Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (05-28-2021) – Friday Night Dynamite

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

This is going to be a rough weekend.  This episode was aired on a FRIDAY which gave me less than forty-eight hours to watch it, digest it, and recap it, before moving right on to the PPV.  Sadly this is probably going to become the norm as AEW plans on expanding in the next year with AEW Rampage as a one hour Friday show that should be premiering in August, and 2022 will see them move to TBS with regular SPECIAL SHOWS on TNT popping up every now and then.  I guess the fact that there’s going to be MORE good wrestling can hardly be considered a bad thing, and this week is good practice for me to try and streamline my process to get these out at a better pace.  Aside from the backend logistics this is a pretty significant episode as the Go Home show is the last chance for the company to convince the TV crowd to spend fifty bucks on a PPV and they always try to give you something special to make that deal sound even better.  Do they put on a fantastic preview of what we should expect at Double or Nothing, or will we be going into the big show with lowered expectations?  Let’s find out!!

Things kick off right away with a match, but before we even get to the match we’ve got a few things to talk about with the new setup.  First, I had no idea that the Friday night show was going to be the first one at full capacity as I thought they were saving it for the PPV on Sunday, but sure enough the place is packed to the gills with people (at least the parts the camera shows us) and I’d kind of forgotten what that kind of atmosphere felt like.  It kind of loses a bit of the personal touch that the smaller crowds engendered, but the energy is through the roof and makes this feel like a big event despite being more or less a pre-show for the PPV.  Second, they’ve move the hard camera ninety degrees counter-clockwise and they’ve also put a stadium box on the stage when I think one of those two choice would have been better.  Personally I would have just kept the camera facing the stage as there’s really no other point to putting fans there if we’re not going to be able to see them, and instead of seeing the big screen we get to forever stare at the Daily’s Place sign; burning into my eyes like a watermark on a bootleg video.  They’re going on the road soon so this won’t be a thing for long, but it definitely feels like they took one step forward and then took another step back.

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Darby Allin Vs. Cezar Bononi

Darby is accompanied to the ring by Sting while Bononi is accompanied by The Wingmen

Bononi gets the jobber entrance, and when the camera is on him with his title card displayed, he gets hit in the face with Darby’s jacket that was haphazardly thrown in his general direction.  I start with that because there’s just something about that level of goofiness that endears me so much to this giant awkward jobber as well as his crew which are called The Wingmen; Peter Avalon, JD Drake, and also Ryan Nemeth who is holding a replica Oscar statue for absolutely no reason.  Seriously, if I ever have a mid-life crisis and start trying to become a wrestler, THIS is the kind of team I would want to be a part of!  As for the match itself, Cezar is trying his best to use his size to his advantage, but Darby proves to be an elusive target.  Still, he manages to land a solid kick to Darby’s stomach and gets the heat on the guy with some fun big moves.  Darby is just thrown all over the place with reckless abandon as he sails through the air trying his best to land correctly, and he even gest dropped on the top turnbuckle which couldn’t have been fun.  Darby does eventually get a sleeper hold which nearly puts Bononi out, but he makes it to the ropes to break up the hold.  With Bononi winded, Darby lands a very impressive Stunner and follows with a Shotgun Drop Kick as well as a Coffin Drop to get the pin and win the match.  Darby then calls out Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky to settle this tonight instead of on Sunday and The duo come out to mock the guy for his challenge.  I mean they DO have a point here!  Why would they give up their PPV spot to indulge this guy?  In any case, it turns out to be a distraction as The Wingmen jump Sting and Darby from behind and are followed by Sky and Page.  Sky is about to break Sting’s ankle, but The Dark Order run out to chase them off and make the save which won’t be the last time they meet I the ring this evening!  That was a FANTASTIC squash match which had Darby selling for quite a bit, but none of it genuinely fazed him and his offense is so strong that he can basically knock down a giant with three moves.  Also, while I wouldn’t say Page and Sky are growing on me, this is probably my favorite moment from the two of them so far and I am definitely looking forward to their match at Double or Nothing.

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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 (03-31-2021)

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

We’re back with another week of Dynamite action and frankly I’m excited to see what they do!  They’ve been on something of a hot streak lately with great matches from top to bottom with this week looking to be no different!  Can they keep up the momentum they’ve worked hard to build, or are they running out of steam sooner rather than later?  Let’s find out!!

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Christian Cage Vs. Frankie Kazarian

We start things off with the self-proclaimed Work Horse of AEW finally lacing up his boots and getting in the ring with the ACTUAL workhorse of the company.  Frankly, that’s the big issue I had with this match; Christian Cage is good, but I just don’t buy the gimmick.  Now they DO seem to be playing with that a little bit as Kazarian is the heel who just keeps overwhelming the Baby Face, but it’s not exactly the first match I would have if my gimmick is that I’m the best worker around.  Still, Cage isn’t here to coast as he takes a NASTY bump early on from the top turnbuckle to the ground (managing to smash his side on the apron on his way down) and even though he looks COMPLETELY exhausted by the halfway point he manages to make his way to the end of the match without missing a step.  Well… maybe a LITTLE bit.  There’s an awkward looking escape from here where he rolls over Kazarian’s back at one point, and there are a couple of submission holds that look suspiciously like rest holds, but it’s still a solid match with a decent arc to it. Kazarian knows he’s running away with this as he gets in Cage’s face during his advantage, and even when Cage fires back Kazarian is always ready to reverse his fortunes.  To make matters worse, Kazarian starts choking out Cage and the guy nearly passes out which is not doing much for his stamina.  Cage EVENTUALLY manages to fight back to a standing position, but Kazarian knocks him back down to further cement his domination this early on in the match.  Eventually Cage mounts a comeback with a Swinging DDT from the middle rope that Kazarian bumps big for but still kicks out at two, but even with that he’s finally gets his second wind and starts fighting off Kazarian with a bunch of chops followed by a Diving European Uppercut which also gets a two count.  The rest of the match is not unlike Kenny Omega’s usual shtick where Cage keeps going for his finisher The Killswitch but Kazarian finds more and more ways to slip out of it and continue his offensive with moves like a Springboard Leg Drop, the Flux Capacitor, and a the dreaded Crossface Chicken Wing.  To Cage’s credit he manages to survive by fighting smart and using rules like rope breaks to his advantage, but Kazarian seems to barely be fazed after all this time while Cage is hanging on for dear life.  The tide finally turns when Cage manages to snap his neck on the top rope and lands a Frog Splash from the top turnbuckle.  With Kazarian nice and softened up and with the match’s time limit looming, Cage finally lands the Killswitch and gets the pin; winning his first match at AEW.  It was a solid match to be sure, but after watching it I think they need to rethink Christian Cage’s character.  I like what I saw of Cage, but not in terms of OUT WORKING EVERYONE.  Out SMARTING Everyone?  Maybe even Out WRESTLING Everyone?  Perhaps those would work better because WORK has a specific connotation in wrestling and I just didn’t see Cage as the best exemplar of it; especially when there’s no better example of someone who works harder than Kazarian who proved it here even in giving Cage the win. 

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (03-24-2021)

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

Last week’s episode wasn’t exactly a barn burner for the first half or so, but it definitely managed to come together by the end with one of the most spectacular women’s matches in quite some time as Thunder Rosa just barely won out against Britt Baker in a Lights Out match at the end of the show.  Fortunately they aren’t trying to recreate that magic this week (you throw in THAT many hardcore matches, you’re liable not to have a roster before long), but with so much hype following that match can AEW put on a fantastic show to keep everyone’s interest despite a more modest card?  Let’s find out!!

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Kenny Omega Vs. Matt Sydal – AEW World Title Match Qualifier

They do a good job of recapping the events that led up to this which were on AEW Dark Elevation, as Matt Sydal beat Micahel Nakazawa to get this match which is NOT for the title but if he wins this match he WILL get a title fight.  I guess when your win-loss record is as spotty as Sydal’s that having to win TWICE is a fair compromise for jumping over everyone else, and it means that Kenny gets to open the show which is certainly a good way to start things off!  Despite Sydal’s inability to win ANY match on Dynamite, the guy is an unbelievable talent and proves to be a good foil for Omega as Sydal proves to have him beat in agility and coordination while Omega has the power to stop him in his tracks.  It goes back and forth between Sydal doing fun flippy stuff that leaves Omega befuddled and Omega bashing Sydal so hard that it nearly knocks him out of his wrestling boots.  Sydal eventually starts to get some momentum and gives Kenny a run for his money; even getting a two count off a Hurricanrana that launched Kenny from the middle rope to the middle of the ring followed by a Brain Buster that left Kenny flat on his back.  This failed pin attempt leads to Kenny’s slow, methodical, and downright sadistic comeback where he starts playing the greatest hits for the crowd, but he fails to land the V-Trigger and Sdyal gets a VERY close two count out of it.  Kenny then throws Sydal in a way similar to a Buckle Bomb to soften Sydal up and lands a few V-Triggers for good measure.  However, he pushes his luck and tries to land a One Winged Angel which Sydal reverses out of; giving him a momentary retrieve and one last chance to win this.  Kenny goes for the One Winged Angel again and Sydal manages to once again escape to somehow get an even CLOSER two count!  Third time proves to be the charm however as Kenny gives him a V-Trigger as soon as he pops out of the pin and finally lands the One Winged Angel to get the win.  Sydal’s a guy who looks good even in defeat and there’s really no reason for him to have won this match considering he has nothing to do with the bigger title picture, but seeing him here only reinforces how great it’ll be once he FINALLY gets that big win on television; especially if the match is even half as good as this one!

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Super Wrestling: AEW – Revolution 2021

Revolution and all the images you see I this recap are owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, and Shahid Khan

The big day is FINALLY upon us, and while it may be missing a Shaq match, it’s not lacking in quality fights as this card is stacked from top to bottom with grudges, title bouts, and even a few novelty matches just to keep things interesting!  With the somewhat wonky build up to this show and some tediously overdone storylines, does this PPV manage to put it all together into one excellent evening of wrestling action, or are you better off saving your money and watching the highlights on Twitter?  Let’s find out!!

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Riho & Thunder Rosa Vs. Britt Baker & Maki Itoh – Buy In Match

Now originally this was supposed to be Baker and Rebel (Not Reba) teaming together, but the latter supposedly got “hurt” and comes out on a crutch, so Baker signed a Doctor’s note and Tony Kahn allowed her to choose someone else to be her partner and frankly she couldn’t have gone with anyone better!  As much fun as Rebel (Not Reba) can be as an instigator, having Maki Itoh show up as a surprise on this show is an AMAZING way to kick the show off!  She got some attention when she was announced for the women’s tournament, but it was her very fun social media made that made her a fan favorite right off the bat.  She was knocked out in the first round unfortunately, but now she’s here proves without a doubt that AEW needs to signer her yesterday!  Why is she so great?  Well first, she comes out here and singes her ENTIRE entrance theme which is definitely a good start, and as soon as she gets in the ring with Thunder Rosa she flips her The Bird with both barrels.  Yeah, I think she’s going to be my favorite wrestler of all time!  Now admittedly she looks a LITTLE bit stiff at first as the initial minutes against Rosa feel a bit stop and start, but as soon as they get a flow going Itoh proves to be an absolutely BRILLIANT professional wrestler!  She’s got by far the most expressive face in the women’s division here at AEW, and she reminds me a little bit of Eddie Kingston of all people.  It’s just an overall presence of nastiness and a flair for the comedic as she puts on a CUTIE POP IDOL image but she fights like a total heel and takes cheap shot whenever she can; going so far as to fake cry so her opponent lets their guard down.   And yet, despite being such a craven and obvious bad guy, I don’t know WHO could possibly boo her!

“I CAN SEE THE LIGHT!  THIS MORTAL COIL IS BEING SHED, AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!  Hold me as I go slowly into that good night.  WILL YOU DO THAT FOR ME!?”
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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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