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!!
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!
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!!
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.
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!!
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!!
Casino Battle Royale
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!