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KELLER’S AEW DYNAMITE REPORT
SEPTEMBER 22, 2021
QUEENS, N.Y. AT ARTHUR ASHE STADIUM
AIRED LIVE ON TNT
Commentators: Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, Excalibur
Ring Announcer: Justin Roberts
-The Dynamite opening theme played. Then they went live to the arena with the camera showing the scene as Jim Ross introduced the show.
(Keller’s Analysis: The arena looked cool, but I think they could have gotten some better camera angles to fully capture the cool venue and energy in the arena.)
(1) KENNY OMEGA (w/Don Callis) vs. BRIAN DANIELSON – Non-title match
Danielson came out first. Just boots and trunks and a giant smile on his face. Omega then came out. They got right to. The bell rang and the crowd just exploded. Danielson absorbed the standing ovation and got emotional. They stepped toward each other mid-ring. Fans chanted “Holy shit!” They milked the moment. The announcers talked about this being a dream match and that they’ve never wrestled each other before. You could not ask for a better atmosphere than this. Nearly two minutes after the bell rang, they locked up. The crowd took it to another decibel level.
In the early minutes, they were pacing this as if they’re doing a very long match. Omega was heelish and got booed when he grabbed ropes and delayed engaging. At 5:00 Danielson landed a chop in the corner and then some hard kicks. Danielson backdropped Omega to the floor and then dove onto him, driving him back-first into the security barricade. Schiavone said this is Danielson’s first match in 145 days. He said he is in great shape. Excalibur noted he is dictating the pace of the match. They also plugged C.M. Punk would speak and Britt Baker would defend against Ruby Soho in what they called the main event. They plugged the other three schedules matches, too.
They took turns getting short stretches of offense. Danielson’s chest ended up beet red. They took turns giving each other huracanranas. At 14:00 Omega landed a running flip dive over the top rope onto Danielson at ringside. Both were slow to get up, but Omega got up first. Fans chanted, “This is awesome!” They exchanged the first two counts at 15:00 with a roll-up and a reversal. Bryan converted into a Cattle Mutilation. The crowd popped. Omega powered out and rolled out of the ring into the ramp. Danielson them landed a flying knee off the top rope. Ross said, “Twenty-thousand-plus are loving it!” Danielson threw roundkicks to Omega’s chest and the crowd yelled “Yes!” for each one. Omega blocked his final kick and gave him a Snap Dragon onto the ramp. Omega then moved up to the top of the stage and charged at Bryan with a running V-Trigger. They cut to a split-screen break. [c/ss]
Omega controlled the offense at ringside during the break, and then threw Danielson back to the ring. He delivered a bucklebomb that actually sent Danielson tumbling over the top rope to the ramp. The ref checked on Danielson’s condition. Omega landed a missile dropkick off the top rope to Danielson’s back for a two count. Ross said Omega might look back and wish he put more effort into the cover. Danielson surprised Omega with a jackknife cover for a near fall. The crowd continued to pop for everything. Omega landed a running knee to the back of Danielson’s neck and spine. A “Fight forever!” chant began. Omega set up a top rope Snap Dragon. Danielson held onto the turnbuckle and slipped free. Danielson landed a back suplex off the top rope at 19:00. Both were down and slow to get up.
Danielson and Omega stood and traded strikes mid-ring. Schiavone said, “These two are kicking each other’s ass.” Omega hit a V-Trigger. Danielson countered with a spinning back elbow into a shoulder-capture suplex for a two count. More big crowd pops followed by appreciative applause and a standing ovation. Fans chanted, “AEW! AEW!” Ross said the crowd has gone crazy since the lock-up at the start. Omega landed a top rope Dragon Suplex for a believable near fall at 25:00. Ross said fans don’t want the match to end. Omega signaled for a V-Trigger, then ran the ropes and delivered. Omega lifted Danielson onto his shoulders, but Danielson countered with a reverse huracanrana. Omega stood first and went for another V-Trigger. Danielson avoided it and then roundkicked Omega in the head. He charged, but Omega countered with a powerbomb and a V-Trigger for a believable near fall. Omega climbed to the top rope and went for a Phoenix splash, but Danielson moved.
Danielson stood first and went back to Yes kicks. Omega fired back with elbow strikes. Danielson dropped Omega with a kick to the leg, then followed with a roundkick to the head. Danielson played to the crowd, all fired up. He stomped away at Omega’s head whole holding his arms up. He then tried to apply the LeBell Lock. Omega fought it grabbed the ropes to escape as Justin Roberts announced 1 minute remained in the 30 minute time limit. Excalibur said they are in the final 45 seconds of the match as Omega caught a charging Danielson with a V-Trigger. Danielson fired back. Both went down. Fans continued applauding. They exchanged headbutts from a kneeling position. The bell rang to mark the end of the time limit. Fans booed.
Danielson applied the LeBell Lock despite referee protests. The Young Bucks ran out to pull him off. Excalibur said if there was another minute in the match, Danielson could have won with the LeBell Lock. The Bucks superkicked Danielson. Christian Cage, Jungle Boy, and Luchasaurus ran out made the save, sending The Elite retreating.
WINNER: Time Limit Draw in 30:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Just a stellar match, and really meant to whet the appetite for what is hopefully a series of matches between these two in the coming year or two. The crowd reaction from start to end elevated the whole atmosphere. It’s really hard to put into words what Tony Khan and his team have built in the last two-plus years. It was nearly unfathomable that this could be happening not that long ago.)
-They showed a night scene of the Manhattan Skyline as Excalibur said they just witnessed a pro wrestling classic.
-Punk’s ring entrance took place. Punk wore a hoodie and walked out to fans singing his song. He said, “I sure am glad I’m not wrestling on Dynamite,” he said. “How do you follow that?” Fans chanted his name. He said it’s been a long time since he’s been in New York City, “and it’s been an even longer time since professional wrestling has been in New York City.”
He said he hears people say he needs to be mad and needs to be pissed off and that they want to see the old C.M. Punk. “Well, trust me, I imagine you’ll eventually see him, but be careful what you wish for.” He said Powerhouse Hobbs and Taz are from there and the fans don’t even like them. He said he tried to mean-mug on his way to the ring, but what does he have to be mad about. He said Hobbs tried to put him through a table last week, “and yes, it pissed me off, and yes, I’m mad about it.” He said when he hears his music, though, and he walks out in front of the fans, it’s a lovefest and he can’t hide his smile. “Yes, I’m happy!” he said. “I’m happy to see you.”
He said what they attempted to do was take this all away from him. “They don’t want to hear Cult of Personality and see Happy C.M. Punk come out here and enjoying professional wrestling fans.” He said it’s been so long since he’s had this and so long that he needed this. He said he gets pissed off because nobody is going to take this away from. He got red-faced with intensity and said, “This is mine once again!” Fans chanted is name as the camera panned the upper levels packed with fans. He told Team Taz they should have finished the job and broke his neck and made sure the 20,000 people who have packed the rafters weren’t going to get to hear “Cult of Personality.” He said they slept on the legend of C.M. Punk. “It’s not my job to wake you up, it’s my job to tuck your ass in,” he said. “Rampage, Grand Slam, Powerhouse Hobbs goes to sleep.” He dropped the mic.
(Keller’s Analysis: There we go. He’s got it in him, and he channeled it really well but also explained why he’s been Happy Punk for the first month. He used Happy Punk to explain what he’s fighting to keep that once was taken away from him. Great stuff there.) [c]
-A commercial hyped “Rhodes to the Top” with the focus being on going behind the scenes at Dynamite.
(Keller’s Analysis: Just when you thought this week couldn’t be topped! Seriously, though, that’s a smart approach to build “Rhodes to the Top” around the backstage access more than the reality show nonsense that won’t appeal to a lot of people.)
(2) MJF vs. BRIAN PILLMAN JR. (w/Julia Hart)
MJF offered a handshake. Pillman wanted no part of it. Excalibur plugged ticket sales for upcoming events including Minneapolis, Minn. at Target Center for the Nov. 11 Rampage two days before Full Gear. Excalibur noted that AEW came to an agreement with the Owen Hart Foundation. Ross said he teared up about that. MJF got in some offense, but Pillman kept fighting back. They cut to a break around 3:00. [c/ss]
During the break, MJF methodically controlled the action and scored a two count after a uranage. Back live, MJF was in control. Excalibur said MJF is the bacteria that lives on scum. Ross said Pillman needs to fight through this and do what his dad would do. He did make a comeback and rammed MJF’s head into the turnbuckle nine times. As he played to the crowd, MJF elbowed out of it. Pillman landed a snap powerslam for a near fall. MJF stood behind Hart at ringside. Pillman came to her air, but MJF knocked him down and threw him back into the ring. Hart yelled at MJF. She shoved his face when he pointed at his chin. He grabbed her wrist. Pillman leaped over the top rope onto MJF. Pillman went for a springboard Air Pillman as fans chanted his name. MJF side-stepped him and converted him into a Salt of the Earth for the tapout win.
WINNER: MJF in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Just what it should have been. MJF winning clean was called for here, but he did so in a way where you want to see someone higher on the card take him down a notch. Pillman was good in his role here. MJF is the type of heel character you can’t imagine ever being a babyface, and that’s a rare.)
-Alex Marvez interviewed Jake Hager and Chris Jericho. Hager said Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky are two little boys who are about to get spanked for following a two-faced dipshit. Jericho said they made a mistake sticking their nose in their business. He said he and Jake are feral and hungry and rabid and ready to snack on some MMA meatheads, so get ready on Rampage.
Check out the latest Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast previewing WWE Extreme Rules with former WWE Creative Team member Matt McCarthy, who also shares some great backstage Vince McMahon stories.
Subscribe by searching “Wade Keller” in your podcast app or click play.
(3) CODY RHODES (w/Brandi Rhodes, Arn Anderson) vs. MALAKAI BLACK
Black came out first to cheers. Cody’s music began to play and boos rang out as he made his grandiose over-the-top entrance. He walked with Anderson, then waved his wife Brandi Rhodes onto the stage. More boos. Cody looked around at the crowd response and nodded. When Cody landed a dropdown uppercut, the fans booed. When Black made a comeback, fans cheered. Cody bailed out to ringside. Black backflipped and sat cross-legged mid-ring and smiled. Brandi entered and sat in front of Black, then gave him a middle finger and said “F— you.” Loudest boos yet. Black laughed in her face. Cody charged back into the ring.
When Cody landed a springboard kick, loud boos. He then climbed to the top rope and leaped at Black. Black tried to knee him out of mid-ring, but it showed quite a bit of light. They cut to a partial split-screen break. [c/ss]
During the break, Black controlled the action with kicks in the corner. Cody rolled up Black for a two count. Black kicked out and landed a Black Mass spinning hook kick. Cody fell to the floor. Black went after him and he tried to lift Cody back into the ring. Cody was dead weight. Black broke the ref’s count. Cody rolled back into the ring at the eight count. Black scored a two count right away.
Every offensive move by Black was cheered, every offensive move by Cody was booed. The announcers didn’t acknowledge the crowd boos and instead focused on the backstory of Cody fighting for his family honor. You have to wonder how blindsided and oblivious Cody and Brandi were to this possibility. Black ate a Cody Cutter followed by a Crossroads for a two count. One of the biggest pops of the night was Black kicking out. Arn jumped on the ring apron in anticipation of Cody’s win. Arn tried to crawl to the other side of the ring apron, but Arn was struggling and he slipped and fell. The crowd was concerned. Arn got back up and climbed back onto the ring apron. Black then whipped Cody into Arn. Cody turned back and gave Black a pump kick. When Cody went to ringside to check on Arn, Arn told him not to worry about him and get back to trying to win. Cody went back after Black in the ring. Arn and Brandi talked at ringside about Cody’s strategy. Cody beat on Black in the corner. The ref warned him over and over. Cody back-fisted the ref. Black sprayed Cody in the face with black mist and then rolled up Cody for the win. Excalibur said Black will resort to anything to win.
WINNER: Black in 11:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s time for AEW reassess where Black and Cody are each slotted. I don’t think this is only a New York thing. Did anyone predict, given where Cody was with the AEW fanbase two years ago, that he’d been resoundingly booed before his heel turn? Brandi hasn’t helped at all, and Cody has come across as an accomplice or enabler of her weekly journey to find relevance on Dynamite, and then he entered the Cody-verse and stopped wrestling all that often, and then went Hollywood and Reality TV while doing these grandiose ring entrances that felt totally un-self-aware. So take you pick or say it’s some of all of that. Plus, Malakai Black is cool.)
-A video package aired on the Miro vs. Fuego del Sol match, with Sammy Guevara talking about his friend Fuego. Sammy said he’s going to take on Miro next week and he vowed to buy Fuego a new car as part of his celebration. [c]
(4) STING & DARBY ALLIN vs. FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood w/Tully Blanchard)
The crowd popped when Sting tagged in a minute in. Sting ran the ropes against Dax and they collided. Dax went down. Sting collapsed and headbutted Dax in the crotch. Sting had plausible deniability! Darby tagged in and took it to Cash next. He knocked both members of FTR out of the ring and landed a Coffin Splash. When he dove at them at ringside, they caught him and threw him into the ring apron. They cut to another split-screen break. [c/ss]
FTR were in control after the break. Darby reached for a tag, but FTR intercepted him. Darby tried again, rolling under FTR’s arms, and hot-tagged in Sting. Sting gave Dax a spinebuster for a two count. FTR set up Darby for a spike piledriver, but Sting shoved Cash off the top rope. He then leaped off the top rope with a crossbody on Dax for a two count. Cash snapped Sting’s neck over the top rope, then Dax rolled him up from behind for a believable near fall. Dax set up a tombstone piledriver on Dax. Sting instead set up a Scorpion Death Drop / Coffin Drop combo with Darby, but Cash intervened. Sting gave Dax the Stinger Splash and Scorpion Death Drop, but Cash wasn’t legal. Sting went for a Stinger Splash, but Dax had wedged a chair behind him in the corner, then moved. Sting stopped short, then threw Dax head-first into the chair. Sting punched Tully off the ring apron, then rolled up Dax for a two count. He quickly followed with a Scorpion Deathlock mid-ring. Cash tried to pull Dax out, but Darby landed on Cash with a Coffin Drop on the edge of the apron. Dax tapped out.
WINNERS: Sting & Darby in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Was that Sting’s best match since he was facing Ric Flair in his prime? Probably not, but man he looked 31 out there, not 62. He wasn’t even breathing all that hard afterward. He’s really stepped up his training and has earned a new level of respect. He seems so motivated and in his element like never before. I’m not sure at age 62 he should be out there doing that much. Big credit to Dax and Cash for doing their parts in helping Sting look like he’s 30 years younger than he is. Darby was Darby, which is good, too.)
-A highlight package aired on the Ruby Soho-Britt Baker “shoot-based” promo on Rampage last Friday. A lot of people watching tonight didn’t see Rampage last Friday.
-Another commercial aired for “Rhodes to the Top” [c]
-The announcers hyped Rampage this Friday: Punk vs. Powerhouse Hobbs, Eddie Kingston & Jon Moxley vs. Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer, Lucha Bros. & Santana & Ortiz vs. Hardy Family Office (Private Party & Butcher & Blade), and Anna Jay vs. Penelope Ford, Adam Cole & Young Bucks vs. Christian Cage & Luchasaurus & Jungle Boy, and Jericho & Hager vs. Ethan & Sky. Then next week on Dynamite, Miro defends against Sammy Guevara.
(5) BRITT BAKER (w/Jamie Hayter, Rebel) vs. RUBY SOHO – AEW Women’s Title match
Fans were split in their support early. Ruby leaped onto Hayter and Rebel on the floor, but Britt avoided it, then she superkicked Ruby. She then gave Ruby a swinging neckbreaker off the ring apron onto the floor. [c/ss]
Back from the break, Ruby side-kicked Baker in the head. Baker came back with her own side kick to Ruby. Both were down and slow to get up. Excalibur said that kick softens up Ruby for the Lock Jaw. Baker landed a sling blade a minute later. Rebel put the black glove on Baker. She flashed the camera a middle finger, then went for a stomp. Ruby ducked and then applied a kneelock. Baker tried to kick out of it. Ruby catapulted Baker into the corner turnbuckle. She followed with a step-up enzuigiri and then climbed to the top rope. She leaped off with a senton for a near fall. Baker came back with a snap neckbreaker and a superkick for a two count.
Baker eventually hit a top rope Air Raid Crash for a believable near fall. Yikes! Hayter and Rebel trash-talked Ruby on the floor. Baker drove Ruby’s head into the ringpost and then kicked her in the face. Baker then landed a stomp back in the ring for a convincing near fall. Baker complained to the ref. Ruby rolled her up from behind for a near fall. Ruby then landed the No Future upkick. Rebel jumped onto the ring apron. Ruby upkicked her. Hayter on the other side of the ring stood on the apron. She snapped Ruby’s neck over the top rope. Baker then applied the Lock Jaw for the tapout win. Ross said if you didn’t know who Ruby Soho was, you have a newfound respect for her. Excalibur said Baker and her cohorts stole the AEW Title from Ruby. As Baker celebrated, the announcers hyped Friday night’s Rampage and next week’s Dynamite.
WINNER: Baker in 13:00 to retain the AEW Women’s Title.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I like NXT 2.0, but it’s remarkable what a different journey and what a different place those two shows are at this point. There was no guarantee that AEW wouldn’t have been cancelled by now and NXT wouldn’t be touring across the country to sold out shows when the Wednesday night war started two years ago. This was a landmark episode of Dynamite and a landmark week for AEW. This – and I said this a couple months ago – feels like a company with the momentum to grow and take over as the no. 1 pro wrestling company in the metrics that match up with actual popularity and customer satisfaction