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    Sunday, April 18, 2021

    Reviewing the Elite (4/14/21): Darby Wins LOL



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

    1.2 million viewers now that NXT is on Tuesdays baybeeeee.

    Sorry, I know I barely mention the ratings with these Dynamite reviews, but this is something worth celebrating. Everyone, including me, expected this show to have 850,000 viewers or less, so color us surprised that without NXT on the same timeslot, Dynamite had some of its best numbers in a long time.

    Fans are still speculating how the number got this big, and whether it was due to Chris Jericho’s appearance in Stone Cold’s Broken Skull Sessions or if Mike Tyson was a big enough draw for the casuals. It also helps that the show itself was a quality watch that didn’t feel overly long or boring, with three good matches that made this stick of Dynamite feel fairly explosive, with everything else in between not being bad at all.

                

    Everyone’s favorite match in this episode, including yours truly, was the excellent opener where Death Triangle’s PAC and Rey Fenix tried to dethrone the now heel Young Bucks for the AEW World Tag Team Championships. Was anyone surprised that this was an excellent match? It was a fun bout all around, with good heeling from The Bucks and some fantastic babyface offense from Fenix and PAC. Was rooting for PAC and Fenix but fate wasn't on my side. Loved the heel ending where The Bucks unmasked Fenix and won with a Double Superkick.

    I wasn’t a big fan of that "shocking" turn last week, but I’m glad AEW's Creative team isn't making us question Matt and Nick's allegiance anymore. They’re just heels and are happy to be with Kenny Omega again. This is the direction they should have gone with after the initial Too Sweet with the supergroup but there’s no point crying over wasted time, and I’m glad they’re no longer pussyfooting around it. Just keep them as unapologetic heels from here on out. 

                 

    Leave the complex character building to Hangman Page, an actual sympathetic character, okay?

    Speaking of Adam Page, AEW finally had Hangman acknowledge the heel turns from his former friends by not acknowledging them at all. This was a good bit of storytelling where Adam deflected the question and made it about John Silver’s injury before leaving the room, showing that he isn’t ready to confront The Bucks or Omega, even though he’s the #1 contender. Really intriguing stuff here, as it’s always been with The Hangman.

    We move from one stable to another, as The Inner Circle’s beef with The Pinnacle continued here with a decent match, where Chris Jericho beat FTR’s Dax Harwood. It wasn’t a bad match but this isn’t the same Jericho from years past and he looked a bit lost with what offensive moves he should do when the match began, though he did do his signature spots well later on. 

                 

    Another complaint I have with Jericho vs. Dax was the interference from both stables by the end since they announced that there would be no interference from either group in this match. Did we really need a schmoz when that Mike Tyson/Cash Wheeler spot could have been done without it? Still, it was a fine and watchable match but this could have gone better.

    Finally, the main event with TNT Champion Darby Allin and "Big Money" Matt Hardy, which was solid and crazy, but kind of messy. Much like Jericho, Matt Hardy is no spring chicken but the Falls Count Anywhere stipulation did hide his weaknesses here, and the veteran worked hard, even hitting a diving leg drop from a ladder to the table. That wasn’t enough to beat the invincible Darby, however, as the TNT Champion put Hardy away with an insane Coffin Drop from the scaffolding through the announce table, the first announce table spot in AEW history!

                 

    Sadly, the main event also had a long, long, loooooong interference bit between Hardy’s stable and The Dark Order, not to mention a continuation of the Sting/Lance Archer feud/friendship/whatever this is. They all eventually left, thankfully, but it was still a mess and I’m pretty tired of seeing groups of people get into fights in AEW.

    Overall, I liked the main event, but I’ve seen people complain about Darby’s schtick of taking a beating and winning with one or two moves in the end, which is a fair bit of criticism. Darby’s booking can be seen as John Cena-like and although I’m not sick of it yet, I can see why other people have a problem with it. Personally, I just like that Darby is booked like a winner who wins a lot, which makes him feel like a star.

    Final Grade: This was a really fun and watchable stick of Dynamite, albeit, with the typical AEW problems. B+

    Bullet-Point Party:

    • Jade Cargill beats Red Velvet: A pretty good match. Jade looked like a monster, Red Velvet had great babyface fire, and this was good all-around and shows that AEW really is learning to use their women’s division more. 
    • Kris Statlander makes her in-ring return: So glad to see Statlander back; our favorite alien has been missed.
    • Miro can’t find Kip Sabian: I like the idea of Kip avoiding Miro, showing how much of a monstrous and unstable heel he is. Solid promo and I wouldn't mind it if Miro was the one who dethroned Darby.
    • Anthony Ogogo wins with a gut punch. Meh. Don’t get me wrong, he would totally knock me out with a gut punch. But in the world of pro wrestling, it just doesn’t look impressive. Maybe give him the old-school heart punch? Or a Von Erich-style Discus Punch? Anything other than a regular punch to the stomach, please.
    • Christian Cage says "no" to Team Taz, gets a dose of Powerhouse Hobbs: Not the most exciting angle, but not bad either. I liked how slow and methodical Hobbs’ beatdown of Christian was and their match next week should be pretty good. I mean it, too, Christian got a good match out of Ezekiel Jackson, for Pete’s sake; and Hobbs is already better than Jackson at this stage of his career.
    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 (4/14/21): Darby Wins LOL Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Nico Parungo
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