AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
AEW is on a huge hot streak right now so I don’t begrudge them trying to ride it out for as long as they can, but having another BIG EVENT SHOW so soon after All Out and adding an extra hour to Rampage is starting to feel a bit excessive even if they are still putting on fantastic matches. I guess I shouldn’t complain that AEW is giving us stuff we’ve always wanted to see just because we’re getting those things back to back, but can AEW keep up this momentum without burning out their audience; specifically ME? Let’s find out!!
Kenny Omega Vs. Bryan Danielson
Yeah, we’re not wasting any time here and are STARTING with what should be the main event of the show; a match that people have been waiting YEARS to see! Now that’s not to say that they don’t have ANY sense of restraint as the first few minutes of this match are about milking this for all its worth as both guys won’t even touch each other, but it’s clear that AEW wants this to be the biggest show in Dynamite history and their strategy is to pack every minute with something that will make the fans go wild! The two circle each other for a bit with swipes but no contact and even some sassy shenanigans with rope breaks, but they eventually start to hit each other and Danielson gets an early lead after twisting Omega’s arm in a Knuckle Lock. With that, he starts to land a bunch of chops and kicks in the corner, tosses Omega over the ropes to then follows up with a Suicide Dive, and he even lands a Top Rope Knee Strike to Omega’s arm; all to soften him up and get him to the mat for a submission from Danielson, but he makes the mistake of NOT putting him in the LeBell Lock which Omega tapped to pretty quickly the last time they had a scrape in the ring. Because of this, Kenny manages to fight back and gets a fair bit of offense in as the match goes back and forth between the two, and I’ve gotta say that Danielson has GOT to have the most sensitive skin in the entire business because Kenny turns his chest BEET RED with these chops and it only gets more pronounced as the match goes on. Speaking of “going on” this is a LONG match and clearly done with the intent to give the people a PPV quality bout, so we won’t be going over EVERY move and will just hit some of the highlights in this VERY excellent match! A Lot of big and risky moves throughout which made me nervous considering BOTH of their medical problems in the past (and present) with Omega going for a dive over the ropes to the floor where Danielson may NOT have completely caught him as Omega seems to have landed pretty hard on the floor. If that wasn’t bad enough, Danielson eats a Snap Dragon Suplex on the ramp and takes a Buckle Bomb that was a bit off-center so he ended up tumbling through the ropes instead of landing his back on the buckle. Thank goodness he only tumbled to the ramp and not to the floor, but these guys REALLY don’t need to be taking these kinds of risks. The two men go back and forth, Moonsaults, V-Triggers, Yes Kicks, just nonstop violence being inflicted upon each other to the delight and horror of the crowd! Both men are starting to show their weariness as they start getting near falls on one another, but it’s clear that Omega’s got a slight edge here and his cockiness rears its ugly head when he breaks up a ten count that would have won him the match but instead he wants to inflict more pain on Danielson. He gets Danielson on the top turnbuckle for an Avalanche Dragon Suplex, but Danielson drops down and escapes only to get up behind Kenny on the turnbuckle and lands an Avalanche Back Drop! Despite hitting such a devastating move, Danielson is not able to capitalize, but it’s clear that he’s far from done as they start trading blows once again. Omega gets the advantage once again and manages to land that Avalanche Dragon Suplex he was denied moments earlier, but even that wasn’t enough to put Danielson away as he only gets a two count! Omega tries to go for the One Winged Angel, but even in his current state Danielson is not about to take it and pulls Omega back into a Hurricanrana. It’s clear that he’s not gonna win with that so he goes for a Phoenix Splash only for Danielson to roll away, and now Danielson has him! They start trading blows and Danielson gets the better of the exchange and goes for the LeBell Lock… only for Omega to get the ropes! It’s a desperate melee to see who comes out on top with the two of them trading big moves until…
*DING* *DING* *DING*
Time’s up. The thirty minute time limit has been reached, Danielson appeared to be mere moments away from locking the LeBell lock back in, but it’s too late and the match is a draw! Danielson keeps fighting and The Elite have to run down to break it up before The Bucks and Adam Cole give Danielson a Superkick Party at which point Christian Cage and the Jurassic Express run down to make the save. This was probably the BEST way for AEW to end it given their long term plans, but I don’t think the crowd was too appreciative. There was definitely a sense of being robbed as the crowd started to boo when the bell had rung, but I think the Pros of this kind of ending outweigh it’s rather glaring Con. Yes, you don’t get a proper finish and yes the first match between Omega and Danielson ended in boos, but this definitely means we’re getting another match between these two and now that Danielson has done the one match he needed to do, he can have other matches with whoever else he wants to face in the lead up to the Omega rematch. I think that’s ultimately the better option than just holding off Danielson for several months until the next PPV, and it’s not like the Time Limit rule shouldn’t be exercised every once in a while just so you know it is a legitimate factor in a match. It’ll probably get some pushback in some circles, but I thought it was a good ending to an already fantastic match!
CM Punk comes out for a promo (where he acknowledges that he’s gonna have a hard time following THAT match) and the dude is spitting fire like he hasn’t since he joined AEW. Oh sure, the positivity is still there as he puts over the brand, the wrestlers, and the fans, but he’s got an ax to grind against Team Taz and he doesn’t think Hobbs is ready to see the old school CM Punk come back! Whether he’s ready or not though, they are gonna meet in the ring on the next Rampage and Punk is ready to put him to sleep! Really good stuff from Punk as usual and I’m glad that he’s getting deeper into the day-to-day goings on at the company; not just the big name showing up to pop ratings but having matches with the rank and file guys. Will Hobbs is definitely one of the most promising new talents AEW has and I hope that they have a great match!
Brian Pillman Jr Vs. MJF
Pillman is accompanied to the ring by Julia Hart while MJF is accompanied by Wardlow
I wouldn’t say that this match is as good as the opener, not by a long shot, but I think I liked it about as much; albeit for completely different reasons. Where the opener was a brilliantly executed wrestling match between two top stars, this is a fun wrestling story playing out in the ring with a big Baby Face hero and a dastardly Heel! MJF is SUCH a great opponent for a guy like Pillman to have as his skills as a worker coupled with his sensational Heel Charisma practically carries the match on its own. Pillman is no slouch however as he does his part to make this match work and it’s amazing how much better and more confident Pillman looks here than he did in his match against Max Caster. The story at the start of the match is that both guys are too interested in showing the other up to actually win the match. Pillman Jr gets some solid offense out at first but plays to the crowd instead of following up on it, and a big slap from MJF could have been his comeback but he starts yelling at Pillman instead of pressing the offensive which gives Pillman a chance to clock him in the face. Things do eventually slow down a bit as MJF gets some offense in and he land a Judo Throw on Pillman that starts the heat segment as we go to commercial. The plan for MJF, who’s starting to take Pillman more seriously, is to work over the arm relentlessly so that once he locks in The Salt of the Earth that Pillman will be forced to tap out immediately. It also has the benefit of stymying Pillman’s offense as his arm starts to give him a lot of trouble, but still gets a few moves in that give MJF a run for his money. After a Power Slam leads to a two count, MJF rolls out of the ring and makes his most DESPICABLE move yet by holding Julia Hart like a hostage. Not sure how this isn’t an automatic DQ, but it doesn’t last too long as MJF tosses her into Pillman and manages to land a big lariat in the confusion. He throws Pillman back into the ring to finish him off, but Hart starts yelling at him and he’s about to attack Hart when Pillman lands a Drop Kick through the ropes. It’s then Pillman’s turn to throw MJF back into the ring and he goes for the Air Pillman… but MJF catches him in mid-air and locks in the Salt of the Earth. With Pillman’s arm already damaged, he’s forced to tap out and MJF wins the match. I really enjoyed it for all its over the top Heel/Face shenanigans, and say what you will about MJF, the dude is a consummate professional and rarely will have anything short of a great match!
Jericho and Jake Hager are in the back talking about their upcoming match against The Men of the Year on the Rampage show, and the fact that Men of the Year DIDN’T come out and attack them despite Alex Marvez being the interviewer feels like a diversion; an intentional misdirect to throw me off his trail! I’M ON TO YOU, LOKI!
Cody Rhodes Vs. Malakai Black
Cody is accompanied to the ring by Arn Anderson and Brandi Rhodes
So far we’ve had two matches that have knocked it out of the park for what they were trying to accomplish, and unfortunately here is where things start to waver a bit. It’s still a REALLY good match, but there were some rough spots in this and the fact is that the buildup didn’t exactly put the crowd in the proper mindset and so the cheers and boos in this were a bit wonky. It starts off strong with the two going back and forth with very cool looking takedowns and reversals, and Brandi even gets a fun moment to mock Malakai Black right in the middle of the ring… but this crowd is ABSOLUTELY on Team Black and so Cody is doing all the Baby Face moves but is getting booed the entire time. I mean Cody lands a Disaster Kick to Malakai Black on the ramp, and the crowd didn’t pop for it; so much so that Cody breaks kayfabe a bit and has a pretty bewildered looking expression on his face! Oh, but when Malakai Black lands a Leaping Knee Strike to Cody, THEN the crowd is into it again! Black has a pretty decisive lead with that spot and starts to mount a serious offense against him until he gets his Roundhouse Kick of DEATH that hits its mark but sends Cody outside of the ring. Here’s where we get another spot that’s just kind of odd as Black chases after Cody and tries to drag him into the ring… only for Black to not have the upper body strength to lift his limp body and instead just rolls in and hopes for the ten count. I don’t know about that; Cody and Black are ABOUT the same size and I just had trouble believing in it, but I guess they wanted a way for the match to keep going after the Roundhouse Kick, so Cody barely manages to make it in before the ten count. Cody gets a second wind here (to the disdain of the crowd), and tries to work over Malakai’s leg to try and limit the power of his kicks. He manages to twist his legs in the ropes with a Dragon Screw and hyper-extends the knee, but Black is not just good at kicking and manages to land a Spinning Forearm and a really impressive throw that sends Cody crashing into the mat. Cody keeps going for the Cross Rhodes and manages to land it after a Cody Cutter, but even that wasn’t enough to keep Black down as he kicks out at two; an event that gets Arn up on the apron and leads to our NEXT awkward spot in the match. Arn is up on one side of the apron and it’s clear he needs to be on the adjacent side for whatever spot is coming next. This means he has to swing around the turnbuckle which is no big deal, but he manages to slip and fall which means the wrestlers have to sit in the middle of the ring until Arn can get back up on the apron and in the right position. It was all for a spot where, you guessed it, Cody is thrown into Arn who then takes a bump off the apron. Props to the guy for taking TWO bumps in this match, but it was still pretty goofy to see. Cody goes to check on Arn who tells him to get back in the ring to finish things up which he tries to do by bashing Black in the corner, but when the ref tries to get him out of it, he actually takes a swing at him! Cody has always kinda ridden the line between Baby Face and Heel but even with that this was a pretty unexpected turn, and when he turns back around to face Black he eats a face full of black mist before getting rolled up into a pin. I will say that this is NOT how I expected the match to go, but I’m not sure if you’d call that a good thing in this instance. There were some awkward spots, the crowd was not playing along with the story, and the ending was honestly a bit baffling and I’m honestly not sure how the crowd is gonna react to Black the next time they see him. I think that the cheers for Malakai Black would have been unavoidable no matter what they did, but the fact that it seemed to come as a shock to Cody is perhaps why they should have done a promo or two before jumping right back into the rematch. Perhaps a few words from Cody or a bit more context for Malakai’s recent assault on his family would have swayed the audience a bit, and maybe if they had this kind of feedback in segments prior to the match they could have adjusted for it. I’d still say it’s a good match, but it’s a wrong place wrong time situation and perhaps they can make it work with one more rematch WAY down the line.
Sting & Darby Allin Vs. FTR
FTR is accompanied to the ring by Tully Blanchard
I’m sure a lot of people are going to enjoy this match, but it just wasn’t for me. I don’t know, it’s one thing when it’s a goofy team like Men of the Year or 2.0 selling for Sting’s offense, but with FTR it just kind of looks silly and there’s not much to this match other than the novelty of seeing Sting in the ring. If that’s what you’re here for, then you’re gonna get your money’s worth because he’s in the ring for the majority of the match, and while he doesn’t take any serious bumps in this he DOES get pretty physical! Dax Harwood is the first to try and tangle with sting who immediately gets outclassed, but what’s the point of being in a tag team if your partner isn’t gonna cheat, and sure enough Sting gets grabbed by Cash and the two of them start beating on the Icon. He manages to escape through lands Scoop Slams on BOTH of them before he Shoulder Checks Dax and finishes his run with a head butt to his balls. An interesting maneuver and possibly a callback to something, but in any case, it’s Darby’s turn to run wild and he starts landing Coffin Splashes all over the place until he tries for a Coffin Drop from the post to the floor only to be caught by FTR who throw him into the apron. They get the heat for a bit and Tully eventually tries to remove Darby’s face paint which his enough to get him charged up and to run wild again before tagging in Sting. He stops Dax in his tracks with a Spine Buster and gets to work on Cash when Dax somehow managed to overcome Darby and is attempting a Pile Driver. Sting, in probably his best spot of the match, gets up to the turnbuckle and lands a splash with such perfect accuracy that he hits the standing Dax and just barely avoids the bent-over Darby! An impressive move that only gets him a two count but definitely put FTR on edge, so Dax goes for the Tombstone Pile Driver to finish off Sting, but he manages to wriggle out and calls for Darby to land a Scorpion Death Drop/ Coffin Drop combo. Cash knocks Darby off the corner however so Sting grabs Cash and tosses him to and fro along with Dax Harwood. A Scorpion Death Drop on Cash keeps him out of the way and so Sting goes for another Stinger Splash on Dax, but he moves away to reveal Tully has a chair in the corner. Sting sees it and manages to stop himself mid-Splash and tosses a charging Dax into the ropes. It’s time to bring this home so Sting puts Dax in the Scorpion Death Lock and Darby wipes out Cash with a Coffin Drop; forcing Dax to tap and win the match for Sting and Darby. I guess I got into the match a little bit with Sting doing a pretty impressive job given his limitations at this point, but where the MJF/Pillman match felt like old school goofy wrestling fun, this kind of slipped over into being TOO silly as FTR are probably not the team that should be sacrificed to Sting at this point. It’d be a bit different if Darby had ANY real offense here, but he got almost nothing while Sting got the spotlight for the entire match. Not a bad match by any stretch but it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea.
Britt Baker Vs. Ruby Soho – AEW Women’s Title Match
Baker is accompanied to the ring by Jamie Hayter and Rebel (Not Reba)
Ruby’s had a couple of okay matches since coming to AEW and Britt Baker’s title run hasn’t been filled with classic title defenses, so both of these women have a clear interest in making this a barn burner of a match; especially being the main event of a show that has already raised the bar significantly even by AEW standards! To their credit, while they certainly had the poor misfortune to try and end a show like this, they gave a darn good performance and it’s probably Baker’s best title defense since winning the belt. It starts off well enough with a feeling out process as they go through lock ups, mat work, and holds, but once Soho lands a knee to the face of Baker it’s clear that the champ genuinely sees her as a threat as she immediately bails out to regroup with her associates. Soho tries to capitalize on this with a top rope Cross Body, but she only manages to wipe out Hayter and Rebel (Not Reba) as Baker avoids the move and uses this distraction to land a Thrust Kick followed by a Draping Swinging Neckbreaker. Baker gets the heat during the commercial and then Ruby starts her comeback with an elbow to the face and by driving Baker face-first into the middle turnbuckle. Baker tries to fight back and goes for a Fisherman Neckbreaker, but Soho escapes and lands a Back Drop. Not to be underestimated, Baker manages to get up and land a Thrust Kick to Soho that knocks her to the mat and gives the both of them time to recover and continue the fight. They have a strike exchange on the way up that Ruby gets the better of with a few head butts, and despite Baker wriggling out of a few of Ruby’s moves, she does go for a Stomp that misses and finds herself in a Half Crab Submission. Ruby then Catapults her into the corner followed by a Step Up Enziguri and a Top Rope Senton to get a two count. Britt’s not to be dismissed just yet however as she fights back and lands a Fisherman’s Neckbreaker followed by a Thrust Kick for a two count, and a failed attempt by Ruby to Suplex her from the apron to the floor (which sounds like the WORST IDEA IMAGINABLE), Baker manages to land an Avalanche Air Raid Crash. Now it’s Ruby’s turn to roll out and save herself, but with Baker close behind she ends up eating a stomp on the steel steps before being dragged in and eating another stomp in the middle of the ring. This gets a two count for Baker and Ruby returns the favor with a No Future kick; however she is not able to capitalize as she is forced to fend off both Rebel (Not Reba) and Jamie Hayter who are on the apron. Rebel (Not Reba) goes down pretty easily, but Jamie manages to snap Rebel’s neck on the top rope. As she stumbles back she falls right into the arms of Baker who locks in the Lock Jaw and gets her to tap. And so Baker retains her title and celebrates with her cronies as the episode comes to an end.
AEW set out to give us the biggest episode of Dynamite they could, and by pretty much all measures they did succeed. I can quibble about the odd reactions in the Cody match or that the tag match just didn’t do much for me, but we’re talking about minor quibbles at most on a show that otherwise pulled off something phenomenal. The Danielson and Omega match might one day be overshadowed by the rematch, but for now I think it works at getting all the pieces in place for the next few weeks of matches, and while I hope that Brian Pillman Jr and Ruby Soho don’t get lost in the shuffle after their losses tonight, they did put on great performance’s that should keep them relevant for some time. We’ve got another one of these big shows with the gigantic two hour Rampage which should be good as well given the lineup, though I guess there IS such a thing as too much of a good thing as I’m STILL tired from All Out; let alone everything else we’ve gotten in the last few weeks!