Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (06-24-2020)

AEWDYNAMITE

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

It’s been a heck of a week in the wrestling world, hasn’t it?  Needless to say that my already drained enthusiasm from last week’s recap took a very significant hit with all the news coming out, but the show must go on and it’s of some comfort to me that I have something locked in a scheduled every week to try and keep my brain puttering along during these less than ideal times.  So then!  Does AEW still have what it takes to put on a good series of wrestling matches and entertaining promos, or is the world in a funk that even the very best the industry has to offer can’t drag us all out of?  Let’s find out!!

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Wardlow Vs. Luchasaurus – Lumberjack Match

Wardlow is accompanied to the ring by MJF while Luchasaurus is accompanied by Marko Stunt and Jungleboy

In case you didn’t know, a Lumberjack match is one where wrestlers stand outside of the ring and if either wrestler in the match gets thrown out of the ring or tries to run away, the lumberjacks will put them back in the ring.  Seems like an odd match for two guys who WANT to fight as you usually do a Lumberjack match to wrangle a cowardly heel, not to mention that these two being as big as they are won’t likely be stopped from leaving if they REALLY want to, and on top of that it’s not the best look in the world to have THIS many people participating in a match and being this close to each other in the middle of a pandemic.  On the other hand, it’s become clear this week that AEW’s testing policies have been pretty effective as no one at their company has wrestled positive while WWE just had a huge outbreak due to the incredibly lax testing that they’ve done.  Frankly, though, I wouldn’t even call this a Lumberjack match as they don’t REALLY do their job and it’s more of a Rumble.  No, not a Royal Rumble; more like a West Side Story Rumble where the ones on the outskirts are there to antagonize the other side, and Luchasaurus or Wardlow getting tossed over the wrong side of the ropes will certainly mean bad news and a few cheap shots.  It also comes off a bit like an attempt to drill it into everyone’s heads that THEY NEED TO CATCH PEOPLE because there are so many dives in this and it’s not like they couldn’t use a refresher course considering how many people have gotten hurt recently!  So the two of them fight all over the place occasionally having to toss off the lumberjacks and throw people over things, but eventually, Luchasaurus gets a chokeslam and goes for the pin… when MJF manages to distract the ref.  SERIOUSLY!?  The ONE THING you need to look for is pinfalls, and when one happens you stop to instead chat with this dude?  Luchasaurus should have gotten the win as he’s got Wardlow for more than a three count, so in retaliation, Jungle Boy spears MJF off the apron and into a crowd of heel lumberjacks waiting below.  Unfortunately, this gives Wardlow enough time to do a low blow behind the ref’s back and gets the pin with an F-10; an impressive feat considering how big Lucahsaurus is.  The scene then devolves into chaos as the Sharks and the Jets… I mean the Heels and the Faces, all storm the ring and start hitting each other for a few minutes before things calm down and Tony Schiavone announces that at Fyter Fest it will be MJF & Wardlow Vs. Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus.  This was a great match and I really enjoyed the interplay between these two competitors as both are way more flexible and agile than their size would lead you to believe; with Wardlow landing a Hurricanrana on Luchasaurus and Luchasaurus doing some sort of clothesline reversal where he flips around the arm and forces Wardlow into a near fall.  I’d be interested to see if they do more Lumberjack matches like this in the future, especially since we won’t be having fans for a while longer, but all in all, it was a great way to start the show; just as long as everyone used hand sanitizer afterward.

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (06-10-2020)

AEWDYNAMITE

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

We’re back with even more AEW goodness, though for whatever reason I’m just not feeling it going into this episode.  Last week we had the big main event that was built up in the week prior while this week’s match was just thrown out at the end of last week’s show.  I mean sure, the Orange Cassidy and Best Friends Vs. The Inner Circle match will be fun, but other than that I’m hard pressed for an episode that has less going on heading into it.  That said, hype is far from the most important part of a wrestling show and AEW has done far more with far less, so I’ve little doubt that this will be yet another outing from them.  Will this be yet another collection of solid matches to the week that much more bearable to get through?  Let’s find out!!

Before the first match begins we are informed that Jericho will be joining Jr, Tony, and Excalibur in the booth tonight.  Jericho doesn’t JUST walk to the booth and do commentary!  Dude comes out with his FULL entrance and theme music just to walk to the right and put on a headset.  THAT’S how you get a show started!  I know that JR has his own theme, but why doesn’t everyone else?  I’d LOVE to see what Excalibur’s entrance is like!

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FTR Vs. The Butcher & The Blade

The first showcase for the former Revival is something that fans have anticipated for months, so can they live up to those expectations?  Heck, it’s been a while since we’ve seen The Butcher and The Blade in action so you could argue they have as much to prove as FTR does, and thankfully both teams manage to bring their A-game here for a very satisfying opening bout.  I still don’t really GET The Revival the way that apparently everyone else does (I still don’t know which one is which), but they are a VERY good team here and pull off some impressive moves; especially this one part where one of them grabs Blade out of mid-air and slams him to the mat which looked brutal and a spot later where the bald one superplexes The Blade to the mat and is soon followed by the one with hair landing an elbow drop from the top rope.  There’s also a great bit of storytelling here where a lot of the big wigs at the company, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Jake Roberts, you could even count Jericho since he’s calling the match, have come out to see what happens.  Everyone wants to know what FTR are about and are hoping to recruit them to whatever faction they represent; whether they’ll join The Nightmare Family, help Lance Archer get another stab at the belts, or join The Inner Circle which frankly would be the BEST option.  I’d love to see Santana and Ortiz get super passive aggressive at them like a bad sitcom plot.  The match eventually comes to an end when FTR lands a Goodnight Express on The Butcher (kinda looks like a Jackhammer only with two people) which gets him out of the match and they immediately follow it up with a Mind Breaker (a pile driver thingy) onto The Blade for the win.  FTR are then being interviewed in the ring when The Young Bucks come out form the back.  They tell FTR how great the match was and they thank them for helping fight off The Butcher & The Blade two weeks ago.  However, they are a LITTLE bit salty that FTR has kind of been avoiding them up to that point and makes it clear that THEY are the best tag team at AEW and FTR can sit comfortably in second place.  It looks things are about to spark between them when The Butcher comes back and takes out The Bucks.  FTR tries to make the save but are overwhelmed by Kip Sabian and Jimmy Havoc who come out… for some reason, but are soon run off by Kenny Omega and Adam Page who come out to ACTUALLY make the save.  Once the heels are gone, the three teams are left to stare at each other; a teasing of things to come as these three times will no doubt clash in the near future.  In a company full of really great tag teams, I’m not convinced that they are at the TOP of the heap (especially with the Omega/Page Vs. Bucks match still fresh in my memory), but they’re gonna have lots of chances to prove themselves so perhaps I’ll change my tune soon enough.  In any case, this was a fun match and a solid introduction for these two.

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (05-27-20)

AEWDYNAMITE

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

Now that Double or Nothing is in our rearview mirror, this week’s dynamite has the unenviable task of trying to pick things up where the big payoff of the show left off and start things fresh, all while making an entertaining wrestling program in the worst time to be running wrestling shows!  Is this a successful follow-up enticing us with things to come, or are they gonna need another week or so to get their wind back?  Let’s find out!!

The show begins with The Inner Circle at their lowest point; commiserating their lose in the Stadium Stampede match at Double or Nothing.  It’s not just because this latest failure is yet another hit to their ego (and even more broken bones for Sammy), they had purchased boxes upon boxes of INNER CIRCLE STADIUM STAMPEDE CHAMPIONS shirts in anticipation of their victory, and now they won’t be able to sell them.  I’m not sure why as I’d certainly buy one of those shirts, but in any case, this is yet another hilarious segment from The Inner Circle and really got the show off on the right note!

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Young Bucks & Matt Hardy Vs. Private Party & Joey Janela – Six Man Tag Match

Speaking of great comedy segments, Matt Hardy and The Bucks have a promo before the match where they cycle through Hardy Personas to find the right fit for the match which is one upbeat pop song away from a Trying On Clothes Montage in an eighties film.  I’m actually not sure which personality the settle on as it’s implied to be an even earlier version of Matt Hardy than the Hardy Boyz persona and I didn’t realize there was such a thing, but regardless of that it’s always fun to see what he comes up with and how he changes his style and presence depending on what side of him he settles on.  It’s actually kind of a brilliant gimmick that I’m surprised more wrestlers don’t do!  We were certainly begging for Christopher Daniels to be the Fallen Angel again during his feud with The Dark Order, right?  As far as the match itself… well, it’s fine but perhaps a bit too straightforward.  We haven’t seen The Bucks team together in some time and Matt Hardy is really hot right now, so Private Party and Joey Janela are once again on hand to make the other talent look good.  Sure the whole thing is in no way a squash match as AEW is not about burying its talent, but it feels a bit too much like they’re just going through the motions to shake off the ring rust after The Bucks’ long sabbatical.  Still, Isiah, Marq, and Joey put a lot of heart into this match and certainly hold their own against The Bucks and Hardy even if we know where it’s all headed.  The match comes to an end when The Bucks land a Bang For Your Buck on Isiah Kassidy (which basically means they jump on him three times), and Matt Hardy pins whatever’s left for the win.  As soon as the bell rings, Matt Hardy jumps down and helps Marq Quen to the back with the ref and a very bruised Isiah Kassidy in tow; leaving The Bucks alone in the ring and Joey… somewhere else I guess.  They are then immediately jumped by The Butcher & The Blade, presumably still upset about the Superkick, when out of nowhere a car rolls up on Daily’s Stadium and none other than the former Revival who are now referred to as FTR get out and head to the ring.  Initially, they feign assisting The Butcher & The Blade… but instead they turn around and whoop their butts; saving The Young Bucks from the savage beating they were in the middle of.  After the ring is clear and it’s just FTR and The Bucks, FTR walks out of the ring and out of Daily’s place without a word but definitely making their mark.  These guys have been MISERABLE for the past year or so under their WWE contract and I’m glad to see them on TV again and clearly enjoying what they’re doing!

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (04-29-20)

AEWDYNAMITE

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

We’re back with another week of AEW Thunderdome where the wanders of the empty world battle it out for supremacy, at least that’s I how I figure Lance Archer sees it whenever he steps into the ring!  The last few weeks have been quite solid with Jericho’s commentary bringing a lot of life to the show and the TNT Tournament giving us something to grab onto while all the other storylines are put on hold, but with the announcement that AEW will be going live next week (despite PLENTY of reasons not to), this is perhaps the end of an era for this show.  Do they go out on a high note or will we be begging for the changes that next week will bring?  Let’s find out!!

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Cody Vs. Darby Allin – TNT Tournament Semi-Final

Cody is accompanied to the ring by Cody Rhodes

The TNT tournament by all accounts has been a success.  The matches have been solid, they’ve worked hard to sell the belt as something worth chasing, and having Lance Archer in the background as an unstoppable monster like Toguro has certainly raised the stakes in every one of these matches.  The only real problem is that the one that no one can control; namely that the matches feel undercut being in such a small arena with such a small crowd.  Then again, it MIGHT help the rest of us not notice if they didn’t try to recreate PPV matches like the Darby/Sammy match from last week or even this match right here, but they have to work with what they’ve got and if nothing else the show starts with a REALLY solid promo for the match.  It’s not Darby Allin’s usual black and white shtick, but there is some genuine artistry on display here with some serious mood lighting as the two talk portentously about how much they want to win the belt.  It puts us in the best possible mindset for the upcoming match

The match starts off with a band as both of them want to end it as soon as possible; trading blows and zero count pins faster than Jericho can throw out wiseacre jabs.  There’s a spot early on where Darby charges at Cody who dodges it easily, but Brandi what RIGHT in front of him when he did and so Darby smashes right into her.  Come on dude, what did you THINK was gonna happen?  Even Jericho calls Cody out for putting his wife in the path of destruction like that!  However, it does seem to get Cody all fired up and he maintains control of the match for a good bit which allows Darby to do the one thing he’s best at; namely take an obscene amount of damage and look darn good doing it!  There is a weird spot later in the match where it LOOKS like Darby is distracting ref Aubrey while Cody is outside the ring and he gets bashed over the head by Britt Baker wielding a sandal.  I’m not sure what that’s about as Darby may not be exactly a GOOD guy, but I’ve never known him to be a straight up cheater, nor a particular friend of Britt Baker.  Maybe she just felt like hitting someone and Darby JUST SO HAPPENED to have something important to say to the ref, but in any case it manages to even things out between them as we head into the final stretch of the match.  They start trading finishers, Cody teases the weight belt but doesn’t use it, and Darby even nails Cody with the Cross-Rhodes which got a nearfall so close that I genuinely thought for a minute there that they were gonna swerve us!  T’was not to be however as Cody kicks out of it, and after a few more moves from both men including a Cross-Rhodes from Cody himself, the match does come to a close in an… interesting fashion.  Cody goes for a Moonsault off the top rope but Darby gets his knees up and follows it up IMMEDIATELY with the Coffin Drop.  From the angle they showed it, looked like Darby actually got the pin off of this, but it turns out that Cody was able to grab him and twist him slightly backwards so that HIS shoulders were on the mat and Cody did indeed just barely get the pin!  Admittedly the ending looked a BIT silly, but this match was GREAT because despite the ending feeling rather pre-determined it did manage to feel competitive.  Letting Darby get THAT close to victory and having him do Cody’s own move against him created genuine drama that Cody MIGHT just lose the match which made it one of the better matches we’ve gotten in the last few weeks!

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Super Wrestling: AEW – Fight for the Fallen

AEWFFTF0

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

We’re back for Part 3 of the AEW saga which will hopefully be better than Alien 3, but probably not as good as Back to the Future Part 3.  Will it be better than the last PPV Fyter Fest?  Well we’ll find out soon enough, but can I point out that twice in a row now they’ve given these shows out away FOR FREE which, even with the TNT deal approaching fast, STILL feels like it’s riding the line between confidence and foolishness.  All I’m saying is that I came to peace with having to pay money for these things, and it’s feeling kind of weird that the moment I do they decide to give them away!  I’m usually not that lucky with these kinds of things, but I guess I’ll ride this no charge train until it derails!

So before we get started, let’s talk about the setup of the show itself.  There’s a slight change to the ring here in that there’s a ramp leading directly to it rather than a ramp to the outside where they have to then climb in.  At first I wasn’t sure if I liked the idea of a raised platform on the outside of the ring, but I never noticed it hindering anyone and they managed to sue it effectively a few times throughout.  The open air theater is fine even if I’m usually not a big fan of it as natural lighting feels a bit dull, but they do it late in the day so most of the matches are at night under controlled lighting anyway so it works out fine and it ends up feeling like a casual affair rather than a full on Double or Nothing production.  It’s good that they kept things on a much lighter note here because I’ll tell you right now, this is the worst show they’ve done so far even if it’s still a solid wrestling program.  We’ll get to why soon enough, but if it has an edge over Fyter Fest they at least set the tone right with this almost picnic vibe to keep it all feeling more casual.  That also extends to the announce table though as our three announcers feel like they’ve regressed back to Double or Nothing; struggling to find things to talk about; especially in the lower key matches that really could have used the boost.  Matches like, just for example… the first one on the preshow!

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Peter Avalon “The Librarian” vs Sonny Kiss

AEWFFTF1“The Librarian” is accompanied to the ring by Leva Bates “The Librarian”

First things first!  The last time we saw Sunny Kiss was when he was shoving her butt into Tommy Dreamers face back in the Double or Nothing Battle Royale and on top of that, I referred to him as a woman.  I did in fact assume their gender and it turns out that I was wrong.  According to a tweet from Sonny Kiss, he uses He/Him pronouns so I will use those going forward.  ANYWAY!  The Librarians have gotten quite a bit of flak in the short amount of time and while I DO appreciate what they’re going for and just how much heat they’re willing to take from the audience, I honestly I don’t think this match is doing them much favors.  First major problem is that Peter Avalon shouldn’t take off his librarian costume.  Wearing traditional wrestling trunks as he does in this match, he looks like a dork and not in the good way.  Certain heel gimmicks need to carry into the ring for them to work; particularly ones where the gimmick is that they are not in fact wrestlers.  Just look at Baron Corbin who is a pretty effective heel and never takes off his “manger” outfit when he’s in the ring, at least as far I’ve seen, and it helps convey his status as a sniveling authority figure.  Sonny Kiss on the other hand projects style, grace, and attitude through every costume choice, every move he makes in the ring, and every appeal to the audience whenever Peter’s on the ground.  I think the gimmick can work, but there’s certainly room left to tweak it.

AEWFFTF2
“Can I join your team?”     “Only if you can look half as good as I do.”     “Dang it…”

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW – Fight for the Fallen”