By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
AEW Dynamite on TNT (Episode 24)
Aired live on March 18, 2020 from Jacksonville, Florida at Daily’s Place
The show began with Cody in the ring in a dark arena. He said he’s never thought of his world as small before, but recent events have made his reflect on how small we all are. He said he has been reflecting on a lot lately, and he is about to ask 3 athletes to put aside their petty differences and stand together. Cody said we need to rely on science and information, but that’s different than living in a prison of fear.
He called on Matt Jackson, and said aside from Tony Khan, he’s the one most responsible for AEW existing. He asked him for his older brother’s wisdom, and to carry Nick Jackson’s heart into the match so they can win at Blood and Guts. He then asked him to put aside his differences with Hangman Page. Speaking of Page, he called him a guy with a light heavyweight’s frame with heavyweight power. He said both of them failed to beat Chris Jericho, but he needed to get over it and be the reason they win at Blood and Guts.
He then called on Kenny Omega, and said neither of them wanted the bridesmaids, but this isn’t a wedding, it’s a war. Cody then said he needed the real Kenny Omega, the best in the world and the best bout machine. He said he needed the elite to be the elite to win this war. Omega and Matt Jackson walked out. Omega grabbed a microphone. He said he and Cody haven’t seen eye to eye, in fact they’d been at each other’s throats, but they needed to pull together. He said he didn’t know if all they’d build would fall apart next week, but if it did, he wanted to go out as The Elite.
Matt Jackson said Kenny was right, but it was just the three of them. Matt asked where Hangman Page was, and he walked out on stage. Matt said he didn’t know if they can fix this tonight, or next week, but he wanted him to be with them at Blood and Guts. Page nodded and took a sip from his drink, and headed backstage.
Kenny then grabbed the mic again and said they couldn’t feel the crowd’s energy, but they wanted them to know they are determined to pu on the best possible show they can. He then queued the lights and pyro and start Dynamite.
The announce team of JR, Taz, and Excalibur chimed in and ran through tonight’s car. A video package was shown of the feud between Best Friends and The Lucha Bros, leading into Death Triangle vs. Best Friends and OC last week. At ringside, Tony Schiavone interviewed MJF. He said none of the winner’s purses were rich enough for him tonight, so he’s going to sit at ringside and watch the undercard talent. He and Shawn Spears were sitting at ringside gambling on the matches. MJF was offended that he was called out for gambling.
Brandi Rhodes was in the ring doing ring announcing duties, and Best Friends made their entrance with Orange Cassidy. Best Friends went to the ring and OC joined on commentary. The Lucha Bros then made their entrance for the first match of the night.
My Take: A solid open that meandered around at times. They are in an awkward spot, so it’s hard to fault them for having to dance around the weirdness of having a building without any fans.
1. “Best Friends” Chuck Taylor and Trent vs. “Lucha Bros” Pentagon Jr. and Rey Fenix: Fenix dominated the early going until Trent landed double knees to the chest off of an irish whip. Chuck then tagged in and they tried to keep the pressure on Fenix. A gaggle of wrestlers formed at ringside, including Jake Roberts, Lance Archer, MJF, Shawn Spears, and Tully Blanchard. Chuck maintained control of Fenix and tagged Trent back in, who entered with a double axehandle. Fenix recovered and landed a dropkick, and was able to make a tag to Penta.
Penta quickly took control of Trent and landed some strikes. Fenix tagged back in and the action spilled outside when Trent awkwardly tackled Pentagon out to the floor. Fenix jumped over the top rope to splash him on the outside. Chuck then landed a running clothesline from out of frame on Fenix…[c]
The Lucha Bros controlled the action during the break, sending Trent into the barricade on the outside and into the ring post. Fenix then wore him down with holds in the ring, along with frequent tags and quick strikes from Pentagon. Trent reversed and arm drag and landed a tornado DDT to crawl back into the match. SCU joined ringside to cheer on Best Friends. Chuck tagged in and landed a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Best Friends then landed an assisted Cutter, and rather than hugging afterward the bumped elbows for a nod to Social Distancing.
The Lucha Bros retaliated with some super kicks, which caused OC to leave the announce area. The Lucha Bros confronted him, which allowed Trent to shove them off the ramp to ringside. OC then splashed them. In the ring, Chuck landed a piledriver on Pentagon for a near fall. They set up for Strong Zero, but a low blow from Pentagon to Trent behind the ref’s back put an end to it. The then hit the spike package piledriver Trent for the win.
The Lucha Bros defeated Best Friends at 13:21
After that match, Best Friends were interviewed by Schiavone. They objected to the low blow and challenged the Lucha Bros to a street fight next week in the parking lot. We then got entrances for a women’s fatal four-way match. First out wasPenelope Ford, followed by Riho…[c]
My Take: This was an ok match that probably would have felt a lot better had it been in front of a hot AEW crowd. The Lucha Bros being framed as an unranked team, and their win as an upset really threw me off.
Kris Statlander and Hikaru Shida made their entrances during the break.
2. Riho vs. Kris Statlander vs. Hikaru Shida vs. Penelope Ford (w/Kip Sabian): Sabian made his presence known quickly by pulling Shida and Statlander to the outside. Ford jumped to the outside as well, but all three women were splashed by Riho off the top rope. In the ring, Statlander used her power to ragdoll Riho around. She hit a backbreaker and then set her in the corner across the middle rope. She then suplexed Shida into Riho.
Shida poked Statlander in the eye and rolled her up for a two count. Ford went for a flying headscissors, and completely missed. Statlander sold it anyway in a rough looking spot. Ford and Riho then landed a double suplex on Statlander. Riho and Ford then went after one another, and Ford splashed Riho in the corner. Riho recovered and tried a sunset flip, but Sabian got involved and stopped Ford from being pulled over.
Riho then hit a running knee to Sabian’s face to send him to the floor. Statlander slammed Shida, and then picked up Riho to slam her on top of her. Ford then hit a poisoned rana on Statlander, who rolled to the floor. Shida landed a falcon arrow and got a near fall. She then followed up with a running knee strike and got the win.
Hikaru Shida defeated Kris Statlander, Penelope Ford, and Riho at 8:56
After the match, Shida recovered and celebrated in the ring. At ringside, Tony Schiavone interviewed Colt Cabana. He said the show was weird because of the lack of a crowd. He mentioned Penelope Ford could have won that match if it wasn’t for scheming with her boyfriend. Sabian got in his face and they had a shoving match. Cabana slapped him and told him to get out of there, and Sabian retreated up the ramp with Ford…[c]
My Take: A bit sloppy at times, but they worked hard to put on a decent match. I still think the spots are more elaborate than they need to be, and some of the women attempt spots that they don’t land consistently enough to put them on TV. The division is improving through, and despite a couple of rough spots Penelope Ford stood out in a good way.
Moxley was interviewed earlier today by Tony Schiavone. He complained about not being able to enter the arena because he was not Medically Cleared. He said he didn’t want to punch any cops, so he was going to go for a drive to blow off some steam. He then took off in his Ford GT. Butcher and Blade then made their entrances, followed by Jurassic Express.
3. “Jurassic Express” Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus vs. The Butcher and The Blade: The Blade and Jungle Boy started the match, and Jungle Boy took over quickly. He landed a dropkick and some strikes, and then tagged in Luchasaurus, who landed a big boot. Jungle Boy tagged back in and hit a senton, and Butcher and blade regrouped on the floor. Jungle Boy attempted a splash, but Butcher caught him and slammed him into the barricade. Butcher and Blade then picked him up and dropped him on the apron. Butcher and Blade continued to isolate and control Jungle Boy back in the ring…[c]
Jungle Boy nearly fought his way over to a hot tag to Luchasaurus, but was shut down at the last second by Blade. He set Jungle Boy on the top rope for a superplex, but got knocked down. Jungle Boy then leapt over him and made a hot tag. Luchasaurus hit some big kicks on both Butcher and Blade, and then landed a moonsault on Butcher on the floor. He then entered the ring and hit a big kick on Blade, and then landed the Extinction Event.
Butcher broke up the pin. Jungle Boy entered again and had an awkward sequence with Blade that sent them both to the outside. Luchasaurus got the better of Butcher briefly, but Blade re-entered and they landed a double team uranage.
MJF called for Full Death from ringside, but the delay allowed Jurassic Express to recover. Jungle Boy sent Butcher to the floor, and then they hit an assisted Cutter for the win.
Jurassic Express defeated Butcher and Blade at 13:11
After the match, Jurassic Express celebrated their way to the back through the non-crowd and walked back to the stage area.
My Take: Another enjoyable match, but the lack of a crowd really does take away something from AEW. This style of wrestling is really dependent on the crowd investing and reacting to the major high spots, and without it you are forced to pay a lot more attention to the real lack of a story being told.
The Dark Order made their entrance. Evil Uno spoke about the promise of the Exalted One, and how everyone’s eyes would be open like his are. He said he promised the members of the Dark Order, but more importantly, he promised the fans. Uno then said the Exalted one is near, and the exalted one is…SCU interrupted.
Christopher Daniels said the exalted one is a lie. They haven’t made anyone better, and they haven’t improved anyone’s lives, they just lie. He claimed it was just the two of them…and we got a video on the screen. The Exalted One then appeared on screen and introduced himself. He called Daniels an Old Man, and said he wouldn’t be the first to doubt him or his existence. The Exalted One was in a white coat and obscured by light at first, but eventually revealed himself as Brodie Lee.
He then appeared in the ring behind Daniels and Kazarian. He hit Daniels with a Big Boot, and then a discus lariat. He then led the Dark Order in a salute of sorts, and walked to the back.
My Take: I’m not against Brodie Lee in this role, but the promo and speech he gave on the video package didn’t really answer the promise that the Dark Order laid out. It was just more nebulous circular language that didn’t really say anything.
As the show returned, Schiavone interviewed Jake Roberts and Lance Archer. Roberts said Archer didn’t have much to say. Roberts said Cody ignoring him is just like a slap in the face. He said what he wanted to do to Cody didn’t have to be personal, but it is now, and they would now have to do something to get his attention. Roberts then promised they would get his attention, and walked off. We then saw a brief video package for Archer, who killed a ring full of jobbers in a backyard wrestling environment while Roberts watched from a distance. After the carnage, another guy walked up and got thrown into a car several times.
The announce team said Wardlow vs. Luchasaurus would happen next week, as well as the Parking Lot Brawl between Best Friends and Luchasaurus. They then spoke about Nick Jackson being out of Blood and Guts, and that giving The Inner Circle the one man advantage. The Inner Circle sans Chris Jericho made their entrance with the generic Inner Circle theme…[c]
My Take: I’m not sure how I feel about the Archer video package. I liked Jake Robert’s promo delivery, but watching Archer throw a bunch of scrubs around in the woods just didn’t seem that…impressive? Maybe I’ll be in the minority on that one, but it didn’t really raise this threat level with me.
Chris Jericho made his entrance as the show returned, and the wrestlers all badly sang his theme. Sammy Guevara really butchered it on the microphone, and Jericho praised him as he joined commentary. We then got The Elite making their entrances, with no drink for Adam Page. Cody pumped up the sympathetic members of the roster, and then threw his shirt to Brandi at ringside.
4. The Elite (Adam Page, Matt Jackson, Cody) vs. The Inner Circle (Santana, Ortiz, Jake Hager): Santana and Cody started the match. We saw some quick strikes from Santana, but Cody turned things around with a snap powerslam. Ortiz managed to tag in, and landed a double back suplex on Cody.
Cody returned fire with a vertical suplex on Ortiz, and then tagged Matt Jackson. Cody and Matt then made some quick tags to isolate Ortiz, to the chagrin of Adam Page, who wanted in the match. Santana tagged himself back into the match, and then Adam Page did the same. Santana landed some knife edge chops, and Page returned fire with a clothesline. Page then hit a half nelson suplex with a bridge for a two count.
Cody tagged back in, and was sent to the floor after a distraction from Sammy Guevara. Ortiz placed him in a Gory Special, and then slammed him into the apron…[c]
My Take: A bit of a slow start to this match, but it’s not surprising, considering the main event started with roughly 30 minutes left in the show.
The Inner Circle passed a long hanging vertical suplex between team members on Cody Rhodes, before dropping him after about a minute. Santana then applied an STF in the ring, but released it in order to go after a pinfall. Cody kicked out at two. Hager then tagged in and landed some closed fist punches, followed by a top wristlock. Ortiz then tagged back in and applied a headlock, and then rolled up Cody for another two count.
Cody roared back into the match with a Crossrhodes on Ortiz, and Hager tagged in to prevent the tag. Santana then knocked Matt Jackson and Adam Page from the apron with a clothesline…[c]
Cody and Jake Hager brawled during the break, and both made tags as the show returned. Page and Santana tagged into the match. Page cleaned house, and then hit a sliding lariat on Satana for a near fall. Ortiz broke up the pin. Rhodes then tossed Ortiz to ringside and splashed him on the floor. Cody got into a scuffle with MJF and Wardlow, and Arn Anderson smashed his clipboard into Wardlow to break it up.
In the ring, Matt Jackson made a blind tag and hit some locomotion suplexes on Santana. He then went for one on Hager, but he needed an assist from Adam Page. They then set up for an Indytaker, but Hager pulled Page out to the floor. In the ring, Santana pulled Matt Jackson into a pin and got the win.
The Inner Circle defeated The Elite at 26:12
After the match, Jericho killed some time with a promo where he clowned on The Elite and declared no fans could attend any future AEW Events until he said so. Sammy Guevara told Brandi to hit him up since her husband was such a loser. Matt Jackson finally grabbed a microphone as a drone was loudly heard flying into the ring. Matt said Jericho might have the advantage, but it wasn’t going to be 5 on 4 at Blood and Guts. He said he called in a favor from a friend.
Vanguard 1 landed in the ring, and Matt pointed behind himself into the crowd, where Matt Hardy stood and glared at the Inner Circle. Jericho was speechless as Matt’s piano theme played and he made the delete gesture…
My Take: The match didn’t really click with me. Cody’s ended up isolated for an eternity without any crowd to build heat off of in the building, and then the finish got ruined by bad camera work when Hager was captured on camera waiting for his cue to pull Adam Page off the apron for the roll up finish. That said, The Matt Hardy and Brodie Lee reveals will certainly get some fan attention and please a lot of people. I’m curious how they can continue to integrate all these new characters into a show that already felt like it was struggling to give it’s existing talent enough attention. The lack of a crowd on a show that oftentimes fills most of its two hours with spotfests definitely took away from the atmosphere of the show. It’s hard to blame anyone for that, as everyone is just making the best of a bad situation.