Another week of All Elite Wrestling has passed and while there was some bad going on (we’ll get to them, trust me), it was buoyed by great in-ring work and intriguing storylines being built. Let’s take a look at what went down on the past week’s editions of Dynamite and Rampage, both emanating from the H-E-B Center in Austin, Texas.
3/23 AEW Dynamite
Match 1: CM Punk vs. Dax Harwood
This was Punk’s first appearance on AEW programming since the Dog Collar Match versus MJF at Revolution, with the match against Dax made hours before Dynamite went on the air.
Interestingly, Dax’s partner Cash Wheeler initially stayed behind, but wound up at ringside to just provide support for Dax, not directly getting involved in the match itself.
Befitting a match between two noted fans of the great Bret “The Hitman” Hart, this match saw lots of fantastic in-ring work where the styles of Punk and Dax meshed so well.
Colten & Austin Gunn of the Gunn Club were seen throughout the match mocking the two FTR members, which seems to be helping facilitate Dax & Cash’s face turn quite nicely.
Punk got the victory by countering Dax’s Sharpshooter into an Anaconda Vice to make him submit. He celebrated his win by making a Hangman’s noose gesture, then the universal “I want the belt” motion. While the announcers were unsure on what AEW title belt Punk was eyeing, it’s rather clear that he’s aiming for the World Championship next. Recall that Punk said as much during his feud with MJF, so that could be Hangman Page’s next challenger once he’s done with Adam Cole.
The J.A.S. Speaks
We had a backstage promo from a united Jericho Appreciation Society. Ringleader Chris Jericho talked about the picture that a young John Silver had with him, stating that Silver was not on his level and he was gonna prove that in tonight’s main event. Daniel Garcia said that they beat up pro wrestlers and that he’s going to show why they can’t hang with a sports entertainer like himself. Jericho then declared that the J.A.S. would future endeavour Silver and Alex Reynolds – just like they did to Eddie Kingston and Santana & Ortiz.
“Daddy Magic” Matt Menard & “Cool Hand Ange” Angelo Parker pulled back the curtains behind them, ostensibly “looking” for Kingston and Proud & Powerful, but they were nowhere to be found.
Match 2: The A.F.O (The Butcher, The Blade, Isiah Kassidy, Marq Quen) vs. Darby Allin, Sting and The Hardys (Matt & Jeff Hardy)
Contested under Texas Tornado Tag rules, this eight-man match appeared to be the culmination of a feud that intensified with the Andrade Family Office kicking Matt Hardy out of the faction, which led to the arrival of brother Jeff to AEW to aid Matt.
Of course, with eight competitors in a match without tags or disqualifications, the brawl spilled all around ringside and even in the H-E-B Center concourse area. And speaking of spills, The Butcher gave Darby a spill of his own by throwing him down the concourse stairs that led to the picture-in-picture break.
When the show returned from break, Private Party had Matt Hardy cornered on the stage, then dropping him with a dual Side Effect through a table. Elsewhere, Sting and Jeff Hardy brawled with the Butcher and the Blade, which led to Brother Nero ascending a ladder and leaping from a high platform right through the A.F.O. goons and a table.
Ultimately, the faces got the victory after Sting and Matt finished off Private Party with the Scorpion Death Drop and Twist of Fate, respectively.
AEW’s No DQ matches tend to be very entertaining, and this one was, once again, no exception. It’s always a treat to see the reunited Hardy Boyz take wicked bumps
“You’re Not Ass Boys”
Backstage, FTR had some choice words for the Gunn Club, wanting to challenge the “spoiled brats” to prove themselves in a match next week.
Match 3: Bryan Danielson & Jon Moxley (w/ William Regal) vs. Varsity Blonds (Griff Garrison & Brian Pillman Jr. w/ Julia Hart)
This was basically another squash win for the Mox/Danielson tandem as they ran roughshod over the Varsity Blonds.
Throughout the match, Julia Hart continued to show signs of being corrupted by Malakai Black’s mist as she simply just sat on the stairs and completely ignored the action going on in the ring.
This six-minute match saw its conclusion when Mox made Griff Garrison submit to a sleeper hold, with Danielson locking Brian Pillman Jr. in the LeBell Lock at the same time.
Post-Match – The Blackpool Combat Club
Mox got on the mic after the match to talk about how he respected and valued William Regal’s opinion – having earned his respect through the pain and torture that Regal put him through. He said that he wore that “Blackpool badge of honor” with pride, stating that they weren’t here to hand out free passes.
To join the “Blackpool Combat Club”, it had to be done the hard way, as Mox concluded with his promo.
MJF spoke about his actions last week when he screwed over Wardlow in his TNT Title match and beat down the big man with the help of Shawn Spears.
He said that he was done with CM Punk for now, stating that he would beat him the next time they fight. MJF talked trash about Wardlow, calling him a “greedy little pig” for wanting too much and for screwing him over against Punk at Revolution.
MJF’s continued needling of Wardlow and his family’s situation naturally brought the War Dog out to try and dispatch the security force that surrounded the ring, but they managed to overwhelm him. Maxwell Jaxwell then twisted the knife by saying that he was going to pay Wardlow to sit at home and be forgotten by the fans, then instructing the security crew to take him away.
MJF ended the promo by quashing the rumors that The Pinnacle was dead. He promised that they were stronger than ever and that their return to the top would start next week when FTR faces off against The Gunn Club.
Best Friend No More?
Friction between Trent Beretta and Wheeler YUTA of the Best Friends broke out in a backstage segment. Trent was upset with YUTA for wanting to join William Regal’s “Tough Boy Club”, stating that he never really liked YUTA to begin with. Wheeler responded by saying that he honestly never liked Trent either and that he wasn’t here to be a best friend, but to be the best wrestler that he could be.
Match 4: Adam Cole vs. Jay Lethal
It was a Ring of Honor throwback match with Lethal and Cole squaring off in a 10-minute bout that saw some great in-ring action.
Lethal got an early advantage on Cole, managing to hit three successive suicide dives. This was the cue for reDRagon to appear on Cole’s behalf. Quickly, the tide turned as Cole took advantage of a distracted Lethal and got some offense of his own in.
The end came when Cole reversed a Lethal Injection with the Golota Special to Jay’s groin, followed by The Boom for the win.
Cole talked trash about “Hangman” Adam Page after the match, which led to the AEW World Champion confronting him. Page whipped Cole, Bobby Fish, and Kyle O’Reilly with his belt, but the numbers were soon too much for him as the Undisputed Trio beat Page down. Jurassic Express ran in for the save, but Cole managed to get away with the AEW World Title in tow.
Sammy Guevara and Tay Conti were out next for their first remarks since Sammy lost the TNT Championship and Tay was laid out by Paige VanZant. Sammy said that he was ready to do something crazy that will get fans to chant “holy shit” about it. Tay, on the other hand, was done with all the talking and wanted to fight PVZ right there and then.
Dan Lambert and the Men of the Year interrupted as he boasted about how great Ethan Page, Scorpio Sky, and Paige VanZant were.
Sammy concluded things by saying that since he and Tay made love on the TNT Title that Lambert was carrying, that meant they’d be “living in his mouth” too. Oof.
Match 5: Leyla Hirsch vs. Red Velvet (Kris Statlander Banned From Ringside)
With Kris Statlander banned from being at ringside, the match turned into two bitter rivals renewing an old rivary. The last time Red Velvet and Leyla Hirsch fought in the ring, it was Velvet who got the win thanks to a timely assist from Statlander.
Things started off feisty with Leyla attacking Velvet during her entrance as the fight erupted all around the ring. The action would go back and forth between the two competitors, but Velvet took over. She used an offensive salvo to gain the advantage, even countering a Leyla Hirsch German suplex into the Mix kick. However, Leyla managed to roll out of the ring to safety.
Leyla grabbed a turnbuckle hook and looked to use it again, but was caught by referee Bryce Remsburg. WIth Bryce distracted by removing the hook from the ring, Leyla used the opportunity to pull a spare hook from her trunks and struck Velvet with it in order to get the sneaky victory.
Leyla continued her ruthless assault after the match, battering Velvet with stomps and a cross armbar submission. This led to Kris Statlander in her “dark alien” look making the save as she beat up on Leyla for a bit before sending her scurrying.
Victory Celebration Ruined
Tony Schiavone conducted an interview with new AEW Women’s World Champion Thunder Rosa. However, before the champ could say anything, Vickie Guerrero interrupted and had some things to say. Vickie said stuff along the lines of Rosa not being a “real Texan”, but that was just dressing for Nyla Rose attacking the Women’s World Champ from behind, setting her up as the first challenger. More on that later.
Match 6: The Jericho Appreciation Society (Chris Jericho & Daniel Garcia w/ Jake Hager, “Daddy Magic” Matt Menard & “Cool Hand Ange” Angelo Parker) vs. Dark Order (John Silver & Alex Reynolds)
Capping off the night was the first match of the newly-formed Sports Entertainment enthusiasts taking on two of the Dark Order’s best in a 10-minute long main event bout.
Jericho used his veteran instinct to his team’s benefit by getting Dark Order’s 5 & 10 ejected from the match by pretending to be thrown into the steel steps. Meanwhile, “Red Death” Garcia utilized technical prowess against Silver and Reynolds in order to get ahead.
“Johnny Hungee” would have his own moments during the match, including a fiery offensive flurry against Jericho and Garcia.
In the end, however, it was J.A.S. that got the win after Jericho smacked Alex Reynolds with “Floyd” the baseball bat after Garcia caused a referee distraction. Daniel would then make Reynolds tap to a modified Scorpion Deathlock/Sharpshooter to make his first team-up with Jericho a successful one.
The J.A.S. stood tall to end Dynamite, with the hope for Eddie Kingston and Proud & Powerful to get some retribution having to wait for at least another week.
3/25 AEW Rampage Recap
- Dustin Rhodes def. Lance Archer via pinfall (9:30) after rolling up Archer following a toss into an exposed turnbuckle. Lance got some revenge after the match as he beat up on Dustin, as well as some Nightmare Factory-aligned wrestlers hoping to stop the carnage. Lance ended things by chokeslamming Dustin through the timekeeper’s table.
- In a backstage promo, Jay Lethal said that maybe some things needed to change after thinking over his recent losses to Ricky Starks & Adam Cole.
- Fuego Del Sol called out the House of Black for a fight. That challenge was obliged in kind as Malakai Black, Buddy Matthews, and Brody King beat up on Fuego. There was an interesting confrontation with The Dark Order and the House of Black trio.
- reDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) def. Dark Order (Alan “5” Angels & Preston “10” Vance) via pinfall (7:30) after finishing off Angels with Chasing the Dragon.
- Post-match, Jurassic Express brawled with O’Reilly and Fish, which allowed for noted belt thief Adam Cole to steal the AEW World Tag Titles.
- Nyla Rose got a backstage promo talking about how she didn’t care if people were upset by her attack on Thunder Rosa on Dynamite. She said that she would cause the ultimate disrespect by taking Rosa’s AEW Women’s Title from her. We got a response from Thunder Rosa, who said that she had some revenge planned on Nyla and Vickie Guerrero.
- Nyla Rose def. Madi Wrenkowski via pinfall (:30) with the Beast Bomb. This was a quick squash, but notable in Chris Jericho bestowing Nyla with the “Sports Entertainer of the Week” Award, as part of his new gimmick.
- QT Marshall awarded HOOK with his “Certificate of Achievement”, but HOOK refused it and smashed the award over Aaron Solo’s head. On the way out, Danhausen tried to curse HOOK, who simply just walked off and no-sold it.
- Ricky Starks def. Shane “Swerve” Strickland via pinfall (11:00) after some help from Powerhouse Hobbs, followed by the Roshambo.
- Keith Lee attacked Starks’ supporters and came to the aid of Swerve. Everyone got into a massive brawl with referees trying to stop it as Rampage concluded.
In terms of the in-ring work across both Wednesday and Friday shows, it was solid as usual. CM Punk vs. Dax Harwood was a perfect pseudo-tribute to Bret Hart, with both men excelling in a hot opener match.
The eight-man tornado tag match was great fun and seeing Jeff Hardy take a high-risk bump is always a treat.
On the storyline front, MJF essentially taking on the role of a certain global wrestling empire by paying Wardlow to sit out his contract brings a new interesting wrinkle to their rivalry. The money is in Wardlow finding a way to circumvent MJF’s nefarious scheming, so that should be fun to see.
MJF’s claim that The Pinnacle is stronger than ever seemed to indicate that FTR was still with the group, but with Dax and Cash’s face turn progressing along nicely, that might mean they’ll be on the outs with MJF and Shawn Spears. Perhaps, the so-called “Ass Boys” might be their replacement.
While some might be souring on “The Battle of the Adams” continuing on, the angle of Adam Cole being so delusional about being a champion that he just outright steals Hangman’s AEW Title and the Jurassic Express’s World Tag Titles for himself and his Undisputed buddies does make for a good way to extend this to Battle of the Belts II, if that’s what ends up happening.
Now that we got the positives out of the way, let’s dive right into some rather big negatives from Dynamite that kinda hurt my enjoyment of the past week’s episode.
Dynamite’s second hour was where things fell off the wheel – and a lot of that had to do with the hour’s two promo segments. I hate to say it, but I really did not like the Sammy/Tay vs. American Top Team and Nyla Rose/Vickie Guerrero vs. Thunder Rosa promo segments.
I’ve made no secret about how much of a turn-off Dan Lambert’s presence has been in segments — especially pairing him with capable promo workers like Ethan Page or Lance Archer. His presence is actually a net negative whenever he shows up. Of course, your mileage may vary, but I find he doesn’t really add anything at all. Sammy Guevara’s “punchline” of “we had sex on that title belt you’re kissing” was just a bizarre way to end their segment.
And then we move to the Rosa/Nyla segment, which pretty much was not well done by any means of the imagination.
You had Vickie Guerrero’s inexplicable drawing of the race card by telling Thunder Rosa to take her “fake green card” back to Mexico, which just got things off on the wrong foot. Plus, there’s Rosa herself being shown being not smart enough to suss out that Vickie’s presence meant that Nyla Rose was not too far behind, which did not end well for her. Not exactly the kind of first impression you want people to have of your new babyface Women’s World Champion in their first official week as champ.
By now, you’ve probably seen the video of Kate Elizabeth from the excellent Mark Order Podcast (seriously, do check Kate and the Mark Order crew out, they’re great) sharing her take on what’s ailing the AEW Women’s Division – mainly with how the division is too good for it to be in the state that it’s in.
As Kate said in the aforementioned video, there’s really no excuse for AEW not showcasing their incredible women’s roster enough.. I get that they may want to present Thunder Rosa as a credible Women’s World Champion by having her overcome Nyla Rose as her first challenger – but that kinda loses its steam when it’s been done by everyone else in the past.
Nyla Rose as “the gatekeeper challenger” is just rather tired at this point, and it’s past time to just give her a new role. On Twitter, Nyla has shown to have a very quick wit and a panache for snark, so why not lean into that by letting her speak for herself rather than having Vickie as her manager?
There’s no reason why Rosa’s first challenger could’ve been someone like Serena Deeb – who’s literally the number one ranked wrestler going by AEW’s own rankings. I get that Serena might be currently occupied by her feud with Hikaru Shida, but they can simply find a way to make a story out of Serena deciding to go after Rosa due to her winning record.
Why not do something with Mercedes Martinez wanting to step up to Rosa, perhaps as part of some sort of agreement for assisting her against Dr. Britt Baker and friends? Granted, it would be hard to do given that Mercedes isn’t in the Top 5 of the rankings, but there are ways to get around this. Let Mercedes rack up wins on the YouTube shows and on Dynamite & Rampage to properly build her up as a challenger.
Then there’s the whole “one women’s match” trope that sadly still exists on Dynamite. It’s nice that we have women in the main event, but it’s only happened twice — both being the St. Patrick’s Day Slam shows in 2021 and 2022. It’s also nice that we’ll get multiple segments building women’s adjacent feuds, but there really is no issue with adding a match or two to that mix. Two women’s matches on Dynamite on a regular basis rather than once in a blue moon would be an improvement.
I normally don’t really call out AEW like this, but it’s rather disappointing that after all this time, the Women’s Division’s booking is still a bit of a weak spot for the company. Whether or not Tony Khan will actually commit to improving how the women are booked, sadly, remains to be seen – especially if we’re three years into the company’s existence and things haven’t really changed.
On that note, that’s a wrap on another week of This Week in AEW. ‘Til next time, keep cool, gabagools.
Marc Quill is the editor of RingCrashers, GateCrashers’ home for all your All Elite Wrestling and indie wrestling needs. He’s also the web novelist behind Skye Emery: Bluebird, which you can read here. You can chat with him about wrestling, comics, and stuff in general on @MarcQuill on Twitter.