After a tumultuous week for wrestling, in which certain AEW wrestlers found themselves implicated, what impact would this have on this week’s edition of Dynamite? Would any of it be addressed on-air? How would the handle the loss of Sammy Guevara, whose feud and big match with Matt Hardy tonight was designed to elevate him further?
There’s only one way to find out…
Lumberjack Match: Luchasaurus vs. Wardlow
We head straight to the ring to start, as Wardlow and Luchasaurus kicked things off with a lumberjack match that, while not sticking strictly to classic lumberjack rules (only two sides of the ring had wrestlers around it; the face side are supposed to get their man back in, not check him over), was still an energetic, very entertaining battle that was straight to the point and didn’t overstay its welcome.
The athleticism of both men, considering their size, is impressive, with Wardlow hitting a great-looking standing hurricarana and Lucasaurus smashing everyone in sight with a shooting star press from the stage to the floor. The two clearly have chemistry together and it’s always fun to see two big hosses swinging at each other.
On a side note, it was interesting to see that Ricky Starks was over on the heel side, as there wasn’t an indication of this last week. It’ll be interesting to see who they feud him with first
Things broke down in the last part of the match, as the heels had at Luchasaurus, Marko Stunt hit a stunning running dive through the ropes onto everybody, Wardlow and Luchasaurus took it to the stage, where Wardlow hit a big powerslam and through Brandon Cutler down on top of the wrestlers below and Luchasaurus squashed everyone with the aforementioned shooting star press.
In the end, MJF got up on the apron, Jungle Boy speared him through the ropes to the outside and Wardlow used the distraction to hit a low blow and a spinning F-10 for the win.
Afterwards, chaos ensued as the ensemble went at each other in a pull-apart brawl and Tony Schivone let everyone know, via Tony Khan whispering in his ear, that Wardlow and MJF vs. Luchasaurus and Jungle Boy has been booked for Fyter Fest. I think that will be a solid little match on the night. Good work, AEW.
Tony Schivone is Forgiven
Meanwhile, Tony’s BFF Britt Baker is near the commentary booth as always, sending Tony a note up to say he is off the friendship time-out, even though he allowed her to be stuck in a dumpster for six hours. She also wants a clinical diagnosis for Luchasaurus’ green tongue.
After last week’s kidnapping by Big Swole, Britt is hidden behind a case of Plexiglas and is shadowed by a big, beefy security guard. Brilliant.
Watch your step, Swole – Britt’s not leaving herself open any more!
AEW Women’s Champion Hikaru Shida vs. Red Velvet
The champ came out, visibly distracted by Fyter Fest opponent Penelope Ford talking trash from the audience. Unable to contain her anger, Shida went straight for Ford and gave her a talking to, which Ford responded to with a slap. Perhaps an unwise move to pull on someone wielding a cane, which Shida of course swung in retaliation.
Deciding to make her point in the ring, Shida took to Velvet with vicious focus, smashing her with a running knee and a Falcon Arrow to take the win in less than a minute.
Shida wasn’t finished there, though, throwing fists at Ford and, when Kip Sabian tried to intervene, knocking him down as well with a beautiful looking strike.
Honestly, outside of the recent heel work by Britt Baker, this was the best booked segment I’ve so far from AEW’s Women’s division. There was genuine heat and we saw an aggressive side of Shida that we’ve never seen before. I did wonder if they took the title of Nyla too soon after they built up to be this monster, but this segment was confirmation they made the right decision.
The Credentials To Be a Champion
We go to an undisclosed location, possibly a conference room at Daily’s Place, for the press conference for Cody and Jake Hager’s contest at Fyter Fest. Press conference segments can be very hit and miss, but this was very well done and professionally presented.
The story was that Hager hadn’t yet shown up for the conference yet. Arn Anderson is asked about whether he’s surprised about this, and Arn’s response reminds us why he is one of the greatest wrestling orators of all time. He talks about how this isn’t Hager’s time, how he could be championship material but he isn’t currently displaying the credentials required.
Cody followed him with a speech about how the TNT title represents hope, and you realise how Cody on the mic is perhaps the natural successor to Arn rather than his dad. In any case, I honestly believe Cody is one of the best on the mic today. The passion and thought in his words are evident.
Cody was interrupted by the swaggering appearance of Hager with his wife. They posed UFC-style either side of the TNT belt, until Hager cockily changed his pose to put his fist in Cody’s face, which Cody angrily swiped away. Hager’s wife then threw a glass of water in Cody’s face, leading Cody to end the conference rather than let things spill over into a brawl.
Will the cocky Hager be able to beat the committed Cody? I don’t know, but what I do know is that it’s going to be a hell of a match!
Sonny Kiss & Joey Janella vs. Colt Cabana & Brodie Lee
Pre-match, we saw a cinematic vignette of Sonny and Joey at a garage, being made a target of by a group of thugs who are soon made to run with their tails between their legs. It was a bit OTT to be honest, but it did solidify the reason for the two tagging together: two outsiders who can watch each other’s backs.
Meanwhile, Dark Order’s courting of Colt Cabana continued with this match, as they did everything they could to convince Colt he was a winner.
Early on, Colt looked frustrated at not being able to get the advantage over Sonny Kiss, so, unbeknownst to Cabana, Order lackeys Silver and Reynolds interfered, giving Cabana said advantage and the feeling he’d achieved this himself.
Kiss and Janella worked really well as a team and looked together, hitting some double team offensive and using their speed and athleticism to offset the more power-based offense of their opponents.
In the end though, the Order played to Cabana’s vanity, with Silver and Reynolds moving him out of the way to absorb a Kiss dive and Brodie letting Cabana get the winning cover after he’d blasted Janella with a big lariat. Cabana looked ecstatic that he’d got the win, as the Dark Order congratulated him and celebrated. The hooks are now sunk in…
After the match, Lance Archer struck out of nowhere and destroyed Janella and Kiss, no-selling a chair shot, Hawk-style, in the process. Jake Roberts pulled Lance away in the end, but what does this mean for Janella’s chances at Fyter Fest?
FTR vs. SCU
The former ‘Revival’ continued to impress in their AEW campaign by taking on SCU in a great contest that ultimately was the match of the night.
A lot is said about FTR and their ‘old-school’ approach. While there is truth to this, it doesn’t do them real justice. The speed and pace they went at here was far more ‘now’ than a Mid-South special from 1985. FTR are a legit, tough tag team with excellent mat skills like the Brain Busters, and they are still just as much of the present day as The Bucks are.
The veteran SCU squad of Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels, who it is great to see back in action, were excellent foils for the FTR boys, and gave just as good as the got with inventive double team manoeuvres and fast-paced offense without being overly aerial.
The moment of the match came when Dax Harwood suplexed Frankie Kazarian, suplexed Daniels onto him, then hit a beautiful, textbook slingshot on Daniels. Sometimes, not always by any means, but sometimes less really is more.
FTR finally took the win by hitting the ‘Goodnight Express’ on Daniels for the pin. But that wasn’t the end of the action.
FTR got on the mic and self-righteously put the AEW tag team division on notice. But certain other tag teams don’t want to play nice. Take The Butcher and The Blade, for instance, who have commandeered FTR’s truck and advise them of an eight-man challenge against The Bucks and FTR. Their partners? Look behind you…
It’s the returning Pentagon Jr and Ray Fenix! They jump FTR, only to be chased away by the Bucks. Bit the message is clear: the tag division are sick of the figureheads in the Bucks and are furious at the FTR’s assertions of superiority. And how will FTR and the Bucks co-exist? AEW always said they wanted to re-establish tag team wrestling as a dominant force. Now, they’re actually doing it.
The Road to Fyter Fest
A series of vignettes now gave us a build up to the upcoming Fyter Fest shows.
The Best Friends bare going to bring it, whilst Kenny Omega and Hangman Page seen to be on the same (dysfunctional) page – just about.
Brian Cage absolutely obliterated Joe Cruz in a squash by throwing him around like a rag doll, before Taz ran Moxley into the ground on the mic.
And Big Swole got one over Britt Baker, who had been annoying Tony Schivone all night with various notes, by climbing above her Plexiglas container and emptying trash all over her. Baker’s face was a picture!
Santana vs. Matt Hardy
There wasn’t a lot to this match, which is perhaps understandable in that Santana was a last-minute replacement for Sammy Guevara. It wasn’t a bad match in and of itself, but it was just there. Nothing took it to that next level. In hindsight, the FTR-SCU match would have made for a better main event.
Matt took the pin with a roll-up reversal, bringing in Ortiz to lay out Hardy with the loaded sock. Private Party made the save. A deflating end to a good show.
The Chicken Joke of Pro Wrestling
Orange Cassidy and Chris Jericho met in the ring for their face- off, and Jericho proved once again why he’s one of the most important people in the business at the moment. He has the ability to make people look like stars, just with a choice promo.
Case in point: he gave all the reasons people love Cassidy, whilst using those as heel bait to explain why he hates Cassidy. It’s genius in as much as it reinforces Cassidy’s star qualities while doubling down on the motivations for Jericho to feud with him. That Jericho also compared Cassidy to the ‘Why did the chicken cross the road’ joke was a brilliant touch too.
What I also liked was the way resolve and rebellion was built into Cassidy’s character. Jericho threatened him not to do his shin-kick bit, so of course, Cassidy, having been insulted by Jericho, did just that to provoke him. Another layer gets added to the act. Clever.
The ensuing brawl, spilling into the stands, was a lot of fun. Cassidy wasn’t able to overwhelm Jericho until the end, which makes sense, but he also didn’t look outmatched by Jericho, which is important for their match-up at Fyter Fest.
Ending as it did, with Cassidy bleeding from the ear, his t-shirt stained with claret, superman punching Jericho through a table, before getting his shades back on and giving the camera the weak thumb’s up, well, excuse the hyperbole, but its from moments like these that stars really are born from.
This was a solid show that also seemed to lack some of the excitement of the previous two week’s editions of Dynamite. Something felt a little flat, perhaps because plans had to quickly change in the face of the revelations regarding Jimmy Havoc and Sammy Guevara.
It is curious that the #Speakingout movement and AEW’s relationship to it were never mentioned once, nor were the missing wrestlers. I get it, the whole show didn’t need to highlight the matter over and over, and yes, they gave statements on the matter on social media, but I still find it strange that there wasn’t even a brief mention or an on-screen message regarding it. A blanket silence can speak volumes, and its best not to allow any ambiguity appear in matters like this.
I also noted Justin Roberts, who also had allegations made against him, was still ring announcing, although, again curiously, he was never mentioned by name and was filmed always from a long-shot, wide angle position.
In any case, the Lumberjack match and the FTR-SCU encounter were both exciting, the press conference featured some excellent mic work and Jericho and Cassidy sent us home on a high note. All in all, a good night’s work from the AEW gang.