AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
Well the day is finally here; someway feeling very late and way too soon at the same time. The original plan for Blood & Guts seemed to be The Inner Circle Vs. The Elite, and boy how things have changed since then with The Elite fractured into becoming a Heel faction and The Inner Circle finding their way to being the Baby Faces in this feud against The Pinnacle. There’s no doubt that they kind of sprinted to this match instead of taking their time with it as The Pinnacle only arrived on the scene a few weeks ago, and with us being so close to out of the woods of this Pandemic it hardly seems like it would have been TOO much to ask for them to wait for the crowds to return, but this is the plan they went with and they tried their darnedest to make it work. Is this show as well as the match itself worth all the buildup, or was all this just to give us a mediocre War Games rip off? Let’s find out!!
Before we get started, it’s worth noting that the arena is already set up for the Blood and Guts match as there are two rings next to each other throughout the show. It’s a bit of a shame that none of the undercard matches make use of this fact, but I guess you want to save the more fancy stuff for the main event.
Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston Vs. Kenny Omega & Michael Nakazawa
Omega is accompanied to the ring by Don Callis
Things don’t start off well for Moxley and Kingston as Callis comes out and says Omega won’t be showing up for the match and of course he appears out of nowhere to blindside them during their entrance. Eddie is left alone to fend off both Omega and Nakazawa, but eventually Moxley gets back up and starts running wild. Eventually it settles into a very straightforward back and forth tag team match. Some fun stuff like Omega’s over the top Heel expression and Nakazawa landing a low blow that knocks the wind out of Kingston, but I’m just not feeling the urgency for a match that should have a lot of weight to it. If it was me, I wouldn’t have Omega give Kingston an inch. Just devastating move after devastating move instead of an extended heat segment where he does SOME moves but Kingston is definitely given a lot of room to breathe and fight back. They get it right with Moxley and Nakazawa as he’s barely a minute into the hot tag before he goes for the Paradigm shift which only doesn’t land because Omega runs in to break it up. Nakazawa tries to use this moment of confusion to his advantage, but his forearms are no match for Moxley’s beefy chest and ends up eating a Pile Driver for his efforts. Seeing the writing on the wall, Omega just bails to leave Nakazawa to his fate, and so Moxley lands a clothesline while Kingston holds him in place which is enough to get the win. Not a bad opener, but I think with Kenny now the proud owner of FOUR belts (apparently he won TWO at the Impact PPV) I feel like there should have been a bit more menace from him.
While celebrating their victory, The Bucks come out to taunt Moxley and Kingston while The Good Brothers sneak up from behind to attack them. Outnumbered, Moxley eats a Magic Killer from The Good Brothers and a Super Kick from Matt Jackson while Kingston is destroyed with the One Winged Angel from a returning Kenny Omega. I will say that while I’ve started to enjoy The Bucks as Heels, they still don’t have the look; especially standing next to The Good Brothers who look like hardass biker dudes while Matt and Nick look like total dorks.
Cody Rhodes Vs. QT Marshall
Cody is accompanied to the ring by Arn Anderson while QT is accompanied by The Factory
The QT Marshall Heel turn has been surprisingly successful so far! It started off a bit weird and his promos weren’t exactly excellent, but as soon as he got his stable of dudes together the whole thing started to coalesce into this kinda campy old school wrestling shtick; especially with guys like Billy Gunn and Dustin Rhodes in the mix. Now it’s time for Cody and QT to hash it out which admittedly feels a bit too soon, but they sure gave us one heck of a match here! Cody gets an early lead with some strong moves, but what keeps QT from getting completely overrun is his experience with Cody. They were best friends and I’m sure they trained together on occasion, so QT can read him like a book; not enough to completely overcome the skill gap, but there are many times throughout the match where he dodges Cody’s moves and cuts him off mid-attack. Cody, for all his skill, can’t get enough momentum going to do any serious damage to QT and even eats a few moves that he otherwise should have avoided. What DOES help Cody though is that he gets a fair bit of help from his buddies around the ring. QT goes after Arn at one point but Arn isn’t playing around and starts mashing the little upstart’s face into the post; so much so that a bunch of refs have to come out and drag Arn away. If that wasn’t enough, Red Velvet is watching from the barricade and grabs QT at one point to hold him in place so that Cody can get a few easy shots in. Frankly, if QT wasn’t such an easily dislikable jerk, you could very well argue that he’s the Babyface as he’s the one fighting smart and fighting against the odds. Another bizarre thing about this match is that they actually do a spot that I’ve only ever seen on TNA where Cody goes for a Sunset Flip and ends up pulling down QT’s shorts so he can give everyone a full moon. Jay Lethal once did that to Ric Flair in a match ALL the way from 2010 and I can’t say I liked it then either. Then again, this whole feud has had a retro bent to it, and AI guess eleven years ago counts as retro at this point. Anyway, Cody gets a Moonsault from the top rope which gives him a two count, and QT pulls off a VERY impressive move here where he catches Cody in a Disaster Kick and pulls off a Cross Rhodes of his own! He only got a two count but it definitely kicked things up a notch in the match and the last few minutes are an impressive display of athleticism from both guys. Cody escapes a Diamond Cutter only to eat a Buckle Bomb, and the two of them start going back and forth on who can land a Pile Driver with Cody getting the better of QT on that one. Sufficiently softened up, QT eats a PROPER Cross Rhodes from Cody which… does NOT lead to the pin as QT kicks out at two! Still, QT seems to be done as he slowly gets up not to keep fighting but to give Cody the finger right to his face and is immediately taken back down and put into a Figure Four which he ultimately taps out off. As soon as the bell rings, Anthony Ogogo comes out from the back and gives Cody one of his patented gut punches; leaving him in a crumpled heap on the mat despite getting the win. I’m not sure what the direction here is as this DEFINITELY felt like a blow off match considering how much went into it, and as such it does feel a bit too soon. If the goal is to eventually get Cody to fight Ogogo, well I guess this is how you get there but I don’t have any real attachment to the guy; at least not the same way I do with QT. In any case, a darn good match and it definitely had the weight and urgency behind it that I felt was lacking in the opener.
Ton is interviewing Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky who are hanging out in the cheap seats, and while I’m glad they FINALLY have something to do other than get in everyone else’s way, their shtick is kinda boring as they’re just two obnoxious self-centered jerks. I think we’ve got enough of those already, and it’s gonna take something REALLY special to try and do it better than guys like MJF. They spend most of their time talking about Sting and Darby being losers, and so Darby flies in from out of nowhere to attack both of them; managing to succeed by the sheer audacity of his assault. They do eventually overpower him however and this is where things start to go downhill (pun bitterly intended) as they throw Darby down a flight of concrete stairs. As soon as you see them brawling next to the steps, you know EXACTLY where this is going but it doesn’t make it any easier to watch when it does. They keep the camera on Darby during the picture and picture, and it frankly looks like even HE regretted it immediately. He’s not exactly playing it up like a grievous injury, but the dude just looks SAD. He looks like he just wants to cry and is questioning his whole life in that moment, and it was just not a spot they needed to do. Darby is not going to have a long career if he keeps this up, and hopefully this little bit of nonsense didn’t cause too much damage but still gave him a bit of perspective.
Britt Baker Vs. Julia Hart
Baker is accompanied to the ring by Rebel (Not Reba)
This is Julia Hart’s debut and she gets the Jobber entrance, so yeah this is just a squash match. Baker pretty much destroys her with a stomach punch and a few elbows, but she’s not content to let her off the hook that easily, so she lands a Sling Blade and follows it up with an Air Raid Crash to get the pin, only she pulls her head up before the three count. Instead of letting it end there, she puts Julia in the Lockjaw so she can tap out immediately and THAT’S how she wins the match to build her up for her eventual title match against Hikaru Shida. Now I was pretty dismissive of Miss Hart, but there IS something about her that I think she’ll be someone. Not exactly an IMMEDIATE standout star like Will Hobbs, but she’s got a look and I’m interested to see if she shows up on Dynamite again.
We get a Technique with Taz segment which is something we haven’t seen in a while, but unlike previous ones which were about getting moves over, he spends the entire time ribbing on Christian Cage’s performance which is funny because he is using clips from a match that Cage did in fact win. Now I thought at some point Brian Cage was going to break off from Team Taz which may STILL be in the cards, but his win against Page seems to have at the very least put those plans on hold. I still think it would be AMAZING for him to defect and join up with Christian Cage so they can be CAGE AND CAGE, but we’ll have to see where this feud is going. Chances are he’ll be taking on Brian Cage soon and that’ll be the turning point for whatever direction we end up going in.
Jurassic Express Vs. The Varsity Blondes Vs. SCU Vs. The Acclaimed – Four Way Number One Contender Tag Match
Despite three of the four teams being personal favorites of mine (sorry, Acclaimed) I just couldn’t get into this match. We’re pretty deep into the show and we’ve still got the Blood and Guts match so maybe there wasn’t a lot of hope that this would be a barn burner, but it just came off as kinda dull. Matches with this many people aren’t always the easiest to pull off, especially when you’re restricting it to just two people in the ring at a time. What ends up happening for most of this match is that you’ll have two people face off for a bit before getting tagged out and having two NEW people start the whole thing over. Some spots were pretty good like starting out with Kazarian and Jungle Boy or when Kazarian straight up decks Pillman Jr in the face for the AUDACITY of tagging himself in, but it’s mostly just an okay showcase for each team. The Acclaimed get a bit lost in the shuffle as do SCU despite Kazarian having such a strong opening, and Luchasaurus is the one who gets the big spotlight moment where he pretty much takes out everyone which leaves Jungle Boy and Pillman Jr to lock it up while everyone else is on the ground. Frankly I’d like to see a match with just these two as what I saw here was pretty good, but eventually Kazarian tags himself in and he and Daniels land a BME on Pillman Jr to get the pin and win the title shot. Not a particularly enthralling match, but an important one because the rubber is finally about to meet the road and SCU are either going to become the champs or break up for good. I’m leaning heavily towards the former as The Bucks don’t seem like they’re about to give up the belts any time soon, and since the match is next week SCU won’t be breaking up in front of a big crowd. A bittersweet ending to their legacy if that’s ultimately where this is leading, but the Pandemic threw a lot of wrenches into everyone’s plans and I’m hoping they have something truly big in place to commemorate the moment.
The cage is set up for the Blood and Guts match, but it’s not starting just yet. Instead, Tony calls out Kenny Omega to announce that next week will be a Number One Contender’s match to find out who will face Kenny Omega at the Double or Nothing PPV. The two competitors are none other than Pac and Orange Cassidy; one of whom Kenny is excited to face while the other he is quite dismissive of. Take a guess which one. Naturally, Orange Cassidy comes out to casually stare down Omega who just berates him for like ten minutes straight which SOMEHOW doesn’t get the least bit boring! As far as I can recall, they’ve never actually had a match so that’s exciting on its own, but Omega is BRILLIANT in this heel persona and Cassidy’s laid back attitude is a perfect sounding board for his bloviating. At one point Cassidy just stands there, cool as a cucumber, as Omega takes his shades and gives them to Michael Nakazawa who takes a shine to them and starts posing for the camera. Seeing how little Cassidy is rattled by this petty theft, he wraps things up and tells him take his shot when he’s a bit more prepared for it, say in ten years or so. No need to rush! Considering what they did in this promo, I think Pac is going to take the loss in that match and while it’s a shame that we won’t get another match between him and Omega just yet, I’m VERY excited to see what happens when Cassidy gets in the ring with the champ. He had a pretty good program with Chris Jericho and this promo was quite fantastic so hopefully lightening can strike twice here and these two create a feud for the ages!
We’re STILL not ready for the match as Tony calls out Miro to talk to him next, but Miro just grabs the mic and starts ranting at the camera. He pulls out a contract and confirms that he will be facing Darby Allin on next week’s episode, and he cautions Darby that if he happens to be injured from his spill down the stairs and can’t make it to the match next week, well he’s gonna give the little a REAL injury because Miro NEEDS this match! He doesn’t even want to win the belt by forfeit; he is going to DESTROY whoever has that belt just to prove that he can and the entire locker room is on notice! Not a bad promo from the guy and I’m glad that we’re FINALLY moving forward with Miro’s title chase. I’m guessing it will be not unlike Cody’s match against Brodie Lee where Cody was coming in at half strength and got totally wrecked around the arena. Darby’s been a good champ, but I think it might just be time for Miro to be number one!
The Inner Circle Vs. The Pinnacle – Blood & Guts Match
The Pinnacle are accompanied to the ring by Tully Blanchard
This is a forty five minute main event extravaganza, so I won’t be going over it blow by blow and instead will try to summarize my thoughts. For the most part, it’s pretty freaking great! AEW held off on this match for the longest time and after seeing it hope they don’t wait as long to do the next one; especially with how many big teams we’ve got here. Heck, with the way things are going with The Dark Order and Hardy Family Office, I wouldn’t be surprised if we get another one of these rather soon, but in any case I did enjoy what I saw here… for the most part. The first half in particular is fantastic as it somehow manages to be intense and gripping despite the fact that no one can actually LOSE until all ten guys are in the ring. What makes it work is the staggered entrances as each new guest to the party has their own role to play based on the events that came before. Sammy goes in first with Dax Harwood and his job is to inflect as much damage to Dax as possible so that when the next guy comes in he won’t have to fight off two guys at once. Shawn Spears is next to come in and he has a chair with one goal of getting Sammy off of Dax’s back. Then Santana, then Cash Wheeler, and then Ortiz; all bringing more fire power to swing the advantage to their team’s side. The most intriguing part though was waiting for the BIG guys to come in; Wardlow and Hager. I love the way that both of them approached their job differently as Wardlow goaded The Inner Circle to come to him to tank their offensive (thereby getting them away from his teammates) and then Hager comes in like a wild man to keep everyone from The Pinnacle down so that he and Wardlow can hash out their differences uninterrupted! It’s fun and strategic, and always gives you something to look forward to which is why it’s kind of a shame that once the final two get in (MJF and Jericho) that it ends up feeling like a totally different match. It doesn’t help that everyone literally stops and goes to their side of the cage to stand in a row which just feels like one big reset and as if nothing before mattered, but the bigger issue is that that sense of narrative and focus mostly goes out the window. The Inner Circle are clearly in control, but they aren’t working over one guy or coordinating to keep everyone else down so it just feels like a lot of carnage for carnage sake when we should be finding a way to bring this to a close. It’s not until Tully knocks out Ref Remsberg and takes their key to unlock the door (something that REALLY should make this a No Contest as I don’t care WHAT kind of No DQ match this is, you don’t hit a ref) that things start to get some focus again, but the story being told isn’t as well thought out. MJF is out the door immediately and instead of running to the back he decides to go to the roof which is an absolutely terrible idea since Jericho chases right after him making it less of a safe haven and more of a death trap. Then again, it’s not like the rest of the Inner Circle climb up as well to back him up which seems like a HUGE oversight on their part as they’re just kind milling around the ring taking shots at Pinnacle members whenever they get up. Now all that said, as ludicrous as the circumstances are for getting Jericho and MJF on the roof (and for no one else to be up there as well), everything on the roof is pretty good and gets some of that tension back that was kind of lost when everyone got in the cage. MJF and Jericho trade Super Submission holds for a bit hoping for the other to give up, but neither one of them is willing to give the other the satisfaction, so MJF does what you’d expect him to do and pulls that diamond ring out of his shorts. He bashes Jericho right in the forehead with it which leaves him hopelessly dazed, but instead of trying to get HIM to submit or surrender he threatens to throw him off the roof unless someone from The Inner Circle surrenders the match! This is EXACTLY the kind of sickening Heel move you want MJF to make and having Sammy be the one to give up to save Jericho was the perfect way to end this, but there is still a problem here and it’s the drop itself. They had to find the balance between the drop being bad enough that you can believe they’d surrender over it while also being safe enough that when Jericho DOES get thrown (because of course MJF was going to do that no matter what) that he doesn’t die and sadly I don’t think they nailed it. It’s not as egregious as the Exploding Barb Wire Death Match dud, but it’s in the same ballpark because you see Jericho go off this cage into a very obvious crash pad and you can’t help but think that Sammy should have let him drop because it didn’t look THAT much more dangerous than most of the other stuff we saw on this show already and was probably the SAFEST way to get down from there. Heck, Darby Allin’s trip down the stairs was WAY more horrifying to see than Jericho plopping onto the mattress below! Then again, one of my least favorite moments in wrestling is when Shane took that drop off that GIGANTIC steel cage, so maybe I shouldn’t sit here and complain about AEW not going that far with it. In any case, they sell it for all its worth by having everyone in the back come out to check on Jericho while MJF stays on top of the cage milking it for all it’s worth with that smug and very punchable face of his as the last thing we see as the episode comes to a close.
For the year of anticipation and the month of buildup, it was probably about as good as you could expect. I could nitpick a few things about the opening matches and how the Blood & Guts match played out towards the end, but aside from Darby Allin’s really bad fall, nothing on this show was egregiously bad or even mediocre. The closest as far as matches are concerned was probably the four way tag, but you have such good talent in it doing solid work that I can hardly dismiss it as a lousy match. What made so much of this work, especially as we got closer to the main event, is that it really did FEEL like a big show and something genuinely important. I LOVED the Kenny Omega/Orange Cassidy confrontation and I’m eager to see what Miro does now that he’s chasing the belts in earnest, and the whole atmosphere around the two rings and the big cage really did lend a lot of gravitas to the whole night. For everything that was up against this show, some that AEW couldn’t help and some they very much could, they managed to pull it off. A little bit of sloppy landing perhaps, but I’ll still give them a thumbs up!