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KELLER’S AEW DYNAMITE REPORT
SEPTEMBER 1, 2021
HOFFMAN ESTATES, ILL.
AIRED LIVE ON TNT
Commentators: Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, Excalibur
Ring Announcer: Justin Roberts
-Jim Ross opened the show as pyro blasted on the stage. Excalibur said C.M. Punk will be live in the ring later. Ross said he’ll talk with Chris Jericho about his career at stake. Tony Schiavone plugged his sit-down interview later with MJF. They also plugged scheduled matches.
(1) FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood w/Tully Blanchard) vs. SANTANA & ORTIZ
As FTR entered the ring, they replayed Cash’s freak arm injury that required 25 stitches and a constant pressure bandage. As Santana & Ortiz walked out, Schiavone touted it was the 100th episode of Dynamite. Excalibur noted Santana & Ortiz were dressed for war with face-paint for the first time since Blood & Guts. Ross acknowledged FTR paying tribute to Bobby Eaton with the stripes on their tights. Excalibur noted that Punk will be live at Rampage on Friday also. A “Proud & Powerful / FTR” dueling chant took place early. It broke out into a two-on-two fight at 2:00. Santana & Ortiz dove over and through the ropes onto both FTR members at ringside. Schiavone said All Out is the best line-up they’ve ever had top to bottom.
Santana hit the Three Amigos on Dax which popped the crowd. He played to the crowd and they roared back. He landed a frog splash off the to rope for a near fall next. Santana & Ortiz landed a double-team cutter for a near fall, with Cash making the save. Schiavone slipped in another plug for the Punk interview coming up next. They really pushed that. FTR battled back and took over, scoring some near falls themselves. Fans chanted “This is awesome!” Santana speared FTR during a double suplex, then scored a near fall. Cash executed a Gory Special on Santana for a near fall. He reacted like his injured arm was in rough shape after that and tagged out to Dax. Dax superplexed Ortiz and then Cash dove at him, but Ortiz moved. FTR came right back with a Big Rig double-team move, but Santana broke up the cover. All four were down and slow to get up. The fans applauded. Santana & Ortiz hit a series of rapid-fire moves on Cash and got the clean win.
WINNERS: Santana & Ortiz in 13:00.
-Schiavone plugged Punk was up next as a graphic advertised him.
-Backstage, 2.0 and Danny Garcia talked about Darby Allin vs. C.M. Punk. Garcia said he’s going to injure Darby in their match on Rampage on Friday and he won’t make it to All Out. [c]
-Punk made his entrance to “Cult of Personality.” They showed fans freaking out in the crowd when he came out. The announcers talked about Punk learning what he has left in the tank on Sunday. Fans chanted “C.M. Punk!” Ross said he has an incredible connection with people. He said he’s only seen it in around a half dozen other wrestlers in all his decades in wrestling. He asked the fans if they’re sick of him yet. He said there are some people out there who get tired of this kind of attention really fast, but he’s not one of them. He said he’s going to enjoy it while it lasts. He said on Sunday, he’s aware this could all end for him. He said he hasn’t wrestled in seven years. “I’m nervous; dare I use the word scared.” Fans chanted “You still got it!” (How would they know?) He promised the fans that each time he laces up his boots, he’ll come down the aisle and give them his best. Garcia and 2.o attacked Punk. Ross said, “Those snot-nosed punks!” They triple-teamed Punk. Fans chanted for Darby. His music played and he and Sting walked out. They weren’t a huge hurry, but then met 2.0 charging at them in the aisle. Punk got up and punched away at a 2.0 wrestler. Sting and Darby beat up the other two. Darby landed a Coffin Drop on Garcia. Punk hit a GTS on a 2.0 member. He then had an intense staredown with Darby. He took off his jacket. The fans were loud and intense, breaking into a “C.M. Punk!” chant.
Sting said he’s always wanted to share a ring with him. “Mucho respect,” he said. “I want to get that out of the way.” He said their paths never have crossed until now. He said it was nice to watch Go To Sleep happen before his very eyes. He liked seeing the Coffin Drop, too, and he liked doing the Scorpion Death Drop. He said it was nice to clear traffic because they don’t want anything to get in the way of the math at All Out. Sting said he knows Darby is ready for Sunday. He said when Darby and Punk collide, “it’s going to be Showtime for sure.” Darby and Punk had another staredown. Punk’s music played and then Darby left the ring, but was eyeing Punk the whole time.
(Keller’s Analysis: I assume the psychology of Happy Punk is that he’s going to have a short chapter of this being a wonderful feel-good comeback story, because someone or something more formidable than 2.0 will change the tenor of his mood. The crowds elevate what Punk is doing now, or perhaps a better way to put it, is the crowd’s validate Punk’s joy of being back. Having 2.0 and Garcia be the first to attack Punk is smart, as they’re agitators who take great bumps and everyone likes to see get beat up. We haven’t heard Sting talk in a while, but it was a cool moment that those two got to share the ring together like that. I’m skeptical Sting had heard of Punk until last month, though. Just kidding. Sorta. I hope to hear more from Darby about what this match means to him, but I also get that the core of his character is being an enigma who you have to extract emotions from watching his body language and expressions more than hearing directly from him verbally.)
-Excalibur threw to a video package on Kenny Omega vs. Christian Cage. Excalibur, Paul Wight, Schiavone, and Ross talked about Omega’s reign and Christian as a challenge, noting he’s one of few who have defeated Omega in an AEW ring. [c]
-A pretaped interview aired with Schiavone and MJF. Schiavone said this is a difficult interview for him to do. MJF sarcastically called Schiavone “such a professional.” MJF listed Jericho’s nicknames and touted his four decades. When Schiavone said “Four” to underline MJF’s comment, MJF took exception and said, “Please.” (Funny.) MJF said when his career is all said and done, he’ll take Jericho’s place. He said Jericho might as well be Pro Wrestling’s Step-Dad, because he has Jericho’s shoes to fill. He compared Jericho to Muhammad Ali, an all-time great who keeps coming back and scrambling his brains and sending himself on a downward spiral physically. “Just like Ali, you’re an addict,” he said. “You need the spotlight. You crave it.” He said when a man like him loses the spotlight, he’ll do just about anything to get it back. He said that’s why he put it on the line. He said he will have the distinct honor and privilege of ending his career. He said it’s so poetic that the same longing for the spotlight that got him to the dance will be the same reason the music dies.
(Keller’s Analysis: Tremendous heel promo. Lots of truth mixed with arrogance and nastiness.)
(2) ORANGE CASSIDY vs. JACK EVANS (w/Matt Hardy)
During Cassidy’s entrance, they aired clips of Matt Hardy being bloodied in his match last week with Cassidy. Hardy attacked Cassidy before the bell. The ref ordered Hardy to the back. Cassidy was down when the bell rang with his back turned, so Evans jumped him as soon as the bell rang. They cut to a split screen break a few minutes in. [c/ss]
The match ended during the break with a Cassidy small package (which is awesome; they need to do that sometimes). Cassidy was selling serious pain in his chest and shoulder area afterward.
WINNER: Cassidy in 6:00.
-Evans protested to the referee. Hardy ran out and attacked Cassidy from behind. Chuck Taylor and Wheeler Yuta ran out to stop Hardy from applying the Leech. Other Hardy Family Office members ran out – Angelico, The Blade, and Private Party. Jungle Boy’s music played and he ran to the ring with Marko Stunt and Luchasaurus. They cleared the ring. The fans waved their arms and sang Jungle Boy’s song.
-A video package aired on Eddie Kingston vs. Miro, with soundbites from both. Kingston said his neck is Miro’s Kryptonite. He said he’s going after everything he loves and desires: “Without that championship, you’re no longer God’s Favorite Champion. Take my hand, we’re going to walk through hell together. Maybe, if you survive that, you’ll get to go to your god’s heaven.” Miro said God’s favorite champion stays down only for his wife in a hotel room after victory.
-Excalibur plugged Jericho’s interview was up next. [c]
-A brief vignette aired hyping Jon Moxley vs. Satoshi Kojima.
-Ross stood in the ring and said this is his first in-ring interview since joining AEW. He said Jericho is one of his better friends in wrestling, and he thinks he’s making a mistake. He said he’d tell him in person. Jericho came out to his music. Excalibur said he’s torn because this is the only way Jericho could get MJF into the ring one more time. Fans sang Jericho’s song as he walked to the ring. When his music stopped, fans chanted “Jericho!” He said, “Welcome to Chicago is Jericho!” He said he usually doesn’t say that anymore, but tonight is a good time to hearken back to his past. He said 22 years ago he began his journey to main events in Chicago. He said Ross was the one who recruited him to start that main event journey. Ross said it’s an honor.
Ross asked why he agreed that if he is to lose, he won’t wrestle in AEW again. He said, “MJF, you are a piece of shit!” Schiavone commented, “Understatement.” He said he’s a button-pusher like him. He said he’s arrogant, like he is. He said all he has over him, though, are three victories. Nov. 7, 2020, May 5, 2021, Aug. 18, 2021. He said those dates are burned in his brain, which is why he has to put it all on the line to beat him. He said he’s never been complacent. He said three years ago, there was no guarantee AEW would be a success, and now they are the hottest wrestling company today. Fans chanted “AEW! AEW!”
He said if he were to lose to MJF, but then go on to win more matches and more titles, it wouldn’t matter because when he looked in the mirror, he’d see someone who couldn’t beat MJF. He said he couldn’t live with that. He said he doesn’t want this to be the end. “I don’t want it to stop!” he said. Fans chanted, “We want more!” He said he does too, which is why he has to take a chance. He said if he loses, he will walk over to the commentary desk and do that full time and he will thank the fans for their support and being a big part of his life. He said Max will not take it away from him, though.
He said he’ll have to be the best he’s ever been to beat him Sunday. He said he’ll have to break every bone in his body and squeeze the breath out of his lungs because he is Chris Jericho, and MJF doesn’t have what it takes. He said he doesn’t have the balls to get rid of him. “See you on Sunday at All Out, you little prick.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good promo from Jericho. Nothing meta. No fourth wall breaking. No talk of drawing power or ratings or pushes or being protected. This lacked all the things that John Cena’s promos last month had that I didn’t like. Jericho showed how you can color inside the lines and still sell a match in 2021 by immersing people in the world within the walls of the pro wrestling universe.)
-A video package aired with Darby Allin. He said when he was 15, Punk was his favorite wrestler, but seven years ago he left. He said he’s the first on Punk’s list, and when Punk said that, he felt he was already overlooking him. “When you said I was the first on the list, I should have been the last on the list.” He said he’s got to beat Punk in Chicago or die trying.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was “just enough.” I like that it shows Darby has a chop on his shoulder over Punk starting with him.)
(3) POWERHOUSE HOBBS (w/Hook) vs. BRIAN CAGE
Cage and Hobbs brawled at ringside before the bell. Hook got in Cage’s face at ringside after the bell did ring, giving Hobbs a chance to attack a DISTRACTED Cage. Ross said Hobbs has five straight singles wins, all in under a minute. (How are matches that short giving Hobbs the reps he needs to improve?) They cut to an early split-screen break. [c/ss]
Cage made a comeback during the break, but Hobbs cut it short with a back elbow. After the break, Schiavone said Britt Baker has put out on social media that she knows about a big free agent signing by AEW and he’d speak to her after this break. Hobbs landed a spinebuster for a near fall. Cage took over again and suplexed Hobbs off the ring apron into the ring. Impressive showing of power. Hook stood on the ring apron and DISTRACTED the ref as Hobbs shoved Cage into Ricky Starks popped up from ringside holding up the FTW belt which KO Cage. Hobbs then powerslammed Cage and scored the three count.
WINNER: Hobbs in 8:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: It was tough with the commercial break to get fully invested in the match, but it was intriguing seeing those two powerhouses go at it. The finish felt contrived since it was unforeseeable when Hook first distracted the ref that Hobbs would have the opening to shove Cage head-first like he did into Starks at just that moment. No big deal, but it could’ve been tweaked.)
-A Malakai Black vignette aired where he talked about facing Lee Johnson. He said when he beats him, he’ll put a coin on each of his eyelids so he can pay the boatman’s toll.
-Q.T. Marshall was in the ring with his guys. He called Paul Wight to the ring so he can laugh in his face. He said, “Just you and me, heavyweight to heavyweight.” Wight walked out and entered the ring. Marshall’s men attacked Wight, but he fought back easily with KO punches and a chokeslam. Marshall fled the ring. The Gunn Club then ran out to support Wight to prevent another attack. Marshall stood on the ring apron with a chair. Billy punched him off the ring apron. Marshall retreated. Ross asked if he lost his mind. Billy bashed Wight from behind with a chair. Fans booed. His sons didn’t seem surprised and stood by their dad’s site. Billy then hit Show with chair to the skull. Wight barely got a hand up. Excalibur called Billy’s sons “scumbags.” Marshall and his guys returned to the ring and teamed up to give Wight a Diamond Cutter. Marshall stood over Show and raised his arms. Schiavone said he hates Marshall, and Wight is a friend of his, and he’s not sure he’s going to even make it to All Out.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m not sure we needed an angle that could lead to even more TV time for the Gunn Club, but they’re better off as heels.) [c]
-Schiavone stood backstage with Baker with Jamie Hayter and Reba. She said they’re going to add some star power to the women’s Casino Battle Royal. She said one of the hottest stars in all of pro wrestling has just signed a long-term contract with AEW, guaranteed to keep the ratings sky-high. She said that person is her. She said Tony Khan let her book any match she wants in exchange for agreeing to the contract’s terms, and she booked Hayter & Reba would get to face Kris Statlander two-on-one on Rampage on Friday. Excalibur said that was Khan’s only concession when he signed Baker to a long-term deal.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m not sure it’s in AEW’s interest to tease an Adam Cole announcement and then turn it into a heel promo with their most popular female star who continues to be miscast as a heel. Or at least they’re going against a big headwind, and I don’t envy female babyfaces trying to get cheered against her in front of fans.)
(4) PENELOPE FORD (w/Bunny) vs. TAY CONTI
Schiavone said he should’ve known that Baker was going to talk about herself. Ross asked Schiavone if he was expecting her to announce someone else, a reference to Cole. Conti leaped onto Bunny and Ford at ringside before the bell. Conti caught a charging Ford with a boot. She climbed to the top rope, but Ford knocked her off balance. She went for a cover as they cut to a partial split-screen break. [c/ss]
Back from the break, the announcers talked about the main event eight-man tag. Ford went for an Indian Death lock, but Conti powered out quickly and applied a calf slicer. Ford grabbed the bottom rope to force a break. Ford landed three pump kicks. Ford brushed them off into a gut buster. (She absolutely should have still been selling those pump kicks.) She scored a two count. Fans chanted, “This is awesome.” (For the record, it wasn’t.) Bunny tripped Conti running the ropes. Conti grabbed Bunny and lifted her onto the ring apron. Ford charged, but Conti moved. Conti shoved Ford into Bunny, then rolled up Ford for the win.
WINNER: Ford in 9:00.
-When Bunny and Ford attacked Conti afterward, Anna Jay came out for the save, making her return. Schiavone said they haven’t seen her in months. Excalibur said Khan just said that Jay will be part of the Casino Battle Royale this Sunday.
(Keller’s Analysis: The match had some good moments but just as many awkwardly timed and sloppy sequences, and that no-sell of three pump kicks near the end was just stupid.)
-Alex Marvez interviewed Thunder Rosa backstage. Nyla Rose and Jade Cargill along with Mark Sterling and Vickie Guerrero walked up to her. Rosa said if she’s going down, she’s going down swinging. Jade and Rose attacked her. Sterling suggested to Vickie that their wrestlers battle on Sunday with high stakes, not now for free. Vickie said it’s the first time he’s made any kind of sense.
-Ross hyped Punk would appear on Rampage on Friday. Also, Darby vs. Garcia, Malakai Black vs. Lee Johnson, and Statlander vs. Hayter & Rebel. Ross said next Wednesday will be Jon Moxley’s homecoming in Cincinnati. Also, Sunday Matt Hardy & Private Party & TH2 will face Cassidy & Taylor & Yuta & Jurassic Express. They hyped the rest of the All Out line-up.
-A video package aired on Jericho vs. MJF with various wrestlers commenting on it such as Wight, Henry, and Taz.
(Keller’s Analysis: I like incorporating Henry, Wight, and Taz into segments like that. It adds a sense of importance and gravity and star power to video packages.) [c]
(5) JURASSIC EXPRESS (Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus w/Marko Stunt) & LUCHA BROS. vs. THE ELITE (Young Bucks & Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson w/Brandon Cutler)
During The Elite’s ring entrance, Ross said Nick Jackson is reminding him of a young Michael Hayes. (There’s something to that.) Callis joined in on commentary. Excalibur said that the cage is meant to keep wrestler out, not be escaped, because the Bucks have relied on outside interfere in recent title defenses. Schiavone said credit to Tony Khan for having enough of that and having this cage match stipulation. Luchasaurus and Gallows had an early exchange of power moves. The Bucks and Lucha Bros. looked like they were having a blast out there putting on a little teaser of what’s to come on Sunday. They cut to a split-screen break a few minutes in. [c/ss]
During the break, Nick powerbombed Jungle Boy on the edge of the ring apron. The crowd stood and applauded after Fenix got the better of Nick in a dazzling athletic exchange. The Lucha Bros. and Bucks battled to the point that all four were down. Luchasaurus and Karl Anderson were both tagged in. Luchasaurus shoved Gallows over the top rope, then shoved Nick off the top rope. Nick flipped mid-air onto Gallows and Matt. Luchasaurus then propelled a diving JB over the top rope onto a crowd on the floor. Luchasaurus then chokeslammed Anderson followed by a standing moonsault for a near fall. When Fenix climbed to the top rope, Cutler sprayed him in the face with the cold spray. Anderson and Gallows gave him a Magic Killer for a near fall, broken up by Luchasaurus. The Bucks set up a BTE Trigger on Rey, but Rey ducked. He delivered a double cutter on both Bucks. Fenix had to fend off Anderson and Gallows, so the Bucks recovered and delivered a Meltzer Driver for the win.
WINNER: The Elite in 13:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Just outstanding action there. A good mix of sizes and styles. A dazzling sample of what could be a show-stealer on Sunday. I wish they had done something on the show to hype up the Lucha Bros. as a team chasing the tag team titles. The match is being sold on the potential quality, but not a tangible investment in the Lucha Bros. as an act. Does Fenix taking the fall indicate the Lucha Bros. are going to win on Sunday? Or is AEW doing double-reverse-psychology to play against WWE’s predictable formula that whomever wins on the final TV show before a PPV loses at the PPV?)
-Kenny Omega strutted out with Michael Nakazawa after the match. He instigated The Elite beating up the babyfaces as they tended to Fenix after the match. “What the hell, guys?” said Ross. Anderson & Gallows gave Luchasaurus a Magic Killer through a table at ringside. Omega then grabbed JB’s hair and trash-talked him. Christian Cage ran out with a spear to Omega. He got beat down by The Elite, including with kendo sticks. Omega said Christian fell right into their trap. Omega said it was a great meeting with Khan earlier today. He said he loved talking with him about the video game and ratings, but he has to be careful about misplacing his personal items. He said Callis has the keys to the cage controls. That sent a murmur through the crowd.
The cage then descended over Christian and the Lucha Bros. with The Elite. Omega bashed Christian with the Kendo stick. The Bucks bashed away at the Lucha Bros. Dante Martin and Frankie Kazarian ran out but couldn’t get inside the cage. JB tried to climb in, but Cutler sprayed him in the eyes. Cutler did the same to Marko, although he probably wouldn’t have been much help if he got in. Schiavone said the same cage on Sunday will keep The Elite out. Nick handcuffed Penta to the top rope and superkicked him over and over. Omega then suggested they turn to Christian. He delivered a BTE Trigger to a vulnerable Christian who was being held up by the Bucks. Excalibur plugged Rampage and the Countdown Special as the beating in the cage continued as the show ended.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m not sure how I feel about the cage gimmick being presented as a way to prevent interference, and then build an angle around the heels finding a way to commandeer control of the ability to raise and lower the cage, and showing that it takes a number of men in the cage with cold spray to fend off people scaling the cage to get in. The conflicting signals that sends aside, this was a good basic Booking 101 situation to give the babyfaces reason for revenge on Sunday and gives fans additional reasons to root for the challengers.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: There was a lot packed into this episode. Not hearing from Christian on the final Dynamite before his title shot plays into the existing notion that it’s not a PPV main event worthy World Title match. I’d also like to have heard from the Bucks; perhaps an obnoxious promo that gave some context to the Lucha Bros. as challengers. Kenny was fine in the angle at the end, but a more traditional promo – nothing super-long – backstage earlier in the show framing how he’s looking at the Christian match would have added to the show. They could easily subtract the women’s match and the Q.T. Marshall-Gunn Club-Paul Wight stuff. They don’t absolutely have to have a women’s match on every show or give that much TV time to Q.T. Marshall and Gunn Club, even if it involves Wight’s first AEW match. The MJF and Jericho promos were the real highlight. I think by the end of the show, Punk-Darby felt like a distant memory and less important, but something’s got to go on early in the show. It just feels strange that after less than two weeks, Punk’s barely part of the conversation in the final hour of PPV hype on Dynamite.