The SmarK Rant for AEW Dynamite – 03.15.23
By Scott Keith on 17th March 2023
The SmarK Rant for AEW Dynamite – 03.15.23
OK, I’m finally home and not completely bagged from travel, so it’s time to document my Winnipeg adventure! Such as it was.
First up, Winnipeg is a miserable city, but the arena is nice. I flew in on Tuesday and I was amazed at the state of the roads and how everything seemed to be from 1917 and built over top of existing warehouse facilities. Luckily the hotel was literally across the street from the arena, because I had various people advise me to remain with a group when travelling to and from Canada Life because of the neighborhood it was in. However, the Alt Hotel had a nice restaurant attached to it with an odd Asian-Mexican fusion menu that somehow worked well, and it was a good supper.
Wednesday I just kind of cruised around the mall shopping for souvenirs for my family, mostly because we don’t have Hot Topic in Saskatoon and I have a 12 year old daughter, so you do the math. The mall was plastered with people in AEW merch, and all the stores I was at had people commenting that everyone seemed to be going to the show tonight. I ended up going to a matinee of Cocaine Bear, which was AWESOME by the way. Way funnier than I was anticipating and also more gory and violent, which made it a winner. We grabbed pre-game appetizers at the Brown’s Social House attached to the hotel, with another batch of people covered in AEW merch and even some New Japan shirts in a nice touch. At this point I got notification of the AEW Canadian tour coming in the summer and notified the restaurant patrons, at which point I was hailed as a conquering hero and carried around the restaurant with promises of signing autographs later. There was a meet and greet at a comics store the day before with Ethan Page and the Gunns, but I flew in too late to catch it and probably wouldn’t have wanted to stand in line to meet Billy’s kids anyway. Apparently Danhausen was advertised but got delayed and was unable to be there. I also learned that there was a meet and greet at the arena where you could meet Hangman Page and/or Jamie Hayter for $75 each, and that’s a hard pass from me.
Which brings us to the actual show:
LIVE FROM WINNIPEG MB
I met up with a friend while waiting in the GIANT merchandise line, since he was taking his son to his first show with floor seats to boot. Lots of kids at the show, as expected. The arena, as noted, is very nice and quite swanky and modern, and hopefully someday Winnipeg with be able to attract an actual hockey team to play there. The merch was a bit disappointing, although it was run way better than the WWE ones I’ve been a part of and the line moved a lot faster. Still though, they had the commemorative Dynamite shirt, the Canadian AEW shirt, an Acclaimed shirt, and really not much else interesting. I grabbed the Dynamite and Canadian shirts (because I don’t actually have any generic “AEW” shirts despite my giant pile of shirts featuring AEW wrestlers) and an Acclaimed scissors sticker set for my kid. Shirts were definitely overpriced at $50 Canadian, but on the bright side they actually had sizes for freakishly tall people like myself so I took advantage.
Show started about 10 minutes early, at 5:50PM. The arena was FULL, at least in the lower decks, almost from bell time for the first Dark matches. Apparently the number ended up at 7600, which makes sense because there wasn’t much in the upper decks. People were ready for this show in Winnipeg. They taped a few matches for Dark Elevation and Dasha has a really fun little patter she does with the crowd between matches. I was in section 125, which was directly across from the Khan-Tron in the lower bowl, and a GREAT view of the ring, so I was aware of Shockmaster there on the floor but not anywhere near him. Nothing super notable in the Elevation matches taped, although Matt Hardy got a GIANT reaction and was treated like a complete star by the crowd. What I liked was that Ethan Page acted like a dick but then got into the whole fun of being a surrogate Hardy and ended up being a babyface too by the end of the trios match. It’s no wonder that the Dark shows end up so long because they squeeze a LOT of matches into the hour before Dynamite and then space them out with other padding for the YouTube show on Monday. Also Paul Wight was over gigantically whenever he was introduced and people went nuts for Daddy Magic as well. Finally, I took a bunch of photos because I just got a new iPhone 14 Plus, but the white ring lights messed with my camera’s white balance and everything kind of had a haze on it as a result.
And then Justin Roberts came out and got everyone to stand up for the live show (although a group of dudebros behind us kept demanding that everyone sit down so they could see better) and we were off.
LIVE FROM WINNIPEG MB!
Your hosts are Taz, Excalibur & Tony Schiavone.
Re-Bar Mitzvah: MJF joins us for his birthday celebration and we learn that he is “Jewish AF”. Max goes for the cheap Jewish heat and we actually had trouble hearing the promo in the arena because the crowd was so loud, especially after the cheapshot at Bret. Sadly, the chair dance is interrupted by Jungle Boy, and then Sammy Guevara, and then Darby Allin, as this opening gets very WWE-like. Jungle Boy complains that they all had to wrestle on Dark, Elevation and Rampage and MJF does whatever he wants. Jack calls MJF’s stuff “Hokey Bullshit” but doesn’t let the crowd chant it before plowing on. Sammy complains about “being the Inner Circle’s job guy” and MJF thanks him for taking time out of his locker room brawls to be here. This thing is way too inside baseball. Speaking of which, Darby complains about wrestlers complaining on Twitter and wanting out of their contracts. And then MJF complains about how he never needed a daddy figure to help him from day one and tells the other three to get lost so he can eat his cake. And of course they all jump him and brawl, resulting in Maxwell going facefirst into his birthday cake. The old lady sitting beside me thought that was HILARIOUS, by the way. I wasn’t a huge fan of the opening segment but if it sets up a title match then great.
Meanwhile, Chris Jericho gets honored by the Winnipeg mayor.
The Blackpool Combat Club v. The Dark Order and Hangman Page
In case you’re curious where I was sitting, during Moxley’s entrance you can see a guy in the front with a flag, and I was 4 rows directly behind him in my red FTR shirt. So anyway, Stu Grayson was CRAZY over in the arena, as no one knew he was showing up. Uno trades chops with Yuta to start, but the BCC traps him in the corner and Mox chokes him out with his own vest. Claudio with a low dropkick for two and Yuta drops a knee for two as they trap him in the corner and triple-team him. But Stu gets a hot tag and runs wild, hitting Yuta with a DDT on the apron and flying knees on Claudio, followed by a swinging DDT and quebrada for two. Stu tries a backslide but gets dumped and brutalized by Claudio on the floor, setting up a spike piledriver out there as we take a break. Back with Stu getting beat up in the corner and he runs into an uppercut from Claudio for two. Mox with a piledriver for two. Hangman gets the hot tag and dives onto Claudio, then catches Yuta with a powerbomb to set up the swanton from Uno. They all throw bombs to clear the ring, but we’re left with Hangman and Mox and they slug it out until Page hits the lariat. He goes for the buckshot, but Yuta knocks him out with the bell, apparently having learned the lesson from Claudio about not being a wuss. So the BCC triple-teams the Dark Order, but Stu makes a comeback and dives on Claudio over the ringpost while Uno DDTs Moxley. Stu back in with a 450 on Moxley, and that gets two. Fatality gets two, but Yuta saves. Stu with the Pele kick and a rana on Claudio for two, but Yuta takes out Uno and Moxley chokes out Stu at 13:26. Great opener, although I feel like they should have given Stu the big win here. ****
Meanwhile, Juice Robinson is pretty sure Ricky Starks isn’t gonna do jack squat to stop him. We didn’t get that promo in the arena.
TBS title: Jade Cargill v. Nicole Matthews
The announcers put over Nicole’s previous history in the sport, but no one in the arena knew her. Jaded finishes in 0:40. This of course brings out Taya Valkyrie to defend the honor of Canada, although she didn’t feel like a big deal to be honest and the nothing squash she did on Rampage didn’t feel like a big deal either. Kudos to Leila Grey for taking Jade in a tube top without popping out, though.
Meanwhile, Ricky Starks thinks that Juice is jealous because the Bullet Club hasn’t been relevant since 2015. We didn’t get that promo in the arena either.
QTV: We did actually get this in the arena, and everyone laughed at “Wardlow will be doing whatever’s next for Batista, but not as good”.
AEW International title: Orange Cassidy v. Jeff Jarrett
Jeff was HUGELY over with the crowd, unsurprisingly, because he’s been awesome in this run with the Memphis Bullshit Mafia. Also the reactions for Orange live are incredible. Nice touch we couldn’t see in the arena, as Orange takes the new International title off the stand, puts it in the backpack, replaces it with the All-Atlantic title, and then goes into the ring and takes the new belt out of the backpack again. Jeff does some strutting to start, but Orange goes for the pockets and hurts his knee in the process. So Jeff slams him and struts some more before doing his own kicks. I love that Jeff immediately understands the character and knows what to do with him. Orange fights back and gets distracted by Sonjay, as we take a break and they brawl through the crowd in the arena. That got over HUGE by the way. Although you could always tell when something was going to happen because they’d move security over to the edges of the arena in advance. Back with Jeff going after the knee and teasing a figure-four, before cackling to himself and going a Sharpshooter instead. How can you not love this man? In a promotion of no-nonsense wrestlers, he brings the appropriate amount of nonsense every time. Orange makes the ropes and Jarrett gets a sleeper instead, but Orange fights up and gets to the pockets before escaping with the jawbreaker. Satnam necks him, however, and Jarrett gets the figure-four, for two. Orange powers up and fights out for the slugfest, but the ref is bumped and the arena was freaking out because we thought the title change was imminent. But this brings out Aubrey, who actually hadn’t appeared yet on the evening, and Orange frames Satnam for using the guitar, resulting in the goons getting sent back to the dressing room. But then Jay Lethal runs in with the Golden Globe and knocks out Orange, which gets two. So Trent comes out and takes out Lethal, and Jarrett goes for the Stroke, but Orange reverses out and finishes with the Orange Punch at 13:39. It probably didn’t come off that way on TV, but that finish in the building was the loudest reaction I’ve ever been a part of. It was literally deafening. A very fun TV match, but it was epic live and didn’t really translate as well. ***.
Meanwhile, we get a rap from the Acclaimed, which we did actually see in the arena. The lack of the Acclaimed was really disappointing for a lot of people, especially since most of the merch was focused on them.
The Outcasts join us for a promo and MAN did this die live. Saraya calls everyone a bunch of “stinky twats” and apparently got fined for it and Toni notes that everyone is fat as they really do a money promo here. I really hope they find an endgame here soon and get to it. So Britt and Jamie storm the ring in Canadian tuxes, but they get beaten down and Riho makes the save along with Willow and Skye Blue. I thought this was setting up something for Rampage, but nope. Only appearance for everyone.
Meanwhile, 2.0 continues to be disappointed by Acclaimed ignoring them, so they’re taking it out on the Bollywood Boys on Rampage.
AEW Trios title: The House of Black v. The Elite v. The Jericho Appreciation Society
Jericho and Omega were of course both crazy over, although I’d say Kenny had the edge. Daniel stands up to Brody King right away and gets dumped, and everyone brawls as we take a break. Back with Jericho getting worked over by the House as TSN has trouble getting out of the PIP feed, but Jericho hits Black with a backbreaker for two. The JAS stops for a photo op, but the Bucks come in and Nick runs wild on the JAS and hits Malakai with the facebuster. But then Malakai hits him with a knee strike to take over. Buddy with a double stomp to the arm, but Nick hits him with the enzuigiri and it’s over to Kenny, who goes nuts on everyone with snapdragons and You Can’t Escape on Buddy for two. Over to Jericho and the arena was going MENTAL for that, as they team up to get rid of the House of Black and then engage in a hockey fight. But then everyone runs in for the big moves to clear the ring and Kenny hits a snapdragon on Buddy before walking into the Walls. The Bucks break it up with superkicks on everyone until Brody puts them down with a double lariat and we take another break. Everyone was standing in the arena for all of this and didn’t sit down for the rest of the match, by the way. Back with Kenny hitting the Terminator Dive on Jericho, and then Nick tries his own dive before the JAS cuts him off. Garcia with a superplex on Nick and Sammy hits a Spanish Fly on Matt, and then Brody teases his own before Kenny cuts him off and teams up with Jericho for their own superplex. But then Jericho turns on Kenny with a codebreaker for two. Lionsault hits the knees and Matt comes in and runs wild with the suplexes on Garcia, but Jericho cuts off the Meltzer with a codebreaker. Sammy hits Matt with a shooting star press for two, but Brody saves and smashes both Garcia and Sammy in the corners, leaving Jericho to fight alone. So that doesn’t go great for him, as Brody hits the Dante’s Inferno for two and Kenny has to save. Jericho uses the bat to take out Brody and Sammy dives onto the pile outside, but Jericho only gets two on Brody. Black cuts off the Judas Effect with the kick, and that leaves Daniel alone, and Dante’s Inferno finishes him at 22:15 as the arena went SILENT after waiting for Jericho or Omega to get the big win. An incredible match live and almost as good on TV as well. ****1/2.
Afterwards, Hangman Page brawls out with the BCC and appears to be alone, but the Elite back him up as the show goes off the air. Nothing happened in the arena, by the way, it was just everyone kind of waving it off and leaving. And then Kenny did a promo about Winnipeg and Justin Roberts repeatedly told us NOT TO GO HOME YET because Rampage is going to be taped. But about a third of the arena left anyway, blatantly ignoring him.
So after Dynamite, we got another Elevation match with Dustin Rhodes & Keith Lee squashing a couple of geeks, and then a decent-ish Rampage lineup with Hobbs against Fenix, Taya squashing some geek, 2.0 against the Bollywood Boyz and then a decent match with Daniel Garcia against Brody King to end the show. It was all decent, the crowd was pretty spent and burnt out for most of it, and then we got a promo from Jericho and Kenny and Don Callis to cap things off and end the evening.
So that was Dynamite! An absolutely amazing live experience and my favorite live wrestling show ever (since I wasn’t at Canadian Stampede) but I’m never going back to Winnipeg again if I can help it. Thankfully they’re coming to Saskatoon in July so I can go to another show without having to burn a week of vacation time.
As for Dynamite, they’ve got a million angles going on right now and this didn’t feel like it clarified many of them, but the next PPV isn’t until May anyway. It didn’t feel like the molten hot crowd translated to TV as much as I thought it would, but the quality of in-ring wrestling can’t be questioned. But I’ll be interested to see what they do with Rampage to make it seem like people were reacting, because they sure weren’t live.