AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
It’s the last Dynamite before the All Out PPV and AEW is frantically trying to put all the pieces in place! Sure, they’ve got the in-ring return of CM Punk that’s gonna sell the show to a whole lot of people, but have they done a good enough job of building the card outside of their gigantic acquisition, or is this Go Home show just confirming that everything rests of CM Punk’s shoulders? Let’s find out!!
FTR Vs. Proud N Powerful
FTR is accompanied to the ring by Tully Blanchard
The last time these two teams met in the ring was kind of a disaster; not just because of the injury to Cash Wheeler’s arm that cut the match short, but even before that it was kind of a nothing match. Not a BAD match but one that didn’t live up to the hype of seeing two of the best tag teams working today lock it up in the ring. Thankfully they pull off a MUCH better match here with an engaging story being told throughout it. At first it starts off a bit slow and cautious, but eventually things start to pick up with Proud N Powerful in firm control of the match; so much so that I started to wonder if we were supposed to be cheering for FTR. I mean Dax Harwood IS pretty much fighting on his own as his recently injured partner stays on the apron, but eventually Cash DOES get the blind tag starts throwing the unaware Ortiz into the posts, and the team starts to get the heat. If that wasn’t enough to reconfirm their Heel status, Cash rips a turnbuckle pad off while Dax is working over Ortiz and they seem to be trying to injure Ortiz’s arm as retribution for what happened to Cash. It’s at this point that it hardly even feels like a wrestling match as no one is going for pins and are just trying to hurt one another, but eventually Ortiz gets the hot tag to Santana who hits the Three Amigos (three rolling Suplexes) and follows with a Frog Splash for a two count which was the first near fall of the night. The story then shifts to one of both teams trying to land their tandem finishers but narrowly missing the window or getting it reversed by the other team. Santana and Ortiz set up for something in the corner but Dax knocks Santana off the top turnbuckle and Cash lands a Gory Special for a two count. FTR get the Big Rig on Ortiz but Santana jumps on them to break up the pin. Back and forth the two teams go until Santana and Ortiz get a big combo and get the pin on Cash to win the match. I liked the story in this and the match was genuinely growing on me as it went along, so good on them for bringing some closure to this storyline, and hopefully they will have SAFE matches like this in the future. After all, there are three things you can always count on in life; death, taxes, and the unending nature of this feud between The Pinnacle and The Inner Circle!
We cut to 2.0 in the back who are pumping up their boy Daniel Garcia who has a match against Darby Allin on Rampage! It’s a hilariously over the top verbal assault, and WWE not finding a place for these two guys is almost as bad as letting Jon Moxley, Jericho, and the freaking Big Show slip through their fingers!
The Return of the Return of the Return of CM Punk!
CM Punk gets his usual standing ovation from the crowd as he comes out to the ring and he is quite self-effacing here when he starts to talk; almost as if he’s uncomfortable with just how much the people adore him. Sure he tells us just how much of a rush it is to come out to Cult of Personality and hear the roar of the crowd, but he makes it clear that he’s probably got a lot more ring rust than they are expecting; he hasn’t wrestled in seven years and he’s certainly in a company that has a higher bar for in-ring work than the other place he was at; especially against such an immense talent as Darby Allin. Before he can get much further than that though, Daniel Garcia and 2.0 rush the ring and attack him! He tries to fight them off but he is overwhelmed and RIGHT as 2.0 and Garcia are about to lose steam (I think there was a timing issue here), Sting and Darby Allin come out to make the save. With those two backing Punk up, the three of them manage to fight off the attackers and land their big moves; Darby gets the Coffin Drop, Sting gets the Scorpion Death Drop, and CM Punk lands his first GTS in I don’t know how long. With the threat neutralized, Sting grabs a mic and talks to CM Punk which as far as I know is PROBABLY the first time they’ve interacted, and Sting announces that he will NOT be at ringside during the match at All Out! As far as Punk’s “wrestling” performance here, I think he made a solid case that he’s still in ring shape and more than anything else that the crowd is HUNGRY to see him fight again, so whatever trepidations he’s feeling are hopefully assuaged after getting this little workout!
One of the biggest matches that was added to the show VERY recently is the match between MJF and Jericho that has the retirement stipulation and they discuss it a few times in this episode; primarily with a sit down interview between Tony Schiavone and MJF as well as an in-ring interview between JR and Jericho. The MJF interview is exactly what you’d expect it to be as MJF speaks condescendingly about Jericho’s long and illustrious career before once again confirming that he is in the past and MJF is the future. It’s sad that Jericho needs the spotlight as much as he does and so MJF has to be AEW’s stepdad; moving in and filling the shoes of the old man who used to be there. It’s a good promo and MJF is a fantastic heel as always, but we’ve been on this treadmill for a while now and it’s nothing we haven’t heard before since this whole feud started. The more interesting promo is the in-ring one with JR because it gets SUPER emotional. JR sounds like he’s close to tears, Jericho makes sure to throw out a few nostalgic lines for the fans in the crowd, he even makes sure to put AEW over as much as possible; all of which feels like checking off a list Jericho wrote a long time ago when he was deciding how he wanted to get out of the business. It’s a great promo for what Jericho is trying to accomplish, and if nothing else they’ve at least given me a LITTLE bit of doubt that Jericho is gonna win on Sunday.
Orange Cassidy Vs. Jack Evans
Matt Hardy WAS going to accompany Jack Evans, but Hardy rushes Cassidy before the bell rings and is promptly ejected. Now TH2 as a team is pretty underrated considering the talent those two guys have, but they get to shine every once in a while and this match is no exception. In fact I think I liked it more than Cassidy’s match last week which was okay but kind of languid and messy. Cassidy is not messing around here and is going after Jack Evans with ruthless efficiency. A Swinging DDT gets Cassidy an early two count and Jack Evans leaves the ring to catch his breath but then Cassidy comes after him with a Suicide Dive eats a Suicide Dive before throwing him back in the ring to land Cross Body for another two count. He then lands a Michinoku Driver for his THIRD two count of the night and follows it up with the Lousy Kicks. Evans finally gets his second wind and the two start to fight more competitively as they go into the commercial… and then Cassidy rolls him up and wins during the picture in picture segment!? Apparently this is VERY much intentional as AEW wants people to stick through the commercials so putting a finish in there tells everyone to stick around. When we come back to full screen, Cassidy gets attacked by Matt Hardy only for Wheeler Yuta and Chuck Taylor hit the ring. The rest of HFO hits the ring as well though and overwhelm the Baby Faces before Jurassic Express runs out and chases HFO away. I don’t know if the picture-in-picture finish thing is gonna work, especially since they made sure to show a replay as soon as they got back, but aside from that odd choice I did enjoy this match quite a bit. It was nothing to write home about and the crowd wasn’t as into it as they were for Matt Hardy last week, but it got in and out without using up any more time than it needed to.
All Out is in just a few days so we get a couple of video promos to build up some of those matches; Miro and Eddie Kingston trading barbs back and forth, and Moxley ranting about Kojima. Both of these matches feel rushed as we’ve had almost no time to build them up and one of the competitors hasn’t even been on TV yet, but the ones who are there are all great talkers and so they do what they can to make these matches feel important. Even if they aren’t the marquee matches that will sell everyone on the show, I’m still eager to see how they both play out!
Brian Cage Vs. Powerhouse Hobbs
Hobbs is accompanied to the ring by Hook and Taz joins the commentary team for this match
It’s a simple fact that Powerhouse Hobbs has not been in the ring as much as he should be considering how quickly he got over with the crowd. Working with Team Taz certainly helped to paper over and slowly build up whatever flaws he has considering he’s still relatively green, but he’s spent most of his time standing to the side of the Team Taz story; not as much as Hook who’s still never had a match, but him finally getting a shot against Cage feels long overdue! Speaking of cage, he attacks Hobbs during the ring entrance which further indicates that his turn to the good side is gonna be a long one, and he maintains a strong lead until Hook causes a distraction. This gives Hobbs an opening to turn things in his favor and he gets the heat during the commercial in case it wasn’t clear which of the two we were supposed to be cheering for. The rest of the match is the two of them trying to out-brute-force each and both are about equally matched in terms of strength. What gives Cage an edge though is his athleticism which allows him to land a few significant blows to swing things in his favor. Hobbs gets one of his classic Spine Busters that certainly winds Cage, but Cage is a big enough dude that it doesn’t completely destroy him and he makes a comeback with a knee strike and a BIG slam to the ground. Hobbs tries rolling to the apron to catch his breath, but Cage grabs him and lands a Bottom Rope Suplex from OVER the rope which was quite impressive to see! It’s clear that Hobbs is done for, but then Hook starts distracting the ref and Ricky Starks out of NOWHERE bashes Cage over the head with the FTW belt. Hobbs lands a Stampede and gets the pin. It was a pretty good match overall, and like the Cassidy match it didn’t overstay its welcome. Guys THIS big slugging it out can sometimes be repetitive, but there’s enough variety in their offense and personality in their style that it popped quite a bit and as always I hope to see more of Hobbs in the immediate future! That said, I think we’ve got to get a new angle going here for the Team Taz Vs Cage feud as they’ve pretty much run through the matches they can do with it and I don’t see much of a direction that they’re heading towards.
QT and The Factory are in the ring for no other reason than for QT to whinge at the crowd before calling out Paul Wight. Paul of course obliges the sad little man and comes out to a HUGE pop from the crowd. He also comes out ALONE and is swarmed the moment he hits the ring, but he does the classic Big Man spot where they’re all on him and he just RAARRRGGH and everyone goes flying! Aaron Solow then tries to land a top rope move against Wight, but he literally swats him out of the air like a fly which was absolutely hilarious and once again the crowd pops for the former Big Show. The Gunn Club comes down to the ring, though I’m not sure why as Paul’s doing JUST fine on his own, and QT tries to come in with a chair only for Billy Gunn to just take it and shove him off the apron. The crowd is repeatedly shouting QT SUCKS as he sheepishly walks up the ramp as we end a great segment that had the simple task of pumping people up before seeing this twerp get crushed at the PPV!
Wait, what was that? Did Billy… did Bill just hit Paul with the chair!? In case it wasn’t clear enough, Billy hits him AGAIN with the chair, and all three members of The Gunn Club walk up the ramp past the STUNNED QT Marshall! Not missing this opportunity though, The Factory go back to the ring and hold Paul up so that QT can land a Diamond Cutter and stand tall over him! WHAT!? Now credit where it’s do, I did NOT see this coming and it’s a GREAT dramatic twist! However, I’m concerned about turning The Gunns heel at this point; especially in service of an angle that was doing just fine without this twist. They’re in a precarious spot where the crowd likes them but more as a novelty than anything else; seeing Billy and his kids run roughshod over geeks or being used to build up heels for bigger matches. I just don’t know if Austin and Colton can get over just yet without the goodwill from the crowd, but I’m VERY interested to see what happens next.
After that we get a bit of an odd segment as Britt Baker announces that she’s staying at AEW and has signed a new contract… and that she was allowed to set up a Handicap match on Friday? I guess she could have negotiated a bunch of other stuff that we’re just not privy to, but imagine using some of your clout to force Tony Khan to set up an unfair match to get you to stay. It’s not even like she set up a TERRIFYING Handicap match either as it’s just gonna be Rebel (not Reba) and Jamie Hayter against Kris Statlander at Rampage, and honestly the inclusion of Rebel (Not Reba) is more likely to HURT Hayter’s chances than improve them! Still, the match is in a few days and Statlander doesn’t come off like a strong opponent, so this is more or less the last Hail Mary attempt to get people invested in the title match.
Tay Conti Vs. Penelope Ford
Ford is accompanied to the ring by The Bunny
While I’ll give this match credit for some decent moves and for not overstaying its welcome, it was just kind of there and I didn’t feel much about it one way or the other. Both of these women are solid workers with Tay’s Judo background and Ford’s impressive gymnastics, but the emotional highs and lows were not there for this to feel like anything more than an exhibition. They go back and forth for a while with solid moves, and things finally take a turn when The Bunny tried to trip Tay. She doesn’t succeed as Tay is still standing tall, but she goes after The Bunny which means she’s turning her back on Ford who charges after her now that she’s nice and distracted. But wait! Tay sense that she’s coming and jumps away so that Ford rushes towards The Bunny instead! She puts on the breaks at the last moment, but then Tay just shoves Ford into The Bunny; knocking the latter to the ground and rolling up the former to get the pin and win the match. It’s not over yet though as Ford and Bunny start attacking Tay together, but none other than Anna Jay comes down the ramp to chase them off. Anna Jay is not only cleared to wrestle after her arm injury but will be in the Casino Battle Royale. As an Anna Jay introduction it did its job, but I’m kind of surprised that a match between two women I think are genuinely talented just felt like nothing all that special.
Thunder Rosa is being interviewed by Alex Marvez about the Casino Battle Royale, but Marvez uses his Loki energy to draw Nyla Rose and Jade Cargill to them and they start beating down Thunder Rosa. The two of them then start to stare each other down in anticipation for the Casino Battle Royale and honestly it’s one of the matches I’m looking forward to the most! Battle Royales haven’t ALWAYS been great at AEW, but they’re always a novelty and they’ve definitely been working overtime to build this one up.
The Lucha Bros & Jurassic Express Vs. The Young Buck & The Good Brothers – Eight Man Tag Match
The Luchas Bros are accompanied by Alex Abrahantes, Jurassic Express is accompanied by Marko Stunt, and Don Callis joins the commentary team for this match
Matches with this many wrestlers running around are not the easiest thing to cover so I’ll try to stick with the highlights here. All eight guys are extremely talented in their own ways and we get to see unique matchups throughout it and frankly not much in terms of flow or story. Sure the heels get the heat during the commercial as they are oft to do, but it’s all spots all the time with the crowd going wild throughout; especially with some awesome Luchasaurus spots as he tosses everyone around and assist Jungle Boy in landing some big moves! If there’s ONE through-line they try to get across, it’s that The Bucks and The Lucha Bros are equal matches for each other as they often mirror moves and take equal damage from equal offense. The only way that The Bucks can get a leg up on them is by cheating, and sure enough there’s a point where The Lucha Bros set up for an Assisted Pile Driver only for Rey to be interrupted by Brandon Cutler. The Good Brothers take out Penta and land a Magic Killer on Rey, but the pin is interrupted by Luchasaurus. The Bucks then go for a BTE Trigger on Rey, but he escapes and lands a Double Cutter on them. It looks like The Lucha Bros may be able to pull it off after all, but the damage is done and The Bucks have the upper hand. Rey goes for a Springboard Crossbody, but The Bucks catch him and then IMMEDIATELY set up for the Meltzer Driver which they land on Rey and get the pin; winning the match ahead of the PPV. Still, the match at All Out is going to be a cage match which theoretically takes away The Bucks one advantage, so it’s not a complete burial for Rey to get pinned here tonight. I like the tag match on Rampage with The Lucha Bros and Jurassic Express more than this one, but it’s hard to make a match with this many people click the way that a straightforward tag match can, and for what they had to work with everyone brought their A-Game.
Kenny Omega and Michael Nakazawa come out to celebrate with their friends which involves pounding Jurassic Express and The Lucha Bros. The Good Brothers land a Magic Killer on Luchasaurus, sending him through a table in the process, and Kenny starts berating Jungle Boy before Christian Cage runs in and tries to clean house. He’s quickly overwhelmed however and it turns out this was all a trap as Kenny and Callis have SOMEHOW gotten the remote control for the steel cage above the ring which descends from the ceiling and locks The Lucha Bros and Christian Cage inside with The Elite. A bunch of Baby Faces including Kazarian, Daunte Martin, and Orange Cassidy come out, but they can’t DO anything because the cage is down! They try to climb the cage, but Brandon Cutler is spraying them with the cold spray which causes them to fall over like flies; leaving the three men in the ring challenging for The Elites belts helpless against this onslaught, and the episode comes to an end with Kenny and The Bucks standing tall above their broken opponents.
Honestly, they probably could have done MORE to sell the PPV than they did here as half the matches have nothing to do with Sunday’s show. For the most part they left the sales pitch to promos and video segments which could have been expanded on; particularly the Moxley fight as those of us not in the New Japan loop could have used an appearance from Kojima himself to really get an idea for what to expect on All Out. Still, the matches were fun and the promos were solid so there’s not much to complain about here; I just hope that the PPV will live up to the massive hype. They’ve got more than enough talent on hand and great matchups for it to be a classic show and I’m confident it won’t be anywhere NEAR bad, I just hope they can deliver as much as the fans are clearly expecting them to.