Previously on the Ins and Outs of AEW Dynamite: Cody Rhodes took ten lashes from MJF and Wardlow, Dr. Britt Baker DMD did invasive dental surgery on Yuka Sakazaki, and Jon Moxley went full Hammurabi on the Inner Circle’s Santana.
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 12, 2020.
Mostly In: The [Vague Gesture] Tag Team Division
Up first this week is the AEW Tag Team Championship rematch between the former champions, SCU, and the current champions, Kenny Omega and Hangman Adam Page. First things first, shout-out to the poor soul who bought second row, camera-side seats to the first AEW Dynamite in their hometown and ended up sitting behind a giant Scooby Doo head the entire night. Second of all, whether I liked the match or not, it’s good to see Adam Page getting treated like a huge star by just doing classic “cowboy moves” like clotheslines and big boots. It makes a lot more sense for a cowboy guy than shooting star presses off the ring apron, doesn’t it? And hell, the Buckshot Lariat compliments the V-Trigger for what can only be described as the Pokémon evolution of DIY’s Meet In The Middle:
… but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Omega and Page successfully defend the Tag Team Championship against the former champs in one of those matches you kinda have to have, and they do a good job with it. They keep the action moving along, for better or worse, and continue the extremely pleasant trend of starting every episode of Dynamite with a match. Starting wrestling shows with wrestling matches, who knew? I probably didn’t like this as much as a lot of folks, because I’ve come to accept that SCU just isn’t my bag, but it’s fun, and solid.
They also manage to allow the match to exist on its own, but still build a bunch of stuff on top of it to keep the stories moving forward. Omega and Page are an unstoppable force as a tag team, but Hangman’s not a guy you can really rely on right now, so it’s always on the verge of falling apart. SCU is never at full strength these days because of Christopher Daniels’ preoccupation with the Dark Order, who appear via video before the match to lure him away, and show back up at the end. The Dark Order appearance brings out Best Friends to stand beside the Daniels-less SCU, evening it up at 4-on-4. But then The Butcher And Also The Blade And Additionally The Bunny show up as well, followed by Jack Evans and Angelico, followed by the Young Bucks. Ultimately, the post-match is a JOIN US THIS SUNDAY FOR THE ROYAL RUMBLE-style sell for next week’s number one contender tag team battle royal.
I also couldn’t help but notice that Tag Team Battle Royal So White. I guess the Lucha Bros., Private Party, and Santana and Ortiz just stayed in the back and didn’t come up with a reason to get into a pull-apart with an incel cult.
All In: Rose Up
Before I actually talk about the match, I just want to use exactly two (2) sentences to say that it’s really cool to see a transgender, Native American wrestler win the women’s championship for a major wrestling promotion on cable TV. Trans women are women, and if you’d like to explore and discuss the dissenting opinion, I’m sure you’ll be comfortable on the worst parts of social media.
So, in the second championship match of the night, Nyla Rose manages to finally unseat Riho, giving us the first new Women’s Champion for AEW since its creation. I know a lot of folks were clamoring for Riho to drop the title, but I always enjoy her when she’s actually on the show doing things. I probably want joshi to be a part of mainstream American wrestling consciousness more than most, but it’s not ridiculous to say the two best singles matches in AEW women’s division history were Riho vs. Nyla Rose on the premiere of Dynamite, and Riho vs. Nyla Rose last night. They’ve got a lot of chemistry together in the ring, even when stuff starts to get/look dangerous, and they do David vs. Goliath better than I’ve seen it done anywhere else in the promotion. Given Rose’s new association with PAC, PAC’s rivalry with Kenny Omega, and Omega and Riho winning AEW’s first seafaring intergender foggy camcorder match, a mixed tag down the line (or at Revolution) seems like a given. Especially after all that post-match shit-talking. “All your base are belong to US, Kenny.”
Speaking of that, I thought Leva Bates being the only person in support of Rose’s win was adorable, especially given that Rose completely destroyed her back in December and briefly caused her to explore the dark world of books as weapons.
Why is The Bunny back there, though? Shouldn’t she be headed back to her mysterious butcher shop or whatever? I never quite understand what AEW’s more ridiculous characters are supposed to be doing when they aren’t on screen. Also, what in the world would Britt Baker have to say to ANY of these people? I hope she was the one that gathered them, and seconds before Rose got back there she was righteously dumping on them for whatever they do for day jobs.
Do not make Tony Khan a TV character and leave Luis Fernandez-Gil unemployed, AEW. Seriously.
All In: Dental, Damn
Speaking of DBBDMD, she continued her ascent to legendary heeldom by going after the two things Austin, Texas, holds dear: the Texas Longhorns, and Whataburger.
If I listed what I liked about her latest passive-aggressive dragging of AEW and its fans on the corpse of Tony Schiavone, I’d just be transcribing it. They should just put her on commentary for the entire show so she can insult everyone who shows up for being uneducated dorks with bad teeth and no health insurance. Bless the wrestling dentist for finally leaning into how much we should all hate her for being that, and for justifying her attacks on someone’s teeth by saying she’d done an impromptu dental exam in the middle of the match and had graciously decided to perform oral surgery on them for free. BLESS.
Somewhat In: Diamond Dog
I’ve kind of written about it before, but my favorite thing about the MJF character is that he’s not particularly good at wrestling, and fails upwards due to some combination of cheating, privilege, and demanding it happen. He’s the epitome of “fake it til you make it,” to the point that he needs a bodyguard to hand him a battle royal-themed diamond ring to clandestinely knock out the second best guy from the dinosaur team.
That’s simplifying it, but it’s part of what makes him so easy to hate. He can’t do ANYTHING, whether it’s wrestle or speak or interact with fans, without making you make a face like you just smelled a fart. I like to think he’s a villain on a pro wrestling show because there are literally no other jobs on earth that fit his skill set. This is also a good combination of characters for a match on Dynamite, as Jungle Boy’s basically the babyface version of MJF already; fair, beloved by the fans without ever talking, dynamic in the ring, and the friend (as opposed to employer) of a big weird guy. More classic pro wrestling stuff.
By the way, Brandi Rhodes is on commentary for this and is now completely divorced from the Nightmare Collective angle without explanation. I guess they didn’t really explain why it started either, or what it was about? It’s the right call, but couldn’t you guys find a random minute of Dynamite to air the character development stuff from social media that explains what the hell’s going on to the audience? For real, make time for that shit. Use whatever time you’re using for Being The Elite to put that much effort and development into what’s going on on your actual primetime network television show.
All In: Excalibur Vs. Improper Television Watching
— Jacob Michael Politte (@jacobpolitte) February 13, 2020
All In For Sammy Guevara Vs. Dustin Rhodes, All Out For Jack Swagger Still Being A Thing
It was a weird choice to have Sammy Guevara lose in a decisive fashion this close to him facing Darby Allin at Revolution (which we learned more about thanks to a forcibly mute Allin goofing on Guevara’s picture-in-picture messages). At the same time, it was the BEST decision to have Dustin Rhodes wrestle as himself in his hometown for the first time in forever and get treated like wrestling royalty for a change, which he deserves, full stop.
I don’t want to see Jake Hager wrestle … ever again, if we’re being honest, but (1) Dustin “shooting” on him to get him to agree to a match at Revolution was impassioned and great, and (2) it feels like we’ve been building to one Jake Hager match or another since he first stepped foot in the company with no payoff. So if you’re gonna get him in the ring, get him in the ring, you know? I hope it ends up being Dustin vs. Hager vs. Luchasaurus, because if ‘The Savage’ Jake Strong is going to murder another wrestling thing I love, he might as well have a Lucha Underground guy in there with him when he does it.
Santana’s Eye Was A SACRIFICE, TO THE GODS!!!
Let’s talk about the main event, and everything around it.
Jim Ross’ sit-down interview with Santana regarding last week’s eyeball-skewering was tonally all over the place. Santana’s a henchman in a heel group serving a larger story, and the legendary ring announcer sits down with him to talk about Santana’s father losing his sight as a teenager and how much that affected him. It’s the kind of thing you’d think they’d use to build some sympathy for the guy, but they follow a sad story from the guy’s real life with, “and that Chris Jericho’s a real jerk.” The point seems to be that Santana has created a pretend motivation to beg for unearned sympathy for his injury by … creating actual sympathy? Like I said, it’s a bit all over the place. If JR had been doing things like this for weeks you could argue that the sit-downs are supposed to serve a variety of purposes and just help us get to know the wrestlers, but it was a bit of storytelling whiplash.
Somewhere in the middle of the show, Chris Jericho does a backstage interview where he reveals he’s enlisted the help of an independent bounty hunter, or whatever, and announces the AEW debut of Jeff By God Cobb for next week’s Dynamite. Cobb even gets a cool video package equating his wrestling moves to being burned to death by lava. You’re like, “hey, I should tune in next week to see Jeff Cobb’s debut!”
And then … uh, Jeff Cobb debuts! Okay!
Jon Moxley and Santana have a Half Blindfold Match — basically a normal match with no depth, so … Smackdown, I guess — that turns into a FULL Blindfold Match in its final moments. They do the finish to the Jake Roberts vs. Rick Martel blindfold match at WrestleMania 7, and then the Inner Circle attacks.
You’d think some of those guys who ran out to stand up to the Dark Order would also still have beef with the actual top heel faction actively protecting the dirtbag World Champion and causing chaos across the promotion (as well as currently beating down the top babyface challenger, who only has one good eye, like 6-to-1), but Mox is on his own, apparently. That’s when Jericho brings out Jeff Cobb, who I guess is debuting NOW, so thank goodness he had that video package a minute ago! Cobb trucks Moxley, and the Inner Circle once again ends Dynamite standing tall.
Again, this mostly comes down to me slash us being trained to expect wrestling storytelling to go one way, and then having it feel “bad” or uncomfortable to us in some way when it doesn’t. We’re not the best culture at dealing with subverted expectations. It’s probably the fact that everything in the history of every kind of entertainment is available to us at the push of a button. Like, there’s nothing really wrong with announcing Jeff Cobb for next week to get everybody hype and then bringing him out THIS week, especially if you’re using his early appearance to add hype to the match you’re gonna have. It just feels like they maybe didn’t trust the audience enough to get from point A to point B? I don’t know. I need to try to be more forgiving of alternative styles of TV storytelling, especially since so much of it leaves me high and dry on a regular basis. So yeah, I’m somewhere in the middle on how all of this was put together, but hype for Jeff Cobb, and excited for Cobb vs. Moxley.
GET INSIDE, PAC, YOU’RE GOING TO CATCH A COLD.
All In: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Jeff Cobb = 2 Bo Dallas’s
The Real Birdman
Big compliments to AEW cutting bait when things aren’t working. Face Britt Baker, Nightmare Collective, Dark Order (with Evil Uno as the leader)
It’s a welcome change from instead of just constantly shoving it down our throats until we lose the war of attrition
Baron Von Raschke
It’s really amazing how AEW has built at least three PPV matches (Cody/MJF, PAC/Omega, & Jericho/Moxley) without the participants meeting in matches every week leading into the PPV.
ShopAEW User Reviews: I got my wife the Hangman Adam Page “has been drinking” shirt for valentines day
She still won’t let me see the kids
The sailors say Brandy, you’re a fine girl, you’re a good wife to Cody….but I never…want to hear you….on commentaryyyyy.
The Voice Of Raisin
Britt needs to start wearing a necklace of her opponents’ teeth.
Britt Baker is about to ask to speak to the audiences’ manager
An eye for an eye match the only match where the finger poke of Doom would make sense.
At this point, Britt’s entrance should be a high-pitched drill sound.
Renee: “Jon, honey… have you seen my black thong?”
i don’t see how that’s any of your business, chyron
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, joining a goth wrestling cult, and then unjoining it without explanation.
See you next week!