Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (05-12-2021)

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

Last week may have been the big TV show, but we’re only weeks away from Double or Nothing so this episode has to work double duty in giving us the fallout from the Blood & Guts event as well as setting up whatever is going to happen for the PPV.  Not only that, but this is also something of a big show in its own right as we’ve got three title defenses with some big implications behind them!  Can this episode of Dynamite carry all that weight and spin all those plates without collapsing, or will the most interesting thing about this be the giant mess that they make?  Let’s find out!!


Jon Moxley Vs. Yuji Nagata – IWGP United States Title Match

Moxley is accompanied to the ring by Eddie Kingston while Nagata is accompanied by Ren Narita

Before we can get to my utter lack of knowledge of New Japan, before we can get to my utter lack of knowledge of Yuji Nagata, before we can get to ANYTHING else, we have to talk about one thing.  Wild Thing by The Troggs!?  Look, Where Is My Mind for Orange Cassidy is starting to grow on me, but I’m thinking that Tony Khan is getting a bit TOO pop happy with his music because this is a VERY jarring change of pace!  Moxley’s music may not have been a recognizable song, but it definitely fit him and his energy where Wild Things is just… not that.  I don’t know, maybe I’ll find a way to get used to it or maybe it’s just a one off.  In either case, let’s talk about the match itself, shall we?  Now as I’ve said I don’t follow New Japan and don’t know who most of the guys on that show are, so having Yuji Nagata show up here doesn’t mean a lot to me, but I still like the concept of having matches outside of AEW’s world take place on the show.  Wrestling is a BIG world and trying to close yourself off from everything else the way WWE does is what’s help make it feel like a weird little isolated planet of a thing, so I’m happy to see New Japan, NWA, or even Impact show up every once in a while to spice things up!  Then again, I can’t say this was THE BEST match to debut the IWGP title for the Dynamite audience because… well I don’t think the match was particularly exciting.  Look, I’ll fully admit that I can’t speak for all wrestlers and I know there are a few old timers that I still like to see even if they aren’t at their peak, but Nagata is just kinda slow here and Moxley has to slow himself down to make the match look competitive.  Then again, I tend to prefer a quicker high flying style to something more methodical, and there ARE moments where Nagata shows what he can do; particularly as we get to the end when he gives Moxley an Avalanche Exploder before kneeing him in the face to get a two count.  Moxley kicks out of it and manages to put Nagata into the Rear Naked Choke which can usually take out anyone, but Nagata wriggles out of it and puts him in an arm breaker that Excalibur is completely marking out for so it must be one of his signature moves, but Moxley makes it to the bottom rope to break the hold and the two start slugging it out once again.  Moxley starts bleeding at one point which I think happened from one of Nagata’s elbows smashing him right in the cheek, and it makes for a very compelling image as he goes back for the choke to finish Nagata off.  He fights out once again, but after a minute of back and forth Moxley manages to land the Paradigm Shift and gets the pin; winning the match and retaining his IWGP United States title.  There was a lot about this match that didn’t click for me, from the fact that this is the first time I’ve ever seen Yuji Nagata wrestle to Moxley’s new theme music, so while it didn’t do a lot for me specifically I can still acknowledge that both guys put a lot into this match and that it will definitely work for those who know what to expect going in.


Alex Marvez is in the back interviewing Sammy, Ortiz, and Hagar about the future of The Inner Circle; especially after losing the match at Blood & Guts and with Jericho taking that big fall.  They’re not going to stop even after losing and that The Pinnacle should watch their back which is all standard stuff, but the most bizarre thing is the explanation for why Santana isn’t here which is that he got ARRESTED for using a fork during the match.  That… usually doesn’t happen.  I mean if we’re going to bring the police and legal system into wrestling matches, you’d hardly have much of a show, right?


Cody Rhodes & Double Or Nothing – Go America I Guess?

Okay, so… I think this is a bad idea.  Cody comes out to talk about Anthony Ogogo and instead of talking about him on his merits, he decides to make this a USA vs The Other; trying to thread that needle between national pride and jingoism that I GUESS is pretty baked into US wrestling but is not exactly the kind of story I want to see here.  As I said, he does try to thread that needle and makes sure to namecheck a lot of great UK wrestlers he’s gone against in the past and sticks mostly to the AMERICAN DREAM and MELTING POT imagery as opposed to AMERICA F**K YEAH, but it’s still boarding on cringe.  In any case, the point of all this is that he wants to face Anthony Ogogo at Double or Nothing so he can whoop his butt in front of a full capacity (and hopefully vaccinated) crowd as NOT the American Nightmare… but will wear the moniker of his father as The American Dream.  I guess his family legacy is not something he can avoid and he did what he could here, but I’m still a bit skeptical as to where this will end up.


The Young Bucks Vs. SCU – AEW Tag Title Match

The Bucks are accompanied to the ring by The Good Brothers

So after months of buildup (almost all of which was on the other shows) Daniels and Kazarian are about to either become tag team champs again or break up for good and my money is on the latter.  Much like the Yuji Nagata match, I kinda wish that I just had more exposure to SCU.  They started strong at AEW’s first PPV and I was absolutely STUNNED by their performance, but once Dynamite started and the key players started to filter in, SCU ended up getting pushed to the side and only pop up here and there.  This breakup match would mean a lot more to me if I had more than that to go on, but the match we have is the match we’re gonna get, and it was actually pretty darn awesome!  It started a bit slow and took me a while to get into it, but once things started to get competitive it became quite the spectacle.  The turning point for me was when Nick Jackson drives Kazarian’s face into the mat with a Springboard Face Buste and immediately follows that up by kicking Daniels into the post where he starts bleeding like a sieve.  This leaves Kazarian alone to fend off both Bucks and he doesn’t waste any time as he hits Nick Jackson with a Cutter to try and put this away quickly, but he kicks out at two.  Without any backup and with two angry brothers after him, Kazarian has to work harder than both of them COMBINED and I’ll be darned if he doesn’t pull it off as he successfully keeps them at bay and even keeps the advantage despite all that’s up against him.  This includes of course The Good Brothers as Kazarian rolls up Matt Jackson and actually gets the pin, but Ref Knox isn’t there to count it as he’s being distracted by Doc Gallows.  Kazarian truly proves himself to be the better wrestler several times throughout the match as the only thing keeping him from securing victory on his own is how The Bucks keep cheating their way out of it, but it wasn’t for naught as all this time fending these two off actually gave Daniels enough time to get back up from his HORRIFYING head injury!  The Bucks land a Super Kick, Tombstone Pile Driver, and a Knee Strike on Kazarian which would have led to the win if Daniels didn’t rush back in at the last second, covered in a distressing amount of blood, to break up the pin.  Still bloody and clearly woozy, Daniels tags himself in and eats a Spear from Matt Jackson.  He’s pulling a Kuwabara here in that he’s sacrificing himself to give Kazarian a chance to recover, and oh sure he tries to fight back, but he’s already lost SO much blood and can barely stand that it’s only a matter of time before either he loses it for his team or Kazarian comes back in for the save.  What’s helping the cause however is Matt Jackson being an arrogant jerk as he wastes time to mock Daniel by insincerely shouting that he’s sorry and that he loves him before Super Kicking him in the face which Matt tries to capitalized on with a pin but Daniels kicks out of at two.  Reenergized from that bit of mockery at his expense, Daniels gets up and goes for The Best Moonsault which he stumbles on the first time but gets it on the second and goes for the pin.  However, Nick Jackson FLIES in and not only breaks up the pin but complexly bowls over the ref in the process!  While chasing Nick out of the ring, Doc Gallows hands Matt a spray can and gives Daniels a face full of cooling mist before bashing him over the head with it and goes for the pin to… NOT WIN THE MATCH BECAUSE DANIELS KICKS OUT AT TWO!  Well sadly this is the last gasp of fight left in Daniels as he eats a BTE trigger after that and stays down for the three count before Kazarian can get in and break up the pin; giving The Bucks the win and spelling the end of SCU.  It was probably as good a match as we could have gotten from both teams and it certainly was exciting once it really got going, but the buildup could have been better and in the end it feels like an ignoble end for such a veteran team.  I guess when dealing with something this bittersweet there’s no way to extract all the bitterness out of it no matter how “perfect” the execution is, but I still kind of wish this was on a PPV instead of an episode of Dynamite.


Dasha is interviewing Christian Cage in the back about Taz taking pot shots at his technique last week, and Cage responds with… a fat joke.  Yeah, not exactly giving off a lot of Baby Face energy there, but he pivots soon after to announce he has an open contract for a match next week; hoping that Team Taz takes him up on it and sends whoever they want to face him in the ring.  Instead, Matt Sydal pops into frame and says that HE accepted the open contract so it will be the two of them next week as Sydal hopes to put a stop to Cage’s momentum.  Cage PROBABLY isn’t losing, but I kind of want Sydal’s first real win on Dynamite to be against a somewhat big guy like him so I’ll hold out a LITTLE bit of hope that he’ll prevail!


Orange Cassidy Vs. Pac – AEW World Title Number One Contender’s Match

There’s a giant British elephant in the room regarding this match and its name is Pac; not necessarily because of anything he did specifically, but just the way we got to this point.  Pac is absolutely someone who should be in contention for the title as one of AEW’s strongest competitors, but we haven’t seen him on TV in a while and the few times he HAS been on TV this year it was mostly in tag matches.  Not only that, the first time we heard about this match was a week ago in a promo that didn’t involve Pac at all.  Half of my brain is telling me that this is a PHENOMENAL matchup and the perfect program to lead to a match against Kenny Omega, but the other half is screaming that there is no groundwork for this match and so it feels completely disconnected from everything else we’ve seen on Dynamite in recent weeks!  With the position they are in, it’s probably the best option available as more “deserving” contender’s like Page, Brian Cage, or even Moxley are doing their own thing, and you don’t want to just throw a jobber at Cassidy to earn his shot at the title.  You WANT someone with credibility which Pac definitely has, but its feeling squandered here in a match that is just going to come and go.  If they had spent weeks building this up with Pac and Cassidy going back and forth with Omega in the background cackling at both of them, THEN this match would have some weight behind it.  As it stands, the match is alright but like the buildup it feels a bit undercooked.  What’s perhaps most interesting about it is that it’s very similar to the match they had at Revolution in 2020 as Pac is mostly running away with this by methodically beating Cassidy into a pulp.  That was also more or less my problem with that match at the time and the same holds true here only it’s more pronounced as we don’t have a PPV crowd pushing it over the edge, so Cassidy is just lying on the mat taking an unholy beating for what feels like an eternity.  Oh sure he STARTS strong by landing a Beach Break within the first few seconds of the match, but then Pac tosses him all around the ring (through two commercial breaks no less) and it never really gets more exciting from there.  Cassidy starts doing the rolling bit from the PPV as well which was fun and he does get to a brief comeback after tossing Pac into a turnbuckle, but it’s immediately brought to a halt with a Thrust Kick and Liger Bomb which gives Pac another two count.  Don Callis seems to be frustrated as well and comes out to yell at Pac for not finishing the match yet, but this turns out to be a distraction as Kenny comes in from behind and bashes Pac over the head with the belt while Ref Aubrey isn’t looking.  Since she can’t call what she doesn’t see, she has to assume that Pac got a bit light headed and collapsed on his own and starts doing the ten count for both him and Cassidy… which turns out to be the finish of the match.  For what I believe is the first time in AEW history (especially on a match this big), it ends in a double count out.  Don and Omega are ECSTATIC about this turn of events as they are saying that because no one won that he doesn’t have to face anyone at Double or Nothing, but Tony Schiavone comes out to deliver a message from Tony Khan that the match IS on for Double or Nothing and that it will be a three way between Omega, Pac, and Cassidy.  This definitely feels like a WWE angle as screw job finishes and three way title matches are more or less the default for them, but to AEW’s credit they don’t USUALLY do stuff like this and a three way match between these three should be pretty phenomenal.  I wish the journey here wasn’t so rushed and that they didn’t have to go with a double count out ending to get there, but it should be an interesting match and hopefully they use the few weeks they have to build it up to the moon.


Earlier in the night Moxley and Kingston trashed The Young Bucks’ locker room, seemingly in retaliation for the screw job finish they gave to SCU, and we are now catching up with The Bucks in an absolute tizzy over this wonton destruction!  In their frustration they at least announce two matches; next week they’ll face the Varsity Blondes for the title and then they’ll face Moxley and Kingston at Double or Nothing.  So apparently the Varsity Blondes were number TWO in the rankings?  Right below SCU?  I mean I don’t doubt that AEW did their math on this and I DO want to see it as a match, but just from watching Dynamite I would have believed almost ANYONE else in there!  The Acclaimed, Best Friends, Death Triangle, even Private Party, but The Varsity Blondes!?  As far as Moxley and Kingston vs The Bucks at Double or Nothing, it should be good but I can’t say that this duo has put on the most EXCITING matches after teaming up, and I hope they don’t use Moxley’s new theme music on the big show.


We cut to elsewhere backstage where Alex Marvez is interviewing Adam Page about his recent loss against Brian Cage, and the whole Dark Order is there to try and cheer him about it.  Page is very upfront about his loss and that it was probably inevitable since he was the number one contender, but he DOES make sure to remind everyone that it took THREE dudes from Team Taz and a cheap shot with the FTW title belt to get Page into a position where he COULD be Power Bombed for the pin, but for better or worse he did lose.  Perhaps though, he didn’t lose so much to Cage but to the man Taz himself.  After all, Brian Cage is just his puppet right?  Taz pulls the strings and Cage acts accordingly even if it’s to win a match in the most spineless way imaginable.  Perhaps if Cage were to meet him alone without Taz and the other cronies for a fair fight, and perhaps that fair fight will happen… at Double or Nothing!  Not a bad promo and Adam Page at least shows a bit more fire in his belly, but I think he REALLY needs some more time in the ring between now and the PPV for this match to seem important.  He seems to care at least a LITTLE bit, but he hasn’t had a reason to care about anything for a while (at least not since beating Matt Hardy) and we need more than just one loss to believe that he’s invested in this upcoming match.


The Pinnacle Celebration – How’s The View From The Top Of The Mountain?

Following the “FALL” out (nyuk-nyuk-nyuk) of the Blood & Guts match, The Pinnacle come out in their smarmy best with MJF even going so far as to wear a cheap shiny crown upon his head as he yells at the audience about how awesome he and his bros are.  Everyone else is similarly dressed to the douchey nines and Tully even went so far as to buy everyone fancy new watches to celebrate this accomplishment, but all is not well in their little world as Sammy, Hager, and Ortiz come out in a truck with a hose attachment on top of it and a trailer hitched to it purporting to have plenty of The Bubbly in it.  I’m sure you can see where this is headed, but MJF insists on antagonizing them further and tells them to put an egg in their shoe and beat it.  Then Jericho comes out from the back wearing a cast on his left arm and the full support of the audience who cheer thunderously upon his appearance.  He grabs the mic and demands The Pinnacle give them a rematch which is a statement so preposterous that they just start guffawing in the ring, and so Sammy starts the cannon and blasts them all with The Bubbly until MJF start screaming into the mic again.  They’re gonna give The Inner Circle another shot, but it will be a Stadium Stampede match at Double or Nothing, and if The Inner Circle loses then they break up for good.  This actually catches Jericho and company by surprise and the segment ends with a bit of hesitation from The Inner Circle as The Pinnacle make a drenched march back to their locker room.  In one show the lineup for the Double or Nothing PPV went from mostly empty to nearly stuffed, and having another Stadium Stampede match will hopefully be the icing on the cake.  Lightening rarely strikes twice, but if AEW is behind it then I’m confident they can pull this off again!


Speaking of Double or Nothing matches, Britt Baker will be facing Hikaru Shida for the Women’s Title, and she has a sit down interview with JR where she assures us that her becoming champ is a certainty at this point.  Honestly, Shida may have had the belt a bit too long at this point and perhaps getting her big moment at AEW’s first full house PPV since the pandemic began is as good a time as any to take it off of her.  It doesn’t even have to be permanently as Shida can win it back at the next PPV, but if she’s going to continue being the star of the division I would like to see her having to claw back up to it now that the live audience is coming back.


Thunder Rosa Vs. Jazmin Allure

Another jobber with no entrance means another squash match on Dynamite which I’m not complaining about as I like a good squash match from time to time and Thunder Rosa certainly puts on a show with the little time she’s given.  Lots of chops, a pretty awesome looking Shotgun Drop Kick, a Powerslam, and a Running Senton are enough to take Jazmin out, but Thunder Rosa wants to make a point and finishes the match with a Shoulder Breaker into a Fire Thunder Driver.  That last move was a bit awkward as I don’t think the Shoulder Breaker looked as good as she hoped it would, but other than that she looked good here and hopefully they’re planning something big with her soon.


So you remember that goofy lawyer that MJF had about a year back that Jon Moxley tricked into a match and completely tore apart?  Well apparently he went for his shot and offered his services to Jade Cargill on Elevation.  And her response on Dynamite?  HECK NO!!  I sure hope that’s not the end of this though as I really liked that guy and I kind of want to see the dynamic they could do, though I guess it would be a bit too silly for someone that AEW is hoping to be a superstar.  Still, it’d be fun to see for at least a little while!


Darby Allin Vs. Miro – TNT Title Match

Darby Allin is accompanied to the ring by Sting

Darby Allin going down those stairs on the Blood & Guts show was one of the most brutal things we’ve seen on AEW for a while and Darby getting treated by the doctor afterwards was one of the SADDEST things I’ve ever seen.  If Darby in reality regretted that decision he’s certainly not showing it in storyline as he cuts a promo against Miro in one of his artsy black and white videos, and he’s here a week later to get in another drag out brawl for the main event of Dynamite!  It certainly starts badly for Darby as Miro attacks him before the bell starts, and honestly if I was an AEW ref I’d call for a DQ here.  Seriously, what’s the point of a referee if they’re completely powerless to do ANYTHING when someone is being assaulted?  Or heck, since Santana is locked up for HIS violent acts, just call the cops on Miro!  After all, the contract is for a SANCTIONED MATCH and anything BEFORE then shouldn’t be a part of it or legal, right?  Look, I want Heels to be bad guys, but this is a VERY lazy way to do it and to me it doesn’t make it look like the Baby Face is overcoming adversity but is being a total doormat for a bully.  Perhaps what’s most galling of all is that Sting is SUPPOSED to be Darby’s backup, and yet despite this being before the bell so anything goes, he doesn’t do ANYTHING to stop him!  He started punching Luchasaurus in the face for being a thing that Jungle Boy VERY BRIEFLY LEANED AGAINST, and yet he’s just going to stand there looking stern as Miro is cheating his way to breaking Darby!?  In any case, Miro EVENTUALLY allows the ref to make sure Darby is still breathing and the match begins with Miro Thrust Kicking Darby in the face and getting an immediate two count.  However, it appears that the bell ringing is Darby’s energizing yellow sun and he finally starts to fight back with a few Shotgun Drop Kicks before driving Miro into the post and then finishing with an IRRESPONSIBLY fast Cannonball Suicide Dive.  He then goes for the Coffin Drop to try and end things quickly, but Miro catches him and he ends up eating a Suplex for his trouble.  For a while that’s about all we get from Darby as Miro maintains a strong advantage through the commercial break, but eventually Darby goes for the Jon Moxley strategy of trying to choke out bigger guys by climbing on Miro’s back and locking in the sleeper.  To his credit Miro does start to fade and while he DOES manage to make it to the ropes it appears to have drained him of a significant portion of his strength.  Darby isn’t about to give up on this tactic and knocks Miro outside so he can apply the sleeper again, but Miro runs them both into the stage to break up the hold and regain control of the match.  Miro tosses Darby back into the ring and slumps against the ropes.  He has a meaningful look with Sting as well as fist bump before Darby gets back up and slaps Miro in the face.  Miro shoves him back but Darby follows up with not one but TWO Stunners and goes for the Coffin Drop… BUT MIRO CATCHES him!  Miro tries another suplex but Darby flips out of it and gets a two count with a quick roll up.  Not losing any momentum, Darby lands a Code Red and goes for the pin again but STILL only gets a two count.  Ready for this to be over, Miro puts him in the Game Over submission hold and it looks like Darby passed out which forces the ref to call for the bell.  Usually he’d have to drop his hand twice before he could make that call, but I guess refs have SOME leeway on the rules in certain instances (wish that would have been the case earlier) but there’s little time to focus on that as Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page, who had been harassing Sting earlier in the match, go after him in earnest but are chased away by The Dark Order.  All well and good for Sting, but this still means that the episode comes to a close with Miro holding the belt over Darby’s near lifeless corpse; mocking him for his failure and bringing an end to his run as TNT champion.


The story of this show is… well, not enough story.  As someone who doesn’t watch New Japan, the opening match didn’t mean much to me.  As someone who doesn’t keep up with AEW Dark, the tag title match felt a bit lacking in the buildup.  And of course because they DIDN’T SHOOT ANYTHING FOR ME TO WATCH, the Cassidy/Pac match felt completely weightless.  All of these were solid matches, particularly the tag match which ended up telling a better story than anything we saw in the buildup on Dynamite, but all of them could have been improved with a bit more time and focus to develop.  Thankfully they seem to be rectifying this as almost everything on the show is building towards the Double or Nothing PPV that is creeping up on us fast, and while the episode itself fell a bit flat for me, I’m excited to see what they do next!

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