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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Aug. 18, 2021): Icon Sting

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AEW Dynamite (Aug. 18, 2021) emanated from the Fertitta Center in Houston, TX. The show featured Sting being an icon, Sammy Guevara having a night he will always remember, and MJF taking Chris Jericho’s throne at the top.

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

It’s Sting!!!

Sting graced the squared circle in competition on TNT for the first time in 20 years when he wrestled against Ric Flair on the final episode of WCW Nitro. Stinger did not disappoint. He hit his big spots to leave a lasting memory.

Sting’s tag match with Darby Allin against 2.0 was the opening bout, but the show actually started with Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston coming to the ring. I appreciate how Kingston knows Moxley is the star as he takes a backseat allowing the fans to soak in Mox’s entrance. Whatever they had on their mind, we never found out. Mox and King were ambushed by 2.0 and Daniel Garcia. The newcomers beat down the ornery duo with weapons then called out Sting and Allin to get a taste. It was a smart way to get quick heat on 2.0 for anyone who forgot who they are.

Sting came out first with his full entrance. The lights turned out for Allin, so he could sneak in from behind and do damage with his skateboard.

Texas Tornado rules were in effect with no DQ. The action spilled into the crowd onto the concourse. Garcia joined the fracas for a 3-on-2 bad guy advantage. That paid off when he helped pop Allin up into the wall. Allin wouldn’t be down for long. He scurried down a narrow pathway on top of a ledge for a flying shoulder tackle. Kingston ran in to escort Garcia away from the scene.

The match was chaotic fun to that point, and then it became insane. 2.0 double suplexed Allin onto his skateboard with the wheels up.

2.0 also double powerbombed Sting through a table.

The Icon powered up to feel no pain and dished out punishment. Allin dropkicked 2.0 into a double Scorpion Death Drop. Sting piled the bodies on top of each other to execute a double Scorpion Deathlock to win. That conclusion was the moment of the night.

If Sting continues to wrestle, then this is the perfect way to use him for matches. He laid low doing business until it was time to erupt. Sting took the table spot like a champ then went larger than life to light the crowd on fire with a memorable finish. Being larger than life is one element often missing from today’s wrestlers. Sting has that quality in abundance, and I’m happy AEW leans into it.

Some might say Sting should be putting people over in defeat, but AEW has him on the right path thus far. Sting only has so many matches left in the tank. It’s better to give the fans what they want to create lasting memories. The value adds up over time. When Sting finally loses, it should be a very important passing of the torch. Too many losses would water down that effect.

Sammy Guevara’s special night

The best match of the night came courtesy of Sammy Guevara and Shawn Spears. They put on a PPV-level effort with dramatic kick-outs anchored by rude trash-talk to heat the fire of fury.

Earlier in the evening, AEW addressed Sammy’s huge announcement. The Spanish God proposed marriage to his girlfriend. She said yes! Cut to Shawn Spears and Tully Blanchard sarcastically applauding. Spears’s gift to the fiancee was to be with the Pinnacle for one night only. He would even let her be on top.

When it came time for action, Spears attacked Guevara from behind on stage. Sammy had the upper hand on that exchange with a soaring cannonball. Guevara’s momentum did not last long. Tully Blanchard aided Spears to execute a spike piledriver on the floor. This was all before the opening bell officially rang.

Ding, ding, ding. The contest finally started. Guevara rolled out of the ring to regroup. Spears followed and attempted a second spike piledriver with Blanchard. This time, referee Aubrey Edwards ejected the Pinnacle manager. Tully was feisty with rage swinging his jacket at her. It would be interesting to see Tully bring in his daughter, Tessa Blanchard, to lay hands on Edwards. Tully is too much of a gentleman to do that himself.

The back and forth affair was physical in nature with the athleticism of Sammy shining through. Once it was time for big spots, they poured it on. Both men were standing on the top turnbuckle. Spears flipped the bird. Guevara’s response was a super cutter.

Spears had the first moment for a believable pinfall when he connected on a super C4 DVD. Guevara survived with a kick-out to continue the fight.

Guevara rallied with a DVD to Spears onto a piece of guardrail hanging from the apron to the front row. That looked painful as the metal bent hard upon impact. The Spanish God went to the air to close with a 630 senton. That was the same move he used on Spears to win Stadium Stampede. This was surely the end. Not so fast, my friend. Spears surprisingly kicked out on the count.

Guevara was shocked, but he gathered his wits to finish the job. Sammy lowered his knee pad to deliver three stiff knee strikes into Spears’ face. That was a prelude to Guevara’s GTH fireman’s carry knee strike finisher. Sammy hit that to turn the lights out. Spears did not recover to escape defeat.

Guevara achieved the cathartic win on a special evening of love. The love did not come from just his girlfriend. It was neat to see Guevara soak in the cheers from his hometown crowd. This one felt more organic than the norm, because he’s not a huge star yet.

The feud between the Inner Circle and the Pinnacle has lasted a very long time with extensions branching off, but this match felt like the blow-off between Guevara and Spears. The false finishes worked well and elevated the emotion of the in-ring story. The progression of spots made sense instead of feeling like big moves for the sake of big moves. The win was a great launching pad for Guevara to achieve bigger things with higher profile opponents.

Spears came out looking better as well despite defeat. His kick-out on the senton showed tremendous intestinal fortitude. I enjoy the little touches to his game by using shady tactics to bend the rules. For example, his double chop to the throat is a simple yet effective neutralizer. It is a fitting level of scumbaggery for Spears’ character.

MJF is better than Chris Jericho

The biggest story of the show belonged to the main event. Chris Jericho competed in the Fifth Labour of Jericho. Le Champion would finally get his hands on MJF after all that hard work. The stipulation banned the, “Judas,” song as well as the Judas Effect finishing maneuver. Too bad for Jericho that the stipulation worked as intended in his downfall.

Jericho cut a promo early in the show about enduring the Labours of Jericho. He paid the price of pain, but it was worth it. The night will belong to Le Champion when he beats MJF. Solid promo to work up the hero sentiment, as if anybody needed to be reminded to boo MJF. It did its job in prompting viewers of the importance of the match.

The first half of the stipulation didn’t last long. The crowd sang, “Judas,” without the entrance tune to guide them during Jericho’s arrival. It was the type of fun moment that makes AEW a party atmosphere.

MJF worked throughout on weakening Jericho’s injured arm. Without the Judas Effect, Jericho dug into his bag of tricks for a Lionsault, super hurricanrana, and Walls of Jericho. None of those moves could get the job done. MJF tried to embarrass Jericho with a Walls of Jericho of his own. MJF used a referee distraction to land a mule kick to the sensitive areas of Jericho’s lower region. MJF cinched on the submission tight. Jericho teased tapping out but dramatically crawled to the ropes.

Both men went the dirty route after that. MJF slipped on his Dynamite Diamond Ring, while Jericho fondled Floyd the bat. Referee Aubrey Edwards caught MJF and took away the illegal object. Jericho used that opportunity to wallop MJF in the midsection with his bat. Jericho pounced for a Judas Effect, but he stopped short of contact due to the stipulation. MJF quickly seized the moment with his own Judas Effect. MJF transitioned for the Salt of the Earth armbar. After drama intensified, Jericho was forced to tap out. MJF is better than Jericho, and he has even more proof to claim it.

This was a decent match, but it didn’t reach a wow level for me. The action was more about the story than showy moves. That worked to its benefit in building drama. The detriment was MJF not showing a lot. I know he has the skills to rock the ring. Often times, he wrestles to suit his opponent’s style and that can leave him looking ordinary in comparison to other young stars.

MJF winning was the right call. He was due for an important singles victory. Jericho was on the cusp of success, however, his muscle memory took over to cost him the match. It was an interesting twist to show Jericho could have won, but MJF finally outsmarted him. I’m not sure if this feud has anymore juice to carry onward. I’m curious to see where both wrestlers go from here.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Dan Lambert returns. Lambert brought former UFC heavyweight champs Andrei Arlovski and Junior dos Santos with him as protection. Lambert insulted AEW and their fans. Lance Archer eventually came out. He was ambushed by Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page.

Lambert was raging on the mic. That man has fire in his belly, which is great to drive interest in seeing him get beat up. It was cool seeing Arlovski and dos Santos, even though, I don’t think it will lead to them wrestling in AEW. They added a bit of legitimacy to Lambert. I appreciate the consistency in storytelling with nobody helping Archer. That brute has run roughshod through the locker room since he arrived. Nobody should want to be his friend. Being that he will be outnumbered, perhaps he is forced to find a partner. That would be a good spot to bring in a new bruiser with a similar mindset to Archer.

AEW World Tag Team Championship: Young Bucks retained against Jurassic Express. In the end, the Bucks had too many pals by their side. Omega came out to hit Marko Stunt with a chair. Christian dealt with Omega as they brawled to the back. Luchasaurus took out Brandon Cutler and Karl Anderson on a moonsault off the apron. It was a smart idea, but it backfired. Jungle Boy was left alone against the nefarious Jackson brothers. They used their shiftiness to put JB down with a BTE Trigger.

The match had lots of flash and heavy moves. This was main event worthy if not for the finish. Luchasaurus was the standout with explosions of power on hot tags. He had one awesome sequence in particular by flipping backward to avoid superkicks then unleashing tail whip kicks and a double chokeslam.

The Bucks sometimes fool around showing their muscle against larger opponents, but they sold like the dickens for the dinosaur. Luchasaurus came across as a genuine threat to cause a title change.

After the match, Luke Gallows carried Christian to the ring like a sack of potatoes. Omega closed the scene with a One Winged Angel to his challenger as Callis made the three count.

Thunder Rosa defeated Penelope Ford. Ford used the Muta Lock, but Thunder countered into a choke hold for victory.

This was a better match than I expected. The submission strategy and mat rolling made for an interesting story. Plus, Thunder’s airplane spin DVD was a joy.

Notes: Brian Bosworth was in the crowd. Sting hugged him after the tag team victory.

Christian Cage was interrupted by Don Callis for a session of mind games. Christian wasn’t concerned, since he knows he is in Kenny Omega’s head prior to their AEW title fight at All Out on September 5. Christian now has a win over Omega, and he can do it again. The Impact champ’s parting message was to call Callis a carny piece of shit. Tony Schiavone giggled with glee at the insult.

Dante Martin received the highlight package treatment based on his performance last week. Martin didn’t think he could take Omega to the limit, but he’s proud that he did. Martin will learn from the experience to improve. Good job getting Martin some mic time. He’s clearly going to be a star in the future, so promo exposure will only benefit him in the long run.

Jamie Hayter challenged Red Velvet to a match next week on Dynamite.

Promo seeds were planted for Matt Hardy versus Orange Cassidy in the future.

Paul Wight announced a match against QT Marshall at All Out. QT had tried to throw shade at the giant by showing photos of his hip surgeries and buttocks. QT’s expression of fear upon hearing of the PPV match was excellent.

Jade Cargill was impressed by Kiera Hogan this week on Elevation and Dark. She wants a match against the newcomer on Rampage. It would be neat to see Hogan pull the upset as a way to welcome her into the AEW mix.

The next tag team #1 contender will be determined via tournament with the Varsity Blonds, Private Party, Lucha Bros, and Jurassic Express. The winner will wrestle the Young Bucks in a steel cage at All Out. Thumbs up for the steel cage element to make it an even playing field in theory.

Ricky Starks confidently called out Brian Cage for a face-to-face. Cameras showed Will Hobbs beating down Cage. When The Machine rallied, Starks hightailed it away.

Andrade handed PAC a 500-page packet of paperwork for his conditions to agreeing to a match at All Out. I’m guessing on the number of pages, but it was War and Peace thick. Chavo Guerrero needled the Lucha Bros about never becoming tag champs while they work for PAC.

Brock Anderson had a minor disagreement with papa Arn about signing to wrestle Malakai Black next week on Dynamite. Brock was telling, not asking, Arn that he took the match.

Miro trashed Fuego del Sol and called out Eddie Kingston in another splendid promo.

Stud of the Show: Jon Moxley

Moxley was on fire with a fantastic promo insulting everyone, heroes and villains alike.

Dud of the Show: Elite cheaters

The Elite’s cheating shenanigans continues to be tiresome. It takes the wind out of my sails overshadowing cool action. I can’t wait for this iteration of the Elite to wrap up. At least the silver lining is setting up a cage match at All Out.

Grade: B+

Quality action as usual. Younger stars shined whether in victory or defeat. The pacing was a little awkward with a lengthy stretch of numerous promos in a row. Bottom line is that the show was fun.

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

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