AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
Blood and Guts is only one week away, and while it REALLY feels like it should be at least a month down the road, AEW has done their darnedest to try and make it as big a spectacle as they can. Will this final week of hype be enough to make it a huge success, or will the rushed build in this show mean that few will care to tune in next week? Let’s find out!!
Hangman Adam Page Vs. Brian Cage
Before the match can properly start, Cage and Team Taz bum rush him and stomp him into the ground before The Dark Order rushes out to make the save. They at least manage to chase off Hook, Hobbs, and Starks, but Page is still alone with THE MACHINE who gives him a Powerbomb on the ramp before tossing him into the ring and continuing his assault. Page tries to fight back and gets a very brief hope towards the end, but it’s ultimately a losing proposition a Cage lands the Drillclaw and wins the match in about five minutes. It may not have been the most EXCITING match as it was essentially an extended squash, but there are several things about this that made it FANTASTIC! Team Taz has been on a losing streak for a while and Page has been on a winning streak, so this kind of shake up is perfect for setting up a feud with some real stakes to it as Cage so effortlessly destroyed Hangman and it’s unclear if he can beat him even without getting Powerbombed at the start. On top of that, you have Taz on commentary selling not just this one match but the story of Team Taz up to this point and how Adam Page ultimately fits into it which only adds to the tension as to what’s going to happen next. In less than ten minutes, AEW managed to set up a new feud and give it some real weight which is impressive for any show to pull off, and even as a squash match it was fun to watch. Not a bad start to the show if you ask me!
We cut to The Elite (or Bullet Club, or whatever) who are doing their absolute best to prove to us that they are NOT AT ALL SCARED of Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston… which is why they’re hiding inside a limo instead of saying this in the ring. In their defense, those two DID attempt vehicular manslaughter so a modicum of caution is not unwarranted, but when their driver Michael Nakazawa accidently taps the horn they all have near fatal heart attacks so things aren’t going so well for The Elite even if they have five belts among them.
Young Bucks Vs. Matt & Mike Sydal
Kind of odd to have the SCAREDY CAT promo right before The Bucks and Don Callis come out as cocky Heels, but regardless of that I think I’m REALLY starting to dig The Bucks in their new role. The commentators are perhaps playing up their disgust at them a bit TOO much, but they’ve really come into their own and their flashy style works well with the overconfidence gimmick. Matt & Mike who as far as I can recall have NEVER won a match on Dynamite are nonetheless good workers and all four of them put on a pretty spectacular show with a lot of good back and forth action and some VERY odd Heel nonsense from The Bucks. There’s this one spot where, for reasons I can’t QUITE fathom, Matt Jackson switches places with his brother Nick while the ref is looking away; presumably to beat the ten count which I wasn’t expecting either him or Matt Sydal to stay down for, but then Ref Knox just lets Matt Jackson be the legal man. It’s definitely a goofy Heel spot and the kind of thing I can see The Bucks doing, but the circumstances here were a bit suspect. In any case, the ruse doesn’t do a heck of a whole lot as Sydal quickly regains the advantage and manages to take on BOTH Bucks at the same time. His momentum is brought to a halt however with a very cool top rope spot where he has Matt Jackson on the ropes and tries to give him a Hurricanrana, but Matt slips down off the ropes leaving Matt to just fall with leg first onto the top rope and bounce off with a the 360 spin before landing on the mat. He quickly tags in Mike who tries to keep the dream alive, but Matt Jackson does a freaking Johnny Cage Nut Shot (complete with the splits) which stops Mike RIGHT in his tracks and leaves him open for the BTE Trigger which gives The Bucks the win in this match. Perhaps a bit too goofy in spots, but I think I enjoy these Heel Bucks matches more than when they were the Baby Faces, and The Sydals prove once again how good they are despite being perpetual losers on the big show.
As soon as the match is over, Kazarian and Daniels come out to cut the celebration short and to remind everyone that they WILL in fact break up as SCU once they lose another match. Now they were happy to make this their last ride together, but now they are VERY angry at The Bucks for turning Heel right when they were at the end of their journey! They wanted one last match with the REAL Bucks; not this jerky faced facsimile of them that are stuck under the spell of Don Callis! Now apparently they are the number one contenders so this situation is going to come to a head sooner rather than later, and frankly there is ZERO chance of SCU winning; it’s just too good of a Heel move for The Bucks right now to be responsible for breaking up SCU which will be a shame when it happens, but we knew this was going to happen eventually. If Daniels wants to retire after this, he’s more than earned the right to do so and I can hardly think of a better send off for them than a title match with The Bucks. Maybe just hold it off until the PPV which MIGHT have a crowd as vaccine rates are going up, and it’s the kind of thing you want to do with an audience there.
Orange Cassidy Vs. Penta El Zero M
Cassidy is accompanied to the ring by Trent while Penta is accompanied toe the ring by Alex Abrahantes
I can’t believe I didn’t see this before, but Cassidy and Penta are two of the biggest HAMS in this company, and putting them together in a match is like adding peanut butter to chocolate! Admittedly Cassidy’s over the top nonsense is much more understated, but we can’t even begin this match without the two spending several minutes showing off! Cassidy keeps going to put his hands in his pockets and each time Penta slaps his hands away and does the ZERO MIEDO thing; getting progressively more elaborate with his utter contempt for Orange Cassidy each time! It’s a fun little mind game between these two as they both give zero darns about anything other than their own self-aggrandizing shtick, and by the time Cassidy manages to get his hands in his pockets both guys are primed and ready to utterly DESTROY the other! Cassidy kicks things off with his lousy kicks and SOMEHOW manages to do an arm drag WITHOUT the use of his arms which sounds impossible (and comes as an utter shock to Penta), but I assure you that it happened! With this early advantage Cassidy ends up bringing Penta to the ground with some sort of lazy chokehold, but when he gives the crowd a thumbs up Penta straight up shoves it into his mouth and chomps on it for all it’s worth! It’s not enough to leave him injured but enough to break the hold, and Penta follows this up by catching Cassidy in a Suicide Dive and just tossing him RIGHT onto the apron which looked pretty rough for Cassidy and allows Penta to get the heat during the commercial break. Cassidy eventually gets back on top with some slick moves and a Flying Cross Body, but Penta is no slouch and fights back against every finisher Cassidy tries to throw at him and punishes him with a killer move of his own! Penta’s hubris proves to be his undoing however as HE tries to land a big move on Cassidy and gets it reversed into a Stundog Millionaire followed by a Diving DDT and a Spinning DDT to get a two count. Alex Abrahantes can see the writing on the wall and starts to taunt Orange with a few Yo Mamma Jokes which don’t go over very well, and so Orange drags his butt into the ring, but this opens him up for a big kick from Penta. Penta goes for the Package Pile Driver but Cassidy wriggles out of it and grabs a microphone from Trent to bash Penta over the head with while the ref is checking on Alex, and this is finally enough for Cassidy to get the pin and win the match! This was a HUGE step up from Trent and Penta’s match last week and hopefully this Best Friends/Death Triangle feud is going somewhere big; most likely a Trios match, but sadly there haven’t been much in terms of angles and promos around this so the direction is still a bit up in the air. We got like a hundred Miro/Chuck promos, so why none here!?
Blood And Guts Parlay – Epic Rule Setting Action!!
So if you’re not familiar with the War Games format, the idea is that two teams (usually consisting of five guys) will face off inside two rings pushed together and under a cage. The entrances are staggered with one person from each team going in at alternating intervals (in this case, every two minutes) and so the big thing to hash out leading up to the match is who will have the man advantage and this is often dealt with via a match. In THIS case however, the plan was to have Tony Schiavone flip a coin, but Shawn Spears smacks it out of his hand before grabbing the mic. I’ve been pretty down on Shawn Spears since… well FOREVER I guess, but he actually shows some real chops here as he berates the other team and goes in on Sammy specifically. He actually sounds threatening for the first time in his entire AEW career when he yells at Sammy to LOOK AT HIM WHEN HE’S TALKING, which is enough to get him hot headed enough to volunteer as the first man in and to give The Pinnacle the man advantage. From there, the mic gets passed around to everyone who has something to say and while I won’t go over it in detail as the segment goes on for a bit, it’s some of the best promo work that any of them have done! Spears was great, Santana was great, they even give Cash Wheeler a chance and while he still sounds WAY too much like John C Reilly for me to not smirk about, he kinda pulled it off here! The stars of course are MJF and Jericho who take the most time on the mic and have the most cutting things to say. MJF’s eyes bursting form his skull as he yells at Jericho, Jericho’s face getting redder and redder as he yells back, it’s all good stuff from two of the best talkers at AEW and it’s definitely the kind of promo you want to do to build up a big match like this. The only thing that was a bit odd was that a fight didn’t break out, but perhaps they felt like saving that until next week for the big show. In any case, it certainly got me more excited to see what happens when they finally get into that cage!
Eddie Kingston Vs. Michael Nakazawa
That’s at least what they advertise this as being, but really it’s about Eddie and Mox going after Kenny. Kingston comes out to the ring to see Nakazawa there in his slacks and Geek Squad shirt and immediately calls foul on all this nonsense; demanding Omega to come out here and face him like a man! Kenny does come out with Don Callis to mock Kingston as Nakazawa waffles him over the head with a laptop, but Kingston manages to fight back and escalates things further by threatens to break Nakazawa’s ankle with a chair if Kenny refuses to get in the ring. Of course being a cowardly Heel he leaves Nakazawa to his fate, but then Moxley comes out and smashes Kenny over the head before tossing him into the ring and choking him out. As if things couldn’t escalate further, Kingston now puts KENNY’S ankle in the chair and threatens to break his ankle if Callis doesn’t agree to give them a match. After some heated negotiations and a few fake out from Moxley to break the ankle, Callis agrees and the match is set for next week! Hey, I mean there’s not much further you can escalate things once you start smashing cars into each other and having another big match for the Blood and Guts show next week will certainly bring in a few more eyeballs. As for the Kingston/Nakazawa match… I don’t know, I guess it’s a No Contest?
We cut to the back where Tony is interviewing Taz about his recent feud with Christian Cage before the man himself shows up to interrupt in what KIND of sounds like a heel promo if I’m being honest. He tells Taz that he was great once but that those days are over because he retired just like him. The only difference is that he didn’t STAY retired and now that he’s here he’s going to teach each member of Team Taz a lesson that Taz wants to throw at him. Now Taz’s last match was all the way back in 2006 and he pretty much retired four years before that due to injuries he had suffered along the way. I couldn’t tell you if Taz’s injuries were more severe than Cage’s but I kind of admire the guy for sticking to his guns and not finding an excuse to get in the ring; lord knows he had PLENTY of opportunities as TNA would have jumped at the chance of having him wrestle a match! Cage coming in here and using that VERY responsible decision to berate him for his recent actions is something that just doesn’t sit right with me, but it’s clear this feud is going to continue and hopefully they find a better direction to take it.
Kris Statlander Vs. Penelope Ford
Statlander is accompanied to the ring by Orange Cassidy while Ford is accompanied by Kip Sabian
Statlander was always destined for the stars in this company and would have been on top if not for her injury, but I’ve always maintained that Ford is a good wrestler as well and I’m not sure why she isn’t used more. If nothing else she has an interesting move set with some stuff that I’ve just never seen before with this one move where she spins her opponent on the mat to build momentum for a forearm strike, and this other move where she puts Statlander on the Apron and swings over the top rope from inside the ring to drop her knees on Statlander below. For all her fancy moves though, Statlander has a clear power advantage and shows it off with a solid Powerslam and Military Press at the start, and a Blume Thunder Bomb gets her the first near fall of the match. Penelope is no slouch however and gives an impressive German Suplex onto Statlander before driving her face into the middle turnbuckle! It’s a solid back and forth match where the one fighting from underneath has to essentially become more desperate and brutal as the match goes on, but there are a few spots that just didn’t’ work. Ford goes for a Top Rope Neckbreaker but she didn’t get her arms in the right position and so she ended up bashing into Statlander’s face. This doesn’t look like it hurt her or anything, but because of this Ford didn’t get enough rotation and just kinda went SPLAT on her back. Not to be outdone however, Statlander goes for this move called the Solar Eclipse which I had to watch three times before figuring out what’s going on. She’s basically just flipping Ford onto her stomach, but she does it while falling down which looks more like Ford reversed whatever she was doing than the move working as intended. Perhaps she didn’t do it right or the camera just needs to be in a better position, but the best option would probably be to drop that from her move set immediately. Aside from those two spots however, it was a solid match and Statlander gets the pin after crushing Ford with a Big Bang Theory. What was interesting is that Kip tries to run a distraction and is stopped by Cassidy, but this doesn’t lead to blows from either of them.
The idea seems to be that Kip and Ford are going Baby Face soon which would be fine I guess, but the big elephant in the room here is named Miro who has spent WEEKS threatening to crush Kip the next time he shows his face. Kip however seems to be under the delusion that things are going to be JUST fine between them; a notion that is swiftly shattered when he finds Miro backstage who starts throwing his butt around the room in a frankly disturbing display of violence; not the least of which because Miro says that HE forgives KIP after smashing his arm into a door. I know that they want Miro to be a strong heel going out of this, but this is the kind of development where the only thing I want to see from Miro now is him getting his butt whipped by Kip as payback for being an absolutely terrible friend. Maybe some version of this is going to happen before Miro goes off on his own path for whichever title he wants, but I hope it’s at least addressed in SOME way before that.
The Nightmare Family (Billy Gunn, Dustin Rhodes, and Lee Johnson) Vs. The Factory (QT Marshall, Aaron Solow, and Nick Comoroto)
The Factory is accompanied to the ring by Anthony Ogogo
Both sides start brawling before the match begins and eventually its Gunn and Comoroto in the ring to start things off. We’ve only been going for about four minute and most of it has been heat and Billy as well as Dustin, but Lee Johnson gets the Hot Tag and starts tearing Aaron Solow apart! The only reason Johnson doesn’t win the match right here with a Sit Out Powerbomb is that Comoroto breaks up the pin, but that’s not about to stop him as he keeps up the offensive and destroys all three of his opponents at the same time. Right as he’s having the comeback of his life however, Anthony Ogogo runs in and gut punches Johnson who’s out immediately. Billy Gunn tries to attack Ogogo for this but HE eats a gut punch as well and is down like a sack of potatoes. QT Marshall tags in and gets the pin on Johnson to win the match, and then Comoroto gets a cowbell from somewhere to bash Dustin over the head with. As The Factory leaves with QT getting a chorus of YOU STILL SUCK chants, Austin and Colton Gunn run out and beat the crap out of him and he goes scurrying out of the stadium as Comoroto and Solow try to keep the Gunns occupied. As soon as he thinks he’s free however, Cody shows up and starts pounding him just as hard as the Gunn club did! The two of them get on top of the Nightmare Family bus which is pretty terrifying, but thankfully Cody just puts him in the Figure Four Leg Lock so he can tap out. I’ll admit that I wasn’t exactly into this match when it first started, but this feud has had some surprising legs as far as its post-match angles and definitely has a goofy old school feel to it that’s unique in AEW and certainly holds some appeal for me!
Darby Allin Vs. Ten The Creeper – TNT Title Match
Darby is accompanied to the ring by Sting while Ten is accompanied by The Dark Order
Once again the rankings system is completely throwing me off as Ten (Preston Vance) is APPARENTLY the number five contender in AEW despite having never won a singles match on Dynamite, but I always like to see The Dark Order do their thing and giving guys like Ten a shot at the spotlight is rarely a bad thing. I’d have personally preferred if we got to see more of Stu Grayson but in any case, the match begins like your typical Darby Allin match where he has to overcome a much bigger competitor. Ten get a few solid BIG GUY MOVES in like a Spinning Backbreaker and a One Armed Powerbomb, but it becomes clear that Darby is the superior wrestler and it seems pretty clear that Darby is going to retain his title. Then out of nowhere, Ethan Page comes out and bashes Darby into the post while the ref is looking away. At this point the match becomes somewhat interesting as Ten is conflicted on what to do; either give up his shot at the title because Darby was attacked, or keep going and possibly become the champ under a cloud of controversy. After a minute of hemming and hawing, he and The Dark Order decide to keep going and try to finish Darby off, but Darby manages to fight back and kick out of a pin attempt before trying to rip Ten’s mask off. With Ten distracted by his mask, Darby goes for a Coffin Drop which Ten catches and turns into a Full Nelson which the little guy can’t break out of. Darby, still trapped within the jaws of this horrific move, walks himself and Ten over to the turnbuckle and kicks off of it to roll into a pinning predicament which Ten can’t get out of and stays down for the three count; giving Darby the win and retaining his title. Preston Vance isn’t quite there yet and I don’t know if he’ll ever be a big star, but the match was alright. It’s certainly not the best of these Darby TNT defenses, but not a bad one by any stretch.
Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky run out from the back and go after Darby and Sting after The Dark Order have left. They mercilessly wail on the champ and the old guy for a bit before Ten and Lance Archer come out to chase them off. I mean at least they’re doing SOMETHING on the show, but I’m still waiting for them to have just ONE match to prove that they are a force to be reckoned with instead of these run ins at the end of each show.
AEW has had two solid episodes of Dynamite back to back, though I THINK I’m gonna give the edge to last week’s episode; mostly due to the main event which was much strong with Jungle Boy than it was with Ten. Still, there was a lot of good matches on this show and things are definitely moving forward towards Blood and Guts as well as whatever is in store for the PPV. I can’t say I loved all of it (Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky are REALLY testing my patience), but they definitely have a lot of momentum going and I’m certainly curious to see how the big Wargames show works out next week!