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    Friday, February 7, 2020

    Reviewing the Elite (2/5/20): Whipped Into Shape

    Now that’s more like it!

    After last week’s episode felt like they were running in place before the pay-per-view, this week’s AEW Dynamite gave us plenty of reasons to get excited for the upcoming Revolution. There was plenty of great wrestling, which is always expected from the Wednesday Night Wars, but this episode also had one of the most emotional wrestling segments in recent memory.

    Let’s get to the whipping. We all know that’s the big talking point of this episode.

    Whip it Good

    When Cody accepted the 10 lashes from MJF, I thought he was an idiot. Don’t get me wrong, this guy did cost Cody the opportunity to ever compete for the AEW World Championship but I was hoping The American Nightmare would have some pride and not reduce himself to being attacked like this. It also made Arn Anderson’s presence feel a bit redundant since his “coaching” just led to Cody accepting the lashes anyway.


    Once the segment began and the lashes started, I got emotionally invested. The goal was to get more heat on MJF and to make Cody sympathetic. Even with these two talents involved, I’d say that they overachieved here.

    Firstly, every heelish thing MJF did was perfect. From not wanting to use his own belt and demanding Cody’s own to faking a lashing to spook his former mentor, MJF was amazing. This guy is wise beyond his years and is going to make for one amazing AEW World Champion down the road.

    Cody was excellent as well, though part of that likely had to do with those damn lashes. Sure, he had to “sell” them but we all know they were painful AF. Having Dustin Rhodes and The Young Bucks come out was also a good call, with the former wanting to take the other five lashes to save his brother from further punishment and the latter encouraging Cody to push through so he can get beat the shit out of MJF at Revolution. 

    What really got my blood boiling was when fucking Wardlow stopped MJF's 9th lash and asked if he can whip The Son of a Son of a Plumber himself, which got TREMENDOUS HEAT and “Wardlow Sucks” chants. I was chanting with them (in spirit) because Wardlow broke Cody in half with his lash, making the American Nightmare's back bleed.

    Just when it seemed like Cody was ready to give up, Brandi Rhodes came in, no longer part of The Nightmare Collective, and gave her husband the support he needed. Not gonna lie, I teared up when Cody looked his wife in the eye, tears in his face, kissed her hand, and triumphantly stood up to take the final lash, which hit his Dusty tattoo. The segment had already won me over before this but Cody and Brandi's interaction put it over the top for me.

    Even though Cody was whipped into oblivion and still has to take on Wardlow in a steel cage match, it was gratifying seeing MJF far from happy—at least until MJF decided to rub salt in the wound by kicking Cody right in the Golden Globes and ran away like a coward, making me lose my shit like that one "fan."

    Apologies for going long but this was a masterclass in wrestling storytelling, the likes of which we haven’t seen in years. If you’re going to watch anything from this week’s episode of Dynamite, make it this segment. 

    FYI it’s not for the squeamish and gets really uncomfortable quickly.

    An Eye For An Eye

    Yeah, that’s a cliché title for this portion of the show but I couldn't help it. 

    Jon Moxley and Ortiz had a really fun match, serving as a perfect opener that got the crowd pumped up. There was never any doubt that Moxley was winning but I really enjoyed the match they put together. It was refreshing seeing a great tag team competitor do well in singles competition.

    Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara were on commentary for this match and they did a stellar job. The two Inner Circle members played off each other really well, offering some fun comments here and there, including a funny bit about “not being nice to people.” Jericho even played off Guevara’s silence well by saying he was looking at girls, with Guevara smartly replying “they’re checking [him] out.” Good stuff.

    The real story comes in the post-match. After giving Santana the DDT, Moxley brought out the keys to that fancy sports car Jericho got him. He shook it at first to annoy Jericho but then proceeded to use it as a weapon and JAB SANTANA IN THE EYE. It was great seeing Moxley get his revenge and this segment helped him regain some of that edge he seemed to have lost after his feud with Omega.

    Later on, Santana cut one hell of a promo on Moxley (which I can't find online right now). The proud and powerful Inner Circle member pointed out how difficult his life has been, and said Moxley wouldn’t be able to survive what he’s been through, punctuating it by saying it’s an eye for an eye next week. My recap doesn’t do it justice—Santana was just great here and his match with Moxley should be fire.

    It’s funny how I thought Moxley dealing with The Inner Circle would make for repetitive television and now I’m immensely entertained by his interactions with Santana and Ortiz. This shows how a stable can benefit everyone in it, so kudos to AEW for that.

    Final Grade: 

    Bouncing back from a mediocre episode, this week’s AEW Dynamite gets an A-. I have a few nitpicks here and there but this was an excellent episode.

    Matches Announced for Next Week:

    • Riho (c) vs. Nyla Rose for the AEW Women’s World Championship
    • Kenny Omega and Hangman Page vs. (c) SCU for the AEW World Tag Team Championships
    • Jon Moxley vs. Santana

    Elite Thoughts:

    • If you’re in the mood for a big moves match, check out the excellent eight-man tag match where The Butcher, The Blade, and The Lucha Bros defeated Kenny Omega, Hangman Page, and The Young Bucks. Not only does it give the heels a much-needed win but it also continues the intriguing story of angry and insecure Hangman Page, who is officially my favorite wrestler in AEW. Even with all the big moves, the most important moments came from Hangman refusing to tag in The Bucks and only tagging in Kenny. 
    • Another great Hangman Page moment came from his short interview segment with The Young Bucks, who are furious with him for not tagging them in while Kenny was down, costing them the match. After Matt Jackson took his cup of beer, Page started regretting his actions before drinking a MASSIVE pitcher of beer. Fantastic.
    • Kenny Omega and PAC are going to have a 30-Minute Iron Man match in three weeks. That should be a treat, though I’m sad that it won’t be at Revolution. I also found it troubling how Omega only agreed to the match after PAC threatened to attack Riho. It worked, in that it made PAC look despicable but shouldn’t modern wrestling be above using women as hostages/plot devices for men?  
    • Britt Baker vs. Yuka Sakazaki was solid for a three-minute match. I was shocked seeing Yuka get the win, especially after all the development Heel Britt has gotten. The post-match angle solved that problem by having Baker viciously attack Sakazaki, curb-stomping her in the ropes and removing a tooth! Is this how she gets patients? 
    • There wasn’t much to Joey Janela vs. Kip Sabian, though that might have been due to its placement since it was right after the stellar eight-man tag. The two worked hard and it wasn’t a bad match but I wish the crowd was more into it. The ending where Janela accidentally knocked Penelope off the ring, leading to Sabian getting the dirty win, suggests a rematch is in the cards and I’m fine with that.
    • SCU vs. The Best Friends was fine, with Orange Cassidy meme-ing it up for us marks. I really liked what happened after the match when The Dark Order killed everyone until Christopher Daniels came in to make the save. While they could have easily overtaken Daniels, they chose not to, showing that they’re going to torture the Fallen Angel by attacking everyone that isn’t him. That, or Daniels is the Exalted One, I don’t know.
    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 (2/5/20): Whipped Into Shape Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Nico Parungo
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