Previously on AEW Dynamite: Chris Jericho bought a single ticket that got four guys from the Inner Circle seats, snuck everybody into a skybox, and ended up with a face full of Dippin’ Dots for his troubles. Also, Lucha Bros. and SCU advanced to the finals of the AEW Tag Team Championship tournament.
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. Follow With Spandex on Twitter and Facebook. You can also follow me on Twitter, where everything and everyone is terrible.
And now, the Ins and Outs of All Elite Wrestling Dynamite, episode five: The Inner-pire Strikes Back.
All In: For Halloween, AEW Dressed Up Like WCW
This week’s episode of AEW Dynamite, and I say this with all the love in my heart, was the most WCW show they’ve ever done. I don’t mean that in an “nWo beatdown/aw nuts we’ve gotta go” Nitro kind of way, I mean it in a Quentin Tarantino homage kind of way where everything that happens is a thematic or visual reference to something that came before it. Let me explain.
The core of the bit is that Chris Jericho and Cody Rhodes are having a contract signing for their AEW World Championship match at Full Gear. Jericho, being Jericho, shows up in a David S. Pumpkins jacket. Cody keeps Jericho waiting by arriving to the city in a private jet and riding to the show with Tony Schiavone in a limousine. Jericho pops me by calling Schiavone “SHE-a-voan” for the first time in like 20 years, and he “keeps it professional” as a ruse to distract Cody and let the Inner Circle jump and injure Dustin. I don’t like AEW doing “contract signing” bits, but at least they put their own spin on it, and did something less expected.
But on the homage tip, as a WCW fan I felt like I was Neo looking at the Matrix during all of this. The new match stipulation — that if the match goes to a draw, a panel of ringside judges will decide the winner — echoes Sting vs. Ric Flair at the first Clash of the Champions. Tony Schiavone and Cody Rhodes riding to the show in a limousine to have a serious talk about the upcoming championship match is the same shot as Ric Flair and Mean Gene Okerlund riding to the arena to have a serious talk about Flair’s upcoming championship match with Vader at Starrcade 1993. Dustin Rhodes getting his arm broken when a heel faction slams it in a car door? Looks a lot like when The Enforcers jumped Barry Windham before Halloween Havoc 1991 and broke his arm in a car door. Which was funny, because who was in the car with Barry? Dustin Rhodes. Hell, even the shot of Tony waiting outside of the private plane mirrored Mike Tenay looking for Ric Flair before Flair’s big return to Nitro in Greeneville, South Carolina. Wild. Cody really is as much a Flair as he is a Rhodes, somehow.
Oh, and Jake Hager is low-blowing people now, but that’s a Bellator reference, not WCW. My only real complaint is that they fridged Dustin immediately after teaming him up with Sonny Kiss, which should’ve been a permanent and regular thing.
All In: Khan Artist
Jon Moxley doesn’t have much to do on the show, but I seriously appreciate him angrily approaching management about having another of his matches made “unsanctioned.” He already had his match with Joey Janela at Fyter Fest, which he won, made “unsanctioned,” which in normal wrestling terms just means “anything goes,” but in AEW wins-and-losses-matter terms means, “it won’t count.” Now they’ve made his match with Kenny Omega at full gear unsanctioned, and if he wins, that’s another pay-per-view main event that won’t count as a win on his record. I’d call bullshit, too.
Mox’s version of “calling bullshit” is showing up later in the evening to destroy one of The Librarians, aka AEW’s lowest hanging fruit. Attacking Alex Marvez would’ve been a tougher challenge. Brother got lie-buried. Leva Bates’ dress was cute as shit, though. Moxley cuts a heated promo where he tells the AEW brass to kiss his ass, and I hope if wins and losses are gonna matter going forward, they come up with a catch-all “hardcore” stipulation that doesn’t make Jon Moxley’s matches not matter when you’ve got dudes in corporately-sponsored matches on the mid-card pouring thumbtacks into each others’ mouths.
All In: Ricksploitation
Speaking of corporate sponsorship and SYNERGY~, Best Friends and Orange Cassidy dress up like Rick, Morty, and Cool Rick to squash QT Marshall and the Beaver Boys in like three minutes. I’m okay with the cross-promotion (which included Rick and Morty-themed ring posts and turnbuckle pads) because they kept it short, used it as window-dressing for fun characters that are over but are (currently) largely inconsequential, and because it gave Orange Cassidy a match in prime-time on cable television. “Orange Cassidy” and “Justin Roiland’s improvised stammering” are high on the list of things I like a lot and don’t care if you hate.
You know, you’d think those stuffed-ass veterans who get mad about Orange Cassidy doing “fake shit” would applaud him for getting sustained, massive reactions everywhere he goes and across the world for doing almost nothing. Doesn’t that make him the smartest dude in the business? He’s better at not wrestling than most people are doing everything they know, and there are guys who’ve been main-eventing WWE cards for years who’ve never gotten ONE reaction like O.C. got last night.
Also, Good Wrestling Happened!
‘Hangman’ Adam Page guesses all the letters correctly and defeats Inner Circle’s Sammy Guevara in a show opener that I liked a lot, but was probably too distracted by Poppy and Io Shirai on the other channel to fully appreciate. Still, Adam Page is gonna do some cowboy shit and take PAC’s head off at Full Gear! He’s gonna get hungry and leave no man untested!
I’d comment on how easily PAC should be able to defeat Page ten out of ten times, but seeing as how the pay-per-view is named after an Adam Page joke from Being The Elite, Hangman’s probably going to win. Although Shawn Michaels lost at D-Generation X and The Rock lost at Rock Bottom, so maybe not?
Hikaru Shida and Shanna — Portugal’s perfect athlete, which is my favorite wrestling nickname now that Wesley Blake stopped calling himself a “real, live cowboy” — have a really good 11-minute match that probably would’ve torn the house down if (1) we’d ever seen or heard of Shanna on AEW TV before, or (2) they’d put any effort into giving Hikaru Shida a backstory or personality. It’s just wrestling for the sake of wrestling, and while I certainly dig that, I can see why a lot of folks don’t. Still, it got a women’s match onto this sausage party of an episode, and that’s good.
Speaking Of The Women’s Division
Last week, Brandi Rhodes pulled THIS Wicked Witch of the West face …
… so I wrote this:
After the match, Jamie Hayter’s “I feel BADLY about LOSING” promo gets cut off, super randomly, by an attack from Brandi Rhodes. When Jenn Sterger tries to get some answers, Brandi goes full Wicked Witch of the West on her and does … something? You can see the GIF above. I don’t know if she’s putting a pox on her house or what, but I think that vaguely defined wrestling Satan all those skulls and darkness wrestlers worship lives inside Brandi right now. Super weird. Somebody put the The Fiend Attacks music to it.
This week, they … do?
— Brandi Rhodes (@TheBrandiRhodes) October 31, 2019
Maybe I’m reading this wrong, but is Brandi Rhodes going to get really into dark magicks and learn how to transform herself into the Awesome Kong? Is it going to be an evil Bruce Banner and the Hulk scenario? Of all the Pentagons and Jack Evanses and Jack Swaggers on the roster, Brandi Rhodes is the last person I was expecting to go full Lucha Underground.
All In: Proud-n-Powerful Are Sneaky-n-Sassy
It was a big night for Ortiz and Santana, the number three and four hitters in your fantasy baseball lineup.
First up, NWA Powerrr‘s own Rock ‘n’ Roll Express — one of my all-time favorite and one of the very best tag teams ever, who I recently described as, “very ugly teen heartthrobs in their 60s who love rock and roll” — show up to present the winners of the AEW Tag Team Championship tournament with title belts and get jumped from behind by Ortiz and Santana. They beat down Robert Gibson collapses like a house of cards immediately, but poor Ricky Morton, always down for a beatdown, takes a sock full of quarters to the gut and gets powerbombed through the stage.
Well, a very safe part of it. Still, who thought we’d see Ricky Morton on TNT in prime-time taking a Mae Young Dudley Boyz spot? I’m just sad they didn’t get to finish their promo, because I wanted Rick and Morty to meet Ricky Morton.
With that legitimate heel reaction under their belts — Inner Circle is killing it with the actual heel reactions, instead of just being cool Undisputed Era guys like every other faction in wrestling — PNP returns to beat down the Young Bucks after their trios match against Kip Sabian and tHe HyBrId tOo. In case you missed it, Kenny Omega showed up in full Undertale cosplay, featuring a Sans mask and a passive-aggressive video game video where the New Japan logo yells at him about abandoning Kota Ibushi’s silhouette.
It’s the most fun Omega’s been so far, and I like that they’re steering away from having him be a super serious bruiser or a crazy person or whatever and are leaning into what’s going to make him a likable presence on US wrestling TV: being a legitimate nerd who is very, very good at wrestling. The Bucks wear their recycled Street Fighter II outfits because they’ve got kids and shit, and only have time to be dorky about so many things.
PNP uses the Rick and Morty masks handed out to the audience (and Young Bucks t-shirts) to commit tag team subterfuge and sneak up on the Bucks, punching some seriousness into them ahead of their match at Full Gear. Inner Circle are some true assholes, and I hope once Kenny Omega’s done negating Jon Moxley’s competitive record, he dresses up like Hero from Super Smash Bros. and destroys them all with his ridiculously unbalanced and OP moveset.
All Out: I Was Saying SC-Boo
The only part of the show I didn’t love, honestly, was the main event.
There’s nothing wrong with SCU, but putting SCU over the Lucha Bros. in the Tag Team Championship Tournament main event to crown the first-ever champions felt like a huge misstep. Maybe it had more to do with honoring the lifetime achievements of some of southern California’s most influential veterans, or maybe it had to do with Pentagon and Rey Fenix being in too many companies at once to really rely on them as the faces of your tag team division or something, but man, I would not have missed an opportunity to put the tag straps on (1) the coolest, most pissed-off skeleton in wrestling who isn’t LA Park, and (2) his brother, who can do the most insane and impossible-looking things I’ve ever seen a pro wrestler do. Dude’s transitional move is running down the top rope to hit a strike.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) October 31, 2019
Plus, Fenix and Pentagon were on last night. I’ve compared Rey Fenix to Dragon Kid a lot in that when they’re on, they’re the best wrestler in the world, but they’re only “on” maybe 3/4 (in the case of Fenix) or half (in the case of Dragon Kid … okay, maybe 3/8) the time. Fenix was STUPID good last night, though, and Kazarian was having a glaringly “off” night, which just made the difference between them more glaring.
Don’t get me wrong, the story makes sense. They had to do it for Christopher Daniels, who was injured and taken out of the tournament by the heel team, and wrestling shows, especially the ones on cable in prime-time, need more examples of the heroes winning and standing tall. But yeah, now that SCU can forever say they were the “first-ever AEW Tag Team Champions,” I’d have the Luchas scoop those titles right back up at Full Gear. Scoop ’em right the heck back up.
All In: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
Dave M J
…you know, if this were WWE, the Dark Order would cause a No Contest, and we’d have a Triple Threat for Full Gear.
“Look Cody, I know you’re worried about Dustin’s arm. But you still have ME! The outside world is our enemy, Cody. We’re the only friends we’ve got, Cody. It’s just MJF and Cody. MJF and Cody and their adventures, Cody. MJF and Cody forever and forever. Cody’s things. Me and MJF and Cody running around, and MJF and Cody time. All day long, forever. All a hundred days. MJF and Cody forever 100 times. Over and over, mjfandcodyadventures.com. All 100 years. Every minute, mjfandcody.com.”
Rick and Morty is a lot like wrestling, i love it, love most of its fans, but holy shit are some of them toxic
Wednesday night’s wrestling is making everything pale in comparison.
Baron Von Raschke
THIS IS THE WORST TOWN WE’VE EVER WON A TITLE IN!
I swear, as soon as Jericho signs that contract, it will be revealed that Dean Malenko has been disguised as Cody this whole time and he will tear off his disguise.
ORANGE: Look at me Chuck. I turned myself into a Rick. I’M ORANNNNNNNGGGGEE RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICCCCCCCKKKKKKKKK!
The Real Birdman
How is Adam Page not related to DDP on this show?
I haven’t heard emotion like that from Mox since the earliest Shield camcorder promos. I got friggin goosebumps over here.
It feels so, so good to love professional wrestling again.
Nobody’s going to believe New Japan Pro Wrestling’s where you go to feel less pain, logo.
That’s it for this week’s Ins and Outs of Dynamite. They’re five for five so far! Drop a comment in our comments section below (where the comments go) (for the comments), throw us a share on social media to get more eyes watching and reading about All Elite Wrestling — they can’t survive on that Hot Topic money alone — and be here next week for more obsessive WCW cinematography comparisons. It’s fun for ONLY ME!