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    Saturday, July 10, 2021

    Reviewing the Elite (7/7/21): Road Rager



    It’s AEW Dynamite! You know what that means…

    MALAKAI BLACK!!!

    I was genuinely shocked to see the former Aleister Black/Tommy End in AEW, not just because his wife is back jobbing on SmackDown, but also because of all that ass-kissing he did when he was released. “Vince loved my ideas, I swear. Blame the dirt sheet boys who correctly reported my wife returning to WWE. Please rehire me.”

    Sorry about that.

    Though I wasn’t a fan of his post-release statements, I’m glad the newly christened Malakai Black will be able to continue his intriguing "Dark Father" character that we only got glimpses of on SmackDown. Sure, we can talk about how the AEW roster is getting bloated. But you don’t pass up on someone who brings unique character work and in-ring skills like Malakai Black does, especially when he dedicates himself to small continuity details like the kayfabe eye injury he got in WWE. 

                

    It looks like he’ll be feuding with Cody Rhodes moving forward, and that has the potential to hump all night long. Despite that fiasco with Cody going all MURRICA during that Anthony Ogogo feud, he’s usually a very giving guy, and I’m sure he’ll gladly take a loss to make Malakai look good. 

    Also, I did basic Googles, and Malakai means "Messenger" or "Angel." So if he’s Angel Black, does he follow Bible Black?

    *coughs*

    Malakai Black’s debut was just one of many homerun segments on Road Rager. It’s clear that AEW and Tony Khan are more motivated since Dynamite’s back on the road since they gave us plenty of things to talk about.

                 

    This shouldn’t surprise anyone, but my favorite bit from this episode was Hangman Page confronting Kenny Omega. I loved how this seemingly started as a repeat of last week’s segment with Kenny and The Dark Order, but they actually changed things up by making it a big brawl. Seeing Hangman come in like a house of fire and save The Dark Order before scaring Kenny with a Buckshot Lariat tease was fantastic, with the crowd adding so much to the proceedings. They even chanted “You got fired!” at Don Callis, showing that they watch Impact Wrestling or at least its highlights on YouTube.

    Now, unless Kenny is planning to take a break to heal his reported injuries, they shouldn’t rush to give Hangman the AEW World Championship. This story has been so good because it took its time and characterized the hell out of these two handsome blondes, giving them a lot of depth. Kenny’s an insecure manchild clinging to his past (and present) glory to remain relevant, while Hangman Page is an insecure man who wants to forget his past and be appreciated for who he is. 

    Wow, look at me go on about character and story in a wrestling show while not discussing the actual wrestling. Thankfully, we had some really solid wrestling tonight. Almost every match reached that good-to-great level; none of them were bad, and they all served a storytelling purpose. 

                  

    Cody Rhodes finally ended his rivalry with QT Marshall with a decent Strap Match, the Inner Circle shined as babyfaces in a great losing effort against The Pinnacle in a six-man tag, and Kris Statlander impressed in a victory alongside Orange Cassidy in their match against The Bunny and The Blade. But the best match of the night was the main event where The Young Bucks took on Eddie Kingston and Penta El Zero Miedo in a Street Fight, which was just bonkers.

    Simply put, The Young Bucks vs. Eddie Kingston and Penta succeeded in everything it set out to do. All the comedy bits with Michael Nakazawa and Brandon Cutler were set up well and ended with fun punchlines in their face. The hardcore moments had me punching the air with spots like a Canadian Destroyer through a table and the finish where Eddie Kingston got superkicked with thumbtacks in his mouth. Even the storytelling was phenomenal, with Kingston and Penta having the match won several times before The Bucks decided to play dirty by attacking two referees. Just another great match in a great year for Matt and Nick Jackson.

                  

    Unfortunately, like great episodes in AEW’s 2019 and early 2020, they basically ignored their women’s division this week. Sure, the mixed tag match was more of a singles match between Kris Statlander and The Bunny, but if you take that into account, this was a rematch from two weeks ago, albeit a good one. Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D. also cut a great promo, but she does that in her sleep. The fact that we didn’t get Hikaru Shida, Serena Deeb, Red Velvet, or anyone else tonight was disappointing.

    Final Grade: Because everything was executed extremely well, I’ll give this an A. This episode was almost perfect, and I’m glad each Dynamite from here on out will have people in attendance.

    Bullet Point Party

    • Andrade El Idolo beat Matt Sydal in his debut: This was just an okay match and not the awesome showcase I expected, but it did make Andrade look strong. Miami loved Andrade tonight, and it was cool seeing them pop for the Three Amigos.
    • Cody Rhodes ended his rivalry with QT Marshall by winning a Strap Match: Solid opener here but poor QT. Guy didn’t even get a televised entrance. Not sure if this bodes well for The Factory.
    • Ethan Page and Darby Allin had a sit-down interview: Great segment here, really looking forward to this match.
    • Ricky Starks wants to... fuck Brian Cage's wife: Why is this storyline so rushed?
    • MJF gave Chris Jericho Four Labors before granting him another rematch: I hope the twist here is MJF makes Jericho wrestle members of The Inner Circle.
    • A fan tries to attack Chris Jericho: The Inner Circle should have beaten the shit out of this guy. (Editor's Note: Don't ever do this. Seriously. It's not cool. And you'll totally deserve the beating you'll get.)
    Images from AEW

    *****

    Nico Parungo is a freelance contributor for Geeky PH and previously wrote for Epicstream. He provides weekly recaps of AEW Dynamite for Smark Henry and has contributed several reviews for PWR and MWF shows. 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 (7/7/21): Road Rager Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Nico Parungo
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