AEW has a lot going on lately. Hangman Page is drunk all the time. The Dark Order are, for some reason, trying to recruit Christopher Daniels. People keep losing eyes. Britt Baker is stomping out teeth. Oh, and MJF whipped Cody Rhodes with a belt on live television. With all of that going on and a pay-per-view on the horizon, it’d be easy for Dynamite to function as a holding pattern until Revolution. Instead, Dynamite featured two consequential championship matches and a big debut. Let’s get into it!
AEW Tag Team Championship: Hangman Adam Page and Kenny Omega (c) def. SCU
Every time SCU gets some coverage on this website, myself or Hunktears preface our disdain for them by saying that they’re competent, talented wrestlers. So let me say this: enduring their talented competency for the past five months has been a real challenge, and I am very, very glad that they’re going to be out of the title picture for the foreseeable future. Based on the Dark Order’s perplexing interest in recruiting Christopher Daniels, my guess is that that’s where they’re going to be. That means the story of this match is the friction between Page and Omega. Page’s drinking and understandable frustration with how cool his friends aren’t has made him one of the most popular faces in the company, and I legit anticipate his tagging into the match. There was less tension between the two this week, and they beat Kaz with a combination Buckshot Lariat/V Trigger when Kaz couldn’t get his hand on the ropes in time.
After the bell, Page and Omega left the ring to SCU. The Dark Order hit the ring to attack, but a bunch of face and heel tag teams came out after them to preview next week’s tag team battle royal. The Young Bucks come out of the scrum with the advantage, which makes sense given how Page keeps making a point of winning the tag titles before the Bucks.
Grade: (Hell) Yeah (SCU probably won’t wrestle for the titles for awhile)!
Promo: Jim Ross conducts a sit down interview with Santana. Santana cuts a great promo about his eye. He talks about how, at his lowest, he called his father to tell him about his depression, how every day felt dark to him. His dad said “that’s my life every day” because he was blind, losing his eyesight in his 20s. He lost his father without a chance to say goodbye, and he lives with that reality every day. Ross points out that Moxley put his eye out in retaliation for Jericho attacking him with a spike, and Ortiz maneuvers that train of thought into the Inner Circle’s line that everything would have been fine if Moxley joined them. The first half, about Santana’s father, was powerful stuff, but due to a lack of time neither he nor Ross were quite able to connect it to Santana’s prior threat to make Mox live in darkness. Still, Santana is someone worth paying attention to whenever he has a microphone.
Promo: Darby Allin can’t speak because of the whole skateboard to the throat thing, but he’s got a bunch of cardboard signs that lay out what he wants: A match against Sammy Guevara at Revolution. He insinuates that Sammy got herpes from doing butt stuff with Chris Jericho, which is just rude.
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Dustin Rhodes def. Sammy Guevara
Dustin Rhodes is the hometown hero, Sammy Guevara is the dude who eats pins on behalf of the Inner Circle when the Inner Circle needs to eat a pin. I’m a fan, so that’s no shade on him, but it’s a little difficult to get invested in the matches where he’s punching above his weight like this one, which exists to set up a match between Rhodes and Jake Hager for Revolution. It’s nice seeing Wrestler of the Decade Dustin Rhodes wrestle, and his post-match promo where commentary had to cover for Hager after Rhodes said his MMA career was failing was pretty alright.
Promo: BRITT BAKER IS HERE. I can’t think of anybody in wrestling I’d rather hear talk than her at the moment, and given that she stomped out Yuka Sakazaki’s tooth last week, she’s got a lot of explaining to do. She justifies her actions by claiming that she was upholding her oath as a dentist to improve public health, as Sakazaki’s molar showed signs of decay, had an abscess, and was going to come out anyhow. She performed a tooth extraction for free, for someone who probably didn’t have health insurance. She keeps dogging Tony for doing his best and says that it doesn’t matter who wins the championship match, since it’s her division. She’s a gift, y’all. Appreciate her.
AEW Women’s Championship: Nyla Rose def. Riho (c)
Here I am, a trans woman writing about a trans woman winning a major American wrestling championship, what a time to be alive. Like their first match back in October, this is a strength vs. speed affair. This iteration was a lot smoother, though the old man who has taken up residence in the part of my brain that loves wrestling has a hard time getting over watching Riho pick up Rose for moves like the crucifix bomb and the snap dragon suplex. There’s a weird energy between the two, like they’re constantly flirting with disaster and the sublime. More often than not, this match was the latter. I loved a few of the spots here, like Riho using a table as a runway to dropkick Rose, and Rose’s guillotine knee drop. When Riho hit a double stomp to Rose’s face, I bit really hard on that as the finish, but Rose got a foot on the ropes, then followed up with a spear and a sit-out powerbomb for the win.
Here’s the thing: I loved this match, but in two tries AEW hasn’t figured out how to make their title changes feel like Big Moments. Both matches were good, but there’s no real build up or blow off—someone makes it to the top of the rankings, gets a match, and wins or loses. If this match is important, then it’s for reasons extraneous to All Elite Wrestling, namely that Nyla Rose is a transgender woman, the first to win a women’s championship of this magnitude in the United States. I’m not the kind of person who tracks things like representation, but I am not ashamed to say that seeing this happen live made me cry. I don’t know what this means for the insular, slow-to-change world of professional wrestling, but I don’t care. Sometimes it’s okay for a match to matter to me. That’s rare and magical enough.
Grade: FUCK YEAH, WE’RE COMING FOR ALL YOUR TITLES IN 2020!
Promo: Chris Jericho hyped up the Eye For an Eye match a little, then hit us with the big news that if Mox survives he’ll have to face his newest recruit: Jeff Cobb. JEFF COBB!
MJF def. Jungle Boy
The announcers are hype for this match, inviting us to think about how in 10 years MJF and Jungle Boy will be main event talent. It’s the first time this decade that I’ve been asked to think about next decade, and I do not appreciate being reminded of the way time works. Besides which, MJF is already being treated like a main event guy, which makes his win over promising youngster Jungle Boy no surprise. Brandi Rhodes took a break from playing cult leader to join the commentary team, where she dropped gems like “that’s so unnecessary to grab a man by the hair because he has longer hair than you.” MJF grabbed his jock in her general direction. The match was fine, but it’s hard to dig into MJF when he’s not whipping Cody.
Promo: Like last week, Pac’s got a black and white promo about Kenny Omega for us, and, like last week, it’s pretty great. He’s doing all of the heavy lifting in this feud, and I hope my man shuts Omega out 10-0 in two weeks when they have an iron man match on Dynamite.
Jon Moxley def. Santana
The one downside of Santana’s promos heading into this match is that it’s just a match. Beyond one spot where Santana tries to grind Mox’s good eye into the ring steps, dude doesn’t even try to make good on his promise. Was this a good brawl? Yeah. Moxley’s one of the most engaging brawlers in wrestling, after all, and while Santana and Ortiz’s body of work in AEW hasn’t blown me away, the past two weeks have shown a different dimension to both of them. Towards the end of the match, Ortiz spits alcohol in Mox’s good eye, which he sells by working like he’s in a blindfold match. He ends up poking Santana in the eye and nailing him with the Paradigm Shift for the win.
After the match, the Inner Circle jump Mox, and no one comes to his aid. Jake Hager acts like a big fuckin’ goof after Jericho hits the Judas Effect, posing for photos over Mox’s body. Practically dead, he can’t defend himself against the debuting Jeff Cobb, who hits his Tour of the Islands power slam to end the show. I’m kind of over the build for Moxley/Jericho, but I am stoked on Mox vs. Cobb’s potential.