Fyter Fest is here once again, and though the event has been fully stripped of its fighting game motifs and is getting further away from the original “Fyre Fest” by the day, AEW still managed to make Night 1 feel like a special event.
With six singles matches on the card, AEW managed to make all of them feel special in their own way. Two title matches, an AEW return, a Dynamite debut, a match between legends, and a huge coffin match main event made for a show that I just couldn’t take my eyes off of, and that’s not even getting into the fiery promos from Hangman, Lance Archer, Chris Jericho, Cody Rhodes, and so on.
AEW treated us to a lot, and I don’t think anything “missed” last night. But Dynamite is back on the road with live episodes again, meaning Yuka Sakazaki wasn’t the only thing to return last night.
We also got the return of pacing issues.
So, in order to curb my own pacing issues, let’s all go for a Magical Girl Splash ourselves as we dive into this week’s episode of AEW Dynamite!
Jon Moxley def. Karl Anderson to retain the IWGP United States Championship
The hitherto unnamed resistance of AEW wrestlers going up against the Elite have figured out a solid battle strategy: interfere before the Elite can interfere. Instead of coming in at the end to attack Cutler or Nakazawa like Kazarian did, Eddie Kingston came out with a pipe and beat down Doc Gallows, sending the director of chaos into the crowd and away from the match.
Without their boys at ringside, Moxley and Anderson had the hard hitting New Japan match one would hope for. We got suplexes onto the ramp, finisher reversals galore, and an overwhelming sense of “fighting spirit” as both men ate each other’s signature moves (rocket kicks and lariats) but wouldn’t stay down.
After Mox survived a Gun Stun and Anderson escaped Moxley’s sleeper hold, the Lunatic decided to nail Anderson with a no-nonsense Rainmaker before finally pinning him with the Death Rider.
Mox put away one challenger with style, but his challengers weren’t done, as Lance Archer popped up on the Khan Tron and told Moxley that it was time for a US Championship rematch — Texas Deathmatch and all — next week. We didn’t even need to hear Moxley’s promo later in the night; we knew this match was set in stone.
We also get a quick promo from Andrade El Idolo where Alex Abrahantes mentions that Andrade has been permitted by Tony Khan to challenge for non-AEW championships. Andrade brushed off that big news and instead asked Alex where Death Triangle was.
Ricky Starks def. Brian Cage to become FTW Champion
Starks learned that Cage is, indeed, a big man. The beginning of this one was a travesty for fans of (the man who calls himself) Stroke Daddy, and the crowd cheered as Cage humiliated this man with kicks to the stomach and crotch shots on the rope.
Though Starks managed to get some offense in, Cage overwhelmed him for the majority of the match, leading Starks to try and cheat with the FTW title, which Hobbs stopped. Cage hit his Deep Sea Diverticulitis on Starks, which Starks kicked out of, and this kickout at 2.8 sealed Cage’s fate. It was then that Hook started distracting the ref, and as Cage went for a discus lariat, Hobbs bonked him with the belt and set Starks up for a big spear. Three seconds later, Ricky Starks was FTW Champion, and the remaining members of Team Taz were all unified.
This match was a little botchy in the very beginning (it’s Starks’ first match back and it’s with an ambitious big man), but the match came around and I’m certainly invested in the story.
Cody calls out Malakai Black
After a highlight package of Black’s debut last week, Cody commandeered the commentary booth and asked why Black had to kick a 62-year-old man in the face when a simple challenge would do. He grabbed a mic and told Black to answer him, and in response, Black appeared on the screen.
Black’s points were twofold: Cody is being put down because he’s given everything to this company (as told through an allegory of a man and his prize horse), and the crowd doesn’t love Cody as much as he loves them because they cheered when Black kicked him and Arn. Cody, unable to handle this very obvious news, called for Black to face him in the ring, and Black did just that, leading to a brawl that refs and officials had to break up.
After this, the other half of the Brainbusters got attacked, as Santana & Ortiz cornered him in the hallway and prepared to beat him with a crowbar, only to stop and tell him that they respect their elders. Still, they had a message: “Go get your boys!”
Hangman finally faces the Elite
Schiavone interviewed Hangman Page in the ring, and Hangman went in-depth about failure and his fear of it. He wanted to be AEW Champion from day one, but failing that first time threw him for a loop. Last night, he wanted to right his wrongs, and he was going to do so by challenging for the AEW World—
And, before he could finish, Callis and the Elite came out to bully Hangman. While everyone had something to say, Matt Jackson was the one who went in face-to-face and said the most, saying Hangman’s still a drunk and implying that he’s the one who abandoned the Elite, not the other way around. To Matt, Hangman isn’t a future champion — he’s wrestling’s next great tragedy.
Hangman punched Matt, and before Omega could strike, Stu Grayson and the rest of the Dark Order filed out of the locker room to play defense. The Elite tried to flee, but Hangman cut them off by grabbing the mic again and officially requesting a match with Kenny Omega. Omega countered, instead asking for a match between the full Elite and five members of the Dark Order in a 5-on-5 elimination match.
The stakes are set: if Hangman & The Dark Order win, Hangman gets Kenny and Stu & Uno get the Young Bucks. If Omega wins, Hangman gives up on the AEW Championship.
We’re getting a Survivor Series match (a stipulation I love) where, if my favorite stable wins, I get the two matches I’ve anticipated the most since AEW started? All wrapped up in my favorite wrestling storyline today?
Inject this whole segment into my veins.
Also, before we got to the next match, Chris Jericho explained that MJF doesn’t know mythology because, if he did, he’d know that Hercules survives the trials. Shawn Spears hit him in the throat with a chair.
Christian Cage def. Matt Hardy
When this match started, it really looked like Christian and Hardy were going for a match-long collar-and-elbow tie-up similar to Cesaro and Daniel Bryan’s infamous 11-minute headlock match from PWG, but instead we got a wrestling match!
Hardy sent his boys to the back, and he and Christian had a nice back and forth match. Christian dove from the top rope onto Matt at ringside; Matt DDT’d Christian onto the steps from the apron. Transition moments in this match were mostly punches, as is tradition for wrestlers of their era, but the big moves were all spectacles, and these two proved they could still put on an entertaining match with each other after all this time.
Hardy hit a low blow and Twist of Fate on Christian, but Christian still kicked out. For his insolence, Hardy hit another Twist of Fate on the floor and tried to win via countout. Christian laid out there until 9, at which point he shot to his feet, slid into the ring, hit Matt with a Killswitch, and won.
This ending was probably bad, but I laughed too hard to be mad at it. Private Party and Angelico tried to attack Christian after the match, but Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus came to their Canadian uncle’s aid.
Promo Break: Miro, Baker, Moxley
Miro got a video package where he explained his transition from WWE to AEW through the lens of becoming God’s favorite champion. It wasn’t all that different from anything else he’s said in recent weeks, and I tuned out so much that I almost didn’t notice the BRAND NEW SILVER-AND-WHITE TNT CHAMPIONSHIP.
Britt Baker came out next and said that, while Vickie Guerrero would always be relevant because of her last name, but the same can’t be said for Nyla Rose. Baker’s going to ensure Nyla stays a footnote when she beats her next week.
Finally, Moxley hyped up Lance Archer as a legitimate threat going into their match next week. It’s nice lip service, but all of these losses Archer’s taking do fly in the face of that.
Sammy Guevara def. Wheeler Yuta
Wheeler Yuta’s whole storyline has been happening on Dark and Elevation, so I’m sure the crowd was confused when he came out to the Best Friends’ music. As someone who is up to date with Yuta’s goings-on, it was nice to see him on TV. As someone who was looking forward to the previously announced five-match card, this was a little draining.
Yuta’s gimmick thus far is that he’s The Little Dark Competitor Who Could, as he wins matches he’s probably supposed to lose. In this one, he got his knees up during Guevara’s shooting star press and even got a nearfall off of a body splash of his own. In the end, though, this was Guevara’s showcase, and after an Oscutter/GTH combo, Guevara won.
After this, QT Marshall was on-screen. Next.
Yuka Sakazaki def. Penelope Ford
It’s 9:31. It’s well past time for a women’s match.
Yuka’s moveset is really mind-bendy for an opponent, so a lot of this match was Yuka escaping Ford’s holds and baiting her into flips and splashes left and right, all with a smile on her face. Though Ford is more of a competitor than Wheeler Yuta, this match was just as much of a showcase for Yuka Sakazaki as the previous match was for Sammy Guevara, and the crowd ate up the Magical Girl’s whole schtick, especially the surprising number of power moves in her arsenal.
One facebuster and corkscrew body splash later, and Yuka was our winner. The parts of this match that weren’t during a commercial break were really fun, but a lot of this one was viewed through picture-in-picture, and some of it just wasn’t televised at all. This is definitely one of the more egregious examples of AEW doing wrong by their women.
Darby Allin def. Ethan Page in a coffin match
Though Allin and Page’s rivalry still doesn’t feel as fleshed out in AEW as it could be, this match was always going to be worth the watch. Allin started the match with a running Coffin Drop in the corner onto Page, and after removing his jacket, we learned he was pulling a Bret Hart and wearing a full-on metal plate. More running Coffin Drops ensued, and Darby went to open the actual coffin early in the match, but (as I predicted aloud even before the match started), Scorpio Sky jumped out of it and attacked Darby. Sting — who is canonically a worse tag partner than Eddie Kingston — came out for the save, and it returned to being a one-on-one brawl.
The big weapon of this match was the steel steps, as it was used for slams, leverage, attempted Coffin Drop platforms, etc. Not willing to be contained to just the ring or the weapons surrounding it, Darby also jumped off from a balcony in the crowd, only for Page to catch him and slam him down again.
This match only got a little bloody, but it was still visually displeasing at points as Page and Allin tried to bludgeon, choke, and fish-hook each other with the hook of a removed turnbuckle. And, while Darby didn’t crash onto stairs with a Cracker Barrel again, he still got his dumb fall in by landing skateboard-first onto Ethan Page’s back and sending him from the apron into the coffin for the win.
After the match, I joked that Darby was going to Coffin Drop onto the coffin, and then he DID IT. So, look forward to seeing that in the Dynamite intro now.
This was a fun show, and the only things I didn’t personally enjoy were the promos that took place in the last third of the show, and even those weren’t bad — just “fairly standard” in a show that was anything but.
However, the pacing really is an issue, and it’s annoying how that issue seems to affect the women more than anything. A Britt Baker promo and a good women’s match seems like a good use of time, sure, but when the former’s not fresh and the latter’s mostly untelevised, what are we doing here?
It’s still an upper-tier episode, but I did find myself as frustrated with that final half hour as I was excited about Hangman and the Elite. Hopefully, with next week being a Women’s Championship match, things will be a little better.
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