Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (10-23-2021)

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

We’re back with more AEW Saturday Night Action that I didn’t get to until… well probably TUESDAY if we’re being honest which is especially rough since AEW is going back to Wednesdays and that show has already aired by the time I get this recap out!  Oh well, this is the life I chose and it involves weird wrestling schedules.  As long as the action is good, it’s not too bad of a tradeoff!  Does this episode pack a punch or did I procrastinate on a show that probably wasn’t worth sitting through in the first place?  Let’s find out!!

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Bryan Danielson Vs. Dustin Rhodes – AEW World Title Tournament Match

I checked and this is another match that Danielson didn’t get to have when he was at WWE which makes me think that he came into AEW with his bucket list of matches as a rider on his contract.  The match starts out okay as Dustin is meeting him in terms of strength and is at least staying competitive in terms of technique, but it soon becomes clear that Dustin has a problem with stamina and has to take a break pretty early in the match just to catch his breath.  Danielson is magnanimous enough to give him a moment to do so, but as soon as Dustin comes back he shows no mercy and immediately takes Dustin to the ground to work over the legs.  It certainly isn’t Dustin’s night as he spends forever on the mat and can barely keep himself standing against Danielson’s offense when he does manage to stand back up.  Now I get what they were doing here as the frustration on Dustin’s face was pretty evident, but I still found a good chunk of this match to be slow and methodical in a way that I didn’t find very exciting.  It’s not until Dustin starts to mount a comeback that things pick up, but even then it comes in fits and spurts instead of a true comeback.  Dustin manages to fight off an attempted German Suplex before landing one of his own, but then Danielson takes him down again and starts working the arm.  There’s a good stretch where Dustin gets a Powerslam followed by a Hangman Neckbreaker for a two count that leads to this very cool Flying Clothesline, but as soon as that’s done Danielson locks in the LaBelle Lock, and Dustin has to scramble his way to the ropes.  Danielson starts laying in some kicks (at which point Dustin says the F word on NATIONAL TELEVISION) and they start trading blows back and forth.  Dustin goes for the Uppercut, but Danielson dodges it and transitions into a Crucifix pin for a two count; kicking him a few times for good measure.  Dustin is in the corner after this and so Danielson charges but ends up eating a MASSIVE Clothesline from Dustin that turns him inside out before landing the Pile Driver for a two count.  Dustin is starting to feel the momentum and so tries to follow up quickly with a Suplex, but Danielson breaks out of it and manages to lock in the Guillotine.  Dustin is fighting back with all his might, but the submission ends up being too much for him to overcome and he passes out in the middle of the ring; giving Danielson the win and advancing him in the tournament.  It wasn’t a long match but I still would have cut a few minutes out as it took a bit too long to get going and the comeback didn’t have enough of a punch to it.  A solid effort from two very talented guys but far from the best match we’ve seen AEW open with.

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The Hangman/Omega feud is coming to a head in the rapidly approaching Full Gear PPV, and while I’m still waiting for an in-ring confrontation between the two of them, we do get a VERY solid backstage promo from Omega who runs him down with clever wordplay and cutting putdowns!  It feels REALLY soon to be doing another PPV, but I’m still incredibly hyped to see this match!

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Tony Schiavone is in the ring and calls out Sting to discuss Darby Allin who’s been on the bench since he was attacked by The Pinnacle a few weeks ago.  Before he can say anything though, MJF’s music hit sand he comes out with a mic to run his mouth and talk down to Sting for a bit.  MJF promos are usually great, but he can overstep his bounds when he uses real-life examples and tragedies to punctuate his villainy; something that already happened in this program with Darby’s uncle and is happening again as he muses that Darby might have wound up in a wheelchair the same way that Lex Luger has.  You know, because he had a spinal stroke a decade ago?  Sting punches him and goes for the Death Valley Driver, but Shawn Spears and Wardlow run in to break it up.  Shawn Spears lands a few chair shots that leave Sting helpless on the ground as he starts monologuing to the absent Darby Allin about how he’s going to be the next Sting; always second best.  To cap this off he hits Sting with the Dynamite diamond ring and leaves with his cronies.  Despite having some of the biggest stars of the company involved, I just haven’t felt this storyline and MJF’s promo here did nothing to change that.  We’ll see if the match is any good, but at this rate, I’m hoping we get it over with sooner rather than later.

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Ruby Soho Vs. Penelope Ford – TBS Title Tournament Match

The TBS title is no doubt going to be a HUGE positive to the women’s division and we’re seeing its effects already as there are actual stakes involved in this match instead of just fighting to do so.  Ford gets an early advantage by attacking Soho before the bell rings, but she fights back pretty quickly and the brawl ends up making its way to the apron.  The Bunny comes skips her way down the ramp to distract Soho which ends up working as Ford kicks her head into the turnbuckle to start the heat during the commercial break.  A backdrop Suplex from Soho puts her back in control and she follows up with a Thrust Kick, Enziguri, Clothesline combo that gets her a two count.  Ruby tries to keep the pressure on with some forearms in the corner, but Ford manages to fight back and lands a very impressive Cutter for a two count of her own!  That definitely perked up my interest during this match, but my enthusiasm was soon dampened as there seems to have been a botch right after.  Ford was supposed to whip Ruby into the corner but throws her towards the ropes instead which forces Soho to make a ninety-degree turn mid-stride which looked REALLY awkward, but a Gut Buster from Ford a minute later got things back on track for me.  Ford is doing pretty well all things considered, but The Bunny is clearly worried and tosses the brass knuckles in her general direction to us against Soho.  This of course was done in full view of the ref who kicks the brass knuckles out of the ring before Ford can use them, and Soho rolls her up immediately to get the win and advance in the tournament.  Not too happy about this, Ford and Bunny menace Soho after the bell has run but then Red Velvet, Bunny’s opponent in HER TBS tournament match comes out to even the odds which force Ford and Bunny back off.  It was not a great match and the roll-up finish at the end made it feel pretty inconsequential despite it being a piece of a very important tournament!  With this and the opener, it hasn’t been a great night for either tournament and we can only hope that Archer and Kingston bring the thunder in their match later tonight.

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All is not great with Team MJF as Wardlow finally confronts him about getting shoved into Sting last week.  It was all a misunderstanding according to MJF and to make sure situations like this don’t happen again, Shawn Spears is gonna be Wardlow’s… well I was gonna write the word that MJF used by my spell check is giving me funny looks when I try, so I’ll just go with Partner.  They are going to be working together to protect MJF so that Wardlow doesn’t have to take on all that responsibility himself!  The disintegration of MJF and Wardlow’s relationship has been one of the longest-running storylines in AEW and perhaps this is a sign that it will finally be coming to a head.  Not sure what Wardlow does with MJF, but it’ll be interesting to see the falling out at least.

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Bobby Fish Vs. Anthony Greene

Fish is officially signed with AEW so he should probably get some wins soon, and what better way to start than with a guy that MIGHT have had a match on Dynamite?  Was he in a trios match with Bear Country?  It hardly matters as his early start which includes a Top Rope Splash is immediately crushed as Fish takes control and just TEARS this guy apart!  He beats the heck out of him with kicks and punches, he lands an Outside In Senton, and even runs Greene into the turnbuckle before wrecking his leg with a Dragon Screw!  A Sliding Lariat has Greene seeing stars which allows Fish to Suplex Greene into the rope before landing a HELLACIOUS roundhouse kick known as the Last Rites that is more than enough to keep him down for a three count.  Bobby Fish gets his first win on AEW television in less than three minutes in one of the better squash matches they’ve done in weeks!  Sure Greene didn’t get much of a shine here, but Bobby Fish looks like a BEAST with just how effectively he destroyed this guy, and it seems that he is going Heel as he starts attacking Greene after the bell rings!  It gets so brutal that CM Punk of all people has to run down to make the save, and Fish rolls out to taunt him from the outside before heading up the ramp!  This is easily the best thing on the show so far and in such a short amount of time, I’m already invested in whatever feud is building between Bobby Fish and CM Punk!

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Tony is interviewing Lio Rush and Daunte Martin in the back where, once again, Lio is doing all the talking while Daunte is looking sadly off to the side.  The only time he speaks up is when Lio goes in on Matt Sydal, but Lio is prepared for this minor bit of pushback and tries to assure Daunte that he’s only looking out for his best interest by severing ties with Sydal.  In fact, to prove that Daunte is WAY above Sydal’s league, Lio has set up a tag match for them against the Sydal Brothers on the next Rampage!  I’m still not feeling this Heel turn for Lio and how Daunte Martin is just kinda stuck in the middle of it, but let’s see how they do in the ring.

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Lance Archer Vs. Eddie Kingston – AEW World Title Tournament Match

The last two tournament matches have been a bit on the disappointing side, but this match will surely pick up the slack… right?  Well, it starts when Eddie Kingston runs out the back and attacks Archer during his entrance.  Bad idea as Archer knocks him, as well as a “fan”, around the ring before eventually throwing him in to start the match.  He goes for the Blackout Slam right after that and Kingston wriggles his way out into some sort of cross face, but Archer fights him off and knocks him out of the ring with a Baseball Slide to start the heat.  Archer has all the offense but Kingston won’t stay down because he’s just too darn stubborn, so Archer decides to finish things with a Moonsault.  Kingston rolls away from the Moonsault, but that’s the least of Archer’s problems as he didn’t get enough rotation and landed DIRECTLY on top of his head!  He ducks out the ring, the doctors check him for a bit, and he climbs back in long enough for Kingston to get the rollup pin.  Word is that he’s fine and he was definitely able to walk to the back on his own so hopefully there isn’t a serious injury there, but that was an AWFUL thing to happen in this match!

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I’m guessing they were supposed to go on for much longer because as soon as we come back from commercial we have Dan Lambert with Men of the Year in the ring and Ethan Page starts rambling about The Inner Circle for a bit.  He’s certainly good at it, but it feels like we’re just eating up time until Sammy comes out to antagonize them; especially Lambert who loses his cool IMMEDIATELY!  With both sides ready to slug it out with the other, Lambert makes his offer.  American Top Team with Men of the Year will challenge The Inner Circle at Full Gear IF Sammy puts his title on the line next week against Ethan Page.  Oh, that’s not all!  Sammy has to WIN the match as well; otherwise, he LEAVES The Inner Circle!  Now normally I’d complain about Baby Faces always getting the short end of the stick and looking like fools in the process, but Sammy at least takes a measure of control by agreeing to the challenge but ONLY if he gets a stipulation as well; that The Inner Circle gets to decide which members of Top Team will be joining Men of the Year in the ten-man tag match.  I can only assume this is a way to get Dan Lambert in the ring for some hijinks, but whatever Sammy has planned is not enough to scare away Lambert and he agrees to the terms.  Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky seem fine with all this but run up the ramp anyway to attack Sammy because they’re jerks, which is when The Inner Circle (minus Jericho who’s doing his cruise thing) run down to make the save.  I’m still a bit distant from this whole American Top Team thing as I don’t know the personalities involved other than Lambert who’s been here for months now, but I’m glad that Sammy didn’t come off like a Baby Face fool and I’m interested in seeing both the title match and the ten-man.

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Moxley gives an interesting promo where he talks about how much more important his daughter is to him than all these tournaments and titles which to ME sounds like he’s about to withdraw… but no, he’s gonna stay in and win the whole thing which sounds like mixed messaging to me.  I get that he’s not about to retire so he STILL has to do his job, but he does know that out of ANYONE here he can do a bit of coasting, right?  Heck, if he just became Eddie Kingston’s manager I think he’d still be as popular as he is now!

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The Dark Order are strategizing about what to do next when Adam Page walks in and apologies for his lousy attitude right before he left.  All water under the bridge I guess, though I’d have liked there to be a LITTLE more fallout; especially since The Dark Order could have saved him from the belt shot that took him out for several weeks!  In any case, The Dark Order have a match next week against The Elite, and Adam Page advises them to bring a costume because it’s the Halloween show which sounds like an invitation for shenanigans if I ever heard one!

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Jungle Boy Vs. Brandon Cutler

Once again we’ve got a nice little squash match here as Jungle boy takes about a minute to make this dork cry out for mercy.  Jungle Boy knocks him over the ropes and lands a Suicide Dive, Cutler goes for a Panama Sunrise and fails, and after a brief strike exchange Jungle Boy gives him a Powerbomb and taps him out with the Snare Trap.  This is only the beginning however as Jungle Boy must face his greatest challenge yet; a microphone!  Yes, for what I believe is the first time since arriving at AEW, Jungle Boy is all alone in the middle of the ring and has to cut a promo.  It was… okay I guess.  The crowd wasn’t exactly into it, but he didn’t embarrass himself.  Then again, all he needed to do was call out The Elite before putting Cutler back in the Snare Trap, but baby steps!  Cole is the one that finally comes out and calls out Jungle Boy for being a big ol’ meanie for beating up on poor Brandon, but this ends up being a distraction as The Young Bucks sneak in from behind to give him a Super Kick Party.  The Bucks along with Cole drag him up the stage to land a BTE Trigger followed by a Boom Knee Strike, and to top it all off they throw him off the stage where he goes FLYING over the expensive equipment to land on the table beyond it!  The Elite have just kind of been around the last few weeks without much of a plan other than to grief the Baby Faces, but this was a good example of why that works for them.  I’d rather there be a stronger story, but what they’re doing now is still fun to see!

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We get a video promo where Miro continues to spiral downwards which can only mean bad things for everyone there.  It’s definitely a compelling promo, but the guy isn’t really involved with anything right now so I’m not sure what his “target” is gonna be.  Heck, he’s not even in the big AEW Title Tournament, so what’s he gonna do; keep menacing Fuego?

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Cody Rhodes Vs. Malakai Black

Cody is accompanied to the ring by Arn Anderson

Say what you will about Cody, he never does anything half-hearted.  This whole program with Malaki Black has had ups and downs throughout, particularly after the last one where Arn went off the rails with his tough love for Cody, but when the time comes to make something work he finds a way to pull it off!  It starts off quick with a lot of interesting action; takeovers, strikes sweeps, all used by both guys to try to put the other away early!  Fortunately for us, neither guy is about to let the other one have a win that quickly and are kicking out at one, but once Cody goes for the Figure Four Leg Lock, Black gets scared for a moment and gouges Cody’s eye out to escape and roll out of the ring.  He tries to grab a chair from underneath the ring, but then Brock Anderson and Lee Johnson come down to… I guess keep the match clean?  Not what you’d usually expect from people roaming the outside, but Brock DOES take the chair away from Malaki during the commercial break; a break, by the way, where A LOT of stuff happens!  I won’t go into all of it, but it does end with a Cross Rhodes from the apron onto a table below!  So yeah, they REALLY want you to stick around during the Allstate and Dominos ads!  The table spot ends up taking them both down for a while as they just lie there and bleed, but that doesn’t mean the action slows down as Andrade El Idolo comes down the ramp!  He’s there to run a distraction on (of all people) Arn Anderson who’s found his way in the ring, and Andrade’s associate Jose tries to sneak up on him to bash him with a laptop.  Arn sees it coming however and smashes him to the mat with a Spine Buster, but the victory is short-lived as Black is back in the ring and sprays mist into Arn’s face.  I GUESS this means that Andrade’s stunt worked because Arn DID get attacked, but he still seems peeved about it and is heading to the ramp when none other than Pac runs out and drags him back up to the tunnel!  With all the wacky distractions out of the way, the match can resume as we head into the finish!  A Ripcord Elbow Strike and Springboard Moonsault from Black is what awaits Cody when he gets in the ring, but he responds with a Cross Rhodes that gets a two count, so he clearly got the better of the exchange.  Malakai ends up on the apron with Cody close behind and kicks him through the ropes; allowing Black to land a Flying Stomp from the top turnbuckle followed by a Leaping Knee Strike and a German Suplex bridged into a pin!  Any other mortal would have stayed down for the three count after something like that, but nope!  Cody kicks out at two!  Malakai goes for his surefire killing move the Roundhouse Kick, but while it does hit its target, Cody is wrapped up in the ropes so Malakai can’t capitalize and pin him even though that move should have easily given him the victory.  This proves to be a truly egregious error on Black’s part as he throws Cody to the floor and tries a Moonsault, but Cody dodges, runs into the ring, bounces off the ropes, and gives Black a Suicide Dive!  He throws Black into the ring and lands a Cody Cutter followed by a Cross Rhodes… but he does NOT go for the pin!  Instead he, lands a Tiger Driver ’98… and gets the pin to win the match.  Perhaps there’s some significance there with the move, but without context, it was a bit odd that he punctuated his finishers with another movie.  Still!  That was a great match and Cody celebrates the victory with Arn as the episode comes to an end!

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It started a bit slow and there were some bumps along the way, but AEW has been doing a great job with their main events of late and this is no exception!  Throw in a few solid squash matches and a good promo here and there and I’d say this episode was quite enjoyable.  I REALLY wish Archer didn’t take that Moonsault and the women’s match had a few problems that dragged it down a bit.  Not only that, it’s a bit baffling that the match with Bryan Danielson was right in the middle instead of at the top of my list for the night, but not every knocks it out of the park each week, and frankly it was Cody’s night to shine.  Speaking of whom, I guess this means his Heel turn has been delayed as he got the win over Black, made up with Arn, AND got the crowd to cheer for him again!  This was a real rollercoaster of a story arc and even though it had a great ending I’m kind of glad that it’s over now and that Cody can focus on something that won’t nearly make him the bad guy.  Then again, having him join up with Black and Andrade would have been an interesting twist!  Hmm… Maybe next time!

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