By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite “Fight For The Fallen” (Episode 97)
Charlotte, North Carolina at Bojangles Coliseum
Aired live July 28, 2021 on TNT
[Hour One] Jim Ross, Excalibur, and Tony Schiavone welcomed viewers to the show and ran through the lineup… A “cowboy” themed video package aired for Hangman Page and The Dark Order, and then entrances for the elimination match took place. The Elite had an NBA style entrance complete with basketballs and a hoop set up at ringside… Justin Roberts was the ring announcer…
1. Hangman Page, Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, John Silver, and Alex Reynolds vs. “The Elite” Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson Nick Jackson, Karl Anderson, and Doc Gallows (w/Brandon Cutler, Michael Nakazawa) in an elimination match. The stipulation is that Page won’t get an AEW Title shot if his team loses, but he will get an AEW Title shot and Dark Order will get an AEW Tag Title shot if they are victorious. Don Callis sat in on commentary.
The first elimination came when Anderson rolled up Reynolds and held his tights while pinning him around 4:10. Anderson was surrounded by opponents who took turns hitting him. Uno and Grayson hit Fatality on Anderson and pinned him at 4:50. Dark Order worked over Matt Jackson heading into a picture-in-picture break. [C]
Ross asked Callis to confirm or deny whether referee Rick Knox is on the Elite payroll. Callis declined to answer. Grayson and Gallows fought into the crowd. Grayson leapt off railing of the first section off the main floor and took out Gallows. Grayson and Gallows were both counted out.
In the ring, blasted Uno with a V-Trigger. Omega performed a One Winged Angel and then pinned Uno to eliminate him at 12:30. Silver was isolated heading into a break with The Elite having a 3-2 advantage. [C]
Omega performed a German suplex on Silver, who rolled to the floor. Cutler brought the basketball hoop over. Omega held the all out, then Nick took the ball and failed to dunk it, but he hit the Indytaker on the way down. Silver was hit with a BTE Trigger by the Bucks and was then pinned by Matt and eliminated from the match at 19:05.
Page was the last man standing for his team and took a triple superkick from Omega and the Bucks. Omega covered Page for a near fall. Omega and Matt held Page over the ropes and then Nick performed a 450 splash and covered him for another near fall.
Omega went or a V-Trigger, but Page avoided it. Omega suplexed Page, who landed on his feet and then clotheslined Omega to ringside. Page sent the Bucks to ringside and then performed a moonsault onto all three opponents. Nick came up holding his left thigh.
Page hit a double Buckshot Lariat on both Bucks. Page pinned Matt to eliminate him at 24:00. Omega tried and failed to hit Page with two title belts. Page performed the Deadeye on Omega for a near fall. Page set up for his finisher, but Nick held his leg. Page broke free and went for the Buckshot Lariat. Omega ducked it. Omega hit Page with a belt and covered him for a near fall. Omega hit a pair of V-Triggers and followed up with the One Winged Angel before pinning Page to win the match.
The Elite defeated Hangman Page and Dark Order in 25:35 in an elimination match when Kenny Omega and Nick Jackson were the survivors.
Powell’s POV: Pure chaos. Those who want tag rules to be enforced will surely hate it, while those who enjoy the freestyle approach will love it. I’m more of a traditionalist, but I do enjoy a good free for all spot fest. They too far over the top for my taste with the lack of rule enforcement and some of the big moves that Page kicked out of. Obviously, they wanted to make Page look good in defeat and they did accomplish that.
Backstage, Alex Marvez stood with Pac and said he was supposed to interview the Death Triangle, but they weren’t there. Pac said an anonymous individual cancelled Penta El Zero Miedo and Rey Fenix’s car. Andrade El Idolo and Chavo Guerrero Jr. showed up. Chavo spoke about sending a limo for Penta and Fenix, and then Andrade spoke about having style…
Taz stood on a Team Taz podium and introduced Ricky Starks for the FTW Title celebration. A jazz band played “When The Saints Go Marching In” at ringside as Starks and Hook made their entrance. Starks entered the ring and was given a bouquet of flowers. He said he loved the band and Powerhouse Hobbs would have loved it too if he had been there, but he was out recruiting. Starks cut a promo about getting rid of Brian Cage.
Brian Cage made his entrance and clotheslined a band member and knocked another one down. Cage picked up a bass drum and slammed it over a band member’s head. Cage entered the ring with a trombone and snapped it over his leg. Starks threw the bouquet of flowers at Cage and then ran to the stage with Hook…
A Hiroshi Tanahashi video aired. He said the IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Championship has a certain charm to it. He said he’s won a lot of titles during his career, but he’s never held the IWGP U.S. Title. Tanahashi said he would challenge the winner of tonight’s title match and take the title…
Powell’s POV: Kenta was cool, but this Tanahashi was known as the longtime ace of NJPW for a reason. This is the type of big crossover moment that AEW and NJPW fans have been waiting for.
2. Santana and Ortiz (w/Konnan) vs. “FTR” Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood (w/Tully Blanchard). The other Pinnacle members walked onto the stage and applauded as FTR headed to the ring. Harwood performed a spinebuster on Ortiz for a near fall heading into a PIP break. [C]
Late in the match, Harwood set up for a superplex on Ortiz while Wheeler went to another corner. Santana knocked Wheeler off the ropes. Wheeler immediately held his arm and walked toward a trainer at ringside and did not return to the match. A short time later, Harwood kicked Santana through the ropes and gave Ortiz a brainbuster and pinned him.
“FTR” Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood defeated Santana and Ortiz in 8:00.
After the match, Harwood rolled to ringside and checked on Wheeler, who was holding his bloody right arm while being treated by the medical staff. Konnan and Santana hovered over Ortiz inside the ring…
Powell’s POV: Unfortunately, my satellite feed went nuts coming out of the commercial break. It returned just in time for the three count, and it appeared as though Wheeler was down with a legitimate injury at ringside. Update: I was able to catch the replay and updated my report above. The match between two of my favorite tag teams to watch was really entertaining until the unfortunate injury. Harwood and the duo of Santana and Ortiz did a nice job of improvising. Most importantly, here’s wishing Wheeler the best.
Tony Schiavone interviewed Britt Baker and Rebel “earlier today.” Baker boasted that she tapped out Nyla Rose despite having a broken wrist. She said those who were holding their breath while waiting for her to fail would suffocate… An AEW Rampage ad aired for the August 13 premiere… [C]
Schiavone stood on the stage and announced that AEW Rampage “The First Dance” would come to Chicago’s United Center on Friday, August 20. Tickets go on sale on Monday…
Backstage, Alex Marvez interviewed Sting and Darby Allin and mentioned the Chicago show to them. “I’ll be in Chicago,” Allin said without enthusiasm. He said he’s been around a lot of men who claim to be the greatest. “There’s only one place to really prove that, right here in AEW,” Allin said. “Even if you think you are the best in the world”…
Powell’s POV: There’s the big tease for Chicago native CM Punk. Wow. It’s happening.
[Hour Two] Entrances for the IWGP U.S. Championship match took place while Ross said “that’s compelling information shall we say” regarding the previous segment. King Haku came out with his son and looked great. Lance Archer came out without Jake Roberts…
3. Lance Archer vs. Hikuleo (w/King Haku) for the IWPG U.S. Championship. Ross said Hiuleo would own NJPW someday. He also said he’s up for “one of my favorites” Hiroshi Tanahashi challenging the winner. Excalibur said the winner of this match would travel to NJPW to defend the title against Tanahashi. Archer dominated early. Hikuleo came back with a powerslam and then clotheslined Archer to ringside. [C]
Powell’s POV: So, we won’t be getting Tanahashi appearing in-person at an AEW event…yet.
Haku kicked Archer and then grabbed him by the throat before shoving him into the barricade during the PIP break. Coming out of the break, Archer threw a couple of short-arm clotheslines. Ross called the match bowling shoe ugly and said it’s a fight. Archer walked the ropes and performed a moonsault from the middle. He set up for the Blackout from the ropes, but Hikuleo fought him off. Archer ended up superplexing Hikuleo instead and covered him for a near fall. Archer hit the mid-ring Blackout and scored the pin…
Lance Archer defeated Hikuleo in roughly 8:00 to retain the IWGP U.S. Championship.
Powell’s POV: Excalibur said Archer’s next challenger will be Tanahashi, so that match is definitely happening. I was surprised that Hikuleo didn’t get a little more offense. It was great to see Haku.
Alex Marvez interviewed Cody Rhodes, who was seated next to Jerry Lynn and Tony Khan at the Gorilla Position. “So much is happening in our world…” Cody said before he was attacked by Malakai Black. They fought onto the stage. Black was knocked down with an uppercut from the floor, but he got up and blasted Rhodes with a knee to the head. Black stood over Rhodes and said welcome to the house of black. Several wrestlers ran out to help. Black dropped Fuego del Sol with his Black Mass kick… [C]
Powell’s POV: Is Black’s black eye getting blacker by the week? Either way, I’m all in for the Rhodes vs. Black next week. I’m curious to see if they go ahead with a true match or make it more of an angle to set up the real match at the pay-per-view.
A pre-taped Miro promo aired. He said no one can take his divine right. He said he’s a simple man and the only things that motivate him are a vengeful god and a double-jointed wife. Miro said you can face him like a man or run away, but a glorious reckoning is upon you either way…
4. Christian Cage, Jungle Boy, and Luchasaurus (w/Marko Stunt) vs. Angelico, Marq Quen, and Isiah Kassidy (w/Matt Hardy). Schiavone said he was handed a note that QT Marshall opted to wait to apologize next week when Schiavone’s family will be in attendance. Excalibur noted that Cage entered the night ranked third, and he could move up because of top ranked Hangman Page losing earlier.
Hardy took a cheap shot at Jungle Boy. Marko Stunt and Christian chased him to the back. Jungle Boy was isolated and eventually tagged in Luchasaurus. Later, Jungle Boy dove onto Kassidy and Angelico at ringside. Luchasaurus tagged in Cage and then chokeslammed Quen. Cage performed a frogsplah on Quen and then pinned him.
Christian Cage, Jungle Boy, and Luchasaurus beat Angelico, Marq Quen, and Isiah Kassidy in 4:30.
After the match, Christian was slapping hands at ringside when a hooded man hit him with brass knuckles. It was The Blade, who went to the stage and had his arm held up by Hardy… [C]
Powell’s POV: I was really hoping that Blade’s brass knuckles bit was going to end with the feud he just lost to Orange Cassidy.
Excalibur set up a Nick Gage video package. Gage cut a promo about the pain he would put Chris Jericho through. “MDK all day,” he concluded while holding up a pizza cutter…
5. Thunder Rosa vs. Julia Hart (w/Brian Pillman Jr., Griff Garrison). Both wrestlers had pre-taped promos. Pillman did the talking for Hart and they capped it off with a J-U-L-I-A cheer. Rosa said she was an outsider and would now have her first match as an AEW regular.
The broadcast team noted that Rosa signed a multi-year deal with AEW. Schiavone hyped the 100th episode of AEW Dark for Tuesday. Rosa caught Hart in a submission hold, but she reached the ropes. Rosa put Hart down in the corner and then performed a running dropkick. Rosa followed up with her finisher and scored the clean pin…
Thunder Rosa defeated Julia Hart in 4:00.
Powell’s POV: Rosa is ranked first in the women’s rankings, so it looks like we’ll get the Rosa vs. Britt Baker rematch soon. There’s no word yet as to whether AEW Dark will celebrate 100 episodes with a 100-match show. I’m sure Dot Net’s own Briar Starr is hoping so! Or not.
The broadcast team listed the following matches for next week’s AEW Homecoming in Jacksonville: Malakai Black vs. Cody Rhodes, Miro vs. Lee Johnson for the TNT Title, The Bunny vs. Leyla Hirsch in an eliminator match with the winner getting an NWA Women’s Title shot, and Christian Cage vs. The Blade…
Ross hyped the Jericho vs. Gage main event with MJF on commentary. He said they had no idea what would happen, but whatever it would be would happen next… [C]
Jon Moxley delivered a backstage promo. He said the last time people saw him, he was in barbed wire hell. He said that’s okay, it’s not what he was there to talk about. He vented about seeing the French and Croatian water polo teams got into Japan when he can’t. He said the moment that he doesn’t have the title, Tanahashi shows up on Dynamite with his “stupid little ponytail.” Moxley said “screw you” and said Tanahashi doesn’t get to wrestle him. “The Forbidden Door might be open, but ain’t nothing good waiting for you on the other side,” Moxley closed…
Chris Jericho wore a black mask over his face while he entered to Fozzy’s “Judas” while the crowd sang along. He removed the mask to show his Painmaker makeup. Nick Gage made his entrance to what sounded like a “For Whom The Bell Tolls” knockoff. MJF made his entrance with a bucket of popcorn…
6. “The Painmaker” Chris Jericho vs. Nick Gage in a No Rules match. MJF sat in on commentary. Gage used a pizza cutter to slice Jericho’s right arm. “Slice him up, Nicky, slice him up,” MJF yelled. They fought to ringside briefly. Back inside the ring, Gage performed a falcon arrow for a near fall.
Jericho caught Cage going for a running boot and put him in a half crab. Gage grabbed the ropes, but there were no rope breaks in the match. Gage used the ropes to break out of it. They went back to ringside. Gage pulled light tubes out from underneath the ring, which drew a big pop. Meanwhile, Jericho pulled out his baseball bat. Gage grabbed more light tubes.
Jericho hit Gage with the bat before Gage could use the tubes. Both men bled from the forehead. Gage pulled out a pizza cutter and raked it across Jericho’s forehead heading into a PIP break. [C]
Powell’s POV: This may be the most closely watched PIP break in AEW history.
Gage continued to use the pizza cutter during the break. He grabbed a light tube, but Jericho hit him before he could use it. Gage came right back and placed a chair over Jericho before dropping an elbow on it. Gage slammed a chair over Jericho’s back.
Back to full screen, the broadcast team noted that Gage had a pane of glass in the ring. Gage placed the glass over two chairs and had Jericho’s face under it. Jericho, who was a bloody mess, cut off Gage on the ropes. Jericho stood on the top rope and threw punches at Gage. Jericho performed a huracanrana that sent Gage crashing through the glass, which drew loud “holy shit” chants. Jericho covered Gage for at two count.
Gage rallied and slammed light tube over Jericho’s back and then slammed another over Jericho’s head. Gage gave Jericho a piledriver onto some of the broken glass and covered him for a near fall. Gage picked up a piece of a broken light tube and jabbed it into Jericho’s forehead.
Gage grabbed two sets of four light tubes. Jericho sprayed mist into the eyes of Gage and then slammed one of the four packs over his head. Jericho hit the Judas Effect elbow and scored the pin.
Chris Jericho defeated Nick Gage in roughly 13:00 in a No Rules match.
MJF stood on the stage and announced that Jericho’s labour number three stipulation was that you have to hit a top rope move in order to win. MJF said he’s been known to hold a grudge and then told the broadcast team to role the tape. Footage aired of Jericho telling a joke about Juventud Guerrera followed by MJF wondering who that was. Jericho told him to Google it. Back live, MJF said he did Google it, and Guerrera would be Jericho’s third labour…
Powell’s POV: Wow. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Jericho vs. Gage, but I watched GCW’s Gage vs. Matt Cardona match earlier today and the two matches were comparable in terms of the amount of violence. Jericho sure as hell doesn’t need to be working that type of a match at this stage in his career. So even if you think he’s nuts for doing it, you have to give him credit for going all in with it. Gage took the loss, but he maintained his credibility with his fanbase by working his usual style rather than working a tame hardcore style match on the bigger stage.
Overall, this is sure to be a polarizing edition of Dynamite. There will be the usual debate over the style of the elimination tag match, and the main event is sure to draw a lot of scorn from those who don’t care for the death match style. I’m not a death match guy and I get the criticism. It’s not something I would want to see on a regular basis in AEW, but it’s what they advertised and they definitely delivered.
Happy birthday to Jake Barnett, who normally reviews Dynamite. He is off enjoying his day, but he will return next week. I will be back shortly with my weekly same night audio review of AEW Dynamite for Dot Net Members. Let me know what you thought of the show by grading it below.