AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
This is going to be a rough weekend. This episode was aired on a FRIDAY which gave me less than forty-eight hours to watch it, digest it, and recap it, before moving right on to the PPV. Sadly this is probably going to become the norm as AEW plans on expanding in the next year with AEW Rampage as a one hour Friday show that should be premiering in August, and 2022 will see them move to TBS with regular SPECIAL SHOWS on TNT popping up every now and then. I guess the fact that there’s going to be MORE good wrestling can hardly be considered a bad thing, and this week is good practice for me to try and streamline my process to get these out at a better pace. Aside from the backend logistics this is a pretty significant episode as the Go Home show is the last chance for the company to convince the TV crowd to spend fifty bucks on a PPV and they always try to give you something special to make that deal sound even better. Do they put on a fantastic preview of what we should expect at Double or Nothing, or will we be going into the big show with lowered expectations? Let’s find out!!
Things kick off right away with a match, but before we even get to the match we’ve got a few things to talk about with the new setup. First, I had no idea that the Friday night show was going to be the first one at full capacity as I thought they were saving it for the PPV on Sunday, but sure enough the place is packed to the gills with people (at least the parts the camera shows us) and I’d kind of forgotten what that kind of atmosphere felt like. It kind of loses a bit of the personal touch that the smaller crowds engendered, but the energy is through the roof and makes this feel like a big event despite being more or less a pre-show for the PPV. Second, they’ve move the hard camera ninety degrees counter-clockwise and they’ve also put a stadium box on the stage when I think one of those two choice would have been better. Personally I would have just kept the camera facing the stage as there’s really no other point to putting fans there if we’re not going to be able to see them, and instead of seeing the big screen we get to forever stare at the Daily’s Place sign; burning into my eyes like a watermark on a bootleg video. They’re going on the road soon so this won’t be a thing for long, but it definitely feels like they took one step forward and then took another step back.
Darby Allin Vs. Cezar Bononi
Darby is accompanied to the ring by Sting while Bononi is accompanied by The Wingmen
Bononi gets the jobber entrance, and when the camera is on him with his title card displayed, he gets hit in the face with Darby’s jacket that was haphazardly thrown in his general direction. I start with that because there’s just something about that level of goofiness that endears me so much to this giant awkward jobber as well as his crew which are called The Wingmen; Peter Avalon, JD Drake, and also Ryan Nemeth who is holding a replica Oscar statue for absolutely no reason. Seriously, if I ever have a mid-life crisis and start trying to become a wrestler, THIS is the kind of team I would want to be a part of! As for the match itself, Cezar is trying his best to use his size to his advantage, but Darby proves to be an elusive target. Still, he manages to land a solid kick to Darby’s stomach and gets the heat on the guy with some fun big moves. Darby is just thrown all over the place with reckless abandon as he sails through the air trying his best to land correctly, and he even gest dropped on the top turnbuckle which couldn’t have been fun. Darby does eventually get a sleeper hold which nearly puts Bononi out, but he makes it to the ropes to break up the hold. With Bononi winded, Darby lands a very impressive Stunner and follows with a Shotgun Drop Kick as well as a Coffin Drop to get the pin and win the match. Darby then calls out Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky to settle this tonight instead of on Sunday and The duo come out to mock the guy for his challenge. I mean they DO have a point here! Why would they give up their PPV spot to indulge this guy? In any case, it turns out to be a distraction as The Wingmen jump Sting and Darby from behind and are followed by Sky and Page. Sky is about to break Sting’s ankle, but The Dark Order run out to chase them off and make the save which won’t be the last time they meet I the ring this evening! That was a FANTASTIC squash match which had Darby selling for quite a bit, but none of it genuinely fazed him and his offense is so strong that he can basically knock down a giant with three moves. Also, while I wouldn’t say Page and Sky are growing on me, this is probably my favorite moment from the two of them so far and I am definitely looking forward to their match at Double or Nothing.
Cody Rhodes and Anthony Ogogo Weigh-In – Hosted by Paul Wight
The first thing I noticed about this weigh in is that QT’s faction, The Factor, has an extra member there who isn’t identified. That seems a bit odd, but not nearly as odd as when Cody comes out and there’s like TEN extra members to his crew! WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE!? I mean I guess they’re Cody’s students and for all I know they’ve had matches on Dark, but it’s still a lot to take in all at once! At least most of them stay out of the ring leaving familiar faces for the most part (Arn, Dustin, Brandi) as well as Cody’s sister who I don’t think has been on Dynamite before. Now that’s just the start of this, and things get more… interesting from there. Cody strips down to his Calvin Kleins for the weigh-in which seems a bit excessive (and a little odd considering his sister is right there next to him), and on top of that it takes too darn long for freaking Paul Weight to get the measurement; so much so that Ogogo tries to whip up the crowd to cut the awkward silence. Eventually Wight just ballparks it at 218. He doesn’t know for sure, so he’s just gonna eyeball it! This is already freaking amazing and it somehow gets better as Ogogo strips down as well to reveal… Union Jack boxers. You know, in case you had forgotten that he’s British. This feud is straight eighties nonsense, and while it has threatened to slip over into the BAD form of eighties nostalgia, it’s just too goofy to take seriously. Oh, and Ogogo weighs in at 219. Paul is trying to finish things up when QT interrupts and this is where things start to waver a bit as QT proclaims that the one pound of extra weight is what SEALS IT for his buddy Ogogo! The crowd doesn’t buy it and QT doesn’t really help Ogogo here. In fact, he kind of makes him look like a dork because he basically tells him to try and get the crowd cheering for him hopping on the turnbuckles to pose which is doing NOTHING for the crowd, and makes QT look like a fussy stage mom demanding you cheer her talented little angel. Cody mercifully ends things by thanking Paul for being here and ACTUALLY getting the crowd going as both sides leave the ring. Normally I think that fights in the middle of a weigh in are a bit excessive and hammy, but frankly this would have been better if they went that route instead of letting QT awkwardly play the heel. I don’t dislike QT and he is incredibly talented in the ring, but it’s just not working out. Perhaps in a few more weeks he’ll iron out the kinks in his shtick, but regardless of that I’m still interested to see what Cody and Ogogo are going to do in their match at the PPV.
We cut to the back to see Will Hobbs beating the crap out of Christian Cage in some sort of storage area. Nothing much to this other than Will Hobbs takes a weapon spot like a CHAMP when Cage swings a freaking stanchion into his gut!
Hangman Adam Page Vs. Joey Janela
Taz joins the commentary team for this match and Janela is accompanied to the ring by Sonny Kiss
Joey Janela doesn’t get enough time on Dynamite for my taste, and every time he DOES show up it’s for more or less a squash match. That’s more or less the case here, but with a guy as talented as Joey it’s not really a bad thing that he showed up and did his job. Things start out pretty even as the two trade a lot of chops, but Joey starts to mess around a bit with some strutting and is immediately punished for it with a flurry of offense from the Hangman. Joey gets tossed to the outside and eats a Fallway Slam onto the floor which Hangman is hoping will be enough for him to finish the night quickly, but Joey manages to luck his way out of eating one of Hangman’s various signature moves and eventually gets a brief advantage. His best moment is when he whips Hangman into the corner who bounces out and Janela swiftly gets behind him to German Suplex him RIGHT back into the turnbuckle! The move was nasty enough that I was a little bit worried Hangman might have gotten hurt from it, but everything seems to be fine. Janela follows up with a big Elbow Drop for the top rope but only gets a two count, so Janela takes a page out of Hangman’s book and goes for a Death Valley Driver which is one of HIS signature moves. Hangman wriggles out of though and hits him with a couple Elbows before smashing him down with a Power Bomb. Page then goes to the apron and waits for Janela to get up so he can set up his Buckshot Lariat which he lands and is enough to keep Janela down for the three count; winning the match for the Hangman going into the PPV. Like I said, Joey is quite the talent and put on a good match here. Nothing too spectacular, but they both did their jobs just fine.
Taz starts to taunt Hangman and calls Brian Cage out to intimidate him. Doesn’t work because Page grabs the mic and tells Taz to shut up and even calls Hook and Starks out for planning to storm the ring and blindside him… which of course they were ready to do. Page tells Cage that he can’t be relying on these guys AND be taken seriously as a wrestler here; that he should take Page on all alone at Double or Nothing.
Moxley and Kingston cut a promo where they continue to talk smack at The Bucks, and the most significant thing about this is that the whole time they’re talking, they’re also digging a hole to bury the VERY expensive shoes they stole last week. I can’t confirm if this is an actual quote from Shawn Michaels as I heard someone else on a podcast attribute it to him as something he said about DX, but the quote was “I’m basically a guy in my forties pretending to a guy in his thirties pretending to be fourteen”. I’m getting that same feeling from Kingston and Moxley, but not so much in the self-effacing way it comes off of in that quote which again, may or may not be real. It helps that AEW is something of an underdog and that Kingston and Moxley aren’t as big of merchandise shills as DX eventually became, but it is kinda funny to see these two grown ass dudes act like a bunch of punks. Frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if Moxley just wanted to keep doing this kind of thing instead of being the world champ and I wouldn’t exactly blame him if he felt that way!
Tony Schiavone is in the ring to call Orange Cassidy to the ring so everyone can find out if he’s going to be in three way title match at Double or Nothing. Instead, Pac comes out and proclaims himself the REAL challenger to Kenny’s throne and that he’s going to usurp him on Sunday night and calls Kenny out to the ring. While Kenny doesn’t come out from the back, Don Callis shows up on the titantron to call Pac a soulless monster which is an interesting description if nothing else, but ultimately it’s just a distraction as Kenny comes from behind and tries to bash him with the belt. Pac saw this coming though and takes Kenny down rather quickly which forces The Good Brothers to run in and overwhelm the guy. Penta El Zero M and Rey Fénix come out to chase them out, but they might be too late as Kenny gest the upper hand on Pac and goes for the One Winged Angel. Before he can drop Pac though, Orange Cassidy and The Best Friends (which now includes Kris Statlander) come out and have a stare down with Kenny and hand him a note. Kenny takes his time to open the envelope, and inside he finds the contract he and Callis offered him last week shredded to bits. While Kenny is staring at these little pieces of paper in utter bewilderment, Orange sucker punches him with an Orange Punch and goes to pick up Kenny’s title while he’s writhing on the floor. Before he can grab it however, like a demon being summoned from the depths of hell, Pac gets back up and stares daggers into him. Pac kicks him and sets him up for a Powerbomb (the move that almost took Cassidy out of the title match two weeks ago) but Orange escape and hits HIM with an Orange Punch as well. Finally, Cassidy picks up the title belt and gives the camera a thumbs up. I still feel like Pac’s involvement is a bit token as the promo here doesn’t make up for the lack of buildup on his end leading up to the match, but it was still a lot of fun and I can only hope that Cassidy is truly well enough to be at Double or nothing.
Tony is interviewing Jade Cargill in the back when Matt Hardy interrupts and tries to recruit her to Hardy Family Office which would certainly be a boon for them, but Jade has apparently already gone with Mark Sterling who comes out and threatens to slap Matt with a restraining order if he doesn’t go away. Matt has a great closing line where he angrily shouts that he’s happy for Jade’s success, and that leads into the next match which is…
Jade Cargill Vs. Kilynn King
Cargill is accompanied to the ring by Mark Sterling
Who is Kilynn King you may ask? Well I have no idea, but not only does she get a proper entrance, she’s apparently had FOURTEEN matches at AEW; all on Dark or Elevation presumably, but that’s still a lot of matches for someone who’s never even been SEEN on Dynamite! Sadly that experience doesn’t do her much good as she still fails to get any meaningful offense against Jade Cargill and she eventually succumbs to the Jaded finisher which keeps her down for the three count and get Jade the win. This is the third match in the row you could arguably say is a squash, and while I do think AEW doesn’t have enough of these, it might be a bit excessive to have so many on the show. In fact, it looks like we’re gonna get another one because the next match is…
Miro Vs. Dante Martin – TNT Title Match
Much like Joey Janela, Dante Martin isn’t pegged as a simple jobber as he is a sizable name in AEW and has a few solid wins under his belt, but on this show he’s there to make Miro look good and does that job just fine. Miro just PUMMELS this kid right out of the gate and hits so hard that Dante is basically a puddle in the corner of the ring within fifteen seconds of the match starting. Heck, the only reason this match lasts longer than one minute is that Miro isn’t taking this seriously enough which gives Dante a few chances to show off his high flying maneuvers, but they’re mostly for naught as Miro doesn’t stay down for more than a one count and soon regains control with his explosive offense. Brain Buster, Thrust Kick, and Game Over are all it takes to put Dante away and retain his title as we all expected him to. Jake Roberts comes out with an aggressively pacing Lance Archer and starts to cut one of his awesome barely coherent promos on Miro who doesn’t take kindly to the harsh words. He starts taunting Lance Archer who rushes the ring and actually manages to get the upper hand in the brawl before the refs separate them. After all, you don’t want to give TOO much away when the PPV is right around the corner!
One of the many unfortunate things about the Pandemic is that Hikaru Shida’s run as AEW Women’s Champion occurred entirely in the COVID era, and from the way things are going it looks like she’s going to drop it to Britt Baker at Double or Nothing. Now I’m actually for that because Shida’s run has gotten pretty stale, but it is a shame that she didn’t get the big crowd pops she deserved and for that they are giving her a coronation here for the crowd to go wild over as well as a new Women’s Title belt that she will be the first one to wear. She thanks the fans and they go wild for her, but the happy event is interrupted by Britt Baker who reminds everyone that she’s going to be the next champion once she wins on Sunday and that she’ll be the face of the Post-COVID era of the women’s division. It was a sweet enough moment for Shida to finally get in front of a crowd, but I’ll be more interested to see her lose the belt and THEN get the crowd on her side when she goes for the title in the future.
Evil Uno & Stu Grayson Vs. Scorpio Sky & Ethan Page
Considering the matches we’ve gotten so far on the show, I was fully expecting this to be another squash to make the heels look good going into their PPV match against Sting & Darby. Thankfully this is not the case as Stu and Uno give these two a serious run for their money in what is the best match of the show so far.
The key is that despite Sky and Page being more capable atheltes with better physiques, Stu and Uno are a better team and work together to isolate Sky and Page to devastating effect. Uno and Sky start things off, but as soon as they both tag out, Stu runs right past Page and launches himself over the top rope to give Sky a DDT to the apron which was AMAZING to see and gives Stu and Uno some time to show off their tag team prowess. Stu also does a GREAT job selling here as he flies through the air and flips with utter grace whenever he takes a devastating move from his opponents! Sky trips him on the apron and he does a full spin in the air before landing on the ground, and then eats a Springboard Brain Buster that bounces him back into the air for a full second of arm flailing pain before crashing back down to the mat! Sky and Page get the heat on Grayson during the commercial break and Uno eventually gets the hot tag and runs wild on both of them which was a LITTLE as Uno’s strength is not his… well physical strength, but if nothing else it was fun to see him show his stuff! He even does that move I like where he grabs the guy’s leg and tosses it to the ref before landing a Swinging Neckbreaker, and the fact that it took him a second to figure out which side Ref Remsberg was standing made it all the more endearing! Stu and Uno do a few of their classic combo moves and get a two count on Ethan Page, but while setting up for the Fatality, Sky runs in and gouges Uno in the eye. He then puts Grayson in a submission while Page Hits the Ego’s Edge on Uno which is enough to keep him down for the three count and win the match for Sky and Page. Once I became a fan of The Dark Order (right around the time they started doing those strange commercials and were talking about The Exalted One), I was particularly interested in Stu and Uno as a team. Uno’s got great ring presence and fights with a certain playful malevolence that you really don’t from anyone else in AEW, and I always thought that Stu Grayson was primed to be the big heavy of the group who would be a serious contender for the singles titles. They’ve somewhat faded in the background as The Dark Order has more or less become a group of fun loving buddies than an order of evil misfits, so I’m glad that they got to show their stuff here. It also didn’t hurt Page or Sky to sell for them because, like with Darby Allin, the point was made that their offense is so powerful that it doesn’t take much for them to win a match even against teams with more advantages; whether it’s size, experience, or just better tag team coordination.
Never one to pass up on an opportunity to yell at someone, Ethan Page grabs the mic and starts screaming about how he and Sky will DESTROY Darby and Sting on Double or Nothing! Before he can get too far into his rant, Darby comes out with SEVEN FAKE STINGS! That’s right, six dudes with Sting masks come out they all start ganging up on Page and Sky in the most hilarious of fashions! Darby goes after Page and they start brawling which leaves the SEVEN FAKE STINGS to go after Sky. First sting takes one punch and is dead. Second Sting takes one punch and is dead too. Third Sting just runs over the ropes for no reason, and fourth Sting (WHO IS CLEARLY AN OLD DUDE WITH WHITE HAIR) gets tossed over the ropes and is thankfully caught by the third Sting. Fifth Sting takes a punch… but is still standing. He takes a SECOND punch and yet still hasn’t crumpled into a heap on the floor! Something is amiss, and Scorpio Sky knows it! Fifth Sting takes off his mask to reveal… THE REAL STING which is SO shocking to Sky and Page that they bolt out of the ring as fast as possible! Okay, NOW I really like Sky and Page! Don’t let them be obnoxious for too long, give them some solid matches, and I think they’ll work out just fine!
Inner Circle Celebration With Eric Bischoff – The Last Hurrah For A Legendary Faction!?
Rarely will AEW end a show on something other than a match, but with a PPV only two days away it actually makes sense for them to hold off on a big main event until then. For the most part this is just another promo from The Inner Circle (with Bischoff standing there too) telling off The Pinnacle for being jerks and proclaiming their superiority, and everyone gets a chance to give a speech. Sammy’s in particular was pretty good as he not only reminds us that he used to come out with a Panda Head (which he should bring back) but also talks about the time he left the group and how much he missed them. The sentimentality is brought to an end however when MJF pops onto the Titantron to mock them and to show that they have captured Dean Malenko who is tied up to the goal post at TIAA Bank Field. The Inner Circle immediately rush to try and save him, and of course The Pinnacle are waiting to bash them with chairs and put them through tables. Much like how The Inner Circle stood strong over The Elite in the show leading to the first Stadium Stampede match, this episode comes to a close with The Pinnacle standing tall against the backdrop of the stadium; an auspicious sight that may just be a signal to the end of The Inner Circle itself.
I think last week’s show should be considered the Go Home show as it had a lot more story beats to it, but this was a REALLY cool preview for Double or Nothing; almost like a full length Buy In, and while not EVERYTHING fired on ALL cylinders for me, I thought it was a fun little night of relentless action! The highlight was definitely the Evil Uno/Stu Grayson match, but none of the matches on here were bad or even mediocre. They were pretty much all squash matches, but they did a good job of making the stars going to the big show look good; all except for Jade who as far as I can tell ISN’T going to be at Double or Nothing, but even without any real reason for it her match was still a decent one. Now that I’ve finally finished this episode I can now prepare myself for Double or Nothing which is happening… in only a few hours. This is no doubt going to be a long day, but hopefully it will be a good one!