So, I didn’t get around to a proper Full Gear write-up, but here are some quick thoughts:
- Weird that they made Baker-Priestley the pre-show match after giving a fair bit of TV time to the feud, but at least that’s over now.
- Enjoyed Santana/Ortiz vs Young Bucks. Still can’t get behind ‘Proud and Powerful’ as a heel tag team name. Good post-match that gives the Bucks and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express a bit of revenge, but it’s the Inner Circle duo you’d imagine will be chasing the tag titles next.
- Page and PAC are a surefire pairing, it seems. Big win for Hangman, and a rubber match is set for this week’s show.
- I still dig the Spears/Blanchard act for exactly what it is on the show, and a sneaky spike piledriver on the floor is such a badass 80s way of cheating.
- Tag title match was another home run for all three duos involved, but they should really get Daniels’ in-ring revenge out of the way ASAP and then end the experiment of portraying the Luchas as villains.
- Women’s title match was good, and since their bout at the last PPV rocked it makes sense to run a championship version but it also makes it abundantly clear that they need to build up more female competitors, stat.
- Enjoyed the World title match, and am one of many who are relieved the judges were just an excuse to stick legends on camera. MJF betrayal was done really well, and that smirk was gold.
- The Lights Out main event came across to me as 40 minutes of overcompensation. I know some loved it and some couldn’t stand it, but I for one am just glad that they have their initial postponement and (hopefully) all of both men’s creative frustrations out of their systems so that, fingers crossed, we return to both men’s many strengths.
Anyway, onto the show. We’re in Nashville this week. Will the matches again be as repetitive as Avery Barkley and Juliette Barnes’ on-off relationship? Let’s find out!
Jon Moxley vs Michael Nakazawa
We first recap that Lights Out match. Nakazawa is buddies with Omega and wants revenge here. For what, a clean defeat in a match type both men were itching for? Anyway, it’d probably take longer to make sense of the logic there than this match lasts. Mox shrugs off Nak’s fired-up start and hits the Paradigm Shift for the 45-second duke. Not gonna lie: I’d have cried if that went 12 minutes.
Moxley follows that with more good mic work, mocking the system that means his win over Omega doesn’t go on his record but that squash does. I understand the booking of that as far as keeping Moxley hot without making it look stupid that he isn’t challenging for the World title. What I don’t understand is how Omega isn’t cleared to appear tonight but Moxley is absolutely fine, given that their bout was basically both men surviving equal measures of ridiculous offense before the finish.
The Dark Order (Evil Uno & Stu Grayson) vs Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy & Marko Stunt)
Between Marko keeping his offense true to his strengths and Uno having a real chance to wrestle like the monster he is trying to portray, this was a great and logical match-up. The action was decent, too: DO cut off a dive to the outside and use Nightfall and Fatality to finish in a shade under 10 minutes. Uno then actually talks! He says Stunt has what it takes to be a Dark Order crony, but Jungle turns it down for him. That earns them more abuse until Luchasaurus makes his return and absolutely cuts through the Order. I mean, that was a save and a half, and made him look like a star in the process.
I’m actually blown away with this match and segment overall: it showcased the Express without overdoing it on Stunt’s limited appeal, it brought Luchasaurus back and made up for lost time in the process, and even the Dark Order were relevant. Now, presumably, we move onto the Jurassic A-Team of Jungle and Lucha getting revenge against DO while Stunt wipes out the cronies with a crazy dive off the top to the floor.
Darby Allin vs Shawn Spears vs Peter Avalon
It’s a sprint of a three-way, with all of them getting in a few bits before Joey Janela goes after Spears to further that feud which leaves the Librarian to take the flip stunner and the Coffin Drop in 3-4 minutes. And y’know what? While I’m sure the three of them could do so much with more time, it was a breath of fresh air compared to previous weeks of Dynamite content. And there are plenty more weeks in the future for these three to interact with one another in a more meaningful manner. Allin then picks up on what Moxley said earlier about if anyone is brave enough to step up to him, and it looks like we have an intriguing match next week.
Nyla Rose vs Dani Jordan
Squash city as Rose smashes through Dani in the latter’s maiden Dynamite appearance, finishing with a Samoan Drop and then the Beast Bomb in 90 seconds. There definitely seems to a little NWA Powerrr influence in this week’s structure, and I like it – especially with three good commentators instead of the senile attention-seeker squealing about how there’s “only real grown manly men around here”. A good, swift rehab for Nyla after the title match loss. Shame it took them six weeks to get around to it – another reason why keeping the longer matches to maybe two per show and making room for brisk business like this has endless benefits.
After that, we head to Allie for her first significant appearance, but that ends with an attack from Brandi Rhodes and Awesome Kong. Like Bea Priestley before her, she has some of her hair cut off as well.
Chris Jericho is out to brag about retaining the title. Out comes MJF, mocking Cody’s entrance to big-time heat. He tells “Christopher” that he’ll get to him in a minute before claiming Cody is the real villain, being guilty of holding MJF down. He then accuses Jericho of wanting him in the Inner Circle as the two play it coy about aligning in hilarious fashion. Jericho: “maybe your parents got horny watching me beat the crap out of Juventud Guerrera 25 years ago and nine months later, out you popped”. MJF: “Who the hell is Juvi?” Jericho: “Google it, baby!”
Anyway, the two hug it out without any formal alliance until Cody, huge head scar and all, runs out. JR covers a botch nicely, blaming it on how banged up he still is, until this Wardlow character debuts by destroying Cody. He’s dressed very MJF-appropriate and chokes Cody out with his Burberry tie on Friedman’s orders. He does seem like the hired muscle type, so probably good casting there. But yeah, the entire segment achieved a lot and just about justified running as long as it did.
Adam Page vs PAC
PAC won their first encounter right here on Dynamite, but Page tied their miniseries at Full Gear. This is the decider. And not only is it the usual great action from the two, but there are plenty of callbacks to their first two singles showdowns – just how a trilogy should be.
Unfortunately, the finish gets a little daft as PAC not only survives a brainbuster on the floor (!) and the Buckshot lariat, but comes back to win quite emphatically with the Black Arrow into the Brutalizer. While the self-righteous yearnings for good old rasslin’ from some critics can be tiresome, there’s no excusing just pretending a big head-drop outside the ring and a finishing move didn’t happen. Was great stuff until that lazy clutch of excess took me out of the closing stretch.
Backstage, Santana and Ortiz are clearly not done with the Young Bucks as they brawl all over the place. Ortiz is knocked into a bathroom stall and finds Orange Cassidy in a moment I admittedly laughed out loud for. They’re doing Orange for laughs just right so far.
Anyway, the Inner Circle once again get the upper hand until Brandon Cutler attempts a save and gets his ass kicked. Then, Private Party make the save for real as the tag division continues to offer plenty of intriguing options. It’s arguably the best of the three title scenes early doors.
In fact, Santana and Ortiz will indeed face Private Party next week. JR himself notes how fast that was.
AEW Tag Team titles: SCU (Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) w/Christopher Daniels vs The Inner Circle (AEW World champion Chris Jericho & Sammy Guevara) w/ Jake Hager
Big intros and a big match feel to our main event, which otherwise would certainly feel like a makeshift bout to fill time. The kinda-sorta-storyline here is that Jericho wants all the gold, not just the singles title.
Kaz and Jericho start off in a pairing that would have been great fun to watch in at least five different ways through various stages of their respective careers. Next, Sky and Guevara pair off, and that too is good stuff.
After the ad break, the challengers are working over Kaz but he finally makes the hot tag to Scorpio. The standard AEW exchange of trademark moves begins (though in fairness, it’s a lot less grating when it happens less often per show) before Hager stops SCU Later and then takes out Daniels at ringside. The champ is back in to try and finish off Sky, but the Lionsault eats knees. Jericho hits a mid-air Codebreaker but is then stunned by a Scorpio small package in what is Le Champion’s first AEW defeat!
This was a good main event, and while another big finisher being shrugged off is only going to hurt things in the long run, at least they had Sky grab a desperation cradle to surprise Jericho rather than him just pretending he’s absolutely fine so he can “get his stuff in”. It’s also a great way to further what has been the happiest surprise of Dynamite so far in Sky’s great rise. Just like that, Jericho has an interesting challenger to break up the wait until the next PPV.
To close the show, Jericho offers us his second 1990s throwback of the broadcast by throwing an epic tantrum. If only Dave Penzer was there to have his jacket ripped off.
That was actually my favourite episode of Dynamite so far. By tweaking the format to allow more acts on the broadcast and keeping only the big matches at the 12 minute mark, there was a great combination of light and breezy television and featured attractions. I really hope they follow this template a lot more often for Wednesdays going forward. Albeit hopefully with far less relying on pretending big moves didn’t happen just to whore for big near-fall pops. If we’re going to agree that Vince Russo-esque skit writing is a tardy dilution of effective strategy, the same has to be said of finisher spamming between the ropes.