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AEW Dynamite
March 11, 2020

by Samoa Rowe


From Daily's Place in Jacksonville, Florida. The building is empty due to COVID-19, so strap in, because this appears to be our new normal. Our hosts are Jim Ross, Excalibur, and Taz.

Cold open with Cody standing in the ring with a microphone. He is thinking about what is really important and wants his fellow Elite members to put aside their petty squabbles, because human beings need to stand together, and they need to beat The Inner Circle at Blood and Guts. He's actually looking at the camera too, which is refreshing (WWE performers have been talking to invisible crowds on their empty arena shows). He's joined by somber looking Matt Jackson and Kenny Omega. Omega admits that he and Cody don't always see eye to eye, but right now the entire world is falling apart around them, admitting that they may not even have a Dynamite next week. Kenny wants to go out as they came in, being the Elite. Matt points out that it's just the 3 of them, as Nick Jackson is still in the hospital and Hangman Page is MIA. Page shows up on the stage. Matt asks Page man to man if he will stand with the Elite. Page answers with a toast of his drink and departs. Omega speaks to fans watching at home and promises to give them the best show, so bring on the lights and pyro!

Tony Shiavone talks to MJF at ringside. MJF says he isn't wrestling tonight because he doesn't have to. He's going to sit back and watch those beneath him on the card kill themselves while he makes money. Tony thinks he and Shawn Spears are gambling, which infuriates MJF.

Best Friends (Chuck Taylor and Trent, with Orange Cassidy) vs. Death Triangle (Pentagon Jr. and Rey Fenix)

OC joins commentary and puts his boots on the table. As the Lucha Bros. enter, I notice that the hard camera is pointed straight towards the set, which makes for a less distracting broadcast. MJF, Wardlow, Spears, Tully Blanchard, and some others are watching from the front row, so this sort of feels like a low attended indie event (I mean that in a nice way). Fenix gets the best of Trent early on during a striking contest. Trent answers with a leaping knees to the chest. Best Friends hit a double shoulder block. Jake Roberts and Lance Archer are in the front row and OC looks to be sleeping. Best Friends force Fenix into a tag, and Pentagon takes over with attacks on Trent's face. Death Triangle hit a tandem wheelbarrow splash, which seems to wake up OC. A diving sequence sets up a Taylor lariat at ringside and it's commercial time. Picture in picture proves that the guys aren't just standing around during the commercial. Back from break, Death Triangle is working over Trent and OC is sleeping again. Hot tag to Chuck and the babyface section cheers him on. Best Friends reconsider their usual hug and go for an elbow bump instead, but Death Triangle break it up. OC leaves commentary to prevent Chuck's death on the apron and hits the hands-in-pocket leap off the stage onto Death Triangle. Chaos continues until Pentagon puts Trent away with the piledriver/double stomp combo at 14:05. Strong work on display, good win for Death Triangle, and lots of OC fun, ***½.
Winners: Death Triangle

Shiavone interviews the losers. Chuck is mad about Death Triangle's dirty tactics. They challenge Death Triangle to an actual street fight in the parking lot. Sounds good to me.

Penelope Ford (with Kip Sabian) vs. Riho vs. Kris Statlander vs. Hikaru Shida

Chaotic start, and Sabian soon makes himself a target of Statlander and Shida's blows. Ford totally misses a dive, and Riho then hits a cool crossbody on the field. Sabian pulls Ford to safety, forcing the other three to continue fighting. Shida suplexes Statlander onto a draped Riho. Ford returns with a totally botched flying head scissors. Shida keeps things moving with a missile dropkick, but her double suplex is reversed. Ford and Riho slug it out, and Riho takes time to dropkick Sabian. This allows Ford to hit a back handspring elbow. Sabian interferes again, so Riho knees him off the apron. All 4 women are in the ring again for drive by attacks. Statlander slams Riho onto Shida, but Ford surprises with a reverse rana. Shida counters Ford and hits a Falcon Arrow for 2. Shida finishes Ford with a running knee at 5:40. Nonstop action on display, hampered only by Ford's bad botch, and sort of feeling directionless in the bigger picture of the division **½.
Winner: Hikaru Shida

Tony talks to Colt Cabana, who is here to scout his competition. Colt liked the women's match, but feels Penelope Ford would be better without her scheming boyfriend. Sabian takes exception to this and they trade some slaps. Sabian retreats and it looks like we have a budding rivalry on our hands.

Earlier today, Tony Shiavone caught up with Jon Moxley, who is still on the "do not enter" list. Moxley says he's never been medically cleared in his entire career, and he wouldn't miss Blood and Guts if his life depended on it. He takes off in the car he stole from Jericho months ago.

The Butcher and The Blade vs. Jurassic Express (Luchasaurus and Jungle Boy)

No social distancing for Jurassic Express, as JB rides in on his dinosaur friend. MJF hands some cash to Blade and seems to be giving marching orders. Blade gets some shots, but JB rolls him into an armbar and follows with a springboard arm drag. Blade gets a knee lift, but Luchasaurus makes the tag and throws JB into a DDT. J.R.: “You know, that mask is a work.” LOL! Butcher and Blade catch Jungle Boy in a dive and toss him into the rail. Jake Roberts looks happier than the smiley shirt fan watching this. Butcher and Blade control the action throughout a commercial. Back from break, the babyface section is trying to will Jungle Boy back into it as he takes Blade's nasty backbreaker. Desperation lariat by Jungle Boy, but Blade prevents a tag. JB escapes Blade's back work and tags in Luchasaurus who delightfully tears through Butcher and Blade with fancy kicks and big man flying maneuvers. Jungle Boy is unceremoniously dumped in what was either a botch, or an overly elaborate counter. Butcher and Blade swarm Luchasaurus and almost end it with a tandem uranage. MJF orders "full death" but Jurassic Express hit their tandem cutter for the win at 12:34. Typically fun Jurassic Express outing, with some minor miscues and timing issues, ***.
Winners: Jurassic Express

The Dark Order come to the ring and it looks like it's finally time for the reveal of the mysterious "Exalted One." Evil Uno looks right at the camera and says when the Exalted One arrives, his promise to open everyone's eyes will be kept. The Exalted One is near, but I guess we have to wait a bit longer. They're interrupted by SCU, who can't take another second of this. Daniels is sick of Evil Uno's lies. His rant is cut off by a spooky video package. The Exalted One is revealed to be BRODIE LEE! He says Daniels is not the first out of touch old man to not believe in him, but he will be the last. Lee then appears in the ring and puts Daniels down with a lariat! I'm a little sad that we didn't get Matt Hardy, but this was a satisfying reveal in it's own right.

Tony talks to Jake Roberts and Lance Archer. Roberts does all the talking, and is offended by the lack of respect they've been getting. He is also disgusted by Cody and his friends bitching like little girls going to the prom. This wasn't supposed to be personal, but now it is, and they will have to do something to get Cody's attention.

Video package of Lance Archer fighting a bunch of carnies in a ring in a rural yard. Roberts watches approvingly. Eventually, everyone is left down and out and Roberts applauds. This was an efficient way to get Archer over as dangerous without having to do the same squash match for weeks on end.

The Inner Circle (Jake Hager, Santana, and Ortiz, with Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara) vs. The Elite (Cody, Matt Jackson, and Hangman Page, with Kenny Omega and Arn Anderson)

The winning team gets the advantage at Blood and Guts, which will happen on the “next Dynamite” and not specifically “next week” because all bets are off if Dynamite will be allowed to continue operating given the pandemic. The heels sing Jericho's theme music (LOL!) but Sammy forgets some lyrics. Santana strikes first with a cheap shot on Cody. Santana and Ortiz hit Cody with a double suplex. Cody reverses Ortiz' suplex and tags Matt for an axe handle. The Elite swarm Ortiz, with Page even playing along. Matt lunges at Hager on the apron and then catches Santana with a spear. Page tags himself in and dominates Santana with an overhead slam for 2. Cody tags but Ortiz hoists him up for Santana's superkick, and the Inner Circle are cooking in time for a commercial. Back from break, Hager has Cody in a delayed vertical suplex and is letting Santana and Ortiz get shots in. A pep talk from Coach Arn doesn't pay off right away as Ortiz then smashes him into the rails. The beatdown on Cody lasts for several more minutes until he catches Ortiz with Cross Rhodes! Cody tosses a charging Hager, but Santana knocks the Elite off the apron to prevent a tag. The Cody beatdown restarts in time for another commercial. Back from break, Cody blocks the Hager Bomb and Hangman gets the hot tag. Page has become awesome at the running wild sequence and pops the babyfaces with his rapid offense. Cody helps with a suicide dive, but Wardlow grabs him by the throat, prompting Arn to break it up. Meanwhile, Matt hits Santana with rolling Northern Lights suplexes. Page and Matt block Hager's attack with a tandem suplex. Hager stops Page from helping Matt hit the Meltzer Driver, and Matt gets rolled up at 19:55. Match was solid and had a lot of good little storytelling touches, but needed a bigger climax to justify two commercial breaks, ***.
Winners: The Inner Circle

Chris Jericho brags that the Inner Circle always had the advantage and bans all fans from AEW shows until he says otherwise, because they don't need pumpkin headed dipsh!ts cheering for guys like Page. He reminds us that the Inner Circle have never hit each other with a finisher, drank at ringside, or shown any cracks in their armor, and when it's time for Blood and Guts, they will dominate. Sammy poses on Hager while he does push-ups. Jericho encourages Sammy to hit on Brandi Rhodes. Suddenly, a drone lowers into the amphitheatre, as Matt reveals that the Elite are not outnumbered, because he called a friend, and MATT HARDY is here! Hardy appears in the balcony in all his broken glory!

Final Thoughts: Given the circumstances, AEW hit the ball out of the park. This episode could have been a disaster but they pulled together to create an intimate, fun, and surprisingly NORMAL episode of Dynamite. On top of that, they paid off the Exalted One mystery with a great unveiling and then we still got Matt Hardy later anyway! I don't know how AEW could handle the empty arena format better than WWE, but they did, and that should be pretty clear to anyone watching. This was a great Dynamite from beginning to end.

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