Commentators: Jim Ross, Excalibur, & Tony Schiavone
Tag team action headlines this week on AEW: Dynamite as Dustin Rhodes teams with Hangman Page to take on Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara. Also on the show Jericho’s new supergroup gets a name, Darby Allin takes on Jimmy Havoc for a title shot, Jon Moxley makes his in-ring debut, and PAC does his bastard thing.
- AEW WORLD CHAMPION: Chris Jericho
- AEW WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPION: Riho
- AEW WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Vacant
- AEW TAG TEAM TITLE TOURNAMENT – QUARTERFINALS: Private Party vs. The Young Bucks (****)
- #1 CONTENDER’S MATCH: Darby Allin vs. Jimmy Havoc (**1/2)
- Riho & Britt Baker vs. Bea Priestley & Emi Sakura (**)
- Jon Moxley vs. Shawn Spears (**1/2)
- Dustin Rhodes & Adam Page vs. Chris Jericho & Sammy Guevara (***1/4)
-Ross and company welcome the home audience and run down the card, which segues into a video hyping the first match.
AEW TAG TEAM TITLE TOURNAMENT: QUARTERFINALS
Private Party (Marq Quen & Isiah Kassidy) defeated The Young Bucks (Nick & Matt Jackson) (13:40)
Kassidy dodges Nick Jackson’s superkicks, causing the Buck to spit his gum at him in frustration. Bucks take over, showing off their tag team prowess with an awesome neckbreaker/backbreaker combo. Kassidy speeds around the ring, connecting with an asai moonsault to the floor. Quen gets the tag and goes highspot crazy, hitting a tope suicida, tope con hilo, and moonsault all in short order to each Jackson. Beautiful thing to watch. Quen tries to finish things with a 450 but Nick Jackson (barely) kicks out. The Bucks use their experience to regain control, Matt Jackson taking Kassidy out of the match for awhile with a power bomb on the steel ramp, and the Bucks hitting a beautiful power bomb/Sliced Bread #2 combo that almost puts Quen away. Kassidy eventually recovers and gets the hot tag and is as much of a house of fire as he can be, his back still in pain. Bucks have themselves a Superkick Party, Matt Jackson locks in a bad Scorpion Deathlock which Nick Jackson makes worse with an X-Factor but Kassidy eventually makes it to the ropes. Private Party bounce back, hitting GIN & JUICE on Nick Jackson and Quen following up with a pitch-perfect shooting star press for the 1…2…NOPE. Bucks set up for the Meltzer Driver, Kassidy pulls Nick Jackson off the ropes and Quen rolls Matt up for the 1…2…3!
A tremendous opening match and the first really great match in Dynamite history. Yes it’s only been two shows but shut up. A spotfest as expected but an immensely entertaining one, with Private Party hanging with and managing to beat their much more experienced opponents, a duo expected to WIN the whole thing. Gotta hand it to the Elite; they may own the company but they’re going out of their way not to put people over. You love to see it. Only thing that really dragged it down was Ross’ commentary; love him to death, legend and all that, but he had a hard time keeping up. Schiavone and Excalibur is a two-man booth I salivate over the thought of. (****)
After the match Private Party celebrate in the crowd, all the way through the picture-in-picture commercial break.
–Chris Jericho makes his way out to the ring, joined by his new buddies Ortiz, Santana, Sammy Guevara, and Jake Hager. Jericho calls last week’s show the highest rated debut in TNT history and it’s all because of him; crowd chants “THANK YOU JERICHO” but he shuts them down. He highlights every man in the ring, putting them over as folks worthy of being on his list. Crowd tries to chant “WE THE PEOPLE”, Jericho shuts it down by saying that is dead and buried, a dumb thing created by bad creative. OH SNAP. It’s actually over though, so is it really all bad? Jericho names his new group THE INNER CIRCLE and then hypes his title defense at Full Gear, saying how much he hates the Rhodes Family (including Dusty!) and vowing to beat the SHIT out of Cody next month. Good segment to give this new heel group a name and did not overstay its welcome. Jericho is magnetic and did a great job giving his shine to his other stablemates. Hager is SO HUGE compared to the rest of the roster and I love it.
#1 CONTENDER’S MATCH
Darby Allin defeated Jimmy Havoc (6:30 shown)
Havoc won the AMAZING Cracker Barrel Clash at All Out over Allin and Joey Janela, and this is not only Allin’s chance to avenge that loss but also a chance for both of them to get a shot at the World Title on next week’s show. Havoc gets an insert promo during his entrance, talking about how he’s masochistic and has spent fifteen years to get to where he is today. FIFTEEN? Damn dude, time flies. Allin is all speed to start, lots of unnecessary but fun tumbling, but Havoc takes control after suplexing Allin from the apron to the floor. Havoc goes on the offensive, turning a hanging sleeper in the corner into a sleeper suplex with Allin damn near landing on his head. But no matter what Havoc does, Allin will not die. A Death Valley Driver into the buckles? Allin kicks out. A Tiger Driver ’98? Allin kicks out. Havoc goes for his kill shot, the Acid Rainmaker, but Allin counters by biting his hand and sends him packing with the Coffin Drop. DARBY ALLIN IS GETTING A WORLD TITLE SHOT, Y’ALL.
I enjoyed seeing two dudes known more for “hardcore” wrestling have it out in a standard-ish match, and Allin is a joy to watch bounce around and do unnecessary rolls. Havoc is…I’m not sure to be honest. I hear a lot of positive things but every time I see him I feel like I’m missing out on the actual good stuff. But who cares DARBY IS GONNA FLUMMOX JERICHO WITH HIS TUMBLING NEXT WEEK AND I’M PSYCHED. (**1/2)
Riho & Dr. Britt Baker M.D. defeated Bea Priestley & Emi Sakura (8:40)
Sakura is apparently a 20+ year veteran of pro wrestling, and helped train Riho to boot. Interesting. Baker and Priestley have been at each other’s throats since Fyre Fest and they do not seem to be warming up to each other in the slightest. Riho and Sakura start the match, the latter tossing the Women’s Champ around like a ragdoll and bending her in unnatural positions with the Romero Special. Priestley tags in but goes right after Baker and they brawl on the floor for a bit, Baker getting tossed into the timekeeper’s area and Priestley getting dropped with a Thesz Press. Sakura pretty much pauses what she’s doing in the ring until the brawl moves near her, and she comes out and helps Priestley deliver a double suplex on the floor; their celebration is cut short though as Riho flattens them with a splash from the top. Riho takes some more punishment from the heel duo, a double stomp from Priestley and a splash by Sakura, but Baker and Riho rebound and hit a pair of stereo kicks on Priestley that almost get them the win until Sakura breaks it up. Sakura tags in and the heels beat on Baker some more, but she fights back and wins the match with a Rings of Saturn into a Mandible Claw (literally yanking on the jaw) on Sakura.
Baker is a much better wrestler than she is a guest commentator, that’s for damn sure. I appreciate that her finisher is jaw-related since she’s a dentist and all (a fact that AEW should probably mention fifteen or sixteen more times). Match was okay; didn’t really hook me but it was competently done and I appreciate Baker/Priestley wanting to wreck each other. (**)
After the match Baker and Priestley brawl some more until they’re separated and Priestley bails to the back.
-A vignette of Best Friends airs, then we awkwardly cut to the arena where Chuck Taylor and Trent Barreta are in the crowd. A lady asks them how they’re feeling heading into their Tag Team tournament match, Chuck says they should ask their friend and part the red sea to reveal Orange Cassidy, who gets the loudest pop of the night thus far. Cassidy gives them a half-assed thumbs up. DUDE IS MONEY.
-Lights go out, awkwardly ending an already awkwardly paced segment, and when they go back on Shawn Spears is sitting on a chair in the entryway for he is the Chairman after all. Tully Blanchard joins him for his entrance.
Jon Moxley defeated Shawn Spears [w/ Tully Blanchard] (11:51)
PAC joins the commentary team and spends the match complaining about how Darby Allin is getting a World Title shot, and Moxley/Spears get to wrestle, while he’s stuck on commentary with a group of GHOULS. Good stuff PLUS he had a salient point considering his W-L record.
Action starts immediately as Moxley rushes the ring and a brawl breaks out. Crowd is HOT for Mox, and I can’t blame them. Fight quickly moves to the floor, Blanchard gets involved but Spears can’t take advantage and eats a forearm to the mush off the apron but Mox. Finally Blanchard’s interference is successful and Mox is sent into the ring steps, turning the tide. Fight continues on the floor, Spears sending Mox into the barricade with a Death Valley Driver, and Mox barely makes the 10-count to avoid losing. Spears goes a clobberin’, connecting with a sit-out spinebuster for a two-count into a half-Crab. Spears hits a weak tope suicida and spends too much time celebrating, allowing Mox to get revenge with a weak tope suicida of his own. Gross. They exchange stiff shots, Mox hits a lariat and Spears hits an Ushigoroshi for a two-count. Brawl continues, Mox hits the Paradigm Shift out of nowhere and gets the victory, PAC leaving commentary in disgust.
Great to see Moxley make his TV debut, and the crowd going nuts for him made him come off like a mega star. I liked the match fine, but it relied too much on “wild” brawling and try as they might I just can’t get into taking Shawn Spears seriously. There’s only one Chairman, man, and he’s a wrestling skeleton (I’m pretending his MLW run isn’t happening). Decent all around. (**1/2)
After the match Kenny Omega emerges with two barbed-wire weapons: a bat and a broom (for he is THE CLEANER, you see). Omega tosses Moxley the back and it looks like a duel is about to break out until PAC attacks Omega from behind with a chair, ruining things. Moxley for some reason is insulted by this and throws the bat down, not content in taking advantage of Omega’s downed state. He had no problem putting the dude through a glass coffee table last week but I guess it’s okay when HE does it. Interesting move inserting PAC into the feud, wonder how that’s going to go.
Chris Jericho & Sammy Guevara [w/ Jake Hager] defeated “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes & “Hangman” Adam Page (10:43 shown)
Jericho and Guevara come out in Inner Circle t-shirts, which are already available on their PWTees store. In fact I think the site CRASHED after it was announced these shirts were available. They’re over, brother! Rhodes wants to avenge the attack by the group on last week’s show and has enlisted the services of Page to do it.
Jericho tags in and out, looking to tease his opponents like he did last week, but Rhodes is having none of it and attacks le champion, throwing him around the ringside area. Guevara FINALLY tries to intervene, way to let your leader get beat up like that jerk, but his flying something is countered with a deep uppercut from The Natural. Rhodes and Page treat Guevara as their whipping boy, connecting with dual clotheslines leading into Page’s lariat that damn near sends Guevara spinning into the ether. Jericho distracts Page, allowing Guevara to escape harm and pancake him on the top turnbuckles, giving The Inner Circle the advantage going into the final commercial break of the evening. Not a PiP commercial either, a real break. Why not do the PiP during your MAIN EVENT? Seems weird. Anyway back from break Page almost makes the tag but is stopped by Guevara. Jericho’s Lionsault is countered with a par of knees and Page hits a discus lariat on Sammy. Rhodes gets the hot tag and comes in with a double flying crossbody. Guevara gets sent to the floor, Page hits him with a moonsault that the camera almost misses due to the fact he came out of nowhere to hit the move. Hager interferes, bowling Page over on the floor and decking Rhodes with a clothesline while the ref is distracted, allowing Jericho to hit the Judas Effect and get the pinfall victory.
A breezy fun tag team main event. Dustin Rhodes is so damn good, and feels like he’s aging like fine wine when it comes to his in-ring work, and Page once again showed why he should be considered a future World Champion in the company. I love his mix of brawling and highspots. Inner Circle cheating to win was expected of course, and Hager did his bodyguard thing real well helping to secure his friends the victory and remaining a threat. MUCH better than last week’s main event, without question. (***1/4)
After the match all three Inner Circle members continue beating up Dustin while Page and Hager fight to the back. The lights go out; when the lights come back on and Cody is here, suit and all! Cody hits a Cross Rhodes on Guevara and squares up with Jericho but is attacked from behind by Ortiz and Santana. MJF runs out with a chair and Jericho holds Cody up so he can hit him but instead MJF attacks the Inner Circle with the steel chair as the crowd goes nuts. MJF being a heel and hating everyone except Cody is a FASCINATING wrinkle and that’s going to lead to one hell of a feud in the future. MJF takes too long to celebrate though and gets dropped with a Codebreaker from Jericho. The Young Bucks run out and it’s a Superkick/tope suicida party for Ortiz and Santana. Jericho leaves the skirmish, belt held high. He starts talking trash but then turns into Darby Allin, who COMES DOWN THE RAMP ON HIS SKATEBOARD, to attack his opponent for next week. Tremendous. Moment of the night. Show ends with the Elite, and Darby, getting their bearings together in the ring.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The follow-up to last week’s debut episode was a success, with an AMAZING opening contest, a lot of hot brawling, the named debut of The Inner Circle, and the show ending brawl. Darby Allin is the best. I’m a little worried every episode of Dynamite is going to end with a giant brawl, but hopefully as time goes on they’ll find other ways to conclude their shows. A breezy two hour watch with only minimal complaint. AEW is f*cking killing it so far.