AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
We’re back with another week of AEW action; only this week is different, isn’t it? It’s not just ANY episode, but the SPOOOOKY episodes as this is the last one before the best holiday of the year! Does AEW put on a Halloween show to remember, or will we this all remind us of Halloween Havoc 98? Let’s find out!!
Bobby Fish Vs. CM Punk
So just in case the angle from last week didn’t make it clear, Fish has gone full heel and fights this match like one. It starts out pretty even at first with neither side giving up too much ground or going too flashy with it, but things start to pick up when Punk lands two Scoop Slams back to back for a two count. He then goes for the GTS, but this is way too early to go for the finisher and he’s REALLY close to the ropes, so naturally Bobby escapes by yanking on them for leverage and this gives him enough of an opening to land some well-placed strikes that severally damage Punk’s knee. The knee will end up being a huge factor for the rest of the match as every chance he has to fight off Fish and retake the advantage is hampered by his injury, but Fish is not having much better luck putting Punk away since he’s the tenacious Baby Face with a fighting spirit! Fish makes his mistake when he puts Punk on the turnbuckle who finally starts to fight back with a bunch of Elbow Strikes until Fish falls to the mat. Punk lands a Top Rope Elbow Drop but doesn’t go for the pin and instead uses this time to recover and he puts up a better fight when they start brawling again. Punk seems to be getting the advantage until Fish lands another kick to the knee and starts running the ropes for some momentum. Out of NOWHERE, Punk lands a Jump Kick and follows with a Swinging Neck Breaker which stops Fish’s momentum in its tracks, and a Knee Strike in the corner followed by a Short Arm Clothesline gets Punk a two count. Distressed by this outcome but feeling confident about his chances, Punk puts Fish on his shoulders to try the GTS again. Fish escapes however and lands a Dragon Screw followed by a Sliding Clotheslines which actually made me think for a second that Punk was going to lose which would be a HUGE boon for Fish if they want to give him a serious heel run! It was not meant to be however as Punk manages to sweep his legs out and flips over into a Jackknife pin that Fish bridges out of which was VERY impressive to see, but the Punk gets him on his shoulders and lands the GTS which is finally enough to get him the pin and win the match! This was a lot like the Danielson/Dustin match from the last episode, but I think they pulled it off MUCH better here! Dustin didn’t quite reach the depths of desperation that Punk is showing here, and Fish’s offense is much more brutal than Danielson’s was, so there was a lot more drama and energy which made this a great opener! Perhaps not the BEST outcome for Bobby Fish who effectively lost to a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest, but he’ll have his day soon enough!
MJF Vs. Bryce Donovan
MJF is accompanied to the ring by Wardlow and Shawn Spears
Bryce is a local boy and is just here to do the job. The only thing to note is that he looks like he’s cosplaying as one of the Young Bucks with the long hair, headband, and the right amount of scruff on his face. I guess they’ve been around long enough that the next generation will try to emulate them, but this is probably not the match that you want one of your fans to be in because MJF kills him inside a minute with a Heat Seeker. This is all just preamble for the promo he cuts afterward which is another one of his not so clever cheap attacks on the crowd. He’s got some VERY good comebacks to the crowd throughout it, but getting local heat and doing fat jokes is getting pretty tiresome and by the time he gets to Darby Allin I’ve rolled my eyes half a dozen times already. His delivery is still good and the promo definitely feels more focused on Darby as a wrestler and MJF being better in the ring than just taking cheap shots, but I really could use something else than beating up on Sting and cracks at Darby’s uncle to get me invested. Fortunately, the ending of this segment very much moves things forward and is the first time this whole feud I’ve felt at least somewhat interested in it. Sting’s music hits and the Heels are all scared… until MJF starts laughing because he and Shawn Spears set this up as a gag to fool the crowd! Then the lights go out and a video starts to play (presumably on the titantron?) where Darby is at some sort of concert beating up a guy wearing a bad MJF costume. The lights come back on, and Sting is in the ring to clean house with his baseball bat! MJF manages to escape to the outside… but the Invisible Man is right behind him; in full 1933 Claude Rains attire! The bandages come off to reveal Darby Allin who jumps the barricade and chases MJF away while giving Wardlow a whack with a thumbtack skateboard. MJF is looking at this scene with utter dismay from the ramp when Darby grabs the mic and simply says… Full Gear. It hasn’t been a particularly great build as far as I’m concerned, but even for a sourpuss like me, I ended up getting invested at this point so anyone who was into this feud up until now should be EXTREMELY happy with how this all played out!
Unlike last year where the Jericho Cruise was turned into an episode of the show, it’s just a thing that happened off-screen that we’re all catching up on. In the case of Britt Baker, she had a match with Abadon on the ship but she walked out of it, so Schiavone is informing her that Tony Khan has set up a… hold on, let me check my notes. A “Trick-Or-Treat” match (in the long tradition of No DQ matches given silly names) and that if Abadon wins she gets a proper title shot. She is naturally flabbergasted about this, but I’m all for it! After all, why would you get someone like Abadon if you weren’t gonna give her a match on Halloween weekend!?
Sammy Guevara Vs. Ethan Page – TNT Title Match
If Sammy loses, he will leave the Inner Circle
This was definitely an interesting title match as the circumstances surrounding it kind of made Sammy out to be the heel. No one from either guy’s crew is out here so there’s no interference, and Sammy just comes out like a rocket and KILLS Ethan Page dead with dives, strikes, and throws before the bell even rings! By the time the bell rings, it’s Page who has to fight from underneath and has to endure the onslaught of violence from Sammy before using his superior strength to eventually even the odds! Things eventually settle into a really good back and forth contest with Page getting a brief advantage after dropping Sammy on top of the turnbuckle who then tumbles out of the ring. This starts the heat segment but Sammy manages to fight back and lands a Springboard Cutter and Spanish Fly for a two count. Page rolls out to catch his breath but Sammy is relentless and lands a Shooting Star Press from the corner to the floor; showing off his flashy Baby Face moves to try ad overcome Page’s more straightforward strength-based offense. Page lands an Iconoclasm (basically Judo Throws Sammy from the top turnbuckle to the mat) and follows up with a Body Slam, but only gets a two count out of it and heads to the top rope to try and put Sammy away. Sammy gets up pretty quickly though and kind of wanders around the ring for a bit so you kind of wonder why Page didn’t hop off the ropes at that time, but that question gets answered quickly as Sammy runs up to meet him only to be caught in his grasp and eats a Body Slam from the middle rope! I really liked that spot because it was a subversion of what you’d expect as the Baby Face running up to meet the heel is almost always at the complete shock of the Heel, but this showed some cunning on Page’s part as he let Sammy be the instrument of his own destruction! He only gets a two count out of this, but he’s still firmly in control and drags Sammy up to the top rope for an Avalanche Ego’s Edge… ONLY FOR SAMMY TO REVERSE IT INTO A TOP ROPE HURRICANRANA! See, now PAGE was the one who got ahead of himself and paid for it! Sammy goes for a Standing Shooting Star Press but Page rolls away and goes for a Powerbomb, but Sammy sweeps the legs and goes for a Jackknife Pin which ends up being JUST enough to put Page away and win the match to retain his title! I PROBABLY would have cut out the Standing Shooting Star Press as that momentary fumble from Sammy kind of killed the moment mere SECONDS before the match came to an end, but aside from that and some wonky Heel/Face dynamics, it was a darn good showing from both guys and another great title defense for the TNT belt! Because Page hadn’t been worn down and simply got caught in a tough pin, he has more than enough energy to keep attacking Sammy after the bell rings; joined by his buddy Scorpio Sky who runs in from the back. The Inner Circle comes in to make the save as you’d expect, but there’s one detail here that caught my attention and amused me greatly which is that not only does Jericho’s music hit when his crew comes out, they have PYRO set up as well! Yes, just in case Jericho decides to run in, he’s got pyro set up around the stage to go off at a moment’s notice; something that I find highly amusing and entirely probable! Jericho cuts a promo on Men of the Year and confirms that the match at the PPV will be a Minneapolis Street Fight (yet another DQ match under a silly name) and that they will decide what members of Top Team will be joining Men of the Year for it! I’m gonna guess that this is all a ruse to get Dan Lambert in the ring since he’s technically part of Top Team, and I’ll be VERY disappointed if Jericho doesn’t at least float the idea!
Lucha Bros are in the back and offer to face FTR at Full Gear; putting their AEW Tag Titles on the line just for the chance to beat them! FTR confirms later in the show that the match is on which should be fun and all, but I’m a little confused why the Lucha Bros are putting up THEIR belt and FTR aren’t putting up the AAA belts they won from them a few weeks ago. I just see it as another instance of the Baby Faces being fools and making for lousy negotiators while the Heels have to barely put in any effort to get under their skin. Should be a great match either way, but I’d probably enjoy it more if it was title vs title.
Serena Deeb Vs. Hikaru Shida – TBS Title Tournament Match
Shida got a bit long in the tooth towards the end of her title run, but this match is a darn good reminder of why everyone wanted her to be champion in the first place! It is a BRUTAL fight from both women with a lot of big moves and fast paced action as Shida tries to overwhelm Deeb who herself is trying to destroy Shida’s leg! After a flurry of offense from Shida, Deeb rolls out and starts smashing Shida’s leg onto the post which does some damage, but Shida fights back and manages to get her up onto the apron for an early Superplex! Shida continues the assault but once again Deeb manages to elude her by dodging a knee strike to the corner and follows up with a Chop Block to start the heat during the commercial. Shida fights back with an unholy number of strikes which she follows up with a Missile Drop Kick and a Delayed Vertical Suplex, but keeps her wits about her and keeps working the leg over. Deeb gets tossed out of the ring with an enraged Shida in tow, who lands another Missile Drop Kick off the ring steps, but Deeb leads Shida around one of the ring posts and manages to lock in the Figure Four Leg Lock between it; cranking on it while dangling off the ring steps as Shida is stuck in the corner where she can still technically tap out! As much as Deeb is playing this smart and taking her chances sparingly, Shida’s sheer ferocity is simply overwhelming her as she takes more kicks and strikes in the ring after the Figure Four is broken up. She gets another chance to submit her when she takes a Knee Strike so she can roll through the move and transition it into a Single Leg Boston Crab and Shida threatens to tap out, but she eventually makes it to the ropes to break up the hold. After this failed to secure victory, Deeb has officially given up trying to win with her own skills and goes for the trophy she stole after her last match with Shida and tries to bash Shida over the head with it. Shida kicks her and picks up the trophy herself, but unlike Deeb whose obsession with winning forced he to give up honor to cheat, Shida’s honorable Baby Face attitude has her relent despite this whole match being about how enraged she is at Deeb and wanting vengeance! No good deed goes unpunished however as she hands the trophy to Ref Aubrey who turns around to put it in the corner which gives Deeb enough time to get back up and poke her in the eye before rolling her up! BUT NO! DEEB DOES NOT GET THE WIN AS SHIDA KICKS OUT! Deeb tries to keep pressing the advantage by going for the Detox, but Shida tosses her over and they trade roll-ups until Shida keeps Deeb down JUST long enough to get the three count and advance in the tournament! It’s been a while since we’ve had a match this good in the women’s division and it’s no surprise that Shida and Deeb were the ones to bring it. Despite a very short build, the feud managed to add a lot of drama to this match which GENUINELY felt like a match between two people who hated each other unlike when they called Britt Baker Vs. Anna Jay a grudge match. Things are not over between them yet however as Deeb grabs a chair and starts going to TOWN on Hikaru Shida’s knee in the hopes of incapacitating her to effectively remove her from the TBS tournament, and we’ll have to wait and see what Shida’s condition is by the time her next match is up.
Preston Vance Vs. Jon Moxley – AEW World Title Tournament Match
Thanks for coming, Preston; it was nice knowing you. Moxley comes in filled to the brim with piss and vinegar, and he immediately starts tearing this dude apart. Release German, lots of stomps, just no mercy as this looks to be yet another squash match on the show. Preston is knocked out of the ring and thrown into the ring steps at which points Moxley RIPS OPEN THE MASK and starts biting his head! He then tosses him into the post which opens a HUGE gash on Preston’s head, but he tries to fight through the pain and manages to rally with a few strikes and a Pump Kick in the corner, but Moxley is barely fazed and stops him in his tracks with a Clothesline. All that’s left is a Paradigm Shift from Moxley and Preston’s time to shine has come to an end. I kind of wish they didn’t just outright DESTROY Preston as I’d like The Dark Order to have at least one guy who’s competitive as a singles guy (perhaps someone who could challenge Adam Page when he wins the belt?) but for a squash match it managed to be quite a spectacle!
The Many Faces of Cody Rhodes – Is He A Bad Guy or Not!?
Cody is perhaps the most Lynchian figure in all of wrestling; in that, he has a very strong well and thought out veneer of wholesome Americana, but there’s some WEIRD stuff going on just below the surface. He comes out here and all he has to do is reassert his Baby Face status while rejecting the temptations of going Heel. THAT’S IT! Instead, he goes on this winding road about a “move” that would have been the easy way out in his match? PERHAPS he’s talking about a low blow or something, but the problem is that he never signaled that he was thinking of it during the match itself, and he goes right into talking about his EVP status at AEW! So… is the “move” he’s referring to his Vice-President Powers to edit the book and declare himself the winner? Now I do give credit to Cody for getting out there and trying to thread what has become a very wonky needle as the crowd has turned pretty hard against him in the face of the VERY sinister Malaki Black, and he DOES prove once again to be pretty good at it! It’s weird and rambling at first but he does eventually get to the core of his message which the crowd responds to, and he even apologizes to Arn and thanks him for being his coach! I would have brought up the whole midnight barbeque thing if it was me, but in any case it looks like things are all patched up between them! Of course, since this is wrestling, we can’t have a sincere moment without a bad guy ruining it, and sure enough, Andrade comes out to taunt him. Once again though, there’s some mixed messaging here as Andrade takes cracks at the supposed Baby Face and is getting cheered for it, especially when he brings up Cody’s neck tattoo, so perhaps Cody is gonna fight THIS guy against a chorus of boos as well. In any case, Andrade makes his way to the ring and the lights go out; coming back on to reveal Malaki Black standing next to him! Black sprays mist in Cody’s face and he and Andrade double team him before Pac runs out to make the save and chases them off! I mean everyone involved with this feud is on a pretty solid hot streak (even Cody who’s only issue is the crowd reactions), so I’m definitely interested to see where this is going!
The Dark Order Vs. The Super Elite – Eight Man Tag Match
My golden rule for Tag Matches is that three is the perfect number, but there are exceptions to that and this would be one of them; not because it’s a FANTASTIC match that uses them all equally with startling skill and perfect timing (though this match has PLENTY of that), but because it’s just a fun goofy match between eight goofballs with a silly finish! It’s the perfect kind of match to put on for a Halloween show where goofiness and excess are the reasons for the season, and even if it’s nobody’s best work it’s still a darn good match in its own right! First, let’s talk about costumes. Evil Uno is a cowboy (complete with mustache glued to his mask), Stu Grayson is Kratos from the God of War games, John Silver is Bambi as he promised us last week, and Colt Cabana is Brandon Cutler; complete with face guard and cold spray. A good start to be sure, but the fact that they don’t have an overall THEME brings it down a bit, whereas all four of the Super Elite are dressed as Ghost Busters COMPLETE with a dude in a Stay Puft Marshmallow suit and an Elite themed cover of the Ghostbusters theme! THAT’S commitment! As for the match itself, Silver gets a strong start against Adam Cole and Uno gets a similar lead against Matt Jackson who gets thrown into the Dark Order’s corner and eats Corner Splashes from all four of them! Well… not exactly as Colt doesn’t splash him but instead sprays the cold spray right in his face while the ref is distracted! The Dark Order pose over the corpse of Matt Jackson which forces the rest of the Super Elite to jump in, and surprising even me the Dark Order come out on top and do another pose over all four of them! The Super Elite are no slouches however as they eventually start getting the heat on Stu Grayson during the commercial, but Stu mounts an impressive comeback to give the hot tag to Colt Cabana. Cabana, who really should be doing more matches, lands a Moonsault Press on Both of the Young Bucks, splashes Omega in the corner, and throws a hundred punches at The Bucks! He goes for the Superman Pin on Nick but it gets broken up by Adam Cole who eats a Flying Apple, but at least he stopped him from picking up the win and it gives Nick Jackson enough time to land a Superkick that forces Cabana back to his corner; giving Silver the hot tag this time! He gets a Gamengiri on Nick Jackson, a Cannonball on Adam Cole, and even runs right through Kenny Omega before landing a Pump Kick on Matt Jackson! He runs back in the ring and gives Nick a Release German Suplex, but he plays to the crowd and doesn’t notice that both of the Bucks are in the ring now and give him a Superkick Party. All four of the Super Elite are in the ring and give Silver Super Kicks before going for the pin that is broken up by Stu Grayson. It’s at this point that all heck breaks loose as everyone runs in and does a move before getting attacked by the NEXT person who runs in and does a move; all of which is pretty amazing to see just for the timing and coordination of it all and it ends with matt Jackson taking out the ref! All four of the Dark Order end up eating Low Blows from the Super Elite who grab their plastic proton packs and all four Splash the Dark Order in the center of the ring; using their accessories to maximize the damage! THEN they throw the proton packs in a pile in the mat and throw Colt Cabana into it which effectively takes him out of the match, and things only get weirder from there! A dude in a horse costume runs to the ring and The Super Elite give him a low blow and a BTE Trigger… only to reveal that Brandon Cutler is underneath with his mouth taped shut! Well wait a minute! If he’s in the horse costume… then who’s in the Stay Puft Marshmallow costume!? Well, Matt Jackson is about to find out as the puffy mo-fo gets up behind him and takes off his head to reveal… HANGMAN ADAM PAGE!! He DESTROYS Matt Jackson with a Clothesline and lands a Dead Eye on Omega that knocks him out! Stu Gray lands a Moonsault on the remaining two members of the Super Elite and John Silver lands a Spin Doctor on Matt Jackson; just in time for the ref to wake up and to count the pin to give the Dark Order the victory in this match! The Dark Order celebrate with Hangman Adam Page and the episode comes to an end as the Super Elite sheepishly make their way up the ramp; a specter of things to come with Full Gear right around the corner!?
This was a GREAT episode of Dynamite full of solid matches and fun angles. Heck, even angles I’m not all that into like the MJF/Darby feud managed to find a way to make it a little more interesting; not to mention the two tournaments going on that had some pretty rocky matches so far! I don’t think they can do something like this all the time, especially that main event which feels like a once-a-year thing, but I’m glad that they pulled out all the stops here and gave me something that gets me REALLY interested to see what happens next! Full Gear is a lot sooner than you think, especially since All Out feels like it was only a month ago, but putting on matches like this is doing a decent job of hyping it up!