Like Sauce and Ribs?: AEW Dynamite Recap and Review

Or: One Boot in the Grave

Last Week’s Notable Happenings on AEW Dynamite Homecoming:

  • Our Cool Republican Boss Cody Rhodes lost decisively to Malakai Black in last week’s main event, causing him to STRONGLY TEASE retirement, only for Black to smack him in the back with a crutch to close the show. 
  • “Legit” Layla Hirsch (one of the low key best talents in AEW’s still woefully underutilized women’s division) defeated the Bunny (maybe the most improved competitor in all of wrestling in 2021) to earn a shot at the NWA Women’s World Championship. 
  • Chris Jericho faced a foe from his past as he defeated Juventud Guerrera in the Third Labour of Jericho, inching ever closer to one more match with MJF.
  • “Hangman” Adam Page, dejected from gambling his AEW World Championship match and losing it, publicly expressed his desire to distance himself from the Dark Order.
  • Miro bludgeoned young gun Lee Johnson so thoroughly that Miro offered a show of respect for Johnson’s immense survival instincts.

Backstage Segment: The show started out with an MJF monologue, eating an apple and admitting The Five Labours of Jericho has been very entertaining television, only for Max to lament its end at the strong hands of Wardlow. Max noted Jericho has doggedly gotten through these labours because his ego can’t handle being down two wins against him. With a mouthful of apple, Max delivered a character-heavy promo which exemplifies his immense growth as a compelling heel—and took a shot at Wardlow being cocky by cutting him down to size, reminding him of his failure to beat Cody in a cage match last year. 

AEW

The Elite (Kenny Omega & the Young Bucks) def. Dante Martin and Matt & Mike Sydal

My preemptive prediction was “too many flips!!” until I realized Matt Sydal has transitioned into a pretty innovative submission wrestler, buuuuut there were still a lot of flips here. That’s not necessarily a bad thing when you consider the 20-year-old Martin as one of the preternaturally talented young high fliers in the game—it wouldn’t surprise me if he were able to jump on the roof of a one-story house just for kicks. The Elite did what the Elite does: take up all the space in the room with their showboating (not a diss, that’s a good heel move) and isolate the other team’s weakest link (clearly the younger Sydal brother). After Martin set the crowd on fire with his athletics and nearly winning the match, Kenny stopped him in his tracks by starching him with a few V-Triggers and a One-Winged Angel. A triple BTE Trigger from Omega and the Bucks won the match for the championship trio.

After the match, Don Callis snatched the mic from Tony Schiavone and started to gloat when Christian Cage interrupted and made his way to the ring. Callis noted how Christian was outnumbered, but Jurassic Express quickly joined Christian’s side. Callis applauded Christian’s skills as a ring general and said he has one of the best finishing moves in wrestling (and added “Kenny can’t wait to kick out of it” as a nice little shot). Christian put his own spin on Mick Foley’s “cheap pop” by calling Callis a “carny jagoff,” and proceeded to show the fruits of a conversation with Tony Khan: In the opening match of the debut episode of Rampage, Omega will face Christian for the Impact World Championship. 

The music played, but Jungle Boy had an announcement of his own, courtesy of Tony Khan’s matchmaking: Jurassic Express will take on the Young Bucks for the AEW World Tag Team Championships next week on Dynamite.

Segment: Malakai Black pointed out that he told the truth in that his match against Cody last week was going to be short and violent, “but we have flip-flopped the narrative in this society where he who speaks the truth is labeled the fool.” He noted Cody is lonely although he’s surrounded by people all the time yet Black himself is lonely because he prefers solitude. He held the boot Cody tried to leave in the ring last week and mocked him for having “one foot in the grave.” 

On the same token, Dynamite aired a trailer for the new reality show starring Cody and Brandi Rhodes, proving both Cody’s dream to be a B-to-C list celebrity and the fact that no matter how hard we try, we’ll never really get rid of Cody.

Segment: Miro gave yet another humble offering to his vengeful god next week, and he was called to forgive—leading to Miro showing his respect as well as he knows how. But AEW’s stars are still running scared. They say they’re willing to die for AEW; Miro held up the belt and said, “Here’s your chance.” He said Fuego del Sol is “being bribed” with an AEW contract if he can defeat Miro for the TNT Championship on Friday, which means he is in for a lot of pain.

AEW

Darby Allin def. Daniel Garcia

Pairing Garcia with 2.0 was a great move on AEW’s part, as he—a talented young guy getting a lot of reps on the indies—is coupled with a tag team with a shitload of personality. Matt Lee and Jeff Parker calling out Sting in their pre-match promo with Garcia got a genuine laugh out of me where a lot of talents in AEW try really hard to be funny, when we all know you’re not that funny if you have to try so hard. 

In the match here, Garcia went toe-to-toe with Darby in the early going and gained an advantage when he began to work Darby’s arm.The match was full of solid technical wrestling, to the point where the older guys on commentary were raving about a hammerlock slam. It’s exactly the type of match a weekly wrestling program needs; one without stakes, with a little lightheartedness (2.0’s interaction with Sting during and after the match), and with a lot of believable, logical, compelling wrestling.

Backstage Segment: Lucha Bros have not been happy with Andrade’s recruiting efforts, and Penta even offered to challenge him on the grounds that he wants to be the (skeleton) face of Latinos. PAC held them off of Andrade for now and told them their sights should be on the AEW World Tag Team Championships. He then made sure Andrade knew PAC was coming for him.

AEW

 

Hardy Family Office (Matt Hardy & Private Party) def. Best Friends (Wheeler Yuta, Chuck Taylor, & Orange Cassidy)

The match started out with Orange putting Matt Hardy’s hand in his pocket, which inspired the best call of the night, courtesy of Tony Schiavone: “That’s apropos; he’s had his hand in guys’ pockets all along.” Aside from a delightful bottom rope splash from Cassidy—doing his best Hardy impersonation—this match was good but largely unmemorable. Jack Evans—one of the half-dozen of HFO members in or around the ring—interfered in the match, which made me wonder why this group has got so many tag teams when only one of them can be the champions. Private Party, after having the biggest upset in AEW’s early days, aren’t being given much in the way of a compelling narrative, which feels like a waste of their talents. Hopefully with the imminent threat of a third hour on TNT, AEW will begin to give all of their wrestlers interesting stuff to do across all four(!?) shows. 

Backstage Interview: Dasha interviewed Andrade and Chavo Guerrero about PAC’s challenge earlier in the evening and basically? He accepted. 

Backstage Segment: Santana & Ortiz vs. FTR is far from over. I understand their first match—the one with the really fucking grisly Cash Wheeler arm injury—was supposed to be the first of many, but it ended up being abrupt and ultimately disappointing for what was touted as a dream match (and truthfully so). I’m still waiting for AEW to run back the Parking Lot Brawl. That’s the only way to redeem the work these teams have been doing to build this match.

AEW

Kris Statlander def. Nyla Rose

In AEW’s continued quest to feature their women’s division with as little character work as possible, it seems as though Kris Statlander would actually make for a compelling feud for Dr. Britt Baker. The promotion has proven Nyla Rose to be a formidable early challenger for most of their champions after being a pretty decent champion herself, suffering the same thing AEW’s women’s division has suffered from jump; a lack of committed, focused storytelling. This match was fast-paced in a way that made it seem like it was pressed for time, Statlander continued to shine with a handstand out of being draped over the top rope (followed by a jaw-dropping spear from Rose) and her 450 splash, Area 451, which won her the match.

Segment: The Young Bucks do a promo and play basketball, but Jurassic Express was there to block their shit. It was perhaps too clever by half but still pretty humorous.

AEW

Dr. Britt Baker Addresses Her Hometown Crowd and Her Challenger on Friday

In front of her parents and a throng of fans swinging their Terrible Towels and chanting “DMD,” Dr. Baker was asked by Tony Schiavone about the impending threat of Red Velvet. Dr. Baker said she respects Velvet’s rise, but she can’t relate to it because she’s always been on top. She cut a decent but largely unmemorable promo that most certainly resonated with her hometown crowd. As Dr. Baker’s music played, Red Velvet stormed the ring and attacked her. I’m not saying I want to get to the Thunder Rosa feud already; I understand AEW has a lot wrapped up in Dr. Baker being one of their top draws for a while. But right now it’s clear they’re just feeding wrestlers to Dr. Baker at this point to establish her reign, Which most certainly doesn’t silence the very vocal critics of AEW’s women division, who just want stories they can sink their teeth into.

Segment: Ricky Starks further cements his status as one of the great heels in AEW today, pretending he’s not ducking Brian Cage. Starks invited Cage to a “one-on-one” face-to-face at next week’s Dynamite and it seems Cage already knows the score, but he’s game anyway. I’m as big a fan as Starks as anyone and even I’m ready to see him finally get his ass kicked by Cage. He’s doing the lord’s work as an antagonist.

AEW

Impact Wrestling Tag Team Championship Match: The Good Brothers (c) def. The Dark Order (Evil Uno & Stu Grayson)

It’s pretty hilarious that the Good Brothers’ thing is that they’re “big in Japan,” which kind of reminds me of bands who say the same thing but work the casino circuit in America. Excalibur wisely noted only Colt Cabana was there to second Grayson and Uno because of the disagreement within the Dark Order to respect Hangman’s wishes to give him a little space. During the match, Frankie Kazarian kidnapped Brandon Cutler so he couldn’t interfere. The Dark Order mount a serious comeback late in the match, but of course the Good Brothers manage to eke out the win, courtesy of a sly distraction.

Segment: NWA Women’s World Champion Kamille cut a little promo leading up to her defense against “Legit” Layla Hirsch at the National Wrestling Alliance’s all-women’s event.

AEW

QT Marshall “Apologizes” to Tony Schiavone

Before things could even get started, QT Marshall noted Tony misinterpreted his intentions and proceeded to apologize to Tony for what they were about to do to his son Chris. Nick Comoroto Chris out of the crowd and started pounding on him. Marshall hit a Diamond Cutter on Chris as Paul Wight came to the ring, removing his watch before QT pushed Aaron Solow into him for a big chokeslam. Maybe this is going to lead to a match between Marshall and Wight? There’s still a big part of me that thinks QT is one of the best characters on the show, but most of the stuff they’ve given him since he turned on Cody has been so boilerplate.

The Fourth Labour of Jericho: Chris Jericho def. Wardlow

WIth the stunt casting in the second and third labours which pretty much made this whole protracted way for Jericho to get his hands on MJF compelling, it’s kind of a shame that Jericho’s last barrier from Max is just a basic-ass match against Wardlow—who I’ve said a shitload of times is the secret weapon of the Pinnacle, but has historically been set up to fall to the actual main event competitors. For instance, if Chris Jericho had to face NICK FUCKING GAGE in a GODDAMN DEATHMATCH in the fourth labour, there may be some suspension of disbelief, some semblance of thinking maybe Jericho wouldn’t get his match against Max. Also as a Wardlow fan, I just want the best for him at all times. In terms of the match in a vacuum, Wardlow looked great in the match, convincingly dominating Jericho for the bulk of the match. Late in the contest, Jericho had Wardlow locked into the Walls of Jericho and Max gouged his eyes and after trying to pass Wardlow the Dynamite Diamond Ring got kicked out of the arena by Aubrey Edwards. While her back was turned, Jericho hit Wardlow with Floyd the Bat and nailed a Judas Effect for the win.

So Jericho finally gets to face MJF in the final labour. But Max stipulated—after a little melee in the ring—that Jericho cannot use the Judas Effect and cannot come out to his possibly iconic entrance music. “You are gonna be coming out here to dead silence! These shmucks are not going to be able to sing along to your crappy little song!” Max closed the show saying to Jericho that he has officially met his successor.

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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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