Cody competed in the TNT Championship Tournament on 'AEW: Dynamite'
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AEW: Dynamite, more often than not, is the exception to the rules in pro wrestling.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect pro wrestling, though, it’s clear that AEW is not immune to one of its harshest effects on the business.

Pro wrestling without a crowd is just not as fun. Even though AEW: Dynamite continues to turn lemons into lemonade far better than the competition, it’s just inescapable. It’s harder to watch pro wrestling without fans.

Nevertheless, All Elite Wrestling marches on an continues to provide generally entertaining television.

This week revealed the finals of the TNT Championship Tournament. Cody faced Darby Allin while Dustin Rhodes took on the Murderhawk Monster, Lance Archer, in semifinals action.

Darby Allin and Cody battled in the semifinals of the TNT Championship Tournament on 'AEW: Dynamite'

HIT – Darby Allin Vs. Cody promo package

AEW: Dynamite kicked off with  a glimpse at the semifinal match between Darby Allin and Cody.

And AEW made this a match not to be missed. It tracked the pair’s history, dating back their match at last summer’s Fyter Fest that, for all intents and purposes, but Allin on the map.

It did a good job of setting Cody up as an establishment wrestler and as the face of AEW. But in doing so, it highlighted Allin as something new and exciting.

I didn’t come into this show terribly interested in the TNT Championship Tournament. After this segment, I was pumped to see the next chapter in the rivalry between Cody and Allin.

Jericho and Schiavone are tearing it up on 'AEW: Dynamite' commentary

HIT – Le Champion Of Commentary

This isn’t necessarily unique to this week’s AEW: Dynamite, but it needs to be said.

Chris Jericho is a savant on commentary.

For the last several weeks, he and Tony Schiavone have been the anchors of AEW: Dynamite. What the show lacks in terms of atmosphere and ambiance in terms of its live presentation, Jericho and Schiavone make up for it for the home viewer.

Since returning to commentary, Schiavone has done well as part of a three-man booth. But the post-coronavirus episodes helped him find his groove as a play-by-play man. He and Jericho play off one another as well as Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan.

HIT – TNT Championship Tournament Semifinal: Cody (W/Brandi Rhodes) Vs. Darby Allin

The babyface side of the crowd sings along with Cody’s theme song, which is nice to see.

As Cody makes his entrance, the camera cuts to Shawn Spears sneering in the audience. Well, at least there’s some acknowledgement of the fact that Shawn Spears entered AEW as a big deal.

Allin shows off some grappling and mat chops early on against Cody, the former amateur champion. But Cody tweaks his knee early in the match, and Allin zeroes right in on it. The American Nightmare recovers somewhat, just in time to whip Allin into Brandi, sending her crashing into the barricade.

Jericho has a field day with it, claiming that Cody did it on purpose. Brandi is escorted to the back, and Cody goes to town on Allin.

The match wears on with more mat wrestling and more hard-hitting action (including a Crossroads from Allin!). There’s even some old “sports entertainment” shenanigans, as Cody motions a little too close to the heel side of the audience and gets clocked over the head by Britt Baker’s shoe. Cody comes away with the win. He goes 2-0-1 lifetime against Allin and advances in the TNT Championship Tournament.

Darby Allin goes nowhere but up, even with this loss on AEW: Dynamite. If AEW is smart, they’ll remind us of this rivalry from time-to-time as the months go by. And somewhere down the line, these two could easily main event a pay-per-view.

HIT – Scorpio Sky Interview

A pretaped interview with Scorpio Sky is next on AEW: Dynamite.

And it’s really making me hope that AEW realizes they have a singles star in Scorpio.

He talks about how he felt weird becoming the third man in SCU as he puts over his teammates, Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian.

But the segment gradually shifts gears to Scorpio Sky himself, separate from SCU. They show footage of his AEW Championship match against Jericho from last November’s AEW: Dynamite with audio from Jim Ross on commentary putting him over as a potential superstar.

And it ends with Scorpio saying he doesn’t want to be good or even great. “I want to be a f’n legend.”

There’s dollar signs in this guy as a singles competitor.

HIT – MJF “Injury” Update

MJF updates us all on his “severe injury,” mentioning that AEW: Dynamite fans must be miserable with out him.

Oh, and by the way, the injury was a hangnail. The worst hangnail that MJF’s “nail doctor (I laughed out loud at that) has ever seen. But, not to worry. He made a miraculous recovery.

In fact, MJF claims that his doctor told him he actually “overhealed” and came away with the healthiest nail in the world (“His words, not mine.”).

But unfortunately, as MJF was ready to return to AEW: Dynamite, he suffered another “severe injury.” He pulls his scarf away to reveal a neckbrace, as he nicked himself shaving.

“I was really looking forward to wrestling in front of – six or seven of my peers!”

MJF, please pro wrestle forever.

MISS – Wardlow Vs. Musa

First of all, Wardlow Vs. Who?

Also, Wardlow needs a better nickname than “Mr. Mayhem.” Wardlow would murder me with his biceps. I don’t think he’d try to get me to switch to AllState.

This was a total squash, which is absolutely right for Wardlow. If anything, it went a little too long.

But it isn’t going anywhere. Without MJF to second, Wardlow is just another unstoppable big guy. He doesn’t have a program, there don’t seem to be any long-term plans not involving MJF.

Basically, this was just filler for AEW: Dynamite.

NEAR MISS – The Bubbly Bunch III

Sigh. Okay, AEW: Dynamite just doesn’t understand what they’re homaging or parodying or whatever.

If you’re gonna name a segment after ‘The Brady Bunch,’ everybody needs to be in a Zoom chat. Relatable content!

They get a little more clever with things this week. Jericho proposes a “Manitoba Melee” as the Inner Circle hone their skills by fighting each other and other AEW wrestlers who are on the chat for some reason, in POV action.

Wait, was that Lou Ferigno? Yes, that was Lou Ferigno.

And Jay and Silent Bob for some reason. So that’s something I won’t forgive AEW for. Their insistence on continually reminding people that Kevin Smith exists.

The longer it went with more non-Kevin Smith cameos, the more it won me back, but it’s time to retire this segment.

Best Friends battled Kip Sabian and Jimmy Havoc on 'AEW: Dynamite'

HIT – No Disqualifications: Best Friends (W/Orange Cassidy) Vs. Jimmy Havoc And Kip Sabian (W/Penelope Ford)

Hey, it’s a fresh tag team match up. AEW: Dynamite, I didn’t know you had it in ya.

This was a really cool match, as it gave Jimmy Havoc a chance to show off his work outside of AEW Dark, and it put the Best Friends in a spot to do some hardcore-style stuff.

Trent and Chuckie (particularly Trent) got to show off a more violent side. Same for Sabian.

Orange Cassidy got taken out early, much to Jericho’s delight. Later in the match, Orange dodges Penelope’s attempts to interfere, and she takes out the heels by mistake.

The finish was absolutely brutal, with Chuckie T picking up the pin over Havoc off an Awful Waffle (charging sit-out piledriver) onto a stack of freaking chairs. That was both awesome and horrifying.

Super solid match from AEW: Dynamite.

HIT – Britt Baker’s Role Model Tips

Next on AEW: Dynamite were more tips on being a role model from Dr. Britt Baker, DMD. She’s back by popular demand from people on Twitter, Instagram, and even “those old folks on Facebook.”

This week, it’s all about looking your best, as she introduces us to her makeup artist, Reba. A quick cutaway interview with the makeup artist, in the style of The Office, she reveals her name is actually Rebel.

Unfortunately, Dr. Baker explains to us, not everybody is suited to be a role model. As her case-in-point, she uses a succession of photos of Tony Schiavone. Ouch.

Using Tony as a punching bag is a great way to continue to get Baker over as a heel. I mean, come on, is there anyone on AEW: Dynamite more lovable and sympathetic than Tony Schiavone?

Britt heels it up like a champ.

NEAR MISS – Shawn Spears Vs. Baron Black

Again, Shawn Spears vs. Who?

Shawn Spears continues to rack up wins on AEW: Dynamite which is only good for him, as he dispatches with Black via the Sharpshooter.

But they aren’t meaningful wins. I get it, these are canned shows with a fairly limited roster. You wrestle whoever you’ve got.

When AEW: Dynamite goes back to normal-ish, though, will Spears keep picking up wins or will he get lost in the shuffle again?

Honestly, it’s kind of inexcusable for Spears to be getting lost in the shuffle in the first place. AEW has a solid roster, but not a roster so big that anybody should be getting lost.

The match was what it needed to be, given the fact that Baron Black isn’t somebody they’re going to be building around, by any means. But if I’m supposed to care about Shawn Spears, I have to care about who he’s beating.

Once again, Jericho saves it with commentary. “I saw Baron Black at a death metal festival in Norway. They were terrible!”

HIT – Mr. Brodie Lee Vs. Marko Stunt

Speaking of AEW: Dynamite squash matches.

It’s not the fault of anybody with AEW. It’s not Lee’s fault or Marko’s fault or anybody’s fault.

But Brodie Lee made his big jump at the worst possible time. It’s a step up from the Spears match, inasmuch as Marko is at least somebody AEW fans have natural sympathy for.

This is how you do a squash match on AEW: Dynamite. Lee beat the crap out of somebody we care about.

Not going to win any Match of the Year awards, but it did what it was supposed to be.

HIT – Jon Moxley Interview

AEW World Champion Jon Moxley walks alone past a graffiti-covered wall.

He talks about how it feels weird that it was only eight weeks ago that he won the title at AEW Revolution.

Moxley promises to some day be bleeding and cursing in front of the fans again. In the meantime, he talks about what he’s thankful for.

Family, steel chairs, and for AEW: Dynamite being live next week from Jacksonville. The champ promises that he will be on the show.

Nice segment. There wasn’t much to it besides reminding us that Mox is crazy, even as he tells us to stay safe in the mist of the pandemic. But it did what pro wrestling is supposed to do. It hyped next week’s AEW: Dynamite.

Lance Archer dominated Dustin Rhodes in the semifinals of the TNT Championship Tournament on 'AEW: Dynamite'

HIT – TNT Championship Tournament Semifinal: Dustin Rhodes (W/Brandi Rhodes) Vs. Lance Archer

So, a week after saving his own career in the quarterfinals, Dustin’s reward is a match with Lance Archer.

AEW: Dynamite has a funny way of rewarding people.

Lance Archer – absolutely – murdered – Dustin in this match.

It was uncomfortable, which it should have been. The Nightmare Family was out for the match and had to watch the Murderhawk just tear Dustin apart. Might have been a good idea for Dustin to stay at home.

(Hi there. I hope you folks at home got that last joke. If not, have a look-see at this from popculture.com)

QT Marshall tries to throw in the towel for Dustin, but Cody won’t let him. Getting beaten to a literal bloody pulp is kind of a Rhodes family tradition. So Archer walks the rope and hits a moonsault before grinding Dustin’s head into the mat about four billion times before pinning him.

The message in this AEW: Dynamite match was clear. Archer is big, strong, talented, and freaking evil. And Cody is in trouble in the TNT Championship finals at Double Or Nothing.

The Breakdown

As it always does, AEW: Dynamite won me over.

But it seemed like they had to work extra hard this week to do it.

There’s no such thing in the current climate as a wrestling show that’s gonna go off without a hitch.

AEW comes as close as humanly possible. As good as it’s been, though, AEW: Dynamite is going to have to pull out more stops to get people to pay $50 for an empty arena PPV.

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

All images courtesy of All Elite Wrestling.

'AEW: Dynamite' - April 29, 2020

8.1

In-Ring Action

7.0/10

Booking/Writing

8.0/10

Promos/Video Packages

8.8/10

Entertainment Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • Lance Archer is a freakin' beast
  • Cody and Allin continued to build their great rivalry
  • That No-DQ tag match was absolutely brutal
  • Le Champion is a brilliant commentator

Cons

  • No women's matches this week? I know they're usually not great, but still. Nothing?
  • AEW doesn't quite get what should and shouldn't be a squash/jobber match
  • Please end 'The Bubbly Bunch'
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