AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
It’s the last Dynamite before Full Gear and AEW’s last chance to sell to us on their main show! We of course have Rampage the night before, but with two hours of TV time, this is the show that will get the most done and tie up the most loose-ends! Is it a satisfying Go Home show to give Full Gear the hype it needs, or are we just fumbling our way through this until we get to the other side and can start fresh? Let’s find out!!
Bryan Danielson Vs. Rocky Romero
Romero is accompanied to the ring by Best Friends and Orange Cassidy
Before we get into any of this, I want it to be clear that I’ve never seen a Rocky Romero fight and I have no idea what Chaos is; nor do I fully understand what Orange Cassidy’s role in it is. I’m glad that AEW is working well with a bunch of companies and that we get Forbidden Door matches like this every once in a while, but I’m a guy who covers this show pretty consistently and even I felt a bit out of the loop on this. Perhaps I’m overstating the case, but AEW already has a problem with their YouTube shows intermingling with Dynamite and Rampage, and adding New Japan stuff to that mix isn’t the best idea unless they REALLY take the time to go into it. In any case, this is pretty much just a warm-up match for Danielson to get ready for his fight against Miro at the PPV, and unlike the Omega match that opened on the last Dynamite, I think this did a solid job of building him up and getting fans excited to see what happens on the big show. For the most part, it’s a submission battle as both go back and forth trying to get some leverage with Romero focusing almost exclusively on the arm. He proves to be a wily competitor as Danielson has some big moves to show off and gets some serious damage in, but there’s always the threat that Romero will grab the arm out of nowhere and try to break it such as when Danielson lands an Elbow Drop on the dude’s leg and ends up having to scramble his way to the ropes as Rocky locks in the Cross Arm Breaker. At one point Danielson is tossed through the ropes and ends up face to face with Cassidy who puts his hands in his pockets; effectively distracting Danielson as Romero charges from the ring and lands a Suicide Dive. This gives Rocky an opening for a few good moves and to crush Danielson’s arm some more, but they both end up pretty worn down by German Suplexes, Hurricanrana, and a whole lot of punches and kicks in the middle of the ring. Eventually, the two start trading submissions and Romero gets the full extension of the Cross Arm Breaker, but he doesn’t get him to tap as Danielson forces Romero to break up his hold by pinning his shoulders and getting a two-count. Danielson is still in this manages to stop a Sliced Bread attempt in its tracks which leaves Rocky on the ground, and he eats a bunch of stomps from Danielson who goes in for the LaBelle Lock. He can’t quite get the move on as Romero is fighting back, but he swiftly switches tactics and locks in the Tequila Sunrise which is finally enough to get Romero to tap out. It was an old-school bout between two guys who know how to work that kind of match, and while it was perhaps a BIT too competitive for Danielson who’s going into a big match on the PPV; it still worked better than the Omega match. Romero is a guest of the show and guests are usually portrayed to be VERY tough, and the stakes in Danielson’s match aren’t as high as in Omega’s. Frankly, I’m about as interested in seeing Danielson go up against Cassidy as I would Omega or Hangman Adam Page, so I think I might be pulling just a LITTLE bit more for Miro to win the tournament at Full Gear!
The Inner Circle come out for something, but we never find out what it was though as Lambert and his crew run out and attack them with everything they’ve got! Sammy’s taken out by a gut punch from Junior dos Santos, Santana is thrown face-first into the steel steps, and American Top Team carry Chris Jericho into Dan Lambert’s arms so he can Power Bomb him through the table! If that wasn’t bad enough, the Men of the Year take the mic and proclaim their victory ahead of the match on Saturday, as well as promise us that Dan Lambert will be the one to pin Chris Jericho! Interesting proclamation, though it probably didn’t do them any favors having Lambert put Jericho in a Boston Crab which looks as convincing as that match between Michael Nakazawa and that dude from CEO Gaming. What, did you forget about that? I sure haven’t! I can’t say this is my most anticipated match going into the PPV, but it’s got enough good wrestlers in it to hopefully cover for the less experienced guy in there, and the sheer novelty of it will definitely turn some heads.
Britt Baker, Rebel (Not Reba), and Jaime Hayter Vs. Thunder Rosa, Anna Jay, and Tay Conti – Trios Match
I’ll get to the match in a moment, but did anyone else know that Baker was going up against Thunder Rosa at Full Gear!? I’ll admit that doing this week in and week out means that some things just kinda fly past me, but I feel like I would have remembered something like that! Then again, it’s not like I had an idea of what was going to happen in the Women’s Division on the show as I guess I just assumed it would be more TBS Tournament stuff. Well in any case, this was a fine match which is actually kind of impressive considering Rebel (Not Reba)’s involvement. Frankly, I was impressed by her as she has a reputation of being an absolutely terrible worker, but her selling is pretty good and she works pretty well with her opponents; being in position and lifting them up for their big moves before flailing backward to make them look as devastating as possible! She takes the heat for a while so that the Baby Faces can run away with it while keeping Baker JUST far enough from the action so that she doesn’t lose any momentum going into her title match THAT AS FAR AS I CAN TELL WAS JUST ANNOUNCED. A cheap shot from Hayter allows the Heels to get the heat for a bit, but Anna Jay eventually escapes with a Suplex to Britt Baker which leads to Tay Conti getting the Hot Tag. Tay runs wild on all of them and gets the Tay-K-O on Hayter, but Baker breaks up the pin which puts an end to her momentum and leaves her vulnerable to Baker’s assault. Rosa breaks up a pin attempt which causes everyone to start running to the ring and taking shots at one another until it’s just Tay and Rebel (Not Reba) in the ring. Tay has Rebel (Not Reba) in position for a DDT, but Baker doesn’t run in to break it up and Tay gets the pin after landing the move. The implication I guess is to say that she’s afraid of Tay Conti which is an interesting angle to have here considering ROSA IS THE ONE SHE HAS A MATCH WITH ON THE PPV! There wasn’t a whole lot take away from this match, and even if they DID announce the PPV match at some point in the last few weeks, it certainly doesn’t FEEL like it as I don’t recall Rosa cutting any promos of Baker or Baker singling her out for any promos of her own!
Jungle Boy Vs. Anthony Bowens
Bowens is accompanied to the ring by Max Caster
Gotta say, I love Bowens more and more each time I see him! He plays a VERY good and cocky Heel here as he uses strength to overpower Jungle Boy but keeps getting in his own way with his ego. Jungle Boy flies around the ring and confounds Bowens with his acrobatics, but Caster causes a distraction and Bowens starts to get the heat during the commercial. When we come back, Jungle Boy gets some momentum back with a Basement Drop Kick and a Running Lariat, but Bowens can’t be counted out just yet as he can land some seriously hard hits with those mighty muscles of his! He gets a two-count on Jungle Boy with what looks like Side Slam, but Jungle Boy recovers with a Roll-Up and an attempted Snare Trap that Bowens only narrowly avoids via a distraction from Caster. Jungle Boy goes to take care of that twerp once and for all, but when he tries to get back in the ring he eats a DDT from Bowens through rope and just barely kicks out at two on a pin attempt. Bowens tries to keep the heat up with another Side Slam, but Jungle Boy shifts the momentum and turns it into an Arm Drag which he immediately transitions into the Snare Trap; forcing Bowens to tap and giving Jungle Boy the win! Before he can start to celebrate his win, none other than Bobby Fish runs down and beats the heck out of him a mere three days before his Trios match at the PPV! Speaking of which, his two partners for that match, Christian and Luchasaurus, run down to make the save, and Bobby Fish bails; having already achieved what he was looking to do! If that wasn’t good enough, we cut to the back where Cole and The Bucks are talking about how awesome Bobby Fish is and the dude gets a match against Jungle Boy on Rampage! Fish and Cole potentially teaming up again is the first thing EVERYONE thought when they both made their way to AEW, and while we may not get that dynamic they had as the Undisputed Era just yet, we’re at least one step closer to it!
Wheeler Yuta Vs. Wardlow
Yuta is accompanied to the ring by Best Friends and Orange Cassidy
I have NO IDEA why this match is even happening on this show, especially since Wardlow rarely gets in a match that isn’t directly tied to The Pinnacle, but I’m not about to complain about it because these two guys put on a great squash match! Yuta starts off hot with a few decent acrobatic moves, but it doesn’t take long for Wardlow to simply Powerbomb this dude into oblivion. He then puts Yuta on the turnbuckle and hits the Casualty of War which is enough to get the pin and win the match. I really do want to see Yuta succeed at SOME point, but he was GREAT when he was taking those Powerbombs from Wardlow which made him look like a monster ahead of the MJF/Darby match, and I’m sure his day will come at some point!
It’s not over yet however as The Blade and Isiah Kassidy rush the ring to attack the Baby Faces so that Matt Hardy can come in and get his revenge on Orange Cassidy! He achieves this by landing a Twist of Fate on Cassidy after sticking his head in a folding chair which is ABSOLUTELY terrifying to think of if he didn’t land the move correctly, but thankfully Cassidy took it just right and the writhing on the ground was purely Kayfabe. Dang! If it wasn’t bad enough that Yuta got outshined in the match, he can’t even be the focus after it’s over!? Maybe he’ll be the one to get revenge on HFO for this attack, and THAT will be his big break on Dynamite!
Kingston and CM Punk screaming at each other in the parking garage which isn’t nearly as interesting as the promo from Rampage as I can’t even tell what they’re saying to each other as half the locker room tries to keep them apart. IT’s a nice parking garage though! I don’t know why I’m noticing that of all things, but it’s got some SERIOUSLY good lighting!
Dante Martin & Lio Rush Vs. Matt Sydal & Lee Moriarty
AEW has done a FANTASTIC job finding young talent to nurture and build-up, and this match has TWO guys who could be superstars! Dante and Moriarty have such a great back and forth at the start of the match that they get a standing ovation from the crowd, so hopefully this isn’t the last time we’ll see them lock it up in the ring, but for now, it’s time for the two vets to get in and show what they can do. Now Lio Rush has had some ups and downs in the last year with his big AEW debut getting cut short by his retirement, and so this is the first match he’s had on AEW television. How does he do? I mean he’s Lio Rush, so he’s great! I’m still probably gonna need a few more matches from the guy without another retirement before I TRULY get invested in him, but he makes a good case for himself after all the talking he’s been doing the last few weeks. Sydal gets the heat on Dante during the commercial, but he starts flipping his way out of this predicament and lands a Shotgun Drop Kick which gives him enough time to get the tag to Rush just as Sydal gets the tag to Moriarty. The two have a REALLY great back and bout with some VERY impressive throws and acrobatics, but Rush ends up getting the best of it and lands a Jump Kick to Moriarty that sends him rolling out of the ring! He fends off both of his opponents with ease, but none of this offense is enough to keep Moriarty down for the three count, so he tags in Dante to help him finish the guy off. Before he knows what hit him though, Sydal takes him out with a Hurricanrana and Moriarty almost finishes Dante with a Flying Uppercut! Dante kicks out at two and Lio comes in for the save with a flurry of offense on Moriarty which softens him up enough for Dante to land the Double Jump Moonsault which is finally enough to get the pin and win the match! On a match full of solid to great matches, that one might be the best so far gets a few bonus points for focusing on the younger guys who are gonna be the future of this company. I’m still SLIGHTLY skeptical of Lio at this point, but he certainly proved that he’s got the skills, and if he’s in the right headspace he could ALSO be a part of AEW’s future!
Dax Harwood Vs. Pac
Dax is accompanied to the ring by Tully Blanchard
So what happens when you take two brawny dudes with giant chips on their shoulders and throw them in the middle of the ring? You get a pretty fantastic old-school wrestling match which is somewhat similar to the opener but with WAY more brutality! These two guys are just looking to hurt one another and are just flinging themselves around the ring, but they’re also EXTREMELY skilled at what they do which means a lot of counters, holds, takedowns, and all manner of chain wrestling but with a much fiercer bent to it! For the second time tonight, the crowd gives a standing ovation to the opening salvo of a match, but after that flurry of offense, things start to settle into a bit more of a deliberate back and forth style. We get some good action here like a Rebound German Suplex and an over the top rope Suicide Dive, but what I REALLY didn’t need to see is what happened after we came back from commercial. Dax is on the turnbuckle and trying to fight off Pac, but Pac gets the advantage and lands an AVALANCHE BRAIN BUSTER onto Dax which, you know, SEEMS like a bad idea! I watched it a few times and I THINK Harwood’s neck was cradled in the crook of Pac’s arm so he kinda just rolled to his back rather than landed on his head or neck, but that was still a SKETCHY move to take and frankly it took me out of the match. Dax SOMEHOW kicks out at two and things slow down a bit as I’m sure neither one of them feel like going all out after that Brain Buster. Pac has a pretty firm control over the match, but Tully makes his presence known as he pulls Dax out of the corner just as Pac was about to smash into him; forcing Pac to bounce off the corner and allowing Dax to land a Brain Buster for a two-count. Dax goes for a second Buster, but Pac escapes and goes up top and tries for the Black Arrow, only for Dax to run up and drop him into the post. Now it’s Dax’s turn to land a top rope move, albeit a much tamer one as he goes with an Avalanche Backdrop, and Harwood tries to follow up after it, but Pac dodges and lands a Release German Suplex. Pac then follows up with a big lariat and a Liger Bomb for a two-count, and then quickly lands a Backslide that he transitions into a Brutalizer. The match kind of ran out of steam for me and it never truly recovered after that Brain Buster, but it was a solid match to fill some time on the show and was ultimately there as a lead-in to what happens next.
Pac has won the match and the bell has rung, but he won’t let go of Dax so Cash Wheeler runs in to attack him. The crowd starts to boo which to ME is a bit odd since Pac was the one being a jerk there, but before I can think on this too long; the lights go out and come back to reveal Andrade El Idolo and Malakai Black. NOW they look like Heels as all four of these dudes start stomping on Pac, and Lucha Bros and Cody Rhodes rush the ring to even the odds! The whole situation descends into chaos, but the Baby faces eventually chase off the Heels in what I can only assume is a prelude to an Eight-Man Tag Match further down the road. I mean hey, they need SOMETHING to build to for after the PPV, but it’s kind of funny how two PPVs in a row have left out Malakai Black, Pac, and Andrade so that they can fight on a later show!
AEW World Title Contract Signing – Hangman and Omega Face to Face
We see The Dark Order and The Elite leaving the building before this even starts to make sure they don’t interrupt and that it’s as serious-minded as possible. Real serious business here as they sit opposite each other at a folding table located inside a wrestling ring! Of course, it isn’t about the pageantry of the moment or the particulars of the contract; it’s about giving these two one-last time to yell at each other before the big match on Saturday! Hangman signs first and takes the first swing as he promises to kick his butt for the title, but Kenny takes a slightly different approach and goes for disappointment overconfidence. He tries to hit Hangman where it hurts by reminding him of their past, his mistakes, and how he reacted to them. Oh, but Hangman doesn’t retreat into his own insecurities THIS time as he fires back at Omega about his OWN insecurities; his own fears at being a false champion, and that Hangman may be the man to take him down! It’s all good stuff and Kenny eventually backs off to try and make this a more respectable and cordial affair, so he offers to shake Hangman’s hand. He’s hesitant at first but eventually does it… ONLY FOR THE CAMERAMAN TO BASH HIM OVER THE HEAD! Surprise! It’s none other than Don Callis who’s been hiding away for weeks now so he can make his surprise return with the blood of Hangman Adam Page; said blood by the way is used by Kenny Omega to sign the contract, and the episode ends with the two Heels cackling their way to Full Gear!
It was a pretty solid episode overall with some great matches and decent angles to be paid off on the PPV. The only real negative against it was the Women’s match which was rather underwhelming and the fact that we didn’t get much of a build for Rosa/Baker feels like a missed opportunity. Aside from that though, it does what a good Go Home show should, and that’s to make people excited for the PPV while also giving us something to look forward to after it’s all said and done. The Omega/Hangman confrontation was well executed and further highlights why I think the match Omega had last week was not what he needed at the moment. Omega has a lot wrapped up in this, and it’s quite possible he’s about to lose the belt. I wanted him to go into this contact signing looking a lot stronger so that the pivot to his own fears would have a bit more weight to it. Instead, the match and this segment seem like he’s floundering which is perhaps the point (especially with Don Callis coming back to be his rock), but I still think the main event is lacking just a LITTLE bit of something. I guess not everyone can have the fiery promos of Eddie Kingston to build a world-class match in one segment, but I’m still interested to see where the title picture ends up, and the rest of the show looks like a lot of fun as well! All we’ve got left before the PPV is Rampage, but even if this was the last thing we saw before the show I’d say it did its job and then some!