AEW Dynamite tonight comes to us from the Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis, Ind. After last week drawing 871,000 & 0.30 in the 18-49 demo.
I have never had so much fun being so regularly wrong as I did Sunday. What a show. Their best since All Out ’21. And as a guy who loves the gaga, Danielson coming out to Final Countdown was tremendous.
Orange Cassidy, as he’s done so many times this year, opened the show to a popular reception. Except this time it wasn’t to wrestle. Excalibur put him across as one of the greatest champs in company history; Taz said his efforts Sunday were ‘inspiring’. Covered in bandages, he took the mic.
After pausing for a ‘freshly squeezed’ chant, a ‘thank you Orange’ one started. ‘Hey… thank you’ were his first words. He’d been told to stay home but didn’t want to. Title or no title, ‘I will be here every single week, because I am freshly squeezed Orange Cassidy & I do not have a catchphrase’.
The crowd cheered and chanted his non-catchphrase catchphrase along with him. On his way back up the ramp, Wild Thing belted out the speakers as Mox came out to defend the title Cassidy just lost. They went to a split-screen and Cassidy looked almost physically pained as he watched Moxley bring the International Title to the ring. He stood and watched for a while then left sadly.
A little strange having him make an entrance to say so little but generally effective. Some nice subtle storytelling via facial expressions. And that’s how you make titles important – people are sad when they lose them.
Jon Moxley vs AR Fox (International Title)
Backstory: Absolutely none
Fox recently ‘turned back’ babyface by being booted from Swerve’s group, about ten minutes after he was deliberately beating up Nick Wayne in front of his mother. Despite this Darby Allin came out with him. It’s one thing to let bygones be bygones, another to actively support him after what he did to Allin’s protégé.
Mox went for a lariat, Fox ducked and dodged, enziguri, tried to chop Mox in the corner, the champ turned the tables, punching away as the crowd counted along. Then sending Fox to the apron, he came back in via springboard dropkick then soared outside onto Moxley with a Superman dive.
Back inside, Mox returned fire with his suplex bomb. Allin (who returned backstage after escorting Fox) and Wayne were shown watching. As Mox raked the back on the apron but took a boot to the face and draping ddt after Fox slipped back inside. Things spilled back out again, Fox sent to the guard rail then flung into the crowd as the ads arrived.
The champ on top, firing boots to Fox’s chest until the challenger landed another enziguri. Fox threw a couple implausibly weak lariats, hit a thrust kick and cutter, kipping up to cheers, but was caught in a choke after attacking Mox in the corner.
He escaped to roll through and hit another cutter for two and the first pin of the match. Then hit his moonsault off the ringpost, landing on his feet – always impressive. A 450 followed for another two. Mox clutched the wrist following the pin, hammerlock, H&A elbows; Fox came back with a dropkick but ate a KKL and Death Rider as Mox retained.
It was short but really liked this, nice back-and-forth. Particularly enjoyed Mox clutching the wrist into the finishing sequence out of a Fox pin. Mox and Claudio left through the crowd to loud cheers. Good crowd so far.
Winner: Jon Moxley
Allin hit the ring to console Fox. Wayne notably absent. He turned round backstage into Christian and Luchasaurus. Cage said he’d watched more footage of Wayne’s father and said he owed him an apology – ‘he was even worse than I thought he was’. Cage said if Wayne wants a true mentor he should try looking at him, a champion. ‘Say hi to your mom for me’.
Really enjoying the start to the show – good match and building feuds – including the Allin/Wayne bout later. I even laughed at that line about Wayne’s dad.
Kris Statlander vs Emi Sakura (TBS Title)
Statlander out to nice reaction before the break. Sakura after to polite applause but not much more. She sidestepped a lockup, rollup for two, Tiger Driver with a high stack for another two, all within seconds of the start.
Stat to the apron, Sakura threw a cross body through the middle rope, knocking the champ to the floor. Then crushed her with another against the steps. Back inside, she got another two. Then knocked the champ over with a chop. Statlander fired back, the two exchanged shots in the middle until Sakura hit a back elbow and big lariat.
Both collided with lariats twice, each retreating to add momentum to a third, both hitting the deck as they collided again. Statlander to her feet on the apron, she snapped Sakura across the top rope then hit a vaulting elbow, missed a discus lariat, Sakura blocked Wednesday Night Fever and hit a delayed double underhook backbreaker for yet another two count.
The champ dominated thus far. As Sakura headed upstairs, was caught on the buckle and dropped face-first off Statlander’s shoulders, discus lariat, Wednesday Night Fever, win.
This was really good too, short but impactful. Sakura looked so strong here that it’d make sense to actually do something with her. Probably unlikely. Yes she’s older but if you want the women to be taken seriously, more matches like this would do it: physical between wrestlers who didn’t look like they were learning on the job.
Winner: Kris Statlander
Interview with Roderick Strong (who now has big ‘geek’ glasses to go along with his neck brace) about his backstory. All of which was painted to make everything look as bad as possible – his parents weren’t any good – drugs and alcohol – his sister left. He had to take care of himself and sat up nights with a BB Gun. Wrestling gave him an escape. So it isn’t just a business to him – ‘it’s my everything’. And Cole already knew that (the Kingdom patted him sympathetically on the shoulder)
‘I grew up alone and I’m gonna win this Grand Slam tournament alone’.
This was fun. If only Strong were the only weak guy in the tournament.
Boos ringing out, explained by Don Callis coming out on comms.
Chris Jericho & Sammy Guevara vs. Aussie Open
Backstory: Jericho reeled Guevara back in after it looked like they were splitting, suggesting they go after the tag belts
So Allin vs Wayne is main-eventing I guess. Jericho and Davis to start, circling, lockup, Jericho pushed to the corner but poking the eye, chop following; Davis came back – running through Jericho via shoulder block. Jericho shoved Davis to the buckle then tagged Sammy.
The faces took down Davis via double team then did their pose. Davis cartwheeled out of a whip to nail both via double clothesline then hit snake eyes on Guevara before tagging Fletcher.
The pre-requisuite chop battle ensued, Sammy ran through his series of flips, ducks and dodges before popping up into a dropkick and the crowd chanting his name. Before tagging Jericho in for a delayed double suplex on Fletcher, the crowd cheering loudly as they had him up there a good while.
Break. This is a fun show; crowd’s helping.
Sammy flipped free of both Aussies to dive for the tag to Jericho. Who ran through both until being sent to the apron by Davis. He went to the top but was caught and nailed by the Aussies’ lariat sandwich. Guevara hit a cutter to Davis to block half of a second.
Leaving Fletcher and Jericho. Code Breaker for a close two. He flung the youngster to the apron then hit his springboard dropkick, Guevara readying and landing a spectacular tornillo to both heels. The crowd absolutely wild here.
Until Jericho tried to vault onto the Aussies and took out Sammy. AO then crashed the two against one another before taking Jericho in for the Aussie Arrow. Jericho just kicked out. Was sent to the corner, Guevara stopped a running splash by meeting Davis with a Spanish Fly, Fletcher slipped behind Jericho but the vet twisted to drag Fletcher into position for the Walls. Fletcher blocked it and hit a sheer-drop brainbuster. Another close call.
TiA chants from the crowd. It’s certainly very good.
Jericho was swept into Sammy on the apron, kicked out of a Fletcher rollup, rebounding off the ropes to hit the Judas Effect to bag the win. But Guevara wasn’t happy. They got into a shoving match and had to be separated. By only two security guards. Sammy left through the crowd.
This is weird storytelling. Jericho’s very clearly been a dick and it’s hard to blame Sammy generally. Problem is, Jericho wasn’t remotely heelish tonight.
Winner: Le Sex Gods
Recap of Danielson/Starks from Sunday. Highlighting Danielson beating the absolute crap out of Starks and Ricky passing out rather than tapping out. They showed closeups of the welts and cuts on his body afterward. Starks said he’d proved a point. There’s no-one who can tap him out or match him. He’s pissed off and angry. When will it be his time? He wants a full meal r/t a slice of bread.
He’s everything he says he is, Absolute Ricky Starks. Still hate that closing line, it makes no sense. Rest of this was mixed, good job highlighting just how physical that was. But strange Starks acting as if he never gets opportunities when he’s just faced Danielson in a big match at a ppv and lost. Would also love to know whether he’s a good guy or a bad guy. Cause I’ve no idea.
Cut to footage of Samoa Joe and MJF’s scrap at All Out after Joe bumped him (playing off an old NXT thing when Max was an extra). Break ahead of Max coming out.
Backstage to Renee talking to Callis and Takeshita. They made history by beating Omega twice in 7 days. They’re going to have a celebration next week and unveil their next target (they had a painting of who it was but wouldn’t allow Renee to unveil it). That’s a cool touch if theyre going to do that everytime.
Crowd chanting for MJF before he came out to a big pop. Crowd loudly chanted his name before he told them ‘the Devil has arrived’. He revealed he lived right here while grinding on the independent circuit. He asked who their daddy was and basked in cheers. Then said he was ‘chubbed up’.
Before talking about beating the Dark Order. Then walking backstage to be told by ‘that mark’ Tony Khan he had to defend his title again at Grand Slam. And was pissed until remembering it was in New York. Whoever wins the tournament will find out no-one’s on the level of the Devil.
But there’s one person who might need to be taught a lesson (crowd chanted for Joe). The big man came out before MJF got another word out. Schiavone said Joe was the last guy he’d want to mess with. The announcers put across MJF’s bad neck vis-à-vis the Muscle Buster.
Joe took the mic and apologized for the interruption but wanted a front row seat to hear what Max had to say. ‘What seems to be the problem kid?’ A few ‘Joe’s Gonna Kill You’ chants started. Max said he assumed Joe came out so fast cause he confused Max’s music for an ice-cream truck.
Joe said that was a good one. But last time he had anything to do with ice-cream he was the biggest star on the other company’s network. Then asked again – ‘What’s the problem kid?’ MJF was irritated by him saying it twice. He called Joe ‘Pillsbury Joe Boy’, another fat joke nickname and a small penis nickname. A few in the crowd chanted ‘tiny dick’.
Joe said Max’s Bar Mitzvah hadn’t been done yet because the Rabbi had so little to work with. Then heeled on the crowd. Then repeated ‘What seems to be the problem kid?’. And Max snapped, threatening Joe if he called him kid again. Realizing he’d been gotten to, he tried to calm himself and told Joe he wasn’t skipping the line and there was a tournament if he wanted him that badly. The crowd chanted ‘Fuck you Joe’. Joe said they sounded like their mothers.
Since Joe kept calling him ‘kid’, Max asked who was ready for storytime. Talking about a WWE tryout he had. Barely able to say Regal’s name – he recapped the story they both told last year. Max said he sent Regal packing back to NXT where he belongs. And ‘Joe’s next’ if he plays his cards right.
That night, he was asked to play a bodyguard for ‘the great Samoa Joe’. Max put him over and said he wasn’t going to pretend Joe isn’t good. But Joe took advantage that night by shoving him into a wall and laughing. MJF knows why Joe did that – because he knew he could get away with it.
But Max isn’t a kid anymore (he fired up) he’s the champ, a generational talent etc. etc. The crowd chanted his name. He warned Joe to stay out of his way ‘or I… am going to kill you’. The crowd very halfheartedly chanted it after he held the mic out. MJF did his better than you catchphrase which the crowd did yell along with. He dropped the mic.
Joe still had his. Theres one problem with MJF’s story – Joe didn’t think Max was a kid back then – ‘I thought you were a little bitch’. Max slapped Joe – Excalibur warned him to be careful. Joe said he wasn’t going to take the bait. He’s going to enter the tournament, win it, ‘then I’m comin for you’.
He left the way for Max to leave and told him to have a nice day. But booted the middle rope into his crotch and stomped him down before posing with his belt. Max came back with a low blow then stomped him in the corner. But ran right into an STJoe. And was about to take a Muscle Buster on his injured neck when Adam Cole ran him off.
The doctors checked on Max’s neck – he stayed down. Joe kept yelling ‘what’s wrong kid’ and laughing. Max was crying and repeating ‘shit’ while saying he couldn’t feel his left arm. Joe took the mic again to say he’d tear Max to pieces next time… ‘bitch!’.
This was excellent. It helps that I love Joe but this has to be the best angle to build a contender since Max became champ. Slight critique is this was so good it could be saved for a ppv. Also, yeah, hate the insider stuff.
MJF very slowly made his way backstage with help, stopping several times. Until a scream of ‘ADAAAAAM’ interrupted (which gets funnier every week). Strong and the Kingdom came out and argued with Cole. Who said he didn’t have time for this since he had to go backstage with MJF.
Roderick Strong vs Trent (Eliminator Tournament QF)
Backstory: Strong’s vowed to win the tournament & defeat MJF for ‘stealing’ his best friend Adam Cole
Trent made his entrance after the ads, bringing Chuck with him. Strong backed Trent to the corner then leg dove him before grabbing a headlock. Strong had shed the neck brace too. Trent got a rope break. Strong looked for the Stronghold, Trent blocked it but left himself open to a front facelock.
Back to their feet, Trent hit a leaping double knee strike as the announcers said MJF was being looked at backstage. The two fought, Strong got the better, landing a backbreaker. Crowd quiet for the first time all night. As Trent came back with a belly to back. Then a running elbow in the corner and tornado ddt.
Strong bailed outside, holding his neck as the Kingdom checked on him. Trent held the ropes open and eventually pursued him. Strong was faking and shoved Beretta into the buckle then dropped him back-first across the apron (really wish someone would tell him to stop taking bumps like those on his repaired neck).
They replayed that last bump then showed both down in the middle. Strong got Trent on his shoulders, the latter fought free to hit a German, and another, Strong got the ropes to block a third but was then hit with a spinning DVD right onto his head for two. Trent looked for a piledriver, Strong hit a lungblower and sick kick for two of his own.
Then sat Beretta atop the buckle, Trent gouged and scrapped but was dragged onto Strong’s shoulders before fighting free to hit a hurracanrana, Strong rolled through, Trent countered for a close fall. Then flung Strong via half-and-half, crowd into this now as Trent hit a piledriver. Strong got his foot on the ropes to break the count.
Then grabbed the ropes to block a suplex, kicked Trent away, hit a leaping knee then End of Heartache to win. I’d assumed Trent was in this to give Strong a beatable opponent. Strong immediately put his brace back on. Fun stuff and good action.
Winner: Roderick Strong
Renee with Toni Storm. Renee mentioned her costing Ruby the match Sunday. Storm said she’d done so many ‘performances’ she couldn’t possibly remember them all. And we must look forward not back (she’d become upper class this week – ‘dear’ and ‘we must’). Renee said next week there’s a four-way to face Saraya for the title at Grand Slam. Storm said next week she’d give us a sneak peek into her life. Before giving Renee some advice in a sing-songy voice: ‘Chin up, tits out and watch for the shooooooooe’.
Which she of course flung once off-camera. The crowd laughed, Excalibur said she was ‘off her nut’. Which she most assuredly was here. Glad it’s finally going somewhere though with her breaking away from the Outcasts (I assume).
Hangman out to a nice response. Break.
Schiavone congratulated him on winning the battle royal Sunday and giving the money to the Chicago public education fund. He said teachers were underfunded, underpaid and underappreciated. Then thanked AEW for allowing him to whip ass and win some money for charity.
He was about to say what he wanted to do with the rest of 2023 when Swerve’s music interrupted. Prince Nana did his stupid dancing which reduces Strickland’s act considerably. Swerve stalked slowly to the ring staring a hole through Hangman. Nana snatched the mic from Tony like every heel ever does. Then handed it to Strickland.
Swerve said being in a coffin for two weeks gave him perspective. And Page was the first person he thought of when he got out. Asking if he was a mascot since he was doing charity for juvenile delinquents that won’t become anything anyway. And noting he wasn’t on the main card competing for titles. He’s ashamed for him. Since Page was supposed to be the cornerstone of the company and was ‘handpicked’ by higher ups, listing all of Page’s accomplishments.
It seems Page lost his confidence or doesn’t want it anymore. He hasn’t got any new gear or merch in almost a year. He doesn’t wrestle or do promos. He took a backseat to the Elite. In short, he’s become too comfortable. He’s been handed opportunities. If Swerve had the same ones he’d be the first black AEW champ. He gave Page two choices:
Option A – ride off into the sunset and ride his contract into catering and leave the slot for Swerve to turn AEW into his house. Option B – do what he has to do to get that fire back and show everyone what Cowboy Shit is all about. He can fight Swerve for that spot.
‘Either way, I’m comin for that spot, that you act like you don’t even want’.
Page said he’d had enough of that this year (he didn’t say what ‘that’ was) and if Swerve wanted a match he could go backstage and ask. He was leaving when Swerve said it was a shame his wife and kid had to watch him be like this.
Page got right in his face when Brian Cage attacked from behind and hit the Drillclaw.
Taz said he knew the history between them. Well I’ve watched for three and a half years and can’t remember. So maybe do your job and tell me?
The first miss all night. I like this mix, I like Page actually having something to do, like Swerve swimming with the big boys.
But hate all the insider crap: ‘you were chosen, you were handed stuff’. And Ricky Starks has already pulled the ‘wah wah opportunities’ card tonight. I’ve also got no idea why Page is suddenly all sullen again and backed down from a challenge.
Penta vs Lethal, Jeff Hardy vs Joe on Rampage, Grand Slam Tournament – brief promos all participants. The participants and venue speak for themselves.
You could tell they’d run long because Excalibur ran through the upcoming lineups so quickly. Like quickly even relative to his usual standards.
Nick Wayne vs Darby Allin (Eliminator Tournament QF)
Backstory: Allin lost his TNT title match Sunday after being distracted by Christian threatening Wayne
Speaking of weak, this is not a main event. Wayne even lost to Aussie Open on Collision. It’s almost like he shouldn’t be in a world title tournament.
They chain wrestled through a bunch of takedowns, counters and pin attempts. Darby sent Wayne though the ropes to release the grip on a waistlock. Wayne then avoided Allin’s bullet tope – he went splat at ringside. Even Wayne looked concerned.
Allin was then hit with a superplex, Wayne maintained grip into a fisherman buster for two. Darby avoided a splash, hit a running shotgun for two. Then caught Wayne in a figure four. Wayne turned it, Allin got the rope break but was selling his knee. Wayne looked for a sunset flip, Allin grabbed the ropes, both ducked and dodged until crashing as both thought cross body.
To their knees, they bumped fists then got back to fighting, rocking one-another with rights. Until Allin demanded a mic to ask Wayne to hit him like he wanted to win. Even putting his arms behind his back to give Wayne a free shot. The youngster wound up but hit a thrust kick instead for two.
Christian Cage’s music hit, he and Luchasaurus came to the stage as the last ads arrived.
Fighting on the apron, Wayne rana’d Allin off it. Cage had joined on comms to say he hoped Wayne wouldn’t use any of his father’s moves. Wayne hit a frogsplash off the top to the outside (really he landed on his feet then belly flopped onto Darby, it didn’t look good). Bagging two after sending Allin back inside and hitting Wayne’s World.
Then sat Allin atop the buckle, Allin held the ropes to block a cutter, Wayne crashed to the mat, Darby readied a Coffin Drop but wouldn’t or couldn’t hit it. He climbed down, Wayne tried Last Supper for two, Allin blocked Wayne’s World, Allin rolled through, springboard cross body, tons of twos, Code Red for a final two.
Before Allin captured the shoulders and stomped on the back, Wayne verbally submitted.
Didn’t like this much. Never got into it. Perhaps because it was disjointed by the breaks for ads, mic time and Cage’s entrance. If we get another Darby/Joe match in the finals that’ll make up for it nicely.
Winner: Darby Allin
- Bryan Danielson promo
- Winner of Joe/Hardy vs Lethal/Penta
- Bullet Club Gold in action
- Saraya and Ruby promo
- Acclaimed and Gunn promo
- Toni Storm vs Britt Baker vs vs (Sorry I missed the final two, they really were blurring through these announcements)
- Don Callis reveals masterpiece (ie Takeshita’s next target)
- Hangman Page vs Brian Cage
- Starting the show interspersing storylines building to later in show – the Allin/Wayne/Cage story is intriguing
- Mox vs Fox
- Statlander vs Sakura
- Sex Gods vs Aussie Open
- MJF/Samoa Joe angle
- Constant tournaments are bad enough without filling the bracket with lower card wrestlers and not explaining why top guys aren’t participating
- And enough with ‘title matches’ against nobodies
- Omega’s now missed two Dynamite’s in a row without explanation – he’s the longest-reigning champ in history
Appreciate you reading. Have a good week.