Previously on the Ins and Outs of AEW Dynamite: Chris Jericho debuted The Lexicon of Le Champion — not what lexicon means — and ended up agreeing to a match with noted piece of shit Jungle Boy. Also, AEW now comes with even MORE spooky goth cults!
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, originally aired on December 11, 2019.
All In: Mean Ambrose
Maybe I’m projecting, but there’s something about the Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley relationship that just works. I think it has to do with the fact that Moxley literally “broke out of prison” and arrived at All Elite to reinvent himself from the ground up as this no-nonsense — okay, some nonsense — ass-kicker, and most people buy it and are intimidated. But Jericho (and to a lesser degree, Jack Swagger) are deeply familiar with the previous life of Jon Moxley, and treat him accordingly. That’s not to say they disrespect him; it’s the opposite, really. They know he’s got a pretty notably fragile psyche and can lash out with tremendous feats of violence, but is also prone to the wacky, comedic, low-stakes bullshit that Chris Jericho practically invented. So Jericho approaches him like a wounded animal, physically and psychologically, and tries to appeal to his deeply internalized “good nature.” It’s a better plan of action than just trying to sneak attack him all the time. At some point you learn to stop trying to sneak attack a dude who was in The Shield.
So yeah, I don’t think anyone believes Moxley’s seriously going to join Chris Jericho’s self-aggrandizing group of young Latino hunks and a large Caucasian who’s probably been cast as a mute so he doesn’t slip up and say how much he hates them. But the intrigue of Jericho actually kind of understanding Moxley and trying something other than glass attacks and running knee strikes is a positive one. Plus, it’s the kind of episodic storytelling where they give you enough to actually move the story forward (note that this wasn’t just another week of staredowns), but keep enough in the tank to keep the show interesting until, let’s say, the end of February.
All In: Jungle Love
Jericho’s hubris shows up later in the episode, though, when he’s presented with a challenge he’s not taking seriously: that piece of shit Jungle Boy.
Jericho sits in on commentary for Jurassic Express’ top guy (by a lot), Luchasaurus, facing Inner Circle’s bottom guy, Sammy Guevara. Jake Hager is also there, and gets rid of Tony Schiavone and Excalibur like they’re human rights. AEW not letting him talk is one of the best things they do. Jericho adds helpful notes such as Luchasaurus not being a real dinosaur, because he’s wonderful.
Anyway, Luchasaurus gets the win, which triggers an Inner Circle run-in. This turns into a faction vs. faction thing, with Jungle Boy randomly rolling Jericho up in a hurricanrana, and Marko Stunt “counting the three.” It’s all about the mind games here, and creating the possibility that yeah, anybody can beat anybody on any given night, and Jungle Boy might have a shot against Jericho. Strangers things have happened. Of course, the story isn’t about whether or not Jungle Boy will win next week, but about whether or not he can “last 10 minutes” with the champ. “Can they last 10 minutes” matches are a territory classic, built around the conflicting hope of the babyface and the embarrassment of the far superior heel not being able to put them away. It’s a good way to build a guy who hasn’t gotten any one-on-one victory love yet, and a great setup for the heel getting mad enough to give him a championship rematch to prove it was a fluke. And then, of course, the champ wrecks him.
All In: Jobbers With Purpose
Here’s a surprising callback I wasn’t expecting!
Alex Reynolds of the Beaver Boys (who are actually called “The Beaver Boys” on this episode, possibly for the first official time) loses to Jon Moxley in record time to open the show and spends the rest of the night commiserating in a nearby hotel. I can’t explain it beyond goth occult magicks, but the Dark Order is somehow able to propagandize to him about preferring the Jay White Supremacists to a career as enhancement talent. Via the hotel guide channel! Is that what Pop TV is now? Although it has a URL for joining the Dark Order in the upper corner of the screen while we’re watching Reynolds be magically harassed by the cult, so are we ALSO being magically harassed? Is it propaganda inception? Are we looking into a mirror and seeing The Warrior?
It’s a nice use of in-universe cause and effect storytelling, and giving your jobbers personalities and motivations, even if they’re just jobbers, is positive. Not all of your recurring characters have to feel like they’re supposed to be stars, which is why WWE’s in such a weird place right now. They worked so hard convincing you that even dudes like Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins and Heath Slater were future World Champions or whatever that they feel less like humorously bad-at-this characters and more like missed opportunities, whether they were ever actually intended to be something or not. And the jobbers who show up don’t even qualify as that, so they don’t feel like “real wrestlers.” They feel like extras. Give your loser characters identities and you can use them as losers as long as you want with no stress. See the entire second half of the 20th century for examples of this, and talk to any wrestling fan you know about their favorite jobbers. If they watched wrestling in an era where those actually existed, I bet they’ve got one.
The Mulkey Brothers, if you’re asking.
All Out: Goth Lampshading
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) December 12, 2019
You can’t be management and a spooky goth cult. I know you want to be Stephanie McMahon and Triple H and have simultaneous “real-life” kindhearted business mogul personas and larger-than-life “wrestling gimmicks” on the same show, but it doesn’t work for them, either.
I bring this up because of this Brandi Rhodes promo, wherein she attempts to explain her position in the company as a spooky witch and runs down the promotion’s women’s division. I think the most egregious thing here is her mentioning that Riho just isn’t around right now, but not actually, you know, explaining why Riho’s not around. Wouldn’t you know? This isn’t Glee, you can’t just point out the problems and treat it like you fixed it.
You’re also gonna have to accept some of the more broad possibilities trying to book yourself as the general manager and also something Geralt of Rivia would hunt and kill for 300 crowns. Like … okay, Brandi Rhodes attacked Allie and cut her hair. Nobody does anything about it, because she’s management. What’re they gonna do, file a complaint with human resources? So then Allie starts dressing like someone Sander Cohen would invite to a party and recruits two background guys from Sin City to attack Brandi’s husband. Only those storylines aren’t supposed to connect, so … what are we doing, guys?
In addition to some sound techs and a quicker turnaround on online media — I’ve usually gotta wait until deep into Thursday afternoon to post this column if I want any official YouTube clips — I think the thing that would benefit AEW the most right now is having a person who keeps track of continuity and how all the storylines play/interact and can communicate simple things like “is it or isn’t it a title match” without having to also be on-screen talent. I know it’s for by the boys, for the boys, but can one of the boys buy a clipboard, keep some notes, and send some e-mails?
All In: The Butcher And The Blade, Two Things That Made Bruiser Brody Matches Better
As for Allie’s Eyes Wide Shut contingent and Cody Rhodes, they (via the rich kid machinations of a guy named “Max”) debut as a tag team against Cody and a partner of their, i.e. MJF’s, choosing. That turns out to be QT Marshall, who would objectively be considered the lowest ranked guy in All Elite Wrestling if (1) those pre-show battle royals from early pay-per-views didn’t exist and weren’t STACKED with embarrassing-ass dudes, and (2) a guy who has never won a match in AEW wasn’t challenging the World Champion next week.
Anyway, it turns out to be a really enjoyable tag match, because they do what all of Cody’s AEW matches do: tell a story. He’s the one guy you can guarantee is walking into the ring with a narrative he wants to communicate, and will wrestle specifically to do that. Here, the idea is that you assume The Butcher and The Blade are just gonna murder (possibly literally) this poor enhancement guy who was specifically put into the match because he doesn’t win matches. Marshall over-performs, though, and Cody does everything he can to overcome the odds AND rely on this guy having a star-making performance via some combination of nerves and latent ability. Marshall goes for a big twisting Swanton that doesn’t really connect and even tries a very bad Space Flying Tiger Drop, but he’s TRYING IT, you know? It’s like Ricochet got shot up with a bunch of horse tranquilizers before he wrestled. It’s like they pulled a guy off the street, tasked him with being Kenny Omega for a night, and he tried his fuckin’ best. Loved it.
Unfortunately, Bobby Boucher and Wesley Snipes are eventually able to isolate Marshall and put him away. Darby Allin shows up afterward and offers Cody Rhodes a hand, which he probably could’ve used more when a Sexy Bunny was jamming her Lee press-ons into his eyeballs, but it’s all good.
So with this match we get (1) the logical progression of a story that (2) integrates multiple stars and feuds, (3) gets over a new team by having them actually win a match instead of falling victim to “odds overcomers,” (4) maintains the difficulty of having to “overcome the odds” in the first place, because singles stars going full-on head-to-head with tag teams for 15 minutes is stupid as shit, (5) gets a low-level guy some exposure with a personality and some shine, and (6) ties back into one of Cody’s previous matches where he was ostensibly the bad guy, now hopefully having learned his lesson about underestimating people. That’s clutch utility.
Now that Cody’s been properly humiliated and knocked down so many pegs he’s basically enhancement talent for a debuting tag team, MJF, a guy with a huge inferiority complex who can only feel good about himself if he tears people down, agrees to face Cody in a match. He’s only going to face him under certain stipulations, though, which we aren’t going to find out about until AEW goes back to Jacksonville. I hope he challenges him to a Molotov cocktail match.
Last week, Cody called out MJF for being fake. MJF fires back at him with some insults about his bad dye job and his “shitty little lisp,” and takes offense to fans thinking his scarf is fake. It’s not that it’s fake, man, it’s that you’re Marge Simpson. You found an expensive scarf on clearance somewhere and you’ve been rocking the same one over and over ever since. Actual rich dudes own more than one scarf. That’s the joke. Also that they sell that scarf at the Dollar Tree.
— Felix (@RFelixFinch) September 19, 2019
All In: Street Fighters
I’m sad the Young Bucks didn’t wear their Ken and Ryu costumes this week.
The main event of the show is a street fight between the Bucks and Proud and Powerful to determine who’ll face SCU for the Tag Team Championship on next week’s, “please let us win the ratings on the last live show of the year,” edition of Dynamite. NXT’s running Adam Cole vs. Finn Bálor and Shayna Baszler vs. Rhea Ripley in title matches, so AEW’s running a tag title match and making Jericho wrestle.
I liked the format of this, where they just started fighting right away and kept fighting until it was over. There wasn’t a lot of “stand around setting up the next spot” stuff like in a lot of hardcore matches. Moxley vs. Omega, I’m looking in your direction. That shit was 15 minutes of wrestling and 30 of setting up the next spot. There are multiple callbacks again, too, from Brandon Cutler taking the Ricky Morton Memorial Powerbomb Through The Stage to the dive off the stage through a table, mimicking multiple instances in the feud including PNP doing the same thing backstage a few weeks ago. They also manage to use and also spit on a Dallas Cowboys helmet, which is more interesting than normal when you remember you’re basically watching The Jacksonville Jaguars Present Wrestling.
The Bucks win, which I think was a good call. At least one of “The Elite” needs to act Elite on these shows. Kenny Omega’s struggling with losing his marbles all the time, Cody’s story is about how he’s now enhancement talent at the whim of the bottom of the roster and can’t challenge for the championship, Adam Page straight up left the group, and The Bucks seem like they lose more than they win. They went out in first round of the tag title tournament and everything. I don’t want early 2000s Triple H dominance from the bosses, but I wouldn’t hate seeing the guys we’re constantly told are the best wrestlers in the world prove it beyond the vaguer, out-of-universe artistic merits of “having good matches.”
I would also like to thank the main event for involving the Dustin Rhodes vs. Jake Hager beef, which gave us the tweet of the night:
Dustin Rhodes is the most fuckable man in wrestling.
— Stoya (@stoya) December 12, 2019
[blinking white guy dot GIF]
Also On This Episode
Big Swole makes her Dynamite debut against Emi Sakura and wins in just under 11 minutes. Swole is great, but as we’ve learned from AEW Dark, she can’t seem to wrestle a match under 10 minutes. I think the low point here for me was Excalibur making a Freddie Mercury reference for Sakura and Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone yelling WHAT???? and being totally confused, as though they haven’t watched this woman come to the ring cosplaying as Freddie Mercury and wrestle with a mic stand for like two months.
I’m still not totally sure what the overall story and vibe of the women’s division was supposed to be, or how the rankings are supposed to work in relation to who does and doesn’t get title shots. I don’t think anybody understands, really. Ignoring all of that to the best of my ability, they’ve added a bunch of very good talent recently (Swole, Statlander, hopefully Jamie Hayter soon), so hopefully this’ll all settle and figure itself out. The rankings are a cool idea and I think it’s even a good aesthetic choice to have wins and losses on record and displayed, but I think it’d be better for everyone if they just backed up a little on the not they MATTER thing and let wrestling work on both stats AND dumb grudges.
Finally we’ve got Kenny Omega and Adam Page, who are teaming but not on the same team, teaming up against Kip Sabian and Shawn Spears. Sabian and Omega had a match on Dark this week, Omega’s being challenged to a rubber match by PAC while teaming with a guy who beat him pretty authoritatively, Adam Page is cockily tagging himself in to steal wins for himself because he’s a COWBOY who does COWBOY-STYLE SHIT, and Shawn Spears is Shawn Spears. He’s caught up in a beef with Joey Janela, who distracts him by tying up Tully Blanchard with some hilariously easy to escape ropes. Hey Tully, did you try standing up?
There’s a lot going on here, but it was probably the least interest in something I was all night. Omega’s character only seems to work when he’s having BIG GIANT MAIN EVENT ANIME SUPER FIGHTS, so when he’s like, jogging in place and taunting to set up a move against a dude like Kip Sabian, it seems like overkill. Maybe that’s just me. Omega doesn’t seem to be able to turn off the character enough to fit some of the matches he wrestles, despite him clearly being a very, very good wrestler. Sometimes you just wanna see him go in there like PAC and wrestle a dude until they’re done. I don’t think you have to be evil or sinister to fight without doing a bunch of Team Rocket mannerisms.
All In: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Baron Von Raschke
Best tackle by a Cowboy in Dallas all season.
Can we get Jake Hager to do commentary for one of the main roster shows? They could really use his unique voice at the table.
Dr. Wagner jr. and Britt Baker need to battle over who is the beast and highest recommended by our HMO. Harmful Murder Organization
Good thing Adam Cole wasn’t at a particular location of ringside during that “Dirty Dancing” cause nobody puts Bay-Bay in the corner.
“Wouldn’t it be great if Jericho, Hager, Santana, Ortiz, Guevara and Moxley joined forces? And that’s why I want you to buy Omaha Stakes. I know when I want to buy a steak, I always go to…”
I hope Jericho is still salty about the sixty nine thumbtacks
“One is wearing a trash can on his head, one is wearing a helmet”
Yes JR, but it’s a Cowboys helmet. So they’re really both wearing trash cans on their heads.
no one never learns that in a wrestling match if you set up or help set up a table you’re probably going through it
QT is Morse code for “Takes the Pin”
The Voice of Raisin
So disappointed it’s not Lethal Leapyear.
Miss you, Southpaw. Anyway, join us in February for REVOLUTION, presented by AEW, Shane Douglas, Perry Saturn, and Dean Malenko!
Thanks for reading this week’s Ins and Outs of Dynamite. Drop a comment, give us a share, and tell your friends to watch/read about a show other than Raw and Smackdown. Wednesdays nights are so good even the “worsts” are relative and constructive. One night a week without existential dread is my Christmas gift for 2019.
See you next week, for the season (?) finale!