The time has come for All Elite Wrestling’s first proper attempt at a ‘go home show’ – the episode of their new weekly television show that precedes (and hopefully adds a few extra buys to) their next PPV, in this case Full Gear.
For five weeks, Dynamite has been great wrestling content, albeit content mostly confined to one rigid formula and littered with a few habits AEW would do well to kick. Nonetheless, they weathered the inevitable storm of going up against Game 7 of the MLB World Series last week, posting a reduced rating that was nonetheless around what they were hoping for before they’d even rolled the show out.
Several matches have been confirmed for this evening in advance, but there seems to be a fair chunk of real estate on the PPV card itself, waiting to be filled. Let’s see how it plays out.
PAC vs Trent Barreta
Yes, PAC is still a bastard. More importantly, he has a big singles rematch at the PPV vs Hangman Page, so the result against a midcard tag teamer shouldn’t be in doubt here. Chuckie T and Orange Cassidy are at ringside.
This one serves another example of that rigid Dynamite template right out of the gates, as despite the difference in levels between the two status-wise, we get a very good 12 minute competitive battle with very few differences to the two or three served up each week. If you eat the same meal every day – even one you love – you’ll grow sick of it. That’s why palate cleansers are important.
For what it’s worth, Trent showcases plenty of potential as a singles down the line with plenty of early fire and a big half and half suplex after PAC went after the Best Friends on the outside. More close calls for Trent with a running knee, lariat and tornado DDT, before PAC uses a brainbuster on the outside to snuff out the growing threat of an upset. Black Arrow connects… for two? But the Brutaliser quickly gets the submission win after that.
That was an old school AJPW false finish, with a finisher being escaped only for the victim to have nothing left to resist a second trademark move. Nonetheless, this match was identikit. High quality with a pumped early-show crowd, but identikit. I sound like I’m on repeat with this, but PAC and Trent could have achieved everything they achieved here in half the match time.
Quick post-match promo as PAC promises to make an example out of Page at the weekend.
Cody is out next, and he has an announcement – presumably the one he was prevented from making a fortnight ago by The Inner Circle’s skybox shithousery. He claims that the Circle’s formation, while strategic, was something they saw coming. He then compares himself to other wrestlers in history who’ve challenged for a World title while holding a position of management within the company – Eddie Graham, Bill Watts and of course his own father, Dusty Rhodes. He admits it’s controversial and that he hears all the criticism. So, his announcement is that if he fails to win the title at Full Gear, he’ll never challenge for it again.
Cody then gets in a great line about Chris Jericho branding him an entitled millennial when he is the son of a famous hockey player. He calls the champ a “carny succubus” who needs the new generation more than they need him. Cody says he has busted his backside to go from being “undesirable” to where he is today, and at the PPV he promises that The Elite will eat the Inner Circle alive.
Well, I was heading into this match thinking it should be decent but the title was going nowhere, but after that superb promo from Cody it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they pulled the trigger and then got it back onto Jericho via their first World title change on TV. Stellar stuff full of fire which once again featured plenty of callbacks while keeping the actual issue at hand relevant. Cody and Chris have single-handedly made this routine title match interesting through their out-of-the-ring work alone.
To enter the Full Gear tag title match: Private Party vs The Dark Order
The Lucha Bros, as expected, will rematch their tournament final defeat to inaugural champions SCU at the PPV. Meanwhile, the winners of this match between the two defeated semi-finalist teams will make it a triangle tag. SCU observe from English commentary; the Luchas from Spanish.
And if you’re wondering whether you can guess how the match goes without watching it, you probably can. PP once again dazzle with their offense and overcome a DO heat session to break the bout down into the usual exchange of trademark moves until Fatality is broken up and Gin & Juice puts Party into the title match after… yep! Just under 12 minutes.
Absolutely the right result here – the Dark Order just aren’t connecting as an act on Dynamite, which pains me to say as a longtime Super Smash Brothers fan. Private Party, meanwhile, are surely the team to be positioned as chasing the belts for a bit – because I’m still guessing that the Luchas take the straps at the PPV after losing the final gave SCU and Scorpio Sky’s story arc a deserved happy ending.
Now we get a video promoting Jericho, and done so in a parody of the serious video looking at Cody’s road to the title shot from the other week. This is absolutely hilarious, with Virgil (yes, THE Virgil) making a cameo as a talking head comparing Jericho’s talent to the breadsticks at Olive Garden, and his “aunt’s friend from church” claiming he was destined to be the AEW World champion since he was a kid. Jake Hager just stares at the camera for several inserts. This was brilliant, and only reinforces my point earlier about Jericho and Cody’s character work.
AEW Women’s champion Riho & Shanna vs Emi Sakura & Jamie Hayter
It’s Riho vs Sakura, student vs teacher, once again at the PPV. This is decent stuff, and thankfully they allow Shanna and Hayter plenty of time to showcase their own skills, but once again we’re forced to go a certain length of time on the match. Considering that the issue between the champion and the challenger she beat before winning the title and has had the upper hand over ever since isn’t exactly red-hot, maybe they should have put on a women’s tag match without Riho or Sakura, and had Emi blindside the champ backstage instead.
Sakura has Shanna beat with the Vader Bomb, but Riho saves with a double stomp. They trade cradles and it’s Emi who comes out on top in what feels like token suspense ahead of Full Gear. There really isn’t a whole lot of reason to get emotionally invested. At least the match itself should be another banger, so if you’re purely into great action, you’re looked after.
Another Brandi video offers more insight, confirming the alliance with Awesome Kong and promising to become the ‘bullies’ of the women’s division with a combination of her brains and Kong’s brawn. See? Storytelling. It’s just a shame there’s a clear distinction between which females are afforded star treatment and which are presented as extras, and that it runs far too parallel to off-screen relationships for my liking. It also took Brandi three weeks for her segments to actually make sense.
Shawn Spears vs Brandon Cutler
This is Cutler’s first Dynamite showing since playing MJF’s punchbag early doors. Spears once again has Tully Blanchard in his corner.
Shawn and Tully continue to hone that old school villain act in a brief semi-squash, and Spears weathers a Cutler fightback to finish with a running DVD in around three minutes. Spears then wants to inflict more damage at Blanchard’s behest, but Joey Janela makes the save, bringing an AEW Dark incident to the main show as a fully-fledged midcard storyline.
A bit more of this sort of segment would not only make a couple of proper 12-minute contests per week easier to digest, but provide what a new TV project sorely needs: character depth on as many members of the roster as possible.
Hype video for Jon Moxley vs Kenny Omega at the PPV. It’s a good video and the match should be great, but it definitely feels like the feud itself is a little off. The injury delay certainly hasn’t helped, but the unnecessary brutal glass table spot on the first Dynamite followed by weeks of heroic antagonism from both men has also made it hard to dive in headfirst.
Kenny Omega & Adam Page vs AEW World champion Chris Jericho & Sammy Guevara
Jericho fakes starting with Kenny but instead brings in Sammy. That gives us a nice opening section of the match before Page tags in and it seems “cowboy sh-t” is going to last as a chant. Hangman finds himself having to fight off both opponents at seperate intervals before getting Omega back in. Kenny’s brought down for the advert break, however, before fighting back and bringing Page back into the contest with a hot tag.
Hangman looks great as he runs through the Inner Circle, with the crowd behind him. However PAC runs in and sticks it to his PPV opponent with a low blow behind the ref’s back to leave him wide open for the Judas Effect elbow and another defeat at Jericho’s hands.
This was a good main event. It ran the usual length and formula, but is one of the matches I’d have kept in that form while trimming others (along with the tag title qualifier). Page finds himself in a precarious position, now: a lot of his early failures can easily be played into his story arc when he eventually ascends to where AEW seemingly want him to be. However, surely he can’t lose to PAC at the PPV? And yet, PAC likely also needs to hold onto some momentum if they’re seeking to pay off the Moxley feud after Full Gear?
After the win, the Inner Circle keep the boots coming to their victims. Out come Cody and MJF for the save, and Moxley is out to brawl with Omega – barbed wire versions of their weapons and all. The Elite are down in numbers until the Young Bucks arrive, and we get Nick diving off the set onto a host of enemies at the close of the go-home show.
Once again, Dynamite is worth your time in the short run. The long haul, however, remains to be seen. It’ll come down to the major matches and feuds beyond Full Gear, as well as whether or not they shake up their weekly TV format to allow more of their roster to connect with viewers and to avoid stagnation in what are otherwise very good matches.
It’s not too late to get yourself down to a live viewing party for Full Gear on Saturday night, either – Hooked On Wrestling are screening the PPV from Sports Bar & Grill, Victoria. Tickets are available here.