On last week’s third-straight themed Dynamite episode, Sonny Kiss proved why he should have been tearing it up on the main show all along; FTR made their proper tag team debut rather inauspiciously; Nyla Rose enlisted the services of a mostly underappreciated legend; Jon Moxley and Brian Cage had an intense, physical title match which led to the return of Darby Allin; and the Inner Circle rack up over $7000 in wardrobe damages courtesy of an orange juice bath.
No Disqualification TNT Championship Match: Cody (c) def. EDDIE KINGSTON(!!)
I had a short list prepared of who I thought might have been the “top independent wrestler” challenging Cody for the TNT Championship that has been ballyhooed for days which included Brian Pillman Jr. (who has been appeared on Dark and in the crowd for Dynamite) and AJ Gray (who has been the source of debate on Wrestling Twitter regarding his entirely valid opinion of AEW’s male singles division severely lacking in Black talent), but as Cody and Arn Anderson awaited the challenger in this match, Eddie fucking Kingston shows up with a microphone in his hand. As arguably — and I’m talking very little argument here — the greatest promo of his generation, Kingston getting some mic time before the match was an absolutely awesome move.
Kingston cuts a reliably great promo, calling out Cody for boasting about the grind and growing up around “used-to-be legends” like Arn while he grew up among alcoholics and junkies and had to grind harder to even get in the business Cody was born into. He dismisses the young stars Cody has heretofore put his title up against as “children,” and says it’s up to Cody to accept his No Disqualification challenge. After accusing Cody of sucking eggs— much like Terry Funk famously accused his father of— Cody angrily accepts the challenge and we’re off to the races!
The match starts off with both men chopping the fuck out of each other outside of the ring. They brawl to the point where Kingston eventually pulls the mats up, only to get back body dropped onto concrete. Kingston obviously provides a much different challenge for Cody than he has had so far, as he’s not only more experienced than the American Nightmare, but he’s also way tougher. And though he’s a phenomenally talented wrestler, Kingston sticks to a brawling style here, being referred to as “sadistic” and “dirty” several times on commentary. Kingston sells the knee masterfully, limping throughout the match and not being able to follow up on a penalty kick to the back.
Soon enough, Kingston brings out the thumbtacks and screams in demand for Cody to fight him, eventually powerbombing Cody onto said thumbtacks. Cody rallies on the comeback, no-selling a backdrop suplex and going for a lariat. Cody puts on the Figure Four and wins.
Grade: This match had none of the subtle heel work that made last week’s match with Sonny Kiss intriguing; this was Cody in full Our Cool Boss/prestige workhorse babyface glory. I can’t emphasize enough how much of a wonderful treat Kingston being the surprise challenger was, as the match tremendously adds to AEW’s penchant for guest casting. It gleefully subverts the culture of “exclusive contracts” and gives wrestlers from companies casual wrestling fans don’t know to check for a great platform to do their thing on TNT.
Segment: Jon Moxley is live from an edgy backstage area (complete with some sort of graffiti on the walls), recapping last week’s match (and Taz throwing in the towel) and feeling disappointed he didn’t snap Cage’s arm. Mox promises he won’t let go next time.
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MJF def. Griff Garrison
Max comes out and cuts a little promo on (Who the Fuck is) Griff Garrison, noting his striking resemblance to Jungle Boy and calling himself “a prodigy with a heart of gold.” Garrison points out Max lost a tag match to Luchasaurus and Jungle Boy not too long ago, and the match starts with MJF hitting Garrison in the head with the mic. He gets on the mic during his dissection of Garrison, slipping in and out of false sincerity, as is his way and making Garrison say he’s undefeated.
As much as I never want to give Max credit for much of anything, he’s justified in his longstanding grievances regarding not being #1 contender for a singles title. And not justified in the “all heels should have a point” sort of way, but in the way of the system of “wins and losses matter here” being broken. Max has been undefeated in singles competition all year, and he still has yet to receive a title shot of any kind. It seems like AEW’s obsession with stats and being a “sports-based” brand kinda petered out, huh?
Grade: Very reminiscent of a Southern territory spotlight match. It works!
Backstage Interview: Rebel stands by, ready to give an update to Tony Schiavone about Dr. Britt Baker’s injury status, just as Dr. Baker calls her and Schiavone into the locker room. She says the conspiracy against her continues, describing her hero’s journey of getting her nose busted by Hikaru Shida and having it targeted by Big Swole’s vicious attack with a balled up piece of paper. She then offers Rule #4 of being a role model: “Never count out a role model.” She teases a huge comeback (“Not unlike Tiger at the 2019 Masters, not unlike Rocky defeating Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, not unlike Michael Jordan returning to the NBA with the Washington Wizards”), slated for All Out.
The Deadly Draw, AEW’s women’s tag team cup, is officially announced for this summer, which sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun!
In-Ring Interview: Taz and Brian Cage are out; Taz is explaining the week of arguments following throwing in the towel for Cage last week and defending his position. Darby Allin interrupts and Ricky Starks hits him from behind. Cage powerbombs Darby into the ring, taking the skateboard to do some harm as Mox comes in with a barbed wire bat and makes the save. I’ve gotta say I’m a huge fan of this Mox/Darby pairing, two generally miserable motherfuckers united through bitterness and a mutual hatred for Brian Cage.
Backstage Interview: Our Holy Lord of Viewer Demographics is backstage with the Inner Circle and Alex Marvez, still complaining about (and wearing) his $7000 jacket, ruined by Orange Cassidy. Jericho pledges to end Cassidy’s career and squeeze the life out of it (see what I did there??). He cuts a promo on his opponents for the evening, Jurassic Express, and lays into Marko Stunt in particular for laughing at him and calling him an idiot while taking shots at Jungle Boy’s sideburns and the fact Luchasaurus isn’t really a dinosaur. Sorry, kids.
Falls Count Anywhere Match: The Young Bucks def. The Butcher and the Blade
This match starts in a backstage kitchen area the Bucks lead Rick Knox into. There is some meat play and a suplex on a steel preparation cart. The Butcher wears a smock well into the match as Matt and Nick Jackson stay on the offensive, which is a good strategy against a tag team outwardly tougher than them. Nick gets his head driven into the back door of a truck, emblazoned with an image of himself. Somewhere along the line, Matt gets his nose busted.
A beer vendor, serving the 35 or so fans in attendance, leaves his post as the teams fight around the beer stand. The Bucks superkick the Blade onto an upward-moving escalator. Eventually making their way to ringside, the Butcher cross body blocks Matt through a table. The Bucks hit a pretty cool bulldog/dropkick combination. This doesn’t particularly feel like anything sort of crazy, but it’s alright I suppose. The Butcher and the Blade hit Matt with a cool powerbomb/neckbreaker combo and then bring tables from backstage. Eventually, Matt and Nick hit what they call a BTE Trigger and an elbow and a Senton Atomico off of the entrance tunnels and they win.
Grade: An okay match. The Young Bucks have spent so long making their AEW matches feel like events that it’s weird to see them in a match— especially a Falls Count Anywhere match— that is just there.
Backstage Interview: Alex Marvez interviews Lance Archer and Jake Roberts, asking them a question to which Archer replies by taking him into a locker room and beating the shit out of some local talent while Jake calmly opines about the frustration with being ready to fuck shit up and having to sit around and wait for a match. Once again, Archer and Jake promise there will be hell to pay for this.
Diamante def. Ivelisse
These are the types of matches AEW should have having to bolster their women’s division. Ivelisse is high key a top talent, and bring a huge personality the division needs more of, and Diamante has been overlooked for quite a while, as she was impressive on the indies and her brief run in Impact. During the match, Big Swole cuts a short promo via satellite due to her suspension for hitting Dr. Baker in the face with a piece of paper while Diamante and Ivelisse slug it out. Ivelisse digs her forearms into Diamante’s face, translating her great character work into ring work (I’m a sucker for the details). Diamante gets the quick pin and what I feel is a surprise upset.
Grade: A pretty good match that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what either of these women can do.
“Hangman” Adam Page def. Alan “Five” Angels
Hangman comes into this match with an impressive 12-2 record for the year, and Five is at least not the tenth-best member of the Dark Order? Hangman is feeling breezy and confident here, but not so much that he won’t big boot Angels’ face off. The remainder of the Dark Order appear onstage to watch the match in person. Hangman continues, finally stuffing Angels with a stalling powerbomb.
Grade: A fun little match! Five gave a competitive showing, which I wasn’t really expecting.
After the match, Page calls out the entire Dark Order, and Brodie Lee enters the ring to offer Hangman a spot since all his friends (including his tag team championship partner) have ditched him. Page not-so-politely declines, and Lee offers a threat and takes Colt Cabana to the back as Page fights off the other four members of the Dark Order. The numbers get the best of Hangman, and FTR come to the rescue, with Omega trailing behind. FTR offer Page a goodwill gesture in the form of a cold beer, which is the perfect instance of knowing one’s audience.
With all the online chatter of a new Four Horsemen-esque stable, I don’t think you could go wrong with Cody, Page, and FTR with Tully offering guidance at ringside. (Though if you are a regular reader of my recaps, you’re obviously aware I’d rather see Page as the lonesome cowboy for a long while; he’s got a good thing going there!)
Chris Jericho and Jake Hager def. Jurassic Express
As the Inner Circle hit the ring, they check for any mysterious receptacles bolted above the ring. Jericho legit looks like he’s barely washed his hair in the last week, while Jungle Jack Perry shows him he’s learned some things since their ten-minute draw back in December. And then, Hager and Luchasaurus tag in for the big meaty men slapping meat portion of the match. Hager’s fight shorts are as garish as last week, but at least they don’t look like underwear this time?
Jericho gets a good shot on Marko Stunt, who sneaked in to deliver a hurricanrana moments before. Of course the heel team dominates Jungle Boy until he finally gets the hot tag to Luchasaurus, who rocks both Jericho and Hager with Tail Whips. Jericho brings Floyd in, and Aubrey Edwards get into it with him, augmenting their contentious professional relationship. (This is Jericho’s gift as a character, being able to get everyone, including the referee and a bat with a human name, over.) Just when it looks like Luchasaurus has Jericho where he wants him, Serpentico hits him in the back with Floyd, which leads to a Codebreaker and the win.
Grade: A solid main event match, clearly placed here to set up what happens after.
After the Inner Circle and Serpentico beat down Jurassic Express, it is revealed that the man in the Serpentico mask is actually Sammy Guevara! But then, Orange Cassidy and Best Friends storm the ring and run off the Inner Circle as they scatter away and flip the babyfaces the bird as the show fades to black.