A celebration, a title defense and a statement from a new title challenger. Those were the high spots in this week’s edition of AEW Dynamite. While not everything was a high point in this week’s television effort, the Inner Circle and Chris Jericho continued to be one of the brightest spots in all of professional wrestling.
Let’s take a look at how the action went down from Sears Centre in suburban Chicago.
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Eventful night for ‘Le Champion’
AEW champion Chris Jericho held an “Appreciation Celebration” to open the show with the Inner Circle giving its leader gifts — including a large box containing Jericho’s father — former New York Ranger Ted Irvine — who ran down the local Blackhawks to pick up a little heel heat for the always popular champ. Eventually, SCU, dressed as members of the marching band that were lining the entryway, ran in and attacked the Inner Circle, running them off as they were attacking the “TNT representative” whom Jericho did not feel gave him a warm enough “thank you” from the network. Also of note from the show open, Jericho introduced an actual, official Little Bit of the Bubbly sparkling wine.
AEW World Championship — Chris Jericho def. Scorpio Sky via submission with the Liontamer. All seconds were banned from ringside for the match, leaving the tilt a true one-on-one affair with no threat of interference … in theory, anyway. Down the stretch, Jericho reversed a dropkick off the ropes from Sky into a Liontamer, but the challenger was able to gut out an escape. Sky hit a cutter and locked in a Dragon Sleeper before Jake Hager ran in to distract Sky. Kazarian and Daniels ran in as Hager remained at ringside, standing on the apron. Jericho tried to hit Sky with the title belt in the chaos, only to fall victim to a TKO for a false finish that had the Chicago crowd biting. Sky also countered the Judas Effect into a backslide for another nearfall before Jericho was finally able to lock in the Liontamer a second time for the submission. Jericho attacked after the bell, locking in the Liontamer again before Jon Moxley’s music hit and he emerged through the crowd as the show went off the air.
Chris Jericho and the Inner Circle continue to be one of the best things going in pro wrestling. The open was a successful version of the kind of celebration segments that so often fall flat on WWE programming. And Jericho’s match with Sky delivered the goods in the ring. But, without question, the most important moment of the entire show was Moxley entering the picture. Moxley vs. Jericho in a title program just feels like a truly big deal and something beyond the fun and games Inner Circle antics. These segments were the peak of a show that sputtered at times. Grade: A-
What else happened on AEW Dynamite?
- Best Friends def. Lucha Bros. via pinfall when Trent hit Fenix with the Crunchie. As Best Friends were making their entrance, they were attacked from behind by the Lucha Bros. A top rope plancha to the outside by Orange Cassidy (dressed as a turkey) halted the early festivities and got the official match underway. A little more Cassidy involvement at the end of the match allowed Taylor to lay out Pentagon on the outside of the ring and Trent to reverse a Destroyer to hit the Crunchie for the finish. That’s a big upset and a needed win to keep Best Friends relevant beyond just being fan favorites. That said, the match wasn’t as good an effort as either team is able to give. Grade: C+
- Bea Priestly & Emi Sakura def. Kris Statlander & Hikaru Shida via pinfall when Sakura pinned Statlander with a cradle after a shot with the microphone stand. This was one of the better women’s tag matches AEW has put on to date with all four talented women pulling their weight. Grade: B-
- Cody def. Matt Knicks via submission with a Figure-Four. Knicks is the head of Freelance Wrestling in Chicago, and was brought in for the squash loss. Cody, still sporting a nasty reminder of the cut suffered above his eye at Full Gear, scored a very quick win before calling out MJF. Butcher and The Blade came out from a hole in the ring and laid Cody out before Allie was revealed as the woman who brought the new tag team to AEW. That no one in the crowd seemed familiar with Butcher and The Blade caused the end of the segment to fall flat. Grade: C-
- Kenny Omega def. PAC via pinfall with a crucifix pin. Omega and PAC work tremendously well together, and this was another example of that. The match wasn’t quite at the heights of their All Out epic, but for a TV showdown, it clicked well and never slowed. PAC went up top for the Black Arrow but missed. Omega tried to finish things with a One-Winged Angel, PAC reversed, Omega reversed and locked PAC up with a crucifix. PAC escaped the first pin attempt but Omega rolled through and scored the pin in the second attempt. Grade: B+
- Dynamite Diamond Ring — MJF def. Adam “Hangman” Page via pinfall with Cross Rhodes. MJF stealing Cody’s finish for the win was a nice touch. This was a solid back-and-forth match for the big diamond ring after the two men were the final two standing in the Dynamite Dozen Battle Royal last week. Wardlow interference throughout and helped MJF get the victory. Diamond Dallas Page presented the ring to MJF after the victory, with DDP attempting to shake MJF’s hand despite saying he was disappointed in the young man’s recent decisions. MJF stuck a piece of gum in DDP’s hand and pulled Wardlow in front of him, leading to a pull-apart brawl between DDP and Wardlow. Grade: B-
- Dustin Rhodes was cutting an in-ring promo calling out Jake Hager before Sammy Guevara, Santana and Ortiz ran in to attack. The Young Bucks ran in for the save in what was a very short segment considering the men involved.