Previously on the Ins and Outs of AEW Dynamite: The Dark Order is here, and they’re gonna pantomime and phantom punch you to death! Plus, PAC attacked Kenny Omega’s “best friend” Michael Nakazawa. Somewhere Kota Ibushi is like, “I don’t know her.”
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, originally aired on January 1, 2020.
All In: Cody Rhodes Is Back On The Horse
Up first this week is the much-anticipated rematch between Cody Rhodes and Darby Allin. Because NWA babyfaces and their families never learn, Cody attempts to gain an advantage by introducing founding Four Horseman member and lifelong Rhodes rival Arn Anderson as his manager and “head coach.” Arn’s out there throwing up hand signals like he’s Tommy Lasorda in 1988. To counter this, Darby Allin puts a Cody mask on a faceless Slipknot bum and directs the AEW equivalent of Mirror Father Mirror.
I can’t say I have much confidence in Arn’s ability to stay on the side of the angels when Cody’s chief rival is a spoiled rich guy who surrounds himself with subordinates so he can run his mouth and hate the Rhodes family, but I like that they actually validated the “head coach” aspect of Arn’s presence. The finish has Cody get his knees up to block a Coffin Drop, and he’s only able to do that because Arn “gives him the sign.”
Cody wasn’t able to defeat Darby Allin on his own, but can keep his head in the game and finish Allin off now that Arn’s in his corner. Direct cause and effect. “Why is Arn suddenly managing Cody?” So he can win more matches. Here’s the example.
Like most of what Cody’s done in the ring for the past two years, it’s easy, classic storytelling that makes sense and always feels like it’s going somewhere, and it’s a good match that plays off the first bout in minor and major ways that reward you for watching and paying attention. Imagine if episodic wrestling television always treated itself like episodic television whether there’s been a pay-per-view between episodes or not! Part of me wishes Double A had just turned on Cody here to manage Allin and started painting half his face like a skeleton. Give me goth Arn Anderson, you cowards.
Unfortunately for Cody, it’s going to take more than one half of the Managerial Brainbusters to get him a match with MJF. As promised, Maxwell — who wants you to shut up, you fans — has a series of hoops for Cody to jump through.
- he wants the match at AEW Revolution
- if Cody touches him between now and then, the match is off FOREVER
- Cody must take 10 lashes from a leather belt on television, which is seriously digging into the NWA archive for ideas
- Cody must win a steel cage match against the dreaded Wardlow, who looks like the time-displaced Nathan Summers version of King Maxel
The nihilist in me who loves depressing endings wants Cody to attack MJF a few days before the pay-per-view and lose his match, so MJF can have successfully executed a legally binding plan in which Cody can both never challenge for the AEW Championship again, and never be able to fight the guy responsible. Cody just spends the rest of his career, like 20 years of AEW, ranked at #2 and feuding with random dudes because he lost everything three months into TV.
All In: Hangman Is Off The Wagon
Early in the show, Hangman Adam Page wanders into the background of a Private Party interview at a bar and nonchalantly steals their drinks. Note that Jenn Sterger is wearing dress with one suit-jacket arm, because apparently Liv Morgan is a pro wrestling fashion trendsetter. Private Party get mad at Page but ultimately tell him they’re worried about him, and Page is all, “hey fuck you, buddy,” like a true alcoholic.
At the end of the night, Hangman (and his glorious Porter Wagoner vintage western shirt) shows up to do commentary for the main event and gets the funniest chyron descriptor I’ve ever seen:
I’d try to make a joke here, but this already wins:
— Jessi Davin (@jessithebuckeye) January 2, 2020
The main event, as you’d imagine if you saw it on paper, is bonkers. It’s almost 14 minutes of non-stop action that doesn’t make a lot of physical sense and doesn’t adhere to the rules of classic pro wrestling logic or pacing, by design. AEW has gotten a lot of mileage out of essentially doing Dragon Gate six-man tags on shows, and honestly could go a little farther with it. If you’re the type of wrestling fan who can appreciate Aleister Black vs. Buddy Murphy being on the same episode of wrestling TV as Lana getting confronted by her surprise ex-girlfriend while her ex-husband hides inside a gigantic cake and the crowd chants for Jerry Springer, you might also see the value in following a story and character-based match like Cody and Darby Allin with six guys doing MOVES as fast as possible until somebody drops. At the risk of not saying it and having someone “call me out on it,” I prefer the former in both situations, but I’m just thirsty dork traversing a Mad Max wasteland of sand looking for a drop of that sweet, life-giving 1985 Mid-Atlantic.
Highlights of the match include … [checks notes] everything. It’s a 13-minute highlight reel from a hypothetical 30-minute six-man tag. You’ve got the Young Bucks continuing to use Canadian Destroyers like Stone Cold Steve Austin used punches, Fenix continuing the bring the Konnan memorial extraneous forward roll into the 21st century, and, in the most January 2020 wrestling thing I can type, knee strike and cutter no-sell exchanges. With all due respect and loads of affection, it’s like 1994 All Japan for folks who binge PWG highlight videos.
It ends when Omega counters a big springboard spinning kick with a knee strike and hits the One-Winged Angel to pin Fenix. The knee strike doesn’t actually come anywhere close to connecting when you slow it down, but boy does it look good to the crowd in full speed. After the match, The Elite tries to get Adam Page to come down to the ring and celebrate with them, but he’s like, “nah, I’m good, you guys cheer for yourselves, I’m gonna stay over here and be depressed.” I feel you, Hangman.
All In: Trent vs. Jon
The biggest surprise of the episode for me was Jon Moxley vs. Trent, which turned out to be my favorite match of the night. That’s over a goofy Lucha Bros and Young Bucks main event, a Cody vs. Darby Allin match, a women’s division fatal four-way, and a Dustin Rhodes vs. Sammy Guevara match. Crazy, I know.
It shouldn’t have been that surprising, though, because these two have the benefit of being (1) surprisingly big and strong, and (2) having “come up” in the same developmental television sports-entertainment performance system and era while also traveling around the world to wrestle in different styles against different kinds of opponents. So not only can they improve upon that basic WWE blueprint (like so many others have, like PAC and Adam Cole), but they can deliver a more hard-hitting and believably athletic contest without overly contriving or choreographing anything. I don’t know if I’m articulating it properly, but I dug what they were doing. That’s the gist. Jon Moxley Regular Matches are so much better right now than Jon Moxley “death matches.” I watched dude wrestle as one of the worst and weakest-looking characters in wrestling for ages, and it remains kind of a revelation to see him fully realized and kicking ass again. Plus, I like Trent a lot more against guys like Moxley as opposed to, say, Pentagon.
Additionally, he and Orange Cassidy get into a pissing contest over who can put their hands into their pockets better:
I like that Orange tried to make an emphatic statement by putting his hands in his pockets, and then got upset and left when Moxley put his hands in his pockets back. I hope this leads to an Alanis Morissette Death Match at Revolution.
All In: Sammy Guevara, The Worst Man On Earth
It’s a big night for Spanish God Sammy Guevara. After getting in Christopher Daniels’ face for being a full Rhea Ripley older than him (and getting his vlogging phone smudged for it), Sammy meanders out into the crowd after Moxley vs. Trent to follow up on Chris Jericho’s Inner Circle offer for Mox. More on that in moment.
Despite (or perhaps thanks to) a heinous wedgie, Guevara follows up those appearances with a win over Dustin Rhodes via Jake Hager low blow. Referee peripherals are at an all time low if you can’t see the largest man in the company running in to attack a man in a shiny vinyl body suit who has painted himself bright red. They should make everyone in AEW wrestle in blaze orange so the referees can see them.
In all seriousness, I hate to see Dustin lose, but I like to see Sammy get a win every now and then, and we’re continuing the built to Rhodes vs. Hager, presumably at Revolution. That’s not going to end well for Dustin either, but it is what it is. Jake Strong already killed Lucha Underground, so why not squash the Rhodes family, too? Just kill everything I love in wrestling, Jack Swagger, it’s fine. Want to pop over to Gatoh Move and force Lulupencil into retirement while you’re at it?
Anyway, Sammy Guevara earns bonus points for doing another Subterranean Homesick Blues bit during the picture-in-picture commercial break to try to get Victoria Justice’s sister to “hit him up.” I love that he didn’t ask Madison Reed to hit him up, he specifically asked for “Victoria Justice’s sister.” Such a subtle way to be awful. Now all I want is for Drew McIntyre or whoever to bring out signs during a Raw commercial break that say, “MIDDLE DAUGHTER FROM MODERN FAMILY, SLIDE INTO MY DMS.”
All In: When Your Faction Is A Limited Liability Company
Le Champion only makes a brief appearance this week via the big screen to sweeten the deal for Jon Moxley to join the Inner Circle. Now in addition to “being Chris Jericho’s friend,” “having people cheat for you because the referees have cataracts,” and “owning a t-shirt,” Jericho is offering a 49% stake in Inner Circle LLC. Firstly, a wrestling group being a limited liability corporation is hilarious. I’m used to every wrestling faction being Something “Inc.” Secondly, I like anything that makes pro wrestling more like Shark Tank. Jericho’s really high-balling it at 49. Most Sharks will be in as long as you offer them 33.
Also included in the deal are the position of executive Vice President of the Inner Circle, and a new car with a personalized license plate. The car is a 2019 Ford GT, aka “America’s Insane $1 Million Supercar,” and Moxley would be a fool to not at least join the group for a few weeks to (1) obtain ownership of the GT, and (2) sell of his 49% stake in the LLC and earn a profit before attacking them with barbed wire, or whatever. USE YOUR BUSINESS ACUMEN, JON. I hope next week The Elite tries to get Moxley to join them by giving him Elon Musk’s Cybertruck.
All In: Never Piss Off A Dentist
Kris Statlander couldn’t make it to her scheduled championship match this week due to a “prior commitments,” which I assume include terrorizing Mel Gibson and his asthmatic preteen son, so AEW stalls for time by giving everyone else ranked in the division a shot all at once. What results is another action-packed match that highlights its performers’ strong points: Nyla Rose’s hoss violence, Hikaru Shida’s general offensive excellence, Riho’s ability to be so small she bounces into the air when she double stomps people, and Britt Baker being a dentist.
The finish is a bit of a foregone conclusion, if we’re being honest, as there wasn’t really any indication they’d hot-shot the championship onto someone else when they’ve still got Statlander’s happening next week. Riho rolls up Baker and bridges to pin her, and does that adorable slash wildly condescending bit where she pulls a Taylor Swift after her matches and pretends to be shocked that she’s done well. I know not everybody reading is a Riho fan, but I can’t not cheer someone who happily stomps their feet on the mat because their prawn hold worked.
Things go terribly for the champion after the match, on two fronts.
Firstly, Nyla Rose hosses up and puts her through a table with a splash off the ropes. Riho’s body mass is somewhere between air and a packing peanut, so it looks like Rose just put herself through the table. It’s like doing a Superfly Splash to a towel. This provides some good, “will she be in any condition to compete” drama for next week’s match with Statlander, and can give Riho a believable reason to want a rematch when she’s at full strength.
Secondly, Britt Baker interrupts a backstage interview with Riho and her BEST FRIEND Michael Nakazawa, and shits on her for her Brock Lesnar championship schedule. I like Baker getting some kind of edge, and for using “I wrestle AND operate a dental practice” as some kind of guilt trip. Are you really mad that the championship wrestler doesn’t also have to have a day job? That’s a you problem, Britt. Also, it’s super funny to me that they have Nakazawa back there to translate the interviewer and establish that Riho doesn’t speak or understand a lot of English, then have Baker just barge in and yell at her in English without translation. Bonus points for Riho being the world’s quietest and most demure interview.
Also On This Episode
Taz randomly stopped in to replace Tony Schiavone on commentary, as Schiavone is “on assignment.” I prefer Tony and had a bunch of “real rocket-bustah” and “pop the hips” jokes ready to go, but Taz was mostly a non-factor and I barely even registered his commentary. It was fine! The booth should still be just Excalibur and Schiavone, though.
I also want to note how much I like the Jacksonville venue, and how much personality it adds to the shows. I always thought that traveling wrestling shows should make an effort to make each venue look or feel a little different if they can, beyond like, parking a double decker bus on the stage because you’re in London. It reminds me of a terrestrial version of Spring Break Nitros from Club La Vela. AEW should take advantage of running smaller, non-giant-arena venues like this and keep each episode looking and feeling as fresh as possible. It’s an easy way to be the “alternative.” Down with set homogenization!
The “low blows and no peripheral vision” theme of All Elite continued backstage with Joey Janela, Alex Marvez, and the camera man all somehow missing Penelope Ford sneaking up from behind and uppercutting Joey in the balls. I like to think she snuck in like Sensational Sherri in the No Holds Barred promo.
The Dark Order is still recruiting, and praises the fall of The Elite (in that one segment of that one show, that one time) for the benefit of “The Exalted One.” A few options would make me happy here:
- The Exalted One is Marty Scurll, and the Dark Order has been able to film recruitment videos and propaganda using money earned as a subsidiary of Villain Enterprises
- The Exalted One is Dustin Rhodes, which is why that one Creeper refused to punch him and why the Elite would be targeted at all, for the benefit and growth of younger talent. Plus, maybe Dustin would finally gets to do a better version of that “Seven” character from WCW concerned parents yanked away from him at the last minute
- The Exalted One is the Taskmaster Kevin Sullivan, and the Dark Order is revealed to be a cyberpunk Dungeon of Doom
guess which one I want to happen most
All In: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
watching his friends get successful
cutting himself off to be alone
when did Adam Page become the most relatable guy in AEW
Wardlow and Hager have very similar accents
SCU looks like the same guy used wildly different spray tan settings 3 times
When Britt Baker needs to sedate someone to pull teeth, does she cut a promo on her patient?
Prediction: Hangman gets White Girl Drunk and joins the Nightmare Collective
Hager: What’s my percent and title, boss?
The Real Birdman
The Inner Circle vs Picture in Picture is the feud of 2020
My only complaint for tonight is this match started with 14 minutes left. Wish that Dynamite got to use the overtime tonight instead of Raw on Monday.
Visually, I feel like Sammy Guevara is what you’d get if you crossed Justin Bieber with a rooster.
The Voice Of Raisin
So Kenny wins the title when Hangman Page cattle prods Jericho?
Next week, AEW Dynamite gives us an “Anniversary Edition” — lots of “editions” going on all of a sudden, when did AEW become a DVD company? — featuring two big tag team matches and Jon Moxley giving his answer to Chris Jericho and the Inner Circle. Plus, AEW will present a Tribute To Memphis Wrestling Legends, Except That One, live from not technically Memphis. It’s Southaven, Mississippi. It’s Memphis-adjace! If Jeff Jarrett shows up, I’m out.
As always, thanks for reading, and happy New Year to the best wrestling community on the Internet. It’s a low bar, but you guys set it. Drop down into our comment section to let us know what you thought of Homecoming Dynamite, give us a share on social media to help us out — it seriously only takes a second, stop not doing that — and join us next week for Dynamite: Far From Home. See you then!