Tony Schiavone Said “Hentai” on TNT: AEW Dynamite Recap

And I was very anxious the whole time.

Other people have said it. And said it. And said it again. They’ve said it better than I could, in so many different ways, and I’m still here to say once again that the task of writing about professional wrestling right now is a bizarre one. I wonder what it was like to be a theater reviewer when the plague was wreaking havoc in the 14th century. How did radio shows in 1918 handle broadcasting during the Spanish Flu? What was the tone like? For that matter: Did wrestling continue during the deadliest pandemic of the 20th century? Most major cities had restrictions in place in October 1918, closing theaters and canceling sporting events, but a New York wrestling database has four events listed that month in Brooklyn. Who knows how many other wrestling shows people put on across the country?

(The only other mention I was able to find of pro wrestling in October 1918 was a guy going to Santa Barbara to challenge another guy to a match, but his intended opponent was out of town. Apparently he brought his pet pig along. This was from a blog that doesn’t cite any source, but that sounds pretty true to me. That sounds like wrestling to me.)

Regardless of what happened in 1918, Wrestling has continued during Coronavirus, with AEW packing in tapings last week in a gym-turned-TV-studio in Georgia (that was almost stopped by the police) and WWE continuing to tape shows on a once a week basis. Which is, you know, a pretty weird vibe to watch an episode of weekly fun wrestling TV with.

Full disclosure: I watched this episode with a hefty dose of something halfway between distraction and dissociation because I didn’t want to be watching it. I hate seeing wrestling happening right now. These are people I like and I want them to go home, or at least put masks on and stop touching each other. Things I usually enjoy—blood, mouth stuff, hugging, human beings in close proximity—are things I don’t like to see when all I can think about is how unnecessary it is to be taking these risks at all. If you want a recap of this episode in a vacuum, in some contextless world of an “objective” viewer, this isn’t that recap.

That being said, let’s talk about the episode.

Promo: Tapping into the ambient dread of this moment in history, AEW Dynamite opened this week with Jake “The Snake” Roberts back in his isolation room. He did a tick tock tick tock sound, like the tick tock man from John Wick, and also like the Tiktok app on our phones. I didn’t actually listen to anything he said, I was just vibing on his voice, which rules. I really think he should be doing audiobooks. Like some Southern gothic horror stuff, you know? What do you think Jake “The Snake” Roberts’ favorite Southern gothic novel is? Either way, it doesn’t really matter what he said. He could read me grocery store coupons and make it sound spooky and exciting. He said stuff that was spooky and exciting.

More Pro Wrestling:

Lance Archer def. Alan Angels

With Excalibur and Jim Ross wisely choosing to not travel, our commentary team this week was Tony Schiavone and Chris Jericho. Jericho is a star. I mean, obviously. Obviously. But he can be a little bit too overpowering for a small studio taped show when he’s doing commentary for performers who don’t have his kind of star power. That’s not a knock on AEW’s talent or anything. They’re plenty magnetic. Almost no one is on Jericho’s level. That was my second biggest gripe about the whole episode. (The first being that I simply do not want to watch wrestling filmed during a global pandemic. I want to play Animal Crossing and hug my knees and cry.)

Anyways, this perfectly fine squash match to make Lance Archer look big and strong (which he is) was kind of overshadowed for me by Chris Jericho calling Japan “the Orient” on commentary. Weird stuff.

Grade: Yeah.

AEW

Hikaru Shida def. Dr. Britt Baker DMD

Shida and Baker took a little bit to get going, which I don’t blame them for since, you know, weird empty gym is hardly the ideal performance space. Once this match got going though, I was really into it. Britt Baker is continuing to improve in the ring and did some really great looking into the camera and talking to Tony Schiavone stuff. What’s their friendship exactly? Is he just her simp now? Either way, she was bleeding from the face and being a real terror. Hikaru Shida really deserves to have more of a character, but she looked cool and wrestled well. She always looks cool and wrestles well. Again, I wish this match had happened not during a major health crisis, because Britt Baker going for her lockjaw submission, realizing her hand is covered in blood, and then demanding the ref give her one of his gloves so she can perform it safely was a stroke of genius. Shida won with a running knee.

Grade: Yeah!

Segment: Kenny Omega and Michael Nakazawa were in their trailer talking about their tag team name ahead of their match against Chuck Taylor and Trent. Nakazawa suggested that they call themselves “the Best Friends” since they are, after all, best friends. When Omega objected, pointing out that Taylor and Trent are already the Best Friends, Nakazawa just told him to use his Executive Vice President powers. Orange Cassidy, Trent, and Chuck Taylor all burst into the trailer to scold the would-be-also-Best-Friends, and put the tag team name on the line in their match. I’m never going to complain about a Best Friends promo, even if I’m worrying about their health at the same time.

More Segments: They did the rankings thing, a video package hyping up Jon Moxley defending his championship against Jake Hager, and then a video package hyping up this week’s main event: Shawn Spears vs Cody in the first round of the tournament for the newly announced TNT Championship. The only thing you need to know about this stuff was that Jake Hager’s wife’s chyron read “Wife & CEO,” further solidifying their weird wife guy + wife vibes, and that Cody was wearing a Ribera jacket.

AEW

Best Friends def. Kenny Omega & Michael Nakazawa

This was the match where Tony Schiavone said the word “hentai,” since one of Omega and Nakazawa’s team-up moves has hentai in the name. (For anyone out there normal enough not to know, hentai is a word commonly used for pornographic anime, but in Japanese it actually just means “pervert” and can be used to describe any kind of perversion you want.) The important thing is that Tony Schiavone said it into a microphone on television. What wild times we live in, right?

These four (plus Orange Cassidy) put on a perfectly fun comedy tag team match. It felt like kind of a WrestleMania week indie show match. Like a WrestleCon Thursday evening type deal. Nothing to write home about, but absolutely entertaining. Chris Jericho got really rowdy on commentary, making me wonder if he was maybe drinking? Alcohol is terrible for your immune system, so I don’t think drinking is a great call for anyone traveling and working during this thing.

There was also a whole sub-plot about Shawn Spears scouting Nakazawa as his potential new tag team partner, but not being into his whole baby oil, thong-as-a-weapon deal. Also, maybe we should save the panty-huffing for after Coronavirus has died down? Just generally. For everyone.

The Best Friends won their right to keep their name and everyone hugged.

Grade: Heck yeah!

Segment: Brodie Lee popped out of one of those Benz SUVs to scold some Dark Order goons for not wearing suits. His language made it feel like he’s doing a dig at Vince McMahon.

Promo: Britt Baker got interviewed about her match with Hikaru Shida and claimed she lost half her blood. Not her best, but fuck she looks cool with blood on her face!

Segment: We went to Matt Hardy in the Hardy Compound, and ah, yeah. Okay. We’re doing this. Listen, I’m thrilled for the guy that he gets to do his schtick and have some creative freedom after struggling to do so in the last two places he worked. I’m so happy for everyone watching who has attachment to this whole thing. I think the drone is really cute. Everything else annoys the shit out of me. I’m sorry. Hardy talked about Chris Jericho trying to steal the drone’s allegiance from him, said something real weird about wanting to eat Santana & Ortiz because he likes Puerto Rican food, and I don’t know. It’s not for me.

AEW

Brodie Lee def. Lee Johnson

Another squash match. This was fine. It was a squash. It served its purpose of making me very excited to see Brodie Lee wrestle a proper match in AEW, which, to be fair, I was already very excited about. Brodie Lee is a great wrestler. Have you seen that cage match he did with Cesaro back in Chikara? One of my favorites.

Grade: Yeah.

AEW

Cody def. Shawn Spears

Cody faced his old nemesis Shawn Spears in the first round of AEW’s tournament to crown the inaugural TNT Champion. I’m not big on Spears, and wasn’t crazy for their last singles match, but this went beyond watchable into the territory of actually enjoyable. The smaller stage of the gym really suited their styles—it felt like studio wrestling in a good way. They had a competitive feeling back-and-forth, brawled around outside the ring, fucked around with the turnbuckles and furniture, and just did some all-around perfectly entertaining television wrestling. After a series of near falls, Cody pinned Spears with a Figure 4.

Grade: Yeah!

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lb hunktears

lb hunktears edits fanfyte, the fanbyte wrestling section. they are also the world's first PhD hunkologist as well as a noted genius, leather jacket owner and three time college dropout.

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