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Shaq goes all out at 'AEW Dynamite: The Crossroads'

Pro Wrestling

Shaq goes all out at ‘AEW Dynamite: The Crossroads’

A mini-PPV to hype up the actual PPV, ‘The Crossroads’ delivered and then some!

As per usual, All Elite Wrestling went all out for this month’s pay-per-view go-home show. Rather than just hype up this Sunday’s Revolution event with tie-in matches and hype packages, however, they provided us with a Clash of the Champions-style TV special that featured the in-ring return of a legend, plenty of fun cameos, and the long-awaited debut of Shaquille O’Neal and Jade Cargill.

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly wrestling podcast, PTW!

Not only did AEW successfully hype up their pay-per-view and deliver with matches that weren’t exactly guaranteed to be anywhere near top quality, they also put up one of the best first hours in the show’s two-year history and had a second half that wasn’t anything to sneeze at either.

With all of that said, let’s cut the prelude short and Asai moonsault into another week of AEW Dynamite action!

Shaquille O’Neal & Jade Cargill def. Cody Rhodes & Red Velvet

This was really fun, and I’ll go ahead and say it: a solid 4 stars on the WeeLC scale.

Jade was obviously still new to wrestling, as her timing was off on a couple of things (most notably her selling too long for the hard cam right after Cody and Shaq did a-thing-we’ll-talk-about-later), but she was also clearly a natural talent. She has the charisma and the athleticism, and if she can just pick up the experience that lets her tie the two together, she’ll be absolute money. Seriously, she’s going to be a huge asset for AEW in about a year.

And Red Velvet got to show off why she’s getting pushed ahead of a lot of the other AEW Dark women (besides the in-kayfabe reason of her looking like Brandi’s action figure). Velvet has an explosive moveset, agility for days, and the courage to go for a moonsault to the floor.

Shaq, for his part, was actually your pretty typical big man wrestler, with chops like Khali and a powerbomb like Kevin Nash. (Oh, so that’s why they call him “Shaq Diesel!”) Austin Gunn also hit Shaq with a chair and earned a body slam for both himself and his brother at ringside.

Cody did well in making everyone else look great, and he even got one big moment in as he tried to powerslam Shaq, hitting him with the World’s Strongest Slam once he realized that he couldn’t flip with Shaq in his arms. And just when I thought that would be my only note, Cody brought the match to its closing stretch by diving over the top rope and hitting Shaq off the apron with a crossbody through two tables.

Those tables have never broken so easily as they did under the weight of Shaquille O’Neal.

Jade finished the match with a Glam Slam that must have made Beth Phoenix proud, and looked good in her first outing. But the big news after this match was that Shaq, who had to be stretchered out after the table spot, DISAPPEARED after being put in the ambulance. And, because there’s no way a 7-foot-tall NBA Hall of Famer can tiptoe out of there, I have to assume this was black — or Shaq — magic at play.

PAC & Fenix def. John Skyler & D3

Fenix superkicked the Mighty Ducks threequel in the face at the start of the match and turned this into a handicapped match, where Fenix and PAC beat the dog crap out of John Skyler and pinned him in about a minute.

This pairing of Death Triangle has great chemistry and would be a great choice for winning the Tag Team Casino Battle Royale on Sunday, but I just cannot believe they would massacre my boy.

Look forward to John Skyler being my male version of KiLynn King in these reviews.

Jericho and MJF hold a press conference

I’m kind of getting tired of the Inner Circle having all of these big summits or whatever, but at least we get to see Eric B. from Cody, Wyoming again.

This was just a prolonged promo segment for Y2J and MJF to discuss their attack on Papa Buck from last week, and while the segment format itself is starting to wear on me, the delivery was still entertaining. Bischoff appeared for question #4, Conrad Thompson showed up for question #2, Santana and Ortiz were revealed to be the brains behind the Inner Circle attacking Papa Buck because they just hate parents.

And as far as annoying promos go, the two challengers were at their finest. Jericho made the bold claim that MJF is better than The Rock and the Big Show; MJF had a lot of quotables that spurred on the crowd, including the lengthy burn that was “Not-So-Slick, Wish-My-Hair-Was-More-Thick Nick.”

The Young Bucks came out in the end and cut your standard southern-style babyface promo where they basically said they love their family, their Jesus, and their professional wrestling. It wasn’t really going anywhere at first, but Matt did make sure to tell Jericho that without Papa Buck, there’d be no Young Bucks, there’d be no AEW, and Jericho would be pulling the curtain at the Performance Center. You love to hear it.

This, of course, resulted in a brawl. Cutler came out to help because he’s the Bucks’ best friend, but Gallows and Anderson ran out for the save as well, set up some tables, and allowed the Young Bucks to hit a great swanton and elbow drop combo to MJF and Jericho, with the camera actually catching it all (after being pretty terrible throughout the opening match).

A fun segment only slightly marred by diminishing returns on the press conference format.

FTR & Tully Blanchard (w/ JJ Dillon) def. Jurassic Express

Dillon coming out was a shock — and a fun one at that — and it only added to the insanity that was seeing Tully return to the ring.

Tully did have a few issues getting his timing right in regards to when he should or should not be in the ring, but I won’t hold that against him since he’s SIXTY-SEVEN and hasn’t had anything resembling a match in 15 years. Aside from the timing, this looked a lot like an extended version of him and FTR beating down Jungle Boy or Marko Stunt, only with the added bonus of a teased suicide dive (which would have been bananas if Tully followed through).

Outside of him, the match was like any other FTR vs Jurassic Express match, only now they had to combine all of the previous encounters since the full Jurassic trio was in. Highlights include Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus busting out what I think was a new move where JB hurricanranas his opponent into a powerslam from Luchasaurus.

It was also nice seeing that Jurassic Express hit one of their finishers — the suplex into a powerbomb — but had the wrong man go for the pin, justifying Cash’s kick-out of the move. I love seeing smart wrestling at play.

Right after that, though, Jungle Boy went to dive onto Tully and was blocked by “a cameraman.” Luchasaurus went to grab Tully himself, but the cameraman then popped back up to his feet and bonked ’Saurus with a loaded glove, allowing FTR to set the dino up for a spike piledriver and for Tully to get the pin.

As AIPT’s resident Shawn Spears mark, I was hyped to see him finally align himself with FTR on a larger scale, but once he revealed his new blonde mohawk, I was out. Absolute heel, this man is.

After this, Arn came out to survey this new Horsemen group, then Tony Schiavone and Paul Wight came out to talk about Dark: Elevation. Not only did Wight show off how charismatic he is (popping me twice in a row with “Who saw this turn coming?” and “You’ve known me since I had long hair and a bright future”), but he also announced a huge new signing that will take place at Revolution.

You’ve heard it here first, folks. Great Khali is coming to AEW.

I hope I’m as wrong about that as I was with my women’s tournament predictions.

Ryo Mizunami def. Nyla Rose

Speaking of which, the Women’s Championship Eliminator Tournament (which I’ll be glad to never type again) came to a close with the Japanese finalist and the American finalist meeting on Dynamite proper.

It was a kaiju battle as Ryo Mizunami was, for the second time in this tournament, the smaller competitor against the larger, equally hard-hitting Nyla Rose. I think the size differential played some small part in helping Ryo get over with the crowd, too, as the live audience ate up her whole schtick from the moment she danced out of the tunnel and took off her sunglasses.

Ryo got to hit a whole chop barrage in the corner complete with a flip-flop-n-fly taunt to finish, then tugged along at imaginary ropes to hype herself and the crowd up for a final corner clothesline. Of course, her taunt lasted so long that it only scored a 1-count, which I appreciated since Nyla didn’t look as dumb that way.

Though Ryo tried to score a count-out win the same way she did over Aja Kong (which was a lot less believable with American slow-counting), she eventually scored the win, won the trophy, and earned her Women’s Championship match by hitting a spear and a guillotine leg drop from the top rope.

After the match, Shida and Ryo shook hands and then started forearming each other in the neck, all while still holding onto their hands. Shida (complete with her stylish pantsuit) smiled while getting hit, which excites me even more for Sunday’s match. The Joshi really thrive when facing one another, and I think Shida is due another stand-out match.

Sting fights Ricky Starks

I just have one takeaway: everyone in Team Taz is stupid.

Sting cut a short, sweet promo about how Brian Cage made him feel alive, but he was interrupted by Starks, who sort of tried to flirt with Sting? Starks pivoted at the last second by saying Sting still isn’t an icon and then slapping him, but then Sting hit him back — as he obviously would. But it didn’t look like Starks was ready for that at ALL, and he just got beat down by Sting for a minute.

Hobbs and Hook came out to help after Starks got put in the Scorpion Deathlock, but rather than taking out Sting, Hobbs tried to pull Ricky out. Hook did attack Sting, but he tried choking him instead of, again, just knocking Sting over.

Then Cage came out and did actually grab Sting to powerbomb him, but Darby hopped on his back. Instead of falling backwards, Cage ran toward the corner as if that would save him, then suffered a Stinger Splash to the back.

There. Are. FOUR of them, not even including Taz. They’ve got to do better.

Max Caster def. 10 (w/ Scorpio Sky on commentary)

Caster’s rap started strong and brutal with a line about lighting 10 up like Lady Gaga’s dog walker, then fell apart for me when he implied that 10’s career would fail without his mask. 10 is one of the most handsome guys in AEW, and we’ve seen his face on Dynamite. Do your research, Max. For shame.

The match itself was kind of bog standard. It was nice to see these two young guns getting a lengthy singles match on TNT after debuting as squash match victims, but the match wasn’t notably good or notably bad or notable in any way aside from the ending.

After Caster tripped 10 neck-first into the second rope, Jack Evans smashed Caster’s boombox over 10’s head and allowed Caster to capitalize for the win. Evans ran to the top of the ramp, grabbed his $4,200 check from Big Money Matt, and made off like a bandit.

Let me tell you guys: I would betray every member of the Dark Order right now if someone gave me $4,200. Hit me up, Hardy.

Hangman Page & John Silver def. Matt Hardy & Marq Quen

The streak…is over. This is the first AEW main event in 2021 that didn’t go hard.

That’s not to say that this was a bad match at all; I was sports-entertained by a lot of spots. Silver and Page have better in-kayfabe chemistry than Page and the Elite as their near-collision turned into a warm hug. Hardy rolled Quen back in as a sacrifice to Page, but Quen actually still got the better of his opponent. Hangman’s glare at Hardy after he Buckshot Lariated Quen was full of rage and pretty much resold me on their match this Sunday in just three seconds.

It was serviceable — and maybe even above average — but still mostly an “okay” ending to The Crossroads. After the match, Hardy attacked Page, then the rest of the tag division flooded out to brawl as the show went off the air.

Regardless of the main event, this was still a really fun episode of Dynamite and set us up well for the big show (and I don’t just mean Paul Wight) on Sunday.

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