AEW: Dynamite has some tough challenges the next couple of weeks.
Starting August 19, TNT will preempt the show for the return of the NBA for two weeks. With a PPV on the horizon, AEW has this week and next to hook viewers, remind them that the show’s going to move around the schedule, and to keep them hyped for All Out.
It’s going to be difficult. But this week’s AEW: Dynamite showed that All Elite Wrestling is up to the challenge.
With a world title match and a debate between Chris Jericho and Orange Cassidy, AEW pulled out all the stops this week.
HIT – 12-Man Tag Team Match: The Elite & FTR Vs. Dark Order
AEW: Dynamite started with a bang this week.
This was really solid in-ring action and grade-A storytelling. AEW managed to keep the heat on the Dark Order while also furthering the tension between the Bucks, Page/Omega, and FTR. The match had 4-on-3 vertical suplexes, Brodie Lee murdering people, and the Young Bucks doing their free-wheeling act in a setting that makes sense.
Also, the ringside area is cluttered with “MJF 2020” signs. I’m a mark, so it’s not impossible that I might declare every AEW: Dynamite segment a hit.
And I have to ask. Why does Jim Ross think that his “Stu ‘Don’t Call Me Dick’ Grayson” schtick is funny? Is that just for Tony’s benefit, since Schiavone is such a huge Batman fan? I don’t get it. Anyway.
Beautiful storytelling at the finish, as Harwood injures his knee. Page, the Bucks, and Harwood help him to the back, leaving Omega alone for a few minutes. The Bucks made it back in time to prevent Omega from getting slaughtered. But Hangman helping FTR adds another layer to the story. And it keeps both guys from having to declare “heel” or “face” ahead of the inevitable split – because both guys have a valid point.
Vince? Bruce? This stuff isn’t rocket surgery.
The Hangman runs back out to save the day at the last minute and take out the Dark Order single-handedly. But in the end we got a one-on-one showdown between Hangman and Brodie Lee. As the kids say, shut up and take my money.
Beautiful finish here, as the Elite gang up on Lee. Omega holds Brodie up for Page to hit the Buckshot, but Brodie dodges. And Page stops just short before taking out Omega. Dark Order picks up the win.
This was a damn-near perfect AEW: Dynamite match.
HIT – Meanwhile-Mania
Early today before AEW: Dynamite, the Best Friends park Trent’s mom’s van. Apparently Trent’s Mom asked them to park it in a safe spot.
I’m sure that won’t be important later at all.
Also earlier today, AEW World Champion Jon Moxley cuts a promo about fighting his demons as a young man. He wishes someone had talked him out of taking some chances. So he tries to talk Darby Allin out of doing something stupid by challenging him in tonight’s main event.
Moxley is definitely making up for almost a decade of not being able to cut promos like this. This is how you sell a world title match.
HIT – Santana & Ortiz Vs. Best Friends
AEW: Dynamite rolls on with more solid storytelling. Chris Jericho and Orange Cassidy are feuding? That means Jericho’s buddies and Cassidy’s buddies are at odds.
Again. This stuff isn’t nearly as hard as the folks up north make it.
And as the announcers make clear, the match has implications on the tag team title scene. Santana and Ortiz have yet to get a shot at the AEW Tag Team Championship. And Best Friends have been surging of late. Tell a story, make it play into the overall scene, and – long term – pay it off.
Both teams looked sharper than they have in weeks during this match. On the opposite side of the “sharp” spectrum, Jim Ross calls for a picture-in-picture break before it’s actually time for a break. Oh, Jim. Anyway.
Great contrast of styles with this match, as Santana and Ortiz go slow, methodical, and dirty, while Best Friends go as flashy as they can. Points to Ortiz for getting in the camera and taunting Trent’s mom. The through-story of the match was Trent fighting through an injured back. And Trent looks like a superhero, gutting out to get the pin for his team.
AEW: Dynamite gave this match a lot of time, and it was worth it. Excellent stuff.
HIT – MJF Campaign Headquarters
Two weeks in a row, MJF wins my heart.
MJF offers us a tour of his campaign headquarters. On his first step through the door, an aide gives him a stick of gum. MJF immediately spits it out and fires the aide.
Next, he notices a poster that isn’t level and demands his assistant Nina tell him where it came from. She immediately buckles and sells out some poor schmuck.
This was a fun way to sell MJF’s title match at All Out. Plus, it was three minutes of AEW: Dynamite spent with MJF verbally tearing random nobodies down.
“What if Darby Allin wins?”
“Oh, what if the 125-pound emo kid wins? Yeah, that’d suck to have to wrestle him for the world title.”
Please pro wrestle forever, MJF.
NEAR MISS – Matt Hardy Promo
Matt Hardy cuts a promo in the ring. He puts over coming into AEW and introducing a new audience to the Matt Hardy Multiverse.
But he says the AEW: Dynamite audience has spoken and wants him to focus on just being himself. Um. Says who?
He says that he wants to help the guys who remind him of himself. Matt wants to help Private Party, and he wants to set Sammy Guevara on the right track. (Don’t say it. Don’t say it.) Well, you’re four years too late for that. (Aw, crap, I said it.)
Sammy sneaks into the ring and tries to jump Matt. But I guess Matt’s spider-sense was tingling, because he turns around and cuts Sammy off at the pass. They brawl on the outside, and Sammy hits a 450 off the ramp and puts Matt through a table. And Matt bleeds an absolute gusher.
This was a great AEW: Dynamite brawl. But Sammy’s scandal forcing AEW to hit the pause button on their feud really took the air out of it.
Meanwhile on the outside, Santana and Ortiz destroy Trent’s mom’s van. This feud just started tonight, and it’s got a more streamlined story than Sammy vs. Matt.
NEAR MISS – Dark Order (Reynolds & Silver) Vs. Matt Cardona & Cody (W/ Arn Anderson)
Tony calls Matt Cardona the hottest free agent in all of pro wrestling. I mean, that’s debatable.
Cardona looked pretty good in his AEW: Dynamite debut. But he does seem like he’s having a little trouble shaking the “WWE style.” Other guys who have come from WWE have forged their own style. Maybe Cardona just needs a few more matches to get there.
Cody suffered a rib injury early in the match, and that became the story. And the TNT Champion sold it like a pro. Reynolds and Silver got a good chance to show their stuff, too. After about nine hours, Cody manages to make the hot tag to Cardona, who cleans house and picks up the win for the babyfaces.
This was good but nothing spectacular.
On Cody’s way to the back, Scorpio Sky comes through the tunnel for a staredown. Again, take my money, I say.
Meanwhile, in the parking lot, Best Friends survey the damage to the van. Trent promises to beat Santana and Ortiz in a rematch. And when they win, he’ll force them to apologize to his mom. I mean, if it was me I’d call the cops and file an insurance claim.
HIT – Super Wednesday Debate: Chris Jericho Vs. Orange Cassidy
Jericho comes out in a suit. And I don’t wanna be this guy (because I have no room to talk), but Jericho’s really sucking it in to keep that coat buttoned.
Speaking of attire, Jericho points out that Orange didn’t come dressed up. So Orange pulls a tie out of his pocket and clips it to his t-shirt. He goes on a long rant about how he hates the fans for loving Orange. Bischoff offers Cassidy a chance to respond, but Orange leans on the podium silently.
The next question is which of them is the bigger star. Jericho says he would’ve beaten Cassidy up in high school and accuses him of smelling like salami. Orange still doesn’t have a response.
Bischoff asks the third question, which is about global warming and rising sea levels. Jericho brushes the question off, but Orange has a long and articulate response. Very Wayne’s World. Jericho’s dropped-jaw elicited a huge laugh from me.
Jericho gets angrier with every question, and Cassidy just gets progressively more chill. With the last question (“Why does this rematch mean so much?”), Cassidy brings it all back around to selling a match. Orange doesn’t care about Jericho, but he cares about the rematch. He sells it as the biggest match of his career and the biggest match of Jericho’s. “What happens when you lose to a guy who puts his hands in his pockets?”
Cassidy of all people brought the verbal fire on AEW: Dynamite. The slow burn to filling Cassidy out as a character has been brilliant.
Bischoff declares Cassidy the winner based on his global warming answer, and Jericho loses it. This was brilliant.
HIT – Big Swole Vs. Mystery Opponent
Tony catches up with Dr. Britt Baker on AEW: Dynamite.
Dr. Baker reminds us that Big Swole only gets a match with her if Swole beats an opponent of Baker’s choosing. And she chooses Rebel.
Rebel absolutely flips out and begs off, but Baker demands she get in the ring. Baker rolls around the ring with a megaphone and chastises “Reba.” Rebel actually holds her own for a little bit and heads to the second rope and goes for a moonsault, but Swole dodges.
Swole hits Dirty Dancing to put Rebel away. And now she gets a match with Baker at All Out.
The match wasn’t any good, but it did what it was supposed to do.
HIT – AEW World Championship Match: Jon Moxley (C) Vs. Darby Allin
I was actually there in person when Moxley and Allin last met on AEW: Dynamite. Sigh. You folks at home remember live wrestling?
This match wasn’t quite as good as their November encounter, but it was still pretty solid. Moxley got to play the crazy man run amok, and Darby pulled out all the daredevil spots. The story thread of the match was Moxley begging Darby not to put make Moxley hurt him. And Darby’s suicidal defiance.
There’s lots of back-and-forth action, but Wardlow runs out to turn the tide. He distracts the referee, allowing MJF to smack Moxley in the face with the title belt. Moxley bleeds like the psycho he is. Lots of blood on tonight’s AEW: Dynamite. And it’s glorious.
Darby takes advantage and hits the coffin drop, but Moxley kicks out. The float-over stunner gets another two-count for Darby, but Moxley finishes him with the Paradigm Shift.
Backstage, MJF rants and raves at his staff. In the ring, Moxley cradles Darby like he’s his little brother, bringing his earlier promo full circle.
Not the best match these two have had, but a picture-perfect AEW: Dynamite segment.
I’m running out of ways to say that AEW: Dynamite put on an excellent show.
All Out is really starting to take shape. And if shows like this week’s episode are any indication, it should be an excellent show.
AEW: Dynamite airs Wednesday nights on TNT at 7 PM/ET.
All images provided by All Elite Wrestling.