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 (03-03-2021) – Crossroads

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

It’s the Go Home show for AEW’s first PPV of the year, and it’s been an interesting journey; the least of which because of Shaq of all people entering the ring on this episode of Dynamite!  Still, AEW is nothing if not flexible and they’ve turned bad situations into pure gold in the past!  Will they manage to wrangle all their disparate pieces and wonky storylines into a cohesive final sendoff to get us all hyped for the PPV?  Let’s find out!!

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Cody Rhodes & Red Velvet Vs. Shaq & Jade Cargill

Starting things of with the feud that would not die, no matter how many things went wrong!  First Brandi had to be replaced by Red Velvet due to her and Cody getting pregnant which isn’t a BAD thing, but then Cody got hurt recently in one of his matches, the NBA All Star game happening on Sunday which meant the match had to be moved off the PPV, and more than anything else it feels like Shaq is barely even involved in this feud.  He’s not made a single live appearance on television and the few taped moments we got were rather underwhelming.  It just feels like something that AEW has to do; trading off Shaq’s popularity and the eyeballs this match will get versus what a mess it could easily turn into.  So after ALL that build up and after all the missteps, the match itself… is just fine.  It’s decent enough given the fact that they’ve got one (arguably two) untrained competitors in there and it helps that both Shaq and Jade have enough personality to not seem COMPLETELY lost in the ring while Cody and Red Velvet do a fine job selling for them. Cody knocks Shaq off the apron at which point Austin Gunn tries smashing him in the back with a chair which Shaq no sells and proceeds to suplex both him and his brother which was perhaps the biggest pop of the match.  Red Velvet then does a darn good Moonsault from the top rope to the floor, but it WAS a bit strange is just how much collateral damage there was as she took out not just Jade but Cody and QT Marshall as well.  Frankly the best aspects of this match are like that; all spots no smarts.  The moments that do feel more like a real wrestling match such as when Jade tries a Figure Four Leg Lock don’t look great, but then they start pulling out tables for absolutely no reason and you know that SOMEONE is going through them at some point which keeps the excitement and the momentum up; even though this isn’t a No-DQ match and there shouldn’t even BE tables.  In any case, they’re holding off on that for now as Shaq and Cody jump back in with the former landing a decent Power Bomb on the latter, but Cody follows up with His Kitty Cat Uppercut and he actually manages to just barely slam Shaq onto the mat which was pretty impressive, but the sloppiness kind of undercut the impact.  He goes for a pin but is tossed off with great force which looked a lot better than the slam, and he realizes it’s time to get Red Velvet back in there before he injures himself further.  There’s a Spine Buster from Jade that looked good (not as good as Will Hobbs’s, but still decent) which forces Cody to break up the pin and he finally decides it’s go big or go home as he dives at Shaq and they both tumble through the two tables from earlier.  It’s a huge pop from the crowd that forces Jade and Red Velvet to kind of stand around while waiting for everyone to calm down, and when they do Red Velvet gives Jade a Spear that the camera almost missed.  They start trading Suplex attempts as neither one can hold onto the other long enough to execute am over, but finally Jade hits Red Velvet with a move that I’m assuming is her finisher and gets the three count.  I’m not sure what it is exactly, but it kind of looks like a Sit-Out Powerbomb only with the opponent facing the other way so their face hits the mat instead of their back.  In any case, Jade and Shaq won which I’m sure the latter is going to be quite please about once he wakes up in the hospital.  Yes, apparently two particle board tables aren’t enough to break Shaq’s fall and so he’s wheeled out on a stretcher to an ambulance where, and I’m not making this up, the dude just DISAPPEARS!  Like a freaking wizard, or perhaps like Bray Wyatt, he’s apparently brushed up on his magic and just poofed out of existence as soon as he was in the ambulance!  I don’t know what the heck any of that means or frankly what this match was supposed to accomplish, but I had a decent time with it which is SO much more than I had expected.  I was prepared to write this match off completely as nothing more than a publicity stunt, and while the focus on big spots and flashy moves still kind of makes it one of those, everyone ended up looking good in it and no one embarrassed themselves.  Red Velvet is a fine worker, Jade Cargill is someone who can be darn good with some seasoning, and even Shaq managed to pull this off despite his clear lack of experience!  I don’t want to see another one of these anytime soon, but it was a better payoff to this boring story than it had any right to be.

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (01-27-2021)

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

AEW’s schedule has been rather wonky these last few weeks, hasn’t it?  It’s not just that the New Year’s special had to be pushed back a week due to unfortunate circumstances, we’re already coming up on their next special episode which is called Beach Break (not Beach BASH as I’m pretty sure I called it last week) and they also moved their Revolution PPV back a week for reasons that are still not entirely clear.  Perhaps things getting moved around so much is why last week felt like a bit of a letdown and frankly it doesn’t bode well for this episode as they’ll probably save everything REALLY good for next week’s special, but is that the pessimism of an overly cynical jerk or the wisdom of a perfectly calibrated cynical jerk?  Let’s find out!!

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Eddie Kingston Vs. Lance Archer

I still have no idea where this story is going, but I’ll be darned if this isn’t the most fun I’ve had with one of these matches!  It’s basically that one Three Stooges short where Curly has to box against the champ Killer Kilduff with Kingston playing the part of the darn fool stuck in the ring with a monster and honestly it’s a pretty darn good comparison considering how he works in the ring.  Eddie Kingston is one of the best floppers in this business because he doesn’t just sell the hits; he makes his opponents look like the biggest bullies imaginable with over the top flailing, great facial expressions, and the nerve to take some seriously nasty bumps.  The most terrifying was when Archer lifts him up for a Chokeslam, but then drops him over the ropes and onto the apron which SHOULD have shattered his spine but luckily enough he was just fine.  Can’t imagine Jerry Howard going for something like that, but then he did take his fair share of abuse at a time where OSHA would have been considered Communist propaganda.  What the heck am I even on about?  In any case, Archer takes his sweet time knocking Kingston all over the place and it’s definitely his match to win… but then Butcher & Blade drag Jake Roberts out from the back which distracts him and the ref long enough for The Bunny to hand Kingston a pair of brass knuckles which he uses to clobber Archer across the temple and get the pin.  I’ve been waiting for weeks for this faction to figure out what it was going to be and this feels like they’ve finally figured it out.  Kingston is not a killer and frankly neither are The Butcher & The Blade.  What they are though are scheming jerk wads who can take advantage of a situation and come out on top, so as long as their opponents have someone they wish to protect, Kingston and company can take advantage of that and score a cheap win.  The match was a lot of fun even though I did worry about Kingston’s health throughout, and it definitely feels like they’ve got an angle to build off of instead of just bouncing between ideas and matches until something sticks.

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

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

We’re just a few days out from Full Gear which means it’s been a VERY busy week here what with three shows in a seven day period of time.  The time after a PPV is usually a good time to cleanse the pallet and begin things anew as the major storylines up to this point had gotten definitive payoffs on Saturday.  With a clean slate to work from, what new stories will AEW start to tell and will they be as good as the ones we have just closed the book on?  Let’s find out!!

 Team Taz comes out to announce that Brian Cage will be wrestling RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW, but before we can get on with the carnage, Taz calls out to Darby Allin (the new TNT champion) up in the cheap seats and advises him to not interfere or else he’ll be turned into a bloody smear on the ground.  He then starts talking smack to the visibly nonplussed Darby Allin about how he’s a TRUE wrestler and has no respect for the legends that came before.  Cage’s opponent on the other hand, is a WONDERFUL athlete and a genuine challenger for Brian Cage, and that challenger is…

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Brian Cage Vs. Matt Sydal

Kind of a random note here, but I have never seen Sydal wrestle anywhere else but here, and do you know who he reminds me of?  Dolph Ziggler.  They KIND of have similar faces and they both seem to have a retro cornball thing going on, but while I GENUINELY love Ziggler and think he’s a fine wrestler, Sydal is pretty amazing and I’m a little bit surprised at just how good this match is!  I figured it would just be another squash match to give Brian Cage an edge in wherever his story goes next, but was a fun competitive match between two guys with vastly different skill sets while still managing to work together seamlessly.  Sydal’s Achilles heel seems to be his ego as he takes every opportunity to mug to the crowd, and against another opponent that would probably be fine… but he’s up against THE MACHINE Brian Cage who is not easy to take down and is VERY quick to get back up.  After an initial flurry from Sydal, Cage takes firm control of this match and tosses Cage around the ring which under normal circumstances would be the end of Sydal, but he manages to tough out of it and gives Cage a run for his money.  Cage goes for some sort of move off the ropes but Sydal manages to reverse it into a Powerbomb and follows up with a Meteora.  Instead of pressing the advantage with a few moves on the ground though, Sydal goes back to the top rope which gives Cage enough time to roll out of the way.  Fortunately Sydal manages to avoid a Powerbomb from Cage and keeps up the offensive but just can’t put Cage away no matter how many kicks and flips he does.  Perhaps the most impressive moment is when Cage goes for a Powerbomb and Sydal somehow flips it into a Hurricanrana into a pin, and yet it’s STILL not enough to put Cage away!  Despite putting up a valiant fight, it’s not Sydal’s night to win as he once again goes for a move from the top rope but Cage grabs him out of mid-air and drops him into a Drillclaw; pinning Sydal and winning the match.  As soon as the match is over, Ricky Starks grabs the mic to proclaim his intentions of challenging Darby Allin for the TNT title because he is now finally ranked and he and his team will DESTROY anyone who dares to get in the way of his path to glory!  Considering the promo that came before it and how much Taz is pumping up his two boys for greatness it would have been the perfect time to have a squash match to make Cage look as strong as possible, but instead he had a great match with Sydal and still looked great by the end of it.  Team Taz’s story got derailed a bit by Lance Archer getting COVID, but it looks like things are back on track and I can only hope they have big plans for not just these three but for Will Hobbs as well!  He’s still owed that six man tag match, right?

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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 (09-30-2020)

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

So last episode had some wonky moments and a rather ho-hum finish, but they were also dealing with an unexpected change in plans due to Lance Archer contracting COVID-19, so a bit of sloppiness to try and fill in the cracks is understandable, and while Archer isn’t back YET, they did at least have more time to prepare which hopefully means a more cohesive night of wrestling action!  Is AEW back on track after the unexpected fumble from last week?  Let’s find out!!

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Before we get to the opening match, we get a video promo for Darby Allin that stars a guy named JPEG MAFIA.  I don’t know who this guy is, but he pushes Darby down a giant slide while calling Ricky Starks a punk, so fair enough I suppose.  Wait, is that the opening match!?

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Ricky Starks Vs. Darby Allin

So what, we’re not gonna hold this one off until the PPV?  Heck, we’re not even going to wait for Archer to come back so they can fight it out in the Six Man Tag match?  Well I guess it DOES take two weeks to recover from the virus so they had to do something here to keep the feud hot, and for what it’s worth it’s a pretty excellent match!  There’s a lot of athleticism and a really nice spot where Darby manages to kick Starks into the air, and Starks as always has a PHENOMENAL spear that’s always exciting to see!  Then out of nowhere, Brian Cage comes out from the back! While we knew for sure that Archer had COVID-19, Cage merely said he “felt sick” so I guess he passed the tests and was able to come back here, but before he can properly hit the ring and put Darby in traction, WILL HOBBS runs out and they punch each other all the way to the back!  YES!  MORE WILL HOBBS PLEASE!  Well sadly that’s all the Hobbs we get for the moment as Starks and Allin are back in the ring and beating the crap out of one another.  The only spot that felt a LITTLE bit sloppy is when Starks puts Allin in a one leg Boston Crab, but before he can even GRAB the ropes, Starks release the hold.  A bit of bad timing there, but it’s a BIG EXPLOSIVE match between two fast guys, so it’s not a big deal.  The BETTER submission spot was a bit after that where Allin has Starks on the ground in a Fujiwara Armbar, and while Starks is reaching for the ropes with his other arm, Darby grabs it and ALSO puts it in a submission.  Ricky, pretty much having to crawl with his CHIN just barely makes it underneath the ropes; just far enough for his constricted hand to still grab the ropes.  It returns to a slug fest after that as both are standing on wobbly legs and smacking each other with Darby getting the advantage.  Darby manages to land a stunner and goes for a Springboard attack, but before we can figure out what he’s going to do now that he’s in the air, Starks SPEARS HIM OUT OF THE SKY; like an ICBM hitting a rocket ship!!  THAT was amazing and I probably would have ended the match there, but Darby somehow manages to kick out.  Stark puts Allin on the turnbuckle and tries to land an Avalanche Roshambo which to me seems like a REALLY bad move to try and land on a guy from the top rope, but thankfully Darby manages to wriggle out of it and knocks Starks off the top rope.  With Starks having nothing left in the tank, Darby Allin lands the Coffin Drop and gets the three count to win the match.  It felt perhaps a bit wasted for them to have this blow off match here instead of at a bigger event, but that was a GREAT opening fight, and unlike the Matt Hardy/Sammy Guevara match, NO ONE HAS ALMOST DIED YET FOR THIS FEUD!  Okay, Darby Allin almost got a broken neck, Ricky Starks got his back shredded, and Darby got thrown around in a body bag, but still!

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