The Ins And Outs Of AEW Dynamite 1/15/20: Injury To The Eye Motif

Previously on the Ins and Outs of AEW Dynamite: Jon Moxley pretended he was joining the Inner Circle for just long enough to get a free Ford GT and then peaced out, and DDP announced his return to the ring.

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 usually recap AEW Dark, but this week Brandon and I traded so that he could go on vacation. You can also keep track of all things All Elite here.

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And now, the Ins and Outs of All Elite Wrestling Dynamite, originally aired on January 15, 2020.

All In: Tag Teams Triumphant

As we’ve discussed a hundred times, tag matches where there are more than two teams in the match but only two legal men in the ring represent one of the stranger quirks of wrestling rules and often lead to strange storytelling. This one was different from what we’re used to mostly because the three babyface teams, Omega/Page, the Best Friends, and the Young Bucks, are all such old buddies that they tagged between teams pretty freely. Whether that made any sense in terms of actually wanting to win or not, it did serve to make Santana and Ortiz especially frustrated until they had to force their way into the ring to attack.

The match shifted easily between straightforward brawling and comedy spots like a nine-man suplex (Orange Cassidy slides in to help), and it never really felt disjointed, especially for a match with so many guys in it. It’s amazing what you can do when you have nine men of exceptional talent and experience. Speaking of which, am I the only one who occasionally worries that Chuck Taylor is getting lost in the shuffle? As far as the Best Friends go, Trent is the one who gets singles opportunities, and Orange Cassidy is the weirdo everyone loves, while Chucky T frequently seems to be the guy who takes pins, as he did in this match. I realize it’s been a long time since he and RD Evans were posing in front of paintings, but I still think of Chuck as a major indie star and it seems weird sometimes how little he gets to do in AEW. But then again, they’ve got a lot of people who ought to be doing more.

Kenny Omega and Adam Page were absolutely the right team to win this match. Not only does it lead to a fun and relatively fresh title match with SCU next week, but it furthers the “Adam Page is sad and drinking too much” storyline. Even when he and Kenny are winning, and even when they’re doing it with perfectly executed finisher combos like they did here, Hangman still feels alienated.

After the match he grabbed a beer from the audience, and when Kenny took it away from him he got another. Then later in the show, he drunkenly got in SCU’s faces, and Kenny had to make peace. I don’t know where this is going exactly, but it might be the first wrestling storyline about someone having a drinking problem that I didn’t immediately cringe at as soon as it started (the fact that Page doesn’t seem to really have a drinking problem in real life is a good start).

All In: Cody Gives Consent

How do you do a babyface promo that makes you seem like a strong, confident hero while you’re saying “Yes, you can whip me with a belt on TV?” It’s even harder now than it would have been in decades past, because now the kinky queer implications linger much closer to the surface of the average viewer’s mind than they did back then. It’s a rough line to walk, but I think Cody handled it relatively well.

He acknowledged that this isn’t really even about his desire for revenge against MJF, it’s about what the fans want to see, and his responsibility to give it to them. And while Cody and the rest of us will have to endure MJF giving Cody ten lashes (although let’s be real, MJF can make that entertaining), we also get Cody facing Wardlow in a steel cage match. I don’t know how good a wrestler Wardlow is, but I know this sounds like the kind of old school Southern wrestling match that Cody excels at.

And as for that upcoming whipping segment, Cody’s not allowed to fight back, but I doubt that segment will end with MJF standing tall. The locker room is full of Elite members, WCW alumni, and at least one skateboarder who have made no promises about not touching MJF before the PPV.

All Out: Nightmares Of Grandeur

If the Nightmare Collective works at all, it definitely doesn’t work in the absence of Awesome Kong. She had to exit this match for medical reasons, leaving Brandi Rhodes and Mel to face Kris Statlander and Hikaru Shida. And because Kong couldn’t even make it to ringside, Brandi’s only enforcer is Luther. Aside from the fact that I’m personally not familiar with Luther’s previous work (and I don’t seem to be the only one), a male enforcer in the women’s division is a very weird look. Tony Khan has previously said that there would be no intergender wrestling in AEW (although Kenny Omega later implied that eventually there will be), so it’s hard to guess where Luther’s involvement in women’s storylines can lead. What’s the use of a big nasty heel if you can’t eventually have a match and beat him?

Beyond that, the honest truth is that Brandi Rhodes doesn’t belong in a match like this. Some people like to claim that there’s a lack of talent in the women’s division, but Hikaru Shida and Kris Statlander are both really solid, and while this is the first match I’ve seen her in, Mel is really promising. But then there’s Brandi, who just can’t quite hold her own. If she wants to be a creepy manager leading a deathcult faction, fine. But if that’s the plan they need to recruit at least one more woman who can work, so when Kong’s out they can do a tag match like this without Brandi exposing herself.

Beyond that, if I can get big-picture for a minute, what the AEW Women’s Division needs is a dedicated booker. They have a lot of talent (more than Impact ever had when their Knockouts Division was on fire in the good way), but they need somebody to keep an eye on the big picture and make sure people are in the right spot and that everything makes sense and leads somewhere. And ideally it should be somebody impartial enough to ask questions like “Does Brandi Rhodes need to be at the center of the primary women’s storyline on our weekly TV show?”

All In: Jim Crockett’s Going To Fire Them All

Jon Moxley drove into the arena in the absurdly expensive car he swindled out of the Inner Circle and had a solid match against Sammy Guevara, which made Sammy look pretty great even though there was no chance of him winning.

More importantly, after the match he was attacked by the entirety of the Inner Circle. After he was whipped with Jericho’s title belt and worked over by Guevara, Hager, and P&P, Jericho took a spike off of his jacket and stabbed Moxley in the eye with it. That’ll teach him to lie and steal cars! If the eye-gouging seems like something that would have happened to Dusty Rhodes, that’s because it literally did, down to the spike coming off the shoulder of somebody’s outfit. I’m actually surprised Cody let Mox take the spike to the eye instead of having it done to him instead.

The actual strike where Jericho hits Moxley’s eye with the spike doesn’t look nearly as bad as how Jon sold it or how everybody talked about it, but that’s just the kind fo wrestling thing you have to buy in on. If they want to pretend Jon Moxley might lose an eye for a while, I’m good with that. If they put an eyepatch on him, even better! Imagine how badass Mox would look with an eyepatch!

The other thing commentary made a point of mentioning is that nobody came out to save Moxley from the Inner Circle because he doesn’t have any friends. In WWE, babyfaces almost never save each other, but it’s true that in AEW they usually do. And it’s true that gruff tweener Jon hasn’t cultivated any healthy onscreen relationships in AEW. I would love to see segments of Moxley awkwardly approaching different wrestlers backstage and trying to recruit them as allies again the Inner Circle. Maybe he could be the partner Shawn Spears is looking for, and in return Shawn can sneak up behind Jericho and hit him with a chair. Shawn would love that.

Surprisingly In: It’s Me It’s Me I’m 63

I’m frequently the most annoyed by the constant presence of older men who used to be a big deal on wrestling shows. Dustin Rhodes is the biggest exception, because he’s one of my favorite wrestlers, and his wrestling is never sad. After this match, I have to admit that DDP is an exception too, because he did a great job in his first televised match in years. He even leapt off the top rope to the outside, just so you know he belongs in AEW. QT Marshall is the member of this three-man team I’m least convinced about. I hear he’s a very good coach and trainer, but as a wrestler he mostly seems like somebody who’s friends with Cody.

The other side of this six-man match is MJF and the steampunk mercenaries he apparently hired, the Butcher and the Blade. Both the Bunny and Wardlow are on the outside, which if nothing else is a good demonstration of what a good manager Allie/the Bunny is. She’s always finding stuff to do, from screaming to grabbing at people to doing a Goldust taunt at Dustin Rhodes, whereas Wardlow’s main contribution is standing there being large.

Something I really liked in this match is that the inevitable chaos of everyone brawling, getting in the ring when they haven’t been tagged (or aren’t in the match at all), and jumping into a big pile of people at ringside led directly to the finish. While everyone was running around focusing on things unrelated to actually winning, MJF saw an opportunity and cradled Marshall for the win. An uncommonly smart heel, that MJF.

All In: Gnome Barbarian Versus Undead Skateboarder

This match? Ruled. PAC is an all-time great, and thank god he’s finally in a company that appreciates him more than “King of the Cruiserweights.” Darby Allin may weigh less than most cruiserweights, but he remains one of AEW’s most exciting young stars. Allin’s more than just a daredevil, he’s a nihilist who doesn’t care if he lives or dies as long as he gets to be awesome.

PAC and Darby both share the gift of flight (although PAC has been doing it longer and is therefore better at it) but Darby’s other superpowers are self-destruction and bendiness, whereas PAC’s powers are strength and cruelty, so inevitably PAC found ways to bend Allin’s body that do actually hurt him, and then destroy him utterly. The thing about Darby, though, is that every loss seems to make him stronger, and it’s just a matter of time until that growing strength leads to more wins.

PAC’s short promo after the match was great too, in which he declared himself the #1 Contender, even though he’s supposed to have a #1 Contender Match next week with Jon Moxley, because everybody already saw Mox get his eye poked out so there’s no way he’ll be able to compete. Somehow Mox heard that from inside a departing ambulance, so he fought his way out of the ambulance, stalked out into the arena with a bandage over one eye, and promised that he’ll be there next week, not just to beat PAC, but Jericho too. Somewhere, Renee Young is very concerned. And that’s where we stand, going into next week’s Jericho Cruise episode.

Thanks for reading, everybody. Drop down into our comment section to let us know what you thought of Bash At The Beach 2020, give us a share on social media to help us out, and join us next week for Chaos On A Cruiseship. See you then!