CODY SPEECH- I liked this a lot better than Hunter’s speech from Smackdown and really liked that he at least tried to tie it into the wrestling show by using the idea of “putting aside differences” to transition to asking Matt Jackson and Adam Page to put their differences aside, but like with Hunter’s speech, I honestly would have preferred for him to just start talking about wrestling. I’m watching this to escape; I don’t want it to start off by reminding me of the thing I’m trying to escape from for a few hours.
CODY’S RECRUITMENT SEGMENT- mostly great, but with two things that REALLY bugged me.
Cody made a great emotional appeal to Page, Kenny, and Matt to get on the same page. I could have done without Cody saying he needed the “Best Bout Machine” because what good is that in kayfabe, but other than that, this was great.
Kenny and Matt came out and cut good promos saying that they had Cody’s back but asking where Page was. Page eventually came out. They asked if he would stand with them. He raised a glass, which I assume means yes. The lack of fans and lights created a somber atmosphere that I thought added some extra gravitas to this segment.
Just like I didn’t like Cody and Hunter’s talking to the camera, I didn’t like Kenny’s either. Even more than that, I hated his whole “hit the lights, hit the pyro, and LET’S… START… DYNAMITE!” bit. It made everything feel way too staged.
The other thing that bothered me was this. These guys are beginning Page to join their team and saying they need him to be able to win. Fine. But with Page they’re still only four. Isn’t the match five on five? Shouldn’t they be worried about not having a fifth guy?
DEATH TRAINGLE VS. GOOF PATROL VIDEO PACKAGE- fine
Unlike the filler on WWE’s shows over the past week, I didn’t mind this so much because it felt like something they would have aired even if there was a crowd.
TONY SCHIAVONE INTERIVEWS MJF- good heel stuff
He’s not wrestling tonight because the purse isn’t enough to make it worth it for him. He and Shawn Spears are apparently gambling on tonight’s results. That seems like something that should get them in a lot of trouble.
Brandi is acting as our ring announcer tonight. Well… she’s got experience doing it.
BEST FRIENDS vs. LUCHA BROS- 5.75/10
Excalibur noted that Lucha Bros. “downfall began” with a loss to Best Friends in November, and that downfall led to them seeking out Pac to form a stable with him. This would be a fine story if it didn’t require us to ignore the fact that between the beginning of their supposed downfall and now, they beat the team of Adam Page & Kenny Omega and also earned themselves a shot at the AEW World Tag Team Titles. This is exactly the sort of bullsh*t I have ranted about in ROH and New Japan over the past few years, and I’m not giving AEW a pass on it, either.
Orange Cassidy joined the commentary team tonight (which is Excalibur, Ross, and Tazz). He did and said nothing. At one point they cut away from the action in the ring to show us Orange Cassidy doing absolutely nothing. MORE THAN ONCE. They also cut away from the match to show us the heel cavorting in the stands, as if we couldn’t see them on most the floor-cam shots and hear them throughout the match. There are going to be tons of people in the entertainment industry out of jobs because of coronavirus, but the ass-hat who decides to cut away from the ring in the middle of a match, while action is happening gets to keep his job? That f*cking sucks real hard.
OC’s presence was justified by him standing up after catching Fenix’s eye at one point. Then Trent did an utterly ridiculous spot where he seemed to slip through the ropes around the distracted and posing Fenix just so he could jump off the apron onto Pentagon Jr. It looked completely hokey.
More stuff happened. OC eventually dove off the stage onto the Lucha Bros while Chuck Taylor distracted the referee. You know… exactly like a heel would do. Sh*t like that makes it really hard for me to get upset when Pentagon Jr. cheats sixty seconds later.
TONY SCHIAVONE INTERVIEWS BEST FRIENDS & ORANGE CASSIDY- bad
And now here are Schiavone and Chuck Taylor trying to pretend like Best Friends didn’t cheat less than a f*cking minute before the heels cheated. This is my problem with so much of AEW’s mindset on these things. If a babyface cheats it gets a pop from their die-hards, they assume that that means that the rest of the world isn’t thinking with normal human psychology and thus they can have a heel cheat and everyone will get upset.
Best Friends challenge the Death Triangle to a fight in a parking lot on Dynamite next week.
There are a couple of other people sitting with MJF and Spears. Wardlow, Lance Archer, Tully Blanchard, and Jake Roberts were all there. Hearing their few voices making noise is honestly worse to me than an empty arena.
HIKARU SHIDA vs. RIHO vs. KRIS STATLANDER vs. PENELOPE FORD (w/Kip Sabian)- 6.75/10
Apparently, Penelope beat Riho on Dark last night. Good. You told me about it. That’s all I ask! Was that really so hard?
The final two women entered during a commercial break but weren’t introduced until we got back from commercial. I will admit to having had an instinctively negative reaction to this, as I despise when WWE does things like this… but then I remembered that there are no fans in the building, so doing it this way actually makes sense because the only people Brandi is speaking to are watching on TV.
J.R. told us that the rankings “mean something” to the wrestlers, but we really haven’t seen that yet. I don’t think the rankings have ever had an actual effect on a storyline. Sure, wins have moved you up and losses moved you down, but they haven’t ever really mattered for anything. We haven’t gotten a story where someone had so antagonized the champion to the point where the champ was willing to grant a title shot to just to get his/her hands on said opponent, but the opponent first needed to earn his/her way into the top five to be awarded a title shot or something like that. If I were AEW, I’d shift to a model like ROH’s old Pick-6, where you need to be in the top five to get a title shot, and the way you get in is by beating someone in the top 5, whereupon you take their spot and each successive person is bumped down a rank.
Kip Sabian blatantly interfered and wasn’t even sent to the back. This was done just so he could get beaten up by Statlander and Shida. This did nothing for Statlander and Shida, made Sabian look like a goofball getting ping-ponged back and forth, and made the match look less credible. It would have been much better to just not do the spot.
Hikaru Shida used an eye-poke on Statlander. Did she turn heel while I wasn’t looking? And here is Sabian to interfere yet again… and he’s still not sent to the back.
Those spots aside, I really enjoyed this match. Everything went smoothly and the action was exciting. Ford taking the loss here feels weird if they’re trying to push her with this win over Riho. Statlander or Riho would have been much better choices to take the loss.
TONY SCHIAVONE INTERVIEWS COLT CABANA AT RINGSIDE- meh
Cabana complained about Kip Sabian’s interference in the previous match. Well then why didn’t you get off your ass and do something about it, Colt?
Sabian overheard Cabana’s comments and came over to argue with him. There was some shoving. Sabian and Ford left.
TONY SCHIAVONE INTERVIEWS JON MOXLEY EARLIER TODAY- didn’t like it
Moxley apparently is so injured that he is not being allowed to enter the arena. He said he didn’t want to cause any trouble so he’s just going to go for a drive. He vowed to be involved in Blood & Guts to get at the Inner Circle. I really hope he is on the babyface team instead of interfering in a f*cking War Games match.
THE BUTCHER & THE BLADE vs. JURASSIC EXPRESS (Luchasaurus & Jungle Boy)- 6.5/10
This was fine for what it was. The idea on the finish was, to quite Excalibur, that “MJF cost Butcher & Blade that by shouting instructions,” but I didn’t see it that way at all. Listening to him didn’t cost them too much time and Luchasaurus was able to break their finisher up before they even hit it, so this wasn’t an issue of a matter of fractions of a second. Also, MJF told them to hit their finisher! You can argue that they should have beaten Jungle Boy down more first or had one of them function as a lookout to try to intercept Luchasaurus were he to come in, but MJF’s advice was certainly not bad advice, and it’s something we see tag teams do all the time and no one ever calls it bad strategy.
There are a bunch of babyfaces on the other side of the ring. Once again, I would have preferred an empty arena. I just don’t like seeing the other wrestlers out there, acting like fans, forced to be passive.
THE EXALTED ONE REVEALS HIMSELF- meh
The Dark Order come out and Evil Uno gives a big speech. Daniels interrupts him on what appeared to be the second to last word. He pointed out that the Dark Order hasn’t made anyone’s life any better. Daniels insisted that there was no Exalted One, which seemed a little weird for him to be so certain of this. Daniels was interrupted by a video of the Exalted One speaking with a distorted voice on the TonyTron.
He then pulls his hood down to reveal himself to be Brodie Lee. Well then what was the point of the voice distorter?
He makes a comment about Daniels “not being the first out of touch old man to not believe in me.” He stopped speaking, then magically teleported to the ring behind SCU (who had idiotically turned their backs on the other Dark Order members, I might add), and attacked them. Daniels and Kaz got mugged by the Dark Order… while a bunch of babyfaces just sat in the front row and watched.
Obviously, I thought there were some logical problems here, but a lot of the motivation behind my giving this a rating of “meh” is my not quite seeing Brodie Lee as the “Exalted One” type. He wasn’t bad here at all, but he wasn’t particularly great, either. I think it’s just more that I haven’t seen him in this type of roll ever before. Maybe he’s got it in him. He did get rave reviews for his acting that one time USA put him on one of their shows. We’ll see how it goes.
TONY SCHIAVONE INTERVIEWS JAKE ROBERTS & LANCE ARCHER- okay
Jake’s promo was great, but at the same time he is starting to turn into that type of delusional heel who I hate where he is talking about Cody having disrespected him and “had the chance to meet us straight on” but didn’t, and I can’t figure out what in the hell he is talking about. Did he seriously think Cody was going to jump into the crowd and fithing him in the middle of a match with Ortiz last week?
LANCE ARCHER VIDEO PACKAGE- weird
There is an little person carnival barker in a ring in some backwoods clearing near a barn, and the ring is surrounded by dorks in wifebeaters and jeans and Jake is sitting there laughing and watching while they all chant “TRY OR DIE! TRY OR DIE! TRY OR DIE!” over and over again and now I’m getting flashbacks to “SPIN THE WHEEL, MAKE THE DEAL!” Whoever thought it was a good idea to use a rhyming catchphrase for this has seriously underestimated the scars that those WCW mini-movies have left on the collective minds of pro wrestling fans.
Anyway, Archer no-sells a strike, then beats a dude up. He takes everyone on and beats them up. Jake laughed. A latecomer showed up when they were about to leave and challenged Archer to a fight, so Archer chokeslammed him into the hood of a car. This felt weird for the sake of weird.
And after this is all done, Jim Ross’ takeaway from it was “you’ve got to watch for that right hand from Archer.” He didn’t put over any of Archer’s big moves or finishers (pretty much all of which were shown in this video). Ross puts over the f*cking PUNCH. Sh*t like this is one of the reasons why he’s a detriment to the show. He could have done his research and learned the name of the Blackout or the Pounce or the Chokeslam (hell, those last two shouldn’t even require any learning) but instead he just says “boy, that guy sure has a dangerous punch.”
Hey… cool fantasy booking idea: What if Jake was the Exalted One, and DDP was secretly a member of the Dark Order and is indoctrinating people through his yoga?
They’re advertising things for the “next Dynamite,” rather than next week, which is a little worrying.
Wardlow and Luchasarus are having a Lumberjack match. A random pairing of dudes and an even more random gimmick. This is the sort of sh*t I was really hoping AEW wouldn’t do, but apparently not. They’re going to take the TNA route.
Also, we’re getting just Lucha Bros vs. Best Friends in a Parking Lot Brawl.
Also, apparently Matt Jackson being injured means The Elite don’t get to pick a fifth guy. They just have to go to Blood & Guts with a numbers disadvantage. That doesn’t seem fair at all.
They keep telling the that the only way to win Blood & Guts is “to make an opponent submit or surrender.” Aren’t those the same thing?
WINNER GETS THE MAN ADVANTAGE AT BLOOD & GUTS: The Elite (Cody Rhodes, Matt Jackson, & Adam Page) (w/Kenny Omega & Arn Anderson) The Inner Circle (Jake Hager & Proud & Powerful) (w/Sammy Guevara)- 6.75/10
Chris Jericho came out to do commentary, and Sammy hopped over the guardrail to sing his theme song. That was fun.
The match wasn’t bad at all, but it did start to drag a bit and never really got out of second gear. The story of Matt and Page being able to work together was good. The heels winning cleanly totally shocked med. Cody and MJF had a little encounter at ringside that ended when Arn Anderson hit Wardlow with a clipboard. I really hope this serves an actual purpose, because I’m tired of this sh*t happening on the outside and not mattering.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- hated it
Jericho cut a promo that was way too goofy. Included in this was him saying he wanted to ban all fans from all future episodes of Dynamite. I guess AEW just pays a flat contract instead of paying based on the house.
Jericho wasted a bunch of time. The heels hit on Brandy. Dustin came out to stand next to her. Then a drone showed up in the arena and Matt Jackson announced that Jericho was wrong and the Elite won’t be outnumbered because they’ll have Matt Hardy on their side. Matt was standing in the rafters the whole time apparently.
First of all, it’s hard to blame Jericho for thinking that it would be five-on-four because the announcers (and therefore all of the fans, too) were under this impression. Secondly, I REALLY hate them sticking Matt Hardy in this spot. Moxley, Dustin Rhodes, or Darby Allin would be MUCH better choices from a storyline POV. Also, using Matt Hardy in this spot means either one of two things will happen:
1. Hardy continues to feud with the Inner Circle afterwards, at which point he becomes the EIGHTH babyface feuding with this five-man group at the same time (and that’s not even counting Brandi or Arn, who are at least feuding with them by association).
2. Hardy doesn’t continue to feud with the Inner Circle afterwards, in which case you’ve wasted the first encounter between a popular babyface and your top heel stale on a spot where a much lesser person would have both gotten the same reaction and made more storyline sense.
This was a meh episode of Dynamite. It was a mix of good and bad, and I’m happy to be a little lenient, considering the circumstances. I really liked the fact that they just went and put on a full episode of Dynamite instead of padding with long replays of PPV matches. That being said, I didn’t like what they did with the wrestlers in the stands, for the reasons I have explained above. I think every promotion needs to just get over the fear of empty seats right now and give the audience the benefit of the doubt that they will understand that the reason there are no fans is because of the current restrictions on congregating, not because no one likes the company enough to buy tickets.
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