Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (05-12-2021)

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

Last week may have been the big TV show, but we’re only weeks away from Double or Nothing so this episode has to work double duty in giving us the fallout from the Blood & Guts event as well as setting up whatever is going to happen for the PPV.  Not only that, but this is also something of a big show in its own right as we’ve got three title defenses with some big implications behind them!  Can this episode of Dynamite carry all that weight and spin all those plates without collapsing, or will the most interesting thing about this be the giant mess that they make?  Let’s find out!!

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Jon Moxley Vs. Yuji Nagata – IWGP United States Title Match

Moxley is accompanied to the ring by Eddie Kingston while Nagata is accompanied by Ren Narita

Before we can get to my utter lack of knowledge of New Japan, before we can get to my utter lack of knowledge of Yuji Nagata, before we can get to ANYTHING else, we have to talk about one thing.  Wild Thing by The Troggs!?  Look, Where Is My Mind for Orange Cassidy is starting to grow on me, but I’m thinking that Tony Khan is getting a bit TOO pop happy with his music because this is a VERY jarring change of pace!  Moxley’s music may not have been a recognizable song, but it definitely fit him and his energy where Wild Things is just… not that.  I don’t know, maybe I’ll find a way to get used to it or maybe it’s just a one off.  In either case, let’s talk about the match itself, shall we?  Now as I’ve said I don’t follow New Japan and don’t know who most of the guys on that show are, so having Yuji Nagata show up here doesn’t mean a lot to me, but I still like the concept of having matches outside of AEW’s world take place on the show.  Wrestling is a BIG world and trying to close yourself off from everything else the way WWE does is what’s help make it feel like a weird little isolated planet of a thing, so I’m happy to see New Japan, NWA, or even Impact show up every once in a while to spice things up!  Then again, I can’t say this was THE BEST match to debut the IWGP title for the Dynamite audience because… well I don’t think the match was particularly exciting.  Look, I’ll fully admit that I can’t speak for all wrestlers and I know there are a few old timers that I still like to see even if they aren’t at their peak, but Nagata is just kinda slow here and Moxley has to slow himself down to make the match look competitive.  Then again, I tend to prefer a quicker high flying style to something more methodical, and there ARE moments where Nagata shows what he can do; particularly as we get to the end when he gives Moxley an Avalanche Exploder before kneeing him in the face to get a two count.  Moxley kicks out of it and manages to put Nagata into the Rear Naked Choke which can usually take out anyone, but Nagata wriggles out of it and puts him in an arm breaker that Excalibur is completely marking out for so it must be one of his signature moves, but Moxley makes it to the bottom rope to break the hold and the two start slugging it out once again.  Moxley starts bleeding at one point which I think happened from one of Nagata’s elbows smashing him right in the cheek, and it makes for a very compelling image as he goes back for the choke to finish Nagata off.  He fights out once again, but after a minute of back and forth Moxley manages to land the Paradigm Shift and gets the pin; winning the match and retaining his IWGP United States title.  There was a lot about this match that didn’t click for me, from the fact that this is the first time I’ve ever seen Yuji Nagata wrestle to Moxley’s new theme music, so while it didn’t do a lot for me specifically I can still acknowledge that both guys put a lot into this match and that it will definitely work for those who know what to expect going in.

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Super Wrestling: AEW – Double or Nothing

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Double or Nothing and all the images you see I this recap are owned by All Elite Wrestling and Shahid Khan

Welcome to all you Marks, Smarks, and everything in between, to my very first recap of a wrestling show!!  Now I’ve been watching WWE pretty consistently for the past year as wrestling is something I’ve always been interested in but I always felt there were barriers to entry that kept me away from it.  Well thankfully WWE solved that problem right away with the amazing WWE Network that only costs ten bucks a month, had more or less up to date content (the shows there are a month behind the live broadcast) AND it had the ENTIRE BACKLOG OF CONTENT stretching back to its earliest broadcast days in case you wanted to catch up on anything that you didn’t know the full story of!  Even so, becoming a fan of this stuff has also let me in on some of the more pernicious things about the company that can sometime temper my enthusiasm.  Vince is still a MASSIVE jerk, the Saudi Arabia deal is a total disaster, healthcare for the talent is still a problem, and the company keeps scumbags like Hulk Hogan and Randy Orton on their payroll.  It’s almost like there should be a viable alternative brand out there or something, but where are we gonna get one of THOSE!?  Anyway, let’s take a serious look at what Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks, and a couple of billionaires managed to put together in what is no doubt the most hyped and anticipated wrestling show of the year!!

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First Impressions

Before we get to any of the matches, I wanted to point out two key points that apply to the show as a whole.  First, the production is FANTASTIC!  I’ve seen a couple of TNA shows and a bout or two of Ring of Honor, and they always looked like the lesser version of what WWE can put together; what with their massive screens, multi-camera setup, and detailed set design to really give them a flashy and professional presentation.  Fortunately AEW has realized that this is gonna be a key thing to figure out right off the bat because if they LOOK like a second rate company then people will TREAT THEM like a second rate company, and after this show I don’t think anyone will be doing that!  Sure, it’s not WRESTLEMANIA or even some of the higher end PPVs as far as production, scope, and sizzle, but its right up there with what Raw and SmackDown pulls off each week.  Where it DOES lag behind WWE however, is the commentary; particularly that Excalibur guy who doesn’t have a particularly commanding voice and seems to fumble over his lines a fair bit.  It’s not just him though; the other guy (I don’t even remember his name) and even JR seemed a bit rusty here and they seriously need to work the kinks out of this before they get to their television deal.  Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s start with the Pre-show matches!!

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Casino Battle Royale

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The Clubs: Dustin Thomas, MJF (Maxwell Jacob Friedman), Sunnny Daze (James Dylan), Brandon Cutler, and Michael Nakazawa
The Diamonds: Brian Pillman Jr, Orange Cassidy, Jimmy Havoc (James Mcahren), Shawn Spears
The Hearts: Billy Gunn, Glacier (Raymond Lloyd), Jungle Boy (Jack Perry), Marq Quen, and Ace Romero
The Spades: Luchasaurus (Austin Matelson), Marko Stunt, Sonny Kiss, and Tommy Dreamer
The Joker: Adam “Hangman” Page

Now the thing about Battle Royale matches is that while they can be flashy and fun, they’re also kind of a mess to stage and so a lot of the time you have people hanging out in corners for a long time or someone getting a bit of momentum before being stopped in their tracks so someone ELSE can have the spotlight.  With the right timing and a lot of flexibility on the participants though, it CAN be great.  This one?  Eh… I wasn’t all too into it.  The first thing that felt odd was that they set up these rules about people going out in waves and how it was ALL random, but it still felt incredibly staged so why not just say that AEW management set up four groups themselves?  Why the elaborate explanation about a deck of cards; especially when we don’t SEE anyone draw from it?  I guess that’s the benefit of a weekly show where you can spend ten minutes having your wrestlers dramatic draw cards and set up the dynamics for each bracket, but on a PPV it felt needlessly complicated.  Ignoring that though, the Battle Royale itself felt like it moved at a snail’s until at least three of the brackets came in, but there were some highlights!  MJF cemented himself as the de-facto heel right off the bat by kicking Dustin Thomas in the face and calling him Lieutenant Dan.  In case you didn’t know, Dustin Thomas is a wrestler with no legs, which proves that MJF hasn’t seen a movie since the late nineties.  I bet at some point he’s gonna shout RUN FOREST, RUN at someone who’s running to the ring or maybe even do a SHOW ME THE MONEY gimmick.  The other great thing that happened very early in this match is Michael Nakazawa busting out a bottle of baby oil and just COVERING himself with the biggest smile you could ever imagine!  I mean it DID help him out of a jam at least, but you’d think someone would want to do that BEFORE they got into trouble!

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I wish I could enjoy ANYTHING in life as much as Michael Nakazawa loves being covered in baby oil…

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW – Double or Nothing”