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KELLER’S AEW DYNAMITE REPORT
MAY 28, 2021
JACKSONVILLE, FLA. AT DAILY’S PLACE
AIRED LIVE ON TNT
Announcers: Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, Excalibur
Ring Announcer: Justin Roberts
Note: This episode aired live on TNT on a special night and time, immediately after Smackdown on Fox ended at 10 ET.
-The Dynamite opening theme aired with an altered logo: “Friday Night Dynamite.”
-Ross introduced the show as pyro blasted. The ring was surrounded by fans and they were more densely packed than we’ve seen in AEW for over 14 months. Schiavone noted the fans have come back tonight.
(1) DARBY ALLIN (w/Sting) vs. CEZAR BONINI (w/Ryan Nemeth, Peter Avalon, J.D. Drake)
Ross said it’s hard to believe Sting will be wrestling live in the ring in front of fans later this weekend. Schiavone said wrestlers respond differently when there’s a crowd of fans reacting to the action. A loud “Let’s Go Darby!” chant broke out.
Bononi overpowered Darby a minute in, working over Darby’s taped ribs. Schiavone began plugging Miro’s TNT Title defense, but mistakenly began to call it a TV Title defense (an understandable misstatement considering that’s essentially what it is, reminiscent of past TV Titles dating back to Schiavone’s early years announcing in the 1980s). The announcers hyped other upcoming matches.
Fans chanted “Darby! Darby!” again a few minutes in. Darby caught Bononi in a sleeper mid-ring while also covering his mouth and nose. Excalibur said that Nemeth & Co. said they’re “waxed, vaxed, and ready for a hot boys summer.” Ross asked, “Now what the hell does that mean, for God’s sakes?” They all laughed. Excalibur said they shouldn’t deconstruct it here. Schiavone said, “No, run it by me again, I love it!” Darby finished Bononi with a Coffin Drop.
WINNER: Darby in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I love basically opening Dynamite with a quick squash match. It showcased Darby as an undersized wrestler conquering a larger, strong wrestler, and put Sting on the screen early in the show as announcers talked about his return to the ring on Sunday.)
-Afterward, Darby said he doesn’t want to wait to get jumped from behind. “Let’s do this tonight!” he said. Scorpio Sky and Ethan walked out. Sky said he’d like that, but they’re not going to come down there “in our fancies and fight you for free.” The fans chanted “You suck!” He said they want to beat him on Sunday on the big stage. He said Double or Nothing will be the end of one legend and the beginning of two more. He then let out a heel wrestler laugh (trademark Jeff Jarrett).
Bononi’s crew attacked Darby and Sting. Ethan put Darby in a chinlock on the mat as Sky set up a leap onto Sting’s leg caught in a chair. Dark Order made the save. Ross said it’ll be a potentially show-stealing match on Sunday. Page and Sky smiled from the stage. Sting nodded at Dark Order and Darby fist-bumped a bunch of them.
-Ross plugged Miro defending the TNT Title against Dante Martin, Eric Bischoff hosting a celebration of Inner Circle later, Jade Cargill in action, honoring Hikaru Shida’s one-year AEW Title reign, and the Cody-Anthony Ogogo weigh-in.
-Paul Wight (the former “Big Show”) walked to the ring after being introduced. Schiavone talked about how great it’s been working with him. [c]
-Ross threw to Wight in the ring, ready for the weigh-in. He yelled, “Alright, AEW! I feel great being out here in front of this amazing crowd.” He said he doesn’t know why they asked him to officiate the weigh-in for Double or Nothing. He assured everyone there would be no shenanigans. Excalibur talked about Ogogo’s history as a middleweight boxer, noting he has added some size since then. Q.T. Marshall walked out and asked everyone to show some respect for a true athlete. Wight said fans didn’t pay money to hear him run his mouth, and he told him not to eyeball him or it might be his last time. Wight urged them to hurry up.
Wight introduced Cody. He said he’s known him for a long time. He introduced him as “The American Dream” Cody Rhodes. Cody was led to the ring by his students from The Nightmare Factory. They hung gigantic flags of the U.S.A. and U.K., blocking the view of a bunch of fans in the stands.
Wight told the wrestlers to save everything for Double or Nothing. Cody took off his sneakers and then began taking off his warm-up gear. Wight said it was getting hot in there. Cody stripped down his Calvin Klein briefs. Wight struggled to get the exact weight. He said he didn’t have time to invest in a digital scale. He asked the wrestlers to stop moving around the ring. He said Cody weighed in at 218. Ross made fun of the cheers for the 218 announcement.
Ogogo took off his warm-ups and stood in his UK flag underwear on the scale. Excalibur said beating Cody at Double or Nothing would be career-defining. He added that Ogogo revealed he injured his ribs while training. Ogogo came in at 219. Marshall interrupted Wight and asked the audience if they realize what just happened. Marshall said since Ogogo weighs a pound more, that assures him victory. He took issue with fans cheering Cody. Ogogo flexed. Ross said, “If you’re stupid enough to think one pound is going to make a difference, I feel for ya’.” Marshall directed Ogogo to pose and flex for another side of the crowd. “Gather your socks up and leave,” said Ross.
Cody thanked Paul Wight and said he’d see them all at Double or Nothing. Ogogo yelled at the fans as he made his way to the back.
-Excalibur threw to a video package on Stadium Stampede. Chris Jericho said Blood & Guts wasn’t the end, but rather it was just the beginning. Tully Blanchard, Sammy Guevara, MJF, and others spoke about the match as highlights (and lowlights) aired from last year’s Stadium Stampede. They closed with Shawn Spears saying, “Some men were born to be buried.”
-They cut to Christian and Powerhouse Hobbs fighting backstage. Excalibur said they’d be two competitors in the Casino Battle Royal on Sunday. Agents Jerry Lynn and B.J. Whitmer tried to separate them.
(2) “HANGMAN” ADAM PAGE vs. “BAD BOY” JOEY JANELA (w/Sonny Kiss)
Taz joined the announcers on commentary. Taz said they have scouted Hangman Page “immensely.” Page caught Janela leaping off the ring apron at him, then landed a fallaway slam at ringside. They cut to a split-screen break a couple minutes in. [c/ss]
Back from the break, Janela and Page battled on the ring apron. Page clotheslined Janela to the floor. The announcers said Dynamite would be live on Friday, June 4 again at 10 ET. Page slingshot himself onto Janela at ringside. He set up a Buckshot Lariat, but Janela battled back. Janela landed a top rope flying elbow drop for a near fall. Ross noted that Janela appeared astonished he didn’t get a three count. Page made a comeback with a rolling elbow strike, then a pop-up powerbomb and a Buckshot Lariat for the win. Page was bleeding from the forehead late in the match.
WINNER: Page in 8:00.
-After the match, Taz stood said he wanted to introduce him to one of his friends who will whoop his ass on Sunday – “The Machine” Brian Cage. Cage walked out down the ramp. Page told Taz to shut the hell up. He said he knows what’s going on. He said the rest of Team Taz will show up. He asked Cage if he really needs those guys to whoop his ass. “I thought you had more balls than that, but maybe they’ve shrunk all the way up by now,” he said. He told Cage to “leave these assholes out of it and face me like a man.” Taz said the only asshole is Page. Cage got in Page’s face and said he’ll have him one-on-one on Sunday. He said, “Who betta’ than Cage? Not Hangman Page.” An increasingly bloodied Page smiled.
-The announcers hyped Page vs. Cage.
-A segment aired with Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston standing in a yard with a shovel and the Bucks shoes. They cut abruptly to a commercial break. [c]
-They went back to Mox and Kingston in the yard. Mox said the Young Bucks think they’re two schmucks just thrown together, but he trusts Kingston with his life. He said he has had his back in war when they were living out of a motel in Philadelphia. Mox said they need the tag team belts. He said the Bucks might be a more well-oiled machine than them, but those belts are steaks and they’re pitbulls. Kingston said the Bucks are going to quit in their match because they quit on the people and the boys in the back. Kingston said they are the ones who are going to get them and win the titles, and then the Bucks will quit and won’t be part of AEW anymore. He said maybe and Mox will be EVPs then. Mox said “Nah, I don’t want that.” Kingston said the pressure is coming on Sunday.
(Keller’s Analysis: Another example of the great dynamic between those two.)
-Schiavone stood mid-ring and introduced Orange Cassidy to get his answer to Kenny Omega’s offer. Instead, Pac entered the ring. He told Schiavone to get out of the ring. Fans booed Pac treating Tony so poorly. Pac smiled and looked round. He asked them to accept his sincerest apology because they were clearly expecting someone else. He said he’s there to tell each of them that this Sunday, Orange Cassidy is irrelevant. More boos. He said the only individual of any relevance at Double or Nothing is the man who will beat Omega and become the new AEW World Champion. “Me!” he said. “The bastard!”
He looked at the camera and accused Omega of ducking and dodging and manipulating. He said it’s pathetic. He asked him to make amends right now and come out there and stand face-to-face to show the world what is going to happen on Sunday. Don Callis showed up on the big screen. He said he wouldn’t be in the same ring or building with him. He said he and Kenny aren’t happy. He said he’s a violent, aggressive, soulless sociopath. Omega then tried to sneak-attack Pac from behind. Pac heard him coming, despite the Callis distraction on the big screen. He kicked Omega a few times. Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows ran out and stomped away at Pac. Penta Jr. and Rey Fenix ran out, so Gallows & Anderson fled. Ross said they “ran like scalded dogs” and left their champion in the ring. (Who is scalding all these dogs that Ross keeps talking about?)
Omega stood and set up a One-Winged Angel on Pac, but Cassidy’s music played and he walked out. Trent and Chuck Taylor walked out onto the stage with him. He sauntered into the ring as Omega eyed him. Cassidy held a sheet of paper that said “For Kenn” and he ran out of room, so scratched out “Kenn” and wrote “Kenny” on the line under it. Funny. Omega opened the envelope and inside were shreds of paper. The announcers said they just got Cassidy’s answer. He then gave Omega an Orange Crush punch. When Cassidy bent over to pick up Omega’s belt. Pac stopped him and set up a powerbomb. Cassidy avoided it and took him out with an Orange Crush punch. He put on his sunglasses and Schiavone declared he just showed he can win the World Title on Sunday night. Fans chanted “Freshly Squeezed.” Cassidy then successfully picked up the AEW Title belt and posed casually for the hard camera. [c]
-Schiavone threw to an interview he conducted earlier with Jade Cargill, which Matt Hardy interrupted at the start. He said Sunday will be the biggest day in the history of the Matt Hardy Office. He said he wants her to be part of it. “Will you join a winning team?” He asked. In walked Mark Sterling who said Jade had already signed with him. He said he hates to do this, because he’s a fan, but if Hardy keep accosting her, he’ll put a 50 yard restraining order on him, which would keep him out of buildings when they go on the road. He said they have to prep for her match. He said while Hardy takes 30 percent off the top, he only takes a cut when she wins. Jade smiled as he handed Hardy his card. Hardy yelled, “I hope you’re happy with your decision. Argh!”
(3) JADE CARGILL (w/Mark Sterling) vs. KILYNN KING
Ross said Jade has a degree in child psychology. Excalibur said King is a real standout on AEW Dark. He noted she’s 6-1. Cargill looked short compared to King when they locked up mid-ring. Jade took early control and they cut to a split-screen break a minute in. [c]
Ross said King hasn’t seemed intimidated by Cargill, as many women are who step into the ring with Cargill. Cargill threw King out of the ring. Sterling tossed his card at King at ringside. She threw it back at him. Cargill beat up King at ringside. Cargill lifted and then sitout face-planted King for the win.
WINNER: Cargill in 6:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Cargill looked good enough there, doing what she can that looks good, and soaking up every move and playing up her heel mannerisms.)
-A promo aired with Jake Roberts and Lance Archer. Archer said he wants Miro, and after Sunday, he will be the new TNT Champion.
(Keller’s Analysis: Short and to the point.)
(4) MIRO vs. DANTE MARTIN – TNT Championship match
Ross said he thinks Miro agreed to this match against Martin just to piss off Archer. The graphic showed his 8-1 record in 2021. He said Dante has been red-hot with a 8-0 record since his brother’s injury sent him into the singles division. Miro showed great fire and intensity as he flexed after entering the ring. Dante looked on like he was in for a beating. Fans sang, “Miro’s gonna kill you!” Miro kicked Martin early as fans chanted “One more time!” Ross said Miro is having fun because he’s the big bully who’s got everything under control.
Dante avoided a Miro leaping headbutt. Dante landed a springboard shotgun dropkick and scored a quick one count. Miro kicked out with authority. Dante showed some fire as he climbed to the top rope. A “Dante!” chant broke out. Miro yanked him back into the ring with a brainbuster and then finished him with the thrust kick to the jaw. Schiavone said he’s the closest AEW has to someone unstoppable right now. Miro milked the moment, then applied his camel clutch finisher. “He’s gonna break him in half!” exclaimed Schiavone as Miro bent Dante backwards.
WINNER: Miro in 3:00.
-Jake and Archer walked onto the stage. Jake said he’s got Archer focused so on Sunday, Miro’s fairy tale will come to an end. Jake said they don’t play fairy tales. He told Miro to shut the f up because they’ve had enough of his bullying. Miro said, “Turn on my microphone because I have to tell this old fart to shut up.” He called Lance to the ring. He said he’s always afraid. Archer charged. Miro swung his belt at him, but Archer ducked. Archer lifted Miro for a chokeslam, but Miro slipped free. Archer landed a big boot. Referees swarmed the ring to pull them apart. Ross said it’ll be a slobberknocker on PPV on Sunday.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good squash match and angle. Although fans want to like Miro, they booked that segment well enough that if there’s any hope for Archer to win over Miro fans, this segment gave them reason to do so. Overall, though, it just made you want to see them fight on Sunday.) [c]
-Back to the ring, Schiavone stood with the referee who was holding the AEW Women’s Title belt. Schiavone said Hikaru Shida is the longest-running champion ever, who has held it for 377 days. He said they want to honor her tonight. He introduced her. She walked out as Ross and Excalibur sang her praises. Shida walked out with her belt. Schiavone presented her with a new belt, that is made of gold and diamonds. Schiavone put it on her waist. Ross said she represented the company like a pro, always with a smile on her face. Excalibur said her dream is to defend the title in front of a packed arena, which she hasn’t had a chance to do to this point due to the pandemic, but that changes on Sunday.
Schiavone asked for her thoughts. She said when she won the title, there were no fans, “but tonight, you are here!” She smiled and fans cheered. She said she is so proud to share this moment with them because the title is for them. Her heart sank as Brit Baker’s music interrupted her. Ross said he can’t say he’s surprised.
Baker walked out with a smug smile. She said she didn’t think she’d actually invite her to this, but she has come in peace. She congratulated her and she said she was champion during the most difficult time in all of professional wrestling and no one can ever take that away from her. “This was your year,” she said.
She said she has to admit she misspoke when she sat down with Ross two weeks ago. She said she said something she wants to take back. She said she is the face of the Women’s Division, but when she wins that new belt on Sunday, she’ll be the face of a whole new era. Many fans cheered. She said much like the new era before her was all about 3:16, this era is all about DMD.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good segment. It felt like a real ceremony to honor Shida for something worth honoring, she came cross as pure class. Baker did a good job being smug and nasty without being over-the-top about it.)
-Sammy Guevara held up cue-cards during the split-screen commercial break. The cards taunted Spears about how his time is drawing near at Stadium Stampede where Inner Circle will succeed. He threw each of the cards to fans as souvenirs. “No amount of chairs will save you,” he said. “The Spanish God will hit you up.” [c]
(5) EVIL UNO & STU GRAYSON vs. “ALL EGO” ETHAN PAGE & SCORPIO SKY (w/Dark Order’s Colt Cabana, Preston Vance, John Silver, Alex Reynolds, Alan Angels)
Ross talked about Sting’s first official match in six years taking place against Sky & Page on Sunday. They cut to a early split-screen break with Sky in control. [c/ss]
Grayson made a comeback after the break and hot-tagged in Evil Uno. Fans chanted “This is awesome!” as the pace picked up. Four-way action broke out. Sky put Grayson in a heel hook mid-ring as Page gave the Ego’s Edge to Stu for the win.
WINNERS: Ethan & Sky in 10:00.
-Afterward, Ethan said what happened tonight is what will happen this Sunday. “Whether it’s the heel or the Ego’s Edge.” He was interrupted by Sting’s music. Ross said business was picking up. Darby led seven people in Sting masks to the ring. He charged at Ethan. The Sting-masked guys charged at Sky. Sky tossed one of them out of the ring, but the second Sting-masked guy no-sold Sky, then unmasked as the actual Sting. Sky and Ethan fled to ringside and yelled back up at Sting and Darby.
-The announcers hyped the Double or Nothing line-up.
-Justin Roberts introduced Eric Bischoff, who made his way to the ring. [c]
-Bischoff stood mid-ring and soaked up some cheers. “Oh, I love you people, each and everyone of you!” he said. He said time is a funny thing. He said 25 years ago last night, he had the opportunity to introduce what would become eventually one of the factions that many would say was the greatest faction of all time “on this very network, TNT.” He said he now has the opportunity to introduce another faction, a group of badasses who could very well take that crown. He introduced The Inner Circle.
Jericho’s entrance theme played. He walked out, smiling, as Excalibur suggested they have a chance to surpass the greatest groups in pro wrestling of all time if they can survive Double or Nothing. They showed various audience members singing enthusiastically to his song.
Jericho thanked Bischoff for all he’s done for him in his career in WCW. He said he was one of the people he reconciled with. They shook hands. Bischoff said he couldn’t think of a better way to thank Jericho than to show everyone the sweet little package they put together of their greatest hits. They showed a two minute montage of various attacks and memorable moments.
Santana said, “We did some pretty cool shit, huh, boys?” He said on Oct. 2, 2019, everything changed for them. He said they created magic and 18 months later, they’re there standing strong. (Actually nearly 20 months.) He said they put the company on their backs and carried it through a damn pandemic. He said now they stand before the greatest fans in wrestling today. He said if it’s truly their last dance together, he wouldn’t have it any other way than with his brothers and with those fans.
Ortiz said it was beautiful. Jake Hager agreed. He said he believes in the journey, not the destination. He said if this is the end of the Inner Circle, seeing a video of highlights of the good times isn’t what he wants. He said he wants to see the hard times when they were battered and bloodied, leaving a piece of their soul behind. He said those are times to be celebrated.
Sammy Guevara stepped up. A “Sammy!” chant broke out. He said they’ve been through everything together. He said when he first appeared in AEW, he was wearing a panda head, and now he’s in the greatest faction in all of pro wrestling. He said he didn’t like it at all when he was on his own and the Inner Circle didn’t have his back. He said if this is the end, thanks for everything.
Jericho said when he was first asked about putting together a faction, he was hesitant because he doesn’t play well with others. He said then he met them, and it just felt right. Ortiz cut him off before he could say “bad ass mother f—-ers.” He said they didn’t care about anything other than putting on the best performances they could night after night, and that hasn’t changed. He said they’ll do it again at Stadium Stampede and it will be a war and a battle. He said if they lose, they will go down in a blaze of glory. He said, “If it’s the last time we’re in the ring together, I want to say one thing to these guys: I love you.” They all hugged.
MJF appeared on the big screen and talked about how touching it was. He said the love and passion they have for each other is incredible, which makes him all the more excited for Stadium Stampede on Sunday. He stepped aside and showed that they had attacked Dean Malenko. He said they should rush to the stadium now before he makes the Iceman “ice cold.”
The Inner Circle ran to the stadium, but they were attacked on their way by Shawn Spears, Wardlow, Dax, Cash, and MJF. They fought onto the football field. Ross said they set a trap and it’s working. Schiavone said there’s no question they’ll have an advantage come Sunday night. Dax and Cash leaped off the ledge and piledrove Santana and Ortiz onto tables below onto the turf. Geesh. MJF looked at the camera and said, “When you are in The Pinnacle, you are always on top.” Dax closed with yelling, “Sunday night! Sunday night!” They all put their hands together and the announcers plugged the PPV as the show ended.
(Keller’s Analysis: The stereo piledrivers at the end there should in theory knock Santana and Ortiz out of Sunday’s match. I doubt it will, but that’s a serious move to do and have it just be an angle to set up the actual match. Really good mic work in that segment from Inner Circle reenforcing their bond as a group and emphasizing what’s at stake on Sunday. MJF continues to shine as a top tier heel promo in the business today in his delivery. There’s little doubt based on the structure of this show that Stadium Stampede is the top selling point of Double or Nothing. Giving people a taste of the stadium setting for a fight was smart, and there was nothing cute or corny about what they did.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Overall, a good final episode to underline the key issues and stakes going into the deep ensemble of matches on the show. The relative infrequency of AEW PPVs makes these line-ups more memorable and each match more significant seeming, but you need the right wrestlers, the right promos, and the right angles to really bring everything together so it feels like a big deal. This show succeeded, making the best of the line-up they have on Sunday.