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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Apr. 8, 2020): Cody digs deep

AEW Dynamite (Apr. 8, 2020) featured Britt Baker earning bloody respect, Lance Archer and Brodie Lee demolishing opponents, and Cody Rhodes taking on Shawn Spears in the opening match of the TNT Championship tournament.

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

Cody advances

The highly anticipated TNT Championship tournament kicked off with Cody Rhodes versus Shawn Spears. AEW set the mood right with a recap of their past feud. The match was back and forth highlighted by two painful spots.

First was Spears suplexing Rhodes onto a guardrail.

Second was Spears fireman’s carry slam to Rhodes through a table.

Don’t ask me why those objects were allowed. The excuse from commentary was that the rules were laxed. Rhodes also lashed Spears with his weight belt and received assistance from Pineapple Pete in the crowd to hold Spears for punches.

Back to that table spot, Rhodes beat the ten count at nine to get back in the ring. Spears foolishly squandered the opportunity by pouting. That allowed critical time for Rhodes to recover. Rhodes escaped a C4 attempt then attacked with two consecutive Cross Rhodes.

Much to my astonishment, Spears kicked out. Rhodes removed Spears’ knee pad to lock in the figure-four. Rhodes elevated up off the mat. The pain and pressure put Spears’ shoulders on the canvas, so referee Aubrey Edwards made the three count. Rhodes won via figure-four pinfall.

This match had its cool moments, such as the guardrail suplex, table slam, and Spears kicking out for drama. The finish was creative with Cody winning by pin rather than submission on a figure-four. Unfortunately, they never had me believing Spears had a chance at victory. They couldn’t put it together for that one moment to make me forget that Cody was the predictable winner.

In my opinion, Spears did not come away looking good even though he fought tough. He made too many mental errors. He risked disqualification by bringing in side props. He didn’t pounce for the kill when the opportunity was there. He lost focus to the pain to realize he was being pinned. There was no leverage against his shoulders, so he could have risen up to prevent the three count. These seem more like personality flaws than correctable mistakes to bounce back on a quest for AEW gold. If I were Tully Blanchard, I’d dump Spears as a client after that effort. Spears just doesn’t have what it takes to be the best.

Compare that to how Cody dug deep to find victory. He was on wobbly feet after that brutal table slam. It didn’t matter though. He fought through the adversity and prevailed in the end. Rhodes showed that he is ready for the arduous journey it will take to become TNT Champion.

Bloody respect

The women’s division had a top 5 matchup as #1 Hikaru Shida wrestled #4 Britt Baker. This contest really came alive when Baker’s nose was busted.

I think a knee strike from Shida might have been the culprit, but I’m not sure. The match continued back and forth until Shida took control with a fireman’s carry backbreaker onto the top turnbuckle then a running knee to win.

This was a very solid bout. Shida did her thing by upping the physicality and displaying vivid facial reactions. I’ve liked Shida’s look and action in the ring, but it is her expressions that are taking my fandom up a notch. Baker also did her thing playing the heel perfectly. She used stalling tactics to slow the action to her advantage. She taunted Shida several times. Baker even taunted Billy Gunn by hitting a Fame-Ass-er then posing toward him during the match. All these little things make Baker enjoyable to boo.

I’m pleased with Shida winning. I thought maybe Baker could pull off the upset to extend the feud, since the lack of Nyla Rose on TV seems like a Women’s Championship match is nowhere close in sight. This win continues to establish Shida as the top contender. The longer her winning streak goes, the bigger challenge she’ll represent for the champ. That will make their eventual encounter feel like a big-time bout.

Hats off to Baker about the bloody nose. Sometimes she comes across as playing wrestler in the ring. After tonight, there is no doubting Baker is a pro. She didn’t flinch when blood poured from her nose. She even leaned into the moment to give us memorable images and also took a running knee to the face for the finish. Baker earned my respect.

Baker also had a backstage promo after her loss. She bashed Shida for playing dirty.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Jake “The Snake” Roberts promo. Roberts framed the danger that stepping in the ring with Lance Archer presents. Roberts then questioned if Cody Rhodes is a man or a mouse.

Roberts sowing doubt about Cody winning in the tournament raises an interesting issue in this story. I’ve been curious if Roberts and Archer would still want Cody if his status becomes damaged goods with a loss before their eventual fight. Roberts’ answer appears to be yes. That makes me wonder what their true goal is. Roberts has never been crystal clear, but it seems that this story will have legs no matter the outcome of the TNT Championship tournament.

Lance Archer defeated Alan Angels. Squash. Angels had fight, but it didn’t take Archer long to take control. Archer hit a cool chokeslam overhead suplex then the Blackout to win.

Archer knows how to work squashes. He showed off his power and opened his arsenal of maneuvers to make a lasting impression. I’m still curious how he will fare against larger men. Will Archer be able to do the same tosses against Colt Cabana in the TNT Championship tournament?

Best Friends vs Best Friends. Kenny Omega and Michael Nakazawa were chatting inside a trailer. Omega wanted to have a team name for their match. Nakazawa suggested Best Friends, since they are best friends. Despite Omega pointing out there is already a Best Friends team, Nak wanted Omega to use his executive vice president powers to make it happen. At that moment, Orange Cassidy came out of the bathroom, while Chuck Taylor and Trent entered through the front door. They all heard was was being said. Their match then had stakes for the moniker of Best Friends to see who are the better friends.

This scene was the top comedy of the night. Nak’s disregard for the Best Friends name and the indignation from Chuck Taylor and Trent had me laughing. It felt like an actual conversation that could have taken place with jest in real life.

Best Friends defeated Kenny Omega & Michael Nakazawa. When it came time for the bout, it featured baby oil and underwear comedy from Nakazawa. The top moment was when Nakazawa squirted baby oil in the eyes of Orange Cassidy. The glasses blocked the oil. Nak threw the glasses away, but OC had another pair to block a second baby oil squirt.

For the finish, the Best Friends came out on top after Chuck threw Omega into the barricade. Chuck and Trent then finished Nakazawa with Strong Zero. Everyone hugged OC after the bell.

This match was a letdown for me. After last week’s awesome fight between Omega and Trent, I was looking forward to action in that style. Instead, the bout was taken over by comedy antics. The silliness had its enjoyable moments, but don’t give me salad when I want steak. I hope there is a rematch with all four being intense and aggressive.

Jon Moxley vs Jake Hager fight package. Dynamite aired two separate promo videos to hype next week’s AEW World Championship bout. Part 1 and part 2 basically boil down to Hager’s advantage as an MMA fighter and Moxley having heart. There will be violence. Moxley summed it up by asking if Hager has what it takes to dig down deeper than him. Mox has a different mindset than Hager. Mox is making the choice that he is going to f-ck Hager up.

AEW always does a fantastic job with these video packages. They sold me on this fight. I’m genuinely looking forward to next week’s battle. I’m curious to see how far they carry out Moxley’s threats for violence. I’m also looking forward to the MMA aspect. Moxley and Hager are capable of putting on a different Bloodsport kind of match than the usual style for AEW.

Dress for success. Brodie Lee drove up to the Dark Order compound. Three creepers were awaiting. Two were sloppy with wrinkled clothes. One was looking sharp. Mr. Brodie was upset about their appearance not portraying power and wealth.

Mr. Brodie didn’t seem so much like a jerk this week. I agree with his point. He even rewarded the creeper who was dressed well. This felt more like a typical salesroom rather than a creepy cult leader.

Later, Mr. Brodie squashed Lee Johnson with a slingshot senton, half Nelson suplex, spinning sidewalk slam, then a discus lariat to win. During and after the match, Mr. Brodie was staring down Marko Stunt in the fan section. Nothing came from it on this show.

In the war of squashes, I’m giving the edge to Archer. He has wowed me in his wins. Mr. Brodie is powerful, but it felt more about taking care of business. Lee hasn’t stirred up any fear yet.

Matt Hardy’s message to Chris Jericho. Hardy was on his compound to insult the Inner Circle. Sammy Guevara is a false god. Proud and Powerful Santana & Ortiz are loud and devourable. Jake Hager is a brainwashed Frankenstein’s monster. Hardy called for Vanguard 1. The drone zipped in with Hardy’s new t-shirt. Jericho’s shirt from last week had been tossed into a dumpster fire. Hardy challenged Jericho to visit his compound.

Jericho murdered Hardy in this battle of promos. Last week’s offering from Le Champion had a range of emotions. This piece from Hardy basically relied on a vast vocabulary. Hardy isn’t hitting yet with me, so I hope he ups his game to the ridiculous when Jericho decides to visit.

Chris Jericho on commentary. To the surprise of none, Le Champion did well calling matches alongside Tony Schiavone. Jericho took it serious and came across as a heel fan rather than trying to push heel narratives. He provided a nice blend of comedy and technical analysis of the fancy flimflam performed in the ring.

Last note. Wrestlers were in the crowd again. The list was mostly made up of the indie talent that has been appearing on Dark. Make of that what you will. I’m okay with it, since I assume AEW took health check-up precautions before the long taping sessions. Everybody was together all day anyway. Might as well make good use of the extra bodies.

Stud of the Show: Lance Archer

I love Archer’s chokeslam overhead suplex. That is the type of move that makes me take notice.

Dud of the Show: Michael Nakazawa

It’s one thing as a comedy character to have silly moves that work. It’s another thing when a comedy character bumbles during matches. I enjoy Nakazawa’s comedy at times, however, I’d like to see him compete more seriously in the ring. He’s always a dunce. How long is it going to take until he finds the perfect blend between baby oil and victory?

Grade: B-

An okay show. This episode didn’t captivate me like the usual AEW offering. None of the matches connected enough to draw me in full force. That’s not to say it was boring. It was just okay. My favorites were the variety of fantastic video packages, Britt Baker’s bloody nose, and the Best Friends trailer conversation.

How do you rate this episode of Dynamite? What was your favorite moment?

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