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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Feb. 3, 2021): KENTA!

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AEW Dynamite (Feb. 3, 2021) emanated from Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, FL. The special Beach Break show featured Chris Jericho and MJF rising to the top, Thunder Rosa and Dr. Britt Baker throwing serious blows, and a surprise attack from KENTA to Jon Moxley.

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

KENTA!

Business just picked up in an international way as KENTA surprised the wrestling world to appear on Dynamite.

Before we get to that, we need to cover the main event of the evening. Jon Moxley, PAC, & Fenix went to battle against Kenny Omega, Karl Anderson, & Luke Gallows. The babyfaces were on fire early with aggression until Omega held PAC’s foot on the turnbuckles for Gallows to land a high kick and then press him into the air. The match progressed with a steady flow of high flying and powerful suplexes.

Moxley took a beating early, but he managed to escape a Magic Killer to milk drama for the hot tag to Fenix. The luchador ran wild with feet aflame for fancy kicks. Fenix and PAC hit tandem moonsaults to the Good Brothers on the floor, then Fenix returned for a rolling cutter to Omega.

The babyfaces had another thrilling run of moves on Omega. It began with a spin kick from Fenix to a running clothesline, pump kick, German suplex, then bridging German suplex from PAC.

The match was full of exciting sequences similar to above. The finish came down to Anderson countering a flying attack from Fenix into a spinebuster. The Magic Killer finisher allowed Gallows to pin Fenix for the win. Omega blasted PAC with a V-Trigger to prevent the save.

After the bout is when things got really fun. The Bullet Club put the boots to Fenix. Moxley tackled Omega. Music hit. Lance Archer! He cleared the ring of the Good Brothers. Mox was lurking to damage Omega when he was attacked by an intruder. KENTA!

KENTA hit the Go To Sleep knee strike on Moxley. Don Callis was on commentary to play coy with laughter, while Excalibur wondered if the break with the NJPW Bullet Club has been fixed. Omega stepped on Moxley’s body with his arm raised in the air. KENTA stood there shaking his head.

The main event was a fun fight with smooth teamwork, and the explosive post-match activities were bonkers. KENTA was certainly a surprise. There have been hints here and there, but it is something you have to see before believing it could actually occur. KENTA’s arrival also adds to the ‘anything can happen’ vibe currently flowing in AEW. In a few short months, there has been Sting, the Good Brothers, and now KENTA all as shocking surprise appearances.

I don’t know all the NJPW history with everyone involved, so I can’t sell the proper magnitude of the moment. I do have enough cursory knowledge of KENTA to know that this is a very big deal. Let’s hope AEW puts together a video package briefly explaining the ins and outs of these complicated relationships.

Next week could be explosive as Omega proposed a lights out tag match with KENTA against Moxley and Archer. The AEW exclusive also sheds light on if KENTA and Omega are on the same page. Telling someone to shut the f—k up probably means no.

Inner Circle triumph and strife

The Inner Circle had a complicated evening. Chris Jericho and MJF earned a tag team title shot, but they may have lost Sammy Guevara in the process.

The tag team battle royale opened the broadcast with Alex Reynolds & John Silver, Evil Uno & Stu Grayson, Sammy Hager, Jericho & MJF, Santana & Ortiz, Jurassic Express, Top Flight, Private Party, The Acclaimed, and the Young Bucks. The bout had standard rules with the last man remaining earning a tag title shot against the Bucks at the Revolution PPV on March 7.

Early highlights were the Bucks kicking off the action with tandem dives off the stage onto bodies below, Luchasaurus cleaning house, and John Silver with a double suplex to Santana and Ortiz.

Matt Jackson was eliminated early on a back body drop by Santana. For the final ten, the Inner Circle was five deep. Then, Nick Jackson turned up the super juice to eliminate Santana and Ortiz. The Good Brothers came down to root for Nick and also mess with Private Party as they low-bridged the rope for Isiah Kassidy to be eliminated. Nick was not pleased with their interference. He paid the price for his lack of focus when MJF came from behind to dump him out of the ring.

The Young Bucks were shockingly eliminated. They were heavy favorites with the special stipulation to pick their opponents and last week’s tease leaning toward the Good Brothers as PPV adversaries. I’m happy that AEW chucked the Bucks before it got down to the nitty-gritty. Their absence definitely added more drama to the finish. Even more important though, AEW showed they can zig when we are expecting them to zag. These decoys keep us fans on our toes when watching over time, and that makes the show more fun.

The final six were Jericho, MJF, Sammy, Max Caster, Darius Martin, and Jungle Boy. MJF took care of Jungle Boy without too much trouble. There may have been a misstep on the ropes leading to Jungle Boy’s elimination. Sammy and MJF had a staredown. Caster held MJF, so Sammy could attack. MJF wiggled free and a thrust kick from Sammy blasted Caster instead. MJF charged at Caster only to be dumped out himself when Caster ducked. Darius tossed Caster.

That left two members of the Inner Circle in Jericho and Sammy with one member of Top Flight in Darius. Martin hit a double DDT. He tossed Guevara over the ropes, but the Spanish God hung on for a headscissors. Jericho tried to dump Darius, however, the contact inadvertently sent Sammy down to the floor for an elimination.

Martin clocked Jericho with a flying shotgun dropkick. Jericho lifted Martin over the ropes, but he stayed on the apron. As Martin leaped up, Jericho unloaded a Judas Effect to send the youngster down to the floor. Jericho was the victor to earn a opportunity at tag team gold for himself and MJF. Sammy thought Jericho eliminated him on purpose and exited alone without celebrating Le Champion’s success.

This was an enjoyable battle royale overall. There were cool moves, cool eliminations, not much stupidity that has become standard in these types of matches, and a few story beats that are intriguing but didn’t overshadow the contest. It was also nice to see young blood getting a chance to shine in the final group down the finish. That was the type of thing that can level up Darius Martin and Top Flight.

There wasn’t as much teamwork as I was expecting considering it was made up of tag teams and factions. Santana and Ortiz worked as a unit. The Dark Order had each other’s backs when they were able to assist. For the most part, it felt like a singles battle royale with loose alliances. That’s not to say anything good or bad about the bout. It’s just an observation.

I like the choice of Jericho and MJF as title shot winners. They are one of the few teams in AEW right now where I could talk myself into believing they have a legit chance at dethroning the Bucks. Jericho and MJF are superstars, and they have no issue cheating. It is definitely a PPV worthy matchup, in my opinion.

The night became awkward for the Inner Circle later in the evening. Jericho and MJF were looking to celebrate their success with the boys, but Sammy was still upset. He questioned why it always seems like the rest of the crew are collateral damage. The other members didn’t disagree. Sammy exited. Jericho followed to soothe things over. MJF approached the remaining members to have a serious conversation.

The wheels are turning for someone to get thrown out of the Inner Circle. It would seem like MJF is plotting against Sammy, however, I could see MJF twisting it as Jericho’s poor leadership being the source of Sammy’s friction.

The order of elimination for the battle royale was:
1. Dante Martin by Marq Quen
2. Alex Reynolds by Jake Hager
3. Jake Hager by Evil Uno and John Silver
4. Matt Jackson by Santana
5. Anthony Bowens by Chris Jericho and MJF
6. Stu Grayson by Luchasaurus
7. Luchasaurus by Evil Uno and John Silver
8. Evil Uno by MJF
9. Marq Quen by Darius Martin
10. John Silver by Santana and Ortiz
11. Ortiz by Nick Jackson
12. Santana by Nick Jackson
13. Isiah Kassidy by Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
14. Nick Jackson by MJF
15. Jungle Boy by MJF
16. MJF by Max Caster
17. Max Caster by Darius Martin
18. Sammy Guevara by Darius Martin and Chris Jericho
19. Darius Martin by Chris Jericho
Winner: Chris Jericho


Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Dr. Britt Baker DMD defeated Thunder Rosa. Rosa sprinted to the ring to attack early. Baker handled the heat to pounce for a quick Lockjaw, but Rosa escaped before Baker’s hand could enter her mouth. Rosa laid in heavy hits with a smile on her face. She cherished bringing pain to the dentist. Baker responded in kind with aggression of her own.

Big moves were a DVD on the stage by Rosa, a marching Air Raid Crash by Baker, a curb stomp by Baker, and various rolling sessions working counters and escapes.

One strategy by Rosa was to damage the hand Baker uses for the Lockjaw. Reba provided the winning element for Baker. When Baker was in trouble on an armbreaker, Reba entered the ring to remove a turnbuckle. Rosa bounced Reba, but the turnbuckle played a roll in the finish. Baker was able to smash Rosa’s head into the exposed steel.

Rosa was out cold, and the referee called for the bell when she was unresponsive while in the clutches of Baker’s Lockjaw submission.

The women received plenty of time to work, and they put on a solid fight full of intensity. I was a little disappointed in the finish, because I really wanted to see who was better between the two. Heels cheating is a part of the game, so I’m not upset about it. Unfortunately, the way Baker won didn’t sell me on her being a genuine threat to defeat Hikaru Shida down the line. It was more of a weaselly win than a statement of power.

This bout offered two cool chants from the wrestlers in the crowd. First was referring to the AC/DC song, “Thunderstruck.” One person was leading with the mumbling noises as the rest chanted, “Thunder,” to rally for Thunder Rosa. I really hope that chant can work with a full live crowd. The other was a dueling chant of, “Rosa,” versus, “DMD.” Both were cool, creative, and added to the big fight atmosphere.

Hangman Page & Matt Hardy defeated Chaos Project. AEW did a great job actually explaining why Hangman was teaming with Hardy. They played a locker room scene filmed last week. Hardy wanted a match against Chaos Project for ruining -1’s birthday party, but Tony Khan would only give it to him if he could convince Hangman to be his partner. Hardy used revenge for Brodie Lee Jr. to emotionally manipulate Hangman. The cowboy wasn’t interested in tagging, but he did like the idea of making things right with the Dark Order.

That conversation gave Hangman good guy points in trying to be a swell fellow. Without it, Hangman would have looked like a doofus being duped so easily by an untrustworthy Hardy. Well done by AEW to address this and not make Hangman look stupid.

For the match, Hangman and Hardy took care of business. Hangman clobbered Serpentico with a buckshot lariat, then Hardy tagged himself in to take the glory of the pinfall. Hangman was rightfully annoyed with Hardy’s antics.

Wrestle wedding. Kip Sabian and Penelope Ford tied the know without a hitch. Ford wore a white version of her wrestling gear with a bustle train attached. Father James Mitchell (Impact crossover!) handled the ceremony as the sinister minister. Vows with innuendo were exchanged and sealed with a passionate kiss.

The celebration was when the festivities broke down. Miro anticipated a bad surprise in a big box, so he smashed it good. That allowed butler Charles Taylor a moment to slyly chain Miro to the ropes. Taylor tussled with Sabian and sent Ford into the cake. Orange Cassidy was hiding inside the confection stand and gave the gift of a Beach Break slam to Sabian.

This was a pleasant segment with lots of quips for long-time wrestling fans about past wrestle weddings, especially involving Miro. The ending fell kind of flat for me. Taylor and Cassidy are goofs that need to be smashed by Miro.

Lance Archer defeated Eddie Kingston. Lumberjack rules. It was a donnybrook on the floor as Archer flew over the ropes crashing onto bodies below. Big spots were Archer picking up Bunny for a Blackout only to eat a spinning backfist from Kingston, Bear Country getting shine in spearing Blade through a table and brawling with Butcher, and Archer finally putting Kingston away with a Blackout for victory.

Commentary presented this bout as the end of the feud for now. The action was good, but not as excellent as last week’s satisfying singles bout. It felt more about the lumberjacks at times than the men actually competing. I wouldn’t mind one more round with more danger. A cage match would be fitting for these two destroyers.

Notes: The Beach Break theme had beach party set decorations. Other than that, the theme didn’t play into the show. Sammy Hagar provided another video rooting for Sammy Hager. Luchasaurus was no different without his horns, as far as I could tell.

Jade Cargill received the hype video treatment. She was portrayed as a wonder woman in the gym with glistening sweat and chiseled muscle tone.

Darby Allin and Sting were in the ring to address the upcoming street fight. They were interrupted by Team Taz, who was banned from the building as punishment for last week’s beatdown of staffers. Starks doesn’t think Sting is that same man as when he was known as The Icon. Sting told Starks to take a closer look. Also, Allin will defend the TNT Championship next week against Joey Janela. Sting will make sure Team Taz does not interfere.

AEW provided more details on the women’s tournament extravaganza to determine a challenger for Hikaru Shida. Matches will take place in both USA and Japan. Participants in Japan include Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazaki, Veny, Emi Sakura, Ryo Mizunami, Mei Suruga, Rin Kadokura, and Maki Itoh. Participants in the USA include Serena Deeb, Riho, Dr. Britt Baker DMD, Tay Conti, Thunder Rosa, Nyla Rose, Anna Jay, and Leyla Hirsch. I’m not sure if the pairs of names will be the matches. If they are, then I’m hyped for Thunder Rosa versus Nyla Rose. That match would be badass. On the Japan side, I know nothing about Maki Itoh, but I’m rooting for her after this message.

Shaquille O’Neal & Jade Cargill versus Cody Rhodes & Red Velvet was announced for March 3 on Dynamite. Yes!

FTR was upset about being banned from the tag team battle royale, so they kidnapped Marko Stunt.

Joey Janela and Darby Allin have a long history of mangling each other. Next week the stakes will be high with the TNT title up for grabs. Janela is going to be a bad, bad boy.


Stud of the Show: Kenny Omega

My favorite maneuver of the evening came courtesy of the Cleaner. I love how he kicked Fenix off the ropes then smashed him with a snap dragon suplex.

That moment displayed the ring awareness, technical acumen, and explosive force that makes Omega great.

Dud of the Show: Jon Moxley

I don’t understand why Moxley’s body flopped the way it did from the GTS by KENTA. It’s funny, but I don’t get it.

Grade: B+

This episode featured a few really strong segments and matches as well as mediocre material mixed in. The battle royale and main event excelled. The finish to the show was wild. AEW has my head spinning in so many directions that I don’t know what to expect next. It is a great time to be invested in AEW.

Share your thoughts about Dynamite. How do you rate it? Who stole the show? What was your reaction to seeing KENTA on AEW TV?