AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
When we’re this close to a PPV you can almost hear the Jaws theme in the background of every episode. This constant mounting pressure to get everything ready and ship shape for the big show (which coincidently will include The Big Show) and it can be quite a juggling act between all of that and just putting on a good show for the TV audience. Does AEW manage to keep spinning these plates as we move ever closer to All Out, or are some of them REALLY starting to wobble now that we’re in the home stretch? Let’s find out!!
Orange Cassidy Vs. Matt Hardy
We start things off as most Dynamite shows do with a straightforward crowd pleasing match. Sure you could say that the Hardy/Cassidy storyline has been fleshed out over the last few weeks, but honestly it’s just an excuse to get a bunch of very over people in front of the crowds as often as possible to do their shtick and warm up the audience. Said shtick by the way gets over quite big as it’s a war between Cassidy’s Lousy Kicks and Hardy’s Deletes with things taking a turn as Cassidy winds up for the big one. Hardy implores him to wait a moment so that he can put his own hands in his pockets… ONLY TO PULL OUT WADS OF CASH! He tries to punch Cassidy with these fistfuls of greenbacks but ends up eating a drop kick that sends the bills flying! Unfortunately that ends up being the highlight as the match slows down quite a bit after that, and this is something that I’ve noticed with Orange Cassidy matches. For whatever reason, the guy likes to have these long stretches where he just sells and sells and sells which I guess is to build up to his eventual comeback but as is usually the case (and is certainly the case here) it seems to deflate the crowd more than anything as Hardy just runs through him and keeps beating on him over and over again. It’s not until Hardy starts signaling for the Twist of Fate that Cassidy gets his bearings and fights back in usual Cassidy fashion. He throws Hardy out of the ring and follows up with a Suicide Dive, he lands a Swinging DDT for a two count, and he lands a Cross Body from the top rope. The last of those seems to have broken his nose which was DEFINITELY not the plan and certainly made the rest of the match a bit hard to watch despite it REALLY picking things up. It’s a much stronger back and forth bout with the two of them trading big moves; starting with them fighting on the middle rope. Cassidy wins with a bunch of stomach shots, so he pushes Hardy off and Cassidy goes for a Senton with his hands in his pockets. Cassidy then goes for the Twist of Fate, but Hardy just shoves him into the corner before landing an Elbow drop from middle rope for a two count. Hardy goes for the Twist of Fate, but Cassidy spins out of it and lands a Twist of Fate of his own which Hardy just barely manages to kick out of. Not deterred, Cassidy goes for an Orange Punch, but Hardy dodges and tries to put him in The Leech. It’s a hard fight, but Cassidy escapes and pins Hardy’s shoulder’s to the matt by putting his hands in his pockets and locking Hardy’s legs between them which is enough to get the three count and win the match. It was somewhat tedious and Hardy getting busted open didn’t help things at all, but there was some fun at the start and some big moves at the end. Far from my favorite Cassidy match and not the best way to start the show, but hopefully things can pick up from here.
Jericho wants MJF One More Time – Will He Get The Match!?
Jericho comes out to the ring in relatively good spirits despite losing to MJF last week, but I guess if you had a crowd of diehard fans singing your theme song every time you walked out, you would be feeling pretty good about things too! My biggest concern is that Jericho would come out and throw one big pity party to commiserate his loss, but thankfully he steers clear of that to instead insist on having one mast match against MJF; no wacky stipulations, no pre-game matches to wear him out, just mano-a-mano at the All Out PPV. To sweeten the deal, he even says he’ll retire if he loses the match which is where he lost me a bit. Retirement stipulations don’t work for me as the stakes involved end up overshadowing whether the match is good or not. Instead of considering how the match will play out, I’m focused on the outcome only and maybe for others it’s not so overwhelming of a stipulation, but it’s just not my cup of tea and for what it’s worth I think this all but guarantees that Jericho is going to win. I certainly haven’t heard anything about him wanting to exit, and I doubt that a random PPV is going to be where he finally gives it all up. Heck, he’s got a CRUISE in two months! You think he’s not gonna wrestle on that!? In any case, MJF comes out and to his credit he is still a FANTASTIC heel and sells this stipulation for all its worth! He’s getting REALLY tired of Jericho and his nonsense and is more than happy to smugly hold onto his three victories, but if just one more means that Jericho retires? Well that might just be worth throwing him one last Hail Mary! The ending of the last match of the Labors of Jericho certainly gave them room to do this one last match, but the retirement stipulation just feels like an unnecessary weight on what should by all rights be a fantastic match without it. Still, it’s something else to look forward to on the PPV.
The Lucha Bros Vs. The Varsity Blondes – Tag Team Title Qualifier
The Lucha Bros are accompanied to the ring by Alex Abrahantes while The Varsity Blondes are accompanied by Julia Hart
The Varity Blondes are one of my favorite up and coming groups, so putting them up against The Lucha Bros is exactly the kind of exposure they need to continue their upward momentum. It’s not an IMMEDIATE star making performance like Daunte Martin had in his trios match, but it still did a great job of giving these two the rub! Garrison in particular looked great as his gangly physique belies a very agile and tough customer; one that even Rey Fenix had some trouble overcoming at the start of the match! For the most part though, it’s Pillman’s match as he and Penta spend a lot of time feeling each other out and trading devastating moves against one another. The Lucha Bros end up getting the heat during the commercial and get a few nearfalls on Pillman; one of which is broken up by Garrison so Penta tries to make him pay dearly! Penta’s got Garrison on the apron is about to land a Package Pile Driver when Pillman lands a Springboard kick that sends him to the ground. The victory I short lived however as Fenix drags Pillman out of the ring and the Bros give the Blondes Superkicks before Fenix lands a big Suicide Dive on the two of them. The Blondes try to rally and Pillman catches Fenix in a Springboard DDT to land a Powerbomb, but it only gets a two count and a Springboard Elbow Strike from Garrison only gets a two as well. Garrison eats a Super Kick from Penta that sends him out of the ring and The Bros throw a Superkick Party for Pillman followed by an assisted Piledriver to get the pin. This was a GREAT match that did a lot for the two young guys and they kept it short enough that it didn’t overstay its welcome or overshadow the tag tournament itself. We’re probably a ways off from Garrison and Pillman being at the top of the card, but they are putting in a lot of great work here and I can’t wait to see where they end up going in the next few years!
The Jurassic Express hit the ring after the match and they offer the Lucha Bros a handshake in the spirit of good sportsmanship, but the Young Bucks (the rapacious rapscallions of AEW) come up from behind and shove Jurassic Express into The Lucha Bros. This obvious bit of pot stirring fails completely though as both teams just attack the Bucks in retaliation. I doubt that they’re gonna lose their titles at the PPV, even if there IS a cage to keep The Good Brothers from interfering, but AEW has done a solid job with this tournament on such short notice and I’d be happy with either team facing the Bucks when all is said and done!
Red Velvet Vs. Jamie Hayter
Hayter is accompanied to the ring by Britt Baker and Rebel (Not Reba)
I doubt that Red Velvet herself feels this way, but she has had a ROUGH few weeks, if not months, on this show. Her last victory on Dynamite was against The Bunny in a match where everyone thought she had broken her neck, and she was booed out of the building against Britt Baker despite being the ostensible heel! Now she’s here to put over Jamie Hayter, and even in this match things don’t go great for her. She’s had a lot of time on Dark, Elevation, and even over on NWA, so I guess my view of her is skewed, but as I alluded to a moment ago this match is not doing her many favors in changing that opinion. She starts off strong and charges at Hayter as soon as the bell rings, but Hayter just tanks the blows and is soon getting the heat on Velvet. This goes on a for a while before she eventually gets a hope spot with a few Suicide Dives, but then Baker and Rebel (Not Reba) start interfering which leads to more heat from Hayter. All of this is fine and is doing a decent job of making Hayter look good, but then Velvet lands a Facebuster to try and turn things around… and then she MISSES a Standing Moonsault. Perhaps Hayter was supposed to roll out of the way or something, but you see Velvet jump in the air, fly RIGHT over Jamie’s body and then land on the mat next to her like she did a belly flop in a pool. This HAD to have been intentional though and something must not have gone right as it leads right into the finish of the match, but it did NOT look good for Velvet who is a fine wrestler and has proven herself in several matches already, but just can’t seem to find the right fit or catch the right break to get her to the next level in the division. Hayter gets up after the failed Moonsault and bashes Velvet with a running Clothesline that flips her inside out, and that’s enough for her to get the pin.
Britt, Rebel (Not Reba), and Hayter then start attacking Velvet after the bell has rung, so Statlander hits the ring and chases everyone out. She almost lands what looks to be a DDT on Baker who just barely manages to escape, but not with her belt. Statlander holds it high with Baker looking very peeved about all this, so it at least moved things forward in regards to the title picture even if Velvet didn’t look the best by the end of it.
I’ve gotta be honest, I genuinely prefer Evil Uno when he’s got a bit of menace to him. Sure he can be fun as a goof sometimes, but the Evil Uno that I remember was a guy with a sharp mine, a wicked tongue and a stern hand guiding The Dark Order. We have a Dark Order promo here and I saw a LITTLE glimpse of that here when he talks about how the rest of them didn’t show up for the match he and Stu had last week, but before he can really lay down the law he’s interrupted by Alex Reynolds who blames him for everything that happened to Hangman, which… fair. I mean it’s hard to argue that Hangman wouldn’t be in a MUCH better place if he got some backup when The Elite was attacking him, but Uno should not be taking this lying down and should put Reynolds in his place! Instead, he kinda hangs his head in shame as Reynolds and Silver walk off. I doubt this is the breakup of The Dark Order or even them returning to their former Heel glory, but if we went a LITTLE bit in that direction while Uno brought them all back in line, I wouldn’t be against it!
The Return of CM Punk… THE RETURN AGAIN!
CM Punk is starting to grow on me. His exhuberance is infectious and not what I expected, and most importantly he spends almost all of his time putting over the new talent; particularly Darby Allin who he praises for several minutes in this in ring interview with Tony Schiavone. It’s a LITTLE bit odd that this match is being built entirely out of mutual respect for one another and not say… a feud or something, but for CM Punk’s first match back I guess it makes sense to let the reality of that take precedence over the fake world of pro wrestling storylines.
Speaking of the fake world of pro wrestling storylines, we get a video from Miro who is still ALL IN on the Savior gimmick and seems to be in confession as he talks about forgiving Fuego Del Sol. Sure the guy took the easy way out and accepted a contract despite losing, but God has told him who the TRUE sinner is and it’s none other than Eddie Kingston. I mean… yeah, I buy it. Dude calls himself the Mad King and those tend to not be the good guys in a story. Still, I think I’d take his gritty nasty attitude over Miro’s smug superiority complex and am interested to see what these two can do in the ring. Speaking of Kingston…
Jon Moxley, Eddie Kingston, and Darby Allin Vs. The Wingmen (JD Drake, Cezar Bononi, and Ryan Nemeth) – Trios Match
Darby is accompanied to the ring by Sting while The Wingmen are accompanied by Peter Avalon
Are you serious right now!? How could they have possibly booked a match that was so squarely aimed at me!? I’m probably the world’s biggest stan for the Wingmen who are always fun whenever they show up and honestly rather endearing in their sheer goofy bravado! Also, why is JD Drake wearing suspenders, and why is it a FANTASTIC look for him!? As for the match itself, it’s pretty good! Perhaps not a legendary confrontation that will echo through the ages, but The Wingmen are good stooges for the Baby Faces and everyone gets a moment or two to shine. The Wingmen have trouble making any progress as Darby and Kingston run right through them, but Bononi manages to withstand Kingston’s offense which is enough to get Moxley into the mix who tags himself in, throws Bononi out of the ring, and Kingston knocks Nemeth and Drake off the apron in the process! Bononi takes a serious beating from Moxley for a bit, but The Wingmen ACTUALLY manage to get the heat on Moxley during the commercial break. By the time return, Moxley is trying to life Bononi up for a Suplex which doesn’t work out, but he manages to slip behind Bononi and lands a Back Drop before tagging in Kingston. Bononi needs a minute after eating such a devastating move and so Drake tags in to face off against Kingston who actually manages to get a bit of a lead when Nemeth causes a distraction. Jake goes up to the middle rope to try and put Kingston away, BUT THEN MOXLEY RUNS UP TO HIM AND BITES HIS FACE!! Seems a bit of an underhanded move, but it’s enough for Kingston to get the tag to Darby who picks up where Moxley left off and lands an Avalanche Code Red on Drake! The match devolves into a big brawl outside and Bononi manages to get a few cheap shots on Darby in the chaos. Moxley and Kingston rush in to take him out only for Ryan Nemeth to run in himself and menace them with a chair… which Kingston and Moxley aren’t afraid of and they just whoop his butt. Now that everyone is out of the ring, Darby gets a Stunner on Drake and lands a Coffin Drop to get the pin and win the match. As soon as the bell rings though, Daniel Garcia attacks Darby and then runs out as fast as possible when Sting, Moxley and Kingston go after him. Like I said not a blow away match from any of them, but The Wingmen are absolutely PHENOMENAL as a goofy tag team and I want to see so much more of them! Heck, put them up against Daniel Garcia and 2.0, and see which team wears the biggest clown shoes!
Alex Marvez is trying to interview Tay Conti about the Casino Battle Royale at the PPV, but The Bunny interrupts and offers Tay a spot at HFO. After all, The Dark Order is clearly imploding while HFO is stronger than ever, so it’s an easy choice, right? Well Tay doesn’t think so and tears up the offered contract which Bunny takes as a personal affront and SLAPS her across the face! The two start brawling immediately and a match between them is scheduled for Rampage. Tay’s been off of Dynamite for a while now despite The Dark Order having a pretty consistent presence, but hopefully this match means that AEW is ready to put her in the spotlight again.
We cut to the ring where Kenny and his crew are strutting their way down the ramp and Don Callis grabs the mic to talk trash about Christian Cage. Before he can REALLY get into his rant, Christian comes out and… I guess alleges some sort of conspiracy between Callis and Omega? Apparently some sort of video was floating around on the inter-webs last week about how Cage’s past with Don Callis, and honestly I just don’t care. I can barely keep this ONE show straight in my head and we’re only two years into it; why are we dragging up stuff from the mid-nineties? In any case, Callis and Kenny don’t refute whatever it is that Cage is alleging, and instead use it as an excuse to dress him down yet again. Cage shoves Callis which prompts Omega and his crew to stomp him only for Frankie Kazarian to run out with a lead pipe and chase them away. I don’t know, it’s gonna take more than Christian Cage arguing about stuff from almost three decades ago and Kazarian just kinda showing up after his big loss to Gallows for me to get more invested in this title match. I still want to see it, but not to any degree more than I did before seeing the segment.
Jon Moxley is in the back and informs us that he got a contract back from New Japan. It wasn’t Tanahashi who signed it, but Kojima Satoshi who stepped up to the plate for a match at All Out. I don’t know who that is, but I’m sure it’ll be a good match!
The Gunn Club Vs. The Factory – Trios Match
Paul Wight joins the commentary team for this match
I was kinda hoping that Austin Gunn being back after the injury he got from Anthony Ogogo would come with a bit more fanfare, but I guess having a pretty good match on national television is as good as any WELCOME BACK celebration; especially when The Factory gets the jobber entrance! This honestly might be the best match of the night as we’ve got a lot of people here who are a lot better in the ring than you’d expect. QT has ALWAYS been a phenomenal in ring worker who proves it every time he’s in the ring, and Austin Gunn has SUCH enthusiasm and an explosive in ring style that he’s fun to watch whenever get a chance to fight! Comoroto is big and strong, Solow’s got some serious chops, and even Colton who’s not QUITE as explosive as his younger brothers has some great moments here! In fact, if there’s one thing about this match that’s a bit underwhelming, it’s that Billy Gunn is barely in this. I get that he’s getting up in years and can’t do nearly as much as he used to, but his total ring time here is one bump off the apron, tossing Comoroto over the ropes, and taking a clothesline outside the ring. It eventually comes down to Colton and QT and it’s not looking so good for the eldest Gunn son, but then QT starts taunting Paul Wight who gets up and starts staring him down which is enough of a distraction for Colton to roll him up and just BARELY get the three count! The match was short, explosive, a little bit funny with Austin just cranking things up to eleven, so for me it was darn near perfect! There are a lot of people on this show that I want to see more of in future episodes, and The Gunn Club is certainly high up on that list!
Dan Lambert cuts another promo about how terrible Millenials and AEW are, but this time he’s flanked by Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page instead of his MMA guys. The gimmick hasn’t run its course just YET, but this one started to feel a bit long in the tooth and I hope that we build to an ACTUAL match at some point.
Malakai Black Vs. Brock Anderson
Brock is accompanied to the ring by Arn Anderson
The only reason this match goes for more than twelve seconds is because Malakai WANT it to go on for me than twelve seconds. Brock gets ONE take down right off the bat, but that lasts for barely five seconds before Black is in control and lands a wicked knee strike to the kids’ face. Now he could just give him another kick like the one he gave Cody, but he wants this match to end differently; specifically he wants Arn Anderson to throw in the towel for his boy, so he’s gonna let him suffer until he does. Arn, who must not have seen Rocky IV, throws the towel to the ground in defiance and Black wastes a few moments telling him to pick it back up. Brock lands a few leg shots during this distraction, but Black lands an Exploder followed by a roundhouse kick, and that’s all she wrote. Black takes his time to pin Brock, knowing that he guy isn’t gonna move anytime soon, and gets the pin with ease. It’s not over yet however as Arn rushes in to help Brock while Black grabs a chair and starts menacing Arn with it. Arn is not about to back down and even convinces Black to drop the chair; all the while the ref is doing NOTHING about this! In fact, the dude just bails which is both bewildering and utterly hilarious, but to Arn’s credit he DOES block one kick from Black! Good for him! And then he eats a kick and is just as dead as his son. Now I would have ended the episode there, but for whatever reason they had Lee Johnson come out to try and confront Black who just blows him off and heads for the back. I’m assuming that’s going to be the next match for Black, but I’m hoping they give him a much more worthy opponent for the PPV which is coming up in just over a week, so we’ve got no time to lose!
I can’t say this was a bad episode as I enjoyed almost every match on it, but something about it didn’t quite click for me. We’re definitely in PPV mode as we’ve only got one more Dynamite left to set everything up so I guess things feel a bit rushes here and there, but I think it’s more that everything feels a bit perfunctory in this episode. We’ve got matches that are just kind of there for the crowd like the opening match and the Wingmen, and the segments that were there to get us excited for the big show like the one with Omega and Cage just kind of fell flat for me. This episode is certainly in an unenviable position what with it being the lead in for both Rampage and Dynamite while ALSO moving forward on PPV storylines and for what they had to do I think they did a fine job of it; I just don’t think it’s going to be one of the more memorable episodes of the year; even with Malakai Black coming a double homicide in the middle of the ring.