AEW: Dynamite closed out the new year with a bang.
The young show started in October, just five months after All Elite Wrestling launched in May with the Double Or Nothing pay-per-view.
And in that time, it’s made a big impact and forced WWE to fire shots in the Wednesday Night War.
If this week’s episode was a sign of things to come, 2020 could be another banner year for AEW.
And now, for the last time in 2019, the hits and misses from AEW: Dynamite.
HIT — Omega, Hangman, and the Luchas
It’s pretty rare to get a dream match in the opening segment. But AEW: Dynamite has made that one of their calling cards since their October debut.
This opening contest with Kenny Omega and ‘Hangman’ Adam Page facing off against the Lucha Bros. had it all.
Omega and Page have both been men without a country in recent weeks. Neither guy seems to have a story in the pipeline. Teaming together solves that problem — it creates a hell of a tag team, and it could be the ground work for a hell of a singles feud between the two.
The latter possibility became more real after the match, as Omega and Page found themselves at odds after dropping the match to the Luchas.
But backstage, Pac reveals he’s going to hold Omega’s friend, Michael Nakazawa, hostage until Omega answers his challenge for a rubber match.
Again, brilliant storytelling from AEW: Dynamite. A great match builds to another great match. There isn’t much for the Lucha Bros. coming out of this, but their ring gear might as well be made out of Teflon. In the fans’ eyes, those guys are untouchable.
Fantastic, fantastic stuff.
I don’t really do match ratings for the weekly TV, but what the hell. This was an easy ****1/2.
But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the announcers think that Page is still part of the Elite. Do your homework, guys. You work at AEW: Dynamite. There’s not much digging required.
NEAR MISS — Why Is Cody Part Of This?
Next up, the Butcher and the Blade faced off against Cody and Darby Allin.
I mentioned this last week, but Cody has to – has to – be extricated from this business with Butcher and Blade. It has nothing to do with his primary feud with MJF, and it doesn’t do anything for Butcher and Blade.
And Darby Allin got nothing out of this match but TV time.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) December 19, 2019
Allin is in the same boat as the Lucha Bros. inasmuch as the AEW faithful are going to love him whenever he pops up on AEW: Dynamite. The announcers clue us in on a stipulation to this match that, if Allin and Cody win, Allin gets a rematch with the American Nightmare. Well, that might’ve made me care if I’d known that beforehand.
Cody and Allin pick up the win, which is good for them. But three weeks after attacking AEW’s top babyface, it’s now like it never happened.
Like everything involving Cody since Full Gear, this was a mixed bag.
HIT — Welcome To The Jungle, Boy
It’s a segment involving Chris Jericho on AEW: Dynamite. That alone almost guarantees nothing lower than a near-miss.
But this was great from start-to-finish. Prior to a commercial break earlier in the show, it began with a video packaging of Jungle Boy training for his battle with the AEW Champion. And we get a reminder of Jericho’s stipulation: Jungle Boy has to last 10 minutes against the champ.
Just before the match, we get a sit-down interview between Jungle Boy and Jim Ross. And Jungle Boy gets to show off some personality to make this seemingly-nothing, three-week program seem like the most important thing in the world.
Then came the match. It wasn’t a 5-star classic by any means, but Jungle Boy went the distance and got an Attitude-Era Steve Austin pop for his troubles. Seriously, I’ve never seen a time-limit draw get a reaction like this.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) December 19, 2019
And after the match, Jericho being completely indignant about not being able to put Jungle Boy away was a thing of beauty.
Picture-perfect stuff from AEW: Dynamite. They’re starting to churn out new stars at an NXT-like pace.
NEAR MISS — Statlander Shines, Nightmare Collective Slumps
The women continued to make more strides on AEW: Dynamite, particularly through the intrigue of the Nightmare Collective.
Kris Statlanader picked up a big win over Dr. Britt Baker and continued her upward rise through the ranks. She’s the number-one contender now, which I don’t quite understand. This was a number-one contender’s match, even though Hikaru Shida was the top contender last week. And Shida hasn’t wrestled since.
It doesn’t drag this segment down any, but AEW needs to figure out clearer fake rules for their fake ranking system.
Statlander has the goods in the ring, she’s got the charisma without saying a word, and she’s quickly becoming an AEW fan favorite. Baker continues to flounder, but she’s been built up enough that Statlander’s win is still meaningful.
Again, the real sparks began with the Nightmare Collective offering Statlander a spot in their group. To which Statlander offered a hard no, much to Awesome Kong’s disappointment. By the way, Awesome Kong shows her disappointment by beating the crap out of people.
Kong continues to be dangerous, having beaten a jobber in a squash match earlier in the show. But the Nightmare Collective slips a little this week. If they can’t get someone who’s been on the show for two weeks to join the group, how dangerous can they really be?
HIT — Spears Rolls On
The angle from last week, of Shawn Spears looking for the ideal partner, continued on this week’s AEW: Dynamite.
I really like the way they’re building this up.
It keeps Spears in the mix while the bookers figure out what to do with him. And it also increases intrigue in terms of the tag team division and sets up a potential gauntlet for Spears to tear through as he looks for – as Tully Blanchard calls it – his own Arn Anderson.
It was short, but it felt important. And that’s what counts.
HIT — The Dark Order Rises
AEW: Dynamite‘s main event pitted the AEW Team Champions SCU against the Young Bucks.
SCU put on a great match in spite of the Young Bucks’ continued inability to tell in an-ring story within the confines of standard tag team rules.
But the true highlight of the segment was the in-ring return of the Dark Order for the first time since their HYDRA-esque cult angle began.
Along with the Beaver Boys, who were featured in last week’s weird segment, the Dark Order beat down the Bucks. Which brings out Cody and Dustin Rhodes to make the save, but they’re quickly dispatched as well.
Finally, only the Order and the Bucks are in the ring as we go off the air.
Unlike Butcher and Blade, we’ve had build up for the Dark Order. We’ve known for three weeks that they want to expand their presence, and making a statement against the Bucks – with that build-up – makes them legit.
It wasn’t AEW: Dynamite‘s best outing, but it was still a more-than-solid show.
Big stars came across as big stars, and new stars were born.
I’d like to see the Nightmare Collective live up to their own hype, and I’d like to see the Young Bucks wrestle, you know, wrestling matches.
But it was a great way to close out the year for AEW.
AEW: Dynamite returns at 8 PM ET on Wednesday, January 1, on TNT.
All images courtesy of All Elite Wrestling.
'AEW: Dynamite' - December 18, 2019
- The Dark Order - AGAIN!
- Omega, Page, and Pac Intrigue
- The Nightmare Collective is getting interesting
- Jungle Boy hangs with Le Champion
- I really, really hope Cody's done with Butcher and Blade
- The Young Bucks are sloppy and uninteresting