In the wake of last week’s AEW Dynamite, much ado was made about the fact that it was more of a filler episode. I made coy remarks about how extravagant it was for Dr. Luther and Peter Avalon to get TV time (though my personal excitement was no joke), but really, it was one you could skip aside from the opening and closing matches/segments.
This week’s episode was kind of a lateral move, though for my money, I’d even say it’s a notch below.
Between a blowoff match that wasn’t a blowoff, this week’s Sting and Team Taz segment being split in twain (but with half the payoff overall), more hemming and hawing from Three Feud General Cody, and this slow-burn Inner Circle feud slowing to a crawl, I had a hard time keeping focused on the show this week. In fact, I had to watch it twice through in order to really dive into the first half of the show again.
That being said, it’s STILL Dynamite, and FTR were on the bill (or at least half of them), so there was at least one amazing match on the card, plus a main event that left me with a lot of notes.
It’s time for some more bad takes about beefcakes as we suicide dive into another week of AEW action.
Eddie Kingston def. Lance Archer
I like the idea of Kingston vs Archer, but in practice, it was just “pretty okay.” “Above average.” And, if I’m being honest, I think that’s how I feel about both men in general.
Peter Boyer wrote a great article about how AEW really understands the importance of opening Dynamite with a match, and I agree that kicking off the show with a banger is one of my favorite parts of the show’s structure.
And this match was certainly eye-catching. Archer chokeslammed Kingston onto the apron from inside the ring, and Kingston fell in a messy way that made me wonder how in the world the Mad King was going to walk away unscathed. And Archer doing his cool moonsault-out-of-the-Old-School move definitely brought the wow factor.
But I don’t know, man. Archer is great as a wrestler, but his character is iffy. Kingston is sort of the inverse, with the most believable character in wrestling, yet his matches aren’t amazing.
This match did have shades of a great one — with huge chops, a sweet pounce, and all the spots mentioned earlier — but it ended with Butcher and Blade distracting Archer and the ref with a beaten-down Jake the Snake, then Kingston hitting his back fist with brass knuckles for the win.
The feud is far from over, which means the huge brawl we got glimpses of there will be revisited at some point soon (likely in a three-way dance with PAC), but for now, I was slightly let down.
We followed this opening match with a short, fun Moxley promo where he tried to break down the relationships between himself, Death Triangle, and The Elite. It’s a complicated connection, but one thing that isn’t complicated is that Moxley likes sex in the mornings “because it’s a good way to start the day.”
Sting and Darby ruin the word “hoodlum,” then Team Taz end capitalism
I’m just going to smush these two segments together here, as they’d normally be together in any other week.
Before the second match, Sting and Darby responded to Taz’s allegations that the two of them are hoodlums. After trying to deny it for a moment, Sting fesses up to the fact that they both ARE hoodlums, then the two hoodlums smashed a window with their hoodlum skateboard and hoodlum bat. Hoodlum.
Later on, Taz starts talking about the Face Paint Boys, and it’s nothing you haven’t heard before. This time, though, they were mad about Sting and Darby having shirts for sale, so Team Taz threw a bunch of AEW merch salesmen around while Taz screamed.
I get that Sting is purposefully cryptic and that Taz is purposefully obnoxious, but it’s a lot to handle in one multi-month story. This street fight at Revolution can’t come soon enough.
MJF and Chris Jericho def. the Varsity Blonds
There was nothing wrong with this match. Brian Pillman Jr. and Griff Garrison are both very solid (and old school in the best way), and MJF remembering that he bullied Garrison on TV last time they were together was great for continuity, but this was a very standard “good guy vs bad guy” tag team match.
I do like that Chris Jericho hit his unbeatable move in the Judas Effect then actively hit the Lionsault afterward just to prove that he could. I haven’t been Jericho’s biggest fan over the past year, but I’m a sucker for petty stuff like that.
This match was a setup for MJF and Sammy Guevara’s brief, kind-of-same-y conversation later on in the show, which addressed Wardlow getting involved in last week’s main event and helping MJF win. I think it’s strange that Santana and Ortiz have nothing to say about being ousted as “the” tag team of the Inner Circle, but at least someone is upset.
Cody and Red Velvet set out to fight Shaq and Jade Cargill
After a quick recap of Shaq challenging Cody to a fight “in March” (all the while threatening to give the “hoodlum” treatment to the words “little” and “punk”), Cody came out to his stupid Snoop Dogg theme song and talked about how he and Brandi would love to take on Shaq and Jade Cargill at Revolution.
But Brandi is pregnant, so that match is out of the question. Plus, after a lengthy match with Avalon, the second worst wrestler in AEW record-wise (only above Lee Johnson), Arn doesn’t think Cody’s head is in the game.
However, Arn believes that Shaq is akin to a legend because of his wrestling acumen (which is fair), so he approved of the match. And, to fix the Brandi problem, Arn drafted Red Velvet into the fold to “stir [Jade’s] bitch ass up.” A solid way to punctuate the segment from AEW’s newest lady.
I know Cody is great and Red Velvet is solid, but with Shaq being, uh, Shaq, I really hope Cargill can go.
After this promo, we got a reminder that Kip and Penelope’s wedding is next week, and that feels unreal to me. Where did the time go?
Hangman Page def. Ryan Nemeth
I almost wrote “Hangman Page def. Dolph Ziggler,” and not as a joke. I legitimately forgot that Dolph wasn’t on Dynamite last night.
The main story beat of the match was Matt Hardy coming out to support Hangman, putting in motion the next “side quest” in Hangman’s story (to borrow a phrase from the wonderful PTW Wrestling Podcast).
However, Ryan Nemeth was so much like his brother that it was distracting. A wise Horseman once used the phrase “Xerox of a Xerox,” and that perfectly describes Nemeth last night. Be on the lookout for a new tag team coming soon where Ryan and a man with the last name “Roode” form the Putrid Poochez.
Jungle Boy def. Dax Harwood
This match slapped, y’all.
Luchasaurus being handcuffed to Cash and Tully at ringside was an okay hook that ultimately didn’t add too much to the match, but I think that was the point. With them being unable to “add” to things, Dax and Jungle Jack just went out there and killed it, with roll-ups galore and JB taking Dax to Suplex City.
Jungle Boy making Dax tap out with his crossface-style submission was one of the bigger surprises of the night, but it was a very welcome one. I look forward to many more singles matches out of JB in the future, especially now that he’s bringing Baltimora’s “Tarzan Boy” with him.
I don’t have a lot to add to this one — just go watch the match if you can.
Britt Baker def. Shanna
It’s 9:25. You know what that means.
This match wasn’t amazing, but it did provide a small showcase of what AEW’s Women’s Division has to offer. Britt is the star of the show; Shanna is a solid technician and striker who acts well as a babyface foil; and Rebel/Reba is growing as a manager, bringing her Waiting Room laugh to ringside.
Then, after their back-and-forth grappling bout ended with Baker’s Lockjaw, Thunder Rosa arrived to raise hell and leave. Rosa vs Baker is going to be so killer next week, and I think that it will definitely be worth the wait.
Plus, Shanna coming back set the tone for other announced returns, as Riho is coming back soon! And in a match with Serena Deeb! I’m so excited to see what else the Women’s Championship Eliminator Tournament has to offer when it gets underway soon.
The Elite def. The Dark Order
Quick story: I wrote one of these reviews a few weeks back and had to erase a lengthy bit about how amazing Evil Uno is and how great I thought he and the rest of the gang would be as faces.
My time is now.
Dark Order worked really well in the clear face role last night, as has been the case since the Brodie Lee Memorial Show last year. Watching Anderson get booed for tripping Reynolds then seeing the crowd cheer for Uno when he tripped Matt Jackson was a fun spot, especially when keeping in mind that the Young Bucks aren’t even clearly defined as heels.
And that’s where the true heart of the story lies. Before the match started, Gallows & Anderson made good with the Young Bucks, openly addressing Bullet Club and generally being on the same page. They tried to defend Don Callis to the Bucks, but for the most part, they were non-confrontational.
Yet Kenny Omega has beef with his Elite brethren, as Omega’s found family laid hands on his extended family last week. Unlike the Good Brothers, Omega is clearly choosing sides, coming in with two fist bumps for IMPACT’s Tag Champs but leaving the Jacksons hanging.
The match itself was just pure fun. The big man showdown between Doc Gallows and John Silver was as epic as one would expect. Stu Grayson absolutely popped off on all four of his opponents Cesaro-style. Evil Uno coming in to save Grayson as the tables turned against him got my heart racing.
I definitely felt the show kick into high gear once the main event got started, and the show ended with your normal Dynamite chaos.
The Young Bucks win with a Meltzer Driver on Grayson, then say that if they win the tag team battle royal, they can challenge ANYONE (they say, eyeing the Good Brothers). Before more can be said, Fenix and Moxley attack, clearing the ring and keeping themselves on top even after a run-in from Omega.
Though I personally didn’t care for maybe 3/5 of the show, I had a great time with two matches, and the moments that reminded me of Beach Break’s card definitely got me hyped for next week.
Like I said earlier, Baker vs Rosa is going to be amazing. The star power in the 6-man main event should make for a classic Dynamite match. The battle royal is INCREDIBLY intriguing because the tag scene has a lot of moving parts (with FTR and Jurassic Express’s beef, MJF and Jericho’s new tandem, SCU’s impending end, and the three-way disaster that is Bucks/Good Brothers/Lucha Brothers, though the latter quartet aren’t involved). And, sure, I guess I’m interested in the wedding, too.
If I ever revisit this episode, it’ll either be to relive Archer’s chokeslam to Kingston, the novelty of Jungle Boy suplexing Dax Harwood, or the nonstop frenzy of the main event. Everything else, I could take it or leave it.
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