and Sollow!  Okay, upon reviewing they weren’t THAT quick, but it certainly felt like two guys flying through the air the first time I saw it, and the four of them brawl around the stadium!  QT finally gets the upper hand and manages to drop Billy with a Pile Driver which gest him a two count, but Billy gets his wind back real quick and starts HAMMERING QT with these giant fists and QT just looks like a small balding child getting his butt whopped by a meat mountain!  While the ref is checking on QT (as he should considering the beat down he’s been laying on the guy), Anthony Ogogo runs out from the back and gives Billy a hellacious punch RIGHT to the gut that doubles the big guy over and gives QT the chance to finish him off!  He lands a Cutter on Billy which, along with the punch, was enough to keep Billy down for a three count and give QT the win.  As soon as the match is over however, Ogogo gets QT a WOODEN chair to bash Billy with, but then Dustin runs out from the back with some AWESOME new face paint and beats the crap out of QT!  The crowd is ROARING with applause as QT gets his just deserts and eats a Powerslam from Dustin, but then QT runs away as Ogogo distracts Dustin while Comoroto runs in for the attack!  Dustin, being no fool, manages to avoid Comoroto’s attack and uses the wooden chair to bash him over the head with… and it does NOTHING!  The chair shatters into a million pieces and Comoroto doesn’t even flinch!  Dustin is SHAKEN by this and just stands there as Comoroto stares daggers into him until the refs come down to break up this mess, though it’s clear that things are FAR from over!  Holy crap, this might be my favorite match in weeks!  No, it didn’t have the technical panache of The Bucks Vs Death Triangle, but I was pumped for every minute of this!  It had a great pace, the moves felt BIG and POWERFUL, and the crowd was REALLY into it; not to mention the ridiculous post-match angle that just felt like fun goofy old-school wrestling!  I loved it and I cannot wait to see what happens next with QT’s faction; especially if a Dustin match is on the horizon!

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We cut to The Elite in their giant trailer and they ramble on and on about how much better they are than everyone else when out of nowhere a car horn starts blaring incessantly outside.  No one wants to go out and check on it themselves which turns out to be a good move because the sound is coming from a truck driven by Jon Moxley with Eddie Kingston in the passenger seat.  Like something STRAIGHT out of WCW, the two of them RAM the truck into the trailer and open the door to find… no one inside.  What, did they teleport away?  I’m not sure I exactly LIKE this direction, but it’s certainly something different and definitely seems like the kind of thing Moxley and Kingston would come up with.

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Christian Cage Vs. Will Hobbs

So if last week’s merciless beat down didn’t clue you in, Hobbs is a BIG TOUGH MERCILESS guy and Cage is going to have to fight smart if he wants to come out on top.  So his strategy here?  Keep throwing himself at Hobbs no matter what!  Try to out muscle the muscle man!  Obviously this was all to no avail and even Hobbs seems to be bewildered that this guy is fighting him this way, but eventually Cage starts to wise up and starts looking for ways to put him away quickly.  He tries for the Kill Switch but Hobbs just overpowers him before he can lock in the move, so that didn’t work, but when Hobbs goes for a Vader Bomb Christian kicks him on his way down so hey, points for creativity there!  It’s at this point (about six minutes into the match) that Cage finally gets some momentum and manages to land a flying elbow to get a two count on Hobbs, but this flurry of offense seems to have winded Cage as he takes a brief breather outside the ring.  When he returns Hobbs is ready with that big tackle slam thing he does but only gets a two count out of it which isn’t good as he should have been able to finish this match by now.  To try and expedite things Hobbs puts Cage up on the turnbuckle, but Cage drops down and Powerbombs him to the mat before landing a big Frog Splash from the top rope which gets him another two count.  Despite Hobbs’ immense advantage in size and strength, he let this match go on for too long and when he reverses a Sleeper hold from Cage he plays to the crowd instead of finishing what needs to be done.  This moment of hubris proves to be his undoing as cage wriggles out and lands the Killswitch to get the pin and win the match.  Now if it was up to me I wouldn’t have put Cage over Hobbs, especially with Team Taz having already lost this episode, but it was a good match that certainly lends a bit more credence to Cage’s Out Work Everyone shtick.  Frankly I’m just glad we got to see more Hobbs on Dynamite as he had so much momentum off of his first few appearances that has since seemed to dry up as he was pushed further and further back in the Team Taz faction.  Heck, if ANYONE should break off from Team Taz and start their own thing, it should probably be Hobbs and not Brian Cage!

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Darby Allin Vs. Jungle Boy – TNT Title Match

Darby is accompanied to the ring by Sting while Jungle Boy is accompanied by Luchasaurus

Now you probably couldn’t ask for a better matchup of two young stars unless MJF was involved, and it definitely feels like AEW trying to pop another strong rating like they did for the past two weeks.   Things start a bit tentative as the two are feeling each other out, but the match soon goes down to the mat with a lot of technical wrestling.  There’s nothing about wrestling that’s easy, but I can’t imagine how hard it must be to do these kind of complicated holds, rolls, and pins without messing it up, and yet these two make it look easy.  Eventually things escalate with bigger moves and flips through the air, and it seems that Jungle Boy might have an advantage over Darby in sheer technique.  Heck, even when things go outside the ring Darby can’t seem to keep a handle on Jungle Boy, and yet Darby’s resilience is undisputable as Jungle Boy can’t get anything more than a one count despite how much he’s kept the edge in this match.  Things begin to even out around this time as Darby gets in some good offense, but then things just EXPLODE and the two of them do some truly terrible things to each other!  A suplex into the turnbuckle from Jungle Boy.  An over the top Stunner from Darby.  Whatever that ridiculous Body Scissors/Hurricanrana hybrid thing that Jungle Boy did; followed by THREE Suicide Dives!  What proves to be the most devastating however is a Coffin Drop from the top turnbuckle onto Jungle Boy who’s laid out on the apron; so much so that he may not beat the ten count.  Now there’s a bit of a controversial move here from Luchasaurus who’s standing next to Jungle Boy while he’s trying to get up, and Jungle Boy claws at him to try and get his balance.  AEW’s refs have always had a selective enforcement policy on the rules which we saw earlier in the match when the two of them brawled outside the ring for well over ten counts, and this was all in full view of Ref Remsberg who didn’t seem to mind so it’s a bit hard for me to care that Jungle Boy leaned on Luchasaurus for a moment.  Still, this doesn’t sit well with Sting who comes over to have some terse words with Luchasaurus that soon escalates into a punching match as the two of them brawl to the back.  Now with Jungle Boy back in the ring, he starts working over Darby with a flurry of submissions that he can only escape from by pulling his hair and thumbing the eye; both of which were ALSO in full view of the ref, so I guess that makes them even.  Jungle Boy goes for a Sunset Flip on the now standing Darby, but Darby manages to stand his ground and turns it into a Last Supper pin which he holds Jungle Boy down for JUST long enough to get the three count and retain his title.  A really fantastic match between these two that MAYBE didn’t need the controversy at the end, but I guess it was the only way to get Sting and Luchasaurus to brawl without either one looking like a bad guy.

As soon as the match is over however, Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page rush the ring and take them both out which is PROBABLY the most in ring action we’ve seen from them since they formed this tag team like a month ago.  Lance Archer runs out and tries to take them both down but is overwhelmed and it’s not until Sting comes out with the bat that the two scurry away right as the episode comes to an end.

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Despite there being TWO title matches tonight it didn’t feel like THAT big of a show, but I kind of liked it for that.  We didn’t see too many new faces and I still have NO idea what they are trying to do with Page and Sky, but there were definitely a few more of them than usual and I’m still genuinely surprised that the QT Marshall and Billy Gunn match was as enjoyable as it was!  The Blood and Guts match is coming soon and a PPV is not too far away from that, so we’ll be ramping up the storylines and moving towards bigger programs soon enough; I’m just glad that once in a while there can be a show like this that doesn’t have the BIGGEST marquee value but still has a lot of fun wrestling to see!

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