AEW: Dynamite put forward its go-home show on the way to the Revolution PPV this Sunday. Some things from this week’s episode clicked. A lot of them didn’t.
Go-home shows have proven to be something of an Achilles heel for All Elite Wrestling. They’re entertaining, by-and-large, but they don’t always do the job of a last-minute sell for a big PPV. The AEW: Dynamite that served as the last stop for Revolution might be AEW’s weakest go-home show to date. Part of it was a scheduling SNAFU. The big Shaq match was supposed to be at Revolution back when it was scheduled for February. But that’s not to say this week’s Dynamite didn’t have its big moments.
Let’s get in to the hits and misses from this week’s episode of AEW: Dynamite.
MISS – Shaq & Jade Cargill Vs. Cody Rhodes & Red Velvet
Here’s the deal. This match sucks. Like, it sucks with all caps. Red Velvet continues to be underwhelming. Jade Cargill is as green as they come. Shaq is out there having fun and doing a decent enough job of being the outsider star of AEW: Dynamite. And then there’s poor Cody, trying like hell to keep this whole thing together and having only marginal success.
As celebrity matches go, it was okay. I popped big in particular for Shaq’s tribute to Brodie Lee as he powerbombed the American Nightmare. Then there was the Diesel taking a diving body press from Cody through two tables. Never mind the fact that it took Red Velvet about six and a half hours to set up the tables. Then there was some awkward jaw-jacking between Shaq and the Gunns – for no reason – that results in a pre-match Pier Six. But there were three words in the previous sentence that encapsulates this feud and this match in general.
“For no reason.” I still don’t know what was the point of any of this. Why was Jade Cargill immediately bitter toward Brandi upon debuting in AEW? What’s her connection with Shaq? Why would Shaq even agree to this match? Cody’s the only one who has any stake in this match, and his beef is with Jade for attacking Brandi. For no reason. And then there’s poor Red Velvet, for whom this feud does nothing but paint her as “not quite Brandi Rhodes.”
Anyway. The action with Shaq in the ring was fun, but that’s all this match has going for it. Velvet spears Jade while she’s distracted by the carnage of Shaq going through the tables but only gets two. Then Jade finishes her with a KOD to pick up the win. In the end, Red Velvet is still too green, Jade is untried but has a lot of potential, Shaq was there for a goof, and Cody wasn’t able to tie everything together. It obviously helped AEW: Dynamite pop a big rating, but ultimately it’s a big ol’ dud.
After the match, Tony goes to check on Shaq who was carted off by medics. But when he gets to the ambulance, Shaq has disappeared. I think he realized he was moving better than his last two years in the NBA and rushed off to try out with literally any team looking for a center.
MISS – Rey Fenix & PAC Vs. D3 & John Skyler
PAC and Fenix pickup the win after about a minute when Fenix hits a Rikishi Driver on Skyler. Wait, what? After a string of awesome AEW: Dynamite matches for Fenix that make him the company’s most reliable main event talent for this show, we get a one-minute squash match?
I mean, I get that the only thing PAC and Fenix have going at Revolution is the Casino Tag Match. But you have two awesome guys, both whom are in an awesome stable (with a crummy name), and this is what you’re doing with them? I’d rather they’d just not been on the show as opposed to this. Like, this wouldn’t even be on Dark. What gives, AEW: Dynamite?
HIT – Chris Jericho & MJF Press Conference
Ah, yes. It’s Chris Jericho and MJF here to save AEW: Dynamite with their greatest gift: the microphone.
The first question they field is on what the tag team titles mean to Jericho. And Jericho drops a couple names, saying he’s been tag champs with Jock ‘The Rayne’ Dwohnson and newly-minted All-Elite Paul Wight. What makes going after the AEW titles special, though, is that MJF is better than either of them. I mean, he’s not completely wrong. Next up is Conrad Thompson, taking a break from asking old men questions that are invariably answered with “I don’t remember” and “I wasn’t there.” He asks when Sammy Guevara will rejoin the Inner Circle, which causes MJF to snap and call him “turkey tits.”
I laughed out loud, not so much at the name, but I’m now imagining the countless AdFree Shows clips that flood my “suggested for you” box on YouTube beginning with, “This clip brought to you by SaveWithTurkeyTits.com.”
Next is a question about Chris and Max attacking the Young Bucks’ dad, which sends MJF into a rant about Nick Jackson’s thinning hairline. You know, maybe that’s why wrestlers and rock stars are the only people you really see with long hair anymore. The irony being that the longer it gets, the more attention it draws to the thinning at the front. Anyway. It wouldn’t be an interactive segment with Jericho and MJF without Eric Bischoff, who suggests giving the Bucks extra motivation was probably stupid. This draws out the Bucks, who suggest Jericho and MJF’s fathers raised them badly. Then things get real when they tell Jericho he’d be in the opening match at the Performance Center without them.
Oh no they di-in’t.
A brawl erupts, and the Good Brothers show up attack Santana and Ortiz before the Bucks put them through tables. Okay, this was a really fun AEW: Dynamite segment. But again, as usual, I’m lost on whether the Bucks are heels or faces. MJF and Jericho are clearly heels. They beat up an old man. But the Bucks are getting help from the Good Brothers. Who are aligned with Kenny Omega. And he’s a heel. Like, why must every Young Bucks angle leave me scratching my head with questions about logic and motivation. It’s like watching a Star Wars prequel. Or a Star Wars sequel. Still, the segment was fun, and the match at Revolution should be awesome.
HIT – FTR & Tully Blanchard Vs. Jurassic Express
Tully and FTR go full 80s retro, as Tully comes out with his NWA US Championship belt from 1985, and FTR has replicas of the old NWA Tag Team Championships. And they’re accompanied by JJ Dillon. I’m always glad to see old Horsemen guys. I just wish it wasn’t in a match.
I immediately retract that statement, though, as this AEW: Dynamite match begins with Tully mercilessly beating the holy living hell out of Marko Stunt in the corner. That makes my inner Jim Cornette happy.
This was a really fun match, and Tully was used just right in the contest. He wasn’t in there too much, and when he was it made sense. It does become a little problematic, though, when Luchasaurus is beating Tully – the architect of the Express’s recent pain and suffering – and the crowd boos him for it. The pivotal point in the match comes when Jungle Boy mistimes a dive over the top and takes out a camera man by mistake. Not to worry. When this happens in wrestling, the camera man is always just a camera man. Just kidding.
It’s Shawn Spears (woohoo!). He hits Luchasaurus with an international object, FTR hits a triple spike piledriver, and Tully secures the win. This was a fun, solid AEW: Dynamite match, but it does reveal a flaw in Tony Khan’s long-term booking plans. It’s all well and good to let the old guys have their fun and relive a sliver of the glory days. But the story has to be right. If they’re heels, they still have to manage the match in a way that they catch a little heat from the crowd. Or at least some buried resentment.
After the match, JJ, Shawn, Tully and FTR all flash the four fingers of the Four Horsemen while Jurassic Express rethink their life choices. Except for Marko, who I imagine is just happy to be there on AEW: Dynamite.
HIT – Tony Schiavone Interviews Paul Wight
Not-the-Big Show is out to hype his new gig as Tony’s color commentator on the new AEW Dark: Elevation YouTube show. It was fun to see the big guy on AEW: Dynamite. The crowd picks up on the TNT connection with Paul and the old Nitro days and starts a “welcome home” chant. But the real big news (which the Internet is still talking about) was yet to come.
Paul has the inside scoop that a “Hall of Fame worthy talent” will sign with AEW at Revolution. Repo Man Is All Elite confirmed. A big part of me wants to say, “It’s not Punk, they’re working you.” But I always say that, and eventually, it’s probably gonna be Punk.
Honestly, they pulled this segment off pretty well. Just enough pop and circumstance but not so much that it gives the impression that Paul Wight is gonna do much more besides commentary. They didn’t try to play it up like he was a big game changer and that there were hoss fights in the wings with Luchasaurus or Lance Archer. Just a quick, “Hey, this is a big name, he works here now, he’s gonna do this, and by the way, he has a big announcement about somebody else.” Perfect way to set the stage and to manage expectations.
AEW: Dynamite might just have the hang of this pro wrestling thing.
HIT – Women’s World Title Eliminator Tournament Final – Nyla Rose Vs. Ryo Mizunami
Speaking of hoss fights. This AEW: Dynamite lady hoss fight was pretty good. And it’s easily the best match Rose has had since last year’s Double Or Nothing battle against Shida. Both women got to show off their agility and athleticism, but they never lost sight of the fact that they’re giants slugging it out.
Also, more kudos to AEW for the booking. They pulled a trick that usually only WWE has the skill to master. Which I’ll call the “It’s Roman again, isn’t it?” technique. Where we all hold our breath and resign ourselves to, “Oh no, we’re getting Shida and Rose again.” And then they pull a fast one, because Ryo picks up the win with a legdrop set up by a spear and a German suplex. Solid match, it subverted expectations, and it automatically sets up a player in the women’s division, win or lose at Revolution.
And there’s a nifty bit of full circle booking, as Ryo and Shida were both part of the six-woman tag at the first Double Or Nothing in the before time of 2019. Still, it’s not the shot in the arm for the women’s title that AEW was hoping it’d be, which is a shame, because that belt is definitely on life support. Even so, this was a fun AEW: Dynamite match.
HIT – Sting/Team Taz Confrontation
Two weeks after getting powerbombed and a week after delivering a Scorpion Death Drop, IT’S STIIIIII- you know what? That’s old. Tony? Hey, Tony Schiavone? Yeah, that’s old.
Anyway. Tony’s out to interview Sting on AEW: Dynamite, but Ricky Starks quickly interrupts. He says Sting isn’t that much of an icon, and a brawl erupts, culminating with Sting putting Ricky in the Scorpion Death Lock. Team Taz runs out to save their buddy, and Cage sets up for another powerbomb. No, Brian! Not a second powerbomb! That’s Sting’s only weakness! And seriously, a year from now, do you wanna end up arguing with other wrestlers over Twitter about who makes more money? That’s a Seth Rollins dig, by the way. I like taking digs at Seth Rollins, because I have no soul.
Darby Allin runs out to make the save before Cage can seal the deal, and we get one last staredown between Team Taz and the Facepaint Boys ahead of their street fight at Revolution. Decent AEW: Dynamite segment. Get in, make the point, sell the PPV, get out. Almost like a go-home wrestling show.
HIT – Max Caster Vs. 10 (W/ Negative One)
Apparently we’re in full retro mode on AEW: Dynamite, as Caster references Ronny Garvin taking a fireball to the face in 1987. Tony Khan, your target demo doesn’t know what he’s talking about! What’s that? Over 900,000 viewers? Yeah, okay, what the hell do I know? While he’s at it, Caster threatens Negative One. Classic heel shenanigans.
These two pulled out a really good match. Winner gets a shot in the Casino Ladder Match at Revolution for a TNT title shot. Caster and 10 do a lot of back-and-forth work and really get a chance to show their stuff. It pays to be Brodie’s kid’s favorite, I guess. Anyway, the finish comes when Jack Evans runs in and hits 10 with Caster’s boombox, advancing Caster to the ladder match. Nice job of putting on a solid, competitive match, and building to the even bigger-er match at Revolution. Nice job, AEW: Dynamite. Almost like a go-home wrestling show would do.
NEAR MISS – ‘Hangman’ Adam Page & John Silver Vs. ‘Big Money’ Matt Hardy & Marq Quen
And your AEW: Dynamite main event is – wait. Let me check my notes. Okay, yeah, the main event is ‘Hangman’ Page and John Silver against Matt Hardy and Marq Quen. I mean, okay. I’m all for pushing the Page vs. Hardy match, but maybe have something in your show-closing segment of your go-home show about the exploding barbed wire ring of death and almost-certain eventual damnation match that’s main eventing your PPV?
Segment selection and booking order aside, this was an okay match, but it didn’t feel like there was a lot of heat on it. Which is a shame, because the Hardy vs. Page feud needs all the heat it can get. I dunno, I just don’t buy that stipulation at the PPV. The loser has to give their first-quarter earnings to the winner? For one thing, the first quarter isn’t even over yet (unless AEW has one of those weird fiscal calendars where it runs, like, from July to June?). Anyway.
Page wins with the Buckshot Lariat into a powerbomb to pick up the win for his team. Matt throws a hissy fit after the match and attacks Page, but the Dark Order runs in for the save. This match was all over the place, and not in a good way. They finally got back around to the whole point of it, which was to build to Page vs. Hardy, but nothing that went on here made me feel like that match was any more important than I thought it was when it started. It wasn’t offensively bad, but it was a missed opportunity for AEW: Dynamite to sell the PPV match.
This was a weird AEW: Dynamite. Sometimes they felt like selling their PPV, sometimes they didn’t. I have no idea what they were going for with the Shaq/Jade Cargill match, but then again, I never did know what they were going for with it.
The tag title match continued to build heat heading into Revolution, and so did Sting, Darby, and Team Taz. I like that we put a little extra emphasis on the Casino Ladder Match as well. But the only mention of the barbed wire exploding explosion death wire exploding death ring match was a video package detailing the violent history of those death matches. I dunno, I kina feel like the guys main eventing your PPV should have a stronger presence on your show. Still, a decent AEW: Dynamite, but it missed plugging Revolution in all the spots where you need to plug Revolution.
Full match results and ratings:
Shaq & Jade Cargill def. Cody Rhodes & Red Velvet, *
PAC & Rey Fenix def. John Skyler & D3, *
FTR & Tully Blanchard def. Jurassic Express, *** 1/4
Ryo Mizunami def. Nyla Rose, ** 1/2
Max Caster def. 10, ** 3/4
‘Hangman’ Adam Page & John Silver def. Matt Hardy & Marq Quen, * 1/2
AEW: Dynamite airs Wednesday nights at 8 PM ET on TNT. Revolution is on PPV this weekend through traditional cable and pay-per-view outlets as well as on B/R Live in the United States and FiteTV in the UK. The show begins at 8 PM ET with the Buy-In preshow starting at 7 PM.
All images provided by All Elite Wrestling.