Even though it feels like it’s been going on for months, the AEW TNT Championship tournament is still in its opening round. That ends tonight, though, as we’ll be down to four hopefuls to wear this particular gold for the first time by the end of the show. But let’s start at the beginning, as we go not quite live on TNT.

Cody is having a moment of self-reflection. We all do that, but we don’t all watch clips of ourselves and other wrestlers like some kind of grappling Batman and wonder aloud if you have what it takes to win the AEW TNT Championship. I mean, that’s a pretty specific set of circumstances, you have to admit. Jokes aside, Cody muses that the belt will go to whoever has the most will, and he might be right.

Tony Schiavone and Chris Jericho are on the call again tonight, but all that really matters is that Orange Cassidy is in action, or what passes for it to him. Sammy Guevara talks about his first round tournament matchup against Darby Allin, and as you might expect from a self-styled Spanish God, he likes his chances.

Match 1 – Sammy Guevara vs. Darby Allin – AEW TNT Championship Tournament Quarterfinal Match

Under different circumstances, it would make sense for Guevara to get a win as he’s been pretty hit as of late, but the narrative of Cody and Allin meeting again probably means Sammy will just take a narrow loss that doesn’t make him lose too much of his shine in the process. A twist you might not expect is Guevara having to wrestle the second half of the match with only one boot as Allin tries to get him to tap out with an Ankle Lock on a bare ankle. That’s not bad. Sure enough, despite a very game effort by Guevara, Allin catches him with the Last Supper and advances to the next round to face Cody.

Let’s hear from Matt Hardy, because his words must be documented. Hardy repeats his challenge to Le Hole of the Ass, Christopher Jericho, to face him at the Hardy Compound for an Elite Deletion match. Will Jericho’s essence answer him? It sounds like it might be Guevara who goes to do Jericho’s dirty work. Wow, part of this promo is being done by the unbroken version of Hardy. Did not know he could switch back and forth like [insert your favorite superhero and their alter ego here]. Regular Hardy says he’ll kick every ass in the Inner Circle until he gets to Jericho, and Broken Matt Hardy undoubtedly is just fine with that plan.

Match 2 – Alan Angels vs. Kenny Omega

I bet you thought Angels was one and done last time he appeared on Dynamite, but apparently not. Jericho telling a little of the real story behind Omega’s path that led him to AEW at this moment in time is interesting, as is his calling this a “warmup” match. Schiavone makes fun of himself for incorrectly calling Angels “Eagles” before. Kind of an understandable mistake.

One guy we don’t get to hear from a lot despite his talent is Scorpio Sky, but that changes now as he talks about his love of pro wrestling from a very young age, the back injury that almost ended his career prematurely, his determination to give pro wrestling one more chance, and the formation of SCU. And there’s more to the story we’ll see in another episode.

If Dustin Rhodes loses his tournament match, he’s planning on retiring. He and Cody chat about that on the phone, or more precisely, he talks and Cody listens.

Match 3 – Jimmy Havoc vs. “Freshly Squeezed” Orange Cassidy (w/ Best Friends)

Amazingly, Cassidy is announced as being from “Wherever” and weighing “Whatever.” Perfect. To Jericho’s delight, Havoc dominates the action from the opening bell, and both halves of the Superbad couple get involved as well. Cassidy takes punishment like a champ but still manages to steal the win, though he’s somewhat the worse for wear afterward. Sure feels like the feud between these two groups is just in its early stages.

Another man who’s been conspicuous by his absence is MJF, and he explains that’s because of his injury: A hangnail that he suffered while gambling too hard. Heh. MJF promises to rise from the ashes like a phoenix and win the AEW Championship.

Match 4 – Lee Johnson vs. Wardlow

Angels didn’t really get squashed earlier, but Johnson likely is. Yep, that’s exactly what happens.

The Exalted One, Brodie Lee, is back, offering someone power and success of the type that comes with being part of the Dark Order. Who is it, and will he accept the mask? The answers to both questions are “I’m not sure.”

Match 5 – Justin Law vs. “The Exalted One” Brodie Lee

We’ve got time for another squash, so why not? Law almost gets clotheslined into next week at the finish, poor guy. Lee heads over to the barrier and stares down Marko Stunt, who seems a little like he realizes he just dodged a big bullet.

Back in the weight room, the Best Friends confirm they want to fight Kip Sabian and Havoc, in case there was any doubt about that.

The Bubbly Bunch is back for another edition, with the Inner Circle all on a video chat trying to cheer up Guevara. The promise of free hand sanitizer gets everyone to dance on Flim Flam, which definitely is not a TikTok copycat. This is an unusually cheerful bunch of heels, with even Jake Hager showing off his personality. That’s turning lemons to lemonade.

To the tale of the tape we go for Sabian vs. Rhodes.

Main Event – Kip Sabian (w/ Penelope Ford) vs. “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes (w/ Brandi Rhodes) – AEW TNT Championship Tournament Quarterfinal Match

Could this be the last time we see Rhodes grace a wrestling ring? The odds seem stacked against him considering Ford’s aptitude for running interference and the way he takes a pounding for the first part of the match. But Rhodes proves able to counter Ford when she inevitably interferes, and Rhodes scores the victory after hitting the Code Red. The Natural survives to wrestle another day, and that’s a decent way to end a show. See you in seven!

Nick Tylwalk has been with SLAM! Wrestling since the dawn of time, or at least since before the turn of the century. He spends his days doing PR things, but he’ll always make time to sneak away for some wrestling.