An Ode to Newport 100s: AEW Dynamite Recap and Review

Or: Put You to Sleep for Some Cold Shoes

It’s weird how much of a mixed bag wrestling shows can be sometimes. On last week’s Dynamite, the wrestling was excellent. Jon Moxley had a great match with Yugi Nagata. The Young Bucks and SCU turned their tag team title match into a pathos-filled bloodbath. PAC and Orange Cassidy went to a no-contest (due to Cassidy getting his bell rung for real) and ended up both getting the title match against Kenny Omega at Double or Nothing next weekend. And after a pretty sensational run with the TNT Championship, the half-dead face of the network Darby Allin lost his title to a focused and bloodthirsty Miro. 

But those promo segments, whew. The Inner Circle paying homage to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s beer bath was innocuous enough, though perhaps a little derivative due to WWE never allowing us to live the beer bath down. Cody Rhodes paid homage to when wrestling was proudly xenophobic, turning his burgeoning rivalry with an insanely promising young talent into a half-assed war of national pride. 

Last night was a set-up episode of sorts to get ready for AEW’s Memorial Day Weekend spectacular, promising among other happenings, Serena Deeb defending her NWA Women’s World Championship against Red Velvet, AEW World Women’s Champion Hikaru Shida facing the assistant/”hair stylist” of her Double or Nothing opponent, Reba (Rebel), and Mox and Eddie Kingston on the service end of a battle rap. 

AEW

Christian def. Matt Sydal

Taz is at the commentator’s position to scout the guy who has been talking shit about Team Taz (and Taz himself) for the past few weeks, as both Christian and his guys are going to be in Double or Nothing’s Casino Battle Royale, which is kind of a toss-up this year since the most viable picks to win are going to be in other matches. Christian could be a favorite to win, given his brief interaction with Kenny Omega and the fact that he came in with much ballyhoo, which seems appropriate. Though Christian suffers from the same detriment he has in so many other companies for which he’s either reached the top or has gotten somewhere near it: His wrestling character is basically “I’m a very good wrestler,” which is boring as shit for a television audience.

Here, Christian slapped Sydal so hard it made me sit up a little straighter. He dominated the course of the match like the veteran he is. Sydal was able to insert some of his trademark high-flying offense (and some good strikes) in the right spots, but the story of the match was that he spent most of the match being mentally outpaced by Christian. Sydal reversed a running move of some sort (could have been a spear, could have been anything) into a sunset flip and got a 2.995 count. Ultimately, Christian countered a Mariposa by putting the knees up and won the match with the Killswitch.

After the match, Christian pulled Sydal up and gave him a hug while Taz bemoaned Christian’s “big head and stupid face.” Eventually, Ricky Starks hobbled onto the stage, cutting a promo about being front and center instead of ringside like so much of the AEW roster. As you might have predicted, Team Taz jumped Sydal and Christian from behind. “Hangman” Adam Page stormed out of the locker room, made Starks hold his drink, and started cleaning house until Hook chop-blocked him and Brian Cage nearly powerbombed Page out of his cowboy boots. 

Backstage Segment: Brian Pillman Jr. cut a promo about how nepotism wasn’t a factor in his wrestling career; in fact, his dad motivated him to stay away. Griff Garrison talked about how he was hired by the Young Bucks to run their merch and how they’re not the same tag team they were in 2018. There’s a 50 Cent quote where he said, “If money didn’t you, you just didn’t make enough,” and that seems to be the Bucks’ modus operandi over the past number of weeks. The Varsity Blondes (along with new group member Julia Hart) were looking to pull off that hail mary pass last night.

Backstage Segment: Mox and Kingston threw a few shots at the Acclaimed (“One is a rapper, the other is the rapper’s friend”) and the Bucks (no Superkick Parties tonight). Anthony Bowens called Kingston “the guy from the bodega” and Mox “the Lunatic Cringe,” which made me wish more wrestlers used snarky puns.

Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston def. The Acclaimed

Mox and Kingston came out to X’s cover of “Wild Thing” (you know, the one from Major League). Coming out to the Troggs’ version was apparently a one-time thing, but it was pretty fucking awesome given the occasion.

Though Caster, wearing a Tegan & Sara shirt, started off kinda weak in his battle rap (even though he managed to rhyme “paradigm shift” with “Valentine gifts”), he really picked up steam, saying Kingston looked like a box of Newports and saying he’d knock Mox out with the mic like Omega did. Then the bar got lowered again when Caster rather crassly invited Renee Paquette to some Oral Sessions. In battle rap terms I suppose it’s standard fodder, but it (and the lightly homophobic critique of Mox and Kingston’s friendship, because apparently friendship is gay) is still low-hanging fruit for someone who has been saying some really clever shit these past few weeks.

Max Caster Battle Rap Rating: 4 Mics

This goes without saying, but the match started before the Acclaimed could get into the ring after that Oral Sessions reference, and Mox and Kingston beat Caster and Bowens down for several minutes. Finally, the Acclaimed managed to isolate Kingston, double teaming him and targeting his leg. Mox got the hot tag and sent Bowens out of the ring before eating Caster’s shots and stuffing him with a piledriver. The excitement factor in the final minutes of the match was a testament to both teams knowing which expectations to subvert when a tough, veteran tag team faces a snarky, halfway-chickenshit heel younger team. The boombox spot backfired on Caster (as the Acclaimed tried to distract the referee by getting a chain to Bowens), and Kingston and Mox hit a Wheelbarrow Paradigm Shift for the win.

Backstage Interview: Alex Marvez butted in on a conversation between two old rivals to get the scoop on the Stadium Stampede challenge issued to the Inner Circle, but Chris Jericho shoos him away. Jericho and Dean Malenko referenced their history in a breezy, funny, lighthearted way here, as Jericho admitted he’d forgotten a few holds since his infamous promo in 1998.

In-Ring Interview: Tony Schiavone interviewed Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page about their interference in Darby Allin and Sting’s affairs lately. Scorp went first, talking about how Sting was his guy, and he was a Little Stinger growing up. The thing that changed was time. Sting’s an old man in AEW for a paycheck, and Sky is a grown man looking to cement his status as one of the greats.

Ethan Page took the mic and invited Tony to leave, referencing his longstanding hatred for Darby Allin and throwing him down a flight of steps two weeks ago. Enough turned out to be enough at this point, where Sting came out through the stage and Darby attacked them both from behind with his skateboard. Darby and Sting cleaned house as Scorpio tapped out the Scorpion Death Lock. As Page and Sky tried to escape, the Dark Order blocked their way to the stage, so they scurry their way to the walkway near the side stage. 

The Pinnacle Had Dinner and Addressed the Inner Circle

Opening with Wardlow downing a bottle of wine and asking for another, the Pinnacle seem to be enjoying dinner at a place which looks eerily like a Delta Sky Lounge in an airport terminal. MJF sarcastically applauded Chris Jericho’s 2nd grade humor—the proverbial pot calling the kettle black. Dax Harwood cut a very good promo about how difficult it is for the Pinnacle to have to do this, but it’s a duty. They should be chasing championships instead of messing around with the Inner Circle. Shawn Spears impatiently waited for his server to refill his wine glass, and eventually forced his head into the table while Tully told him to chill. He broke the bottle instead and Tully tossed the server an exorbitant tip. MJF restated the Pinnacle’s catchphrase. End scene.

Hikaru Shida def. Reba (Rebel)

Rebel’s still bringing her crutch to the ring; shades of Bob Orton’s debilitating arm injury. When the match started, Shida dominated to the point where Dr. Britt Baker jumped onto the apron to offer advice. Shida put a glove on and tried to put on Lockjaw, to which Dr. Baker snatched the AEW World Women’s Championship and Reba (Rebel) broke her crutch over the champion’s back, but only got a two-count on the follow-up. Shida eventually won with a gnarly Stretch Muffler.

After the match, Dr. Baker jumped Shida and curb stomped her into the title belt.

Backstage Segment: Kenny and Don Callis kicked out the rest of Best Friends out of the trainer’s room so they can talk to Orange Cassidy in private. Kenny said Orange is an asset to AEW; they need him to sell merch and be a mascot for the brand. He and Callis offered a contract to wrestle Omega at a later date, because it would be better for his health if he sat out of this proposed Triple Threat match. Orange tried to rip up the contract but they had another one to offer. They told him to think about it. Sit on it for a while.

The Inner Circle Address the Pinnacle’s Stadium Stampede Challenge

Ortiz put it nice and simple: “Talk is cheap.” Sammy got on the mic and said this will never be over between the Pinnacle and the Inner Circle, referencing last week (which elicited a “dumbass fishes” chant), and saying everyone already knows his answers. Hager said since Dynamite’s inception, they’ve proven they’re the baddest group in AEW, and something about “schoolgirl bitches,” blah blah blah. (It started off strong and petered out.)

Jericho asked the big question: Is all of this worth it? Is all of the antagonism worth the injuries and the trauma they’ve suffered from beating each other to a pulp? His answer is yes, especially with the fantasies of revenge he has had ever since the fall which ended Blood & Guts. The answer is yes, a resounding yes. Jericho said if they can’t beat the Pinnacle, they don’t have any reason to still be together. The Pinnacle will have to kill the Inner Circle, and they haven’t done it yet. But at Stadium Stampede, the Pinnacle’s careers will be killed and their graves will be pissed on.

Backstage Interview: Tony Schiavone asked Jade if she had made a decision, the question Jade has felt is redundant. Mark Sterling pitched a bunch of ideas to Jade, including a sit-down interview with Jim Ross. Jade (rightly) dismissed him, saying anyone who works for her will NOT interrupt her precious interview time. 

AEW

NWA Women’s World Championship: Serena Deeb (c) def. Red Velvet

With challengers for her title cropping up en masse, Deeb came into this match with fists of fury, bombarding Velvet with uppercuts and trying to make quick work of her challenger. Velvet gained a momentary advantage and started doing her mixing bowl taunt, which is probably a bad move against a wily veteran like Deeb, who quickly regained the advantage.

Deeb, presumably knowing her potential challengers are watching her every move, featured a more aggressive, strike-heavy style in this match, which is a good look for her. The match in its later going became a see-saw of momentum, with Velvet showcasing her quickness and agility before Deeb slipped around, hit a strike, or put her knees up and gained the advantage once again. A first Serenity Lock didn’t do the trick before Red Velvet escaped with a pinning combination, but Deeb chop blocked Velvet and locked it in again, repeatedly smashing Velvet’s knee into the mat. Velvet would ultimately tap.

Backstage Interview: PAC has been pissed off and focused leading into this Triple Threat main event for the AEW title, and he’s laser focused on winning that championship. So what else is new, right? I think a win by PAC at Double or Nothing would be a tremendous left turn for AEW’s top title scene, but it’s not something I’d exactly put my chips on. Not yet at least.

AEW

Anthony Ogogo def. Austin Gunn

Cody Rhodes came out to the ring wrapped in the American flag, doubling down on the (very appropriate) social media backlash for that promo last week, while Ogogo came out with his fist wrapped in the Union Jack. Before the match started, the announcers put in work trying to sell Cody’s promo, especially Jim Ross, for whom this angle seems tailor-made. Gunn started off hot but got stopped with one of Ogogo’s deadly punches. Gunn got punched a second time and apparently spit blood everywhere which managed to get all over Ogogo’s face. A third punch stopped the match as the young Gunn couldn’t take anymore.

After the match, Ogogo took the United States flag like he was going to do something with it, but just tossed it back to Cody. A bunch of referees came out to stop a brawl before Ogogo held up the English flag and left.

Backstage Interview: Alex Marvez asked about the future of Christopher Daniels career, to which he shook Frankie Kazarian’s hand and said something to him privately. Kaz spoke about whatever path CD takes will be the path he takes, but his path is clear. The dissolution of SCU at the hands of the Elite was one of the most shameful moments of his career, and he has made it his personal mission to hunt each and every one of them down.

Miro Speaks After Defeating the “Skateboard Goth” Last Week

Miro thanked Jesus for protecting him and giving him the strength to destroy motherfuckers. He forgave Darby for disrespecting him, but told him to go home and make one of his student videos. Nobody will stop Miro, so he will be issuing an open challenge. Lance Archer then came out to say he’s looking forward to the “monster fight” they’ll have at Double or Nothing—and that he’ll make Miro … his Bulgarian bitch. (Yawn.) Miro spoke again and said it’s funny that Archer’s supposed to be so bad, but he’s got an old man holding him back, and then said Jake Roberts better stay out of his way, because there’s not enough yoga in the world to restore him if he crosses Miro’s path. He also says that since everybody dies, he’s going to make sure Archer goes first. 

AEW

AEW World Tag Team Championship: The Young Bucks (c) def. The Varsity Blondes

The Varsity Blondes came out with Julia Hart looking like the most 1989 white meat babyfaces with their letterman jackets, and I kinda love that for them. Meanwhile, the Bucks came out in their Dior Jordan 1s, their beaded headbands, and some bullshit white fur jackets (in Florida, in mid-May). The Blondes got an advantage early in the match and Nick feigned a knee injury, leaving Matt to be double-teamed by the Blondes, who get better and better at the fundamentals of tag team wrestling every week.

The Bucks quickly regained the advantage amidst “you sold out” chants and dominated the match, posing and preening while effortlessly flying around and pummeling their challengers. Garrison looked impressive taking on both members; he’s really coming along in the few short months he’s been wrestling on television. It didn’t last long though, as Nick Jackson nearly kicked his head off from the apron. After getting kicked in the back repeatedly by both Jackson brothers, Pillman absorbed those shots, got up, and started taking them both on before getting stopped by hijinks. While in the Sharpshooter, Pillman got sprayed in the face and before he could do it again, Rick Knox took the can away from them, so a third can was passed, which was sprayed in Hart’s face. Matt locked in the Sharpshooter again, Nick hit a facebuster on Pillman while locked in the move, and he finally had to tap out.

After the match, Brandon Cutler and Don Callis came into the ring to celebrate, as did Mox and Kingston. Cutler and Callis jumped out of the ring with the quickness, and the violent gentlemen beat the hell out of the Bucks, choking them out before deciding to steal their Dior 1s (and their socks too!). I’m dying; this is absolutely the most hood thing any wrestling company has ever done. What can I say, smarmy white boys getting their sneakers taken makes me very nostalgic. Mox and Kingston pose with both pairs as the show goes off the air.

If anybody can get Eddie Kingston my number, tell him I’ll pay a decent amount of money for a pair of those shoes if either Matt or Nick wear a size 11.5!

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Martin Douglas

A proud adopted son of the Pacific Northwest, 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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