AEW Dynamite Episode 2
So, I finally took some time to catch up with All Elite Wrestling’s TV show. Now, here in the UK, we get the episodes on a Friday rather than a Wednesday, hence the late date of posting. What did I think overall? Well, I was mixed. Let’s get into why.
On commentary this week: Tony Schiavone, Jim Ross, and Excalibur.
First thing I noticed was the presentation. Everything looks really glossy to me, like an MTV reality show. If you’re looking for wrestling with good production values, then this will absolutely be up your street.
The Young Bucks vs. Private Party
The result of this match was never really in doubt. The commentary team made a really big deal out of how The Young Bucks are the number one seeds and Private Party are the lowest ranked team in the tournament. So much so that I just felt like it was so clear that the Bucks were losing.
Outside that, there was a lot of good stuff here. I enjoyed JR and Tony Schiavone putting over that The Young Bucks were displaying a different attitude due to it being a tournament match. What we got in terms of action was mostly really enjoyable too. You really can’t top The Young Bucks when it comes to high-speed tag team moves, and they put them all on display here. Meanwhile, Private Party had some nice looking spots too, including a nice high Diamond Cutter and Shooting Star Press.
However, the match was not perfect. The selling seemed inconsistent to me. I liked that Isiah Kassidy continued to sell his back after the powerbomb on the outside, as it helped put over that it was a brutal move. Marq Quen I thought didn’t sell enough, especially when it came to dives to the outside. I’ll go into that a little more later. The Bucks meanwhile took some pretty big stuff then were suddenly able to stand up and manhandle their opponents with no issue.
I would also say that the entrances and, in particular, the post match celebration just went on far too long for my liking. The right team won though, and the action was certainly enjoyable, even with the stuff I disliked.
The Inner Circle
Chris Jericho came out next, flanked by his stablemates Jake Hagar, Sammy Guevara, Santana and Ortiz. The AEW Heavyweight Champion did a really good job of putting over the different members of his group here. He pointed out their strengths, and explained why he selected each, giving each a clearly defined role. I also enjoyed that, even with the crowd being uncooperative, he took the time to shut down the positive reactions and make it clear that they’re bad guys.
Jericho being the only one to talk was an interesting decision, though one that I thought worked well. It makes it clear that he’s the one in charge and pulling all the strings. The only thing I really didn’t like in terms of the stable themselves was Ortiz’s constant tongue wiggling. That was just plain off-putting.
Jimmy Havoc vs. Darby Allin
The second match on the show had the same issue as the first for me: it was clear who was winning. While the commentary team didn’t avoid talking about Jimmy, they spent enough time covering Darby’s journey so far – including the time limit draw with Cody and the win over CIMA – that it wasn’t ever in doubt that he’d win.
The match itself was fine though. With a shot at Jericho’s title on next week’s show as the prize for the winner, both fought hard, and it was nice seeing Jimmy in a match that didn’t rely on plunder. His working over Darby’s hand was very good too, and Darby in turn did a good job of selling it. And did you see Jimmy’s Roaring Elbow? That looked beautifully stiff. In the end, Darby won with his Coffin Drop finisher, and the commentators put over that he’s scored the win every time he’s hit it.
Bea Priestly & Emi Sakura vs. Riho & Britt Baker
Well, this was a total mess. Riho, much like Marq Quen, hit a big dive to outside and immediately got up like it wasn’t a risk to her at all. While Britt was in the ring, Riho also attacked the legal person from the opposing team with no consequences. Three times. The match fell apart in chaos quickly too. I did think that both Britt Baker and Bea Priestly were good in their roles, mind you, and I was happy to see Britt get the win. I just thought that this wasn’t the best example of joshi puroresu. When you compare it to the old AJW matches of yesteryear, or some of STARDOM’s bigger matches, it just wasn’t on par.
After the match, the referee broke up a brawl between Bea and Britt and convinced the heels to leave. That was good work, but given how little the wrestlers listened to her during the match itself, it surprised me that they didn’t just keep going.
The Best Friends were at ringside to promote their upcoming tag title tournament match with SCU. Only, they didn’t really. They just threw it over to Orange Cassidy who gave a thumbs up, ending the short segment.
I like Chuck Taylor and Trent Barreta as a team. It’s just a shame they didn’t get more of a promo opportunity here. In terms of Orange Cassidy, I think that what AEW need to do is give him a decent video package to explain his gimmick. As it is, he’s clearly very popular with parts of the crowd, but the old school fans will need to see more than he has shown so far.
Shawn Spears [w/Tully Blanchard] vs Jon Moxley
This was a mixed segment, I think. Starting with the commentary, PAC joined the team. He didn’t say as much as I’d have liked, but I did enjoy what he did do. The general idea is that he is bitter about not being given his chance when he has a better win-loss record than others who are rising up.
The match itself was a little on the dull side. The unfortunate thing was that it really showed the gulf between Moxley and Spears. Moxley is an absolute star, and Spears felt out of his depth alongside him. It’s a shame, because he has a good look and lots of potential, but he needs to work on his facial expressions and body language.
Remember what I said about dives earlier? Well, this match contained an example of how to do them right. The thing is, if you’re diving through or over ropes, or leaping from the top rope to the outside, you’re putting your own body at risk. When you hit your opponent, of course they’ll take more damage, but you should still be putting over the risk you took. Everyone else on the show so far has just gotten straight back up. Moxley though? He hit Spears and then sold that he’d hurt himself in the process. That I thought was really good.
After the match, Kenny Omega made an appearance, carrying a barbed wire bat and a barbed wire broom. He threw the bat to Moxley so that they could continue their battle from last week. PAC attacked Omega, Moxley chased PAC off, and then Moxley decided not to take advantage of Omega’s current state.
The crowd responded well to the angle, but honestly, given that Moxley hated Omega enough to put him through a glass table last week, he really should have attacked the prone star after the PAC attack. And why would you throw your opponent a weapon, especially one that is technically stronger than the one you keep hold of? It made no sense to me. I’m looking forward to when Moxley and Omega finally have a big match, but this wasn’t the way to build it in my opinion. If anything, it made Kenny look foolish.
Dustin Rhodes & Hangman Page vs. Chris Jericho & Sammy Guevara
This was a decent TV main event. Hangman Page looks like a young Kurt Russell to me, and has a lot of potential to grow as a main eventer. Sammy Guevara also has a lot of potential, and was probably the most consistent person in the match in terms of selling. Jericho performed in line with his current match quality too, playing his role as top heel well. Dustin is looking great in there, and still has one of the best powerslams in the business. The crowd finally booed the heels for the finish too, when Jake Hagar prevented Dustin from hitting the Shattered Dreams on Jericho, allowing the champ to pick up the win.
After the match, the heels continued to build heat by attacking Dustin 3-on-1. Hangman Page was then taken down too, until he managed to grab a chair and chase of Jake Hagar. While that puts Page over, it didn’t exactly help Hagar, who Jericho had been trying to build as an unstoppable beast.
That still left Jericho and Sammy to battle Dustin 2-on-1, until the lights went off and Jericho’s upcoming PPV opponent Cody Rhodes appeared. That got a big pop. Before he could attack though, Santana and Ortiz ran in and beat him down. That brought MJF out who teased attacking Cody, but inevitably sided with him against the heels.
Jericho then took MJF down, only for The Young Bucks to run and superkick all the heels. Jericho scarpered to the outside leaving the faces to stand tall. Before he could leave though, Darby Allin rode a skateboard down the entrance ramp and dove on the champ. Jericho then cut a short promo on Cody and Darby to end the show.
The angle was chaotic, but enjoyable. MJF came out of it well, his facial work being excellent during the whole tease segment, and his selling at the end being very good. My only real issues were the aforementioned killing Hagar’s monster role, and that it went on far too long. I would rather have had everyone come in one go and have a mass brawl to send things off the air.
I thought that the show had more good than bad in it. Even the matches that I wasn’t sold on had moments that worked for me. A few members of the roster really shone too, and that gives me hope for the PPVs. I would say though that it was weak in comparison to the more old school NWA Powerrr debut. I’ll probably still watch AEW when I can, but I doubt I’ll review it. It just didn’t do enough to sell me on investing that much time in the product. Let’s pick some highlights.
MVP: I’m saying Chris Jericho. His promo was great, and his work in the main event was strong. Being the most instantly recognizable name on the roster, he’s got to shoulder the burden of drawing in old fans while new stars are made. He’s well suited to that role though, and I have absolute faith in him being a consistent star.
Best Match: I’m going to pick the main event. While the opener was technically more exciting, I thought that the four guys at the top had more consistent performances, giving us a good mix of experience and youthful potential.
Best Angle/Promo: None of the angles blew me away, if I’m being honest. I’ll give it to the big brawl after the main event, just because there are so many potential pairings coming out of that in terms of feuds. I would have liked to see Jake Hagar remain looking unstoppable, but you can’t have everything.
So, those were my thoughts. But what about yourselves? What did you think of AEW Dynamite episode 2? Let me know in the comments below.