No need for hyperbole this time around. Last night’s AEW Dynamite wasn’t “the greatest two hours of television this year” — it was just a really good show.
The card on paper was bulky but not excessively great. There was no major surprise like KENTA arriving (though I suppose hearing that Paul “Big Show” Wight is coming to AEW would be huge news if you hadn’t heard it earlier in the day). And after months of mingling with other promotions, this night was back to a more standard AEW-centric focus — which is to be expected two shows before a pay-per-view.
But as a build up to said pay-per-view, AEW did exceptionally here. Match participants were confirmed. Tournaments were progressed. Landmines were forged. And we got by far the best segment yet in the Darby Allin/Sting/Team Taz feud.
So, without further ado, let’s tope con giro into another week of AEW Dynamite action!
Jon Moxley def. Ryan Nemeth
Have you ever tried to start up a fun, competitive match in one of the recent WWE 2K games but realize one move in that it’s about to be a squash match? That’s the feeling that permeated through the air after Moxley escaped a headlock and slapped the fire out of Nemeth.
Nemeth tried to wrestle collegiate-style, Moxley fought dirty, and after five minutes of one-sided action, Mox struck with a quick Paradigm Shift for the win. This match was like any time Moxley starts the show with a match: nothing more than a setup for a promo.
Moxley then cut a promo about how his addiction to wrestling and the adrenaline rush that violence gives him. During this segment, he said “exploding barbed wire deathmatch” at least four times, and Tony Schiavone said it twice. It still sounds so surreal every time.
The promo itself was the Moxley standard, but it was followed by a nice (if brief) rundown of Moxley and Omega’s feud up to this point.
Brian Cage & Ricky Starks def. the Varsity Blonds + ziplines!
I don’t want to understate how fun the tag match itself was. The Varsity Blonds are a really fun babyface tag team who I enjoy seeing grow by the week, similar to how I enjoy watching The Acclaimed build up more chemistry every time they’re in the ring together.
And together—with Starks and Cage looking like the preppy schoolyard bully and his goofball friend—I think these four men complement each other well as characters. In-ring, Starks and Pillman had a really great back and forth (during which Starks dropped Pillman HOLE-first on the steel steps), Garrison showed that he is an insane hot tag reminiscent of Jason Jordan, and Cage was able to show off how huge he is by sheer virtue of his opponents not being Cage-sized.
The match ended with a Starks spear and a Cage Drill Claw, but things were far from over. On the Khan Tron, we saw a new Darby Allin video in which Darby ONCE AGAIN allowed himself to be dragged behind a car in a body bag, this time being driven down the desert by Sting.
Sting entered the arena dragging a body bag behind him, and at first I thought Tony Schiavone was dumb asking questions like, “Who is in the body bag? Is it Darby Allin?”
But I had been hoodwinked. It was Hook.
Sting pointed to the rafters and Darby Allin—his face now half-painted like Sting’s—came to the ring on a FREAKING ZIPLINE, and as I tried to force myself to think more Sting and Michaels and less Owen Hart, I popped hard as Darby and Sting cleaned house with their board and bat.
This whole program has been far from flawless, but if I wasn’t already sold on this match after Cage powerbombed Sting last week, this segment still would have pushed me over the edge. With a full crowd, this would be an all-time Dynamite moment, and even in the pandemic era, it still could (and SHOULD) be regarded as one.
Jake Hager def. Brandon Cutler + patricide!
Fun fact: Not counting battle royals or matches where he totally wasn’t #9 of the Dark Order, this is Brandon Cutler’s third Dynamite match. He didn’t fare well.
After a REALLY BAD interview segment where it was confirmed that Chuck Taylor and Orange Cassidy would be taking on Miro and Kip Sabian at Revolution, Jake Hager came out sans Inner Circle and spent some time beating the dog crap out of Brandon Cutler.
Aside from a cool 30 seconds of agile offense ending in a rough looking tope, this was like an old Monday Night Raw squash match where we just got to see every move in Hager’s arsenal, only we didn’t get any of Hager’s finishers to end it. Instead, Hager bounced off the ropes and hit a kneeling Cutler with a clothesline from hell.
The post-match saw Santana, Ortiz, and Wardlow attack Cutler and get fought off by the Young Bucks, and though the Jacksons tried to challenge Chris Jericho and MJF to a match on the night, Jericho and Friedman were busy smearing their dad’s totally real blood all over the back of an AEW production truck with the boys’ faces on it.
Special shouts out to Papa Buck’s D-tier selling, Jericho’s incredibly douchey un-buttoned shirt, and Matt’s Tom Cruise-style running after the car that the Inner Circle duo escaped in. Matt definitely could have caught one of them if he really wanted to, so don’t be surprised when it comes out in a few months that Matt hates his dad and is joining the Inner Circle.
Hangman Page def. Isiah Kassidy
This was Kassidy’s second singles match in AEW, but the difference in character between the Isiah Kassidy who fought for his honor against Chris Jericho and the Isiah Kassidy who fought for his $12 against Hangman Page is night and day.
The newer, sleazier Kassidy kicked off the match with a sneak attack, then spent the first half of the match sneaking around with Matt Hardy and TH2. It was clear within this first portion that Hangman is a lot stronger than Kassidy, but while Hangman was a self-made loner, Kassidy absolutely had the power of friendship on his side.
So, Hangman finally accepted some friends. Silver and Reynolds ran down and got Hardy ejected from ringside.
The rest of the match was Hangman mostly dominating again, as singles competition is his domain. Kassidy picked up a string of offensive maneuvers, though, and after an impressive springboard off the middle rope, he got caught with Hangman’s Deadeye and was out for good.
For a moment, we get to enjoy the view of Hangman, Silver, and Reynolds celebrating together, but then Hardy made things personal with a microphone off-screen: “I’m going to hurt every single member of the Dark Order that you love so much.”
Mob Boss Hardy then threw Alan “V” Angels off the stage and through the timekeeper’s table in true assassination style. Despite #5 being the whipping boy of the Dark Order, the trio still ran to his aid, because he may be a bald loser, but he’s THEIR bald loser.
Next week, the Dark Order take on Hardy Party and TH2. I hope Hardy is ready for war.
After this match, we got a promo where Kenny Omega and some contractors showed the ever-present Alex Marvez how they were putting together the materials for the exploding barbed wire deathmatch. Omega seemed to threaten Marvez with exploding barbed wire-based death at one point, but Omega must not yet be informed that Marvez cannot die for he is inevitable.
Nyla Rose def. Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D.
Man, I couldn’t have been more wrong about my Women’s Championship Eliminator Tournament predictions, huh?
Before we get into that, let’s talk about how fun this whole match was in a vacuum. This is the first televised singles match these two have ever had, which is wild because they were also the two most prominently promoted women in AEW (Brandi aside) when the promotion was first making the rounds with Turner executives.
They debuted together in the four-way at Double or Nothing, and they of course have the history of Nyla being the one to break Britt’s leg in another four-way, but the first time these women’s division main eventers ever got their one-on-one match outside of a run-in on the Jericho Cruise was while both women were firmly heels.
And, shoot, it looks like Britt just wasn’t prepared for it.
Both women have been going for exposed turnbuckle pads recently — Britt with Thunder Rosa and Nyla with Tay Conti — so it only made sense that it was gone for again here, with Baker being the aggressor this time around after an early match tantrum that almost got her counted out.
The two bounced off each other well, playing up their history as Nyla attempted twice to break Baker’s leg again in the corner, and after months of me asking, “Hey, how come nobody has just tried not letting Britt put her hand in their mouth?” it actually happened last night after Baker finally got Nyla to run into the exposed steel.
Baker spent the first half of the match going after Nyla’s arm, so the first Beast Bomb Nyla hit took just enough out of her to delay the pin and allow Baker to kick out. Nyla absolutely nailed the second Beast Bomb, though, and there was no such luck for Rebel’s doctor this time around.
This was the biggest upset of the tournament—much bigger than Ryo Mizunami beating Maki Itoh or Aja Kong—and I honestly don’t know where this tournament is going anymore. I’m actually very excited about that fact, too, because if it’s not the clear choice of Baker, then Nyla, Ryo, Riho, Thunder Rosa, and Yuka Sakazaki all have equal chances to take it in my mind.
Let’s. Freaking. GO!
Lance Archer def. Rey Fenix
I’ve never thought to myself, “I really want to see Archer and Fenix face off,” but once Archer was in the ring and Fenix was entering through the face tunnel, I realized that this match was about to be an absolute banger.
These past few weeks have done well to establish a larger main event scene in AEW. The three undisputed main event players up to this point have Omega, Moxley, and Jericho, with Cody being somewhat around there only without the ability to become AEW Champion. Guys like Kingston and MJF and the late Brodie Lee could receive PPV title shots and have it make sense, but the list of bonafide top of the card stars has been pretty small.
But, BOY, do I think these last few weeks have elevated guys like Archer and Fenix to that level.
AEW’s streak of insane Dynamite main events in 2021 will continue for another week as Fenix and Archer tore the house down, and that’s with Fenix not being on his A-game. Despite his requisite flips having a few timing errors, Fenix absolutely brought it last night with his striking game, his style actually reminding me of Andrade Almas when he was NXT Champion. And even with a few slip-ups, doing a tope over Jake the Snake’s back is always a cool moment.
And Archer was a wrecking ball once more, pouncing through Fenix, hitting him with hard clotheslines, and ending the match with a lengthy finisher combo to ensure that Fenix would stay down before TV time was no longer remaining. Archer probably could have put Fenix down with the last chokeslam he hit, but the monster’s smart: he finished him with one final Blackout.
Last night’s Dynamite lacked the Big Show, but it had a Big Fight Feel at times and I’ll take that trade-off. Next week is “The Crossroads,” then Revolution. I’m sold on both, so I see this night as an absolute win.
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