Death Triangle By Death Triangle: AEW Dynamite Recap

From the album Death Triangle, also by Death Triangle.

During this week’s AEW Dynamite, WWE announced that it was cancelling this Friday’s SmackDown in Detroit and moving it to the WWE Performance Center, where NXT emanated from due to a scheduling conflict at Full Sail University. The NBA suspended its season after the Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert tested positive for Coronavirus. With this in mind, Dynamite looked less and less like the fun wrestling show it normally is, and more and more like the last time, at least for awhile, that the business, spectacle, and fun of professional wrestling will resemble itself.

I don’t know if it’s possible to do a fun recap/review of a professional wrestling show right now. At one point during a commercial break I refreshed the open tabs on my phone to see if any of the cities my mom is visiting on a cruise ship have reported infections (they have not). When I turn my attention back to the action, Chris Jericho and Adam Page are drinking from the same cup of beer that Jericho got from a fan. It’s absurd, this collision of the worry and horror of reality and the nonchalance of professional wrestling, and while the world is rarely good enough to the point that that’s not the case, last night it was difficult—impossible—to turn off the part of my brain that isn’t sick with worry and just sit with this episode of Dynamite for two hours. But I did, and I have thoughts, and if you’re capable of pushing the outside world aside for a moment, I’m down to share them.

More Pro Wrestling:

Promo: Before the show, Tony Schiavone is with Hangman Page and the Young Bucks. Hangman is there to announce his partner, who he says absolutely won’t be Matt because he needs someone he can trust. He asks Nick if he has his gear and when Nick says yeah, Hangman’s like “great, but my partner is a mystery” and he buzzes off, much to Nick’s consternation. I love this angle, I love that Hangman is just fucking with these nerds for sport, and I want to live in a world where Hangman Page owns every championship in professional wrestling.

Cody def. Ortiz

Alright, we’re two weeks in and the tattoo is just a tattoo. Someday that thing’s just gonna be something peeking out over an old man turtleneck and everybody will forget about it because a million wrestlers will have gotten a million more regrettable tattoos. Now that it’s a normal part of everyday life, I feel like it’s about time we all admit that Cody Rhodes is really, truly the corniest man in wrestling. Like, the list of corniest wrestlers is littered with members of The Elite, but Cody’s right up there at the top. He’s the most beloved face in AEW, maybe pro wrestling, but I just cannot with him, his wife, and even Arn Anderson, who is a coach with a play calling sheet who never consults with his wrestler. I live in a weird twilight zone where I hate Cody but am often caught up in the dramatics of his life. Not tonight, when the infinitely cooler Ortiz and Santana are across the ring from him.

That said, infinite cool can’t buy you a win, not even when Lance Archer and Jake “The Snake” Roberts are at ringside causing a distraction. This match was just as much about the eventual physical confrontation between Archer and Rhodes as it was building towards the Blood and Guts match in two weeks, and, as I’ll get into a little later, AEW continues to be adept at telling more than one story within the space of a match or an angle. While the rules of the Blood and Guts match weren’t spelled out, Tony did mention the ol’ “submit or surrender” rules of NWA/WCW War Games matches, and in the spirit of that Cody put Ortiz away with a figure four leglock after working on Ortiz’s leg a little. The figure four being a classic War Games finisher, I’ll take it.

Grade: Yeah!

After the match, as you might expect, Santana hits Cody with the madball, but he’s warded off by Anderson due to the weird aura cast by every professional wrestler over the age of 60. While that aura protected Cody, it couldn’t do anything for Nick Jackson, who Chris Jericho, Jake Hager, and Sammy Guevara left laying under one of the arena’s garage doors, blood running from his mouth. After pretending that the door was heavy for a moment, the Elite (minus Hangman Page) went with a knocked out Nick to the hospital.

Nyla Rose and Bea Priestley def. Hikaru Shida and Kris Statlander

Every time I see Bea Priestley mentioned on Twitter, the words “step on me” usually appear in the tweet. To the delight of that crowd, a lot of her offence tonight was based around face washes and foot chokes. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen Priestley—living in Japan does that to someone’s visibility on the American scene—but she’s great and adds some much-needed character to the AEW women’s division. I liked this match a lot—I think the tag match allowed more focus on what Rose does well in particular. It was fast paced, involved four of the more interesting, established members of the division, and set up a potential match between Rose—who won the match with a spear and a Beast Bomb—and Priestley, who attacked Rose after the match.

Grade: Yeah!

Promo: Christopher Daniels did a Dark Order parody where he wore an old man turtleneck when he was talking normal and his rock n’ roll fascist gear when he wanted to do a punchline. It was awful, and I hated every millisecond of it.

MJF, The Butcher, and The Blade def. Jurassic Express

I know that the Jurassic Express are a lot of fun. I like Marko Stunt and Jungle Boy and can see the potential of Luchasaurus. I just find it impossible to get into their matches most of the time because, despite their popularity, they’re always in matches where it makes more sense for the other team to win. Right now, given his pledge to stay undefeated so he can take the AEW World Heavyweight Championship, any “other team” with MJF on it is going to get the duke. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching giant dudes huck smaller dudes around the ring like they were nothing, but by this point Dynamite started feeling like a card full of Strong Victories over Tough Opponents that were being carried by the audience, who were stoked to be along for the ride.

Grade: Yeah.

Promo: Tony Schiavone brings out Britt Baker for an interview! YEAH BOI. As per usual, she gives Tony a coffee, then dunks on Utah for being weird about coffee and beer. She also goes in on incest, I think, in the way a lot of people associate polygamy, at least so far as Utah is concerned, with incest, noting the number of similar faces in the crowd, like a gigantic family reunion. Before she can get too far or be more specific, Big Swole comes out, tired of hearing Britt talk. Britt says that people care more about Swole’s husband Cedric Alexander than her. Swole drops a reference to Adam Cole. Britt takes back the coffee she gave to Tony and throws it in Swole’s face. Both of them storm off, almost like we’re gonna get a match … but then we don’t.

Death Triangle def. Joey Janella and Private Party

Death Triangle is a wild group, man. As a trio, Pac, Fenix, and Pentagon are like Calvin Beeftank from Jon Bois’ Breaking Madden videos, an entity so powerful that they break the laws of wrestling by merely existing. Wrestling sadly doesn’t have the kind of imagination required to just let three men run up the score on their opponents so high that the whole genre glitches out and freezes, so this was a whole-ass match, full of spots that ruled (Death Triangle’s powerbomb onto knees into a double stomp thing), spots that I fucking hated (Janella holding Pac in a DVD on the apron for a minute and a half while Private Party did dives over them). Death Triangle’s finish is a little uninspired, just the Lucha Bros doing their thing and rolling Janella over for a Black Arrow, but whatever. Afterwards they put Joey, Marc, and Isaiah into a triple team submission called Death Triangle, but Best Friends and Orange Cassidy put a stop to all of that. I like that Death Triangle do a move called Death Triangle because it’s like when Bad Company had a song called “Bad Company” on an album titled Bad Company.

Grade: Yeah!

Promo: Backstage, Dustin Rhodes informs the world that he will be Hangman Page’s tag team partner, whether or not Hangman Page likes it or even knows it. Is Hangman Page watching Dynamite to find out this news? According to picture in picture, he is not, as he is too busy doing keg curls before the match.

Promo: It turns out that dozens of people want to be Shawn Spears’ tag team partner? Some of them are wrestlers! Some of them are fans. The fans look … real sketchy. One of them bangs is head into the wall like an emaciated Goldberg. Emaciated Goldberg scares me.

Promo: Jim Ross sits down with Jon Moxley in front of a fireplace in a hotel lobby somewhere. Mox isn’t cleared to compete after getting powerbombed off the stage, but he’s alive and aware that the Inner Circle is focused on their Blood and Guts match with the Elite. That leaves him in their blind spot, which should scare the Inner Circle. He also kinda challenged Jake Hager, but the less I think about Hager getting a title shot the better.

“Hangman” Adam Page and Dustin Rhodes def. Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara

Adam Page is the most dynamic character in professional wrestling. I’ll never watch an episode of Being the Elite to know what started Page’s dismay about being in the group beyond feeling like his career needed to take a turn, but his slow-boiling resentment at having to keep working with them has been one of the best storylines in wrestling since it started, a masterclass in passive aggressive behavior, angel on one shoulder demon on the other decision making, and despite the cornball hamminess of his cohorts, wrestler acting that is honestly, truly rare in wrestling. That his resentment and desire to prove that he’s the best goes far enough that his “mystery partner” was going to be nobody, that he was mad at Dustin Rhodes for coming out to tag with him, was tremendous stuff.

On the other side of the ring, you have the Jericho/Guevara tandem, which has been a lot of fun to watch grow since the formation of the Inner Circle. They don’t have a ton of tandem offense or whatever, but it’s like watching Jericho team with a younger, brattier, twinkier version of himself, all things I am very into. Their dynamic, cast against the Page/Rhodes dynamic, is the lynchpin for the Blood and Guts match that’s scheduled to happen in two weeks, as the Inner Circle stands united against a crumbling Elite. Oh, Hangman Page wants to win matches, so he’ll get along fine in the moment—he and Dustin work fine as a unit despite the occasional hitch and pick up the win—but the more time he’s forced to spend around anybody remotely associated with the Elite, the closer he is to snapping.

Grade: Hell yeah!

After the match, the Inner Circle swarm the Natural and the Hangman. Everybody who went with Nick to the hospital is back at the arena now, but they all come out one at a time. First is Kenny with his broken hand. That goes poorly! Then Cody hits the ring, but Hager kills his momentum dead. Hager looks to drag Page up the ramp for a powerbomb off of it, but Page is rescued by Matt Jackson, who is so pissed about his brother that he takes on the entire Inner Circle. He and Page share a significant look before Matt flips the bird, turns around, and gets brained with a chair by Chris Jericho, who he forgot about. Page gets a chairshot, too, and Jericho and his boys stand tall, an ominous portent for the Elite should the world hold itself together enough over the next two weeks that we’ll get to see the match this is all building to.


Colette Arrand

Colette Arrand is a minor transsexual poet and nu-metal enthusiast.

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