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AEW Dynamite: ‘Arcade Anarchy’ was the ‘Avengers: Endgame’ of pro wrestling

Pro Wrestling

AEW Dynamite: ‘Arcade Anarchy’ was the ‘Avengers: Endgame’ of pro wrestling

An hour with few flips followed by an hour of insanity. Perfectly balanced, as all things should be.

Yesterday at 6 p.m. Eastern time, I looked at the card for this Wednesday’s edition of AEW Dynamite and thought, “I’m not super excited for this.”

Seeing Christian Cage’s first singles match in seven years is a novel concept, but not one guaranteed to provide a great match. Cody Rhodes getting an extended match with QT Marshall was laughable, regardless of how solid either man is as a technician. And even if Chuck Taylor, Orange Cassidy, Miro, and Kip Sabian could pull out all the stops in their arcade-themed street fight, could I really get invested off the back of such a whack story?

I’m a foolish fool, folks. To pay for my transgressions, I’m now tasked with spreading the gospel of the March 31, 2021 episode of AEW Dynamite.

Without further ado, let’s all hop into Sue’s van and take a trip into this week’s show.

Christian Cage def. Frankie Kazarian

While the format of my reviews means I spoil the match result in the header, I’m positive you’ll still buy into every near fall if you go back and watch it now. Perhaps I’m wrong there and Kaz really did win with that crossface chickenwing or that Flux Capacitor.

This was the story of two competitors who’ve been intimately familiar with one another for years and now meet at a crossroads. Cage is returning and needs to prove that he can still go. Kaz has always been her and needs to prove that he’s never STOPPED going.

And because Kaz has always had his feet on the gas, he took control for almost the entire match. Kazarian would get Christian in a headlock that lasts ages, reverse any small move that Christian went for, and set Christian up for a big move to see if he was finally weak enough to be pinned. Christian, on the other hand, only went for big moves, and every time he hit one, it seemed like the match was over. Kaz could hit every move he had, but if Christian could land one Killswitch, it was over.

I’ve always proclaimed my love for matches where any of the three SCU members is involved because it’s always classic Smart Wrestling™, and Christian plays into that style well. If I wasn’t sold on him wrestling in the main event before, I’m there now.

After this match, we got a quick promo from Darby Allin where he berates Matt Hardy because money changed him, then another Jade Cargill promo where she trashes Red Velvet and says she’s That Bitch.

Cody Rhodes vs. QT Marshall, uh, ends

As I implied in the intro, Cody and QT are both technically proficient, so the match proper was pretty interesting to follow. Both men were trying to outpace the other and see if they’d blow up, but both of them had solid endurance.

Not only was Arn Anderson the referee, but the entire Nightmare Family was at ringside, plus a few of Cody and QT’s students (shades of Hart vs McMahon at WrestleMania XXVI). Arn was pretty impartial throughout, but the fact that QT entered alone and during the commercial break while Cody got his full intro with Billy Gunn and Dustin at his side said it all.

While QT was out of the ring, Cody opened the ropes for him and clapped sarcastically. In response, QT freaking DECKED Arn Anderson and left the ring while the whole Nightmare Family went to check on Arn.

And then, as is tradition, a new stable formed in AEW.

Aaron Solow, Nick Comoroto, and Anthony Ogogo began beating the crap out of Cody, Dustin, the Gunn Club, and especially Lee Johnson, bloodying poor Dustin and powerbombing Johnson out of the ring and onto the stage.

This segment was wild, and I was hooked for every second of it, but I’m not sure if I actually care about this stable past this moment. It’s like the segment where the Pinnacle debuted except every member is Shawn Spears.

Promo Break: Jon Moxley, Ethan Page, and Scorpio Sky

At the end of the Worse Pinnacle segment, Red Velvet (playing the role of Brandi) came out and stopped QT from bashing Cody’s head in with a chair. I expected Jade to come out then and join QT, but she knows her worth, instead waiting until a later segment to attack Red Velvet alone.

Ethan Page began cutting a compelling TV promo about how he feels like AEW brought him in only to immediately overlook him, but at the end of Page’s every sentence, Scorpio Sky would finish it with his own spin. Both of them feel underrated, so they’ve aligned to fix that, starting on next week’s Elevation. This was really well-shot, and you should seek it out.

Finally, Jon Moxley talked about how he can’t get the sound of the Legally Distinct Bullet Club breaking Eddie Kingston’s ankle out of his head. He’s annoyed that he owes the Young Bucks for saving him, and he’s also annoyed that he has to take his frustrations out on Cezar Bononi.

Jon Moxley takes his frustrations out on Cezar Bononi

This match went to picture-and-picture, but it didn’t really need to. Moxley beat up Bononi, Bononi sold surprisingly well, and after Mox hit a pair of Paradigm Shifts on Ryan Nemeth and JD Drake, he choked out the big man with a rear naked choke. A 2-minute match stretched out over 5-ish.

I feel like this match was actually gripping on two levels, though, neither of which being AEW’s intention. Part of it is Cezar Bononi’s compelling family plight on Twitter regarding his wife and sister-in-law, but just on-screen, I freaking adore the Pretty Picture. Put them in the main event, TK, you coward!

Also around this time in the show, Team Taz talk about how well they’re doing. Starks especially tried to gaslight us and Brian Cage, but Cage shot back by saying they would’ve won on Dark faster if he was tagged in sooner.

The Inner Circle beat up the Pinnacle

MJF decided to gift the Pinnacle a personal stylist, but when he opened the door to introduce them, he instead found the Inner Circle, who proceeded to beat the crap out of them. Guevara hit a nasty Go To Hell on Shawn Spears, one of the FTR guys got dumped into a hot tub, and most impactful, MJF got his head dunked in a toilet.

MJF spit out toilet water just to prove that he’s the most committed wrestler in AEW.

This segment was cool and all, but watching the Inner Circle put their nameplate back on the door at the end of the segment made me feel like this was too soon. No, the Inner Circle can’t be off TV forever, and this shouldn’t be a one-sided feud, but this was a definitive win at a time where I’m not sure the story called for it.

After this, though, we got a segment where Don Callis slapped the fire out of Matt Jackson to see what he would do. Matt grabbed him but quickly let go, disappointing Callis, who also mentioned that the Young Bucks broke Kenny’s heart. I’m deeply interested in seeing where this goes.

Omega & The Good Brothers def. Laredo Kid & The Lucha Bros.

Now, how am I supposed to recap this one?

After a solid hour of technical wrestling and brawling, AAA’s finest came out and dove all over the place just to remind you that this was, in fact, an episode of AEW TV. Plus we got a quick promo from the lucha trio and Alex Abrahantes beforehand, so that’s great.

But, for real, this was like watching a bunch of jets powered by cocaine and Fun Dip zooming around a wrestling ring. I remember actively thinking that Kenny Omega and Laredo Kid were killing it, but by the time I had that thought, three more spots had passed and I couldn’t remember what I just saw.

I highly recommend looking for this match or catching the Twitter gifs.

After Omega hit a One-Winged Angel on Kid (which Kid fought off for a long while), Moxley came out flanked by the Young Bucks and stared down the Super Elite, setting up next week’s main event. I can’t believe THIS is the first match we’ll get with Omega and the Bucks all as champions in AEW.

Allie & Nyla Rose def. Hikaru Shida and Tay Conti

It’s 9:28. Time for a women’s match. Shida and Conti came out in matching judo gear, though, which was pretty sweet.

This was a fun match character-wise as we got to see who these four were, not just how they wrestle. Conti was fiery and threw everyone around, regardless of size or gender (so Matt Hardy better look out). Shida was crafty, leaping off Conti’s back and using her brain to overcome the size disadvantage. Allie played up how cutesy she could be, skipping around her opponents to lower their guards before cheating them out of a win. And Nyla was a wrecking ball who even shoved her own partner out of the way just to face her opponents alone.

Having the Dark Order and the Hardy Family Office at ringside (and brawling) really made this match feel more important because it connects this women’s bout to the larger AEW stories at play, and watching Allie get the pin after whacking Tay Conti with a kendo stick was nice. Allie being a genuine threat — and just having more actual title contenders in the women’s division period — is always a good thing.

After this, Jurassic Express challenged Bear Country in honor of Godzilla vs. Kong. This was the first of two not-so-subtle HBO Max tie-ins on the night, but I’ll forgive it because Marko is officially on the “Return to Monke” train.

Arcade Anarchy

Now I have to follow-up my sensational headline, huh?

Chuck Taylor and Orange Cassidy vs Miro and Kip Sabian isn’t “The Avengers: Endgame of Pro Wrestling” because it’s the finale or because it comes off the back of a decade of great storytelling. In fact, this is one of my least favorite storylines in AEW history, and that’s while liking all four men involved in it — including Kip!

It’s the Avengers: Endgame of pro wrestling because it’s a match full of “portal scenes.”

The opening half of this match could be summed up in one spot: Orange threw Kip’s head through a whack-a-mole machine and playfully bonked his head with an arcade mallet, then got DESTROYED by a shoulder block from Miro.

Orange was scrappy but still playing mind games. Miro was an unstoppable killing machine. Kip was desperate and overlooked. And Chuckie T reverted to his parking lot brawl self.

Highlights include Orange and Chuck going to town on Miro with a trash can lid and kendo stick, Chuck hopping off of Mortal Kombat (the second HBO Max thing), and Kip powerbombing Chuck onto a pile of Lego bricks that came out of a teddy bear.

Even Penelope Ford got a moment when she stopped Aubrey’s 3-count and kicked Orange in the nards.

But then, Alan Silvestri’s “Portals” plays as Orange’s hero arrives. Kris Statlander.

Statlander dispatched of Ford with her finisher off the apron and through a sideways arcade cabinet. Miro historically doesn’t care about that, though, and just kept beating away at Orange and Taylor, only for “Portals” to play again as headlights approach from the distance.

Sue’s van brought another savior: Trent? (Trent.)

Kip watched on in horror as Miro slowly lost a 3-on-1 handicapped match, and Chuck finished the match by powerslamming Kip off the stage and through a stack of tables.

Chuck, Trent, Orange, and Kris all got in the ring and hugged to close out the show, and then more than ever before, AEW gave the people what they want.

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