AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
Having the week away from wrestling certainly helped me relax and refocus, but then having three hours of shows back to back is perhaps balancing out the calm I gained from being away for a bit. Still, this is AEW and even if their schedule can be a bit intense, especially when I’m working on so many other things recently, their shows do tend to be some of the more entertaining things I see all week. Is this yet another fun show from AEW to lift my spirits, or can I already feel the burnout creeping back in? Let’s find out!!
CM Punk starts the show with his entrance as he’s joining the commentary team once again. The crowd isn’t sick of it yet, so why fix what isn’t broken? It’s not like he’s resting on his laurels as he IS having matches pretty regularly, but coming out for the entrance is definitely gonna help his longevity and the crowd is more than happy to see it!
Dante Martin Vs. Malaki Black
Dante Martin is accompanied to the ring by Lio Rush
Malaki Black has been quite an interesting person to watch these past few weeks as he’s run through the Baby Faces of the company with obviously heelish intent, but the crowd refuses to boo for him and instead seem to WANT him to destroy everyone in his path. AEW has at least reacted to this by adding shades of gray to Cody’s character in response to the crowd turning on him, but they seem to be staying with the course as Dante is yet another Baby Face for this guy to trounce. Then again, he’s got Lio Rush in his corner who is serving up some serious Heel vibes, so perhaps they were already anticipating the crowd turning on Dante and are giving him a manager to ease the transition. What matters most however is the match which is another solid showing from both Martin and Black. Martin continues to show off his high flying skills, but his lack of power leaves him VERY vulnerable to Black’s devastating offense. He manages to hold his own in so far as keeping at arms-length of Black, but there’s no path to winning if he can’t get any moves in and so every time he tries to land a hit it’s either countered or shaken off by Black who favors grounding him with submission moves for most of this match. Dante does eventually find his groove and gets a few good moves in against Black, starting with a Reverse Hurricanrana that’s followed by a Springboard Senton. He then tries to follow up with a Double Jump Moonsault, but Black dodges and starts slugging away at him. To everyone’s surprise, Dante manages to land an Enziguri during this strike exchange and it manages to stagger Black. Not to be underestimated however, Black quickly recovers and lands a Middle Rope Meteora that’s followed by a Roundhouse Kick and a German Suplex combo that was EASILY the highlight of the match, but Dante somehow managed to kick out of it! To teach this kid a lesson about staying down when beaten, he drags Dante up to the corner for a Superplex, but Dante fights back and lands Top Rope Hurricanrana which SHOULD be the start of his comeback but Dante’s knee has taken A LOT of abuse this match between the submission from Black and his own wrestling style that it’s finally giving out and he’s not able to capitalize on his spectacular moves. Black manages to kick out of a slow cover from Dante after finally landing that Double Jump Moonsault and quickly reverses it into a Single Leg Boston Crab. However, this is where things get kinda weird as Black lets go of Dante to start clutching his stomach. Excalibur thinks it’s rib problems, CM Punk thinks the DARKNESS WITHIN HIM is melting his insides, but either way, it allows Dante to try a Springboard Stomp to finish the match. Black, whose stomach problems aren’t so bad that he doesn’t see what’s happening, dodges the move and hits Dante with a Roundhouse Kick which is finally enough to get the pin and win the match. I can’t say that I liked the ending as Malaki being nearly undone by an unforeseen bout of indigestion was not how I would have built to the climax, but it was still a solid match between two great workers at the company! I don’t get the sense that the crowd is turning on Dante the way they did Cody so perhaps Black hasn’t gone FULL Fiend yet, but I’m still curious what Lio Rush’s role in all of this is going to be as he didn’t even try to interfere in the match. Maybe he saw what happened to Chavo and decided against being that kind of manager; at least for the time being!
The Inner Circle – Reunited And It Feels… The Same?
I’m still unclear on when The Inner Circle broke up or even separated to any significant degree that would necessitate a “reunion segment”. Ultimately though, that’s not the focus or all that important because before Santana can offer any sort of explanation, he’s interrupted by Dan Lambert and American Top Team along with Men of the Year who start heckling them from the stage. Jericho grabs the mic and starts to roast them which is all fine and good, but things take a bit of a turn when he starts focusing on Paige VanZant. I guess I can’t speak for everyone here, but hitting on the sole female member of the faction your feuding with while also negging her? Eh… it’s not a great look and he thankfully changes subject to try and set up a five-on-five match against Men of the Year and American Top Team. Dan Lambert is FLABBERGASTED by the audacity of Jericho to expect his crew to give him a match when he doesn’t have anything worth fighting over. Sammy on the other hand, well he has the TNT belt, doesn’t he? Perhaps something can be worked out down the line with the title on the line, but for now, Lambert’s gonna leave them twisting in the wind while he figures out his next move. I’d have cut out the Paige VanZant stuff and I still want an explanation as to why Santana and Ortiz were MIA for a majority of this feud, but it was a solid promo and I’m interested to see what other matches can be made with these MMA bros.
The Luchas Bros Vs. Las Super Ranas – AAA Tag Team Title Match
The Lucha Bros are accompanied to the ring by Alex Abrahantes while Las Super Ranas are accompanied by Andrade El Idolo
When Andrade challenged The Lucha Bros to their tag titles, there was a lot of speculation as to who he would get to be his teammate. Personally, I would have loved to see Miro get in the ring with him, but instead he’s just going to accompany two other guys called Las Super Ranas (The Super Frogs) who look like villains of the week on The Aquabats Super Show. The thing is though, that’s just the tip of the ice burg as this match is simply BIZARRE. To me it seems like a bad idea that then also got screwed up in the execution; mostly due to CM Punk of all people who either wasn’t on the same page as everyone else or simply didn’t care because he drops a major spoiler right at the start of the match. I’ll be honest, I looked at these two dorks in green jumpsuits and assumed they were a couple of jobbers AEW brought in to take an easy loss against the Lucha Bros. I did not know that they were in fact FTR which I think is what AEW WANTED because there comes a point in the match where their masks get ripped off in a manner that screams SURPRISE REVEAL! For whatever reason though, CM Punk just tells us it’s FTR in the first two minutes of the match despite the reveal not happening for several more minutes, and the other announcers aren’t sure how to handle it. The reveal eventually happens as scheduled though it lands with a thud as the announcers can’t pretend they didn’t already know it, and frankly I couldn’t tell you WHAT happened prior to this moment in the match as all my focus was on the announcers trying to smooth out the fact that CM Punk blew the reveal early. As for the match itself, it’s fine. FTR start getting the heat as soon as their masks are ripped off, but Fenix lands a Double Drop Kick launched off of Penta’s back as soon as the commercial is over. The two start to clean house before landing that Flying Drop Kick Nut Shot that The Lucha Bros like to do but they only get a two count out of it. Cash and Penta eventually start to brawl on the outside and Penta ends up thrown through the time keeper’s table which leaves Fenix to fend off both of FTR. He manages to actually pull it off in his usual impressive style and a big kick to Dax Harwood’s face knocks him out which prompts Tully to run down to distract Ref Aubrey. Fenix goes for a Moonsault but since this is happening behind the ref’s back, Dax uses the AAA belt to bash Fenix in the head on his way down, and he gets the pin to win the match and win the titles. The Lucha Bros’ title run has been a bit wonky since the cage match and this is perhaps the wonkiest of them all with the odd gimmick of FTR pretending to be jobbers, CM Punk ruining the surprise, and a screw-job finish for belts that, as far as I can tell, haven’t actually been defended on AEW before. If it was a proper FTR vs Lucha Bros match or Andrade with a mystery partner like we all expected, I feel it would have at least gone a lot smoother than this which just had too many distractions for me to focus on the merits of the match itself. As for what this means in regards to Andrade and The Pinnacle… not a whole lot really. We catch up to them in the back a bit later in the show and it’s made clear that this is a one-time deal where cash (not the wrestler but the currency) ended up changing hands. It’s a shame because I think Andrade would actually be a good fit for The Pinnacle, but perhaps he’s too wrapped up in his own story to start sharing the spotlight with anyone else at the moment.
Tony is interviewing Lio Rush and Dante Martin in the back about their loss to Malakai Black at the top of the show where Lio’s giving Dante some tough love nonsense. Also announces that HE will be Dante’s new tag team partner, which… okay I guess. We’re kind of easing into this Heel turn for Dante Martin, though it seems like they’re giving it enough room for him to possibly reject Lio Rush the same way Andrade rejected Chavo. I mean his brother’s supposed to be coming back soon, so they have until then to see if he works as Heel or if he’s better off staying a Baby Face.
Jon Moxley Vs. Wheeler Yuta
Yuta is accompanied to the ring by Orange Cassidy
Moxley seems to have a chip on his shoulder coming out for this match, presumably due to his loss at the Ladder Match last week, and so he runs right through Yuta while stomping around the ring like an incensed toddler. After a minute of offense and before Yuta can get a SINGLE move in, Moxley lands the Paradigm Shift and gets the pin. I usually like squash matches like this as they can do a lot with a short amount of time, but I kind of wish it was a bit clearer what this was supposed to do. It LOOKS like Cassidy is upset at Moxley for spanking his boy like this, but I’d have liked at least one stare down between the two of them to really cement that as the direction. I’m sure they’ll follow up on this soon though so really there’s not anything to complain about here. Get in, get out, and make Moxley look unstoppable. It worked for the crowd and it worked fine for me too!
The Super Clique (The Young Bucks & Adam Cole) Vs. The Dark Order (Evil Uno, John Silver, and Alex Reynolds) – Trios Match
The Bucks are accompanied to the ring by Brandon Cutler and Don Callis
With the Dark Order back together after the Rochester show, it’s now time to see what they can do as a cohesive unit, which is to say… they still get their butts kicked but do it with style! The Heels naturally attack the Dark Order before the bell rings, but Silver manages to fight out of a Powerbomb and turns it into a Hurricanrana. Uno throws a bunch of punches at The Bucks and Reynolds lands a Cross Body which evens the odds before the bell finally rings. The Dark Order certainly start strong and are cleaning house with Silver is getting a big ovation from the crowd, but the Heels are not to be underestimated as they try to cheat their way to overcoming the crowd favorites; a strategy that EVENTUALLY works, but it takes a LOT of work and they have to eat A LOT of moves before Matt Jackson finally lands a decent Super Kick to the face. Uno and Reynolds try to run in to even the odds, but The Super Clique get the advantage and start getting the heat on Silver until he fights out of an Assisted Supelx to instead land the Suplex on the Bucks, and Evil Uno gets the hot tag. This is where things start to get weird as Uno takes off Nick Jackson’s shoe and sock… and does the Socko gimmick on Nick? I mean I guess you can’t copyright moves or anything, but that’s a pretty well-known gimmick from Mick Foley and I’m not sure why Uno’s doing it here. In any case, Adam Cole gives Uno a Super Kick to break this up, and he puts Uno in the Face Lock so that he and the Bucks can do that gimmick where they run the ropes and are about to kick their opponent only to kiss Adam Cole instead. In a surprise twist however, Silver and Reynolds trip the Bucks and yank them out of the ring so that THEY can be the ones to give Cole the kiss! TERRIBLY incensed by this, he breaks the hold only to eat a kick from Silver and for the Dark Order to toss him over the ropes into the Bucks below. Silver throws in Adam Cole so that he and Reynolds can do that awesome signature combo and Uno can land his Something Evil finisher, but the pin is broken up by the Bucks and everyone starts brawling until it’s just Reynolds and Cole alone in the ring. They have a good back and forth, but Cole gets the better of it and tosses him into Super Kicks from The Bucks before landing the Panama Sunrise. BTE Trigger from The Bucks and a Boom Knee Strike from Cole get them the pin to win the match. Now earlier in the show, Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus were being interviewed about how rough their match against The Elite was, and so The Elite run in and beat them up. Because of this, Jungle Boy rushes in after the bell rings to attack Adam Cole, but The Bucks stop him in his tracks and protect their new best friend. Not deterred, Jungle Boy grabs a chair which forces the Super Clique to run off; leaving Cutler alone in the ring to eat a chair shot and to suffer in the Snare Trap. The match didn’t exactly work for me which is a bit surprising as I do like some goofiness in wrestling, but the whole thing felt pretty immaterial and I’m not sure what The Dark Order was supposed to get out of this; especially since this is the culmination of their coming back together storyline. Still, it was a heck of a lot better than The Dark Order’s last tag match!
I’ve definitely had my hot and cold moments when it comes to Cody, and I think this is another one that just feels REALLY weird. He’s joining the Nightmare Family for a day of training, and a bunch of B-List peeps like Brock Anderson and KiLynn King are giving him the stink eye. Cody then does some training with them where he’s kicking their butts but Arn is yelling at him about something and then they all gang up on him! Am I supposed to be rooting for the Nightmare Family in this situation!? By the end, it SEEMS like tough love as Arn gives him a pep talk about Malaki Black, but this is just a WEIRD segment to add to the pile of weird Cody segments like the awkward way they announced that Brandi was pregnant or even last week’s segment where Arn was having a barbeque in Cody’s back yard without his permission.
MJF comes out to talk trash to the crowd and to wait for Darby to come out for their match; the match that got canceled when he and the Pinnacle attacked him backstage, but the hypocrisy is the point as he feeds off the indignation of the crowd. He eventually has Wardlow drag out a ref to do a fake ten count so that MJF can be declared the winner, but when the ref gets to nine, the arena goes Dark and Sting’s music hits. The Icon is CLEARLY incensed by MJF’s inflammatory comments and comes after him with a bat, but MJF throws Wardlow at him while he escapes up the ramp. We’ll get that Darby match eventually and honestly I’m still pretty cold on it, but MJF makes for a great villain and his interaction with Sting here was pretty fun to see and probably the highlight of the feud so far.
Tony is interviewing Anna Jay in the back, but Britt Baker comes in to make fun of her for being part of the Loser Dark Order while she stans the Super Clique, and the two of them start brawling. This also happened earlier in the show where Serena Deeb was being interviewed before getting attacked by Shida, but I guess in that case it was a GOOD thing because she’s the Baby Face. And if you’ve been paying attention, this is ALSO what happened with Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus earlier in the show! Seems that AEW is a bit fixated on this kind of backstage segment which is feeling pretty repetitive and I hope they don’t overuse it on the next show as they do here.
Penelope Ford Vs. Kiera Hogan
I’ve heard good things about Kiera Hogan, but she’s mostly wrestled on Dark and Elevation which means I haven’t seen much of her so far. Still, I can see why people like her as she puts on a solid match here with Penelope Ford; someone who I’ve always thought was underrated. Ford gets the lead with some creative moves including a Bull Dog into the turnbuckle and starts to get the heat during the commercial, but Hogan manages to reverse her fortunes when she chases Ford up to the top of the turnbuckle and gets a Superplex. She uses this momentum to land a few clotheslines a Drop Kick and a Sliding Drop Kick into the corner, but all this gets her is a two count. Ford fights back with a Stunner but Hogan lands some sort of Code Breaker looking thing that staggers Ford. However, this was her last gasp of offense before Ford lands a HELLACIOUS Cutter and puts her in the Muta Lock; forcing her to tap and giving the win to Ford. Ruby Soho runs down to attack Ford, much like the Baby Face Jungle Boy did in the last match, but she doesn’t get to do much before The Bunny grabs Ford on the ramp and the two make their way to the back. The match was obviously here just to set up the ending so they can advance the feud with Soho, but it was still a decent showing from Hogan and I hope she gets more chances to show what she can do on national television instead of just on YouTube.
The show has been pretty underwhelming with its promos, but thankfully they give us to excellent ones right before we get to the main event! First, we have a video of Miro who is disillusioned by God’s choice to let Sammy win the TNT title. He spends the whole thing in shadow as he tells him how disappointed he is and demands answers; otherwise, he may just have to go on a decidedly different path to get what he wants! It was PRETTY sinister and made me VERy excited to see what happens next; what a Godless Miro would mean for AEW! On pretty much the opposite end of the spectrum, but no less compelling, is Hangman Adam Page who comes out to the ring and lets us know how excited he is for Full Gear. He reminisces about the start of AEW as well as laments about what became of his friends and himself along the way. After some time away, he’s ready to finally live up to his potential and to fulfill the promises he made on day one at this company! It was heartfelt, seemed to be coming from a real place, and while we still need to see him and Omega face each other for this PPV main event to really shine, this was a fantastic start! Win or lose at Full Gear, he’s gonna leave everything in the ring and live up to the words that have defined his career at AEW; it’s gonna be full of COWBOY S**T!!
Bryan Danielson Vs. Bobby Fish
As far as I can tell, these two never truly fought in WWE. The closest seems to be a match in their developmental territory Evolve all the way back in 2010, but despite NXT being the place to be for high-quality technical wrestling, Danielson never really got a chance to go up against the big names of that era. Well, we can thank AEW once again for making something of a dream match happen, and it’s a pretty darn good main event to boot! Bobby Fish’s size gives him a decent advantage as he gets an early lead with big strikes against Danielson, but then he kicks out an early pin and transitions it into an arm submission which keeps Fish grounded for a bit. Fish eventually shoves Danielson into the corner to break the hold, once again using his size to his advantage, and it gives him some breathing room to continue his assault. Danielson tries to escape by running the ropes, but Fish lands a big kick that sends him to the mat for a two count, and he picks up Danielson for a few more kicks. Danielson finally seems to be gaining some momentum when he tosses Fish over the ropes and follows up with a Suicide Dive. He ends up shoving Fish into the turnbuckle and tries for a Running Kick from the Apron, but Fish cuts his legs out from under him and gets the heat during the commercial. Fish’s plan now is to work over the leg and knee to keep him from using his powerful kicks, but Danielson eventually escapes this onslaught and puts Fish in the Ankle Lock in the middle of the ring before throwing him with a German Suplex. The two slug it out for a bit before Danielson starts his attack on Fish’s knee with a few Dragon Screws and a Chop Block, but Fish is not to be taken lightly and lands a Backdrop Driver followed by an Avalanche Flacon Arrow. Danielson kicks out, but Fish catches his leg into a Knee Bar, continuing to work over the knee until Danielson transitions the move. He’s still in the submission, but now he’s putting pressure on Fish’s knee as well which is making it hard to maintain the hold. A few kicks to Fish’s face breaks it up and Danielson puts him in a Heel hook which Fish taps out of to give him yet another win at AEW. And so the episode comes to an end with Danielson standing tall and the gears slowly starting to turn as we get closer to Full Gear.
Honestly, I haven’t been the biggest fan of AEW’s storytelling recently and this episode is a pretty good example of how they can get a bit repetitive or outright strange with it. There were some storyline highlights like Miro and Hangman, and I’ll even give MJF his due, but no less than three backstage brawls feels excessive and it just feels like reheating the same feuds we’ve been seeing for weeks now. On the plus side, the action remained strong throughout even if a match here and there felt a bit underwhelming, so if nothing else they can still make an entertaining two hours of television; it’s just gonna take a bit more for it to work as a build to the next PPV.