It finally happened, guys. AEW put out an episode of TV that wasn’t just “average” or “okay.” It wasn’t a good show with a scary fall in the middle of it or faulty pyro at the end. Last night’s episode was the first one to date that I could comfortably call “bad” from beginning to end. Unfortunately for the gang at All Elite Wrestling, this bad show just happened to be the one that they spent a year hyping up.
It wasn’t unwatchable, and there are two moments in the show that I actively enjoyed, though both moments are married to bad promos. And that’s the whole theme of the episode: for every step forward, the show took 1.5 steps back. While next week’s episode has sufficiently high stakes, the path there was simply a slog full of commercial breaks, pacing issues, botches, and bad timing.
So, without further ado, let’s jump off a cage and into a conspicuous crash pad at ringside as we dive into this week’s edition of AEW Dynamite.
Eddie Kingston & Jon Moxley def. MT Nakazawa and Kenny Omega
Don Callis came out and told the crowd (and Nakazawa) that Omega wasn’t wrestling tonight. That statement fried all three of the other competitors’ brains, but while Mox and Kingston tried to come to terms with the champ’s absence during their entrance, Omega did attack both men from behind with the AEW World Championship.
Omega and Nakazawa went to town on Kingston and/or Moxley depending on whoever was in the ring, but after an extended period taking on the Mad King alone, Moxley came in off a hot tag and beat down both heels. Nakazawa tried to absorb the fighting spirit in the air when he ripped off his shirt, but Moxley just shut him down with lariats and a piledriver.
After Omega saved Nakazawa from the pinfall there, Mox started choking Nakazawa while Kingston tried to get Omega into the ring to save him. Omega was done with Nakazawa at this point and left the ring, allowing Kingston and Mox to hit their new tag finisher: a lariat from Mox that sets off a half-and-half suplex from King, sort of akin to a Total Elimination.
They won the match, but the (kind of corny; kind of fire) Young Bucks came out to stare down the winners, distracting them long enough for the Good Brothers to come jump them from behind. The two tag teams just beat down Kingston and Mox, including Matt Jackson hitting a shoeless superkick on Kingston. Omega came back out with Cutler recording for BTE and hit a One-Winged Angel on Kingston, and the fully formed AEW version of Bullet Club came out looking strong.
This match wasn’t horrible — just short and uninspiring with its lack of Kenny for the second half.
Cody Rhodes def. QT Marshall
I’m sorry — what?
So, the match itself is 1,000% what you would imagine. Things were a little heated to start (complete with an extended Hogan-esque back-scratching spot), but the match itself was middle-of-the-road NWA stuff. It’s two wrestling coaches doing stuff that two well-seasoned students should be able to do, and that’s not “bad.” It’s just kind of boring, especially when we get nothing out of it.
After a huge standing moonsault from the top rope, a couple reversed tombstones, and a pair of Cross Rhodes from both men, Cody finally hit the Figure Four on QT, and the leader of The Factory tapped. Which is something that I’m used to but still not fine with.
Cody’s getting a push similar to Jericho where he wins a bunch of matches that you really want to see him lose, that way when he does actually lose, it means something. In that light, maybe using Cody’s heat to build up QT Marshall isn’t the best thing.
But QT looks like an idiot and a bad leader for betraying Cody, so even though the post-match segment saw Anthony Ogogo punch Cody in the liver and drape the UK flag over him (signifying the match that will see Cody actually lose), it still doesn’t make QT or The Factory look good.
I anticipate seeing Nick Comoroto put QT through a table in like 6 weeks’ time.
Page & Sky throw Darby down a flight of stairs, obviously
Call Sting by his government name and call him “bitch” all you want — if your promo starts with “Riddle me this; riddle me that,” your promo is guaranteed garbage. Sorry, Scorpio. I don’t make the rules.
Still, this is one of those segments I mentioned earlier where I was pretty into it despite the opening promo. Ethan Page’s promo about how he put a dent in Darby’s head and metal plating into his elbow means you can understand how personal their history is without having watched Kenny Johnson’s great documentary on their feud.
And the fact that Darby literally flung himself at Page in the middle of a sentence brought a lot of excitement to this one.
What followed was a Darby signature: a backstage brawl that looks like a movie fight scene, complete with tracking and dolly shots. After dodging attacks from both men and getting a lot of offense out on both of them, Sky finally bonked Darby with a trash can. Both heels brawled with Darby over to a flight of concrete stairs, and I thought, “They’re not really going to — OH MY GOD.”
So, yeah. Darby got chucked down concrete stairs, and with the AEW medical crew on standby, this was treated like a big deal. I think if this episode became a classic, this segment would be well-remembered above it all.
Britt Baker def. Julia Hart
It was announced earlier that Baker and Shida would be facing off for the AEW Women’s Championship at Double or Nothing, and to celebrate, Baker splurged on a squash match.
Like many AEW squashes, this one had a sort of hook, with Julia’s being that she was a feisty fighter. Baker’s recently made a habit of embarrassing her opponents, but Julia got some real punches in, and she actually got back up after Britt grabbed her black glove to prepare for the Lockjaw. In time, however, Hart did fall, getting an extended Mandible Claw after the bell for her efforts.
It’s a squash match. Inoffensive. I’d ask for more of the women’s division, but this was a one-match show, so I didn’t care too much at this moment.
SCU def. The Acclaimed, Jurassic Express, & Varsity Blonds
The Acclaimed spit bars about how they were going to put everyone in the match down, but the most poignant of the group was telling the Varsity Blondes that in 10 years, they’d be an episode of Dark Side of the Ring. Yikes.
The match itself was decent, though it was hard to bite TOO hard on false finishes since this was a match that SCU simply had to win. This didn’t stop Jurassic Express in particular from hitting some big tag team moves on Varsity Blonds and the Acclaimed from sneaking around and scoring near-falls on SCU themselves. Heck, there was one moment where I though Pillman Jr. might have actually just pinned Kazarian for good.
The match ended with a Best Meltzer Ever from SCU to Pillman. And we have a Tag Team Championship match for next week.
Extended, Mind-Numbing Promo Break: Moxley, Omega, Cassidy, Miro
We start with a really, REALLY good hype package for next week’s IWGP United States Championship match between Jon Moxley and Yuji Nagata. It showed Moxley’s defense history, Nagata’s legacy, and the story of the match: Nagata keeps getting up, and Mox wants to put him down for good.
Up next came an incredibly long promo segment where Kenny Omega (who, unsatisfyingly, only came out with the AEW Championship while Nakazawa held onto the other three belts) learned that the #1 contender’s match for his title would be PAC vs Orange Cassidy. Omega downplayed Cassidy’s whole existence even after Cassidy showed up, and when he did choose to acknowledge the crowd favorite, it was lengthy, boring, repetitive, and CAN WE JUST WATCH BLOOD AND GUTS?
The answer was no because Miro came out next to challenge Darby Allin to a TNT Championship match next week where forfeiting was not an option. Though Darby probably has a broken arm (in kayfabe and out), Miro plans to eat him for gold. Okay. Can we get to the main event now?
Blood & Guts
The Pinnacle all came out in matching white attires with purple highlights while the Inner Circle members each wore prison garb that signified where they were from. Plus, Santana & Ortiz busted out the Dead Presidents face paint.
Guevara kicked things off with a flying kick to Harwood from across the ring, and the two brawled for the first five minutes, with Harwood already bleeding by the end of it. Spears came in next with his special chair, and though Guevara seemed to still be competent for a moment, he was quickly shut down by a chair shot to the head.
Ortiz came in with a chair of his own to protect his boy, singling out Harwood so that Guevara could hit a Spanish Fly on Spears from the middle ring ropes. This was followed by the first botch of the match as Guevara tumbled while trying to dive from Left Ring to Right Ring. After a few awkward seconds spent trying to cover that up, out came Wheeler, who quickly bypassed Guevara and went after Ortiz, all the while taunting Santana.
After Spears put Guevara in a Sharpshooter and Wheeler sent Ortiz into the cage with a Gory Special Slam, Santana came in with his babyface fire and took on all three men, hitting an exciting uranage on Wheeler. Then, we go to the first commercial break.
During the break, Wardlow came out and challenged all three men to come to him rather than run over and get the advantage himself. Despite the tactical error, he still rag-dolled all three men with ease, and when Hager came in after the break, he did the same to the Pinnacle. Hager even hit his signature ankle lock on Spears, making him tap to no avail.
Wardlow and Hager brawled with one another—Wardlow being more naturally powerful while Hager was more attuned to MMA strikes and submissions—and while they were distracting each other, MJF came in to help the Pinnacle take out Guevara, Santana, & Ortiz. When time came for MJF to actually focus on Hager, Wardlow hit the giant with a low blow and allowed the Pinnacle to keep beating on Guevara until Jericho came in.
The Pinnacle sent Guevara back to Right Ring so that we could get The Big Stable-Stable War Games Staredown, and as they brawled to the center of the ring, things got very bad for the Pinnacle. Too bad we couldn’t see it.
Commercial break. No picture and picture for two-thirds of it.
We come back to Guevara and Santana & Ortiz hitting a spike piledriver on FTR onto EXPOSED WOOD? Then Guevara hits a coast to coast on Spears, taking him out. Jericho personally takes out MJF with an exposed turnbuckle clamp, and while Wardlow did have a mostly good comeback (still unfortunately botching as he failed to catch Hager for an F10), he fell as well.
So, we go to another commercial break. During this, Tully, MJF, and Jericho betray the spirit of War Games by having the latter two climb up the side to brawl atop the cage.
And their brawl was kind of boring, especially since it centered around MJF’s submission finisher and ignored any of the other 8 men. Once MJF threatened to throw Jericho off the top of the cage, however, EVERYONE left the cage (because screw it), and the Inner Circle surrendered to save Jericho’s life.
Obviously, MJF still shoved Jericho off and through the stage.
The match started off pretty fun, but after long commercial breaks full of action, a few poor botches, too much one-sided heat against the Pinnacle, everyone leaving the cage, and a lame finish, things got diluted. It was a bad note to end a better-than-average match and a worse-than average show on, and while it wasn’t trash TV (and it WAS a bloody affair), this Dynamite had more flaws than good overall.
What a shame.
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