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AEW’s ‘Road Rager’ was a real party with a sinister edge

Pro Wrestling

AEW’s ‘Road Rager’ was a real party with a sinister edge

A devilish debut, a chaotic championship match, and one hopeful Hangman make for an amazing show.

AEW Dynamite is back on the road, and with this development comes a lot of classics. Cody destroyed some Joe Shmoe in the opener. Celebrities sat in the front row and got physically involved in the show. The Young Bucks sent us home with a wild brawl full of crashing tables and Canadian Destroyers.

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

If you thought AEW was running at anything other than 100% during the pandemic (spoilers: they absolutely were), you have less to worry about now. The worst storyline in AEW has finally squealed to an end, and in its place come one rivalry that fans have been begging for and another feud that fans never expected.

A lot got packed into these two hours, so to get right into it, let’s fly over the top rope (and hit an inferno Canadian destroyer) and dive into this week’s episode of AEW Dynamite!

Cody Rhodes def. QT Marshall

First, shame on me for thinking QT had any chance at all. Just wanted to come clean that I’m the dummy who thought QT would win a feud, let alone a feud with Cody Rhodes.

This match was a straight up strap match, one so naturally painful that you can’t help but respect both competitors. Cody dove onto QT before the bell, Dustin attacked Aaron Solow and tricked Nick Comoroto into following him, and after the pair were strapped to each other, they proceeded to choke, spank, and tie each other up on their path to touching all four posts.

Britt Baker was right: this match sounds really kinky when you break it down.

There was this one moment during the match where the lights went out and the fans expected a debut, but they came back on pretty quickly. The commentary says it was a power outage.

Anyway.

Cody hit three corner posts, kicked QT in the nards, and went for the fourth corner, but QT tugged a little bit on the strap out of desperation. Cody noted this, hit QT with three Cross Rhodes, and then went back and hit all four posts.

I’m done dumping on this feud. The match was “good,” if not the most memorable; the crowd was hyped for the final corner post spot; and the story’s clearly done, so I’m satisfied.

After this, Shawn Spears talked trash about Sammy Guevara, but Guevara threw a chair at his head to get revenge for last week’s main event. I cackled at this one.

https://twitter.com/AEWonTNT/status/1412932304817643523

Promo Break: Omega and Allin deal with Page and Page

Don Callis retreads Kenny’s promo from last week about how Kenny has already beaten everyone in AEW, and once again, the Dark Order come out. Evil Uno comes out with a pretty nice, crowd-pleasing promo all around, but the meat of it was that Omega is ducking Uno’s friend.

Omega hears all of Uno’s questions and asks a question of his own: “What happens to be the capital of Thailand?” Of course, before Uno can fully answer, Kenny punts him in the groin and yells, “Bangkok, baby!” as the Good Brothers and Nakazawa come out to brawl with the rest of the Dark Order. And, just as things start to look bad for the Dark Order…

Hangman’s music hits.

Hangman cleared the ring save for Omega, but the two did meet for the first time since November 2020 while Hangman stood on the apron, fully ready to hit a Buckshot Lariat. Hangman chose not to and instead went in to warn Omega face-to-face. The Elite tried to attack Hangman again, though, giving Omega time to escape the ring with his championship.

I had the biggest, goofiest smile on my face watching this one. The crowd is so ready to see Hangman take Omega’s head off with a clothesline.

After this, JR had a sit-down interview with Ethan Page and Darby Allin that wasn’t exactly a good promo but was at least a solid explanation of what they’re fighting about. They’ve been fighting since the indies, but Ethan Page was a 12-year vet when Darby was a rookie. Their feud made Darby into a star and got him to AEW well before Page, which Page is furious about. From Darby’s point of view, Page needed to sacrifice more; Darby lived in his car to make wrestling work, while Page got married, had kids, and never left his hometown.

Ethan Page doesn’t care what Darby says. He’s here now, and he’s putting Darby in a coffin next week.

(Now imagine they said all of that but more stunted and awkward. That was the promo.)

Wardlow & FTR (w/Tully Blanchard) def. Hager & Santana & Ortiz (w/Konnan)

Jake Hager is incredibly over, and I have no idea how AEW did that. As the man barreled through his Pinnacle opponents, the crowd went buck wild, and in turn, I went buck wild, and Jake went buck wilder.

This match was good but a little sloppy. I’d say if they hit 10 moves, 9 would go perfectly and the 10th would still “connect” but get there slower than they meant to. It was just certain roll-ups and combos going wrong — but nothing dangerous happened, which is always a plus.

This match was pretty even for the first half since FTR and Proud ‘n’ Powerful are unable to get a true edge over one another. Wardlow threatened to overturn things and did manage to manhandle Santana and Ortiz, but the match still wasn’t lost.

Then, Hager tagged in and threw everyone around, and as I mentioned, the crowd went nuts.

Hager almost beat Wardlow with an ankle lock, but Dax hit him in the back of the head and lifted him up for a Big Rig with Cash. Hager was pinned and the Pinnacle went over, and to go one step further with their victory, Tully chop blocked Konnan’s leg after the bell.

This was a simple one. I don’t really have an opinion on it; it didn’t increase my interest in the feud the same way Guevara bonking Spears did.

MJF and Chris Jericho face off

The energy of this one was offset after a fan tried to enter the ring at the end of Jericho’s entrance (and Jericho tried to punch him), but with both men being promo professionals, they got the crowd back in without too much effort.

MJF recalled Jericho’s feud with Moxley where Mox had to beat every member of the Inner Circle before he could finally get to Jericho, and MJF said he’s going to take that idea and make it better. If Jericho wants to fight him, he has to fight four opponents of MJF’s choosing and in stipulations of MJF’s choosing, and he has to do it back-to-back. If he can do that, he gets MJF.

And, even though this isn’t for a title or anything, Jericho accepted it, because there’s no title grander than punching MJF.

After this, Schiavone interviewed Britt Baker about last week’s match. Britt said that Tony Khan gave Vickie a match that no one wanted to see, Rebel’s knee exploded, and Britt almost died in a table spot all because she brought Andrade in, so she hoped TK liked the blood money. “Maybe next week, AEW Dynamite can run in Saudi Arabia!”

YIKES.

Andrade El Idolo def. Matt Sydal

Andrade came out full of Ingobernable swagger as he wore that weird fake suit that Tetsuya Naito wears in his entrances — you know, the one that unzips so that both the jacket and undershirt come off? Anyway, Andrade wrestles in dress pants now.

This match was similar in smooth-to-botch ratio as the previous match, only it was 19 out of 20 moves going well instead of 9 out of 10, though this was more because both men were going for high-concept combos (as is tradition for Sydal matches). Still, both men looked good during the brief time they wrestled onscreen, as the majority of their match took place in picture and picture. You’d be forgiven for thinking this match was even based on the spots before and after the commercials, but during the break, Andrade just brutalized Sydal.

Andrade eventually put Sydal down with his new hammerlock flatliner, which he’s calling El Idolo. After the match, he took off his belt, tied it around Sydal’s arms, and tried to break it.

Malakai Black debuts

Arn Anderson has something to say, but I don’t care and neither do you. All that matters is that the lights went off, just like the opening match, and it appeared to be another technical problem until they came back on and Aleister Black/Tommy End/MALAKAI BLACK WAS IN THE RING!

He kicked Arn, drew out Cody, kicked Cody, and left with a smile. The Dark Father has made a huge impact.

Also, thank God for clerical errors, because the only reason Malakai Black could debut last night was because no one in WWE updated his contract from the NXT 30-day no compete clause to the main roster’s 90-day clause per PWInsider.

After this match, we saw a pre-show rant from Ricky Starks where he hired his own security team so he could freely talk about Brian Cage. Of course, he played his hand too strong by saying that, where he’s from, the “W” in “FTW” stands for “wife,” and he’s talking about Brian Cage’s. Cage came out and killed Ricky’s security team for the honor of Melissa Santos.

Orange Cassidy & Kris Statlander def. The Bunny & The Blade

Though this match was a mixed tag and not an intergender match, that didn’t stop Orange from delivering a few BRUTAL, HEINOUS kicks to the Bunny’s shins before the bell. Also before the bell, Aubrey Edwards checked Blade’s knee pads and immediately found brass knuckles, so that was gone.

In the middle, the match went along in as stunted a fashion as matches with automatic tags do: less “a tag match” and more “two simultaneous singles matches with a little interference.” Toward the end, though, they pretended Blade would actually hit Statlander, then had her hit a 450 on him so that Orange could get a nearfall, which got broken up by Bunny.

The end of the match actually made use of the annoying mixed tag rules because Bunny distracted the ref and slipped Blade some new brass knuckles, which he used to knock out Cassidy. While Blade tried to dispose of the knucks, the ref saw Statlander tag in, meaning Blade couldn’t pin Orange anymore. Statlander quickly disposed of the Blade before hitting Bunny with a Big Bang Theory to score a win for her team.

It was fun, but I think with Kris being powerful and Orange being small, I’d love to see them in a genuine mixed tag match.

After this, Dan Lambert of American Top Team went back to his IMPACT days and hopped the barricade to cut an amazing promo where he dumped on AEW, Cornette style. Lance Archer killed Lambert, hopefully kickstarting AEW’s own Kane vs Pete Rose relationship.

The Young Bucks def. Penta El Zero M and Eddie Kingston to retain the Tag Team Championship

Trash can shots to the head. An inferno Canadian destroyer through a table. A mouthful of thumbtacks. Denim jorts.

This match had everything. Generally, Penta and Kingston had the advantage throughout this street fight (obviously), but the Young Bucks are really good at cheating, especially when it’s legal. While Kingston and Penta hit great combos and brought out a billion weapons, the Jacksons used Nakazawa, Cutler, and the Good Brothers to their advantage and even murdered two refs. In response, Penta and Kingston only had one person interfere — the Elite Hunter Frankie Kazarian — but Gallows finally neutralized that threat for a second.

After Kingston “won” via choke-out and “won” again via the same Fear Factor/Uraken combo as last week (but both times lacked a referee), he finally brought out the little black bag of thumbtacks, only for it to immediately be used against his team as Penta took a Frankensteiner into the pile of tacks. Nick then put the thumbtacks in Kingston’s mouth and had Matt superkick Kingston for the victory.

Fans have called this the most PWG match in AEW history, and that’s definitely a compliment. This isn’t just a victory for the Young Bucks, but also a victory for the rough and tumble streets of Rancho Cucamonga.

This show was awesome, and if you’ve been pulling away from Dynamite because of the pandemic, now’s definitely the time to jump back in. This summer of AEW is about to be jam-packed!

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