Thursday, March 11, 2021

AEW Dynamite 3.10.21 - MJFTR

Man, did AEW redeem themselves with this Dynamite episode or what?  Say what you will about the Revolution PPV; some people loved it, many, including myself, were disappointed.  But this company proved in spades that it knows how to get back on track, with a fantastic followup that not only set up months of feuds and angles while delivering two incredible free television bouts, but steered into the Revolution criticism by offering a perfect storyline explanation for its technical issues.  AEW's creative team is truly that - CREATIVE.

The show opened with a blistering Matt Jackson-Fenix match, giving us a preview of the upcoming Bucks-Fenix/Pac match.  I assume that will take place on Dynamite and not at Double or Nothing, one of the drawbacks of only doing four PPVs a year.  But regardless when it happens, it's going to be a blockbuster of a match.  

Following the opener we got a pre-taped promo from Eddie Kingston and Jon Moxley, part one of the Revolution damage control.  Kingston explained that his prison time left him with PTSD, and when he saw his friend about to be blown up he had a full-on panic attack, hence why he dove on top of Moxley and didn't move.  Both guys talked about how incompetent Omega was for building such a dud of a bomb, throwing a dig at Impact Wrestling by saying they must've designed it.  This was effective at telling the babyfaces' side of the story but it wouldn't be the last we'd hear about Sunday's events.

Cody Rhodes had a squash match next, but his subsequent promo was interrupted by Penta, who ran Cody down leading to a brawl.  This set up a match for next week, which should be excellent.  I wonder if Penta and Fenix end up on different sides of the aisle, so to speak, as Fenix is still basically a babyface.  
Next up was a Sting promo that was interrupted by Lance Archer who claimed he isn't being given the time he deserves.  I assume this will set up Sting vs. Archer but that could be a risky proposition given Sting's age.  Archer is an intensely physical worker and Sting has a bad neck.  Do they do another cinematic match or is Sting really up to the challenge?  Either way, Archer has to win this feud.

Ethan Page made his Dynamite debut against Lee Johnson in a good little match that was unfortunately marred by a bizarre technical issue, where you could hear an NBA game over it.  I've never seen a glitch like that before.  Anyway, Page looked really good and I like his finisher, a variant of the Razor's Edge where he actually throws the guy across the ring.  I'm much more excited about Page now than I was on Sunday.  Johnson's corner man QT Marshall ditched him after the match, further signaling a heel turn.  Marshall needs to shave his head; his super-thin hair makes him look old.  Believe me, I know what I'm talking about.

Kenny Omega and friends came out for a promo, and here was the stroke of genius at explaining away Sunday's issues.  Don Callis said that the exploding ring scenario was win-win for them.  If it had gone off without a hitch, their enemy Jon Moxley would be blown up.  But since it didn't go according to plan, that's even better because they got to take away what the fans wanted to see.  Not only that, but they got to take away the career end Jon Moxley wanted, and they got to take away the self-sacrifice Eddie Kingston wanted.  Since the bomb didn't work right, their two enemies looked like idiots.  This was a great way to steer into the skid and create an intriguing storyline beat out of a technical screw-up.  WWE could never on their best day turn around a bad ending so effectively.  Kingston appeared and the heels put up a ten-second clock, during which Kenny fell to the mat and told Callis to 69 him, and Callis jumped on top to "protect" Kenny.  Great little comedy moment.  Kingston attacked Kenny but got jumped by the Good Brothers, and then Christian Cage showed up for the save.  So they're clearly setting up Kenny vs. Christian, which I'm fine with as a big Dynamite main event as opposed to a PPV.  Christian should have some free TV matches leading up to this to get some wins under his belt, but he should absolutely job to Kenny in the title match, and it shouldn't be on PPV.  Like I said before, booking Christian right away as your top contender on PPV was TNA's mistake.  I like Christian quite well but he's not a big draw.  This segment was excellent though.

The six-woman tag was next, and I enjoyed it.  It was messy and chaotic but it entertained me.  Thunder Rosa pinned Maki Itoh but Britt Baker attacked her after the match and put her in the Lock Jaw, setting up an unsanctioned match for next week.  I like the idea of that being the main event and it should propel Baker to the top contender spot.

The other standout match of the night was in the semi-main slot, as Darby Allin and Scorpio Sky had a helluva TNT Title match.  Sky kinda stole the match with some really innovative counters, like converting an Allin tope into a cutter on the floor, and countering the Coffin Drop into a power bomb.  Early in the match Allin vaulted over the ropes into the ring and sold an ankle injury, which at the time looked legit but as it turns out was a setup for later.  Allin retained by the skin of his teeth, countering a TKO into an airtight small package (this was so snugly executed it was beautiful) for the pin.  Man, for a match I wasn't very excited about these two delivered huge (Under-promise, over-deliver).  After the match Darby patted Sky on the shoulder, and Sky got pissed and locked him in a heel hook (on the injured ankle) before the referee pulled him off.  I imagine we'll be seeing this match again and I have no complaints about that.

As great as this show was up to this point, the final segment blew away all of it.  The Inner Circle, minus the conspicuously absent Wardlow, made its way to the ring for a war council.  Jericho said the group needed to refocus and perhaps it was time for a new member.  MJF interrupted and said maybe it was time to let someone go.  Sammy Guevara's music hit, and he urged Jericho to watch a video before he made any decisions.  Guevara had hidden a camera in the Inner Circle's dressing room, capturing MJF's plan to oust Jericho from the group, apparently with the blessing of Hager, Ortiz and Santana.  MJF told Jericho he didn't want him to find out this way but it was time for him to go.  The other three IC members went to attack Jericho but then turned around and went after MJF instead.  Jericho said "Do you think we don't talk to each other, you idiot?  You're fired!"  MJF fell to the ground and started crying, but then said "I don't want to take over your group, I formed my own."  The lights went out and when they came back up, Wardlow, Shawn Spears, Tully Blanchard and FTR were in the ring surrounding the Inner Circle.  This led to an epic beatdown that left all of Jericho's crew laying.  MJF punched Jericho with the diamond ring, cutting him open, and the heels dragged him to the entrance ramp where Wardlow powerbombed him through two tables on the floor.  Goddamn, this was great.  The Inner Circle are now babyfaces and back to their original lineup, while MJF has assembled a STACKED heel stable.  This literally sets up months of matches and angles.  The ten guys can pair off into separate matches for a while until the inevitable 5-on-5 match, which I hope is the long-awaited Blood & Guts match we were supposed to get a year ago.  Double or Nothing, book it.  I like this idea even better than what was planned for 2020; Inner Circle vs. MJFTR as I'm calling them has way more visceral heat.  Everyone should come out of this feud better than they went in.  MJF vs. Jericho will be great, Wardlow vs. Hager will be a slugfest, Sammy vs. Spears should elevate both of them (finally dispelling the absurd notion that Spears is worse off now than he was in WWE), and FTR vs. Ortiz & Santana should yield some epic tag team wars.  I love everything about this feud.  I'm a sucker for good team warfare anyway, and this has so much creative juice behind it, it could be the feud of the year.  

Like I said, this show repaired whatever damage was caused by the exploding ring glitch and then some.  And then a lot more.  The technical issues were convincingly explained away, and the company set the stage for the next three months of television and possibly beyond.  This is what a pivotal episode looks like.  It's gonna be a fun 2021 for AEW.

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