In wrestling, it’s inevitable that an episode of any given show will eventually be mostly filler. And that was the case with AEW: Dynamite this past week.
There wasn’t a ton of story development or progression. It mostly two hours of setting up next week’s episode of AEW: Dynamite.
And it was a pretty weak effort. It was constantly entertaining but fairly disjointed.
AEW Champion Chris Jericho reeled from his defeat in last week’s tag title match. Darby Allin did his best to survive Jon Moxley. And the Dark Order actually did something I liked.
Will wonders never cease in All Elite Wrestling?
HIT — Another Killer Opening
Say what you want about AEW: Dynamite, but they know how to open a show.
This week’s episode kicked off with an incredible, non-stop-action match between the Young Bucks’ Nick Jackson and Rey Fenix of the Lucha Bros.
As is my custom (I was there live for this episode), I spent much of the match worrying about whether I’d see Rey Fenix die in the ring. And he had to have come pretty close.
It was the kind of stuff that the old guy with the tennis racket (we don’t say his name anymore) would’ve hated, and I loved it. Both of these guys are very well-suited to singles competition, and I’d love to see either or both get a singles run.
They’re pretty married to the idea of being tag team wrestlers, though, so that seems unlikely. Fenix survived long enough to pull off the win in another superb AEW: Dynamite opener.
HIT — The Dark Order. No, Seriously.
I’ve been pretty hard on the Dark Order in past AEW: Dynamite recaps.
But this week, with a simple vignette, they finally became something interesting.
In the sketch, a bullied man sees an ad for a self-help group on the subway hosted by Stu Grayson. It was wonderfully produced and incredibly creepy.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) November 21, 2019
One could argue (and I would as well), that the Dark Order’s new “join us” approach comes across like a bootleg Wyatt Family.
Nevertheless, it’s still something deeper than “creepy dudes in masks,” so I’m all for seeing where it goes from here.
MISS — Paging Dr. Baker, Dr. Baker
The women’s division continues to be something AEW: Dynamite is struggling with.
This past week’s match between Britt Baker and Hikaru Shida was sloppy, at best. And it didn’t help that the stakes were muddled somewhat.
AEW’s announcers made mention of it having some bearing on the number-one contender’s spot for the women’s title (you folks at home remember Riho?). But they were so scattershot, it never felt weighty.
And unfortunately, Britt Baker, who has a lot of potential, was the weak spot of this match again. Granted, she suffered a nose injury about halfway through the match, but Shida seemed to be slowing her own pace down just so Baker could keep up.
Not a bad match by any means, but it was a little all over the place and not particularly crisp. Easily the worst segment of this week’s AEW: Dynamite.
MISS — The Dynamite Dozen Battle Royal
Speaking of unclear stakes, the twelve men in the Dynamite Dozen battle royal on AEW: Dynamite weren’t competing for a title shot. Or purse money. Nope. It’s for a diamond ring.
No, seriously, the last two men standing will compete next week on AEW: Dynamite for a big diamond ring with the AEW logo on it. Um. Okay?
As battle royals go, this one was pretty sloppy. There wasn’t a really clear through story, and the way we got to the final two wasn’t set up very well by the rest of the action.
There were some bright spots to this battle royal. Billy Gunn as the surprise final entrant was a lot of fun, and he looked good for an elderly man. And the fact that the final two came down to MJF and ‘Hangman’ Adam Page was fitting.
MJF and the Hangman were the last men standing in the first Casino Battle Royale at AEW: Double Or Nothing. Arguably, theirs was the first feud on AEW television. So there’s a nice bit of coming full circle there.
The fact that it’ll likely be tied in to Cody’s feud with MJF should be fun, and the match itself should be great.
But this segment was just too unfocused.
NEAR MISS — Le Champion And Le Scorpio
AEW spent much of last week teasing that Chris Jericho would have a big announcement on this week’s AEW: Dynamite.
The announcement was that Jericho will get his long-sought “thank you” from AEW. On next week’s AEW: Dynamite.
There was a funny spot, as Jericho was unable to say the word “sorry” when apologizing for his tantrum at the end of last week’s show. So he had Jake Hager do it for him. I see what you did there, Jericho. Very Fonzie.
SCU then came out so that Scorpio Sky could gloat to Jericho about pinning the champion last week. The back-and-forth was fine until Scorpio used reverse psychology to trick Jericho into a title match next week.
The whole segment was good enough, and the crowd dug it. And Jericho had his promo A-game as usual. But is he supposed to be an idiot?
Like, it shouldn’t be that easy to trick the self-professed GOAT into a championship match. And if this segment wasn’t unfocused enough, AEW: Dynamite kept it rolling.
MISS — Dinosaurs And Transitions
The segment between Jericho and SCU quickly degenerated into the Inner Circle beating down Scorpio and company.
For reasons I’m not quite grasping, the Jurassic Express came down to make the save, culminating with a big staredown between Luchasaurus and Hager.
The tease was good, and I wouldn’t mind seeing a big-man battle between the two. What was odd was that Luchasaurus just happened to be scheduled for a squash match against Peter Avalon immediately afterward.
So Luchasaurus only comes down to do the right thing if he has a match conveniently scheduled next? It’s a nitpick, I know, but AEW: Dynamite‘s pace can sometimes be jarring enough on its own. It doesn’t need help from clunky transitions.
MISS — Speaking Of Clunky (Private Party Vs. Proud-N-Powerful)
The record of past AEW: Dynamite recaps makes clear that I’m a pretty big Private Party mark. But their match against Proud-N-Powerful was just a mess.
Neither team seemed to gel particularly well with one another, and a botch (either by Santana missing his cue or the referee messing up a count) nearly sunk the whole segment.
Private Party got the win and more credibility within an already-stacked tag team division. But the whole thing just seemed like an odd stinger to last week’s brawl between Santana and Ortiz and the Young Bucks.
Not much payoff and very little purpose behind this one. A filler match on a filler episode of AEW: Dynamite ultimately makes for a pretty weak segment.
HIT — Moxley’s Reign Of Terror Begins
Last week, Jon Moxley laid out an open challenge for anyone willing to get destroyed by him. And because he apparently hates himself, Darby Allin answered.
So Moxley made him pay. Holy crap, did Jon Moxley make him pay.
This was a David-and-Goliath showdown from the start. There weren’t any blood and guts, but it was definitely uncomfortable to watch at certain points.
Moxley continued his “scorched earth” quest to become the last man standing in AEW and looked super strong doing it. And Allin played his part to perfection as the plucky underdog who just won’t quit.
The day after this episode of AEW: Dynamite, I found myself checking the obituaries. Because I still don’t know how Allin survived that avalanche DDT Moxley used to win the match.
Great, great stuff. But lose the body bag next time, eh, Darby? It doesn’t make any sense.
Ultimately, there wasn’t much to this week’s AEW: Dynamite. And you know what?
This may have been a transitional episode. With a lot of filler material. But it’s perfectly in line both with AEW’s business strategy and their storytelling style.
Having said that, there were a few too many rough edges on this week’s show, and some surprisingly shoddy in-ring work.
Here’s hoping the next episode of AEW: Dynamite from Chicago fares better.
All images ©Electric Bento
'AEW: Dynamite' - November 20, 2019
Production Value/Video Packages9.0/10
- Nick Jackson vs. Rey Fenix was outstanding
- The Wrath of Moxley is going to be a sight to see
- MFJ and the Hangman coming full circle
- The Dark Order. No, seriously!
- Sloppy in-ring work in two matches
- Disjointed transitions between segments
- Britt Baker got exposed, and not in that cool way