Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (05-05-2021) – Blood & Guts

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

Well the day is finally here; someway feeling very late and way too soon at the same time.  The original plan for Blood & Guts seemed to be The Inner Circle Vs. The Elite, and boy how things have changed since then with The Elite fractured into becoming a Heel faction and The Inner Circle finding their way to being the Baby Faces in this feud against The Pinnacle.  There’s no doubt that they kind of sprinted to this match instead of taking their time with it as The Pinnacle only arrived on the scene a few weeks ago, and with us being so close to out of the woods of this Pandemic it hardly seems like it would have been TOO much to ask for them to wait for the crowds to return, but this is the plan they went with and they tried their darnedest to make it work.  Is this show as well as the match itself worth all the buildup, or was all this just to give us a mediocre War Games rip off?  Let’s find out!!

Before we get started, it’s worth noting that the arena is already set up for the Blood and Guts match as there are two rings next to each other throughout the show.  It’s a bit of a shame that none of the undercard matches make use of this fact, but I guess you want to save the more fancy stuff for the main event.

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Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston Vs. Kenny Omega & Michael Nakazawa

Omega is accompanied to the ring by Don Callis

Things don’t start off well for Moxley and Kingston as Callis comes out and says Omega won’t be showing up for the match and of course he appears out of nowhere to blindside them during their entrance.  Eddie is left alone to fend off both Omega and Nakazawa, but eventually Moxley gets back up and starts running wild.  Eventually it settles into a very straightforward back and forth tag team match.  Some fun stuff like Omega’s over the top Heel expression and Nakazawa landing a low blow that knocks the wind out of Kingston, but I’m just not feeling the urgency for a match that should have a lot of weight to it.  If it was me, I wouldn’t have Omega give Kingston an inch.  Just devastating move after devastating move instead of an extended heat segment where he does SOME moves but Kingston is definitely given a lot of room to breathe and fight back.  They get it right with Moxley and Nakazawa as he’s barely a minute into the hot tag before he goes for the Paradigm shift which only doesn’t land because Omega runs in to break it up.  Nakazawa tries to use this moment of confusion to his advantage, but his forearms are no match for Moxley’s beefy chest and ends up eating a Pile Driver for his efforts.  Seeing the writing on the wall, Omega just bails to leave Nakazawa to his fate, and so Moxley lands a clothesline while Kingston holds him in place which is enough to get the win.  Not a bad opener, but I think with Kenny now the proud owner of FOUR belts (apparently he won TWO at the Impact PPV) I feel like there should have been a bit more menace from him.

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (04-07-2021)

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

AEW has been knocking it out of the park in recent weeks with last week’s show being one of the best episodes they’ve done in some time!  Still, it’s going to be a rough week for AEW to win the night as NXT’s final show, which is ALSO one of their Takeover events, is stacked from top to bottom with PPV caliber matches.  Can AEW put on something to compete with NXT in their final head to head week before NXT moves to Tuesday nights, or are they gonna call this one a loss from the get go?  Let’s find out!!

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Hangman Adam Page Vs. Max Caster

Caster is accompanied to the ring by Anthony Bowens

A few days ago, Dave Meltzer made a very good examination of AEW’s booking and the flaws that have crept up the last year; mostly due to the inflating roster leading to stories that are much more thinly spread.  It was a good point and Dave made it well, but for me the bigger problem is Dark and Elevation and how they affect the ranking system.  As Max Castor entered the ring, a guy we haven’t seen in weeks and rarely if ever wins matches on Dynamite, is announced as the NUMBER THREE CONTENDER.  I checked the website after the show, and he is right below Jon Moxley and two spots above Cody Rhodes; something that simply DID NOT translate in this match as even the commentators kept referring to him as a rookie.  Dark and Elevation are GREAT for getting some of these new guys ring time and for putting on some fun matches that may not have worked on Wednesdays, but using matches on there for the TV rankings ends up being jarring for us who only keep up with Dynamite.  Perhaps wins and losses should only count if they’re on Dynamite, or maybe should book people on Dynamite BEFORE they’re in the top five.  In any case, Caster ends up proving the flaws in this system as he gets systematically destroyed by The Hangman with his only moments of dominance due to Anthony Bowens’ interference.  The match is fine I suppose as a one sided beat down, but I’m just not sold on Caster as a particularly interesting heel; either when he’s getting beat up or when he’s cheating his way to the top.  That said, it could be that the match itself is kind of booked blandly and even Hangman seems kind of boring in this.  There’s this overly convoluted spot where he puts Caster crotch first on the guard rail before SLOWLY getting up on the guard rail himself to do a jumping clothesline, and yet it’s PROBABLY the most interesting spot in the whole match?  I mean what else is there?  Caster working over Hangman’s arm?  Using a chain to get a cheap shot that only gets a two count?  It just never had much of a spark for me and by the time Hangman got the Buckshot Lariat I was ready for it to be over.  AEW almost always delivers on the opening match and while this wasn’t TERRIBLE, it just wasn’t up to their usual standards.

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (02-10-2021)

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

We’re back with another week for Dynamite action!  Beach Break was a PRETTY big disappointment all things considered, but it did end on a particularly high note with a great main event and a HUGE surprise for anyone who’s a fan of New Japan.  Will they capitalize on this buzz and give us an episode worthy of this new union, or will we have to wait for the Revolution PPV for something interesting?  Let’s find out!!

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Darby Allin Vs. Joey Janela – TNT Title Match

So is it just me or is Joey’s role here to be a tune-up guy for champions?  Granted it’s better than being a jobber for mid-carders, but he really seems to LOSE a lot despite getting all these opportunities!  I guess I shouldn’t complain as long as it means Darby gets to spend five minutes focusing on something other than Team Taz, and frankly Janela does a darn good job making him look good!  Allin’s strength is not in his… well strength, but his endless tenacity so Joey gets to do a lot here and looks like a genuine competitor for Allin’s title; particularly an early flurry of offense including a drop onto the apron and a Suicide Dive.  Darby essentially has to outlast Janela as he’s one of the few people that Janela could physically intimidate, so he waits for his opportunities to strike and does what he can to survive devastating moves such as when he goes for a Coffin Drop but Janela catches him into a German Suplex followed by a Thrust Kick for a two count!  If there’s one thing that felt a bit disappointing about the match, it’s the ending which of course ends with a Coffin Drop.  Considering that the last few moves prior to that were a surprise Pile Driver from Janela and an Avalanche Code Red from Darby, neither of which were enough to finish the other guy off, it feels a bit anti-climactic that Joey stayed down because Darby dropped down on him.  It works as an ending in some matches, but in something this focused on endurance and devastating moves, it felt a bit underwhelming. Aside from that though, this was a GREAT match that did a darn good job of making both of them look like superstars!  Maybe you don’t want Darby having matches EVERY week because you know he’ll insist on destroying himself whenever he gets in the ring, but we definitely need more title defenses like this.

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (02-03-2021)

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

We’re finally here at AEW’s Beach Break which feels a bit out of place as we just got done with a Special Show only a few weeks ago and Revolution is about a month away, but with last week’s episode being as fantastic as it was you couldn’t ask for a better lead in to get me excited to see what they have to offer!  Is it a culmination of the great stories they’ve been building up for weeks, or should last week’s show have been the special event instead?  Let’s find out!!

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Number One Contender Tag Team Battle Royale

The Young Bucks, Private Party, Jurassic Express, Top Flight, The Acclaimed, Proud N Powerful, Chris Jericho & MJF, John Silver & Alex Reynolds, Stu Grayson & Evil Uno, and Sammy Guevara & Jake Hager

Well so much for that Inner Circle tag match deciding who would be the tag team representative for the group!  They’re all in this match anyway!  Seems like they could have just waited for this, but I guess the thinking is that they would protect each other in the match and then graciously give Jericho and MJF the win; something that DIDN’T happen and frankly nothing much happened in this match.  Oh, there were moves, eliminations, and a few awesome Hope Spots, but where AEW can sometimes put on a BRILLIANTLY planned out and perfectly executed Battle Royale where everything feels important, they instead just went with your standard Battle Royale; a lot of confusing yet energetic nonsense for the first half until we get to the last few competitors and it becomes a REAL match.  The Bucks start things off by attacking everyone before they get in the ring and things immediately devolve into chaos.  There’s a fun spot early on where Isaiah Kassidy goes for a splash, screaming all the way down, but ends up missing as everyone jumps out of the way; a spot that THE CAMERA COMPLETELY MISSED!  WHAT!?  BOO!!  SOMEONE caught it and we got to see it on an instant replay, but how do you miss a spot like that on the live feed!?  In any case, the first half is a lot of decent spots, but also a lot of dudes lying in the corners. 

Early eliminations are Dante Martin, Jake Hager, Matt Jackson, and Anthony Bowens. 

It’s at this point that Luchasaurus takes control and has a few awesome spots with everyone; particularly The Dark Order as he eliminates Stu Grayson, but then Uno and Silver manage to toss him over the ropes.  Sadly this isn’t the start of The Dark Order’s comeback as MJF eliminates Evil Uno soon after; a running theme throughout the match being MJF spoiling everyone’s fun.  Silver isn’t long for the match either as Proud N Powerful pick him up and toss him clean over the ropes.

Private Party goes for the Silly String, but Darius interrupts the move and Quen falls out of the ring.

The Good Brothers decide to stroll in and help Nick Jackson take out Isaiah Kassidy, not that they asked them to, and for some reason, the refs aren’t able to do anything about this?  Sure, they didn’t get in the ring, but they pulled down the ropes in front of what, FIVE refs?  Ultimately it doesn’t make much of a difference as this chaos distracts Nick Jackson long enough for MJF, professional spoilsport, to toss him over the ropes; eliminating The Bucks and ensuring that The Good Brothers WON’T be facing them at Revolution.

So now we’re down to the final six; Jungle Boy, Max Caster, Darius Martin, MJF, Jericho, Sammy.  The Inner Circle does their best to overwhelm Jungle Boy and push him out the ring, but the little guy is tenacious and he’s got the love of the fans backing him up!  Either that or they like his new theme song (Tarzan Boy by Baltimora; a song twelve years older than the boy himself) and just feel like singing it to the world!  Sadly it was not meant to be as MJF makes his biggest heel move yet by tossing Jungle Boy over the ropes and mocking him with a Tarzan chest bump of his own!

Caster has had enough of this nonsense and manages to eliminate MJF to the cheers of everyone before getting himself eliminated by Darius.  Perhaps no THE BEST idea as it leaves him all alone with Sammy and Jericho.  He manages to hold his own well enough and he and Sammy are fighting in the ropes when Jericho comes in trying to save the day but instead, he ends up eliminating Sammy by mistake.  Sammy is clearly annoyed by this which is probably the only real storyline being told in this whole match, but with only two in the ring this Battle Royale is about to come to a close.  Darius does his best against Jericho, but he eats a Judas Effect while on the apron and drops like a bag of hammers.  After all of that, MJF and Jericho will be facing The Bucks at Revolution!

I’ve certainly seen Battle Royales that were less interesting than this one, but from AEW I was kinda hoping for more.  It would have been one thing if it was a bunch of unknowns or cameos to add a bit of novelty to the proceedings, but with everyone there being an established guy, it feels a bit deflating that it was just a bunch of dudes tossing each other out; especially when AEW has done far better in the past.

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (01-06-2021) – New Year’s Smash Night 1

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

After things were so tragically derailed at the end of the year, it’s time for AEW to get things back on track and to hopefully start the New Year off with a bang!  With a solid card, celebrity cameos, and a main event with Kenny Omega and Rey Fénix, do they bring enough bang for your buck, or is this a fireworks show that consisting of three sparklers and half a cherry bomb?  Let’s find out!!

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Young Bucks & SCU Vs. The Acclaimed & TH2 – Eight Man Tag Match

This definitely feels like a filler match which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but despite there being a baked in storyline here with all four teams in some sort of feud it’s mostly just to show off some cool moves and for Kazarian to cut a promo at the end.  There are some fun spots here (mostly from The Bucks who clear the ring at least TWICE in this match) and I like that they’re foreshadowing SCU’s promo by having Daniels be the one on the receiving end of the heat segments, but it also means that none of it particularly stuck with me.  Jack Evans has a really cool looking spin kick from the apron, There’s a BTE trigger with Nick Jackson and Kazarian, and Angélico is definitely someone who should get more of the spotlight (much like Kazarian), and eventually Matt Jackson and Christopher Daniels finish off Jack Evans with a Meltzer Driver.  Short, sweet, and to the point; certainly a solid enough way to start off a show.  It’s then time for Kazarian to grab the mic and confirms what was announced on Being The Elite.  The next time he and Daniels lose a tag team match, SCU will dissolve and they will be a team any longer.   I’m pretty sure Kurt Angle had a similar deal going on in 2010 that eventually went sideways, but it was at TNA and I’m pretty sure AEW can do a better job than them with this kind of story.  If nothing else, it’s a chance for Daniels to get the spotlight again before he puts his career to an end.

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (12-23-2020)

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

There was zero chance of me getting this recap out in a reasonable amount of time considering they put the episode on Christmas Eve Eve, but with the tragedy that happened over the weekend it got even harder to just sit down and get this recap done.  Heck, I didn’t even finish watching the episode until last night with less than 2 days to go before the next one!  Still, AEW Dynamite, even during the times where it’s hardest to sit down and watch, is still a genuine highlight of my week and they’ve definitely had a solid string of shows during the holiday season.  Is their Christmas episode so good we’ll want to revisit it every Christmas, or is it one of those OTHER Christmas specials we only watch once and try to pretend never existed like Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer or December to Dismember?  Let’s find out!!

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Top Flight (Darius Martin & Duante Martin) Vs. Jericho & MJF

Jericho is accompanied to the ring by Jake Hager

I’ve been a bit down on Top Flight, but it looks like AEW has a lot of faith in them to carry the company if given enough seasoning; otherwise why would they have been put up against not just The Bucks but JERICHO within weeks of debuting on Dynamite?  Jericho to his credit gives A LOT up to Top Flight right off the bat as they beat the ever loving crap out of him with a series of flippy moves, but they’re not about to outmatch the Demo God just yet because despite the relentless assault they can only manage to get a one count.  That’s perhaps what makes this match a LITTLE bit weird.  Jericho and MJF will bump all around for these two, but as soon as its time to get the heat it’s a complete 180 reversal; and they’re the dominate heels again bullying the fresh faced youngsters.  Sure, there’s SOME of that in any tag team match, but the turns feel a bit more jarring.  The ending was also a little bit much for me, but I guess I can buy it.  Top Flight are on the verge of winning the match after Daunte takes out Jericho by the time keeper’s table and Darius has MJF to himself, but Jake Hager manages to sweep Darius off the apron and smash his face on the way down; giving MJF the chance to pile drive the man and get the three count.  On the one hand, Jericho and MJF, two of the most protected people in the company, had to cheat to beat these two.  On the other hand, they are untested as a tag team so perhaps a lack of cohesion here or a strong defense against this kind of tag team is to be expected.  It wasn’t bad or anything and it definitely had some great spots; I just found it a bit curious just how hard they were trying to make sure EVERYONE looked good even if it made the selling look a bit silly.   

After the match, Hager grabs the mic to congratulate his fellow Inner Circle members, but there’s something that’s been perplexing him for two weeks now.  WHERE IS WARDLOW!?  He’s upset that Wardlow has been away on “family business” and so he had Tony Khan schedule a friendly little spar next week on Dynamite between the two of them and Wardlow better show up!  Hager actually has some good delivery here and it’s nice to hear him take the mic again, but I’d be cautious of using Wardlow’s absence in a storyline; especially if the family business in question is SERIOUS business.

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (12-16-2020)

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

Tis the season for things to get lost in the shuffle as the holidays approach and these recaps get more and more delayed, but I’m not about to give up gosh darn it!  December has been full of stress and scrambling, but the AEW show each week is something I always look forward to even if they don’t always knock it out of the park.  Was this episode another reminder of why I keep doing this week in and week out, or is it a confusing mess that’s practically begging for me to skip a week?  Let’s find out!!

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Hangman Page & The Dark Order (Reynolds & Silver) Vs. Hardy Party (Matt Hardy, Isaiah Kassidy, and Marq Quen)

Page and the Geeks come out first with Reynolds and Silver wearing matching (and VERY adorable) cowboy outfits.  Seems like an innocent enough homage to me, but Page seems particularly annoyed when Silver tries to throw up his hand sign so perhaps he’s not ready to embrace his new buddies just yet and form a new faction.  Speaking of hand signs, what is that supposed to be?  As far as I can tell, it’s just Hangman throwing up a Loser “L” which doesn’t seem particularly cowboy, but he’s also a 90’s kid so I’ll let him have it.  As for that match itself, it was pretty darn good; especially for an opening match.  It’s a bit odd that neither teams are truly faces or heels which means that there isn’t much DRAMA there, but it also means that they focus on spots and big moves which I like to see in the first match of a show.  The opener doesn’t have to be advancing the most important storylines but it has to POP and this match definitely does that with some impressive work from all involved.  If I had to pick an MVP it might be Marq Quen because he is in this several times and does a GREAT job with everybody.  He starts off the match with Page and they have a great exchange for a bit before the rest of Hardy Party tries a triple team.  Page manages to avoid it however and Silver & Reynolds rush in to make the save and look like superstars while doing it!  With Silver soaking up so much spotlight it’d be easy for Reynolds to get lost in the shuffle (much like Other Dude in WHAM), but he’s a good worker and balances out Silver’s overwhelming exuberance and he has possibly the best moment in the match towards the end of it.  If anyone is a heel in here, it’s Hardy as he’s the only one getting any sort of heat; in this case on Silver with submissions and beatings which eventually leads to a hot tag for Page who explodes out of the corner and runs wild!  Even this however is brought to an end by Matt Hardy with a Side Effect and a two count on Page.  He goes for a Twist of Fate but Page gets out of it and the two tag in Reynolds and Quen who are so great in these brief moments that I want to see them have a singles match!  Reynolds probably isn’t as athletic as Marq Quen (who possibly could be?) but he holds his own and their brief confrontation is topped off with that RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME combination that he and Silver does with a Powerbomb from Hangman for good measure.  The ending is a BIT of a disappointment for me and the only thing close to a sour note in the whole match.  Silver takes a Twist of Fate on the apron that ended up hurting his knee which was concerning to see, though he later confirmed that it’s fine and he just has a bruise which is a relief considering how injury prone people have been at AEW, but the point is that this is what takes Silver out of the match which leaves Page and Reynolds at a disadvantage.  Page takes a kick from Isaiah that knocks him over the barricade and Private Party finishes off Reynolds with a Gin and Juice, but instead of pinning him themselves they go to the effort of letting Matt tag in so that he can make the pin and win the match.  Perhaps I’m overthinking it, but the kick and tumble that Page took REALLY shouldn’t have taken him out of the match long enough for Private Party to land their super move and then have someone else run in and make a three count, but I guess we can’t have Page win with these two goofballs just yet so they had to find a way for it to make sense that Page couldn’t make the save.  Aside from that, which isn’t TOO big of a deal, this was a fun match and a GREAT way to start the show!  My only hope is that Page’s loss here doesn’t discourage him from teaming up with these two again, because they made a fantastic team and I want to see them each and every week!

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