Winter Is Coming, last week’s MEGA Dynamite that featured not just the beginning of one of the most ambitious angles in wrestling history, but the launch of an AEW/Impact Wrestling crossover that may end up involving AAA, NJPW, DDT, FMW, and any number of other companies by the time it’s finished, ended on Don Callis’ now-famous “see you Tuesday,” an invitation for the world to follow him and Kenny Omega 600 miles north to Nashville, Tennessee, to a different television network, a different wrestling promotion, and an entirely different world.
I can see how the prospect of this crossover is exciting. While AEW launched with the notion that it would work with other promotions, the partners it announced at the time were not American ones. And why would they be? The way AEW’s existence has been framed is as competition for WWE. But as an American wrestling company on broadcast television, they’re also in competition with Impact, Ring of Honor, and MLW, to say nothing of where NJPW of America would be without the pandemic. AEW immediately leapfrogged all of that competition except Raw and SmackDown, but it’s still competition. When do American companies work with their competition, right?
Here’s the thing about this crossover: so far, there’s not a lot to get excited about. Yes, Kenny Omega, Tony Khan, and Tony Schiavone were on Impact Wrestling this week, and the company put its best foot forward knowing that it would attract a massive crowd. But Omega’s Impact appearance was a promo on a bus outside of the arena, so distanced from the rest of the show that Impact’s World Champion, Rich Swann, couldn’t get past the single security guard posted by the door. So far, it’s a breadcrumb trail, a promise that what’s afoot is a plot so devious, so long in the making that it will shock people more than the end of the Moxley/Omega match, just you wait and see. But that’s a subject for Dynamite’s Omega/Callis promo.
End of Impact: Kenny and Don run to a private plane as Scott D'Amore asks what the hell they're doing. Don replies "YOU'LL FIND OUT JANUARY 4TH".
WrestleKingdom: Don and Omega and Ibushi run to a bus, Gedo asks what they're doing. Don replies "YOU'LL FIND OUT AT DDT'S PETER PAN"
— Trevor Dame (@TrevorDame) December 3, 2020
Like all show-after-the-big-shows, this week’s Dynamite felt like a moment for AEW to pause and take a breath. Yes, Sting, Shaq, Omega, and the Inner Circle were in attendance, but this chatterbox of a show was extremely light on consequential action. What did we get? Let’s find out.
AEW World Tag Team Championships: The Young Bucks (c) def. TH2
Look, I knew there was no way TH2 was leaving Jacksonville with the straps, but after giving this match a decent enough runway, I expected something more than what we got, which was an extended squash. The offense Jack Evans and Angélico got in was gorgeous, but they were cut off at just about every turn by the Young Bucks, the Best Tag Team In The World.
This is a mode I have seen the Young Bucks in for a while now, and I understand why people like it. I know the Bucks are very good, I get the function of establishing this in AEW, where they have occasionally been upset by “lesser” teams, but that doesn’t mean that I’m won’t occasionally come away from their arial displays slightly bored.
The last third of the match was a drag, as Matt hurt his previously injured knee missing More Bang For Your Buck, allowing Angélico to put him in his reverse figure four leg lock, which had been established in the build to this match as a killer hold. Jack Evans was guarding against Nick getting in the ring, Angélico pulled Matt away from the ropes, and then Nick faked Jack out. Nick, on the apron, saw his brother, with his busted knee, writhing in pain, and instead of just diving in to break up the submission, he goes to the top to hit a senton bomb. That’s my least favorite kind of desperation spot in wrestling, and it was followed up by even more moves where Matt either landed on or had to use his knee, so I guess it’s back to Dark for my sweet princes of hybrid style.
Grade: I am walking outside so I can yell at a cloud.
Promo: MJF did my least favorite kind of MJF promo, in which he called fans who like Orange Cassidy smart marks. He said he was going to hurt him and keep his ring.
Promo: In a pre-taped segment, a psychiatrist showed Darby Allin a bunch of watercolor paintings that looked vaguely like members of Team Taz. He said that Brian Cage is the number one contender to his title and that he’s had to deal with people like him for his whole life. The last painting was Sting’s facepaint. Darby laughed at it.
This Is Sting
Tony Schiavone was joined in the ring by Cody Rhodes. Tony asked for Cody’s reaction to Sting’s debut, but before he could give it, Sting hit the ring. Following Arn Anderson’s cue, Tony tried to leave, but Sting wouldn’t let him. He said that it had been 18 years and that he wanted a hug. I cried, friends. I legitimately cried when these two ancient men embraced.
Sting asked Tony for an “IT’S STING,” and Tony obliged, and Sting led a “this is awesome” chant when he should have let the moment hang. Cody, upset about being the sidepiece to this segment, welcomed Sting back and said that he always wanted to share a ring with him. Sting said that he’s not here for Cody, “at least not right now.” He said that there’s something familiar about AEW and pointed up to the cheap seats, where TNT Champion Darby Allin was sitting. Yes, y’all, Sting is also aware that Darby Allin is, like him, something of a sad rafter clown. Darby leaned forward when Sting said this, clearly interested. Sting then said that he’s with AEW for the long haul, huged Cody the way you hug someone who you’ve delivered bad news to, and exited on “see you around, kid.”
The whole thing ruled. It was one of the best Sting promos I’ve ever seen. He’s completely comfortable in his role as a legend in this industry and has been allowed to treat this as a homecoming as opposed to WWE treating him like a stranger in a strange land. He’s also a 62 year old man condescending to a wrestler who dresses like a steampunk banker. This is the ambitious angle that I mentioned above, as Sting is an old, old man who left WWE with a serious neck injury, and it seems like he’s planning on working a more robust schedule than the one he did for WWE. They’ve already done a pretty good job of integrating him into the landscape of AEW, and making it clear that he wants to wrestle Darby Allin cements him as a real star of the company, even if he’s doing art films and glowering at the ring from a distance most weeks. I cannot wait for that match, one of the biggest mismatches in recent memory.
Promo: Taz also can’t wait for that match, but in a sarcastic way. His son is with Team Taz now, which … I mean, I would hope so. That’s your son. Why wouldn’t he be on Team My Dad? But his bitterness about last week’s special moment is delicious.
FTR def. Varsity Blondes
I know it’s not true, but it felt like Varsity Blondes got more offense in against FTR than TH2 did against the Young Bucks. There was some alright wrestling here, but this was just a means of reestablishing FTR as a main player in the tag team division. Here’s a really, really small thing that I loved: At one point, while the Blondes were tagging out, Cash Wheeler kept trying out ways of getting out of the arm wringer that he was trapped in before settling for alleviating as much pressure as he could. FTR’s whole deal is that they’re smart wrestlers, but I feel like most of the time that gets lost in the number of old tag team finishers they utilize as nearfall spots. I was glad to have something else to pick up on, because tag ropes and five counts don’t do it for me.
Grade: A solid meat and potatoes tag team squash.
Promo: Alex Marvez was at the bar with Hangman Page, who was drinking and had his hair all mussed up, so I guess Wednesday was not such a good day. Next week he’s got a six man against Matt Hardy and Private Party but no partners. Cue Reynolds and Silver emerging from behind the bar, having hidden there for seven hours, wearing cowboy hats. “Howdy, we’re the sheriffs of tag team partners,” they said (essentially), and Hangman, in his desperation, caved to their desperation and allowed them to tag with him. Just the once. No Dark Order stuff. YEEHAW.
Dustin Rhodes def. 10
Speaking of Dark Order stuff, the best member of the Rhodes family had a Dynamite match, and it was against 10 10 is younger and more powerful than Dustin and got a little offense in at the start, but the Dark Order member got distracted on the outside and quickly ate a bulldog for the three. That wasn’t really the point of the match though, as Evil Uno came out immediately thereafter and said that he wanted to make up for the fact that Dustin is the third most important member of the Rhodes family in the company by offering him a spot in the Dark Order. Specifically the seventh spot.
That’s a pretty significant number to Dustin, as Seven was a bad post-Goldust gimmick that WCW tried out, a kind of pedophile Uncle Fester that was abandoned as soon as he debuted in the above promo. Dustin clawed up his hand Dark Order style, then slapped Uno. Uno warded off the Order and said that eventually Dustin wiykd beg to take his place with them.
Grade: I’ve waited so long to get a Dustin Rhodes feud on Dynamite and now I have one. #blessed
This Is Shaq
In a pre-taped segment, Tony Schiavone had a sit down with Brandi Rhodes and Shaquile O’Neil. Immediately, things were tense, as Tony merely announced Brandi as AEW’s Chief Brand Officer while including Shaq’s many accolades. I’m … not sure why Brandi’s mad about that. Like, she’s a successful woman, but what’s Tony supposed to say? Runner up in the AEW Women’s Tag Team Tournament? Former NXT Ring Announcer? Star of WAGS Atlanta?
I get that she’s mad because Jade Cargill broke her arm, but I couldn’t help but wonder if I missed another heel turn on her part somewhere, because being hostile towards announcers is kind of what heels do. Shaq, for his part, said that he and Jade go back awhile but that he doesn’t appreciate what Jade did to Brandi’s arm. Brandi also doesn’t appreciate it. Tony poses the question as to whether or not they can solve it on Dynamite, which Shaq would love to see. That’s one of us.
He loves the Rhodes family and meant no disrespect by anything he said on Twitter. He suggested that while Brandi’s injured, she should watch Jade, who has wrestled zero times, for some pointers. According to cagematch.de Brandi’s wrestled 60 times, so it makes sense that she was a little pissed at that. Tony had a glass of water on him that he wasn’t sipping, so Brandi threw it in Shaq’s face and stomped off. This is an angle, y’all.
This Is The Inner Circle(‘s Ultimatum)
Would the stable that just released a bunch of new merch break up? That’s never even a question this segment has, as Chris Jericho just wanted everybody to squash their beef. MJF started off by saying he loved everybody in the group like a brother, admitting that me might be the issue. But the Inner Circle is great, he wants to be tight with them. He tried to blame Sammy for the towel incident, but everybody was like “dude we have cable, we watch the show,” so Max claimed he had sweat on his brow instead.
Ortiz said that Max and Wardlow are great talents, that Wardlow in particular is a great dude, and that Max is growing on him … like a fungus. He’s the one who tried to broker peace, demanding Sammy shake his hand because he’s better than Max anyhow. They should let Santana and Ortiz talk more because they’re good at it. Sammy said that he’d shake MJF’s hand, but that if one more thing that he doesn’t like happens, he’s out. Jericho agreed. MJF and Sammy shook.
Jericho figured that was it, but Jake Hager wanted to know why Wardlow is always staring at him. Funny, as Wardlow had the same question for Hager. They agreed not to stare at each other, but kept side-eying from opposite ends of the group. The upshot of this was that when Jericho said “here’s to the future,” MJF burst in to talk about his future, where he’d beat the hell out of Orange Cassidy to avenge Jericho and keep his ring, to which Jericho replied “you’re ruining it.” All of them put in their middle fingers, beef (temporarily) squashed. This was a good segment in the sense that it continued this storyline and did something nice and simple to integrate Max into the group without making Jericho look like a fool.
Promo: FTR are with Alex Marvez. Cash blamed himself for the loss, but Tully said he shared in the blame by not being there. They made some weird metaphor about how they’re a 1982 Ford Bronco driven by Mario Andretti, but that would never happen so okay boys.
Eddie Kingston, The Butcher, and the Blade def. Lance Archer, Penta El 0M, and Rey Fenix
Penta was injured before Dynamite and taken out of this match quickly via a suplex through the table, and what was left was something of a disappointment. A few spots of miscommunication here and there, nothing blowaway exciting, and Jake “The Snake” Roberts just constantly there on the hard camera in the weirdest outfit I’ve ever seen a manager wear.
I’ve probably expressed this before, there’s not a lot in the Archer/Roberts pairing to sink my teeth into, and it’s a real 50/50 thing because I don’t think Jake quite gets how to manage, and I don’t think Archer quite gets how to be managed. Both are really specific skillsets that aren’t thought of very often because a lot of times managers are just thrown in with uninteresting wrestlers to spice them up, or because a wrestler/manager combo is okay enough that it doesn’t matter, but Jake Roberts is one of my favorite promos of all time, he’s someone who influences my art outside of wrestling, and I get nothing from him in his role in AEW.
Something else the match struggled with was the decision to put Archer with the Lucha Brothers when, to date, Archer hadn’t been in a tag team match in AEW, and the Lucha Brothers were leaving one faction to reestablish another. Pac can be or not be on an episode of Dynamite at his leisure and a random episode of Dynamite wasn’t the right time for Death Triangle vs. The Family, but it’s so drastically out of character for Lance Archer that everybody suffered as a result. This felt like a six man tag on a New Japan Road To show, the kind you have to be extremely dedicated to one of the participants to watch. I kind of am, and it was still a letdown.
Grade: Kind of a bummer, y’all.
Pre-tape: Jade Cargill and Nyla Rose beat up Red Velvet backstage. Some faces broke it up.
Abadon def. Tesha Price
This was a women’s squash match, only this time the woman who did the squashing was a spooky biohazard. Abadon continued the attack after the match, only to be stopped by Hikaru Shida, who hit her straight in the damn face with a kendo stick. Abadon Undertaker’d out of it, further spooking Shida, who has now been thoroughly spooked. Nobody in AEW has been more spooked than Hikaru Shida.
Grade: This sucked. Not because of anything the wrestlers did, but I feel like every other time I watch Dynamite, I get a women’s match that’s less than five minutes long. This one was less than one minute long. I don’t care what the official or unofficial justification is, this is completely inexcusable.
This Is Kenny Omega
Kenny Omega and Don Callis touched down in the parking lot in a helicopter. Alex Marvez tried to get an interview with him for some reason, and Kenny was like “cool helicopter, right?” I mean, so far as helicopters owned by millionaire sports franchise owners go, I’ve seen bigger, but yeah.
Tony Schiavone was waiting in the ring to interview Callis and Omega, begging the question of why Marvez was trying to get an interview in the parking lot, but he’s pretty much there to pass the microphone and look mad about the whole thing. Don gloated about how he taught Tony Khan a lesson last week, orchestrating the biggest screwjob since Montreal, even bigger given that the AEW Title was at stake, which … the WWF Title was at stake, but I’ll give it to Don because at this point I’m pretty sure that old dudes do things like this intentionally to make people like me upset. I will not allow you to get my goat, Don.
He talked about how this wasn’t a short term plan, but something that was YEARS in the making, practically since Kenny was a child, but that the gears really started to turn with the Omega/Jericho Tokyo Dome match that was, according to Tony Khan the birth of AEW. If that match created AEW, how can he steal something he helped create? A salient point!
During Kenny’s turn to speak, he talked about how great nepotism is, and how he didn’t ask to get his friends and family a payday. I kind of like this because AEW is a company where the word “nepotism” crops up in critique not infrequently, and had played a role in two major championship programs before this one. Here it’s more literal, as Don Callis is a longtime family friend, so it’s not just getting a championship match as an EVP, and it’s not just him getting a friend hired, he won the biggest prize in the game. He waited a year to do it, and did so the most successfully. He said the surprises were just getting started, but Don interrupted, not wanting us to know what the surprises were, so goodbye and goodnight.
A couple of things. First, the Impact appearance barely coming up was hilarious. The best part of that aspect of this angle so far was the paid advertisement where Tony Khan and Tony Schiavone buried the company, even if that didn’t make a ton of sense given that Tony and Tony are the aggrieved parties. Also, I feel like heel Kenny Omega is a real monkey’s paw scenario for me, as I’ve been begging for it in this space for a long time, and now that I have it I’m dreading every second of its future. All I wanted was chainsaw arms, and I feel like what I’ve got is a subscription to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and a podcast feed full of 60 year old men. It’s a real nightmare for me, a woman whose allotment for old, old men had already been maxed out with the debut of The Man Called Sting.
Dynamite Diamond Ring: MJF def. Orange Cassidy
Hey! A wrestling match! And a pretty good one! MJF was out with the whole Inner Circle, Orange with the Best Friends, and that element of the match went as you would expect, with the heels beating up Orange when they could and the faces backing off of MJF because the ref was always looking when it would have been their turn to get a shot in. Eventually Best Friends left to assemble a big crew of losers, which was the set up to a big, unnecessary brawl that wasn’t I wanted out of this match.
That said? The actual Orange vs. MJF bits were great, as Max worked Orange’s hand the whole time after making him miss with an Orange Punch on the apron, resulting in him hitting the ring post. At one point, he stuffed Orange’s hands in his back pocket and powerbombed him on the apron, maybe the best usage of Orange’s pocket gimmick by a heel thus far. Orange, as usual, was brilliant on the sell, not just on defense but on offense. My favorite spot in the match was his getting a surprise roll-up on MJF and crossing Max’s ankles so he could catch both legs with one hand, his other being too compromised.
Max’s desperation to put him away with the Salt of the Earth at the end of the match was great, too, as he pounded Cassidy’s hand to get the arm up, but it wasn’t enough. Max ate a couple of nice Orange Punches before the expected brawl popped off. That distraction allowed Miro to sneak into the ring (despite his extremely loud Versace Couture sweater) and clothesline Orange, which gave MJF the win.
MJF got a moment of exhausted elation after the match (“I beat him!”), but the focus after the bell was on Miro, who wrecked a ton of extras. One of them he threw off the stage face first into the void below. With Tony Schiavone screaming about how Christmas is coming and those men have families, Miro put his foot on one of their faces and that was it for Dynamite.