AEW’s live episodes of Dynamite often suffer from a lack of proper pacing, but last night’s edition of the program was a genuinely great two hours of television aside from a few botches and one upsetting match outcome.
It was a big night for the folks who have been with AEW since the beginning, as some mainstays got new looks, some held a televised gender reveal party, and two in particular have upped the ante in their fight forever-esque feud.
Last night was also a big one for young stars interacting with legends, as not only was an exciting six-man tag match announced for the March 3rd Dynamite (which I will be calling “Shaq Is Coming” for the time being), but Sting finally got physical in an AEW ring in one of the scariest ways possible.
It’s time for bad takes about beefcakes as we tope con hilo into this week’s episode of AEW Dynamite.
Hangman Page and Matt Hardy def. TH2
The match itself was kind of unfortunate to watch, as TH2 especially didn’t look too “with it” in the ring. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say the alternate universe where we DID get Hangman, Hardy, & Private Party vs TH2 & Chaos Project would have seen a better showing from team formerly known as Los Güeros del Cielo, but we live in the Berenstain Bears timeline, where all of Evans and Angelico’s tandem spots were mistimed.
The match wasn’t all bad, but I was still far from upset that it was over before 8:10, with Hardy getting the pin after a Buckshot Lariat into a Twist of Fate. The big highlight of this segment was the follow-up from last week’s bar scene, where a “drunk” Hangman switched out the contract that Hardy tried to slip him and got Money Matt to sign this new deal.
After a representative from the Jaguars legal team (a.k.a. mascot Jaxon Deville, who is implied to be a heel based on the tunnel he entered through) appeared with the contract, it was revealed that Hangman’s contract was for a money match with Money Matt, where if Hangman won, he’d get all of Hardy’s earnings from quarter 1 of 2021.
Hangman agreed to sweeten the deal after Hardy haggled for Hangman’s own earnings to be on the line, which is 100% a dumb babyface move, though I will take solace in the fact that Hangman’s over-confidence here is still confidence, something he’d been lacking for months. Plus Hangman talked about learning to always keep an extra set of papers inside his jacket, which was a great Brodie Lee callback.
The segment ended wonky, as Isiah Kassidy attacked Hangman while dressed as Jaxon Deville, making you wonder how much of this could have possibly been Hardy’s plan, but at least the Dark Order coming out to save Hangman made me smile.
Riho def. Serena Deeb to advance in the Eliminator Tournament
This tournament is now 6 for 6 in terms of enjoyable matches, as both Dynamite matches and all four matches from Monday’s show were excellent showcases for the women involved.
Deeb brought Riho to her most technical level last night, with both women grappling for headlocks and submission advantages throughout the match. Deeb’s recent absence was explained away by a tweak of her knee, and it played into the match well as the reigning NWA Women’s Champion was constantly stopping her own momentum to try and fix her knee, which Riho smartly zoned in on.
The end of the match was very much reminiscent of previous Riho/Emi Sakura bouts as Riho and Deeb went for multiple forms of amazing roll-ups, finally culminating in Riho scoring a pin off a Gedo clutch.
Definitely seek this match out, and if you haven’t already, go back and watch the Japanese bracket (which I’m linking again, this time with Japanese commentary). Next Monday will see the Japanese side’s quarter-finals as well as Nyla Rose vs Tay Conti and Anna Jay vs Britt Baker, and the winner of the two US matches will meet on next week’s Dynamite.
Also, before the next segment, AEW played a video of Jade Cargill training with Shaq, and on a personal note, it froze my dad the whole time. That’s what this match is all about: grabbing the casual eye while also building up a new talent. I can appreciate that.
Orange Cassidy def. Dr. Luther
I’ll be honest: I forgot this match happened until I looked at the results again, but that’s mostly due to the fact that it lacked Orange’s typical shenanigans. The Death Dealer attacked Orange before the bell, hit him with two sweet powerbombs, then lost to an Orange Punch.
I don’t actually think this advanced anything, but I will say this is the best showing I think Luther’s had in singles competition.
Sting gets in a fight! And loses.
With Hobbs and Starks affected by the snowstorm in Texas, Taz came out with Brian Cage and Hook to get ahead of Sting’s callout. After a typically intense promo from Taz, Sting came out and faced off with his longtime opposition, sizing them up and deciding — in Vintage Sting fashion — that he could totally take them on.
He could not.
It was exciting to see Sting finally get into a genuine fight that wasn’t just one-to-three bat shots as Team Taz escapes. Instead, he and Cage actually squared up, but Hook used Sting’s bat to drag Sting away and turn the tide back into Team Taz’s favor.
Brian Cage finished the job with a wicked powerbomb, making it so that Sting’s first full-on wrestling bump since retiring was the same move that retired him in the first place. Sting’s shocked, pained expression as he stared at the lights and overhead camera said it all.
Now seeing that Sting is willing to actually take bumps, my excitement for AEW Revolution has increased tenfold.
Story time with “WWE Champion” Kenny Omega
After that long-awaited slip of the tongue from JR (which I can’t really blame him for), we saw Omega (complete with Callis, Nakazawa, and teleporting Alex Marvez) reading the Young Bucks’ autobiography to a classroom full of children.
This was the worse of Omega’s two promos on the night, but aside from it ending with Nakazawa getting pummeled by children, the most interesting part was the sly NJPW tease he got from reading the book excerpt.
Omega pointed out that his and Jericho’s match in the Tokyo Dome did great business for New Japan, and though he didn’t follow up on that statement, I think I have an idea of where it (and he) is going.
The Young Bucks def. Santana & Ortiz to retain the AEW Tag Team Championship
Earlier in the show, the Inner Circle addressed the Sammy Guevara situation, saying that “of all the dumb decisions he’s made this week,” quitting the Inner Circle was the dumbest and he his now dead to Chris Jericho. However, Jericho also made it clear that he’s upset with MJF for egging Guevara on, though he still believes MJF was the smarter of the two here.
My hope for this match was to see more teasing of the Inner Circle’s threads unraveling, with Santana & Ortiz picking up a title win here and facing off with MJF and Jericho at Revolution. Would this make sense with Santana & Ortiz’s lack of momentum up to now? Not at all, but come on, Khan! Throw them a bone once in a while!
The match was obviously very smooth, not only because these four men were having their rubber match together (with matches #1 and #2 happening in 2019), but they’re also just incredibly in-tune with their partners. Every tag move was smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy, and for the story of the match, it seemed like the Bucks were just getting outplayed.
And, when Santana & Ortiz hit their Street Sweeper, the whole crowd not only bit, but they also booed when it turned out the match wasn’t over. Though the crowd didn’t outright cheer Santana & Ortiz, it was clear who the favorite was, especially after the lack of pop that followed their quick roll-up loss.
MJF and Jericho beat up the Bucks after the match and Omega sent out the Good Brothers to help them and a wild Brandon Cutler, though the AEW Champion actively didn’t come out himself. Omega called Nick and Matt his best friends earlier, but he clearly didn’t see this as something to show up for.
Before the next match, Brandi Rhodes returned to do a televised gender reveal party, which was ALMOST heel turn in my book until “It’s a girl” popped up on screen with Cody’s entrance pyro accompanying it. It was a funny image, and it’s a much better reveal than starting a forest fire.
FTR def. Matt & Mike Sydal
Mike Sydal is a lot less obvious about who his older brother is than Ryan Nemeth is, but he still can’t escape the Sydal curse: If you debut in AEW, you’re going to botch off the top rope.
It was one small mistake in an otherwise great match, as both teams were on point. Sydal continues to impress with the way he can twist around an opponent’s body, and FTR are great foils for high flying action.
FTR eventually won with the Big Rig, which was never in doubt. The big moment was after the match when they went to snip off Mike’s hair with Doc Sampson’s medical scissors and the lights went out.
At first, you think it’s weird that Jurassic Express are using Batman techniques, but then the KhanTron comes on and you see that Luchasaurus’s de-horned mask has been discarded for a brand new mask that he actually has merch rights too!
Everyone else watching saw a neat beatdown and Jungle Boy’s fresh fit as the trio took out Tully and FTR, but what I saw was a bunch of future action figures that are certainly coming in Wave 5 or 6 now that Luchasaurus can legally be made into one.
But, of course, I was just as shocked as anyone else when it was announced that Jurassic Express were going to wrestle FTR and TULLY BLANCHARD on March 3rd, further signifying that that show is a mini-PPV.
Jon Moxley, Lance Archer, & Rey Fenix def. Eddie Kingston & Butcher & Blade
This was a great excuse to have Moxley and Kingston cut promos on one another throughout the show.
Moxley’s dope entrance translating to his tag partners is my favorite running theme in AEW main events, especially since Fenix entered with his and Penta’s dope armored mask and face paint combo. Everyone’s cool factor was maxed out, especially the revitalized monster in Lance Archer.
Archer and Fenix had fun tag team synergy, with Archer chokeslamming Fenix into a corkscrew like they’re Chaos Project. Moxley, on the other hand, strong-styled his way through the match, eating a spinning backfist from Kingston and clotheslining the hell out of him before putting him away with a Paradigm Shift.
After the match, the Good Brothers #BeatUpJonMoxley and allowed Omega to cut a fiery promo where he allowed Moxley’s rematch clause to be the main event for AEW Revolution, but there was a catch.
Mox wasn’t done with Omega after the unsanctioned match, nor was he done with Omega after their singles match, so Omega said he needed to put Moxley down for good. So, before Omega delivered two angry V-triggers in response to a headbutt, he delivered what would be AEW’s most shocking news in any other year.
Omega vs Moxley at Revolution will be an exploding barbed wire death match.
AEW has skipped ECW and CZW and is now full on FMW. I look forward to seeing either man cosplay as Atsushi Onita before the match and have it go unnoticed since they both wear leather jackets.
This show hyped up next week’s episode, the March 3rd episode, Revolution, and next Monday’s tournament show. It was a great week for building excitement, and if ordering Revolution wasn’t already in your budget, I wager you’re going to have to work it in now.
I can’t wait for all of us — especially Renee Paquette — to scream bloody murder come March 7th.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!
Do you love wrestling? Do you have strong opinions on AEW, WWE, NJPW, Impact, ROH, and the independent scene? Do you like to write about wrestling? Then we want you on our team. AIPT is currently recruiting wrestling writers. Apply to write for AIPT today!