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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

AEW Dynamite Grand Slam 9/22/21

21. Bryan Danielson vs. Kenny Omega

PAS: This match started as a Bryan Danielson match in the first section, and moved into a Kenny Omega match in the finish. I am always going to prefer the Danielson match, but can't deny the effectiveness of the near fall heavy final. It is fun to watch wrestling with such a wild crowd, going crazy for the lock up, so much of wrestling over the last year has been in front of video screens or tiny crowds, and it really works only as a live event. Super physical match, Danielson especially had a bruised up chest and a gross purple bruise on his forehead, I don't love Omega's style, but I appreciate him laying it in. My favorite part of the match was Omega viciously working the bad neck, the full sprint V-Trigger was gross, and Danielson really looked loopy. It got really into near fall 2 count wrestling by the end, and I thought we probably two many kick outs and shifts of momentum. I did love Danielson breaking out the Cattle Mutilation and head stomps though. I understand the reasons for the draw, but I think they probably just should have had a finish. A loss doesn't hurt either guy, and sets up the rematch better then the draw.

ER: This might not have 100% been the match I wanted to see from these two, but full credit that AEW clearly knows exactly what its fans want to see and does their best to deliver that, and I think that's awesome. Dream Match Wrestling got really out of hand 15 years ago and before long every single indy main event (and a few on the card below the main event) was worked like a Dream Match Epic. But there are truly only so many dream matches to go around, and Danielson vs. Omega is undeniably a dream match for most modern pro wrestling fans. Dream matches are a funny thing, as when you look at your personal dream matches it really speaks to your specific pro wrestling interests at that specific moment in time. My current dream match would probably be something stupid like Eddie Kingston vs. Ron Bass Jr. or Omos vs. Otis, but I remember how excited I was the first (and second, and third) time I saw Mike Modest vs. Christopher Daniels live. It was the exact match I was dying to see in 1999/2000 and my energy couldn't have been higher when it finally happened. I love that energy and it was exciting seeing a huge crowd simultaneously having that reaction. 

I would have liked to see their 20 minute debut match, but fighting forever is what the fans wanted, and they did a really great job of fighting forever (forever being their allotted 30 minute time limit). They were smart about not telegraphing a 30 minute draw as every fan in there would have started groaning had they suddenly started doing 5 minute announcements. Omega and Danielson weren't working like they were trying to finish within 30, they didn't do any cute "2 count right as the bell rang", it was just two guys beating the hell out of each other until they were told to stop, and that's a cool first match for them. They played off the live atmosphere really well, and they really laced into each other so every person in every back row could feel it. Danielson had a purple chest minutes in and eventually wound up with a nice wound on his forehead that looked like the beginnings of a gnarly hematoma, and meanwhile he was kicking away at every part of Omega. They did a lot of back and forth and move trading without it ever really feeling egregious until the 3rd or 4th V-Trigger, and it's hard to work a stiff 30 minutes without things getting too egregious. 

Things really jumped up for me with that Snapdragon on the ramp, with Danielson skidding his way down the ramp on his neck. The ramp run V-Trigger that followed was finish worthy, and really my only problems with the match were that there were several finish worthy moments that obviously did not finish anything. I honestly would have loved that ramp run V-Trigger leading to a stoppage, as they could have gotten a lot of mileage out of Danielson's injured neck and it could have lead to a huge return match. I loved the buckle bomb that sent Danielson bouncing over the ropes to the apron, and I loved how Danielson fought to neutralize Omega. Watching Danielson holding the turnbuckle with one hand and ring post with another to block a top rope Snapdragon was the kind of detail that you expect from Danielson, and it's the kind of detail that most guys forget about during an Epic. I'm a big fan of only getting one OWA attempt, as it's a completely preposterous move, so seeing Danielson immediately get the poison rana to shut the door on further attempts was nice. I didn't love the stretch, where they did devolve a bit into Omega selling a head kick by being the first to go back on offense, and I wish the final V-Trigger was closer to the ropes so Danielson didn't need to kick out. But we still got great stuff like Danielson taking advantage of Omega's sillier offense and doing cool reversals, like grabbing the LeBell Lock out of Omega unrolling his arm. This was always going to be an intensely scrutinized match and I don't think they could have done much better first time out. 

CM Punk Interview

PAS: I think these happy Punk pep talks have a shelf life. They aren't there yet, but eventually they are going to need to eventually switch something up. This worked fine, and the tuck you into bed line was nice.

MJF vs. Brian Pillman Jr. 

PAS: This was OK, it probably didn't need as long as it got and I thought the first part wasn't great. It picked up after the commercial break with the arm work. I thought using Julia Hart as a shield was a nice bit of heel business, and the Fujiwara counter of the Air Pillman was a cool idea. Still not an MJF guy, but he has improved a lot in the ring.

Cody Rhodes vs. Malakai Black

PAS: I thought Black had some cool individual moves here, liked his scissors kick into the ankle lock, and he really wasted Cody with his wheel kick. Still they seemed to be on different pages for much of this match. The spot where Cody ran into Arn was mistimed and I don't think Cody's entire act is working right now. Not sure what I would try with him, he clearly is a big part of the promotion, but they need to try something.

16. Darby Allin/Sting vs. FTR

PAS: This was delightful. FTR have the gimmick of an old school tag team, but their AEW stuff has been mostly modern workrate tags. This was an classic Southern tag with FTR really working over both Sting and Darby, with two great hot tags and two good long heel beat down sections. Sting was really impressive, he moved really well, and still has great timing on his big spots. Even his simple stuff like the big right hands and kicks looked good, and FTR was clearly having a blast bumping for him. Darby's explosiveness is so much fun to watch, and the Coffin Drop on the apron to clean out Cash for the Scorpion was the kind of big memorable moment which Darby excels at. 

ER: Excellent tag match, I believe FTR's best match of their AEW run. This felt like the FTR they've been promising us (and a thing the confusingly named Dirty Dawgs have been doing all year) and extended the Sting mileage to a point I wasn't expecting. I didn't have the nostalgia for Sting's return, and yet here he is as a very important part of a very great match. FTR looked like they were having the time of their lives getting into position for everything. You could practically see the glee in Dax Harwood's face every time he slid into position to cut off hot tags. FTR was incredibly in sync, got perfectly into position for two guys with very different ring styles, and knew just when to come flying in to cut everything off. Sting looked like he was hitting hard for an old man, all his strikes really landing with explosive speed. His punch/backhand combo was really effective, he knows how to cut guys off with a strong stomach kick, and they worked a couple of strong Scorpion Splash spots really well into the match. Sting missed one splash chest first into the turnbuckles, and then later when Dax was trying to sucker him into missing another one and hitting a chair, they did a great twist where Sting stopped himself and then threw Dax threw the chair, past the turnbuckles. The nearfalls were all really effective, and Darby/FTR were awesome at milking hot tags. There was an awesome moment where Wheeler and Harwood came together at the perfect time to catch a midair Darby hot tag, holding him on their shoulders inches away from Sting's hand. Sting had powerful lariats and shoulderblocks, loved him sending Wheeler to the floor with a clothesline, and the finish of Darby stopping Cash by hitting a Coffin Drop to the apron was insane. This might have been my favorite tag match of the year, and it happened on a show featuring one of the most highly anticipated matches of the decade happening (and delivering). 

Dr. Britt Baker DMD vs. Ruby Soho

PAS: This was a good match with some very big moves which was hurt a bit by Danielson and Omega doing a blown out version of the same kind of match as the opener. It is tough to do two big near fall matches on one show, and that opener burned me out a bit for dramatic two counts off of huge top rope moves. Really liked Ruby's offense here, and the BS ending worked for me. I think Ruby is over and talented enough for her to branch off into a second women's angle on the show. Let Britt feud with other women for the title, let Ruby get into a big feud with someone else and keep them apart for a bit.


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Blogger W.K.M. said...

Real vindication for Omega here-- both in the match's narrative and in professional standing as I think he outworked Danielson in Bryan's big return match. The glass-eyed selling for the kicks and the poison rana late feels like something that guys rave about when they see it in 80's territory vids, and besides the general sadism implicit in a strategy that involves trying to break a guy's neck there were two moments I really liked that no one seems to be talking about:

In the last third of the match Omega FINALLY catches one of those heavy kicks Bryan has been blasting him with the whole match and counters with a straight right that would've been at home in the Mid-South Colosseum, and I think is the source of the red mark on Bryan's face by match's end. They begin trading punches, until Bryan retakes the advantage and then, with Omega's eye-line changed, works the kicks to the body back in now that he's looking for punches to the head. Just a great, quick, "adapt to the other guy/other guy adapts to your adaptation" sequence.

I love the detail that after the snap-dragon on the ramp that changed the complexion of the match, Kenny gets up and breaks the count while the ref is checking on Bryan, as if to say "I've got something *really* nasty lined up for this guy and I want my full allotment of time." Considering the whole match, to that point, had been about Bryan basically imposing his will on Omega's shoulder it's a nice touch that Omega is still collected enough to do the set up work to pull off that launching V-Trigger.

The cool thing about the story of the match to me, was the inversion of the old Flair/challenger time limit draw where the story builds to a finishing sequence where the crowd is absolutely sure the champ is DEAD if they got five more minutes, but HERE Omega calmly escapes all Bryan's submission attempts by just moving his foot on the rope and answers the big knee with the V-Trigger and after the bell has rung it's Bryan who is desperately scrapping over the ref to try and get the LaBell on Omega. The story began with Bryan telling Omega "You're not on my level" but there's no way to square the result except to conclude that he is, and it's going to be a while before Bryan gets another shot at him.

10:26 AM  

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