Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (12-01-2021)

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

We’re back for another week of AEW action, but we start this recap on a somber note as JR isn’t here for this show because he’s fighting skin cancer.  We all hope the best for him and his family, and expect to see him back shortly as he’s one tough dude and is already rearing to come back!  This also means that for this week (and any other weeks he’s not available), we will be getting a lot of guest commentators to try and fill his absence.  Get well soon, JR, and let’s get started with the show!!

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Bryan Danielson Vs. Alan Angels

Hangman Adam Page joins the announce team for this match.

The big problem with Danielson’s quest to kick the head off of every Dark Order member on his way to facing Hangman is that it’s entirely unnecessary as Hangman is more than willing to fight Danielson, so it’s not like with MJF where he forces someone to go through all his Heel buddies before taking him on.  They even have a date in place with the Winter is Coming show in a few weeks, so there are no real stakes to this and Danielson is just doing it to do it while the Dark Order are playing into his hand.  It worked the first time with Evil Uno and perhaps twice with Colt Cabana, but Alan Angels coming out here just seems like folly.  Still, Angels has kind of a shtick now of being a guy who never wins matches but always gives the big dogs a run for his money, though I’m sure that’ll be cold comfort for him if Danielson kicks one of his teeth out.  It starts off strong for Danielson who remains in full control of the match despite a few decent hits from Angels here and there.  He gets a surprise Backslide for a two count and tries to capitalize on it, but Danielson quickly regains control with a Butterfly Suplex into an Arm Bar.  Angels makes it toe the ropes and comes back with a Drop Kick that sends Danielson out of the ring; following up with a Suicide Dive and a Moonsault from the middle rope.  This advantage is short-lived as Danielson hits him with a Spanish Fly as soon as they are back in the ring, and even when he does get a chance to climb the turnbuckle, he misses the Moonsault and eats a Running Knee from Danielson.  He doesn’t go for the pin, however!  Instead, he starts stomping on Angels’ face as he did to Colt Cabana; thankfully with no lost teeth, at least as far as I could tell, and Danielson transitions into the Knee Bar which he Angels immediately taps out of.  Oh, but the tap is no good in this match as Danielson refuses to let go of the move for almost a minute after the bell rings and starts to claim that he tore Angels’ MCL which is probably NOT true, but I guess they have to keep up this destruction of the Dark Order story.  Hangman Adam Page is about to run down to attack Danielson, but John Silver comes out and tells him not to go after him as Tony Khan has scheduled a match for Winter is Coming and therefore has decreed that if Hangman and Danielson fight each other now, they will get suspended.  That’s a pretty good reason not to go after Danielson, though it’s not the only reason because… SILVER’S GONNA TAKE HIM DOWN HIMSELF!  He runs down but Danielson runs out, claiming the Silver is beneath him, but they will be facing off next week before Danielson followed by Hangman at Winter is Coming the week after.  It was a good opener as Angels put on a good show for himself while keeping Danielson looking strong, and they didn’t spend too much time on it.  It still seems like a weird choice for the Dark Order to keep throwing themselves at Danielson, but if they lead to good matches like this then I guess I’m fine with it.

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We get another great promo from Miro where he confronts his own insecurities within a blank white void before coming to the conclusion that he IS in fact a champion and will continue to dominate at AEW!  It’s a pretty striking visual and I can’t wait to see his next match; just maybe give him the WIN this time?

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CM Punk Vs. Lee Moriarty

MJF joins the commentary team for this match

I have been turning more and more against MJF as a Heel in recent months, and it’s not because he’s any less dynamic on the mic or competent in the ring.  He’s been dipping too much outside of Kayfabe for my taste by bringing up wrestlers’ pasts, accusing them of having REALLY serious issues like alcoholism and drug addiction, and even here he’s not so much doing Heel commentary as acting like an obnoxious wet blanket.  Yes, I agree with him that the match here wasn’t all that great, but I don’t think it’s MJF’s job to bury matches as he should be using his Heel energy to make us more invested in it.  Punk is apparently recovering from a repertory issue so the match is pretty slow-paced with Moriarty getting a lot of spots to cover up for Punk being somewhat winded throughout this, but instead of letting that reality seep into the background, MJF is constantly bringing it up!  Punk looks tired, Punk is being too competitive against a jobber, Punk has lost his killer instinct; I get that he needs to say SOMETHING if he’s gonna do commentary, but it took a merely okay match and made it that much more tedious.  The best part about the match is Moriarty who looks pretty good in here and even MJF is willing to give him credit.  One of the more impressive spots was later in the match when Punk goes for a Cross Body but Moriarty rolls through it into a pin attempt.  Punk kicks out, but Moriarty transitions into the Cross Face which took forever to escape from as Punk had to slowly crawl his way to the ropes.  Not done showing off his skills, Moriarty is put on the top turnbuckle so that Punk can land a Hurricanrana, Moriarty once again manages to roll through the move and gets another two count.  The trade blows for a bit until Moriarty lands a boot to the face and lands a Pedigree-looking move to get another two count, but this is the last time he will have the advantage as Punk manages to escape Moriarty’s next move and lifts him up onto his shoulders.  Punk tosses him down to hit the GTS which knocks Moriarty out cold, and he gets the three count to win the match.  MJF naturally grabs a mic and starts trading jabs with Punk, one guy’s old while the other guy wears silly clothes, and eventually Punk just challenges MJF to face him right now.  MJF declines and says Punk needs him more than he needs Punk.  He’s got bigger fish to fry anyway since the Dynamite Battle Royale is next week and he intends to win the Dynamite Diamond Ring for the third year in the row.  All good stuff, but once again MJF goes too far for my taste and starts insulating some sort of infatuation Punk has with Britt Baker… and then threatens to kill Punk’s dog?  It was a fine match I suppose with Moriarty carrying Punk through most of it, but MJF needs better material and he needs to pull back on the mean-spirited nonsense. 

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Tony Schiavone is interviewing Britt Baker who is venting about her loss against Riho.  There is clearly tension between Baker and Hayter considering that Baker cost Hayter her win last week and Hayter didn’t show up for “Friendsgiving”, but they’ve patched things up enough for Hayter to face Riho in a match prior to the one between her and Baker.  I remember when Hikaru Shida went up against Rebel prior to her title defense against Baker and it was such an obvious trap that I couldn’t feel bad for Shida when Baker just started bashing her after the match was over.  Hopefully, they won’t repeat the same mistake here, and MAYBE we can have a Baby Face with at least one friend baking them up?  Just once, perhaps?

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Adam Cole comes out to do his entrance before heading to the commentary booth to call the next match.  Then Orange Cassidy comes out, presumably to HAVE the next match, but instead, he confronts Cole who gets up to go nose to nose with him.  While Cassidy is doing his pockets shtick, The Young Bucks sneak behind him and prepare for Super Kicks.  Cassidy’s Orange Sense starts tingling and he turns around to the sheepish surprise of The Young Bucks and proceeds to hit them with the lousy kicks.  Not wanting to let him have the last laugh, Cole gives Cassidy a low blow and now it’s the Bucks turn to land the lousy kicks before landing proper ones.  They pick up Cassidy and are about to hit the BTE Trigger with Cole, but Chuck Taylor and Wheeler Yuta come out with chairs to chase them off.  Not a bad angle I suppose, but I feel a bit robbed since we didn’t end up seeing an Orange Cassidy match!

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Wardlow Vs. AC Adams

Wardlow is accompanied to the ring by Shawn Spears

I have no idea who this AC Adams guy is, but he sure as heck isn’t gonna forget Wardlow’s name any time soon.  To his credit, he doesn’t seem to be scared of the big guy and gets a nice kick to the chest, but then Wardlow hits a clothesline and that’s basically all she wrote.  FOUR POWERBOMBS from Wardlow, and he gets the pin on Adams.  Didn’t need Shawn’s help and didn’t even need to use his finisher; four Powerbombs is enough to get the point across!  Speaking of Shawn, he starts attacking AC Adams after the bell rings for literally no reason before raising Wardlow’s arm to bring an end to a VERY solid squash match!  Squash matches are an art form just like any other match, and AEW knows how to pull them off!

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Sting & Darby Allin Vs. The Gunn Club

Gunn Club is accompanied to the ring by Austin Gunn

Taz joins the commentary team for this match

I like the Gunn club quite a bit, but this feels like a gimmick match.  Sting doesn’t wrestle a lot so there should be a lot of pomp and circumstance when he does, and yet there really isn’t much of a story here aside from the fact that two old dudes are getting in the ring together; at least as long as they’ve got the younger guys to do most of the work.  The match starts with said younger dudes with Colton holding his own against Darby but then eats a Shotgun Dropkick which sends him flying back to his corner so he can tag in Billy and Darby can tag in Sting.  The Icon gets a good start with a couple Back Fists and a Manhattan Drop, but when he goes for the Stinger Splash, Gunn drops out of the ring and takes a breather with his kids before Darby and Colton get back to fighting.  Now that’s not to say that Billy doesn’t do anything here, but he’s like Sting and mostly around for the sizzle spots such as when he blind tags himself back in and catches Darby mid-Springboard Coffin Drop.  Billy slams him to the ground and the Gunn Club get the heat on Darby during the commercial; culminating in Colton trapping him in the Scorpion Death Lock.  That seems to be the last straw for both Sting and Darby as the latter fights his way out of the hold and gets the hot tag so that Sting can run wild on both Billy and Colton!  He lands a few strikes, throws them to opposite corners for a few Stinger Splashes, and he knocks Bill out of the ring to leave Colton all by his lonesome so that he can hit a Spine Buster and crush him with a PROPER Scorpion Death Lock!  This could have easily been the end of the match had Billy not distracted the ref and Austin Gunn run in to break up the hold, but Darby ensures he doesn’t try that again as he hits a Suicide Dive on the fleeing Austin.  This does give Billy a chance to land a Fameasser on Sting with Colton going for the cover, but he only gets a two count for his effort and Billy earns the ire of Darby!  Another Suicide Dive from Darby which wipes him out on the floor, and he runs in to give Colton a Stunner.  With Colton stumbling around the ring, Sting grabs him and lands the Scorpion Death Drop to get the pin and win the match!  It definitely felt like a superfluous match as the feud between these two teams feels pretty hollow and more about getting two old guys to fight it out, but everyone put on a good show and it made for an entertaining match!

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Alex Marvez is interviewing Jericho in the back where he assures us that he didn’t help Eddie Kingston last week and was instead merely taking out 2.0.   It’s at that point when Marvez’s Loki Variant Powers kick in and 2.0 come out of nowhere with Daniel Garcia to attack Jericho and hit him with a chair!  I guess Marvez also put a spell on The Inner Circle who you’d think would be nearby to back him up, but no one comes to Jericho’s aid!  Not even Eddie Kingston which is presumably what this whole thing is about!  DARN YOU, MARVEZ!  WHY MUST YOU SOW THIS DISCORD IN THE HEARTS OF MEN!?

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Speaking of discord, Lio Rush comes out of the tunnel to yell at Taz about Dante Martin; presumably opting to do this instead of ATTACKING him because he’s currently flanked by Will Hobbs and Hook.  It’s not a great promo as Lio just kind of rambles with Taz trying to help him move things along, but the real star of this is Dante who comes out of the Heel tunnel with Rick Starks; putting themselves between Lio and the rest of Team Taz.  Ricky heads over to his buddies… and Dante follows him; making a clear choice as to whose side he’s truly on!  Admittedly a Dante Martin and Lio Rush match sounds great, but wasn’t this guy a Heel stock-bro like a month ago?  He’s got the in-ring talent to keep him afloat no matter what, but I hope that Lio finds his place at AEW with this storyline because it’s hard to get invested in a guy who’s just kind of all over the place; not just in terms of Kayfabe but his commitment to the business.  If he wants to retire, that’s his business and I wish him all the luck in the world, but it’s gonna take a bit of time and some solid storytelling for me to get reinvested in the guy if he plans on sticking around.

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Ruby Soho Vs. Kris Statlander – TBS Tournament Quarter-Finals Match

Taz joins the commentary team for this match

I don’t like to take shots at the women’s division, but this is not the kind of match they should be having this far into a tournament for one of their belts.  If it wasn’t for Punk and Moriarty, this would probably be the least interesting match on the card which is a shame because these are two of the most interesting stars that AEW has in that division!  Statlander needs a bit more polishing, but she has charisma and gravitas that carry her through her matches, while Ruby Soho is a veteran of the industry that people love to see and knows how to have a good match!  Here though, it seems like something wasn’t right because the first half was slow, boring, and full of headlocks like we’re watching a TNA match from the late 2000s.  It isn’t until well into the match that the two start to land some cool moves like when Soho tries a Monkey Flip that Statlander escapes from with a handstand and a Flatliner from Ruby that gest her a two count, but then the momentum is ground to a halt by the commercial break, so they have to get the heat back up once we come back.  Ruby lands a Senton for a two count as soon as we return from the break and she follows up with a Kazadora into a Bulldog, but Statlander catches her and drops her with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a two count of her own.  Undeterred, Statlander tries to lock Ruby into a submission hold with her overwhelming strength, but Ruby turns it into a Triangle Choke.  The problem with the Triangle though is that a strong opponent can lift you with their powerful legs, and sure enough Ruby ends up eating a Buckle Bomb.  Statlander follows up with a big Suplex and gets a very close two count out of it, but it’s clear that Ruby is not about to give up on this match anytime soon.  The two trade elbows for a bit, but Soho gets a Head-Butt and Thrust Kick to get some momentum. She tries to drive Statlander’s head into the corner, but Statlander’s strength is once again too much to overcome and she puts Soho in the Electric Chair.  Before she can drop her though, Soho reverses it into a Poisonrana and follows up with a Hurricanrana!  She goes for the pin and Statlander kicks out which leads to Ruby giving a RIDICULOUS shocked face that could rival Tay Conti’s!  That should mean that we’re about to head into the finish, but the match ends WAY too quickly after that spot as Statlander attempts the Big Bang Theory only for Soho to reverse it into a Roll Up to just barely get the three count and win the match.  Soho advances in the tournament and tries to make peace with Statlander, but she seems less than happy about it and storms up the ramp… only to run into Vickie Guerrero?  Seems out a bit odd for her to just show up like this, but it ends up being some sort of distraction as Nyla Rose runs into the ring and yanks Soho off the turnbuckle during her celebration!  Statlander runs back into the ring and so Nyla slips out having already accomplished what she wanted to, as she and Soho will face each other in the next round of the tournament.  The match is pretty good once we get back from commercial, but it was way too slow and basic in the first half and I’m not sure why they thought that was a good idea.  We’ve only got three more matches in this tournament to go (the semi-final matches and then the final), so hopefully they have a bit more bombast behind them than the languid pace we got here.

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Cody Rhodes Vs. Andrade El Idolo – Atlanta Street Fight

Code is accompanied to the ring by Arn Anderson while Andrade is accompanied by Jose

It’s kind of my job to know this, but I genuinely don’t remember why these two are fighting in the first place. He had a thing with Malakai Black and now those two are buddies, but I still don’t see why we’re at STREET FIGHT level with these two; other than to put on a good match, of course.  In that regard, I guess it gets the job done.  Andrade attacks Cody before he can finish his ring entrance and take off his ridiculously awesome cape, and from there it hits all the same notes you expect to see in a street fight.  A lot of strikes back and forth, not much technical wrestling, and there’s not much of a story here aside from who can get the best shots with the best weapons.  Cody gets a leg up on the fight with some good uses of a chain wrapped around his fist, but he’s stopped in his tracks when he goes for a Suicide Dive only for Andrade to hold up a chair which Cody smashes into.  Andrade takes control of the match at that point with a top rope splash that sends Cody through the time keeper’s table, and he follows up with a Double Knee Strike into a chair that gets smashed into Cody’s face.  To the delight of the crowd, Andrade gets a table and manages to send Cody through it with a Hip Toss, and gets ANOTHER table that he sets up in the ring and puts Cody on top of.  Despite all the damage he’s taken, Cody gets off the table rather quickly and knocks Andrade off the turnbuckle.  Cody then attempts a Superplex, but Andrade fights him off and is hunched over the table, but once again, Cody recovers and knocks Andrade off the turnbuckle.  He gets back up there to try and finish off Andrade when none other than Brandi Rhodes comes into the ring with lighter fluid and sets the table on fire.  The crowd is going wild for what I believe is the first flaming table spot in AEW history, and Cody sends Andrade through it with a Reverse DDT.  Well… sort of.  Cody’s the one who actually goes through the table and the flames while Andrade sails right over it and smashes into the mat, but it’s still enough for Cody to get the pin and win the match as the episode comes to an end.

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There was a lot to like about this show, but I don’t think any of the matches really played to their strengths.  The Punk and Moriarty match was brought down by MJF’s commentary which was presumably there to add more flavor but instead sucked the life out of it, and while I’m glad that Ruby got a decisive victory over Kris Statlander, the whole thing was a lot more deflating than exhilarating which is not the kind of match you want in an ongoing tournament.  Even the main event didn’t quite do it for me as Andrade and Cody’s best attributes are their wrestling abilities which we DID get to see here, but a hardcore match like this needs the right personality to pull off and I don’t think Cody got as much out of his reckless table spot as he wanted; especially considering the burns he received.  They did try to keep him from getting injured as you can see a weird film all over his back during the match (this was some sort of coating to try and prevent burns), but a flaming table spot is always risky and you can see how even the best-laid plans can end pretty badly.  Yeah, I just didn’t get a lot out of this episode, but hey; a mediocre Dynamite is usually just the setup for a butt-kicking Rampage!

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