WEEEEELL the Large Programme, aka Paul Wight – formerly known as the Big Show in WWE – debuted on last night’s episode of AEW Dynamite, wearing a very good ‘No BS’ t-shirt. Top punning.
It was announced he’d signed with the promotion last Wednesday, where he’ll be on commentary for wellll it’s a New Show AEW Dark: Elevation alongside Tony Schiavone, and occasionally wrestle. But he revealed he’s not the only significant signing AEW has made:
“I have the biggest scoop ever! This Sunday at [Revolution], AEW is going to hire – put in contract – a Hall of Fame worthy talent that is a huge surprise and a huge asset to AEW.”
Adam Rose to AEW confirmed.
This of course made speculationamania run wild, with one fan asking Batista where he’s going to be on Sunday, where Batista hinted he might not be as retired as we thought:
“They’re going to have to come up with another word that’s used specifically for professional wrestlers who actually mean it when they say they’re retired. Currently the word “retired” has zero credibility by professional wrestling standards. FACEPALM EMOJI”
Wight’s ‘Hall of Fame level talent’ wording does limit the pool of who it could be, as it implies it’s a veteran who’s already had a Hall of Fame worthy career, but isn’t currently in the Hall of Fame – which does rule out Batista, and other speculated names like Mick Foley and Kurt Angle. You’d assume they’re also a free agent right now, and now someone who’s already under contract with AEW’s partner promotions New Japan and IMPACT.
Rob Van Dam fits into those categories, and he could work doubling up as the mystery sixth entrant in the Face of the Revolution Ladder Match at Sunday’s pay-per-view – with the winner earning a shot at Darby Allin’s TNT title. Otherwise, I can’t see that vacant spot being the same as Wight’s teased debut.
Because if you’re thinking current free agent, not in the Hall of Fame, history with the Big Show… there’s a very expensive Brock Lesnar just lying around. Who might be a bit wasted in the midcard title picture.
The real big name is, obviously, CM Punk to AEW confirmed. Punk was AEW President Tony Khan’s first pick when the promotion started, and he seemed close to joining in August 2019, before he changed the culture and debuted on the Fox studio show WWE Backstage. Punk has seemingly been more open in recent interviews, saying he would return if the story was right.
Khan had teased only last week that ‘old and new faces’ would show up in AEW very soon in an interview with Wrestling Observer Live, and that they’d ‘shake up the landscape of AEW’. Wight also did say “It’s not who you think.” But I don’t know who I think, Paul, you’ve just made me think CM Punk more now.
Who do you think this Hall of Fame level signing is? Let me know in the comments because I’ll be replying to people FROM OUTTA NOWHERE!
NXT Moving To Tuesday Nights Update
Following on from yesterday’s Mat Men Pro Wrestling Podcast report, Bryan Alvarez has noted that NXT moving to Tuesday nights following WrestleMania “internally, inside the network, it’s a done deal”. Additionally, WrestlingNews.co added that USA Network advertising partners have been told NXT purchases will move to Tuesday nights from April 13th.
Fightful have also shared a screenshot of what happens when subscribers try to cancel their WWE Network subscription, which warns they’ll miss an unnamed NXT TakeOver set to air on Thursday April 8, two days before WrestleMania 37 Night One.
Controversial NJPW Appearance Scrapped
Fightful Select is also reporting that Marty Scurll’s New Japan Strong angle filmed last week has been scrapped because of the negative “online response”, and that “there were several members of the roster who weren’t thrilled with his involvement either.” With numerous people apparently saying “if they would have been made aware of Scrull’s involvement ahead of time, they would have made it clear that they didn’t want to work at the tapings.” Scurll and ROH parted way in January following SpeakingOut allegations made against him last June.
Jim Crockett Jr. Passes Away
Sadly, legendary promoter Jim Crockett Jr. has passed away at the age of 76. Crockett was responsible for running promotions in the Carolinas during the territory days, as well as serving a number of terms as NWA President. Crockett would ultimately sell Jim Crockett Promotions to Ted Turner in what would become WCW.
Now it’s Thursday, you know what that means. It’s time for my review of the AEW Dynamite special ‘see you at the CrossRhodes, CrossRhodes, CrossRhodes’ …in about 5 minutes.
AEW Dynamite Review
The big show, not that Big Show, opened with its biggest match to get people to tune in from the start: Cody Rhodes and Red Velvet vs Jade Cargill and Shaq, a basketball player best known for his lead role in the 1997 superhero movie Steel.
Not only is Shaq so tall, he made everyone else look like a backstage WWE interviewer, but he played his role perfectly in the best kind of celebrity match – massively overbooked where all the actual wrestlers effectively wrestle themselves.
Cody would throw himself into the corner, flip himself over Shaq for a back body drop, and even took a Shaq powerbomb, while Cargill and Velvet had fiery back and forths – with Jade covering her inexperience by being an over the top obnoxious heel.
It felt like they did most of the physical stuff, setting up the tables, getting the heat, which makes sense as Shaq’s got a few injuries and his knees aren’t great-
OH MY GOD CODY JUST PUT HIM THROUGH ALL THE TABLES OUTSIDE. We even got a ‘good god almighty’ from JR. And in the chaos, Cargill pinned Velvet.
Shaq sold the spot like he was doing his own meme, and was somehow loaded into an ambulance. But when Tony Schiavone went to interview him – which is Alex Marvez levels of inappropriate – Shaq was nowhere to be found. He’d disappeared like he was wearing someone’s face Hannibal Lecture style.
I don’t think this is AEW suddenly running a supernatural angle with a celebrity, more that Shaq played up his injuries, so he could return later on as a bigger heel. And it was a good mystery to keep the casual viewers tuned in, although there was no payoff on this episode.
PAC and Fenix then squashed the team of John Skyler and D3.
Jericho and MJF then held a press conference ahead of their tag team title shot, which was the latest fun way to have cameos from Conrad Thompson and Eric B from Wyoming. This brought out the Bucks for Matt to cut a fiery promo about how the Inner Circle beat up their dad, Old Buck, last week. Because if there was no Papa Buck, there might not be an AEW, and Jericho would just be curtain jerking at the Performance Center. He said the thing, he said something about the other thing!
A brawl ensued, complete with an awesome double dive through tables spot with Nick jumping off the tunnel and Matt off the stage on Santana and Ortiz.
There was a brilliant video package hyping Kenny Omega vs Jon Moxley’s Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch this Sunday. I am so happy I get to say those words out loud in 2021. This was a great way to explain what the stipulation is to younger fans – although it is pretty much described by the title. Spoiler, it’s got explosions and barbed wire – which included an awesome cameo from Atsushi Onita, the pioneer of Deathmatches in FMW. It’s just a shame this was the only thing on the show promoting that huge main event title match.
With no time to catch your breath, now it’s time for Tully Blanchard to show Jungle Boy the hard version of 80s nostalgia. He’s going full Gran Torino on your boy Marko Stunt.
In his first match since 1989, Tully was just so good tagging with FTR against Jurassic Express – complete with JJ Dillon and a hitting someone with a shoe spot. Who throws a shoe?
The proper wrestling work was done by Luchasaurus, Jungle Boy and FTR, but Tully had some great spots with Marko, a smart idea considering he’s much easier to do moves on, including busting out the classic slingshot suplex, and even getting the pin off a spike piledriver – thanks to some interference from a hooded Shawn Spears.
Arn Anderson came out to do the Four Horsemen hand signal, because nostalgia references are sometimes more fun than heel / face consistency.
JJ then brilliantly tried to interrupt Tony’s transition promo, bringing that spontaneous 80s chaos, before out came Paul Wight to tease that Hall of Fame level worthy signing.
Ryback to AEW confirmed.
Then came the really great finals of the women’s Eliminator Tournament – a reminder that AEW should’ve at least put all the US matches on Dynamite. I really like Mizunami’s super goofy, but still intimidating style, and she went over Nyla Rose to face Shida for the title this Sunday. It looked like the Revolution opponents were going to have a moment of mutual respect during the trophy presentation, but then Mizunami headbutted Shida and they just slapped each other for a bit. Which I think is how you say ‘I am also looking forward to our match’ in Japanese.
This was an absolutely breakneck speed show up until this point, but the last 40 minutes fizzled out a bit. Sting got interrupted by Team Taz yet again, which brought out Darby Allin for the save. Sting looked great beating up Ricky Starks, but I’ve already seen this quite a few times.
Max Caster took on 10 for a place at the Face of the Revolution ladder match, which was solid, but not at the usual exciting level for Dynamite. Jack Evans hit 10 with the boombox for Caster to win, as Matt Hardy had paid him off to take out all of the Dark Order.
When, really, he only took out him.
Something changed late in the day, as this main event was originally meant to be The Dark Order vs Hardy, Private Party and TH2 in a 10 man tag – but it was changed to Hangman and John Silver vs Hardy and Marq Quen. I’m assuming ‘circumstances’ necessitated something, so it’s hard to complain, but it meant AEW couldn’t really tell that cool story of Matt taking out all of the Dark Order while Page watched on helplessly.
Instead, Page and Silver won a fun tag main event, as Hardy backed away from Hangman, and it erupted in a nonsensical midcard brawl to end the show.
While I’m always up for Matt Hardy screaming at a 9 year old, this wasn’t the big go-home angle I’ve come to expect from AEW.
What did you think of AEW Dynamite? Let me know in the comments down below, and vote in our Poll on a Pole match on the community tab, where 79% of you voted for SHAQ JUST WENT THROUGH TWO TABLES?
The first two thirds of this show were amongst the best sports entertainment AEW has ever put on TV, but it was slightly let down by a fizzled out finale. This week’s Dynamite is four out of five.