Previously on the Ins and Outs of AEW Dynamite: Cody Rhodes got hung out to dry by Wardlow & Associates. Plus Chris Jericho met his bastard son, Marko Stunt got offered a spot in AEW’s least prestigious faction, and The Young Bucks caught some Ricky Morton-style stage violence.
If you’d like to keep up with this column and its thinly veiled Best and Worst format, you can keep tabs on the Ins and Outs of AEW Dynamite tag page. Elle Collins is also covering AEW Dark for us, and you can keep track of all things All Elite here. Follow With Spandex on Twitter and Facebook. You can also follow me on Twitter, where everything and everyone is terrible.
And now, the Ins and Outs of All Elite Wrestling Dynamite, originally aired on November 20, 2019.
All In: Add Kota Ibushi And Jigsaw To This Immediately
If you’re going into this match expecting a catch-as-catch-can pro wrestling classic, look elsewhere. It’s like, zero stars from a realism and well-paced storytelling perspective. It’s not trying to be, though, and gets a damn sky full of stars for being 12, non-stop minutes of Nick Jackson and Raymond Fénix trying everything they can think of. It’s so on point that Fénix totally botches a move on the ropes, but just adjusts and turns it into a different move on the fly. That’s where you go from being a “great high flyer” to being in that upper echelon with Tiger Mask Sayama and Rey Mysterio Jr.
I love the Young Bucks and the Lucha Bros. as tag teams, but this match made me really ask myself whether or not Nick Jackson and Fénix specifically would be better off as singles stars. Fénix is clearly an essential singles performer, entering into the prime of his career and physically able to do things that are just bonkers from a wrestling fan perspective. I can’t trust myself to walk up an entire flight of steps without the front of my shoe catching one and almost killing me. Fénix can like, bounce on the top rope on his butt and be like, “what if I did a big fuckin’ armdrag right now? Let’s see if it works.” The Young Bucks are a matching set, I know, but I wouldn’t hate seeing more Nick Jackson singles matches. I’ve been wanting to see that since at least 2009.
I do hope The Elite starts winning some stuff soon, though. I still don’t get what they’re doing. Cody’s doing well, but he’s getting screwed and cheated by everyone all the time. The Young Bucks lose almost every single time they wrestle. Kenny Omega’s winning some matches, but he’s getting his ass kicked in the process and being totally overshadowed to the point that his “marbles” are lost. Adam Page bailed on them via YouTube. Are they overcompensating due to the EVP thing, or are we building to them getting Fed Up With This Whirl and New World Ordering everybody to death?
All In: Britt Off More Than She Could Chew
After that, Hikaru Shida goes one-on-one with Britt Baker, who is a dentist, and … [checks notes] wins? And it was the first really good Britt Baker match in AEW? A Britt Baker match that doesn’t feel like pulling teeth?
Hey, maybe All Elite Wrestling finally picked up on the fact that, like Britt Baker’s finisher, they’ve pushed Britt Baker down our throats. “Britt Baker is a dentist” is the first meme to come out of AEW’s existence that Chris Jericho didn’t create on purpose, and it’s not a great one. I think everyone would chill out and Britt could get in the work a lot more effectively (and grow as a performer) if she didn’t always feel like the face of AEW’s women’s division, even without being the champion. After watching the IST of AEW beat Jamie Hayter and Kriss Statlander, it’s a breath of fresh air to see Hikaru Shida just knee her in the face over and over and win.
Shida should a billion percent keep kicking people’s asses like this until she’s able to unseat Riho, and then Riho can just be Riho instead of always having to be a conversation about 95-pound women’s champions with a title belt so small it could fit on action figures.
All In: Diamonds Are Forever
For me, the Dynamite Dozen Battle Royal was good for four very specific reasons:
It happened for a reason. Want to have a battle royal to advance some stories and get your talent TV time? Don’t have anything they could compete for? Why not go truly old school and say the winner wins a lot of money (because these are supposed to be professionals who do this for a living, and compete to earn money, which is why they all want to be champions) or some sort of unique prize. Here, they have the wrestlers competing for a $43,000 diamond ring. It’s a weird kind of prize, but I love it. I think battles royal should happen all the time, and the winner should always either win a prize like that, or some kind of modifier for future matches. What if you won a battle royal and it allowed you to have an extra corner man at ringside for your next match, or you could unlock 20-counts on the floor or something? What if you won a big battle royal and in your next match your opponent could get disqualified, but you couldn’t? It’d add a lot of weird, untapped pro wrestling drama to future matches, especially if you get really creative with it.
It’s a great use for veterans. In Japan, a popular wrestler in the twilight of their career will usually end up getting moved into tag team matches, or six-man tags. It keeps them on the show, gives them a much less labor-intensive opportunity to “get their shit in,” and lets fans get to see their old favorites without having to rely on them to carry a show like they might’ve ten years earlier. This is why WWE main-eventing a show in 2018 with Kane and The Undertaker vs. Triple H and Shawn Michaels where everyone’s in their fifties, and another in 2019 with Undertaker vs. Bill Goldberg where they can barely move and end up hurting each other, is so short-sighted. Imagine if WWE shows focused on the current stars, and let the people from 20 years ago still regularly compete in fun undercard matches where they don’t have to be the biggest and toughest and coolest and smartest in the room? AEW’s battle royals are doing that, as seen here with Billy Gunn, of all people. You just wanna see Bill Gunn interact with some wacky characters (Sonny Kiss, Orange Cassidy, etc.), do his signature taunt, and hit his signature moves. He doesn’t have to be AEW Champion just because he’s a bigger name.
There’s a lot going on. I love an old-timey “punch and kick and just kinda hump against the ropes” battle royal, but it’s always better when you’ve got some actual content involved. Here we get Christopher Daniels disguising himself as Fénix to get the jump on Pentagon Jr., MJF’s tireless dedication to making people as unhappy as possible, Orange Cassidy’s lethargy getting him way deeper into the battle royal than you’d expect, Shawn Spears showing up to eliminate Joey Janela, and even an appearance from WARDLOW. That’s “Woldraw” spelled backwards! Lots going on.
It wasn’t obsessed with alignment. Battles royal seem to live or die by heel and face alignment. It’s supposed to be “every man for themselves,” but rarely plays out that way. Here, they’ve got Adam Page tossing Billy Gunn, for example, because it’s important to him to, you know, try and win the match. I dig that a lot.
In fact, the only thing I didn’t really like is how they treated Billy Gunn — a guy who is bigger than most, but was never seen as a “big guy” in his entire career — like an Andre the Giant-sized monster. It’s sure not a great look for your roster when you call that much attention to it. MJF looks like he could be a nesting doll inside Billy Gunn, and he’s as big or bigger than most of your top stars. I know it’s unavoidable when you’re mixing generations, but maybe don’t have him doing actual “everyone gangs up on me and I THROW THEM OFF ALL AT ONCE because I’m THE LARGEST ATHLETE IN THE WORLD” Andre battle royal spots? It’s funny, sure, but it does a lot of subconscious things to wrestling fans that are bad for the people who’ve gotta work in the ring every week.
All In: Know Your Audience
I can’t decide what I like more about this; the continuity of Bill Ass really loving butts, Orange Cassidy in the background sliding down his sunglasses to get a good look at Sonny’s, or the ending, where Gunn’s either saying, “all right, it’s my turn to compete in this twerking battle,” or, as I’d like to imagine, “welp, you’re beautiful, we’re doing this, proceed when ready.”
All … In? The Dark Order
The most unexpectedly positive development of the week, at least I think, is from, get this, the Dark Order. Instead of just being an ill-defined evil group of bad looking and badly named indie wrestlers accompanied by human furniture designed by Delirious, they’ve decided to promote the team using Adult Swim Infomercials-style cult recruitment videos.
It’s got a little bit of a Firefly Funhouse vibe as well. The first one’s pretty great, and hilariously aimed at AEW’s target demo:
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) November 21, 2019
Next week’s clip should be a 10-minute video called Unedited Footage Of Tracy Smothers Wrestling A Bear.
All In: Thorry
As you’d expect, Le Champion Chris Jericho saying or doing anything continues to be the objective high point of Dynamite. This 48-year old version of WCW Jericho who kinda looks like he’s turning into Greg Valentine by way of Catherine O’Hara is truly a gift, and him using Jake Hager as a soundboard to say the word “sorry” when he can’t is tremendous. Shout-out to whoever at All Elite Wrestling realized Jack Swagger should just stand around looking threatening in his Proud Boy sort of way and never cut promos.
Here, Jericho ends up running afoul of Scorpio Sky, who pinned him in tag team action last week. Have you ever noticed that the guys in SCU look exactly alike? Scorp does some good work on the mic here and Jericho Yes Ands him into oblivion, going full Daffy Duck to set up a title match for next week. I love Jericho clearly being head and shoulders above almost everyone else in the company on the microphone, but choosing to help their work be better instead of just putting himself over. It’s the difference between Jericho and a guy like CM Punk. Punk’s one of the best talkers ever, but it’s usually in the interest of Punk — the man or the character, depending on the situation — and not his rival. Jericho’s similar to Paul Heyman in this way, as Heyman always makes sure to put over whoever’s supposed to jump into Brock Lesnar’s arms for an F-5 this week.
They also manage to expand the universe a bit and get the Jurassic Express involved, which I like. It helps when characters who are in a “rivalry” or “story” don’t get completely closed off from the universe and can still interact with the roster at large. Why not use one well-done rivalry to plant the seeds for three more, you know? Plus, now AEW’s running Jake Hager and Luchasaurus at each other in a battle of 6-foot-5 “giants.” NXT UK’s Eddie Dennis needs to jump ship to AEW and join their freak show hoss division.
All Out: Boo This Man
Anybody else notice the Boo in the crowd during this show? I like it, but I’m upset that he didn’t draw the shy Boo on the other side, and flip it around when a wrestler turned to look at him.
In related Chris Jericho and Enormous Wrestling Dinosaur news, they both get to totally drag the Librarians in their own ways.
Firstly, Jericho runs into them backstage while he’s riffing on folks, puts a hard hat on Peter Avalon’s head, shits on them for reading children’s books — they’re reading up on dinosaurs, which becomes important later — and even buries Pete’s Bobby Roode robe. First person to hit The Librarians with, “I respect you, booker-man,” gets a no-prize. Secondly, Luchasaurus squashes Avalon in about thirty seconds. The highlight there is Leva Bates giving Marko Stunt one of the dinosaur books, because she thinks he’s a child. Jungle Boy getting really into reading one of them and showing Luchasaurus a dinosaur fact after the match might’ve been my favorite part. LIZARD DAD DOESN’T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT HIS SON’S DAY AT SCHOOL.
Lots of really fun stuff is happening in the background on Dynamite if you know where to look.
All In, But Also A Little Out: Private And Partyful
As you might expect, Private Party vs. Proud and Powerful was extremely alliterative and a good tag team match. I’m surprised they’ve got Santana and Ortiz taking clean loses this early, especially when they joined the Inner Circle and just trounced the Young Bucks, but Private Party have cemented themselves as a Cinderella team that can beat anybody (when nothing’s on the line). You’ve gotta be pretty cold hearted to not pop for Gin and Juice, especially when they do it More Bang For Your Buck style like they did last night. The surprise one is exciting, but that’s the superior version of the move.
Not sure if they got fifteen minutes near the end of the show as a response to The Revival showing up on NXT or the other way around, but whomever’s inspiring whomever should keep doing it so we can get 45-ish minutes of great-ass tag team wrestling on Wednesday nights. One thing, though …
All Out: AGAIN With The Referees
I love both Private Party and Proud & Powerful
but a botch is a botch (is a botch) pic.twitter.com/sE4IOHkEk6
— Maffewhausen (@Maffewgregg) November 21, 2019
Earlier this month, an AEW referee messed up the three count at the end of a Trent vs. PAC match by counting one, counting two, and then stopping for absolutely no reason before counting the three, because he knew in his head it “wasn’t the finish.” It sucked, but they were at the end of the match, so PAC just transitioned into a submission hold and moved on.
Here, the referee’s supposed to get pulled out of the ring by his leg to break up the three count, but the guy who’s supposed to pull him’s out of position. So the referee counts one, puts his leg into position, counts two, stretches out his leg so it’s even MORE in position, and then stops for absolutely no reason before counting the three. Referees, please, listen to me: if the wrestlers fuck up a cue, just count the three. Ref it as a shoot. Always. If the wrestlers get upset about it, it’s on them. Nothing hurts a wrestling match and makes it look faker and shittier than a referee refusing to count three because he knows it’s not the ending. It makes the whole show look bush league. It happens, especially live and in front of thousands of people, so it’s not a condemnation of the referee’s talents or anything, but this botch happened before the finish, and pretty much killed the heat dead. The rest of it felt underwhelming. Count the three.
All In: Allin
Hi. Darby Allin’s a star. Absolute star.
You know earlier when I was mentioning how much smaller modern AEW guys seem to be than the ex-WWE guys they sometimes compete against? That’s the case in Jon Moxley vs. Darby Allin — put to spectacular use from time to time — but never, ever feels like a mismatch Allin actually uses his quickness to his advantage, instead of just “being quicker.” He uses his innovation and ingenuity to help him compete, instead of just to do fun signature moves. He seems like he WANTS to win, instead of just being in a match where he might or might not. He’s got a palpable sense of urgency about him, and that makes him the perfect foil for Jon Moxley, a guy who is so hungry to be perceived differently by the wrestling world at large that he’s practically eating people and matches whole.
This is the best Jon Moxley match in AEW so far. I have a harder time saying it’s the best Allin match, and that’s awesome. I think it is, though. I loved the story of Moxley trying to wrestle a Regular Match but repeatedly rubbing against the internalized rage and creative cruelty of Allin, like when he ended up getting his fingers jammed up in the turnbuckle:
Allin’s also smart in the ring, and not a one-trick pony. He isn’t just fast or a daredevil. He’s actively trying to not lose the wrestling match, so you get great little transitions like him being able to escape the Paradigm Shift because Moxley’s hands weren’t locked. You also allow the action to continue escalating until Mox realizes he’s gotta go Full John Cena on a motherfucker and hit his finisher off the ropes. The Paradigm Shift that ended the match was more violent than a suplex onto a corny bed of barbed wire.
More of this Jon Moxley, please and thank you. This is the guy who can be the top guy in your company.
You know, unless Darby Allin beats him to it.
All In: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
At ringside Leva Bates teaches Jungle Boy to read and Marko Stunt to do the Highlights maze
Jake Hager having no personality on purpose is so much better than Jack Swagger having no personality accidentally.
Jericho pulls off disguise to reveal Pentagon Jr, much to SCU’s surprise
The Real Birdman
Don’t bring a Billy Gunn to a staple gun fight
Life dealt you a hard blow? Call WARDLOW! At WARDLOW and associates we fight hard to save you and your loved one’s against arm breaking ninja skeletons, rogue dentist malpractice, and sinister orders brainwashing you into human furniture.
*Wardlow and Associates does not protect against evil clown sky pirates, lisping golems, powerful pride, gum, or scarves*
Bring me the head of whoever put Jericho backstage ad libbing on PiP.
VP Kenny Omega, more like Greendale Vice Dean Laybourne.
He’s going through some things.
Ya know why I hate AEW? I get off work at 8. I need a 20 minute promo parade so I have time to prepare my dinner but nope. These guys get right to the wrestling. Pack of jerks.
Sammy vlogging during his beat down
A+ heel work
Having a memorial match for someone special to both teams is very classy. Kudos, AEW.
That’s it for this week’s AEW Dynamite recap. Thanks for reading! Wednesdays are a lot, huh? Make sure to leave us a comment below, share the column on social media so people read about good shows instead of Raw and Smackdown, and be here next week for Cody Rhodes, PAC vs. Kenny Omega, and more. See you then!