A Miserablist and a Lawyer Walk Into a Bar: AEW Dynamite Recap (09/02/2020)

Or: What's Eating Hangman Page?

As we round the bases toward All Out, last week’s episode of Dynamite was deceptively packed with story. Jon Moxley agreed to banning his finisher in his title match in order to get his hands on MJF (with an interesting caveat); Big Swole beat three people (four if you count Kip Sabian) in order to pick the stipulation for her All Out match against Dr. Britt Baker; The Dark Order held a funeral for Our Cool Boss Cody; Matt Hardy put a huge gash in the side of Sammy Guevara’s head for leaving him a bloody mess a number of weeks ago (even though Sammy wound up winning the match); and “Hangman” Adam Page got kicked out of the Elite for thwarting the Young Bucks from advancing in the #1 Contender’s Gauntlet Match.

With All Out a couple days away and Mox fighting a lawyer as per his contract, let’s see how zany this go-home show can get!


Santana & Ortiz def. Best Friends

The show kicks off with the long-awaited rematch between Santana & Ortiz and Best Friends, the latter jumping the former when they were barely out of the entrance tunnel. The fight escalates outside the ring and the brawl lasts for several minutes as the match has yet to start. Chuck Taylor builds a structure out of chairs while Bryce Remsburg screams for order. Chuck ultimately gets thrown into his tower of chairs; Trent and Santana start the match officially.

Santana & Ortiz are wearing white with navy pinstripes like true heels/New Yorkers (If you’re from New York and prefer the Mets, you’re a babyface who probably doesn’t own a lot of rings. *Yano shrug*) Trent manages to get some space between himself and Santana, but goes to tag Chuck only to find him lying face down in a stack of chairs. Santana & Ortiz continue the assault until Trent makes the hot tag to Chuck, who cleans up and makes a nice little comeback until Ortiz breaks up the pin. Eventually, Santana pulls a retractable steel baton from underneath the ring and hits Trent in the back with it, followed by a Street Sweeper and a three-count.

Grade: A good chapter in the ongoing series between these teams. I doubt this is over by a long shot, but having this match on All Out would have been a better option than at least a couple matches on the card.

Backstage Segment: MJF is seen prophesying his win on Saturday night before Lee Johnson interrupts and tells him Mark Sterling, his trusty lawyer, has locked himself in a room. Wardlow kicks the door down and brings Mark out and Max intimidates him, letting him know it’s either the ring or the wood chipper.


The Young Bucks and Jurassic Express def. SCU and Private Party

I like the idea of two babyface teams coming together in a match, where the winning set of teams face each other at All Out. It emphasizes the babyface hallmark of wanting competition as well as the wrestler hallmark of wanting a pay-per-view payday. The Young Bucks come out visibly perturbed by the events of last week, to the point of not even doing their entrance pose on the stage.

Jungle Boy and Frankie Kazarian start out with some great chain wrestling before tagging out; Matt Jackson and Marq Quen compete pretty aggressively before Isiah Kassidy gets tagged in. Matt sees a fan (a plant, but I don’t want to have to repeatedly point out who is a plant for the purposes of story) with a beer and a “Hangman, Drink My Beer!” sign, which Matt rips up before dumping the can of [redacted] on the fan’s head. The match itself is of little consequence except for the Bucks offering limited interaction with their partners in Jurassic Express, and Kaz tagging in Kassidy and shouting in his face, “Impress me!”

Eventually Jungle Jack Perry accidentally gets superkicked by Matt, setting up for a Best Moonsault Ever and Quen’s Shooting Star Press. Matt blind tags himself in again, setting up for a BTE Trigger and a win.

Grade: A fairly good match, setting up the encounter between the Bucks and Jurassic Express on Saturday by introducing miscommunication and somewhat poor sportsmanship.

Backstage Segment: We’re told Jake Hager has his own camera crew (for some fucking reason), entering Orange Cassidy’s dressing room and telling him Chris Jericho has requested his presence at ringside for his match against Joey Janela tonight. Of course it’s less of a request than a threat, and of course Cassidy is totally indifferent to the news.

Backstage Segment: Tully Blanchard speaks to FTR about last week’s gauntlet match and motivates them to take the tag team titles since they are so close to their grasp. Dax and Cash stress the importance (and the pay of being tag team champs), saying “Hangman” Adam Page may be their friend, but as the cliche goes in wrestling, “you can either make friends or make money.” Or how about this one: “It’s the wrestling business, not the wrestling friends!” Either way, FTR seem to be closing in on their destiny of being tag team champions of a wrestling promotion who actually give a fuck about tag teams.


Kenny Omega Attempts to Address the Elephant in the Room

Tony Schiavone stands in the ring with Kenny, who enters the ring wearing a Hana Kimura tribute shirt, asking him first about Hangman’s actions and subsequently being kicked out of the Elite. Kenny says Hangman has to live with those actions, but the fact of the matter is FTR will have to face Kenny and Hangman at their best as competitors on Saturday night. He insinuates Dax and Cash had something to do with influencing Page’s actions. FTR come out, cooler in tow, promoting sportsmanship by offering Kenny a cold bottle of chocolate milk to toast with. Kenny firmly and kind of rudely turns down the offer, starts a fight, and insults Tully in the process.

Hangman joins the fray, with Dax urging Hangman to tell the truth about what he’s done, saying Hangman has been an insecure, selfish little boy his whole career. After a brief staredown between Kenny and Hangman, the latter demands FTR give them back their tag titles, to which they drop on the mat and leave. Hangman turns around, and Kenny is standing on the ringside floor with one foot toward backstage. In all this conflict — between the Bucks and Hangman, between FTR and Hangman — Kenny feels caught in the middle, and it’s difficult to say what he’ll do until he’ll do it. Maybe he’ll embrace the power of the Cleaner shades he found on Being the Elite?

Backstage Interview: Alex Marvez interviews Jericho, who hypes the first-time-ever Mimosa Mayhem match. Jericho claims he made Orange Cassidy, which is why he has to break him. As talented at his is, as much guts and courage as she showed, he’s not on Jericho’s level and never will be; you could say his arms are too short to box with the Demo God. Before making his way to the ring, Jericho lets Joey Janela know he’s not ready for Jericho’s level either.


Chris Jericho def. Joey Janela

With a Jansport-toting Orange Cassidy making his way to a private seat near ringside, Jericho takes off one of his many $7000 jackets to reveal an Orange Cassidy t-shirt. He then starts the match by beating the tar off of Janela, pulling on his arms while he stands on his pigtails. Janela gets a shoulderblock off, only to be turned inside out by a Jericho lariat. Janela tries to hit a move off the top rope and gets stuffed by a Codebreaker. Jericho slaps on a Liontamer and it’s over.

Grade: How do you grade a squash? It’s sufficient for the story it’s telling, especially when you consider what happens after in this case.

After the match, Jericho exposes the turnbuckle and drives Janela’s head into it, busting him open. He smears Janela’s blood on the portrait of Orange Cassidy at the center of his t-shirt, bringing Cassidy in the ring, where Hager also enters. Sonny Kiss comes in and gets a few licks in on Jericho, only to get snuffed out by Hager. Orange mounts a comeback and gears up for a Superman Punch when Hager pulls Jericho out. Orange opens a bottle of the Bubbly and pours it out while he gives the thumbs down.

Highlight Package: Matt Hardy and Sammy Guevara beat the hell out of each other while introducing the “Broken Rules” match, which is basically just Last Man Standing with the added stipulation that Hardy will leave AEW if he loses. All the blood, all the broken tables, Sammy getting run down by a golf cart. All the hits are here to add to a feud I had no clue I would like this much when it started.


In-Ring Segment: Team Taz comes out with their leader on the mic, stating as fact that either Ricky Starks or Brian Cage will win the Casino Battle Royale and get a shot at the AEW World Champion, to which Jake “the Snake” Roberts and Lance Archer interrupt. Jake basically calls them squirrels who won’t bust a nut on Saturday night, to which brings out Kingston and his crew of the Butcher, the Blade, and the Lucha Bros. Kingston gets some bars off on everybody, reliably maintaining his status as the best shit talker on any given night. Tully and Shawn Spears make a cameo, others enter the ring, and Darby Allin joins the fray for our commemorative “everybody participating in the battle royale” spot.

What I thought was a short segment turns into an actual thing, everyone fighting through the commercial break and the subsequent Dark Order highlight package.


Thunder Rosa def. Serena Deeb

Thunder Rosa starts off her AEW in-ring debut with a hard collar and elbow tie-up and showing off her smooth transitions and submission wrestling prowess. Serena gets some good shots in, but they only seem to wake up Rosa a little. Serena hits a good double-arm neckbreaker and repeatedly jams Rosa’s knee into the mat while setting up a hold reminiscent of the Tequila Sunrise. The pendulum swings back and forth until Rosa wins with a Thunder Driver.

Grade: A very, very solid match. Serena was game and hung in there the entire match, getting in some very convincing nearfalls.

Backstage Segment: Mox welcomes MJF to championship week, telling him to enjoy the process. “You know, the nerves; signing stacks of posters; the autographs in the lobby; dealing with the media; answering the same question a thousand times, don’t sweat it.” On Saturday night it will be just Max and Mox in the center of the ring. “Are you ready and willing to kill or be killed? Because the MJF that we see on Saturday night has to be the meanest, nastiest, most savage MJF we’ve ever seen if he wants to take me out!” Mox notes 2020 has been a motherfucker of a year and we most certainly do not need AEW World Champion Maxwell Jacob Friedman to emphasize what a shitty year it has been. As I would say on Twitter, “Big facts!”


Ringside Interview: Schiavone interviews Big Swole— whose match with Dr. Britt Baker will rather disappointingly be on the pre-show— who starts to taunt Dr. Baker. A not-so-cleverly disguised Reba (Rebel) delivers a pizza to Tony (“I didn’t order a pizza!”) in order for Dr. Baker to hit Swole with a crutch from behind, putting her in the Lockjaw while Reba (Rebel) stuffs a pizza in her face. Maybe even more egregious than wasting pizza is the fact that this incredibly entertaining months-long rivalry will finally culminate … on the fucking Buy-In? Did you really need that Dark Order vs. Nightmare Family eight-man tag or Young Bucks vs. Jurassic Express on the main show?

[Editor’s note: between writing and publishing this article, this match was moved to the main card. Thank you, AEW for your correct decision.]


Jon Moxley def. Mark Sterling, Attorney at Law (duh)

Mark Sterling is accompanied (more like pushed) by Wardlow and heavily padded during his entrance (the red and blue makes his ring gear look like a bootleg Spiderman Halloween costume, which is mildly funny). Jim Ross instructs us not to blink during this match, and I think that is very good advice. With five whole days of wrestling training, Sterling carefully stalks Mox, who ends up offering a free shot. Mox shows Sterling how to make a fist, and then knocks the shit out of him with one punch. Am I really going to give a blow-by-blow of this embarrassing encounter? It’s comical but not exactly funny, and Mox tries his best to make the bulk of this contest entertaining. Mox goes for a handshake and tells Sterling he’ll agree to a no contest, but pokes him in the eye, hits a Paradigm Shift, and gets the win.

Grade: No. (I get they’re trying to build Max as mostly a non-threat to Mox’s championship, a heel who is afraid to step into the ring until he has the full advantage and the champion has let his guard down. But there was seriously no better way to make this story happen?)

After the match, Wardlow starts beating Mox’s ass, which brings out MJF, who slowly discards his walker and his neck brace to join in. He joins Wardlow in the beat down, puts on the Dynamite Diamond Ring, clocks Mox in the face and busts him open. Max smears Mox’s blood on his face as the show comes to a close.


Martin Douglas

The unofficial poet laureate of Tacoma, WA, Martin Douglas is an essayist, critic, and journalist specializing in the fields of music (KEXP.org, Bandcamp Daily, Pitchfork) and pro wrestling (Seattle Weekly, quite a few online zines). He's also a hip-hop beatmaker, fiction writer, disposable camera photographer, and all-around renaissance man.

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