AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
We’re back with another week of AEW action and drama as the Winter is Coming special is only one week away! Last year we saw the title change hands on the Winter is Coming show, and this year we have Danielson and Hangman in the main event! Could there be another upset in the making? Well, we’ll have to wait until next week to find out, but we’ve got a lot more in store for that show that this episode needs to set up! Is this the perfect Dynamite to get everyone invested in the big show next week? Let’s find out!!
The episode starts on a rather odd note that somewhat encapsulates the entire show. MJF’s music hits and the hometown crowd is excited to see him… but then CM Punk comes out. I mean hey, CM Punk is great and all, and I’m sure the crowd wanted to see him, but he tricked them into thinking MJF was coming out, and this also means they don’t get to see him come out to Cult of Personality! For probably the first time since he got to AEW, CM Punk is getting booed by the Long Island crowd, and while he seems to be fine with it, going so far as to antagonize them and begging them to boo louder, it’s not a great start to a promo that is kind of all over the place. I still don’t know what this whole Britt Baker thing is and I don’t think the crowd gets it either, and then he starts talking about nineties basketball which is starting to wear on the crowds’ patience. Eventually, he throws down the gauntlet and even says he’s willing to face MJF tonight, but the guy never comes out and Punk goes to the back as Cult of Personality FINALLY plays. Not a great start to the show as we didn’t even get a brawl between Punk and one of MJF’s stooges, but I guess we were saving the guy for what comes next which is…
Dynamite Diamond Battle Royale
The last two in the ring will have a match on next week’s show for the Dynamite Diamond Ring
Since MJF is the hometown boy, he’s the only one who gets an entrance while everyone else is already in the ring like jobbers. He also gets a full entrance video with a narration done by a guy who sounds a lot like Barry Scott who used to do TNA promos. The guy starts listing off all of MJF’s high school accomplishments as he’s walking on a high school football field, which is funny because that’s what you expect sad losers in their forties to do. In any case, here’s who we’ve got for this match!
MJF, Wardlow, Lio Rush, Dante Martin, Ricky Starks, Will Hobbs, Matt Hardy, Frankie Kazarian, Jay Lethal, Matt Sydal, Lee Johnson, and Lee Moriarty. Also, Shawn Spears is outside the ring with an MJF branded folding chair.
Now the best way to do a Battle Royal is to not just focus on who’s going to come out on top but to seed future matches and expand on existing feuds. Sure, you can throw a few guys in there just to get tossed out like Lee Moriarty who felt the wrath of a rampaging Wardlow, but then you’ve got Team Taz in there with their newly added member Dante Martin. They’re working together to try and ensure that someone in Team Taz gets into the match (much like how Wardlow is protecting MJF), and they have to go through all people that Dante has burned along the way. The first one out is Matt Sydal who gets tossed by Will Hobbs, and while I THINK that one was unintentional (it looked like he was trying to grip the middle rope to hold on, and the announcers don’t even acknowledge his elimination), it was bound to happen at some point and it’s always good to make Hobbs look strong! We’ve got Matt Hardy who gets some brass knuckles from The Bunny that he uses to bash Jay Lethal and toss him out, but then he gets eliminated by Dante Martin right after; thinning the herd further of non-Team Taz members. Wardlow is not liking this and so he goes to confront Will Hobbs where they trade shoulder tackles for a bit until Wardlow gets the upper hand and sends Hobbs to the apron. Wardlow can’t finish him off, but then Lio Rush comes in with a Running Senton looking thing and eliminates Hobbs. Things settle down for a bit as we go to commercial with the only thing of note being MJF who takes cheap shots on Dante before running back to the corner protected by Wardlow. I bring this up because it’s another example of the show not quite gelling with the crowd as THEY are popping for it but the announcers spend half the match chiding MJF like a bunch of pearl-clutching moralizers. I guess you can’t let the storylines and tone be entirely dictated by how one specific crowd is reacting, but the commentary just had me rolling my eyes throughout. Things start to pick back up when Lio goes after MJF but faces the wrath of Wardlow instead. With a well-timed Drop Kick from Dante Martin, Wardlow is on the ropes and Lio along with Lee Johnson try to throw him over. Seeing an opportunity, MJF lifts ALL THREE of them over the ropes; eliminating Rush and Johnson but also taking out his bodyguard. Oh, and Kazarian charges after MJF only to go sailing over the ropes. Thanks for coming, buddy! MJF’s feeling pretty good about himself having just eliminated four guys… but then he realizes he’s all alone in the ring with Ricky Starks and Dante Martin. The two members of Team Taz approach MJF with the utmost of menace… AND THEN DANTE DUMPS RICKY STARKS! That’s right! Dante has betrayed Team Taz in some sort of long con to get this match against MJF at next week’s show; something that MJF finds quite amusing as he raises Dante’s hand before walking out. That’s when Ricky starts to beat up on Dante and MJF takes a moment to consider helping the little punk. He hems and haws before finally rushing to the ring to confront Ricky… and then starts to beat up Dante because MJF is a jerk and you better not forget it! The only one to come down and make the save for Dante is CM Punk who chases off MJF and confronts Ricky. Dante gets up and lands a Drop Kick that sends Ricky right into CM Punk for a GTS which knocks Ricky out cold and surely sends a chill down MJF’s spine! I want to be a little bit annoyed by the commentary team and guys like Kazarian and Jay Lethal were brought in to do absolutely nothing, but the good parts of the Battle Royale were REALLY good, and the ending was a fantastic swerve that was perhaps the best ending for this! I would have liked to see Dante have at least one match under the Team Taz banner, but this will no doubt lead to some serious fallout in the next few weeks and I can’t wait to see it!
Jurassic Express & Varsity Blondes Vs. The Acclaimed & 2.0 – Eight Man Tag Match
The Varsity Blondes are accompanied to the ring by Julia Hart while 2.0 are accompanied by Daniel Garcia
It’s certainly not going to be easy to follow up a Battle Royale, but I guess having a match with almost as many people is a good way to try! I’ve said before that eight man tags feel a bit excessive to me, but I’ll be darned if they don’t pull it off here with a match that never loses its momentum or overstays its welcome! The Baby Faces start out strong with Jungle Boy fighting off The Acclaimed with ease before tagging in the Varsity Blondes to keep up the offensive. They get some sort of Drop Kick/Powerbomb-looking combo that gets an early two count on Max, but the advantage soon turns in the Heels’ favor as 2.0 distract the ref while Bowens runs in to help Max. The Heels get the heat on Pillman for a while which I usually find a bit dull, but 2.0 are always fun to watch and all the Heels look good here; even Caster who usually isn’t all that impressive in the ring! The crowd starts to chant for Luchasaurus, but the Heels are doing a very good job of cutting Pillman off from his corner, and it’s not until The Acclaimed try a two-person Suplex that Pillman can escape and tag the dinosaur in. He runs wild and tosses all four of them into two corners, and starts splashing back and forth between them! The crowd is popping for this, but the hot tag is short-lived as 2.0 manage to hit an assisted Drop Kick that sends Luchasaurus into the corner. Jungle Boy gets the tag and the whole thing devolves into chaos as everyone runs in to hit a big move before the next person runs in to hit their big move! Eventually, it’s just Jungle Boy and Caster in the ring, and a DDT from Jungle Boy is followed by an attempt at the Snare Trap. This is when Garcia finally makes him move and gets on the apron to distract Jungle Boy, but then Eddie Kingston runs from the back and knocks Garcia off the apron. The damage is already done however as Jungle Boy is standing there looking at all this while Caster gets back up and gives him a big Clothesline. Max wastes no time getting to the top rope and goes for the Mic Drop, but Jungle Boy rolls up and locks him in the Snare Trap to get the tap and win the match. Not done yet, Kingston grabs a cameraman and takes him backstage where he and Ortiz start to cut a promo. There are no mics though, so we’re just seeing Kingston flap his gums and gesticulate wildly before 2.0 and Garcia run in and take them both out. The match was really good, but it kind of has the opposite problem as the opener. Where the opener was solid with a great ending that lifted it up, this was a great match that ends on a rather odd note with Kingston and Ortiz of all people just jaw-jacking silently in the back before getting beat up by the team that just lost the match. I guess we’re setting up Six-Man Tag Match with 2.0 and Garcia facing off against Kingston and Proud N Powerful, but I don’t think this chapter of the feud is starting off on the right note.
Young Bucks Vs. Rocky Romero & Chuck Taylor
Young Bucks are accompanied to the ring by Adam Cole and Brandon Cutler while Chuck Taylor is accompanied to the ring by Orange Cassidy.
Continuing our trend of slowly removing more guys from matches, we’re down to four official members with three guys still hanging out around the ring. I’m starting to wonder if we’ll actually get down to just two people by the end of this show. Now you could reasonably argue that the Bucks are a bit lost now that they don’t have the titles or Kenny Omega to revolve their stories around, but even if they aren’t the lightning rods of the tag division or providing back-up to the biggest stories at the company, they still know how to put on good matches! Much like the last match, the Baby Faces start off very strong with Romero and Chuck getting some deep Arm Drags, but the Bucks get control of the match a lot quicker than the Acclaimed and 2.0 did. They get the heat for a bit with Nick Jackson taunting the crowd, but this proves to be a bad idea as it allows Romero to regroup and fight his way to the corner where Chuck gets the hot tag. A Double Flatliner on the Buck that send them rolling out of the ring, and Chuck follows up with a Suicide Dive. He makes a critical error here though by menacing Brandon Cutler instead of pressing the offensive, and for this, he eats Stereo Super Kicks from the Bucks. With the Baby Faces back to fighting from underneath, the Bucks continue their assault while also taunting the crowd and it’s not until Cassidy gets involved that things start to turn around. He distracts Nick Jackson with his pocket shtick only to eat a Pump Kick from Adam Cole, but his sacrifice was not in vain as Chuck is able to fight off both Bucks and makes it to the corner to tag in Romero. Things go back and forth for a while with both teams hitting some big moves, including a distraction spot from Cutler that leads to more interference from Cassidy and Cole, but neither team is willing to give an inch despite everyone becoming more and more exhausted. It comes down to Romero and Matt Jackson who are countering out of each other’s moves as both try to hit something big to bring this match to a close. Matt sets him up for a Pile Driver, but Romero escapes and turns it into a Hurricanrana that sends him face-first into his brother Nick on the apron. When Matt bounces back, Romero lands a backslide that gets him a two count. They trade counters and kicks a few times until Matt Jackson gets him into the Pile Driver position once again; only now Romero is not able to escape from it. Nick Jackson jumps in and they land a Meltzer Driver which is enough to get the pin and win the match. The Super Clique start attacking the Baby Faces after the bell rings, and Yuta tries to run in and make the save… only to eat a Super Kick Party. Good job, Yuta! With their one hope out of the way, the Bucks lift up Cassidy so that Cole can hit the Panama Sunrise, and the Heels are standing tall in the middle of the ring! As all hope appears to be lost, the Best Friends’ music hits for some reason and we see a white van roll up and it’s driven by none other than Sue, which can only mean… TRENT IS BACK! And he shaved his head which makes him look like a knock-off Jon Moxley. Interesting choice, but whatever his fashion decisions are, he runs to the ring to Spear Cutler and hits a Clothesline on Matt Jackson and Adam Cole! He’s in the ring now and sends Nick Jackson flying with a Half and Half Suplex which forces the Heels to scatter and leaves only the Baby Faces left in the ring! The Best friends give a big hug to celebrate Trent’s big return and even Sue and Kris Statlander get in on the hugging action! I think I liked the Eight-Man match more than this one as it felt a bit long in spots, but that ending was fantastic and I’m really glad to see that Trent has finally recovered! He was out for a while with a pretty serious injury, and he certainly couldn’t have asked for a better homecoming!
Alex Marvez is interviewing Ruby Soho in the back, but he uses his Loki Variant powers to summon The Bunny and Penelope Ford before tactfully getting the heck out of frame. They’re here to announce a Six-Woman Tag Match next week; Ford, Bunny, and Nyla Rose against Soho and whoever she can get to join her. Soho doesn’t want to wait and attacks those two before eating a fist from a just barely off-screen Nyla Rose (Soho would have been staring right at her so how did she not see that coming?) but before it could get any more violent, the Heels are chased off by Anna Jay and Tay Conti. I don’t know, the whole segment was kind of corny with people coming in and out, and I’m not a fan of having two competitors meet up BEFORE their big match; even if it is in a tag team situation
We cut to Tony Schiavone is interviewing Sammy Guevara on the ramp to talk about the open challenge. Cody’s music hits and he comes out to a chorus of boos. Clearly getting burned last week didn’t get him any Baby Face points, but regardless, he announces that he will be facing Sammy for the title on the show before Christmas. Cody plays into the Booed Face dynamic by heading towards the Heel entrance and then swiftly turning back towards the Baby Face one, so he’s clearly in on the joke. I just hope that he doesn’t try anything ridiculous like the fire spot again as these stunts are clearly not moving the needle with the crowd. Once he’s gone, Ethan Page starts cackling from the rafters and complains about not getting a TNT title match before announcing that Dan Lambert is coming back! Scorpio Sky grabs the mic and starts heckling Sammy about being a false champion or something? I mean it’s a good promo, but it’s not like Sammy hasn’t been getting the crap beat out of him in these title defenses!
Riho Vs. Jamie Hayter
Hayter is accompanied to the ring by Britt Baker and Rebel (Not Reba)
The elephant in the room for this match is that there is literally no reason for Riho to even be in it. This isn’t a fight for Jamie Hayter to try and win; it’s just an excuse to try and hurt Riho, especially with Baker and Rebel (Not Reba) pulling shenanigans on the outside. I’m not a fan when a Baby Face plays into a Heel’s hand like this, and so that cloud hangs over this entire match, even if it’s a pretty solid showcase. It doesn’t start off too great with Hayter botching a catch that causes Riho to crash and burn on the floor, but things start to pick up in the second half once we return from commercial. Hayter, being the bigger and stronger one, has Riho under her thumb for a good portion of this, but the odds start to even out when Riho hits a Roll-Up followed by a Stomp. It wasn’t much, but it gives her a bit of breathing room to come back strong once Hayter is back up. The two start slugging it out and Riho manages to land a Snap Dragon Suplex for a Suplex which she tries to follow up on with a Northern Light Suplex. Sadly, Hayter’s strength comes back into play here, and she manages to reverse it into a Brain Buster followed by a Back Breaker. With Riho writhing in pain, Hayter tries for a Single Leg Boston Crab to get the submission victory, but Riho twists out of it and rolls up Hayter for a two count. Riho then hits a VERY cool-looking Code Red for another two count, and then goes up top to land a Stop which… also gets a two count. Jamie Hayter is gonna have to take a lot more damage if Riho wants to win this, so she goes back up top. This time though, Hayter is close behind and the two slug it out for a bit. Riho gets the opportunity she’s looking for when she manages to hit an Avalanche Crucifix Bomb, and with Hayter stumbling back up, she gets the Running Knee to get the pin and win the match. Sounds great, right? The Baby Face prevails in the face of adversity! Well despite it being the UTMOST of unsportsmanlike conduct, Baker runs in and attacks Riho after the bell rings. The fact that Riho didn’t have a contingency plan for that is ridiculous, and Baker locks in the Lock Jaw which Riho immediately taps to. It was certainly better than the Shida match against Rebel (Not Reba) since Hayter is at least a bit more credible as a threat, but this match took a while to get going and Riho just looks like a fool. The fact that she got beat up at the end isn’t a Baby Face in peril, it’s a friendless loser who can’t predict the obvious of traps from a villainous opponent, and I think Riho is better than to be so easily caught off outwitted.
The Varsity Blondes are on the ramp getting interviewed by Tony Schiavone when the lights go out and Malakai Black appears! Honestly, I have no idea what Black is doing, or what his ultimate goal is, but basically being a terrifying ghost that haunts the arena is proving to be a fun gimmick, and he spits mist in Julia Hart’s eyes in case he was despicable enough already!
Bryan Danielson Vs. John Silver
Well, I’ll be darned if they actually did it! We got to the end of this show and it’s a one-on-one match without anyone at ringside! On top of that, it’s a match between two pretty big stars at the company which makes it a darn good choice for the main event; especially with Silver being as over as he is while still being able to lose matches like this. To wit, Danielson starts the match running completely over him while buffeted by a chorus of boos, and while Silver’s got some serious strength and decent moves on his side, Danielson’s experience, and sharp senses keep in firmly in control. He offers his hand for a test of strength which Silver accepts, but instead, he just kicks him in the chest. Silver tries to retaliate with a few kicks of his own, but even this is short-lived as Danielson drags Silver out of the ring and bashes his leg onto the apron to neutralize his kicking strength. Danielson then follows up with a Diving Knee Drop to the back of the head which starts the heat segment, and Silver takes a lot of damage throughout the commercial break. He finally gets an opening when Danielson goes up top and tries a Shotgun Drop Kick which Silver catches out of midair and drops him down for an impromptu Power Bomb! This gives Silver some room to fight back and they start trading kicks in the middle of the ring. Silver’s beefy thighs mean that his kicks end up causing more damage, and even when Danielson catches one of the legs to stop him, Silver quickly spins around to drag Danielson to the floor and lock his leg in a submission! Danielson tries to force him to let go with kicks from his other leg, but they only make Silver stronger, which tells Danielson that he needs to roll over and grab those ropes immediately! It’s starting to look good for Silver who lands a Senton from the apron, and even if Danielson is throwing out some good moves here and there, Silver’s in control and manages to hit a German Suplex into a bridge for a two count. Trying to keep the momentum going, Silver picks him up for a Spin Doctor to try and put him away once and for all, but Danielson starts gouging the eye and starts landing elbows on Silver’s head. With Silver very groggy after the strikes to the head, Danielson lands a Gotch Style Pile Driver before locking him in a choke. Silver is out and the ref calls the match which means that Danielson wins his final challenge before facing Hangman next week! Oh, but he’s not done yet as Danielson gets on the mic and brags about beating up all these Dark Order dudes. He didn’t quite kick Silver’s head in though, so he goes back to Silver and bashes his face in with the kicks he used on everyone else; including Colt Cabana who lost a tooth over it! He only gets a few in though before Hangman runs in and tackles Danielson, and the two brawl before Danielson bails. Hangman grabs the mic and tells Danielson that HE will be the one kicking in heads when they face next week; a foreboding promise for Danielson to hear right as the episode comes to an end!
I was a bit skeptical at first, but this turned out to be a really good show! The Dynamite Battle Royale had a great ending with MJF and Dante Martin really capturing the audience’s attention and they both played their parts brilliantly throughout. The CM Punk opening and the Riho match were not the best we’ve seen from either of them, and the announce team could never quite get on the same page as the crowd, so while it started off a bit rocky and there were some issues that were persistent throughout, this was a lot of fun and did a great job of building up the Winter is Coming show! Just maybe tell the announce team to not be such sticks in the mud between now and then.