There’s a lot that I can say about the “four pillars” motif that AEW is playing with. I can talk about how it’s a great throwback to the four pillars of All Japan or the three musketeers of New Japan. I can talk about the different heel and face dynamics that can be played with over the course of the next decade of AEW. I can talk about the drama that can ensue when a fifth man becomes so undeniable that he has to run through Allin, Friedman, Guevara, and Perry to make his mark.
Or I can talk about how Arn Anderson implicitly called Cody Rhodes a punk for not shooting Malakai Black with an actual gun.
Grab a Glock and keep your car door closed as we DRIVE into another week’s edition of AEW Dynamite!
Adam Cole def. Jungle Boy
After watching both men debut around the same time, it’s become clear to me just how much Adam Cole takes after CM Punk, as both men have very “studious” wrestling personas. Adam Cole is very reversal-heavy during his matches, and it always seems like he and his opponent have each other scouted even though Cole’s just been here for a few weeks.
As Punk himself explained on commentary, the story of this match was that Cole could block everything Jungle Boy threw at him the first time, but just like the Mountie, Jungle Jack always gets his man.
Duck a rebound lariat? Jungle Boy’s got you next time. Knee your way out of the tree of woe? Jungle Boy’s getting that low dropkick to your head.
Cole was right there with him in response. As Excalibur and JR put over heavily on commentary, Jungle Boy’s Snare Trap has never been broken out of — only broken up during tag matches — so Cole pulled something special out of his hat when he turned Jungle Boy’s attempt at pulling Cole toward the center of the ring into a full reversal. And, though Jungle Boy escaped an attempted Panama Sunrise on the floor (after Cole already reversed a suicide dive with an enziguri), Cole eventually got his move off — but it only got a 2.99 count.
Jungle Boy had one last gasp of air after reversing the
Last Shot newly deemed Boom, but after grabbing Cole’s waist and going for a roll-up, Cole pressed both men’s bodies up to Aubrey on the ropes, used this distraction to kick Jungle Boy in his jungle vine, and hit the Boom to get the final three count.
This was an amazing opener to the show, and even though this match is showcasing Cole, it still did well to ensure that we know how big of a deal Jungle Boy is. Adam Cole is the PAC here, but Jungle Boy is the Hangman Page. This isn’t their last match, and this isn’t the end of the road for Jungle Boy.
This is, however, the set-up to the next segment, as Cole’s victory led directly into the BTE theme song playing and the Elite joining him in the ring.
Bryan Danielson wants the Elite
Karl Anderson started this off with the mic, ensuring that SOMEONE would mention the Good Brothers in this segment. He put over the IMPACT Tag Team Championships, Adam Cole (Bay-Bay), AEW Champion Kenny Omega, and the best tag team in the world/two Extremely Violent People, The Young Bucks.
After some goofiness where Cutler grabs the mic and the Young Bucks put over Nakazawa as the greatest talker in all of wrestling (prompting the only timely CM Punk chant of the night), Bryan Danielson comes out to interrupt Omega as he explained that Danielson’s 0-0-1 record puts him at the back of the line.
Much like Emperor Palpatine, Danielson has a script ready for trying to turn a steadied mind. He asked the crowd if they wanted to see a rematch, he got the crowd to chant about Kenny’s lack of balls, and he said he didn’t want the belt, but none of those got Omega to budge. All’s well, though, as Bryan really just wants to fight any member of the Elite.
Omega invites Bryan into the ring, but Bryan refuses to come alone, bringing Christian Cage, Frankie Kazarian, and Jurassic Express down to clear out the ring. This set up two matches: Bryan Danielson vs Nick Jackson on Rampage and Omega/Bucks/Cole vs Bryan/Christian/Express on next week’s Dynamite: Anniversary Edition.
After this, Andrade interrupted the Lucha Brothers and asked them not about their AEW Tag Titles, but their AAA Tag Titles. Without giving anything away to the brothers or to the audience, Andrade told them to prepare to defend those.
Cody Rhodes & Lee Johnson def. Matt Sydal & Dante Martin
Whereas Matt and Dante are starting to work more like a regular tag team by the week, Lee Johnson entered behind Cody like a manager in a WWE 2K game, and I thought that was funny.
Cody kicked things off with Dante, but after Dante showed even the tiniest amount of resistance, Cody tagged out to Lee and Dante responded by tagging out Matt. This infuriated Arn Anderson at ringside, who yelled that the plan was for Cody to start this one off.
Lee dropkicked his way through Matt’s attempt at overwhelming him through speed, so Matt tagged in Dante, who has every athletic advantage over every opponent. Lee tried to look cool with an impressive headstand flip out of the corner; Dante then did his impossible jump off the bottom rope into a headstand flip of his own that was like triply impressive.
Dante and Matt took turns staying on top of Lee (since, as Arn implied, Lee wasn’t ready to lead in this one), but Lee eventually got the hot tag. Like last week, Cody got boos, which he played into this time (while still fitting his character) by not only bowling through Dante but kicking Matt Sydal off the apron despite Matt not posing a threat in the moment.
But with the Nightmare Family’s flow being thrown off, Cody couldn’t keep up with Dante and got winded. Cody backed away from Dante but didn’t go to tag out, so Lee went out of his way to yank Cody into the corner, tag himself in, and finish the match for them, beating Dante with his kneecap brainbuster after a bit more struggling from Dante.
I smiled at the end here, thinking, “Wow, having Lee win here is wild in a fun way,” and I was content to leave it at that. Then, Arn popped off.
Promo Break: ARN ANDERSON, Soho, Baker
Tony Schiavone entered the ring to interview Cody, but realizing that he was getting booed, Cody tried to give the crowd what they wanted by having Malakai Black come out immediately. Arn shut him down, saying Cody’s doing everything wrong. Cody let Black pick apart the Nightmare Family one-by-one. He let himself get bulldozed so bad at Homecoming that he tried to take off his boots, which wasn’t part of the plan. Then, last week, Cody was too busy checking on Arn to win the match when he had it won.
Arn then says that the difference between himself and Cody is that, if either man was parked at a red light and some guy pulled the door open and told them to get out, Cody would say, “I’ll get out; just don’t hurt me.” Arn would pull a GUN ON THIS MAN, put it to his head, and paint the sidewalk. Arn then said he doesn’t ride with losers, told Lee to follow him out of the ring, and muttered that, “At least Lee listens to me.” So, for now, Cody is left with Brandi, a woman who enters from the heel tunnel. Interesting.
Ruby Soho then recaps how nice it was to be loved by such a huge crowd. Baker says that the crowd loves her song, not her, which is brutal. Ruby says that Britt better be ready for next time, because next time, she’ll be deadly serious next time.
Darby, Moxley, & Kingston def. Bear Country & Greene
I definitely didn’t realize EVOLVE veteran Retrosexual Anthony Greene would be here, but that’s cool!
The less established team tried their best here. Bear County tossed Darby around, had trouble with Moxley, then were felled in their awesome “Bronson-lifts-Boulder-on-his-shoulders-for-something” attempt by the force of Mox and Kingston combined.
Darby Coffin Dropped onto the Bear Country on the floor, and though Greene tried his best with a sweet springboard twisting crossbody, Mox and Kingston flexed their chests to deflect it and dumped him on his head with the Violent Crown for the victory.
After the match, Kingston grabbed a Brodie Lee sign from the crowd and held it in the air as he and Mox threw Greene’s limp body at Sting, who shrugged and hit his best Scorpion Death Drop since returning. A nice, fun match to show off the coolest quartet in AEW.
The Dark Orange-er def. The HFO
As soon as the match starts, Five and Uno are at each other’s throats, and just like how Five got his mask ripped off by Uno on a recent Dark: Elevation, Five ripped his own mask off and threw it at Uno, allowing Butcher & The Blade to attack him while he was distracted by his own partner.
Despite this being a tribute to Brodie Lee and, by extension, the Dark Order, the DO spent a lot of this match fighting from under, as they couldn’t do as many tag moves as B&B, TH2, or Private Party because all of the tandems on their end had at least one member (Uno, Reynolds, Five) wrapped up in anger, making Orange Cassidy the most put-together person in the team.
After many miscommunications, Uno and Grayson decide to just leave the match, and Cabana chases after them, but it’s Anna, Tay, -1, and Amanda Huber (wife of the late Brodie Lee) who throw some papers at them (nice work, Brodie Jr.) and yell for them to get back in there for Brodie.
The men all run back into the ring to join in on the 8-on-8 brawl, which breaks down as the HFO back out of the ring. Grayson does a crazy tornillo to the outside; Five and Cabana moonsault onto groups of the HFO; Ten powerbombs Reynolds into a moonsault to the outside, then spears Kassidy through the ropes to another group of HFO men (and Uno); and after getting a hot tag from Orange and an Orange Punch to Hardy, Silver runs through the whole HFO with his Cesaro-like comeback.
Jora Johl’s understated Dynamite debut as part of the HFO ends with him taking a spinebuster from Ten, a Beaver Boy combo, and a Fatality as the Dark Order’s 8-man Hulk-up ends with a group hug and the ladies and child of the Dark Order watching from the ramp with a smile.
Promo Break: Lio Rush (!), FTR, MOTY, Shida
Lio Rush says that TK has been trying for months to get him to be All Elite. Rush says he’ll do it because it’s good for business. He then busts out a bunch of day-trading, stock market lingo that I didn’t understand but still found compelling. It appears that not only is Lio Rush my youngest brother’s favorite wrestler, but he also is my middle brother. Rise and grind? Nah: Rinse, Rush, Repeat.
Dax Harwood cuts a short promo saying that he doesn’t like to make excuses, but he might need one now. He was worried about Cash’s life, and FTR entered that match with Darby & Sting with a clouded mind. But now, they’re reinvigorated.
The Men of the Year cut the same promo they cut on this week’s Dark: Elevation, but this time with Dan Lambert and tons of “What” and “CM Punk” chants, making Rochester officially AEW’s most WWE crowd to date. Scorpio says he was tired of being overlooked even a year ago, and now that he’s got one of the best win percentages in AEW, has grabbed the giant Sonic ring, and has beaten Chris Jericho, it’s time people take him seriously. Ethan Page masterfully runs through the “What” chants, basically saying, “They hate us ‘cause they ain’t us,” and reminding us that he’s got two black belts. Now, imagine that, except it’s a really good promo that I can’t do justice to. Also, Dan Lambert says Jericho’s out getting plastic surgery because Masvidal’s knee is physically inside Jericho’s head.
Finally, Shida says she’s prepared to have her 50th win in AEW — making her the first woman to do so and solidifying her as Lady Jungle Boy (sorry, Anna) — but she has to get through Serena Deeb next week to do so. This promo kicks of AEW’s Weekly Women’s Block.
TayJay def. Bunny & Ford
Tay Conti and Anna Jay debut their new tag team theme and all four women wear tag team attires (TayJay in pink and the HFO in black and red) in this grudge match. This match starts like all of their matches: a big old brawl.
There’s not really a lot to break down about the beginning of this match, as it really is just a brawl. They do hit some of their signature spots (e.g. Allie spinning one of the girls around on the apron and forearming her head), but this is more Attitude Era tag than NXT 2016 tag.
The match’s finale came as Ford went for a huge moonsault from the top but ate canvas as Anna rolled out of the way. Allie tried to pull Ford to safety from under the bottom rope, but Tay pulled Allie out and hit her with the DDTay, allowing Jay to hit the Dangerous Jay kick and put Ford out cold with the Queenslayer. After the match, -1 ran out to hug Tay and do a Dark Order claw with Anna.
After this lovely moment, AEW’s Weekly Women’s Block ended with the announcement of Jade Cargill vs Nyla Rose vs Thunder Rosa on this week’s Rampage, which has me very excited!
MJF addresses the four pillars
MJF said that AEW has a lot of stock put into four men — four pillars — in AEW going forward: Jungle Boy (“Beat him”), Sammy Guevara (“Beat him”), “andDarbyAllinwhatever.” And, of course, MJF himself, who claims that AEW’s worthless if he leaves. And here’s the thing: he’s going to leave. He has an old friend from MLW named Bruce Prichard, and MJF isn’t crowned AEW Champion soon, Bruce might just get a call from old Maxwell Jacob Friedman.
Darby Allin comes out and tells Max that, if he wants to leave, he can go. Darby won’t miss him, and neither will the AEW audience. He also tells him that, despite MJF claiming to be the best of the four pillars, how can MJF lay claim to that when Darby’s the only one of the four to win a title?
MJF says that, even though Darby’s aesthetic is “school shooter mime on a skateboard,” he respects Darby because he’s straight edge — but the crowd doesn’t know WHY Darby is straight edge. Darby’s straight edge because (MJF’s words, not mine) Darby’s sloppy drunk uncle crashed a car and died with Darby in the car as a kid. MJF says the wrong man died that day.
Despite MJF prompting Darby to hit him, Darby rejects and instead straightens Max’s jacket, saying he won’t let MJF get in his head. MJF seems frazzled by this since it worked pretty well last time (poor Pillman), so he grabs Wardlow and leaves to figure out how he can better ruin Darby’s nights.
Jungle Boy’s putting on regular matches of the night with top AEW stars, Darby Allin is a former champion who’s always on the hunt for more, and MJF is rarely defeated and has beaten two of his three contemporaries. As for Sammy Guevara, he’s in the main event, and he hopes to join Darby as another pillar to grab gold.
Sammy Guevara def. Miro to retain the TNT Championship
After a hype package where Guevara says he didn’t know Fuego was going to put his car on the line (despite being the one to challenge Fuego in the first place), both men make their entrances.
The typical arc of a Miro match for the babyface is up-then-down (Fuego) or down-then-up-then-down (Johnson, Pillman, Fuego Round 2). Sammy looked to be in the latter category, as all of his offense was ineffective at the start of this match.
Running attacks were no-sold. Aerial attacks were caught and flung. Sammy’s first real offensive win — a rebound Spanish Fly — only came because Miro hurt him a bunch of times prior to that and the crowd was chanting for more blood.
From there, though, Sammy’s momentum kept going up. The knee he’d exposed earlier in the match finally landed two bicycle knees. He dove onto Miro as he escaped the ring. The only problem was that he couldn’t lift Miro for the GTH since the size advantage was still there.
Miro used this weight advantage to slam Sammy and prepare for a Game Over, but Sammy rolled out of the ring. In anger, Miro decided to rip off all four turnbuckle pads, but as he went for the fourth one, Fuego Del Sol ran out to stop him. Miro shoved Fuego off like it was nothing and ripped off the last turnbuckle pad, but Sammy bumped Miro face-first into the turnbuckle, hit a GTH, and despite commentary’s protests to go for a pin, finished Miro off with a successful 630 to beat God’s favorite champion and become the fifth TNT Champion in Brodie Lee’s hometown.
Though I may always be of the opinion that Miro should have held the champion until the end of time, a homegrown talent in Guevara getting a win over Miro really leans into AEW’s outward position on focusing on the future.
AEW did a lot of things tonight that weren’t the obvious move but were inherently interesting. Lee Johnson getting a win instead of Cody. Darby and MJF being each other’s post-rebound feuds. Lio Rush being into NFTs. Jade Cargill and Hikaru Shida getting matches announced that I’m not sure either woman will win. Sammy Guevara dethroning Miro comparatively early into his reign (though, really, it was just shy under four months).
I don’t know what AEW’s doing next, and I like that. The only thing that I can be pretty confident about — especially now that it’s been blatantly addressed on TV — is that there are four men in particular who are probably going to be front and center on AEW programming for a long, long time.
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