Previously on the Ins and Outs of AEW Dynamite: AEW had one of those magical shows that’ll be really hard to live up to or top going forward. It’s not every week that your wrestling show ends with a bloody moonsault from the sky, you know?
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 26, 2020.
In The Middle: Iron Out The Details Later
Let me Compliment Sandwich this so it’s easy to take for anyone who disagrees.
First of all, let me say how grateful I am that there’s currently a non-WWE, primetime pro wrestling show ambitious enough to run a 30-minute Ironman Match with their entire first half hour. Especially when it involves talent like PAC and Kenny Omega. My PAC love is well documented going back to 2012 NXT — without his championship run between Bo Dallas and Sami Zayn, NXT would not exist in its current form — and I agree with the general wrestling public’s assessment that Kenny Omega is one of the best athletes and performers in the sport when he’s not doing the couple of things he does that make me make a Mr. Yuk face. The parts of this match where they’re just throwing bombs at each other based on months of shit-talk and hatred (from PAC, with general indifference from Omega) were really good. They do some stuff in this match that human beings shouldn’t be able to rehearse and just do, like this bit where PAC counters the One-Winged Angel so Omega turns it into a stalling Croyt’s Wrath:
Not to mention PAC’s top rope brainbuster, which might be the best superplex adjacent thing I’ve ever seen. I also generally like the story of a heel not being able to put away their opponent even once in an Ironman Match and deciding to do the “attack them with a weapon” disqualification gambit, where you give up a fall assuming you’ll hurt them badly enough to win back two. It didn’t quite work out like that for him and just kept everything even, but the idea was there.
The problem with the match, at least for me, is twofold:
- the internal logic kinda falls apart if you think about it for more than a few seconds, and
- it’s the WrestleMania XII finish
Nothing says “we’re the alternative” like doing the exact finish of one of your competition’s most famous matches on their biggest show. They kind of go together, too. In case you missed it, the match ends with Kenny Omega in PAC’s Brutalizer, taking a ton of punishment so he can run out the time and end the match on a tie instead of losing it. A small gesture of heroism to save face and stave off defeat. When it’s over, PAC angrily knocks out the referee, and suddenly Justin Roberts sticks his finger in his ear and gets the message that UM ACTUALLY the match will CONTINUE NOW under SUDDEN DEATH RULES. While PAC is like, “I’m sorry what,” Omega sneak attacks him, hits him with a bunch of knee strikes and the One-Winged Angel to easily win in a minute. It’s the WrestleMania XII Ironman Match finish, wherein Bret Hart ended the match with Shawn Michaels in the Sharpshooter and assumed that since ties go the champion, he’d retained. So he lets it go and starts leaving the ring, but Gorilla Monsoon shows up and is like, “the match will now continue under sudden death rules.” And then Shawn just kicks Bret in the face and pins him. The people in charge just decided to change the rules on the fly without informing the competitors that it’d happen like this before the match started, because they wanted to fuck over one of them under the guise of “giving the fans what they want.” I’ve been salty about it for 24 years and I don’t think that’ll ever change.
It’s especially bad here, because of the already iffy understanding of Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks as active competitors, but also the de facto “authority” of AEW. They’re all Executive Vice Presidents and aside from Tony Khan handing out awkward backstage hugs, there are no visible authority figures besides them. So it’s already unfair when the Bucks are at ringside to physically help Omega back in the ring to avoid a count-out (especially when the referee is watching them do it and PAC, the clear heel, is out there going it alone), and ESPECIALLY so when the Executive Vice Presidents are helping the other Executive Vice President, and when the match is over, some unseen authority suddenly orders the match to continue so Omega, who was gonna straight-up lose if the time hadn’t run out, can get an unfair advantage and win.
“Sudden death” as a concept would be fine and something PAC “should’ve expected” (per some tweets I got in response to being a triggered Bret Hart fan about it on Wednesday night) if (1) the match stipulation had been established and agreed upon beforehand — Justin Roberts’ language could’ve been tweaked from “I’ve just been told” to “per the agreed-upon stipulation” or whatever — and if (2) PAC didn’t work for a company that repeatedly emphasizes their time limits and has had a number of time limit draws without overtimes. It’s even WORSE than WrestleMania XII, because that one “had to have an overtime” because it was the championship match at the end of WrestleMania. What was the purpose of giving PAC vs. Kenny Omega with nothing on the line an overtime every other match doesn’t get unless you’re just helping Kenny win?
Trust me, nobody agreed with me 24 years ago, either. I retroactively reserve the right to say this is brilliant when we find out The Elite’s actually a completely evil authoritarian group who’ve just been pretending to be good dudes all this time, and they’re mad at Hangman Page because getting drunk helped break their mind control. Honestly, most of it goes back to AEW needing to work on building out the rules of their universe and establishing the power structures, and not relying on our vague understanding of “how wrestling has worked before” to inform decisions like this. You can’t be the alternative if you’re running on the same operating system as the competition.
To give you the other piece of bread in this compliment sandwich, I’m glad that the wrestling match that made me type angry paragraphs came from wanting it to have more structure and transparency, as opposed to, I don’t know, the wrestling being boring and terrible. It absolutely was not either. Plus, the Bucks being out there to clearly save Omega from losing — doubly so if they’re the ones who ordered the match to be continued so Omega could win — it adds a lot of energy to their tag team feud with Omega and Hangman Page. We got to see them go from “you’re our best friends in THE WORLD” to “you were just a jobber in Ring of Honor and we made you” in like 30 seconds, so I could easily see them also flipping out on Omega because he’d be getting shit on by PAC forever if they hadn’t moved mountains to help him physically and professionally in the Ironman Match.
I don’t know if they’re putting that much thought into it, but it’s there. All in all, I don’t feel like I wasted my time watching it, even though it made me mad. Wrestling’s supposed to piss off wrestling fans sometimes, and it’s better to get pissed off because they want you instead of because you have standards and pay attention.
Speaking of this sit-down interview …
All In: Apathy Vs. Intensity
Macaulay Culkin sure has gotten weird lately.
After PAC loses the Ironman Match due to [vaguely gestures], Tony Schiavone attempts one of those WCW-style Mean Gene Okerlund post-match interviews where Gene would be like, “you LOST, how can you SHOW YOUR FACE now in front of these fans, after ALL YOU’VE FAILED TO ACCOMPLISH, how HUMILIATED you must be, you LOSER.” Before PAC can break Tony’s spine and make sure he never dances again, a wild Orange Cassidy appears. Orange is like, [hands in pockets], so PAC forearms him in the goddamn jaw.
Later, Orange shows up (still selling the injury from an earlier segment, which makes him more thoughtful than most of the roster of any current wrestling show) and makes sure to be the best part of the match between The Butcher and The Blade and The Bunny and The Best Friends. To continue their intense rivalry — second only to Cody and MJF, if we’re being honest — The Bunny steals Orange’s shades, and he responds by stealing her bunny ears. That sets up a suicide dive in the ears that the referee almost certainly saw, and The Best Friends capitalize to win. And again, at least here the babyface interference happened in response to heel interference. Note: I would also accept everyone getting a manager and being allowed to use them once, like assist trophies.
After that match, we get confirmation from Schiavone that PAC vs. Orange Cassidy will happen at Revolution, and followup confirmation from Chuck Taylor that Orange is “gonna try.” Three things:
- I love that “he’s gonna try” gets a huge pop and a chant from the audience
- Orange Cassidy “trying” against PAC could honestly steal that show, and take Cassidy another step closer to being the most beloved person on the brand
- can Chuck Taylor also have that conversation with WWE sometime
All In: The Outer Circle
Jurassic Express has a fun trios match against the Inner Circle that you’ll like or dislike based almost entirely on how willing you are to accept anything Marko Stunt does as a legitimate offensive move. I go back and forth, but I loved their Triple Tech moves, and I especially enjoyed Stunt leaping through an upside down legs to clear room for an axe kick/Vertebreaker combination. 1/3 of a trios match like this is a great use for Stunt, because he can get in and get out and do his stuff but not expect us to like, believe he wouldn’t be immediately murdered by any full-sized adult wrestler doing anything. But again, wrestling’s not real, so it’s situational. I’m like, “I don’t believe this athlete’s legitimacy,” when he’s literally teaming with a college-educated wrestling dinosaur. I am the problem.
I didn’t love that there was another distraction finish, but at least the bad guys earned it. Sammy Guevara’s planning to flog Jungle Boy with Satana and Ortiz’s madball, so Darby Allin shows up to yank it out of his hands. That ruins Guevara’s planning and equilibrium, so he falls victim to Jungle Boy’s Desperation Hurricanrana and gets pinned. Darby Allin was making saves all over this show. It’s funny that the moral arbiter of the wrestling show is the skateboarding skeleton kid. He’s like the Black Racer for the New Gods.
Darby shows back up as part of the show-ending brawl against the Inner Circle, caused by them jumping Jon Moxley during his and Chris Jericho’s “weigh-in” for Revolution. Real quick, you don’t need weigh-ins if you don’t have weight classes. But it’s a fun enough way to do a “contract signing” without having to do the same old contract signing bit every time. Dustin Rhodes ends up brawling up onto the arena concourse with Jake Hager, Sammy Guevara breaks Darby Allin’s skateboard over his head as a bit of extreme sports karma for what happened earlier, and Jericho (after getting busted open by Mox’s surprise headbutt) gives Moxley a Paradigm Shift onto the podium thing holding the scale. That’s the hardest part of the podium thing holding the scale!
As it stands, the segment did a good job of tying in a bunch of stories for the pay-per-view this weekend in a concise kind of way that also included Gary Michael Cappetta (yesssss) and Jericho getting the name of Kansas City’s quarterback wrong to piss them off. Oh, and while we’re talking about those two things, Jericho’s the only person I’ll accept bagging on the death of WCW, as from his point of view they super deserved it.
All In: Jim Ross Tries To Figure Out Where He Is And What’s Going On
Jim Ross sounds like me when I see what the guy at the next table ordered at Cheesecake Factory pic.twitter.com/lPit25sSwq
— Steve (@NotDrDeath) February 27, 2020
In addition to this moment which I think works better without any context or explanation, Jim Ross popped me with a return to the infamous Dippin’ Dots violence from way back on October 23. Outside of maybe Skittles, I don’t think there’s a food product JR cares about more.
— Kenton (@Kenton_la) February 27, 2020
All In: The Women’s Division Gets A Segment!
Finally we’ve got a fatal four-way match involving Hikaru Shida, Big Swole, Shanna, and Yuka Sakazaki. And speaking of Jim Ross making ridiculous calls, the highlight of the night for me was Excalibur once again being forced to explain the concept of a “magical girl” to him. I seriously want Yuka Sakazaki to appear on enough episodes for Ross to become an anime purist, and for him to get into lengthy, breathless arguments with Excalibur and Tony Schiavone about Cardcaptor Sakura.
I was waiting for the official account to post this, and they never did. But the most vital part of tonight's Dynamite was Excalibur explaining to an old man who's never heard of anime what magical girls are in terms he might understand (followed by stunned Boomer Sooner silence) pic.twitter.com/lE1zVyVX8k
— Daryl Surat (@DarylSurat) February 27, 2020
We’ve gotta talk about magical girls every time Sakazaki appears, but Shanna’s out here cosplaying Goku every week and nobody mentions it. In the interest of, you know, mentioning the wrestling, I’ll add that Hikaru Shida gets the win with a running knee strike on Big Swole. That’s the right call, and as much as I want an adorable genie to be the focus of the women’s division going forward, Shida is far and away the best joshi option. I mean, until someone at All Elite Wrestling smartens up and signs Lulu Pencil.
All In: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Page anytime he’s in the same room as The Elite:
The Real Birdman
*The Elite go backstage to find Hangman with a case of beer*
Nick: “Oh nice, you planned a post match celebration for Kenny’s win!”
Hangman: “I what now?
JR: We’re going pitcher-in-pitcher!
Hangman: Way ahead of ya, RJ!
Odd choice for PAC to wrestle in his street clothes
Excalibur having to explain to the rest of the announce team the nerdy weeb nonsense that wrestling has become is low key one of my favorite things in AEW
The Voice of Raisin
Those girls in the ring have already done enough to qualify for the WWE Hall of Fame.
Are we sure Yuka isn’t a Final Fantasy side character you have to do a mission chain for to add her to your party?
Props to the guy dressed like OC that went the extra mile and got a shirt made with a picture of himself dressed like OC on it. I admire that commitment to the bit.
I approve how AEW is refreshing our memory of a coherent storyline that’s been playing out over the last few months, instead of showing us the second repeat of stuff that happened 45 minutes ago.
Baron Von Raschke
Cody: Okay, Tony…you don’t have to interview Britt Baker tonight.
Tony: Thank you, Cody
Cody: Um, you have to interview PAC after he loses to Omega.
Tony: Guess I better make out my will.
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 here this weekend for our complete coverage of AEW Revolution. Results, a full recap column, breakouts, the works.
And then join us next week, when everybody dies. See you then!