The SmarK Rant for AEW Dynamite – 03.30.22
Live from Columbia, SC, home of the GAMECOCKS. Hopefully that won’t upset Google.
Your hosts are Tony Schiavone, Jim Ross & Excalibur
CM Punk v. Max Caster
Well you know the Acclaimed would make the first Will Smith reference of the week. They trade wristlocks to start and Punk drops an elbow on him to chase him into the ropes, but Max fires back with knees in the corner. Punk works the arm and goes for the Anaconda Vice, but Caster makes the ropes and goes back to the arm himself. Punk tries a bodypress and Caster catches him with a backbreaker and goes to work on the back for two. Caster runs him into the corner a few times and the Acclaimed does the weird finger thing to celebrate, but Punk makes the comeback, only to hit the turnbuckle with his knee. Caster with a fisherman’s buster for two off that. He goes up to finish, but Punk chops him down and brings him down with a rana to make the comeback. Bulldog gets two. Punk goes for a springboard and gets tripped up by Bowens, and Caster gets two off that. Caster goes up and DROPS THE MIC, but that misses and Punk powers him into a piledriver and finishes with the Anaconda Vice at 7:09. A decent opener. **1/4 Afterwards, Tony joins him for an interview and wants clarification on the belt thing from last week. So he’s challenging whoever wins between Adam Cole and Hangman Page, because he wants the AEW World title to go along with the grey in his beard.
Meanwhile, MJF continues to insist that the Pinnacle is still a thing, but FTR doesn’t want to get in the middle of thing with him and Wardlow. MJF doesn’t want to cause any trouble, but Wardlow used to talk shit about FTR ALL THE TIME. Maybe he was one of the people annoying Uncle Dax on Twitter?
Jay Lethal v. Jon Moxley
Jon already has a “Blackpool Combat Club” hoodie and you know I want me one of those. Lethal offers a handshake, but this ain’t ROH! I actually ordered that show on Fite because I want to support them but my god I have no idea when I’m supposed to actually watch it. Maybe I’ll just fast forward to FTR v. Briscoes and review that. They trade headlocks on the mat and Lethal goes for the leg, but Moxley sends him to the floor and builds up some aggression. They slug it out with elbows and Moxley gets a corner clothesline and slugs away, until Lethal shoves him off and drops him to the floor. Jay with a tope and we take a break. Back with Moxley throwing down, but Lethal goes after the knee and they collide for a double down. They slug it out again and Moxley puts him down with the lariat, but Lethal gets the backbreaker and flatliner for two. Moxley tries the DDT, but Lethal fights out of it and takes out the knee. He tries the Lethal Injection, but Moxley counters with the choke, and Lethal rolls him over for two. Lethal with a brainbuster and he goes up with flying elbow for two. Lethal with a figure-four, but Moxley cradles for two and hits the Paradigm Shift for the pin at 10:38. Some fun violence here. ***
Meanwhile, Marina Shafir is around on Dark.
FTR v. The Gunn Club
Colten takes Dax down with an armdrag and quips “Bang bang bang”, but amazingly Dax isn’t intimidated. Over to Austin, who ups the ante to “BANG BANG BANG BANG”, so it’s over to Cash to deal with that massive disrespect. He takes Austin down with a pair of armdrags and chops him into the corner, but Austin bails to the floor to escape. This allows Billy to get involved and take out Cash, as we take a break. Back with the Gunns double-teaming Cash in the corner, but Dax gets the hot tag and slugs them down. Short arm clothesline on Austin gets two, but they head to the apron and fight over a suplex, which leads to Colten tripping up Dax and Austin falling on top for two. Meanwhile, Wardlow arrives in the back and beats the stuffing out of various security geeks, including one poor dork who learns what happens when the table doesn’t break. Sadly, before he can get to MJF, security swarms him. Back in the ring, FTR finishes Austin with the Big Rig at 10:35. Kind of a mess, which ended up as more of a backdrop for the Wardlow angle, but mostly decent. **1/4
Meanwhile, Powerhouse Hobbs will probably bask in Keith Lee’s glory on Rampage. Man, that show is gonna DIE this week. It might do 200,000 viewers.
Meanwhile, Jericho insists that no one else is going to join the Appreciation Society, and 2point0 finds nothing behind the curtain, but Hager tries the same trick and finds Santana and Ortiz and Eddie Kingston, which triggers a big brawl into the arena. For once we get a BABYFACE beatdown, until Hager turns the tide and the heels get the advantage again. And poor Eddie takes the brunt as usual. The surprise curtain reveal was fun but this ended up dragging on way too long and this JAS thing just isn’t working.
Meanwhile, Mark Sterling picks LEVA BATES for Jade’s 30th opponent, but Jade doesn’t want a joke opponent, so Plan B is Marina Shafir.
Bryan Danielson v. Wheeler Yuta
Wheeler takes it to the mat with Bryan and Regal joins us on commentary, noting that he’s “very interested” in Yuta. Danielson takes him down and works the knucklelock, but Yuta bridges out and reverses to his own. Bryan tries an armbar and Yuta makes the ropes, so Bryan gives him the ol’ Will Smith and then beats on him with kicks in the corner. Yuta fires back with his own shots and they slug it out on the mat, with Yuta hooking him in a deathlock and bridging back for a cool spot. Yuta goes up and Bryan kicks him out of the air, and we take a break. Back with an exchange of chops, and Yuta gets a german suplex for two and hangs on with the waistlock. Bryan with a dragon suplex for two. He beats on Yuta’s chest with elbows and sets up Cattle Mutilation, but Yuta reverses out and gets his own elbows, before rolling up Danielson for two. Bryan puts him down with the running knee and it’s time to KICK HIS HEAD IN, but Yuta spits at him. No wonder Covid won’t go away with that kind of stuff going on. So Danielson piledrives him and puts him in a crossface to tap him out at 10:18. William Regal is very impressed by the violence sustained by Yuta, but nothing happens yet. ***1/2
Meanwhile, Andrade and Darby are ready for the main event.
The Undisputed Elite join us for a championship celebration, complete with their names taped over the belts. Also a box marked “Party Supplies, Top Secret” which turns out to contain four gold balloons. Cole notes that you can’t steal what already belongs to you, and Kyle does a promo but has to sit down because he had too much champagne backstage and loses his train of thought. But then Hangman shows up in a car adorned with giant horns and attacks the heels by himself. And then the Jurassic Express also shows up and they all clean house and regain their belts. The stuff with Kyle O’Reilly was pretty wacky but this was good.
Thunder Rosa joins us for another try at her promo from last week. Apparently pillars can fall but she’s a foundation and they stay around forever.
Meanwhile, FTR admits that they might take themselves too seriously, but that’s because they love pro wrestling too much, so they’re challenging the Bucks.
Owen Hart Foundation qualifier: The Bunny v. Toni Storm
Well that’s a good pickup for TK. Plus now we can hopefully see her against Jamie Hayter. You know, for science. They slug it out and Toni hits a snap suplex and beats on the Bunny with forearms in the corner. Toni with a dropkick for two and she works on the arm, but Bunny takes her to the floor for a clothesline as we take a break. Back with a double down in the ring, but Toni comes back with a lariat and fisherman’s suplex for two. Bunny with a death valley driver for two and a pair of superkicks for two. Storm comes back with a german suplex and finishes with Storm Zero at 8:44. Toni is great but this was a pretty mid debut, just kind of a meandering match. **
Meanwhile, Nyla Rose believes herself to be the real foundation of AEW.
Andrade v. Darby Allin
Andrade wipes him out with a corkscrew dive before the bell and hurls him over the timekeeper’s table, but Darby jumps on his back with the skateboard and then dives off the stairs. Andrade actually catches him in a suplex and dumps him into the front row in a great spot, and then suplexes him back in and drops him on the stairs in a gutwrenching bump. So Darby decides to start the match anyway, and Andrade hurls him into the corner ass over teakettle. Andrade with the double knees for two, but Darby is in the ropes. So Andrade hits a HUGE backdrop and we take a break. Back with Darby hitting a Code Red for two. They trade boots in the corner and Darby gets the worst of that. This sets up an epic slap fight, like a pair of Will Smiths, but Darby is the Chris Rock and goes down first. Andrade dramatically pulls out his belt, but Darby uses his own and trips him up and into a stunner for two. Darby charges and walks into a backbreaker, which gets two. They fight to the top and Andrade tries to bring him down with a samoan drop, but Darby flips him over and into an armbar. Jose the Assistant tries to interfere, but Sting takes him out, so Butcher and Blade attack Sting and Darby dives onto them. Back in the ring, Andrade hits the buckle bomb and El Idolo DDT at 10:05. An excellent TV match to end the show. **** This gives us another heel beatdown from the AFO, but the Hardys make the save, even though it’s late at night and they should really be in bed by now.
Main event was great, but the rest was just kind of an average show that was putting in time.