Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (05-19-2021)

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

Double or Nothing is only a week away!?  Didn’t I JUST pay for All Out like two weeks ago!?  Despite things slowly turning back to normal, things are still kinda blurring together week in and week out, but Double or Nothing promises to be a return to the old days of wrestling with big crowds and big events.  Whether this will prove to be a health disaster is yet to be seen (we’re still at less than fifty percent for full vaccination) but AEW has done a solid job in the last few weeks building up to it.  Will this prove to be even more hype for the big return show, or will it take a bit more than what they’ve been doing for the last year to get people excited enough to return to Daily’s Place?  Let’s find out!!

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Christian Cage Vs. Matt Sydal

Taz joins the commentary team for this match

AEW had a reputation about a year ago of being injury heavy as lots of guys would take bumps they shouldn’t have and got taken out of action for a while with perhaps no better example than the excruciating journey Matt Hardy had with his feud against Sammy Guevara.  That reputation might be returning as at least two big names had some SERIOUSLY rough matches recently with Orange Cassidy taking a bad Powerbomb on last week’s show that required AEW to quickly rebook the match on the spot, and Ricky Starks who got a neck injury in his match against Hangman Adam Page which is why Cage is fighting Sydal instead of him tonight.  Still, Sydal is no slouch and him being an understudy in a match like this is by no means a step down as they put down a pretty great match!  Cage is starting to come into his own and shake off that ring rust and is showing a lot more here than he had before.  Where the Kazarian match completely winded him and the Will Hobbs match was almost all about selling, this one shows off what he can really do at what seems like peak condition as his offense is strong and well-paced while his selling is just as good as ever!  Cage gets a strong advantage early on and keeps Sydal guessing, but Sydal eventually a few high flying moves and some close nearfalls; especially this one pretty amazing move where he jumps over a charging Christian Cage and turns it into a Canadian Destroyer which Cage kicks out of SO HARD that he comes FLYING off the mat entirely!  Despite not getting the pin here, Sydal does stay competitive and gets a few more close calls on Cage, but as soon as Cage gets his knees up for Sydal’s Moonsault, it gives him just enough room to land the Killswitch and get the win!  Despite Sydal’s harsh words for Cage last week, they do hug it out at the end to the consternation of Taz who doesn’t like either one of them.  He’s the only one down on this match however as this was a fun, explosive, and well-paced opener that did its job and didn’t overstay it’s welcome!  I’ve been a bit skeptical of Cage, but he’s proving himself more and more each week and I’m very interested to see what he does at the Casino Battle Royale at Double or Nothing which the commentary team was plugging throughout the match.

Now as I said a moment ago, Ricky Starks is out with a neck injury and it seems like he’ll be on the shelf for three months, but he’s still fine to come out and talk which he’s ALSO very good at, and he shows up to distract the two in the ring while the rest of Team Taz attacks them from behind!  All hope isn’t lost for the Baby Faces however as page comes out with a drink in his hand, hands it to Ricky Starks, and starts cleaning house in the ring!  He almost gets the best of both Will Hobbs and Brian Cage, but Hook comes in from behind with the chop block which knocks Page down and allows Cage to finish him off with a Powerbomb!  The storytelling has been on fire these last two weeks and so far they’re doing a great job of building up the feuds for Double or Nothing!  Hopefully the Cage/Page match will live up to the hype

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We get an interview with the Varsity Blondes about their title match against the Young Bucks in the main event, and I kinda feel for Pillman Jr here who gives a pretty solid promo here.  There’s no doubt that the guy is talented and even without his name would find SOME place in the wrestling business, but the reason this match is happening is because of his late father.  He’s been in the news recently due to Dark Side of the Ring airing an episode about him (which gets name dropped in Pillman’s promo here) which is not how I imagine he would WANT his biggest match on Dynamite to happen, but it’s a tough business and everyone needs whatever chances they get; especially for guys as talented as him and Griff who more than deserve that spot.  We’ll see how it goes in the main event and I REALLY hope this isn’t the peak of his time here at AEW because whoever his father may have been he and Garrison have something great going on here.

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Moxley and Kingston should have been a team from the VERY start, and this promo they have here to advertise their match against The Acclaimed is only further proof of that.  How much chemistry do they have?  They are clearly riffing, but it’s still HILARIOUS and they clearly went so long doing it that they just cut part of the segment out to fit TV time!  I mean can we get these two a podcast or a buddy cop movie or something!?  The Acclaimed get their own promo as well and their rapport is also pretty great, so all that’s left is the match itself which is happening… right now!

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Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston Vs. The Acclaimed

Now as much as I loved the promos leading into this, I do have to say that I haven’t exactly been impressed with EITHER team in the ring.  Moxley and Kingston is a bit more due to how new they are and how few matches they’ve had together, but The Acclaimed have been around as a team for a bit now and haven’t had a fantastic track record.  Does that change here?  Well it STARTS well enough with Kingston and Moxley jumping the two of them in response to their very lewd rapping about Moxley’s wife, and they maintain a strong lead for the first few minutes.  Still, they may be a bit on the cocky side as they play to the crowd, toy with their opponents, and take a generally lackadaisical attitude towards the whole thing which eventually allows Max Caster to find an escape and give Kingston a Dragon Screw from the middle rope.  He finally gets the tag and Bowens starts getting the heat on Kingston throughout the commercial break.  Kingston eventually finds a way to escape and gets the hot tag to Moxley who runs wild on both of them and even knocks Bowens completely out with a Sleeper Hold, but when trying to finish Moxley off with something from the top rope, Bowens comes back to interfere and helps Caster get a Superplex on Moxley instead.  They get close to pinning Moxley, but Kingston runs in to break up the pin and things get completely wacky from there.  Moxley and Kingston go for the Violet Crown (the Half and Half Clothesline they did to Nakazawa a few weeks ago) but Caster trips Moxley and drags him out of the ring.  Bowens, escapes from Kingston with a back elbow which is enough for the ref to check on him and Caster throws Bowens a chain.  However, the ref catches him with the chain, BUT it was all a diversion as Caster runs in with the boom box to bash Kingston over the head!  HOWEVER, Moxley runs in and takes the boom box to bash Caster over the head with instead!  If that wasn’t wild enough, Kingston manages to land an Enziguri on Caster and then him and Moxley land… a Wheelbarrow Paradigm Shift?  Hey, whatever works I suppose, and it proves to be more than enough to finish off Bowens and get Moxley the pin to win the match!  I think the work in the match is good… but something about it didn’t quite sit well with me.  AEW is pretty good about letting the young guys get the spotlight and not letting the old timers run the show, but as much as I’ve been underwhelmed by The Acclaimed I still felt it was a bit off to let Kingston and Moxley get so much over them throughout the match; especially with such a cocky attitude.  The Acclaimed certainly aren’t fighting as Baby Faces and they DEFINITELY showed quite a bit of offense in the last few minutes, but I don’t think they’re getting the rub here from losing so definitively to Moxley & Kingston.  In any case, it was a fun match and probably the best that I’ve seen of The Acclaimed since coming to AEW, so a good job all around!

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Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky are in the ring to be interviewed by Tony Schiavone and honestly I might have been a bit too harsh on them recently.  They’ve had a pretty rotten build up as they’ve just been nuisances and haven’t had any real matches yet, but they are both talented competitors and we’re FINALLY moving forward with SOMETHING for these two to do.  In the middle of this ranting, the lights go out and Sting’s music hit along with this trademark snowstorm.  Darby and Sting come out and tear these two apart with skateboards and Scorpion Death Locks, and even when Page & Sky try to escape they can’t catch a break as The Dark Order come out to chase them down as well.  I can’t say I loved the promo as it’s more or less copy and pasted from Taz’s promos when THEY were dragging Darby and Sting, but I’m going to remain optimistic that this is going somewhere and that their matches (whenever we get to them) will be worth the wait. 

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The Pinnacle are enjoying a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant, but the atmosphere is not as jovial as such a setting would indicate.  MJF in particular seems prickly about the promo Jericho gave last week and reminds him that MJF has ALWAYS come out on top and that this little feud they have is not going to end any differently!  A few other guys get a chance to speak and more or less echo MJF’s sentiment, but the one that stood out is Shawn Spears.  It seems that they are trying to push him as the wild one as he attacks a waiter for not refilling his wine glass fast enough.  It’s an angle that’s worked so far for the guy (certainly more than being Tully Blanchard’s lap dog) but I think he needs a few in ring victories to really sell it.

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Hikaru Shida Vs. Rebel (Not Reba)

Rebel (Not Reba) is accompanied to the ring by Britt Baker

If there wasn’t enough evidence that Shida’s title run has gotten a bit long in tooth, then this match is what clinches it.  Why is Shida even bothering with Rebel (Not Reba) who, as far as I can tell, isn’t even an official AEW wrestler and is just Baker’s assistant?  Is there no other way to build up the Double or Nothing match?  Shida having a match against someone at this level just kind feels like it’s dragging the prestige of the title down a bit, and I couldn’t even imagine why she would feel it’s necessary to do this other than Shida just fights whoever.  As soon as the match begins, Rebel (Not Reba) starts feigning a leg injury which doesn’t do her a whole lot of good as Shida STILL punches the crap out of her.  Rebel (Not Reba) is IMMEDIATELY on the ground and Shida decides to mock Baker but using her move The Lockjaw on her assistant, but this backfires as Baker starts distracting both the ref AND Shida, and Rebel (Not Reba) hits her with the crutch.  After taking a crutch shot and a Suplex, she takes a nearfall from Rebel (Not Reba) and then immediately follows up with the Knee Breaker and applies a Stretch Muffler to get Rebel (Not Reba) to tap out.  Baker of course immediately tackles her after the match and even Curb Stomps Shida onto her own title belt; leaving Shida a broken heap on the ground as Baker poses with the title belt.  Just thinking of how this works in storyline, it feels like a total embracement for Shida.  Even in the best case scenario she would have gotten a win over a total nobody, and as things bore out it ended up being a HUGE risk for her to get attacked.  This was never about the match itself and Shida not being able to see that ahead of time just makes me that much more anxious to see her lose the belt and have to fight for it again.

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Orange Cassidy was the other recent causality at AEW as the Power Bomb he took from Pac left him in a pretty bad state; so much so that the whole ending to the match was changed.  It was originally supposed to be a twenty minute draw, but once it was clear that Cassidy might be hurt, they threw Omega and Callis out there to turn the ending into a double count out.  Cassidy’s status is still a bit of a mystery as no one has said for sure if he’s okay; only preliminary reports that he was fine backstage after the match.  For this show, they seem to be hedging their bets for the Double or Nothing PPV as Don and Kenny approach him and offer to give him a match at a future date (one they don’t specify as being any time soon naturally) if he gives up his spot in the three way at Double or Nothing.  Cassidy rips up the contract but Kenny and Don have a backup and leave him with to consider his options.  Look, as much as I would love to see Cassidy at AEW’s first full house PPV since the pandemic, I’d be much more upset if he fought hurt than if he took the night off.  We’ll see what AEW does, but I’d be very cautious about all this.

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Inner Circle Team Meeting – Will They Go To Stadium Stampede!?

The Pinnacle gave The Inner Circle a pretty dire ultimatum on last week’s episode where they will give them a Stadium Stampede match, but only if the stipulation is that if The Inner Circle loses they will break up forever.  After a week to think about it, we get to hear from each member.  Ortiz is in.  Sammy is in.  Hager is in.  Santana… isn’t there right now, but we’re going to assume he’s in!  Jericho though seems a bit more hesitant.  Is he going to overrule them and decline the match that MJF offered them?  It’s a valid question to be sure as Jericho certainly suffered a pretty bad injury from Blood & Guts as he’s still wearing the arm brace… but The Inner Circle wouldn’t be The Inner Circle if they backed down from a challenge like this, so he is in and they are ready to DESTROY The Pinnacle at Double or Nothing!  A pretty good promo to be sure, though I’m still not sure if they can pull off a Stadium Stampede match as good as the one they had last year.  All I’m saying is that’s a PRETTY high bar for ANYONE to clear!

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Jade Cargill is being interviewed by Tony Schiavone in the back when Mark Sterling comes in to make his sales pitch again.  I’m gonna guess he’s going to end up being her manager as they wouldn’t be investing this much time in the angle if they weren’t going to pay it off, and I’m actually pretty interested to see that dynamic play out!.

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Serena Deeb Vs. Red Velvet – NWA Women’s Title Match

I honestly couldn’t tell you what the NWA title picture is like.  Is NWA Power back on YouTube?  Is she defending the belt anywhere else?  Heck, what did Red Velvet do to deserve this title shot?  None of these questions are likely to be answered anytime soon, but Red Velvet has had quite a few good matches and I’m honestly just happy that we have a REAL match here to get the bad taste of the Shida/Rebel (Not Reba) one out of my mouth.  Things start out strong as Deeb wastes no time tearing Red Velvet apart and she gets the heat throughout the commercial break with Velvet doing very little to turn the tide in her favor.  Her opportunity comes when she manages to shove Deeb off the apron to the floor and then follows up with a Moonsault, but by the time she gets her back in the ring and gives her a kick in the face for good measure, Deeb is able to kick out at two and soon regains control of the match.  Deeb avoids eating a Moonsault by bringing her knees up and immediately follows up with a Powerbomb for a two count soon followed by a Serenity Lock that Velvet nearly taps out to.  Deeb tries to transition the hold to something out but Velvet escapes and starts running the ropes where Deeb does something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.  Instead of a clothesline head on or something like that, she chases RIGHT behind Velvet and Chop Blocks her mid run.  It was an interesting move and was enough for Deeb to lock in the Serenity Lock again (after smashing Velvet’s knee into the mat a few times, and this time Red Velvet taps out; giving Deeb the win and retaining her title as NWA Women’s Champion.  It was a DEFINITE improvement over the Hikaru Shida match, but even aside from that this was a darn good title defense and I hope the NWA title plays a bit more prominently on Dynamite if it means we’ll get more matches like this!

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Pac FINALLY gets a promo as he starts shouting into the a microphone backstage, but it only lasts for about a minute.  He REALLY needs to have a solid five to ten minutes in the ring to make his role in the match feel more than perfunctory, and we’ve only got one more week left for them to do that.

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Austin Gunn Vs. Anthony Ogogo

Gunn is accompanied to the ring by Arn Anderson and Cody Rhodes while Ogogo is accompanied by The Factory

Can I just say that Austin Gunn is AWESOME?  He fights with more energy and pep than almost anyone else in this business and his enthusiasm on the mic is just as infectious!  Perhaps this enthusiasm could do with a bit more control as he makes Ogogo bleed pretty quickly which I’m guessing WASN’T the plan, but there’s no doubt that the dude goes TEN THOUSAND percent no matter what he’s doing and he proves it here in this match!  He is bouncing all over the place, knocking Ogogo down to the mat, and is clearly running away with it… for EXACTLY thirty-five seconds.  Then Ogogo gets the gut punch and Gunn drops like a ton of bricks!  I don’t think even the RKO is overpowered as this dude’s liver shot as Gunn is just WRITHING in pain on the mat while Ogogo cleans the blood off his face and taunts Cody.  Gunn to his credit slowly and painfully stands back up ready to fight again… only to eat another gut punch by Ogogo and drop back to the mat.  Gunn tries ONE MORE TIME to get back up and face Ogogo… and then eats another punch; this time a Pop Up Punch to the face (he tossed Austin in the gun and hooked him the jaw on his way down) and the ref FINALLY calls off the match.  If you wanted to make Ogogo look like an unstoppable monster, this was a pretty good way to do it; though with a guy THIS new I was kind of hoping he would prove himself as a wrestler before his big PPV match.  So far all he’s been asked to do is punch people which he does VERY well, but unless Cody is going down just as fast as everyone else, he’s gonna have to do a heck of a lot more than that.

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We cut to the back where Alex Marvez is interviewing Daniels and Kazarian about their match last week.  Daniels walks out without a word after hugging Kazarian who proceeds to tear a new one into The Bullet Club… or I guess they’re The Elite… which means Cody is no longer part of The Elite?  In any case, Kazarian is on a war path and he is after EVERYONE; not just The Bucks but The Good Brothers, Omega, Callis, even the jobbers on the crew Michael Nakazawa and Brandon Cutler!  Let’s see, we’ve got Moxley, Kingston, Pac, Orange Cassidy, and now Kazarian all chasing after The Elite.  If we didn’t JUST see it a few weeks ago, I’d say they’re building up to another Blood & Guts match!  They could definitely hold it off for a while as these five guys fail to take them on separately before eventually realizing they need to come together, and I’d be curious to see if they can keep the momentum going for The Elite for as long as it takes to do another Blood & Guts match.

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KNEEL BEFORE MIRO – The Reign Of The New TNT Champion Begins!

Miro has proved himself to be a MONSTER HEEL several times since coming to AEW with match against Darby Allin elevating him to one of the highest positions in the company.  Now the question is whether he can maintain that momentum and elevate the TNT title the way the previous champions have done with this promo discussing his title defense against Lance Archer at Double or Nothing being his first test.  The answer is… inconclusive.  Miro is a bit stiff on the mic honestly and all alone in the ring he comes off a LITTLE awkward; especially when he’s not trying to be funny or goofy.  Things definitely pick up once Lance Archer comes out to confront him as they have a very fiery back and forth and I’m SO excited to see these two giant slabs of meat smash into each other, but Miro could use a LITTLE bit of polishing on the mic which admittedly still puts him further ahead than a lot of people.  He’s got the charisma, intensity, and skill to be a big star here and the TNT Title is only going to push him further to the moon!

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The Young Bucks Vs. The Varsity Blondes – AEW Tag Team Title Match

The Bucks are accompanied to the ring by Don Callis while The Blondes are accompanied by Julia Hart

Like the opening match I wasn’t exactly expecting the young guys to light the world on fire, especially since there was no way they were gonna win, but I’ll be darned if this isn’t one of my favorite matches so far this year!  Garrison and Pillman are PHENOMENAL in this match and are just BURSTING with charisma throughout; no doubt helped by working with The Bucks who always know how to put on a great show.  Garrison and Pillman start off strong which gets the crowd cheering and shouting, but eventually The Bucks halt their momentum in its tracks and take over to the consternation and VERY loud booing of the crowd.  Garrison is kicked off the apron and Pillman Jr is tossed onto the ramp so that Nick Jackson can do a VERY long rope walk (all the while the crowd is shouting YOU SOLD OUT) and ends this garish display of balance with a stomp on Pillman’s back.  The Bucks get the heat through the commercial break but soon enough Griff Garrison gets the hot tag and runs wild.  I don’t know if this is a THING in wrestling that I just haven’t seen before, but Garrison’s goofy lanky run is so much fun to see, especially when he’s doing those GIANT corner splashes onto both of The Bucks!  He follows up the Splashes with a Double Spear and even lands a Suicide Dive on them after they roll out of the ring which leaves Nick Jackson out of commission for a bit and Matt Jackson isolated once he’s back in the ring.  Garrison lands some devastating forearms that send Matt Jackson reeling and Pillman lands a Flying Clothesline on the dazed Buck which nets Garrison a two count.  The Varsity Blondes try to set up Matt Jackson for an Assisted Powerbomb, but Nick is back and knocks Pillman off the turnbuckle while tossing Garrison out the ring.  Nick Jackson, moving like a freaking Ninja, leaps onto the apron and gives Garrison a kick to the face that should have knocked his head clean off his shoulders and effectively takes him out of the match; leaving Pillman to contend with both Bucks on his own.  He fights as best he can and even gets the better of Nick Jackson at one point, but Matt eventually puts him in the Sharpshooter and Brian is just stuck with nowhere to turn.  To make matters worse, Nick Jackson sprays him the face with some sort of cold spray, but thankfully Garrison comes in at the last second and kicks Matt right in the face… before Nick jumps in and kicks Garrison in the face.  Now here’s where things get kinda goofy; even more so than before!  Matt Jackson grabs another can of cold spray, but THIS time Julia Hart gets the ref’s attention and he confiscates the can.  Without even missing a beat, Matt Jackson is tossed another can while the ref is disposing of the first can and makes sure to sprits Julia in the face before going for Pillman who actually manages to avoid the spray and rolls Matt up for a two count, but as soon as he kicks out he gets Pillman back in the Sharpshooter.  Nick Jackson in FULL view of the ref leaps over the ropes and gives Pillman a Face Buster which is at least not using foreign object so I guess the ref was cool with it, and this along with the Sharp Shooter was enough to get Pillman to tap.  That was a darn good match and as much as I poke fun at the silliness towards the end, it was still a lot of fun and I do hope that The Varsity Blondes (especially now that they have Julia Hart) are in line to get a bit more exposure on Dynamite.

Because this is AEW and nothing can end without an angle, Kingston and Moxley storm the ring as soon as the bell is rung.  They don’t bum rush The Bucks as they wait for them to turn around and see them, but this is still not enough for them to overcome the Kingston/Moxley beat down.  They both knock them out with sleeper holds and to make matters worse they even take The Bucks’s shoes while they are unconscious.  The episode comes to an end with a rundown of the Double or Nothing PPV before cutting to Moxley and Kingston mocking the now awake Bucks for no longer having nice sneakers.

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AEW’s buildup towards Double or Nothing has been pretty solid so far, and the only thing that’s been underwhelming is the title picture as the buildup for Pac to be in it was non-existent and the whole injury issue from last week is something they can hopefully work around safely.  Aside from that, they’re doing what they can to make it seem like an important show worth watching and I think this episode did its job.  I will say that enjoyed the more Dynamite specific stuff than the Double or Nothing buildup as The Varsity Blondes were FANTASTIC here and the NWA Title Match was in a completely different league than the obnoxious Shida match, but I am interested in seeing Miro defend the title against Lance Archer and I do want to see if they can recreate the magic of the original Stadium Stampede match.  Next week’s show is going to be on Friday which is going to be pretty rough for me considering the PPV is only a few days after that, but I’ll do my darnedest to keep up with all of it and hopefully AEW will make the effort worth my while!

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