With Christmas falling on Wednesday of next week, this week’s episode of Dynamite effectively serves as the winter finale. A number of mini-programs and feuds have been teased over the last couple of weeks, leading to an all-hands-on-deck episode of Dynamite.
Will AEW end 2019 on a roll, building off of last week’s success? Or will fans enter the holidays drowning their sorrows in a little bit of the bubbly? Let’s find out in this week’s edition of Getting Over:
Main Event Shit
–Well, the list of top notch stuff is pretty damn short this week folks. The best thing on the show, almost the only thing that well and truly popped the crowd, was the Chris Jericho/Jungle Boy 10-minute challenge. Early in the show, they aired a fantastic video package that showed Jungle Boy training for the match. This did a nice job of illustrating the importance of this opportunity. Then, right before the match, they aired a pre-taped sit-down interview with JR and Jungle Boy. In other words, they’re pimping the shit out of Jack Perry.
Once the actual match started, Jungle Boy worked like he knew this was the biggest opportunity in his short career, and Jericho did a great job of both selling and acting like the cocky heel champ. At one point, Jericho hit the Code Breaker, only to lift Jungle Boy’s shoulders off the mat so as not to end the match too early. Unfortunately, the announcers completely missed relaying this to the audience because they were hawking tickets for future shows.
The match ended with Jericho having Jungle Boy in the Lion Tamer for almost 90 seconds.
When the bell rang, signaling that Jungle Boy had survived, Jericho initially thought he’d won. Once he figured out that he hadn’t, he was pissed. He demanded 5 more minutes on the clock. Jungle Boy then proceeded to almost pin Jericho twice (once in a nice call back to their spot last week), and Jericho jetted up the ramp, I guess taking a count-out loss (?).
After cutting to commercial during Jericho walking off (seriously, wtf), we get Jericho at the top of the ramp saying that Mox needs to decide whether to join the Inner Circle by the January 1st show in Jacksonville.
Aside from the commercial cutaway and the announcer missteps, this was far and away the best segment of the show. Jericho lost without getting pinned and Jungle Boy won without having to hand Jericho a loss. It was brilliant. It’s also hard not to cheer for Jungle Boy. He’s going to be a star.
Mid-Card Mixed Bag
–The show started with a match that should have probably been better than it was, with Hangman Page and Kenny Omega taking on the Lucha Brothers. Everyone worked hard, but the match never took off for me. It felt like the Lucha Brothers were working slow to allow Page and Omega to keep up. There were some cool spots, though.
It just didn’t feel as amazing as I thought it should have been. Ultimately, Page hit a Buckshot Lariat on Omega on accident, allowing Pentagon Jr. to pin Omega.
Of course, everyone and their brother saw this dissension coming. There was a stare down post-match with some minor shoving. Then, PAC comes on the video board basically showing himself ready to beat an unsuspecting Michael Nakazawa’s ass.
Kenny runs off to save Nakazawa, but only finds another beatdown from the Lucha Brothers. At this point, Page shows up for the save.
I’ve got no problem with how any of this played out except for one thing: Why am I supposed to care about Michael Nakazawa? If anything, I wanted to see PAC, who is awesome, kick the shit out of this guy that I don’t really know the first thing about, aside from the fact that he’s Kenny’s friend. I just didn’t care, and that’s not something I would have ever believed I’d say about a Kenny Omega angle two years ago. Omega was my guy, and now, against all odds, AEW has kind of turned him into “just a guy” with no real definition to his character.
–After the Jericho/Jungle Boy stuff, the other best thing on the show was the Butcher and Blade vs. Cody and Darby Allin match. I really dig the look of the Butcher and the Blade. They look like a team that could have existed 30 years ago and been total badasses. And the announcers did a really nice job of putting them over throughout the match.
Cody and Darby get the win after Darby hits a Coffin Drop on the apron and Cody hits a Cody-Cutter on the Blade.
As a result, I guess Darby gets a rematch with Cody (they wrestled to a draw at Fyter Fest). I missed when this stipulation was announced. My bad if they made this super clear at some point, but I don’t think they did, which is a mistake. It’s a nice wrinkle, and I look forward to seeing these two work together again.
–Kris Statlander beat Britt Baker to become the #1 contender to Riho’s title. Statlander looked good here, and the announcers continually played up her power and strength. Baker looked like a baby deer learning to ice skate, with a particularly awful Sling Blade at one point setting a new bar for disappointing.
Then, in what should have been a star-making promo with Tony Schiavone on the ramp, Statlander gets interrupted by Brandi Rhodes and beatdown by the Nightmare Collective.
This is what they call a crowd killer. The crowd wants to celebrate with Statlander and hear what she has to say. Literally no one in the crowd wants to hear Brandi. This is not a good way to book a wrestling show. And yet, here we are.
But wait, there’s more where that came from in…
–In the short history of the Wednesday Night Wars, the award for greatest self-inflicted wound would easily go to the main event of this week’s Dynamite. After a very good, zero shtick Young Bucks video, we get the Bucks vs. SCU. I wrote last week that the time is right to give the Bucks the straps. The Elite has no belts and no real upward momentum aside from being hella over (in spite of the booking sometimes). Now is the time.
Of course, in the goddamn main event of the last show of 2019, one would think the time would be right to have SCU lose the belts to the premier tag team in the world. Alas, in an insane move (but not the most insane of the last 10 minutes of Dynamite), the Bucks lose clean in the middle of the ring to SCU.
I don’t get it. At all.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t over.
In an angle that killed the crowd dead, the Dark Order comes to the ring and attacks both teams. Since last week, John Silver and Alex Reynolds have joined the minions, who swarm the ring. Omega comes out and is beaten down. Dustin Rhodes comes down and the same thing happens. The Dark Order reigns supreme over all these stars. So now, you’ve got a guy like Omega who has been beaten down three times in a single show (gets pinned, backstage via Lucha Bros, and now by these clowns).
What in the holy hell were they thinking?
Listen, man. It’s pro wrestling. I get it. You throw stuff against the wall, try to get it over, and hope for the best. However, what you should also do, is see what’s working, let it work organically, and boost it a little when needed. Conversely, if something is not working (i.e. Britt Baker, Nightmare Collective, Dark Order), pull back on the reigns and give it less time.
Instead, on this episode, we get a lengthy Britt Baker match, Brandi interrupting the #1 contender’s promo for some cult bullshit, and the Dark freaking Order taking up the last 10 minutes of AEW that I’ll watch in 2019. That is, in a word, disappointing.
AEW has shown the ability to switch gears, book on the fly, and make changes as necessary. To book this big of a show ending angle only to end up with a dead crowd that can’t believe what they’re seeing (and not in a good way) is completely mind-boggling. This is some year 2000 WCW garbage here.
And, to be perfectly clear, I don’t have a problem with the Dark Order. But they should exist as a mid-card sideshow. To put them in the ring with Kenny Omega, the Young Bucks, and Dustin Rhodes in the main event of a major show is booking malpractice, and it pisses me off. In no way has AEW earned the right, after just a month of silly video packages, to assume that the Dark Order works as a main event, top level babyface wrecking faction.
Now, there’s two ways out of this corner that they’ve backed themselves into: 1) Abandon ship. Kill the angle on the January 1st episode of Dynamite. Have the babyfaces do what they’re supposed to do and destroy this start-up before it gets out of control. 2) Load up the Dark Order with disgruntled stars like Hangman Page, Christopher Daniels, and someone like Luke Harper. I know which route I’d take, but I also know which route AEW is more likely to take.
If one day in the future, AEW ceases to exist and someone writes a “The Death of AEW” book, this week’s episode of Dynamite will make up the first chapter.
The Final Bell
I’ve been all aboard the AEW express hype train, but this week’s show was not good. It was not awful (until the main event), but it was the biggest misstep the company has taken in its short history. If you couldn’t tell, it has me pissed off, and that is unfortunate since I’ll have to sit with this feeling for the next two weeks. In the time between now and then, someone needs to come up with a plan of how they’re going to book themselves out of this shithole that they’ve created.
In the meantime, drink yourself stupid in an effort to survive the holidays and erase this episode of Dynamite from your brain.