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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Feb. 17, 2021): Valentine’s gift

AEW Dynamite (Feb. 17, 2021) emanated from Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, FL. The show featured the Young Bucks outlasting Santana & Ortiz for the tag titles, an excellent women’s bout between Serena Deeb and Riho, and Kenny Omega naming his match for Jon Moxley as the road to Revolution is heating up.

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

Valentine’s gift

If you thought the feud between Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley would be settled in a basic wrestling match at the Revolution PPV on March 7, then hold on to your knickers. Omega upped the ante to defend the AEW World Championship in an exploding barbed wire deathmatch. Oh my!

Before we get to that insanity, let’s cruise through the road that took us there. The main event consisted of Eddie Kingston, Butcher, and Blade versus Moxley, Lance Archer, and Fenix. Kingston specifically requested this match to handle all family business.

Moxley replied that he will be happy to find time to whoop Kingston’s ass for as long as it takes to make him understand that Mox is the only guy who actually cares about Eddie. Moxley also sent a message that he is coming to take back the world title from Omega.

That promo from Moxley was a great setup for a Kingston babyface turn in the future if he ever finds peace.

The match was a slobberknocker with Fenix stealing the spotlight with agility and quickness.

In the end, Archer used Fenix’s body to chokeslam him onto Butcher and Blade. Archer followed with a running cannonball off the apron. That left Moxley and Kingston to finish their business. Mox ate a spinning backfist then fired up with a hefty clothesline and Paradigm Shift for victory.

After the match, the Good Brothers attacked Moxley. I lost track of what happened to Archer and Fenix. Moxley did threaten the Bullet Club, so I can’t say I blame them for the preemptive retaliation.

Kenny Omega ran out in his sassy fashion boots to reveal Tony Khan’s Valentine’s gift. Moxley will get his rematch at Revoluton, but Omega gets to pick the type of contest. It will be an EXPLODING BARBED WIRE DEATHMATCH!!!

Omega reasoned that since Moxley will keep coming after him then he must be forced to put Moxley in the ground. Moxley responded with a headbutt to open a cut on the bridge of Omega’s nose. Omega shot back with two V-Triggers as the Good Brothers held Moxley.

There’s nothing like an exploding barbed wire deathmatch to say, “I love you.” To be honest, I hung my head once that stipulation was revealed. That style of over-the-top brutality isn’t my cup of tea. I’m sure it will be exciting, but I will struggle to get pumped up for it. Excalibur mentioned a legendary Japanese match of the same ilk, so perhaps this has special relevance to a particular set of knowledgeable fans.

To AEW’s credit, they did make all the promos tie together well to justify such a savage affair. The violence doesn’t really fit Omega’s previous motive, but his explanation did make sense.

Proud and impotent

Santana and Ortiz were ready for their big moment in competing against the Young Bucks for the AEW Tag Team Championship. They entered proud and powerful, but they exited proud and impotent.

Santana and Ortiz started by cutting a killer promo. Pay your dues to the illest, son. Collections are due.

Also of note in that promo, Chris Jericho shut down MJF’s rant on Sammy Guevara. He saw that MJF was goading Sammy to quit. Part of that is MJF’s fault, but a lot of it is Sammy’s fault. Since Sammy walked out of the Inner Circle, he is dead to Le Champion. Jericho was in full support of Proud and Powerful bringing gold back to the Inner Circle. It was nice to see Jericho assess the situation intelligently.

The Inner Circle was ringside for the title bout. The Young Bucks’ parents were front row cheering for their sons. Kenny Omega, Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, and Don Callis were backstage watching awkwardly on a monitor.

The Inner Circle was ejected early when referee Rick Knox caught MJF trying to throw a punch. He did it on stage in full view. I suspect MJF wanted to get noticed on purpose to make it more difficult for Santana and Ortiz to win. Very shrewd move by that fink.

As for the match itself, it was as entertaining as you would expect from these two top-notch teams. Santana and Ortiz brought the intensity and grit, while the Bucks brought the heart and flips. The first false finish tease was a super falcon arrow from Santana to Nick Jackson. That one made me believe if we were going to have new champs as a surprise, then that would be the move to do it.

The match had a creative kick-start to the ending as Santana ducked a BTE Trigger for the Bucks to collide knees. He then hit a double cutter to set up their Street Sweeper finisher on Nick. 1, 2, ... Matt was able to break the pin in the nick of time. Great drama.

Matt was powerbombed into the front row. Ortiz got rowdy in anticipation of victory, however, he lost focus to be rolled up by Nick for the 1, 2, 3. The Young Bucks retained the titles.

As a fan of Proud and Powerful, that was a bullshit finish. How is AEW going to have them go out like that on a simple roll-up? There is a good chance it will be used as a learning moment to evolve down the line, but it deflated the air in the room (in my head). And yes, I admit that this is a sour grapes reaction. I also recognize that Nick Jackson seems to be a master at the roll-up. I believe he’s done it to win matches in other sneaky situations. I still don’t take solace in Ortiz losing on a super duper roll-up. Other than that, Santana and Ortiz were outstanding.

The aftermath erupted in calamity. The Inner Circle swiftly put the boots to the Bucks. Omega wanted to run out, but the invisible hand slowed Omega’s urging. Callis sent out the Good Brothers instead. Brandon Cutler tried to help, so Jake Hager slammed him. Anderson and Gallows finally arrived without much urgency as the Bucks were tapping out to a Lion Tamer and Salt of the Earth armbar.

Jericho even had the audacity to trash-talk papa Buck. Mr. Jackson shoved Jericho to close out the scene. Not a smart move. I will have no qualms if Jericho strikes back down the line, since OG Jackson put hands on Le Champion first.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Hangman Page & Matt Hardy defeated TH2. Hangman and Hardy worked well as a team until Hardy tagged himself in as Hangman was gearing up for a buckshot lariat. Jack Evans escaped a Twist of Fate, and TH2 took control. Page saved the day with a double buckshot lariat. Hardy won the contest with a Twist of Fate on Angelico.

This was a solid opener to get the blood flowing. If Hangman wasn’t coming right out of a tag team with Omega, then I wouldn’t have minded exploring Hangman and Hardy as a duo. However, I’m very glad for what came next.

Swindled. Last week, I mistakenly thought Hangman was the victim of a hoodwinking. Thanks to quick wits to switch contracts, it turns out that Hardy signed a shady deal instead. It was revealed, with help from the Jacksonville Jaguars mascot, that the paperwork was actually for a singles match between the two at Revolution. If Hangman wins, then he receives 100% of Hardy’s first quarter earnings for 2021. Hardy played to Hangman’s honor to coerce an agreement of even terms. If Hangman loses, then the same applies to him. Hangman agreed to the Money Match.

Boom! Hangman was attacked by Isiah Kassidy in disguise as the mascot. Hardy paid TH2 $3,700 to join in on the stomping. John Silver and Alex Reynolds evened the odds, then -1 led out the rest of the Dark Order troops. Hardy barely ducked eating a buckshot lariat. Hangman smiled at his Dark Order pals for assisting in a time of need.

Great twist to build the story. As a regular solo match on PPV, Hangman versus Hardy was not all that appealing. With how the tale unfolded, I’m 100% sold. The Money Match stipulation is cheap fluff, however, it works splendidly to make me root for Hangman. Add in the Dark Order thawing the ice with their charming cowboy, and that was a perfect post-match segment.

Riho defeated Serena Deeb. The NWA champ injured her knee early (I’m assuming it was part of the story and not legit) in the women’s title eliminator tournament matchup, but she still fought through the pain to take Riho to the limit. Riho was close to victory by rallying with a drop toehold into the ropes, a 619, a flying double stomp to the spine, and a flying crossbody. Deeb kicked out to continue the competition. Later, Riho had me convinced the win was hers on a flying double stomp to the gut. Deeb showed heart by kicking out again. The finish escalated into fancy pin reversals with Riho securing a Gedo Clutch for three.

Great match. Easily the top contest of the evening. I recognize it was a smart move to protect the NWA champ with a knee injury, however, I don’t like it as a fan. Since it happened so early, it ruined the uncertainty of who would win. The knee injury made it obvious Riho was going to advance. On top of that, the knee wasn’t actually a factor in the winning pin as the injury was not the reason that Deeb couldn’t escape.

Orange Cassidy defeated Luther. Chuck Taylor and Serpentico were ringside. Luther pummeled OC until OC powerbombed Luther off the apron. Taylor disposed of Serpentico with an Awful Waffle to clear the path for Cassidy’s Superman punch to Luther. Neither Miro nor Kip Sabian made an appearance.

Cassidy fans probably enjoyed the match, otherwise, it was quick filler. The sound of the powerbomb impact earned a reaction out of me.

Sting! Team Taz called out the icon. Only Taz, Brian Cage, and Hook were available for this segment. Sting came out, dropped his bat on purpose, then engaged in fisticuffs with Cage. The numbers game got him, and Cage powerbombed Sting into oblivion.

The takeaway from this was that Sting proved he can take bumps at the spry age of 61. And yes, I still get excited when Sting shows up. I’m beginning to suspect Tony Schiavone yelling, “It’s Sting!” is having a Pavlov’s dog effect on me.

FTR defeated the Sydal brothers. Mike joined Matt to make his AEW debut. This bout was meat and potatoes versus flash with lots of activity. FTR won with the Big Rig teamwork facebreaker on Mike.

Afterward, FTR grabbed the medic’s kit to cut off Mike’s hair. Lights out. It’s Sting! Oh, sorry. It wasn’t Sting. The big screen showed a graphic of Luchasaurus’ hornless mask. Lights on, and Jurassic Express was in the ring to clean house. The dino had new horns. It was announced that Tully Blanchard will return to wrestle in a trios match with FTR against Jurassic Express on March 3 for Dynamite.

This feud has progressed very well to build heat and anticipation for a final showdown. I don’t think I ever requested an in-ring return of Tully, but I’ll take it, especially if it leads to a surprise appearance of Tessa Blanchard to beat up Marko Stunt. I’m curious to see how they use Tully to maximize his effectiveness.

Notes: The women’s tournament will air the remaining two first round matchups on the USA side and the semifinals of the Japan side on Monday at 7 pm ET on YouTube.

A hype video played to promote Shaquille O’Neal and Jade Cargill for their tag match against Cody Rhodes and Red Velvet for the March 3 edition of Dynamite. Shaq and Jade trained on the basketball court. Shaq’s expressions of seriousness made me laugh, as did Jade’s denim short shorts outfit to enter the gym.

Kenny Omega read one line from the Young Bucks’ book to put himself over in front of little kids. The rugrats beat up Michael Nakazawa. I’m not sure what the purpose was other than to have a laugh. It was successful at that.

Dory Funk Jr. was in the building watching as a fan. Tully Blanchard, Ricky Starks, and Will Hobbs were noticeable by their absence. Weather-related travel issues prevented their appearance.

Brandi Rhodes revealed to the world, even Cody too, that her baby is a girl. Cody joined commentary for a bout to announce the Face of Revolution ladder match on the PPV. Cody, Scorpio Sky, and Pentagon will be three of the six competitors fighting to earn a TNT title shot.

The crowd tried to get the Jungle Boy music chant going, but it sounded like a jumbled mess. I think that might be an idea better in theory than execution. The chorus is probably pretty complicated to coordinate. I can’t even do it alone by myself.

Stud of the Show: Hangman Page

Just as I was starting to lose faith in the mopey cowboy, he swerved me back on his side. I was not expecting Hangman to be such a rascally rabbit in his dealings with Matt Hardy.

Dud of the Show: Rick Knox

This criticism isn’t necessarily against the man himself. It is probably not his call to look incompetent in enforcing the rules. That said, he earned dud honors by standing idly by to allow the Young Bucks leeway on a Doomsday Device. Matt Jackson’s run-in had nothing to do with a tag, and they weren’t even in their own corner. It was blatant cheating and not just bending of the rules. The move was cool though.

Grade: B-

This was a tough episode to grade. Dynamite delivered the same overall effort and quality as it always does, but some things weren’t hitting with me. The quicker segments seemed to lack meaning. The women’s match was fantastic and the peak of the show.

Share your thoughts about Dynamite. How do you rate it? Who stole the show?

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