In this episode of Wrestling Night in America, PWTorch columnist Greg Parks breaks down both nights of WrestleMania with callers and emailers. Topics include the quality of the Firefly Funhouse match, the decision to put Charlotte over Rhea Ripley, the potential of wrestlers getting more creative freedom in the current environment, and more.
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AEW DYNAMITE TV REPORT
FEBRUARY 19, 2020
ATLANTA, GA. AT STATE FARM ARENA
AIRED LIVE ON TNT
Announcers: Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, Excalibur
(1) TAG TEAM BATTLE ROYAL – Winner Earns Title Shot at Revolution
Participating Teams: Butcher & The Blade, Jack Evans & Angelico, Kaz & Scorpio Sky, The Young Bucks, Best Friends (Chucky T & Trent), Alex Reynolds & John Silver (from Dark Order), Santana & Ortiz, Cima & T-Hawk, and Luchasaurus & Jungle Boy.
The tag teams were at ringside at the start. The bell rang and they charged into the ring and began fighting. The announcers talked about how there is a mix of ranked and unranked wrestlers, so it’s a chance for a team to come out of nowhere and win a tag team title opportunity. Kaz and Sky dove off of opposite top turnbuckles onto two gatherings of wrestlers in the ring. Jack Evans flip dove onto a crowd next, but they caught him and tossed him over the top to eliminate him. When one wrestler is eliminated, his teammate can still win for their team and isn’t automatically eliminated.
The unmasked “regular guy” spokesman for Dark Order spoke from the front row in the crowd with a live mic and told SCU the Exalted One is close, and suggested it was strange Daniels wasn’t there with them. That distraction led to Dark Order eliminating SCU. The Bucks superkicked Dark Order over the top rope. Sky charged and dove at Stu Grayson in the crowd. Excalibur noted that Santana & Ortiz were at ringside, but hadn’t entered the ring yet. Schiavone asked why they weren’t making them enter the ring. Seconds later Santana & Ortiz entered and went after Cima. When Cima was eliminated, Dark Order offered Cima a mask. He reacted in a cartoonishly over-the-top way as he walked away with the mask, not indicating yes or no.
Several minutes later four wrestlers eliminated Luchasaurus. It came down to Santana & Ortiz, The Young Bucks, Chucky T & Trent, and Butcher & Blade. With several legal teams wrestling at ringside, Ross said they can’t win at ringside. Schiavone said under these rules they can’t lose at ringside, though. (The rules are dumb.) Orange Cassidy saved Trent from landing on the floor after being tossed over by Blade. He carried Trent over to the ringside steps. Trent and Matt Jackson hugged after they worked together briefly. Fans loved this variation. Butcher then clotheslined both of them at once. Bunny kicked Orange Cassidy in the crotch. Matt bit Butcher’s fingers, then speared him through the ropes to knock him to the floor. Matt was still legal because he didn’t go over the top.
It came down to Matt battling against both Santana and Ortiz briefly, but was soon overwhelmed. He backdropped Santana over the top rope, but he landed on the apron. Sammy Guevara tripped him. Santana & Ortiz took over again and tossed Matt over the top rope. They celebrated like they won, but Matt landed on the ring apron. They tried to super powerbomb him over the top, but Matt slipped free. Guevara tried to interfere, but Matt superkicked him and eliminated Santana and Ortiz to win.
WINNERS: The Young Bucks in 18:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Solid battle royal start to finish. That said – and this applies to a lot of battle royals – I’m not a fan of any match that makes those who fight to win look like fools for not cheating. They should add a rule that once the bell rings, you have to get into the ring within a ten count and you can’t be outside for more than ten seconds. Otherwise, it’s just a farce with spots that are exciting but aren’t part of anything that makes any sense or feels like a sports competition.) [c]
-During the break on split-screen, the Bucks celebrated. Then they showed MJF supervising Wardlow doing push-ups backstage.
-Back from the break, Cody and Brandi Rhodes were shown walking backstage with Pharaoh their dog.
-Ross, Schiavone, and Excalibur were shown on the screen. They hyped the upcoming televised matches.
(2) “PORTUGAL’S PERFECT ATHLETE” SHANNA vs. “THE GALAXY’S GREATEST ALIEN” KRIS STATLANDER
Britt Baker joined the announcers on commentary. Ross managed to sneak in a Blue Chew comment when Baker said she brought Schiavone a vanilla latte. Ross talked about Statlander’s athletic skills and avoided the whole (stupid) alien thing. Baker said they’re talented, but she’s the one who trends every week. Ross asked someone to explain Statlander claiming to be an alien. Excalibur said she professes that her ship crash-landed in Area 51. Ross interrupted and heard enough and Excalibur said “Well, you asked.” Statlander did some cartwheels. Shanna stood right in position for a head scissors takeover. Tony held up his Starbucks cup and someone spelled his name “Toney.” Seriously? Shanna and Statlanders poked each other in the nose over and over. After a pie face, Ross ranted about how it should be “cake face” and not just pie face because he likes cake. He was worked up. Ross said he was having a sugar rush. (It’s called “pie face” because people have shoved pies in people’s faces since at least the beginning of silent movies a century ago, but it’s not really a thing with cakes.) They cut to a break. [c]
They stayed with the action on split-screen. Shanna leaped off the top rope and stomped on Statlander who decided pull herself up into position for the stomp. (This is the one move I most wish I never saw again. It’s just the dumbest thing ever, although that cartwheel into a head scissors spot earlier is a close contender.) Baker said Statlander should have trained more instead of stalking her on Twitter. Statlander came back with a Big Bang Theory tombstone piledriver for the win.
WINNER: Statlander in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: If they got rid of the silly cutesy spots and just fought, this would have been better.)
-A video aired on Nyla Rose, showing big moves and her win last week. They said they’d hear from her next. [c]
-Schiavone interviewed Nyla Rose on the ramp. Ross talked about her as an amazing competitor, early in her career and already champion. Schiavone congratulated her. She complained about the greeting the fans gave her. “That’s how you greet me? Is that really a greeting for a champion?” she said. She said they sound like a bunch of “annoying little bees buzzing around.” She held up her title belt and said this is justice because she should have been the first champion. She said she should be the highest paid woman in the locker room and the face on all the posters. She said waiting made her hungry. She said when she gets hungry, she “breaks bitches.” When Schiavone said Riho showed a lot of courage, Rose yanked the mic away and asked where courage got her. She said she has power. She said at the end of the day, one fact remains, she’s the queen bee in this hive. Boos. She said she’ll be a one-time champion because nobody can beat her and nobody is a beast like her. Kris Statlander walked out and poked her finger at Nyla’s belt. Rose swatted it away. Big Swole walked out next and got in the face of Rose and flexed her bicep. Security came out to try to keep order. Rose waved goodbye.
-Ross threw to a video recap of Jeff Cobb’s debut last week.
(3) JON MOXLEY vs. JEFF COBB
Taz joined the commentary team in this match. Moxley made his entrance through the crowd as usual. Then Cobb came out alone to his music. Then Chris Jericho’s music played and he walked out through the crowd, showing off a ticket for himself and Sammy and Jake Hager who were with him. They sat at ringside. Cobb took Moxley down in the opening seconds with a belly-to-belly suplex. He chopped Moxley hard in the chest, then dropkicked him. Moxley rolled to the floor to regroup. Moxley met him with a kick and some punches. Cobb settled into a chinlock. Mox broke free, but Cobb elbowed him in the chest and then knocked him hard to the floor. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Mox took over and wrapped Cobb’s leg in the ropes and then dropkicked his leg. Mox wrapped Cobb’s leg around the ringpost. Cobb made a comeback and gave Mox a swinging side slam, then went for the cover. He lifted Mox at two. They cut to Jericho, Guevara, and Hager at ringside reacting like NBA All-Stars reacting to a slam dunk contest. They battled to the floor where Cobb gave Mox an overhead suplex. Back in the ring he gave a running powerslam to Moxley for a two count. Mox came back with some high knees, but Cobb came back with a suplex. Mox fired back with clothesline. Both were slow to get up. They stood and took turns hitting each other center-ring. Cobb superkicked Mox in the chin. Mox clotheslined Cobb, but no-sold it and then took Mox down with is own standing clothesline. Mox set up a Paradigm Shift, but Cobb blocked it and landed a right uppercut. Cobb impressively powered Mox up to the top rope and superplexed him, but Mox surprised Cobb with a small package for the 1-2-3.
WINNER: Moxley in 13:00.
-Afterward, Jericho, Guevara, and Hager jumped Moxley. Dustin Rhodes ran out for the attempted save, but he was outnumbered. The lights then went dark. Then out came Darby Allin. “He’s back!” yelled Ross. Ross explained Guevara took away his voice with an attack on his throat. Darby rolled to the ring on his skateboard. He attacked an awaiting Inner Cricle with his skateboard. Dustin took Hager over the top rope to the floor. Cobb came up behind Darby with a forearm and a suplex, but Darby landed on his feet. Moxley then gave him a Paradigm Shift (which the director missed with a bad camera angle choice). It came down to Mox and Jericho, who went at each other. Jericho slid to the floor within seconds and grabbed his belt and walked to the back. [c]
-During the break, they showed the fallout in the ring. Darby held up cue cards that said: “The Inner Circle is finished in 10 days in Chicago on Feb. 29. You’re finished. Mox will take the title. But I will take so much more! Your voice! At Revolution. I promise. I will… Hit You Up…”
(4) KENNY OMEGA & “HANGMAN” ADAM PAGE vs. THE LUCHA BROS. (Rey Fenix & Pentagon Jr.) – AEW Tag Team Title match
Omega and Page dominated the early minutes. The Lucha Bros. took over for a few minutes. Fenix launched Pentagon into Kenny in the corner, then delivered a dropkick to Omega’s face. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Omega and Page had taken over. Pentagon and Fenix came back, including a Destroyer by Pentagon on Omega. All four were down as the crowd cheered and then chanted “This is awesome!” Omega and Pentagon exchanged chops on the chest on the ring apron. Pentagon kicked Omega in the face. Omega kneed him on the chin. Fenix ran the top rope and kneed Omega in the head. Pentagon then set up a package piledriver on the ring apron, but Omega backdropped out of it. Fenix then gave Omega a running leaping head scissors off the ring apron. Page leaped off the top rope onto Pentagon.
Back in the ring, Page tagged in and landed a discus lariat on Pentagon for a near fall. A minute later after more fast-paced chaos, Omega caught Fenix, then Page went for a Buckshot Lariat. Fenix moved (well, Omega shoved him out of the way) and Page mistakenly hit Omega. The Lucha Bros. then attacked Omega. Fenix dove onto Page at ringside. Pentagon landed a Package Piledriver on Omega, but Omega kicked out. Excalibur gave away the kickout by going so heavy-handed in saying the Lucha Bros. are going to Revolution as champions. Omega took Pentagon down with a snap dragon suplex and then caught Fenix flying at him with a V-Trigger. Then he delivered a Tiger Driver for a believable near fall. The crowd was fully engaged and standing for the rapid-fire action and big spots. A minute later Omega and Page gave Fenix a V-Trigger/Buckshot combo. Page made the cover and got the win.
WINNERS: Omega & Page in 15:00 to retain the AEW Tag Team Titles.
-The Bucks came out and celebrated with Omega and Page. They helped Omega stand up, but Omega seemed confused once Page also tugged on him. Omega stayed with the Bucks for some small hugs as Page rolled to the floor and found a beer from a fan at ringside to drink from. [c]
-A video featured AEW exec Dana Massie announcing AEW’s deal with a toy company to produce action figures. They showed AEW wrestlers being presented their action figures for the first time including Omega and Cody. There were also dolls for the Young Bucks and Brandi and Chris Jericho.
-They announced that Pac faces Kenny Omega next week in Kansas City, Mo. in a 30 minute Iron Man match. They hyped the tag title match set for Revolution now, too. And then Ross hyped Cody vs. Wardlow in a cage coming up next.
-A video package aired on the backstory of Cody and MJF leading to the Wardlow cage match. [c]
(5) CODY (w/Brandi, Arn Anderson) vs. WARDLOW (w/MJF) – Cage Match
Wardlow came out first. Schiavone said Wardlow is bigger and stronger, but Cody is more experienced and has home field advantage. Cody climbed the side of the cage and looked at the crowd. They battled back and forth early. Wardlow nailed Cody with a hard clothesline, then rammed him into the side of the cage. They cut to a break, but stayed with the action on split-screen as Wardlow continued to stomp away at him. [c]
Back live, Cody was bleeding from his forehead as Wardlow tossed him around. Cody came back with a cutter off the middle rope, pounded his forehead, and showed fire. Cody then mounted Wardlow in the corner and punched away at him. Wardlow rubbed Cody’s forehead against the cage, then slammed him into the door. The door swung open. Ross explained the rules here make the open door irrelevant. MJF told Arn to slam the cage door on Cody’s head. Arm instead swung it the other way and knocked MJF over.
Cody began a comeback with two clotheslines, but Wardlow didn’t go down. Cody side-stepped a charging Wardlow and threw him into the cage. When Cody climbed to the top rope, Wardlow picked him up and threw him into the side of the cage. Wardlow then climbed to the top rope and landed a senton for a near fall. MJF handed Wardlow a diamond ring, but Cody stood up and kicked Wardlow in the crotch before he could use it. He put the diamond ring on. MJF threw a fit at ringside. He began climbing the cage, but Brandi bashed him from behind with a chair. MJF got in Brandi’s face. Arn threw MJF over the barricade into the crowd. Cody then gave Wardlow a Crossroads for a two count. They cut to Brandi at ringside reacting. Cody looked up at the top of the cage, then took off his weight lifting belt. He climbed to the top and landed a top rope moonsault press onto Wardlow for the win.
-Cody stood on the top of the cage and looked around at the crowd, his face still bloodied. They replayed Cody’s dive as Ross noted there was no margin for error there. The overhead view was impressive although it revealed Cody just basically grazed Wardlow’s shoulder when he landed.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Really good episode. More about the matches and action than talking or angles, but it worked really well this week.