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    Friday, February 21, 2020

    Reviewing the Elite (2/19/20): The Spice of Life

    Despite a lot of people liking NXT Takeover: Portland, including yours truly, Smark Henry’s own Migz Llado, and “Cancer” himself Dave Meltzer, there seems to be a large portion of fans who are a bit tired of the Takeover formula. Despite a number of quality matches in the event, many fans felt that they were all a bit too similar, going for long portions of time and filled with finisher kick-outs except for Dakota Kai vs. Tegan Nox and Rhea Ripley vs. Bianca Belair.

    To put it simply, it looks like big-money NXT matches are lacking a bit in variety. Something this week’s Dynamite had in leaps and bounds.

    In two glorious hours, AEW fans had the pleasure of watching a phenomenal tag team battle royal, an awesome, if somewhat self-indulgent World Tag Team Championship match, a solid women’s match, a nice showcase for Jeff Cobb, and a great steel cage main event. All of these matches were booked to feel different from each other and it made for an entertaining show that almost felt like a pay-per-view.

    Hire Jeff Cobb


    Well, what do you know? The match between Jeff Cobb and Jon Moxley was freaking great.

    Admittedly, this isn’t a huge surprise when it comes to Cobb, who has been a consistently entertaining wrestler in ROH and NJPW. While I would have liked to see more suplexes in this match, it was still a good showcase for Le Champion’s hired mercenary as he dominated one of AEW’s most over main event talents for 90% of this bout.

    I really enjoyed how this match was laid out since Moxley couldn't use his usual tactics against a guy like Cobb, especially after the beatdown he took last week. Every time it seemed like Moxley found some hope, Cobb was there to take it away, whether it was with a well-timed shoulder block or a nasty suplex.

    The finish where Moxley caught Cobb in a pin after getting superplexed was fantastic, making Moxley look smart and giving Cobb an out for losing. Cody already confirmed that we would be seeing Cobb more of in the future and if this match is anything to go by, we're going to enjoy the big guy's tour in AEW.

    Caged Rage


    How about we go over that steel cage match? Because it was just great.

    First, that video package they played before the match was wonderful. Sometimes, it’s good to give fans a bit of a recap and additional comments from Cody and Arn Anderson really added some gravitas to the bout. 

    Cody also made Wardlow look like a million bucks in this classic babyface vs monster match. This is the first time many of us are seeing Wardlow wrestle and he looked great in his Dynamite debut.

    Wardlow tossed Cody around like he was a newspaper, which really sold MJF’s hired muscle as a huge threat. The fact that he also no-sold some of Cody’s earlier offense helped add to the drama, really making the guy look terrifying despite his ring gear. (Sorry, just not a fan of a singlet for his look.)

    MJF also had some good heel moments throughout the match. We did get the usual heel-mocks-the-babyface-while-his-face-is-against-the-cage spot, which always works, but there was also a moment when MJF tried to get Arn to turn on Cody by closing the cage door on his former mentor. That didn’t happen and Arn roughed up MJF a couple of times but the fact that he hesitated does have us wondering if Anderson is really on Cody’s side. 

    The finish was pure babyface satisfaction, as Cody ended up hitting Wardlow with MJF’s diamond ring, a Cross Rhodes, and a moonsault from the top of this ENORMOUS cage to get the win. The cherry on top was seeing MJF cower in fear over a bloodied Cody’s resilience. Awesome.

    Super Matt


    We all knew the Young Bucks were going to win the tag team battle royal to face Kenny Omega and Hangman Page for the AEW World Tag Team Championship at Revolution. It’s something the past few weeks of Dynamite have been teasing and we all would have been disappointed with a swerve.

    But the way they went about it in this battle royal was both unexpected and thrilling.

    Major props to the fact that this tag team battle royal requires BOTH partners to be eliminated. The potential for drama with that stipulation is unlimited and they took full advantage of that by having Nick Jackson eliminated midway through the match, with Matt Jackson having to survive on his own to get a tag title match for his team. I adored the moment where he teamed up with Trent, whose Best Friend had also been eliminated and was pretty sad that the two didn’t mix it up in the finish.

    The Young Bucks winning was a given, as I mentioned earlier, but they went out of their way to book the older Buck like a superhero to get there. Matt not only eliminated Santana and Ortiz by himself, but he also killed Sammy Guevara with the sickest superkick of ALL TIME, making the classic HBK/Shelton Benjamin spot look tame in comparison (that match is still great though).

    It was a fun, somewhat over-the-top moment for this fun, over-the-top match. While I mostly focused on Matt’s big win, this tag team battle royal was something special, filled with cool spots and great character moments, which can’t be said for every battle royal not named the Royal Rumble. Check it out.

    Final Grade: This was a damn good stick of Dynamite. While AEW can fall into similar traps to NXT and even main roster WWE, this installment showed just how versatile the show and wrestling, in general, can be. Definitely give this a watch. A+

    Matches Announced for Next Week:
    • Kenny Omega vs. PAC in a 30-minute Iron Man match
    • The Best Friends vs. The Butcher and The Blade
    Elite Thoughts:
    • Kenny Omega and Hangman Page defeated The Lucha Bros in a spot-tacular match, for better or worse. The match arguably suffers from the same problems as Takeover: Portland but it didn't feel like overkill, coming after three matches that had different stories and didn't focus on workrate as the selling point. I personally enjoyed seeing these two teams go all out and would love to see them go at it again in the near future. Can we just get more Lucha Bros in general? Cero Miedo, motherfucker.
    • Kris Statlander and Shanna had a fun little bout with our alien leader picking up the win. Apparently, some neckbeards are annoyed at Statlander’s use of the boop so they must have hated that boop-off the two ladies had. Still, the match showed how talented Dynamite’s ladies can be.
    • AEW Women's World Champion Nyla Rose cut one hell of a promo this week. She got a lot of heat from the fans in the arena and her “break bitches” line was a good one. Seeing Statlander and Big Swole confront her to a solid pop each was nice and gave me hope for the company's women's division, though security coming out to break it up was weird. THEY DIDN’T EVEN FIGHT.
    • Darby Allin is OVER. Jesus Christ, that pop he got for saving Moxley was loud. His match with Sammy in Revolution should be a big hit.
    • So, no one’s gonna talk about the fact that Raven was just chilling with the Dark Order? I doubt he’s the Exalted One but why did the announcers ignore him?
    • I weirdly liked that commercial for the AEW action figures. Now, can we get a video game, please?
    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 (2/19/20): The Spice of Life Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Nico Parungo
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