Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (11-04-2020)

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

I don’t know about you, but I’ve barely gotten ANY sleep this week and this whole “wrestling” thing feels a bit small and inconsequential given what’s going on in the US right now.  Hopefully by the time we get to the PPV on Saturday the votes will be tallied and we can all focus on fun things again, but there’s no doubt that AEW has a big uphill battle here with this Go Home show leading into Full Gear.  Do they manage to put on something memorable despite the world being laser focused on politics this week, or will it get lost in the shuffle like everything else?  Let’s find out!!

We begin the episode with Dasha interviewing Jericho (flanked by Jake Hager and Santana) who spends a good few minutes praising Jake Hager for his win at Bellator last week which hey, good for him!  It was certainly better than in his last match where he punched a dude in the groin and it got called a No Contest, but before Jericho can finish singing his praises, MJF comes in and interrupts them to tell him how much he appreciates the opportunity he’s been given.  Jericho, not too happy about being interrupted, doesn’t share this enthusiasm and in fact claims that MJF lacks something vital to be part of The Inner Circle; a Killer Instinct.  The same Killer Instinct that got Jake fifteen stiches in a fight he ended up winning and earned Santana his reputation as a ruthless fighter in the world of wrestling.  MJF?  Well until he proves otherwise, Jericho believes he’s just soft, and that’s just not going to work for them.  MJF doesn’t like any of these accusations and storms off; leaving Jericho to head to the announcers desk as he’ll be calling matches all night.  I kind of wish they’d also let Santana and Hager get sit at the desk too, but too many heels running the show and with Eric Bischoff having JUST shown up last week, people might start getting flashbacks to Souled Out and nobody wants that.

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Sammy Guevara & Ortiz Vs. MJF & Wardlow

Okay, quick question.  Perhaps I’m just hearing things, but they played the Inner Circle’s theme song here for Ortiz and Sammy’s entrance… and doesn’t it kind of sound like a knock off NWO theme?  I don’t recall ever hearing it before as they always used Jericho’s song Judas, and it just reminded me of that; especially when it starts with a deep voiced dude saying THE INNER CIRCLE which is not unlike how the NWO’s theme starts.  In any case (before I go on any OTHER weird tangents), let’s talk about the match itself.  More than any other story line for this upcoming PPV, including the Moxley match, the tag titles, and ESPECIALLY Sammy’s feud with Matt Hardy, the unrest within The Inner Circle brought about by MJF’s attempts to join them has been rather compelling so far and this match being the first flare up of this tension means it will certainly have consequences for the story on Saturday and going forward.  Now this might be a tag match, but for the most part it’s really all about Sammy and MJF with Wardlow and Ortiz being there to give the other two an opportunity to strut their stuff.  Sammy in particular looks VERY good here with an early hot tag that has him overcoming both Wardlow and MJF with relative ease.  The guy has had a ROUGH time of it the last few months with controversies, botches, and injuries overshadowing everything else, but his performance here is a strong first step for him to regain his clout as one of wrestling’s rising young stars.  MJF looks good here as well, but for most of the match he’s fighting with the upper hand and isn’t really pushing himself.  He’s has had his share of rough matches, but by design he’s never really excelled at that as he gets desperate way to quickly and resorts to cheap tricks at the slightest hint of a disadvantage, which goes towards Jericho’s assessment of him being soft.  He’s not to be discounted however even if he starts to waiver under pressure, and once it’s Sammy and MJF alone in the ring, the both of them start to work out their frustrations on each other in an excellent display of acrobatic violence.  Sammy ends up proving himself here as he actually manages to get the advantage and nearly gets a pin on MJF, and even though Wardlow breaks it up its clear that Sammy might just be the better fighter.  Ortiz gets back in the ring after dealing with Wardlow on the outside and him and Sammy get MJF on the turnbuckle.  They are setting up a tandem Superplex, but Wardlow comes in and suplexes all three of them with his mighty muscles, and the best part of this is MJF’s over the top selling as he seems to have taken the brunt of the damage while Wardlow poses for the audience.  All of this is fun and it does a good job of setting up the important dynamics between these wrestlers, but sadly things start to go off the rails at the end.  Sammy seems poised to win this if he can just get back himself and MJF back into the ring, but then Matt Hardy attacks him with a chair and not even a minute later MJF gets Ortiz into his Salt of the Earth arm bar where he taps out almost immediately.  MJF and Wardlow win the match and start heading for the back, but then MJF breaks off and sprints towards Jericho at the announce table; spearing him in his seat and having to be dragged away by Wardlow as Jericho gingerly gets up and smiles at his assailant.  Perhaps this man DOES have a Killer Instinct and Jericho will be surprised at what happens on Saturday!  The ending drags the match down considerably for me, but I liked the performances of everyone involved and MJF proves once again just how good he is at playing a character while also putting on a great wrestling match.  Presumably he’s going to win on Saturday or some other shenanigans will ensue as I doubt they’re going to drop this storyline with a clean Jericho victory, and I can only hope a long convoluted character drama already set up for all five (soon to be six!) members of the Inner Circle; like Shakespeare but with more chair shots!

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (06-17-2020)

AEWDYNAMITE

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

It is week… I don’t even know anymore, of the COVID era of wrestling and like everything else things are starting to blur for me.  I USED to be able to at least keep up with the WWE PPVs, but Backlash looks about as interesting as a symposium on paint drying and NXT is only faring slightly better.  That’s not to say that AEW has been above reproach in recent weeks as I’ve found the most recent episodes a bit of a chore to get through at times, but they’ve at least kept things afloat for me as a wrestling fan while the rest of the country (and the government in particular) is doing everything they can to prolong this crisis.  Gee, I’ve been getting on my soapbox a bit much lately!  Let’s just try to forget the world for a bit and focus on another fun show of dudes beating the crap out of other dudes and yelling into microphones!  Can this week’s AEW get me out of my lockdown lethargy and get excited for this noble sport once again!?  Let’s find out!!

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Kenny Omega & Hangman Adam Page Vs. The Natural Nightmares (Dustin Rhodes & QT Marshall)

The Natural Nightmares are accompanied to the ring by Brandi Rhodes

Not wasting any time, the show begins with The Natural Nightmares already in the ring while Omega and Hangman get their full entrance.  Seriously, I can believe Dustin got the Jobber treatment!  QT Marshall, sure, but they couldn’t give freaking DUSTIN the airtime to play his song!?  If it wasn’t clear from the lack of buildup last week and the entrances here, Dustin and QT Marshall don’t have much of a chance at winning these belts, but even if they spent the time to make this seem like a legitimate challenge before entering the ring, the match itself would give away how unlikely The Natural Nightmare’s chances are within the first few minutes.  I don’t know, Dustin doesn’t look his best in this match and Kenny is bumping like a mo-fo which makes it all feel a lot faker than it should.  There’s something about Kenny that I first noticed in his match against Joey Janela where it’s hard to buy some people fighting against him.  Dustin is looking worse than he ever has working against Kenny as it just looks so fake for him to sell this damage of moves that don’t look like they’re doing that much.  It’s not much better for QT Marshall who is certainly more athletic than Dustin and manages to look okay against Adam Page, but there’s just not enough here to invest in the bout as it feels far too scripted.  The match heats up eventually once Marshall pulls off this awesome flip kick, and Dustin eventually does that amazing Canadian Destroyer of his, so from that point on the match feels a bit more even handed.  QT Marshall even gets the advantage with a Diamond Cutter and it’s at that point that Allie comes out from the back to cheer for him who if you recall has been dating him for a few weeks now.  Her encouragement spurs him to try and take out Omega with a jump from the top rope… and he totally whiffs it, so good job Allie!  They go for a bit after that but it’s clear that Marshall’s momentum has been lost and he eventually eats a Last Call from Omega and Hangman to end the match.  It took a while to get there, but I ended up enjoying it by the end.  I think Kenny’s one fatal flaw is his ability to sell for lesser opponents, and it’s not like he isn’t TRYING but it seems he has trouble making it convincing in certain circumstances and it was the case for at about half of this match.  Aside from that it wasn’t the best match from any of the wrestlers involved, but it ended up being an alright way to start the show.

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (04-01-20)

AEWDYNAMITE

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

Welcome back to another episode of CHRIS Jericho!  See what I did there?  Jericho is a post-apocalyptic TV show, and… you know what, never mind.  Now if you haven’t heard, due to the current circumstances AEW has finally caved and is basically suspending their story lines to do a TNT Tournament that’ll start next week.  That’s right, AEW officially has a fighting tournament filler arc and I’m sure Kenny Omega is just tickled pink at the idea if it wasn’t for… well everything else around it.  Before we get to that however, we still have this week’s show to get through, though I doubt we’ll be advancing storylines too much since we still have no idea when things can get up and running again.  Let’s see what they came up with!

The first thing they announce right at the start is the brackets for the opening round of the TNT tournament which are as follows.

Shawn Spears Vs Cody

Sammy Guevara Vs. Darby Allin

Kip Sabian Vs. Dustin Rhodes

Lance Archer Vs. Colt Cabana

Not a bad lineup I guess, and the finals will be held at Double or Nothing (assuming that show is still on) which certainly gives us something to look forward to and makes this feel a bit more than just a time killer.  Now the big question each week is what they’ve had to change to compensate for whatever regulations and best practices are in place to minimize the COVID-19 risk.  This is perhaps the most radical change yet and frankly I’m not sure how much I liked it as they’ve decided that instead of having the ENTIRE arena on display that they’d basically cut it down to a space barely larger than a school gym.  The entrance is VERY close to the ring, they put up big screens on the sides that say AEW only a few feet from the barricade, and they even have a roof above them!  The space may be smaller BUT the tradeoff is that they got a FEW more people to fill out the area between the barricade and the giant screens.  It’s not as crowded as it was on the first one of these (I’d estimate no more than twenty people total including those in the ring and the necessary crew) but we’ve got people cheering again which is definitely an improvement.  However, there is one BIG drawback this time around which is the noise of the ring itself as we are hearing a lot of rumbling and crashing throughout the matches.  I’m guessing it’s the acoustics of the new space and they’re working with what they have, but the audible rumble is pretty distracting and drowns out a decent amount of the shouting from those in the stands.  I’m still all for the initial setup if that’s feasible and frankly I’m not sure why it WOULDN’T be considering they have a decent amount of people here tonight, but I think we’ll be sticking with this format for a while as I’m pretty sure all of this is pre-recorded (no matter what that LIVE tag says in the top left corner) and they recorded a heck of a lot more than just this episode.  Anyway, on to the first match!

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Kenny Omega Vs. Trent

Trent is accompanied to the ring by Chuck Taylor and Orange Cassidy

Kenny Omega is definitely the superstar here so I wouldn’t get your hopes up about Trent getting a surprise win, but it doesn’t exactly feel like a one sided bout either as Trent is DEFINITELY the workhorse of the group.  They have a decently competitive match to start with, and Kenny even comes close to getting a hug from Orange Cassidy before Chuck drags him away, but it isn’t all THAT interesting until about halfway through when Trent decides to start playing a bit dirty.  He starts to work over Omega’s recently injured hand for all its worth which actually ends up backfiring on him as Kenny doesn’t get hurt as much as he gets PISSED, and turnabout is fair play in these situations so Kenny starts smashing him into as many things as possible outside the ring.  He shoves him into the barricades, he throws him into a pole, he even lands a German Suplex on the guy out on the ramp which looked absolutely devastating and must have SUCKED for Trent.  Eventually it comes down to both of them trying to beat the clock as they only have five minutes left to pull off their most devastating moves to get the pin.  Counters after counters!  V-Triggers!  Whatever that rope running flip that that Trent does!  They keep throwing whatever they can at each other and yet with just two minutes left to go neither of them are ready to give up the ghost!  There was a brief botch at this point when Kenny goes to the top rope and Trent is SUPPOSED to climb up there to meet him.  He slips on his way up there and so Kenny has to wait a beat longer than he was supposed to, but Trent makes it up a moment later and things go just fine from there.  Well… not for Kenny who has to eat this devastating throw across the ring, but at least things flow smoothly from there!  One minute to go and Kenny is still dazed from Trent throwing him off the top rope, but at the last second he manages to land a One Winged Angel for the pin with mere seconds left on the clock!  It was a solid enough match if a bit too long; not just for an opening match but for one in this kind of environment.

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