The SmarK Rant for AEW Dynamite – 10.02.19
Yes, we go back to the very beginning in the absence of a new episode tonight. So the deal is that when this originally aired last year, I was away at my annual work conference and ended up missing the beginning, and having to watch the last 90 minutes in my hotel room without the benefit of having my computer handy to review it. So I never did! But now this seems like the perfect opportunity to go back and see where it all started, because I definitely wasn’t familiar with the cast of characters like I am now. Thankfully TSN has the entire series archived on their website, so it’s easy to go back.
Live from Washington, DC, drawing a sellout of 14,000. That feels like a lifetime ago when you can jam thousands of people in one place.
Your hosts are Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone & Excalibur.
Cody Rhodes v. Sammy Guevara
So we kick things off with the unknown Sammy, back when his deal was wearing a panda to the ring. The pop for Cody is of course gigantic, given that he’s the guy who started all this. Sammy grabs a headlock and dives over Cody to escape the reversal, and Cody regroups on the outside. Sammy tries a takedown and Cody escapes, so Sammy dropkicks him and hits a standing moonsault for two. Cody takes him down and Sammy kips up and smacks him, so Cody gets fired up with a powerslam for one. This sets up the figure-four as we learn that Sammy enjoys social media and vlogging. You don’t say? Sammy makes the ropes, so Cody works the arm and gets a delayed drop suplex for two. One thing I do NOT miss here in empty arena world is “ONE, TWO….SWEET!” Thank you Covid at least for getting rid of THAT. Hopefully when fans return they’ll forget about that bit for good. They slug it out and Sammy hits a hooking kick, but Cody springboards at him with a cutter for two. Sammy gets his own springboard cutter for two, but Sammy goes to put the moves on Brandi and Cody comes after him with a dive. Sammy decides that cowardice is the better part of valor and pulls Brandi into the way to take the move. Someone should send him to training so he learns to treat women better. Back in, he hits Cody with a moonsault after two tries at it, but Cody fights back with the disaster kick for two. They fight to the top and Cody brings him down with a reverse suplex from the top, which gets two. Cody tries an Unprettier and Sammy reverses out, so Cody goes up and Sammy pops up and brings him down with a Spanish Fly for two. They’re not doing any smartass chants for THOSE near-falls. Sammy goes up again with a shooting star, but Cody gets the knees up and cradles for the pin at 11:55. Kudos to Cody for giving him a ton of offense when he could have gobbled him up and gotten all the glory to kick off his show. ***1/2
Tony Schiavone stops by for a word with Cody, but Sammy wants a handshake because apparently he’s a respectful young man. And then LE CHAMPION uses that distraction to blindside Cody and lay him out with a codbreaker as we take a break.
Back with Jericho continuing the beatdown on Cody, which is interesting because these days the segments are very, uh, segmented? Like, they don’t often start an angle before a break and then continue on these days, unless it’s part of a match. Anyway, Jericho powerbombs Cody onto a pair of chairs.
Brandon Cutler v. MJF
MJF’s pre-match promo on the way to the ring is a star-making performance, as he calls Cutler “a complete loser who looks like a guy who got lost on the way to his seat behind the guardrail”. Cutler bails to the apron and springboards in with a Code Red for two, but MJF rakes the eyes and runs him into the ringpost to take over. We get some quality trashtalk from MJF as apparently “this ain’t Dungeons & Dragons” and he works the arm, but Cutler rolls 2d20 and has enough Comeback skill to hit a dive. But then MJF stiffs him with a forearm and finishes him off with the armbar at 3:00. Well, I’m sure Cutler will pick up that first win soon enough and MJF will soon get his. *1/2
Chris Van Vliet finds Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes at ringside and it’s crazy that Mewes is bigger than Kevin now. This brings out Jack Evans & Angelico, and they inform Jay that MORRIS DAY AND THE TIME SUCKS. Strongly disagree. I’m with Jay on that one. This felt like a pretty lame celebrity cameo but I’m sure it was a WarnerMedia synergy call.
Meanwhile SCU tours Washington and discovers that it’s the worst town they’ve ever been in. Well that’s unexpected. So we get an interview with Tony back in the arena, but the Lucha Bros interrupt and a brawl erupts. That of course would prove to be a preview of the tag team title finals in a nice bit of foreshadowing.
Hangman Page v. Pac
Crazy how things changed, as Page is now one of the primary stars of the promotion and who the hell knows if Pac can or will ever return any time soon. His Twitter account is pretty much dead now, for example. They immediately trade huge forearms and Hangman puts him down with the lariat, which prompts Dynamite’s first ever “Cowboy Shit” chant. They head to the floor and Page sends him into the railing and then follows with a dive. Back in, he sets up for the buckshot lariat, but Pac escapes, so Page gets a fallaway slam into a standing shooting star for two. Pac necks him on the top rope to put him on the floor and they fight out there, as Pac hits him with a quebrada out to the ramp. Back in, Pac hits a springboard 450 for two. Wait, when AEW get rid of Earl Hebner? He’s the ref here and I honestly can’t remember him ever reffing again. Probably because Aubrey completely stole the #1 ref spot immediately. Page with a shotgun dropkick in the corner and he goes up, but Page grabs his ankle to stop him, and brings him down with the fallaway slam for two. Pac runs him into the ringpost to put him on the floor, and we take a break. Back with Pac in control, but he doesn’t follow up and Page fights back with a spinebuster for two. Pac escapes the deadeye, but Page powerbombs him for two. Pac bails to the floor and Page hits him with the moonsault, and back in for the buckshot, but Pac ducks it and goes low to escape. And the Black Arrow and Brutalizer finish at 12:07. This was kind of slow and awkward, although they’d have a better one later on. **1/2 Funny how at this point I was like “Man, this Hangman guy is so boring and overrated”. As always, it shows that a little bit of personality can go a long way in wrestling.
AEW Women’s title: Riho v. Nyla Rose
Dr. Britt Baker DMD joins us on commentary, and she’s merely a humble dentist at this point, barely even friends with Tony. Maybe she should bring him some coffee. Riho slugs away in the corner and takes Nyla down with a headscissors, but Nyla puts her down with a big splash for two. Riho tries a double stomp on her back, but Nyla basically stands up to shake her off and chokes her out on the ropes. Nyla with the crossface, but Riho makes the ropes. Nyla gets some shots on the ropes, but Riho puts her on the floor with knees and tries a dive. Nyla catches her and slams her on the floor, but grabs a chair and the ref steals that. “Risking disqualification!” notes Excalibur. We definitely know that wouldn’t be the case in this company. Nyla makes a stack of chairs and dives onto Riho, but misses and splats on the chairs, which allows Riho to get her double stomp to the floor. Back in, that gets two. We take a break and return with Nyla trying a powerbomb, but Riho reverses and they collapse in an ugly spot. Nyla tries another powerbomb and Riho reverses for two, but Nyla puts her down with a lariat and death valley driver for two. Nyla goes up and Riho follows and brings her down with a northern lights suplex for two. Nyla fights back again, but Riho hits a double stomp to the head and finishes at 12:50 to win the first AEW Women’s title. I will say, they had a WAY better one when Nyla eventually won the title. The fans were super-enthused here and were very forgiving, but this was a major style clash and didn’t really work very well. **3/4 Nakazawa joins us in the ring to congratulate her, but Nyla attacks him and powerbombs him, nearly dropping him on his damn head, and Kenny Omega has to make the save. This was seeming to set something up, but it never paid off, wherever they had been going with it.
Chris Jericho & Santana & Ortiz v. The Young Bucks & Kenny Omega
Funny how LAX were the big surprise tag team partners of Jericho and were positioned as such big deals for a while, and then just kind of kept falling further down the card. It’s kind of sad, too, because Santana in particular had those weeks where he was feuding with Moxley over the eye injury and he was doing these great promos and coming into his own. And then I think Covid just kind of killed their momentum, like everyone else. Kenny wants to start with LE CHAMPION, but we get Santana instead. Kenny dropkicks the knee and hits the facebuster to put Santana on the floor, but Jericho comes in and throws chops before putting him in the Walls. The Bucks break that up with superkicks right away for the first ever DYNAMITE SUPERKICK PARTY and we get all of the dives on the floor. Kenny sets up for the Terminator Dive, but Jon Moxley runs into the ring for the beatdown, which is not a DQ, Because AEW, and they brawl into the crowd. Mox immediately had huge star power there and you could tell he was the guy. Kenny teases The Cleaner with a mop, but they fight to a VIP area and oh shit I forgot about that. Yeah, so Moxley gives him a Paradigm Shift through a damn glass coffee table, which sadly is only about 0.05% as sick as their eventual PPV blowoff ended up. We take a break and return with the Bucks going 3-on-2, and LAX double-teams Matt with running moonsaults and Ortiz gets two. Jericho comes in for the Lionsault, but there’s no water in the pool, so Ortiz has to come in and cut off the hot tag. Matt springboards out of the corner with a cutter and comes back with the rolling northern lights suplexes on the heels, and it’s hot tag Nick. Nick comes in throwing kicks and he clears the ring before hitting Santana with a dive. Back in, The Bucks set up for the finish, but Jericho cuts it off with a codebreaker and hits Matt with the Judas Effect to finish at 11:45. The heels try for the beatdown, but Cody makes the save and brawls with Jericho. This brings out Sammy Guevara to help, but he turns on Cody and kicks him in the nuts. So then Dustin makes his Dynamite debut and saves, but Jake Hager makes HIS debut and lays everyone out. And there we go, the Inner Circle is formed in the first show and we’re off and running. The crowd chants “We the People” but thankfully Jericho shut that nonsense down like a BOSS the next week. The match didn’t really excel to the heights that you’d expect, but it was more of a backdrop for a couple of strong angles than anything else. ***1/4
So yeah, at the time I thought it was a home run show, but obviously we’ve had MUCH bigger and better ones since then and this one seems a lot more subdued by comparison. But they quickly figured out how to make great TV, and this was a strong, strong first effort with an insane crowd that covered up most faults and that made me want to keep watching and eventually reignited my passion for the industry again. Man, I really wish they could have fans again, though. I miss fans.