Who will reach the final?
Let’s get this started…
This week’s Dynamite kicks off with a promo video package for Darby Allin and Cody ahead of their match in the semi-finals pf the TNT championship. It recaps their previous match in the early days of Dynamite, which was taken to a time-limit draw. Cody states during the video that, “I feel like I lost enough early in my career that I never ever want to lose, and a draw is a loss.” The promo package is intense, and also makes Cody feel like the heel in this situation, along with Darby describing him as a “corporate sheep.”
Jericho and Schiavone are back on commentary once again, they announce the matches for tonight, along with the return of the Bubbly Bunch.
The American Nightmare
Cody versus Darby Allin opens tonight’s event, with Darby making his way to the ring first. Cody is accompanied by Brandi Rhodes, while Shawn Spears is shown in the crowd, looking disgruntled. As the bell rings, the two stare down in the middle of the ring. Feeling each-other out with small bouts of offence and grappling. The pace starts to quicken, with Cody taking Darby down for a quick cover. They both attempt to place holds, with the two trading pins. Cody seems to tweak his knee in an attempt to bridge out of a pin; Darby capitalises by going for the knee, focusing his offence there before being launched into the crowd barrier.
Cody and Spears have a face to face in the crowd before the former goes back to Darby. Darby escapes and charges at Cody, but Cody side steps and launches Darby into Brandi. Darby checks on Brandi but is hit with a knee by Cody, Cody then checks on Brandi. Jericho is really hamming up the fact that Cody knew Brandi was standing, calling him a “despicable human being”, further making Cody look very heelish in this match.
Darby is thrown back into the ring by Cody, taking advantage before the show goes to a break. Cody maintains control after the show returns, he gets a two-count and continues his offence. Cody remains dominant for a while, getting multiple cover attempts in this run. He puts on the Single-Legged Crab but Darby gets to the rope. Darby gains some control back after countering Cody and going for the knee once again. He hits some other offence but always goes back to the leg.
Darby hangs Cody up from the top turnbuckle and launches himself on his leg, he continues that leg based offence. Cody escapes to the outside but is hit by Britt Baker in the crowd with a shoe while the referee has her back turned. Darby gets Cody back in the ring and goes back to focusing on the leg.
As the show returns from another break, the two trade blows and take each other down with Clothesline. The wrestlers in the crowd start to chant and Jericho notices “Pineapple Pete” in the crowd, stating his hatred for him. Cody hits a Release Suplex and a Disaster Kick on Darby Allin, he then takes off his belt, hinting that he may hit him with it in a heelish manner. Jericho shouts that he should whip him with it from commentary, but Cody gives the belt to referee Aubrey Edwards instead.
Cody goes down grasping his knee, but seemingly feigns injury in order to get a roll-up on Darby, who kicks out at two. Darby hits the Cross-Rhodes on Cody, but he kicks out of his own finisher. Darby again puts Cody’s own move on him with the Figure-Four Leg Lock. Meanwhile, Brandi comes back out, clearly looking injured but holding a water bottle. She gives Cody the water to drink, but Darby slams him over the head with it. He goes for a Coffin Drop but is instead taken out by the American Nightmare.
After some offence by Darby, Cody hits the Cross-Rhodes but Darby kicks out at two. Cody goes up to hit Darby’s own Coffin Drop, but Darby gets his knees up. Darby then goes for the Coffin Drop himself and hits it, but in a shocking twist of an ending, Cody somehow rolls his shoulders up and places Darby’s shoulders on the mat, with the ref counting three for a Cody win.
Cody Rhodes defeats Darby Allin via Pinfall – Grade: B
It was an interesting but weird ending, I think we were meant to believe that Darby was unaware that Cody’s shoulders weren’t down, but the position of the pin was a strange one. Either way, Cody advances to the Final of the TNT Championship Tournament. Jericho is great on commentary throughout, but his comments about Cody’s water being spiked, enabling him to win, were especially good.
The second part of the Scorpio Sky documentary that aired last week, continues tonight. Talking about SCU and his match with Jericho for the World Championship a few months back. He states that he wants to be a, “fucking legend.”
MJF provides another comedic medical update, stating that he went to see his nail doctor, who was in awe at the miraculous recovery of his injury, “he says that I now have the strongest nail in the world, his words not mine.” MJF then goes to say that he was ready to return to AEW Dynamite, however an “incident” during shaving has led to him wearing a neck brace, “I’m sure a normal man would have bled out and died, but not me because I am a warrior.” MJF is a great promo and his sarcastic comments, lies and schemes are always entertaining to watch.
War Is Coming…
Musa faces Wardlow next, with Wardlow immediately slamming him to the mat and barging him in the corner. Musa escapes the shoulders of Wardlow, delivering a slap to the face. But as we all know, this only serves to anger the hulking beast.
Musa actually maintains control with some bouts of athleticism, but as he climbs to the top turnbuckle, Wardlow grabs him by the throat and drops him face-first into his knee. Wardlow performs his Release Airplane Spin for the win. A squash as expected, but a necessary one after that opening match.
Wardlow defeats Musa via Pinfall – Grade: C
The third instalment of the Inner Circle’s Bubbly Bunch continues with the aftermath of last week’s Flim Flam Challenge. The Inner Circle members fight each other through their cameras, featuring cameos from wrestlers and celebrities such as Peter Avalon, Jungle Boy, Sonny Kiss, Kevin Smith, Gabriel Iglesias, Lou Ferrigno, Vickie Guerrero and even Jericho’s dad, Ted Irvine, plus way more. This was a fun segment and the best Bubbly Bunch to date.
“Freshly Knocked The F Out”
A No Disqualification/No Count-Out match pitting the Best Friends against Kip Sabian & Jimmy Havoc is up next. Havoc is out first, with Sabian soon following with Penelope Ford by his side. The Best Friends are accompanied as always by Orange Cassidy. Havoc and Kip attack the pair before the bell even rings, but it follows soon after. Trent manages to get Havoc out of the ring, with Chucky T taking Sabian to the outside, Trent performs a Tope Con Hilo on the duo.
As always, Jericho is a commentary highlight, as Havoc gets a chair and throws it right at Cassidy, “Freshly squeezed indeed, freshly knocked the f out.” Sabian is in control of Trent, whereas Havoc is on the defensive from Chucky T. Havoc turns a suplex around, with Chucky T landing on a pile of chairs. On the other side, Trent fights back and slams Kip into the apron; he then saves Chuck from a chair shot by spearing Havoc, before Kip takes a dive onto Trent. Kip stomps the hell out of Trent in the ring as Havoc takes out Chuck on the outside.
Havoc launches a ladder at Trent while in the ring corner, he then slams him into the bottom of the ladder after setting it up in the corner. Havoc gets a two count, but then picks him up and bites at his ear before tagging in Sabian. Sabian kicks Trent in the back, with Havoc running to do the same from the front, instead stopping and flipping him off as Kip sends another stomp to the back of Trent. Chucky T attempts to get back in the ring but is kicked out by Havoc. The English pair stay dominant until Trent gets a small comeback with a kick and an elbow strike to Havoc and Kip respectively. The two, however, regain control and get a joint cover which is broken up by Chucky T.
Kip dumps Chucky T to the outside before placing Trent on a chair in the ring corner. Havoc whips Kip towards Trent, with Kip jumping onto the chair as Trent dodges. Havoc then jabs both members of the Best Friends with a chair before receiving a knee from Chuck. From opposite corners, the Best friends launch two chairs at the head of Jimmy Havoc, before performing their hug over the top of kneeling Havoc. Kip attempts to break it up but is hit with a Suplex. Chuck attempts a cover but only gets a two.
Chucky T lodges a chair between the ropes, with both him and Kip nearly running into it. Kip then grabs Chuck, throwing him into the chair, before Trent runs in and uses the ropes to perform a DDT on Sabian. Trent performs a Running Knee Strike, using the chair to deal additional damage, but Havoc breaks up the pinfall attempt after. Trent hits Havoc with a chair shot before laying Kip on the ladder set up between the ropes. Havoc pulls Kip off the ladder and climbs onto it with Trent. Havoc is pushed off by Trent but pulls out his legs from underneath of him, which leads to Trent landing hard on the ladder. Havoc then slams Trent on a pile of chairs before Kip goes to the top, landing a double foot stomp. They go for a cover but Chucky T breaks up the pin, who then slams Havoc into a chair and delivers a pile driver to Kip onto another.
He goes for the pin, which is broken up by Penelope Ford. Chucky T takes a page out of Jimmy Havoc’s book by biting the ear, Havoc later counters with a back elbow and then flips Chuck onto the ladder in the corner.
Chuck is saved from further harm by a returning Orange Cassidy, who throws a chair at Orange Cassidy. He is then grabbed from behind by Kip, while Ford aims to deliver a kick to the face. Cassidy ducks and she instead hits her boyfriend, as Orange walks away like nothing happened. Ford attempts to jump on Cassidy but misses; she then charges at him, but a repeat of the Brandi/Cody spot earlier in the night plays out, with Ford charging into Kip instead. Cassidy attempts to climb to the top, is slightly halted by Jimmy Havoc, but still manages to jump onto Kip and Ford on the outside. Chucky T then grabs Havoc, slamming him into the pile of chairs on the mat and pinning him for the win.
Best Friends defeat Jimmy Havoc & Kip Sabian via Pinfall – Grade: B+
A great match, but I’m slightly shocked Havoc and Kip didn’t get a win here. I assume AEW want to elevate Best Friends for a potential tag title shot, but it would have been nice to maybe prolong this feud and having a blow-off match later on. Jericho made me laugh during this match, so it gets a slight grade boost due to my enjoyment of that and the in-ring quality.
A Britt Baker promo package plays next, this time in the style of an MTV Cribs show, where she shows off her Dentist office to the cameramen. The whole segment fits into her heel role, portraying herself as a “role model”, while clearly acting like a heel. She fires plenty of shots at fat people, people who wear glasses and more, while mainly aiming the insults at Tony Schiavone.
Sharpshooting From The Hip
Shawn Spears is out next, flipping off Billy Gunn in the crowd as he makes his entrance. He’s facing Baron Black, who gets a rare AEW jobbers entrance as he’s already in the ring.
Black manages to takedown Spears but it doesn’t last long, with Spears taking control, hitting him in the midsection before chopping him in the corner. He flexes and talks to the heel side of the crowd, allowing Black to fight back with some chops of his own. Spears hits a Spinebuster and elbows Black in the face while grounded.
Spears hits a Snap Suplex before boasting and flexing during a pin attempt. He attempts another suplex but Black escapes and hits a European Uppercut and more chops. Black sees an opening but is thwarted by a kick from Spears, who hits the C4 but doesn’t go for the cover. Instead, he puts on the Sharpshooter for the submission victory, with a mention of Bret Hart from Jericho on commentary.
Shawn Spears defeats Baron Black via Submission – Grade: C
This week’s Technique By Taz focuses on Lance Archer’s Blackout finisher, ahead of his main event against Dustin Rhodes tonight. A recap of Marko Stunt’s match against Lance Archer is shown, along with a promo regarding his match with Brodie Lee, stating, “you ask how much I can take… a lot more than that.”
Making A Monster…
Marko Stunt is first to the ring; Stunt is excellent in matches like this, he made Lance look like a devastating monster and hopefully he can do the same for The Exalted One. Brodie Lee comes out, staring down Stunt throughout his entrance and into the match.
Stunt attempts to run into Lee but is thrown to the ground twice. He manages to get a slap on Lee and attempts to use his speed to his advantage but is forced to the corner, where Lee delivers a devastating chop. He then attempts to claw at the mouth of Stunt, also standing on his jaw while he’s on the floor. Lee throws Stunt across the ring while staring down Stunt.
Lee walks around the outside of the ring but Stunt attempts to perform a dive, which unfortunately leads to him being caught by Lee who then delivers a kick to the face. Lee gets back in the ring and the referee starts a ten count, the camera focuses entirely on Lee’s face until Stunt gets in the ring just before the count of ten.
Lee attempts to throw Stunt backwards across the ring, but he lands on his feet, delivering a kick to the face. This comeback promptly ends with a fantastic looking move from Lee, which ends with Stunt being slammed to the mat. Lee then hits a Sit-Out Powerbomb for the dominant win. Stunt is very good at making wrestlers look like monsters, and deserves all the credit for that.
Brodie Lee defeats Marko Stunt via Pinfall – Grade: B
Next up is a video package from Jon Moxley, showcasing his AEW title win, as well as talking about the lack of a crowd currently and the things he’s thankful for in life currently; ranging from his wife (Renee Young) to steel chairs, bringing up the finish of his match with Hager. He states that he will be live at AEW Dynamite next week, cutting a great promo, with some added comedy too, “Is everybody paying attention… don’t forget to call your grandmother!”
Now it’s time for the main event, the semi-final between Lance Archer and Dustin Rhodes, but not before Jericho and Schiavone announce what’s to come on next week’s Dynamite. MJF is set to return next week, this time in the arena. Jon Moxley is also set to return and will face Frankie Kazarian, while Jericho announces a Street Fight for next week… he confirms that “Le Sex Gods”, referring to himself and Sammy Guevara, will take on Matt Hardy and “that pumpkin-headed dipshit” Kenny Omega.
A Monster Made…
Lance Archer is out first, taking out someone in his entrance, as per usual. He walks around the ring, pointing at Colt Cabana before getting in. Dustin makes his way to the ring, accompanied by Brandi Rhodes who seems to have recovered and changed clothes.
The two grapple in the ring to start off, the first real spark offence comes in the form of slaps via Dustin, who is then barged to the mat by Lance. Dustin is smart getting back in the ring, delivering a kick… sadly not smart enough, as Archer scouts his attempt at the Rhodes Punch. Dustin actually manages to get Archer outside the ring, knocking him to the ground. Dustin delivers several blows in the ring, but his run of offence ends after a failed Powerslam attempt leads to Archer Pouncing him out of the ring.
Archer, for some reason, gets a chair from under the ring, which is kicked out of his hands by Dustin. Dustin then picks up the chair but receives a kick to the face through the chair. Archer stalks around the babyface crowd side, while Jericho shouts on commentary for him to punch “Pineapple Pete” in the face; he walks towards Brandi, in an intimidating manner but quickly turns his attention to a busted open Dustin.
The chair shot seemingly opened up the forehead of Dustin. Archer slams his head into the apron and continues to berate a grounded Dustin in the corner. Dustin eventually fights back with some strikes to the face but is taken down and pummelled once again by Archer. Archer slams Dustin’s head against the timekeeper’s table and the ring post, as the pair traded blows on the outside. Archer knocks Dustin to the ground, he attempts to crawl in the ring but is kicked back out.
Archer throws Dustin back in, slams his head against the top turnbuckle and shows off the blood from Dustin’s head, on his hand, to the camera. Dustin sneaks up behind and hits him on the back, but Archer gets back in and dominates. The referee checks up on Dustin as he lay bleeding on the mat, Archer grabs his nose to cause further pain to the injury. Dustin gets a second wind, hanging Archer up between the middle and top rope, kneeing him in what looked like a low-blow. I’m not quite sure of the AEW rules, but usually, that would be a DQ, right? Regardless the match continues with Lance again gaining back control.
After a break, Archer continues to crank on the neck of Dustin, until the latter attempts a comeback, hitting a Code Red. Archer looks menacing throughout, even when he’s taking offence, he laughs it off. Dustin has his best bout of offence here, knocking Lance off his feet and delivering a Powerslam later on. Dustin climbs on the middle rope in the corner, delivering multiple blows before being lifted up on the shoulders of Archer. Dustin escapes and manages to hit a Cross-Rhodes, but Archer shockingly kicks out nearly immediately.
Dustin climbs to the top rope, but Archer catches him by the throat lifting him up into a gigantic Chokeslam, though he only gets a two-count here. Archer then climbs up to the top rope, holding onto Dustin the whole time, performing an impressive Undertaker-esque rope walk across to the other corner; he then performs a great Moonsault while on the ropes for a cover of two.
Archer goes for the Blackout after getting Dustin up from the top rope, although he escapes it. Archer hits another Chokeslam for a two-count, which is quickly reversed into another pinning predicament by Dustin, which also gets a two-count, although a slightly botched one. Archer hits a big boot, then rips off the top turnbuckle, slamming Dustin’s forehead into the exposed metal multiple times… now surely that’s a DQ, or did I miss the No-Disqualification stipulation for this match?
QT Marshall comes out to check on the bloodied and bruised Dustin Rhodes, ready to throw in the towel, before he is stopped by Cody, who talks to his brother. Archer drags Dustin into the middle of the ring from the apron, which looked great as Cody, QT and Brandi were watching on. Archer throws the towel out of the ring in the direction of Cody before slamming Dustin’s head against the mat, placing his knee on Dustin’s throat and getting the victory.
Lance Archer defeats Dustin Rhodes via Pinfall – Grade: A-
Cody, Brandi and QT get in after the bell to check on Dustin as Archer stands and stares down Cody, speaking to him as he cradles his beaten brother.
Archer looked like a complete monster, I loved the ending of this match and the dominance shown by Archer, the blood really added to the match and despite some slow moments, made for an excellent affair. I’m still a little confused at the fact Archer wasn’t disqualified, or why the referee didn’t call the match off after Dustin was clearly unable to compete. However, I understand that AEW puts a focus on referee discretion in matches and that they may not always follow the same rules as other companies do, I just found it a little odd but not enough to spoil my enjoyment.
Overall Grade: B
A fun show, bookended by two great semi-finals with rather interesting endings. Lance Archer’s performance in the main event, and his portrayal as a true monster, really elevated that main event to me. The No-DQ match was very fun and a nice break between the squashes between. Hopefully, we see more matches like it in the future of AEW.
By Jimmy Ioannou
Images provided by AEW/TNT