Another week of AEW Dynamite and what do you know, despite Matt Cardona being there the sky didn’t fall in and the ratings didn’t plummet. On the contrary, we were treated to a welcome return to form for AEW Dynamite.
The main event of Jon Moxley v Darby Allin for the AEW Heavyweight Title was a particularly excellent example of how AEW has built up a complex web of characters that gives their matches so much story and meaning. In this case, the story of the match elevated what could have been just another solid TV main event to what has to be a contender for TV match of the year.
The scene was set perfectly by Jon Moxley’s excellent promo in the second segment of Dynamite. The AEW Champ laid out how he doesn’t want to kill Darby Allin because he sees a younger version of himself in Allin and appreciates the mutual respect they have for one another but said he will do whatever it takes to stop Allin if he has to. Moxley talked about how veterans once told him not to take on certain guys but that only made him want to run towards them even harder, a line that would pay off spectacularly in the match. Instead of his normally hyper-aggressive style, Moxley gave emphasis to his words with a more brooding and dark tone than normal. In a brilliant little tag at the end, Mox added to all their future meetings saying, “you will beat me one day, but it won’t be today.”
Come time for the main event, the story played out just as predicted with Moxley controlling much of it and the defiant Allin making a number of reckless attacks to try and inch his way back into the match. Special mention needs to be made for Allin’s incredible selling that made Moxley look like an utter beast and made the comebacks even more impressive. However, it was the motives underneath the moves that truly brought the drama to this match. Throughout the bout Moxley maintained a constant stream of talk, telling Allin, “this is the part where I pin you” and “when I tell you to tap, you tap”. For his part Allin was equally direct, offering two middle fingers to Moxley’s attempts to make him quit, forcing Moxley to do “whatever it took,” to properly take him out.
The injection of Moxley’s next contender MJF into the final act of the match was also played out in a moment of shared universe mastery, with MJF getting a promo before the main event, and even acknowledging that it could work in his favour if Allin was to win. Giving a deep character motive to what could have just been a distracting moment of interference, elevated the match even further, making the false finish that came immediately after that much more believable.
In many ways, the ending summed up the entire conflict, as a bleeding Moxley hit a Gotch Pile Driver on Allin, a man who suffered a concussion just two weeks ago. Yet despite the punishment Allin still refused to give in, forcing an irate Moxley to spike him on his head a second time, with an elevated Paradigm Shift finally getting the three. Moxley’s ruthless promise before the match was fulfilled but Darby had filled his end of the bargain, coming at Moxley until he could literally fight no more.
As Mox cradled Allin’s limp body after the match he grabbed a mic and put the chef’s kiss on the match, simultaneously putting his ongoing story with Allin over while nodding to his next opponent, saying while they are both loners he can respect how Allin is so full of heart and fire, unlike some people in this company. Their relationship is a special one and could become as pivotal to Mox’s story as Seth Rollins was to Dean Ambrose’s.
This match was two incredible wrestlers operating at the peak of their powers. Darby has, quite simply, been a revelation for AEW. After only a year in the mainstream wrestling spotlight, he already has legacy feuds with AEW’s two biggest stars, Jon Moxley and Cody, as well as the beginning of what could be a career-defining rivalry with Sammy Guvera. There are a lot of wrestlers that want to look like reckless badasses but very few can actually show it in their character like Allin does.
For Jon Moxley, he has added another amazingly characterful match to what is becoming a strong Wrestler of the Year candidacy. So far in 2020, he has had 4 to 4.5 star matches with Lance Archer, PAC, Minoru Suzuki, Chris Jericho, Brodie Lee and now one of the best TV matches of the year with Dary Allin as well as solid efforts opposite Jeff Cobb, Brain Cage and the members of Inner Circle. Moxley has epitomised what it means to be a fighting champion and despite not having crowds to cheer his name, is proving an incredibly gritty and tough champion for fans to get behind. This championship reign may have been interrupted by COVID-19 but with performances like this, he is cementing his name at the very top of the industry.
Which brings me to the other AEW men’s singles champion, Cody Rhodes. Since winning the TNT Championship back at Double or Nothing, Cody has done an admirable job taking on a variety of challenges, putting the title on the line most weeks against everyone from Jake Hager, to Sonny Kiss, to indie ring-ins, Eddie Kingston and War Horse. Cody’s in-ring returns as champion have received a mostly positive reception and he has used the platform to shine a light on a number of up and comers in the company. However, next week Cody takes on Scorpio Sky and to take his championship run to the next level I believe he needs to lose to Sky.
Don’t worry, I promise this isn’t blind Cody hate at play. One of the great things about John Cena’s US Open Challenge was that at one point he lost. No one expected it but when Kevin Owens answered the challenge and won, the loss injected an element of doubt into all Cena’s future matches that would not have been there otherwise. While I have enjoyed them, that element of doubt has been clearly lacking in all of Cody’s championship defences so far. As good as the matches have been, the result has been incredibly predictable in every circumstance and ultimately that predictability has prevented him from taking them to a truly great level.
A Cody Rhodes loss to Scorpio Sky would also truly make a star out of Sky. So far in AEW, the company has done an amazing job of building up men like Darby Allin, Jungle Boy, Sammy Guvera and MJF, however, there has been a clear distinction between the three big singles names: Moxley, Jericho and Rhodes and the rest of the wrestlers in the division. The only man to get a singles win over either of those three names is MJF, who beat Cody in Feburary. Scorpio Sky was singled out early in the company’s history as a potential singles star and had a championship match against Chris Jericho on one of the early episodes of Dynamite. He is athletic, charismatic and has put the pieces together as a singles wrestler so is ready to truly step up in the AEW pecking order.
Storyline wise a loss would even fit the direction the company has been taking with Cody. Throughout his reign, the champ has regularly been getting in over his head, had issues with his temper and has been caught ignoring the directions of his coach Arn Anderson.
Going forward after a loss Cody easily could spin off into a separate singles program, giving Sky the chance to truly shine as the company’s first double championship winner. Alternatively, if he isn’t finished with the title, Cody could win it back in a high profile match at All Out, a platform that would elevate Sky and a match that would be all the more intriguing for the fact Cody is now challenger to a wrestler that beat him.
No double this would be a big call as Cody has proved to be quite a good champion, but a loss, specifically to Sky on a random episode of Dynamite, could do the title, and it’s champion, a whole lot of good in the long run.
That wraps up things for me this week, what did you think of Jon Moxley v Dary Allin and do you think Cody should lose to Scorpio Sky on Dynamite next week? You can also chat to me further on Twitter @Sir_Samuel or in the AEW section on the LOP Forums.
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