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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (July 21, 2021): Murderhawk champion

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AEW Dynamite (July 21, 2021) emanated from Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, TX. Night 2 of the Fyter Fest special featured Jon Moxley losing a Texas Deathmatch and his IWGP championship to Lance Archer, surprises in the form of Nick Gage and Chavo Guerrero, as well as Dr. Britt Baker DMD in her first title defense.

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

Murderhawk champion

AEW slotted the main event for Jon Moxley defending NJPW’s IWGP US Heavyweight Championship against Lance Archer in a Texas Deathmatch. The fight delivered bloody violence with an unexpected climax as Archer dethroned Moxley.

Last Man Standing rules were used to determine a winner. Archer set the mood by coming out with two kendo sticks. The brawl spilled into the crowd. Archer actually picked up a “fan” to use as a battering ram on Moxley. I’ve never seen that before.

Moxley cut Archer open with a Paradigm Shift on the floor. That I have seen before, but it will always be cool.

Archer connected on a helicopter slam. Since it did no good to make the cover on a pinfall, Archer continued his assault with a Blackout attempt. Moxley escaped to issue a low blow. Archer would not be denied from his goal of gold. He pulled the do-si-do on Moxley to chokeslam him onto open chairs. Mox’s spine bent in half.

Moxley rallied with a King Kong lariat and a Paradigm Shift.

With all the insanity in this match, I never would have figured a common kitchen utensil would be the x-factor. Moxley introduced a fork, and it ended up aiding to his downfall. Moxley set up tables with barbed wire boards on top. As he was picking Archer up for a Paradigm Shift of pain, the Murderhawk Monster grabbed the fork to stab Moxley in the head repeatedly. That allowed Archer the window of opportunity to chokeslam Moxley off the apron through the barbed wire and tables. Moxley did not answer the ten count, so Archer became the new IWGP US champ.

Just like last week’s Coffin Match between Darby Allin and Ethan Page, I have to applaud Archer and Moxley for putting their bodies through pain for our enjoyment. The Texas Deathmatch was bonkers. I’m generally not a fan of obscene death matches. Thankfully, this was the right amount of violence for my palate. It was a rugged hardcore fight with creative spots thrown in.

It’s kind of funny how AEW doesn’t dilute their own championship pool with a bunch of belts, so they just use titles from other companies to put their stars over. And it works. Archer now has a signature win and has given new life to his meandering AEW career. If AEW continues with frequent IWGP defenses, then Archer will finally become a star.

Archer’s next opponent was promptly lined up. NJPW’s Hikuleo had been front row watching Dynamite all evening. The 6’8” son of Haku stepped into the ring for a staredown with the Murderhawk Monster.

I don’t know much about Hikuleo, but ‘son of Haku’ are three words that will immediately grab my attention. Good job by Jim Ross coercing that information out of Excalibur.

Surprises & sorpresas!

AEW had two surprises out of nowhere on this episode of Dynamite. Nick Gage and Chavo Guerrero blew the roof off with their reveals.

Gage’s story is part of MJF’s five labors of Jericho. Le Champion’s first test was to get past Shawn Spears. The catch was that the Chairman was legally allowed to use chairs. Spears tenderized Jericho with the steel. As Spears measured a straight head shot, Jericho sprang up to grab the legs for the Walls of Jericho. Tully Blanchard distracted the referee not to see Spears tap. The Chairman took the pain, reached for a chair, and whacked Jericho. When Spears tried for a C4 with the chair, Jericho escaped and shoved Spears into a chair wedged in the corner. As Spears stumbled back toward the center of the ring, Jericho exploded for a Judas Effect elbow strike to win.

After the match, MJF announced Jericho’s second labor will be no DQ against a man who robbed a bank. Enter Nick Gage to a raucous ovation.

Later, Jericho realized that he will need to be just as violent and demented as Gage to win. Le Champion transformed into the Painmaker.

Man, oh, man, the surprise of Gage takes this feud to another level. It’s not so much about Gage himself, although it should be a wild fight with Jericho, but it is more in regard to the overall labors being genuine labors. I figured AEW would use members of the Pinnacle to take losses. Little did I know MJF would search for specialists in each labor. The addition of Gage creates a sense of unpredictability in who to expect for the final three labors. It makes Dynamite must-see level, because viewers won’t want to miss the surprises. I literally have no clue who could possibly be next in line for Jericho. Almost any non-WWE wrestler is in play with the Forbidden Door swinging wide open.

The match itself between Jericho and Spears was solid with nice action spots. The bigger picture storytelling is where it shined. Spears focused on attacking Jericho’s injured elbow. The idea is that if Jericho does survive the five labors, then his arm will be easy pickings for MJF’s Salt of the Earth armbar finisher. I appreciate thinking two steps ahead like that. It will be interesting to see if Gage focuses on damaging Jericho’s arm as well.

Ooh, Chavo!

Chavo Guerrero debuted in AEW as Andrade’s surprise. Chavito will be taking the role of executive consultant, which appeared to be a fancy title for translator. Andrade was focused on recruiting Fenix and Pentagon to leave PAC and join him instead. Death Triangle came out firm as a family. Tension was teased toward Andrade, but fisticuffs never flew.

The idea of planting seeds for discord among Death Triangle was an intriguing idea, however, the segment was too awkward overall. The mix of English, Spanish, and translations bogged down the flow. Anyway, let’s hear it for Chavo. I’m a fan of his work as a sleazy cheater. Time will tell how much he helps Andrade on screen. I suspect Chavo may turn out to be a bigger bonus backstage with his mind for wrestling.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Luke Gallows defeated Frankie Kazarian. The Elite Hunter kicked off with fire and fury, but distractions from Karl Anderson were the equalizer. Gallows took control with a high kick and a sitdown chokeslam to win.

Another solid fight. Kaz doesn’t have bad matches. Gallows looked pretty good as a big man. The result was unexpected to hand Kaz a loss so early into his Elite hunting, but I like the decision. Kaz isn’t going to win the world title from Omega, so losses don’t matter as much in terms of Kaz’s momentum. This provided a setback and hurdle for the Elite Hunter to adapt and overcome. It also established Gallows as a legit threat. He had been relegated to interchangeable goon status. Not anymore.

The aftermath led into a confrontation between Kenny Omega and Hangman Page.

Cowboy shit. Omega and Don Callis came to the ring to mock Kaz’s loss. After 4-on-1 physicality to the Elite Hunter, Hangman’s music hit. The cowboy walked out with a beer in hand. He went for the Good Brothers, but the numbers game got him. Dark Order to the rescue. Hangman closed the scene with a buckshot lariat to Anderson. Omega and Callis skedaddled to safety. John Silver handed the beer back to Hangman.

It is neat how AEW is weaving together multiple stories. Bonus points for doing it coherently. Kaz has no direct interactions with Hangman or the Dark Order, but common enemies unite them toward the same goal.

Darby Allin defeated Wheeler Yuta. Since Allin’s ribs were taped from the Coffin Match damage from last week, Wheeler targeted the sore spot. Allin turned the tide with a superplex. After ringside tomfoolery from Sting and Orange Cassidy, Yuta scored a series of roll-ups. Allin was too scrappy to be trapped. He connected on an over-the-top stunner then a Coffin Drop for victory.

The takeaway from this match is a potential crack in the alliance between Sting and Allin. As Sting was horsing around with Cassidy (who was ringside to support Yuta) doing the shin kick routine, Allin was yelling at Sting for being a distraction. Afterward, Blade came in with brass knuckles to KO Cassidy. Sting helped OC to his feet. Allin was brooding in the distance. It was tough for me to tell if Allin was agitated by Sting’s actions or just making his normal face.

Yuta’s brief career in AEW is a bit perplexing. Commentary put him over as a hot prospect. Since Wheeler is aligned with the Best Friends, it is clear he has the babyface stamp of approval. His two Dynamite matches have been against popular babyfaces in Sammy Guevara and Allin. That makes me wonder if Yuta has a larger story on tap. Otherwise, I’m confused about the purpose of how he has been used thus far.

AEW Women’s World Championship: Dr. Britt Baker DMD retained against Nyla Rose. The champ’s plan to counter the challenger’s power was to weaken the arm for the Lockjaw submission. It felt similar to watching Knockouts champion Deonna Purrazzo always working to set up her submission finisher. Nyla was strong with her power moves, but the champ persevered. Baker actually kicked out of a Beast Bomb. As Nyla went for a second Beast Bomb, Baker escaped to transition into the Lockjaw. Nyla resisted defeat as long as she could, but she succumbed to tap out in pain.

Baker’s first title defense was pretty good. There was a little bit of sloppiness from both sides, but the entertainment factor was high. Even though it was heel versus heel, I like that Baker has stayed true to character. The fans clearly support her. Other companies would take that as a sign to turn her to the light. In doing so, the character traits fans enjoy often get stripped away. Not so with Baker. She’s still a persnickety scoundrel. Commentary struck me as odd during this contest. It felt like excessive over-hyping at times instead of letting the action speak for itself.

Orange Cassidy defeated Blade. Cassidy connected on a Beach Break, but Blade surprisingly kicked out. A Superman punch sealed the deal. Afterward, Cassidy used the brass knuckles for payback with a loaded Superman punch.

This match was full of shenanigans. Blade faked a knee injury to gain an advantage, Kris Statlander came out to deal with Bunny’s interference, and Blade forced the alien in front of a suicide dive from OC. It was too much activity, yet it worked in AEW’s style of chaos with a babyface payback pop for the conclusion. Blade was impressive by breaking out new moves, such as a gutwrench powerbomb on the top turnbuckle and a corkscrew piledriver.

Notes: Miro will defend the TNT title at Homecoming on August 4. No opponent was named. It doesn’t matter, because who can beat the Redeemer? Miro was wearing a nifty Bloodsport jacket. I hope AEW holds a Kumite for Miro to win.

Team Taz announced a celebration for next week in honor of Ricky Starks as the new FTW champion. Dasha Gonzalez inquired about Brian Cage’s feelings. That works for him. The Machine loves celebrations. Cage looked like he was purposely holding his arm down so he didn’t accidentally use his super strength to knock Dasha through the wall.

FTR and Santana & Ortiz had a press conference to announce their match for next week’s show. The only thing left is to beat ass.

HFO, without Matt Hardy, attacked Marko Stunt. Jurassic Express were saved by Christian Cage. Christian proposed a trios match next week against Private Party & Angelico to end HFO for good. Jungle Boy was fully supportive of Christian, so whatever possible tensions were there last week look to have been alleviated.

QT Marshall believes an apology is in order for dumping a beverage on Tony Schiavone’s head last week, so there will be an apology in the ring next week. Commentary sounded like QT is going to apologize, but I suspect QT will demand an apology from Schiavone.

Cody Rhodes and Malakai Black received a hype video for their match on August 4.

Stud of the Show: Barbed wire chokeslam

The pain of Lance Archer chokeslamming Jon Moxley through barbed wire tables radiated through the screen. If Moxley was going to be put down in defeat, that was a great choice of maneuver. He’s been through a lot of wars in AEW, and this finish was believable for a man of Moxley’s intestinal fortitude.

Runner-up is Blade breaking Orange Cassidy’s back with a gutwrench powerbomb onto the top turnbuckle. It looked so painful.

Dud of the Show: Brass knuckles punch

Earlier in the evening before Blade wrested Orange Cassidy, Blade used brass knuckles to knock OC loopy. Too bad you would never know when it came time for the match. Cassidy showed no ill effects. The super Cena routine has long been a part of wrestling, but it is a bit much when it comes from a stringbean like Cassidy.

Grade: A-

Dynamite is on a roll with high energy action. Add in the surprises for a fun night.

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

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