With AEW Revolution now in the rearview, I found myself very curious as to the direction AEW would go now. The matches and feuds at Revolution had been meticulously built for months. To continue them after that pay-per-view would cheapen, in some ways, what happened at Revolution. However, for many of the programs, there was still some unfinished business even after the PPV. So, while I found myself heavily anticipating this week’s Dynamite, I was also anxious as to how they’d handle things.
In many ways, it reminded me of how New Japan Pro Wrestling transitions from the feuds that culminate at their major Wrestle Kingdom show. Right after Wrestle Kingdom, New Japan holds their New Year Dash show, which establishes new feuds and angles. Given how many guys involved in AEW came from New Japan, this shouldn’t be a surprise.
AEW actually handled this post-Revolution episode of Dynamite in a pretty ingenius way. They had multiple matches or promos that built off of what happened at Revolution, but then went off in a new direction post-match or mid-promo. Let’s dig in and find out what’s Getting Over:
Most Over This Week
Starting this week, I’ll be building off the title of this column and ranking who (or what) is the most over each week in the world of AEW. The Tailgate Society’s fearless leader Ted Flint pitched this idea to me, and it makes perfect sense. The problem, if you can call it that, is trying to figure out who to rank where. Even the harshest AEW critics would have to admit that if the company has done anything one thing well, it’s that it has figured out how to make television stars out of previously little known wrestlers like Darby Allin, Orange Cassidy, and pretty much all of Jurassic Express. So, without further ado, here’s the initial set of rankings (hopefully the rationale will be clear after reading the main write-up):
- Jon Moxley
- Adam “Hangman” Page
- Cody Rhodes
- Darby Allin
- Chris Jericho
Main Event Shit
–After a video recap of Revolution, the show started with Jon Moxley making his long, winding way through the crowd, savoring the moment with his newly won championship belt. Once in the ring, Mox cuts a promo similar to the won he gave after defeating Jericho at Revolution. This promo, it’s clear, is a little more structured and all the better for it (although I did love the unhinged f-bombs at the pay-per-view).
Here, he says the championship that he won belongs not to him but to the fans that willed AEW into existence and changed pro wrestling.
After that, he calls out anyone willing to challenge him. As for the Inner Circle, Mox says that he’s more than happy to take them on again.
Cue Jericho’s music. The Inner Circle arrives with Jericho on the mic. Once again, Jericho proves why he’s one of the all-time greats. In his beautifully twisted Jericho-logic, he calls out Mox as a cheater. While Jericho had been training for a one-eyed man, as it turns out, Mox’s eye was perfectly fine. In essence, Jericho says that Mox cheated to win. Now, the Inner Circle, who were once good-natured gentlemen, are going to hurt people, starting with Mox.
With the main event of the program set as Moxley/Darby Allin vs. Jericho/Sammy, Jericho says that he will take a 30, no 60, day leave from AEW if Mox walks out of the ring on his own two feet. Personally, I was not all that excited for the main event, only because it felt a little “been there, done that.” However, this Mox/Jericho promo, with the attached stipulation, did a good job of drawing me back in.
AEW doesn’t do a lot of show opening promos, but I’m glad they started the show the way they did. Fans deserved to see the new champ as the show opened, and Jericho proved he can still bring it regardless of whether he’s the champ or not.
–I really like the video packages that aired throughout the show recapping the action from Revolution. In particular, the video of the tag title match was simply phenomenal in putting over how great that match was. In a touch that will piss off some Internet idiots, AEW included quotes from wrestler writers, including Dave Meltzer, Bryan Alvarez, Wade Keller, and more, praising the match.
For those that didn’t see Revolution, these videos really make it feel like you missed something.
–For my money, the segment of the night once again featured Cody Rhodes. Cody came to the ring to wrap up the first hour of Dynamite, cutting a promo in front of a white hot crowd. He calls out MJF, inviting Maxwell to look him in the eyes and tell Cody that he beat him fair and square (which he did not).
Instead, Jake “The Snake” f’ing Roberts walks out.
Listen. I do not want AEW to turn into a place where legends of the past come to relive their glory years. So far, we’ve seen both DDP and Arn Anderson work with Cody, and now we have Jake Roberts. HOWEVER, Jake “The Snake” is freaking awesome. Yes, he can be a complete scumbug (there’s hours of material on Google to support that if you’re so inclined to seek it out), but he seems to have turned his life around, thanks in large part to the aforementioned DDP and DDP Yoga.
Oh, and there’s this: The man can still cut an embarrassingly good promo. Like all-time level. And that’s what he does here. Roberts says he doesn’t want to hear Cody bitch and cry. Roberts calls Cody “Caeser” (more on that in a minute), and says that he has a client from the dark side that is coming to “slay” Cody and the rest of AEW. Roberts makes note of his sobriety and says that he is going to take full advantage of his new life. Roberts ends by saying that a wise man once told him never to turn his back on anyone that he respects or fears, so of course he turns his back on Cody and does an awesome over-the-shoulder toss of the microphone right into a stunned Cody’s hands.
This was the best thing Jake Roberts has done in years. He looked invigorated and on top of his game. Now, who is he talking about? Well, he had the sides of his head shaved, which is similar to how Lance Archer looked in the picture that AEW used to announce his signing.
So, there’s option #1. Option #2 takes a little more conspiratorial digging. Roberts called Cody “Caesar” multiple times. Caesar was assassinated on March 15th. The show closest to that for AEW is on March 18th in Rochester, New York. Who was born in Rochester? Brodie Lee, the former Luke Harper.
Personally, I think Archer is Roberts’ client, but I’d love if they went deep enough with that promo for it to be Harper (who I still think is probably the Exalted One). Regardless, it is nice to see AEW transition Cody away from the MJF feud so seamlessly. This was a fantastic segment.
–Jake Hager vs. QT Marshall was mercifully short and did what it needed to. Hager won via submission in a 3 minute squash. Once again, the post-match did more to further the angle than the match. Dustin came in to rescue QT from an Inner Circle beatdown. However, once Dustin came in, he was quickly swarmed by Santana and Ortiz. Then, Cody rushed out but was met with chair shots. Just when it looked like he too would be overwhelmed, Matt Jackson runs out for the save. Jackson gets some shots in, but is eventually beat down also.
Then, Hangman Page saunters down to the ring, dressed in jeans and a western shirt with a beer in his hand. Page drinks while the Inner Circle beats down Cody and Dustin before eventually cleaning house and drinking more beer. The crowd erupts, thinking we’re getting an Elite reunion, but Page flips off Matt and exits the ring to drink with fans.
If you watched Revolution, you saw AEW tease their “Blood and Guts” branded Dynamite, coming up on March 25th. On that show, we’re getting AEW’s version of War Games, the match that Dusty Rhodes invented. Two rings, covered with one giant ass steel cage. I have to think that this angle is setting up that match, with some form of the Elite taking on the Inner Circle. Sign me up for that shit.
–With Cody moving on to other feuds, what is MJF going to do? Well, for starters, he’s cutting an excellent pre-taped promo touting his win over Cody. MJF says that he has gone from protege to prodigy and that his job is pinning shoulders to the mat and banging (ring) rats. What a freaking phenomenal line. MJF then says that he will remain undefeated and eventually become the number one contender. He calls out “Jonathan Moxley.” MJF also has Wardlow remove his blazer to reveal an “I pinned Cody” shirt that MJF says is almost as distracting as Cody’s new neck tattoo (which, to be fair, is extremely cringe-worthy).
MJF continues to be one of the best heels in wrestling. He is not Baron Corbin, someone that fans hate and never want to see again. MJF is entertaining and obnoxious in the very best way.
–For the main event of this week’s Dynamite, we were supposed to get the aforementioned Mox/Allin vs. Jericho/Sammy tag match. Instead, Mox is attacked backstage by masked men (Hager, Santana, Ortiz). Mox gets his ass kicked, eventually being choked out by Hager.
This means that Darby Allin has to wrestle a handicap match, which only feeds into the crowd’s love for the skateboarding underdog. After a flurry to start, Allin is overpowered and isolated for much of the match. It turns into Allin fighting to survive and fighting back in bursts.
In an awesome spot late in the match, Allin tags himself in and hits a destroyer, in addition to a ringside coffin drop to the Inner Circle.
Jericho broke up a pinfall attempt on Sammy and hit a Judas Effect, allowing Sammy to get the win.
After the match, Mox returned with a chair in hand, laying waste to the Inner Circle until Hager finally chokes him out.
The Inner Circle then powerbombs Mox off the stage in a pretty cool spot.
This match was really well put together, allowing everyone in it to get over. The crowd just ate up Darby in this match, and the whole match built nicely on the show’s opening segment.
Mid-Card Mixed Bag
–The first match of the show was SCU and the newly signed Colt Cabana vs. The Dark Order (Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, Alex Reynolds, and John Silver). This was a rematch of sorts after Dark Order beat SCU in the Revolution pre-show. At Revolution, both Cabana and Daniels did run-ins, which proved to be more entertaining than the actual match. Long story short from the pay-per-view, Daniels is not the exalted one, and Cabana is now seemingly part of SCU.
This match, however, was far better and proved to be a pretty good opener. The Dark Order wrestled a pretty damn solid heel tag match, isolating Christopher Daniels and working him over for the majority of this 10 minute match.
In the end, though, the good guys were able to get one over on the Dark Order, and AEW rightly allowed Cabana to get the win and establish his big moves (the Chicago Skyline and Superman pin).
The announcers were teasing that the Exalted One might not even be a real thing, only a head-fake by the Dark Order. Post-match, Uno says that it wasn’t supposed to be this way, and that when the Exalted One arrives things will be different. I’ve gone through the gamut of opinions on this, believing everyone from Matt Hardy, Luke Harper, to someone I’ve never heard of could be this Exalted One. I’m ready for the reveal, at this point. My patience for the Dark Order gimmick has been low from the jump, but I have been engaged in this mid-card role and the reveal of the Exalted One. However, they need to get to it, in my opinion. And the sooner the better.
–The women’s match tonight was a squash between Big Swole and Leva Bates, with heel Dr. Britt Baker on commentary. This match lasted less than two minutes, with Big Swole getting the win.
This seems to indicate that a solid push for Big Swole is on the way. She would certainly seem to be the next logical babyface opponent for current champ Nyla Rose.
–I was not super excited about a PAC vs. Chuck Taylor match-up going into this show, but the way that things played out worked really well. The idea was that this was an extension of the PAC and Orange Cassidy match from Revolution, which you 1000% need to go out of your way to watch. There was some good back and forth in the match, but PAC ultimately wins, as he should have.
The post-match action, however, was probably more important than the match itself. PAC and Orange Cassidy once again face off, and, just like at Revolution, the Lucha Brothers show up to take out Best Friends. The heels kick the hell out of the Best Friends trio.
PAC grabs the mic and announces that PAC and the Lucha Brothers are now a trio known as the Death Triangle (which is a pretty solid name).
Naysayers will undoubtedly criticize AEW for having yet another faction, but I unapologetically dig it. During some of the best periods of wrestling history, the major promotions were largely faction-based. Now, we have:
- The Death Triangle
- The Elite
- The Inner Circle
- The Dark Order
- The Nightmare Family
- The Jurassic Express
In my mind, I think the logical conclusion to draw here is that we are getting a trios belt at some point, maybe instead of a secondary individual title.
The Final Bell
–This was a very different Dynamite from previous episodes. Rather than building feuds, this episode set the foundation for new directions. The matches were hardly important (and, to be honest, the winners were pretty clear going in). What mattered and what was well executed, was the aftermath of those matches and the promos that served to establish where things go from here. By that measure, this episode was very successful.