7/1 AEW DYNAMITE TV REPORT (UPDATED ANALYSIS): Keller’s report on Fyter Fest Week 1 special edition including Cody vs. Jake Hager for TNT Title, Page & Omega vs. Best Friends for AEW Tag Titles, Shida vs. Ford for Women’s Title

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

AEW DYNAMITE TV REPORT – FYTER FEST NIGHT 1
JULY 1, 2020
LIVE IN JACKSONVILLE, FLA. AT DAILY’S PLACE
AIRED ON TNT

Announcers: Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, Excalibur


[HOUR ONE]

[Q1]

-An augmented opening theme aired with images of the wrestlers competing tonight. Then the camera panned ringside where people without masks were uncomfortably closely spaced cheering, including a woman in a bikini with a drink, as pyro blasted. Ross introduced the show. Chris Jericho walked out to join them at the broadcast table. He sat snugly between Ross and Schiavone at the crowded announce table. Jericho came out in a red and white checkered suit jacket with maple leafs.

(1) LUCHASAURUS & JUNGLE BOY (w/Marko Stunt) vs. MJF & WARDLOW

MJF entered the ring in a long pink robe. He tried to talk into the house mic, but the announcers were commenting on a replay of last week’s happenings with these four. MJF then spoke and said he’s so tired of beating these guys over and over and over again. He asked why Jungle Boy wants him to keep beating him up because he thought he’d “have more fun counting his daddy’s money back in Cali.” MJF said they’re in a ratings war, and that’s why he’s on the front line. Luchasaurus and Jungle Boy charged to the ring and the bell promptly rang and JB attacked MJF right away. Wardlow yanked JB off of MJF on the ring apron and threw him into the ringpost. Schiavone plugged the #AEWDynamite hashtag. Jericho said they have limited commercials and unlimited talent. A couple minutes later JB tagged in Luchasaurus, but the ref didn’t see it and didn’t allow it. A minute later, though, he did hot-tag in Luchasaurus again and this time the ref saw it. Luchasaurus attacked Wardlow with a barrage of offense. MJF tagged in briefly, but then quickly tagged Wardlow back in. Luchasaurus and Wardlow went forehead-to-forehead. A minute later, JB dove through the ropes and tackled MJF against the ringside barricade. He did it again, then flip dove onto him on the floor. He threw him back into the ring, but then Wardlow yanked him by his foot off the ring apron.

[Q2]

JB kicked Wardlow in the head. Luchasaurus then dove onto Wardlow at ringside. Luchasaurus and JB gave MJF a double-team cutter, but Wardlow broke up the cover at two. Chaos ensued. Jericho wondered how you referee such action. MJF and JB kipped up. Then Luchasaurus and Wardlow did the same. Cool, but contrived. JB gave MJF a Super Canadian Destroyer. Marko dove at Wardlow, but he caught him and pressed him and tossed him into JB on the floor. MJF rolled up Luchasaurus in the ring for a near fall.

Wardlow overshot but made some contact on a top rope senton on Luchasaurus. Wardlow held Luchasaurus. MJF put on his ring and swung at him. Luchasaurus ducked. MJF yelled at Wardlow, asking if he can do anything right. Luchasaurus kicked MJF into Wardlow; MJF’s fist connected with Wardlow, knocking him silly. Luchasaurus gave Wardlow a spinning hook kick to the chin. JB then gave Wardlow a springboard swinging DDT. Luchasaurus slammed Wardlow and then landed a standing moonsault for the 1-2-3. Jericho said there could be more losses in the future of MJF & Wardlow if they don’t get on the same page. Jericho threw to a break without any hype for anything else on the show.

WINNERS: Luchasaurus & MJF in 11:00.

(Keller’s Analysis: This match overachieved. I was thinking they’d save this for mid-show and build it up first with an MJF promo, but the pre-match mic work from MJF during introduction was sufficient. Jungle Boy is really shining. I hope with a slow, steady, strategic build, he can grow into a more substantial upper card singles role a in a few years. I’m not sure what to make of the Wardlow-MJF tension. Seems premature to even begin to tease breaking them up.) [c]

-A commercial hyped that next week after Fyter Fest, for the first time in history, they’d hold an All Elite Puppy Battle Royale. They showed cute puppies wandering around the ring.

-They cut to action at ringside where Lance Archer was attacking Joey Janela. Sonny Kiss came to Janela’s aid. Jake Roberts laughed a few feet away.

-They went back to the announcers. Jericho wished everyone Happy Canada Day. They listed upcoming matches.

-A video package aired on Hikaru Shida and Penelope Ford. Excalibur, Ross, and Tazz talked about each of them.

(2) HIKARU SHIDA vs. PENELOPE FORD (w/Kip Sabian) – AEW Women’s Title match

Before the match, referee Aubry Edwards ordered Sabian to the back after he created a ruckus before the bell by shoving Shida. Sabian pleaded his case, but then left while yelling in protest the whole way.

[Q3]

After early offense by Ford, Shida took over at ringside and whipped Ford into the ringside barricade and then gave her a running knee. Jericho said, “I like when Penelope kicks Shida in the head; that’s a good move.” They cut to a break a couple minutes in. [c]

Back live, Ford was still in control. Ross said Ford was having the match of her life tonight. Shida fought back with slaps to the side of Ford’s head. When Ross said Ford showed a lot of grit when she kicked out, Jericho complained about the word grit, saying he never heard it before 2020. Excalibur asked if he had ever heard of “True Grit.” Ford countered Shida after a Falcon Arrow for a near fall.  Ford avoided a top rope dropkick with a Matrix back-bend, then scored a near fall after a cutter. Ford went to ringside and grabbed the title belt. The ref yelled at her. Sabian entered the ring and swung and missed with the kendo stick. He threw the stick into the air after Shida punched him in a contrived looking sequence. Shida then hit him with the kendo stick. Ford re-entered the ring and surprised Shida with a handspring cutter for a near fall. Ford went for a top rope moonsault, but Shida moved. Ford crashed to the mat. Jericho said this was one of his favorite matches of the year. Shida kicked Ford and then landed a Falcon Arrow for a believable near fall. She pumped her fists during the cover rather than adding extra leverage with that arm. She followed up with a running knee for the 1-2-3.

WINNER: Shida in 12:00 to retain the AEW Title.

(Keller’s Analysis: Really good match. The Sabian interference felt a bit superfluous at the time and especially at the end. I guess the idea is to establish Ford wasn’t confident she could win on her own so there’s more satisfaction when she ultimately lost. Shida is the best women’s champion AEW has had yet in terms of representing the division, even without  strong promo ability.)

-Taz narrated a scouting report style vignette explaining Brian Cage’s offense and how it will beat Jon Moxley. [c]

[Q4]

(3) CODY (w/Arn Anderson) vs. JAKE HAGER (w/Catalina) – TNT Title match

Cody wore his “The American Nightmare Cody” t-shirt with a “Great American Bash” type of font. The announcers talked about Cody just having a birthday (he turned 35) on the same day as Terry Funk (who turned 76). Justin Roberts is back and did formal ring introductions. The announcers discussed the Tale of the Tape with these two, including their 11-1 and 4-1 records, respectively. The bell rang 50 minutes into the first hour. Early in the match, they plugged a temporary tattoo three-pack with the Cody neck tattoo. Cody did a great job selling being overpowered by Hager in the opening seconds. After some mat exchanges, Hager got irritated by Arn at ringside. Cody ran and leaped off the top rope and dove onto Hager on the floor. Hager caught Cody leaping at him in the ring, but Cody slipped free and took Hager down and applied a leglock. He shifted into a mid-ring figure-four leglock. Hager reached the bottom rope. Cody springboard roundkicked Hager. Hager countered with a powerslam. Cody rolled to the floor. Hager went after him, but turned and shoved Arn into the ringside wall. Cody charged at Hager, but Hager back suplexed Cody hard to the floor instead. They cut to a break, but stayed with the action picture-in-picture. [c]

Hager stayed in control during the break with methodical offense.

[HOUR TWO]

[Q5]

Hager tossed Cody out of the ring. Arn blocked the ringpost so Hager couldn’t throw Cody into it. Cody then shoved Hager into the ringpost instead. Jericho said that should be illegal to stand there. Cody powerslammed Hager a minute later for a two count. Hager caught a charging Cody with a boot and then landed a Hager Bomb in the corner for a near fall. Cody came back and climbed to the top rope. Hager threw him to the mat. Jericho noted how humid it is outside, leading to perspiration making it tougher to grip anyone. Hager put Cody in an anklelock. Cody reached the bottom rope. Catalina slapped Cody. Arn protested to the referee. Dustin Rhodes ran out to the ring. Hager charged at him. Hager gave Cody a urinage and then an arm triangle. Cody leveraged Hager’s shoulders down after a float over, though, for the three count. Hager thought he won. Hager punched the referee. “What have we become?” asked Ross. Other referees and security ran out.

WINNER: Cody in 15:00 to retain the TNT Title.

(Keller’s Analysis: This was a solid match. Overall, I liked it. The finish was a little too cute, though. Given that Hager is probably a second tier heel who is good for a match like this on a secondary show now and then, but not much more, I would have put Cody over clean here. This was a battle of two wrestlers who spent years in the mid-card in WWE with viewers seeing them established as short of main event level. On Hager, WWE was probably right, but when it comes to Cody, AEW can’t afford to affirm that WWE was right. This was a chance to give Cody a strong clean win so he has some momentum moving on to bigger opponents. Instead, he eked out a controversial win that Hager is contesting.)

-A vignette aired with Darby Allin. He was in a phone booth and asked, “What do you mean, I’m not medically cleared.” He then did a bunch of skate board stunts with some other guys including a backflip that was the “mic drop” moment. [c]

-Orange Cassidy walked out onto the stage. Cassidy brought a chair with him to the announce desk. Jericho said he’s got a match next week, so he’s not worried about dipshit Cassidy sitting out there. Cassidy pulled up a chair and kicked up his shoes.

(4) SANTANA & ORTIZ vs. PRIVATE PARTY (Isaiah Kassidy & Marq Quen w/Matt Hardy)

Ortiz was the only guy in the arena with a face mask on. Jericho accused Cassidy of trying to throw him of his game. Excalibur said he isn’t doing anything. Jericho yelled, “He’s sitting there!” Santana and Kassidy opened up. Kassidy landed a running leaping dive onto Santana & Ortiz on the floor a minute in. Marq Quen tagged in next and scored a one count after a standing moonsault.

[Q6]

They cut to a break but stayed with the action on split-screen as Santana & Ortiz worked over Quen throughout. [c]

Kassidy eventually landed a twisting dive onto Santana and Ortiz at ringside. He landed a top rope senton onto Ortiz for a two count. Quen tagged in but Ortiz knocked him off balance. Ortiz then gave Quen a top rope sitout powerbomb. Santana then landed a corner cannonball off of Ortiz’s back. Ortiz made the cover, but Kassidy broke it up. Santana whipped Kassidy into the ringside barricade. Hardy took the loaded sock away from Ortiz. Quen rolled up Santana for a near fall. Santana came back with a kick to the chin. “Never trust a man in tails,” Jericho said. “I’ve been saying that for years.” Four-way action broke out. Quen launched Santana with a head scissors into a Kassidy cutter for the win.

WINNERS: Private Party in 13:00.

(Keller’s Analysis: I’m not sure if I’m more surprised as how defined down Santana & Ortiz are in AEW or how little AEW has done in nine months to establish the Lucha Bros. This was a nice match, but again it felt like AEW’s “point a camera at the ring and let the dives speak for themselves” booking approach that I think they overestimate the public’s interest in.)

-They cut to the announce desk. As Kassidy danced in celebration, Jericho stood and protested. Then he yelled at Cassidy. He attacked him from behind, but other wrestlers quickly separated them. They said they’ll wrestle next week. Jericho yelled as he was held back. [c]

[Q7]

-Dasha interviewed Kenny Omega & “Hangman” Page backstage. Page didn’t have a drink in his hands this week. That’s the first time in months, I think. Kenny said after it’s over, they will be celebrating.

(Keller’s Analysis: That did nothing to get anyone more into Page & Omega or invested in the match outcome. They seemed about as engaged as an NBA team ten games out of the playoff hunt with 12 game left in the season.)

-They showed a woman lying on a lounge chair in a bikini. Then the announcers hyped next week’s line-up. Ross said the Jon Moxley vs. Brian Cage was postponed until July 15 at “Fight for the Fallen.”

-Taz and Cage walked to the ring. Taz stood in the ring and said they’re all good with the one week delay. He said he talked with Tony Khan. He said Moxley was concerned for the health of all the other athletes in AEW. Taz said Mox has been tested twice at home and has been negative both times. He said Mox could get his ass to AEW next week and get tested again. “As you know, we don’t run a sloppy shop,” he said. He said Moxley has a case of one thing, “the chicken shits.” He said he’s afraid of the chicken shits and Cage will beat his brains in and take the title from him. Ross said Moxley can’t train right now, so will he be 100 pecent in two weeks.

(Keller’s Analysis: That was a big dig at WWE for running a sloppy ship. Why can’t Mox train right now if he’s testing negative? That’s tough for next week’s ratings battle anticipation, but understandable of course that Mox wants to be near his wife Renee Young as she battles COVID-19. I wonder if they’ll add a Cody TNT Title defense since he has been saying he’s planning to defend it every week.)

-Trent’s mom Sue drove Best Friends to Daily’s Place. She gave Trent a kiss on the cheek before they headed down the ramp and into the arena.

(5) “HANGMAN” ADAM PAGE & KENNY OMEGA vs. BEST FRIENDS (Trent & Chuck Taylor) – AEW Tag Team Title match

Ross noted that Page missed most of the last few months with “virus concerns.” He said everyone should be careful and wear their masks in public, especially when indoors. Schiavone and Ross noted that they’re tested. (Smart of them to differentiate why they’re telling people to wear masks, even when they’re not. Whether you think they should still wear masks for an added layer of safety given the potential for false negatives in testing, or just to set a good example and normalize it as standard practice, it is absolutely safer to be without masks outdoors if everyone has been tested that day. I’d still at the very very least socially space the wrestlers positioned at ringside and have them wear masks.)

[Q4]

They cut to a break a few minutes in, but stayed with the action on split-screen. [c]

They showed FTR watching while drinking beers. Kenny saved Page from a three count late. Taylor countered a One-Winged Angel into a leaping piledriver. Kenny landed on his head, and rolled to ringside. The Best Friends hugged. Page hit them. Trent chopped away at Page. Page threw him into the ropes and landed a rolling elbow. Trent rolled up Page for a very near fall. Page came back with a Dead Eye for a near fall seconds later. Page then hit his Buckshot Lariat for the win.

WINNERS: Page & Omega in 16:00 to retain the AEW Tag Team Titles.

(Keller’s Analysis: This was a decent main event, but given AEW knew they were competing against Sasha Banks and Io Shirai, this felt phoned in terms of the backstory and the hype. I don’t get how they did absolutely nothing to build up the magnitude of the tag team titles being at stake and what it means for the Best Friends to get this opportunity. AEW leans in too hard on the “cute” and “clubhouse” indy humor too often and not enough on the sports-like vibe their mission statement in their press release indicated would be their focus.)

-FTR walked out after the match with beers. They offered them to Page and Kenny. They accepted, Page with enthusiasm. Kenny smelled it and pretended to drink, but then poured it out. FTR didn’t like that. The Young Bucks ran out to keep them from breaking into a fight. Ross said business is picking up. They shoved each other as the show ended, with the announcers hyping the eight-man tag as the top match.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Overall, this didn’t reach the status of feeling like a big event. It was a solid two hours of mostly good in-ring action, but nothing particularly stand-out or even memorable. This was reverting back to their early weeks where they pointed at camera at the ring and didn’t do much to add pizzazz to the show with short video packages to hype and introduce matches. It’s remarkable how little they did in the 100 minutes before the main event to get people excited about the main event. I can’t recall a worse backstage promo before a match in terms of serving any purpose than the one with Page and Omega. At some point Omega needs to act like he’s invested in this thing called AEW instead of just collecting a paycheck to have a nice 10 minute match every couple weeks. I know they were thrown a curve ball with the the Jon Moxley news, but they also get a D grade for hyping next week’s show. I think AEW is massively overestimating the built-in anticipation people have to see FTR and The Young Bucks play out their drama of whether they can really trust each other, and building a match over Omega not being all that into beer is just weird.

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