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    Saturday, December 7, 2019

    Reviewing the Elite (12/4/19): Welcome to the Jungle, Boy

    Thank God, AEW Dynamite is good again.

    Last week was the weakest episode of AEW Dynamite to date, in terms of its quality and performance in the ratings, so fans were curious about the show getting its mojo back. While there are still a few kinks that need to be worked on, this week’s episode was a huge improvement over last week and is a welcome return to form.

    While we did get the usual mix of great wrestling, slow-burn storytelling, and new star-making, AEW also surprised by focusing on the women more than they usually do. Granted, they aren’t at the same level as STARDOM, NXT, or even Impact Wrestling when it comes to their women’s division but we’ll take baby steps over burying your head in the sand.

    Out of This World

    After she impressed us in AEW Dark and last week’s episode of Dynamite, it’s nice to see AEW finally get behind a woman like Kris Statlander—and they did so in impressive fashion. Most of us would have been okay with her getting a squash victory over a local talent or looking strong in defeat against a top star, but AEW went straight for the jugular by having her beat Hikaru Shida clean.

    Yes, Hikaru Shida, the supposed number one contender for Riho’s AEW Women’s World Championship, lost to Statlander in one of the better AEW women’s matches I’ve seen in a while. 

    Initially, I was worried to find out that Statlander was going for the “I think I’m an alien gimmick,” similar to that one kid from Disney's Teamo Supremo or Shawn Stasiak’s piss-poor run in WWE, but she quickly won me, and the crowd, over with her athleticism and quirkiness. That moment when she kept cartwheeling, only to “boop” Shida in the head put a big grin on my face.

    Their match was pretty good, even if it didn’t get a lot of time. It was pretty fast-paced and crisp, with all the moves looking good and the crowd engaged throughout. They also made us realize Statlander is a big deal by having her kick out of Shida’s Shining Wizard, which always got her wins until now. 

    Simply put, the AEW women’s roster is a better place with Kris Statlander in it and I’m hoping they start giving other women similar chances, which seems to be the case.

    Jurassic Express Yourself

    Once again, Chris Jericho proved that he is one of the absolute best wrestlers in the business right now by cutting another stellar promo this week. He got fans to pop when mentioning a list, told them to get out of 2016, and then went on to announce who he wouldn’t be facing in his final 2019 match in a similar way to his infamous “Armbar” promo from WCW, making him a hypocrite. Amazing.

    He was also about to mention some guy named “Marty” something before Jurassic Express interrupted. I don’t know who this Marty guy is but he sounds villainous.

    After some back-and-forth between Jericho, Luchasaurus, and Marko Stunt, we’re now getting Chris Jericho vs. Jungle Boy for the December 18th edition of Dynamite. It seems like the pretty Tarzan wannabe will have to last 10 minutes against Jericho, if the AEW World Champion’s words are anything to go by. 

    The predictable result would be a draw between the two when the timer runs out but it would be awesome if Jungle Boy has Jericho beat before the time runs out, a la Cody’s match against Darby Allin back in Fyter Fest. It would be more awesome if Jungle Boy won since the guy doesn’t even have a win in this company yet. It wasn’t announced as a title match so Jungle Boy Jack can beat Jericho in the non-title one, then lose when it’s on the line.

    If I had to complain, Jungle Boy’s first words weren't that impressive. Still, the crowd loved him and Jurassic Express so it looks like we have another star-making bout in the works. 

    Slow Burn

    Jon Moxley continues his winning streak, this time against his Fyter Fest opponent Joey Janela in a sanctioned match. It was a bit slow early on but really got going towards the middle and ended in excellent fashion. I was a bit bummed that the camera missed Janela diving on a table-prone Moxley but we did see the actual splash through the wood and it was awesome.

    Not sure what the plan for Janela is, especially after those tweets he sent out that are supposedly a work. Still, he continues to impress every time he wrestles and it would be nice to see more done with him. Maybe it's time we get a midcard title?

    Le Champion then showed up through the crowd and stared down Moxley in the same way his rival did in last week’s episode. It’s clear that this is the money program down the line and it will be interesting to see how they keep fans interested in this match till their next pay-per-view, which is reportedly in February. 

    I’m also loving how AEW keeps pitting these guys against talents who might not always get attention from the IWC (Internet Wrestling Community but if you're reading this, you already knew that). Jericho made Scorpio Sky look strong last week, while Darby Allin benefitted from going toe-to-toe with both of these guys, even though he lost both bouts. 

    The eventual Moxley/Jericho match should be great and might even lead to an excellent Moxley/Omega match if AEW does the right thing and have Le Champion lose the belt to the former Lunatic Fringe. For now, I’ll enjoy the build.

    Darkness. Endless. Despair. Feel No More…

    While this episode is a huge improvement over last week, the one major flaw is that we now have three factions that are too similar to each other. In one episode, we got another vignette for The Dark Order, which was awesome, a promo from The Butcher, The Bunny, and The Blade that explained why they attacked Cody, which was meh, and The Nightmare Collective, consisting of Awesome Kong and Brandi Rhodes, recruiting a new member by shaving off her hair, which sucked.

    The Dark Order is obviously the best of the bunch since they came first and had three excellent video packages showing that they’re comprised of all those angry incels who troll women on social media and think rape jokes are funny. If you have an ounce of decency in you, like the guy who just wanted friends, you have no place in The Dark Order and that makes this group fairly intriguing.

    On the other hand, The Butcher, The Blade, and The Bunny’s promo was pretty lackluster. They attacked Cody because they’re sick of seeing his face all over AEW and not because Brandi attacked Allie a few weeks ago? Lame. Plus, MJF revealed that he paid them to attack Cody and said he’d never wrestle his former friend again, which was only shown on social media. SHOW THIS STUFF ON THE TELEVISION SHOW THAT GARNERS OVER 800,000 VIEWERS GUYS.

    I don’t even want to talk about Brandi Rhodes’ Nightmare Collective. Their shaving of the random woman in the crowd was random and came out of nowhere. While the idea of a female stable is great, especially in AEW, having them be similar to The Dark Order and Team Bunny or whatever they’re called just makes them unoriginal and dull.

    Final Grade: After last week’s disappointing episode, AEW Dynamite bounced back in a big way. This show gets a B for big improvement over mediocrity.

    Matches Announced for Next Week:
    • Cody and QT Marshall vs The Butcher and The Blade
    • The Young Bucks vs Santana and Ortiz in a Street Fight
    Elite Thoughts:
    • Full disclosure, I watched the version that streams online and it’s the best way to watch Dynamite. No breaks and you get to hear actual commentary during those annoying commercials where they try to show you what’s happening. A bunch of big moments happened during those commercial breaks so I implore you to seek out the online stream of this episode.
    • The Young Bucks and Dustin Rhodes beat Sammy Guevara, Santana, and Ortiz in a fantastic opener. Fast-paced, plenty of great spots, and even some decent comedy made for a perfect opener that got the crowd riled up. You could argue that this was the best match of the night and I’d have a hard time disagreeing.
    • Rey Fenix beat Trent in a good effort. They didn’t struggle too much getting the crowd behind them after that electric opener and the post-match angle was pretty interesting. Trent wanted a handshake and Fenix just brushed it off, which led to the Best Friend pummeling the Lucha Bro. It’s a shame that Trent’s winning streak is done but this little tidbit shows that he won’t be an afterthought anytime soon.
    • AEW actually teased multiple rivalries for the women tonight, which is a shocker. Aside from Kris Statlander vs. The Nightmare Collective, we’re also getting Shanna vs. Nyla Rose. Shanna wanted some retribution after last week’s attack, which was actually shown to the audience, but failed and got powerbombed for her troubles.
    • You know what wasn’t shown to the television audience? Nyla Rose powerbombing a referee through a table and then powerbombing Shanna to that same referee. 
    • They also had Britt Baker react to the aforementioned table powerbomb in the exact same way she reacted to Adam Cole getting an Air Raid Crash through two tables in War Games. The announcers then said “that’s Adam Cole’s girlfriend!” I rolled my eyes but it wasn’t the worst thing ever.
    • Cody cut another great promo this week, offering MJF a ton of material wealth just so he can get him in the ring. The only funny thing about it was Cody saying he “doesn’t deal in absolutes” when he totally does. Seriously, Cody won’t ever get a shot at the AEW World Championship due to a stipulation he put on himself and not because a heel dared him to so that.
    • Pentagon Jr beat Christopher Daniels in a pretty disappointing match, with interference from Rey Fenix. They’ve actually done a solid job at building up this blood feud, except in this episode ironically enough, yet the match itself was pretty mediocre. Not helping was that botched moonsault that almost gave Daniels a concussion.
    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 (12/4/19): Welcome to the Jungle, Boy Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Nico Parungo
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