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
MARCH 25, 2020
JACKSONVILLE, FLA. AT DAILY’S PLACE
AIRED LIVE ON TNT
Announcers: Tony Schiavone, Cody
Ring Announcer: Brandi Rhodes
-They opened with a shot of the entrance stage up close as Schiavone introduced the show. They went to Schiavone, Kenny Omega, and Cody on camera at the announce desk. Tony talked about it being an extraordinary time for all of them. He said he feels like an honorary member of The Elite. They hyped Darby Allin vs. Kip Sabian, Jake Hager in action, Brodie Lee vs. Q.T. Marshall, Omega vs. Sammy Guevara, Cody vs. Jimmy Havoc, and Chris Jericho confronting Matt Hardy face-to-face. Cody said they’ve known Brodie by another name, but people are excited to see him in AEW. Cody also wondered if Vanguard would be there. Kenny said in an open-air arena, he can’t be far away. Cody did elbow taps with Kenny and Tony, then took off his headset and headed to the ring.
(1) CODY vs. JIMMY HAVOC
Brandi Rhodes did ring introductions, then kissed Cody. Kenny said, “It’s certainly a friend and family show,” he said. He said he hasn’t been introduced by friends or family since his backyard days. They showed a split screen of Billy Gunn, his son Austin, Shawn Spears, backstage yelling about gambling. Schiavone said Jim Ross and Excalibur couldn’t make the trip, but they are fine. He said Ross would be live tweeting during the show. Kenny talked about Havoc having a high pain threshold along the lines of Darby Allin. No wrestlers at ringside this week, so the atmosphere took a step back from last week. After some early wrestling exchanges, Havoc offered a handshake, but then took a cheap shot. Kenny decried Havoc’s lack of good sportsmanship. Jericho joined the crew in the locker room, cheering on Havoc. Havoc fought Cody onto the stage near the announcers. He grabbed Cody’s tongue and gave him an uppercut, then put on the headset and talked briefly. Kenny said Havoc is trying to be a wise guy.
Cody took over a few minutes after and exited the stage. Tony wondered what was going on. Kenny speculated he was practicing social distancing. Cody came running out and clotheslined Havoc over the top rope back into the ring. They showed Chris Jericho backstage again yelling with the Gunns and Spears. Havoc took over again and concentrated on Cody’s fingers. They cut backstage again to the wrestlers cheering on the match. Schiavone said with all the yelling, there must be a lot of money on the line. Cody finished Havoc with two Crossroads.
WINNER: Cody in 11:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Slowly paced at the start, but it picked up a bit as it went on. Nothing special, but a solid clean win for Cody. Cutting to wrestlers in the back added energy to the match.)
-As Cody celebrated with Brandi, they cut to a video on the big screen of Jake Roberts sitting in front of a fire pit. He said when AEW started, his phone didn’t ring, even though he’s the best mind pro wrestling has ever had. He said Lance Archer was tearing it up in Japan, and he didn’t get a call, either. He said AEW management was intimidated by Archer and tried to keep him away. He said now it’s up to Cody to present Archer with someone to wrestle so he can prove himself, and they want one match with Cody too. He called Arn Anderson an old man and referred to Brandi as “Monica.” He said it’s up to Cody and closed with “trust me.” They did a close-up of Jake’s eyes, then a wide shot of him at the fire.
-They cut back to Cody who absorbed by what he just watched and then began to head to the back. [c]
-Cody joined Tony at the announce table, remaining shirtless and sweaty. No more Kenny. Cody said it’s always in pre-recorded segments that people get the daggers out. He said what Jake said comes across as bitter and jaded, and he especially didn’t like him bringing up his wife. Cody said Archer doesn’t have a body of work in the United States. He said Archer has to start somewhere, and it doesn’t start with him. He said Archer should work his way up. He said Archer will debut next week on Dynamite. Tony then threw to a Darby Allin vignette.
-Darby arrived in a truck and said he’s known super bad people before and Kip Sabian doesn’t seem super bad to him. He put a Sabian face mask on a table along with Chris Jericho’s, Sammy Gueveara’s, and Jake Hager’s and then poured gasoline on them and set them on fire.
(2) KIP SABIAN (w/Penelope Ford) vs. DARBY ALLIN
Kip came out first with Ford. Then Darby came out. Cody asked Tony if he feels a young Sting vibe from Darby. Tony said he hadn’t thought of that before, but he sees it with the face-paint. Cody said he has that connection with the younger audience. Cody said both of these wrestlers are freshman on campus just beginning their journey. Cody asked if Colt Cabana has a thing for Penelope. Cody analyzed the grip on Darby’s headlock on Sabian. Kip bailed out a few minutes in to regroup at ringside. Ford yanked Sabian out of the path of Darby at ringside. With Darby down, they said they were cutting to a break, but they didn’t. Cody said AEW’s ringside barricade are bike racks, not foam. Then about 30 seconds after they said they were going to a break, they cut to a break. [c]
Cody called Penelope “a Baby Doll Jr. thing going on here.” Tony said there’s a lot of old school references. Cody said, “I make no bones about the fact that I love pro wrestling.” (Is that something you’d ever hear some say, without fear or irony, on a WWE TV program? Maybe Daniel Bryan??) Sabian wrapped Darby around the ringpost. Sabian then springbaorded at Darby, but Darby ducked. Then he charged to dive into Sabian, but Ford got in the way. He dove onto Sabian seconds later anyway. Cody brought up Bill Watts when they landed past the padding onto the cement floor. Tony chuckled at the Watts reference. Sabian scored a near fall a minute later after a flurry of moves. Tony snuck in a plug for Cody’s t-shirt with proceeds going to the United Way COVID-19 Family Support Fund. Darby surprised Sabian with a Last Supper leg lock for the win. Cody said, “It sure looks like a Gibson Leglock to me. Or the Fuller Leglock, depending on where you are in the country.”
WINNERS: Darby in 12:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Smooth athletic match as you’d expect from these two. This wasn’t a PPV effort or anything, but they’re good enough to go 70 percent and have it turn into a really good TV match.) [c]
-A Jake Hager video aired of Hager beating up Dustin, Q.T. Marshall, and Jon Moxley.
(3) JAKE HAGER vs. CHICO ADAMS
Hager made his ring entrance to his theme, which played during Adams being introduced, too. Hager landed a Vader bomb early in the match. Adams briefly came back with a splash in the corner, but Hager fired right back with a one-arm slam into an arm triangle for the pass-out stoppage.
WINNER: Hager in 1:00.
-As Hager celebrated, Jon Moxley walked out with his AEW Title belt. He and Hager started throwing punches. Mox landed a Paradigm Shift. Hager was down. Hager then suddenly recovered and grabbed Moxley’s ankle for an ankle lock. Mox powered out and sent Hager to ringside. Cody said they can’t pretend they didn’t just see what they saw – Hager getting up from a Paradigm Shift. Cody said they’re clearly on a collision course. Hager threw a bit of a fit at ringside. Moxley’s music then played as Hager walked to the back. Cody said that’s what bothers him about Jake, because he has so much talent, but he’s chosen to join the Inner Circle. He said he’d like to see Mox vs. Hager, though.
(Keller’s Analysis: I don’t like wrestlers popping up from protected finishers like that, but I’m eager to see what Moxley and Hager put together in the ring. Mox is a fan of Hager from their WWE days, so I expect to see a motivated Hager. Hager has a good rough edge to him he hasn’t shown before in WWE that can help him get past the ceiling he hit in WWE.) [c]
-Backstage a camera caught up with Moxley who turned to the camera and told the big gruesome son of a bitch to check his blindspot because he goes where he wants when he wants. He said he’s out for blood and ready for action. He said Hager walked away from a fight tonight, but when the AEW Title is on the line, he won’t walk out, he’ll send him out on a stretcher “or I’m going to die trying.”
-A video aired on Brodie Lee. He said in a short time, everyone will be up to speed on who he is. He said they do what they want, when they want, and if he wants something, he takes it. He said if they knock on your door, you answer the door and let them in or he will personally knock the door down and lead Dark Order through it. Footage aired of Christopher Daniels. Brodie said Daniels is unsafe. He said he’s not the first out of touch old man.
-They went to Tony and Cody on camera again. They threw to Brodie Lee in a suit at a table eating steak talking to Jon Silver and Alex Reynolds. He said it’s a new Dark Order with him around and he doesn’t think they get it yet. He said they prey on the weak and he berated them for not getting it. He told Reynolds he can’t eat until he is done. He stood up and told him to get out of there. “You don’t eat until I’m done, you understand that?” he said. He told Silver to smarten his boy up. When Silver sneezed, the music intensified and Lee told him get out of his room. He finished eating his steak alone.
(Keller’s Analysis: That seemed intended to be a reenactment of what it’s like to eat with Vince McMahon. minus the ketchup.)
(4) Q.T. MARSHALL vs. BRODIE LEE
Cody pointed out Marshall just got hair replacement surgery and it’s starting to come in. Lee opened with a big boot and then beat up Marshall at ringside. Tony gave Marshall credit for taking this match. Tony said Brodie is no stranger to the ring and people know what he can do. Cody again noted the ringside barricade is a bike rack, not a foam pad. Cody compared Brodie to Kevin Nash with his agility. Brodie suplexed Marshall twice in a row in the ring, then took his time following up. Marshall made a brief comeback, but Lee took him down with a turning one-armed Bossman-style slam. He finished him with a discus lariat.
WINNER: Lee in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: This felt a maybe little clunky at times, but Lee got across the methodical powerful violent approach he’s going to take. This performance won’t win over anyone who never saw him as a big deal in WWE, but this is just an introductory match clocking in under three minutes.)
-Afterward, a creeper entered the ring and dropped a Dark Order mask on Marshall’s chest. Cody said that’s an offer to join. Cody said you could imagine a young wrestler wanting to join Brodie Lee. [c]
-A recap aired of Matt Hardy’s debut last week at the end of Dynamite with some comments from Hardy in the “Broken Matt/Delete” mode.
-They went back to Cody and Tony at the announce desk. Cody said Matt Hardy is one of the most universally respected wrestlers anywhere. They hyped his confrontation with Jericho later. They also said next they’d have an update on Nick Jackson. They replayed the Nick Jackson angle from two weeks ago. Tony and Cody then threw to a video clip from what Tony called “our West Coast correspondent, Vanguard 1.”
-They showed Nick Jackson working out at their home gym, being filmed by Vanguard. Nick tried to chase down Vanguard, but he flew away. Tony said Vanguard was staying six feet away. Cody commented on the size of Nick’s house and wondered how much Tony Khan is paying him. Cody said real estate out there is pretty steep. Cody said he heard Nick’s comeback compared recently to Bobby Eaton, and he liked that.
-Sammy’s full ring entrance aired. He gave some thumbs up to caricatures leaning on chairs in the front row. [c]
(5) KENNY OMEGA vs. SAMMY GUEVARA – AAA Mega Championship
Kenny’s full entrance aired after the break. He brought his AAA title belts with him and Tony explained a little bit about it, including Kenny having won it last October. (Not sure I like confusing the AEW title marketplace with other titles.) Cody and Tony wondered who “The Capt.” caricature was of that Sammy was hanging out with during Kenny’s entrance. Brandi did full ring entrances. Cody said she announced Kenny more than she announced him. The showed the Gunns and Shawn Spears cheering on the match, while Kip Sabian was on the couch taking a nap. Sammy raked Kenny’s eyes early as Cody asked Tony who his favorite Star Trek captain was. Cody didn’t like Tony’s answer. “Deep Space Nine is my favorite,” he said. Sammy whipped Kenny into the ringside barricade. When Kenny reverse-whipped Sammy, Sammy leaped over the barricade and sat next to the caricature of “Brandi.” Then he picked it up and French tongued it. They cut to Brandi at ringside looking grossed out. [c]
Back from the break, Sammy was in control at ringside. He walked over toward Brandi. Kenny recovered and went after Sammy, but Sammy went up to Brandi. Brandi slapped him. “There’s our household there,” Cody dryly said. Kenny suplexed Sammy. Cody questioned Sammy’s focus and intensity. Back in the ring, Kenny leaped off the top rope onto Sammy for a two count. They once again showed the group backstage yelling while watching the match on a monitor. Tony plugged Ross’s new booking coming out later this month and touted his experience. They cut to another break with Sammy in control. [c]
Kenny made a comeback after the break and scored a two count after a double-axe handle to the chest that Sammy flip-bumped on. They showed wrestlers yelling at the monitors backstage again. Sammy escaped a suplex attempt and landed a quick double-boot and standing shooting star for a two count. Sammy caught Kenny with a cutter. Kenny bailed out to the floor to regroup. Sammy flip dove onto him. They both went down and were slow to get up. Back in the ring Kenny hit the V-Trigger. Sammy countered a Liger bomb and scored a two count. Sammy climbed to the top rope and went for a shooting star press, but Kenny rolled out of the path. Kenny then landed the V-Trigger, but Sammy bit Kenny’s hand seconds later. Kenny kneed him in the chin, but Sammy came back with a spin hook kick to the chin. Kenny followed up with a V-Trigger and a J-Driller for a near fall. Kenny nailed another V-Trigger followed by his One-Winged Angel for the win.
WINNER: Omega in 24:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good action. Paced without a real sense of urgency a lot of the time, and sometimes it felt like they were going through the motions, but that might be more the lack of crowd reactions for big moves and near falls than anything the wrestlers did. It had epic length, but didn’t feel epic as it happened or when it was over. But it was still definitely good.) [c]
-Chris Jericho walked out. He took the camera from the camera guy at ringside, and then the camera guy sang his song. Jericho said he’s known Matt for 25 years. He called him to the ring so he could make the right decision. Vanguard 1 then flew down to Jericho. Jericho addressed him as “Guard.” He said, “First of all, I don’t like you and I’ve never liked you.” He said he’s arrogant and he doesn’t like his beliefs or his political views on social media. “You’re a piece of shit, Vanguard. You’re a piece of trash.” He said he doesn’t like him, but he respects him, and he asked Vanguard to join the Inner Circle. He said his propellers will be spinning with all the money they make. He said all the Instagram drone models will flock all over him and he’ll smoke the finest of mechanical cigars. Vanguard flew away. Jericho threw a fit. Cody said, “No means no.”
Different music played and then Hardy appeared in the upper deck of the bleachers. Then he appeared in the middle deck, then the lower deck, then ringside. They used “special effects” to make it seem like the shot was live, but Jericho’s hair moved. Kenny, back on color, called it “psycho power” and said Hardy was teleporting. (That was a little too cheesy for me since it was presented as live, but there is some latitude for Hardy since he is presented as something from another world.)
Hardy entered the ring and said, “You knew I’d come.” Jericho said yes he knew because they booked the segment last week. Jericho stammered and asked how he did that. Matt said it was magic. Jericho said this is his show and the company was built on his back and organized by him. Jericho told Matt he’s the one he wants to align with, “not those arrogant sons of bitches in the Elite.” Matt said he owed the Bucks of Youth a debt because they resurrected Broken Matt Hardy. “I am here because of them and I owe them a debt.” He said he sees the tyranny that the Inner Circle are creating in AEW. He said AEW represents freedom. “I cannot allow you and the Inner Circle to run roughshod and ruin this paradise. It must be protected at all cost.” Jericho said Matt deserves a mulligan as they say in golf. He again offered him to join Inner Circle.
Hardy said last week he was simply replaying his debt. He said Jericho doesn’t get what he’s looking at. He said he may recognize his vessel and his name, but there’s a different essence behind the wheel. He said he is Damascus and is over 3,000 years old. He said he is practically perfect. Jericho said he understands reinvention as well as anyone. He said the red dash in Matt’s hair “is really sassy.” He said inside, he knows he’s the same Matt. Matt said Jericho has changed many times on the outside, but on the inside he’s still the same “hole of the ass.” Jericho said Matt is the same old Matt Hardy, always a step behind and never quite on top, always living in the shadow. He said he’s lived in the shadow of his brother and bad booking. Matt said he’s not in anyone’s shadow. Matt said his brilliance is shining better than ever. Jericho gave him one last chance. “Are you Inner Circle or are you Elite?” he asked. Matt yelled “Delete!” They yelled Elite/Delete. Jericho yelled for Matt to stop.
Jericho told Matt to stop yelling because there’s no one there to yell his catch phrase. Matt said the fans are there, Jericho just can’t see them. Matt asked Jericho to look deep into his entity. Jericho looked and didn’t see anything, then slapped him. Matt punched him back. Jericho said he has magic powers, too. He said Matt Hardy is going to get his ass kicked. Guevara tacked Hardy. Jericho joined him. Cody made the save with a chair. Kenny followed close behind.
(Keller’s Analysis: This felt a bit too long and would have especially benefited from a crowd reacting to it. A lot of AEW has done since debuting on TNT has worked because the crowd ate up stuff that might have otherwise not seemed like necessarily great content. All of that said, I enjoyed it as it felt like a big moment to have these two iconic characters interacting for an extended conversation. It also served the purpose of showing Jericho conniving and trying to get everyone on his side to avoid having to face them, and it served the purpose of Matt explaining he isn’t with the Elite, and that he just owed them a favor but now he’s on his own mission. His mission? Protect the paradise that is AEW, a paradise to him because it lets Broken Matt be himself and thrive.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Not as good as last week’s show, but it was enjoyable start to finish. The video features weren’t as strong, and the main matches felt a little drawn out without a lot of urgency, yet they were ultimately well executed. I enjoyed Cody and Tony on commentary because it was so different and gave Cody extended time to let loose and show who he is in long form. AEW also seemed to keep everyone apart as much as feasible, short of Sammy get near enough Brandi for her to slap him. It seemed there was more social distancing efforts made here than even last week, and the older people were kept away entirely, which is smart given how unforgiving COVID-19 is for older people compared to the young.