AEW: Dynamite is entering a critical phase in its young life.
The wrestling business traditionally sees a big drop-off around the holidays. And last week, AEW: Dynamite fell to Wednesday Night War rival NXT in the ratings for a second straight week.
All Elite Wrestling looked to recapture their momentum with a big show. A huge battle pitting the Elite against the Inner Circle, high-flying action with Trent taking on Rey Fenix, and a chaotic main event between Jon Moxley and Joey Janela.
Regardless of ratings, AEW has continually put forth a great show week-in and week-out with AEW: Dynamite. Did the trend continue in the show’s tenth week?
HIT — The Elite Vs. The Inner Circle
As always, AEW: Dynamite opened the show with a bang. The six-man tag with Dustin Rhodes and the Young Bucks taking on Sammy Guevara and Proud-N-Powerful was fantastic from start-to-finish.
The Bucks, no matter what I or anyone else might think of their in-ring style, are always exciting to watch. And, frankly, their talents shine brightest in trios action. The addition of another man in each corner almost forces them to tell tighter stories and have more logic to their acrobatics.
And I continue to be amazed by Dustin Rhodes. Somehow the guy is better than he was 30 years ago.
Also, Sammy Guevara live-blogging while attempting a shooting-star press is the funniest thing I’ve seen in forever.
As far as the booking, the right team won, as Rhodes and the Bucks picked up the pinfall win. The story from the last few weeks was wrapped up, and the build continues — I think, anyway — to something bigger.
AEW copyrighted the phrase “The Match Beyond” a few weeks ago. I have to think that’s leading to their own version of War Games. And the Inner Circle and the Elite on that kind of a battle ground can only lead to something amazing.
MISS — Minor League Audio
I’ve let this go for a couple weeks, but three weeks in a row is too much.
The audio during the AEW: Dynamite opener was absolutely inexcusable. Sounds was cutting in and out, alternating from absolutely silent to blaring-loud.
To have these kind of production issues this far into the promotion’s run are definitely concerning.
The sound seemed to right itself late into the opening match, but it can’t be ignored.
And JR didn’t do himself any favors when the audio came back. Plugging a promo from Jericho, JR referred to the champ as “El Champion.” You struggle enough with English, Jim — leave French and Spanish be.
NEAR MISS — Trent Vs. Fenix
Don’t get me wrong. This was a great match.
Both Trent and Fenix are incredible talents. And this match showed that both guys have enough chops and then some to be singles stars.
But AEW: Dynamite has an opportunity to show off how deep its tag team division is. I’m not an expert, but it’s tag team action is where AEW has the best chance to differentiate itself from the competition.
It’s not clear if this match is building to a potential feud between the Best Friends and the Lucha Bros. It would make sense, as Pentagon and Trent went toe-to-toe a few weeks back on AEW Dark. But the Lucha Bros. also have business to transact with SCU.
If the intention is to build to a feud between the Luchas and the Best Friends, the finish makes sense. Fenix picked up the win to avenge Pentagon’s loss to Trent two weeks ago.
Again, this was an incredible match. It couldn’t not be. But there isn’t a lot to hint at where — if anywhere — it’s going. And it would be a shame for a match this good between wrestlers this incredible to be relegated to filler material.
NEAR MISS — Cody’s Promo
Cody, as he is wont to do, cut a wicked promo. There was so much subtlety in his work on AEW: Dynamite.
Walking up the ramp, he pointed to the scar on his head and the spot where he busted himself open at Full Gear.
And despite how well he delivered it, he basically shone a spotlight on some spotty storytelling. To illustrate that he’s had a rough go of it, he pointed out Dustin and the Bucks feuding with the Inner Circle. He brought up Brandi’s recent knack for collecting women wrestlers’ hair. And he brought it around to his feud with MJF. Only go swing back around to the nonsense with the Butcher and the Blade before swinging back again to MJF.
There’s a lot to unpack there, and the insinuation (intentional or otherwise) was that it’s all somehow connected.
Cody got back around to the real point — a potential match with MJF — before taking another ill-advised shot at WWE.
Again, the words were delivered well. And this AEW: Dynamite segment was entertaining. But, much like the match that preceded it, I’m not sure where it’s all going.
HIT — Joey Janela’s Promo
Joey Janela cut a backstage promo with Alex Marvez, and it was old-school.
He set up his own character and made it far more defined. Janella made it known he’s not happy with being pushed aside in AEW and hyped the AEW: Dynamite main event against Jon Moxley.
Janela set up Moxley as a dangerous opponent, referenced their bloody battle at Fyter Fest, and laid the groundwork for us to expect another violent battle between the two.
It was short, sweet, and to the point. In other words, everything the Cody promo was not.
HIT — The Dark Order (Seriously, Again!)
AEW: Dynamite put together another amazing and creepy vignette about the Dark Order.
How this is going to translate into actual wrestling storytelling is yet to be seen.
But finally defining them as a cult, and positioning them as being “everywhere” combines the creepiest elements of the Wyatt Family and the clandestine nature of HYDRA from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
This is great stuff, and I genuinely can’t wait to see where AEW: Dynamite takes it next.
They’re finally doing something with the Dark Order! They got my letters!
NEAR MISS — Nyla Versus Comedy Wrestlers
AEW: Dynamite has done a great job of being the three-ring circus that wrestling is supposed to be.
But Nyla Rose’s match against Leva Bates was just a little too much in the goofy direction.
The point of the segment was to get Nyla over as a monster. A beast that destroys anybody and everybody without breaking a sweat. Having Peter Avalon ringside to run interference undermined that goal.
I get what they were going for — she beat down both Librarians. But she would’ve been much better served by squashing Bates in a minute and moving on.
Still, Shanna running in for the post-match attack helped lay the groundwork for a future match between the two. And it was nice to see Nyla, built early-on as a building block of the women’s division, get some TV time again.
HIT — Le Lexicon
Oh, Lord, please let Chris Jericho cut promos on AEW: Dynamite forever.
Much like his own vintage bubbly, Jericho seems like he’s just getting better with age.
He hit all the right beats for a promo of this kind. Le Champion did some old-school berating the crowd. And he segued into some Attitude-Era appropriate wackiness by debuting his new “list” — The Lexicon of Le Champion.
Following in the tradition of his list of his 1,004 holds in WCW and the List of Jericho in WWE, the Lexicon is Jericho’s list of opponents he won’t face before the end of the year. Of course, Excalibur rightly pointed out that “lexicon” doesn’t mean that. It’s not a list.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) December 5, 2019
Moxley was on the list eight times (hint-hint), as were Adam Page, Diamond Dallas Page, and Paige. Also on the list were Kenny Omega and Kenny Chesney.
Also excluded from a title shot are Scorpio Sky, Too Cold Scorpio, and anyone from the Scorpions. Seriously, please cut promos forever, Jericho.
Eventually, the Jurassic Express came out with Luchasaurus advocating for Jungle Boy to get a shot, and Jericho acquiesced, setting up a match between the two on the December 18 AEW: Dynamite.
Everything about this was perfect. It elevated Jungle Boy, set up a match for the future, and kept in our minds that the real feud is between Jericho and Moxley.
Also, Luchasaurus can cut a wicked promo.
HIT — Statlander Vs. Shida / The Nightmare Collective
First of all, this was almost guaranteed to be hit. Just by virtue of the fact that this might be the most TV time the women’s division has had on AEW: Dynamite to date.
The two were tag team partners last week, but this week they put on perhaps the best women’s match AEW: Dynamite has had so far.
Statlander got to show off more of her stuff. And Shida was her usual awesome stuff. In the end, everybody got over in this match, as Statlander scored the pinfall over the women’s number-one contender.
But the real action came after the match.
Brandi Rhodes and Awesome Kong come out to offer Statlander a spot in the Nightmare Collective (cool name, by the way). But before Statlander can answer, a “fan” pledges her allegiance to the group. Okay, that portion was a little wonky. But still, big progress was made with this segment and — to some extent — the Nyla Rose segment earlier.
We’ve got a story in the women’s division, folks. They get my other letters!
Also, Brandi’s verbal lexicon is pretty diverse. See, Chris? That’s what a lexicon is.
HIT — Full Circle For Daniels and Pentagon
There’s no way this AEW: Dynamite match wasn’t going to be great.
Christopher Daniels is one of the most underrated wrestlers of his generation. And Pentagon, Jr. could headline a show anywhere in the world. What made this match special is that it did what AEW: Dynamite does best.
It took a feud that started on AEW: Dynamite and ended it there, too.
These two have been feuding since the second episode, when Pentagon ambushed Daniels before the first match in the tag team championship tournament.
Pentagon picked up the win, bringing the feud to a close. And this match was absolute fire. Almost enough to erase the misses and near misses elsewhere on the show.
NEAR MISS — Bunny, Blade, And Butcher
Next we got a pre-taped promo with ‘The Bunny’ Allie hyping Butcher and Blade’s attack on Cody last week on AEW: Dynamite.
We didn’t get much more than “we wanted to make a statement.” I wasn’t exactly expecting more than that, but it was still underwhelming.
If they’re going to be a tag team, they need to be targeting tag teams. If they’re somehow part of a larger plot against Cody and the Elite, there was nothing here to suggest it.
"This is the butcher, This is the Blade, and I'm the Bunny, and we are here to cut the head of the snake" – @alliewrestling
Watch #AEWDynamite NOW on @TNTDrama 8e/7c #AEWonTNT @AEWonTNT pic.twitter.com/rjd1GuYlUg
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) December 5, 2019
It was fine inasmuch as it gave some reason as to why they attacked Cody. But it wasn’t a particularly interesting reason.
When the Dark Order and the Nightmare Collective are ratcheting up the interest, this is pretty weak sauce.
HIT — Moxley Vs. Janela
If we’re being fair to Joey Janela, he deserves better than to be in a placeholder match.
But that doesn’t change the fact that Jon Moxley is the hottest commodity on AEW: Dynamite. The match was what it needed to be — brutal, but safe for TV. Much like Moxley’s main event against Darby Allin.
Janela looked good in a losing effort, but the highlight was the Inner Circle mirroring Moxley’s actions from the previous week.
They came down through the crowd and stared Moxley down, adding more fuel to the fire that will be their eventual title match.
Great stuff, great storytelling.
Well, we got another mixed bag on AEW: Dynamite.
All Elite Wrestling definitely has its eyes on the prize with the forthcoming feud between Jericho and Moxley, and they’re taking their time with it. As they should be.
It was great to see the women get more TV time, but it was disheartening to see some of the undercard storytelling come across so scattershot.
Nevertheless, a middling effort from AEW: Dynamite would be a giant success for most wrestling shows on television.
AEW: Dynamite airs Wednesday nights at 8 PM/ET on TNT.
All images courtesy of All Elite Wrestling.
'AEW: Dynamite' - December 4, 2019
- Jericho keeps carving his place on Mt. Rushmore
- Jon Freakin' Moxley
- The women's division keeps growing
- The Dark Order (Again!)
- Shoddy undercard booking
- Where are we going with the Bucher and the Blade?
- Great promo from Cody, but no focus
- Nyla Rose is still not being booked right