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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (June 18, 2021): MMA fury

AEW Dynamite (June 18, 2021) emanated from Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, FL. The show featured Jake Hager doing battle with Wardlow in an MMA cage, the debut of Arn Anderson’s son, and the Elite cheating again to win.

MMA fury

Dynamite opened with the MMA cage fight between Jake Hager and Wardlow. It was the best part of the show. The contest consisted of three 5-minute rounds with a 45-second rest break. Only one cornerman was allowed with the remainder of the Inner Circle and Pinnacle banned from ringside. Chris Jericho backed Hager, while Shawn Spears assisted Wardlow. Win was by knockout, submission, or referee stoppage. AEW went full MMA with the setup of a six-sided cage.

Round 1 began with both men circling to find their distance for punches. Hager landed the first effective blow with a stiff jab.

Hager connected on a body shot and a leg kick. Wardlow winced at each point of contact. Hager shot for a double leg takedown, but Wardlow stuffed it and tossed him aside. Wardlow flexed to taunt his power. Hager went back to the well for a successful takedown. He immediately stood up to taunt Wardlow.

The pace increased when Wardlow caught a kick. He smashed on a heavy punch to knock Hager on his keister. The two hosses engaged in throwing wild haymakers. Wardlow stepped off the cage for extra momentum to land a superman punch.

Wardlow mauled Hager on the mat in the round’s final seconds.

Round 2 began with Wardlow charging for a running knee, but Hager evaded. Wardlow used a wristlock takedown to establish mount for ground and pound. Wardlow worked for an armbar, but Hager escaped and transitioned to top position. Hager went from armbar to triangle choke. Wardlow picked Hager up for a mild powerbomb to break free. Hager went back to submissions with an ankle lock. Wardlow hit an upkick to release.

All of a sudden, the MMA fight turned into a professional wrestling bout. Wardlow used a powerbomb toss into the cage, hit a hurricanrana, then a spear. Hager countered on the mat with an arm triangle.

Hager kept the pressure on with a uranage slam to transition into an arm triangle choke. Wardlow began fading. He flashed the middle finger before passing out. The referee called for the bell and awarded the win to Hager at 47 seconds left in round 2.

That clash of behemoths was loads of fun. I loved all the ego posturing. AEW did great by fully leaning into the MMA gimmick. The six-sided cage intensified the atmosphere. Hager and Wardlow did well working the line of MMA action with sports entertainment flair. It was a hoot when Wardlow bust out pro wrestling moves. The contact wasn’t the cleanest throughout, but it sure was satisfying for a hoss fight.

Hager earning the W was the right call. It preserves the talking point that Hager is undefeated in MMA, even though, the announcers oversold his experience at times. Wardlow was entertaining enough not to lose any luster in defeat.

Afterward, chaos exploded. Hager and Wardlow were going to show respect for the hard-fought contest, then Spears blindsided Hager. Jericho ran in to even the odds. MJF was in stealth mode to rush the cage and bludgeon Jericho. The focus was on Jericho’s dislocated elbow as MJF locked in the Salt of the Earth armbar. Jericho tapped in pain.

Dean Malenko! Malenko appeared on the scene to separate the submission hold. MJF stepped up in Malenko’s face taunting a punch. Tensions seemed to cool as MJF walked away, then he turned back to land a sucker punch on Malenko.

Sammy Guevara! Guevara was late to the party, but he cleaned house on Spears. Referees held him back from reaching MJF.

It was announced that MJF and Guevara will get it on for the June 30 episode of Dynamite.

The extracurricular activity brought the heat, as if this feud needed any extra spice. How dare MJF take a cheap shot on Malenko. Despicable. I’m pumped that AEW isn’t holding back to give us MJF versus Guevara. That match is going to blaze. Even if Guevara loses, it will feel good to see him land aggressive offense on MJF.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Scorpio Sky & Ethan Page defeated Darby Allin. Handicap tag rules were in effect. Sting kept his word to Allin by staying home. The Men of the Year used their teamwork advantage to work over the lone wolf. Allin’s second wind kicked in for speedy offense and a Code Red to Sky. Page broke up the pin. Allin zip-tied Page’s feet together and tossed him from the ring. Allin had Sky stunned for a Coffin Drop, but Page pulled Allin out of the ring on the cover. Page found a toolbox to cut himself free then rammed Allin into the ring post. Allin used a headbutt to escape a superplex attempt from Page. As Allin was setting up for the Coffin Drop, Sky pulled Allin’s legs off the turnbuckles. That allowed Page to win via Ego’s Edge.

Pro wrestling conditioned me to expect a victory by Allin, so I’m very glad AEW didn’t fall into that weak trap. Sky and Page are too skilled to lose a handicap match to Allin. The story was fresh with the creative use of the zip-tie. That generated excellent drama when Allin hit his Coffin Drop. I thought for sure that was the end, but nope. Those fellows suckered me in on that one. Even though Allin lost, he maintained his star power through heart, ingenuity, and fearlessness. I am interested in seeing Allin’s reaction eating crow about losing.

Orange Cassidy defeated Cezar Bononi. The Wingmen were upset about Cassidy’s lack of reply to their makeover offer, so that’s left them no choice but to make OC pretty. The hunky crew, Best Friends, and Kris Statlander were ringside. Whenever Cassidy rolled onto the floor, the Wingmen beautified him. Bononi had been manhandling OC, but the tide turned when the Best Friends lent hands for a rocket launcher to flip OC onto the Wingmen.

Cassidy exploded for Superman punches and landed the final one on Bononi to win.

This contest was amusing silliness in a good way. Cassidy’s antics flowed naturally within the context of the story. Bononi provided some cool power visuals. Had a live crowd been available, the fans would have been popping hard.

Cody Rhodes & Brock Anderson defeated QT Marshall & Aaron Solow. Arn Anderson was ringside to observe his son’s debut. Brock received the hot tag moment to finish. He assisted Cody into the air for a flying crossbody onto QT on stage. Solow swooped in from behind to set Brock up for a Pedigree, but the young Anderson countered into a jackknife pin to win. Cody took a knee in the tunnel to let Brock soak in the glory with Arn by his side.

The appeal of this contest was Brock, and he delivered fundamentally sound offense. His top moves were a gutwrench suplex and a reverse DDT. Brock stuck to his strengths as a rookie. It will be interesting to see his development over time. QT had the best moment of the match by using Arn’s spinebuster on Brock. That was a rascally way to rub it in Arn’s face.

Penelope Ford defeated Julia Hart. Varsity Blondes were ringside. Hart missed a splits leg drop, so Ford swiftly applied a bridging Indian Death Lock submission. Hart was forced to tap.

I loved that submission. Ford adds character to it with the way she stared into the camera with fiery eyes at Hart’s pain.

Miro! Ford refused to release the submission on Hart, so the Varsity Blondes tried to break it up. That brought out Miro to protect Ford from 3-on-1 odds. He entered the ring to pummel Griff Garrison. Brian Pillman Jr. took flight for a springboard clothesline. Referees attempted to keep Miro and Pillman separated, but the brawl raged on. It was announced that Pillman will get a TNT title shot on June 30.

That was an effective little skirmish in building the TNT title bout. I like how the story developed unexpectedly. When I saw Ford versus Hart on the card, the last thing I thought was it leading to Miro’s next championship challenger. Pillman is going to get his butt kicked, and I’m excited to see it. Nothing personal against Pillman. It’s just that Miro is on fire right now as a badass killer.

Matt Jackson & Good Brothers defeated Frankie Kazarian, Pentagon, & Eddie Kingston. Earlier in the evening, Kaz hyped the match by claiming he is hungry for revenge, thirsty for retribution, and done being decent in indecent times.

The main event was previously scheduled to be an 8-man tag, but PAC was taken out after the Bucks ambushed him on BTE. Don Callis claimed that Nick Jackson was given the night off. That proved to be untrue.

In the end, the match broke down into moves aplenty. Pentagon was in control with a backstabber to Karl Anderson. As Pentagon was on the turnbuckles, Nick ran in to spray his eyes with aerosol. Anderson capitalized on the interference with a flying cutter to pin Penta.

The main event had entertaining action but also the tired bullshit interference finish. Insert fart noise. The cheating has become deflating for me as a viewer. It affects appreciation for the match, because it ends up being a countdown waiting for the screwjob. On the positive side, I like that Kaz’s urgency to attack in the ring matched his Elite hunter attitude. Seeing Matt on the receiving end of a power move train by the babyfaces was quite enjoyable.

Notes: Taz wanted his team to clear the air. Brian Cage was not there. Taz told Ricky Starks to squash the beef with Cage. Will Hobbs was annoyed that everyone left him hanging in the tag match. Taz agreed with Hobbs’ gripe. The boss then challenged Hangman Page to wrestle Hobbs next week on Saturday night Dynamite. I enjoyed seeing Hobbs have a voice in the discussion. The big man has big money potential, so AEW needs to make sure he doesn’t fade to the back behind Starks and Cage.

Later, Hangman accepted the match against Hobbs. When Alez Marvez pointed out that Hangman is ranked #2, he brushed off the question about thoughts on Kenny Omega defending the world title against #1 Jungle Boy next week. Hangman turned the attention to positivity for the Dark Order.

Kenny Omega, Don Callis, and Michael Nakazawa rolled in on a golf cart to interrupt a backstage promo from Jungle Boy. Omega will defend the AEW World Championship next week on Saturday night Dynamite. Omega wanted to have a street fight right now. JB obliged. As he removed his backpack, Nak whacked him in the back with a laptop. Omega pounced for some quick punishment. Jungle Boy landed a few counter punches, so Omega retreated. He kicked Nak off the golf cart as a sacrifice.

Christian Cage interrupted Matt Hardy’s interview backstage, so HFO locked him behind a fence. Hardy offered a check to fund Christian’s retirement to go away. The offer was not accepted. Hardy warned that he will end Christian’s career permanently.

Lance Archer is out of patience. Jake Roberts won’t be able to control him.

Andrade El Idolo sat down with Jim Ross. Andrade has the AEW World Championship and the TNT Championship on his radar. He will have a surprise soon, but we will have to wait. There was nothing special about this segment.

Vickie Guerrero interrupted Dr. Britt Baker DMD. Vickie wants the AEW Women’s Championship around Nyla Rose’s waist. Since she brought Andrade to AEW, Tony Khan owes her a favor. Vickie cashed in that goodwill for a tag match. Nyla & Vickie will wrestle Baker & Reba. I appreciate AEW connecting the dots for why this match will take place, but hard pass on Vickie in the ring. I have no interest in that. Hopefully, Nyla will do most of the work.

FTR and Santana & Ortiz received the hype package treatment for their feud.

Mark Sterling revealed Jade Cargill’s monetization partnership with the Four Seasons hotel in Toronto. Jade assured the world that her winning streak will continue.

Stud of the Show: Jake Hager

Big hoss was rock hard in the cage.

Dud of the Show: Jungle Boy

Jungle Boy showed zero charisma in his scene with Kenny Omega. He was so wooden. That will become a major problem in the future for the main event level if he doesn’t make strides in that area. It is a little befuddling, because he performs so well in the ring.

Grade: B

AEW did a little experimenting on this episode, and it worked out nicely. The MMA fight was much more fun than I was anticipating. Brock Anderson acquitted himself well in his debut. Darby Allin tried his hand against the odds and rightfully paid the price. Plus, there were numerous little story build-ups.

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

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