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    Saturday, November 23, 2019

    Reviewing the Elite (11/20/19): Sky’s the Limit

    I’ve said it a million times but it bears repeating: AEW Dynamite is a remarkably consistent wrestling show. Love it or hate it, there’s a sense of security when watching every episode of Dynamite, knowing that the company will try to do right by its wrestlers and fans. 

    Honestly, this was one of the more flawed episodes of Dynamite, but one with good intentions. There was an attempt to make new stars and keep their roster credible for the most part, like having Hikaru Shida beat Britt Baker clean, or making us think Jungle Boy would meet “Hangman” Adam Page for the Dynamite Dozen Finals next week, and letting Private Party hand Santana and Ortiz their first loss. 

    Not all of these worked, but you can’t help but like how they’re doing good by their (male) roster. I won’t rant too much about the women this week but you all know I’m right.

    Goaded G.O.A.T.

    This was a segment that I liked in concept but felt was kind of muddy in execution.

    Having SCU goad Chris Jericho into giving Scorpio Sky an AEW World Championship title match should have been great since it makes the babyfaces look smart and makes the heel look petty, which is always a plus. However, I thought the material here from Jericho, Kazarian, and Christopher Daniels was pretty weak.

    Jericho announcing a celebration next week where he will be getting all the thank yous he deserves fits his character, but didn’t exactly fill me with excitement. I did like how he had “Big Hurt” Jake Hager apologize for him so he wouldn’t have to use the s-word himself, but thought he tried a bit too hard to be funny.

    Also wasn’t a fan of how Kaz and Daniels goaded Jericho into giving Scorpio the title shot since they used joke-y lingo. Once again, it’s totally within their characters to do it this way, I just wasn’t a fan of the work itself.

    For all my complaints though, Scorpio himself actually looked like a star. Sky’s promo to Jericho was actually pretty solid and the fact that he got the audience to chant the name of his supposed high school crush shows he has heaps of charisma.

    Brownie points for also having other babyfaces help SCU out when they were getting beat up by The Inner Circle. The failed save attempt from Brandon Cutler and Michael Nakazawa was admirable, while the final Luchasaurus made him look like a goddamn hero when he stood toe-to-toe with Hager. This was a nice show of continuity since Jericho mocked his Jurassic Express buddy Marko Stunt before the segment started.

    Overall, even if the segment itself wasn’t great, their goal was a good one and I’d say they succeeded. Jericho vs. Sky next week should be a blast, as should the future encounter between Hager and Luchasaurus.

    Who’s Next?

    Depending on who you ask, the best match of the night was either Jon Moxley vs. Darby Allin or Nick Jackson vs. Rey Fenix. Both have sound arguments as to why they should be the better one but for my money, the physical contest between Moxley and Allin took home that prize.

    Somehow, without getting any weapons involved, Moxley and Allin had a really good brawl. Allin’s opening suicide dive on Moxley set the pace for a violent match with some solid storytelling. Moxley would try to use his power and brute strength to put Allin down, while the Sk8er Boi just wouldn’t give up, constantly finding ways to fight back against the bigger man, even after all of the gnarly suplexes he took.

    Though Moxley dominated most of the match and eventually won it with a brutal Death Rider from the top rope, Allin looked really good in defeat. His daredevil tendencies and never-say-die attitude were prominently shown throughout, particularly when he defiantly bit Moxley’s hand as the lunatic tried to bring him up for more punishment. Even if you’re a hardcore Moxley fan, it was hard not to root for Allin.

    Now, who’s next for Moxley? Who else in AEW is willing to test their humanity?

    Fenix Rises

    AEW may have overdone it when they called Nick Jackson vs. Rey Fenix a dream match due to Matt Jackson's kayfabe injury, but this was definitely a beautiful showcase of athleticism and high-flying. It’s the kind of match that Jim Cornette would hate, which makes me like it even more.

    From the get-go, these two countered each other like crazy, showing that they didn’t forget their previous tag team matches against each other. From there, we got a number of dazzling strikes, impressive Hurricanrannas, a freaking German Suplex on the apron, and, of course, a SUPERKICK PARTEEEEY!


    Sure, it’s the kind of Cirque du Soleil match that a lot of old white guys like to bitch about, but there was no denying how good it was. The ending had Rey Fenix getting the win when he picked up Jackson for a Muscle Buster, spun him around, and threw him down Michinoku Driver-like. Or a Mexican Muscle Buster, as Jim Ross called it. 

    Post-match also had a fun bit of storytelling since Fenix applauded his rival’s efforts but when Jackson went for the handshake, the Lucha Brother walked away. It’s a good way to show that Fenix respects Jackson but probably hates his guts. It's nice seeing The Young Bucks doing some solo matches and I hope this becomes a trend.

    You’re an Ass. Man.

    I’ll admit that the Dynamite Dozen Battle Royale is a bit head-scratching, in that they are making competitors wrestle over a diamond ring of all things, and it hasn't been shown to us. What’s the point of this diamond ring? Will it be the equivalent of a midcard title? 

    The rules were simple. Throw your opponent over the top rope and whoever the last two wrestlers are will face each other the next week. Participants included Adam Page, MJF, Pentagon Jr, Marko Stunt, Jungle Boy, Kip Sabian, Chuck Taylor, Sonny Kiss, Orange Cassidy, Jimmy Havoc, Joey Janela, and a returning Billy Gunn. Guess he finally registered that name.

    While not a great battle royale, it did have a number of moments that made the whole thing a bit memorable. Daniels fooled Pentagon Jr into thinking he was Rey Fenix, which resulted in the Lucha Brother being the first one eliminated. Billy Gunn got to play the Superman role of pushing everyone off when they all tried to gang up on him. Jimmy Havoc attacked everyone he could with a staple gun when he was eliminated. Shawn Spears interfered and eliminated Joey Janela since this rivalry is still going. Solid stuff all around.

    As expected, Hangman Page and MJF will face each other in the finals, though they did tease Jungle Boy taking on Page for a bit. MJF actually got a tremendous amount of heat in this match, eliminating favorites like Orange Cassidy and Billy Gunn, the latter of which was due to an assist from his heavy Wardlow. He's really proven to be a great heel and the fact that he's only 23 years old means he's only going to get better.

    Now that Page has left The Elite (for now anyway), it will be interesting to see if he takes on MJF and Wardlow alone, or if The Elite will help as a way of bringing him back into their group. Plenty of possibilities and all for a diamond ring we haven’t even seen.

    Final Grade: Two great matches and an attempt to make new stars gives this fairly flawed episode of AEW Dynamite a B-. Definitely not a bad show but the execution in some areas was lacking.

    Matches Announced for Next Week:
    • Chris Jericho (c) vs Scorpio Sky for the AEW World Championship
    • Kenny Omega vs PAC
    • Hangman Page vs MJF in the Dynamite Dozen Finals

    Elite Thoughts

    • One woman’s match and nothing else? Disappointing, AEW.
    • I watched the most recent episode of Being The Elite so I knew Hangman Page left the group, but they still should have replayed it for those who aren't too internet savvy. Then again, AEW was practically made for smarks who like to bitch about wrestling on the internet. 
    • Nick Jackson was the only member of The Elite to appear on television this week, unless you count that video package from Kenny Omega. I was not expecting that and appreciated how it let stars like Luchasaurus and SCU shine.
    • Kenny blaming his downfall on PAC is entertaining because he’s so wrong. It was either the loss to Jericho that broke his confidence or the fact that he went into AEW overconfident, riding his own coattails about the legend he supposedly is. Either way, it will be fun seeing PAC win and Kenny losing his mind.
    • Private Party vs Santana and Ortiz wasn’t bad but it went on a bit too long, going through two commercial breaks. While things got going near the end, the match loses points for Ortiz forgetting to kick out when he got hit with the Code Red. Not the best outing from these two teams but Private Party winning was a good call, especially since they handed the Proud and Powerful team their first loss.
    • They also decided to correctly spell Proud-N-Powerful to Proud and Powerful in Santana and Ortiz’s tron. I guess they didn’t want any potential Cornette heat if the spelling was perceived as racist, which sounds like an overreaction, but is the only thing I can think of.
    • Hikaru Shida beating Britt Baker and becoming number one contender for Riho’s AEW Women’s World Championship was the right call. While I do think Baker is improving, Shida is a much better wrestler and should get one hell of a match out of Riho. The match was fine.
    • During the Luchasaurus squash, Jim Ross said the dinosaur-themed wrestler was scheduled to face Peter Avalon and sacrificed his entrance pop to save SCU earlier. This is hilarious.
    Images from All Elite Wrestling

    Nico Parungo is a writer for Epicstream.com and has contributed several reviews for PWR and MWF. When he isn't frustrated about the WWE, he's playing video games at home and is bugging his friends with glorious puns. He's new to the world of Twitter drama but is quickly getting hooked.
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    Item Reviewed: Reviewing the Elite (11/20/19): Sky’s the Limit Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Nico Parungo
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