AEW Dynamite Recap and Revolution Preview

AEW Revolution is four days away and it feels like the first pay-per-view in the company’s history that feels … scattershot? Less than intentional? For me, AEW’s strong suit, what it does better than nearly every other American wrestling promotion is long-term storytelling. (Excepting the women’s division, which we at Fanfyte have written about a bunch of times.) What does AEW do when the thing they do best is sort of lost? Most of the matches on this card have had six weeks of build or less, which feels like forever in wrestling years but doesn’t take into account the fact that AEW only runs quarterly pay-per-views.

Part of this can be attributed to the “forbidden door,” AEW hosting Impact Tag Team Champions the Good Brothers in a half-baked storyline and helping New Japan Pro Wrestling set up anticipation for its IWGP U.S. Championship match. But instead of pouring gas on AEW’s marquee rivalry, one which has existed since the final moments of its inaugural event and will reach its climax in an EXPLODING BARBED WIRE DEATH MATCH, the show focused on Don Callis’ sly manipulation of Kenny, Kenny’s deteriorating friendship with the Young Bucks, and unsuccessful attempts at humor.

Before I get into this week’s recap, let’s evaluate the card for Sunday’s Revolution event, where I will offer expert, objective analysis try to sound smart while I make predictions.

AEW

Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match for the AEW World Championship: Jon Moxley vs. Kenny Omega (c)

Even though it seems like this would be the match Mox thrives in, I don’t think Kenny will end up having a short title reign after Mox held the world title for nearly a year. That’s not to say I feel Kenny is gonna win clean; I expect significant interference from a certain Not Bullet Club contingent.

AEW

AEW World Tag Team Championship Match: Chris Jericho & MJF vs. the Young Bucks (c)

Most of the build of this match has been in the undercurrent, with Max slowly and deliberately eroding the Inner Circle from within, but this feud was turned into a instant personal issue due to FAMILY HEAT. I personally see Jericho and Max winning the tag team titles in order to deepen the storyline between them, which will more than likely not end well.

AEW

Team Taz (Brian Cage & Ricky Starks) vs. Darby Allin & Sting

Darby is TNT Champion, Sting is fucking Sting, and this feud with Team Taz has been doing on for months. It’s time for it to finally end, with the Goth Superfriends getting their hands raised.

AEW Women’s World Championship Match: Ryo Mizunami vs. Hikaru Shida (c)

Mizunami, in my humble opinion, had an incredible tournament and has showcased in many ways she is worthy of the spotlight, but I feel Shida retains and she eventually gets that huge title match with amazing buildup where she finally loses the women’s title and it will be furthermore treated as more than just an afterthought. The title will main event quite a few shows and it will become the most prestigious championship in wrestling.

Right? Right??

AEW

Face of the Revolution Ladder Match for a Future TNT Championship Shot: Cody vs. Penta El 0 Miedo vs. Scorpio Sky vs. Lance Archer vs. Max Caster vs. Super Secret Mystery Guy

Wouldn’t it be fucking cool if this launched a banger program between Penta and Darby, where they journey into the depths and darkness of their psyches to beat the fuck out of each other through Memorial Day Weekend? I could see that happening … or I could see the TBD entrant or Lance Archer securing the TNT Championship match. I could also see LOLCODYWINS, but I’m actively suppressing that notion.

AEW

Big Money Match: Matt Hardy vs. “Hangman” Adam Page

Hangman is just as good in defeat as he is in the winner’s circle, but I think after having to go the back of the line after losing another chance at the AEW World Championship, this is where he starts to get back on the winning track. At least I hope so. Hangman seems like a very decent dude, and I just want to see him win and drink happy rather than lose and drink sad.

AEW

Tag Team Casino Battle Royale: A Fucking Bunch of Tag Teams

Private Party if the Young Bucks win the tag title match, Silver and Reynolds if Jericho and MJF win. I’m digging heel Private Party, as they have a newfound confidence (a man in his late thirties should never say “swag” unironically) and intensity, and they need to make as much money as they can since Matt Hardy is charging them 30% for his services. I just want to see those young brothers shine!

Chuck Taylor & Orange Cassidy vs. Kip Sabian & Miro

As much as I enjoyed Chuck outsmarting Miro at Kip and Penelope’s wedding, I see Miro continuing to dominate every match he wrestlers. Miro’s first loss is going to be a big deal in a singles match after a long undefeated streak (or whenever he steps into the ring against Orange, the only Big Cass I acknowledge).

AEW

The Buy-In: Riho & Thunder Rosa vs. Dr. Britt Baker & Reba (Rebel)

I think Dr. Baker and Reba (Rebel) are going to win via shenanigans. Dr. Baker is on the rise and I still believe she will eventually become the next AEW Women’s World Champion.

AEW

Shaquille O’Neal & Jade Cargill def. Cody Rhodes & Red Velvet

Opening the show with this match is a bold move, but ultimately pretty smart, given the turns the match has taken; Brandi’s pregnancy leading to Red Velvet’s participation, Revolution running opposite the NBA All-Star Game leading to this match being held tonight rather than at the pay-per-view.

I know there are so many wrestling purists tying themselves into knots about this, but a celebrity tag match is not necessarily a bad way to get more eyes on AEW. Although I would have loved Shaq spit a similar vitriol as he had for Kobe Bryant in the mid-2000’s instead of a handful of half-assed promos on Inside the NBA, but I get it, and it’s safe to say my expectations weren’t all that high for this match.

Shaq was used well; he didn’t leave his feet in the opening moments of the match. Cargill is still relatively inexperienced as a wrestler so her limitations weren’t really exposed; she used her size advantage to allow Red Velvet to run and bump around the ring for her. We’re so used to every wrestler being blandly good at everything nowadays that it was actually kind of fun to watch people with limited skill wrestle a pretty good match. Cargill puts Velvet in a Figure Four while flexing and waving tauntingly at Arn Anderson, which is a look I love for her. Inexperienced but overconfident; it works!

Cody pulls Jade off of a pinning attempt and dives over the top rope to crossbody Shaq through the tables Cargill and Velvet set up earlier in the match. Jade eventually hits Velvet with a chicken wing face buster, which wins the match for her team. Not a bad match whatsoever, considering Cody has years more experience than all three others in the match combined, and he wasn’t even the highlight of the match!

Shaq lay motionless on the broken tables from the moment he fell through them and throughout the break. After the break, Shaq was loaded into an ambulance, but when Tony Schiavone tries to get a word, he finds that Shaq has mysteriously disappeared. I want some follow-up on this. I want Shaq’s head to be wrapped in gauze on Inside the NBA tomorrow night. I want footage of him leaving the ambulance holding his ribs like Rambo or something.

AEW

PAC & Rey Fenix def. John Skyler and D3

It feels unfair for PAC and Fenix to be in tag matches as the most supercharged wrestlers in the world. They make brutally short work of their opponents, which is no surprise to anyone.

AEW

The Inner Circle Hold a Press Conference

Led by Chris Jericho and MJF, the Inner Circle make their way to the ring and field questions from representatives of Barstool Sports and the Conrad Thompson Podcast Network. When asked an initial question inaudible to the audience, Jericho answers he has been without a title for an entire year, and it’s about time for him to pick one up again. He suggests the Rock isn’t as good as MJF, which is as smartly funny as it is wildly untrue. Thompson asks about Sammy Guevara, which shows the difference between how good Jericho and Max are: Max calls him “turkey tits” while Jericho tells Thompson to “go back to Nebraska,” which got a nice chuckle from me. Roll tide.

Jericho and Max were asked why they attacked Papa Buck, and Max redeemed himself by inadvertently starting a Target chant and making fun of Nick Jackson’s thin hair after claiming it was a measure of defense. Santana and Ortiz take credit for the idea, proving why they’re the best tag team in the Inner Circle and all of AEW. The final question comes from Eric Bischoff, which is—surprise!—a two-parter. Do they know the condition of Papa Buck? And in Jericho’s list of stupid ideas, where does provoking the Young Bucks rank?

Jericho starts to answer and out come the Bucks, who say they made this title match personal. Matt cuts a surprisingly sincere promo about their father, which might be the first-ever evidence of the Bucks being actual babyfaces in AEW. Matt says if not for the promotion they had a big hand in starting—which is a direct result of their father building a wrestling ring for them with his bare hands—Max would be waiting from a call back from Rosie O’Donnell’s team and Jericho would be curtain jerking tonight at the Capitol Wrestling Center.

After a brawl, the Good Brothers come out and hold Santana and Ortiz on tables for the Bucks, who dive off of things in order to send them through tables. Which is yet another sign of the Bucks’ wonky character alignment. I thought Gallows and Anderson were Kenny’s new best friends and trying to push Matt and Nick out of their group of Bullet Club ex-pats.

Highlight Package: An in-depth look at Omega and Mox’s Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match goes over the headspace of both wrestlers going into this dangerous match, BUT NONE OF THAT MATTERS BECAUSE THEY GOT ATSUSHI FUCKING ONITA AS A TALKING HEAD. Onita, clad in his trademark leather jacket, offers his infinite wisdom and experience about the utter danger of these matches, which singlehandedly added to its gravity and violence.

AEW

Tully Blanchard & FTR def. Jurassic Express

JJ Dillon enters the ring with Tully and FTR for this momentous occasion—a 67-year-old man wrestling his first match in nearly half his lifetime. It’s a nice little wrinkle in the endless war between FTR and Jurassic Express. Tully starts out the match with Marko and things quickly become contentious. Jungle Boy shines as the obvious future star of the group, Luchasaurus gets the hot tag as usual. JJ contributes to the horseplay by offering his shoe as a weapon, and Tully teases a dive and then struts, which proves it doesn’t all that much to pop me. As the old timers say, “Less is more.”

As they’ve had nearly a dozen times against Jurassic Express, FTR dominate most of the match until Luchasaurus comes in, and then the match turns into a seesaw of offense; including a nice double German suplex from Luchasaurus. Marko breaks up a pin with a splash, and Tully hits a Slingshot suplex in return. A “cameraman” is felled and eventually hits Luchasaurus with some kind of object, and Tully gets the pin off of a double-spiked piledriver. The masked man reveals himself as a returning, bleach-blonde and mohawked Shawn Spears. Arn inexplicably comes out and salutes his old friend JJ as Tully, FTR, and Spears celebrate their win.

Interview: Tony Schiavone comes out to introduce Paul Wight and shuts down JJ for trying to make an additional comment to put himself over. Wight comes out in a tee that says “No More BS” (clever!) and offers a short speech about how things come full circle now that he’s back on TNT and how proud he is to be a part of AEW. He talks a little about AEW Dark: Elevation (you know, for people who think nearly two hours of okay matches of little consequence on Dark still isn’t enough wrestling) and announces the promotion has hired a “Hall of Fame-worthy talent” who will be revealed at Revolution.

AEW

Women’s Title Eliminator Tournament Finals: Ryo Mizunami def. Nyla Rose

The Women’s Title Eliminator Tournament has had a lot of twists and turns, and even though AEW bungled the whole thing by making the lion’s share of it untelevised, it was by and large a lot of fun. My bracket got busted by Thunder Rosa losing to Rose in the U.S. semifinals, and Mizunami took it to the house in convincing fashion.

Charisma was off the charts in this match, with Mizunami gesturing wildly every chance she could, and Rose gleefully taunting her in equal turns. Both competitors threw huge bombs in the match, and Rose looked excellent dominating a good portion of it. Mizunami slaps herself in the face to get her head back in the game and eventually hits a guillotine leg drop, Rose’s head bouncing off the apron, almost suffering a countout loss. Rose has been using her force to great effect lately, looking the best she’s ever been throughout this tournament. Mizunami guts her way back through and defeats Rose with a spear and a guillotine leg drop.

After the match, Hikaru Shida enters the ring to present the trophy to Mizunami; they shake hands and trade shots, which sets the friendly but competitive tone for Sunday’s championship match.

In-Ring Interview: Sting tells Tony that Brian Cage powerbombed the ring rust off of him and he’s ready to get crazy. Before he gets too far into the interview, Ricky Starks comes out and says even though he’s man enough to admit Sting’s still got it, but he’s no icon. Starks slaps Sting, who nearly tears his shirt clean off and beats him out of his loafers (with no socks, worn like a true gentleman and style maven). Hobbs and Hook come out and then Brian Cage follows; as he goes to powerbomb Sting again, Darby Allin runs to the ring and he and Sting double team Cage to send him scurrying along with the rest of Team Taz.

AEW

Face of the Revolution Ladder Match Qualifier: Max Caster def. Preston “10” Vance

Scorpio Sky is on commentary for the match, as -1 gives 10 a pep talk in the ring before his match. Max Caster gets Brodie Jr. riled up with his bars (which include a great Ronnie Garvin reference at Vance’s expense). It’s interesting that AEW picked a younger star for their Face of the Revolution ladder match; maybe just to have a legitimate dark horse in its ranks. It also gives the unproven Caster and Vance to battle for something of consequence in this spotlight Dynamite match. Caster hits a gnarly brainbuster on 10 but fails to follow up with his double-pump elbow drop. Jack Evans hits Vance with the boombox and Caster scores the win.

Max Caster Battle Rap Rating: A respectable 3 mics. (He’s improving, and that Ronnie Garvin bar actually got a laugh out of me!)

After the match, Evans nets a cool $4200 from Matt Hardy for his efforts, as Hardy pursues his plan to screw over the Dark Order for interfering with his business with Hangman.

Segment: Miro lets everyone know he’s going to give the people what they want: destruction. Chuck should have taken up his offer to come home, be responsible, and to polish Miro’s kettlebells. Because now he’s mad and ready to snap some bones.

AEW

“Hangman” Adam Page & John Silver def. Matt Hardy and Marq Quen

For a fairly low-stakes feud, this rivalry between Hangman and Hardy—and the Memphis-ass stipulations of their match on Sunday—has greatly entertained me. It’s so secret I think Hangman is the most interesting character on the show by a wide margin, and that utility is served by being able to put him anywhere on the card and knowing he’ll deliver something funny, or memorable, or moving—or all three at once.

This match is pretty meat-and-potatoes; of course, but it also gives a little more in-ring depth to Marq Quen’s heel turn (along with his partner Isiah Kassidy) and John Silver facilitating his friend crush on Hangman. Quen gets knocked out of the ring, Hardy rolls him back in. The team gets the advantage as Hardy tags in and goes for a Twist of Fate, but then the move gets reversed. Some great teamwork is exhibited toward the end of the match, which culminates with a Buckshot Lariat and the win for Hangman and Silver.

Silver gets a quick hug before Hardy attacks Hangman with a mic and berates him. Dark Order comes out for the save. And then the show ends as every team in the Tag Team Casino Battle Royale comes out to brawl.