AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
We’re back with another night of Dynamite action, but this time things are a little bit different as I actually went out and saw the show live! It was a MISERABLE three hour drive there and a HORRENDOUS three out drive back, but darn it, I was there and it was a GREAT experience! This is only my second live wrestling event as I saw WWE Live back before AEW was even a thing and it was fun and all, but everything about this show was firing on all cylinders and it just felt like a BIG event even if it was just another Wednesday nights! On top of that, the seats were AMAZING! Wrestling shows do a good job of using perspective to make things look much bigger than they are, so when I saw where my tickets were on a vague map of the arena I thought I was going to be in the rafters; like on a second level seating area. Instead, I was sitting pretty darn close to the action and had a really great angle!
The show started with Dark Elevation which I’ve always kind of dismissed as an extraneous thing from AEW, but it was great to see it live! I can’t possibly fit that show into everything else I watch and frankly, I don’t know how interested I’d be in seeing those matches on my computer. For a live event though, it’s a great way to see stars who otherwise don’t have much of a role to play in the storylines on Dynamite and Rampage. If it wasn’t for those matches at the start of the show, I wouldn’t have been able to see John Silver, Alex Reynolds, and Preston Vance wrestle, I wouldn’t have seen Riho who came out for a match to the utter delight of the crowd, and I even got to see Penelope Ford! I’ve always been a fan of hers, but she’s not doing much on the main show right now and could have easily been absent, but because of that hour of matches they did before the TV broadcast, I got to check that off my wrestling bucket list! Still, as much fun as the show was for me, we’re here to talk about the important angles and the quality of the matches, so let’s not waste any more time and dive right in!
Hangman Adam Page Celebration – Cowboy S**T!
We start the show with the Dark Order in the ring, which has been decorated in cowboy stuff, to announce the arrival of Hangman Adam Page; the new AEW Champion back in his home state to bask in the adulation. Chants of COWBOY S**T were constant throughout the show and Hangman gave a speech about how he earned this title on Saturday. He says that his true boss is the fans and that he needs to focus on Bryan Danielson who won HIS match on Saturday and will be the first to challenge for Hangman’s title. Naturally, Bryan Danielson comes out to more thunderous applause, but things take a turn here as Danielson… is going heel! We’re not quite at Earth’s Champion Bryan Danielson (arguably THE BEST Bryan Danielson), but he does make it clear that he’s disappointed Kenny no longer has the belt and even brags about being at WrestleMania to the AEW audience! Hangman of course won’t stand for these insults and offers to fight him right here and right now, but instead Evil Uno steps in as he already had a match scheduled for Danielson tonight! I’m definitely all in for Heel Danielson as he always seems to have the most fun when he’s in that role, but it is kind of amazing how he found the fastest POSSIBLE way to go from beloved Baby Face to dastardly Heel; simply by namechecking the WWE. Also, a quick behind-the-scenes note, the crew removed the cowboy decorations on the ring during the commercial, but one of the balloons escaped and was just hanging out on the ceiling all night. Heck, it still might be there for all I know!
Bryan Danielson Vs. Evil Uno
I thought that I was going to be the one person there behind Uno in this match, but with Danielson so thoroughly showing his butt in the last segment, it became perhaps the most Pro-Uno crowd the guy has ever gotten! Uno tries his best to keep up with the American Dragon, but it’s constantly a fight from underneath as his offense can only do so much against Danielson and each moment of hope is immediately crushed by Danielson’s fury. A Step Up Enziguri and a Neck Breaker from Uno gets him a two count, but then Danielson starts giving him an unholy flurry of Palm Strikes in the corner just to make him suffer! Uno then gets a high boot and goes for a Senton, but Danielson gets the knees up and retaliates with a Running knee! It was a valiant effort from Uno, but there’s not much more he can do and he simply passes out as soon as Danielson gets the Triangle Sleeper. On the one hand, I do wish Uno would get a lot more credit and more wins on Dynamite, but the fact is that he was NOT going to win against Danielson and even in defeat a HUGE amount of love from the crowd; especially me who was holding out hope for the guy to the last second!
Tony Schiavone then heads to the ring to find out why Danielson is being such a jerk tonight, but he of course feigns innocence as he was JUST COMING OUT HERE TO CONGRATULATE HANGMAN when THEY had to get all weird about it. Defeating Uno has not done enough to pay back the indignities he’s suffered, however, and so until he and Hangman meet in the ring, he is going to challenge every member of The Dark Order and kick their heads off just as effectively as he kicked of Uno’s! I mean that sounds like a lot of fun and I’d like to see guys like Alex Reynolds and Stu Grayson get some solo ring time, but in terms of storyline… can they just say no? Do they HAVE to get their heads kicked off for no good reason? I mean Hangman is a good guy and all, but this friendship has serious strings attached…
Eddie Kingston is being interviewed in the back about his match with CM Punk when Daniel Garcia and 2.0 interrupt. Garcia wants a match with Kingston which should be great because Kingston is one of the most charismatic guys working today and Garcia is a fantastic up-and-coming guy who could use more exposure on AEW. Too bad they didn’t wrestle on the night I was there, but he DID show up earlier in the show to do commentary on one of the Dark Elevation matches, so at least I was in the same building as him!
Orange Cassidy & Tomohiro Ishii Vs. The Butcher and The Blade
Cassidy and & Ishii accompanied to the ring by Best Friends and Rocky Romero while The Butcher and The Blade are accompanied by Matt Hardy and The Bunny
Seriously, AEW; YOU CAN’T MAKE ME WATCH NEW JAPAN! I know it’s good wrestling and that the “forbidden door” means that some of that stuff is gonna bleed into AEW, but I’m not alone in ONLY watching AEW for wrestling content, so someone who’s been a fan of Orange Cassidy for two years now all of a sudden seeing him teamed up with guys from another company, well it’s just a bit confusing and it’s frustrating that they won’t sit down and play us a video explaining it. Just two minutes of New Japan footage can’t be THAT hard to get; especially since New Japan is sending their guys over there and presumably want the AEW fans to get invested in them! Okay, my ranting is over, so now we can focus on the match itself which was pretty awesome! The crowd was definitely into it and the flow of the match was quite easy to comprehend even if I didn’t know who Ishii is. You just look at this guy and you can tell he’s a tough mo-fo, so having the Heels get the heat on Cassidy to build anticipation for the hot tag is a solid way to get him over. Once he DOES finally make it to the corner (casually walking to it in typical Orange Cassidy fashion), it’s a fun brawl as Ishii handles The Blade pretty easily and then goes up against the MUCH bigger Butcher where it looks like an even bout at first… until Ishii starts to get mad and the Butcher starts getting scared! The crowd starts chanting YOU F**KED UP, and the Butcher eats a Superplex from Ishii that SHOULD have ended the match fi The Blade didn’t break up the pin. Cassidy tags back in to run wild and Butcher and Blade with a few of his big moves before getting overwhelmed and forcing Ishii to tag himself back in where he continues to work over the Butcher. The Blade runs in with the brass knuckles to try and take out Ishii, but Rocky Romero drags him out of the ring and Orange Cassidy wipes him, the Butcher, and Matt Hardy out with a Cross Body from the top turnbuckle! Cassidy drags the Blade back into the ring, Ishii destroys him with a Sheer Drop Brain Buster, and the Baby Faces get the pin to win the match! Seeing it live was a lot of fun and the shenanigans from the outside only added to the chaos of it all. Hopefully this Chaos faction thing gets cleared up for us non-New Japan fans because so far, the matches have been quite fun to see!
Hikaru Shida Vs. Nyla Rose – TBS Tournament Quarter-Finals
Gotta say, sitting in the arena with all those people and without the context of watching a TV show with storyline and drama, I was rooting for Rose right off the bat! Shida’s a great wrestler with a lot of presence and charisma, but Rose is just a force of nature! She is larger than life, she’s a force of nature, and her act came across so well seeing it live! Even Vickie who is often seen as a joke had gravitas as she came to the ring, so I was enjoying the heck out of this before anyone threw a punch! The match itself was similar to what we saw in the Cassidy match where there are a lot of shenanigans out and outside interference peppered throughout, and it worked REALLY well seeing it live. Shida has a pretty strong lead throughout the match, though Nyla is no slouch and is definitely holding her own; albeit with a LITTLE bit of help from Vickie from time to time. Where the match takes a turn is when Serena Deeb runs in from the crowd and Chop Blocks her on the bad knee. Seeing this opportunity, Rose hits her with that Draping Flying Knee thing she likes to do and goes for a pin. She only gets a two count and Shida rallies with the Triangle Lock, but going for an upper-body submission is always a bad move on powerhouse wrestlers, and sure enough Nyla manages to lift her up and drop her with a Power Bomb. They go back and forth for a bit after that with Shida nearly getting the pin with a Jack Knife, but Nyla catches her leg in a spinning kick and IMMEDIATELY locks her into a Standing Stretch Muffler. With the knee badly damaged, she’s forced to tap and Nyla wins the match; advancing to the finals of the tournament! It was a good match, but I might be a little bit biased since I was actually rooting for the upset, but honestly Nyla Rose could use the shot more than Shida. She’s pretty fresh off of her own title run and this feud with Deeb doesn’t require the belt, so let Rose face off against Jade Cargill in the finals! Even if Rose doesn’t win, that should at least be an interesting match!
MJF Has Something to Say – Just Plain S**T!
MJF comes out with Wardlow and Shawn Spears to gloat about his win at Full Gear and to call out Hangman Adam Page, but he’s soon interrupted by CM Punk who ARGUABLY gets the biggest pop of the night; if not, it was neck and neck with Hangman. Just being there definitely heightens your emotions on these moments as I probably wouldn’t have marked out as hard seeing Punk come out on TV as I did when his music hit at the stadium. Everyone went wild and didn’t STOP going wild until Punk got in the ring and stared down MJF. Trying to keep it cool, MJF formally introduces himself and holds out his hand for a handshake… and Punk just blows him off before going to the back. Some more behind-the-scenes notes, Punk actually came out after the Rampage taping to talk to the audience a bit because he felt bad that all he did on Dynamite was walk in and walk out. I mean the crowd still popped for it, but it was still a very cool gesture from the guy!
We cut to the back and Tony is already interviewing Darby about the promo and his match with MJF on Friday, but of course it gets interrupted; this time by, of all people, Billy Gunn who challenges him to a match on Rampage. We also see The Bucks and Adam Cole kvetching in the back about Jungle Boy hitting Matt with a con-chair-to, and so Adam Cole and Bobby Fish will challenge Jurassic Express to a match on Rampage as well. I certainly know how these matches went, but let’s keep this spoiler-free as I’ll get to Rampage soon enough!
Lio Rush & Dante Martin Vs. The Acclaimed
Out of all the matches on Dynamite, this is the one that the crowd was the least into and there’s a very simple answer for that. Dante spends SO LONG getting pounded on in this match! Despite a good start where Lio and Dante attack them before the bell rings, The Acclaimed get the heat for a REALLY long time here and it’s not the most interesting heat segment in the world either. I still think Bowens has a lot of personality, and as far as I’m concerned is the better of the two, but neither of them could get past the fact that this crowd wanted to see Dante Martin do his flippy stuff and weren’t gonna react until he did. Thankfully he DOES finally make his way to the corner by jumping off the backs of Caster and Bowens, and he gets the hot tag to Lio Rush which is when the crowd came back to life! Hurricanrana, spinning kicks; he even uses a freaking HANDSPRING to knock Caster off the apron before hitting an Ax Kick on Bowens for a two count! The Acclaimed rally for a bit as Lio starts to get overwhelmed, but then Dante comes in with a GIGANTIC Springboard Drop Kick and the crowd starts to chant AEW. The Acclaimed continue to get the heat on Lio for a bit, but then Dante lands his Double Jump Moonsault on Bowens which sets him up for Lio to hit the Frog Splash to get the pin and win the match. The all-out assault from the Baby Faces is what they were waiting to see, but it took too long to get there and it wasn’t that much fun up until then. Watching it back on the broadcast it didn’t feel QUITE as long as it did sitting there, but this was far more tedious than it needed to be in the lead up to the big finish.
It doesn’t end there however as Team Taz comes out to remind Dante of the offer they made to him on Saturday and they take a few cheap shots at Lio Rush as well. Team Taz is great at stirring the pot and getting some interesting angles started, but they’ve never really succeeded in doing anything INTERESTING with them and I’m hoping that this feud isn’t going exactly where it looks like it’s going; Team Taz flat on their backs and getting absolutely nothing out of it.
Sammy Guevara Vs. Jay Lethal – TNT Title Match
I’ll admit that I’m a big enough Uno mark that his match was the one I was most excited to see, but seeing Jay Lethal’s first match at AEW was a FANTASTIC thing to behold and I’m glad he made his debut here! The story of the match is that Sammy is going at this match like Darby Allin, i.e. recklessly, and this is to his detriment as his ribs are still taped up. The crowd was very much split right down the middle (I was on team Lethal) and they were really into the match, but what threw me off is when they try to play off the injury angle TOO hard. Sammy goes for a Shooting Star Press, but Lethal gets the knees up and Sammy rolls outside. He is out there for WAY longer than a ten count which the crowd is KEENLY aware of (you can hear them counting) and they have the doctor come over to look at him. Now I didn’t see anyone throw up the X so I didn’t buy it as real, but it still sucked the wind out of the match and everyone is just kinda waiting there either for Sammy to get back up or for this main event to end early. Sammy DOES eventually make it back to the ring and the match is straight-up FIRE after that, but I definitely could have done without that spot. Sammy tries for a few more risky moves including a dive from the top turnbuckle to the time keeper’s table, but Lethal manages to avoid them and Sammy just crashes and burns for his trouble. Still, when he buckles down and focuses on WRESTLING instead of SPECTACLE, he does a lot better and manages to keep up with Lethal’s impressive offense. Sammy tries for the GTH but his ribs are making it difficult to lift up Lethal, but after a few more moves and gritting his teeth, he manages to hit it on the second attempt to win the match and retain the title. I guess I shouldn’t have expected Lethal to win, but the atmosphere in the arena makes it hard to not root for the long shots even if it wouldn’t make sense in storyline. Still, Letha put on a great match with Sammy and he’s signed with the company which only means more matches like this in the future! Sammy shakes Lethal’s hand as the episode comes to a close, but in the arena, he grabbed the mic and thanked Lethal for being a hero to him and for giving him such a great match!
Going out to see it live (while wearing a mask! Be safe!) was a fantastic way to spend a Wednesday night and just being there to see the people in person instead of through a television screen turned into a whole new experience. Sure, I did miss the commentary a bit and even with the great seats we had I had to look up at the monitors a few times to see what was going on when the action went outside of the ring, but I had a great time and they put on a darn good follow up to the PPV! Maybe next time though, bring it a LITTLE bit closer to me, okay? Three hours back and forth is a bit much, even for a show this good…