AEW Dynamite Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from March 18
After fanless episodes of Raw and SmackDown took place at the WWE Performance Center, All Elite Wrestling held its own fanless episode of Dynamite because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
After weeks of teasing, The Dark Order promised to reveal The Exalted One this week. A lot of theories have been making the rounds on social media, with Matt Hardy as being the one most talked about.
Ahead of Dynamite's special Blood and Guts episode next week, The Elite and The Inner Circle met to determine which team would receive an advantage heading into their big showdown.
We also saw The Lucha Bros battle The Best Friends, Jurassic Express take on The Butcher and The Blade, and a Fatal 4-Way match with Hikaru Shida, Penelope Ford, Riho and Kris Statlander.
Let's take a look at everything that happened on this week's episode of Dynamite.
For information about the pandemic and precautions to take, please see guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cody Rhodes opened the show standing in an empty ring with an arena full of empty seats. He gave a nice speech before launching into a promo about the upcoming Blood and Guts episode of Dynamite.
He was soon joined by Matt Jackson and Kenny Omega. They said they don't even know if there will be a Dynamite next week, so if they are going out, they are going out as The Elite.
Adam Page came out on the stage with a beer in his hand. Matt asked him, man to man, if he stood with them. The Hangman nodded and walked to the back.
With the current situation, this is exactly what AEW needed to do. Having Cody open the show with a heartfelt speech before transitioning into the storyline stuff was a smart move. He is the face of the company and did a good job in this segment.
He never said the word "coronavirus," but it was clear what he was talking about. They had the luxury of being able to use their pyro, but having it with an empty arena only put an exclamation point on the situation.
As a new company, AEW doesn't have as much financial security as WWE at a time like this. As Omega said, we don't even know if there will be a show next week, but the Superstars appeared dedicated to putting on the best show they could.
Best Friends vs. Lucha Bros
The first match of the evening featured The Best Friends taking on The Lucha Bros. Unlike WWE, AEW allowed some Superstars to sit at ringside to provide some live reactions. MJF and Shawn Spears were betting on the match beforehand with Tully Blanchard and Wardlow nearby.
Orange Cassidy sat with the commentary team, but the headset was just a prop, as he did not say a single word the entire time.
Both teams had control at different points before the first commercial break. Every time Rey Fenix or Pentagon took over, Chuck Taylor and Trent found a way to counter him.
Instead of the usual hug, Chuckie T and Trent bumped elbows. Cassidy got involved at one point, but the ref did not disqualify The Best Friends for it. In the end, it didn't help, as The Lucha Bros picked up the win.
Having some of the wrestlers at ringside helped a lot. They were making noise and helping to keep the atmosphere light. It was also wise to keep the hard camera pointing at the stage instead of a group of empty seats behind the ring.
As time went on, more wrestlers could be seen occupying seats around the ring. Jurassic Express was there trying to hype up Best Friends, while the heels cheered for Fenix and Penta.
This was the kind of strong tag team wrestling we have come to expect from AEW. There were some questionable moments, but they did not ruin the match in the end.
Riho vs. Kris Statlander vs. Penelope Ford vs. Hikaru Shida
Ford, Riho, Shida and Statlander's Fatal 4-Way was the second match on this fanless episode of Dynamite.
Ford was the only clear heel in the ring, and she went right after Riho to throw her out. Shida and Statlander stood back until they could team up against Ford.
Kip Sabian ended up taking punches from Shida and Statlander before Riho took out all three opponents with a crossbody from the top rope.
The action was fast-paced, and all four women had opportunities to stand out. Ford has had the least screen time, but she made sure to hit all of her most impressive spots so everyone knew who she was.
Shida picked up the win and became the favorite for a future title shot against Nyla Rose.
This was a fun bout. Ford was especially impressive with some of her acrobatics, but Shida was the standout in this match.
Statlander continues to be an intriguing presence in the division, and Riho's underdog quality is still her biggest asset.
There was very little to criticize in this one other than a few minor mistakes that could happen to anybody. This kept the momentum going from the first bout, and the post-match interview with Colt Cabana was a funny way to end the segment.
The Butcher and The Blade vs. Jurassic Express
The Butcher and The Blade were out after the break to take on Jungleboy and Luchasaurus. As usual, Jungleboy began for his team and immediately became the underdog.
The heels kept him isolated for as long as they could while Jungleboy used his speed and agility to hit a move whenever he could.
Once Luchasaurus tagged into the ring, everything changed. He used his power and size advantage to take control with a little help from his partner.
After MJF tried to help the bad guys by shouting instructions, Luchasaurus and Jungleboy used his distraction to their advantage and scored the victory.
This match was fine, but it was about as predictable as it could be. The Butcher and The Blade played good heels, but they did not do enough to stand out from the other evil tag teams in AEW.
Jungleboy and Luchasaurus are always fun to watch, even without Marko Stunt there to provide his usual antics at ringside.
This kept the show moving in the right direction. It just didn't do enough to advance any storylines or make anyone look better than they did before the match.
Who Is The Exalted One?
The Dark Order came to the ring, and Evil Uno addressed the fans by looking directly into the camera. He said The Exalted One would be delivered as promised before Christopher Daniels interrupted him.
He chastized Uno for wasting everyone's time before an ominous message began to play on the screen. The supposed Exalted One appeared in a hood and spoke in a distorted voice.
Instead of Matt Hardy, the former Luke Harper appeared and spoke more in two minutes than he did during his last year with WWE.
He was back to using the Brodie Lee name he used on the independent scene for years before going to WWE. He appeared in the ring and helped take out SCU to end the segment.
The two top names everyone kept talking about for this role were Hardy and Lee. Most people assumed it would be Hardy, so it was a nice surprise when the former Wyatt Family member revealed himself.
This went about as well as it could without a crowd to give the reveal a pop. Lee is going to be an interesting addition to The Dark Order, especially if AEW follows through and makes the group a big deal.
This opens up the door for a lot of interesting possibilities with Hardy's likely debut in the coming weeks.
The Elite vs. Inner Circle
The main event of the night featured The Inner Circle's Santana, Ortiz and Jake Hager taking on Page, Jackson and Cody to see which team would have an advantage in the Blood and Guts match set for the next episode.
Sammy Guevara and MJF had a great time singing Chris Jericho's theme song as he made his way out to join the commentary team.
Santana struck first and took the fight to Cody with a few strikes to the head. The winds seemed to shift every time someone new tagged into the ring. It allowed everyone to have a moment, but it gave the match a strange pace.
AEW may have found itself long on time because this match took up the last 30 minutes of the show. After a competitive back-and-forth exchange, The Inner Circle got the win when Santana rolled up Jackson for the pin.
The beginning of this segment highlighted just how much fun the AEW stars were having while making the best of a bad situation.
Surprisingly, Jericho downplayed his heel status a bit and put over the AEW team and even acknowledged how good Cody is in the ring.
These are six talented wrestlers. All of the action was good, but the match felt like it lasted one segment longer than it should have.
At the end of the segment, Vanguard 1 showed up to introduce Hardy as a member of The Elite to end the show on a bit of a cliffhanger.