A week and a half ago on the show, Orange Cassidy scores a near-heroic pinfall over Chris Jericho; FTR beat down the Rock ‘n Roll Express during Tag Team Appreciation Night; Scorpio Sky shines in his TNT Championship match against champion Cody; and MJF finally delivers a pretty great promo only for Jon Moxley to Paradigm Shift his vertebrae. With Brodie Lee issuing a challenge for the TNT title and the finals for the Deadly Draw Women’s Tag Team Tournament on deck for the night, let’s see how AEW’s special Saturday edition of Dynamite counter-programmed the first hour and a half of Takeover XXX.
FTR def. Private Party
The broadcast starts with the bell for the match, as the entire show was on standby for a half-hour while Miami went up 3-0 in their NBA playoff series against Indiana. Tully Blanchard has officially signed on as FTR’s manager, wearing a personalized satin bomber in case you were unsure. Dax and Cash have much better chemistry with Private Party than they did with the Lucha bros, efficiently grounding their innovative, flashy opponents.
FTR also work way better as heels, with last week’s attack on their 60-something-year-old tag team forebears (on a night they’d claim were to honor tag teams of the past) the most memorable thing they’ve done so far on AEW television — aside from getting cheap whiskey spilled on them at their contract signing by “Hangman” Adam Page. The match is pretty fast-paced throughout, with lots of quick transitions and smart nearfalls. The match ends with Tully distracting Marq Quen and FTR smashing him with a Goodnight Express.
Grade: A very good match; not entirely hotly contested (probably due to the delay) but very intelligently wrestled. A great match for tag teams to study.
Backstage Interview: Jon Moxley cuts a humorous down-to-earth promo on MJF, which really highlights what he does well as a character. He starts off by referencing Renee, saying his ways frustrate her and then gets serious about Max’s talent. He says he wants Max to be AEW’s top superstar for the next 25 years, because Mox himself doesn’t know if he even has 18 months left in his career. Here, he breaks his character down to his essence, highlighting a tough grouch who cuts a dark joke every now and again because life is dark. Because of his visceral, violent wrestling style, he knows he’s not long for the wrestling business. Sometimes Mox settles into tough guy cliches during these short promos, but when he’s on, he’s one of the most fascinating and easy to root for characters in all of pro wrestling.
Backstage Interview: In retort, MJF cuts a promo about “homicidal maniac” dictators while wearing a neck brace and calling Mox a coward for attacking him from behind. It’s all a nice way to paint Max as a pathological liar, the classic heel everybody wants him to be. His lawyer, Mark Sterling, asserts the “deadly” Paradigm Shift should be banned from AEW, resulting in a petition with five million signatures. Sterling threatens legal action while Nina struggles to hold her smile in place for three minutes.
Jurassic Express and the Natural Nightmares def. The Butcher & the Blade and the Lucha Bros
Justin Roberts’ ring announcements were interrupted by the four teams in this eight man tag clobbering each other before the opening bell. The match starts in a sprint, finally slowing down a big when Dustin Rhodes takes control. The Butcher, the Blade, and the Lucha Bros eventually steer the match by isolating Dustin for several minutes; neither member of Jurassic Express has been tagged in several minutes into the match. Luchasaurus gets the hot tag and cleans house (of course) and even QT Marshall gets his shit in with that atrocious Diamond Cutter of his. Dissension sets in the ranks when the Blade tries to help Pentagon with the double stomp to augment his Package Piledriver, and Penta isn’t having any of it.
Grade: An okay match clearly designed to get to its finish and the aftermath.
Said aftermath? Eddie Kingston comes down to the ring and tries to bring these two teams together through motivational speech, which of course is Kingston’s strongest suit. He speaks on grinding through the indies up to prime placement on TNT, the talent each man possesses, and the need to stick together to run roughshod over AEW. After successfully corralling the two teams for a group hug, Kingston winks at the camera.
Segment: Dr. Britt Baker and Reba (Rebel) have their promo interrupted by Kip Sabian and Penelope Ford, with the former giving the engaged couple dental advice, generally worried about them spreading mouth germs, and then striking a deal where Big Swole will have to face the good doctor and Ford in a handicap match. Ford seems reluctant until Dr. Baker offers her free makeup services from Reba (Rebel) for a year.
In-Ring Interview: Tony Schiavone is joined in the ring by Orange Cassidy after what Tony describes as the biggest match of Cassidy’s career, along with his best friends in Best Friends. Before Cass can even get a word in — which may have taken a while — Chris Jericho stalks the stage with a mic and (finally!) wearing a new jacket. With a bit of the bubbly in hand, Jericho congratulates Orange, one of the only three men to defeat Jericho in nearly 11 months. Jericho puts Cass over strong and proposes a toast, but not before challening him to a rubber match, a Mimosa Mayhem Match.
Get this: the winner can win by pinfall, submission, or thrown into a literal mimosa pool. The Inner Circle then surrounds the ring and after the toast beat down Best Friends and Cassidy, dousing Cassidy in champagne. The idea of a Mimosa Mayhem Match is some super-silly-ass shit, but as I’m an avowed fan of silly wrestling bullshit and the wonders of a good brunch, I’m high-key looking forward to it!
The Elite def. The Dark Order (Alex Reynolds, John Silver, and Alan Angels)
Instead of serving as the Best Hot Tag in the Business, Nick Jackson starts out with Alan Angels, engaging in some savvy counter-wrestling before Matt makes a blind tag to enter the match. Eventually, Angels hits a pretty brutal double foot stomp on a chair placed on Kenny, hearkening back to their surprisingly great encounter back in the spring. The Dark Order get a little (but not too much) offense, highlighted by Reynolds and Silver hitting double Tombstone Piledrivers. Eventually, a double superkick, an assisted Indytaker, and a One Winged Angel gets the job done.
Grade: We all know how this one was gonna go. Did you really think the Elite was going to take the L to the junior members of the Dark Order?
After the match, Kenny tries to powerbomb Angels onto a chair, but Matt and Nick stop the attempt and argue with Kenny before the trio head backstage. Kenny’s unexplained descent into madness continues to be an interesting subthread of his tag team title reign with Hangman, and his beating dudes up post-match for no reason has to have something to do with Hangman’s increasingly complicated friendship with FTR. Only time will tell.
Backstage Interview: After the announcement of a gauntlet match on Thursday to determine the challengers for Kenny and Hangman’s tag titles, Alex Marvez speaks to FTR and Tully about their relationship. Hangman comes in, double-fisting a whiskey and Bud Light chaser, ready to argue with Dax and Cash over their actions last week. The argument ends in forgiveness and a Bud Light toast.
Darby Allin def. Will Hobbs
Before the bell sounds, Darby brings the fight to Hobbs (who I legit popped for when I saw him). Of course, Darby is drastically overpowered and outmuscled by Hobbs (who, according to Taz, “has eaten meals bigger than Darby”), who shouts about how he needs this statement win on his Dynamite debut, hitting Darby with a fantastically severe Spinebuster. Darby, of course, uses his speed and the knockout blow of the Coffin Drop to win this short match.
Grade: A good short match; not exactly a squash but a shining example of how a smaller competitor can beat a bigger one in a wrestling contest.
After the match, Taz gets off the headset and on the mic, talking about Team Taz flourishing and adding a “new member,” who ends up being Ricky Starks with half his face covered in corpse paint. Starks cuts a wonderful parody promo (definitely the hardest I’ve laughed all episode), referencing Darby’s nihilism and his endless physical comparisons to the “I Like Turtles” kid (which is low-hanging fruit for Extremely Online people, but still pretty funny to finally be referenced in canon). Cage then attacks Darby from behind and lays him out with the FTW Championship.
Backstage Interview: Thunder Rosa(!!) challenges Hikaru Shida to an AEW Women’s World Championship match at All Out, after an intriguing social media tease not too long ago. She cuts a great promo here, reminding us she was absolutely the MVP of NWA Power. The National Wrestling Alliance has been on hiatus since the initial spread of COVID-19, which has led to some interesting AEW crossover. First Starks, then Kingston, and now NWA women’s champ Thunder Rosa; the cream of NWA’s crop has been doing well in AEW and this women’s title match at All Out should be a certified banger.
Deadly Draw Women’s Tag Team Tournament Final Match: Ivelisse and Diamante def. The Nightmare Sisters
There is absolutely nothing I can say here that could set the stage for this tournament final and the current state of AEW’s women’s division better than Colette’s recent essay, so definitely read that before continuing this recap if you haven’t already. This entire tourney has seemed rife for Brandi Rhodes and Allie to continue their contentious quasi-siblings-in-law relationship, and Ivelisse and Diamante came into AEW facing each other, leading to a perceived mutual respect and unexpected tag chemistry.
Ivelisse and Brandi start out, engaging in some solid chain wrestling until Brandi showboats and admires her handiwork. On commentary, Veda Scott provides some valuable insight about Allie, describing this as her opportunity to shine in a prime spot after being a solid performer her whole career — “solid” in the “good hand stuck in the middle” sense. The match goes back and forth throughout, which picks up when Diamante hits a cool tornado suplex. QT Marshall unsuccessfully interferes on behalf of his on-screen girlfriend, leading Ivelisse to snapmare Allie into a kick for the win.
Grade: An alright showing, although a little anticlimactic. It felt like something was off in the meat of this match, which led it to it being perhaps not quite as exciting as it was anticipated to be. Ivelisse and Diamante make a great team though, a great pick for the top spot of a women’s tag team division if AEW pulls the trigger on one.
TNT Championship Match: Mr. Brodie Lee def. Cody (c)
Cody’s new “Prince of Pro Wrestling” moniker absolutely proves my longstanding sentiments about him being presented as a babyface is a little tone deaf to a big part of AEW’s audience. The cool boss; the handsome, benevolent monarch-to-be with bleach blonde hair. Although his character screams “born on third base,” he’s still arguably the closest thing AEW has to a straightforward hero archetype. The fans love him and he is portrayed as a sympathetic character, so maybe this is more about my biases about white dudes in positions of authority than subliminal messaging in AEW’s character pool?
Psychoanalysis aside, Brodie absolutely destroys Cody here, to the point where it’s almost not worth recapping the match. It’s shocking and brutally short, much like Lance Archer routing his brother in the TNT title tournament. The match reminds me so much of John Cena’s Summerslam 2014 loss to Brock Lesnar it made me sit up in my seat.
Grade: A visceral pummeling of a competitor who has barely sniffed defeat all year; deliciously unexpected.
Doctors attend to Cody as Brodie sticks the TNT Championship in the faces of all his doubter who held him down or felt he couldn’t cut the mustard. Tony Schiavone is forced to announce Brodie as the new TNT Champion as Cody is pulled away on a stretcher. Cody flashes the thumbs-up and is pulled into the tunnel before the Dark Order attack Arn Anderson and push Cody back out and off the stretcher. Brodie hits Cody in the face with some sort of bag before standing over Cody and the Nightmare Family. Brandi comes out to shield Cody from more violence, which prompts Anna Jay to put her to sleep with a rear naked choke.
The show closes with shards of the old TNT Championship scattered all over the ground as the Nightmare Family are passed out on the stage.