Arena: Save Mart Center
City: Fresno, CA
Last Week’s Rating: 967,000 overall; 0.33 in 18-49 demo
Before we start, thoughts to Jay Briscoe’s kid who is awaiting an op. to help her move her legs again. Horrible.
It’s Wednesday night, it’s Dynamite. Let’s go.
‘In memory’ graphic aired for Jay Briscoe before the show started.
Orange Cassidy vs Jay Lethal, All-Atlantic Title
Backstory: Lethal & his friends stole a Golden Globe award from and attacked Cassidy’s friend Paul Hauser
So happy they started with this one. Means Lethal’s out the way early 😊.
Crowd happy to see Orange. Indifferent toward Lethal. Who was riding solo tonight. And looking unhappy about it as they showed him defeating Cassidy last they met. If anyone interferes tonight, Sonjay Dutt will be fired.
Interference! Clap clap clap clap clap! Interference!
Instantly crapping all over that stip, Jarrett, Dutt and Satnam Singh filed through the crowd to take seats at ringside.
Immediately, Lethal ducked the Orange Punch, grabbed a figure four; Cassidy slipped out, countered an armdrag into a backslide for 2 but was smacked off the apron by a Lethal forearm.
Dutt was shown begging Jarrett not to interfere. Danhausen appeared to check their tickets. (To my great shame, I laughed). Then allowed them to stay.
Just as the Best Friends turned up in the front row with beers. Allowing Cassidy to strike via tope. Back inside, Lethal dropped Orange throat first across the ropes then launched shots from the mount and ran the champ into the corner where he used his boot to choke him.
Lethal beat Cassidy around ringside, throwing him into the ringpost.
A snap suplex bought two inside as Excalibur offered thoughts to Jay Briscoe’s family.
Lethal kept climbing up top to hit the elbow, Cassidy kept rolling away. Orange ran Lethal’s head into the buckle then came off the top via cross body and countered a suplex into stundog millionaire. Then hit a tornado ddt for two and a half as Dutt again begged Jarrett not to interfere.
The crowd with him, Orange went up top but – very obviously – leapt off to be caught by Jay but avoided the Lethal Injection, went for the Punch, Lethal then hit the Injection, Cassidy rolled outside to avoid losing.
The Best Friends dumped popcorn on Jarrett, Danhausen stole the guitar and ran Lethal right into a cazadora for 2 before the immediate Orange Punch got the win.
So we’re now protecting Jay Lethal to the extent that he can only lose to one of the most popular acts in the company after interference after valiantly fighting against the odds in favor of the babyfaces.
Singh then grabbed both Best Friends in a choke, in the ring – Dutt persuaded him to stop, Jarrett readied the guitar, Dutt grabbed it to stop him too.
The psychology here was backwards in every possible way. Both in the match and afterwards. Were we supposed to want Dutt to keep his job? Supposed to like the heels who threatened to get him fired?
An awful, overbooked, nonsensical and bewildering opening segment. Or as it’s otherwise known, a Jeff Jarrett segment.
WINNER: Orange Cassidy
A video package pushed the Kushida/Darby main event.
Young Bucks vs Top Flight
Interested to see where they go here. The Bucks could lose to set-up a Trios defense in the future; Top Flight do need to start winning on tv.
The Bucks got the biggest response thus far in their home state. Nick is still wrestling with a broken toe.
He and Dante got things going, exchanging arm-wringers until Nick flipped out via the ropes. Dante responded by flipping out from a standing start to escape, was dropped via shoulder block, Nick landed on his feet out of a hurracanrana, then they each hit dropkicks at the same time.
Reset. Until Dante hit a cheap-shot roundhouse, bringing Matt and Darius in.
Into the TF corner, quick tags, a suplex/springboard-senton combo, Nick saved his brother from a double suplex.
The Bucks then superkicked Darius as he sprung to the top, leaving him hanging in the tree of woe. Then hit a catapult into the gamengiri on Darius, Nick rolling through seamlessly to hit a backstabber on Dante in the opposite corner.
Great sequence. Smooth as hell. ‘Too sweet, whoop whoop’ could be heard as we headed to break.
Dante, in the wrong corner as we returned, flipped all the way over Matt but Nick hauled Darius off the apron just in time to prevent the tag. Bringing a few boos. The Bucks hit the bulldog/dropkick combo then Nick headed topside to hit Risky Business for two.
Dante ducked a lariat, landed a tejeiras then finally bagged the tag.
Darius in: Manhattan drop to Matt, series of stinging blows then a clothesline before striking with a standing Spanish fly right into a tope to Nick on the outside, right back into a diving cross body on Matt for two.
Great ‘hot tag’.
More shots to Matt, who slipped out of a belly to back. Darius avoided a freshly tagged-in Nick the first time but then ate a superkick. Tag to Dante, who was placed on Matt’s shoulders for the Meltzer Driver; Darius made the save via flatliner from outside to in. Dante then soared to take out Nick before the youngsters hit a powerbomb/Nose Dive on Matt for 2.9. That finish is phenomenal but looks like a broken neck waiting to happen.
Crowd wild here as they chanted AE-Dub.
Nick drilled Dante outside via moonsault; destroyer from outside to in to bag two on Darius.
‘This is awesome!’
The Bucks hit a Domesday Device which Dante broke up at nearly three. Dante dispatched both Bucks outside but was hit with a superkick party as he landed out of a springboard. Looked very staged.
Leaving Darius inside alone: he avoided the BTE Trigger and rolled up Matt to bag the win. Matt looked shellshocked.
Hell of a match and a big win for the youngsters. Which they needed to continue their momentum. Dante required help from his brother getting to the back, favoring his knee after that springboard spot. Could’ve just been selling but given these kids’ luck…
WINNER: Top Flight
The Acclaimed were supposed to come out but the Gunns did instead. Can confirm they’d cleaned their asses since Friday.
They complained that the Acclaimed embarrassed them last week and they were the ones who made the Acclaimed popular.
‘And it’ll be the last time they ever embarrass us!’
The Gunns shrieked to turn off the music as the Acclaimed came out. Max asked the sound guy to cut Austin’s mic and put the music back on. They compared the Ass Boys to Hunter Biden and said they only had a job ‘cause of their dad. The last line – which sounded like ‘bulls*****’ – was muted.
After a quick scrap, Billy separated them and set up a ‘family therapy’ session next week. Seriously.
Hangman with Renee, who acknowledged spending time with ‘Jon’ in the past week then asked how Page was feeling.
He feels he got his word back after doing what he’d promised against Moxley. Renee said Mox had acknowledged that Page pushes him to be better: he both ‘despises and cherishes’ Hangman.
Page said he’d promised to knock Mox out and he’d do it again. If Mox wants to say anything else he can say it to his face. (Came off as a little heelish to the dude’s friendly wife).
An awkward Page then talked about what was next: some difficult conversations and mending fences.
They acted like the interview was over and Page asked how Mox was. Renee said he’s been hurt ‘one way or another’ since she’s known him. Page started to ask her to tell Moxley something but then changed his mind.
These two are very, very good at serious, realistic promos/segments.
And this suggests they’re getting back to the story of Hangman and the Elite which was interrupted by Brawl Out? Though Mox and Page are clearly far from over.
Jake Hager vs Ricky Starks
Backstory: Hager powerbombed Starks through a table a couple weeks back
This first forty-five minutes has flown by. Which is both good and bad. It’s been entertaining but also an absolute rush.
Jericho joined on comms.
Hager charged Starks, dropping him in the corner then mocking Ricky’s pose with the hat on. Starks fought back and took the hat then walked the ropes until Hager caught him coming off. Ricky slipped out, went for a basement dropkick, Hager smashed him with a big boot on the outside.
Very fast start.
Starks took out 2.0 then flew for a springboard cross body, got the feet up to block a Hager Bomb then dropped the big guy with a wicked springboard tornado ddt. 2.0 got up on the apron, Starks sent Hager into Angelo Parker then hit a Spear to bag the win. He then fled through the crowd as the JAS came to attack.
Don’t see why he couldn’t have pinned Hager clean but a very good match from the bits that were televised.
WINNER: Ricky Starks
They showed Adam Cole’s return and the crowd response last week. Interspersed with fresh comments: Cole again vowed to take over AEW.
Schiavone backstage with an angry Jericho, Garcia and Sammy. Jericho’s requested a tag next week between Starks/Andretti and Le Sex Gods. Garcia interrupted to ask to be in the match. Sammy said if he beats Andretti on Friday, he can take his spot.
Then gave him some bad looking gear.
So done with this stupid story. And very bored with Daniel Garcia.
Bryan Danielson vs Bandido
Backstory: Danielson has to keep winning to get his shot @ MJF
‘So errr, did you remember we signed Bandido?’
‘Bandido. Smaller guy, really strong, flashy move-set. Had the match with Jericho.’
‘No, more of a luchador: was made to look a complete geek in the Eliminator tournament.’
‘Ohhhh him, yeah yeah yeah, book him to lose against Danielson.’
Could be phenomenal this. ‘Bandido’ chant as the two took to their corners. A quick shake led into a grapple, Bandido using his speed and athleticism to quickly slip out. Then pointed at Danielson, who didn’t like it much. More ‘Bandido’ chants.
The vet quickly took him down via headlock, very much playing heel at this point as he captured the arms out a leglock to get a quick two. Both then retreated to their corners as we started again.
Drop toe hold, the youngster looking for the Romero Special on Danielson. Big roar as he got the vet up, though BD quickly escaped out, being booed as he looked to hook his own version of the move. Failing, he dropped his weight against the knees instead.
Then ran through the youngster with a shoulder, sunset flip attempt; Bandido rolled through, capturing the wrists and gaining several two counts until Danielson bridged up with his arms trapped. Like a sit-up off a pull-up bar.
Bandido looked for a Texas clover leaf. Danielson again retreated to his corner.
Another this is awesome chant as Danielson went to work with kicks to the chest. Bandido landed on his feet then hit a stalling hip toss, into noodle habanero? Danielson fought out but was hit with a tope through the ropes then struck again via hiro.
Very good so far and very different to the majority of matches you see in AEW.
Bandido bagged two with a cradle then dropped Danielson via flapjack, leaving both down. Exchanging chops as they got to their feet, the vet landed a big uppercut then ended a quick sequence with his flip out of the corner. Bandido was ready with a kick, hit a roundkick then motioned for the delayed suplex – the crowd didn’t really count but enjoyed it nonetheless.
A good twenty seconds.
Count of two.
Heading up top, the newbie shimmied like Eddie but landed on Danielson’s knees on the subsequent frog splash, right into the LeBell Lock, Danielson begging him to tap, trapping the free arm to prevent the rope break, the youngster finally getting it with his legs.
The Dragon fired off ‘Si!’ kicks here in Los Angeles, charged in, Bandido snatched him onto his shoulders, dropping him into a knee strike to the face (the announcers were very careful not to call it a GTS) Then launching the 21Plex; Danielson countered out to land on his feet, the youngster rushed him, Danielson got a close 2 via la magistral, Bandido responded with one of his own for another close count.
(Minor complaint: Nowhere near enough emphasis on Danielson losing and what it means. It’s as if they’ve forgotten that storyline.)
Danielson elevated him outside then hit a dropkick thorugh the ropes before launching a diving knee off the apron. The youngster dragged back in, Danielson headed up top, Bandido met him there, the two exchanging strikes at altitude before Bandido hit his fallaway off the top – which looked absolutely brutal – 21Plex, the vet kicked out at the last.
Even more TiA chants.
Both wobbly, to their feet, exchanging heavy open-palms, Bandido landed a thrust kick and readied the brainbuster, Danielson trapped the arm, looking for the LeBell lock (looked like something went awry here) then landed the busaiku knee after a duck under to bag the win.
A rare win via busaiku, possibly after the intended finish into the LeBell Lock didn’t quite come off.
Bandido cannot go another three months without being on tv.
Brilliant match. Though the whole ‘has to win’ storyline isn’t getting enough emphasis. And it’s a bit weird that Danielson keeps essentially playing the heel in matches he must win.
Refreshingly, they did not constantly cut to MJF during the match. Though he did appear on the big screen afterwards. He said fans were talking about him not being a worthy champ. Calling them fickle after ‘all the moments’ he’s given them.
So far Danielson’s only dealt with ‘Masked Max’ and the closer they get to the ppv, the more the mask will come off and ‘nobody’ wants that. Danielson says he’s a dragon but the dragon can’t beat the ‘monster behind the mask’.
Also, the ppv is March 5th. That seems a long time to keep having these matches.
WINNER: Bryan Danielson
Package with Shida, Toni and Saraya. Toni defended Shida – very patronizingly – because ‘these homegrown girls’ haven’t done anything ‘like we have’. She vowed to beat Willow Nightingale next to show the ‘homegrown’ girls what they were made of.
You know what, I was worried this was where they were headed with this angle. Ex-WWE vs AEW: focusing far too much on the other company as usual.
Not to mention, Saraya having to turn only a few months after her triumphant return from a devastating injury really speaks to the booking.
Brian Cage with Renee. Cage faces Danielson next week. Max interrupted to offer Cage an envelope full of money if he breaks Danielson’s arm. He then slapped Cage, who choked him until MJF asked if he wanted the money or not. Then asked Cage to use that anger to motivate him next week.
Toni Storm vs Willow Nightingale
Backstory: Storm wants to show the ‘homegrown’ AEW girls what she can do
They emphasized on comms that Willow had been in a war on Friday and thus Storm had an advantage coming in.
Willow reversed a hip toss into a cradle – very athletically – to bag two then hit her low splash/cross body for another. She then cartwheeled out of another hip toss. Storm offered a handshake but then slapped her. Before striking with a hip attack to send Nightingale crashing to ringside.
Just as Shida again appeared on the ramp with a kendo stick as the ads arrived.
Willow crushed Toni in the corner then hit a kick to the chest before spiking her with a brutal spinebuster for two. Then launched off the middle rope via shotgun dropkick but missed an attack in the corner. Storm hit a hip attack then a swinging ddt off the ropes for two.
Nightingale struck back via pounce, hit a cannonball in the corner, dragging Storm to the middle where Toni kicked out at two. Saraya got up on the apron, Storm hooked the tights to bag three.
Certainly WWE booking anyway.
Saraya attacked immediately after the bell. Ruby Soho came out to make the save. For now.
Shida, after all that, did nothing.
WINNER: Toni Storm
Ethan Page and Hathaway promo – still can’t hear ‘Big Bill’ without laughing. Perry had apparently said he was done with them; Page said they weren’t done with him and vowed payback. I have no idea what for and they didn’t tell us.
Renee with Konosuke Takeshita after showing highlights of last week’s match. Takeshita said he now has Danielson’s back because he doesn’t trust MJF. Before launching into a rant in Japanese. Renee asked what it meant – ‘MJF is an asshole’.
Nice segment. They need to keep following up with their younger talent.
Kushida vs Darby Allin, TNT Title
Excalibur went on and on about what a ‘stunning’ announcement it was when they revealed this match on Friday. ‘Stunning’ is when CM Punk came back. No matter how good he is, it is not a term to be used about Kushida’s debut.
Sting accompanied Allin. Schiavone did an extra-long ‘STTTIIIIING’. Kushida had some NJPW dojo guys with him.
Nice reaction for both competitors. Another pretty good crowd though not on the level of Seattle.
Straight to a standing switch, Allin slipped out, Kushida targeted the legs as a duelling chant kicked up. The pair rolled through a hammerlock until Allin bagged a headlock. Then dropped the import via shoulder block, looking for the Fujiwara, Kushida went for juijigitame, Darby got the ropes.
Rapid, really smooth mat wrestling.
Kushida cartwheeled through while landing a hiptoss to hit a dropkick, following Allin outside where Darby flung him into the barricade. Both guys raced to get back inside, Kushida landed a stiff kick to the arm then began working it over in the corner as he built toward the Hoverboard Lock.
Another duelling chant as Allin avoided Kushida in the corner, hit a coffin splash, attempted a springboard one which Kushida avoided, Allin blocked a Pele kick and hit a Code red for two. This is lightning. These two are so fast.
Allin then took flight to crash onto the dojo guys at ringside but was then dropped via armbreaker as the final break came.
Breaking into a fight, Allin launched quick slaps, Kushida responded with an even quicker Pele kick but was then caught coming off the ropes and planted with a Scorpion Death Drop. Leaving both guys down.
The ref’s count at seven as they stumbled up, Allin favoring the shoulder, launching more palm strikes until Kushida struck with a leg lariat after following Allin into the ropes.
Then launched a diving knee off the apron and onto the injured shoulder. Darby fought back with an over the shoulder stunner on the apron which clearly impacted Darby more than Kushida. Even Schiavone and Taz acknowleged this.
The champ grabbed a chair with Kushida struggling outside. Sitting his opponent down with a flurry of strikes, Allin headed upstairs, soaring into Kushida kicking the chair clear and snatching Allin into the juijigitame as he smacked back-first against the mat. The man’s a nutter.
Kushida again targeted the shoulder as Allin returned to the ring. Dragging him upstairs for an armbreaker off the top rope. Crowd quiet at this point as Kushida looked for the Hoverboard Lock, the dojo guys offering the towel to Sting so he could throw it in.
The vet chucked it in the crowd instead.
Allin nearly got the ropes, Kushida rolled back into the middle, Allin countered into the Last Supper to sneak the win. Darby is incredibly unselfish. Wins by the skin of his teeth every week.
Allin offered a handshake. Kushida accepted while asking for one more match in the future. Something we can all agree on.
WINNER: Darby Allin
- Eddie Kingston promo
- Brian Cage vs Willie Mack
- Action Andretti vs Daniel Garcia
- Jade Cargill and Leila Gray in tag action
- Ethan Page vs Jack Perry
- Bryan Danielson vs Brian Cage
A semi-recurring theme – great action, bad booking. Scratch that, the wrestling tonight was fantastic. Almost two hours of it.
They really do need to up-level their booking though. Six matches; three screwy finishes.
- The Bucks vs Top Flight
- Darby Allin vs Kushida
- Bryan Danielson vs Bandido
- It was ad-riddled and short but Jake Hager vs Ricky Starks was really fun while it lasted
Thanks for reading.