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AEW Fight for the Fallen recap & reactions (July 15, 2020): Armbar

AEW Dynamite (July 15, 2020) emanated from Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, FL. The show served as Fight for the Fallen to raise money for Florida’s coronavirus response. It featured Cody Rhodes defending the TNT Championship, FTR picking up a cowardly win, Jon Moxley reaching into Chris Jericho’s bag of tricks, and a surprise return from Darby Allin.

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


No, I’m not talking about the man of 1,004 holds. I’m referring to Jon Moxley. He borrowed a specific hold from Chris Jericho’s list to retain his AEW World Championship against Brian Cage.

In a recorded promo, Moxley acquiesced that perhaps Taz was correct in that Cage was too large and too strong for a Paradigm Shift. Mox altered his game plan to focus on attacking Cage’s recently repaired torn bicep. Moxley claimed he would rip that bicep clean off the bone, and that’s exactly what he attempted to do.

Cage came with power early. True to his word, Mox went right for the muscleman’s arm. They brawled for awhile, but Mox would always come back to that arm. The top two spots were when Mox tried to make it a street fight and it backfired. First, Cage countered Mox to suplex him onto a leaning guardrail.

Second, Cage countered Mox to suplex him onto an open chair.


After those high impact maneuvers, Cage adjusted his strategy to work Moxley’s back with a torture rack, Camel Clutch, and various suplexes and slams. The tide turned when Cage went high risk and missed a moonsault. It appeared that Cage legitimately injured his knee on that move. The Machine still fought hard though. Moxley connected on a Paradigm Shift, but Cage kicked out of the pin with no worry.

The match progressed with big moves. In the end, Moxley escaped a Drill Claw and locked in an armbar. Cage locked his hands, but it was only a matter of time before Mox worked the hand free and wrenched Cage’s limb. Cage inched toward the rope, so Moxley adjusted accordingly. Mox stared down Taz in the process. With no escape in sight, Taz threw in the towel for his steed. Jim Ross explained it as Taz saving Cage from another torn bicep and six months in rehab with no paycheck.

This was an impressive win for Moxley. He showed his ability to adapt and overcome. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood Jericho’s list of 1,004 holds all these years when he frequently listed armbar. I figured Jericho was being a weisenheimer. Now, I think Moxley just made that list come to life with all those slick armbar variations. He demonstrated holds 2, 4, 8, and 712.

On the flip side for Cage, he lost a little luster tonight by being taken out with a simple strategy. I guess technically he didn’t lose on his own accord, but he did get stymied in that armbar situation. A rematch down the line will be interesting after Cage hits the dojo to train armbar escapes.

The big news of this segment came in the aftermath. Cage went bonkers with rage after the loss. Lights out. Lights on. Darby Allin appeared out of nowhere and attacked Cage with a flying skateboard strike. Mox and Allin shared a fist pound as the camera went to black.

Allin’s return was not unpredictable, but it still made me widen my eyes in emotion. He has that odd flair of charisma that makes viewers take notice. With his uneasy alliance with Mox, it may be time for Taz to add a new recruit. I’m hoping for Ricky Starks. Those seeds have been planted on Dark. Make it happen.

Cowards and finks

FTR are cowards. And finks too.

FTR battled with the Lucha Bros in a physical contest with plenty of flash. Fenix and Pentagon were rabid in their attack, as evidenced by Dax Harwood bleeding from his chest on hard chops. FTR didn’t back down, but they did take a shortcut. When it came down to the nitty-gritty, Harwood chickened out by yanking off Fenix’s mask for a roll-up victory.

Credit given for the creative surprise finish. I was not expecting the match to end in that manner. That’s always cool when wrestling provides an unexpected conclusion.

As a storyline, it was kind of lame. FTR claims with bravado to be the best, yet they resorted to a cheap win when the going got tough. I was disappointed in that tactic. It will work well for heel heat, but it doesn’t jive with their overall message. How can they honestly look in the mirror and be proud of that cowardly win?

I hope AEW makes a new rule to address that finish. Removing a luchador’s mask should equal a disqualification. Otherwise, what’s to prevent this from happening often in the future. It would be foolish for any bad guy not to employ that strategy if they are getting beat up by a masked opponent.

After the match, a different story continued with progression. Blade & Butcher still had possession of FTR’s black truck. They drove the Lucha Bros to the ring.

When the contest was complete, the Young Bucks snuck up from behind for a double superkick to B&B. They retrieved FTR’s keys and handed them over in the ring.

Meanwhile, Kenny Omega took it upon himself to enter with a beer cooler to celebrate as a way to apologize for his party foul when he previously poured out FTR’s beer. He handed cold cans to FTR. All three gave a cheers, then FTR dumped their golden beverage onto Omega’s head. The Bucks had to hold Omega back from a fight.

This is another moment where I have mixed feelings. It sure was funny and Omega did sort of deserve it. While I understand FTR’s sentiment, I can not in good conscience support that gross waste of beer. Finks is what FTR are.

At least karma got FTR back when Cash Wheeler couldn’t start his truck up to exit the scene. The moral of this story is to never squander beer.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

TNT Championship: Cody Rhodes retained against Sonny Kiss. Sonny came out performing a dance routine with the Jacksonville Jaguars cheerleaders.

The story was Cody not taking Kiss too seriously and being sloppy and undisciplined in the process of winning. Kiss almost pulled off the upset by countering Cody’s Cross Rhodes into his own Cross Rhodes. Cody kicked out, so Sonny went high risk on a 450 splash.

Cody got his shoulder up on the pin. Cody upped his aggression after that with an Alabama Slam on the entrance stage and a vicious vertebreaker. Kiss would not stay down for the three count. Cody continued with a superplex. In the end, the two exchanged fisticuffs. Kiss hesitated too long on a clothesline attempt. Cody ducked to set up a brutal Cross Rhodes to win.

This was an okay match. It suffered a little due to the moves and flow not being very crisp at times. Kiss stood out with his personality and offensive attack. It was definitely an eye-opener to gain new fans. However, I don’t think Kiss is quite ready yet for steady TV time.

So, what’s up with Cody’s ornery attitude? He was showboating with push-ups, looked like he wanted to whip Kiss with the weight belt, argued with referee Aubrey Edwards, and removed the turnbuckle pad to expose steel. Cody displayed good sportsmanship with a hug after the match, but that doesn’t make up for his earlier behavior.

This has happened far too often in these TNT Championship challenges that it can’t be dismissed as a one-off moment anymore. Cody does plenty of “interviews” for AEW material. I’d like one of the “reporters” to ask him about his actions. It’s hard to tell if this is a long story, or if AEW sweeps it under the rug because he’s an executive vice president. Either way, AEW has earned my interest in this.

Freshly squeezed. Chris Jericho dubbed himself the Demo-God, since he has never lost the ratings war in the most important 18-49 demographic. He also came out to declare there would never be a rematch against Orange Cassidy. He poured out a jug of orange juice on the mat in Cassidy’s honor. OC had the last laugh by rigging freshly squeezed OJ to rain down from the ceiling onto Jericho and the Inner Circle.

This was a little too slapstick for my taste, and I do enjoy me some Three Stooges. The feud between Jericho and OC was amusing, but I’m not interested in a rematch. I’m hoping this was just a moment to give OC the last laugh. Time for Le Champion to move on. That said, the persistent replays of that moment were funny as Jericho was on the commentary table. Also, Jericho shouting out his foe’s name in a rage will never get old.

Speaking of Jericho moving on, that would be toward Jurassic Express. In a backstage interview, Marko Stunt made fun of Le Champion and called him an idiot. Later, it was announced that Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus will wrestle Jericho & Jake Hager next week.

That feud works for me. Jericho already has beef with Jungle Boy and Stunt. Hager and Luchasaurus never got to complete their big man clash of long ago. It could also have ramifications toward a tag team title shot, now that Jurassic Express is ranked third.

The Elite defeated Jurassic Express. I didn’t like the first half. There was too much jokey stuff trying to get Stunt over. Jungle Boy had some sweet moves though, including a thunderous clothesline on the floor. That was loud as heck. Kenny Omega did grown man’s work once he took off his t-shirt to take the match seriously. His snap dragon suplexes always get a rise out of me.

For the finish, Omega obliterated Stunt with V-Triggers. He put the smaller fellow on his shoulders for One Winged Angel, but Stunt escaped out the back for a roll-up. Omega rebounded with another V-Trigger and a successful One Winged Angel to win. Afterward, Omega shockingly ground and pounded Stunt for no reason. He apologized but still smiled about it.

Hmm, that Omega attitude was an odd twist, and I am intrigued. Commentary reasoned that maybe Omega was still angry about beer being dumped on him, but attacking Stunt like that is no way to remedy the situation. That is the type of reaction which could turn him heel on Hangman Page when he finally loses the tag titles.

Open challenge. Hikaru Shida was asked about future title contenders with 4 of the top 5 unable to compete. Is she ready for a Nyla Rose rematch? Shida stated that it doesn’t have to be Nyla next. Anyone can be a challenger.

This sounded like Shida will be doing an open challenge gimmick for awhile. I say kudos to that. Giving her the Cody treatment would be dope. It will mix things up with surprise opponents and allow Shida the chance to shine in the ring. I was thinking Ivelisse would be on the short list. She was hinting at something big on Twitter lately. Turns out that AEW announced Ivelisse versus Diamante next week on Dynamite.

Allie & Brandi Rhodes defeated Kenzie Paige & MJ Jenkins. The Nightmare Sisters found success again. They bickered over the spotlight before the match, but they took care of business once the bell rang. Brandi even saved Allie by spearing Paige. Allie pinned Jenkins with an inverted headlock elbow.

The Nightmare Sisters were a little more uppity towards each other than in last night’s win on Dark. Brandi took it upon herself to do a blind tag, which Allie did not appreciate. Earning the W is all that matters though. At this point, Dustin Rhodes is acting like the biggest diva of the three with how he ignored Allie and was reluctant to raise her hand in victory.

Excuse me! Nyla Rose introduced her new manager... Vickie Guerrero! When they are ready to go after the Women’s Championship, it will be the perfect time. Until then, they will steal every opportunity other women in the locker room ever dreamed of.

Vickie is always good for a fun pop. Time will tell how this new relationship works on-screen. It has potential for amusing antics with the way Vickie talked about stealing wins. Combine this segment with the Shida interview, and I like how AEW is covering their bases not to rush the rematch.

Notes: Tony Schiavone was not present on commentary due to awaiting results of a coronavirus test. Taz replaced him in hour one, and Jericho filled in for hour two.

Commentary made it a point to acknowledge Tully Blanchard watching Cody’s match and later FTR’s bout. It feels like something is brewing. Is Tully using magical mind power to turn Cody and FTR to the dark side?

Hangman Page drank whiskey at a bar while watching the Elite’s match. He was joined by FTR.

Dr. Britt Baker DMD was in her Role’s Royce observing the action. Her injured nose was bandaged. Thankfully, Big Swole honored her suspension, and Baker went the night unscathed.

Stud of the Show: Cody’s vertebreaker

That was my favorite maneuver of the evening.

I thought for sure Kiss would not kick out and popped hard when he stayed alive. That shows Cody’s successful work in psychology on me as a fan with the way he has won his matches in so many different ways.

Dud of the Show: Botch city

Something funky must have been in the air tonight. AEW uncharacteristically made a lot of mistakes across the board. They usually run a tight show, but not tonight.

Announcers were mumbling words. Cody’s slingshot suplex to Kiss left Kiss dead on the rope with no slingshot part. The Lucha Bros had difficulty with their teamwork wheelbarrow splash. Fenix tried to salvage the pick up of Pentagon, but they could barely execute it. FTR couldn’t get their truck to start. During the orange juice promo, Jericho’s microphone sounded funny. The production staff came out early before a commercial. On tag team pin breaks, we could see the partner clearly waiting to time it right before 3.

AEW doesn’t have the cleanest ring work around, but these were mistakes I rarely notice. It was enough to make me scratch my head. For whatever reason, it just wasn’t AEW’s night.

Grade: B-

This episode didn’t particularly resonate with me. The quality wasn’t bad, aside from the odd botches. Just that some parts of the show didn’t appeal to me. The standout positives were Kenny Omega losing his marbles, Hikaru Shida’s open challenge, and Darby Allin’s return.

Share your thoughts about Fight for the Fallen. How do you rate it? Who stole the show?

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