AEW Dynamite Review, October 2 2019 feat. Chris Jericho, Santana & Ortiz vs. The Elite

The Scouse Snow White
Image Source: Royal Court Theatre

AEW Dynamite

And so it begins. The latest wrestling promotional war has been building up for months, but at last All Elite Wrestling has launched its live weekly television programme, Dynamite, on TNT. Since the turn of the year (quite literally, since the news was broken as 2018 became 2019), AEW has gone from a slow-burning ambition to becoming the biggest potential competitor for WWE since the demise of WCW. However, despite some much-lauded PPV events, this was where the real work began for AEW, since they now have to prove that they can sustain the high energy and positivity of its fanbase and roster for the long haul. How did they fare on night one of the weekly Dynamite programme?

Cody vs. Sammy Guevera

Cody was the first performer to make his entrance, and of course his arrival was greeted with massive cheers by the very enthusiastic crowd in Washington, D.C. due to his role being as important as anybody’s not named Tony Khan in the AEW project. Sammy Guevera didn’t receive the biggest response, but he did get the boos that he was hoping for. The opening sequence was designed to slowly build at a fast pace, with the audience fully invested as they chanted “A-E-Dub” almost as soon as the bell rang. I was still finding it surreal to hear Tony Schiavone back on commentary alongside Jim Ross and Excalibur; after an absence of over 18 1/2 years, it took some getting used to. A dropkick and a standing moonsault gave Guevera the early advantage, but after a slap by Sammy, Cody channelled his brother with the low uppercut and quick powerslam, followed by an old-school figure-four leglock. A delayed front suplex only earned Cody a two, as his wife Brandi tried to motivate him from ringside, and the same applied to his springboard cutter. Guevera responded with one of his own off the top rope for another two. After Sammy was sent to the floor, Brandi began admonishing him, but it backfired as Cody’s launched tope saw Sammy pull Brandi into her hubby’s path, to which fans chanted “a–hole!” Guevera followed up two straight moonsaults with a standing Shooting Star Press for another near-fall, after which Brandi gained revenge with a shoe-assisted slap behind the ref’s back, leading to a Disaster Kick for yet another two. Cody then responded with a top rope reverse Avalanche DDT, and somehow even this wasn’t enough. Similarly, Sammy leapt to the top rope in one jump to hit Cody with a Spanish Fly, but a subsequent Shooting Star Press attempt was blocked and turned into a cradle by Cody to earn the win. This was an enjoyable opening match, and a fine way to open the inaugural episode of Dynamite.

Post-match, Tony Schiavone went to interview Cody after the two embraced, only for Sammy to shove Cody away to shake his hand, but this was merely the distraction for AEW World Champion Chris Jericho to blindside Cody and destroy him, as JR delivered the trademark “government mule” line, with Jericho (not Y2J anymore, you stupid idiot) finishing Cody off with not one but two Codebreakers. Jericho was wearing a “Little Bit Of The Bubbly” T-shirt, proving that when it comes to capitalising on catch phrases, and getting them over in the first place, Chris has few equals. Jericho then clocked Cody with his title belt, ahead of their upcoming championship clash at Full Gear next month, and stole a cameraman’s, erm, camera to take a photo of the fallen Cody, as well as a selfie. As if all that wasn’t enough, Chris then whacked Cody in the back with a steel chair at ringside, and then set up two chairs side-by-side and powerbombed Cody onto said items. Chris then shoved Tony and commandeered his microphone to proclaim his greatness. This was a noteworthy beat-down, though it went on a little bit too long for my liking.

I should mention that I was watching the ITV repeat of the show. I note this because they decided to omit the Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. Brandon Cutler contest, which was unnecessary (especially for an ITV Hub repeat which has no time constraints). MJF won the match to build his momentum as one of the more detestable heels in AEW today.

At the top of the aisle, Schiavone interviewed all three members of SCU, who discussed their involvement in the AEW Tag Team Championship tournament. Scorpio Sky suggested that Christopher Daniels and Kazarian would compete, only to be interrupted by The Lucha Bros, who interrupted and taunted SCU, which led to the second brawl of the evening as security and officials (including Dean Malenko) attempted to break things up.

Adam Page vs. PAC

This was the match that we were supposed to see back at Double Or Nothing, but didn’t because of “reasons”. The Hangman aimed to begin the process of rebuilding his win-loss record against “The B—–d” (yes, that is his legit nickname these days). On commentary, Excalibur noted how PAC had been undefeated for two years, while having to avoid explaining why (since the “reasons” were of the real life, non-kayfabe nature). The early going saw exchanges of kicks, forearms and punches, with Page succeeding until he ran into further stiff kicks by PAC. Adam won the sequence with a clothesline that almost dropped PAC on his head. As I wondered if Earl Hebner is the longest-serving referee in wrestling history (that’s a compliment, by the way), Adam sent PAC flying across ringside, followed by a tope that sent PAC crashing down. Excalibur made reference of their previous unexpected match in Nottingham, and how PAC hurt Adam’s knee to cause an injury that still bothers him. PAC further proved his “b—–d” ways by stomping Adam’s head on the side of the ring, followed by a springboard moonsault to the floor. A slightly awkward 450 Splash gave PAC a two-count, as the wide shot of the almost sold-out Capitol One Arena made me wonder how TNA/Impact have failed to fill a single American arena in more than 17 years of existence, even when they had a roster full of big names. Back to the match, Page hit PAC with a middle rope fallaway slam, a corner dropkick and a flapjack reverse neckbreaker for two. PAC responded by sending Adam hard into the ring post, and JR made mention of Conrad Thompson at ringside (Tony: “I didn’t even notice that! And how could you miss him?”). As fans chanted “You’re a b—–d!”, Page finally responded with a spinebuster, a powerbomb and a top rope moonsault to the floor. Both men almost collided with Hebner, and when Earl ducked, PAC turned his foot back and caught Page low, which set him up for the Black Arrow, turning straight into the match-winning Brutaliser. PAC earned his second win in AEW here (newbies should note that win-loss records will be emphasised heavily in the company as a way of noting the importance of match results), in what was a good match, albeit one that was a shade below what they are probably capable of.

AEW Women’s Championship Match
Riho vs. Nyla Rose

Britt Baker joined the lads on commentary for this match, which would crown AEW’s first Women’s Champion. Ring announcer Justin Roberts noted that this contest had no time limit (bear in mind that time limits will also play an important role in AEW matches). The size difference was obvious here, with Nyla (a hometown performer) easily towering over Riho, who JR noted is 98 pounds, though that certainly doesn’t prevent her being a major competitor. Riho did manage to slow down Nyla with some early dropkicks and a headscissors, but Rose caught her with a somewhat basic shoulder knockdown and a more effective splash, which Riho bridged out of to a decent crowd pop. Riho tried to stomp on Rose’s back, but Nyla quickly lifted herself up, which sent her opponent flying. From there, Rose took control with an STF before two running knees by Riho sent Nyla to the floor, with Riho trying to make her situation worse with a top rope crossbody; however, Rose caught her and drilled her with a sidebreaker. Nyla then grabbed a steel chair, despite the obvious DQ that it would cause; the referee intervened, though Nyla continued pummelling Riho at ringside. Rose brought more chairs out from under the ring and laid Riho onto them, and she did attempted a ring apron senton, only for Riho to move and for Nyla to crash on the seats. A Riho double-foot stomp from the apron suggested that the impossible could actually be possible, especially with another stomp to the back off the top rope inside the ring. Riho tried a Crossface, but nobody thought this would cause the submission win, and she attempted several more flurries of offence. Nyla reacted with a crucifix-style Samoan Drop for two, and she then laid Riho across the top rope to drill her with a flying knee to the back, with Riho somehow kicking out. A second STF by Rose was sufficient enough to force Riho to pass out from pain, but Riho wasn’t enough as she tried to reverse a powerbomb attempt into a backdrop, which was futile. This pleased Nyla (even if it looked like a botch), and after what initially seemed to be a final comeback from Riho (which included a very close roll-up), she hit a big clothesline and a Death Valley Driver for another near-fall as fans applauded. Riho somehow hit a Northern Lights suplex off the middle rope to earn another close count, and followed this up with a double-knee strike to the back and another to the face of a grounded Rose for the surprise victory, making Riho an underdog AEW Women’s Champion. It was a slow starter, but by the end, fans were fully invested and fully behind the inaugural titleholder.

Afterwards, Michael Nakazawa was about to interview Riho in Japanese, only for Rose to come back in and blindside both, which included a powerbomb to Michael following a near-disaster and an attempted DVD to Riho on the apron, which was broken up by Kenny Omega of all people.

Chris Jericho, Santana & Ortiz vs. The Elite

It was now time for the main event, a six-man affair which would see the AEW Champion and the former LAX team up to square off against Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks. Omega made a full entrance alongside Nick Jackson and Matt Jackson, just seconds after coming to the aid of Rhio, which was a bit odd. Justin Roberts noting that it was a case of “TV time remaining” is an old tactic that I like to see the reappearance of here. Jericho had been set to team with two mystery partners, which were set to be Santana and Ortiz, though the unknown element had been dropped entirely based on the events of All Out. Chris flipping a fan off en route to the ring was fun, and it’s intriguing that despite dropping so many aspects of his different WWE characters from over the years, Jericho has decided to retain the scarf. Omega and Jericho started the bout off, or at least he intimated that he would before tagging in Santana. JR noted how Omega is said to be in a slump based on his defeats so far in the company, though he looked good here with a low dropkick and a faceplant that sent Santana outside. Ortiz ran in and tasted a hurricanrana, and then Jericho finally entered, turning a hurricanrana into an attempted Walls, only for the Bucks to superkick and the (no-longer) LAX. The usual big Elite dives followed, but Kenny waited too long to try one of his own, for his extended posing allowed Jon Moxley to interfere and pummel him (with the referee doing nothing about it despite this being a regular-rules match in the continuity error of the night), ahead of their battle at Full Gear (originally scheduled for All Out). Moxley pounded Omega around the audience and towards the backstage area as the match continued in the ring, albeit with one man down on the babyface side. Omega fought back with a broomstick (he is The Cleaner, you know), but once they got fully backstage, Moxley drove Kenny’s head into a door repeatedly before hitting Kenny with an elevated Dirty Deeds through a glass coffee table in the evening’s most memorable spot.

Back in the ring, the match rolled on, though the atmosphere was slightly subdued now that Kenny was gone. Still, a Matt spear to Ortiz kept hopes alive of an Elite win, though Santana dragged Nick off the apron as he aimed to tag in. Some slick double-team offence towards Matt followed, before Jericho tagged back in, only for Matt to block an attempted Lionsault with the knees. Matt then hit a spinning cutter off the ropes followed by a double Northern Lights suplex, which got the fans back towards being fully interested. Matt then made the hot tag to Nick, and from there it was a big babyface comeback with all sorts of big moves by Nick, which saw him take out all three of his opponents. But The Bucks’ attempted big finish was interrupted by a Codebreaker, and after further group offence by the heels, Jericho caught Matt with the Judas Effect to secure the victory. Afterwards, we had another big angle, as Cody ran down to halt a continued beating on The Bucks, only for him to be halted by Guevera, who booted Cody low. Then, we had Dustin Rhodes run in to clean house, but he was interrupted by Jake Hager (the former Jack Swagger), whose surprise debut was the talking point of the evening. He helped the heels destroy the faces (as JR clearly noted how “holy s–t!” reactions would be justified), which included Dustin taking a Gutwrench Powerbomb onto the bell desk and Jericho catching Cody with the Judas Effect. The show ended with the clear formation of this new alliance of villains: Jericho, Hager, Santana, Ortiz and Guevera (as fans chanted “We the people!”). The TNT channel (which hosted the show in the United States) has a heel gang once again!

I thought this was a strong first showing for AEW Dynamite. Every match had something to offer, even if one was brief (and unseen to UK viewers). The underlying theme was that the in-ring action was what truly matters here, although the main event shenanigans give us some intriguing plotlines to follow. The one downside to me was that there was often too much going on, both in terms of three matches offering a ton of near-falls and there being three post-match angles (a criticism which used to be levelled at Vince Russo, a sworn enemy of Cody). Nevertheless, this was definitely a successful start to this new era of U.S. pro wrestling from AEW’s standpoint, and their hopes is that fans will stick around in great numbers to chart their progress in the coming months and years. Nobody knows what the future truly holds, but it’s definitely an exciting time to follow the crazy world of sports-entertainment, and whether you’re fully behind The Elite or not, AEW has played a major role in that, and will do so going forward.