Improv Night at Daily’s Place – AEW Dynamite Recap and Review

Faced with another Wednesday where professional wrestling paled in significance to the geopolitical comings and goings of the United States of America, All Elite Wrestling played it somewhat safe this week. Storylines were nudged forward a tad. Matches were either multiman scrambles or singles bouts that didn’t invite the viewer to imagine another outcome. It was alright, of course, passively enjoyable, but if you’re looking for a barnburner on this week’s Dynamite, you won’t quite find it.

This was an episode that thrived in the little moments, both between characters and in the ring. Three of this week’s six matches featured new, irregular, or just paired teams, and rather than note it in my recaps of all three of those matches, I’ll say upfront that all three of those matches featured intentional and unintentional miscommunication. Sometimes it worked in favor of the story the match was trying to tell, and sometimes it didn’t. That rough-and-ready, let’s put on a show quality is sometimes the name of the game in AEW, and it’s often part of the promotion’s charm. Was that the case last night? Let’s find out.

AEW

Dark Order and Hangman Adam Page def. Chaos Project and TH2

This match had two major threads: First, it was -1’s birthday over the weekend, and this was his birthday match. Second, Adam Page promised to tell the Dark Order whether or not he would join them after the match. On the -1 front, seeing him on 10’s shoulders, in his dad’s ring jacket, made me weep. On Dark, he cut a promo where he said that Luther looked stupid with a ball painted on his face, which is the build to this particular bout. -1 has the charm of an extremely confident kid about him, and I hope he gets to show up to AEW to do Dark Order stuff whenever he wants. Before he could blow out the candles of his cake, Luther interrupted to talk about his perfectly symmetrical face and to say that the Chaos Project hated children and loved ruining birthdays.

Naturally, he ruined zero birthdays (partially because -1’s was a few days ago). He, Serpentico, and TH2 were mostly props there to show how well Page and the Dark Order—John Silver, Alex Reynolds, and Colt Cabana—worked together. Sometimes it was wonky (Page struggled to shoulder Reynolds and Silver on a double backpack splash), and sometimes it was beautiful. Regardless, everything made me actively root for Page to join the Dark Order, take them up on their offer to get him sober, and fulfill the quasi-romantic dreams of John Silver, whose enthusiasm for Page’s wrestling and swagger and nice hair had my brain authoring a dozen slash fics at once. I don’t get a chance to watch AEW’s YouTube shows that often, so the fact that the angle has worked this well for me with a minimum of screentime is a testament to how well everybody works together.

But it was not to be. Despite Silver literally proposing to him on one knee, Page said that he couldn’t join the group, noting that the last stable he was in didn’t end too well. Silver was so sure Page would say yes that they prepared confetti, music, and a “HE SAID YES” video screen, but sometimes public proposals end in the recipient of the proposal storming off with a bottle of booze. It wasn’t all bad for the Order, as -1 whacked Luther in the back with a kendo stick, which led to Luther getting pancaked onto the birthday cake, keeping wrestling’s version of Chekhov’s Gun going strong in 2020.

Sting Congratulates Darby Allin

It wasn’t that long ago that I called the Sting/Darby angle the most ambitious in AEW. It was just a week and a half ago that I said that the best Sting is the one who doesn’t really do anything. At this point, it feels like Sting is out to make a fool of me, as he keeps repeating either lines about jungles or lines about how Darby Allin reminds him a lot of himself. This week it was the later, but before that could get too far Team Taz interrupted and said a lot of the same stuff they’ve said about Sting since December 2, only this time Taz challenged Sting and Darby to take it to the streets, to which Darby said “careful what you wish for.” FINALLY, Y’ALL. My patience may be wearing thin, but if 98 year old Steve Borden hits a Scorpion Death Drop, I will cry real tears.

Your Weekly Bullet Club Update

It probably goes without saying that I’m less enthusiastic about the comings and goings of the AEW-IMPACT Wrestling-maybe kinda sorta NJPW relationship that’s put AEW World Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega back together with IMPACT Wrestling Tag Team Champions Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. Like, I’m just not the kind of person who freaks out about Bullet Club shirts and ring gear, even if I appreciate what that does for everyone else. That said, after the reunited #BizCliz won the main event of IMPACT’s Hard to Kill PPV and Matt Hardy and Private Party crashed IMPACT and became the number one contenders to the Good Brothers’ championships, Dynamite proffered the best development of this angle yet.

First, The Young Bucks were invited to hash things out at Kenny Omega’s beach house. They were greeted by Michael Nakazawa, functioning as Omega’s butler, but the “Kenny” he showed them to was an oil painting of an extremely jacked Omega and an even more jacked Don Callis. Omega wasn’t there, of course, but Callis was. He said that the Bucks invested a lot of time in Omega, but the time had come for everybody to move on, writing checks to Matt and Nick to honor their investment. The Bucks, former IMPACT employees themselves, knew that those checks wouldn’t clear, ripped them up, and took Callis to task for manipulating their friend. Callis was backed into the camera in a rare moment of decent blocking in a wrestling promo, effectively forcing the segment to black as the Bucks approached. Later, Kenny caught up with him at Daily’s Place, saw the extensive bruising on his mentor’s face, and was none too happy when Callis “accidentally” let it slip that Matt and Nick roughed him up.

Finally, though somewhat disconnected from the evening’s ongoing storyline, Omega and the Good Brothers attacked Penta El 0M. It was your standard issue backstage beatdown until Omega took off one of his fancy boots and ground it into Penta’s eye, at which point it became a 1970s wrestling beatdown that’d normally be grounds for a Bunkhouse Brawl. Later, the Beach Break episode of Dynamite’s main event was announced as Omega, Gallows, and Anderson against Pac, Fenix, and Jon Moxley, so that’s your setup. Not a bad match, and not a bad night for the group.

AEW

Cody Rhodes def. Peter Avalon

Cody promised to beat Avalon in less than a minute and was going to fulfill that promise, but Jade Cargill came out to distract him, allowing Avalon to hit a low blow and prolong the match. The way this usually works in wrestling is that the distraction leads to a flash pinfall, but here it led to a lengthy match with a comedy finish, much of which had Avalon on top. Essentially an extension of Cody’s TNT Championship run of televised Ric Flair NWA Championship defenses, it didn’t work for me at all. Nothing against Avalon, who is a fine wrestler, but Rhodes is sometimes too smart for his own good—the effects of Avalon’s low blow and focus on the leg was never enough to put him in serious danger, but Avalon tapping out because he didn’t want Rhodes to slap him while he was in the figure four made Cody look bad. So does this angle with Jade Cargill, but someday it’ll be like none of this ever happened.

Next Week on Dynamite

I don’t think I’ve said so in this space, but I like how AEW sets up matches for next week’s Dynamite with little backstage promos as opposed to sending an interviewer out there to get reactions to something that just happened. It puts over just how fresh the matchups are from week to week, if nothing else. First, Jungle Boy interrupted FTR during a conversation about FTR’s number one ranking. It’ll be Jungle Boy against Dax Harwood next week, without Tully and Cash at ringside. More importantly, next week Eddie Kingston and Lance Archer will go one on one. Eddie Kingston was on the mic, so of course he got interrupted by Archer before he could really say anything. Archer was all “BIBLE BIBLE BIBLE, EVERYBODY DIES,” Jake, maybe the worst dressed man in the history of wrestling, did his old man cussing routine, and Eddie seethed. It was a good seethe. Get em’ King.

AEW

Jon Moxley def. Nick Comoroto

Nick Comoroto is a wild hybrid of Bruiser Brody and Hercules Hernandez, essentially catnip to me. This was a Mox win, obviously, but Comoroto got a fair bit in. His strength is extremely impressive, and he fired off a few nice power moves on the former AEW Champion. He beef’d his way through a Mox lariat, made a mistake, and wound up getting choked out in Moxley’s first match since losing the title. After the match, he called the Bullet Club by name, said that Omega adding people to the fray made things more fun than him, and told the champion that he could bring whoever he wanted from any country he pleased, but it wouldn’t change his fate.

AEW

Matt Hardy and Private Party def. Matt Sydal and Top Flight

The improv night element of this six man tag didn’t really work for me, as it felt like both teams were working at different speeds at various points of the match. That was true in one on one segments and during bits of tandem offense. As much as I’ve historically enjoyed Sydal, it’s extremely hard for me to shake my perception of talent like him and Hardy as WWE midcard material, as there isn’t enough space on AEW television for them to distinguish themselves as different from the characters I knew. Sure, Matt Hardy is a “rich” manager now, but he’s still wrestling in normal wrestling pants and a cutoff shirt, you know?

What I did like here is how Private Party cottoning to Hardy’s heel persona has them slowing down to a much more deliberate pace. They’re still spectacular, but there’s more intention behind their flips now. Quen and Kassidy did an extremely good job of selling their concrete heel turn at the end of this match, too, both in victory and in beating down Sydal and Top Flight. I hope this is the end of Hardy yelling at his proteges, though. I was never going to be much for that aspect of the gimmick.

AEW

Penelope Ford def. Leyla Hirsch

This was Dynamite’s first glimpse of “Charles” Taylor, Miro’s butler, and Orange Cassidy was ringside to check all of this out. Charles got involved a couple of times, tripping Hirsch at one point and taking a cannonball dive at another, but spent the majority of the match looking dejected. The match around this angle was very good. I like Hirsch a lot, and Ford was quietly one of AEW’s most improved wrestlers last year. She and Hirsch worked extremely well together, hinting at the championship aspirations of Ford and the blue chip status of Hirsch. An AEW Women’s Championship Eliminator Tournament was announced later on the show, and if this match and Serena Deeb vs. Tay Conti are any indication, it could be exactly the kind of showcase the division has been begging for.

Oh, and Miro forced Charles to say that Orange wasn’t his best friend anymore, which was notable for Cassidy standing, taking off his sunglasses, and leaving. It was better than how I just described it, I swear.

AEW

Chris Jericho and MJF def. Santana and Ortiz and Sammy Guevara and Jake Hager

MJF’s slow destruction of Chris Jericho continued on Dynamite this week, and it’s honestly some of the best storytelling in AEW at the moment. Max’s round-the-clock ingratiation is incredible on a few levels. He’s giving Chris Jericho awful advice in private, leading to decisions like this three way tag team match, then publicly questioning those decisions to Jericho and the rest of the Inner Circle. Only Sammy Guevara has the guts to call MJF out, but since everybody but him has been well taken care of by Max, nobody listens. Add to that Chris Jericho’s status as an incredibly difficult person to like, and the eventual downfall of his empire feels earned.

The match itself was utter chaos, which was the right call. All three teams had something to prove and wrestled like it. MJF, for his part, stayed out of most of the early action, content to watch the original gang of five rough each other up. There were too many spots and near falls to highlight any individually. Santana and Ortiz came out of this match looking like no-doubt tag team champions. MJF and Guevara continued to make an argument for themselves as the future of AEW/American wrestling in general, along with Darby Allin and Ricky Starks. Even Jake Hager was more alive in this match than usual, and I really liked the spot where both Jericho and MJF hesitated to clock him with their respective weapons before getting clocked themselves.

If anybody got lost in the action, it was Jericho. It’s not that he didn’t throw himself into the match, but midway through his feud against Orange Cassidy he lost a step or two, which probably wasn’t helped by his contracting COVID-19 in September, asymptomatic or not. He nearly broke his neck on a Lionsault late in the match, and wasn’t nearly as fun to watch as everybody else. That may be partly intentional, as it’s time for both the Inner Circle and the Painmaker to evolve. It’s just weird for it to be as evident as it was last night.

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Colette Arrand

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

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