By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite (Episode 197)
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan at SaskTel Centre
Aired live July 12, 2023 on TBS
[Hour One] The Dynamite opening aired and then some pyro shot off on the stage… Excalibur, Taz, and Tony Schiavone were on commentary, and Justin Roberts was back as the ring announcer…
“Judas” played and then Chris Jericho made his entrance with his baseball bat. Komander made his entrance with Alex Abrahantes while highlights aired of some of Komander’s past high spots…
1. Chris Jericho vs. Komander (w/Alex Abrahantes). Jericho threw some early chops. Komander fired back and then jumped on the middle and top rope before springboarding into a huaracanrana. Komander sent Jericho to ringside and executed a corkscrew dive onto him. Back in the ring, Komander went for a top rope dive, but Jericho hit him with a forearm shot.
A short time later, Jericho hip-tossed a charing Komander over the top rope heading into a picture-in-picture break. [C] Komander went for a couple of creative pin attempts and got near falls. Jericho cut him off with a big clothesline.
Komander rallied and performed a rope walk before executing a shooting star press that resulted in another near fall. Jericho threw elbow strikes and went for a springboard dive that Komander avoided, causing Jericho to crash and burn on the floor. Komander ran across the top rope, jumped to the other rope, and performed a springboard dive onto Jericho on the floor.
Back in the ring, Komander performed another rope dive for a near fall. Komander went up top and jumped into a Codebreaker that looked rough and fortunately was not the finish to the match, as Komander kicked out at two. Komander ducked the Judas Effect and went for a springboard dive, but Jericho caught him and put him in the Walls of Jericho for the win.
Chris Jericho beat Komander in 12:50.
Powell’s POV: The Codebreaker spot was mistimed, but this was an enjoyable opening match with Komander working in his flashy offense before Jericho put him away. There were a lot fans standing on the main floor, which is always a good sign that fans are invested in what’s happening in the ring.
After the match, Don Callis made his entrance and joined Jericho inside the ring. The fans booed while Callis told Jericho it was a hell of a match. Callis asked Jericho if he saw the rating for their segment last week. He said the wrestling world is buzzing over the possibility of Jericho joining the Callis Family.
Callis recalled 28 years earlier that he and Jericho were part of a faction led by the late Bad News Allen (a/k/a Bad News Brown). Callis had the production team play some footage of the three men during an in-ring promo, which Jericho said took place in 1995. Jericho said the funny thing is that he still has all his hair. “And you, well…” Jericho cracked.
Jericho recalled Allen telling him that he and Callis should always stick together. Callis said Allen told him the same thing. He said they didn’t keep their promise to Allen, but he thinks that he’s upstairs watching with a smile on his face. Callis said he didn’t want to put any pressure on Jericho, but he thinks he knows what Allin would want Jericho’s answer to be. Callis exited the ring…
Powell’s POV: The classic footage was a nice touch. It establishes for those who don’t know that Jericho and Callis have a legitimate history and it’s not just storyline created.
Highlights aired of the Jack Perry and Hook feud…
Backstage, Alex Marvez spoke with Jack Perry, who was seated in the back of an SUV. Hook entered the vehicle behind Perry, who made his exit. Hook grabbed Perry’s hair. Perry elbowed Hook and then took off. Hook exited the vehicle and said, “Keep running, Perry”…
Excalibur hyped the previously advertised upcoming segments and said the first blind eliminator match was up next… [C]
Renee Paquette stood backstage and said she was waiting for Don Callis, who then entered the scene while wrapping up a phone call. Paquette said it seemed like Callis might have a big announcement to make regarding Jericho. Callis said he would actually be going to the ring by himself later in the night to announce the fifth member of the Blackpool Combat Club team for the Blood & Guts match. Callis claimed he wasn’t worried about going out alone because Kenny Omega would hide behind the skirts of the Young Bucks…
The broadcast team recapped footage of last week’s party scene involving MJF and Adam Cole…
Footage aired of MJF and Cole drinking together at a bar. MJF grilled Cole about not wearing the t-shirt. Cole said he lost it. Four attractive women walked past and said hi to them. MJF told Cole it was two for him and two for Cole, but Cole said he really cares about Britt Baker. MJF said four for him and then got the women to accompany him.
They cut to MJF returning to the bar and zipping up his pants. Cole confessed that he didn’t actually lose his t-shirt. He said he would put it on if MJF agreed to do something. They cut to Cole and MJF wearing the matching t-shirts and playing the AEW Fight Forever video game.
MJF said video games are more fun when you’re playing with a buddy. Cole asked if he’d never played a multi-player game. MJF said he didn’t have any friends for that. Cole told MJF that when they were forced to be a team, he had every intention of blindsiding MJF, who laughed and said he was going to do the same thing.
Cole told MJF that he’s pretty cool. MJF asked if he meant that. Cole said yes, and then MJF told him that he’s cool too. MJF said they should win the tag team titles. Footage aired of the duo winning the tag team titles in the video game and then the celebrated. When the clip ended, Schiavone said those were four minutes of his life that he’d never get back…
2. Orange Cassidy and Darby Allin vs. Sammy Guevara and Daniel Garcia in an AEW Blind Eliminator Tag Team Tournament match. All four entrances were televised. Garcia put Cassidy down with a cheap shot early on and then did his silly dance until Allin, who had tagged in, hit him from behind.
Allin and Guevara shook hands before facing off. Garcia tagged himself in a short time later and Guevara looked annoyed. Garcia was getting the better of Allin heading into a PIP break. [C] Allin performed a Code Red on Guevara, but the referee didn’t make the count because Garcia had tagged in.
Allin ended up avoiding a charging Garcia, who accidentally knocked Guevara off the apron. Cassidy tagged in and put Garcia down with a Michinoku Driver for a near fall. Garcia came back and put Allin in the Dragon Tamer, but he released it to stop Allin from running in.
Cassidy and Allin both hit big moves on Garcia. Cassidy had Garcia beaten, but Guevara broke up the pin. Cassidy performed Beach Break on Guevara, and then legal man Garcia rolled up Cassidy for a two count. Cassidy and Garcia went back and forth with pin attempts. They eventually got to their feet and then knocked each other down while throwing simultaneous kicks.
A short time later, Allin avoided Guevara’s top rope shooting star press. Garcia put Cassidy in the Dragon Tamer. Prince Nana walked out and gave Allin’s skateboard to Garcia. Allin reached from the ring to stop Garcia from using the skateboard. While the referee was focused on what was happening at ringside, Swerve Strickland showed up and kicked Allin. Swerve and Nana escaped via the crowed. Meanwhile, Guevara hit Allin with a GTH and then pinned him.
Sammy Guevara and Daniel Garcia defeated Darby Allin and Orange Cassidy in 12:55 to advance to the finals of the AEW Blind Eliminator Tag Team Tournament.
The updated brackets were shown. It was noted that the winners of the tournament will get their AEW Tag Team Title shot on the July 29 edition of AEW Collision. In the ring, Guevara shook hands with Allin before leaving with Garcia…
Powell’s POV: Hey, we actually got the see the tournament brackets!!! The match was solid and the babyfaces were protected by the Swerve interference. I suspect that will give Allin a reason to get involved when Swerve faces his buddy Nick Wayne later in the show.
The second part of the Nick Wayne introductory video aired. He showed off his garage training area. He recalled his mother taking him there to inform him that his father had died. Wayne said he felt lost in life and in pro wrestling while noting that his father was his trainer. Wayne said he continued to wrestle and he did it for him and also for his father. Wayne said he’s ready to face the pressure because he’s been preparing for it since he was six months old… [C]
Powell’s POV: A strong video. Wayne was confident, relatable, and likable.
Paquette was on the interview set with Cole, who was on the phone with Britt Baker while he was pacing. Roderick Strong showed up wearing a neck brace and asked Cole if he actually liked MJF. Cole said he’s not a bad guy and recalled not liking Strong initially and said he now sees him as a brother. Cole got a text from MJF about wearing their t-shirts and performing a double clothesline. MJF added that he had just passed Brian Cage and thought he has the flu. Cole rushed off the set and yelled to MJF that he’s not actually sick…
Brian Cage and Big Bill made their entrance. MJF and Adam Cole followed. MJF slapped hands with fans on his way to the ring and once he got to ringside. MJF stood on the floor and mirrored Cole during the “boom” part of his entrance. They also posed together in the ring. A loud “MJF” chant broke out.
[Hour Two] Cole removed his jacket to reveal that he was wearing the “Better Than You Bay Bay” t-shirt.
3. MJF and Adam Cole vs. Big Bill and Brian Cage (w/Prince Nana) in an AEW Blind Eliminator Tag Team Tournament match. Cole and MJF wrestled in their matching t-shirts. MJF failed to pick up Bill and sold back pain. MJF teased leaving, but Cole ran after him and get him to return to the ring. Bill got the better of MJF heading into a PIP break. [C]
Bill went for a chokeslam, but MJF blocked it and bit his hand. MJF followed up with a bodyslam and fell over to sell the effort it took, which produced a big pop from the crowd. MJF eventually made a hot tag to Cole, who put Cage down. MJF reached out for a tag and called for the double clothesline.
MJF and Cole went for the double clothesline, but Cage held onto the ropes. When MJF and Cole turned around, Bill clotheslined both men. MJF and Cole worked together to put Bill down, but then Cage clotheslined them both and followed up with a double fallaway slam.
Cole caught Cage with a superkick on the apron. MJF hit the Heat Seeker piledriver on Cage. Cole followed up with the Boom knee strike and then pinned Cage to win the match…
MJF and Adam Cole defeated Big Bill and Brian Cage in 10:15 to advance to the finals of the AEW Blind Eliminator Tag Team Tournament.
After the match, MJF and Cole got microphones and played to the crowd. MJF asked the crowd if there were any devil worshipers in the crowd, which drew cheers. “Wow, I am super over, Canada, jeez,” MJF said. MJF asked if they knew who else was over and then chanted “Do the thing.” Cole did his pose. MJF pimped their t-shirts again.
MJF said they were close to hitting the double clothesline. He told the fans that it’s coming. A “double clothesline” chant broke out. MJF tugged at Cole’s shirt and told him to “talk to these crazy Canucks.” Cole told MJF not to touch him and said they have to work on that.
Cole promised the fans that if he and MJF remained on the same page, they would become the next AEW Tag Team Champions. Cole asked MJF why that is. “Why?” MJF asked. “Because we’re better than you.” Cole added the “Bay Bay” part.” Roderick Strong was shown looking upset as he watched the segment on a backstage monitor…
Excalibur hyped the tournament final for next week on Dynamite…
Powell’s POV: So the tournament finals take place next week and I guess that means the tag title match the winners get will be held on July 29. My apologies for that error. I think I was just so excited about finally seeing those damn tournament brackets! Anyway, I corrected the error to avoid further confusion. As for the match, the MJF and Cole pairing really came together this week. Their video was a big upgrade over last week, and the crowd was hot for the double clothesline tease.
Backstage, Paquette stood with Jake Hager outside Chris Jericho’s locker room door. Hager said Jericho knew they were coming and invited Paquette and the cameraman to come in. Hager asked Jericho if he was really considering joining the Callis Family.
Jericho said Callis was making a lot of great points about Bad News Allen and they have a lot of history. Hager recalled saving Jericho’s life in Abu Dhabi and giving up his MMA career to follow Jericho to AEW. Hager said he deserves to know. Hager handed Jericho his silly hat and told him that he can’t give him 100 until Jericho is straight with him… [C]
4. Skye Blue vs. Ruby Soho (w/Toni Storm, Saraya) in an Owen Hart Cup Tournament semifinal match. Both entrances were televised. Early in the match, Blue kicked Storm from the apron. A short time later, Storm ran Blue into the ring steps. The referee saw it and ejected Storm and Saraya from ringside. Soho targeted Blue’s knee heading into a PIP break. [C]
Blue went for her Code Blue finisher, but Soho grabbed the top rope to stop it. Soho transitioned into a single leg crab. Blue reached the bottom rope to break the hold. Blue performed a move that planted Soho on her face and then covered her fora near fall.
Soho sold her nose while the broadcast team recalled her nose surgery. Blue went to the ropes. Soho move the referee out of the way and pulled Blue from the ropes into her No Future kick while the broadcast team explained that the nose injury was a ruse. Soho covered Blue and got the three count. Storm and Saraya came out afterward to celebrate with Soho…
Ruby Soho beat Skye Blue in 8:50 to advance to the finals of the Owen Hart Cup tournament.
An AEW Collision recap video aired. Excalibur hyped the previously advertised Collision matches for Saturday’s show and then said the Swerve vs. Wayne match was up next… [C]
QT Marshall, Harley Cameron, and Aaron Solo stood on the backstage interview set. Marshall introduced Cameron’s music video, which then aired. Once it was over, the QTV trio celebrated. Marshall sent it back to Taz “and the other two guys”…
Powell’s POV: Cameron is talented, but I’m not really sure what the actual point was. It feels like her character should actually be a lousy performer for heat purposes, so I’m not sure where they are going with her and The Acclaimed.
Swerve Strickland and Prince Nana made their entrance. Nick Wayne was accompanied onto the stage by Darby Allin, who headed backstage while Wayne went to the ring. Wayne’s mother was shown in the crowd…
5. Nick Wayne vs. Swerve Strickland (w/Prince Nana). The broadcast team noted that Wayne celebrated his 18th birthday on Monday. There was a light “let’s go Nick” chant early on. Excalibur noted that Aubrey Edwards, who was the referee for the match, also refereed his first match in the United States. They cut to a PIP break a few minutes into the match. [C]
Wayne went for his Wayne’s World finisher, but Swerve caught him in a Torture Rack and then put him down with a backbreaker. Swerve followed up with another backbreaker and covered Wayne for a near fall. Swerve placed Wayne in a seated position on the top rope.
Darby Allin walked onto the stage and shouted encouragement to Wayne, who clubbed free of Swerve and then performed a Poison Rana from the ropes. Wayne followed up with his Wayne’s World cutter from the ropes and then went for the pin, but Strickland got his foot on the ropes to break it.
Swerve came back with a wicked powerbomb from the ropes. Swerve followed up with a kick to Wayne and got a believable near fall. Swerve looked at Allin, who moved closer to ringside, and then used his legs to wrench the arms of Wayne. Swerve followed up with a Jam Driver and got the three count. Allin checked on Wayne afterward…
Swerve Strickland beat Nick Wayne in 10:10.
Powell’s POV: A strong debut for Wayne, who got the live crowd behind him more and more as the match went on. His near fall off the Wayne’s World was excellent. All of that said, I like that Swerve went over. They can tell multiple stories by building to Wayne’s first win and eventually beating Swerve if they choose to.
Excalibur listed the following matches for Friday’s AEW Rampage: Anthena vs. Willow Nightingale in an Owen Hart Cup tournament semifinal match, The Dark Order speaks, Lance Archer vs. Trent Beretta, Konosuke Takeshita in action, Toni Storm speaks, Keith Lee and Dustin Rhodes vs. Angelo Parker and Matt Menard…
Excalibur hyped the previously advertised matches for AEW Collision, and then listed the Luchasaurus vs. Shawn Spears match for the TNT Title for the Battle of the Belts VII special…
Don Callis walked to the ring alone. Callis said he was there to announce the fifth member of the Blackpool Combat Club for Blood & Guts. Callis said they would slaughter The Elite. Callis said there’s no one more deserving of the abuse than ingrate Kenny Omega. Callis said the fans love Omega, but he knows the real Omega and he’s a coward and a punk.
Kenny Omega’s entrance theme played and he headed toward the ring. Jon Moxley and Konosuke Takeshita tried to stop Omega, who fought them off. Pac attacked Omega from behind with a chair. The BCC trio worked over Omega and let Callis get a kick in.
Pac took the mic and said Omega has no idea how long he wanted for this. Pac said Omega extorted him for his championship. Pac told Omega to look at him and then said he’s the fifth member and Omega would now pay the price. The heels wrapped a chair around Omega’s head. Pac went up top. Moxley asked Omega if he had anything to say. Omega laughed and said they still have their fifth member.
A video package aired and revealed that Kota Ibushi will be the fifth member of the team that will be known as The Golden Elite. The Young Bucks and Hangman Page showed up and cleared the heels from the ring. Page took the mic and said they would finish this once and for all in Blood & Guts.
Omega said they would show BCC that it’s about more than just fighting. He said it’s about passion, soul, friendship, and love. Omega said Callis will never win their battle. Omega said that once all five members of the BCC team are down, that’s when he’s going for Callis. Omega closed his “goodbye, goodnight, bang” line. Excalibur hyped Blood & Guts for next week…
Powell’s POV: Pac and Ibushi became the popular picks to be the final men, so I don’t think this will be a letdown to too many fans. Of course, there are casual viewers who are not familiar with Ibushi. The video package they showed was brief, so I hope they do more on Rampage, Collision, and even early in next week’s Dynamite to really set up his arrival and to recap his great history with Omega. The biggest negative is that the final segment felt rushed again.
Overall, there was a lot to like this week. They are doing a nice job of slowing down and telling some intriguing stories regarding Chris Jericho, MJF and Adam Cole, and of course the mystery regarding the final Blood & Guts entrants. The storytelling feels like it’s improving to go along with the strong in-ring action. I will have more to say about Dynamite in my weekly same night audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons). Let me know what you thought of Dynamite by grading it below.