AEW: Dynamite had a lot of work to do this week.
After the explosive AEW Winter Is Coming special, a lot of elements were up in the air. What kind of impact (get it?) would Kenny Omega have as the new AEW Champion? And why is the legendary Sting back on TNT? This week’s show promised to answer those questions as well as provide the usual top-notch pro wrestling action AEW is known for.
With that, let’s get into the hits and misses from this week’s AEW: Dynamite.
HIT – The Young Bucks Vs. The Hybrid2
If TH2 wins, they get a title shot against the Young Bucks.
Pretty hot match to start off AEW: Dynamite. Evans and Angelico looked pretty good, and the Bucks were, well, the Bucks. It was the flippy-floppy match you’d expect from these two teams. Lots of cool spots, but it went on a little too long. As you can probably tell, I have mixed feelings about this match.
It was good enough to keep my interest without dragging. But it didn’t do enough for TH2 to justify the length. The match paid off their sneak attack with the Acclaimed last week, but there was nothing in it for either team. After the match, the action heated up as the Acclaimed ran in to beat down the Bucks. SCU made the save. If I had to guess, eight-man tag next week? So maybe it wasn’t a complete wash. Good enough to register as a hit, but just barely. Shave four minutes off the match, and it’s an academic hit.
HIT – MEANWHILE!
MJF promises to drive the “not-so-smart marks” nuts when he beats Orange Cassidy to hang on to his Dynamite Diamond ring. Any time MJF says anything on AEW: Dynamite perceptible to human ears, it’s a hit. But I could do without the insider lingo. Comes off as a little Russo-ish.
Also meanwhile, Darby Allin is getting help with his mental health. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with anyone talking him out of dying in the ring. He’s taking a Rorschach test. And apparently the TNT Champion has Brian Cage on the brain. I mean, Team Taz has only been chasing him for three or four hundred years. I’m absolutely there for that match, though. A perfect David vs. Goliath scenario, and Darby could really thrive there.
HIT – IT’S STIIIIIIIING!
Well, actually, it’s Cody Rhodes. I’m still not used to typing his full name in these AEW: Dynamite reviews. Even though the advertised promo was Tony and Sting, Tony’s out to interview the American Nightmare. It’s almost as if Tony knew Sting would interrupt.
Before Cody can utter a word, the Icon comes out to a pop as big as last week. Tony hands the mic off to Sting and decides to leave it to Cody and the Stinger. Instead, Sting pulls Tony in for a hug. Aw. Sting gushes over Tony and gives him props for how much Tony has put him over in years past. He even coaxes another “IT’S STIIIIIING!” out of Tony. Cody finally offers a welcome back and fanboys all over the Icon. He thanks Sting and says he’s been waiting to share the ring with Sting forever. But Sting isn’t interested.
He’s here for the kid with the face paint who hangs out in the rafters. The fans are into it big time. There’s so much going with this AEW: Dynamite segment. Cody’s underlying resentment that Sting isn’t there for him. The promise of Sting vs. Darby. And the unspoken reality that Team Taz is somewhere near the center of it all.
I don’t think this is just nostalgia speaking. But I feel like Sting’s become a better promo during his absence. Awesome.
HIT – Varsity Blondes Vs. FTR
FTR makes their first in-ring appearance on AEW: Dynamite since they dropped the titles at Full Gear.
Much like the opening match, the action here is solid. Griff Garrison and Brian Pillman, Jr. both looked really good and got an opportunity to show off their stuff. Unlike the opener, though, this match was just long enough not to overstay its welcome. The booking was exactly what it needed to be. FTR is in a bad mood, they take the win over the up-and-comers, and we all move on with our lives.
Seriously, I don’t think there’s a top on how good Pillman is gonna be. And he’s already pretty great.
After the match, FTR does some smack-talking with Jurassic Express. The usual solid, easy-to-follow booking from AEW: Dynamite. Have a solid match, insert shennanigans, set up another solid match. Wash, rinse, wipe hands on pants.
NEAR-MISS – ‘Hangman’ Page Segment / Dustin Rhodes Vs. 10
‘Hangman’ Adam Page is hanging out at the bar, lamenting the fact that he needs a couple partners for a six-man tag on next week’s AEW: Dynamite. So naturally, Silver and Reynolds just appear from under the bar (in cowboy hats) and offer their services. I spit out my drink, because I could listen to Page non-chalantly ask, “How long have you been back there?!” all day long. The Hangman is down for teaming with Silver and Reynolds. But they shouldn’t take it as confirmation that he’s joining the Dark Order.
Seriously, can we get a ‘Hangman’ Page angle that doesn’t involve intrigue about his loyalties?
Next on AEW: Dynamite, we get Dustin Rhodes taking on 10. Blink and you’ll miss it, because Dustin wins it with a bulldog in less than three minutes. I mean, I can’t exactly say I was expecting anything brilliant. After the match, Evil Uno offers Dustin a spot in the Dark Order. Apparently, if he wants it, Dustin can be “Seven.” Har har. Dustin politely declines. If by “politely declines” you mean “slaps the taste out of Uno’s mouth.”
MISS – Shaq Interview
For some reason, Brandi Rhodes is part of this conversation. Also, for some reason, Shaq cares about the beef between Brandi and Jade Cargill. Okay, I’ll fess up. I didn’t look it up. Is Shaq somehow connected to Jade Cargill?
Brandi has her arm in a sling after Jade broke it a couple weeks back. Shaq thinks Jade probably went too far in attacking Brandi. But he also thinks Brandi should spend her down time taking notes on Jade. That prompts a drink in Shaq’s face. A shot of Brandi, indeed. Get it? Because she has that show? On YouTube? Called ‘A Shot Of Brandi?’
I’ll see myself out.
Anyway. I didn’t care about Brandi and Jade to begin with. So I definitely don’t care what Shaq thinks about it. I guess I have to assume the endgame is Cody and Brandi vs. Shaq and Jade? Who knows? Regardless, this AEW: Dynamite segment just wasn’t enough to make me care.
HIT – Inner Circle Ultimatum
So this has gone on long enough that I don’t think it ends with the Inner Circle turning on Jericho. And it doesn’t end with MJF taking over as the leader.
Tony teases it somewhat, saying he’d love to see “a Judas Effect on the face of MJF.” Jericho teases that this might be the last time we see the Inner Circle on AEW: Dynamite. MJF takes the floor first and professes his love for the whole group (“Ortiz, you’re my ESSE, bro!”). He says he lobbied to join the best group in professional wrestling. Sammy finally has enough and gets in MJF’s face, and Jericho steps between them. Ortiz steps in and says MJF and Wardlow are assets to the group, but they’re awful people. MJF is growing on Ortiz like a fungus, but he’s growing on him.
Ortiz insists that MJF and Sammy shake hands. “Shake his hand,” Ortiz says. “You’re better than him, and you know it.” Ooooh, sick burn, bro.
Sammy reluctantly agrees out of respect for Jericho. But if MJF screws the Inner Circle one more time, he’s out. He gets in both MJF and Jericho’s face. Okay, this ends with Sammy Guevara as the biggest babyface in the history of ever. All seems to be well, but Hager wants to know why Wardlow keeps staring at him. Again, Jericho plays peacemaker, and makes them agree to stop staring at each other. They agree, but Jericho didn’t say anything about side-eyeing. Brilliant.
Awesome, awesome AEW: Dynamite segment. This slow burn is awesome.
HIT – Eddie Kingston, The Butcher, & The Blade (W/ The Bunny) Vs. Lance Archer & The Lucha Bros. (W/ Jake Roberts)
So this AEW: Dynamite match escalated quickly. Archer leaps over the top rope and sparks a brawl outside the ring to start, before the bell even rings. And it’s a pretty crazy brawl. The Butcher suplexes Penta through a table, and then the match proper starts with Archer facing off against Kingston.
By the way, whenever we get around to the one-on-one Archer vs. Kingston match, it’s gonna be glorious. Butcher and Blade pick up the win. And Archer puts a beating on the heels after the match. This was a fun mesh of contrasting styles. And, like I said, anything in the service of Archer vs. Kingston is a-okay with me. Fun, solid stuff.
HIT – Abadon Vs. Tesha Price
Before we get to Abadon preventing me from sleeping until some time in 2037 after the robot vampires take over, Red Velvet gets beat down by Jade Cargill and Nyla Rose. Heavens. Someone tangentially connected to Brandi beaten down by Jade and Nyla. I still don’t care.
Anyway. Abadon absolutely squashes Price. She picks up the win with a Widow’s Peak. Then Abadon keeps up the attack after the match, so Hikaru Shida runs out to make the save with a kendo stick. Once all is saved and good has prevailed, Abadon does an Undertaker sit-up. But Shida isn’t scared of Abadon. Honest.
I like the booking, even if the match doesn’t amount to much. Abadon is a literal monster. The booking needs to acknowledge her as such. And I’m digging Abadon haunting Shida. If they play their cards right, the AEW Women’s Championship might just end up meaning something.
HIT – Kenny Omega Promo
Because he’s the most obnoxious person ever, AEW Champion Kenny Omega shows up to AEW: Dynamite in a helicopter. I love it.
Tony tells Kenny off for stealing the title. He’s never been more disgusted by anything else he’s ever seen. Um. Dude, you told Hulk Hogan to go to hell after he turned heel. You’re telling me Kenny Omega hitting Jon Moxley with a microphone comes even close to that? Honestly, why are we pretending that Kenny only started being a jerk last week? The guy’s been building to this since before Full Gear. Don Callis joins Kenny and says that their master plan to take the title from Moxley is bigger than Montreal. Seriously, how much smark talk do we need on this show? Still, it’s well-delivered, and it gets us deeper into Kenny’s snarky heel persona.
Kenny finally takes control of the mic, and he goes absolutely berserk. He insists that he never went to Tony Khan begging for spots for his buddies like the other AEW executives. Kenny waited and bided his time for a year. He says that lying in wait for a year was a performance and fine art, according to the AEW Champion. And Jon Moxley fell for it. I could’ve done without the insider talk, but this is the Kenny Omega I wanted from the jump. And if this promo is any indication, it was worth the wait.
The champ promises that he’s not done with surprises yet. And I trust AEW and Kenny enough to be excited about them.
MISS – Dynamite Dozen Final – MJF (W/ Wardlow) Vs. Orange Cassidy
Honestly. Does anybody remember when Orange Cassidy was the biggest star in pro wrestling? You know, in the before time? Back in August? Not sure if anybody remembers this, but the guy beat Chris Jericho twice.
The match itself was fine. Cassidy had the match won with a couple of Orange Punches, but the Inner Circle ran in to make the save. Then Cassidy got another one, and Miro ran in to beat him down. Miro drapes the unconscious MJF on top of Cassidy. MJF wins the diamond ring for a second straight year, and it does literally no one any favors. Cassidy loses a big match again en route to a “who cares” feud with Miro. And MJF looks like a dope who couldn’t pick up a big win by himself. Such a waste of two great talents.
AEW: Dynamite took the right page out of WCW’s book with Sting. They took the wrong page out with a finish that would’ve made Dusty say, “That’s a little much, baby.”
I know that following Winter Is Coming was gonna be a tall order for AEW: Dynamite. But this week’s show was the very definition of a mixed bag.
A solid first hour followed by an extremely scatterbrained second half. The good news is that pretty much every promo or pretape was a hit on this week’s show. But the bad news is that the matches is where the important booking happens. And the important booking this week was as bad as it gets.
I know I’m a broken record at this point. But the Orange Cassidy iron is stone cold right now. If we’re being honest, at this rate, I don’t know if AEW can heat it back up any time soon.
Full match results and ratings:
Young Bucks def. The Hybrid2, ***
FTR def. Varsity Blondes, ***
Dustin Rhodes def. 10, 1/2*
Lance Archer & the Lucha Bros. def. Eddie Kingston, Butcher, & Blade, ***
Abadon def. Tesha Price, *
MJF def. Orange Cassidy, * 3/4
AEW: Dynamite airs Wednesday nights on TNT at 8 PM/ET.
Feature image provided by All Elite Wrestling.