Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (02-23-2022)

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

We’re back with another action-packed episode of Dynamite! With the PPV only a few days away and a lot of AEW content left for me to cover, it’s going to be a bit of a struggle to get everything done in as timely a manner as possible, but what will help make it feel like less of a chore is if the wrestling is good, and AEW usually delivers when it comes to the episodes leading up to the PPV! Is this another week of great matches and stories for Dynamite, or are they trying to do too much with the little time they have left? Let’s find out!!

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Tag Team Battle Royale

The winner of this match gets a Tag Title match on Revolution

Participants: Young Bucks, Proud N Powerful, The Butcher & The Blade, Private Party, The Gunn Club, 2.0, Best Friends, The Dark Order (Silver & Reynolds), FTR, and Red Dragon

A Battle Royale can be hit or miss as it either needs to have great wrestling or covers a lot of storylines throughout. Of course, it’s better to have both, but if you can pull off at least one of those then I consider it a success, and this one manages to succeed; though not without a few issues. The problem here is the first half which feels a bit padded as eliminations just kind of come and go without much fanfare. Alex Reynolds, The Blade, and both members of Gunn Club are tossed out quite early, and while The Butcher gets some nice offense in on both young Bucks and Red Dragon, he gets easily lured over the ropes by Chuck Taylor who then gets eliminated by Fish and O’Reilly. Silver manages to eliminate Private Party, even with an assist from Matt Hardy, and 2.0 get eliminated by Santana after trying to gang up on Ortiz… who then gets eliminated by The Bucks. It’s a lot going on in just a few minutes, and none of it really seems to point towards existing feuds or setting up new ones. That’s all for the second half when it comes down to the final six which are Trent, Santana, Matt Jackson, Dax Harwood, John Silver, and Kyle O’Reilly. This is where everyone gets a shot at the spotlight and to pull off some great moves as well as work through some longstanding feuds; particularly Trent and Santana who were part of that Parking Lot fight from a year or so ago. They trade blows, hit each other with big moves, and eventually fight their way to the apron, but the feud is left unresolved as they are both eliminated by Matt Jackson and Kyle O’Reilly. This leaves John Silver as the lone Baby Face in the ring who certainly gets the adulation of the crowd, but is ultimately ineffective as he doesn’t even manage to take out Dax Harwood (Bobby Fish comes out of nowhere and knocks him off the apron) and ends up being an incidental part of the finish. The Bucks have been trying to work with Red Dragon this whole match and that continues here as Silver picks up Kyle O’Reilly for something only to eat a Superkick from Matt Jackson. Kyle is hurt and tells Matt to finish off Silver which he does by throwing him over the ropes, but right behind him is Kyle who throws him over as well! Red Dragon has won the Battle Royale which doesn’t sit well with The Bucks and then things kind of go off the rails from there. Hangman’s music hits and he attacks Red Dragon to the indifference of the Bucks, and Adam Cole runs down to fight him off only to get rebuffed by the Hangman who starts to monologue in the ring about how he’s going to beat him at the PPV. John Silver then takes out Red Dragon with a Senton and throws Kyle O’Reilly into the ring to eat a Buckshot Lariat from Adam Page, and with that, this Battle Royale can come to a close! I’ve certainly seen better from AEW and the post-match shenanigans just kinda stretched on, but it was still fun to see all these guys face off in the ring.

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What we get next is pretty unexpected as MJF gives the closest he’s ever come to a heartfelt promo. He talks about being bullied and persecuted as the Jewish kid on the football team and how guys like CM Punk gave him hope during a miserable time in his life. That is until he quit wrestling in 2014 just when he needed him the most, so he’s not going to quit in their Dog Collar match; he’s going to win it! The crowd isn’t buying it and I’m not really either; it’s one of those things where the words he says may or may not be true, but they pale in comparison to his actions over the last few years and certainly the last few months. The fact is that he’s not changing course or making amends or doing anything different right now than he would be if he had cut a Heel promo, which is obviously the intent as we are not supposed to be sure of the sincerity of his story, but it does seem to be bothering CM Punk who comes down and asks MJF if any of what he said was true. MJF says it was as tears run down his cheek, and Punk is left conflicted in the middle of the ring as MJF heads to the back. I’d say this almost certainly means that Punk is going to take the loss as there will be a moment of pity for MJF that will lead to his downfall and MJF will be all the more despicable for it.

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Death Triangle (Penta Oscuro & Pac) Vs. Kings of the Black Throne

Along with the name change (which may or may not be permanent) Penta’s got a new entrance song to go with it and is no longer rocking the Joker look as he’s wearing all black. All this is pretty cheesy, but what I find hilarious is Alex Abrahantes who is wearing a Franciscan monk robe and has some pale face paint on. I will remind you that he is supposed to be an interviewer, but now he’s going full goofy manager, though as goofy as that is I think I might have to give the silliest crown to The Kings of the Black Throne. As cheesy as the whole HOUSE OF BLACK thing was, it’s definitely a pithier name than what they’ve got now and all I can think about is what this Black Throne is supposed to be and if they sit on it at the same time. Goofy is probably the best word to describe this match because even if all four guys are fantastic wrestlers, they can’t help but be GIANT hams about it, and frankly, I found the match utterly delightful! Death Triangle get a solid lead on the Heels, but Brody King halts their momentum and hits this amazing move where he Pac up onto Penta’s shoulders and chops him so hard that Pac spins around ends up spiking Penta’s head into the mat! I guess the question as to why Pac wrapped his legs around Penta instead of just falling off his back is one of those wrestling questions you shouldn’t ask, but the match is punctuated with fun and silly spots like that in between some great action from the four of them. It all comes to a head as Death Triangle set up for the Fear Factor on Brody King, but Black runs in to make the save with a mouth full of mist. He wheels Penta around, but it was a swerve as was ready for it and cover Black’s mouth so he can’t spray the mist! Being forced to swallow it instead, Black is completely helpless and is immediately pinned with a roll-up by Penta! A great match for these for guys even if the ending is a bit gimmicky, but much like the Battle Royale, the post-match shenanigans go on for a bit too long. Brody King starts attacking the Baby Faces who had JUST WON THE MATCH and yet are now powerless to stop him, and Malakai Black grabs a shovel from outside the ring. He points the shovel’s blade at Penta’s throat, raises it up to strike it down… and then the lights go out; coming backing on a moment later to reveal… Buddy Matthews! Yes, the former Buddy Murphy who looks like a REALLY jacked He-Man figure (I’ll remind you that WWE put this guy in the cruiserweight division), and he feigns an attack on Black before stomping on Pac and Penta; confirming that he will be the third member of the House of Black, though perhaps also the third King on the Black Throne? I can only hope that Brody King isn’t on top of that pile given his size, but in any case, this was a fun reveal to give Black yet another big name for his stable of evil dudes; I just wish they didn’t drag it out so long as the whole thing feels really padded what with the Baby Face fake-out and Brody King beating up a bunch of security guards. It also would have been nice if someone came out to help the Baby Faces, but I guess they didn’t want to take any shine off of Buddy.

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Eddie Kingston and Chris Jericho – Face to Face!

I have not been a fan of the matches surrounding this feud or the way the story has weaved together so far, but it’s almost worth it just for Eddie to get a few minutes in the ring because no one is better or more authentic on the mic! This, unfortunately, means that Jericho, who is in fact one of the best mic guys out there, feels a bit outmatched here; though I’d chalk that up more to the role he has to play rather than his delivery. When stacked against Eddie Kingston you pretty much have to become the Heel, so Jericho has to be incredibly smug and spends a lot of his time straight up negging Eddie with thinly veiled insults, and it all feels a little bit forced. Still, there are some legit jabs in there like how Eddie didn’t make it until his late thirties and how he’s just kind of been a loudmouth without the win record to back it up, and Eddie gets his shots in as well about Jericho being a sellout so it all works out to a very fun segment! They officially announce a match at the Revolution PPV, and despite a poor build, it’s one of my most anticipated matches simply because of who is involved.

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Ricky Starks Vs. Preston Vance – Face of the Revolution Qualifier

If it was up to me, I’d have Preston Vance win this qualifier as I want that Face of the Revolution match to have nothing but big dudes, but I guess that’s also why Starks had to win so as to subvert our expectations and get heat for denying us the match we wanted to see. It’s got some okay back and forth action with Preston Vance taking the majority of the match, but Ricky manages to cheat his way to a win by twisting Vance’s mask and knocking him out with a Spear. A bit anti-climactic, but I’m sure Preston Vance will get his moment to shine one of these days.

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Jade Cargill Vs. The Bunny – TBS Title Match

Cargill is accompanied to the ring by Mark Sterling

This match was similarly disappointing as it set us up for something that would be cool and interesting but just doesn’t go through with it. Jade’s had a lot of opponents so far, but I don’t think she’s faced anyone as wild and reckless as The Bunny. Sure, in a straight-up wrestling match it’s hard to overcome Jade’s power, but that’s not gonna help much if The Bunny decides to claw her eyes out or scream in her face until her eardrums pop! Sadly that’s not the match we got and The Bunny only gets a few decent shots in, like the Russian Leg Sweep into the barricade, before we get to the wacky finish. Matt Hardy makes his way down to the ring during the commercial break to “Delete” Mark Sterling, and once we’re getting close to the finish he throws the brass knuckles into the ring. Sterling also throws Jade the title belt which she uses to deflect the punch with the brass knuckles, and Ref Aubrey sends both of the managers to the back. Jade is amused by all of this, but this allows Bunny to try a Surprise Roll-Up which gets her a two count. Incensed by this, Jade hits her with the Jaded and gets the pin to win the match. The Bunny got a lot of cred from me with that fantastic No DQ match, so I was hoping that she could give Cargill a run for her money, but instead it just felt like any other Cargill match. The only thing that’s different here is that there’s an angle after the match as Cargill starts bragging about her win when none other than Tay Conti comes out and challenges her to a match at Revolution. Honestly, I’d have preferred The Bunny get that shot in a proper drag-out match, but Conti is great and it should be a good match.

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Bryan Danielson Vs. Daniel Garcia

Much like the rest of the show, the match itself is almost immaterial as the angle at the end is what really matters. Garcia is scrappy and full of pep, but Danielson is out of his league which means that Garcia is, at best, managing to stay one step ahead of his devastating offense without mounting much of a counterattack of his own. This means that the only way to make it seem competitive at the halfway point is for Garcia to injure Danielson in some way, and in this match, he smashes the knee into the post and works it over for the rest of the match. Still, Danielson is never truly on the defensive here and mounts a strong comeback that ends with a Shotgun Drop Kick and a Cattle Mutilation. The two trade submissions for a bit until Garcia goes for a Dragon Screw to further hurt the leg, but Danielson manages to power through it and ends up standing tall over Garcia which allows him to stomp on his face and finish him off with a Triangle Sleeper. Not a bad match by any stretch, but we know why we’re here and it’s to see what happens next. Danielson is gloating over Garcia when 2.0 rush in to bash him, and the only person to come out to make the save is… Jon Moxley! He makes his way to the ring and easily throws 2.0 out of the ring. Garcia tries to bash him with a chair while his back is turned, but it’s Danielson’s turn to make the save as he takes it away and Moxley gets the Paradigm Shift. With the two of them as the only ones left in the ring, Danielson grabs the mic and gives Moxley the match he wants at Revolution, and the two stare each other down as the episode comes to an end!

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The last few weeks of Dynamite have been really good with great matches and even better storylines, but this definitely felt like a crunch episode; one where they had to get a lot done so the action was pushed to the side in service of more and more angles. Even the Battle Royale which should be a big event in its own right felt like it was just there to have a few more angles play out. None of this is necessarily bad, but the angles themselves were either rushed like the Tay Conti challenge or overlong like the beat down for the House of Black. I’m glad that the Revolution card is filling up but it felt like we were sacrificing Dynamite to do so.

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