Monday, February 10, 2020

AEW Dynamite (Feb. 5th, 2020): Whip 'Em, Boy.

So this will be brief... because I really only want to touch on a couple quick bits. For the sake of disclosure, I thought that last week's edition of Dynamite was top-notch stuff from top to bottom, beginning with a match to build one top-level feud and ending with one of the best non-wrestling wrestling segments I've seen in years to build another top-level feud.

So I will bring up five random points about the show overall after the break.

1 - Jon Moxley Gets An Eye
So we open the show with Jon Moxley and Ortiz going at it while Le Champion is on commentary. Good little match that sees Moxley beat Ortiz and fend off a Santana run-in that ends with Moxley poking Santana's eye with the GT car keys before running off. And then we get Santana vowing revenge next week. I liked this piece of business and I'm genuinely intrigued by how the title match is going to turn out. While I don't think the time is right for the reign of Jericho to come to an end, at the same time, it seems like Moxley's so hot right now that he ought to win this one. We'll just have to see where this goes.

2 - I like Hangman Page Now That He's Drunk
So you got this Hangman Page fellow who's this good-looking fellow that nobody cares about... and then he leaves the Elite (whatever that means to anyone who doesn't watch the Youtube show) and starts drinking. And this is supposed to lead into a heel turn where he turns on Kenny and the boys. Problem is that Drunk Hangman is more fun than Normal Hangman and people seem to dig him. Honestly, looking at this story as a whole, poor guy left the Elite, but the Elite won't leave him alone and so he's drinking his sorrows away... or maybe it's all part of that "Cowboy Shit" he promised everyone. Either way, I dig Drunk Hangman. He's a hero in my book... but yeah, don't drink too much, kids. It's bad for you.

3 - Dr. Britt Baker Needs Customers
So they had a match with Britt Baker taking on Yuka Sakazaki, who hasn't been seen since Fyter Fest last year. Yuka gets a win in a perfectly acceptable wrestling match, which results in Baker snapping and stomping Yuka's jaw into a rope, causing her to lose a tooth. Well, if you need a big bad that badly, just make Yuka sad and cry because that always works... and I mean that sincerely because Sad Yuka equals instant sympathy and wanting to see the cause of Sad Yuka get killed. Also, I wasn't aware that Dr. Britt was so desperate for new clients that she'll cause injuries to fix them. That's a rather nice idea... keep away, Britt. My teeth are just fine.

4 - Building To The Future
So what's the best to build interest in future editions of a show? By advertising and pushing things to look forward to in advance. As such, we have things to look forward to for the next three weeks worth of Dynamite before we even hit the PPV. This coming episode will feature Riho defending the Women's Title against Nyla Rose as well as a Tag Title rematch, the following episode will feature a battle royal to determine the contenders to the tag titles at said Revolution PPV as well as the cage match between Cody and Wardlow, and then the episode afterwards will feature Kenny Omega taking on THAT GODDAMNED FUCKING BASTARD PAC in a 30-Minute Tony Stark match. All of this stuff is interesting to me and I'm rather looking forward to all this stuff. And unlike the other show, I know this stuff will happened because they delivered the goods in the past and announce stuff in advance to build anticipation. Imagine that!

5 - Ten Lashes
So... Cody took ten lashes from MJF, as part of a set of stipulations to ensure that the Cody/MJF match actually happens. There was no bullshit, no swerves, or anything of the sort to be had here. Cody had to take ten lashes or the match was off, which made this even more urgent. And so he took the ten lashes; each strike being more unbearable than the last and each of his friends and allies coming along to cheer him on. With each strike, Cody bares it all while MJF grows more frustrated because he doesn't want the match; he wants Cody to give up, even letting the big Wardlow fellow lay one in for good measure... but it ain't happening. Eventually, the last lash is struck, Cody has endured the ten, and just to be a dick, MJF kicks Cody in the balls before running off to a chorus of boos to end the show.

This segment is probably the single best non-wrestling wrestling segment I've seen in years. It was, for all intents and purposes, a one-sided, one-move match where it was more about selling Cody's endurance and desire to have this match with MJF while MJF wants to avoid this match at all costs. It reminded me of the caning of Tommy Dreamer by the Sandman in the old ECW days, but felt more significant because Cody is just such a great hero in despair willing to go to such lengths to get his hands on the much-despised MJF. Wrestling is a show, but when it has some semblance of believability to it, that's when it's really good. Those lashes look like they hurt and truly emphasize the adage of suffering for your art.

So I haven't been doing musings for the past few weeks of AEW; I just watch the shows and I have to say that they have been getting better and better in terms of generating interesting and putting on some compelling stories. Moxley and Jericho might seem like a WWE rehash on paper, but it feels much more compelling and infinitely fresher than anything they've done before. Cody and MJF is another hot story between the never-say-die hero and the hated villain. The saga of Hangman Page and the Elite is noteworthy. Even the Dark Order and the mystery of their leader's identity has some potential intrigue to it. There's plenty of stuff here that has me interested and wondering where they could go with this stuff. For the most part, it's been really good.

Is it perfect? Of course not; some of the wrestling might not be top-notch, but it's still good enough to be entertaining. Some acts don't seem to work as well as they should, but they're works in progress (or in the case of the Brandi nightmare thing, dropped altogether.) There are some negatives that need work, but the positives more than outway anything that could drag the show down. Certainly, any episode that takes place on a boat and features somebody getting tossed into a pool is going to be superior to the same old shit.

Most importantly, though, these shows are just fun to watch. Sometimes, I want to sit back and have fun with a wrestling show. Dynamite has certainly provided me with a fun show and that's why I keep watching. I may even buy the PPV when it rolls around because they've more than earned my dollars with this latest episode.

Keep up the good work, fellas.

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