Last week, NXT won the ratings head-to-head with Dynamite for the first time. It really does have very little bearing on AEW’s quest for self-sufficiency, but it will certainly provide a litmus test of their vows to be pro-active, not reactive. Will Dynamite continue to focus on its own thing? Only one way to find out.
We’re back in Chicago, home of two major All Elite cards but also the site of WWE’s traditional major PPV weekend overkill just days prior.
Tony Schiavone is on assignment elsewhere, so it’s Jim Ross and Excalibur – something I really enjoyed back when Tony spent the show in Cody’s limo moreso for the return to a two-man deal than anything against Tone.
And it’s straight into Chris Jericho’s Thanksgiving celebration to start. It’s as hammy as you’d expect/hope with a marching band and ring full of presents. And, of course, A LITTLE BIT OF THE BUBBLY. As fate would have it, Jericho has launched a sparkling wine brand with that very name alongside Stephen Amell, and that gets a mention here too. Oh, and Soultrain Jones is here live and in the flesh! This is going to be glorious.
The rest of the Inner Circle give Jericho gifts, including a lifesize cutout from Sammy Guevara of the two of them hugging and vapo-rub, flip-flops and a “little bit of the forty” from Santana and Ortiz. Oh, and a headband to make Chris an official Boriqua. Jake Hager’s gift: Chris Jeri-GOAT. An actual goat! Play on the G.O.A.T acronym included.
Displeased with Roberts’ efforts, Jericho roughs him up until the marching band rushes the ring to attack – of course, it’s SCU. And they cap the build for tonight’s Jericho-Sky main event with a good old-fashioned beating for poor Soultrain.
This was the first time AEW kicked off with a segment and while it’s not something you want to see every week, the idea of keeping things fresh is of course doing a little bit of every approach. And, thanks to Jericho and a stellar supporting cast, they knocked this one out of the park. Le Champion has been a first-class lead-off man for the new promotion so far, to continue the baseball analogies despite the presence of a hockey legend, and his efforts in and out of the ring are buying the rest of the roster and the inexperienced management team a lot of time to find their feet.
We will indeed have three on commentary for matches, it seems, as JR and Ex are joined by Marco Martinez.
Best Friends vs Lucha Bros
Trent beat Pentagon in an upset on Dark. Orange Cassidy is out in a turkey suit, because of course. The Bros get the jump on their foes before the match officially starts, but Cassidy hits a turkey dive. In the ring, the BFs start strong before Trent eats a double superkick. They continue to isolate Trent while knocking Chuck off the apron, but Taylor eventually gets the tag.
Some nice offense from Chuckie T, who’s been portrayed as the secondary member of the tag team so far in Dynamite’s run, and he follows his opponents with a dive when they take a powder. Trent back in only to take a Destroyer for a near-fall, but Chuck hits a somersault off the steel stairs to Pentagon after Cassidy lures him into position at ringside, and Trent takes another scalp with the Dudebuster to Fenix in around ten minutes.
The action was what I feel comfortable enough referring to as AEW Formula™ after two months of Dynamite, but the finish raised eyebrows. Barreta continues to be portrayed as a breakout in the making, and the Best Friends stock is rising more organically than anyone would have guessed. Not sure how the Bros benefit from this program in the long run, or anything that keeps them in an antagonistic role to be honest.
We get an AEW Womens title top 5, with the number one and three seeds on opposite sides of our next bout.
Hikaru Shida & Kris Statlander vs Emi Sakura & Bea Priestly
It’s Shida at 1 and Sakura at 3, if you’re wondering. Britt Baker is 2, Nyla Rose is 4 and Allie in at 5. Bea and Emi try to attack to start, but that earns Priestly a moonsault off the apron from Kris. Shida has a chair for some parkour offense, but not for long. Same can be said when Sakura brings in a mic stand (!) for some karaoke during an abdominal stretch. Ha.
Hikaru manages to suplex her opponents into each other to escape a weardown session and tag in Statlander. Kicks and roll-up attempts galore, but she herself is soon subject to a two-on-one until Sakura misses a moonsault. Michinoku Driver looks good for Kris to finish, but Priestly makes the save and then gets the ref out of the way for a mic stand shot by Emi to set up the pin for her side in another 10-minute job. This wasn’t very good, but at least we’re starting to see more individual characters in the women’s division.
Jon Moxley dares anyone else to try to be a hero and face him.
Cody Rhodes vs Matt Knicks
This is Cody’s return to the ring after Full Gear and MJF’s betrayal. And, thankfully, it’s a squash as he recovers quickly from Knicks targeting his sore ribs with a springboard cutter and Cross Rhodes for the rehab win in a minute or so.
He then demands a piece of MJF, only to be attacked by two unknown men, later recognised as The Butcher and The Blade. They’re joined by Allie, who it seems is doing a full personality shift into her dark Bunny character to align with this new team.
The live crowd were absolutely baffled by this, and this was a strange target for their debut considering how many other plates Cody is spinning and especially considering how many other tag teams there are to set up programs with.
Kenny Omega vs PAC
This is a rematch from All Out, when The Bastard replaced the injured Moxley and beat Omega. Kenny made it clear last week he needs to beat PAC to get back on track. It’s almost all Omega until the ad break serves a convenient opening for PAC to take over. Omega tries to fight back, but is too groggy to win the slugfests until a pair of desperation Polish Hammers set up a fisherman buster. PAC counters You Can’t Escape and the two trade various vicious strikes until PAC hits a huge super Falcon Arrow for a near-fall.
Black Arrow misses but Omega’s subsequent V-Trigger doesn’t. That sets up the One Winged Angel, which PAC counters only to be rolled up to give Omega that much needed W after the magic 12 minute mark. This was quality wrestling, but it also felt a lot less significant a match than it should have been. Are we headed towards a rubber match showdown at the next PPV?
Dynamite Diamond final: Adam Page vs MJF
These two men emerged from last week’s peculiar battle royal to reach this bout, with a Battlebowl-esque diamond ring for the winner. Hangman starts hot until Wardlow Andre The Giants to Friedman’s Ted DiBiase. MJF tries to run, but Page hauls him back and eventually gets the dive he wanted. And a moonsault, too. It’s easy to see why AEW are so high on Page. There’s something so gratifying about his offense. Even when he does overkill, it’s usually at the exact right time.
Classic chickenshit stuff from MJF puts him in control until a lariat gives Page a two-count and then the Buckshot lariat should win it, only for Wardlow to put his man’s foot on the rope. The burly second then gets a cheapshot in on Hangman which allows Maxwell to finish, insultingly, with Cody’s CrossRhodes (double-cross Rhodes?) for the win and the ring in eight minutes.
This is a pairing I’d like to see more of down the line. The action was decent, but the dynamic between them was really fun and stands out beyond the usual exchange of moves we see in half of Dynamite’s content.
Anyway, as advertised, Battlebowl 1996 winner Diamond Dallas Page presents the ring to MJF and admits that while he isn’t a fan of his recent actions, he wanted to congratulate him like a man. MJF responds by giving the ring back and being an ungrateful little brat, leading to a pull-apart between Dallas and Wardlow.
Dustin Rhodes wants a piece of Jake Hager, but the Inner Circle jump him. The Young Bucks make the save, and like that we have a six-man tag on the horizon.
In fact, after another Dark Order pre-tape segment, we find out that it will be Guevara, Santana and Ortiz against Dustin and the Bucks next week.
AEW World title: Chris Jericho (c) vs Scorpio Sky
We’re told that all seconds are banned from ringside for this one, which probably means outside interference later. The champion tries to force a slow start upon Sky, who eventually gets in some basic underdog offense before being dropkicked off the apron as we go to an ad break.
Jericho works him over with chops and suplexes but a proper rally from Sky this time leads to near-falls from a neckbreaker and a springboard cutter. Missile dropkick attempt off the top leads to the Walls of Jericho, but Sky gets the ropes. Scorpio then finds a dragon sleeper, and here comes Hager.
The appearance distracts Sky and leads to a double clothesline spot as SCU attack Hager to get him out of there. Some ban. The champ tries to line up a belt shot in the chaos, but rushes into a TKO for a near-fall. Not getting the win there clearly rattles Sky, and he ends up eating a Codebreaker soonafter for another close call.
Nice counter to the Judas Effect elbow sees Sky get a seamless backslide for another near-fall, but soon after the champ catches a kick, converts into the Walls and adds extra pressure to earn the tap in 13 minutes. This was a great match between two of the highlights of the first eight weeks of Dynamite, and it made sense as a TV main event while Le Champion looks for that next big program. No idea what was up with the shoddily enforced ringside ban, though. Just say nothing and then have them come out, like with every other match!
Speaking of Jericho’s next program, he continues to attack Sky after the bell until Jon Moxley walks down through the crowd. It looks like he’s done waiting.
This may well have been the weakest of the nine Dynamites so far in some respects, but it did flow quite well and I appreciate that. Again, the AEW Formula™ matches were kept to a minimum and while not a smash hit of an ep, if all of their lesser weeks were this easy to watch and the others were home runs, they’d have a good thing going on.