KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (12/5)
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AEW DYNAMITE TV REPORT
NOVEMBER 27, 2019
CHICAGO, ILL. AT SEARS CENTRE
REPORT BY WADE KELLER, PWTORCH EDITOR
Commentators: Jim Ross, Excallibur.
Ring announcer: Justin Roberts
-They opened with “Soul Train Jones” (known as “Virgil” and “Vincent”) mid-ring. He welcomed viewers to “the greatest night in television history!” He yelled that he is the M.C. There were inflatable animals at ringside and gigantic gift boxes and a painting of the Inner Circle in the ring. He introduced Chris Jericho “as the greatest of all time.” He stumbled a bit over Jericho’s name. A live band on the ramp played as Jericho made his way to the ring, carrying a bottle of bubbly with him. Ross said Jericho has been demanding a thank you from the fans and personnel of AEW. When he entered the ring, fans chanted, “Thank you, Jericho.” He said, “Hey, Chicago, sit down and shut up. This is Chris Jericho’s Thanksgiving Thank You Celebration and I don’t need you idiots messing it up for me.” He said the fans of Chicago don’t matter. He wanted a thank you from the AEW executives and TNT Network bigwigs. He said fans can turn their tickets in for 50 cents off a new Jericho t-shirt. They cut to a fan celebrating and thanking Jericho. He told one fan he’s “a little fat for a Le Champion” t-shirt.
He said after months of discussion and investigation, they found the greatest tasting grapes and created the official “Little Bit of the Bubbly.” He plugged www.littlebitofthebubbly.com. He called the Inner Circle to the ring. Sammy Guevara called Jericho his father figure as he chomped on his gum. He said he has Jericho’s best gift. He revealed a cardboard cutout of Jericho and Guevara hugging. Then they hugged in celebration, striking the same pose. Santana & Ortiz gave Jericho a gift basket. Jericho asked where “The Big Hurt” Jake Hager is. He looked around.
Hager showed up off stage with a goat who appeared to be quite nervous. It tried to turn around. Hager said, “Her name is Chris Jeri-goats.” Ross said it doesn’t look like a “her” to him. Jericho asked what is inside the biggest box in the ring. Ross asked if it’s Abdullah. (How many current WWE announcers would get that joke?) Inside the box was his father, Ted Irvine, wearing his New York Ranger jersey. He said it’s great to be back in New York City. Chicago fans booed. Jericho told him they’re actually in Chicago. Irvine asked if that means they’re in the home of the Blackhawks. A “Let’s Go Blackhawks” chant broke out. Irvine said when he played for the Rangers, they beat the Blackhawks all the time. “They were brutal!” he said. Jericho said they still are brutal. “I used to beat the crap out of some guy named Bobby Hull,” Ted added. He said the Blackhawks were and always will be wimps. (Notable absence of a “C.M. Punk” chant here, a well-known big Blackhawks fan. Indicative, perhaps, of AEW fans not seeing him in the same favor as they once did given his return to WWE programming.) Fans chanted “Rangers suck!” as Ted handed out Rangers jerseys to the Inner Circle. The backs of the jerseys has nicknames on them: Ruffian, Thug, Spanish God, Big Hurt.
Jericho said they’ve been having fun, but now it’s time to get the nitty-gritty. He said he had an official statement from AEW and TNT brass. Jericho said he doesn’t feel like reading it. He asked Justin Roberts, whom he called “announcer guy,” to read it. Fans chanted, “You can’t read!” at him. Justin entered the ring and talked about how he is from the area and graduated high school nearby. Justin read the statement that extended gratitude and appreciation for making AEW “the most talked about wrestling league in the world.” It complimented Jericho and said they are proud he is their champion. Jericho said he didn’t like his tone while he was reading it. He asked if he didn’t think Justin deserved a thank you. They beat up Justin and began to tear off his jacket and mess up his hair. Ross said they can’t mess up his hair! The band ran in for the save, and it turned out it was SCU. Scorpio Sky gave Soultrain Jones a clothesline. Inner Circle retreated to ringside.
(Keller’s Analysis: AEW opened Dynamite with a long talking segment clocking in at 17 minutes. That’s a real break from the format. The mic was echoey, unfortunately, but it largely worked quite well as Jericho is just in a career-best groove as a character and on the mic. The pace was a little clunky at times, but never long enough or often enough to be a big deal.)
-They went to Ross and Excalibur on camera who hyped the Jericho vs. Sky, Hangman Page vs. MJF, and Kenny Omega vs. Pac matches, plus the return of Cody since MJF turned on him. Ross noted that Tony Schiavone was on assignment with the Georgia Bulldogs basketball team this week. They introduced Marco Solis Martinez as a third member of the team. Ross said Dasha Fuentes would replace Roberts tonight.
(1) BEST FRIENDS (Chuck Taylor & Trent w/Orange Cassidy) vs. LUCHA BROS.
The Lucha Bros. attacked Best Friends at ringside. Cassidy leaped off the top rope in a turkey outfit. Ross made a WKRP reference about turkeys flying. Excalibur said Ross is really going after the over-50 demo. (I’m under 50 and I got the reference. WKRP should be required viewing for everyone, especially the turkey flying episode.) When the match began, the Lucha Bros. continued to dominate Trent. They cut to an early break, but stayed with the action on split-screen. [c]
Back from the break, Taylor got a hot-tag and went after both Lucha Bros. Fenix superkicked a posing Taylor as he held Pentagon in a submission hold. He came back and landed a flip dive that overshot the Lucha Bros. Pentagon scored a near fall shortly thereafter on Trent after a Destroyer. Trent surprised Fenix with a Crunchie for an upset win.
WINNERS: Best Friends in 7:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: AEW’s “50/50 booking” of its tag division continues. Not a fan at this early stage of introducing Lucha Bros. or Santana & Ortiz losing to teams lower on the totem pole already.)
-The announcers discussed the Women’s Division Rankings: Riho is champion followed by a contendership list of Hikaru Shida, Britt Baker, Emi Sakura, Nyla Rose, and Allie. They showed a graphic on the screen.
(2) EMI SAKURA & BEA PRIESTLY vs. KRIS STATLANDER & HIKARU SHIDA
Ross caught himself saying, “Freddie Mercury never looked so oriental.” He then caught himself and quickly said, “Asian.” Sakura taunted Shida and Statlander at ringside and got kicked for it. They cut to a break a minute in, but stayed with the action on split screen. [c]
Ross plugged they’ll be in Champaign, Ill. at State Farm Center at the University of Illinois next week. (If you are planning to attend and can be our on-site correspondent on the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Post-show after the show that night, let me know: email@example.com.) Sakura landed a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker on Statlander. Priestly was late breaking up the pin, but at least Statlander kicked out anyway. Sakura went for a moonsault, but Statlander moved although not far enough and still got hit. Statlander put Sakura up into Electric Chair position, then dropped her face first down and landed a scissors kick for a believable near fall. Statlander hit a Michinoku Driver, but Priestly broke up the cover (late again, and Sakura’s shoulders were still down for the third count, although she kind of slid into the ref to interrupt his count). Sakura hit Statlander with a mic stand. Then she pinned Statlander with a Magistral Cradle. The fans booed.
WINNERS: Priestly & Sakura in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Just sloppy and clunky. In situations like this, they’d benefit from being less ambitious with some of these sequences and concern themselves with telling a good story with more basic spots they can actually pull off believably.)
-Backstage Jon Moxley said six months ago he declared a war on anyone in AEW. He said he moves forward, blazing a trail to the top of the hill until he’s the last man standing. “I will get you eventually,” he said. He said he wonders if there’s anybody else out there who wants to find him before he gets them. “This is a call to arms for anybody who wants to step up and try to be a hero or get seriously hurt trying,” he closed with.
(Keller’s Analysis: He speed-talked through that. I felt like changing the setting on my playback app from 1.5 to 1.0. It’s like he was reading a one minute podcast commercial script but was told he only had 30 seconds to fit it all in. That said, the content of the promo set the parameters of his journey in AEW, and the overall demeanor and appearance was good.) [c]
(3) CODY RHODES sv. MATT KNICKS
This was the AEW debut for Knicks, whose record was listed at 0-0. Cody Rhodes made his full ring entrance. Knicks was already in the ring. They showed a close-up of a big scar on Cody’s forehead. Excalibur noted that Cody is still ranked, even though he’s not eligible to get a title shot. Cody hit a springboard cutter, played to the crowd, took off his weight belt, and whipped it into the crowd. He then applied a figure-four leg lock for the tapout win.
WINNER: Cody in 1:00.
-Fans loudly chanted “Cody! Cody!” He asked for a mic. He told MJF they don’t have to wait, so let’s do this right here and right now. Someone came up through the ring. Excalibur identified him as “The Blade.” He attacked Cody. Then “The Butcher” came out of the same hole in the ring. The crowd had no idea who they were and didn’t really react. Ross said they’ve never seen these two in AEW before, but added, “Have we?” Excalibur confirmed they hadn’t. Then they pulled Allie out from the hole in the ring. Excalibur said she brought them to AEW. She is now called “The Bunny.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Fans seemed to largely yawn at the whole “come up through the ring” gimmick. I think that should be saved for when fans are going to go apeshit over who is appearing, not sit silently. Between that and the “lights off, lights on” gimmick, it just seems arbitrary and overdone. It’s like a bad blogger who overuses punctuation or a junior high school girl who dots her “i’s” with hearts. Just tell a good story with the basics. Also, this was a great chance for Cody to cut a main event level promo addressing the intricate relationship he had with MJF and how betrayed he felt, and we got nothing after weeks of anticipation. If anything, this just seemed to pivot away from the obvious feud of Cody vs. MJF into Cody vs. two wrestlers nobody seems to recognize. Strange booking choices here.) [c]
(4) KENNY OMEGA vs. PAC
Pac’s ring entrance took place first. Then Omega. Ross noted Pac is no. 1 ranked and Kenny Omega is no. 5 ranked. Hot action out of the gate, with Kenny getting the better of Pac and scoring an early near fall. Pac rolled to the floor. Omega ran the ropes and landed a leaping flip dive onto Pac. Ross called it “poetry in motion.” Fans chanted “AEW!” They were both slow to get up. Pac re-entered the ring first and then kicked Omega off the ring apron. Ross plugged Trent vs. Rey Fenix for next week’s show. Omega gave Pac a snap dragon suplex back in the ring a minute later. Fans chanted “Kenny! Kenny!” He tried to suplex Pac off the ring apron, but Pac hugged the ropes and then elbowed Omega to the floor. Pac then leaped off the top rope with a flip dive onto Omega. Both were slow to get up again. They cut to a break, but stayed with the action on splits-screen. [c]
Pac settled into a side chinlock late in the break. They stood and exchanged blows mid-ring. Pac eventually landed an avalanche falcon arrow for a near fall at 11:00. Omega then avoided the Black Arrow finisher. Omega then landed a V-Trigger and rolled up Pac. They countered each other a few times, but Omega eventually leveraged Pac’s shoulders for the win. The announcers sold this as Omega avenging his prior loss in this venue.
WINNER: Omega in 12:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good, but not epic, match between these two. Good to give Omega a win, but it still feels like he’s playing catch-up compared to where he should have been two months into Dynamite’s run on TNT in terms of establishing himself as a difference-making world class centerpiece act in AEW.)
-They recapped the battle royal finish last week to set up the MJF-Hangman match this week.
-MJF made his ring entrance first, with Wardlow accompanying him. Dasha said MJF claims to be “the face of AEW.” An inset interview aired with MJF saying the diamond ring costs $45,000 and something of that value doesn’t belong on a “white trash inbred hick from Virginia.” Page came out next. They aired an inset interview with him (after a second prompt from Ross). Page said he needs a big win to hang his hat on, and against MJF would be nothing sweeter. He said he’s not much of a ring guy, so if MJF wants it that bad, he’ll shove it up his ass after the match.
(5) “HANGMAN” ADAM PAGE vs. MJF (w/Wardlow)
Page hit MJF when MJF extended a “disingenuous handshake,” as Ross called it. Wardlow protected MJF at ringside. Page got past him and clotheslined MJF into the crowd, then yanked him back to ringside. Page threw him back into the ring, stared at Wardlow, and then stood on the ring apron. Wardlow grabbed his leg, which gave MJF an opening to yank his arm over the top rope. Wardlow then threw him shoulder-first into the ringpost and then back into the ring. They cut to a break with the action available on split-screen. [c]
Page came back with a fallaway slam followed by a kip up. He knocked MJF to the floor and then dove onto him. He followed with a top rope moonsault onto a standing MJF. Ross noted that Page was still favoring his injured arm. MJF grabbed the ref to protect himself, then poked Page in the eye. Page caught MJF a second later with a discus lariat for a two count. Wardlow punched Page from ringside. MJF then gave Page a (clunky) Crossroads for the win.
WINNER: MJF to win the Dynamite Diamond in 7:00.
-Afterward, Diamond Dallas Page came out to an entrance theme with DDP Yoga sessions on the big screen. Fans did the Diamond Cutter symbol. He entered the ring and introduced himself to cheering fans. He said he was there to present the ring to the winner. MJF gloated and profiled for the camera as DDP said his name. DDP uncomfortably offered MJF the ring. Fans chanted “Asshole!” at him. DDP then told “Maxwell” that some of his actions have been “very, very disappointing for me.” He said tonight, though, he’s the man. He slapped his shoulder. DDP said since he’s the bigger man, he will congratulate him like a man. He offered a handshake. MJF put his chewing gum in DDP’s hand and closed his fingers around it. DDP asked, “Seriously?” MJF said, “Seriously.” Wardlow, who acts like he’s in Disney Junior tweener TV show as a cartoon villain, got in DDP’s face. DDP said Wardlow would look stupid if a 63 year old man began kicking hiss ass all over the streets of Chicago. Wardlow grabbed DDP’s shirt and shoved him. MJF took some shots at him. Security and referees ran in and separated them. [c]
-After the break, Jen Decker interviewed Dustin Rhodes. He said Jake Hager broke his arm, so now he’s out for his blood,. He said he is not the same man he used to be. Guevara, Santana, and Ortiz attacked him. Matt and Nick Jackson ran out for the save. Dustin joined the Bucks in giving Guevara a triple super-kick. Dustin and the Bucks then set up the heels in the corner and then played two the crowd as the heels pretended they were stuck for way too long before all three gave then kicks to the crotches. “It’s long, it is deep, it is good!” said Ross. [c]
(6) CHRIS JERICHO vs. SCORPIO SKY – AEW Title
Daniels and Kaz joined Sky on the stage, but then returned to the back. Excalibur noted that seconds had been banned from ringside in this match. Dasha did formal ring introductions 44 minutes into the second hour. Sky was listed at 0-0 in singles matches, 9-3 overall. Polite response for Sky. Jericho got in some early offense until Sky knocked him to the floor with a clothesline. He dove over the top rope with a pescado, but Jericho moved. Sky kicked him and then slapped hands with fan. Sky controlled for a couple minutes until Jericho blocked a head scissors and dropkicked Sky off the ring apron. They cut to a break. [c]
During the break, Jericho beat up Sky at ringside and then back in the ring. Sky came back and hit an Ace Crusher for a two count. Jericho came back with a Lion Tamer. Sky crawled toward the bottom rope to force a break. Jericho got in the face of the referee, Aubrey Edwards. Sky then caught Jericho with a cutter and floated over and applied an inverted chinlock. Hager ran to the ring apron. Sky knocked him off the ring apron, then Jericho rolled up Sky from behind. They each clotheslined each other. Hager stood on the ring apron again. Kaz ran out and yanked Hager off the ring apron. Daniels joined in beating him up. Jericho grabbed his title belt and charged Sky with it. Sky ducked and hit a TKO for a believable near fall that popped the crowd. When Sky lamented the kickout, Excalibur told him to get back on the bike and Ross said he has to act like he’s been there before. Fans were into the match at this point, standing at ringside. Sky head scissored Jericho and then landed a step-up enzuigiri for a near fall. Jericho caught a flying Sky with a knee to the chest for a near fall. Ross touted the adjustment Jericho made while Sky was in mid-air. Jericho went for a Judas Effect, but Sky ducked and leveraged Jericho’s shoulders down for another near fall. Jericho then applied a Lion Tamer mid-ring. Sky tapped out.
WINNER: Jericho to retain the AEW World Title in 13:00.
-After the match, Jericho put Sky in the Lion Tamer again. Jericho’s music was replaced by Jon Moxley’s. He walked down from the concourse. Jericho released his hold and looked up at Moxley. Ross said some day, those two have got to fight for the AEW Championship.
(Keller’s Analysis: Solid match. I’d like to have seen more build up during the show, including Sky talking in a sports-like-tone what this match means to him. It didn’t feel like a serious title match without more build during the show.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Overall, this show felt relatively flat compared to the festive atmosphere I would have expected two months into Dynamite’s run on TNT with a triumphant return to the Chicago market. I’d really like to see AEW incorporate some segments showing fans arriving at the venue and wearing t-shirts and just being hyped for the event; maybe some interviews with fans saying what they love about AEW. The show was by no means bad, but nothing really stood out as electric or especially noteworthy. It seems some of the shine is off the presentation of the brand right now. I think all the piece were in place for a better show than this if some segments were trimmed (Jericho’s segment by 3-4 minutes, women’s match) and others expanded (such as Cody’s long-awaited interview and the Omega-Pac match). Also, I’m not a fan of how much AEW is leaning on mid-match commercial breaks now. I know we can watch on split screen, but it’s not the same as having commentary and full screen.