Previously on the Ins and Outs of AEW Dynamite: Chris Jericho made us think he was going to write himself off the show to go on a Fozzy tour and swerved us, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts showed up to dump on Cody Rhodes for being “Caesar,” and Hangman Page kept his emotions compartmentalized and to himself.
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 filled in on Dark this week, which you can read 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 11, 2020.
All In: Tying It All Together
AEW Dynamite is getting really good at understanding their show is its own continuous universe, and that multiple stories can organically bleed into one another without a lot of effort. You just have to put the pieces in the right places and let the game play out. And when you’ve got a Rhodes at the helm, you know those stories are going to bleed.
This week’s episode begins with a competitive match between Tiger Ortiz of The Inner Circle and Cody Rhodes of The Elite. These two teams are scheduled to meet in a five-on-five “Blood and Guts” match that is, for clarification purposes, the NWA’s War Games match without the branding. NXT, bless their hearts, currently uses that name for their roofless cage stunt show, and by the participants and the nomenclature it looks like AEW’s reclaiming it with the Rhodes-intended claustrophobia and gore. Ortiz looks great here, the teams get into it without really getting into it, and Cody wins with the Figure Four. Allowing the match to end on signature submission holds is a great idea not only because it establishes the Figure Four as a move that could possibly end the “submit or surrender” Blood and Guts match, but because it sets a precedent for in the future when they ask you to believe a big dramatic moment built around it. If the Figure Four never wins matches, we get conditioned to instantly reject it as the way an important match can end. If Cody wins even 10% of his matches with it, belief that it might end an important one DRASTIC GO UP.
To tie this together with what’s going on in Cody’s life outside the Inner Circle/Elite rivalry, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts shows up in the middle of the match with his new client: Lance Archer, who will now familiarize American audiences with the nickname, “Murderhawk Monster.” It’s the best hawk-related nickname in pro wrestling since they started calling Shingo Takagi the PUMPING HAWK.
Archer has grown TREMENDOUSLY as a performer since his “Vance Archer” days in WWE, and I’ve been waiting for an American wrestling promotion to realize it and sign him. Tremendous pick-up from All Elite here, as he’ll contribute not only on-screen but behind the scene with his learned wrestling brain and propensity for picking people way the fuck up and throwing them way the fuck down. I like that he doesn’t attack Cody or influence the match at all, but sits and ringside and makes everybody worried he might. Sometimes that’s way more effective than a run-in disqualification.
My only note here is that it’s weird to see Lance Archer as this legitimately tall monster standing next to Jake ‘The Snake,’ who is almost as tall as him despite being an average-sized guy in all our memories. Different times, I guess. It’s probably a good idea we don’t limit the ability to be a pro wrestler to tall people anymore. There’d be like 15 wrestlers.
After the match, Santana attacks Cody with the mad ball (sadly not these), but Arn Anderson and then Kenny Omega and Matt Jackson make the save. That’s when Chris Jericho pops up on the video screen — the Khan Tron? — and reveals the group has apparently assassinated Nick Jackson via loading dock door:
AEW’s Twitter gave a medical update on Jackson later in the night to say he’s not dead, somehow, but that he’s, “ruled out indefinitely.” I’ve come to learn that when a Young Buck suddenly disappears from shows it means they’re about to have another kid. They’re Hanson-esque in that ability, and hey, more power to them. Prioritizing family is a nice thing to see from pro wrestlers. For us, though, it means The Elite are down a member heading into Blood and Guts. Who in the world could take THAT spot?
In a totally unrelated story, AEW World Champion Jon Moxley says the Inner Circle is too focused on Blood and Guts and he’s now in their blind spot, which should scare them. It’d be perfect for the story if the Inner Circle worked this hard to injure one of the Young Bucks and keep them out of War Games only to have Jon goddamn Moxley be the replacement. I mean, it could also be Sting, though, so we’ll keep our eyes open.
To make matters worse for The Elite side, Kenny Omega has a broken hand. That means Hangman Page has to pick a mystery partner for his scheduled tag team match against Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara, and does the completely logical thing in choosing Dustin Rhodes. Dustin’s Elite-adjacent, but he’s also kind of a cowboy guy. He’s just cooler and more chill than the Bucks and Omega and even though he might not have their high OVR ratings, he’s still a borderline top guy without sacrificing any of the crowd connection or relevance.
They probably would’ve done better if Page had talked to Dustin at some point during the day, but it is what it is.
Rhodes is also a great substitute for Omega when it comes to combination finishers, as he trades in the sandwich attack of the tag champs’ combo for BONUS FLIPS:
Getting hit with that must feel like falling down a flight of steps. But yeah, Hangman and Dustin (team name: Dusty Trail) get the win by flipping Sammy Guevara, flipping him for real, and the situation devolves into another Inner Circle beatdown. This is the third Dynamite in a row to end with the group attacking everybody and standing tall, by the way. Two weeks ago it was Jericho DDT’ing Moxley onto a scale, and last week was the Shield powerbomb on Moxley.
This week they try to put Hangman down with the same Shield powerbomb, but Matt Jackson makes the save. He takes too much time trying to cheekily gain some kind of emotional revenge on Page by giving him the finger, which distracts both of them and gets everyone beaten down again. This is good stuff, but none of it’s as instantaneously priceless as Jericho drinking a beer and yelling eeeeeh I’m a cowboy. He did wrestle his first match ever as “Cowboy” Chris Jericho, so he’s not wrong.
When is The Elite going to get their shit together? How many episodes of Dynamite in a row are they going to let end with Chris Jericho and his gaggle of good-natured, good-looking guys giving everybody Shield Birds?
All In: Death Triangle On His Sleeve, Lets Me Know The Truth, Lets Me Know The Truth
Last week’s most notable moment was the formation of DEATH TRIANGLE, the super trio of PAC and the Lucha Bros. and quite possibly the most metal middle school marching band ever. Their dominance continued on Dark (which I wrote about this week, and you should read about here), and they follow it up with another decisive win on Dynamite.
I don’t know if AEW’s going to introduce a Trios Championship as their “secondary championship” for whatever roster guys aren’t competing for the AEW or Tag Team belts, but it’d be a hell of an idea. Lucha Underground did it well, and I think AEW could do it even better. Look how many trios they’ve already got, you know? The Elite, The Inner Circle, SCU, The Dark Order, Stronghearts, Best Friends and Orange Cassidy, Jurassic Express, MJF and some combination of his cronies, The Nightmare Family, and so on. Now you’ve got the goddamn DEATH TRIANGLE running around, having entertaining-ass matches with even trios that haven’t been established, like Private Party and Joey Janela. Frankly I’m always happy to see Private Party make Dynamite.
I don’t know if Janela’s the trios partner they need, but they came up with some fun stuff before falling victim to the new funniest slash best move in wrestling: The Death Triangle Death Triangle. It’s prow wrestling CONGRUENCE.
Pretty sure I first saw this hold in Eyes Wide Shut.
All In: Stunt Casting
In other Trios Division (?) news, MJF keeps his momentum going by teaming up with The Butcher And Also The Blade And Also The Bunny to defeat Jurassic Express. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the heels win it off a referee distraction and MJF tapping out Marko Stunt with his “Salt of the Earth” Fujiwara armbar. The crowd LOVES the damn Jurassic Express, and Marko being in the squad gives them a completely logical out any time they need to be one of the most visually interesting and engaging concepts on the show and still lose. Jur-ex really need to put Brian Cage in a stegosaurus costume or something and get a stronger third.
In The Middle: Bea Aggressive
I don’t share Emily Pratt’s disdain for Bea Priestley (although I am more of a Jamie Hayter fan), but I don’t have a lot of analysis for Nyla Rose defeating her two top contenders for the AEW Women’s Championship in a tag team match only to get attacked and threatened by her own tag team partner. It’s a creative way to pivot to the next rivalry, I guess, especially if Big Swole’s just forgetting she wanted the championship a couple of weeks ago (more on that in a sec). Coming back from a replay to Rose on the ground and Priestley randomly stomping her was pretty funny though.
It still doesn’t feel like AEW has much of a vision for their women’s division and seems like they’re making it up as they go, which isn’t ideal. Hoping they can find the true, undeniable centerpiece of the division soon. WWE really drained the well of available women’s wrestling talent with NXT, global expansion, and randomly occurring tournaments.
Finally, here’s Big Swole showing up to interrupt Dr. Britt Baker’s declaration of Salt Lake City as a city of inbred blue collar squares. At this point I’d almost rather them stop doing Britt interviews like this every week and just do a Britt and Tony Schiavone version of The JBL & Cole Show. Just replace Being The Elite with 20 minutes of Tony and his frenemy dentist co-worker going to coffee shops so he can stand around awkwardly in the background while she insults the room for having trench mouth.
Baker tries to get at Swole with the line, “the only person in your household wrestling cares about is your boyfriend,” which is wrong for two reasons: Swole and her boyfriend are actually married, and I don’t know if you watch Raw, but wrestling does not care about Cedric Alexander.
(note: don’t get me wrong, it should, but so far his biggest story has been, “lost a match where he pretended to be a janitor.”)
(secondary note: “our significant others don’t even GO HERE” is a weird foundation for a rivalry)
All In: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
If Hangman ever gets sober, he’ll be The Ex-Malted One
Jericho dandily sipping a beer saying “I’m a cowboy” is me playing Red Dead
And here’s Death Triangle with the Death Triangle off the album Death Triangle
Cody + Hangman = Team No Regerts
The Rhodes family crest is a picture of a razor blade with the words “Blood Runnels Deep”
Britt Baker’s draining out the whole salt lake onto this crowd
This scene right here with Death Triangle post-match murdering PP/JJ looked like a Dark Order human furniture scene gone wrong in a Cronenberg manner
It’s amazing to me that MJF is just about to turn 24. I remember my 24th birthday party and I essentially had the maturity of a 19 year old and was still doing keg stands. Dammit, he’s right, he’s better than me and I know it.
I had no idea that Nick Jackson was 60% tomato paste
Man, these two hours have just flown by, I wonder what’s been happening in the rest of the world tonight?
………. oh, no
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) March 12, 2020
So you’re saying [squints] you’re the Exalted One?
That does it for this week’s column. 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 as we continue the build to AEW Blood and Guts. Presumably followed by AEW Good Shit, Pal.
Be careful out there in our dangerous and confusing world, and we’ll see you then. Take care of yourself like you would if you knew Britt Baker was about to cut a promo on you.