Previously on the Ins and Outs of AEW Dynamite: Matt Hardy made a surprising debut, Brodie Lee was revealed as the Dark Order’s Exalted One, and Lance Archer beat up an entire community of woodland rednecks.
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. I’m also recapping Dark, which you can keep up with here, and you can keep track of all things All Elite here.
And now, the Ins and Outs of All Elite Wrestling Dynamite for March 25, 2020.
All In: Damascene Moment
I’m just going to start off the column with this, because suddenly I want All Elite Wrestling to drop the “wrestling” concept and replace it with two hours of Chris Jericho and Matt Hardy doing ridiculous sci-fi fantasy improv. In case you missed it, and bless your heart if you did, Chris Jericho — legendary professional wrestler Chris Jericho, who has main-evented both WrestleMania and Wrestle Kingdom — main-evented an episode of Dynamite by cutting a promo on a DJI Phantom.
“Vanguard-1. I’m glad you showed up, Guard, because I’ve got a couple things I wanna tell ya. First of all, I don’t like you. I’ve never liked you, I don’t like what you stand for, I don’t like your beliefs, I think you’re arrogant, I don’t appreciate your political views on social media … you’re a piece of shit, Vanguard. Yeah, you heard me. You’re a piece of trash! And even though I don’t like you, I respect you. And that’s why I’m asking you to join the Inner Circle.”
To sweeten the deal, Jericho promises an inanimate object:
- that “all the power will lie in the propellers”
- bubbly being poured “right down your gas tank”
- Instagram drone models
- “the finest of mechanical cigars”
Hardy hasn’t even shown up yet and it’s already bordering on the promo of the year. Who needs Randy Orton intensely breaking down 20 years of interlocked history between himself and Edge en route to beating up Edge’s wife to set up a WrestleMania match when you’ve got the former Undisputed Champion of the World parodying himself and throwing alternating praise and shade at a flying plastic camera.
And then Hardy actually shows up. By badly teleporting around the arena.
Honestly? I don’t think it would’ve been as good if they’d tightly edited it. There’s something really janky and DIY about Matt Hardy’s Broken Universe, and if you make it too well-produced and glossy (like WWE mostly did), it loses some of its charm. It loses some of its sincerity. The more it looks like Jack Black and Mos Def tried to recreate Eraserhead on a VHS tape recorder, the better.
This is the point in the column where I try to explain Broken Matt Hardy in a single paragraph. [checks warehouse full of notes]
Back in Impact Wrestling in 2016, Jeff Hardy defeated Matt in an “I Quit” match by jumping onto him from a high place, as he does. This hurt Matt so badly he started believing he was born in 7th century AD and was inhabited by an “entity” known as ZENITH. Zenith pulled a Lucy and allowed Matt to use more of his brain, which turned him into a supernatural being who is also maybe a vampire, and whose energy and weirdness is so strong it slowly infects everyone and every THING around him. For fans, this meant all Hardy-related stories became centered around the “Hardy Compound,” aka Matt’s home, and featured a cast of characters that included a baby, Matt’s wife’s dad pretending to be a gardener, and a lake that when you fall into it it changes your gimmick. The Young Bucks managed to free Hardy from ZENITH at ROH’s Supercard of Honor XI in 2017 — supernatural essences can be removed from the human brain by hitting it with a ladder over and over — but it returned to him after a match against fellow Empty Devil Bray Wyatt on a November 2017 episode of Raw. He eventually manages to shake it off again, because even immortal demons don’t want to have to watch Bray Wyatt matches, but he gets handicapped by Randy Orton, which causes him to enter into a lake-related struggle with Sister Abigail, ZENITH, the “7 Deities” that control our lives and fates, and an overarching threat called “Abomination.” Not the one from Hulk comics. Incredibly long story short, Hardy powered back up with the help of the team that originally de-powered him, the Young Bucks, and “Damascus,” a 3,000-year old entity who has fire powers and used to hang out with Christ’s disciples.
More succinctly, Matt Hardy thinks it’s hilarious to film melodramatic wrestling shows with deep lore in his backyard, dress up like he’s going to take a shower at a goth club, and do his hair like a skunk fucked a tumbleweed. And he’s ABSOLUTELY CORRECT.
Here, Jericho once again tries to offer Hardy (or Damascus, or whoever) a spot in the Inner Circle, because apparently that’s his play in every situation. He did it with Jon Moxley, and now he’s doing it with Hardy. He’s trying to protect his spot by keeping perceived threats — so far just other popular ex-WWE guys, and a drone I guess — from showing up and taking it. So far Jack Swagger’s the only guy dumb enough to fall for it. Hardy refuses the offer, explains that Chris Jericho is ALSO, “an evil essence, rotten to the core … truly, a hole of the ass,” and gets jumped from behind by Sammy Guevara. Kenny Omega and Cody Rhodes make the save with steel chairs because Hardy is on their Blood & Guts team, whenever that happens, and Hardy sends Jericho and Guevara scampering away in fear by haunting them with stage pyro.
And that doesn’t even mention Hardy saying the spirits of Martin Luther King Jr. Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian, and Abraham Lincoln decided to come watch an episode of Dynamite in Jacksonville. As I said in last week’s column, if you need someone to figure out how to write years of compelling wrestling television with no fans on a shoestring budget and only a small cast of characters, there’s nobody better in the history of the wrestling business than Matt Hardy. I just hope they keep that bad teleportation entrance for Matt when there are fans in the crowd. Pretty sure you could get crowds that are already this into singing along to ‘Judas’ to stay mannequin still before the show goes live for a Damascus entrance taping.
A Quick Note About Daddy, Who Eats First
It turns out the Dark Order was never an incel cult at all, but a multi-level marketing scheme owned and operated by Brodie Lee pretending to be Vince McMahon. He won’t let the Beaver Boys eat dinner until he’s done, because daddy eats first, and kicks out Alex Reynolds for sneezing. What’s great is that it works if you’re obsessively aware of Vince’s idiosyncrasies like we all seem to be, but also works as a general Shitty One-Percenter who thinks being good at capitalism makes him a more important human being than everyone else in the world. America: fuck yeah.
I’ve read some negative feedback on this saying AEW shouldn’t keep referencing WWE if they want to be competition and an alternative, and I get that. I read a lot of the same things back when Cody Rhodes destroyed a throne with a sledgehammer at Double or Nothing. I could probably live without WWE references and WWE jokes in my non-WWE programming too, but I have to mention two things:
- at this point it’s borderline ridiculous for a promotion featuring a bunch of stars who made their names in WWE to pretend like WWE doesn’t exist or inform the professional wrestling world on a day-to-day basis, and
- referencing the competition is a storied tradition in wrestling history.
I don’t totally understand why they do it, but they always have, and will probably never stop. Dusty Rhodes called the WWF “the comedies on Saturday mornings” in the NWA, so WWF named their worst wrestler and modern slave character Dusty’s real name of “Virgil.” So when WCW got Virgil, they renamed him “Vincent,” after Vince McMahon. In the ’90s you had WWF doing Huckster and Nacho Man vignettes, The Rock making fun of WCW wrestlers on WWF TV, Rick Rude jumping between shows, Eric Bischoff challenging Vince McMahon to a match on a WCW pay-per-view, D-X “invading” Nitro, butts in seats, and about a billion other examples. In the 2000s you’ve got TNA shooting on and mocking WWE on multiple occasions, and WWE sarcastically referencing them right back just as many times. WWE’s also referenced ROH and New Japan for shocked reactions and used them in stories to get their own wrestlers over. Also, tell me you haven’t seen a WWE developmental guy show up on an independent show and do a Pedigree for heat.
What I’m saying is that if Brodie Lee wants to wear blue suits and yell at people for sneezing, just be happy he’s not in full Hulk Hogan cosplay and winking while calling Zack Sabre Jr. “Lucas Eatwell” in promos. Wrestling is going to do this forever whether we like it or not, and it’s not any worse here than it’s always been.
Anyway, switching gears from AEW referencing WWE too much, here’s former Wyatt Family member Luke Harper winning his jobber squash by setting up his discus lariat like it’s Sister Abigail.
I think we’re still fine as long as the Exalted One doesn’t suddenly become a haunted children’s show host and replace the Dark Order with puppets. Although I wouldn’t mind them not hitting “daddy eats first” as hard as they are, since NXT’s already pioneered coercing an audience to call a wrestler “daddy” with zero horny self-awareness.
Also On This Episode, Which Features Neither A Parking Lot Brawl Nor A Lumberjack Match
Cody Rhodes leaves commentary at the top of the show in his JBL entrance ensemble and defeats Jimmy Havoc in the show’s watchable but also pretty awkward-at-times opening match. They’ve had to move the extra wrestlers from ringside to a closed circuit green room in the back or whatever due to health concerns or something, so the lack of believable crowd heat, even as tiny as last week’s was, hurts it a lot. AEW without crazy crowd reactions feels a lot weirder to me than Raw or Smackdown being empty. Those shows always kind felt like they’d rather be performing in front of nobody anyway.
Regardless, Cody wins with a little bit of overkill — two Cross Rhodes, which seems a bit excessive when the worst thing Havoc did was Hardcore Match Brawl him around ringside a little bit — and gets shown a Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts fireside chat about how Cody’s scared of Lance Archer. Archer wants a match, but Cody somewhat understandably explains that Archer is cool in Japan but has no real body of work to speak of in the United States, so he shouldn’t expect to just debut against a top guy. Brodie Lee just debuted against QT goddamn Marshall, after all, and Brodie was a Smackdown Tag Team Champion like two years ago. Archer will have a match next week, and oh man, he’s going to kill whoever Cody decides to sacrifice to him first. You should’ve just taken that bullet for your enhancement talent and young boys, Cody.
The best match of the night is probably the 23-minute AAA Mega Championship match between Kenny Omega and Sammy Guevara, which would’ve been even better if Omega didn’t just decide to stop selling shit and hit his moves sometimes. It’s not even that he’s no-selling, it’s that he’s setting it up like it’s an AJPW-style delayed sell, but he delays it forever. I think the only time it outright bugged me was when Guevara hit a damn Feast Your Eyes to the top of Omega’s head and Kenny was just like LOL KNEE STRIKE~! It’s still a good match, though. Sammy keeps improving, and another year or two of TV work with talented folks is going to fine tune him into one of the best shithead high flyers in the world.
Brandi’s face is incredible here, and the camera work’s even better. I hope the caricatures of Salma Hayek and Victoria Justice’s sister don’t see this.
Have I mentioned that Darby Allin is great at this? Darby Allin is great at this. And I hope he runs into Matt Hardy backstage and Hardy’s like, “BROTHER NERO, I KNEW YOU’D COME.”
Darby gets a SUPAGOOD win over SUPABAD Kip Sabian with, of all things, a Gibson Leg Lock he calls the “Last Supper.” Again, I hope Hardy runs into him backstage and is like, “AAAAAH YES, I WAS AT THE LAST SUPPER, THE GREEN BEANS WERE DELIGHTFUL!” He can also mention that Judas used mustard, which he strongly dislikes.
I appreciate this being a competitive match, as I’m starting to warm to Sabian as an NXT UK jobber who loves showing off his cool girlfriend but can’t seem to defeat even the lowest-level opponents without her help. I hope it culminates in Penelope Ford vs. Sabian and Ford straight-up kicking his ass. The right guy won here though, obviously, and I look forward to Sammy Guevara (with Brandi Rhodes as his manager) defending the AEW Championship against Darby Allin in the main event of AEW Full Gear 2022.
Finally, Jake Hager defeated Chico Adams by submission. Go read about his match on Dark and replace “Chico Adams” with “Joe Alonzo” if you honestly want another paragraph about the Hagermeister crushing cans. He wins with the head and arm choke, which will put you to sleep almost as fast as watching a Jake Hager match.
All In: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
I knew we joke about wrestlers getting a three star match out of a broom, but Jericho just cut a promo on a drone. Like, for reals.
Baron Von Raschke
Matt Hardy: Wait….someone came out to help me? I’m really not working for Vince anymore!!!!
Tomorrow at the Dynamite review meeting:
Kenny: Why did you say, “What aboot” after I kicked Sammy in the face?
Cody: Because it was a good kick….you know “What a boot!”
Kenny: But there was nothing that you were comparing it to and you ended that sentece with a preposition.
Cody: What? A boot isn’t a preposition.
Kenny: It definitely is.
FINALLY Schiavone hits the “We’re out of time!”
“If QT and Orange Cassidy don’t form a tag team called Apples & Oranges, then AEW doesn’t deserve to exist
I’m just going to imagine during Cody’s armbar Jericho was heard to say “He’s stealing 3 of my moves!”
So were Kane’s fire powers sexually transmitted through Lita all those years ago?
Lincoln being in the crowd of an AEW show proves what an avid wrestling fan honest Abe was.
Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s – Matthew 22:21
Give Caesar the whoopin’ he deserves Lance – Jake 03/25
I just heard a Clangy Pole! The Clangy Pole is AEW!!!
That does it for this week’s column. Happy we still get to do these. Thanks for reading about Dynamite! If you’re able to leave us a comment below, give the column a share on social media, and make sure you’re back here next week. Oh, and make sure you’re reading about Dark, because nobody seems to do that. Your support means even more than usual right now.
See you next Wednesday for Lance Archer’s AEW in-ring debut, and the roster cheering for the matches from out in the parking lot.