Last week, AEW ticked back up in the ratings as hoped. With their business model, solid numbers are great, so it’s good to see that this current age of being spoiled for wrestling content has a chance at lasting beyond short-term. Anyway, onto this week’s show where we’re set to hear from AEW World champion Chris Jericho after his first ever defeat in an All Elite ring last week. Considering his track record on the Dynamite microphone, that should be fun.
Nick Jackson vs Rey Fenix
Straight out of the blocks with another all-action opener, and a somewhat surreal one this time as Nick Jackson competes in his first singles match in forever. And to really hammer that home, he even reaches for a tag at one point during the bout! Not only that, but it ruins his chance of capitalising on an opening he had created after taking some offense. Great psychology there.
These two step up the intensity as we go along, with Fenix oozing class with everything he does. Aside from the fact that we are falling into the same ‘cutter, destroyer, superkick’ routine, this is top level action and a great choice for a cold opener to just rev the crowd up.
Nick bounces back from a seamless ropewalk rana and rolling cutter to deadlift German suplex Fenix onto the apron – because of course. Slingshot X-Factor and Canadian Destroyer almost get Jackson the win, but a Fenix superkick sets up the Muscle Buster for the duke in – yep – around 12 minutes, maybe even 12 exactly.
This match sums up everything I love and dislike about AEW at the same time. The contest was electrifying, it really was. Nick and Rey are two of the best around when it comes to execution and they have great chemistry to boot. But it was also so samey to a lot of Dynamite’s admittedly above-average in-ring content that it’s actually going to end up easy to forget come early 2020, maybe even sooner. I’d really like to see some of these guys come out of their comfort zone a little more. AEW have been no slouches in the storytelling department, so there’s no reason to believe their matches won’t have a similar degree of engagement if they ditch these effing apron spots and destroyer piledrivers!
Dr. Britt Baker DMD vs Hikaru Shida
Baker wastes no time looking for Lockjaw, but Shida is elusive early on. After a break, Baker’s nose is all messed up. This actually seems to bring out a more aggressive side in her, swapping the grappling for strikes, but Shida wins that duel and uses a chair as a springboard for a knee strike.
Baker’s busted nose seemed to really mess up the structure of this one, and there was some knee strike oversaturation, for sure. But the action was good for what it was, and you’d like to think AEW can turn this into chapter one of a rivalry that only gets better down the line. It also helps elevate more female wrestlers up to potentially challenging Riho.
We get a recruitment video from The Dark Order. Well, I appreciate the attempt to add dimension to the act.
Dynamite Dozen battle royal
This appears to have a Battlebowl deal about it, as the last two left out of 12 compete next week for a ring. Participants are Hangman Page, Orange Cassidy, Chuck Taylor, Kip Sabian, Jimmy Havoc, Jungle Boy, Marko Stunt, Pentagon, Sonny Kiss, Joey Janela, MJF and Billy Gunn.
Pentagon is surprisingly the first to go, albeit thanks to Christopher Daniels dressing as Fenix to continue his revenge for the attack on an early Dynamite. Kiss then twerks at Billy Gunn to show his ass to, erm, Mr. Ass, which gets him eliminated by MJF. Check this one out on the show or social media, if only for Orange Cassidy watching from the corner and lowering his shades.
Everyone then dogpiles Gunn, who in his mid-50s is really advertising training supplements and tanning booths here, but he shrugs them all off. Yes, Billy Gunn is doing the Big Show spot in a battle royal. Not exactly playing to the strengths of the ‘AEW Originals’. Anyway, he gets rid of Havoc and Stunt, but Havoc comes back with a staple gun for to wreak some, erm, havoc before being dragged out of there.
Janela is hit by a chair by Shawn Spears and eliminated during the break, and Gunn continues to stand tall in this one until Cassidy unleashes the kicks of vicious apathy – only to get tossed by MJF. So, Orange and Kiss did pretty much the exact same elimination spot via Gunn and Maxwell.
Now it’s Gunn and MJF until Wardlow gets involved, leading to Page tossing Billy. Sabian eliminates Chuckie T, but then Jungle Boy ranas Kip all the way to the floor. Just as we start to think it’s Hangman vs Jungle next week, MJF is still around and pulls Jungle down to give us Page vs MJF for the ring. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t like this. The concept, the execution and where it’s going do absolutely nothing for me.
Here’s Chris Jericho for his huge announcement: he’s sorry. He apologies for his post-match tantrum last week. Of course, Dave Penzer will warn us not to fall for the apology. Actually, the announcement is a huge celebration next week in Chicago. OK. He’s stopped from leaving by SCU, as Scorpio Sky says his DMs are blowing up after beating Le Champion last week. Even his old high school crush Melanie got back in touch, Sky says, leading to Jericho pointing out that he’s seen her and she’s gotten kinda big since then. I’d say ouch, but Sky says he likes big butts. I’m equal parts uncomfortable and amused right now.
Anyway, this leads to the real highlight of the segment as Jericho demands a chance for revenge on Sky, with Daniels claiming they’ll need 2-3 months prepare which prompts the triggered Jericho into demanding it next week, as part of his celebration. They then insist on non-title because a championship match would be too much pressure, which of course has Jericho demanding the title is on the line. And once they shake hands on it, the champ realises he’s been Bugs Bunnied. Haha.
The Inner Circle rush the ring for the last laugh, beating down SCU and cutting off rescue attempts by Brandon Cutler and Michael Nakazawa. The Jurassic Express have more luck, especially when Luchasaurus stands off against Jake Hager and prompts the MMA star to take a powder. More great non-wrestling stuff here, some of which can pretty much only be pulled off by guys like Jericho and SCU, and Luchasaurus again looks like a million bucks.
Luchasaurus vs Peter Avalon
And to hammer that last point home, Saurus destroys the Librarian and pins him in 30 seconds. Kudos to AEW for fighting their primal urges to make this last 10 minutes, too.
Private Party vs Santana & Ortiz
It doesn’t recover much after that but nonetheless we get Nick Jackson running down to confiscate Santana’s illegal weapon, providing the heroic version of a run-in as the distraction leads to Gin and Juice for the upset in 15 minutes.
TAFKA LAX losing here strikes me as odd, as without the mid-match confusion and the relatively-cold set-up, this is a match that could have blown the rest of a PPV away some time in the new year. But, it bounces PP back from being designated losers at Full Gear while continuing the presumed road to some sort of gimmick match between the Circle and the Bucks, I guess.
Sammy Guevara then attempts to attack Nick, but Dustin Rhodes returns for the save.
Kenny Omega is trying to source the root of his recent flaky form, and decides that the original Jon Moxley postponement which led to losing to PAC was the crucial point. So, next week it’s Omega-PAC II.
Darby Allin vs Jon Moxley
This is by far the most interesting match on the card heading in. They brawl to start (duh) and Moxley has the natural size and power edge. Darby is fired up, but keeps being swatted away. He even bounces off Mox when trying a crossbody! The crowd is pretty evenly split as Allin fights back with dropkicks and tossing Jon into the steel stairs. He brings a personalised Moxley bodybag (!) into the ring, but Pro Wrestling 101 rears its head and of course, Darby gets sealed inside by Jon. And then stamped out while still in the bodybag!
Darby escapes and they both fight up top again, this time getting dirty as Allin goes for the fingers but Moxley bites him right in the face and finishes with the Paradigm Shift from the top!
That was a great match. Both men were showcased to their strengths without overdoing the gimmicky stuff, as weird as seeing a bodybag used in an otherwise singles match was. I suspect Moxley may end up gravitating towards PAC-Omega again next week, leading to the Triangle match they should have just done at Full Gear when Kenny vs Jon was looking to jump the shark.
Once again, Dynamite is worth your time. Once again, however (and unfortunately after last week’s refreshing structure), they fall back into their rigid, samey routine. Perhaps the anticipation of a loaded NXT episode ahead of Takeover and Survivor Series prompted them to get back to what they know: good long match after good long match after good long match, Jericho to break up the monotony. Either way, at least they’re holding up to a high standard.