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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Apr. 21, 2021): Shining Samurai

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AEW Dynamite (Apr. 21, 2021) emanated from Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, FL. The show featured Hikaru Shida and Tay Conti stealing the show as well as Darby Allin and Jungle Boy showing the future is now.

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

Shining Samurai

Honors for match of the night goes to Hikaru Shida and Tay Conti competing for the AEW Women’s Championship. Their contest rocked the house.

AEW provided the big fight feel with a hype video and full introductions. Shida and Conti exchanged a bow of respect before combat. Conti was the first to score a decent blow by cracking Shida across the jaw. Shida smiled then returned fire for a slugfest in the center of the ring. That transitioned to each woman blocking Judo trips. Conti was able to secure a Judo throw then followed with two running knees to Shida’s face.

Shida took control on the outside with a running knee, enzuigiri, and delayed suplex on the floor. Back in the ring, Shida locked in a sweet bow and arrow submission. Shida was the first to get feisty by mushing Conti’s face with her boot when in the ropes for a break. After a backbreaker, Shida also smacked Conti in the head. That only fired Conti up to rally with strikes.

The match progressed with aggressive attacks. Conti hit a wicked senton to Shida, who was hung across the top ropes.

Shida would eventually get payback with a similar yet more vicious maneuver. Shida used a fireman’s carry to drop Conti on her spine across the top turnbuckle.

One touch that took this match to the next level was awareness of patented finishers being set up. When Conti reached to hammerlock Shida’s arm for a hammerlock DDT, Shida immediately realized the danger and promptly escaped. When Shida wanted to pick up steam for the Tamashii knee strike, Conti grabbed Shida’s foot to prevent the running start. Both women also kicked out of secondary finishers. Conti took a Falcon Arrow and Shida took a Gory knee strike with neither competitor being put down for the count.

In the end, the champ was too much. Shida countered a hammerlock DDT into a belly-to-back piledriver. Conti kicked out on the cover then rose up to blast elbows. Shida caught a kick from Conti to deliver a wide swinging paintbrush slap.

That led to a fireman’s carry backbreaker then the Katana spinning knee strike for victory as Shida retained gold.

That title match was a blast. It was everything I could have hoped for. I enjoyed how they upped their games with unique moves with the top prize on the line. The displays of strategy were excellent storytelling. Both women obviously studied the tape in preparation. It is those little touches that make me believe this as a sport.

Afterward, Dr. Britt Baker DMD interrupted Shida’s celebration to show that she will be the new #1 ranked wrestler. That means a title match will be coming her way soon.

Shida versus Baker is nice on paper, but I’m not sold yet on believing that Baker has the ability to dethrone the champ. If AEW wants to sell this as a huge bout, then she needs a quality win to earn the title shot. Anything can happen in professional wrestling, especially with Reba ringside, however, Baker is lacking legitimacy.

The future is now

In the main event, Darby Allin defended the TNT Championship against Jungle Boy. It was a clash of two former prospects showing that the future is now.

Jungle Boy had the early advantage in technical acumen. The attitude became chippy with chest bumps. Allin used that lapse in focus for a double leg takedown to unload punches. The action spilled to the floor with both men being dumped over the guardrail. The bout advanced with big suplexes. Allin connected on a superplex, and Jungle Boy had a nifty sequence of a bridging German suplex followed by a bridging tiger suplex.

The pace accelerated with two suicide dives and a tope con hilo from Jungle Boy.

Allin seized momentum with a choke in the ropes followed by a coffin drop on the apron. Jungle Boy was left woozy on the floor. He barely beat the ten count back into the ring.

Sting and Luchasaurus were ringside. They solely observed until that close count-out. Luchasaurus had assisted as a crutch to help Jungle Boy. Sting took exception. The dinosaur put his hand on Sting’s shoulder, then fisticuffs ensued. They brawled to the back as a fun intermission before the match came to its climax.

Jungle Boy had momentum for a Snare Trap submission. Allin dramatically crawled to the ropes. Jungle Boy pulled Allin to the center to weaken his back with a rolling surfboard to set up another Snare Trap. Allin reacted wildly knowing he was close to defeat. He grabbed Jungle Boy’s hair and gouged his eyes to escape. There was a minor reset to run the ropes. Allin rolled over a sunset flip into the Last Supper pin to win.

That was a very pleasurable little match. I appreciated the grit of both men. Jungle Boy’s Snare Trap strategy was excellent, as was the story beat of Allin getting savage to protect his gold. Giving Allin and Jungle Boy more time and removing the extracurriculars, I believe they have the ability and chemistry for this matchup to main event a PPV.

Afterward, Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page attacked Jungle Boy and Allin. They focused on the TNT champ for an Ego’s Edge and a heel hook. Lance Archer surprisingly made the save with Sting in tow.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Hangman Page defeated Ricky Starks. Hook was ringside with Taz on commentary. Starks was looking stylish with a silver cowboy vest.

Starks injured his ankle, and it affected the outcome. After an avalanche fallaway slam, Hangman had a crazed look in his eyes to flatten Starks with a huge lariat. Hangman went for his buckshot finisher, but Starks ducked and came back with a spear. Hangman was down but not out. The two competitors did the fancy dance of counters leading to Hangman trapping Starks with an inverted headlock leg-trap. Starks succumbed quickly due to pressure on the injured ankle.

That opener was jamming. I love fallaway slams, and Hangman was going buck wild with cool variations. There was a half nelson pumphandle bridging fallaway, a regular fallaway, and a super fallaway off the turnbuckles. I also loved when Hangman got the crazy eyes. That’s the kind of extra emotion he’ll need to dig deep and win a championship. Starks looked good as well. He showed he can hang with the best. I wouldn’t bat an eye if Starks went on a winning streak against quality names. He carries himself like a big deal and follows through in entertainment.

One thing that AEW shines in is the creativity of finishes. It is rarely the standard moves of doom sequences that become predictable and anti-climatic. AEW keeps the contests fresh with variety. Hangman’s submission is a perfect example of that. I don’t recall him ever winning an AEW match in that manner, so it was a neat surprise and also played well to strategically attack Starks’ weak point.

After the match, Taz rambled on the mic, so Hook could clip Hangman’s knee from behind. Brian Cage came on the scene to do damage, but Dark Order sent Team Taz scurrying. Hangman versus Cage was booked for next week.

Cage is an unexpected hurdle for Hangman on his path toward a title shot, and I’m all for it. That is a big money match for TV. Cage still has enough mystique that I can believe he could beat Hangman.

Pentagon defeated Trent. Alex Abrahantes accompanied Pentagon, and Orange Cassidy had Trent’s back. Both extra men played a role in the conclusion. Trent was in control with a piledriver on the apron and a spear on the floor. That’s when Abrahantes caused a distraction by insulting Trent’s mama. Abrahantes retreated to the ring. OC was behind him ready to take action. Pentagon saved his translator with a blindside superkick to Cassidy. Abrahantes bopped Trent on the head with a microphone. That allowed Pentagon to close with a package piledriver.

That was a quality bout. The rugged moves added a sense of danger. Trent’s ‘take no shit’ attitude was enjoyable, especially against a man with Cero Miedo as his catchphrase. The involvement of Abrahantes and Cassidy felt shoehorned, but it served its purpose of a cheap win for Cassidy to avenge. OC will be properly motivated.

Blood & Guts hype. Jim Ross conducted a sitdown with the Pinnacle. MJF criticized Jericho for taking credit for elevating already popular wrestlers. Since MJF has previously defeated Jericho, he’s proven he is better. Wardlow spoke a little to put himself over as a dominant force.

Later, the Inner Circle came to the ring. Jericho took charge with the other members chiming in. Santana’s intensity shined with threats for brutality. Jericho sang a quick show tune to mock MJF, then he closed with the bottom line. Blood & Guts on May 5 is going to be a lesson in violence that MJF will never forget. Jericho also proposed a parley between factions next week to discuss battle plans.

The pair of promos were fine filler trash-talk but nothing special in my eye. I’m still all aboard the Blood & Guts train, because the concept sells itself and the hatred is palpable to be deserving of such a match. Next week’s parley will be a chance to ratchet up the anticipation to maximum levels.

QT Marshall defeated Billy Gunn. Nick Comoroto and Aaron Solow were ringside. Billy didn’t waste time and decided to attack during QT’s arrival. QT shoved Solow in front to take the licks. That didn’t matter much, since Billy walloped QT from pillar to post. Comoroto came to his teacher’s aid to shove Billy into the ring post. That’s when the Gunn sons leaped over the railing to brawl with Comoroto and Solow. That foursome exited to the back. Anthony Ogogo ran in with a forceful punch to Billy’s bread basket. QT capitalized with a cutter to win.

Afterward, QT lined up a wooden chair to clobber Billy, but Dustin Rhodes ran in for the save. Comoroto returned to step to Dustin. The Natural whacked Comoroto on the head with the wood to no effect.

Billy was great as a furious papa. His anger carried the match. QT was done no favors in being built as a threat to Cody Rhodes. He pretty much got his butt kicked. That leads me to believe Ogogo will be the prime target for Cody.

Car crash. The Elite were yucking it up in their trailer when Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston drove a truck crashing into the luxury mobile. When the mischievous duo opened the trailer door, the Elite were nowhere to be found. Moxley and Kingston became frustrated at the Young Bucks’ cowardly disappearing act.

That kind of chaos is always cool. The witty repartee between Mox and King was gold. It was kind of odd how the Elite managed to escape unseen. Luke Gallows is no small man nor is he fleet of foot.

Christian Cage defeated Will Hobbs. Team Taz had been banned from ringside due to their earlier tomfoolery in the opener. Hobbs put a beating on Christian with his powerhouse game. Christian used wily veteran tactics to prevail. He slipped out and under to powerbomb Hobbs off the turnbuckles. A frog splash followed. 1, 2, kick out. Hobbs regained control for an Oklahoma Stampede. Hobbs got too cocky and allowed a brief moment for Christian to escape and counter with Kill Switch. Afterward, Starks came down to the ring for a staredown with Christian.

In story, Christian is nowhere near championship level caliber yet. He struggled in his first match against Frankie Kazarian and was thoroughly dominated for much of this match. Granted, Hobbs is a tough and powerful man. I do like how Christian needs to prove his worth instead of being gifted a world title opportunity. There are seeds for a cool story of growth for the veteran, but he needs to appear as if his game is tightening up.

Notes: It looked like Pentagon had Batman ears on his mask.

Miro still has not heard from Kip Sabian. The Bulgarian is getting antsy to smash and win championships. The only question is which champion will he beat first.

Anthony Ogogo hates it in America. He’s only here to earn big money.

Jade Cargill is being recruited by managers, such as Matt Hardy and Vickie Guerrero. Anybody looking to sign her better make a hell of a deal.

Stud of the Show: Nick Comoroto

There’s nothing like no-selling a wooden chair to the head to establish your credentials as a badass. Comoroto is insane. His expression after contact is priceless.

Dud of the Show: The Pinnacle’s tall chairs

There was something about the furniture that made The Pinnacle look uncool in my eye. I can’t put my finger on why it bothered me. Maybe the seating was too rigid and prevented any swagger to shine through.

Grade: A-

This episode offered plenty of intriguing matchups. The action was fresh with creative finishes. Five of the six matches held my attention throughout. Add in fun with hijinks from Moxley and Kingston for an enjoyable viewing experience overall.

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