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AEW Dynamite #46 Review 08/22/2020

Did they finally fix this fucking promotion? Maybe…

After finally seeming to catch some traction early in the year, AEW Dynamite has been shaky in quality ever since the COVID shows started. There’s tons of tiny complaints I could make but the biggest one is around how much time they tend to waste on a 2 hour show. I’m not sure there’s been a single episode where I couldn’t have just lopped off 30-60 minutes of it and made it more watchable. The fact that all of these shows were pretaped makes that issue even more unforgivable. Last night may have not been the best wrestling night (although it was totally solid for a weekday show), but it was jam packed with relevant and high quality bits from top to bottom.

FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler) w/ Tully Blanchard v. Private Party (Isiah Kassidy & Marq Quen)

It’s been awhile since FTR was in NXT, so it’s easy to forget that they truly are one of the top tag teams in the world. Every time they hop in there, they are just a step ahead of everyone else on putting together a match. There were a few times when you could tell Private Party was getting carried a bit but this was a well booked match with some very smart spots. Pulling the bit where Dax couldn’t get a pin because the man he was pinning wasn’t legal was a thing you need every party in the ring, including Aubrey to absolutely nail and they killed it. They also had another smart rules spot where Dax tagged in from the outside to make Aubrey go argue Cash out of the ring. This kind of shit is gold to me because it respects the fiction of competition. This is the kind of stuff people like Cornette are actually mad about being gone.

The entire Tully/Spears thing, which has dragged on forever to almost no returns, is finally starting to pay off big time. Spears himself is quietly transforming into a brawl-heavy style on Dark that’s resulted in much better work for him lately. I’m actually kinda excited to see where this is going now.

Rating: 2

MJF/Mark Sterling Promo

Fuck, this MJF stuff has worn so thin but this was a great segment.

Mark Sterling is perfect because he takes all Max’s go away heat and channels it into something better. More Sterling doing all the annoying shit and Max doing the funny stuff, it plays to both their strengths. MJF has god-level comedic timing but him doing 1980 Memphis heel shit is so boring to me, more “horse professor” and “daddy, can we play a game of catch?”

Earlier in the episode, Mox cut a scathing Randy Orton style promo as well.

This is the correct amount of time for this to get. Two hot promo segments, no drawn out bullshit like the speeches and what not. Perfect. I won’t say I’m into this match but I’m not annoyed by it like I was at the end of the last show.

Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus) w/ Marko Stunt & The Natural Nightmares (Dustin Rhodes & QT Marshall) v. The Butcher and The Blade & The Lucha Brothers (Rey Fenix and Pentagon Jr.)

This was just a solid match with some fun spots, can’t really expect much more from an 8 way weekday match. Andy Williams is aesthetically my favorite guy in AEW right now, he just looks like a monster. The end spot was the money here where Penta raged out and wouldn’t let The Blade complete the spike piledriver, which ended up costing their team the victory.

Then as the heels began to squabble and fight, this happened:

Kingston with a faction is instant money, Kingston with this faction is unstoppable. B&B has been on fire lately and putting them under the guidance of one of the smartest guys in the room is absolute genius. Eventually PAC will be back with this squad too and we’re looking at a bunch of potential belt guys.

Rating: 1+

Britt Baker Promo w/Rebel, Penelope Ford, & Kip Sabian

Britt Baker is having an all time run on getting over while doing zero action. Rebel is just gold every week in these bits.

Making the women’s division important is not just about them having two matches every week, it’s about stuff like this where they truly feel integrated into the AEW universe and storylines.

Orange Cassidy “In-ring Interview”

One of the things that’s grated me the most is the amount of time they’ve given the continuation of the Cassidy/Jericho feud when the 2nd match was honestly not that good. But damned if they didn’t pull me right back in with this.

This is exactly what we needed, some dumb, low-stakes bullshit with high upside. Notice there’s a continued theme throughout all of this article with AEW saving many bad angles from oblivion. There’s nothing that makes me happier as a fan than to see people pull off ideas which initially seem bad. The only way they screw this up now is by making the match more than 12 minutes.

The Elite (Kenny Omega, Nick Jackson, & Matt Jackson) v. The Dark Order (Alex “3” Reynolds, John “4” Silver, & Alan “5” Angels)

Angels still needs some work but I do like his style, which feels unique in AEW. Silver and Reynolds continue to impress. Otherwise it was a fairly standard Elite match. Kenny continued his apparent vicious downward spiral by attempting to murder Angels after the match with a chair but was prevented from doing so by the Jacksons. Even Kenneth is crawling back into relevancy in this company.

Kenneth is starting to feel dangerous again for the first time in AEW, and not in a fun way. I cannot begin to express how bad AEW needs him to bring that side back out. It was the right move not to set him as the ace immediately and bury lesser known talent, but now it’s time for him to be that guy.

Rating: 1

FTR w/ Tully Blanchard Interview

Darby Allin v Will Hobbs

Hobbs is quite a physical specimen and is one of the trainee-Dark guys that’s been showing some real potential. It seems like this was a nice reward in giving him some TV time. It was booked smartly enough, Allin excels in making his shit work even though he’s a smol bean. Hobbs got some shit in, looks like with the right work he could be a big deal.

The star here was Ricky Starks, dressed up in Allin’s facepaint. He would have gotten a deafening pop from this bit if they had crowds. Starks is one of those guys that’s been on the periphery of a lot of places and has probably been the backup pick a lot of times, just never really getting a chance to excel. NWA provided that and he’s on a rocket ship now baby.

Rating: 1

Sammy Guevara gets destroyed during the break by Matt Hardy

Thunder Rosa Promo

This is the joint. You don’t have a program for Shida so at least give her a big match. Great work.

Women’s Tag Tournament Finals – Diamante & Ivelisse v The Nightmare Sisters (Allie & Brandi Rhodes) w/ QT Marshall & Dustin Rhodes

This match was totally fine given that it had Brandi Rhodes in it. Probably the best one of the small tournament. Allie has looked so much sharper since returning. She did an interview recently where she admitted that her disappearance and short transition into managing was related to anxiety and lack of confidence as a performer. Seems like this has happened a lot with AEW between Kylie, Sonny, Allie, and a few others. Maybe it’s the same elsewhere and AEW personnel just feel more open about talking about it. Whatever the case it looks like her confidence is restored and she looks great now.

Diamante and Ivelisse threw away the flowers they were given, which was a cute touch. I assume both of them are on deals now. Diamante is good and you’ll at least get solid work out of Ivelisse, even if you never can really do anything with her.

Rating: 1+

TNT Title Match: Cody (c) w/ Arn Anderson v Mr. Brodie Lee

I think like everyone I’ve succumbed to Cody fatigue but man, he really did make this new title do some work. Most of his title matches were great and provided some shine for some folks who hadn’t gotten a lot of spotlight yet. I also was getting to the point where I hoped I wasn’t going to see him for 3 months. Brodie squashed the shit out of him, which was the right move. Both Archer and Brodie had to, by booking necessity, lose their first big singles matches and you had to at least make up for one of them right now.

OH MY GOD LOOK AT ANNA JAY’S GEAR, HUUUUUNK

Rating: 2

Synopsis

If you count Anna Jay choking out Brandi at the end, then that makes 4 women’s segments on a Dynamite. Unprecedented. Their bits were worked in naturally, not just a “here’s the ladies now.” Let’s just count the wins in this ep that AEW has struggled with lately:

  1. Max/Mox bits were strong and not tiring
  2. Women got some time and more importantly were actually integrated into the narrative
  3. Tully’s forever quest is finally going somewhere
  4. Omega is starting to garner interest finally
  5. New potential stars in Kingston and Starks
  6. Cassidy/Jericho was mostly saved from the blahs
  7. Cody doesn’t have the belt anymore so he doesn’t have to be on every week
  8. Dark Order is finally over, Beaver Boys look great, and SSB is near their all-time peak in terms of work

Overall Rating: A-

Not the best Dynamite but the first time I’ve felt optimistic about this company long term since the COVID shows started. If they can hit this quality week after week, Dynamite will become the top wrestling show in the US in the next year or two and I can stop saying “AEW will be dope as hell if they can ever get out of their own way.”

Categories
Discourse

6 People AEW Should Hire

Surely there’s already been a hundred of these articles from the standpoint of fantasy booking All Elite Wrestling prior to their first event. I’m no different, really, I’ve had tons of ideas about wrestlers they should bring in and partnerships they should make, but lately my interests have turned more toward ideas about who would be the biggest long term assets for the promotion both in the ring and backstage. These people could certainly all contribute in the ring but their value goes far beyond ring work and could help AEW begin to develop their own stars and really excel for the long haul. Here are six of the best hires I could imagine for the new company.

Timothy Thatcher

Timothy Thatcher at PWG – copyright Esther Lin

Timothy Thatcher is a mainstay on the US and Euro indy circuit where’s he’s developed a good level of fame as Walter’s right hand man in Ringkampf. This is probably not fair to the longest reigning EVOLVE champ, but there’s no denying that his time in Ringkampf added a certain brutality he was maybe lacking to truly stand out before. With the rest of Ringkampf fleeing to NXT UK (and Alexander Wolfe absent from television but theoretically on the Smackdown roster), this is Thatcher’s year to truly shine.

Despite Walter’s impressive brutality and Axel Dieter’s smooth technical wizardry, Thatcher was probably the most complete wrestler of the group. With his diverse and technical style, the 35 year old Thatcher has plenty of good years ahead, but he’s also been heavily involved in the wXw training program and could be a great mentor to young wrestlers.

Mercedes Martinez


Long before she became known to the wider public in the first Mae Young Classic, Mercedes Martinez was choking out women from coast to coast in many promotions, becoming one of the most respected technical wrestlers in the business. Despite being 38, her relatively safe, submission heavy style means she might be extend her peak another decade and stay a force into her late 40s a la Minoru Suzuki. She is also highly respected as a trainer and personality and her skills outside the ring could lead her to excel in many aspects of the business.

Jimmy Jacobs

Jimmy Jacobs’s best ring years are well behind him but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be a force in many areas. He was a respected creative in WWE and ROH, coming up with the List of Jericho and being the driving force behind the Lacey and Jimmy saga, arguably the best long term storyline in the history of ROH. The Zombie Princess has a great relationship with a lot of the locker room and could be a good leader to young wrestlers, having successfully navigated some tricky personal issues in his long career.

He can bump when needed but Jacobs would be a killer manager for a faction in AEW. He is also a well-respected booker, helping book both AAW and RISE, and a huge booster of women’s wrestling in general. He has so many skills that it seems silly not to just snatch him up and let him find a niche.

Ethan Page

I have no idea what Ethan Page’s contract status with the perpetually cursed Impact Wrestling is, or if he is even available for television, but I feel he’s only just now hitting his peak despite memorable runs in EVOLVE and other indie promotions. He has massive charisma, is funny as hell, seems to be a positive force wherever he goes, and is in the best shape of his career. He’s probably never going to be in the title mix, but he’s a great midcard chase guy who the crowd will get behind. Page also is a respected booker, setting up the brilliant battle royal at All In and booking at the Canadian promotion Alpha-1. He’s only 29 and just now touching his full power, so if you locked him up to a long term deal you’d be getting the entire peak of his career.

Melissa Anderson

Melissa Anderson’s career has been so long and significant, there’s no real way to quickly recap it. She has one of the longest Wikipedia articles of any current wrestler. She’s still near her peak and can do literally anything you could possibly imagine in a ring or storyline. It’s an absolute crime she’s not one of the most well-known women in wrestling history as only maybe a handful of wrestlers, and maybe no American ones can match her total résumé. She is the only person on this list and the only person in AEW other than Kenny Omega who can claim a #1 ranking in the PWI list. Only where she’s accomplished these feats have kept her from being a household name. AEW would change that. Anderson is additionally, like almost everyone else in this list, highly respected for her training and out-of-ring work. You could not have a better mentor for the young women of AEW.

Hallowicked (Robert Goodwin)

The turning point, in my opinion, in the long march toward WWE having quality matches again has been moving from the old regional development system to the Performance Center in Orlando and NXT. There’s been many people to thank for that, but the name you hear brought up the most is Sara Amato. Amato is now the assistant head coach at the PC, and the PC is informed largely by Chikara’s Wrestle Factory. You could pick any number of brilliant trainers from the Factory but the reason I pick Robert Goodwin, better known by his nom de guerre Hallowicked, is that he’s the best wrestler amongst them in 2019. He is still a devastating force in the ring and would be an extremely high value wrestler and someone who could help institute a development system on par with any promotion in the world.