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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Aug. 4, 2021): Cody the showman

AEW Dynamite (Aug. 4, 2021) emanated from Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, FL. The Homecoming special featured Chris Jericho reigniting history with Juventud Guerrera in the Labours of Jericho, Hangman Page’s ongoing saga with the Elite, and Cody Rhodes putting on a show against Malakai Black.

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

Cody the showman

Cody Rhodes knows how to put on a show. It might not be smooth or even coherent at times, but the man knows how to make memorable moments. His latest effort included putting over Malakai Black and teasing retirement.

The main event oozed a big-fight feel. The visual of darkness versus light played out during entrances. Black was in the shadows with a dope horned hood.

Cody emerged from the light with hope.

Too bad for Cody that Black’s first strike ended up being the beginning of his downfall on this evening. Black cracked an inside leg kick to hobble Cody. The evil man dropped low for an ankle pick to transition into a knee bar. Cody had a few moments of offense, but Black kept to his game plan to attack the knee.

The big spot of the match saw Cody crashing through a table. As he climbed high on the corner, Black exploded with a kick to knock him backward through the timekeeper station.

When Cody returned to the ring, Black put out his lights with a spinning head kick. Black knew Cody was cold-cocked. He didn’t even bother with a proper pin. A foot on the chest was all Black needed to cover Cody for the win. Emphatic destruction by Black in his in-ring debut for AEW.

Afterward, Cody was interviewed in the ring by Tony Schiavone. Cody cut a rambling promo alluding to retirement by leaving his boots in the ring. Black returned to attack Cody with a short crutch and stand tall in the end.

The match was straightforward and effective in establishing Black as a serious threat. The table spot was a little cheesy with Cody’s backward lunge, but I found it enjoyable in an 80’s action movie sort of way. One thing I have grown to love about Cody is that he will always sell out his body to put on a better show. It might be unnecessary at times, but it often ends up elevating the overall experience as a viewer.

It was the aftermath that I think deserves discussion. It would be easy to chalk up Cody’s promo as rambling garbage. I believe it was done that way on purpose. This contest was supposed to feel like a real fight. In doing so, Cody sold his concussed state with a mildly punch drunk train of thought. It reminded me of MMA fighters considering retirement after having their brains violently rattled. For that reason, it felt like a real moment. I’m not saying I believe for one second that Cody is retiring. It’s more that the story felt like a genuine thing that would happen in real life. That’s why I really enjoyed the closing segment with Cody being a showman.

Plus, it set up nicely for Cody to have a training montage to find his Jedi force, or whatever Star Trek equivalent, to come roaring back for revenge down the line.

With Black, his motivations need further exploration. Going into the bout, he discussed his desire to end Cody’s career. That appeared to be the direction Cody was heading, so I’m not sure why Black stopped him. All in all, Black looked excellent and came out as a star.

Juicy Labour of Jericho

Chris Jericho was coming in hot for the Third Labour of Jericho. Le Champion overcame Shawn Spears and Nick Gage the previous two weeks. This night’s challenge from MJF was a match against rival Juventud Guerrera. The caveat was Jericho had to win with a move off the top rope. Jericho achieved that with amazing style.

Juventud started strong with quick lucha libre attacks. Jericho used his size advantage to slow down the pace. Unfortunately, the chemistry once shared by both men was past its prime. The action was a fun throwback, but it was not even close to their peak performances of days gone by.

As for the stipulation, Jericho connected on a flying crossbody, flying axe handle, and a Walls of Jericho counter off the turnbuckles. Due to the submission beginning up top, it counted as a path to victory. Juventud escaped and rallied for a Juvi Driver. Le Champion dug deep to kick out on the cover. Juventud ran the ropes right into a Judas Effect from Jericho. Since that move happened with two firmly planted feet, Jericho was not allowed to secure victory in that moment. The Demo God climbed the corner to close it out. As Juventud rose to his feet, Jericho launched for a flying Judas Effect. The contact landed flush to earn the win.

Afterward, MJF revealed the Fourth Labour of Jericho. Wardlow hit the ring to knockout Jericho with the hanging corner knee strike. Wardlow will be Jericho’s opponent next week. MJF will be ringside.

Props to Jericho for the flying Judas Effect. That was absolutely awesome. I still believe the Judas Effect is one of the best finishers in professional wrestling. It is simple, effective, and versatile while looking flashy. Adding in the ‘out of nowhere’ element elevates it to the upper echelon. Juventud was a nice blast from the past and got some shine to pop his moves.

The Fourth Labour is a little underwhelming. Since AEW is using a home talent, they needed a truly special stipulation to keep the momentum going. That’s where the ball was dropped. In the context of Labours, what does it even mean that MJF is ringside? How is that specifically a special advantage? He could have been there anyway if it was a regular contest.

On another point of confusion, MJF will now apparently be the Fifth Labour of Jericho. I was under the impression that it was five challenges to earn a straight match with MJF. Now that MJF is fifth, he can stack a stipulation in his favor. That sort of lessens the drama of the story, in my opinion. MJF should end up being the victor if he has an advantage. Otherwise, it would be a bad look for him to lose to an aged veteran even with odds on his side. Or maybe MJF considers his skills dangerous enough to be a Labour himself. I’m a little confused by the whole thing. AEW needs to flesh out the clarity of this storyline.

Edit: Credit to Cagesider Awesome0 for transcribing that MJF being the Fifth Labour of Jericho was always the plan.

You’re gonna have five labours, Chris. The first four will be opponents of my choosing, all with different stipulations, and you have to win back to back to back to back. And the fifth stipulation – if you manage to get through the first four (which you won’t) – you get that MJF rub one more time. You get an opportunity to wrestle me one more time.

Watch the original contract signing promo here.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Hangman Page & the Elite. Cowboy drama was spread throughout a couple different segments during the show. First, Hangman apologized to the Dark Order for costing them tag title shots. He declared that he needs to fix his issues with the Elite alone. Evil Uno accepted the cowboy’s request for space.

Second, the Elite did basketball tricks backstage. The Good Brothers are honoring the Dark Order’s request for an Impact tag title shot next week on Dynamite. The Young Bucks claimed nobody is left in the AEW tag team division. Kenny Omega did the same for the men’s division. They mocked the idea of Hangman being alone with no friends.

Third, Hangman was interrupted in the ring by the Elite. Omega preemptively declined an assumed request for Hangman to re-join the Elite. No losers allowed in the group. Hangman unloaded fists, but he was easily outnumbered and put down with a Magic Killer. Evil Uno and Stu Grayson prevented the Dark Order from making the save in an effort to honor Hangman’s wishes. Frankie Kazarian attempted violence as the Elite Hunter, however, the numbers overwhelmed him too. The Bucks pounded BTE Triggers to the cowboy’s dome, then Omega bashed him with the title belt.

There’s a lot to unpack in these developments, and I don’t really like the direction of any of it. The simplest is questioning why the Dark Order is being rewarded with a tag title shot, even though, they lost last week. It’s not for AEW gold, but it is still an unearned opportunity at glory. That method of booking flies in the face of AEW’s cherished idea that wins and losses matter.

As for Hangman, his story quickly went off the rails. A bunch of natural momentum was lost last week. Since Hangman was defeated, that means his title hunt should be over for the time being. However, the Elite weren’t content to leave well enough alone. I’m confused about AEW’s intention in booking the beatdown. What’s the point of trying to build sympathy if there is no way for Hangman to achieve his ultimate goal? Of course, I desire Hangman to be the one to finally dethrone Omega, but he doesn’t deserve it at this moment in time. That shows how the pacing of this story is horribly out of whack. I’m at the point that I don’t want to see Hangman interacting with the Elite anymore until AEW is ready to give us what we want.

Jon Moxley, Darby Allin, & Eddie Kingston defeated Matt Lee, Jeff Parker, & Daniel Garcia. Moxley turned the tide on a hot tag for a Paradigm Shift to Garcia. Allin followed with a Coffin Drop to win.

When you have three stars hitting their prime moves to beat up jabrones, it will be entertaining. Sting being ringside makes it all the more sweeter to create moments like this distraction for Allin’s suicide dive.

That said, this match had no business being on Dynamite. TV time is precious and AEW squandered it on a predictable showcase match that went nowhere in terms of possible storylines. Commentary laid it on a bit thick with praise for the underdogs. I’m not sure why. It felt forced as if they were trying to convince us it was a big deal, when it obviously was not.

Christian Cage defeated Blade. Bunny was ringside for physical interference until Leyla Hirsch came out as a teaser for their match later in the evening. The ladies brawled to the back. Blade relied on his brass knuckles for the finish. He took too long creating a referee distraction and retrieving the foreign object. Once Blade turned around, Christian attacked with a spear for the 1, 2, 3.

This was a solid, physical contest. It didn’t reach the emotional investment level, but it did its job to entertain. Christian was more efficient in control compared to his previous victories. That could be a sign that he has reached his top level. He better be at his peak, because AEW crowned him #1 contender for Kenny Omega and the AEW World Championship.

Dr. Britt Baker DMD’s next challenger. Red Velvet interrupted an in-ring promo to stake her claim for a title shot. Baker didn’t back down. The match was booked for the Rampage debut next week on Friday night. Fisticuffs were exchanged with Baker standing tall after a curb stomp.

Good promo exchange in terms of building Velvet as a legitimate threat. She clarified why she expects the result to be different from when Baker beat her as an enhancement talent. Velvet pointed to her winning streak and also how those wins have been clean. I appreciate Velvet knocking Baker off her high horse. The champ has received the fancy pants treatment from pal Tony Schiavone, so it was nice to see someone call out Baker’s shenanigans.

TNT Championship: Miro retained against Lee Johnson. Standard Miro formula against an underdog. Domination, babyface rally, Miro hit a thrust kick and the Game Over submission. Miro provided his usual powerhouse performance. Johnson gave it his all, but he never hooked me into believing he could win.

Leyla Hirsch defeated Bunny. Hard-fought contest with Hirsch prevailing via armbar. The winner earned a title shot against Kamille for the NWA Women’s Championship. Kamille was front row to offer an amusing staredown with a foot difference in height over Hirsch. Got to love that Forbidden Door.

The match had HFO and Best Friends ringside for support. That also led to Nyla Rose being ringside for inexplicable reasons to beef with Kris Statlander.

Notes: Lucha Bros were without PAC this week. His travel was conveniently canceled by Andrade and Chavo Guerrero. Andrade offered first class perks to work for him. Pentagon and Fenix declined the offer. Later in the show, Chavo brought in Fuego del Sol to shine Andrade’s shoes. El Idolo beat up Fuego for fun.

History of Team Taz with Brian Cage’s complaints. Ricky Starks plans to prove what a real champion is. Cage plans to destroy.

The feud between FTR and Santana & Ortiz is far from over. Even though Cash Wheeler damaged his arm, the bad blood will continue.

Dan Lambert is bringing backup next week to deal with Lance Archer.

The Rampage announce team will be Taz, Excalibur, Chris Jericho, and Mark Henry for the debut episode on August 13.

Jade Cargill is ready to return to wrestling for Elevation on Monday. Mark Sterling has been busy diversifying her portfolio.

Stud of the Show: Chris Jericho

Le Flying Judas Effect.

Dud of the Show: Christian Cage as #1 contender

Christian as #1 contender doesn’t get me pumped all that much, but that’s not why this is on the dud list. It is more about consistency. Looking at the recent history of the past two weeks, Hangman needed to win a ten-man tag to be rewarded with a title shot, even though, he had been ranked at the top. This week, Christian is handed the opportunity because he beat Blade? Why not at least have an official contender match against Jungle Boy? That would have been interesting and also cleared JB out of the mix with a loss.

Grade: B-

Fine effort as usual from all involved. The opening match and main event were riveting. Not so much everything in between.

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

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