If there’s anything I’ve learned from watching AEW over the past few years, it’s that making great friends can be crucial to extending your pro wrestling career.
Last night, that motif was on display through the further establishment of The Pinnacle, the full implosion of The Elite, and the chaotic, multi-stable brawl that ended the show — and that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
So grab your best friends and stand around at ringside with them as we Orihara moonsault into this week’s edition of AEW Dynamite!
Kenny Omega def. Matt Sydal
And there we have it, folks: the payoff to Episode 1 of AEW Dark: Elevation. To really drive home the point that this new YouTube show is something worth watching, AEW gave us a neat little two-week storyline involving the AEW World Championship, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s done a lot to raise Matt Sydal’s stock.
One of the most interesting things about watching a billion hours of AEW content every week is that you can really start to understand the “fighting style” of every wrestler on the roster. Though he was about as white-meat and generic as high-flyers could be as WWE’s “Evan Bourne,” Matt Sydal was able to hang with Omega for a while during this fast-paced opener because, much like the boys in SCU, Sydal is a counter-attack master.
Reversing the OWA into a poison-rana, turning any and all power-moves into arm drags, a TON of hurricanranas. Sydal was on point last night, and I even fully bought into his victory roll nearfall right at the end of the match. It wasn’t a one-man show (Omega catching Sydal’s top rope meteora was actually one of my favorite moments of the entire night), but because Omega is there every week, Sydal making the most out of his literal 15 minutes of fame really left an impact on me.
Still, Omega won the match with the One-Winged Angel, putting an end to this storyline for now.
Before the commercial break, we got the Dark Order hyping up John Silver for the main event. Hangman took a moment after the rest of the cult stable left and got genuine with Silver, telling him that win-or-lose, the Dark Order will be proud of him. Warmed my little heart.
Hangman Page def. Cezar Bononi
This match told a nice little story about lariats, as Hangman kept trying to “chop the tree down,” as JR put it, but Bononi simply wouldn’t fall. Hangman reversed Bononi’s own lariat attempt with a high-collar exploder suplex, followed it up with a very successful Buckshot Lariat, and walked away with the W.
My favorite thing to come out of Dark lately is the slowly expanding stable that Pretty Peter Avalon has been putting together, so seeing JD Drake at ringside with Ryan Nemeth was a treat for me.
Outside of my ironic love of all things jobber, though, this match left me yearning for a juicier Hangman story, as it looks like the Hardy gang may be leaving him behind to just go after the Dark Order.
Promo Break #1: Lance Archer, Britt Baker, and Christian Cage
Lance Archer cut a quick promo before the commercial break about how he feels like Sting’s letting down all of the wrestlers who look up to him because he’s taking up all of their time. I’m really not sure if a Sting vs Archer feud is even good on paper, and I’m definitely not excited by it now, but at least this was a different format from “Sting interview gets interrupted.”
Britt Baker was up next, and she cut a genuinely brutal promo on Thunder Rosa regarding last week’s match. Though Rosa won, everyone really IS talking about Baker (to the point where Baker’s bloody face is in the new intro and not Rosa’s), and Baker takes exception with the idea that Rosa put the women’s division on the map. This didn’t punctuate their rivalry, but it didn’t seem to call for further action, either. I wonder what’s next for Baker and Rosa, especially since Shida seems preoccupied.
Finally, Christian Cage and Kazarian had a run-in, as Kazarian was a little miffed by the idea that Cage could “Out. Work. Everyone.” when he hasn’t started the “work” yet. Cage responded by challenging Kaz to a match next week, which excites me because Kazarian was (to my recollection) the second person to beat the previously undefeated Christian Cage in TNA. I hope Excalibur brings that up next week.
Shawn Spears and FTR def. Dante Martin & The Varsity Blondes
What better pairing for a stable of old school heels than some old school babyfaces (and Dante Martin)?
The match certainly happened. We got your typical offense from FTR and Spears, a small babyface comeback before the break that got stopped by Wardlow, and as soon as we got back from break, Spears pinned Martin with the C4. Post-match, MJF attacked Pillman Jr., then Tony Schiavone came in for an interview.
Cash Wheeler cut a quick, fiery promo about how the Pinnacle are his family — no wife and kids to supplement that. Dax Harwood didn’t quite go that far (he’s famously a family man), but he did get so intense in his classic NWA-style promo about the Pinnacle being his family that his face turned beat red.
Then MJF called out the Inner Circle and said that, because they weren’t coming out, they were terrified. Schiavone noted that they’re not there because they’re hurt, but Wardlow placed a hand on Schiavone’s shoulder and shut him up. Loved that, even if Wardlow and MJF putting hands on Schiavone makes me hate them more than any AEW wrestler who isn’t Matt Hardy.
Promo Break #2: QT Marshall, Cody Rhodes, and Team Taz
Team Taz have a quick meeting where they discuss how there is no war in Ba Sing Se. Taz says Cage apologized for complimenting Sting and throwing Starks under the bus, then asks the room if they’re good. Hobbs and Hook say they’re cool, Starks says he’s “absolutely” cool, and Cage—who spent the entire segment looking annoyed—gave a noncommittal “Who betta?” when asked about his feelings.
We then get an interview where QT Marshall talks about how he admits to being Cody’s Friend™ but doesn’t think that it gets him an easy pass. Cody and Brandi enjoy a luxurious life (now complete with a new reality show, “Rhodes to the Top”), while QT’s up working all night and his wife is in bed alone. He challenges an injured Cody to a match next week, Cody accepts and blatantly admits he’ll go easy on QT.
That second promo was a miss for me. Introducing QT’s longtime wife works in vacuum, but he referenced his rivalry over Allie’s love in this very same promo, so it was a bit off.
Laredo Kid & the Lucha Bros def. Brandon Cutler & The Young Bucks
This match ruled.
Much like the equally amazing opening bout, this match also had an extra level of substance if you pay attention to wrestling styles. After their 2019 rivalry, the Young Bucks now go full-lucha when facing Penta and Fenix, and both Kid and Cutler brought their all in this one too.
It’s hard to break this match down because it was so fast-paced, but it was mostly Nick vs Fenix, Matt vs Penta, and Cutler vs Kid, with the Jacksons switching at the very end, just in time for Laredo Kid to hit Cutler with a top rope Spanish Fly for the win.
After the match, Omega attacked Laredo Kid, then ran down the Bucks for choosing Cutler over him despite the Elite beating these three before. Omega said he didn’t choose AEW over “New York”; he chose the Jacksons over the other company, and it was time to return the favor. He gave the Young Bucks one last time to throw the Too Sweet up for the hard cam, but they left the ring, allowing the lucha trio to attack him and end the segment.
The Elite is not fine.
Promo Break #3: Jade Cargill, Jon Moxley, and Eddie Kingston
Cargill called out Red Velvet, asking for a one-on-one match to end their shared 2021 undefeated streaks in singles competition. Not a great promo, but I like that Jade’s promo style is unique in this women’s division.
Mox and Kingston were up next, and I don’t know why we even have the other hour and 58 minutes of TV. The promo they cut on Kingston’s “broken something” was beautiful, and you should just watch the clip above yourself. They’re the best part of Dynamite.
Tay Conti def. Nyla Rose
9:24 on the dot. Time for a women’s match.
A lot of this match took place during the commercial break, but the point was that Rose was stronger yet Conti’s martial arts background let her use Rose’s momentum to her advantage. After a little bit of back-and-forth, Conti (who was led to the ring by Dark Order) caught Rose with the DD-Tay for 3.
It was a shock win, but one I’m into since these two do have fun chemistry stemming back to the tag tournament. Nyla attacked Tay post-match, and Shida came down for that save, but in an even bigger shock than Tay winning, Allie came out and ACTUALLY STARTED A FEUD by whacking Shida with a kendo stick.
This is a joyous day. Allie Valley Drivers for everyone.
We did get two promos after this — one really stilted speech from Matt Hardy that kind of ruined Allie’s moment and another short one confirming Taylor/Cassidy vs Miro/Sabian in Arcade Anarchy next week — but neither were really worthy of a Promo Break heading.
Darby Allin def. John Silver to retain the TNT Championship
This main event was excellent, and it showed off a brand-new side of Silver. As fun as he can be with his teammates, I don’t even think he smiled during this bout, instead just uppercutting the hell out of Darby and tossing him around as if Silver had been possessed by the spirit of Brian Cage.
Darby bumped like crazy during this match, selling an early uppercut from Silver like he’d just died, and it legitimately made me worry for Mr. Half-Dead Halfpipe. Darby tried to come back with some strikes, but once again, he’d stumbled into Silver’s areas of expertise and got shot back down.
As fun as this match was, the one downer note was that Sting came out and treated Dark Order like they were heels. There was a legit reason for coming out—Five did push Silver out of the way and take Darby’s suicide dive himself, wasting Darby’s high-risk offense—but the crowd read Five’s actions as something heroic (which was only aided by Colt Cabana checking up on him), so Sting really felt like he was sticking his nose in everyone’s business.
In other words, Lance Archer is never wrong.
Towards the end of the match, Darby did a Coffin Drop to the outside of the ring and landed on the Dark Order, shocking the commentary team as well as the whole crowd. When he went back into the ring, Silver immediately got the advantage, hitting a top-rope DVD and but accidentally giving Darby a rope-break with an overambitious pin attempt. When Darby finally put Silver away with a Code Red, it was to a series of boos, which he worked to counter by offering Silver a fist-bump.
Matt Hardy ruined a nice ending, however, by pulling Darby out of the ring and sending his whole goon squad to attack the Dark Order. We ended with a huge brawl, including Tay Conti coming back out to attack Allie.
A fun ending to a fun show, even if “brawl until we fade to black” is becoming a bit of a cliché.
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