AEW Dynamite (Aug. 25, 2021) emanated from the UW-Panther Arena in Milwaukee, WI. The show featured CM Punk’s debut on Wednesday night, Chris Jericho putting his career on the line, and Malakai Black on a tour de force.
Get caught up on all the Dynamite details with the excellent play-by-play from Claire Elizabeth.
CM Punk 2: Electric Boogaloo
CM Punk 2: Electric Boogaloo was similar to the original. He came out to a thunderous ovation, soaked in the adulation, and provided an explanation for his return to professional wrestling. The interview was quick with a few key points.
Punk retired, “Voice of the Voiceless,” as a nickname, since the people now have a voice and AEW listens. During a “Yes,” chant, Punk teased the fans to be patient. He didn’t mention Daniel Bryan by name, but the implication was clear that there is a very real possibility of him also joining AEW. The one thing that most brought Punk to AEW was the challenge of seeing if he still has what it takes to compete against so many great young wrestlers on the roster. Can he still be the best in the world? Darby Allin is a tough test to find out at All Out on September 5.
Nothing beats the shock and awe of an iconic debut, but this was a solid runner-up segment. The energy carried over from Chicago and flowed into Milwaukee for Punk’s appearance. AEW is taking their time letting the people bask in the glow of Punk. There’s no rush for Punk to be cutting pipebombs or anything like that. His contest against Darby Allin already has the sales angle of his return in a dream matchup. Extra layers aren’t needed in this case.
I’m enjoying this version of Punk so far. His curmudgeonly, chip-on-the-shoulder attitude never appealed much to me. As a seasoned veteran with appreciation for the time he has left, Punk’s demeanor radiates positive vibes. His happiness is contagious. That’s something I can get behind and support. It helps increase the anticipation for his in-ring return. I am eager to see if he has evolved his wrestling style to include moves that are fresher than fresh and funkier than funky.
Le career on le line
CM Punk was the draw of the episode, but there was another big promo moment also on Dynamite. After losing the Fifth Labour of Jericho to nemesis MJF, Chris Jericho’s future was a topic for discussion. Le Champion came to the ring with a proposal. One more match to take place at All Out on September 5. If MJF wins, then Jericho will retire from wrestling and stick to commentary.
Jericho sold his state of mind well. He couldn’t stand the voice in his head reminding him of losing to MJF. It is the attitude of driven winners and shows why he has found success in the sport of professional wrestling. MJF accepted with the lure of being able to make the legendary claim that he ended Jericho. That fits in line with MJF’s massive ego.
Adding a career stipulation usually diminishes intrigue about who will win. I think this case tows the middle ground pretty well. It would certainly be believable that Jericho could retire. There’s not much left for him to do in an AEW ring. Jericho carried the company in the early days as world champ. He worked hard to show Orange Cassidy as more than a comedy gimmick. Giving MJF the ultimate rub as his final act is a worthy way to go out.
On the other hand, Jericho is a rock star. He’ll never die. Le Champion will figure out a way to reinvent himself to always stay fresh. It does not yet feel like his swan song will be at All Out.
#1 contender tag team tournament
The Young Bucks are scheduled to defend the tag titles in a steel cage match at All Out. First, an opponent has to be determined. Calling in a #1 contender tag team tournament. Jurassic Express won their bout over Private Party to advance to the final. Lucha Bros and Varsity Blonds competed on Dynamite to advance on the other side of the bracket.
The Varsity Blonds hyped the match with a rousing locker room promo. The Lucha Bros will be their toughest task to date. Fenix and Pentagon are brothers, but the Blonds’ bond to win gold is thicker than blood. I like that AEW is squeezing in more promo time for the younger talents. The more experience they get will prepare them for when the moment is right.
The match was an athletic slobberknocking affair. All four men were woozy at various points during the contest. The high spot was the Lucha Bros doing a Dirty Dancing suicide dive. Pentagon played the role of Patrick Swayze while Fenix did the leaping like Jennifer Grey. As Fenix launched through the ropes, Penta put his hands up to guide his brother into a longer suicide dive arc colliding with the Blonds.
Lucha Bros stepped it up in the end with a statement for the Bucks. They unloaded superkicks to Brian Pillman Jr. then followed with stereo thrust kicks. The finish came shortly after on a teamwork piledriver for Fenix to pin Pillman.
Lucha Bros will battle Jurassic Express on Friday night Rampage for the right to wrestle the Bucks for gold and glory inside a steel cage. I love that matchmaking. Not only is the contest going to rock hard, I have no clue who will win. There are story links either way to the Bucks for a spicy showdown at All Out. This is the type of match that makes Rampage must-see.
The best part of the segment came in the aftermath. Jurasssic Express had been watching from the front row. They hopped the rail for a handshake in the ring. The Bucks were observing the action from on stage. They tried to start a fracas by shoving Jurassic Express into the luchadores. Nobody fell for the shtick. Instead, Pentagon and Luchasaurus kicked the Jacksons off the apron. Fenix and Jungle Boy flew for a pair of suicide dives onto the Elite.
Wrestlers often come across as stupid at times allowing for a story to play out. Not so in this case. AEW has a history in showing their wrestlers as rational and astute human beings. This moment is a good example of not dumbing down the product. That benefits in forming more well-rounded characters for fans to support. Besides, nobody wants to root for a dumbass.
Death by spinning head kick
The main event of the evening shined a light on Malakai Black’s ability to kick ass. His opponent was Brock Anderson trying to defend the honor of the Nightmare Family. One major problem though. Brock was not experienced enough to endure Black’s complex striking offense.
Black cut a promo earlier in the evening offering Brock a way out. Black wanted Brock to take a count-out loss then apologize. If it goes any different, then Black will take it out on anyone associated with the Nightmare Family. This planted the seeds and set the mood for what was to come. It also established Black as a proper villain.
Despite Arn Anderson’s protests, he was still ringside to support his son. Brock surprised early with double takedown at the opening bell. Black withstood ground and pound to rise back to his feet. A jumping knee strike smashed Brock in the face. Black poured on the pain with punch combos and hard kicks.
Arn teased throwing in the towel, but it may have been a trick to buy Brock recovery time as Black goaded Arn. Brock clipped Black’s knee from behind. Black rebounded with an exploder suplex then put out Brock’s lights with a spinning head kick. The bloodthirsty fans cheered for one more kick. Black did not oblige them and pinned Brock for three.
The action wasn’t over yet. Arn stood tall to protect his son from more violence. Black unloaded a spin kick, which was blocked by Arn. Black changed tactics for a low blow. That dropped Arn’s hands to eat a spinning head kick flush. As Black surveyed the damage, Lee Johnson came out as backup for his mates. Black exited to leave Johnson’s fate of death by spinning head kick for another day.
This was a very strong segment as the next step in the story between Black and Cody Rhodes. Black demonstrated his skills as a dominant force. Brock came out looking stronger despite being outmatched and outclassed. Displays of intestinal fortitude go a long way in earning fans. Even Arn showed gravitas worth cheering by protecting his son. The only questionable decision about the segment was airing it as the main event. The level of competition was too mismatched for a main event, and there was no surprise to close the show, such as Cody’s return.
Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.
Orange Cassidy defeated Matt Hardy. Both men went alone without entourages. The early vibe was mostly comedy mixing in with some big moves. Hardy worked the back to prevent Cassidy’s explosiveness. OC’s rally became personal when he mimicked Hardy’s signature mannerisms and moves. Cassidy escaped a Twist of Fate to hit the same on Hardy. After ducking a Superman punch, Hardy went for his Leech submission. OC countered into a victory roll. He placed his hands in his pockets to secure the position for the three count.
Okay match. The first half felt a little too forced into comedy, even though, the hijinks were amusing at times. Money Matt pulling out wads of cash from his pockets and making sure to take back his $100 bill out of Cassidy’s pocket were good for a chuckle. Once the pace picked up, the action was better. I liked the touch of Cassidy mocking Hardy, which increased the intensity. The feud still has juice to squeeze with Hardy looking for a rematch.
Jamie Hayter defeated Red Velvet. Speed versus power. Thumbs up for the fallaway slam from Hayter. I love that move. Velvet’s suicide dive tackles were great as well. That was an excellent modification fitting the heat of the feud. The finish was a little odd. Velvet overshot a standing moonsault to bang her head against Hayter’s body. I don’t know if that was a botch or part of the story being distracted by Dr. Britt Baker DMD on the apron. The way Velvet confronted the champ could have thrown her timing and rhythm off, in theory. Hayter pounced for a backbreaker and crushing clothesline to win.
Both women looked good in the ring. Velvet wrestled with passion and fire. Hayter played the bruiser and did that well. This was the kind of match leaving me wanting more from both competitors.
Afterward, Baker’s crew put the boots to Velvet. Kris Statlander made the save. The alien will get her shot at the dentist and the women’s title at All Out.
Dark Order civil war. Evil Uno threw the lower Dark Order members under the bus in a group promo. Alex Reynolds blamed Uno for allowing the Elite to put Hangman Page out of action. Uno tried to pull a power play by insulting Reynolds’ status as being in the shadow of John Silver. That harsh line splintered the group. Reynolds walked out, and the rest turned an angry eye at Uno for being a butthead.
Lines are being drawn in the sand over how friends support friends. Uno’s leadership is being questioned, even though, he is only the unofficial leader. This is a drama I can get into. I don’t want the Dark Order to break up, however, I wouldn’t mind seeing a round of sass leading to fisticuffs. It gives the crew purpose and a storyline as they wait for Hangman to return. Unlike Humpty Dumpty, the cowboy would be able to glue them back together again. I’m sure there will be a special lesson in the power of friendship along the way.
Jon Moxley, Darby Allin, & Eddie Kingston defeated Wingmen. Allin closed it out with an over-the-top stunner then Coffin Drop to pin JD Drake. Afterward, Daniel Garcia attacked Allin.
Mox, Allin, and King are delivered cool moves with ornery attitudes to pop the crowd for a fun time. I’m a little befuddled at the recent tough guy trios squad putting down mediocre competition in prime TV slots. There’s not much drama to it. I’m wondering if it is as simple as getting four top stars, including Sting, on Dynamite together to consolidate time. Or perhaps, could it lead to a trios division?
Gunn Club defeated The Factory. QT Marshall had momentum as he made a point to show off for Paul Wight on commentary. QT became overzealous toward Wight and suffered a roll-up pinfall for defeat at the hands of Colten Gunn.
This was a combo of letting younger wrestlers get their groove on while also working in drama between QT and Wight. Not to mention Billy Gunn is still over and in fantastic shape. I enjoy Nick Comoroto, but I do have to question his choice of arm tassels. They seem excessively long. It should only be a matter of time before an opponent ties them together behind Comoroto’s back to limit his reach.
Notes: Andrade will show he is undeniably great in his match against PAC at All Out.
Miro cut another great promo. No surprise there. Miro and his powerful arms forgave Fuego del Sol, because God reminded him of an original sinner who took the easy way to AEW. The Redeemer will hold Eddie Kingston under water as judgement.
Julia Hart, Big Swole, Bunny, Thunder Rosa, Nyla Rose, Red Velvet, Tay Conti, Penelope Ford, and Diamante were announced for the Casino Battle Royale at All Out. Bunny interrupted a promo by Tay Conti to recruit her for the Hardy Family Office. Conti ripped the contract in half and fisticuffs broke out. They will settle their beef on Rampage. Quick, simple, effective build for a fiery bout on Friday night.
Cash Wheeler’s arm injury has affected the nerves in his hand. His career may be in doubt, but he’s still on board to collect his pound of flesh from Santana & Ortiz in one more match next week on Dynamite. I’m pretty sure Wheeler’s injury issues are legit, but I’m really hoping it’s a ploy to gain a sneaky advantage in the match. Otherwise, it would be a bummer to lose Wheeler to a freak accident.
Kenny Omega was interrupted by Christian Cage to push the idea of Don Callis being a carny piece of shit. Christian was beat down by the Elite. Frankie Kazarian made the save with a pipe. It is an odd call for Christian to be focusing more on Callis so close to the PPV, but at least Callis was looking fashionably slick in his pink suit and scarf.
Jon Moxley was angry that only one man stepped up from Japan to challenge him. Mox’s initial reaction was honor at Satoshi Kojima coming to the plate. Mox then felt insulted that a crazy old man thinks he can go toe to toe. Once the bell rings, respect goes out the window. Moxley will execute the legend. Great use of the Forbidden Door to create a unique matchup. I’m a fan of Kojima, so I’ll gladly enjoy watching that slugfest at All Out.
Dan Lambert returned with another ripsnorting promo. He sees the AEW fans as soft and weak people who rally behind soft and weak wrestlers. That’s why he aligned with Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page. Lambert wants to provide real men as role models.
#DanLambert of @AmericanTopTeam sees @ScorpioSky & @OfficialEGO of #MenOFTheYear as role models in modern day pro wrestling.— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) August 26, 2021
Tune into @tntdrama NOW to watch #AEWDynamite LIVE! pic.twitter.com/NX55SzboGo
Stud of the Show: Malakai Black
The man looked like a killer as the Nightmare Family sends its lambs to slaughter.
Dud of the Show: Unfulfilling main event
Even though the segment was well executed, it was not satisfying as a main event fight. It didn’t leave me feeling satiated as a fight fan. This result against Brock Anderson was clearly going to be a squash. I don’t mind a short match if it is in the vein of how Malakai Black destroyed Cody Rhodes in a shocker. This one lacked that layer of drama expected from a main event.
AEW did what they do well with story building, effort in the ring, and an overall fun time. Unfortunately, the matchmaking lacked sizzle in this particular episode.
Share your thoughts about Dynamite. How do you rate it? Who stole the show?