Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (07-28-2021) – Fight for the Fallen

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

We’re back with even more AEW action and frankly the company has been on a real hot streak lately!  With solid episodes the last few weeks, lots of news about possible signings from Bryan Danielson and CM Punk, and even outpacing WWE for live ticket sales, their return to the road has been an overwhelming success and some of the best publicity the company has had.  Can they keep up that momentum all the way to the All Out PPV in September?  Lets’ find out!!

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Hangman Adam Page & The Dark Order Vs. The Elite – Ten Man Elimination Tag Match

Don Callis  joins the commentary team for this match

Considering this match the biggest names in the company working through the biggest storyline they have (If Hangman and The Dark Order win, they ALL get title shots), it makes sense that they start the show with it, and to the surprise of no one it ends up being a darn good match!  Now I’m not about to go blow for blow here considering how long it is and how many people are involved, so just assume that everything filling the gaps of what I talk about is solid work and that the crowd was into this the entire time!  On one side we have Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson, Karl Anderson, and Doc Gallows, while on the other side we have Hangman Adam Page, Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, Alex Reynolds, and the returning John Silver who’s in his first match since his shoulder injury and his first match in front of a crowd in over a year.  Needless to say that the crowd is completely behind this dude and a good chunk of the match is trying to make him look as good as possible.  He and Reynolds do that awesome combination that really SHOULD have a name by now (Forearm Strike, Inzuguri, Stunner, German Suplex, Jackknife pin) but it’s not enough to put Karl Anderson away.  Gallows tries to even the odds a bit and rushes the ring and Reynolds knocks him over the ropes with ease, only for Anderson to come from behind and pin him by pulling on the trunks.  With blatant interference and an illegal pin within seconds of each other, it’s probably time to mention that the one drawback to this match is that none of the rules are enforced as people are running in CONSTANTLY without a peep from the ref which isn’t NECESSARILY a bad thing if it leads to great action, but I felt that for a match with such high stakes it’d have been nice if they could have either kept it a bit cleaner or just declared it No DQ.  This lack of adherence to the rules goes for both sides by the way as Uno and Grayson eliminate Karl Anderson soon after with a Fatality.  Stu and Uno actually get quite a lot in this match as they seem to be even more in-sync than the two tag teams on the other team as they pull out some impressive tandem moves and give The Bucks a run for their money.  However, this also leads to probably the worst spot in the match which is when Stu Grayson lands a Sky Twister Press from the apron to the ground and ends up SMASHING his head on the floor because no one caught him!  Now he claims to be fine, but there was NO way anyone knew that at the time and he and Doc Gallows brawl in the crowd including ANOTHER diving spot from Grayson.  I don’t THINK he hit his head on that one, but he definitely rolled on the ground.  Thankfully he and Gallows were eliminated due to count out which MIGHT have been the plan all along or something they had to call at the moment so that Grayson could get out of there and get checked on.  Either way, that was BRUTAL.  Uno and Omega are the only ones still standing at this point and they brawl it out in the ring for a bit while everyone else tries to recover outside the ring.  Uno does his best but when he goes for the Senton, Omega gets the knees up and hits him with the V-Trigger as well as the One Winged Angel which is MORE than enough to eliminate him from the match.  That just leaves Hangman and John Silver against The Young Bucks and Omega.  Not looking good for the Baby Faces, but John is NOT deterred and hits a BIG spear on Matt Jackson for a big pop from the crowd.  It doesn’t take long though before The Bucks start getting the heat on Silver with all the goofiness that entails.  This match is APPARENTLY a promotional cross over with that Space Jam sequel so all the Heels are wearing basketball jerseys and there’s a hoop nearby which I’m not sure if getting the most out of this brand synergy; nor would I expect it to be in the middle of a match this important.  Still, there is a spot where The Bucks do an Indie Taker on Silver underneath the Basketball hoop while Nick Jackson is trying to dunk a basketball, and while Silver does eat the Indie Taker, Nick Jackson COMPLETELY fumbled the spot and the ball goes bouncing off the rim which made it all the funnier!  The Bucks may be goofballs, but they are still good wrestlers and not only did they tear Silver apart here, they also took some cheap shots at Hangman to soften him up once he’s the last one in there as John is fighting valiantly but it’s clearly just a matter of time.  The Bucks finally land a BTE trigger on Silver and he stays down for the pin which leaves him alone to face Omega and The Bucks; two of whom he betrayed, one he disappointed, and ALL looking to destroy this man once and for all!  What follows is a fantastic match in its own right as Hangman manages to hang with all three of them and everyone starts hitting their biggest moves; especially Hangman who gets a Pop Up Powerbomb on Kenny and even lands a DOUBLE BUCKSHOT LARIAT on both of the Bucks!  Kenny eventually gets tired of all of this and tries to bash him over the head with one of his belts, but is stopped in his tracks when Ref Knox takes it away.  However, since he’s the BELT COLLECTOR, he just gets another one while the ref’s back is turned and goes for Hangman, who ducks and manages to hit him with the Dead Eye… only to get a count.  Hangman then goes for the Buckshot but its Omega’s turn to duck and he finally hits Hangman with a belt… only to get a two count as well.  Kenny is back in control now however as he hits a few V-Triggers and a One Winged Angel which Hangman stays down for and the match is over; giving The Elite the win and preventing Hangman from going for the title.  I’m mixed about the ending to be sure as Hangman losing any momentum here is probably not a good thing considering how much the crowd is behind him, but I do like the idea that The Dark Order in a sense has failed him here and we’ll get to see the fallout of that; if he turns his back on them or if he’s grown enough to not take failures like this so personally as to blow up his relationships.  It’ll be an interesting few weeks to see what direction they’re going in and this was a heck of a match to see, though perhaps I wouldn’t have started with this as it’s kind of a downer and the rest of the show is gonna have to work hard to get out from underneath it.

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To that point, I PROBABLY wouldn’t have followed that match with an argument about… travel arrangements?  Apparently, Rey and Penta aren’t at the building yet and Pac is telling Alex Marvez that it’s because SOMEONE canceled their car ride.  In come Andrade and Chavo who CERTAINLY had nothing to do with it, but more than gladly paid for LIMOS to bring them to the arena!  I can see where a Heel like Andrade can pull this kind of petty nonsense to try and woo The Lucha Bros to his side and maybe later in the show it wouldn’t feel so out of place, but here it’s like we just saw the ending of a Marvel movie and switched over to a slightly sassy edition of CSPAN.

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Team Taz Celebration – Will Brian Cage Crash The Party!?

Thankfully things pick up a bit as we have the Team Taz celebration; complete with a Louisiana brass band heralding the arrival of the new FTW champ Ricky Starks.  It’s a jubilant introduction to be sure, but Starks’ acceptance speech is mostly bitter and self-serving.  He spends his whole time running down Brian Cage with insults and accusations before Cage’s music hits and he beats up the brass band before going after Ricky who escapes with his best buddy Hook.  I’m not sure is attacking the band wrecking their instruments is helping Cage’s turn to the good side and I’d have liked there to be SOME indication of a direction other than Cage is angry at Starks, but we’ve got plenty of time for this story to work itself out.

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Next, we get a video from none other than Hiroshi Tanahashi who wants to challenge for the IWGP US Heavyweight title against whoever wins in the title defense later tonight.  Sadly I still know next to nothing about New Japan and frankly, I just don’t have the hours in the day to catch up on it, but I know that Tanahashi is a big deal and that showing up on AEW, even on a pre-taped segment, is a pretty big boon for the hardcore fans out there.  Sadly it’s been made clear that this match will happen in Japan and not on AEW; not even on a PPV which would have been a great place to showcase Tanahashi to a US audience.  Still, it’s an interesting development in this ongoing and evolving relationship between New Japan and AEW.

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Proud N Powerful Vs. FTR

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

The Inner Circle and Pinnacle have been building towards this match more or less since the whole things started, but it probably wasn’t a great idea to put it on the same show as the Ten Man Elimination match; especially as the match to try and follow it.  There’s nothing wrong with this match, it’s quite good for the most part, but it doesn’t quite have the spark that you’d expect from what is supposed to be a blow-off match.  It remains pretty even for the most part with Proud N Powerful getting an early advantage that’s taken away during FTR’s heat segment, and Santana gets a hot tag to clean house and pick up the action.  Frog Splash from Santana gets a two count on Dax which really gets the hate flowing between these two who trade some big blows back and forth before Ortiz runs in for a Powerbomb and then IMMEDIATELY eats this cool swinging DDT from Cash.  Speaking of whom, probably the most significant thing about the match is that he cuts his arm open pretty bad on a spot where he drops from the turnbuckle which led to them cutting the match short as things wrap up pretty quickly after that.  A Superplex from Harwood turns into a sort of roll-up from Ortiz that has BOTH of them balancing on their shoulders so the ref doesn’t count either of them which was a clever little move, but he follows up with a Brainbuster on Ortiz to wins the match.  There was already a lot of hype going into this considering the two teams involved, and when you throw in the fact that there was a PHENOMENAL match right before it, it would have been hard for ANYONE to live up to those expectations; especially when one of them got hurt.  If two giant PPV-style blow-off matches weren’t enough to end this feud then this match here isn’t likely to be the last we see between them.  Let’s just hope the next one goes a little bit better and without as high expectations on it.

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Britt Baker is being interviewed by Tony Schiavone in the back where she talks about winning her big match last week despite her wrist injury.  Still, this is the second time Baker’s been hurt and Rebel (Not Reba) had a dislocated knee just a few weeks ago, so Baker alludes to hiring “extra security” to keep her safe.  Baker getting injured on her first title defense is certainly an auspicious sign, but if she pulls an MJF and just starts throwing wrestlers at whoever wants to challenge for her belt, I could see that working for as long as it takes for her to get medically cleared.

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We get some teases to future shows with Tony revealing that the second episode of AEW Rampage will be called The First Dance; a reference so “subtle” that EVERYONE IN THE STADIUM started chanting CM Punk for like thirty seconds straight.  On top of that, Darby Allin makes a similarly “subtle” hint that he will be facing Miro on that episode as well.  Rampage is going to be something of a hard sell as even I, a guy who recaps this stuff every week, am still trying to figure out if it will fit into my schedule.  Putting big matches and big stars though is a pretty good way to get it started, so I’ll DEFINITELY be watching those weeks if nothing else!

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Lance Archer Vs. Hikuleo – IWGP US Heavyweight Title Match

Hikuelo is accompanied to the ring by King Haku

Unlike WWE, AEW has had some VERY good luck with their big men; mostly because they bother to hire GOOD wrestlers who are ALSO tall instead of just tall people they will try to train later.  Lance Archer is definitely a talented wrestler and he finds himself in an unusual position as Hikuelo is ACTUALLY taller than him so if nothing else this is quite a novelty as far as AEW matches!  This is my first time seeing Hikuelo and the guy is definitely talented as well with some great big moves that look all the more devastating against a guy as big as Archer; especially that Sit Out Powerbomb that shook the ring when he landed!  Other than that though it’s a bit on the slower pace, especially with a commercial break heat segment mere minutes after the match began (this is also when King Haku gets involved and Archer has to sell a Tongan Death Grip) but things pick up once Archer is back in control and land that tight rope backflip move he likes to do.  A Superplex from the top rope crashes Hikuelo onto the mat but only gets a two count for Archer, so he follows up with a Blackout Slam which gets him the win.  It certainly didn’t POP the same way that the Texas Deathmatch did last week, but Hikuelo had a good showing here and it’s good to get a few wins under Lance Archer’s belt; especially since it looks like they’re building up a dominant title run with this belt.

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Alex Marvez, our Earth’s version of Loki, is trying to talk to Cody Rhodes who is running things in the back when Malakai Black jumps him and they brawl all the way to the stage. Unlike last time where the refs break things up, Black manages to take Cody out with a bunch of kicks and even takes out a wrestler who comes out to try and help him.  The match is next week and it’s gonna be Black’s first at AEW which should HOPEFULLY be good, especially since Cody is involved and he’s great at making his opponents look good, but to me it still feels a bit lacking.  What the heck is Malakai Black’s problem with Cody anyway; is it just his fashion choices?  I mean the white suit with sparkly shoes ARE a bit much, but still!

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Luchasaurus, Jungle Boy, and Christian Cage Vs. Private Party & Angélico – Trios Match

Luchasaurus and Jungle Boy are accompanied to the ring by Marko Stunt while Private Party are accompanied by Matt hardy

Despite every last person in this match being someone I like, I just could not get into this match at all.  It’s probably its placement in the show as things start to feel a bit long in the second hour, but the fact is that this feud feels pretty much meaningless at this point.  Private Party just haven’t been the same since joining with Matt Hardy and Angélico is just there to be there, while the other side is just there because they don’t like Matt Hardy who isn’t even involved in the match.  He gets one cheap shot at Jungle Boy and then is chased out of the ring for the entire match, so it doesn’t feel important or meaningful for these two teams to keep fighting it out.  The only thing of particular note is that Luchasaurus gets to do a few moves in front of a live crowd and the guy ALWAYS gets a big pop from them, so that was nice to see at least.  Once Luchasaurus is done warming up the crowd, he tags in Christina Cage who lands a Frog Splash on Marq Quen to get the pin and win the match.  Christian is then attacked by The Blade and his devious brass knuckles at the behest of Hardy, so we are far from ending this feud anytime soon.  Perhaps this is the reality of getting back in front of crowds where you want to give the people who paid to show up the wrestlers they like.  I’m sure they were happy they got to see Cage, Jungle Boy, and Luchasaurus in a match, but for me it was just there to fill up some time.

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Thunder Rosa Vs. Julia Hart

This wasn’t too different from the previous match as it wasn’t too exciting, but I’ll give it credit for a few things.  First, it’s a one on one match so it being as exciting as a trios match is worth noting, and second, it ACTUALLY serves a purpose other than continuing a feud that’s already run its course.  Rosa is back at AEW as a full-time competitor and wants a shot at Baker’s title.  With her injury however, they’re gonna have to take their time with this so Rosa facing off against one of the fresh-faced youngsters of the women’s division is not a bad way to bring her back into the fold and see how she does with the crowd.  As you’d expect Rosa stays strong throughout, but she doesn’t completely bury Hart in the process.  She keeps going for submissions and Hart keeps making it to the ropes which is frustrating Rosa, and to make matters worse she goes for a Drop Kick in the corner which Hart scouts a mile away and dodges; leaving Rosa with a bad knee for the rest of the match.  Despite this she goes for the Drop Kick again and manages to land it which knocks the wind out of Hart and leaves her open for the Fire Thunder Driver; giving Rosa the win and getting her that much closer to her title match.  For what it needed to be, it did its job well and I still think Hart is still someone who could be a big star with the right seasoning.  Perhaps the NEXT time she and Rosa meet, it will be a big main event match!

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We cut to Jon Moxley who’s in the back drinking his disappointment away as he explains how upset he is that Tanahashi is looking for an IWGP US title match NOW right after he lost the belt.  How convenient, am I right?  With all the bitterness and thinly veiled threats, it’s not the best that Moxley has ever looked, but it definitely points to some serious drama in the near future with New Japan which should be interesting to see; especially if they let us watch it on Dynamite!

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Jericho Vs. Nick Gage – The Second Labor of Jericho

The match is No DQ

MJF is on commentary

I’m AWARE of who Nick Gage is but this is going to be the first time I’ve seen him in action and it’s certainly the biggest stage of his career; not just because he’s on national television but because he’s up against one of the company’s biggest stars in the main event match.  Still, I’m sure that all those factors mean that this is not nearly as “hardcore” as the matches Nick Gage usually gets in, but for AEW it’s definitely one of the more bloody fights they’ve had on TV.  For the most part, it’s about Jericho being the superior wrestler while Nick Gage being the tougher brawler as the dude employs pizza cutters like a ninja wields a katana and Jericho manages to fight from underneath whenever he gets too much of an advantage.  Now that’s not to say that Gage has nothing to offer BUT blood and guts as he pulls off a few good moves like a Superplex and a Falcon Arrow which give him a bit of edge over Jericho during certain points of this match, but on the flipside, Jericho is not above using weapons himself as he avoids getting hit with a light tube by bashing Gage with Floyd The Bat first.  When he goes for the second swing however, Gage manages to dodge it and lands a Back Breaker which leads to the heat during the commercial break.  During that time the dude props up a pane of glass between 2 chairs to make an impromptu table and I THINK the idea is that he’s going to land a stomp from the middle rope through the glass which Jericho is positioned beneath; not only giving him a face full of the stuff but also a boot to the face as well.  Jericho gets up while Gage is getting on the ropes however and gives him a bunch of punches before giving him a Hurricanrana into the glass.  I’m GUESSING it’s safety glass as there aren’t really any jagged pieces, which is good because Jericho goes for a Code Breaker and is caught by Gage who drops into all that “shattered glass”.  What probably AREN’T made of safety glass though are the light tubes that Gage smashes over Jericho’s back and he gives him a Pile Driver for a two count.  He goes to get more light tubes which frankly I’m not a fan of as it’s SO easy for one to have a shard JUST long enough to cut something deep, but somehow Jericho managed to take a swig of some juice and gives Gage a face full of mist before he can smash his light tubes over his head.  While Gage is disoriented, Jericho hits HIM with a light tube and smashes him with a Judas Effect; getting the pin and winning his second match.  As far as I can tell no one’s dead which is counterintuitively a GOOD thing for a Deathmatch and Jericho is one step closer to facing MJF.  Speaking of whom, he stomps onto the stage like he did last week to once again announce Jericho’s next match.  It’s an odd stipulation where Jericho wins the match by landing a top rope move, but what makes it interesting is who he is facing which is none other than Juventud Guerrera!  That’s right, Juvi from WCW is coming to AEW to face Jericho one last time, and the episode ends on Jericho’s very shocked and bloody face!

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The problem with this episode is one of pacing as the opening match and closing matches were the highlights while everything else in the middle couldn’t live up to either.  The FTR/Proud N Powerful match just didn’t have enough spark to it (probably because both sides of the feud were more concerned with the MAIN EVENT MATCH), and everything else felt like house show matches; lacking in significant context and just there to please the crowds.  Credit to AEW though that they DO know how to keep building show after show as the promos and video segments do have me excited for next week, but putting on a PPV quality match at the start isn’t always the best idea when you don’t have the same energy for everything else, and while I can’t say it was a bad episode it was still a bit tedious to get through.  Not the worst problem in the world to have matches TOO GOOD for TV, but let’s hope for a better balance next week.

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