Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (09-09-2020)

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

We’re back with even more AEW wrestling action as this is the first episode following their big All Out PPV!  Things have not been looking great for AEW as their last few Dynamite have been pretty meh and there was the EXTREMELY unfortunate incident with Matt Hardy at all out, but coming off of a PPV means a chance at a fresh start, and I’m fairly confident that AEW can fight their way out of this funk.  Is this the start of a brand new vision for the company with new storylines, new stars, and better in ring action, or should will we just be getting more of the same?  Let’s find out!!

The show starts with Tony Schiavone interviewing both Jericho and MJF who just so happen to have arrived at the exact same time.  They exchange pleasantries and praise each other for their skills, as well as assure the other that they were robbed in their PPV match.  As soon as they are out of each other’s earshot however, they call each other losers which is hardly surprising considering they’re both egotistical heels.  It was a fun little exchange that almost feels like a BTE sketch and is a fun little lead in for the first match.

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Jurassic Express Vs. The Lucha Bros

This was a pretty good match where everyone was trying to go to eleven, but there were also a few botches here and there that undercut the intensity of it.  An early one that the announcers even called attention to was when Jungle Boy tripped while launching off of Luchasaurus’s back which isn’t too surprising considering one of the big stories out of All Out was just how hot and humid it was and it’s no surprise that people are slipping on things.  Still, Jungle Boy DID manage to just barely land his move on Rey Fenix, so the match didn’t come to a dead stop when it happened which was lucky for them.  In fact, as good a job as everyone does here, this really was Jungle Boy’s night as the trip up is pretty much forgotten as soon as he gets the hot tag and runs wild on Pentagón and Fénix.  An impressing Hurricanrana from the top rope followed by what I can only describe as a double arm drag gives him a solid advantage; at least until Pentagón shoves him off the apron and knocks him to the floor.  Things go back and forth for a while until Pentagón lands a Back Stabber on Jungleboy and sets him up for an assisted pile driver, but the timing here is REALLY terrible and pretty much ruins the end of the match.  Rey Fenix lands the stomp for the pile driver and Pentagon has Jungle Boy ready to pin, but he sees that Rey Fenix is running the ropes to take out Luchasaurus on the outside so he waits to do the pin until that spot is over which Jungle Boy naturally kicks out.  Heck, in case you missed it the first time, they show a REPLAY of it where you can see VERY clearly that Pentagón is just SITTING THERE doing nothing!  The match only goes on for a minute or two after that where Jungle Boy rolls up Rey Fenix for the win, but that very obvious botch took away a lot of the momentum for The Jurassic Express’s win here.

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (01-29-20)

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

The vacation is over, the beach has been thoroughly bashed, and it’s time for AEW to get back into the swing of things!  With their next PPV revolution just a month away, we’ve got a lot storylines to set up, expand upon, and pay off before then, so let’s get started and see what they do!

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Jon Moxley Promo – Preparing For Revolution

Not even five seconds into the show, the dude’s music hits and he comes out through the crowd wearing an ACTUAL eyepatch this time instead of just a bandage, so I’m gonna start calling him Big Mox for the rest of this episode.  After his win against Pac last week, it’s now official that he will be challenging Chris Jericho for the AEW World Championship Revolution and the man is just GIDDY at the prospect!  He calls Jericho out for being a coward and a Jabroni who got through his career with guile and manipulation rather than heart and honor, and he straight up calls him out to have the match RIGHT now instead of waiting for the big show.  Surprising everyone, Jericho DOES come out from the back to confront Moxley, but he stays nice and safe on the ramp rather than go down to the ring.  After all, what’s the point of having these really nice microphones if they’re not going to talk to each other from nice safe distances?  Jericho goes in on the insults and calls him a pirate, he talks about how he wants to bang his mother, all the heel classics, but there is one thing that hits home and is a genuine mark against Big Mox; Jericho calls out the Inner Circle because he’s GOT those teammates who will be there to watch his back.  Moxley on the other hand, has no one.  He’s got a bigger chip on his shoulder than anyone and certainly is one of the most skilled guys there, but without eyes in the back of his head and only one eye working on the front of it, he’s a bit out of his depth which is a great bit of characterization for the guy and it kind of reminds me a bit of the end of Moxley’s run at WWE where his final storyline was about him wanting to go it alone but realizing he’s a part of The Shield and is at his best when he’s with his bros.  Sadly he doesn’t have Roman Reigns or Seth Rollins here to join forces with, but I’m curious if anyone here will try to befriend him in the next few weeks.  Things get a bit weird here as, for whatever reason, Santana & Ortiz have brought a bunch of dudes from the Bronx with them (the show is in Cleveland, did The Inner Circle pay their bus fare?), and so now Moxley is EVEN MORE outnumbered than usual.  Moxley’s not perturbed in the least however because he’s in his home town, but this still seems like a bad guy no matter how brass his balls may be, and sure enough he’s SWIFTLY overwhelmed by the numbers and has to retreat before they take out his other eye.  This was a really great way to start the show and I really hope they develop Moxley beyond just the trash talking super badass, but only time will tell if they make good on him being the lone wolf who needs a pack.

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (10-30-19)

AEWDYNAMITE

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

We’re back with another week of AEW action, and with the Tag Team Tournament coming to a close as well as the ever closer PPV on the horizon, they’ve got more than enough momentum to put on a dazzling display of wrestling glory!  Will they continue to capitalize on their runaway successes, or will this be the week that everything starts to derail?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with SO much stuff before we even get to the opening credits!  Essentially they’re trying to build up the PPV Full Gear which will be on 11/9 with a couple of scripted promos, which is basically the opposite of last week which started out with a match that didn’t even get proper ring entrances, and I personally really liked this approach.  I’m all about the storylines when it comes to wrestling and while this might not be THE MOST AMAZING PROMOS OF ALL TIME, it’s just another example of AEW showing off that they are on top of EVERYTHING when it comes to the wrestling business.  Last week they started us with amazing tag team action and now they’re giving us a reason to care about the upcoming show.  So what exactly DID they show us?  Well there’s a scene with Cody Rhodes and Tony Schiavone chatting at the airport about his upcoming match against Jericho at the PPV where he will try to strip the heel champion and leader of the Inner Circle of his title.  Last week Jim Valley gave an interesting argument as to why Cody is the best wrestling at this period of time and I kind of see it.  He comes off like a genuine superstar; one who’s larger than life but not quite a cartoon.  He has a great balance of innate charisma and strong showman sensibilities that makes even the obviously staged action of this show come off as something much more real.  After that we get reminded that Pac and Hangman have a match as well with a montage of their interactions.  No new footage here, but it’s a solid enough package.  The BIG promo though comes with Jon Moxley who we see go into a room and we hear a conversation between him and Tony Khan where we learn that the match between him and Kenny Omega has been changed to a Lights Out match; i.e. an unsanctioned match which means that the results will not go on either person’s record and Moxley is VERY upset about this.  I think this is a good SETUP, but they definitely need to give Moxley and Omega more time to talk about it for it to really be something special.

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Sammy Guevara Vs. Hangman Adam Page

I liked this one right off the bat because it was telling a story other than the one about how awesomely two dudes can beat the crap out of each other.  Adam Page is the frustrated face going up against the cocky heel that’s getting a too big for his britches since joining up with the other bad guys.  They just let Adam Page go to TOWN on Sammy and it’s EXACTLY what the dude needs to be taken seriously at this point.  The reason I initially had a problem with Jericho winning the title is that it made Adam Page (and to an extent the newer guys on the roster) seem lesser than the old school legend they were elevating to the top which is a trap many bad wrestling promotions can fall into.  Since then Adam Page really hasn’t done much to impress me, but here it feels like they finally get it and are giving him a real chance to stake his claim.  He fights clean but aggressively while Sammy can only get an edge in with underhanded tactics.  It makes Adam Page look like an absolute BEAST (especially after two AMAZING spots where he lifts up Sammy like he’s a loaf of bread) but it also continues to show how smart Sammy is who has GREAT ring awareness on top of his already impressive athleticism.  Hangman eventually wins with a buckshot lariat (that is SUCH a devastating looking move!) and he gives a brief promo where he acknowledges his slump but vows to show us what he’s REALLY made of at Full Gear!  THAT’S how you sell a PPV, THAT’S how you tell a story in a match, and THAT’S how you turn a face into a superstar!  I still think they mishandled Page a bit leading up to this moment, but this has turned me around quite a bit on the Hangman!

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (10-02-19)

AEWDYNAMITE

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

Last night AEW finally made the leap to weekly television with DYNAMITE; a name that conveys a clear purpose of intent to blow away everything we know about wrestling and rebuild it for the modern age! That or they just wanted a word that was catchy and sounded cool. In any case, let’s take a look at the inaugural episode!

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Cody Rhodes Vs. Sammy Guevara

The very first match on AEW’s new show (and the first wrestling match on TNT since 2001 as the announcers helpfully point out) is a pretty straightforward affair. The deal is that if Cody loses this match he loses his chance against the current AEW champ Chris Jericho at the next PPV, but really it’s just an exhibition match between two talented wrestlers. Now this isn’t a problem since you don’t really need any buildup for matches on regular TV the same way you expect for PPVs, but the problem I just keep having whenever Cody shows up is that I have no idea what his place is in all of this. Sammy Guevara is simply a young wrestler looking for his big break, but Cody? He’s the Executive Vice President of the company, he’s friends with the most heelish of heels MJF, and Brandi ends up interfering in the match. It sounds like he’s tailor made to be a bad guy, and yet it never feels like we’re supposed to boo him. Perhaps it’s the fact that he still comes off as an underdog when compared to Vince and the WWE, but within AEW it feels like his character is a bit muddled. He eventually wins the match which gets a respectable pop from the crowd, but then Chris Jericho jumps in to beat the crap out of Cody and assert his dominance in the AEW hierarchy. I was actually pretty down on Jericho being the AEW champion considering how much great new talent they have which is being overshadowed by a guy THIS deep into his career, but he actually looks a lot better than he has in a while and this is the kind of jerk move that a heel champ should be pulling, so kudos to that guy for turning it around so quickly for me!

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Super Wrestling: AEW – All Out

AEWAO0

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

Well here it is!  After months of trial and error, big announcements, and no real response from WWE, it’s the last show before the AEW experiment goes to prime time television!  Starting in October we will be getting a weekly show from them on TBS and while I doubt they could IMMEDIATELY crash and burn considering how much money there is behind them, it’s still something of a risky venture to go into Vince’s backyard and try to claim a piece for yourself.  WCW failed, TNA failed, and the other guys just kept off of TV altogether.  It’s kind of a big deal, but we’re not really here to talk about all that!  We’re here to find out if this show had any good wrestling on it and if it’s worth your time and money to see it!  Can AEW end their PPV run on a high note as they head to the big leagues, or will this end up as a foreboding vision of things to come?  Let’s find out, and we’ll start with the pre-show!!

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Casino Battle Royale

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We start the night off with another Casino Battle Royale, but unlike the one in Double or Nothing this one is with the women’s division.  What IS like last time however are the overly complicated rules for how the groups are populated and ordered which amount to absolutely nothing because we don’t end up seeing the process; just the result.  With WWE’s Royal Rumble, they don’t make a big deal out of it and just make it a simple lottery system which is easy enough to get across to an audience but also allows for a bit of drama and tension as well; especially if someone tries to cheat it.  The wrestlers here have to draw from a “special deck” but we don’t see the drawing which determines their group, and apparently the don’t determine the group order prior to the match; they shuffle the deck right when the timer goes off and whatever suit is selected goes next.  Again, we don’t actually SEE anyone draw a card to determine the next group, but I like to imagine Cody’s in the back after having called 2 suits and has to pick the third one, but he keeps getting the first two suits over and over and over again until half the deck is on the floor before a new one comes up.  See, THAT might have justified this nonsense!  Anyway, that’s all rather immaterial as it basically boils down to a staggered Battle Royale match, so how is it?  Well I think the problem here is that it’s a Battle Royale that FEELS like it should be paced like a Royal Rumble because of those staggered entrances which are the defining feature of a Royal Rumble.  Sure a Royal Rumble can go on for a rather long time which is whole PPVs are built around them, but the benefit is that the pacing allows for multiple storylines to play out in the ring.  Contrast that with a Battle Royale which are MUCH better for pre-shows where everyone is in the ring at the start and it usually devolves into chaos until the last five or so competitors are left.  The latter is basically what happens here; it’s not until everyone has made it to the ring that it stops being about random spots and constant eliminations to play out into something more substantive; all of which is fine, but the fact they stagger the entrances makes it feel like more should be happening throughout.  It also isn’t helped by the camera work which missed a few eliminations, and while I would normally cut them some slack considering how chaotic this was (some of the more prominent wrestlers got thrown out with little fanfare during other team’s entrances), this is a problem that ended up persisting throughout the entire show and I’ll make sure to point it out when it happened during other matches.

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Look!  They brought in ODB!  See in the corner there?  Yeah, she’s already eliminated, but she still showed up!

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Super Wrestling: AEW – Double or Nothing

AEWDON0

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…

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