AEW Dynamite, Season 2, Episode 11 Review
Tonight’s episode of Dynamite was tag team heavy, with Hangman Page and his mystery partner, facing Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara; the newly formed Death Triangle getting in the ring with Private Party and Joey Janela; Jurassic Express facing The Butcher and The Blade; and Kris Statlander and Hikaru Shida fighting Bea Priestly & Nyla Rose.
The broadcast which emanated from Salt Lake City, also saw the debut of Lance Archer, who appeared alongside Jake “The Snake” Roberts, as well as announcing the details surrounding Blood and Guts and the Exalted One’s arrival for next week.
Hangman Has No Time for the Young Bucks
This week’s episode of AEW Dynamite opened with Tony Schiavone interviewing Hangman Page and asking the cowboy who he would choose as his mystery partner. For some reason, Matt and Nick Jackson decided to tag along for the interview which is both funny and confusing since Page made it clear he had no interest in asking either of the Young Bucks to team up with him.
Personally, I love how AEW incorporates these interviews throughout their weekly broadcasts— something many other wrestling promotions stopped doing on a regular basis a while back. It reminds me of the good old days when we had personalities like Mean Gene Okerlund who guided many of the top wrestlers of the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s through promos. Not only do these interviews provide more insight into what these stars are thinking and feeling but they also help push new storylines moving forward and increase the intensity between bitter rivals.
Gene Okerlund played a huge role in some of the biggest moments in pro wrestling history. He was a voice and soundtrack to an entire era of the industry, and while he can never be replaced, it is nice to see someone like Schiavone continuing the tradition.
Someone Get Big Swole a Coffee and a Script
Overall, this was a fun spot and a fine way to open the show further teasing a match between Hangman Page and the Young Bucks in the near future. Meanwhile, we had another interview midway through the show which featured the increasingly popular Dr. Brit Baker who once again brought Tony a cup of coffee and took some time to remind the audience why they have poor hygiene (the first of many moments that made me think of the ever-growing concern of the coronavirus). As per usual, Brit Baker was hilarious and continued to prove why she’s one of the best heels in AEW— the only downside being she never gets enough screen time. This week, it didn’t take long before she was interrupted by Big Swole who, unfortunately, didn’t have much to say other than remind viewers that both women are romantically involved with a WWE superstar (Baker’s boyfriend is NXT champion, Adam Cole while Big Swole is married to WWE Superstar Cedric Alexander).
During the interview, Brit Baker said she was here to be a role model and lead by example and I couldn’t help but wish she or someone, would help give Big Swole some better material to work with. I understand that AEW does not have a committee of writers who decide every word of dialogue that comes out of a wrester’s mouth and I do love the freedom the talent has when developing their characters and storylines— but in some cases, I think AEW needs someone to provide feedback and ideas to the wrestlers who aren’t as talented when it comes to storytelling.
This isn’t really a knock on Big Swole. She’s a gifted athlete but from what little we’ve seen of her in AEW, she could use some guidance or at least a few ideas. Not every wrestler is great on the mic and not every wrestler is good at writing their own material— even some of the greatest wrestlers in the past relied on writers to help get them get over, and that includes superstars like The Rock. I do think, however, Big Swole needs a better promo, and it needs to come sooner than later.
We Need more Interviews with Jim Ross
Speaking of interviews, Jim Ross sat down with the champ Jon Moxley inquiring about his current health and his plans moving forward. It wasn’t too long ago that we were given the amazing interview between Ross and Santana, and while this interview isn’t as good, it was still great to see Moxley unplugged, so to speak.
What I love about Jon Moxley’s current run in AEW is that he doesn’t seem like he’s playing a character but rather just being himself. Just a couple of months removed from ending the Dean Ambrose persona and his acrimonious split from the WWE, Moxley has reinvented himself, and to his credit, Moxley has quickly solidified his credentials as one of the most popular wrestlers in the world. And his popularity doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
Jon Moxley is arguably the most important star in the AEW locker room right now, and despite not participating in any matches tonight, AEW made the wise choice to include him in the broadcast— even if it was only in the form of an interview. Last week, I mentioned that watching him being beaten down week after week by Chris Jericho and the rest of the Inner Circle was becoming tiresome; and thankfully this week, they gave Mox something new to do.
When asked about Jake Hager, Moxley replied, “Hager hits harder than anyone he’s ever met, but he’s just another guy.” Personally, I can’t wait to see these two men face each other. Not only will their feud continue the rivalry between Mox and the Inner Circle but their styles seem better suited for each other than say, Jericho and Moxley.
Cody vs. Ortiz
The matches on Dynamite in recent weeks have been so good that whenever we get a decent match, it feels somewhat underwhelming— but in all honestly, the match between Cody and Ortiz wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. With it, came the debut of Lance Archer who was escorted into the crowd by his mentor Jake the Snake Roberts. While neither man interfered in the match, their presence alone was enough to temporarily distract Cody.
Personally, I love this decision. It’s better that AEW teases the inevitable face-off between Cody and Archer than have them go head to head the very night Archer makes his first appearance. In addition, it was also great to see the match end with a figure four leg lock as opposed to say, culminating with a finisher. AEW does a great job of keeping things fresh in how they tell stories both inside and outside the ring and unlike WWE, you never know what to expect.
Post-match, Chris Jericho and the rest of the Inner Circle appeared on the big screen to warn the Elite that in two weeks they will defeat them at Blood and Guts. In doing so, they also revealed their attack on Nick Jackson who was crushed by a garage door— leading to the Elite calling 911 during the commercial break and having Nick Jackson escorted out of the arena in an ambulance.
It was a great spot that wasn’t too over-the-top but had enough drama to build towards what will surely be an incredible event at Blood and Guts.
Chants of Holy Shida
Kris Statlander & Hikaru Shida vs. Nyla Rose & Bea Priestley
The women’s tag team match was better than I expected, and a great showcase for Nyla Rose and Hikaru Shida who were by far, the two best performers here. By the time the match ended, I couldn’t help but think I’d love to see these two women compete against each other in a singles match for the title. We’ve seen two incredible matches between Rose and Rioh in the past and I’m willing to bet that if Shida was given a shot at the championship belt, she and Rose would put on a great show for the fans.
The highlight here came in the end when Nyla Rose hit a vicious spear on Shida, followed up with the beast bomb to win the match.
The women’s division does have a lot of potential but let’s face it, most of the performers are new to appearing on a major show broadcast live each week and they are still trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. As it stands, the best women’s matches so far all involved experienced workers like Riho, who were able to carry the load and guide the up-and-comers to good matches.
The women’s division has been one of the major criticisms leveled against All Elite Wrestling thus far, and I do think the criticism is warranted. Despite some great matches here and there, the booking and angles surrounding the division haven’t been great. Take, for example, The Nightmare Collective, a short-lived stable that was responsible for some of the worst segments on Dynamite yet. Meanwhile, the fan-favorite Brit Baker is barely in action.
As I mentioned above, these women have great potential, but with a roster that lacks experience or name recognition, fans are going to have to be patient. I’m confident, however, that with time, they’ll be more than fine.
Can We Take A Minute and Appreciate These Video Packages
I’ve written plenty about The Dark Order and why I still don’t quite care about his faction so rather than sound like a broken record, I’ll just skip ahead and address how much I love the video packages AEW produces.
Tonight, the two video packages that stood out most were the Christopher Daniels infomercial (a parody on the Dark Order, calling out Evil Uno and Stu Grayson) and Darby Allin’s brief but highly-effective, black and white clip that looked like something out of a horror movie. These two clips couldn’t be more different— on one end, you have a humorous PSA-style ad, and the other is a dark and twisted montage that features a picture of Sammy Guevara’s face glued onto a body bag which is then tied to the back of a truck which drives away dragging the body bag with it. It’s crazy how Darby Allin is positioned as a babyface and yet he has the darkest promos of any AEW wrestler.
The Best Match of the Night
MJF, The Butcher and The Blade vs. Jurassic Express
I’ve been critical of the in-ring work of The Butcher and The Blade in the past but this week they did some great work teaming up with MJF.
Despite this match having multiple mistimed spots, it received the loudest reaction from the crowd thanks to plenty of highlights such as watching Marko Stunt being tossed around like a bag of potatoes. Despite how ridiculous the very concept of Marko Stunt is, AEW has done a great job in at least trying to make him seem like somewhat of a viable threat. There were many highlights here including watching MJF and his tag team partner catch Marko Stunt who leaped over the ropes outside the ring and then seeing Jungle Boy follow up with his own dive to the outside which took down the three men. I also loved the back and forth head-butting contest between the Butcher and Luchasaurus and watching Marko Stunt lose his temper and repeatedly begin stomping away at MJF who was down on the mat.
It wasn’t long ago I wrote that Jungle Boy and MJF are the future of the company and I still believe the singles match between them a few weeks back is one of the best matches in all of AEW so far. They certainly bring out the best in their opponents and in this case, they also bring out the best in their tag team partners.
For the finish, Bunny and MJF seized an opportunity to interfere and take down both Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus which gave MJF the easy win by applying a Salt on the Earth submission hold on Marko Stunt who immediately tapped out.
All in all, this was an entertaining match that brought the crowd to their feet!
Death Triangle (Pac, Pentagon Jr, & Fenix) vs. Joey Janela & Private Party
I noticed many AEW fans on Twitter saying that this was the best match of the night, and while I do think it was entertaining to watch, the match itself also highlighted one of the biggest problems with AEW. Yes, it featured the fast-paced high-flying action we’ve come to expect from all six of these competitors but there were times when several of the men would remain still for an obvious stretch of time while waiting for their opponent to land an offensive attack. We all know wrestling is scripted and we all know the results are pre-determined, but that doesn’t mean fans want to be reminded of these facts while watching the match live— and this match, unfortunately, had several spots that took me out of it.
I also think it was a little too even-sided and that Death Triangle, specifically Pac, should have dominated the match. In the end, Lucha Bros. planted Janela with the package piledriver, while PAC sealed the deal with the Black Arrow.
The highlight here was watching Death Triangle put their opponent in an interlinked crossface-style submission that seemed straight out of the movie The Human Centipede. At least now we know why they are called Death Triangle.
Hold my Beer
Hangman Page & Dustin Rhodes vs. Chris Jericho & Sammy Guevara
The main event was a solid main event that had the Hangman looking strong, especially since he picked up the win for his team, hitting the Buckshot Lariat on Sammy Guevara. Dustin Rhodes announcing himself as the mystery partner earlier on in the night, however, was a huge letdown; thankfully, Rhodes and Page actually make a great tag team.
After the match was over, we, of course, got the inevitable Inner Circle mugging, further setting up the Blood and Guts match in the future.
The biggest distraction of this match was watching Chris Jericho grab a fan’s beer and start drinking from the same cup since this all happened while the NBA was announcing they were suspending the season due to the coronavirus. Just last week, I mentioned how unsanitary it is to watch Hangman Page drink from a cup given to him by random strangers and now with the Covid-19 outbreak officially a pandemic— it was shocking to see Jericho do the same.
Throughout the night, I couldn’t help but wonder why so many people think it is a good idea to pack into an arena to watch any sporting event, be it the NBA, WWE or AEW. And by the time the program ended, I figured AEW would make an announcement sometime this week that they would cancel future events. I guess we will have to wait and see.
It’s safe to say that wrestling wouldn’t be the same without a live audience but if the AEW is forced to cancel their upcoming events, they could theoretically still record episodes of Dynamite in empty arenas. AEW clearly has a talented team of producers, directors and other creatives as evidenced by their promos and video packages— and while it may not be as exciting to watch, they could think outside the box; flex their creative muscles; and give fans something new for a short period of time.
This wasn’t the best episode of Dynamite but it featured a nice balance of good storytelling, exciting in-ring action, entertaining interviews and information on the reveal of the Exalted One and the rules for Blood and Guts. I can’t wait to see what AEW has in store next week.
- Ricky D