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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Apr. 29, 2020): Blood feud ignited

AEW Dynamite (Apr. 29, 2020) featured the TNT Championship tournament semifinals with Cody Rhodes versus Darby Allin and Dustin Rhodes versus Lance Archer.

Get caught up on all the Dynamite details with the excellent live results and play-by-play from Claire Elizabeth.

Mental aptitude

The show opened with Cody Rhodes versus Darby Allin in one-half of the TNT Championship tournament semifinals. A fantastic promo package set the mood.

In spite of Darby channeling his inner Batman voice (Christian Bale version), it painted an interesting picture of corporate sheep versus dramatic emo king. Neither side appealed to me, but I was here to see a fight. Cody and Darby delivered. A fantastic fight is what they gave us.

The primary story was Cody tweaking his knee early and Darby focusing his attack on the injured joint. One side story was Brandi Rhodes going down upon contact. Darby charged Cody on the floor, Cody olé’d Darby, and Darby crashed into Brandi. She was escorted to the back then returned later with a water bottle for Cody. That drama didn’t add anything important to the grand scheme of this match.

Darby tried to make a statement by using Cody’s own moves against him. Darby hit Cody with Cross Rhodes. Cody kicked out of the pin, so Darby locked in a figure-four submission with emphasis toward Cody’s tender knee. Cody rolled to the ropes for the break.

The beginning of the end saw Cody catch a springboard moonsault to counter into a Cross Rhodes. Darby kicked out. Cody wanted to play Darby’s game, so he attempted a Coffin Drop. Darby turned the tables by getting his knees up, which was a callback to how he lost their second match. Darby climbed the corner for a Coffin Drop. Success!

However, Cody rolled Darby up on the pin cover into a backslide. 1, 2, 3. Cody was victorious and will advance to the TNT Championship finals at Double or Nothing on May 23.

Excellent story in the ring. Darby showed how well he prepared. He took it to Cody by attacking the weak knee and playing mind games by using Cody’s signature moves. The perfect example of Darby’s scouting was getting his knees up on Cody’s Coffin Drop. I especially enjoyed Darby’s creative focus on submissions while keeping a high pace of attack. It showed that he can wrestle as well as sports entertain.

Unfortunately for Darby, he came up short. Cody had one more trick in his bag with that backslide. With another loss, it appears that Cody was correct in questioning Darby’s mental aptitude to win. Too bad that backslide wasn’t the cleanest. It raises mental toughness questions about why Darby couldn’t get his shoulder off the mat. It will certainly be interesting to see how Darby handles the loss and where he goes from here. Hopefully AEW gives him a new feud to continue the saga of his progression up the ranks.

Blood feud ignited

The main event was the other TNT Championship semifinal between Dustin Rhodes and Lance Archer. This was more of a methodical bout with heavy hits. Archer took control after booting a chair into Dustin’s face. Dustin began bleeding from the forehead.

Archer dismantled Dustin until the return from the final commercial break. That’s when Dustin found his second wind to hit a Code Red. Archer smiled as the two exchanged blows in the center of the ring. Dustin connected on a big clothesline, powerslam, then Cross Rhodes. Archer kicked out at one.

Archer caught a leaping Rhodes for a chokeslam. Archer followed with an old school rope-walk into a moonsault. It was time for Blackout, but Dustin escaped. Archer still got him with a chokeslam, however, Dustin almost won with a surprise crucifix pin.

Archer turned his aggression up a notch by removing the turnbuckle pad. After three head smashes into the steel, Dustin was out. QT Marshall ran down thinking of throwing in the towel. Cody stopped him. Dustin pleaded to continue. Archer dragged Dustin back in the ring to repeatedly pound his skull into the mat. Archer pinned Dustin easily after that.

The Nightmare Family tended to the battered Dustin. Archer moves on to the TNT Championship finals to face Cody.

Archer did a great job of setting himself up as the monster that Cody needs to slay. He made Cody’s blood bleed his own blood. In my mind, that sent the message that a blood feud has been ignited.

The match as a whole was a little slow for my liking. The final portion was very entertaining. The big moves were pulled out, and the drama was intensified. The towel false finish was a nice touch. I actually thought Cody would be a hypocrite and wave the white flag for Dustin. I’m glad that wasn’t the case. Dustin deserved to go out as a warrior.

Let’s hope Dustin doesn’t suffer long-term damage in the AEW story world, although, I would hoot at a dramatic scene of Dustin in the hospital. There are three episodes of Dynamite until Double or Nothing. Perhaps AEW will cook a thick layer of over-the-top cheese to top this casserole. I’m looking forward to what they dream up.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Scorpio Sky profile. Part 2 of the Sky portrait aired. He was nervous about joining SCU and becoming a third wheel, but Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian aided as a huge part in his growth. Sky felt at home when challenging Chris Jericho for the AEW World Championship. He’s not satisfied to just be there. Sky wants to be a (bleep) legend.

AEW always does excellent work with their hype videos. This was no exception. After watching his profile, how can anyone not root for Sky to reach the sky? He might not be your personal favorite, but it is hard to deny that his path to the top would be a good story.

MJF injured again! MJF was working hard on treatment for his hangnail pain. The nail doctor has never seen such a miraculous recovery from being on death’s door to over-healing for the strongest nail in the world. As MJF was getting ready to return to TV, another tragedy occurred. MJF unraveled his scarf to reveal a foam neck brace. He nicked his neck while shaving. MJF will be back, since he is the only hope AEW has left.

That was my favorite segment of the evening. MJF was so good with the hyperbole, verbally and visually. Those foam collars always crack me up when used in professional wrestling. Once again, he entertains in humorous fashion yet still hammers home how much of a scoundrel he is so we boo him. MJF truly is better than us, and we know it.

Wardlow defeated Musa. Musa actually knocked Wardlow down to one knee with a handspring heel kick, but that only led to Musa’s destruction. A killer knee strike then an airplane spin F-10 gave Wardlow the victory.

These squashes have been very effective in building Wardlow into his Mr. Mayhem nickname. I’m very eager to see Wardlow compete against tougher competition.

Bubbly Bunch. The Inner Circle was back with a celebrity-filled Manitoba Melee. Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara were at odds over the true winner of last week’s flim flam dance contest. Jericho proposed the squad partake in team building with an old-fashioned melee. Everyone fought through their camera. The list of participants grew to include Peter Avalon, Kevin Smith, Vickie Guerrero, Lou Ferrigno, and many more.

This was another stupendous Bubbly Bunch segment. The fight was so bonkers with all the cameo spots. I popped for Jericho’s hounds, Ferrigno, and Vickie. How do they think of this stuff? I must order A Little Bit of the Bubbly for inspiration.

Best Friends defeated Kip Sabian & Jimmy Havoc. Orange Cassidy and Penelope Ford were ringside for this no DQ bout. The best spot was Havoc throwing a chair at OC’s face. I laughed heartily at OC’s pain.

The majority of violence came from Havoc. He used chairs and a medium ladder for painful attacks. OC came back for the finish. Havoc had momentum after a back body drop to Taylor onto the ladder. Havoc was setting up a DVD onto the ladder, but OC saved his pal by throwing a chair at Havoc. OC then dodged attacks from Ford as she collided with Sabian. Taylor took control with a running piledriver to Havoc on a pile of chairs. Taylor pinned Havoc for victory.

Loads of fun in that bout. The violence was proper and not overdone. This was a perfect use for Cassidy. I got to laugh at OC being beat up, then he came back for a jolt of excitement. That win should put the Best Friends in the top spot of the next rankings for a tag title shot.

Role model rule #2. Britt Baker returned from her dental office to give us another rule. She treated the makeup lady like hired help. The rule for this evening was, “Not everyone can be a role model.” No glasses wearers, no fat people, no wannabes, no snaggle tooths. Baker kept showing Tony Schiavone as a negative example.

Baker has turned into a gem. Each week she brings new ways to insult people. Baker is building up a lot of steam for someone to shut her mouth. I’m thinking Big Swole would be a good candidate.

Shawn Spears defeated Baron Black. Spears took control with a spinebuster, ground and pound, and a suplex. He finished the job with a C4 then a Sharpshooter.

Spears may have added to his character by going into an intense stare while applying the Sharpshooter. I’m not sure if that was intentional to lead to something later.

Technique by Taz. Lance Archer’s Blackout was the topic of excellent analysis from Taz.

Brodie Lee defeated Marko Stunt. Mr. Brodie dominated the contest. Stunt had a small flurry that ended in him being caught for a swinging slam. Mr. Brodie won via sitdown powerbomb.

I was a little disappointed there was no story development. It felt like Mr. Brodie had a specific reason for staring at Stunt the past few weeks. Nothing happened after the match. We didn’t learn anything new about either man.

Jon Moxley’s message. Moxley announced that Dynamite will return live next week. He’ll be there to do work. When you step up to the World Champ, you do so at your own risk.

Le Champion of commentary. Chris Jericho was his usual charming self when calling the action. A couple of his thoughts that stood out to me were speculating Trent was the son of Bill Murray, questioning if Jimmy Havoc’s leather trousers restricted his mobility, and theorizing that Jim Ross could be part of the Dark Order.

Stud of the Show: Wardlow

That free fall knee strike from Wardlow is so badass.

I know Wardlow did it in his previous match, but this one actually made me spontaneously shout an expletive. The impact is so vicious looking. I love the physicality.

Dud of the Show: Cody Rhodes’ epic match shenanigans

Much like how HHH has his own epic style, Cody has developed a style of his own for marquee bouts. His style includes having side moments on the outside. When Cody does weave those into the story, then it becomes special and enhances the drama. Other times, it feels like an extraneous attempt to get a pop. Brandi being hit by Darby was a case of this. Her exit and return didn’t add anything of value. It happened for the sake of happening, muddled the story, and took away from the focus.

Grade: A

Two thumbs up. Splendid action and countless laughs. All of the matches were entertaining in their own way. Most had a little background story to get invested. All of the vignettes and video packages served a purpose. This show was on the level of pre-empty arena offerings.

Share your thoughts about this episode of Dynamite. How do you rate it? What was your favorite moment?

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