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    Sunday, December 22, 2019

    Reviewing the Elite (12/18/19): Join The Dark Order

    Well, that was an interesting ending.

    If you believe in the journey being more important than the destination, this was a pretty good episode of AEW Dynamite. We got plenty of good wrestling in this episode, particularly the opening contest and the main event, while most of the stories progressed in a natural way. The consistent format of Dynamite has ensured that most episodes are going to be enjoyable, for the most part.

    Now, with that being said, let’s go straight to that main event segment, shall we?

    Will You Pledge Your Allegiance to The Dark Order?

    It was only a matter of time before The Dark Order made their presence felt. The intriguing vignettes from previous weeks got a lot of attention and the cryptic teases throughout this episode was a nice way of making us aware that they were coming. However, a lot of criticism has been thrown at their re-debut, not because they looked weak, but because they were, ironically, too strong.

    After SCU beat The Young Bucks to retain their AEW World Tag Team Championships, dozens of masked men quickly surrounded the ring as Evil Uno and Stu Grayson announced that we would be seeing a Dark Order initiation. From there, the masked men, along with jobbers John Silver and Alex Reynolds, beat down two of the best tag teams in AEW. That sounds fine, right?

    Seems like beating the best tag teams of AEW wasn’t enough for whoever booked this segment since The Dark Order also beat up Kenny Omega, Cody, and Dustin Rhodes. That’s right, they beat up every member of The Elite. If you want to get hyperbolic about it, The Dark Order destroyed AEW’s biggest stars, with the only exception being the self-exiled Hangman Page, which the commentators made sure to point out.

    On one hand, I see where the criticism comes from; why would you have your biggest starts get punched out by a bunch of faceless nobodies, two of which were jobbers that Jon Moxley had no problem beating up last week on his own. However, keep in mind that there were a ton of people in the ring and The Dark Order clearly had the numbers game, so them having the advantage over The Elite was realistic.

    Because, you know, a company that employs a man who thinks he’s a dinosaur and a woman who thinks she’s an alien should focus on realism.

    Personally, I was fine with it. This makes The Dark Order look like a threat and gives us another set of top heels in the men’s division. However, I definitely think a slower build would have been better. Had they beat up some of the midcard guys before ascending to the main event, this type of beatdown would have felt more natural. Still, despite what Cody said a few weeks ago, this company deals in absolutes and are willing to put all their chips into this Dark Order story. Let’s just hope it works out.

    Are You Ready For Round 2?

    Jungle Boy did it! He survived 10 minutes against Chris Jericho, with the match ending in a draw.

    Prior to the match, we had an excellent video package about Jungle Boy. Instead of showing him doing Tarzan-like shenanigans, they showed him getting ready for his match with Jericho by doing some impressive exercises and it was pretty effective. His interview with Jim Ross was also solid and it’s the only time they mentioned his famous dad passing away, which is impressive since, well, this is wrestling. If this were WWE, Jericho would say that Luke Perry’s in hell, which many would have called classless.

    The match was a classic underdog story told really well. Jungle Boy had the advantage early but Jericho soon got the advantage, overpowering the second smallest member of Jurassic Express throughout the match. He even started underestimating him, nailing multiple Codebreakers and not even bothering to pin him at first. This eventually backfired since he wasn’t able to beat Jungle Boy Jack Perry in the 10 minutes, as the young wrestler refused to tap while trapped in the Walls of Jericho.

    In classic Jericho fashion, he thought he won the match but once he learned what happened, the AEW World Champion demanded five more minutes, which seemed to be granted. However, once he got in the ring, Jungle Boy Jack Perry was ready for him and almost pinned the champion with a huracanrana, referencing last week’s phantom pin, and a crucifix, before Jericho decided he wrestled enough for this episode and left in a hurry. Later on, the commentators revealed that the additional five minutes weren’t official.

    Le Champion then tried to kick this under the rug and bring attention to Jon Moxley, claiming that he had something special for him if he decides to join his Inner Circle when the new year comes. This obviously isn’t over and we can expect to see another match between Jericho and Jungle Boy, which should be good fun if this match was anything to go by.

    The Not-So Elite?

    Now, let's get to The Elite since these guys had a pretty bad week.

    As mentioned earlier, The Young Bucks lost to SCU and failed to win the AEW World Tag Team Championships. It was a really clean finish too as Scorpio Sky and Kazarian got the pin with only one SCU Later. The match was fun while it lasted but seeing The Young Bucks lose so decisively is pretty shocking, though it does work for the story they’re trying to tell. We got a video package of The Young Bucks admitting that they could be doing a lot better and promised to do turn things around by winning the Tag Team Championship, which was basically them telling us that they weren’t going to win.

    That’s wrestling 101, you guys.

    Kenny Omega and "Hangman" Adam Page also lost in their match against The Lucha Bros. It was an excellent match, easily match of the night if I’m being honest, with all four men working hard and showing us why they’re so beloved. Their loss also worked also served a purpose in their story since Page is clearly turning heel and the loss infuriated him. He even shoved Omega after the match and if it weren’t for PAC kidnapping Michael Nakazawa, their shoving match would have evolved into punches. 

    We never saw Nakazawa and PAC again after this episode so seeing Omega lose his match and his friend, not to mention getting beat down by The Dark Order, does make him look like a bit of a loser. I think it’ll be worth it if Nakazawa and Page end up joining The Dark Order but maybe The Elite should worry less about making others look strong and keep themselves looking, well, elite. 

    Butchered and Dulled

    Considering how no once cared about The Butcher and The Blade when they first attacked Cody, it’s kind of amazing that the two have already been in some of the show’s hottest matches. Last week, these two beat Cody and QT Marshall in a tag team match that drove the crowd crazy. This week, they finally fell to Cody and Darby Allin, which kept this crowd hot after the opening tag match mentioned above. 

    Even as someone who has warmed up to Cody as a main event-level talent, it’s quite surprising to know that his star power is enough to elevate this match. That’s not a completely fair statement though since Darby Allin is also one of the company’s most popular stars, and he continues to get great reactions despite not appearing weekly in Dynamite. Maybe this changes things? 

    While the match was pretty good, it was missing one key ingredient: MJF. The best heel in this business didn’t appear at all this week, which is a crying shame. MJF’s presence was really missed and this episode was worse for him not being in it.

    I’m not sure where Butcher, Blade, and Bunny go from here. This is a pretty healthy tag team division so I wouldn’t be surprised if they get involved in a tag team feud soon. They worked well in this match and last week’s so it’s clear that the two have talent, I just wish more personality was shown from them. The Butcher looks like one of those classic snarky movie villains, and I mean that in a good way, but his lack of in-ring theatrics doesn’t make him too exciting to watch and The Blade isn’t much better.

    Final Grade: I liked this episode more than most so I’ll give it a B. There was plenty of good wrestling and some storyline advancement, with The Dark Order getting fans talking, for better or worse. 

    Matches Announced for January 1st (No Dynamite next week):
    • Riho (c) vs. Kris Statlander for the AEW Women’s World Championship
    • Cody vs. Darby Allin

    Elite Thoughts:

    • The fact that AEW is using Christopher Daniels’ botch from last week to start a story about The Fallen Angel losing his touch is good stuff. I’m still bummed at how their match went down but this was a very good follow-up and I hope it leads to a revitalized Daniels.
    • So, Shawn Spears wants to enter the tag team division because AEW treats it well? That’s not the worst logic in the world but he actually has a number of singles wins under his belt. They really need to introduce a midcard title for these guys.
    • Kris Statlander, my alien lord and savior, beat Britt Baker in the number one contender’s match but then got attacked by Brandi Rhodes and her Nightmare Collective afterward. They seemed to be running an injury angle here, as they pointed out how Brandi hit Statlander’s eye with the tip of her heel, which must hurt like hell if the attack were real. Her match with Riho still seems to be on for next week so here’s hoping that they don’t pull a bait-and-switch.
    • Awesome Kong squashed someone who wasn't Leva Bates. That's... no, that's nothing. At least she looks strong and her inevitable match with Kris Statlander should be good.
    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 (12/18/19): Join The Dark Order Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Nico Parungo
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