Before the Fall of Caesar: AEW Dynamite Recap

Wherein a Wild Snake Appears

Coming off the heels of a very satisfying pay-per-view, Dynamite scales almost a mile high to Broomfield, CO awash with some interesting confirmed and rumored new additions. A new character was introduced on this week’s episode, but not one of the handful of names being thrown around the past few weeks. As expected post-Revolution, the deck gets shuffled as AEW makes the crawl to Las Vegas for Double or Nothing.


Jon Moxley Surveys the Shifted Paradigm

Our new AEW World Champion takes the ring not with a chip on his shoulder, but what looks like a 35-pound slab of leather and precious metals. He takes a little victory lap and enters the ring to an insane ovation, his half-closed right eye looking out at the crowd. When Mox grabs the mic, he revels in the fact that with everything he’s put into pro wrestling, he managed to get something very huge out of it. He says the AEW World Championship belongs not to Jericho or even himself, but the fans (very “people’s champ” of him), the people who are responsible for bringing pro wrestling back. After pledging he’ll go through hell to keep this gorgeous belt over his shoulder and wishing a motherfucker in the Inner Circle would,


Le Champion L’ancien comes out flanked by his crew and claims, “I don’t need a damn belt to be Le Champion.” Staying the course in his hypocrisy (“What kind of person takes out another person’s eye?”), Jericho calls Mox a liar and a snake oil salesman, feeling hoodwinked by the fact that the new champ’s eye was not actually damaged. And because of that, Mox has turned the Inner Circle from a group of “good-natured and very good-looking guys into a damn hit squad.” Jericho makes a pledge to take a 60-day sabbatical from AEW if Mox isn’t carried out on a stretcher. I mean, if I could take two months off to tour around with my rock band while still continuing to hear people sing my song back to me, I’d jump at that chance with no hesitation. Then again, I don’t get to berate people on national television and hang out with my friends for a living.

More Pro Wrestling:


SCU & Colt Cabana def. The Dark Order

As satisfying as Revolution was, it was a night full of non-surprises. (Don’t get me wrong, there’s a place for that; sometimes the most satisfying stories are the ones you can see from a mile away. The ones that reflect the beats of real life.) Saturday night’s biggest surprise and its biggest non-surprise were crouched within each other, as Christopher Daniels definitively(?) proved to his friends in SCU he wasn’t the Exalted One after all, while a hooded figure mysteriously took the stage, only to reveal himself as Chicago’s own Colt Cabana.

The mystery of the Exalted One’s identity sadly remains the most interesting thing about the SCU vs. Dark Order saga (a close second is the latter’s faux-heartburn commercial, very artful stuff), which is a shame because Scorpio Sky’s star-making turn in the early matchups of the tag team tournament was a thrilling component of the first handful of Dynamite episodes.

This match isn’t bad, but the clear highlight is seeing Colt throw a flying headscissors and engage in some light World of Sport tomfuckery on primetime cable television. Stu Grayson and Evil Uno have incredibly good chemistry with Alex Reynolds and John Silver, though; there is a cold efficiency in their work which made parts of this match interesting to watch. Ultimately, Cabana gets the pin, and before the winning team can celebrate, Evil Uno hops on the mic and says when daddy comes home, he’s gonna be pissed.

Somebody drank all the Capri Suns and there will be hell to pay.

Grade: (Almost) Yeah.

Video Package: Highlights from “Hangman” Adam Page and Kenny Omega’s Revolution win over the Young Bucks, with assorted raves from wrestling journalists. The Hollywood-style pull quotes work really well for wrestling matches; it’s nice to see wrestling take journalism seriously and vice versa. Cut to the broadcast team, where Excalibur, who has probably seen thousands of Young Bucks matches, says this was the very best one. I’m a big sucker for emotionally complex, 30-minute tag team matches, and while the Matt and Nick vs. Golden Lovers is my favorite Bucks match, this was most certainly among my favorite matches of the year so far.


Big Swole def. “The Librarian” Leva Bates

Before the match, we’re graced with the presence of Dr. Britt Baker joining the broadcast team (a great move as of late), of course bringing Tony Schiavone a coffee. (Free idea for AEW Shop: A black polo with the Schiavone Coffee logo, maybe a green apron too.) Tony and Dr. Baker as frenemies is an unexpected joy for me, though if the good doctor really wanted to heel it up, she’d talk about how people greatly prefer Eric Bischoff’s podcast.

As Big Swole makes her way to the ring and throughout the match, Dr. Baker downplays Swole’s life accomplishments (not remembering they were both in last year’s Women’s Casino Battle Royale, “Is Big Swole on her driver’s license?”) while Bates takes advantage of referee Aubrey Edwards’ back being turned by hitting Swole with a book. I feel like I’m missing something. Is Leva picking up Peter Avalon’s heelish tendencies on AEW Dark (which I desperately need to catch up on)? Has she become tired of Swole not paying attention to her in favor of her Spotify playlist over the past few weeks of Being the Elite?

Anyway, Swole gets the quick win, which is pretty much expected for the rising star. AEW’s women’s division has been overlooked from jump street, but I’m willing to let bygones be bygones if Swole and Nyla Rose throw bombs and gorilla press each other for twenty minutes at Double or Nothing.

Grade: Yeah. 


Our Cool Boss Cody Holds a Staff Meeting After Losing to MJF

Cody, wearing a fresh 3/4-length coat, walks to the ring along with a huge ovation. (Being a lover of fashion, I have to say Cody is stylish in a way only a handful of wrestling personalities are and I admire his fit game.) We are living in the era of the “cool” EVP, with big beards and neck tats and Motörhead tees and white suits for Miami tapings. It has most definitely been said before, but it’s still kinda weird to have such a profound emotional attachment to your boss, regardless of the journey they take you on creatively.

Cody breaks down the business of winning and losing (a “pay window” reference might have been too on the nose, but very welcomed nonetheless) and calls out Maxwell Jacob Friedman, which brings out Jake “the Snake” Roberts(!) and brings the crowd to their feet. Jake scolds Cody for whining about his loss and warns of his new client. He repeatedly refers to Cody as “Caesar” and calls his coach Arn Anderson a “one-trick pony,” which is assuredly not true as I’m sure he could fit many tricks on that laminated sheet of paper he carries around.

After saying he was taught never to turn his back on someone who he respects or fears, Jake turns his back to Cody while leaving the ring. Though I can name half a dozen Jake promos off the top of my head better than this one, Jake is still one of the all-time great orators in the wrestling business and this promo did what it was supposed to do: build intrigue for whomever Jake’s client turns out to be.


PAC def. Chuck Taylor

A personal note: After my nine-year lapse of pro wrestling fandom ended around 2012, PWG was my introduction to independent wrestling, so it’s safe to say I have a soft spot for Chuck Taylor. He’s riotously funny and whip smart, he’s an incredibly savvy wrestler when the occasion calls for it. But PAC is easily one of the best wrestlers in the game, approaching status as one of the best of his generation.

During the match, PAC gets distracted by Orange Cassidy (seemingly frustrated that beating him wasn’t as easy as he assumed), only to get kicked in the face by a Taylor baseball slide. The match is mildly competitive but skewed heavily toward the Bastard until Taylor hits a brutal Awful Waffle off the top turnbuckle, which brings the crowd alive. Taylor tries a moonsault and misses. That’s enough for PAC to lock in the Brutalizer. Game over.

Grade: Yeah.


After the match, PAC tries to kick more ass as an example for Trent and Cassidy, only for Trent to get in PAC’s face. Our hero Orange steps up, only to get superkicked on both sides of his head by the Lucha Bros, who have formed a trio with PAC called Death Triangle (or Triángulo de la Muerte, which sounds way fucking cooler). The Lucha Bros’ attack seemed kinda random on Saturday night, but now that their motives have revealed themselves it works much better. This bodes very well for the heavily rumored addition of AEW trios titles, as three of the most dazzling wrestlers on Earth coming together seems like they’d be a focal point for the division.

In the closing shot of the segment, Pentagon bites Orange Cassidy’s ear, which has definitely begat some very inspired Horny Wrestling Twitter fan-fiction by now.

Segment: Shawn Spears and Tully Blanchard continue their search for a tag team partner for Spears, which dreadfully reminds me of the guy everyone sees on Tinder who is looking for a “swollmate.”


Jake Hager def. QT Marshall

QT Marshall has long been established as the easy duke in the realm of AEW. I actually thought Jake Hager was going to utilize some of his MMA technique in his wrestling on Revolution, something to spice up his style a little bit, but sadly, he still looks like the guy who was Gift of the Gods Champion after people stopped watching Lucha Underground. I do like his entrance music, though. It sounds like the wrestling entrance version of some shit your friend from Atlanta would put you onto. As for the match, you don’t need me to tell you Hager wins and this match was nothing to write home about.

Grade: Meh.


There’s a post-match beatdown which leads Cody and eventually Matt Jackson out to the ring. Hangman Page staggers to the ring, IPA in hand, as the Inner Circle continues stomping and punching. The Inner Circle members don’t pay Hangman much mind, given his conflict with the Elite. But Page sets down his beer, kicks ass, hits a Buckshot Lariat on Hager, argues with Jackson, flips him off, and leaves with an armful of gifted beers from ringside. Is there any wonder why Page is arguably the most beloved star of All Elite Wrestling? Page’s story is one of the most emotionally complex in all of pro wrestling—full of ups and downs and alienation and drinking to ignore the fact that your rich and famous friends constantly belittle you—and I agree with all the people who say he’ll be AEW’s biggest star in the next year. I have a lot of opinions about “Hangman” Adam Page, and I’m looking forward to unspooling them all in this space.

Segment: I also have a lot of opinions about MJF. (I always catch myself saying, “Am I watching the same guy as so many of these wrestling legends who sing his praises? He’s not that good. Holy shit, am I getting worked?“) Here, he delivers a statement of purpose to remain undefeated and become AEW Champion before taking off his jacket and Burberry scarf to reveal a shirt that says “I Pinned Cody” and diss the concept of neck tattoos. What’s more garish, a drawing on your neck the size of an ashtray, or telling people how great you are when you look like the only thing you pinned was a Nordstrom Rack mannequin?


Chris Jericho & Sammy Guevara def. Jon Moxley & Darby Allin

Darby and Mox vs. Jericho and Guevara is a very fitting post-script for Revolution; two top stars at the height of their careers (which is saying a lot for Jericho) along with two talented young dudes virtually destined to become top stars (judging by the reaction to Darby, sooner rather than later in his case).

Before the match officially begins, three men in hooded jackets jump Mox from behind; it doesn’t take more than a second to realize they’re the remaining members of the Inner Circle. Hager, Santana, and Ortiz beat Mox down in the concourse and empty a trash can on him, leaving Darby to start the match by himself. Darby’s talent borders on exceptional but he most certainly can’t take on two (er, five) men by himself, though he uses speed and savvy to trap Jericho in a couple flash pins.

Jericho locks Darby in the Walls of Jericho until the hold is broken by a desperate grab of the bottom rope. The beatdown on Allin continues, including a pretty great stalling vertical suplex from Le Champion L’ancien. The match is full of taunts and poses on the part of the Inner Circle, which displays the level of chemistry Jericho and Guevara have built since October. Darby fires up for the comeback, hitting his signature suicide dive between the bottom and second rope like he was fired out of a cannon. Guevara lifts Darby up like he’s going for a scoop slam or a suplex and just kicks him in the back on the way down. Brutal. After tagging himself, Darby comes out of the corner blazing and eventually hits a coffin drop on the whole group of his advesaries. He hits another on Guevara in the ring, only for Jericho to break it up and eventually hit Darby with a Judas Effect off the suicide dive. Darby put up a good fight, but wasn’t enough to take on all 360 degrees of the Inner Circle.

Grade: Yeah! 

After the match, the Inner Circle stands tall as Mox comes out with a chair and tries to clear them out to no avail. The closing shot pans up from Mox breathing heavily and otherwise motionless across a broken table while the members of the Inner Circle pose and smile.

When the hangover from a new champion’s celebration settles in, the hero’s journey begins again.


Martin Douglas

Martin Douglas is an essayist, critic, and journalist specializing in the fields of music and pro wrestling. He has resided in Tacoma, WA for over two decades, but give him twenty minutes and he can locate the best spot for chicken and waffles in any American city.

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