Never let it be said that I don’t suffer for my art.
All of my cool wrestling friends were out watching my personal dream match in WALTER vs. Tommaso Ciampa, while I was stuck at home, forced to watch a really good episode of AEW TV that had twists and turns and high-risk offense and hoss fights and good booking in the women’s division and Mike Tyson punching Shawn Spears and multiple segments featuring my beloved Dark Order. Does that sound fair to you?
Jokes aside, this final match-up in the fabled Wednesday Night Wars saw an episode of Dynamite that embodied the things that make AEW “AEW.” There were competitive matches, lots of faction shenanigans, tons of production mistakes, and even a little bit of “delicious corporate synergy,” per Excalibur.
So, without further ado, let’s all grab our favorite Warner Bros. movies and dive into a hot, fresh episode of AEW Dynamite!
Hangman Page def. Max Caster
After a cold open where The Inner Circle arrived with a fleet of vans and motorcycles, we cut to entrances. Once Hangman’s entrance is done, we get another one of Caster’s topical raps, during which we got references to Joe Biden falling and Lil Nas X twerking on Satan.
This is one of those matches that gets better when you’ve been watching all of AEW’s auxiliary programming as well. Max Caster has been taking on Dark Order guys for weeks, especially getting big wins over Alex Reynolds and Colt Cabana, so seeing him finally work his way to Hangman and get two diss tracks out of it was a treat.
As for the main show itself, this match was functionally a handicapped match, as Anthony Bowens being at ringside meant that Hangman was always going to have to have his eyes on both men. After a bit of a competitive match that was definitely going in Hangman’s favor—landing Caster in hot water as Hangman set him up for a Deadeye—Bowens slid the boombox into the ring, only for it to be intercepted by the cowboy.
It was all a plot, as Bowens then slid a chain to Caster, distracted the ref, and watched as Caster blasted Hangman upside the head with a chain-covered punch, only getting a near fall. After a few more reversals of each other’s finishers, Hangman finally hit an apron moonsault onto Bowens, following it up with a Buckshot to Caster for the win.
A fun match to kick the show off hot and celebrate National Beer Day.
Death Triangle and Best Friends collide. Kind of.
Tony Schiavone brings out Death Triangle for an interview, and it’s announced that PAC and Fenix vs the Young Bucks will be next week on the “We Have No Competition Except For MTV’s The Challenge” episode.
Before they can actually talk about anything of substance, Orange Cassidy’s music hits and all FOUR members of Best Friends come out. Orange tells Death Triangle that it’s good to see the full trio together again, then has the Monkeys In The Back show highlights (and lowlights) of the last couple of times that Death Triangle ran into the Best Friends.
Death Triangle all tried to start promos but kept cutting each other off, but PAC and Trent’s general point was that Best Friends are at the bottom of the rankings right now due to Trent’s injury. Sue’s boy also says they’ll have no trouble getting back to the top seeing as they’re the winningest team in AEW.
I can’t wait for Best Friends vs Death Triangle in a Space Jam Death Match in June.
The Inner Circle returns and announces a BLOOD AND GUTS MATCH
You know who’s great at getting himself and everyone around him over? Chris Jericho.
You know what’s a great quality to have when you’re establishing a mass face turn and also a brand new stable? I think you get the picture.
Jericho’s soliloquy on Dynamite saw him proclaim that the Inner Circle were back in their best form and explain that he always knew that MJF was going to turn on him but didn’t realize that “My Jerk-off Friend” was actually a step ahead of him.
Despite the Pinnacle turn, Jericho’s still confident. MJF is meant to “age like fine wine” but hasn’t aged yet and is still leagues behind the Inner Circle. Tully is a Horseman, but a third-string one. FTR are a great tag team but are indistinguishable from one another. Shawn Spears sucks sh*t and has no redeeming qualities apparently. But at least Wardlow is cool!
Jericho feels the Inner Circle is ready for them all, but he doesn’t just want to win. He’s wanted a piece of MJF since March 2020, and the only way to scratch that itch is with Blood and Guts!
I can’t really do it justice here, but this really was one of the best promos I’ve ever seen Jericho cut, and after one segment, I’m now super ready for his face run.
Godzilla Express def. Kong Country
It’s weird to say that Jungle Boy was part of a hoss fight, but I guess that’s what we can expect when you theme your match after a monster movie that’s streaming right now on HBO Max™.
Because their opponents were larger, both Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus got to play to a smaller style, with the big dino doing planchas over the ropes to make up for the fact that Bear Country are too sturdy for Jungle Boy to take out.
Boulder and Bronson went for some of their signature splash spots, but Jungle Boy took out their knees, Luchasaurus hit a chokeslam, and with a standing moonsault, Jurassic Express took home the win in honor of Godzilla.
I can’t wait for Glacier vs Sting in a Mortal Kombat match later this month. Yes, I know I made this same joke earlier in the review. No, I’m not ashamed.
Promo Break: Christian, Taz, QT Marshall and STIIIIIIIIING
Christian Cage’s interview was technically before the Inner Circle thing, but whatever. Christian talked about how Kaz pushed him to his limit last week, then is interrupted by Taz, who wants him to be a player coach in Team Taz. Christian goes to say no, but Taz tells him to sleep on it.
QT Marshall cuts a promo in the Nightmare Factory where he dunks on Cody’s roles with Legacy and as Stardust, then puts over Aaron Solow as more than “someone’s boyfriend” and Nick Comoroto as more than “a body guy.” Anthony Ogogo goes into business for himself and says America sucks, so get ready for that feud?
Then, Sting had a promo interrupted by Lance Archer and Jake Roberts. They tried to lampshade how lazy this booking is, but it turned into both parties going “Your booking sucks!” “No, your booking sucks!” all while Page and Sky watched from the rafters.
Darby Allin def. JD Drake for the TNT Title
Darby vs. a big man, but this time, it’s NC indie guy JD Drake, now sporting a singlet and ruining my night. Let him show off his gut, cowards!
An awesome match that would’ve been better if the crowd actually cared about Drake or Pretty Picture in general, the finale saw Darby finally stop getting battered around for just long enough to hit a top rope Code Red and finish Drake with a Coffin Drop.
Post-match, the Hardy Front Office came out and tried to put Darby through the glass announce table but were stopped by Sting and the Dark Order. Tay Conti and Allie brawled before we went to commercial, and instead of starting the match right then while the crowd was hot, they all got sent to the back while we took an Inner Circle detour.
The Inner Circle returns AGAIN, ft. Mike Tyson
While Jericho’s guard is down, the Pinnacle jump him backstage and drag him out to the ring, hitting him with the spike piledriver. The Inevitable Alex Marvez appears on the Khan Tron to show that the Inner Circle are locked in their locker room and have to bust the door down with a stool, but before they can arrive, Iron Mike Tyson does.
Tyson further ruins Shawn Spears’ night after the Pinnacle leaves him in the ring to get die via body punches, and before anyone can save him, the rest of the Inner Circle arrives.
The Tyson stuff helps to fuel his involvement in next week’s Dax Harwood vs Chris Jericho match, but I still think this segment could have been done a little later for the women’s match’s sake.
Tay Conti def. The Bunny
A really cute entrance where Tay Conti and -1 do Tay and Anna’s secret handshake makes up for the fact that we had to wait until Q6 again for this one.
These two got straight into the brawl, and it felt personal despite the fact that this was also part of the title scene. The Bunny was there as a hitwoman whose target is Friend of the Dark Order Tay Conti, and Tay was not there to be taken out.
Hikaru Shida came out during the commercial break to support Tay, but Allie used the champ’s presence as an excuse to steal her kendo stick and thwack Tay with it as the HFO distracted the referee. However, Shida interfered and wouldn’t let Allie get a second kendo stick shot in, and this momentary lack of focus allowed Tay to hit her finish and put Allie away.
I like that this feud is so back-and-forth that we could get a triple threat out of it, and between these three, a video package highlighting Red Velvet vs. Jade Cargill, and an earlier promo where Britt Baker said she also deserves a title match (deciding that rankings are BS and that wins and losses pale in comparison to star power), it feels like we’re really going somewhere with this women’s division.
The Elite def. Jon Moxley
On paper, the Young Bucks lost last night. But in practice, Jon Moxley and the fans were the only real losers.
The story of this match early on was that Mox was trying to be flashy just like the Young Bucks, but as the match went on and everyone got their moves in, it finally got down to personal business: Matt the Emotional Buck vs Kenny Omega.
Matt could punch, throw, piledrive, and Bang-for-your-Buck Kenny, but when it came time to hit a big move on him — be it a superkick or especially the BTE Trigger — he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. Callis was in his head, pantomiming his slap from last week, and Matt really didn’t feel like his old self.
Moxley had no such hang-ups, tagging himself in and hitting two back-to-back Paradigm Shifts on Kenny, then choking him out, and THEN going for another Paradigm Shift. The Bucks had seen enough violence for one night.
They superkicked Moxley.
While the Bucks thought about what they’d done, Gallows and Anderson hit the Magic Killer on Mox and pulled Kenny onto him for the win. They then pulled Moxley up, told the Bucks to superkick him again, and got what they wanted.
The five members of the Elite stood together just like they did all those months ago, but this time, there’s no question about it. They’re all heels.
And I’m so ready to hate these men.
We bring this final contested episode of Dynamite to a close with a promise of glory next week. Jericho vs. Harwood with Mike Tyson as enforcer. Ogogo’s debut. Velvet vs Cargill. Darby vs. Hardy for the TNT title. PAC & Fenix vs the Young Bucks for the tag titles, and the latter team has questions to answer.
After two weeks of so-so cards with great results, next week’s show is stacked. I can’t wait to see how that plays out!
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