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AEW DYNAMITE TV REPORT
APRIL 1, 2020
AIRED LIVE ON TNT
Announcers: Tony Schiavone, Cody
Ring Announcer: Dasha Gonzales
-Tony Schiavone and Cody introduced the show at ringside. They were socially spaced a full six feet apart. The camera panned ringside where wrestlers were socially spaced six feet apart in the front row also. (This level of social spacing was called for at least two weeks ago, but it’s great to finally see an example being set for everyone watching on TV and also the higher level of safety precautions being taken for the sake of those involved in the show.) They revealed Lance Archer vs. Colt Cabana and Kip Sabian vs. Dustin Rhodes. Cody said he is a bit shaken by his brother on the other side of the bracket. Tony said it’s possible he will face his brother. Schiavone plugged the Natural Nightmares debuting on Dynamite, Lance Archer’s in-ring debut for AEW, Hikaru Shida in action, plus the main event of Cody & Darby Allin vs. Sammy Guevara & Shawn Spears.
(1) KENNY OMEGA vs. TRENT (w/Chucky T, Orange Cassidy)
(Keller’s Analysis: I’d like to see brief promos from the wrestlers before these otherwise random match-ups to help establish their personalities and give viewers a sense of what each wrestler thinks is at stake and give viewers fresh reasons to root for or against them even if it’s not a clear-cut rivalry or heel/face dynamic.)
When Trent came out to the ring with Chucky T and Orange Cassidy, Trent and Chuck elbow-bumped Billy and Austin Gunn. Cassidy kept his nonchalant distance. On the other side of the ring were Kip Sabian, Penelope Ford, Jimmy Havoc, and Britt Baker. Omega came out second with an 18-6 overall record and a 9-1 record in 2020.
(Note on the atmosphere: They aren’t at Daily’s Place, but instead at a studio somewhere set up specifically for Dynamite. It is set up with an entrance stage and big screen, entrance tunnels, AEW banners, and some lighting set up in the background around ringside. It’s basically studio wrestling. The wrestlers at ringside are providing ample noise to at least create some sense of crowd energy rather than eerie silence and echoes. It definitely has a smaller-time feel than at Daily’s Place, but there’s also a sense of “intention” that this set-up was built for this show and not some other purpose with vast clusters of unused chairs. There is artificial turf under the ringside mats, indicating this is some sort of practice facility.)
Omega bailed out to ringside, and Trent flip dove off the ring apron onto Omega Cassidy and Chucky celebrated with Trent, but Omega landed a running flip dive onto all three. Cody said Kenny was listed no. 1 with the PWI 500. He said wrestlers tell you they don’t care but they all want to know where they were listed every year. They fought to ringside at 12:00 and Kenny gave Trent a dead-lift German onto the mat at ringside. Then he whipped Trent into the ringside barricade. Back in the ring Omega scored a near fall. Trent came back with a tornado DDT. Cody called it, “Jerry Lynn-style.” Next Trent gave Kenny a slide-under snap dragon suplex when Kenny was sitting on the middle rope. They cut to a break. [c]
Kenny made a comeback after the break. Trent countered with a piledriver and scored a near fall. Cody called it the first serious near fall of the match. Cody said they might go to a 20 minute time limit. Cody and Schiavone wondered where that would put Trent in the rankings if he managed to fight Omega to a draw. Omega came back with a snap dragon. Both were slow to get up. Trent elbowed out of a suplex attempt by Omega, then landed a hard clothesline. Omega landed a powerbomb followed by a quick V-Trigger knee strike. Again, both were slow to get up. Dasha announced two minutes remained. Omega climbed to the top rope, but Trent suplexed Omega to the mat. Trent hit a running knee for a two count. Omega came back with a One-Winged Angel for the win right as the one minute remaining announcement was made. After the match, Omega helped Trent to his feet and they fist-bumped.
WINNER: Omega in 19:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match star to finish. Trent still gained from lasting that long with Omega, but it was the right move to have Kenny score the win. I liked the teaser of the time limit draw, as no one really thought Trent would beat Kenny, but there was some manufactured and credible drama at the end that he might take Kenny to the time limit.)
-They went to highlights of Matt Hardy and Chris Jericho from last week on Dynamite. [c]
-A brief video feature aired on Hikaru Shida.
(2) HIKARU SHIDA vs. ANNA JAYY
They plugged Jim Ross’s new book. Cody said J.R. is maybe the last cowboy in the business. After some back-and-forth rapid-fire exchanges, Shida landed a running knee to the head from behind followed by a Falcon Arrow the win. Britt Baker, while chomping on a chicken sandwich at ringside, had some words for her.
WINNER: Shida in 5:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I still think we should be given a little more of a hook regarding Shida’s personality. People are interesting, generally speaking. What’s the key trait that AEW should be accentuating about Shida? Tell us.) [c]
-The announcers commented on clips of the escalating Jon Moxley-Jake Hager feud, including Hager attacking Moxley from behind at the end of Dark last night. Schiavone called them “two of the toughest in our sport.”
-A video package aired on Moxley with flips of his speech after AEW Revolution. Then Hager was shown saying Moxley is a fool thinking he can compete with him. Moxley was shown at Daily’s Place saying he’s miserable pissed-off bastard. He said he’s on top of the hottest wrestling company, and he’s got a target on his back, and he’s pissed off because people want to take away what belongs to him and the locker room and the fans. He said what’s worse is Hager thinks he can beat him, but it’s not going to happen.
Then Jericho was shown at the bar talking down Moxley. He said he’s crazy, a maverick, and a rebel which led him down the path to becoming AEW Champion. He bragged that Inner Circle powerbombed him off the stage and through a table a few days after he won his title. Hager said he’s not in AEW to send fans home happy, he is there to win and inflict violence on Moxley. Moxley said he’s traveled the roads and listened to “Jerky Boys” for hours on end with Hager and trained in the gym with him, so he knows him inside and out. He said he’s not scared of him, but he does understand he can strangle him into unconsciousness with his bare hands. Hager smiled as he talked about taking out Moxley. “He doesn’t have the ruthless aggression that I have.” Sammy Guevara touted Hager as they showed a clip of Mike Goldberg announcing a Hager win in Bellator.
Moxley said he sought out Hager first because he knew he was coming for him eventually. He said he knew Inner Circle wanted the title back and would send Hager after him. Guevara said they are all going to be AEW Champions together in the Inner Circle when Hager wins. Jericho said he has a rematch in his back pocket, but he won’t use it yet as he wants Hager to beat him up first. He said the Inner Circle, unlike The Elite, get along. He said if Hager wins, that’s great because it’ll make two champions in the Inner Circle. Hager said he has to be willing to do anything to win the title. Anything short of everything Moxley has won’t be enough, and he will give Mox everything he has. Moxley said Hager might be 6-4 and a living, breathing semi-truck, but he’s still a man and there’s a formula to beat him. He said he’ll have to find a way. Mox said he’s looking to fight him.
-The graphic then revealed Moxley would defend against Hager in two weeks in an empty arena No Holds Barred match on AEW Dynamite.
(Keller’s Analysis: Tremendous video feature. That’s how you build up a match via video package. Moxley was so cool there. Hager looked serious and dangerous, two traits he rarely exhibited in WWE. Jericho and Guevara were strong in supporting roles touting Hager. I liked the story being filled in a little regarding why Jericho would be okay with Hager winning the title. Guevara helped build up that “team spirit” the Inner Circle feel. Jericho just oozes with satisfaction that he has his faction on one page while he gloats about the dissension in The Elite.) [c]
-Cabana joined Schiavone on camera. (They were probably three feet apart, not six, for those keeping track.) Colt smiled and said he’s thrilled to get TV time on TNT. He waved, “Hi Mom!”
(3) LANCE ARCHER vs. MARKO STUNT
Marko made his ring entrance. Then Schiavone threw to a pre-taped promo with Jake Roberts. He said hell is fixing to break loose because he’s about to destroy whoever AEW puts in front of him. He said Archer is pissed because they’re playing games with him. He said there are some people you shouldn’t make mad. He said just because he’s smiling doesn’t mean he’s happy. “You are denying the inevitable,” he said. “You’re playing a silly little game. Children play games.” Jake told Cody that he might be smarter than he thought he was because “you might be smart enough to be afraid.” He said perhaps his better half is telling him not to go. “I’m pretty sure she wears the pants.”
Then they went to Archer’s ring entrance. The screen called him “The Murderhawk Monster.” Archer walked out and kicked someone at ringside. Colt wondered if it was the doctor. Archer clotheslined Marko before the bell. The ref called for the bell. The size difference was pronounced. Colt said he plans on doing big things in the tournament no matter who his opponent is, but he admitted Archer is huge. Colt said Archer was exiled out of American wrestling, so he went to Japan and became dominant for a decade. Archer release vertical suplexed Marko across the ring. Marko made a comeback of sorts with a dive through the ropes, but he bounced off of Archer’s chest. He landed an enzuigiri and two dropkicks back in the ring. Archer, though, knocked Marko out of the ring to the floor with a cross shoulder tackle. Back in the ring he took Marko down with a one-arm slam. He lifted his shoulder at two and then delivered the Black Out finisher for the three count.
WINNER: Archer in 4:00.
-After the match, Archer continued to attack Marko. Billy Gunn and Orange Cassidy yelled for him to stop. Archer threw Marko off the ring apron and over the ringside barricade at Gunn and Marko.
(Keller’s Analysis: This is a good use of Marko as a sympathetic bump taking victim for a new monster heel. Archer looked bigger than Andre the Giant. The visual of it really put over Archer as a dominant super-sized threat to Cody.)
-They went back to Colt and Schiavone. Colt admitted Archer made a statement, but he will be a tougher opponent.
-Brodie Lee stood in front of a big TV screen with masked Dark Order members sitting at a table in front of him. He introduced himself, then said during these trying unprecedented anxious times, they understand how they feel. He said he was once was lost, downtrodden, and beaten down, but now he stands before them as the Exalted One. He told one follower to stand and call him Mr. Brodie. When he said “Yes Sir,” Brodie blew his top and insisted “Mr. Brodie.” He asked him to say what he told him to say. When the guy said, “We are one,” Brodie threw a glass against the wall and yelled, “It is WE ARE ONE!” He told him to please sit down. Brodie asked if there is something going on at home he wants to tell him about. He said nothing in the world is open, so there’s no reason for him to yawn in his presence. “Do you understand what tiredness shows in people? It shows weakness. Are you weak? Right now you look weak to me. I can’t have that within these doors. Don’t you ever yawn in my presence again. Go.”
(Keller’s Analysis: The idea that Brodie is going to base his character on the abusive and prickly nature of Vince McMahon and his hang-ups and neuroses as a way to define him as a despicable heel is intriguing and quite the return volley for how he feels McMahon treated him for years. I’ll go along for the ride and see where it takes us. It could get old quickly, but the fact is Brodie is in charge of a bunch of aimless losers looking for direction and leadership, and there are dramatic and entertaining places this story can go.)
(4) THE NATURAL NIGHTMARES (Dustin Rhodes & Q.T. Marshall w/Brandi Rhodes) vs. DARK ORDER (Eight & Nine)
Q.T. batted a mask out of the air that Dark Order offered him as a way to indicate he wasn’t joining. When Dustin landed an uppercut, the babyface wrestlers chanted “You still got it!” Schiavone talked about how Dark Order wrestlers are given numbers based on the order in which they joined.
WINNERS: Dustin & Marshall in 5:00.
-As Dustin and Marshall celebrated on the stage, Brodie Lee walked out. Dustin and Q.T. stood their ground as Brandy tried to pull them away. Brodie looked at them, then walked to the ring and powerbombed one of his men who just lost. He then stared down the other wrestler. Colt said he was making a point.
(Keller’s Analysis: I would have liked to see an introductory vignette with Brandi, Dustin, and Marshall explaining what brought them together. I think Dustin would have more value as the valiant likable veteran gatekeeper, but they seem intent on incorporating Q.T. into the show. With the Dark Order invite and subsequent rejection by Q.T., they could still be headed toward Q.T. ultimately joining Dark Order if he feels he’s letting Dustin and Brandi down. This could also just end up being a serviceable tag team of two good hands who fill TV time against more pushed heel teams on the rise.) [c]
-Tony threw to a video package that he said the AEW video team put together consisting of footage sent in by both Jericho and Hardy. Jericho was sitting in a hot tub pouring himself some bubbly. He said April Fools Day is a holiday, and he’s never met a bigger group of fools in his life than The Elite. Jericho made fun of Nick Jackson for staying at home with his head injury and his wife who recently gave birth. He called Cody “Tiger King” and “Cody Exotic.” He said he can’t believe he hired Matt Hardy. He said the Inner Circle are going to deliver a beating. “When this virus is done and everything goes back to normal and I allow fans back into the AEW Arena, you’re still going to have to face the Inner Circle at Blood and Guts.” Vanguard showed up behind him. Jericho stood out of the hot tub. He was earring jeans. He looked up at the drone and said he knew he’d come. He said he wanted to apologize to him. He couldn’t quiet get the word “sorry” out as he talked about how he talked about him last week. He told Vanguard not to be nervous and think about joining Inner Circle. He presented the drone with a child side shirt and hooked it onto the drone. He said it looked good on him. “What do you say?” he said. “Elbow to propeller.” Vanguard flew away. Jericho yelled at him to return. Jericho yelled, “Release the hounds!” Several dogs barked at him as the drone flew away. Jericho said, “That little bastard stole my t-shirt.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Jericho is one of the few wrestlers who can pull off cutting a promo at a drone and not have it fall into complete slapstick nonsense because he seems just petulant and egotistical enough to take that ridiculous situation seriously. It was a good way to get Jericho on Dynamite without having him travel to the venue or wrestle.)
-Back to Schiavone and Colt. Schiavone plugged the Cody vs. Spears match next week. Schiavone said in two weeks Archer faces Colt, plus Hager challenges Moxley for the AEW Title. They showed Sabian at ringside holding a sign that said “Yawn.” (Brodie Lee won’t like that at all.) Schiavone plugged the post-show on YouTube with Excalibur, Taz, and J.R. Then he threw to a video with The Young Bucks.
-Matt Jackson talked with Nick about getting back in ring shape. A ring was set up in an outdoor tennis court. Clips aired of Nick Jackson being taken away in an ambulance as Matt talked about how scared it made him. Nick said he has no memory of what happened, and that’s the scariest part of the whole thing. Nick said he misses the fans. He said it’s in their blood. He said this all put in perspective how quickly things can change in their lives. Matt said in a snap of a finger he almost became a singles wrestler. Nick said you don’t want an accident to change your perspective in life, but it did. Nick said you only have one life, so live it to your fullest. They worked out. Nick said it felt good, but he looked worn out.
(Keller’s Analysis: Nick came across as concussed and shaken up all these weeks later in the way he carried himself and talked. Not a lot has been done in the Dynamite era to define who the Bucks are for those not already acquainted with them, so it was good to hear from them in an extended way here. They seem like regular guys who love wrestling and are known for being really good at what they do. That might be enough, but AEW has to let viewers see it for themselves. They did that here.) [c]
(3) SAMMY GUEVARA & SHAWN SPEARS vs. CODY & DARBY ALLIN
They cut to a break about five minutes in. [c]
Back live, Darby battled back against Spears as Schiavone plugged that “Dumb & Dumber” would be airing on TNT after Dynamite. Cody eventually got a hot tag in. He tossed the weight lifting belt into the “crowd.” He the put Guevara in a sharpshooter. Spears interfered. Cody put him in a figure-four. Spears yelled in pain. Guevara landed a shooting star press to break it up. Guevara went for a springboard cutter, but Cody caught him with a Crossroads. Spears yanked Cody out of the ring. Darby sling-shot himself onto Spears. The heels at ringside attacked Cody. They cut to a break as Havoc hit Cody with an apparent wrench. [c]
Back live the match continued with Guevara in control against Cody. Darby eventually got a hot-tag and went to work against Guevara and Spears. Darby moved like dart, spearing Guevara on one side of the ring. When he speared Spears on the other side of the ring, Spears caught him and rammed him into the ringside barricade. Guevara leaped off the top turnbuckle with a dropkick that hit Darby at ringside. Cody made the save. Back in the ring, though, Spears surprised Cody with his C4. Darby leaped off a lighting post and did a coffin drop on his opponents below. After some chaos in the ring including Darby yanking a chair away from Spears, Spears rolled up Darby and yanked on his pants for the three count.
WINNERS: Spears & Guevara in 22:00.
-As Cody helped Darby up, Darby nailed Cody in the chest and throat with a forearm. Schiavone undersold it and called him Sammy Guevara. Colt corrected him and asked where that frustration came from. Tony said they battle next week one-on-one in the TNT Championship tournament next week (although it’s merely a potential second round match-up).
(Keller’s Analysis: The tease of Cody vs. Darby could be seen as giving away the first round outcomes in their respective brackets. It could also serve as a way to create a sense, after Cody beats Spears, that either Darby or Guevara could win their match. Without the tease of dissension between Cody and Darby, the assumption would have been Gueveara would be defeating Darby so there’d be a natural Elite vs. Inner Circle and Face vs. Heel match-up in the second round. Now that’s in doubt. If they do go with Cody vs. Darby, it’s a toss-up who would win. They could definitely save Cody vs. Archer – the favorite to come out of the other bracket – for another time and give Archer a smaller opponent to bump like crazy for him in Darby. Portraying Darby as irascible doesn’t make him a heel, but can play into his loner rebellious persona that they’ve already established.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Solid episode of Dynamite. I actually really like the mix of in-ring action and video packages. Some of the early months of Dynamite felt too underproduced, with too high a ratio of just a camera pointed at a ring and wrestlers wrestling without promos or context or other features to break it up. This show had a good mix, bookended by two semi-lengthy good matches. It shouldn’t be taken for granted at all that AEW is not exhibiting any of the maddeningly stupid booking approaches that TNA did ten years ago when it was battling Raw head-to-head with big stars, or the lethargy and unimaginative patterns of years and years of Smackdown in different eras. This is a show with compelling, contemporary characters, logical booking, talented wrestlers working a modern mix of styles, with good announcing and strong promos. It’s doing all of that under duress without a live crowd, and in some ways, the lack of live crowd is resulting a better balanced show. I hope that balance doesn’t go away when they get live crowds again down the line, even though I understand the desire to serve the live audience steady in-ring live action.
LISTEN TO OUR TWO-PLUS HOUR POST-SHOW PODCAST WITH LIVE CALLERS ANALYZING THIS SHOW HERE: