AEW Dynamite Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from March 3
All Elite Wrestling is gearing up for its Revolution pay-per-view on Sunday, but that doesn't mean the company didn't have big plans for this week's show, too.
Shaq and Jade Cargill made their in-ring debut together on Wednesday's show when they took on Cody Rhodes and Red Velvet in a tag team match.
We also saw the first appearance by Paul Wight since he signed with the company, which is hilarious when you think about how close he came to fighting Shaq in WWE.
Sting and Darby Allin were there, FTR took on Jurassic Express, Matt Hardy and Marq Quen faced Adam Page and John Silver, the final competitor for Sunday's ladder match was determined and Chris Jericho held a press conference with MJF.
Let's take a look at everything that went down on this week's Dynamite.
Shaq and Jade Cargill vs. Cody and Red Velvet
Dynamite opened with the big celebrity match featuring Shaq and Jade Cargill facing Cody and Red Velvet. The NBA great looked fired up as he pushed Rhodes away after their first lockup. Cody eventually figured out that he had to use his speed to take control, but one chest chop from Shaq put him down immediately.
Shaq sent Cody into the lights with a huge back body drop and chopped him again. Jade tagged herself in despite Shaq having the upper hand. She and Velvet had a quick staredown before they started fighting.
A pump kick from Jade put Velvet on her back, but she recovered right away and ducked several punches before hitting a few strikes of her own. The collegiate standout threw Velvet across the ring by her head and then did some pushups like an old-school heel.
After Jade slapped him, Cody ran across the ring and knocked Shaq off the apron. Austin Gunn hit Shaq with a chair from the crowd, but Shaq shook it off like it was nothing. Velvet flew off the top rope to take out Jade, Cody and QT Marshall with a moonsault.
Jade brought a table out and set it up next to the ring. Velvet set up another right next to it. Cody and Shaq came back in, and the big man called for a test of strength to taunt his smaller opponent. The American Nightmare kicked him in the gut instead. Shaq picked him up and hit a textbook powerbomb, but Rhodes popped up and slammed him for a two-count.
Cody and Shaq ended up going through the pair of tables together, leaving Velvet and Jade to finish the match. Jade hit a big facebuster for the pin and the win.
Grade: C+ (Men), B- (Women)
Celebrity matches are always tough because you have to be willing to give the non-wrestler a certain amount of leeway. They are not going to be capable of putting on a clinic, so we tend to rate them on a different scale. Pat McAfee changed all that when he made sure his match with Adam Cole blew everyone away. Now, every pro athlete who appears in a wrestling ring will be judged using McAfee as a measuring stick.
That said, Shaq is a 7-footer who is also 48. He was never going to do backflips off the top turnbuckle or run the ropes like a cruiserweight. He was always going to use his size and power to dominate.
Shaq did a good job in his role, but this match was designed to highlight Jade and Velvet more than the men, which probably worked to its benefit. Shaq and Cody got to do a few fun spots, but the bulk of the actual wrestling was handled by the women.
Jade is green, but things were set up so Velvet did a lot of the proverbial heavy lifting while Jade used her power to do the literal heavy lifting. They worked smart, but you could still see some awkward moments and minor mistakes.
Anyone who expected this match to be a disaster was probably surprised when it turned out all right. It wasn't the best celebrity match we have ever seen, but it certainly wasn't the worst.
We put two grades because it almost felt like we were seeing two separate matches. The women did a lot more work than the men and deserved more credit.
Pac and Rey Fenix vs. John Skyler and D3
Pac and Rey Fenix teamed up to take on two guys names John Skyler and D3. As soon as the bell rang, Pac and Fenix took the lead and never let up.
Fenix and Pac scored the win in less than two minutes.
This was the definition of a squash. At no point did it look like the jobbers had a chance. Pac and Fenix looked as dominant as possible.
While squashes can be good for storytelling purposes when pushing a new talent, it seems like a waste to use one to push two guys who are already known as two of the most talented workers in the company.
Skyler and D3 did a good job selling and taking their moves, so everything looked solid. It just seemed unnecessary.
MJF and Jericho were out for their sham of a press conference. The audio was horrible for the first questions from the journalists in attendance, but they eventually fixed it.
As expected, MJF and Jericho put themselves over while trashing everybody who isn't part of The Inner Circle. They also mocked some of the people asking questions.
Eric Bischoff returned to ask Jericho if he knows how Papa Buck is doing after last week's attack and why he would go after a future opponent's father. Y2J said he doesn't care what his condition is before The Young Bucks' music began to play.
Nick and Matt Jackson ripped into Jericho and MJF and said without AEW, they would be nowhere. Predictably, a huge brawl broke out after the Bucks hit a pair of superkicks. Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson came out to help the Bucks put Santana and Ortiz through two tables.
MJF, Jericho and the Bucks are all good on the mic, so the talking portion of this segment went exactly as expected. They hit all the storyline points and got in some good insults.
The fight that took place after the talking was done added the necessary energy to this feud. It feels more personal than it did before Papa Buck was attacked, and this segment helped send that home.
The early part of the segment with reporters asking questions was too scripted and not needed. This could have started as a standard promo that turned into a brawl. We didn't need anyone other than Dasha asking questions.
FTR and Tully Blanchard vs. Jurassic Express
Tully Blanchard came out in his classic robe with the old NWA U.S. title around his waist to team up with Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler against Luchasaurus, Marko Stunt and Jungle Boy. JJ Dillon was at ringside with Blanchard.
Tully got in a few stomps right away before he tagged out. Jungle Boy was able to momentarily take control and take out both members of FTR. Jungle Boy forced Harwood to tap, but they were on the floor, so it didn't count.
Dillon gave his shoe to use as a weapon like he has so many times in the past, but JB kicked out at two. Blanchard teased a suicide dive, but then he strutted around to taunt Jungle Boy.
After the break, Luchasaurus got the hot tag and took out everyone on the opposing team. He hit Harwood and Wheeler with a German suplex at the same time but failed to follow up with a pin. Wheeler spiked him with a DDT at ringside to stop him in his tracks.
Jungle Boy kicked out of several pinning combinations to keep the match alive. A man dressed as a camera operator helped FTR take control, and they were able to hit the spike piledriver on Luchasaurus. Blanchard got the pin. Arn Anderson came out and flashed the four fingers to Dillon and Blanchard. The masked man was revealed to be Shawn Spears.
Who would have thought we would ever see Blanchard back in the ring, let alone with the old U.S. title? 2021 is already wild.
This was a typical six-man tag match with some added novelty due to the inclusion of Dillon and Blanchard. It felt like a Four Horsemen reboot was being teased.
FTR, Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus are all reliable workers who have good chemistry. Stunt is a gimmick performer who is always willing to take a big bump to put his opponent over. All of the pieces fit together nicely.
Was anything about this perfect? Absolutely not. Was it entertaining? Yes, if this is your type of wrestling. Everybody looked competent, and they paced themselves well so the tags made sense.
The ending is where things fell apart a bit, but it was great to see Spears back with Blanchard.
Nyla Rose vs. Ryo Mizunami
The next match determined who would face Thunder Rosa at Revolution. Vickie Guerrero accompanied Nyla Rose to battle Ryo Mizunami.
They started by trying to prove who was more powerful. Rose and Mizunami came to a stalemate a few times before Rose took her down with a shoulder block.
Mizunami hit a backdrop and a running elbow in the corner. A boot from Rose took her down. Vickie screamed at Mizunami as Rose choked her with her boot on the bottom rope.
We came back from a commercial in time to see Rose miss a senton bomb from the top rope. Mizunami tried to fire herself up and knocked Rose off the apron with a shoulder to the body.
Mizunami hit a guillotine leg drop on the apron. Rose staggered into the ring before she was counted out. Rose recovered and hit her signature diving knee for a close two-count.
Mizunami made a comeback and hit several suplexes with a Spear and a diving leg drop for the win. Hikaru Shida came in to present her with a trophy, and they ended up trading forearms for a few moments.
The differences between what works in Japan and what works in the U.S. are hard to define, but one good example is Mizunami's style. She is a good worker, but her mime work and dancing took away from the seriousness of this match.
Some fans like that kind of thing, and there is nothing wrong with that. Many awesome talents make a big show out of bragging, but there are times when it makes sense and times when it doesn't.
At one point, Rose just stood in the corner while Mizunami danced around before hitting an elbow. It was early in the match, and Rose hadn't suffered nearly enough damage to justify standing still for so long like she was dazed.
One thing that stood out was the stiffness of the strikes. Both women hit each other hard every time, and it helped make the second half feel more competitive. They definitely improved as the match went on.
Mizunami winning was a genuine surprise, but it made sense if AEW is trying to build new stars for the division. If she will be around to capitalize on the push, we could see a new champion on Sunday.
Preston Vance vs. Max Caster
Max Caster of The Acclaimed took on Preston Vance of The Dark Order for the final spot in Sunday's Face of the Revolution ladder match. Caster insulted his opponent with a rap on the way to the ring, and Brodie Jr. tried to attack him.
The first couple of minutes saw Caster and Vance trade offense without either man getting a clear advantage. It was a competitive exchange until 10 clotheslined Caster out of the ring.
After a break, Vance began to build some momentum. Caster missed a flying elbow drop, but when 10 hit a powerbomb, Caster got his foot on the rope to stop the count.
Jack Evans appeared from under the ring and hit Vance with a boom box, allowing Caster to get the pin and the win.
Vance has been getting more singles opportunities lately, but Caster has almost exclusively performed in AEW as a tag team competitor. Seeing both men get the spotlight in the penultimate match of the night likely made their fans happy.
This was a decent match, but the pace felt off and it never seemed like the two competitors found that needed chemistry to make a good match great.
Caster is an interesting choice to use in the ladder match instead of 10, but his agility will be an asset for sure. He will be a good addition to the lineup.
John Silver and Adam Page vs. Matt Hardy and Marq Quen
The main event saw Hardy and Quen face Page and Silver ahead of everyone's respective matches at Revolution. Hardy almost caused Page to hit Silver with a clothesline, but Hangman saw it coming and pulled back to avoid making contact.
Hardy took control of Silver after the break. He beat Johnny Hungie down before tagging in Quen to keep the pressure on. Hangman got the tag and took it to Quen. Hardy avoided a kick on the apron, but Quen accidentally took him out a few moments later.
Page hit a slingshot crossbody to take down Hardy at ringside, but when he got back in the ring, Quen stomped on him. Page planted him with a Death Valley Driver before throwing him to Matt for an intentional tag.
Hardy refused until Quen took Page down with a kick to the knee. Hangman countered the Twist of Fate, and Silver tagged in to drill Hardy with a Spear. Hangman finished Quen off with a Buckshot Lariat, but Hardy attacked him after the match with a mic.
The Dark Order made the save, but they were soon joined by the other teams that will compete in Sunday's Casino Battle Royal. The show ended with everybody brawling.
This was a high-energy tag match that addressed two separate feuds at once. Even without the stakes they will all have Sunday, this match felt important because the performers acted like it was.
Ending a go-home show before a PPV with a huge brawl is a classic move. It felt like AEW did a good job addressing every major storyline while also having the first half-hour devoted to Shaq's match.
This week's Dynamite had its high and low points, but the highs outnumbered the lows, and sometimes that is the best we can hope for with modern wrestling.