The Ballad of Billy Big Bollocks: AEW Dynamite Recap

Or: Getting Stiffed on the Merch Money

As we approach next week’s Beach Break special, the events taking place in AEW are slowly congealing. Kip Sabian and Penelope Ford are finally getting married, and their best man (nay, THE best man) Miro has acquired the reasonably priced services of celebrity butler Charles Taylor (reasonably priced meaning free); the orbits of Dr. Britt Baker and Thunder Rosa are getting closer to colliding; Sting and Darby Allin have gone from very loose aesthetic counterparts to an actual alliance with a score to settle against Team Taz; and Mox has finally had enough of Kenny Omega’s shit and has found tag team partners to battle alongside him against Omega and his bootleg Bullet Club buddies.

Last night’s episode of Dynamite didn’t exactly set anticipation for Beach Break to a fever pitch, but the build has been solid, considering they have a pay-per-view a month after. Here’s what went down.

AEW

Eddie Kingston def. Lance Archer

The show starts off hot with Eddie Kingston— who shoves Justin Roberts during the ring introductions— taking on Lance Archer, a rivalry that has been gestating since All Out, when Kingston never got eliminated from the Casino Battle Royale. Archer convinces a disappointed Jake Roberts to the backstage area before laughing off chops from Kingston. Archer replies with a huge boot to the face. Unlike two weeks ago when he got pummeled by PAC, Kingston goes toe-to-toe with Archer here; biting and gouging eyes and punching ribs in order to not suffer the same fate as 14 days ago. Kingston gets Archer down to a knee with a second rope shoulder tackle, but Archer immediately answers back with a huge shoulder block of his own.

Archer chokeslams Kingston onto the apron (barely), Kingston’s back grazing the apron corner as he comes crashing to the floor.

Archer gains firm control of the match, speaking platitudes nearly in tongues to the camera as he chokes Kingston with his boot. He blocks the spinning backfist and Kingston goes for a short-lived desperation comeback. Archer clubbers Kingston and beats him down but refuses to go for the cover, even after the tightrope walk followed by the moonsault. But then, the Butcher and the Blade bring out a beaten down Jake to distract Archer as the Bunny delivers brass knuckles to her stablemate. Kingston hits Archer with the spinning backfist (garnished by the brass knuckles) and gets the win.

Grade: A solid, competitive match! I was almost expecting Archer to dominate Kingston like PAC did two weeks ago, but it was absolutely for the better that they didn’t.

After the match, Kingston and his family beat Archer down as Roberts watches in horror. I suppose I’m in the minority when I say I’m not the biggest Lance Archer fan, and there is a part of me that’s even more nonplussed to see him easing into a babyface turn. I think he has a lot of life left in him as a monster heel, even if I’m not an Archer fanboy.

Promo Segment: Mox surveys the soap opera friendships going on with Kenny at the center, and the drama escalating between Death Triangle and Kingston. He’s not the type of person who finds himself too enthralled with extracurricular drama. Mox describes himself as a simple man at the center of a very combustible situation. He likes his beer cold, his coffee warm, and his water at room temperature. He likes to have sex in the morning because it signifies the start of a good day. But it takes a simple man to be the peacemaker sometimes, and that’s what Mox intends to do in the six-man main event next week.

More Pro Wrestling:

Promo Segment: Sting wants to establish a first-name basis with the members of Team Taz, saying he’s hurt by the accusation that he and Darby are hoodlums. Of course, this segment is an exercise in dramatic irony, as he immediately walks it back, saying Darby is indeed a hoodlum. Darby replies by saying survival is the only thing that matters in this world. They break windows. They both admit they’re hoodlums, which doesn’t bode well for Team Taz.

AEW

MJF & Chris Jericho def. Varsity Blondes

Before the match starts, MJF cuts a promo and urges Griff Garrison to just quit instead of getting embarrassed in the ring like he did a few months back when Max bullied him. Garrison replies by knocking him on his ass with a punch. Pillman and Garrison are slowly but surely finding their way as a tag team; their in-ring chemistry is becoming a little more fluid and Garrison is gaining more experience by being pummeled by the greats … and the great’s tag team partner MJF. Garrison looked great on the comeback against the Inner Circle team, and Pillman looked equally as good in his short stretches in the match. (It seems as though Pillman, a singles and tag team star on the indies and MLW, is still learning how to be in a team with someone not quite as experienced.) Pillman goes off the top rope and gets hit by a Judas Effect and a Lionsault as Jericho scores the pinfall.

Grade: An alright match, all in all. Definitely an easy way to pad a win for Max and Jericho as they inch closer toward a tag title shot.

Promo Segment: PAC is disgusted by Kenny Omega swaggering like “Billy Big Bollocks” and acting like he owns the wrestling business. He’s seen enough of this fake Bullet Club charade and says he and Fenix will show them the meaning of brotherhood. Mox isn’t acknowledged at all, even from a reluctant teammate perspective, but who could be surprised that PAC is good at holding grudges?

AEW

Our Cool Boss Cody Responds to Shaq’s “Insults”

On the Dynamite Awards earlier in the evening, Shaq formally challenged Cody Rhodes with the most basic promo ever, the most egregious of disses being that he looks like a little girl with his blonde hair. You’re really going to have me believe one of the richest NBA stars in history has never been to Germany? Anyway, in the ring, Tony Schiavone asks Cody to respond to both Jade Cargill and Shaq’s repeated demands. Cody just wants to get to the pitch, which of course, he does a lot of running around the subject before he does. He’s distracted by impending fatherhood (he has been since like March, but that’s a subject for a different article) and says Arn Anderson chewed his ass out for not taking Peter Avalon seriously last week (which is something he always does to a competitor he doesn’t think is on his level).

Cody passes the mic to Arn, who says parenthood is the most important thing in the world, and relayed a story about Dusty wrestling a grueling match and hopping on a flight immediately after in order to witness Cody’s birth. Shaq and Jade are both formidable presences in every space they exist in, and suggests someone hungry for the opportunity to step up. Out comes Red Velvet, put upon for weeks and weeks and weeks by Jade and her loose collective of associates. She says she’s tired of all Jade’s antics, she’s tired of all the suffering she had to watch Brandi suffer at Cargill’s hands. And she’s going to do something about it.

“Hangman” Adam Page def. “The Hollywood Hunk” Ryan Nemeth

After rejecting the proposal of the Dark Order— and thus halting the huge HE SAID YES party they prematurely kicked off—  the Hangman reiterated that he wants to ride solo, especially after having a very acrimonious and deflating experience with the Elite. As the lonesome cowboy, he takes Dolph Ziggler’s brother to the Page family woodshed in a match that really emphasizes the rugged power of his style. “Big Money Matt” Hardy comes down to ringside, and it’s unclear for whom he is scouting until he starts openly cheering for Page. Nemeth gets in a nice spiked DDT, but it wasn’t enough. One Buckshot Lariat and the pen is academic for Page.

Grade: It’s kinda hard to grade specifically as a wrestling match, because it exists solely for the purpose of introducing a new story for Hangman and Hardy.

After the match, Hardy goes to leave and Hangman calls him back. Tony interviews Hardy while Page looks on, to which Hardy wants to let Hangman know he supports him. He sees a lost, conflicted man in Page, burned by his friends and left to fend for himself in the treacherous world of pro wrestling. He says, “You’re a good person and you deserve to be happy, which are words Hangman has probably needed to hear for most of the past sixteen months. Hardy says he’s seen Hangman dressing for the night by himself in a room across from catering. Hardy offers his room to change in, as a friend and nothing more. Being as though he’s currently charging Private Party a 30% fee to manage them, it’ll be interesting to see where this story goes.

AEW

Jungle Boy def. Dax Harwood

As the endless saga between Jurassic Express and FTR continues, it has come to this. When the handcuff stipulations were first introduced, I was like, “What about Marko?,” but it appears he’s still nursing his wounds from the recent FTR attack. Commentary does a good job of pointing out Dax’s experience advantage, but Jungle Jack shows his evasive talents early. Dax overpowers Jungle Boy for the early going until a flurry of offense and an early submission attempt has one-half of FTR on the ropes. They trade chops for a minute until Jungle Boy gets kneed in the stomach.

The match gets very competitive in its later moments, with the three men handcuffed to each other still impatiently watching from ringside. Dax hits a brutal slingshot powerbomb and Jungle Boy barely kicks out (“2.99!,” Excalibur exclaims). Jungle Boy cleverly works the arm and shoulder throughout the match, which plays out in different ways throughout. A long volley of pin attempts makes of pin attempts makes way for the Snare Trap. Cash Wheeler and Tully Blanchard try to interfere but Luchasaurus keeps them at bay. Dax eventually taps out.

Grade: I’m just as surprised as anybody when I say this was the match of the night for me. The story of the match was very smart, it was fast-paced in its most crucial moments, and it established Jungle Boy as an incredibly savvy technical wrestler, which he will need when he eventually goes into singles competition.

After the match, Cash and Tully escape and double-team Luchasaurus before all three FTR members lay out Jungle Boy. They handcuff Luchasaurus to the top rope and cut the horns off of his mask; they go to cut the hair of Jungle Boy before roster members from backstage come out for the save.

Backstage Segment: Taz retorts to Sting and Darby’s earlier comments as Team Taz do a walk-and-talk promo, before they pass by a merch table, see that it’s mostly Sting and Darby merch, and proceed to beat down the merch guys. You’d think Cage, Starks, and Hobbs would be a little more forgiving since two years ago they were selling their own merch during intermission, but how quickly we forget when the paychecks are good.

AEW

Dr. Britt Baker def. Shanna

It’s nice to see Shanna back on the main show, I’ve gotta say. She has the skill to allude attack as she shows here, but Dr. Baker has the willingness to play dirty. Shanna goes for a dropkick and Reba (Rebel) pulls Dr. Baker out of the way, giving the good doc the advantage. Shanna has played to the crowd a lot in this match, which you can’t blame on inexperience since she’s a 15-year vet. Every time, Dr. Baker finds a way to gain the advantage— which is the sign of a veteran regardless of how many years she’s been wrestling. Shanna gains focus late in the match but it’s not enough, as Dr. Baker hooks in Lockjaw after a Reba (Rebel) distraction.

Grade: A quick, expected win for Dr. Baker. Nothing wrong with that!

After the match, Dr. Baker curb stomps Shanna and cinches in Lockjaw again, holding it until Thunder Rosa storms the ring and chases her and her makeup artist away.

Backstage Segment: MJF tries to clear the air with Sammy Guevara about his rather dubious win over him last week, blaming Wardlow and claiming to dock his pay. Sammy says he sees right through MJF’s motives and Max asks, “You sure you wanna play it this way?” (Sounds like a threat!) Sammy replies, “I’m not playing” and leaves., which certainly makes it seem like things are leading to a certain Spanish (isn’t he actually Cuban?) God leaving the group that made him a star.

AEW

The Young Bucks & the Good Brothers def. The Dark Order

Last week, Don Callis tried to orchestrate a buyout, alleviating the Young Bucks of their association with Kenny. And now, they’re tagging with the men Callis is trying to replace them with, which isn’t short on unexplained tension. (I feel as though this stops way short of being the subtle, nuanced conflict they succeeded in during their tag title rivalry with Kenny and Hangman. I can’t tell if it’s because they’re not selling their longtime off-screen friendship enough or if the heavy emotional lifting last year was done by Page.) Before the match, there is more infighting between Callis and the Bucks, with Kenny heavily skewing toward Callis but is still trying to keep the peace like a true Libra.

During the match, John Silver calls out Doc Gallows (which is predictably incredible), proving himself the star he is as he chins up against his much bigger opponent. The Not Bullet Club team dominates most of the match (naturally), using power, finesse, and in the case of the Good Brothers, smart and pretty dirty tricks. Silver and Stu Grayson keep the match competitive by getting their shit in; the most exciting parts of the match belong to the two of them, and the nice little quadruple-team the Dark Order execute late in the match. Eventually, the Bucks get it done with a Meltzer Driver to Grayson.

Grade: Pretty meh except for when the Dark Order was given a chance to shine. I’ve been trying to give this Good Brothers storyline a chance but I don’t find the story nor the wrestling to be all that compelling.

After the match, the Young Bucks explain they are also in next week’s battle royal for the #1 contendership of the tag titles, but if they win, they get to handpick their Revolution opponent. “And it could be anybody,” Matt says. WINK WINK CATCH MY DRIFT?? Soon enough, Fenix comes out to confront the Not Bullet Club and as he fights them off, Mox comes through and clears the win, standing tall as the episode ends.

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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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