Lance Archer competed in a TNT Championship Tournament quarterfinal on 'AEW: Dynamite'
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The coronavirus shutdown continues to make business difficult for pro wrestling, and AEW: Dynamite is no exception.

And while AEW isn’t getting any special dispensations from governors and labeled as “essential,” the company continues to put on good television.

AEW: Dynamite saw half of the TNT Championship semifinals decided, as AEW looks to crown its first secondary singles champion at Double Or Nothing.

Britt Baker continues to be perhaps the best heel – male or female – in the whole business. And Jon Moxley put the AEW Championship on the line in an empty arena match. Well, I mean. Aren’t they all at this point? Anyway.

AEW: Dynamite has had a solid run of solid TV since having to adapt to COVID-19. Did that streak continue with this week’s episode?

HIT – Jake Roberts Puts Over Lance Archer

Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts continues his string of backstage interviews.

He puts over Lance Archer’s place in the TNT Championship Tournament as someone TNT would naturally want to put front-and-center.

Roberts takes a minute to give Archer’s opponent, Colt Cabana, some props, but he makes no secret that Cabana doesn’t have a chance.

Nice way to keep Jake in the mix and a way to make the TNT title seem like a big deal.

Subtle but solid. A good way to open AEW: Dynamite.

HIT – TNT Championship Tournament Quarterfinal Match: Lance Archer Vs. Colt Cabana

Before we get rolling with the opening match on AEW: Dynamite, there’s a brief interview with Colt Cabana.

I’m just glad AEW has found a good way of making Cabana something other than CM Punk’s on-again-off-again-buddy.

Archer doesn’t even make it to the ring before he just obliterates one of the wrestlers sitting at ringside. Okay, well. That’s one way to make friends.

Cabana holds his own better than most have against Archer to date on AEW: Dynamite. Archer actually has to take a breather on the outside to regroup for a moment.

But then it’s back to business, as Archer proceeds to destroy Cabana, advancing in the TNT Championship Tournament.

This match served its purpose, but it wasn’t a squash. Cabana still looked strong in defeat, but the match set-up was such that it left no doubt who the star was.

If AEW: Dynamite keeps up the build on Archer, they’re going to be able to print money with this guy.

HIT – Dr. Britt Baker: Role Model

Dr. Baker, in her dental office, runs down the rules of being a role model on AEW: Dynamite.

She argues that Hikaru Shida broke rule number one, “Always fight fair,” by kicking her in the face and deviating her septum.

Baker laments that she didn’t have her fans cheering her on and pats herself on the back for fighting on despite being a bloody mess.

Not Dr. Baker’s best heel work, but the segment further cemented her character as, well, delusional.

And done in the pristine, sterile, white of her office and finishing the segment prepping a Novocaine needle? Delightfully creepy.

Dr. Britt Baker got vicious on 'AEW: Dynamite'

NEAR MISS – Cassandra Golden Vs. Dr. Britt Baker, DMD

Baker nails Golden with a vicious superkick right off the jump in their AEW: Dynamite match.

Dr. Baker picks up a quick win, making Golden bite the rope and hitting the curb stomp. The fake tooth-spitting is a little over-the-top, but the visual and the implications of the move are incredibly unsettling.

I would’ve liked to see, you know, an actual match, though.

This was fine, but we didn’t need back-to-back segments to get across the same point.

We get it, AEW: Dynamite. Britt Baker is crazy.

MISS – The Bubbly Bunch

Okay, so the Inner Circle gets to flex its comedy muscles on AEW: Dynamite with a look at their group video chat.

Sammy Guevara is of course the comedy star, defending himself as a real latino. “Cinco, cinco, cinco, cinco, cinco!” Look it up, you had to be there.

This was, well, this was not good.

I get what they were going for, but it would’ve looked better (and more contemporary) as a Zoom conversation. You know, if it were literally set up with everybody in a box. Like ‘The Brady Bunch.’

But yeah. Not the best offering from AEW: Dynamite.

Sammy Guevara warmed up for the TNT Championship Tournament on 'AEW: Dynamite'

HIT – Sammy Guevara Vs. Suge D

This AEW: Dynamite match was pretty good, but the highlight was Jericho on commentary.

For the past couple of weeks, Suge D has been one of the babyfaces in the “crowd.” In a pineapple shirt. So, naturally, Jericho took to calling him “Pineapple Pete.” During the match, no matter how many times Schiavone explained it, Jericho couldn’t get it.

“Surge D? Seg D? Suge Knight? Screw it, Pineapple Pete!”

Guevara owns the match, as he should, but Suge D holds his own, getting a couple of solid near falls. It wasn’t a squash by any means, as Suge was able to get more than enough of his stuff in. Suge gave a good account of himself, but Guevara picked up the win. With the GTS, no less.

It puts Guevara in a good spot for his upcoming TNT Championship Tournament quarterfinal against Darby Allin. After the match, Guevara grabs a mic and promises to destroy Allin and makes an example of Suge. Darby comes out to make the save, adding hype to the match.

Really good match and good hype and storytelling for a future match on AEW: Dynamite.

HIT – Kip Sabian (W/Penelope Ford) Vs. Chuck Taylor (W/Orange Cassidy)

Again, maybe I should be watching AEW: Dark. But remember a couple weeks ago when Sabian got into it with Colt Cabana on AEW: Dynamite?

Did anything ever come of that?

Really solid mat work by both guys before they transition into some old-fashioned, fists-of-fury wrasslin’. On commentary, Jericho continues to refer to Vanguard-1 as a sentient being. Le Champion is Bobby Heenan in training.

Sabian does a Rock-level oversell of a knife-edge chop, and it’s one of the goofiest and most wonderful things I’ve ever seen. I’m definitely ready to see Sabian move up the card a couple of notches.

Taylor whips out a suplex, throwing Sabian into the air, resulting in him landing on the apron. It’s nice to see AEW: Dynamite put a twist on ye olde “the ring apron is the hardest part of the ring” spot.

Sabian picked up a win (with the help of a huricanrana from Penelope) in his own warm-up for the TNT Championship Tournament. But in addition to building to next week’s tourney match between Sabian and Dustin Rhodes, Jimmy Havoc and Orange Cassidy got into it at ringside.

The mere thought of a future hardcore match involving Orange Cassidy is enough to hype me up. Everything about this AEW: Dynamite was great.

MISS – Shawn Spears Vs. Justin Law

Seriously, anybody remember when Shawn Spears was in the semi-main event of AEW All Out?

I’m still at a loss to understand the way Spears is used on AEW: Dynamite. Spears seems to be carving out big wins on Dark against also-rans like Billy Gunn before picking up squash wins over jobbers on AEW: Dynamite. And he did absolutely squash Justin Law in Law’s AEW debut.

It’s all well an good that Spears continues to look strong. But it isn’t going anywhere. It does Spears no good to beat nobodies week after week, because when he finally does get into a high-profile program, what credibility does he bring to it?

At least Jericho carried on the story of Spears looking for a new tag team partner. Which is something AEW remembers when it feels like it.

Just not a good AEW: Dynamite segment.

Jon Moxley defended the AEW Championship in an empty arena against Jake Hager on 'AEW: Dynamite'

HIT – Empty Arena Match For The AEW Championship: Jon Moxley (C) Vs. Jake Hager

Jim Ross does commentary for this empty arena match. Now, I’m in the minority of people who enjoyed Edge vs. Randy Orton in an empty arena match at WrestleMania: Night Two.

But one shortcoming of that match that we can pretty much universally agree upon is the lack of input from the commentators. With Good Ol’ JR calling this one, there’s no such uncomfortable silences. And with just one match and an empty arena on AEW: Dynamite, there’s less chance of Jim getting peoples’ names wrong.

Note: As soon as I typed that, he referred to Jericho as “El Champion.” Sigh. There was a little awkwardness in general, but JR’s commentary came off sounding like stuff he recorded for a WWE 2K game.

I know I don’t “review” matches for TV the way I do for pay-per-views, but this was far and away better than WrestleMania‘s empty arena offering. Although I have to question the logic of Moxley refusing to enter from, well, the entrance ramp.

Hager and Moxley beat the living crap out of each other on AEW: Dynamite. And it was pretty great. Although AEW would’ve done well to hype the “no holds barred” aspect over the “empty arena” aspect. Falls for the match count only in the ring.

Moxley, and every champion in pro wrestling at the moment, is in a tough spot. Odds are good that, when things go back to normal, nobody’s reign during this span is going to be particularly memorable. But Hager looked like a million bucks, and Moxley looked every bit the deserving champion.

This will be the match to define the Moxley reign as champion. Awesome, awesome stuff from both guys.

AEW - All Elite Wrestling

The Breakdown

Not the greatest AEW: Dynamite, but perfect shows are going to be hard to come by for the foreseeable future.

A killer main event and a pair of solid TNT tournament matches kept the show alive and kicking.

The Bubbly Bunch segment and the continued misuse of Shawn Spears were black eyes on the show, but they weren’t enough to overshadow the good stuff.

AEW: Dynamite airs Wednesdays on TNT at 8PM/ET.

All images courtesy of All Elite Wrestling.

'AEW: Dynamite' - April 15, 2020

7.2

In-Ring Action

7.0/10

Booking/Writing

7.2/10

Promos/Video Packages

7.5/10

Entertainment Value

7.1/10

Pros

  • Moxley and Hager beat each other silly
  • Kip Sabian and Sammy Guevara are both born heels
  • Lance Archer's booking continues to be excellent
  • Britt Baker keeps shining

Cons

  • Shawn Spears is too good to be used like this
  • The Bubbly Bunch failed miserably
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