AEW Recap: Dynamite – March 18, 2020

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We are LIVE from a very small and very empty venue in Jacksonville, Florida and we start with Cody alone in the ring. He makes some very profound statements about the state of living in our new reality. Then he moves on to invite the Elite to the ring. Matt and Kenny join him and Kenny speaks a bit as well. He talks about the uncertainty of their situation and says that if they’re going out, they’re going out as the Elite.

Matt takes the mic and sounds less confident as the group is not complete. Nick is hurt and Hangman is nowhere to be seen. Page wanders out to the stage but doesn’t come to the ring. Nick makes some half-hearted amends and asks Page if he is going to stand with the Elite. Page raises his glass and leaves.

Kenny talks right into the camera and says they will give the best show they can give, and cues the lights and pyro. This is going to be interesting. Let’s see how they pull it off.

We get a video package about the formation of Death Triangle.

Tony is ringside talking to MJF and he informs us he is sitting tonight out and watching the “undercard” knock themselves out. Then Tony calls him out for gambling with Shawn Spears. MJF protests, but then offers Tony some of the action.

Best Friends vs. Lucha Bros.

Brandi Rhodes is doing the ring announcing tonight. Love the graphic “Said She Would Never Ring Announce Again” and the slight shrug as she intros the Best Friends. An assortment of AEW workers are the crowd for the night, which is a FANTASTIC touch and should be the way these empty arena shows are done. Of course, faces are on one side of the ring, heels are on the other, and they are cheering/jeering the action accordingly.

No PAC tonight? At least not yet. Perhaps he and Justin had some travel issues. Trent and Fenix start things and the action is back and forth. Best Friends are able to eventually isolate Fenix and maintain control as Orange Cassidy sleeps on commentary.

Pentagon is able to get a tag and that allows the Bros to take over the momentum. Trent becomes the face-in-peril. Meanwhile, MJF and Spears are sharing a bottle of some red wine. Classy.

The Bros taunt Cassidy which gets his attention for a moment, but they continue beating down Trent which puts Orange back to sleep. Trent is finally able to hit a tornado DDT, giving him enough time to hot tag Chuck. They teased the big hug, but halted and elbow bumped instead, giving the Lucha Bros time to hit stereo kicks. The teams go to the outside and Orange flies from stage with his Leap of Faith. A nasty Chuck Taylor piledriver on Pentagon almost gets a three count. The Bros countered the Best Friends finisher and hit the Package Piledriver Combo for the win. Apparently Spears had his money on the Friends as MJF taunts him at ringside. 

Schiavone speaks to the Friends after the match. They challenge Death Triangle to a Parking Lot Brawl at the next Dynamite. This makes PERFECT sense in the era of empty arena shows.

Wow, another match right away? Let’s do it.

Penelope Ford vs. Riho vs. Kris Statlander vs. Hikaru Shida

Statlander and Shida get their entrances during the break, which is weird. Hopefully that’s not a sign of depushing for either one of them.

This is a wonderfully wild match that mainly features Statlander and Shida. Penelope has a rough botch on a Rana but she does some nice heel moves and hits a fantastic reverse destroyer on Statlander. Hikaru Shida ends up nailing Ford with a big knee strike for the win. Despite a couple hiccups, this ended up being a rather good match.

Tony is ringside with Colt Cabana. He throws some shade at Kip Sabian, leading to a challenge for Colt who proceeds to smack Sabian in the face. There’s how you build a quick rivalry folks.

After the break, we get a pre-recorded interview with Jon Moxley. He is too injured after the attack from Inner Circle so he can’t enter the arena, but he promises he’ll be at Blood and Guts to get some revenge.

Butcher and Blade vs. Jurassic Express

No Marko Stunt here tonight, so I think they’re definitely going with the “non-essential” personnel policy. The Express has control in the early minutes of the match, but a misguided dive to the outside allows the Bs to catch Jungle Boy and do some damage. They isolate the Boy and he is your face-in-peril. After several minutes of punishment and some ringside chants of the refrain from 80’s classic “Jungle Boy,” Luchasaurus is able to get the hot tag and take out the Butcher and Blade. Bodies are flying around and Jungle Boy tries to hit something on Blade that does not go well. MJF calls some shots and orders them to attempt their finisher. Lucha breaks it up and the Express hits their inverted powerbomb/neckbreaker finisher for the win. Some rather awkward moments during this one, but that’s to be expected in such an odd environment. Three wild matches in the first hour is still an impressive achievement.

The Dark Order is in the ring and Evil UNO tells us the Exalted One is here. SCU interrupts and as Christopher Daniels challenges the idea that there even is an Exalted One, a video appears and a figure in white speaks. That figure takes down his hood and introduces himself as Brodie Lee. The former Luke Harper says Daniels isn’t the first out of touch old man to doubt him (damn!). The video ends and Lee is in the ring with the Dark Order. They beat down SCU and as the Dark Order chants, Lee walks out alone. I love the semi-detached element of this as the Dark Order continue to be mindless followers and Brodie Lee remains his own man. That will help him avoid being drowned out by the Dark Order gimmick.

Back from break, Tony is talking to Jake Roberts and Lance Archer. Jake continues to berate Cody, then we are given a video package of Archer destroying a bunch of people at the “Murderhawk Mansion.” Hmm, with murmurs of Hardy coming to AEW, does this remove the option of using the Hardy Compound?

Santana/Ortiz/Hager vs. Cody/Omega/Matt Jackson

We’re told the Elite team needs a fifth man at Blood and Guts. Oh really? 

Also, the Gunn Club is ringside shouting some shade at Sammy Guevara.

After a break, Jericho arrives but no one is there to sing along. Oh wait, they’re giving Sammy a mic. It’s a nice touch, especially when he doesn’t remember some of the words. Ha! Even Jericho has to giggle a bit at this. MJF gives Sammy some quick voice lessons as Cody is introduced.

Cody is having a hard time concentrating as MJF hurls insults from ringside. That allows Santana to take advantage early. Cody is able to bring in Matt and the Elite starts to isolate Ortiz. Hangman causes some tension with his team and Inner Circle gets back in the match and they eventually take control again on Cody. After a whole lot of punishment, Cody sneaks over to get the hot tag to Hangman. Cody dives to the outside and throws Ortiz on top of MJF. Meanwhile, Matt is stuck in the ring and holds his own, but when Hager stops Hangman from hitting the Indietaker, Santana sneaks the roll up for the win. Inner Circle now has the advantage at Blood and Guts, along with an extra team member.

Jericho starts to list the reasons the Elite can’t beat the Inner Circle, most notably the lack of Nick Jackson. Jake Hager does a pushup with Sammy on his back to show how dominant they are.

Jericho tries to fill some time here, and Sammy hits on Brandi, but then a familiar drone shows up above the ring.

Matt Jackson explains that the Elite isn’t outnumbered because he made a phone call. A piano plays and Matt Hardy appears in the rafters, with his white streak dyed bright red. He is Broken again and is promising to DELETE the Inner Circle.

Wow. In one episode of Dynamite, AEW just outright schooled WWE on empty arena shows. There are several paragraphs worth of analysis to explain why this worked so well, but that’s for another time. All I’ll say for now is that I’m stoked for Blood and Guts, crowd or no crowd.

Stay safe, wash your hands, and hang in there.

UNTIL NEXT WEEK!

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Rob HinesAEW Recap: Dynamite – March 18, 2020