For those of you who aren’t aware, at the start of the year, I started doing reviews of AEW Dynamite week to week. The first Dynamite of the New Year scored a solid 7.2, whereas the second week received a meager 5.6, benefited by how matches progressed their respective plots, but hurt by how predictable their outcomes were. You can’t win them all, however, and I look forward to this edition with an open mind and enthusiasm.
AEW: Dynamite (1/20/21)
Brodie Lee Jr. (Brodie Huber), aptly named -1, was led out by The Dark Order. There was a birthday cake on a table in commemoration of -1’s birthday. Jon Silver began to speak and explained it was a night of celebration, and that, not only was it -1’s birthday, but the Order would see a new recruit in Adam Page. He led the crowd in singing Happy Birthday.
Luther walked out and interrupted, complaining that AEW had become a daycare center, and saying they would ruin Brodie’s birthday.
The segment was short and harmless, and I even appreciated the small way it advanced The Dark Order’s narrative with Adam Page. Brodie Huber had a rough end to last year, a year that had already been overwhelming for a lot of us, in general. Although the segment itself was not particularly entertaining or necessary for the program, its characters or its storylines, I do appreciate Tony Khan and company for the lengths they have went to offer him a distraction and some fun (0-0-1-0-0) The characters themselves were over-the-top and goofy, and, for the most part, that is something I usually don’t care for.
Colt Cabana, Adam Page, John Silver, and Alex Reynolds vs. Luther, Serpentico, Jack Evans, and Angelico
The match saw its end after a really slick and neat combination that saw a Stunner, Superkick, Buckshot Lariat, and a German Suplex, with Alex Reynolds defeating Serpentico.
Afterward, more shenanigans ensued between Luther and -1, and The Dark Order asked Adam Page whether he would join their faction, for which, Page declined.
I enjoyed the finish of the match, but like other multi-man matches I have seen on AEW Dynamite, I find myself often losing the wrestlers in what feels mostly like a display of athleticism and coordination. A lot of it was rapid-fire and hard-hitting, and it shows the talent involved. I like that sometimes, I do, and I certainly appreciate it, but it often leaves me shortly after I watch it, often making me wish they had a more established reason and motivation behind the match. Something I also felt was that I would much prefer to see Adam Page on his own, and, hopefully that is something we can move forward toward now that he appears to not be aligning with The Dark Order (0-0-2-0-0).
Sting and Darby Allen are both introduced by Tony Schiavone. Sting compliments Darby and says he sees a lot of himself in the TNT champion and only became involved in last week’s bout in order to keep Tazz’s faction from overwhelming him. Tazz interrupts on the big screen and says that they both fight dirty whereas Tazz’s group has been complete gentleman’s, in spite their roots. Tazz says he grew up on the street and then challenges them to take it to the street. Darby Allen tells him to be careful what he wishes for, because it might happen.
The segment, like a lot of Dynamite’s, was short and straightforward. Personally, I think that might be the right direction for Sting and Darby’s relationship with each other. As history has shown, Sting’s best as a presence with as much mystery retained as he can.
In fact, when Sting tried to explain his relationship with Darby, I could not help but feel like it was like letting out a small bit of air from the balloon. Sting is alright on the microphone, but, when he speaks, it serves to highlight his humanity, instead of the iconography that his face paint and theatrics highlight.
I really enjoy Tazz in his managerial role, and I think that he will be able to take Cage places he otherwise might not be able to reach. He has a rough-around-the-edges realness to him, and it reminds me some of Heyman prior to becoming Lesnar’s advocate.
This appears like it could serve as a way for Sting to compete in AEW Dynamite through a cinematic match. Although I am not certain what will come out of that, I won’t pretend I am not interested, and also that I am hopeful it all eventually lands with Darby Allen receiving a significant rub. Darby is one of, if not the, competitor I look forward to most each week (0-1-2-0-0).
The Young Bucks arrive at Kenny Omega‘s house and meet Don Callis, Omega’s manager and a showrunner for Impact Wrestling. Callis tells them that Omega is busy and that a lot of his old friends have been holding him back. He offers them a check to, more or less, buy them out of their friendship with Omega. One of the Bucks actually has a nice comeback for it, reminding Callis that they used to work for Impact, so they know that check is no good. They become physical before the screen goes black.
I liked this segment, for the most part. Nick Jackson came off a little too shouty and intense in-comparison to everyone else in the segment, which was jarring, but, I enjoy Don Callis a lot. I know he is an individual who has spent most of his career behind the scenes, but he talks well and is the ideal person to align with Kenny Omega’s current character (0-2-2-0-0). This segment meant more to me in Omega and Young Bucks’ story than anything else they have done so far this year.
Peter Avalon vs. Cody Rhodes
The match was more competitive than initially expected. Cody said on socials earlier in the week that he would defeat Peter Avalon in under a minute. However, due to the distraction by Jade Cargill, Avalon was able to score a low blow maneuver that saw the match drawn out to nearly double digits. During, Avalon focused prominently on Cody’s injured knee, but was defeated when Cody executed the Figure Four Leglock for the submission victory.
The match was alright. I am not really interested in whatever’s happening between Cody and Jade, however. Although I felt confident Cody would score the victory, I thought there was at least a chance Avalon might win through a screwy finish. I have seen some of Avalon on AEW Darks, and while he is not bad, he needs a better gimmick. His character feels like a parody of Rick Roode and comes off like a fairly minor league’s act. Partly because the gimmick itself, but, also because it doesn’t feel like AEW would own the character enough to make it distinct (0-2-3-0-0).
Jon Moxley vs. Nick Comorato
The contest was finished in shy of four minutes, with Jon Moxley defeating Comorato with a sleeper hold. Afterward, Moxley told Omega he was after him and that no obstacle was too much to stop him.
This did very little for me, in part because its symmetry with the previous bout, and, also, because, as I mentioned last week, Dynamite has far too many matches where the outcome feels like a foregone conclusion before the bell rings. This match was no different than that. There’re a lot of subplots and stories in Dynamite, but, too often it feels like every story is a work-in-progress or only revving up its engine, there has to be a balance of developments and payoffs, and they have to do better at making matches feeling meaningful (0-2-3-1-0). I like Moxley and I like Omega, and I like Cody and I like Adam Page, for instance, but I don’t feel particularly taken by how little direction they seem to have.
Matt Hardy and “Private Party” Marq Quen and Isiah Kassidy vs. Matt Sydal and “Top Flight” Darius and Dante Martin
The contest came to an end after the Private Party introduced a steel chair into the match while the referee’s match was turned, then, scored the pin fall victory with a shooting star press.
The match itself was decent enough, but I enjoyed the old school rule breaking by Private Party that led to their win. I also appreciate Matt Hardy adding wrinkles to their characters by introducing an aggressive streak. The match saw Matt Hardy and Private Party’s alliance see progression, and, depending on where All Elite Wrestling is headed with them, be it Six-Man Tag Team Titles, or an eventual Tag Title opportunity for Party, I am here for it. There’re a lot of contenders in place for The Young Bucks, and although I enjoy the storyline between The Bucks and Omega immensely, I hope we see The Bucks in the thick of it with some of these contenders shortly (0-3-3-1-0).
Penelope Ford (w/Kip Saban, Miro, “Charles” Taylor) vs. Leyal Hirsch
The match ended with Penelope Ford defeating Leyal Hirsch after a lot of interference and outside shenanigans playing a part. Afterwards, Miro tormented Chuck Taylor, who was made to be their butler in last week’s edition. Orange Cassidy watched disappointedly from the crowd.
I will be frank with you, I really dislike the women’s division on AEW Dynamite. It is not because I don’t think the women involved are talented or some type of misogynist “women don’t belong in wrestling” nonsense. I like a few of them that I have seen and I want to see more of them and I want to see them succeed. I liked a lot of what I saw with Penelope and Leyal, but what I did not like what all the goofy stuff that happened in between and after.
Say what you will about the WWE, and believe me, there is a reason I am only watching Dynamite week to week at the moment, but their women’s division has a level of structure and development that AEW’s simply does not have (in fact, it is one of the only things that WWE has done really well the last five or so years). I also dislike Miro’s character and the nonsense that is happening with this feud (0-3-3-1-1).
Chris Jericho and MJF vs. “Sammy Hager” Sammy Guevara and Jake Hager vs. Santana and Ortiz in a Triple Threat tag match
Sammy Guervara looked poised for a decisive victory in the match, however, the outcome came when MJF scored the pin fall victory for his team with a rollup, benefited by a handful of tights.
I enjoyed this match.
Sammy came off well, but Chris Jericho came off a little rough. A lot of negative comments have been made about Jericho’s weight in recent months, it was only in this match I really noticed the extent of how detrimental it is to his mobility in the ring. He can still hang at a standard work rate, but I worry for his neck every time he does his Lionsault. Last year was tough on all of us, but, hopefully, we can see him either return to his ring conditioning at the start of last year, or change up his wrestling onslaught to better accommodate his current build.
I found this match was benefited by the story behind it, which helped elevated it beyond the usual multi-man matches on Dynamite. (0-4-3-1-1)
This edition of AEW Dynamite landed at a 6.2 through my rating system, which aligns with about what I thought about the program. I like a lot of the talent involved, but I am not onboard with a lot of what I perceive as flaws to the show week to week. As I have prefaced in earlier comments, one of my biggest issues has to do with how often they lean on enhancement matches or contests meant to maintain a gestating narrative. Sometimes I feel like the problem is that every story in Dynamite is at about the same point in progression, whereas I think it would be better if we had a balance of characters and stories having a payoff, or more serious developments.
In the end, it all comes back to matches not feeling very meaningful or important, which was a major selling point that AEW advertised when it first premiered that I don’t feel has been followed through with. I would love for that to change in the coming weeks, and I will see next week with an open mind.
Thanks for reading…