AEW broadcast another episode of Dynamite Wednesday night, coming from an undisclosed location much smaller than their usual venues – including the Daily's Place open-air arena that was most recently host to Dynamite's audience-less shows. AEW was forced to change locations after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order for that state, but the move to parts unknown allowed AEW to bring back wrestlers at ringside, for better or worse.
In terms of presentation, having the wrestlers at ringside makes a big difference. Even the tiny bit of crowd noise provided by cheering and jeering wrestlers fills the void of eerie silence that otherwise afflicts an audience-less wrestling event. On the other hand, as the pandemic becomes more serious throughout the country, gathering that many people together in a small venue feels somewhat reckless, and worrying about the health of the wrestlers becomes a distraction on its own. Did Tony Schiavone's voice seem a little raspy during the show opening? Hopefully, it was nothing.
Here's the rundown of events and segments from the night:
Kenny Omega vs. Trent
In a barn-burner of an opening match AEW Dynamite has become famous for, Kenny Omega and Trent went for nearly twenty minutes in an exciting but sometimes sloppy match that featured an extended brawl in what passed for the ramp area in this American Legion Hall sized building and culminated in a top-rope supplex attempt that saw Trent drop Omega pretty badly on his shoulder. Were the ropes extra slippery last night?
Omega won with the One-Winged Angel.
Hikaru Shida vs. Anna Jayy
Hikaru Shida defeated newcomer Anna Jayy in an unremarkable but well-executed match. Well, Jayy is a newcomer to the ring. She's actually been on AEW TV before, accompanying Wardlow in his pre-debut parking lot promo video last year. Cody Rhodes, who joined Schiavone for commentary for the first half of the night, played up Shida's record. The match served mostly to advance a feud between Shida and Dr. Britt Baker, who Cody called Shiavone's alternate-universe wife, at ringside.
The match was followed by a very long video package for Jon Moxley vs. Jake Hager that did a good job of making Hager look like a threat. This was followed by a video package of Jake the Snake taunting Cody Rhodes on behalf of Lance Archer.
Lance Archer vs. Marko Stunt
Speaking of Archer, he made his in-ring debut in a match against Marko Stunt, used here effectively to make Archer look like a giant monster. The match consisted mostly of Archer tossing tossing Stunt around the ring like a rag doll before pinning him with the Blackout, but Archer wasn't done, chokeslamming Stunt from the ring apron, over the barrier, and into the "crowd" as an encore.
This match was followed by another Brodie Lee video package. Lee, now insisting on minions calling him "Mr. Brody," continued his not-so-subtle skewering of Vince McMahon, forcing one minion to "say what I told you to say" before berating another one for yawning because being tired makes you look week. "Who would want to work for a guy like that?" asked Colt Cabana, replacing Cody on commentary. I've seen some people complain about AEW continuing to take shots at WWE, but this stuff cracks me up.
Dustin Rhodes and QT Marshall vs. The Dark Order's Minions
Dustin Rhodes and QT Marshall debuted with their new tag team name, The Natural Nightmares, with Brandi Rhodes in their corner. They defeated the minions in a squash and stood around at the entrance area for an awkwardly long time waiting for Lee's music to play. "The Exalted One" walked right past Rhodes and Marshall and powerbombed one of the minions for his failure.
In the segment of the night, Chris Jericho cut a hilarious promo on The Elite from a hot tub at his "palatial estate." Amidst a bevy of insults, Jericho referred to Cody as "Cody Exotic" in a timely Tiger King reference. Jericho was interrupted by Vanguard 1 and tried to convince the drone to join the Inner Circle again, handing it a tiny t-shirt. When that didn't work, Jericho shouted "release the hounds!" as several less-than-threatening pooches charged out of his house.
After that, we got a video package of Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson training as Nick recovers from having a garage door dropped on his face by the Inner Circle a few weeks back. In another example of AEW's slow-build storytelling on Dynamite, Jackson mentioned that he didn't remember anything about the attack and didn't know who attacked him. Astute viewers may note that the Inner Circle never actually said they dropped the door on Jackson, instead saying they were walking by and found him like that and taking credit via implication. This seems to be leading to the reveal that it was "Hangman" Adam Page who attacked Nick Jackson.
Cody Rhodes & Darby Alin vs. Shawn Spears & Sammy Guevara
In the main event, Cody teamed up with a somewhat reluctant Darby Allin as Shawn Spears and Sammy Guevara continued their gambling gimmick in the middle of the match, betting each other over who could beat up Allin the most. Spears and Guevara won after Allin was distracted attempting to save Cody from a chair, getting pinned by Spears with a rollup. It was a good performance as usual by some of AEW's top talents and Spears, but it was the post-match events, in which a frustrated Allin punched Cody that was most memorable. Well, that, and Schiavone mistaking Allin for Guevara in his shocked reaction.
"No, Darby Allin punched Cody," Cabana corrected him, before soothingly adding, "That's okay." Aww.
The Bottom Line 'Cause Chad Said So
It was another thoroughly entertaining episode of Dynamite, with AEW making the best of a bad situation and doing a far better job than their competitors at WWE in putting on shows with no audience. It's unknown whether AEW Dynamite will be able to continue filming shows as the country continues to shutdown, and it also feels increasingly risky. If the wrestlers performing each week end up getting sick because of it, it will be a PR nightmare for AEW, but I do appreciate their trying to provide entertainment each week under these circumstances.