June 3rd 2020’s AEW Dynamite opens with a simple and classy Black Lives Matter graphic, white font on a black screen. Good call, and probably the least you can do as an American media company in June of 2020. We get a recap of last week’s events (which is always appreciated) and we’re off.
AEW Tag Team Titles – “Hangman” Adam Page (14-9) & Kenny Omega (22-8) (7-0 Tag Team) v. Jimmy Havoc (11-8) & Kip Sabian (12-13) (3-1 Tag Team) w/Penelope Ford
“Hangman” Adam Page remains the biggest success story in all of AEW. In the span of two years, Page has gone from generally loathed by the internet to an inarguable star and almost universally approved by wrestling fans everywhere. Page’s story should serve as a gentle reminder that wrestling fans can be needlessly harsh, to put it mildly — and arrogant dicks, to put it bluntly.
General point about pro wrestling fandom: we all should be easier on wrestlers. Pro wrestling is insanely hard. Not saying that something being difficult absolves it from all criticism — it’s OK to dislike stuff, and it’s OK to think things are bad. It doesn’t make you a bad person to think something “sucks”. There are bad movies, bad TV shows all kinda of bad art that was hard to make. However, there is a depressing lack of appreciation and understanding for how much skill and effort go into producing even a bad wrestling match. Every time I see Adam Page, I think of how ruthless fans were to that guy before he was ever given a chance to shine. Suddenly he has been given a true character and is competing in matches with stakes, and what do ya know, everybody think’s hes good at wrestling now.
Page and Omega have developed awesome chemistry in short order, and are arguably the best tag team in wrestling in June of 2020. Yet another fun match from these two. There was a stark difference between Sabian and Havoc on offense and Page and Omega on offense, which is not neccesarily an insult. I like the vibe of a slower, more “brutal” heel attack, contrasted with the flashier, fancier babyfaces.
Omega and Page win with a combo V-trigger (Omega running knee) and Buckshot Lariat (Page apron front-flip clothesline) to retain the AEW Tag Titles and move to 8-0 as a tag team.
“The Machine” Brian Cage w/Taz (2-0) v. Shawn Dean (0-0)
Squashtastic squash match. If Goldberg v La Parka is a 5* squash and the greatest squash match ever (it is), this match was a solid, 3*, above average squash match. Brian Cage is built for squashing jobbers. I could watch this every week. Not as excited for a main event Cage run and potential World Title victory, but hey.
Interesting that they made a point to have Brian Cage use the buckle bomb after WWE apparently banned the move this week. Good way to set yourself apart without directly referencing WWE.
Brian Cage wins with the Drill Claw (vertical Suplex into sit-out tombstone piledriver) to go to 3-0 in AEW.
Taz & Jon Moxley Promo
Taz is bitter that Moxley laughed at him on commentary last week. Well I cant’t say I even remember that occurring, but it certainly fits Taz’s character motivation as Angry Smol. Taz drops his catchphrase, but instead of his theme music, Moxley’s music hits and he makes his way to the ring. Mox says that this isn’t a game, and while Cage is a machine and seemingly indestructible, Cage won’t know how to respond “when you realize you’re swimming with a different breed of shark”. The match is on for Fyter Fest.
I really dig Moxley’s interpretation of what a top babyface should be, sort of like 1997 Stone Cold Steve Austin meets 1993 Bret Hart with a strong MMA influence and pinch of deathmatch thrown in.
Lance Archer & Jake Roberts Promo
Lance beats the piss out of a faceless luchadore jabroni, and cuts a promo for himself this week, acting scarier than ever. Everybody Dies is his catchphrase, and he is sure to remind you of that. As catchphrases go it’s not the GOAT but I like it. It’s better than “Beat me if you can, survive if I let you” which is really more of a catch paragraph.
Jake Roberts adds a few words in edge-wise, acting legitimately afraid for his life, and everyone else’s. BECAUSE EVERYBODY DIES YOU SEE
This was very short, but I loved it. Perfect way to get the heat back onto Lance, and let him be the focal point of this act. He lost, but now he’s so angry, so scary and so insane that even the evil Jake Roberts is nervous. This is the exact, EXACT segment Lance and Jake needed. Perfect. Loved it.
Matt Hardy & Private Party Promo
Private Party are backstage in some sort of bar area, when Matt Hardy shows up. For the uninitiated, Matt Hardy has been doing a Mick Foley-style gimmick where he switches in and out of his old personas. This is Team Extreme Matt Hardy-circa 1999-2000, the classic WWF No Mercy N64-era Matt Hardy.
Hardy says he sees great potential in Private Party and they remind Matt of he and his brother Jeff. Private Party lose their shit in appreciation, and pitch that Matt join up with them for some matches, as Hardy Party. Matt accepts the deal, and leaves the room. He runs into Sammy Guevara, to whom he says “we’re cool” and “respect”. This is notable because two weeks ago, the insane Broken Matt Hardy character tried to run Sammy over in a golf cart. I really like the idea of Matt Hardy’s different personalities having different allies and rivals.
Private Party really needs something to sink their teeth into, and being involved with a wrestling legend (low-level maybe, but still) like Matt Hardy could only help their careers. This was wacky, but fun.
Cody Rhodes TNT Title Hype Video
Recap of Cody’s promo last week, where he announced that he will defend the TNT title every week, saying he will “outlast you, outdog you”, and do everything he can to represent “the greatest network in America”. Oh man, haha. I like Cody, but I do think he’s going to turn himself heel with this character eventually. Perhaps by design, and maybe not right away, but give it 2-3 months of beating all of the midcarders on a weekly basis, and people will be clamoring for him to lose.
Fyter Fest Hype Video
Fyter Fest is officially on as a two-night event, replacing Dynamite on Wednesday July 1 and 8. The main event appears to be set as Moxley v Cage, which I imagine is planned as the last match of the July 8th show.
Jericho/Tyson Hype Video
We got a recap of the Jericho/Tyson deal from last week. Mikey Gooch (the douchebag in the white shirt and facepaint) was thankfully cut out of this footage.
Chris Jericho (13-4-1) v. Colt Cabana (5-3)
I wanted to see more of this. They went about 8-ish minutes and what we got was quite good while it lasted. Not exactly a stiff, hard-hitting contest (although Cabana did get busted up around the mouth from Jericho’s FISTS OF FURY) but this was two savvy veterans working a WRESTLING BOUT. What’s not to like?
Chris Jericho Promo Featuring Orange Cassidy
Loved this, but I am an unabashed Orange Cassidy stan. If you’ve never seen Orange Cassidy, this is a perfect introduction to his “work”. If you have seen Orange, this is exactly what you’re expecting, which is 1000% a compliment. If it ain’t broke.
They also aired the Fyter Fest promo again, and recapped what has happened in the show so far.
Dr. Britt Baker Injury Rehab Video
Dr. Brit Baker is sadly the only woman on the AEW roster who is allowed to show any personality. More on this later. Funny little video detailing Dr. Britt’s “grueling” rehab process, as an arrogant, self-absorbed heel.
Big Swole (4-6) v. Nyla Rose (11-5)
Not a terrible match, but I would call it below average.
Big Swole has charisma. She needs a character other than “athletic”. Also, not sure that another loss in a high profile match helps her here. I would have had her win if they were going to do this match at all. Just my 0.02. They at least did a good job explaining the loss away, hammering home both that Swole hasn’t wrestled in months, and that Nyla Rose was angry after losing her title at Double or Nothing 2020.
Nyla Rose wins with the Beast Bomb (sit-out powerbomb) to boost her record to 12-5 in AEW.
Big Swole Promo
This was the entire problem with the AEW Women’s division in a nutshell. Big Swole got a 30 second promo, after a loss no less, with absolutely zero direction or plan as to what to say. Mid-promo, Britt Baker rolled up on a fucking ATV throne, making a huge production out of her mere presence, and instantly stealing the spotlight from Swole.
I don’t want to say Britt Baker is the only woman in AEW with a personality, but she is inarguably the only woman who gets to show her personality on AEW Dynamite. That is an indisputable fact. Every other woman on the roster is a generic stereotype. Big Swole = athletic babyface, Nyla Rose = monster heel, Hikaru Shida = fighting babyface, Riho = underdog babyface, Penelope Ford = hot girl heel. etc etc. None of those women have any characters, get any promo time, or really have any known motivations, goals or backstories.
Dr. Britt Baker is the only female who has been given a character in AEW, an IRL dentist who started as a babyface, but quickly became a heel because she’s so accomplished, and so arrogant about it. You could say Britt Baker is a generic cocky heel, but there’s clearly something unique to her presentation, even it’s as small as the word “dentist”. We know her backstory, we know her attitude, it’s evident in every word she speaks and move she makes. There’s absolutely nothing that sets any of the other women in AEW apart from each other.
Plus side: once Britt did show up, Swole was able to show some fire, as she pulled a chair out from under the ring and chased Britt Baker off. Not a fully-fleshed out character, but it’s a start.
Darby Allin Promo w/Tony Schiavone
Backstage, Tony asks Darby about Taz and Brian Cage. Darby responds that life is a big joke, and he will have the last laugh.
Not much to it, but Darby Allin is already a better promo than Raven ever was. Go watch old ECW if you doubt this statement even 1%.
FTR Promo w/Tony Schiavone
Didn’t like this promo at all. Cash Wheeler (the former Dash Wilder, the one with hair) is a significantly better promo than Dax Hardwood, who to me, seemed very uncomfortable talking here. He was stammering and stuttering and, IDK. This didn’t land with me, at all. I know the former Revival have the reputation of being able to cut good promos, but they did not show it here, in my estimation . Maybe the next one will be better.
The basic gist of this was that FTR want to have “dream matches” with the AEW roster, but they don’t consider the Bucks a “dream match” since they are so far below FTR. I would have liked to have seen FTR be more dismissive of the very idea that the Young Bucks are a dream match. They almost got half-pregnant with this one. They started down the road of insulting the Bucks, but then quickly reminded us that everybody thinks the Bucks are dope and that everyone wants this match. I would have had the Revival out right say the Bucks are below them, a waste of their time, and they want the tag team titles, not the washed up has-beens that used to be the elite tag team in the world.
Colt Cabana & Brodie Lee Promo w/Alex Marvez
Cabana is backstage with Marvez, all sad ‘n stuff after his loss to Jericho. Brodie Lee enters, and says that we all experience loss and it’s what we do with about it that defines us, as his minion delivers Colt a bottle of water. Cabana laughs off the advances of the Dark Order, but as the camera pans away, you can tell he’s thinking about it.
Great little promo here, excited to see how this story plays out.
AEW TNT Title – Cody (Rhodes) (17-6-1) v. Jungle Boy (8-14-1)
Great start to the TNT title era. Cody will be playing the role of fightin’ babyface until this gimmick turns him heel precisely three weeks after fans return.
It’s probably barbaric of me to admit this and put it in print, but I really like that Cody bleeds in all his big matches now. We all knew that once he died that hair, he would be bleeding more. Lo and behold, now he’s Ric Flair in the mid 80s, champion of “the greatest network in America.
Cody wins with a Cross Rhodes to retain the TNT Title and move to 18-6-1 in AEW.