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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (July 14, 2021): Death by Coffin Drop

AEW Dynamite (July 14, 2021) emanated from H-E-B Center in Cedar Park, TX. Night 1 of the Fyter Fest special featured Darby Allin and Ethan Page competing in AEW’s first Coffin Match, Cody Rhodes and Malakai Black setting the house on fire, Hangman Page finding his confidence, Team Taz swerving the FTW title fight, and Jon Moxley getting wild in his IWGP US Heavyweight Championship defense.

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

Coffin Match

The hatred between Darby Allin and Ethan Page was too much to bear, so they settled it in a Coffin Match. The only way to win was to stuff your opponent in the coffin and close the lid. This was AEW’s first venture into this type of stipulation. Allin and Page stole the show with gangbusters action and painful stunts.

Allin charged like a madman before he even took off his jacket. It turned out that he was wearing a metal shield on his back as he smashed Page with a springboard Coffin Drop. Allin followed with a suicide cannonball. He aimed to finish early, but Scorpio Sky was waiting inside the coffin when the lid opened. Sky attacked.

It’s Sting! The Icon walked to the ring to brawl with Sky off to the side.

There were about 10 minutes remaining after Sting’s appearance. Allin and Page put the petal to the medal to pack as much craziness as they could in the time remaining. They recreated their indie spot of Page gorilla pressing Allin from the second level in the stands down to the floor. Allin used a turnbuckle hook to fishhook Page’s cheek. Page unleashed a super Ego’s Edge tossing Allin onto steel steps inside the ring. That impact made me pucker in pain.

In the end, Allin gouged Page’s eyes then connected on a flying double stomp with his skateboard. Page collapsed into the coffin, and the lid was shut. The insanity didn’t stop there. Allin followed with a Coffin Drop onto the coffin while Page was still inside.

Hats off to those two putting their bodies on the line. The Ego’s Edge had to hurt. I’m surprised the ring steps didn’t cut up Allin’s back. He might have a nasty bruise in the morning. The nervous anticipation of waiting for that final Coffin Drop had to suck for Page. I bet time moved so slow inside that coffin. He can’t see, then ouch!

AEW’s execution of the Coffin Match stipulation was enjoyable. Pallbearers dressed in black carried the coffin to the ring to hype the mood. I like that Allin and Page didn’t dip too often into the coffin by trying to shut the lid when neither man was ready. My initial reaction to the finish was that the skateboard stomp shouldn’t have been enough to keep Page down. It wasn’t a knockout blow, but I guess the accumulative damage took its toll.

I’m curious how AEW handles the aftermath of the Coffin Match. This should surely be the end of the feud, right? I can’t be certain due to how AEW has booked other specialty matches with a feud still raging on afterward. Will Page miss any time to sell the severity of the loss? Will the coffin aspect take a mental toll on him? Is Page going to show up next week in a body cast?

Fight building

Night 1 of Fyter Fest had two moments that stood out as special for building future fights. Cody Rhodes called out Malakai Black, and Hangman Page called out Kenny Omega.

Cody raged about crossing the line by kicking old man Arn Anderson last week. The American Nightmare demanded Black meet him in the ring. Black answered on the big screen to tell a long-winded tale about putting down a prized pony. The message was that Cody lost the fire in his eyes and Black is going to put an end to him. Cody urged Black to try. Light out, lights on. Black was in the ring for a heated session of fisticuffs. Referees and security promptly separated the two men.

The emotion and intensity was fire in that segment. The skirmish was the perfect length of tease not to give too much away but also make me salivate for the fight. Cody and Black added an aesthetic touch by clashing in an all white suit and an all black suit. Everything about that exchange made me want to pay money for their eventual fight.

In the AEW World Championship picture, Hangman confidently declared that he is ready to chase the title again. He tried to hide from his past failures, but support from the Dark Order convinced him. Don Callis, Omega, and the Elite interrupted to play psychological games with the cowboy’s fragile ego. Matt Jackson entered the ring saying Hangman didn’t have the balls to hit him. Pop! Hangman landed a punch. Omega was plotting for an attack from behind, but the Dark order ran in to prevent the cheap shot.

Hangman stuck to his guns and wasn’t leaving without a match. Omega proposed 5 versus 5 elimination style. Negotiations began. Hangman wanted a title shot for himself and a tag title shot for the Dark Order when they win. Omega countered the offer. When Hangman loses, he nor the Dark Order will be getting title shots. Challenge accepted by Page.

Thumbs up on Hangman for cementing his courage. This story has been simmering so long, that I can’t wait for it to erupt. I’m glad AEW is going full steam ahead on this and not waiting any longer. Credit to the crowd for perfectly timed ‘Cowboy shit’ chants. They were hot as heck for the angle and voiced emotional support for Hangman when the Elite were attempting mind games.

The elimination match creates an intriguing scenario. Will Omega actually be pinned as champ? If he does, will Hangman be able to do it twice in a row to win the belt? I honestly can’t answer either question with certainty, and that shows how well AEW made this unpredictable. It would seem like Hangman is a lock to win at least the first contest, but AEW could find ways around Omega’s unclear stipulation, such as the introduction of their own version of the Royal Rumble.

FTW swerve

Taz was tired of the bickering within his unit, so he made an FTW title bout between Brian Cage and Ricky Starks. Taz claimed it would be good to clear the air and get frustration out through violence in the ring. Taz talked like a concerned coach looking out for what’s best for Team Taz, however, a swerve was in the works to shut down The Machine.

Both Cage and Starks targeted the other’s weakness. Cage focused on damaging Starks’ neck, while Starks tailored his attack to inflict damage on Cage’s bicep. The emotion intensified with dramatic kick-outs on power moves. Starks kicked out of a pumphandle sitdown slam, and Cage kicked out of a powerbomb.

Will Hobbs and Hook were ringside as impartial observers, or so we thought. When Starks reached for the FTW title as a foreign object, Hobbs took it away. Starks was in shock and turned around into an F5 from Cage. 1, 2, Starks kicked out!

The swerve played out when Hook distracted the referee. Hobbs bashed Cage in the head with the FTW hardware. That led to a spear from Starks for victory. Taz, Hobbs, and Hook celebrated with the new FTW champ.

It seems like the fix was in, but I wonder if Taz instructed Hobbs and Hook to make sure Starks earned their support. Forcing Starks to kick out of an F5 as part of the plan would be too risky. Once Starks did though, that showed he had the intestinal fortitude to be Team Taz’s top guy. In hindsight, I should have seen it coming with the fashionable clothing choices from Hobbs and Hook. Powerhouse sported the one strap overall look, while Hook donned leather pants. They looked like members of a boy band. That should have been a clue, since Starks is more stylish than Cage. Also, Starks is money with his facial expressions. He is so over-the-top in a natural way.

I’m curious what happens with Cage from here. It sounded like Starks had the fan support during the match. Cage will always get a positive response for his cool power moves, but will the fans genuinely care about him getting revenge on Team Taz? I’m interested in seeing the matches, but I’m not invested in cheering for Cage to win.

IWGP US Heavyweight Championship

Jon Moxley opened the show with a rowdy entrance through the crowd to defend the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship against Karl Anderson. It set the mood for the evening’s festivities of wild action.

Speaking of wild, Eddie Kingston attacked Luke Gallows with a lead pipe right out of the gate. They brawled out of scene to let the title bout proceed clean. That was a smart tactic by Kingston knowing Gallows would eventually attempt to interfere. It also fits well into the bad blood feud against the Elite.

Moxley and Anderson engaged in a high-impact slugfest. They threw blows at each other in what felt like a 40-strike exchange. I lost count. Anderson almost scored the victory when he escaped a Paradigm Shift and connected with his Stun Gun cutter finisher, but Mox rolled to the ropes to prevent a cover. Anderson upped his cutter game for a flying one, however, Moxley sort of caught him then unloaded a clothesline. That led to a Paradigm Shift for Moxley to retain.

Great choice for an opening bout. The action was tough as Moxley and Anderson fought with guts. Anderson impressed me. He’s kind of been just another guy lately, but he competed hard for the gold. I appreciated his counter strategies to shut down the Paradigm Shift.

It looks like Moxley’s feud with the Elite will be put on the back burner for now. Lance Archer wants an IWGP title match. They had a Texas Deathmatch in Japan, so why not have one in Dallas next week.

Since Moxley survived Archer in Tokyo and Jacksonville, he realized that Archer will never stop coming. That means Moxley will switch from the hunted to the hunter. Texas Deathmatch accepted.

I wouldn’t mind seeing Moxley defend the NJPW title on the regular. It keeps him busy with important tasks and frees up the AEW world title picture. Plus, we get to enjoy Moxley frequently administer destruction.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Christian Cage defeated Matt Hardy. The match crescendoed to kick-outs of signature moves. Hardy survived a spear and a frog splash. As Christian was setting up the Kill Switch, Hardy grabbed the referee to hide his mule kick low blow. Hardy connected on a Twist of Fate, but Christian kicked out on the cover. The action spilled to the floor as Hardy locked in the Leech submission. He let go in order to win by count-out. Christian beat 10 at 9.9 seconds. When Hardy grabbed Christian’s head, Christian countered for the Kill Switch. That maneuver earned his first win over Hardy in singles competition.

These veterans found the fountain of youth to put on a solid match. They worked within the parameters of what their bodies would allow, but they went hard at each other. I think fans of both men would be satisfied with this effort. The finish was a little abrupt for my liking. Christian was on the outs, then boom, he wins. It’s not like he has a rapid-fire finisher.

After the match, HFO surrounded the ring. Jurassic Express made the save before HFO could pounce. Luchasaurus hoisted Christian on his shoulders to celebrate. There was a slight hint of jealousy from Jungle Boy at Christian taking his spot atop the dino.

I really hope they don’t trifle with Jungle Boy’s direction. He’s one of the very few true babyfaces in the sport right now. There’s no need to complicate things with feelings.

Sammy Guevara defeated Wheeler Yuta. Best Friends and Orange Cassidy backed Yuta as their protege. Blade and Bunny were observing in the front row. Yuta had momentum on a flying splash, but Guevara kicked out at 1. The Spanish God rallied for a double springboard cutter then the GTH knee strike to win.

This bout was quick yet full of flash and excitement. The crowd was hot for Sammy. Texas is his home state, but I’d like to believe that the frenetic reaction from fans will carry over to other sites.

Yuka Sakazaki defeated Penelope Ford. Yuka returned victorious with a hammerlock airplane spin and a springboard splash with a side rotation.

This was an okay contest. It was on the cool down side, since there was no heat built for the matchup. I will say I’m a sucker for airplane spins, so that was satisfying.

Notes: Andrade was interviewed by Alex Abrahantes. El Idolo has permission from Tony Khan to kick down the Forbidden Door and win championships everywhere. Andrade told Abrahantes to send a message to Death Triangle. El Idolo is looking for them.

Santana & Ortiz confronted Tully Blanchard backstage. They taunted him with a fake crowbar and a message to get FTR.

Chris Jericho was asked about MJF’s Five Labors of Jericho challenge. In the end, Hercules won, and so will Le Champion. Shawn Spears attacked by jabbing a chair into Jericho’s throat as payback for last week’s cheap shot to MJF. MJF informed Jericho that his first labor will be versus Spears next week. The stipulation is that Spears can use a chair and Jericho can’t. The Pinnacle exited with a chairshot to the elbow as a parting gift.

Miro delivered another badass promo. He told a story of a lost man who was rich with a hot wife who can do the splits. The moral was that the man found himself with the ability of forgiveness. Since Miro forgives everyone he has destroyed, that makes him God’s favorite champion. The TNT title is his reward as the Redeemer.

Britt Baker trash-talked Nyla Rose and Vickie Guerrero about being irrelevant. Rose’s response was that Baker gets handed everything, so the Native Beast is going to hand DMD an ass whooping in the Women’s Championship bout next week.

Stud of the Show: Darby Allin

Allin stole the show by taking that Ego’s Edge on the steps and obliterating the coffin with his Coffin Drop. I think Allin has outgrown the TNT title. If Omega is still champ by the next PPV and Hangman is not his opponent, then I hope Allin gets the nod as challenger.

Dud of the Show: QT Marshall

No strong contenders this week, so I’m choosing QT. He felt insulted by Tony Schiavone’s question, then he poured a drink on Schiavone’s head.

What a jerk! I hope Schiavone slaps the taste out of his mouth. If he did though, he would need protection. I think I just talked myself in Paul Wight’s first feud. Wight and Schiavone are best buds on commentary for Elevation.

Grade: A

Fantastic energy all night long. I was pumped up once Moxley entered the arena, and I remained pumped all the way through to Allin’s final Coffin Drop. I am very pleased with how AEW pushed most of the interference spots to the start and let the matches continue as fair contests, relative to stipulations. In my opinion, it has provided a much more satisfying viewing experience.

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

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