Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (07-07-2021) – Road Rager

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

AEW is back on the road and to celebrate they have a rather sizable show for their first stop in Miami!  Now this isn’t the first show in front of a full crowd as Daily’s Place was starting to fill up at the end there, but we’re in a whole new market with fans who have been starving for live wrestling action, and AEW plans to deliver!  Is this a worthy show to kick off the start of a new era, or will it take a bit of time before things settle into place?  Let’s find out!!

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Cody Rhodes Vs. QT Marshall – South Beach Strap Patch

Both competitors are tied together with a strap.  To win, one must touch all four corners of the ring consecutively.

This was an INTERESTING match if nothing else.  I’ve heard of this kind of strap match before, but it always seemed overly convoluted and I’m not sure WHAT they are supposed to prove.  After watching it, there is some strategy to be had (do you try to stop someone in the middle of a run of posts, or do you fortify your position on the last one) but ultimately its closest to a Last Man Standing match where the goal is to keep an opponent down for an arbitrary amount of time; in one case for a ten count and in the other for as long as it takes someone to walk to the four corners of the ring.  What ended up standing out more for me was the strap which is both a blessing and a curse here.  There are some fun things they do like when Cody yanks on the strap so that QT bounces off the ropes, but the strap is so long and unwieldy that it made a lot of this match seem EXTRAORDINARILY dangerous.  At one point it looks like Cody got caught up in the strap during a suplex and it threw his balance off which wrecked his shoulder which I don’t BELIEVE was a legit injury, but I never like to wonder if someone is actually hurt while watching a wrestling match.  For the most part Cody maintains control as he cuts off QT’s moves pretty easily and uses the strap as a whip to turn his flesh pink, but there’s always something there to stop Cody from getting all four corners to end the match.  The big moment is pretty early when Aaron Solow goes after Cody but he’s soon chased off by Dustin Rhodes who fights him through the crowd.  The next is that VERY scary suplex that Cody sells for most of the match and hinders him in his attempts to finish this off quickly; especially after eating an Avalanche Powerbomb which somehow looked LESS scary than the suplex from earlier.  His closest chance at victory is a Draping Diamond Cutter that gets him as far as three corners, but Cody starts yanking on the ropes which forces QT to start attacking him again.  Cody however is fully energized by this point and runs WILD on QT with a series of big punches and big moves.  He lands a Cody Cutter which is soon followed by three Cross Rhodes, and QT stays down long enough for Cody to get all four corners to win the match.  If I didn’t worry that Cody and QT were going to DIE at some point in this match I would have called it a great opener, but the fact is that they didn’t and they put a lot into it to make it work, so it gets credit for that at least.

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We cut to Shawn Spears who is smugly bragging about being a spoiler in Sammy’s match last week when he hit him over the head with a chair.  Before long though, Sammy shows up and throws a chair at his face.  He then casually sits down in front of him and lets him know that this is FAR from over.  So… that’s it?  Did Sammy just leave or is he STILL sitting next to the writhing corpse of Shawn Spears?

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Tony Schiavone calls Kenny Omega and Don Callis to the ring; the latter of whom wasn’t here last week so it’s his turn to tell everyone that Kenny has won ALL OF THE BELTS and ALL OF THE MATCHES.  Just like last week however, The Dark Order come out with Evil Uno in front and holding a microphone where he demands an answer from Kenny as to why he’s been avoiding Hangman Adam Page.  Instead, he asks Uno what the capital of Thailand is.  The answer?  Kenny gives Uno a swift kick to the joy department before shouting IT’S BANGKOK, BABY!!  I can’t say I’ve ever heard that one before and I kinda wanted to give him a slow clap out of respect, but the whole situation devolves IMMEDIATELY as The Dark Order rushes the ring and are swiftly overtaken by Kenny, Nakazawa, and The Good Brothers.  Finally, Hangman rushes out to make the save and clears the ring of everyone but Omega.  In an allusion to the 2020 Revolution PPV, Hangman is on the apron facing Kenny Omega and it’s clear that he’s contemplating a Buckshot Lariat.  He thought better of doing so last year after he and Kenny won the Tag Title belts and he was in his Surly Drunk phase, but is now the time to finally go through with it?  The answer, sadly, is no as Hangman instead goes into the ring to go face to face with Omega before Karl Anderson runs a distraction which allows Kenny to run off into the night.  This was another fantastic promo that is setting up what will easily be one of the most anticipated matches in the company’s history.  If I were to critique one thing, I kinda wished that Hangman actually said something in it; perhaps grabbing a mic after getting in the ring and letting him and Kenny hash it out for a bit before Anderson runs a distraction.  It’s clear that they want to do a slow burn here and we have PLENTY of weeks for promos like this so I’m not too bothered by it; I just hope that we hear more from Hangman soon about what he wants instead of just letting him kick butt in the ring.

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We get an interesting interview with JR talking to both Ethan Page and Darby Allin about where this feud even came from and why it has to be resolved in a Coffin Match.  I love the setup of JR being the stern father figure trying to walk these kids into getting over their nonsense, but I don’t think they QUITE hit the mark here.  The big issue for me is that Ethan Page is given an opportunity to explain himself, but Darby ends up talking over him and frankly comes off as a bit of a heel.  He explains that Ethan Page is jealous of his success at AEW, but that it’s his own fault that he didn’t make it because… he has a wife and kids?  That’s a pretty cold blooded attitude to take from Darby who then explains his own story of homelessness and sleeping in his car to devote himself fully to the business.  Ethan Page eventually takes over and starts railing against Darby for being a success despite Page being the one who gave him the match experience he needed to make it to the big time which is pretty heelish and kinda recalibrates things, but I can’t be the only one to notice that we’re up to two baby faces now who gave oddly heelish promos in so many weeks.

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Proud N Powerful & Jake Hager Vs. FTR & Wardlow – Trios Match

Proud N Powerful are accompanied to the ring by Konan while FTR is accompanied by Tully Blanchard

I’ve mentioned in certain places that I feel Eddie Kingston to be the true successor of Dusty’s American Dream gimmick, but right behind him were Santana and Ortiz who wear their authentic American roots right on their sleeve and have the wrestling skills as well as the charisma to pull it off.  The only thing that was holding them back is that as heels they didn’t lean into it as much, but now that they’re Baby Faces it feels like that’s the direction they’re going in; especially with Konan.  The match starts with Santana and Dax Harwood KILLING each other in those first few minutes with The Inner Circle getting an early advantage, but soon enough The Pinnacle get the better of Ortiz with Cash grabbing him out of the air for an AWESOME looking Powerslam followed by a Powerbomb for Wardlow for a two count.  The Heels start to get the heat but it’s pretty much the ONLY time they have any sort of competitive edge here as the rest of the match is nonstop destruction against FTR.  The Inner Circle get lots of great tandem spots and big moves while FTR can barely get a move in before getting COMPLETELY stopped in their tracks.  Cash even straight up taps at one point from an Ankle Lock by Hager, but either it wasn’t supposed to be a PROPER tap or the ref didn’t see it which in either case doesn’t look good for FTR.  It only gets to a proper back and forth when Hager knocks Dax flat on his butt and lets him roll to the corner to tag in Wardlow.  They go for a minute or so before Hager gets the Ankle Lock on Wardlow, but unlike Cash he doesn’t tap out.  Seeing things going south, Tully jumps up on the apron and distracts the ref while FTR runs in and lands a Big Rig on Hager.  Despite COMPLETELY running away with this fight, this one move was enough to knock out Hager so that Wardlow can get the pin and win the match.  Not wanting to see this injustice go unpunished, Konan tries to take out Wardlow with a sock full of ball bearings, but Wardlow shakes it off like an obnoxious gnat, so not what I’d call a good start; doubly so when Tully comes from behind and does a VERY careful Chop Block to put Konan on his back.  Proud N Powerful are back in the ring at this point to chase off The Pinnacle and quickly go to Konan to make sure he’s alright.  The action in the match was very good and The Inner Circle looked like total champs here, but FTR has always felt awkwardly sandwiched into The Pinnacle and this match did not do them any favors.

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We get a video where Karl Anderson challenges Jon Moxley for the IWGP United States Title Match which as we soon learn will be happening next week.  Moxley isn’t out due to any sort of injury as he’s spending time with his family after the birth of his daughter, so having him, show up once in a blue moon during this time is probably a good idea.  I doubt ANYTHING could make the guy cold in the eyes of the fan base, but why tempt fate that way when you can still use him for stuff like this?

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MJF & Jericho Contract Signing – What Does MJF Want From Jericho Before Their Match!?

This show was a fantastic night for promos as Jericho and MJF pull out all the stops here… and it’s a shame that the crowd almost ruined it.  Maybe I’ll just have to get used to it, but the crowd constantly chanting things to try and rattle MJF just got annoying and stretched this out longer than it needed to; and that’s BEFORE we get to the giant flaming jackass who jumped the barricade and tried to take a swing at MJF!  I can’t believe that they are on the road for ONE NIGHT and this kind of nonsense is already happening, but as far as the promo itself it was VERY good.  MJF is doing his best to rattle Jericho who isn’t taking the bait which is only getting MJF more agitated.  Seeing how little this is working, he finally lays down his ultimatum which is that Jericho has to face four opponents of his choosing in stipulation matches, and if he can win all four of them then he will finally face MJF as his fifth challenge.  Not a bad idea all things considered as it gives them a good excuse to stretch this out until the next PPV with Jericho facing increasingly difficult opponents, and the allusions to Greek Mythology and the trials of Hercules was a nice touch; not just in getting MJF’s pretentiousness over but in also inadvertently making Jericho seem THAT much more heroic in his quest to spank the little twerp.  The only thing that didn’t quite work for me was what didn’t work in the FTR match, and that’s how unthreatening this whole thing makes MJF look.  Not only was he unable to rattle Jericho, but he then demands that they shake on it and ends up eating a Judas Effect as soon as Jericho grabs his hand.  What, did Jericho just beat him to the literal punch there!?  This whole episode has done a lot to build up The Inner Circle, but it’s been at the expense of The Pinnacle’s credibility and I’m not sure I would have gone in that direction if it was up to me.

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Tony Schiavone is in the back interviewing Britt Baker about her match last week and she is definitely trying to turn up the Heel energy as last week didn’t do much to make Nyla Rose a Baby Face challenger.  I didn’t catch it last week but apparently her assistant Rebel (Not Reba) got a dislocated knee towards the end of the match which is perhaps why the ending didn’t make a lot of sense and Baker is doing the best she can to spin this in such a way that she looks like the bad guy which may or may not work.  I doubt the crowd is going to turn on Baker enough for them to start booing her, but promos like this will hopefully hammer home the message that she’s not the Baby Face in this fight; even if Rose isn’t exactly reaching peak Baby Face status in this buildup.

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Andrade El Idolo Vs. Matt Sydal

Andrade is accompanied to the ring by Vickie Guerrero

A much better example of what they’ve been trying to do with The Pinnacle all night.  Andrade gives up A LOT to Sydal, but he never gives up so much that Sydal is making him look incompetent.  That said, I never really saw Andrade as a “big guy” but he definitely towers over Sydal and the match is a bit less high flying than I expected.  I remember seeing this guy pull off moves that made him look like an Evil Rey Mysterio and here, even against a high flyer like Sydal, focuses more on brute strength than anything else.  Now that’s not to say that his agility doesn’t come into play as he does this very cool Double Moonsault thing, but for the most part he’s fighting off Sydal’s flurry of kicks and spins with heavy attacks and throws.  Sydal eventually lands a Meteroa from the top rope which gives him a two count, but soon after he gets thrown into the corner by Andrade who follows up with running knees into the corner; softening him enough to land his new finisher.  He calls it the El Idolo and I’m not sure what it is exactly.  It kind of looks like a DDT while holding his opponent in a Hammerlock, but whatever it is it’s enough for him to get the pin and win his first match at AEW.  He’s not done with Sydal however as he takes off his belt and uses it to put Sydal in some very rough looking submission hold.  Ref Remsberg manages to break it up, but Andrade gives him such a terrifying look that Remsberg runs out of the ring faster than ANYONE I’ve ever seen!  Andrade needed to show what he can do in a match to prove himself to the AEW audience, and while his style was a bit different from what I was expecting out of him, he still gave one heck of a performance and established his Heel cred right off the bat!

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Christian Cage and Matt Hardy have been going back and forth since the PPV and they finally announce a match in this video package which does a good job of getting across the animosity between them.  If it was up to me I’d have at least one week of buildup once the match is announced for the two of them to square off in anticipation of it, but I’m still interested in the match either way.

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Tony Schiavone is in the ring with Arn Anderson to talk about his recent successes with both Cody and his son Brock, but before he can really get into it the lights go out and come back on to reveal… MALAKAI BLACK!  Who is that, you may be asking?  Why, that’s none other than former WWE Superstar Aleister Black; one of the more definitive examples of the main roster having NO IDEA what to do with astoundingly talented wrestlers who come up from NXT!  Can’t say I love the name change though as Malakai is a name is a name I associate with Amish farmers and death metal bands, but he proves that he means business when he kicks Arn Anderson and then kicks Cody!  Sure we might be reaching the tipping point of having ex-WWE guys in this company, but this was a FANTASTIC get for them and I can’t wait to see what he does!

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This was a little bit odd and is perhaps something we should expect more of now that we’re back on the road.  Prior to the start of the broadcast, Ricky Starks went to the ring to call out Brian Cage and we’re seeing an edited recording of it.  Starks is out with security and then BAM, Team Taz is out there.  Taz and Ricky start arguing back and forth about his attitude with edits all over the place until finally Starks makes a crack at Cage’s wife which forces him to come out and beat up Starks’ security.  If it was a full segment live on the show then I think it would have worked better, but I can’t help but feel that I’m missing something seeing it in this way with such obvious edits.

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Kris Statlander & Orange Cassidy Vs. The Bunny & The Blade – Mixed Tag Match

Despite what we saw on the Jericho Cruise a few years back, AEW is not about to show genuine inter-gender wrestling on their show so it follows WWE rules; men can fight men and women can fight women.  This would have been a pretty big bummer in most cases, but I think Statlander finds a few ways to keep it interesting and use those rules to her advantage.  Well that and they constantly TEASE the inter-gender stuff with Ref Aubrey having a pretty lax attitude on the rules!  Before the bell even rings, Cassidy and The Bunny start things off with Cassidy giving her his devastating lousy kicks, but she soon gets fed up with this and has The Blade come in to properly start the match.  From there both teams do some fun stuff with Cassidy trying for his super moves right off the bat.  After The Blade manages to avoid a Beach Break and a Swinging DDT, he gets a bit big for his britches and Cassidy lands a Stundog Mililonaire out of nowhere.  He tags in the Bunny which automatically tags in Statlander who runs wild on The Bunny for a while, including a Stalled Vertical Suplex, but The Bunny eventually starts getting the heat during the commercial break.  Where things start to genuinely turn in their favor is when The Blade throws Cassidy off the apron and into the barricade as The Bunny lands a Middle Rope German Suplex on Statlander.  The Bunny tags in The Blade with the hope being that they’ll win via count out as Cassidy is still reeling from the attack, but Statlander is not about to lose the match this way and eggs on The Blade who does try to take a swing at her.  This is enough of a distraction for Cassidy to get to the top rope and land a Cross Body followed by a Swinging DDT which gets him a two count.  He goes to the top rope again, but The Bunny shoves him off so Statlander knocks Bunny off the apron and gets on the top rope herself to land an Area 451 Splash on The Blade.  I’m not sure how this is legal, but Ref Aubrey doesn’t say anything about it, and Cassidy goes for the pin but only gets a two count as The Bunny yanks him out of the ring.  In all this chaos, The Blade gets a pair of brass knuckles (Ref Aubrey found a pair before the match started, but I guess he had TWO) and bashes Cassidy over the head with it.  Statlander, being on top of this match, quickly tags herself into the match which prevents The Blade from getting the pin on Cassidy.  The Bunny is furious about this of course, but in her rage she doesn’t see Statlander coming after her and she lands a Big Bang Theory to get the pin and win the match for herself and Cassidy.  It was kind of a mess what with the tags being more of a suggestion than a hard and fast rule, but it was very cool to see Statlander being on top of everything and I thought The Bunny looked MUCH better here than she has in her last few matches.

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Throughout the episode we keep cutting to three people in the crowd; Jorge Masvidal, Amanda Nunes, and their coach Dan Lambert.  Tony is now trying to get an interview with them when Lambert grabs the mic and cuts one of the most scathing anti-wrestling rants you’ve ever heard in the ring; not that wrestling is bad, but that THIS version of wrestling is bad and nowhere NEAR as good as when guys like Dusty Rhodes, Terry Funk, Harley Race, and Jack Brisco were in charge and living large!  I don’t know who this Lambert guy is, but he has some VERY impressive mic skills and makes his overly negative rant rather compelling just with his delivery even if he is burying the ENTIRE locker room in the process!  After hearing more than enough of this nonsense, none other than Lance Archer comes out and gives this dude a Blackout Slam!  It was perhaps a little bit TOO combative for Mr. Lambert to so thoroughly talk down the product, but this is exactly the kind of ludicrous and ultraviolent nonsense I want to see from Lance Archer who got a huge pop from the crowd, and at the end of the day that’s what matters most, right?

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The Young Bucks Vs. Eddie Kingston & Penta El Zero M – AEW Tag Team Title Street Fight

The Bucks are accompanied to the ring by Brandon Cutler and Don Callis while Penta is accompanied by Alex Abrahantes

I was starting to get burned out on this particular matchup, so while using a gimmick match for a title defense isn’t always the BEST idea, it definitely shook things up and gave us one heck of a hardcore match; perhaps the most brutal we’ve seen on television since Baker tore her face up in her match against Thunder Rosa!  I won’t be going over this move by move as there are A LOT of things going on in this match, but the freedom to let all four guys just duke it out in the ring with whatever wacky weapon spots they want made this an exciting and crowd pleasing main event that only had a small bit of stumbling here and there.  As is often the case with matches like these, there’s a little too much fiddling with tables or putting things in position for later spots, and there’s a moment where Penta is carrying a trash can IN FRONT OF HIS FACE so of course Nick Jackson kicks it which is the exact same spot I wasn’t a fan of in LAST week’s main event.  Also, I’m taking a point off simply because The Bucks shaved their facial hair!  IT WAS A GREAT LOOK FOR THEM!!  In any case, we’ve got a lot of great spots like when Penta puts Matt Jackson through a table with a Canadian Destroyer and when Kingston starts no selling trash can shots, but despite their strong showing here they keep throwing out a lot of their super moves that served them well in their previous matches; moves that The Bucks have learned to get around which puts a damper on their momentum.  That, and they are willing to go pretty low to save their skins here as Nick Jackson intentionally bumps a ref so that he can’t see Matt Jackson tapping out to Kingston’s choke hold.  It’s at this point that The Good Brothers show up and start attacking Kingston on the outside while Matt Jackson is holding Penta for another cold spray spot from Cutler.  To his credit, he’s careful and DOESN’T spray Matt Jackson in the face, but while trying to line up his shot Kazarian runs out and throws him into a table.  More wacky nonsense from there, especially when Kingston gets the bag of tacks out, but by the time Penta is reeling from a Top Rope Hurricanrana into said tacks, it’s pretty much over.  Kingston tries to fight them both off at the same time, but they eventually hold him down, put tacks in his mouth, and Superkick him in the face which is enough to get the pin and for The Bucks to retain their title as the episode comes to an end.

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For the most part this was an excellent show and the promos have never been better!  In fact, the one thing I could say about this episode is that the matches didn’t quite live up to everything else on here.  The Hangman/Omega confrontation, the contract signing, even that odd segment where some UFC dude talks trash and eats a Blackhole Slam, it was all top notch and entertaining stuff while the matches themselves were almost all good but most didn’t QUITE hit the mark.  The opener was a bit off putting to me with the strap threatening to cause problems, The Andrade match as well as the Cassidy/Statlander one did a great job of showing off their stars, but the matches themselves felt a bit held back, and while I enjoyed seeing Proud N Powerful and Hager win a match, I’m still not sure why FTR had to pretty much look like jokes throughout it.  Still, the main event was fantastic, and they’ve done a great job building up the next few weeks of shows so I won’t complain too much; especially if we get to see more of Malakai Black!  Please don’t make us wait three weeks to see him in action, AEW!  In fact, just go ahead and put him in a match against Andrade!

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