Previously on the Ins and Outs of AEW Dynamite: Joey Janela had an impromptu threesome, Britt Baker rightfully dumped on Jim Ross for being a “sloppy barbecue sauce sales rep who cant even get our roster’s names straight,” and Jon Moxley officially became a vigilante justice pirate.
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.
And now, the Ins and Outs of All Elite Wrestling Dynamite for February 5, 2020.
All In: Match For Lashes
Before we talk about anything else on the show, we’ve got to talk about that main event segment.
Cody Rhodes wants a match against ray of sunshine Maxwell Jacob Friedman at the upcoming Revolution pay-per-view. To get that, he has to undertake three great labors: not put his hands on MJF between now and then, face Wardlow in a steel cage match, and receive the punishment and humiliation of ten lashes with a leather belt on Dynamite. Sorry, a leather championship. He’s managed the first one so far, and the cage match doesn’t happen until they get to Atlanta on February 19, so this week is the flogging.
I’ve read a bit about how this segment is polarizing, and talked it through with some people who didn’t enjoy it. I have to take a step back and understand my bias when it comes to (1) the Rhodes family and (2) anything that even remotely reminds me of the wrestling I loved as a little kid when I tell you how very much I enjoyed it, from beginning to end, and how much it validates the “art” of wrestling, for lack of a better term, through intense violence and borderline absurd melodrama. I also have to continue struggling with the idea that the story between Cody and MJF is still, at the root of their characters, two trust fund kids getting mad at each other for how a worked-shoot front office of active wrestlers affects a wrestling promotion full of people who don’t have that power and privilege.
So from one side, you’ve got the obvious narrative: Cody will do anything to get his match with Max, including putting his body on the line. There’s an identifiable aspect of sacrifice here, as Cody’s literally leaving parts of himself in the ring. MJF set this up because he assumes Cody’s heart is bigger than his brain, and that he’d physically have to give up after seven or eight lashes. He’d get to beat Cody bloody, and Cody wouldn’t get his match. Cody, through the combined efforts of the fans, his “coach,” his family (Dustin), his friends (the Young Bucks), and eventually even his wife, takes all ten. You can see the after effects here. Confused and infuriated (and a little embarrassed) by the fact that his foolproof plan to emasculate Cody accidentally empowered him, MJF kicks Cody in the balls like an asshole and bails. It’s pro wrestling violence that serves a thematic purpose and amps up the interpersonal drama while working in like eight different characters in one emotional, surprisingly utilitarian segment.
The other side of the argument is that they main-evented Dynamite with a long, non-wrestling story segment instead of doing a match. The fact that Cody’s in charge of MJF and still at his mercy somehow is a hard thing to forget, as is the fact that ostensibly the worst person on the show is a talented young wrestler who was made to be subservient to the player-coach in charge and is, from a broader perspective, being “held down” by management. I think AEW could tell a really interesting, three-dimensional story with this — what does it mean when you go into something with the best of intentions in an effort to prove yourself and help your friends, but end up doing the same thing to young wrestlers you built an entire organization to help keep from happening to you? And what if you’re a good person doing a bad thing, and your enemy is a bad person doing bad and wrong things, but for the right reason? — but I’m not sure they will, or want to. Or that the effort of telling something like that is even palatable to modern wrestling fans, or that anyone would get it, or that it’d be any less polarizing than trying to update ’70s and ’80s NWA stories for TNT in 2020.
All of that said, yeah, this was the kind of thing I love in wrestling. It wasn’t a match, yeah, and it probably shouldn’t have “main evented” or whatever, but it’s folks I care deeply about (probably to an unusual degree even for AEW fans) telling the classic style of pro wrestling story that feeds me, through blood, sweat, and tears. At the very least, I appreciate an ambitious attempt at storytelling that might not have worked for a section of the audience than a safe, boring thing done, for lack of better phrasing, 17 times in a row.
p.s. I hope MJF gets his ass kicked, holy shit
Speaking Of Reinventing ’80s Stories For Modern Audiences
Back in 1988, the Road Warriors got tired of hanging out with Dusty Rhodes, and expressed this to him by removing one of the spikes from their post-apocalyptic shoulder pads and stabbing him in the goddamn eyeball with it. At Bash at the Beach, Chris Jericho got revenge on Jon Moxley for pretending to join the Inner Circle and braining him with a little bit of the bubbly by, get this, removing one of the spikes from his jacket and stabbing Moxley in the eye with it. Dusty started wearing a patch over his eye, and demanded an eye for an eye, Hammurabi-style, as revenge.
On this week’s Dynamite, guess what happened? Jon Moxley defeated Ortiz, the first person to engage him during last week’s attempt at a 10-on-1 gang beatdown. After the match, Ortiz’s partner, Santana, tried to attack Moxley and, after a declaration of “an eye for an eye,” got his eye poked out. In another great bit of continuity, Moxley’s gear doesn’t have spikes all over it, so he used the car keys he stole from the Inner Circle’s “MOX IS OUR FRIEND” celebration.
I look forward to seeing Kenny Omega and Hangman Page defend the AEW Tag Team Championship against Santana and Ortiz in the return of the Sky-Walker match. Bonus points if they throw Jim Cornette off of it again.
In And Out: Britt Baker HATES THESE TEETH
Dr. Britt Baker, sworn enemy of the shitty barista, is in action this week against the debuting (on Dynamite, at least) Yuka Sakazaki. Sakazaki is known as a “magical girl,” which set up the unforgettable instance of Jim Ross condescendingly asking Excalibur to explain “magical girls.” I wish Excalibur has launched into a 20-minute recap of Magic Knight Rayearth.
The larger story of the match is a good one. Britt Baker is being a real horse’s ass lately, but it’s not necessarily translating into wins. She goes for the Lockjaw, but Sakazaki’s able to counter it and roll Baker up for the win. Baker, enraged and only capable to taking revenge in the style of a dentist, attacks Sakazaki, makes her bite the bottom rope, and then curb stomps her. Not Seth Rollins style, American History X style. A dentist who actively wants to ruin everyone else’s teeth out of spite is a character I can get behind, especially when she’s ostensibly correct about the way she’s been treated and portrayed, and is getting consistently shaded by a couple of 60-year olds on commentary.
Anyway, two downsides here:
- As soon as Baker hits the stomp, Aubrey Edwards runs up and jams a blood capsule in Sakazaki’s mouth in full view of the camera. At least wait until the camera’s not filming you from like a foot away when you’re trying to pull some movie magic.
- Yuka Sakazaki’s entrance theme is what’s playing in the waiting room of Hell. It also reminds me too much of that one song from The Chipmunk Adventure.
All In: Super Bad Relationships
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this Joey Janela and Kip Sabian grudge match, as I’m really not sold on Sabian and haven’t been into their weird Twitter beef, but they really put the “grudge” in the match and beat the hell out of each other. I think undercard feuds over personal issues that don’t involve lower-tier championships are a lost art, and while I don’t really care who Penelope Ford does or doesn’t sleep with and why, they really went for it and sold the story more here than they could in a thousand iffy tweets.
And honestly, who even thinks up a spot like this?
Crazy. I hope Darby Allin pulls them both aside and is like, “You know what would turn you on more than any woman? Depressed skateboarding.”
All In: So Many Things Are Happening In These Tag Team Matches
When they were putting together these tag team matches for Dynamite, I like to imagine someone was walking by with a pot labeled “BOOKING IDEAS,” and then they got tripped up and spilled it everywhere.
Up first is SCU vs. Best Friends, which appears to be your average, lightly entertaining AEW Dark match with Orange Cassidy theatrics. SCU wins when Scorpio Sky superkicks Trent to turn the Dudebuster into a Yoshi Tonic — I swear these terms mean something if you’re a wrestling fan, but probably read like a dead language to anyone who’s not — to set up the post-match, which is the important part.
The Dark Order shows up en masse and beats down both teams. Evil Uno strolls into the ring in a suit, because he’s less of a wrestler right now and more middle management for involuntary celibates, and ends up offering Orange Cassidy a spot on his team. I imagine that Uno’s watched The Gentleman’s Club and knows part of Orange’s gimmick is that he’s supposed to be extremely on drugs, which informs his constant lazy boredom, and assumes that means he’s down on his luck and wants some uncool white male friends. Orange has enough of those, though, and turns them down with the old pocket-handsies.
Orange gets peeled for that, and Christopher Daniels (who was suspiciously absent for the first half of this beatdown, especially since the Dark Order told him just last week that they were gonna target his friends) makes the save. The Dark Order backs away, hoping that this will continue looking like the recruitment process and not like obvious evidence that former cult leader The Fallen Angel is in charge of them. I mean, they could pull a swerve at the last minute and be like ACTUALLY KAZARIAN IS THE BIG BAD, but c’mon.
There’s also a lot going on, in a mostly good way, during the Elite vs. The Butcher, The Blade, The Bunny, and The Bros eight-man tag. The Bros are Benix and Bentagon, if you were wondering.
The crux of the story is that if they could just get their shit together, The Elite would truly be elite and could win this match whenever they wanted. Unfortunately for them, their on-again off-again member Hangman Adam Page is battling some combination of alcoholism and full blown nihilistic despair, and can’t figure out if he wants to be the center of attention or leave everyone alone forever. So he, like, doesn’t participate in celebrations, but also keeps tagging himself in to hit moves and refuse to tag out. That ultimately costs them, giving the Lucha Bros. a much needed win, and causes dissension in the group with the Bucks being mad at Page and Omega trying to stick up for him.
After the match, Tony Schiavone attempts to interview Kenny O, but gets a message in his hear that there’s some commotion backstage at Monday Nitro, fans. So they cut to the back to find PAC, who has I guess organized his own impromptu contract signing table and lured a confused Riho over to threaten her about it. If Kenny doesn’t give him the match he’s been asking for for goddamn WEEKS now, he’s going to beat up his girlfriend. Girl friend. Whichever. Kenny’s immediately like, “ALL RIGHT MAN, DAMN, CHILL,” but Adrian Pac Neville Esquire has no fucking chill whatsoever — he doesn’t even chill when he’s wandering around outside in his underpants at night, in winter.
The big reveal is that PAC was never going to attack Riho; he’s enlisted the help of Nyla Rose to do that for him. Nyla, who has apparently been squatting behind a curtain for like half an hour waiting for PAC to give her the cue, attacks Riho from behind and powerbombs her through … well, onto a table. Pretty sure Riho could fall onto a table from the top of the Empire State Building and not break it. She’d just float to the ground like a feather. Nyla licks the inside of her hand in the ongoing least sanitary taunt in wrestling and declares that next week, she’s going to Natively Beast Riho to death. Riho should squirt sanitizer on Nyla’s hand when she’s not looking, wait for her to lick it all weird and get confused, and then roll her up.
All In: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
The Real Birdman
*Brandi cuts off some of his hair*
Pentagon: “So, you’re Rabbit Tribe huh? I don’t like you!”
The Bunny: “…what?”
Hangman can materialize alcohol out of thin air? The Monday Night Messiah better step up his game.
The thing I like the best about Orange Cassidy is how nice it is to have a pro wrestler whose energy level I can identify with.
Hangman Page gets all his beer from Dr Strange
Get your Moxley eye patch today, folks… ask for “The Shield.”
Baron Von Raschke
Brandi: I’m sorry….I love you.
[Takes belt from MJF and cracks Cody with the final lash]
The Voice of Raisin
10 lashes…still easier to endure than 10 minutes of Lashley.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) February 6, 2020
If nothing else, this week’s Dynamite worked overtime setting up matches for the next three weeks of programming heading into Revolution. From this one episode we get:
- Jon Moxley vs. Santana
- Riho vs. Nyla Rose
- Kenny Omega and Hangman Page vs. SCU
- in two weeks, a tag team battle royal for a title shot
- in two weeks, Cody vs. Wardlow & Associates in a steel cage match
- in three weeks, Kenny Omega vs. PAC in a 30-minute iron man match
That does it for this week, though. Thanks for reading about Dynamite! If you’re able to leave us a comment below, give the column a share on social media, and vote us Best Wrestling Media in the RSPW Awards, you’ll keep us from giving up on our lives and joining a goth wrestling cult.
See you next week!