Tuesday, September 28, 2021

AEW Grand Slam Week (Dynamite 2021-09-22 and Rampage 2021-09-24)

I don't have a funny banner. So here's Bryan Danielson choking Justin Roberts with a tie.

So last week was AEW's biggest showing yet, taking place at the Arthur Ashe stadium, featuring a live edition of Dynamite and a special two-hour edition of Rampage, which was taped from the venue after Dynamite. Since this is essentially being treated as a big-time PPV event being given away on free TV - and considering there isn't another AEW PPV until November, I'll take this - I've opted to cover both shows on a single musings. It's only taken me a little longer to post this because I didn't catch Rampage until a day or two ago when a buddy who gets the show recorded it onto DVD-R so that I can watch it.
Anyway, let's get into it.


The show opens with the dream match between Kenny Omega and Bryan Danielson, showing they're not fucking around here. Both guys were at the top of their game and laid it all out there throughout the entire thirty minute time limit. Kenny did some cool shit, Danielson did some cool shit and even busted out CATTLE MUTILATION for good measure, which was a nice little surprise... but then again, now that Bryan Danielson is a PROFESSIONAL WRESTLER for the first time in over a decade, I really shouldn't have been. I was also pleasantly surprised that there was only one commercial break throughout and it was about twenty minutes into the match, which I greatly appreciate because something like this needs the proper respect. What wasn't a surprise, however, is that you have a match between two of the absolute best wrestlers in the world today, tell them to go nuts for thirty minutes, and the end result is top-notch excellent professional wrestling.

Perhaps the most telling sign of an excellent professional wrestling match is when the match ends in a draw after thirty hard-fought minutes and not once did the match feel long, drawn out, or tiring. A good long match that's thirty minutes should just fly by and by the time it's done, you're left with a feeling of wanting more, especially with a conclusion as unsatisfying as a draw. Not to draw comparisons and make Adam mad, whenever WWE puts out very long matches, they FEEL very long, very boring, and bordering on plodding, self-pandering affairs. Some will argue it's because people don't like long matches or they're not used to long matches, but I watch this Omega/Danielson match and it just FLIES by. Thirty minutes felt like much less than that. The only time I noticed how long it was going was when the first break hit and I saw it was twenty minutes in... and even then, when the bell rung to signify the end of the thirty-minute time limit, it did NOT feel it. It felt much faster and it left me with a sense of wanting more... and the crowd was pretty much on the same boat, hot for the entire thing. Thus proving that not only are audiences more than capable of enjoying long matches, but it's possible to make such matches enjoyable with the right people involved being allowed to do their thing without imposed limits or bullshit booking.

Anyone who hasn't had the chance to watch this match should do so. As far as I'm concerned, this is the single greatest wrestling match to grace your television screens and these two wrestlers were just getting started... I'm already looking forward to the rematch that Kenny sez there ain't gonna be... we'll see, kid.

(By the way, for anyone who gives a shit about Meltzer's Star Ratings, he gave this *****. Make of that what you will. I'd give it a trilliony trillion billion stars.)

Cm Punk talks about how he has to follow that by talking about Hobbs. It's a CM Punk promo talking about humbling and angry stuff.

MJF defeated Brian Pillman Jr. in a fun little match that saw MJF do despicahle heel things like hide behind Jula Hart and cower in fear. Obviously nowhere near as good as the opener - and spoiler: nothing else comes close - but still very fun.

Malakai Black defeated Cody Rhodes via black mist to the face in an okay match, I guess. Despite being the most evil person around, New York loved Black and booed the piss out of Cody. Fortunately, Cody leaned in dickishly for this one because that's what a professional does; he adjusts and hurts Black's leg and such before the finish. Arn took an awkward fall that nobody knows if it was a fluke or planned, but when Cody checks in, Arn tells him to get back in there and finish the fight. The match was... meh. This was the sort of thing that needed to be a big balls to the wall brawl and it ended up being a typical WWE-style match, which is... meh.

So, this is the first time we've seen Brandi Rhodes in a good long while since she had been out due to giving birth. Congrats to her on that, I'm sure she is a nice woman and all, but it's the first night back and I'm already sick of her. Here's the thing; Brandi has that Stephanie McMahon vibe going for her; the kind where everything she does is such a turn off that she actually makes me want to change the channel whenever she pops up. I don't know what it is about her that gives off that feeling in these shows because outside of it, she's not as much of a turnoff. She's fine in those Shot Of Brandi shorts she does. So maybe it's the gimmick or the act. But the idea of Cody trying to be the HHH of AEW doesn't help that perception, either.

Darby Allin & STING defeated Fuck The Revival in an "I owe Sting an apology" match because months ago, when Sting was first taking bumps and doing stuff, I thought that he moved a bit like someone who is on the old side... which makes sense because he is sixty-something, I think. When I first heard that he was going to do matches, I was concerned; especially considering how he got injured due to an errant buckle bomb during his only WWE run. As it turns out, Sting has been doing fine. Not only has he been doing fine, but there are times where you wouldn't even guess that he was 60+ considering the bumps he took and the stuff he was doing.

I hate to take this away from the young dudes, because Darby is a crazy bastard poised for big things and Fuck The Revival is one of the best tag teams you'll come across today... but I'm more amazed by Sting doing all this cool stuff and getting his shit in than I am the other guys. 

AEW Women's World Champion Dr. Britt Baker DMD defeated Ruby Soho via Lockjaw submission after interference from lackey Jamie Hayter to retain the title. Nice to see Ruby get a main event spot a couple weeks into her AEW run, which is more than what she got in x number of years in WWE. Anyway, this was a fun match. It's no Danielson/Omega - nor should have tried to be - but this kept me interested from beginning to end. See, give me one really good women's match over a bunch of shitty ones and I'll be happy.

So that was the Dynamite show and I think this is probably their best show to date. Focused purely on delivering some great wrestling matches and keeping the promos to a minimum, this was a joy to watch. And while you can't bang this sort of thing out on a weekly basis, every once in a while, they should attempt to deliver this sort of episode. Excellent show.


Much like Dynamite on Wednesday, this special 2-hour edition of Rampage doesn't waste time and opens up with CM Punk (in trunks!) against Team Taz's POWERHOUSE HOBBS, accompanied by HOOK. It was a fun match, with Hobbs getting the upper hand before Punk makes the comeback and even manages to prevent a HOOK distraction by ramming Hobbs into him. Good, about time that kid took a fucking bump. Punk wins with the GTS. Fun opener.

Adam Cole And The Young Fucks (and their parade of Elite Stooges) defeated Christian Cage, Jungle Boy, and the Luchasaurus in a trios match with Cole scoring the pin over Lucha. This Adam Cole kid looks like he could be a big deal in this AEW. If only he could work... maybe we can find him a nice developmental region to... wait, what was I talking about?

Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky (with that Dan Lambert fellow) defeated Chris Jericho and Jake Hager after Lambert tripped Hager, allowing Sky to roll him up for the win. Lambert's MMA people then beat up the inner circle dudes. This was fine and having Dan Lambert around as the sort-of old timer analog is a delight... though I could do without the boring MMA guys.

There was an eight-man between Santana/Ortiz/Lucha Bros and Matt Hardy's Home Office in Nebraska that has a lot of action and I guess the not-quite LAX team wins. Then Hardy challenges Orange Cassidy to a hair match against Jack Evans or something. Good action, though.

Penelope Ford defeated Anna Jay with Bunny-delivered brass knux in a short match. A billion run-ins follow. More dissention in the Dark Order is teased. This has to be going somewhere eventually, right?

And that was the main event for the show... as the lights go out and we have our real main event - the unsanctioned lights out match featuring Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston going up against Lance Archer and Minoru Suzuki. There's a lot of brawling, a lot of weapons used, a lot of Mox getting beat up with his hands tied, and for some reason, Homicide of TNA fame shows up to take part in the violence. Eventually, Mox and Eddie win. It was a fun brawl while it lasted, despite my musings not expressing it as such.

So, all in all, a fairly successful night of pro wrestling divided into two shows. The Dynamite show was great in its housing the best TV wrestling match and some lesser caliber but still pretty good matches, while the Rampage show was more about fun spotfests and crazy brawling kicked off with another quality outing from CM Punk. If this were a PPV, it would've been a pretty good one to follow up on one of AEW's biggest and best PPV offerings in All Out. But instead, it's two excellent pro wrestling shows two days apart.

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