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    Friday, April 3, 2020

    Reviewing the Elite (4/1/20): New Belt, New Tournament, New Enemies

    Hello there, my Dynamates. We’ve got another empty arena edition of AEW Dynamite for you but I’m here to report that this week’s installment was much better than the previous episode.

    Thanks to a new undisclosed taping location, the company was able to put some of their unused wrestlers in the audience again, making for a livelier episode with some unique spots that could only be done in these kinds of shows. We also had some quality wrestling in this episode, including a 19-minute banger between Kenny Omega and Trent that is a must-watch. Finally, we had some of the most entertaining video packages we’ve seen from this company yet, one of which features Chris Jericho unleashing cute dogs on a drone.

    It’s clear that last week’s episode was a rough patch for the company since they basically had to start from scratch after their Blood and Guts event was delayed. Now that they have presumably taped several episodes in a row from a new location, it seems that AEW has found its footing again, which made this another explosive stick of Dynamite.

    The TNT Championship Tournament

    Not gonna lie, I kind of love that AEW decided to name their secondary championship the TNT Championship. Sure, it’s the name of the network that broadcasts them, which can be seen as major shilling but to misquote AC/DC here “TNT! It’s Dynamite!” And yes, TNT isn’t actually dynamite but it still explodes and makes it a pretty good name for their secondary belt.

    We’ve also got a pretty solid bracket for this tournament. Cody vs. Shawn Spears, Darby Allin vs. Sammy Guevara, Kip Sabian vs. Dustin Rhodes, and Lance Archer vs. Colt Cabana. The tournament formula might be seen as lazy to some but it’s always been a solid and sensible storytelling device in the world of pro wrestling when it comes to crowing a new champion.


    This week’s episode also gave us a neat preview of the left bracket as Cody and Darby Allin teamed up to take on Shawn Spears and Sammy Guevara. It was a really entertaining main event tag team match with the heels basically cheating every chance they can get, which actually led to Spears pinning Allin after a distraction from Guevara. The loss clearly took its toll on Allin as he decked Cody afterward, even though The American Nightmare tried to console him.

    I am so ready for this tournament and the inevitable Cody/Allin match now has something personal to it. Since these two will likely make it to the quarterfinals, I’m expecting Allin to beat Cody before eventually losing to Lance Archer.

    Moxley vs Hager is Official


    You know, for a title match that was only built up on an episode of Dynamite and Dark, this is turning out better than expected.

    We got a lengthy video package detailing what Jon Moxley and Jake Hager think about each other, with Inner Circle members Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara giving interesting feedback in regards to Big Hurt getting a title match.

    Moxley was his usual charismatic self, pointing out how he loves being AEW World Champion and hates that everyone wants to take it from him. Hager actually gives a pretty solid promo here, showing that he’s just better as a big athlete who likes hurting people, especially when compared to his old “We the People” schtick.

    Jericho reveals some interesting details about the upcoming match between Hager and Moxley. Apparently, Le Champion has a rematch clause but won’t use it yet since he wants Hager to be champion since The Inner Circle is united. It’s a nice detail they can always go back to since we know these douchebags will turn on each other when given the chance.

    It’s Moxley vs. Hager in an Empty Arena No Holds Barred Match, which will take place in two weeks. Honestly, the buildup has been better than expected and I can’t wait.

    Omega Gets Taken to the Limit


    Man. I can’t believe they decided to open with Kenny Omega vs. Trent because this was one hell of an opening bout.

    In the words of Tony Schiavone, these two beat the hell out of each other. Kenny focused on Trent’s back while The Best Friend targeted Omega’s hand, which had just recovered from injury. While these injuries didn’t play a huge part in the final stretch, it was still nice seeing them try to tell a story and it made this fantastic match even better.

    You can tell that they value Trent since he took Omega to the limit in this 19-minute banger of a match. I doubt anyone was expecting Trent to get squashed but the fact that he almost wrestled Kenny freaking Omega to a draw is as a huge boost for his AEW career. He’s already had awesome singles matches with Rey Fenix, PAC, and Jon Moxley but this was something else.

    Easily the best match of the night. You can watch this match and be immensely entertained, even without a proper audience.

    RIP Marko Stunt


    Seeing a monster heel debut is always fun since they get to toss around small guys in squash matches and look really awesome in the process.

    We got that with Lance Archer in his AEW debut against poor Marko Stunt, who did not have the Jurassic Express with him due to COVID-19 reasons. Even before the match started, Archer knocked out a cameraman who just happened to be in his way, showing how much of a dick he is. Another great heel moment was the Murderhawk Monster giving Stunt a clothesline and then going on top of the turnbuckle to pose as if that’s part of his regular entrance.

    This was a marvelous squash match with Archer hitting Stunt with some really huge power moves, with that release suplex, in particular, looking incredibly painful. While this was a squash, Marko didn’t look too helpless as he did counter a chokeslam and even hit Archer with some kicks, though it was all for naught. The post-match beatdown was also thrilling since Archer chokeslammed Stunt into Billy Gunn, Austin Gunn, and Orange Cassidy.

    Lance Archer is here. Do not bet money on Colt Cabana beating him in the TNT Championship tournament.

    Mr. Fucking. Brodie.


    Brodie Lee’s stint as The Exalted One continues. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the Vince McMahon parody last week, I find myself really enjoying the act in this episode. I’m not sure if it’s because the segment this week was less of a parody or maybe Brodie just had better material to work with but this was really fun.

    Seeing Lee get mad at his Dark Order lackeys for the pettiest of reasons is just so fun. His first temper tantrum when the lackey didn’t call him Mr. Brodie was good but him throwing a glass after that mook didn’t say “we are one” properly was just fantastic.

    The second part of this segment with another lackey yawning was also great stuff. Mr. Brodie pointed out how everyone is almost-always home now so they have no excuse to be tired during these Dark Order meetings. Having Lee claim that being tired is a sign of weakness was also very good big heel energy and The Exalted One had already won me over by this point.



    Chris Jericho is great. His dogs are great. Just watch it guys. Best AEW segment of 2020.

    Final Grade: We got a really good show from AEW this week. Two awesome matches and some stellar video packages made this a must-watch edition for fans. A.

    Elite Thoughts:

    • Hikaru Shida got a nice showcase this week, getting a great video package and having a nice five-minute match against Anna Jayy. It also looks like we’re getting a mini-feud with Shida and Britt Baker, which should be fun. Baker should be busy with Big Swole but I’m guessing that COVID-19 has made it harder for them to decide how they space out their segments.
    • That video about Nick Jackson trying to get back in ring shape was also must-watch. I sort of like how they brought up the current COVID-19 epidemic here and added the context of not taking the good things in your life for granted, especially since Nick has another son now. The ending where Nick said he wasn’t quite ready yet worked since it added a sense of realism to this angle.
    • After a week without them, it was really nice seeing the AEW midcard return as surrogate audience members, especially since you can plan spots that get them involved. I already mentioned Gunn Club and Orange Cassidy catching Marko Stunt but we also had Jimmy Havoc, Kip Sabian, Penelope Ford, and Britt Baker stomping Cody when the referee wasn’t looking.
    • Seeing QT Marshall get a mini-push with Dustin Rhodes in this Natural Nightmares tag team makes me happy since I’m a big fan of the apple-eating wrassler. I doubt these two will be a dominant duo or anything like that but they’ll definitely get good matches out of the already fantastic tag team roster this company has.
    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 (4/1/20): New Belt, New Tournament, New Enemies Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Nico Parungo
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