SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
•Cody vs. Jimmy Havoc – HIT: A fine match to kick off the second week of empty arena Dynamite. This week, AEW chose not to have any additional wrestlers in the audience. It seems that restrictions may have tightened or AEW is trying to ensure a more safe environment. The change took away the energy that last week’s show had. There were also several changes on commentary with no Excalibur or Jim Ross. Tony Schiavone took over the play-by-play with Kenny Omega on color for the first match before Cody took over the rest of the show. In the post-match, a Jake Roberts pre-tape promo played in which he laid out the challenge for Cody to take on Lance Archer. The promo reminded me of “Twin Peaks” with Roberts cadence the cinematography.
•Kip Sabian vs. Darby Allin – HIT: Darby Allin and Kip Sabian are fantastic at putting on a fast-paced athletic match. They did what they could given the circumstances without a crowd reacting to the action. With or without the fans, Allin has a ton of charisma. Cody compared him to Sting with how young fans duplicate his face paint. Cody continued to put him over throughout the match.
•Jake Hager vs. Chico Adams – HIT: A good squash win for Hager. His presentation is far better than his WWE run, but I’m still waiting to see more fire. His character and role is a big improvement, but bell-to-bell he’s still Jack Swagger. Jon Moxley made his return in the post match to what would’ve been a huge crowd pop. Moxley vs. Hager is a fine program in the interim. Hopefully, it becomes an opportunity for Hager to rise to the next level.
•Brodie Lee vs. Q.T. Marshall – HIT: Before the match, a pre-tape aired of Brodie Lee eating with Alex Reynolds and John Silver. The segment was a spoof of Vince McMahon ripping on his ridiculous personality traits. Lee sat at the end of a dinner table eating steak not allowing anyone else to eat until he finished. Lee ended up kicking both men out after Reynolds sneezed. The sneeze also works as a poke at coronavirus. Lee squashed Marshall for quick victory. He seems ready for this role, but unfortunately, yet again, it’s going to be hard to tell how over he is without a crowd.
•Kenny Omega vs. Sammy Guevara – HIT: A really good match between these two. These two layed it all out, but at times it may have been difficult to feel without a crowd. Outside the match one of the major things that stood out was the lack of picture-in-picture during commercial breaks. It weakened the importance of having a title match. The picture-in-picture we did see showed several wrestlers including Dasha Fuentes in the locker room. The group were in a condensed room which makes you wonder why they couldn’t be near ringside when they were already failing at practicing social distancing.
•Chris Jericho vs. Matt Hardy – MISS: Had this segment happened in-front of the rambunctious and loyal AEW crowd, I may have felt differently. The content was ridiculous in an empty arena with nobody reacting. Chris Jericho looked like so much less of a star playing into the drone. He also accepted Matt Hardy teleporting to the ring in what were obvious jump cuts to the viewer watching from home. “Broken” Matt Hardy has always been a very different presentation, but without a crowd this entire segment fell flat. Neither Hardy nor Jericho came out of this segment feeling elevated which is quite rare in AEW. Whenever they are able to safely allow fans back into the arena, I will be most curious to see how the “Broken” character is presented and how the fans react to a character that is completely different from anyone on the roster.