AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TBS
I still don’t understand why they do Beach Break in January given it’s one of the worst months to do anything beach-related, but they’ve got a bunch of special episodes they want to do each year so I guess that’s just how the scheduling works out. Despite the anachronistic title, is this an episode that brings the fun and excitement you expect from a special episode of Dynamite? Let’s find out!!
Cody Rhodes Vs. Sammy Guevara – TNT Title Ladder Match
Cody is accompanied to the ring by Arn Anderson
While title matches are becoming increasingly common as the openers for the show, it’s not often that you see one that’s also a ladder match. Heck, it’s not that often you see a ladder match that’s one on one as the format almost demands I high level of chaos (and more bodies to share the pain), but they wanted something unique for their Beach Break show and we certainly got it here. It starts off pretty simple as neither one wants to grab a ladder right away to the consternation of the crowd, but Sammy eventually gets tossed out of the ring and they brawl their way through the crowd which really gets things going. Sammy eventually manages to hit a Cutter on Cody over the barricade, and this is the first chance someone has to try and climb a ladder. One of the things that annoy me about Ladder matches is how slowly wrestlers will go up it (despite there being a title on the line, each step requires the wrestler to take a lunch break), but here they are actually going up it like they want to get the belt and win the match! Cody manages to catch up to Sammy just in time which gives us our first ridiculous move of the match; a Superplex from the top of the ladder where both of them come CRASHING to the mat below! Impressive to be sure, but I can definitely see why they immediately cut to commercial so that both of them can catch their breath after taking such a bump! Of course, it’s not the only astoundingly dangerous thing they do in the match. Cody throws a ladder at Sammy which gives him a chance to climb the ladder set up under the belt, but then Sammy climbs a ladder next to it and JUMPS OFF TO LAND A CUTTER ON CODY that once again sends them crashing to the mat. Not to be outdone, Cody hits Sammy with a Cross Rhodes off a ladder only a few minutes later, and for the third time, they go crashing to the mat. Both are worn out by this, but Cody gets up first and starts to climb, and it makes sense at this point for him to be slow as he’s been through a lot in the match. Sammy manages to climb up behind him and both are on top fighting over the belt that’s hanging on a bar above the ring. Now we’ve had a lot of fun with the absurd stunt’s they’ve pulled so far, but here’s where I think they reach a turning point and take it too far. Both grab onto the bar and kick away the ladder so both are dangling very high in the air, and both eventually drop to the mat below. It looks like Sammy got the worst of it, and sadly it’s only the beginning as they soon set up for something even worse. Sammy manages to bridge a ladder between the apron and the barricade, and puts Cody on top of it. He then sets up a HORRIFICALLY tall ladder next to him from which he jumps off to land on Cody! To make it worse, the ladder Cody was on ends up holding and therefore doesn’t break Sammy’s fall, so it looks like his back was folded up like a wallet on impact. Thankfully Sammy can still walk and he gets back in the ring to start climbing the ladder, but Cody manages to catch up to him. The two trade blows on the top of it until Cody finally falls over; allowing Sammy Guevara to get the belt, win the TNT title, and hopefully see a doctor as soon as possible. Ladder matches are particularly dangerous given just how much chaos the ladders introduce. They create bad angles, unforgiving platforms, and hard weapons, so there’s simply nothing about them that are the least bit healthy for the wrestlers. If you’re only going to do it every once in a while then I understand going all out, but you don’t want Sammy to break his spine over an opening match on Dynamite.
We cut to a video from earlier of Tony Schiavone interviewing Ricky Starks and Will Hobbs on a frozen beach. I have no idea why they are there, but Hobbs challenges Dante Martin and Starks challenges Jay Lethal; both of whom are probably sitting somewhere warm and cozy while these two dudes are freezing their butts off, so if nothing else the challenges have an edge because they didn’t risk Hypothermia before the match.
Wardlow Vs. Elijah Dean & James Alexander – Handicap Match
Wardlow is accompanied to the ring by Shawn Spears
See, this is how you escalate a premise like this! Instead of Wardlow taking on jobbers every week, you have him take on TWO jobbers! Heck, I’d like to see them go up to three, four, or even FIVE if they think they can make it believable! Wardlow once again just hits a bunch of Powerbombs and neither jobber can stand up long enough to fight back. The final Powerbomb sends Alexander crashing on top of the splayed-out Elijah, and Wardlow pins both of them for the win, and he and Spears walk their way to the back; presumably trying to ignore the fact that CM Punk beat both of them pretty handily. It feels like something should have come about because of that, but I guess they don’t want to shake up the status quo before MJF has his match with CM Punk.
Proud N Powerful & Chris Jericho Vs. 2.0 & Daniel Garcia
I like a match to have a storyline, but that story should be both interesting and sever the match rather than the other way around. It’s another example of Baby Faces not getting along with Proud N Powerful freezing out Jericho at every turn. Every time Jericho tries to help or tag in, it ends in disaster as Proud N Powerful are more concerned about stopping him than beating their opponents. It’s all as eye-rolling and tedious as these things tend to be, and it feels like the moves in the match are ultimately immaterial as everything is focused on these three guys bickering. It gets so bad that Jericho threatens to leave the match by walking up the ramp, but he makes the save at the last minute by dragging an interfering Jeff Parker out of the ring and hitting a Judas Effect on Matt Lee. With such a devastating back elbow, Santana is able to hit the Pile Driver and get the pin to win the match. I guess the action itself wasn’t bad, but it felt like filler that was just there to remind us where these three stand and to link us from one leg of the story to another. Jericho’s return in general has felt muddled with him getting on the bad side of everyone he sees, and I can only hope that things finally start to move forward after this.
CM Punk comes out from the back in his ring gear and is ready to fight! He calls out MJF for being a cowardly loser and adds insult to injury by showing off the trophy he got from last week; the scar he ripped off MJF’s neck as he ran away once again. Once CM Punk starts questioning the quality of the scarf itself, MJF comes out and finally agrees to have a match with CM Punk. Not here though in lousy Cleveland! He’s gonna face him in Chicago next week; in a city that’s a little more civilized and is also Punk’s home town which will make the victory over him all the sweeter! See, MJF wants to discredit CM Punk and prove that he’s a self-centered loser who will turn his back on wrestling as soon as he gets his first loss, but Punk is unfazed by his accusations and fires back with a flurry of insults of his own. Seeing that this is not going anywhere, MJF calls in The Pinnacle goons to teach this Punk a lesson, and while Punk fights valiantly and even tries to choke MJF with the new scarf he’s wearing, he’s ultimately overwhelmed by the four other guys. Still, an insult like that cannot go unpunished and MJF orders Wardlow to Powerbomb the guy yet again. Wardlow is clearly conflicted and the crowd wants this to be the moment he changes sides, but ultimately he hits the move and smashes Punk’s spine first onto a chair. This whole feud has gone back and forth for me with it having a bunch of great promos, but then something like the Shawn Spears match happens that leaves me a bit cold. This is definitely warming me back up to it though, and with the match next week we can hopefully end on a high note instead of just waffling back and forth.
Leyla Hirsch Vs. Red Velvet
I don’t know about this whole Heel thing they’re trying to do with Leyla Hirsch. I like seeing her on TV almost every week because she is a fantastic talent, but she just doesn’t give off the proper vibes as a heel. Heck, Red Velvet has more cred as a heel; especially since she attacks Hirsch before the bell rings to try and get an early lead! Velvet shows some decent athleticism and some cool moves, but Hirsch eventually regains control and hits a Drop Kick in the corner that seems to have damaged Velvet’s arm. She works it over during the commercial, but Velvet hits a Stunner out of nowhere and mounts a comeback. Sadly the arm proves to be hampering her offense each move she hits ends with her clutching it, and her pin attempts are not as strong as they should be. Velvet manages to hit a Spear for a two count, but Hirsch shakes it off and hits a very slow Powerbomb followed by a knee to the face. She tries to work the arm again by putting her in a Legit Lock, but Velvet gets the ropes and tries to roll up Hirsch in a cradle. Hirsch manages to kick out and immediately follows with a School Boy to get the pin and win the match, though it’s insinuated that she grabbed the trunks to do it. Not a bad match by any stretch, though the Heel stuff still feels insincere, even when she attacks Velvet after the bell rings and locks in another Legit Lock. Statlander ends up running down to try and break it up, but Hirsch leaves the ring before she can get there as we continue to set up for this match between her and Statlander. I guess I should give them credit for trying to build her up as a Heel to try and give her eventual match (and almost certainly loss) with Statlander a bit of weight to it, but she’s just not nailing the role yet.
Brit Baker Celebration – The Year of the DMD!
When we return from the commercial break, there’s a table in the ring that has four awards on it and two blown-up magazine covers on either side; all emblazed with the name Britt Baker. She is then announced by Tony Schiavone and proceeds to the ring while her music plays before spending a good while bragging about herself and taking some shots at Cleveland’s sports teams. I guess it makes sense that she’s a Steelers fan, but despite that, the crowd is still enthralled by her as is the wrestling world at large. I was never the biggest fan of Britt Baker and I still think her title run has felt a bit anemic and lacking in REALLY meaty challenges, but there’s no denying the impact she’s had on the division and her overwhelming popularity. At this point, I’m not sure if you would even consider getting the belt off of her anytime soon as there just aren’t that many wrestlers who can fill her place. Perhaps Thunder Rosa who has been her biggest rival so far, but even great wrestlers like her, Ruby Soho, or even the up and coming Tay Conti, just don’t have the clout that Baker has right now. Her awards are well earned, as is her title, but I’m hoping to see more out of her in the coming months with better storylines and more interesting title defenses.
Orange Cassidy Vs. Adam Cole – Lights Out Match
I’m probably the old man yelling at clouds at this point, but I still don’t see how you can call a match “unsanctioned” if it’s part of the show and has the full production behind it. Seems like a “have one’s cake and eat it situation”, but regardless we are here to watch these two slug it out in as violent a way as possible to presumably settle this feud that they have. What I also find interesting is that Cassidy agreed to this since you usually aren’t about to go into an UNSANCTIONED ANYTHING GOES MATCH if you don’t care about anything, but on the other hand perhaps he cares so little that he doesn’t realize that. It does mean that Cassidy is gonna need to push himself and right off the bat he’s not doing any of his usual shtick as the two guys just wail on each other for a bit. At most, Cassidy does a Shotgun Drop Kick with his hands in his pockets, but I think even he realizes that was a bad idea as he lands flat on his back onto the floor, and this gives Cole a chance to recover and pull a chair out from underneath the ring. He reaches down and yanks it, but it won’t move! He pulls a bit harder and finds out that someone else is holding onto the chair, and it’s none other than… Danhausen? Okay… well, I’ve never seen him wrestle but he seems to be a popular guy among the Ring of Honor and Indie crowds, though he doesn’t really do much here other than point his fingers at Cole and give Cassidy a brief distraction. Eventually, Cole whacks Cassidy down with a shot from the ring bell, and he spends the commercial break getting stuff into the ring and getting the heat on Cassidy whose hand is now busted open. This means he’s still able to fight back and manages to turn a Brain Buster into a Stundog Millionaire followed by a Michinoku Driver into a couple of chairs, but the pain from his hand keeps him from capitalizing on it and allows Cole to get back up without having to kick out of a pin attempt. Still, it’s not looking great for Cole so he tries to get some help from the back which turns into a total clown show. Brandon Cutler starts dancing down the ramp, Wheeler Yuta runs down to knock him out, Bobby Fish runs down to knock Yuta out, and Chuck runs down to knock Fish out. The Bucks take out Chuck and actually make it to the ring, but the victory is short-lived and Trent and Rocky Romero drag them out and start punching them. This leaves Cole alone in the ring with Cassidy who hits an Orange Punch, but once again his hand keeps him from getting a pin. Cole has had about enough of this nonsense and hits Cassidy with a low blow! But wait! In the match-up between Cassidy’s oranges and Cole’s mighty fist, the fist is the one that lost! Is this perhaps confirmation that Cassidy has literal balls of steel!? Sadly not, but Cassidy does reach into his pants and reveals that he was wearing a metal cup this whole time! With Cole still reeling from this revelation, Cassidy hits the Lousy Kicks and lands a Panama Sunrise that only manages to get him a two count. Still, seeing the writing on the wall (and the bruise on his hand), Cole starts running away and goes up the ramp and to the back. You’d think this would be the equivalent of saying I QUIT and end the match in Cassidy’s favor, but instead, Cassidy follows him and the two keep on fighting. Eventually, it circles back to the ramp where Cole sets up for the Boom Knee Strike, but Cassidy leaps up and hits him with a Superkick instead! Cassidy wraps a metal chain around his wrist and goes for the Orange Punch, but Cole grabbed a stage light and just whacked Cassidy with it. With Cole satisfied that Cassidy is seeing stars; he climbs up the scaffolding to finish him off once and for all. When he looks over the side however, he sees that Cassidy has already moved and is, in fact, already up the scaffolding with him! Cassidy hits a low blow and then gives Cole a hug that he refuses to let go of. Seeing what’s about to happen, Cole struggles in vain to escape, but ultimately Cassidy takes both of them down and smashes through the stage. Since Cassidy landed on top of Cole, the ref counts the pin and declares him the winner of the match with the Best Friends coming out and picking up Cassidy so he can walk out of the arena as the episode comes to an end.
This isn’t a bad episode, but it just doesn’t feel like a special event. They barely bothered to advertise it ahead of time, I don’t see any beach-theming on the stage, and there was only one title match on the entire card. Even the final match which was pretty good for a Lights Out match doesn’t feel like it’s for a heck of a whole lot as the feud between Cole and the Best Friends is likely to continue even after this. Heck, didn’t we just set up more conflict by having Trent beat Nick Jackson last week? As a regular episode it was perfectly fine with some solid matches to fill out the big opener and the wild closer; but as a special event? I just didn’t feel it.
Oh, THAT’S why Starks and Hobbs were on the beach! It’s because it was the Beach Break show! Wow, that’s the best they could do? Have Tony stand there shivering on a frozen patch of sand?