Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (07-14-2021) – Fyter Fest Night 1

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

We’re back with another episode of AEW Road Trip as they are now traveling the country to put on shows in new and shiny stadiums!  The last episode certainly had its growing pains with a particularly unruly crowd, but they still managed to put in a great show with a lot of fun wrestling and even better story development.  Will that trend continue as they get their metaphorical sea legs over the coming weeks?  Let’s find out!!

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Jon Moxley Vs Karl Anderson – IWGP US Heavyweight Title Match

Moxley is accompanied to the ring by Eddie Kingston while Anderson is accompanied by Luke Gallows

In storyline, Moxley’s been out of action since the PPV where he took such a beating that he was not medically cleared.  Really, he wanted some time off since his daughter was born right around that time, but whatever the reason was, he’s back for this week at least and is sure to give us an AMAZING match… right?  Okay, so I kinda feel about this match the same way I felt about the Andrade match from last week; very good and not a bad way to bring someone back to the ring, but was not exactly what I wanted to see from the guy.  I hate to say it but Moxley looked a LITTLE bit rusty here with some not especially great selling and a pretty straightforward match that relies heavily on forearm strikes.  Anderson comes off a bit better with a more varied move set and some pretty impressive spots to try and turn the match in his favor, but there’s not much hope for the guy as Moxley never seems to be in genuine peril.  Fortunately it picks up speed in the second half with stronger moves from Moxley and a more desperate pace with Moxley eating a Pile Driver and a bevy of creative Cutters, but Moxley manages to stay in this and finally manages to finish of Anderson with a Paradigm Shift.  It was perfectly fine for an opening match, but it was lacking SOMETHING that would have made it a great title defense.  Kingston and Gallows are there at the beginning but they start brawling right away and are never seen again, so perhaps if they had stuck around and teased a few interference spots then maybe that would have added a little tension here, but in any case I thought this was just fine.

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We cut to Jake Roberts and Lance Archer who are still in some sort of abandoned warehouse, but it must have pretty decent cable service because they are talking about the last match which literally happened less than a full minute prior!  Lance is challenging Jon Moxley for the IWGP US Heavyweight title in a Texas Death Match, and I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that he should win the title!  Look, if Moxley wants to take more time off, then dropping it to Lance would be the biggest boon in the Murder hawk’s career and he can work a few matches as a monster champ while Moxley spends time with his family!  Moxley can always be built back up at a later time so there’s zero chance of actually hurting him with that loss, and Lance really needs SOMETHING to boost his profile here as he’s more or less been the BIGGEST SCARIEST job guy at the company; all bark with very little bite.  After seeing this promo I’m guessing the previous match not being a barn burner was just to reestablish Moxley’s cred and to give us an excuse to do this match which is announced for next week, so hopefully THIS is the one where he REALLY makes his comeback!

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Alex Abrahantes is trying to interview Andrade El Idolo about his open contract that allows him to work at other companies while at AEW, but Andrade is only interested in one thing right now and that’s finding Death Triangle!  Now I thought Andrade’s first match at AEW was fine, but seeing him go face to face with Penta, Fenix, and Pac is exactly how he SHOULD have started his AEW career and I am ECSTATIC to see what happens next!

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Brian Cage Vs. Ricky Starks – FTW Title Match

Taz joins the commentary team for this match

Kinda like the first match, this one was not exactly firing on all cylinders; especially when Brian Cage drops Starks within the first minute of the match.  Things start to come together after that with Cage tossing Starks all over the place, but then Starks starts getting the heat on the giant meat mountain and it’s not really believable.  There are ways that a smaller guy can get over a big guy, but he’s just kinda twisting his arm a bunch and biting his fingers; none of which seems like moves that would keep this big guy fighting from underneath.  This match though is not so much about the action itself but the story they want to tell which is about the possible break up of Team Taz throughout the course of this match.  At one point Starks grabs the FTW belt but Cage takes it away and drops it in the corner of the ring.  Things kick into high gear after that with Starks mounting a GENUINELY impressive offense, but then Cage lands a pile driver on him which is a BRUTAL move to put a guy through who’s coming off of a neck injury.  Still, Starks is persistent and is not about to stay down for the three count.  He fights back and even lands an impressive Powerbomb on Cage, but it’s still not enough to win him the match.  Getting desperate, Starks goes for the title once again, but none other than Will Hobbs stops him from taking it!  Starks is in utter disbelief and doesn’t see Cage coming about to scoop him up for a Fireman’s Carry and lands a big slam.  He goes for the pin and… STARKS KICKS OUT!!  Somehow he had enough left in the tank to kick out at the last moment, but Cage is not deterred and prepares for another move as soon as Starks gets up.  BUT THEN!  Hook starts distracting the ref on the apron and Hobbs gets up on the other apron with the belt.  Cage either doesn’t see this or doesn’t care as he charges after Starks, but Starks gets out of the way and Hobbs BASHES Cage over the head with head with the belt and Starks follows up with an AMAZING Spear just in time for the ref to turn around and count the pin!  Ricky Starks is your new FTW champion, and it looks like Brian Cage has been beaten out of Team Taz as they all celebrate up the ramp while Cage is a broken mess in the ring!  Perhaps I’m a bit too impatient this week as the match may not have started strong but it was EXACTLY what I wanted out of the breakup of Team Taz!  Brian Cage was the first person Taz brought in for his faction and he’s the first one to break away so there’s no way this is going to be the end of it, but without the FTW belt what does he have to hold over Team Taz in his quest for revenge?  We shall see soon enough I suppose, but this is another storyline in this show that’s got me VERY excited for the future!

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Speaking of things to get excited about, Cody’s in the ring and ranting about Malakai Black’s senseless assault on Arn Anderson last week and wants the coward to show himself!  Instead, Black shows up on the titantron and tells an overly long story about a man putting his prized horse out of its misery; a story that we can grasp the meaning of without having to hear every little detail, and the crowd didn’t seem into it either with shouts of WHAT whenever he finished a sentence.  Once he’s done, Cody shouts at him to get in the ring before the lights go out and come back on to reveal him standing in the corner!  The two start brawling and security has to come in to break it up which all but cements a match between the two of them in the near future.

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Alex Marvez, once again proving to an agent of pure chaos, is trying to interview Tully Blanchard about the match last week when the walk RIGHT INTO Proud N Powerful!  It’s the only explanation on how neither one of them saw these two sitting on suitcases stacked in their direct path, and the fact that Marvez just runs out of there as fast as possible leads me to think this was a total setup!  Proud N Powerful mean talk Tully for a bit before Ortiz grabs him from behind and Santana threatens him with a crowbar.  It all turns out to be a gag however as the crowbar isn’t real and the two say that THEY were taught to respect their elders and that he’s getting off with a warning.  The Pinnacle and Inner Circle feud is no doubt long in the tooth, but I’m at least interested in seeing what a PROPER Proud N Powerful vs FTR match would look like.

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Hangman Adam Page Wants a Title Shot – Does He Have What It Takes To Face Kenny Omega!?

The best storyline in AEW has been the crushing fall of Hangman Adam Page followed by his long fought redemption.  With The Dark Order pushing him, he’s finally found the guts to come to the ring and call out Kenny Omega for a title match.  Whether he can actually stand up to him in the ring is another story however as The Elite come out to mock and belittle him; particularly The Young Bucks who are throwing his betrayal of them back in his face.  Well that and his alcoholism, which is PROBABLY not getting as much attention as it should be?  I mean I guess you don’t want to go down the Scott Hall route and have him being a drunken mess the only thing everyone talks about, but I’m curious if the closer we get to the big match the less we’ll see of him holding drinks.  In any case, The Elite try to rush Adam Page but The Dark Order, being the AWESOME friends that they are, rush the ring and clear it out so that Page and Omega can properly hash this out without further interruption.  Omega finally capitulates and gives Hangman an offer; a five on five Elimination Match between The Elite and The Dark Order.  If Hangman and his band of losers can beat them, he’ll get his title shot.  Hangman is hesitant since he doesn’t really NEED to prove anything to get the title as he’s the number one contender, so he sweetens the deal and has Omega agree to giving The Dark Order a Tag Title shot as well if their team wins.  Kenny is clearly irritated by all of this, but he gets himself under control and gets right in Hangman’s face to tell him it’s on but that it’s not gonna matter what stipulations are in place because Hangman will never be in his league.  I think I would have liked ONE more week of hemming and hawing from Hangman before getting to this point where he’s ready to face Omega, but this was a great continuation of that storyline and we’ve probably got a bit of time before the Elimination Match so hopefully they can shoot this thing to the moon between now and then.  I still think something bad has to happen to The Dark Order for this story to be complete and for Hangman’s journey to have the most impact it can have, but so far it’s been a heck of a ride and we’re gonna get some great matches out of it!

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Alex Marvez is interviewing Jericho… somewhere (perhaps this arena just has REALLY nice dressing rooms) when he is attacked by Shawn Spears wielding a folding chair.  DARN YOU, ALEX MARVEZ!  WILL YOUR LUST FOR WONTON DESTRUCTION EVER BE SATIATED!?  Spears is followed by MJF who lets Jericho know that his first match in the Five Labors of Jericho will be against Shawn Spears with the stipulation being that HE can use a chair while Jericho can’t.  Hey, I’m all for wacky matchups like that, and Jericho finding a way to outfox The Chairman will surely be fun to watch!

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Matt Hardy Vs. Christian Cage

This has definitely been a feud that will mean more to fans from twenty or so years ago than to me who’s relatively new to all this, but Cage and Hardy are two solid wrestlers and they put on a pretty darn good match here.  It starts off a bit slow and cautious as it seems like neither one of them want to hurt the other (probably a good thing considering the kind of injuries they’ve had), but eventually they start pulling out the big moves like when Cage jumps from the post to the floor to wipe out Hardy.  With that he maintains a solid advantage until Hardy has Cage’s head through the ropes and drops it down to the steel steps.  Cage is a fighter though and manages to stay in this despite Hardy hitting him with a Flying Elbow Drop for a two count, so Hardy spends the majority of the commercial break tenderizing the poor dude.  Cage eventually manages to fight back and even lands a darn good Spear for a two count as a well as a Top Rope Splash, but it’s clear that this is a match that will only end when either one of them lands their big move.  A Superplex from Hardy turns things in his favor and he ACTUALLY lands the Twist of Fate, but Cage manages to just barley kick out of it to the surprise of Hardy who decides the best option now is to kick Cage out of the ring and nearly knock him out with a submission hold so that the ten count can win the match for him.  Cage manages to get back up and in the ring right at the nine count which Hardy was not expecting and he ends up eating the Kill Switch from Cage for his hubris.  Cage gets the three count to win the match and Hardy Family Office tries to run down to attack him.  However, Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus hit the ring to protect Cage which forces HFO to back off… for now at least!  As far as a blow off to a feud it didn’t feel all THAT important, but it looks like we’re not done with this quite yet and I’d definitely like to see Luchasaurus in a tag team match with Christian Cage!

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After that, Britt Baker comes out for a promo and frankly there is NO WAY she’s supposed to be the heel in this feud she has with Nyla Rose.  She doesn’t cut a heel promo at all and the crowd is cheering for her the whole time which I suppose is fair as AEW isn’t really invested in getting the crowd to like Nyla for this match; they just want her to work a decent match as another notch on Britt Baker’s belt during her title run.  They also do something that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before, and that’s give Nyla and Vickie a Jobber Promo.  They don’t come to the ring to talk back at Britt Baker; instead they are in the back watching it unfold on a TV screen and try to take her down a peg while her music is blaring and she is waving to the crowds on screen.  Can’t say I’m looking forward to this match with how poorly they’ve booked Nyla to be… well, ANYTHING, but Baker is certainly popular with the crowd and I can only hope AEW is working on a VERY cool program with her once she’s finished with Nyla.

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Sammy Guevara Vs. Wheeler Yuta

Yuta is accompanied to the ring by Orange Cassidy and Chuck Taylor

Sammy is certainly being portrayed as the Golden Boy of The Inner Circle, but for his Baby Face turn to work he’s gonna have to wrestle matches outside of this one feud he’s got going on with The Pinnacle which frankly is more about Jericho than anyone else.  To that end, we get a decent quick match here with this Wheeler Yuta guy who is apparently a protégé of The Best Friends and I’m gonna guess we’ll be seeing plenty more of him; at least until Trent heals from his spinal surgery.  Yuta and Sammy end up having a pretty good repartee with each other as high flying athletic guys and Yuta gets his fair share of good moves in, but Sammy is pretty much no-selling all of it and after a Springboard Cutter he hits him with the GTH to get the pin.  With so much already going on in this one episode it was nice to get a quick little match like this and Sammy is still a superstar to the crowds, so while it wasn’t a WORLD CHANGING segment of the match I certainly enjoyed it a lot!

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We cut to an interview from earlier where QT Marshall is being a jerk and pours a protein shake on Tony Schiavone.  Considering that Cody has moved on to Malakai Black I doubt that he’s gonna keep feuding with QT, but despite some of his promos being a bit lackluster he’s got a decent stable of guys there and I hope we see more of him and The Factory; even if they just end up being stepping stones for the Baby Faces.

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Penelope Ford Vs. Yuka Sakazaki

Much like the last match, this is not here to advance some great storyline (Miro doesn’t even make an appearance) but to give us a good show and frankly this is probably Ford’s best match since her recent return.  It’s mostly due to Yuka who is giving her a run for her money which means that she has to bring her A-Game and gets to show off quite a bit of what she can do.  She does a lot of work in the ropes including this nice Shotgun Drop Kick while Sakazaki is tied up in them, and she has a few very cool submission holds that she’s been working on for a few weeks; all while showing a great deal of personality that makes her easy to boo against.  Most of this is in the commercial however and as they come back it’s Yuka and Ford trading blows in the middle of the ring until Yuka finally gets the advantage again with a Suplex.  Ford does what she can and kicks out of a few of Yuka’s moves, but after Yuka lands some sort of spinning hammerlock toss (it kinda looks like an F10) she goes up to the top rope to land her Magical Girl Splash and gets the pin on Ford.  Like the last match it wasn’t a MASTERPIECE of storytelling or wrestling technique, but it did its job and I had fun with it.  If it was me though I would have had Ford win since it seems like they are going to be doing something with her soon, but we’ll see how the story plays out.

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Darby Allin Vs. Ethan Page – Coffin Match

To win the match, you must put your opponent in the coffin and close the lid

And so we come to the main event where Darby Allin and Ethan Page settle their differences in as violent a fashion as possible! Darby starts off attacking Ethan Page with a steel plate he’s wearing on his back which shows WAY more foresight than he had in his handicap match a few weeks ago, and he also lands a Suicide Dive that was as TERRIFYING as it was effective. With Page out, Darby goes to open the coffin, but surprise!  Scorpio Sky is inside and shoves Darby over!  Before he can do any REAL damage however, Sting comes out from the back and they start brawling while Darby and Page rest on the floor for what seems to be several minutes.  Sting mostly just whips him around the barricades as he’s in complete control here, and even when he misses a Stinger Splash he just ends up bashing him over the head with a trashcan.  While all this is going on, Ethan page has taken a turnbuckle off… for reasons, and he and Darby continue to brawl outside the ring and in the crowds.  I’m sure this is the kind of thing you really want to do for a live crowd and they definitely seemed into it, but I always worry whenever Darby Allin is given free reign like this and sure enough he eats some seriously rough shots as Ethan Page throws him into the steel barricade and even tries to snap his spine across a steel handrail.  Ethan Page is slowly bringing this back to the ring but not without some serious pain as he gives Darby a Military Press and throws him over the crowd barricade onto the CONCRETE FLOOR.  What makes all of this worse is that most of it happened during a commercial break picture-in-picture which seems like a lot of effort for something most people wouldn’t notice.  In any case, they’re finally back in the ring which no longer has a bottom rope due to Ethan Page’s machinations but it DOES have a set of steel steps in it.  He easily overpowers Darby who tries to mount an offense with no luck, and on top of that he’s got the turnbuckle in his hand which has a steel hook at the end of it, and uses it to claw at the back of Darby’s neck.  There hasn’t been any blood yet but it’s still a pretty gruesome match all things considered, and lest you think Page is getting out of this unscathed as Darby manages to get the steel hook away from him and freaking FISH HOOKS him which couldn’t have felt great OR tasted good!  A Drop kick from Darby into the steel steps knocks Page out of the ring and into the coffin, but the dude is running on empty and by the time he gets there, Page has his energy back and the two are now standing in the coffin trading blows.  Page’s power comes in handy here as he manages to get Darby back in the ring, and he wants to drop him on the steel steps which looks like it would REALLY hurt, but Darby escapes and lands a Stunner.  This is a short lived Hope Spot however as Ethan Page shakes it off and lands a freaking EGO’S EDGE on Darby who lands right on those steel steps!  That’s the kind of thing that shortens careers, but Darby is always willing to do this kind of thing and it looks like Ethan has this in the bag.  He drags Darby to the apron and lifts him up to toss him in the coffin, but Darby crawls up his back and starts clawing his eyes out.  While Page is writhing on the apron, Darby grabs a skateboard from below the ring and jumps from the top rope with it; riding it off of Ethan Page’s back.  Page drops into the coffin more or less DEAD and Darby manages to close the lid; winning the match to the rapturous applause of the audience!  He’s not done yet however as he decides that after winning the match he might as well do ONE MORE ridiculously risky thing, and does a Coffin Drop into the lid of the Coffin.  To Darby’s credit his aim was perfect, but any miscalculation there and I can’t even imagine how damage he would have done to his back with this little stunt.  And that’s how the episode ends, with Page losing the match and Darby I guess TECHNICALLY winning despite being in writhing pain as the screen goes to black.

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I didn’t LOVE everything on this show, but it was still a pretty solid collection of matches and some FANTASTIC promos that made me excited to see what happens next week!  The first few matches started off a bit slow and the finale was excessive in just how much they were willing to risk injuries, but they really seem to be getting into a groove here with the return to crowds and I’m starting to come around on it; at least as long as they don’t stop the show dead in its tracks to try and make it all about them.  Next week has a lot to live up to considering how good a job they did building it up here, but I’m pretty optimistic that they can pull it off given how well the last few weeks have turned out!

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