Previously on the Ins and Outs of AEW Dynamite: The first AEW Revolution pay-per-view gave us a new AEW World Champion in Jon Moxley, a gospel choir singing ‘Judas,’ and Cody Rhodes getting a giant Nightmare Family decal on his neck. Plus, Hangman Page whooped both the Young Bucks’ asses.
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 February 26, 2020.
All In: Fozzy As A Red Herring
Chris Jericho lost the AEW World Championship at Revolution, and he’s losing his goddamn mind about it.
Dynamite opens with Jon Moxley looking like a complete bad-ass with his Revolution battle scars and an AEW Championship belt he somehow didn’t leave at a Longhorn Steakhouse the weekend he won it, talking about how it represents, professional wrestling, the sport that he loves. Pro wrestling is maybe the only business or popular pop culture thing where saying what it is feels like you’re being defiant. You can’t stop a football game to get on the mic and be like, “I play professional football,” and have the crowd be like, “oh my God I can’t believe he said it!”
Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is that Moxley’s quickly interrupted by Jericho, who is on full post-championship loss freakout mode. He’s accusing Moxley of being a cheater because he said one of his eyes was injured, causing Jericho to specifically prepare for a one-eyed man. I guess he was removing spikes from his jacket and jabbing all his sparring partners in the face so he could create an accurate scenario. He also calls Mox a “pharisee,” which is an incredibly Chris Jericho thing to call somebody, and accuses him of exposing the formerly, “good-natured and very good looking guys” in the Inner Circle to become rage-fueled assassins. The best part is that he starts upping his own ante by saying that if Moxley can leave the night’s main event under his own power, Jericho will leave AEW for 60 days.
Why’s that the best part? Because Fozzy recently announced their summer tour dates, and if you’re a longtime fan your first inclination is to assume it’s like when Jericho was in WWE, and mysteriously left television every time there were concerts to play. I can’t tell you how many, “oh gee I wonder if Jericho’s gonna have to suddenly leave wink wink,” tweets and posts that popped up after he said it. I’ll be honest, I assumed that’s what was happening too.
Moxley shows up for the main event and gets jumped by three “fans” in hoods and masks, who continue beating him up well into the arena concourse without incident before revealing they’re, get this, the Inner Circle. I’d like to think Jericho gave some Inner Circle insider in the AEW security team a heads up that this was going to happen, because if not, it looks like any group of decently sized fans in official All Elite Wrestling merch can attack the wrestlers at will as long as they don’t reveal their identities.
Anyway again, Moxley gets beaten down and choked out by concessions, leaving Darby Allin to face Jericho and Sammy Guevara on his own. At the risk of overstating it, I don’t think they could’ve designed this match to make Allin look any more like a super hero. The kid was on fire here, wrestling two guys with the intensity of both the face in peril and his savior. He was Ricky Morton, AND he was Robert Gibson. The moment where he gives himself the hot tag and fires up is one of the most inspired bits I’ve seen on wrestling TV in a long time. That kind of thing might mess around and make you iconic.
You think he might actually pull it off, too, until he dives through the ropes at Jericho and gets fukn rekt by a Judas Effect. Look at this thing in slow motion.
Moxley returns after the match looking to dish out some ARENA JUSTICE but the Inner Circle makes good on Jericho’s show-opening boast by beating Moxley down again and powerbombing him off the stage through a table. To add insult to injury, they all do a group hug version of The Shield’s fist taunt, except with them all giving the middle finger. On one hand, it’s kind of unfair to the audience to taunt Moxley with his WWE stuff since nobody else from that group is going to show up in AEW — can you even imagine Seth Rollins or Roman Reigns considering leaving WWE for a second? — but on the other, most of us know about Moxley’s WWE career, and you assume a guy that used to work with him there would too, so it’s just pulling from some information it’s dumb to pretend doesn’t popularly exist. If they started calling him “Dean Ambrose” as a joke that’d be lame, but passive aggressive hold and taunt usage can work in small doses.
And, as mentioned, Jericho actually making good on his word completely subverts what appeared to be an obvious pro wrestling thing to explain the former champ bailing for a while to go on tour with his band. Who knows, they might call back to it next week and have Moxley challenge Jericho to some double or nothing thing where if Jericho loses he has to be gone for 120 days or whatever, but I liked the work put into nurturing our benefit of the doubt. Not feeling like everything that happens is obvious or completely illogical to avoid obviousness is a really good step for a promotion advertising themselves as an alternative to WWE.
All In: The Resurrection Of Jake The Snake
Brother, it feels good to hear Jake Roberts speak positively about his sobriety and stand in the ring on live TV looking healthy, happy, and motivated by the creative possibilities of pro wrestling. Take a moment out of your afternoon to remember what a saint Diamond Dallas Page is for saving lives like Jake’s.
Aside from that, it should come as no surprise to you that at 64-years old and with a voice that sounds like he’s talking through a pencil sharpener, Jake Roberts can still cut a better promo than almost any wrestler on Earth. Here he shows up to shit-talk Cody Rhodes for crying about his loss to MJF at Revolution, shit-talk DDT rival Arn Anderson for being a “one trick pony,” and introduce the concept that he’s bringing in a “client” (Paul Heyman style) to kick Cody’s ass and take his “share.” No confirmation yet on exactly who that’s going to be, but Jake DID keep calling Cody “Caesar,” next week’s show happens awfully closely to the Ides of March. It could Lance Archer as well, though, as they advertised “more on that and his signing” on this week’s show but never followed up on it. Or maybe it’s Bull Dempsey in a snake costume, I don’t know.
What I do know, though, is that a confident Jake Roberts is a hell of a performer to have on your roster and one of the most brilliant wrestling minds ever born. His appearance here was legitimately surprising, which is a hard thing to pull off in wrestling these days, and I’m way beyond excited to see where it goes.
— All Elite Wrestling on TNT (@AEWonTNT) March 5, 2020
Speaking of Cody, MJF makes fun of Cody’s neck tattoo and debuts a Greg Valentine-style “I PINNED CODY” t-shirt in a promo that JayBone2 in our Wednesday Night Wars open discussion thread hilariously called an “Arkham Asylum death cutscene.” I’ll never be able to unsee it.
It’s also worth checking out Arn’s response to Jake, featuring some low key southern fire and the line, “we don’t stick our head in the winda’ fan to see what’s on the other side.” I want a Charles Xavier and Magneto segment on AEW’s YouTube channel where Jake and Arn play chess and indirectly threaten and insult each other until someone wins.
All In: Hangman Page Saves The Day
Jake Hager vs. QT Marshall is about as unappealing a one-on-one match as you can build with the current AEW roster — maybe Billy Gunn vs. Luther? — but boy oh boy does it get saved in the post-match.
So of course Hager mostly dominates and wins with that head and arm choke he used to submit Dustin Rhodes at the pay-per-view, but he won’t let it go after the bell. Dustin breaks it up, but that brings in the other jerks from the Inner Circle. THAT brings out Cody Rhodes and Matt Jackson, but Cody gets whacked with a chair and Matt can’t really hang with giant-ass Jack Swagger. So out saunters a half-interested Hangman Page with a beer, and there’s some drama based on his tease of a turn on Kenny Omega at Revolution that he might not help the faces. Except he does, making sure to gently deposit his half-finished beer on the ring post before throwing Cowboy Fists.
Hager tries to dump him, so Page does this:
If that’s not enough to make him look like the coolest and most fun wrestler in the company, he celebrates the successful save by finishing his beer and then giving a Young Buck the finger. I’m still not entirely sure how they did it, but Hangman is the undisputed king of this promotion right now and everything he does down to his on-screen graphics is must-see. Crazy. I love it.
All In: The Death Of A Friend
While we’re on the topic of crazy things I love, the homie PAC murks Chuck Taylor and then teams up with the Lucha Bros. to end the Best Friends’ whole career and form DEATH TRIANGLE. Between the Inner Circle and Death Triangle featuring Pentagon Jr., naming heel factions after shapes with adjectives is having a moment.
Also On This Episode
Big Swole makes quick work of The Librarian Leva Bates to keep (presumably?) building her up as Nyla Rose’s next challenger. I hope when the Young Bucks book comes out, Leva starts hitting people with it and accidentally ends up on a winning streak. The highlight here is once against Dr. Britt Baker DMD, who joins the commentary team to throw incredible shade at the wrestlers — “Is Big Swole on her drivers license?” — and bring Tony Schiavone Starbucks. It continues to be super funny to me that the wrestler whose gimmick is “has a day job” can’t stop making fun of wrestlers for having had day jobs, but there’s no way she actually got that from Starbucks. It says “Tony” on the cup, and not “Tawny,” or whatever.
Bringing somebody a coffee is a total face move, though, whether you’re doing it as a joke or not. I hope eventually we find out Dr. Britt actually DOES like Tony, considers him her only true friend in the company because he’s willing to put up with her bullshit without getting confrontational about it.
Finally, we get to the match that actually opened the show: SCU teaming with new AEW hand Colt Cabana against the combined might of the Dark Order. Total combined weight 650 pounds, total combined height, 6-foot-6. Unsurprisingly, Cabana gets the pin with a big smile on his face to establish him to anyone in the TV audience that isn’t already familiar. Surprisingly, though, we’re still not finding out who the Exalted One is. I guess he got stuck in traffic again. Maybe he got an Internet girlfriend and doesn’t feel like being the Exalted One anymore.
All In: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Orange Cassidy may be named after a fruit, but Lucha Bros just turned him into a vegetable.
They need to add two more members to the Death Triangle and then wrestle in DC so it can be Pentagon’s Pentagon at the Pentagon.
Death Triangle is what I played in my middle school metal band
So … does that make Cody, Omega and the Bucks the Oval Office?
Moxley saw his shadow. 60 more days of Jericho.
“Hangman 3:16 says god I wish my friends would actually check in on me. I don’t know man. These days I just feel like they don’t give a shit about me anymore. Like we’re all just going through the motions.”
QT Marshall doing everything he can to keep Dr. Britt Baker away.
“So that’s what that feels like. That’s awful!” – Moxley
Maybe the real Exalted One was the friends we made along the way
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 & GUTS, the precursor to AEW CANDY & NUTS.
Now for a completely unrelated commercial.