|LEXICON OF LE CHAMPION|
Screengrab via AEW YouTube
Dustin Jackson - Death. Taxes. Dynamite kicking off with a hot match. Outside of last week, every show so far has begun with a match that turned out to be if not the best match on the show at least one of the five best matches in a given week. This week saw another chapter in the Elite's overarching war against the Inner Circle erupt in another skirmish. The Young Bucks and Dustin Rhodes, wrestling with a cast on his arm, took on Sammy Guevara and Proud and Powerful. It was the kind of fast-paced highspot derby you'd come to expect from five of the six competitors. Rhodes seemed like the odd man out, but that would not be the case.
At 48 years old, one might think The Natural would lean harder into a grumpy old man oeuvre or at the very least go across the older generation he serves as bridge for and brawl heavily. He flipped and flew with the younger lads like he was fresh out of a modern wrestling school. It's hard to understate how savvy Rhodes is as a wrestler when his head is 100 percent in the game. He's earned a reputation as one of the best, if not the best, in-ring worker of all-time, and when you garner that label, you should be versatile.
The other thing that stood out was how both teams worked their triple-team offense into the match. As a veteran Chikara fan, I know well that trios matches have a high floor. You can have a great trios match without triple team synergy, but when you do have all three teammates working together, you're working the entire studio space. It's one of those things that can easily enhance the experience. All the spots hit too, whether they were hit as intended like the superkick party and Matt Jackson turning into a Northern Lights suplex machine, or whether they were subverted for effect, like Guevara taking over the delayed suplex and immediately being countered. Overall, it was a hell of a way to start the show. Next week, AEW is giving it again with the Bucks and the former EYFBO going at it in a Texas Street Fight. Hope someone breaks out a branding iron, for thematic reasons.
Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing - Last week, Jim Ross got pretty offensive, remarking the Emi Sakura made Freddie Mercury look "oriental" and then remarking that Aubrey Edwards was basically good for her gender (or more accurately, that she doesn't let her gender get in the way of doing a good job). Even if he never was offensive as all get out, he really should not be on the AEW broadcast team, because he has absolutely nothing to say that's germane to the story. Every single word that comes out of his mouth is some generic platitude that could be applied in any situation to any match. He has no insight at all unless it's to bitch and moan about the rules. Jim Cornette deserved his exit from the National Wrestling Alliance, even if the company stupidly commemorated him despite being classist at best. However, I can't deny that he at least was a decent color commentator when he wasn't being offensive or whiny. Ross can't even clear that floor. It's high time he gets replaced.
Feníx es El Rey - Trent vs. Rey Feníx was match number two, and it kept the streak of dope matches on this episode of Dynamite alive at two. Trent had been getting a little shine getting wins over Pentagón, Jr. and the pin in Best Friends' win over the Lucha Bros. If I were in charge of AEW, I probably wouldn't have gone down that road, and I also wouldn't have pushed the Luchas as a heel act, but that's just me. Either way, this match was a satisfying showcase for both guys. I fully believe Feníx is the best male wrestler on the roster right now. His offense is so slick, and he bumps in a way that isn't overly self-indulgent but makes the other guy's offense look incredible, and Trent's super workrate offense is conducive to that. The match hit all the different wrestling trends but didn't come off as rote. After the match, during the picture-in-picture commercial break inset, Trent got mad and attacked Feníx. I don't think this issue is over.
Cody Wants to Be Findommed - As fiery and passionate as Cody was in his landmark promo in advance of Full Gear, he came off incredibly pathetic and antithetical to a genuine hero character in his promo on this episode. Basically, it was an exercise in running down reasons why he should be in a guillotine next to the guy who gave him his Rolex when the revolution comes, and everyone knows how much of a babyface guys like Ted DiBiase were. When people use "you're not rich like I am" as an insult, it's not entirely endearing to a wrestling audience shrinking because fewer and fewer people can afford cable packages let alone streaming services. Not only that, Cody came off as insanely pathetic begging a guy to wrestle him, especially given how much being an executive vice president in the company is part of his character. Cody removing articles of expensive clothing and offering his *extremely Austin Idol voice* amenities to MJF doesn't make him look like a relatable warrior for vicarious fulfillment. He looks like someone looking to be findommed.
Cody isn't the only character in AEW who doesn't have consistent character fidelity, and it's perhaps the company's biggest problem to date. However, you'd think that someone who probably has the most creative control over their character would sit down and say "yes, this is the person I want to be" instead of vacillating week-to-week. Then again, maybe Cody's vision is muddled. Crowd reactions to him are golden to be honest, but can he take them for granted? People are going to start to put two and two together. Allie, speaking for the Butcher and the Blade in a pre-tapped vignette later in the show, said they were tired of seeing Cody as the face of the company and wanted to take him out. How long before crowds start identifying with the S&M themed brutes over the guy who can't stop offering cases of money to fight people he could simply force to fight them through executive action? By the way, Cody decided he'd let the Buffalo boys pick his partner, so they gave him producer and former Ring of Honor gadfly about town QT Marshall. They're scared of Billy Gunn, obviously.
This Week's Dark Order Segment -
Bye-la Rose - Nyla Rose got to squash the shit out of Leva Bates, a match which was only eventful because fellow Librarian Pretty Peter Avalon also got to bump for the Native Beast. After the match, Rose put referee Rick Knox through a table, which warranted her a suspension for the rest of the year. I guess if you want to put the shine on other women without having to make your unstoppable monster lose a bunch of matches, a suspension is the way to go, but honestly, the more I think about it, the more I feel they made a mistake putting the belt on Riho (who has been conspicuous by her absence from Dynamite since Full Gear) instead of letting Rose wreck shit and have various babyfaces like Riho, Hikaru Shida, and Sadie Gibbs chase her. Ah, well, nevertheless.
Jericho Fears Moxley, Doesn't Fear Dinosaurs and Cavemen - Dynamite this week was notable for who the heels didn't want to fight. Chris Jericho, unveiling his Lexicon of Le Champion, noted that he would never defend his title against people as ridiculous as Buck Owens and Allen Jones and as topical as Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley, who was on said lis... I mean lexicon about a dozen times or so. If wrestling has taught me anything, someone refusing to fight a challenger means that match is going to happen down the line, which I can imagine will be at AEW's next pay-per-view in February.
His reading of the list was interrupted by the Jurassic Express, who if you remember from last week, had some receipts to give Jericho's bodyguard Jake Hager. The war of words, which included Luchasaurus questionably noting that dinosaurs have been marginalized for 65 million years (to go with his equally cringe "Dino Lives Matter" shtick), culminated in Jungle Boy being offered up as Jericho's next challenger on the last Dynamite of the year. Jungle Boy getting some shine is good enough because even at 22 years old, he's insanely good already. Given that he'll get a shot at Jericho, who called him a "piece of shit," is even better because Jungle Boy pretty much is Jericho from 1995. The fact that it will be under the conceit of "[Jungle Boy] can't last ten minutes with [Jericho]" makes it even better in the same way that Darby Allin's time limit draw against Cody at Fyter Fest allowed him to become white hot. As the first Rocky movie shows, all you need to do is defy expectation to get a victory.
A Star From Out of This World - Kris Statlander went up against the nominal number one contender to Riho's Women's Championship, Hikaru Shida, and won in her first match since signing with AEW. Honestly, since rumors that she was signing with WWE broke a few weeks back, this is the biggest sigh of relief possible if she were going to a bigger promotion. Yeah, I'm gonna miss her showing up as a regular at the White Eagle for Beyond Wrestling, but at least she's working for the less disgusting corporate wrestling company in America and not for the most disgusting. Anyway, the match itself was pretty much nothing but bombs after Statlander did a bunch of cartwheels just to poke Shida in the eye. While this match had counters and big hits and bumps and everything, maybe the most impressive thing was Shida doing the Cesaro/M*ch**l Elg*n ring-in suplex to someone who probably has a foot and a couple of pounds on her. The finish was shocking, but the women's division probably needs a little chaos.
Speaking of chaos, right after, Brandi Rhodes and Awesome Kong came to the ring to announce that their cult, the Nightmare Collective, has decided to become AEW's black ops division. I'm pretty sure the first rule of black ops is not to admit that you do black ops. Still, I think having more than one cult-like organization in your promotion is overkill, but I guess that's just my aversion to cults altogether. You could counter this argument by saying that the Nightmare Collective isn't a cult but a paramilitary organization. Then again, what is a paramilitary organization but a cult that has guns and a license to kill? Exactly. They offered a spot in their group to Statlander, who didn't give an answer, but seemed like she was going to say no by getting into Kong's grill. Thankfully, Rhodes and Kong got a new friend in SHIMMER alumna Melanie Cruise, who came out of her seat to give the power women her hair.
Daniels Is Hurt - Pentagón Jr. and his number one cosplayer Christopher Daniels occupied the semifinal slot on the show, which featured Daniels calling back when Penta injured him by attempting to do the same to his assailant. Personally, I think every match between two guys who have even a modicum of bad blood should start out with some crazy sneak attack instead of how the Dean Ambrose/Seth Rollins blood matches always started, in the collar and fucking elbow. That's one thing I appreciate about AEW thus far; people who hate each other just fuckin' wail on each other from jump. This match was a standard super indie-style bomb fest until Daniels tried an asai moonsault on the outside and just thumped onto the apron/ramp. Excalibur had been talking about how Daniels wasn't 100 percent yet from his injury, so that might have been done on purpose. If it was, then it was maybe the most brilliant thing in the match, but it's hard to parse whether or not that's the case. Either way, Daniels' inability to moves correctly took over the narrative after, and the Feníx run in and shenanigans with Daniels' micstand ended the affair. It feels like SCU is going to get another shot at the Tag Titles, but it probably won't wait until February (or whenever the next PPV is). It really feels like the next Champs are gonna be Santana and Ortiz, and it's gonna be sooner rather than later.
This Time, IT COUNTS - Earlier in the show, Alex Marvez had backstage interview duty for Joey Janela, who said Jon Moxley would have to kill him to beat him this time. Mox showed up, gave Janela a sidelong glance, and dismissively said "kids." I didn't know it at the time, but it was foreshadowing for the match, which had Janela trying to get himself killed and Mox dusting him. It wasn't as dismissive as the interview interrupting comment, because he needed both an El Generico-BRAINBUSTAAAAHHHHH style Death Rider and a regular one to finish the Bad Boy. Janela was right in that Mox really did nearly have to end him to get the job done. Overall, it was the best showing that I've seen from Janela ever. He answered the bell, rose the moment, and put all his talents at the forefront. I especially liked his deadly school-boy offense, both with one off the top rope and one into the bottom turnbuckle, Sara del Rey-style.
Of course, because the commentary team led by Ross is so hard for the rules, most of the dressing for the match was that unlike the Lights Out match at Fyter Fest, this time it counted! I get that in AEW wins and losses matter, and there are rankings and shit. The cacophonous chorus of assuring everyone that this match won't be erased from time in the annals of history overloaded the narrative around the match. You have two deathmatch legends in the same match, both guys known for gratuitous violence, and the big setpiece was whether or not it mattered in the standings? It's bullshit.
After the match, Chris Jericho and the Inner Circle came out, much in the same way Mox came down the steps in the crowd after Jericho retained the Championship against Scorpio Sky. Like I said, prepare for that match to headline the next big show.