Three years to the day after All In, AEW held its 100th episode of Dynamite — and a go-home episode for All Out, to boot — live from the NOW Arena in Chicago. For an occasion so grand, we were treated to an amazing episode of pro wrestling television.
Two unbelievable tag matches (one full of grounded anger and the other filled with high-flying action), multiple promos from the best talkers in AEW, a half hour of great women’s segments which included the long-awaited return of a fan favorite, a QT Marshall segment that I was thoroughly entertained by. And then, when it was time for an obvious show ending, AEW swerved us with something that only makes this Sunday’s pay-per-view event all the more tantalizing.
Hit a pair of tope suicidas in stereo with your best friend as we dive into another week’s edition of AEW Dynamite!
Santana & Ortiz def. FTR
In what has been built up as potentially the final match of FTR (owing to the horrific arm injury Cash suffered at Fight for the Fallen in July), both teams had something to prove. Santana & Ortiz needed to prove that they could beat FTR after losing what was functionally a 2-on-1 handicap match where they had the advantage. FTR needed to prove that, nerve damage or not, they still have “it” as a duo and weren’t taking their last ride without a fight.
Dax and Santana tried to outwrestle each other to start, but they were so evenly matched that no one even threatened to run away with an advantage. Through tags to their partners, however, both teams slowly started to trade momentum back and forth, though the story became Dax targeting Ortiz’s arm.
While the ref was distracted by Dax’s hammerlock on Ortiz, Cash ran over and removed a turnbuckle pad, which Dax then held Ortiz’s arm against as Cash threatened to kick Ortiz’s biceps into the exposed steel. Santana broke this up, and he and Ortiz hit a pair of topes to the outside, but tensions remained high despite this bit of fun for the crowd.
We got some near falls as Santana speared Dax out of an attempted double brainbuster attempt, which allowed Ortiz to roll Cash up; and we got another false finish when Dax hit his brainbuster on Ortiz — the same move that ended their last match. Santana stalled Cash’s splash when FTR went for a Power-plex, but he couldn’t stop them from hitting a Big Rig on Ortiz — though he did crossbody Dax onto the pin to break it up.
In the end, it took a diving cutter from Santana, a codebreaker from Ortiz, a superkick from Santana, and a backflip flapjack from both former-LAX members to finally put Cash down for three, tying their series 1-to-1.
After this heated match, we cut to a backstage promo where 2point0 (yeah, I’ve given in) tell Darby not to look past their son, Daniel Garcia. They’re excited that Darby vs. Punk is set for Sunday not because it’s Punk’s big match, but because they’re going to personally take it away from the fans.
CM Punk finally meets Darby Allin
“Cult of Personality” hits again and Punk once again struts out to the tune of 10,000 happy Chicagoans. Punk asks if they’re tired of him yet, and they scream, “No!”
Punk says that, as excited as he is for Sunday, he can admit that he’s scared. Despite the “You Still Got It” chants, this feel-good story could end at All Out when he faces Darby Allin. Punk starts to continue explaining this fear, but then he spots Garcia and 2point0 out the corner of his eye and rushes to fight them off.
Garcia and 2point0 put the boots to Punk, but Allin and Sting come out to even the odds, though it’s clearly uneven as Allin hits a Coffin Drop on Garcia, Sting hits a Death Drop on Lee, and — after spinning around and teasing it — Punk hits his first (televised) GTS in 7 years on Parker.
Sting grabs a mic and says that he’s always wanted to share the ring with Punk (“mucho respect”), but on Sunday, the match isn’t about him. “It’s Showtime” for Allin and Punk, who stare each other down face-to-face in the ring for the first time ever.
MJF sits down with Tony Schiavone
In one of the best promos of his young career, MJF (who’s introduced as more or less walking manure by Schiavone) lists off all of Jericho’s nicknames and says that, regardless of what haters might say, Jericho is absolutely deserving of a spot on pro wrestling’s Mt. Rushmore. (I agree.)
But, more damning to the haters: MJF is going to replace Jericho when all is said and done.
MJF says that Muhammad Ali was the G.O.A.T. in boxing but kept going for too long because he was an addict. Ali went out there with shaky legs because he needed the spotlight, and now Jericho is following in those same footsteps. MJF is going to put Jericho out of his misery at All Out.
Orange Cassidy def. Jack Evans
In the feud that just won’t die (I say on the same show where the Pinnacle and Inner Circle have two ongoing storylines), Matt Hardy attacks Orange before the bell, though Orange tries to no-sell it by saying that he’s ready to go. Orange was not ready to go.
Evans did all of the mid-2000s high-flying that he’s famous for, hitting so many spinny and flippy moves that I can’t even remember most of them. (Man, he’s going to be so fun to play as in the game.) When Orange did get a moment to breathe, he used it to throw his weak kicks at Evans’s back, and even as Evans scooted away, Orange continued to stay in Evans’s head to play the mind game.
Orange officially won the mind game during commercial break, taking advantage of Evans’s never-ending momentum by getting him in a small package and pinning him in picture-and-picture (!) right before we cut back to full screen.
Matt Hardy took issue with this and attacked Orange, bringing out the entire HFO and mystifying my dad with the magnificence of Angelico. Chuck Taylor and Wheeler Yuta came out to help, but they were disposed of quickly — that is, until Jurassic Express came out for the save.
With PAC unable to make it to All Out due to travel issues, Best Friends & Jurassic Express vs the HFO is the new Buy-In match, while the Women’s Casino Battle Royale is on the main card.
Promo Break: The Upper Midcard, but especially Chris Jericho
Eddie Kingston asks Miro why the DDT is his Kryptonite, but he answers it himself: Miro’s neck is the chink in his armor. Kingston’s coming for his neck, taking the title that makes Miro God’s favorite, and says that after they walk through Hell together, maybe Miro can see his God’s Heaven. Miro says that God’s Favorite Champion only lays down for his wife in hotel rooms after title victories.
Jon Moxley says he’s going to break Satoshi Kojima’s neck and return to Cincinnati with Kojima’s scalp. Jesus.
A beside-himself JR is in the ring with Chris Jericho and asks his dear friend why he’d put his own career on the line without anyone forcing him to. Jericho says that his career went mainstream right here in Chicago, and he used his legendary status to risk it all with AEW. Here, 100 episodes in, he’d be kicking himself if he didn’t risk it to be here — and he’d also be kicking himself if he let those three dates where he lost to MJF remain burned into his mind. He’s risking it all on Sunday because he HAS to beat MJF, and as diabolical as MJF is, he doesn’t have the balls to get rid of Jericho.
Finally, Darby Allin says that, when he was 15, CM Punk really was his favorite wrestler. Punk left 7 years ago and Allin arrived 7 years ago, so even though Punk has seen what Allin can do, he’s never felt what Allin can do. Punk made Allin first on the list, but he should have been the last, as Darby’s going to beat Punk or die trying.
Powerhouse Hobbs def. Brian Cage
This is the bizarro version of Cassidy vs Evans, because even though it also started with a pre-match assault (this time with Cage attacking Hobbs, all while Taz acted disgusted on commentary), this one isn’t hard to call because it’s so flippy.
It’s hard to call because it’s just big men with big chests bumpin’ meat.
Cage tried his clothesline + enziguri + German suplex combo from the corner, but Hobbs wouldn’t release the top rope and elbowed his way out, then ran at Cage full speed with a crossbody. Hobbs used his advantage to hit Cage with a huge spinebuster, but Cage kicked out.
After so much more big boi battling — including a successful German suplex combo, an F5/Deep Sea Diverticulitis, and a deadlift suplex from the apron into the ring from Cage — the match’s conclusion came when Cage went for the Drill Claw but HOOK (!!!) distracted the ref, allowing for Hobbs to reverse the suplex and throw Cage into Starks and his FTW title shot to the face at ringside. One Town Business later, and Hobbs got an upset win over Brian Cage.
Promo Break: Black, QT, Baker
Malakai Black says he did not leave the ring last week because he was scared of Lee Johnson, but because Black is the one who chooses when he fights. Black was mercifully quick with Cody and the Andersons, but he’s going to drag out Lee’s murder on Friday, and when he’s done, Black is going to place a coin over each of Lee’s eyelids so he can pay the boat man when he arrives in Hades.
We go to QT Marshall in the ring next as he and the extended Factory (a.k.a. all of his and Cody’s students that’d make good heels later) called out Paul Wight to meet “1-on-1.” Wight came out and knocked out one guy, shoulder tackled two others, chokeslammed a fourth, and swatted a fifth out of the air. Gunn Club came out late to even the odds, though they made them even when Billy hit Wight in the back with a chair. Gunn Club leave while a bewildered QT enters the ring; has Solo, Comoroto, and a third guy lift Wight up; and hits a Diamond Cutter all by himself. It was actually really funny!
Finally, Britt Baker kicks off the official AEW Women’s Division Quarter with a trio of announcements. Rebel and Hayter are both in the Casino Royale, meaning Britt has two, er, one ace up her sleeve. Also, to make sure that she’s on top, AEW has signed a major free agent to a long-term deal to help her unit stay atop the division: herself. And for signing a long-term deal, Tony Khan allowed Baker to make one match, so she chose Rebel and Hayter vs Statlander on this week’s Rampage.
Tay Conti def. Penelope Ford w/The Bunny
This match ruled. Conti came out trying her darnedest not to smile because it was time to get serious, and she and Ford — obviously by this point — started their fight before the bell as Conti dove onto her and The Bunny.
The two women brawled at ringside, hit some stiff moves in-ring (mostly Conti with her corner kicks), and went for some deep submissions on one another, with Ford going for a Muta Lock but Conti reversing it into a sort of Calf Crusher. Tay got a huge near fall over Ford at one point with her wacky Samoan Driver, as well!
After all of these false finishes, Allie tried to take matters into her own hands by giving Conti a piece of her mind on the apron, but Conti saw this for what it was and jumped out of the way when Ford tried to jump her from behind. Ford stopped herself from hitting Allie, but Conti pushed Ford into Allie and rolled Ford up with a schoolboy to get the three-count.
Ford and Allie were discontent and jumped Conti some more after the bell, but then the Dark Order’s music hit as Anna Jay made her return from injury! Jay didn’t get to do anything as the heels ran off before she could fight, but the crowd went wild for TayJay’s reunion and embrace.
After this, the AEW Women’s Quarter concluded with Jade Cargill and Nyla Rose interrupting Thunder Rosa’s interview with Alex Marvez. Rosa asked if they were trying to intimidate her, which prompted differing responses (Jade: “Intimidate?” Nyla: “Yeah.”), and then the big women beat Rosa down until Mark Sterling said to save it for pay-per-view.
The Elite def. the Lucha Bros & Jurassic Express
This match started with two different shades of great as Luchasaurus and Doc Gallows kicked things off with a big, bulky brawl, then Nick and Fenix tagged in and went straight for some flip-filled action. When the younger brothers got tired, they tagged in their big brothers, and with all four of them in the ring, it became a Superkick Party.
The plan was simple: the Lucha Bros were wrestling the bulk of the match to intimidate the Elite. If there was too much heat on the Brothers, Luchasaurus would clean house. Then, if they tried to run, Luchasaurus would throw Jungle Boy at them. In contrast, the Young Bucks were trying to outwrestle the Lucha Bros, but the Good Brothers were there to take a lot of the damage.
This main event featured multiple crazy dives from Jungle Boy and a fun spot where Fenix grabbed hold of Nick Jackson’s hand for an arm drag and had to chop and kick his way through the whole opposing team to get his spot in, but at the end of the day, Fenix succumbed to the same fate as Jungle Boy weeks ago as the Elite all tried to grab at him from ringside, distracting him long enough for the Jacksons to wake up, catch his diving crossbody, and turn it into a Meltzer Driver out of nowhere for a 3-count, once again reminding us that, as long as the Elite is together, they are untouchable.
Kenny Omega came out with jet black hair (or really black with a blue tint — going full Jay White) and had the Elite continue to beat down their opponents until Christian Cage came out. Omega announced that this was a trap, though, as the 7-to-5 advantage favored the Elite. Omega also said that he had a meeting with Tony Khan earlier and noticed that he’d left the keys to the steel cage control room unguarded, so he had Don Callis do his thing and lower the imposing steel cage from above the ring — but not before the Good Brothers hit a Magic Killer to Luchasaurus through a table on the outside.
The Elite handcuffed the Lucha Bros to the bottom rope in separate corners, and while Matt taunted Fenix with the tag belt, Nick went back and forth superkicking each Lucha Brother. Omega — on the mic the whole time — would tell Nak to hold his mic, hit Christian with a kendo stick, grab the mic back to talk more crap, and repeat.
All the while Alex Abrahantes brought out Marko Stunt, Frankie Kazarian, Dante Martin, and the Best Friends to try and help, but the Good Brothers knocked them off the cage and Cutler sprayed them in the eyes with his cold spray.
There was no feel-good ending. There was no hope. The entire babyface locker room was held at bay while all three championship contenders for this Sunday lay handcuffed and bloodied in the ring while the Elite taunted the crowd, not even done with their assault as the show cut to black.
The only good news is that the steel cage absolutely works. Let’s hope the Lucha Bros get a fair fight this weekend.
I need to see the Elite burn.
I need to see AEW All Out.
And that, my friends, is the mark of a great go-home show.
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