Previously on the Ins and Outs of AEW Dynamite: The Inner Circle, who are extremely bored, organized a fake TikTok dance challenge for a tiny bottle of Walgreens hand sanitizer. Plus Matt Hardy revealed he can morph between “essences,” and MJF reported in about his career-threatening hangnail injury.
And now, the Ins and Outs of All Elite Wrestling Dynamite for April 29, 2020.
All In: This Week In Rhodes Boys Pathos
As you can probably tell if you’ve ever read anything I’ve ever written, my favorite version of pro wrestling is the ’70s and ’80s southern American version built around stories of fired-up underdogs, violent and ugly hosses, consequential match-to-match storytelling, and emotional, bloody payoffs. Not everyone enjoys this type of product, and I get it. I really do. There’s next to no place for it in the modern professional wrestling landscape. But AEW does it sometimes, almost exclusively with the Rhodes family, and it is my forever jam.
This week’s show uses the semi-finals round of the TNT Championship tournament to press all those buttons. Up first is Cody (Rhodes) vs. Darby Allin in the third match of their unofficial series. I’ve read some criticism of Cody going over again, because clearly Darby is one of the hottest young acts in the company and deserves a huge spotlight, but I like how they’re building it. The first match was built around Cody being a little overconfident and underestimating Darby, then getting too deep into the match to actually finish him off. It was Darby “going the distance,” a la Rocky. In the second match, Cody was forced to take Darby seriously, and respected him enough as a performer to wrestle him on the level and win with mostly counter-wrestling. In the third match — this one — Darby does better than ever, but makes … well, I won’t call it a “rookie” mistake, necessarily, but he starts rushing and gets ahead of himself. He could’ve tied Cody up in the Last Supper, which is how he’s been winning a lot of his matches lately, but he needs to prove to himself that he can beat Cody clean, and goes for the Coffin Drop. He hits it, too, but Cody uses his veteran know-how to roll over onto his side, slide Darby back onto his own shoulders, and pin him.
On paper I probably would’ve had Allin go over here too, but obviously the finale of the tournament is destined to be Cody vs. Lance Archer. That’s the primary story going into it, and it’ll be the primary coming out. So I think the callback to the Allin and Rhodes rivalry here was a good one, and gives Darby another thing to obsess about and plan over as he figures out how to make the transition from promising young star to Main Event Talent. It’s sports, y’all. Sports tropes and stories can be just as fulfilling on the wrestling show as soap opera plots, and, at least to me, are almost always more rewarding in the long run. Sports stories get endings, even if they’re just temporary. Soap opera plots just keep going, and there’s almost never a point, because there’s almost never an end.
On the other side of the tournament, we have Lance Archer versus Dustin Rhodes. I don’t think you need to be a Wrestling Journalist™ to know where this one is going.
The only thing Archer wants is a match with Cody Rhodes. Cody’s ducked him, kind of, claiming Archer can’t just waltz into the company without much of a North American resume to speak of and demand a match with an EVP. Then Cody’s on Dark wrestling Joe Alonzo for some reason, and there’s enough of a shade of grey that you start thinking maybe Cody is ducking him. Because why wouldn’t you duck him?
Archer ends up in a semi-finals match against Cody’s older, more seasoned, but more emotionally tumultuous older brother. In 100 out of 100 scenarios, this ends with Archer making Dustin bleed a whole bucket’s worth of blood and clawing him in the face while Cody gets increasingly worried and/or terrified at ringside. What I love the most about the match is that it fridges Dustin a little, yeah — he’s mostly here as a plot device for somebody else’s more important match — but it makes him look GREAT in the process. It goes over 20 minutes, and Dustin shows that he’s still good enough to go toe-to-toe with even the toughest and angriest guys in wrestling. And seriously, if you want Archer vs. Cody to be anything but a squash, you’ve got to show that Archer’s able to keep it up and win long matches against top-level opponents. If Cody and Dustin was a war, and you want Cody and Archer to be one, it only make sense that Archer and Dustin would at least be in the same ballpark. Plus, is there anybody as good at bleeding and making you feel badly about it than Dustin by God Rhodes?
So yeah, there’s some match ending drama revolving around QT Marshall, who should not face Lance Archer ever under any circumstances, wanting to throw in the towel. Cody arrives to stop him, and then Lance is like, “I’m gonna take the towel away and throw it at YOU, and then squeeze your brother’s face until he’s a bloodless husk.” Cody cradling his apparently dying brother in his arms while Archer stands there staring at him and saying mean shit and smiling is A++++ professional wrestling.
(Thank you for making my dorky, aging ass your target demographic sometimes, AEW.)
All In: The Spears Family Sharpshooter
Shawn Spears, confronted by the reality that the COVID-19 disaster has separated him from both Tully Blanchard and the quest to find a regular tag team partner, is slowly realizing he should cut the Librarians-level AEW Dark shit and start winning wrestling matches. This week he defeats Baron Black, not to be confused with Captain Britain villain the Black Baron, with the best looking “Hart Family” Sharpshooter we’ve seen on TV in ages. Possibly because every member of the Hart Family is either old, passed away, a complete nutcase, or Natalya.
Bonus commentary goodness from Chris Jericho and Skee-a-vone, who are slowly becoming the 2020 equivalent of Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon:
“Look at that, wow! Look at the control he’s got of his gluteus maximus there, Tony.”
“He was twerking! HE WAS TWERKING!”
“He wasn’t twerking, he was flexing! And looks who’s … Anna Jay in the background, he’s giving Anna Jay the best seat in the house, no pun intended!”
In Enough: Friends Vs. Roommates
It didn’t set the world on fire or anything, but Best Friends vs. Roommates For Some Reason in a no disqualification, no count-outs match with Penelope Ford and Orange Cassidy doing their things was a fun quarter-hour of plunder-based mostly-empty gym violence. It ended up playing a lot like a very low stakes TLC match with Orange (playing the role of Rhyno here) taking out SUPABAD and SUPABAD so Chuckie T could hit an Awful Waffle on Havoc.
This would’ve gone up a few levels with a crowd. That first AEW live crowd after quarantine is going to lose their goddamn minds about literally anything Orange Cassidy does, aren’t they? He’s going to turn his head slightly and they’re going to react to it like it’s Hogan vs. Rock at WrestleMania.
Additional Jobber Squashes Of The Week
Wardlow, who is already one part Goldberg and one part Brock Lesnar, adds some Batista to his moveset to defeat Musa. I guess it’s more Sami Callihan than Batista at this point, but Wardlow continues to be AEW’s best e-fed wrestler created by a 13-year old named “Wardlow” who just started watching wrestling. And that’s “Musa,” not to be confused with “Masa,” who is a fat ass.
In all seriousness, Wardlow’s got a tremendous upside, but at 6-2 260 he’s got an uphill battle to be the scariest monster in a company with Lance Archer, Brodie Lee, Jake Hager, and a number of other bigger, stronger, more threatening dudes that dwarf him. He’d already be a 3-time ECW Heavyweight Champion, though.
Speaking Of The Exalted One Mr. Brodie Lee …
Brodie’s full name with titles attached is larger than Marko Stunt. That’s what you get for prioritizing your Savage Land friends and not getting in on the ground floor of an incel cult, I guess. Join us next week when Marko tries a casadora on a full-sized grizzly bear.
All In: Making Wrestling Make Sense
Just wanted to take another moment to say how much I love these Technique by Taz segments. They exclusively make the product better. So much of professional wrestling is bullshit, so if you just take a second to explain some of the gestures, hand placements, and mannerisms, you can make even the most ridiculous wrestling things make some approximation of sense. You could just say “he picks them up and throws them at the ground,” but there’s real value in breaking it down further.
I always think about when Gordon Solie called a match between Tracy Smothers and a bear — not the one who will maul Marko Stunt next week, as this was from 30 years ago and bears only have a lifespan of 20 or so years — and turned what could be the dumbest and most carny wrestling idea into a compelling physical narrative.
“Bears of course are natural wrestlers, no question about this, they instinctively know a snapmare, a leg sweep, they don’t know some of the finer holds such as a Figure-Four, or what have you ,but all of the basic holds are natural with them. And this bear, although he’s very amiable by nature, once he gets competition, stand-up competition going, he just naturally wants to wrestle. And you can see there, he went for a leg sweep.”
NO HE DIDN’T. Haha, I love you, Gordon Solie.
Extracurricular Goofs Of The Week
Dr. Britt Baker DMD and the Inner Circle are neck and neck for me in the “most entertaining segment produced outside of QT Marshall’s plague-resistant gym.”
Britt’s — sorry, Dr. Britt’s — builds on her previous “role model” segments by expanding the geography of her office, introducing her “make-up artist” “Reba” (actually Rebel, aka TNA’s Rebel), and having her not even be able to get through her own self-aggrandizing puff-pieces without going into control freak mode and dumping on everybody. I’m disappointed that she was just straight up insulting Tony Schiavone instead of lovingly condescending on him for his own benefit, as she’s been doing, but maybe her character was having a bad day. I think my very favorite part, besides maybe her walking through the background and stopping to micromanage Rebel’s interview while still completely out of focus, is this poster which I not only want, but hope she actually has hanging up at the office:
Then we’ve got the MANITOBA MELEE, the Inner Circle’s followup to the critically acclaimed FlimFlam dance challenge. Just watch it, it speaks for itself. Participants in the Melee, if you’re wondering, are:
- The Inner Circle, obviously
- Librarian Peter Avalon, tripping over his patio furniture
- Jungle Boy, swinging in and accidentally creating the first vine Vine
- Sonny Kiss, who HOORAY finally made it onto Dynamite again
- Dr. Luther, who kinda loses that ORIGINAL DEATH DEALER aesthetic when you see him filming TikTok memes in a suburban neighborhood
- WCW alumnus and Inner Circle paterfamilias Ted Irvine
- Lou Ferrigno, winner of the El Dandy lookalike contest, with a taser
- Corey Taylor from Slipknot
- Duff McKagan from Guns N’ Roses, accompanied by Hanna-Barbera noises (?)
- Jay’s hetero life-mate, Silent Bob
- Comedian Gabriel ‘Fluffy’ Iglesias
- Comedian Brad ‘Fluffy’ Williams
- Comedian Ryan ‘Fluffy’ Niemiller
- Living Legend Soultrain Jones
- James Garretson from Tiger King, sans jet ski
- a bunch of women in bikinis hanging out with James Garretson because he was on Tiger King
- Manitoba Melee winner Vickie Guerrero
I can’t wait to see how they keep topping these.
Finally, Jon Moxley gives the AEW Championship a great nickname (“Big Platinum”), puts over Renee Young, and reminds us that next week’s AEW Dynamite will be live. He doesn’t mention Jake Hager beyond ragging on him for losing, thank Christ, says some threatening things about anyone who “steps to the champion” (guaranteeing that somebody jumps him next week), and reminds us to call our grandmothers. I wish I could, Mox! Look out for a random attack from Brodie Lee next week!
All In: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
The Assassination of Tony Schiavone by the Dentist Britt Baker
brb, updating Vickie Guerrero’s Wikipedia page to mark her as 2020 Manitoba Melee Le Champeon
Baron Von Raschke
Lou Ferigno….with a taser…in the backyard!
That is the most 70s game of CLUE ever!
MOX: CALL YOUR GRANDMA!
ME: They’ve both been dead for almost 15 years.
MOX: OUIJA BOARD!
I like to imagine that at some point backstage Marko hit on Brandi and Cody has never forgiven him.
“Hey, we got this new guy Killshot McMurder. Who should his first match be agai-”
“Marko Stunt. Stunt/McMurder. Now.”
This is like watching a Backyard wrestling Deathmatch on YouTube.
Two people literally throwing themselves into random objects for the enjoyment of like 15 people.
Brandi’s Dustin outfit is a lot better than her Cody outfit
“He punched him in the face! I like that!” Jericho continues to be amazing simply by calling the matches like they’re real, it hurts, and he enjoys it.
Jericho suggesting hitting the ref because there are no rules is a new peak for even him.
Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer
Okay, that rope walk moonsault was impressive
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. Here’s what you’ll see:
- AEW World Champion Jon Moxley vs. Frankie Kazarian
- Kenny Omega and Matt Hardy vs. Le Sex Gods in a street fight
- MJF returns
- Marko Stunt wrestles a cinderblock tied to his ankles after being thrown into the ocean
See you then!