With Full Gear now behind us, AEW heads toward the end of a challenging but ultimately successful 2020 with some of its long-standing champions still reigning and one new “Face of the Network.” The next pay-per-view is months away, so there’s plenty of time to set things up and lots of different ways the promotion can go. As we ponder the possibilities, let’s go live to the house that wrestling built, Daily’s Place, on TNT to see what’s in store.

Hey, that’s a new opening sequence (new visuals and a slightly different mix of the theme music) and some new lighting effects to open the show. It’s the same angry Taz who comes out with his team, giving some sarcastic props to new TNT Champion Darby Allin, who is sitting in the upper deck. Taz claims that Allin has no respect for those who came before him, unlike Allin. He warns Darby to stay out of Team Taz business before joining the announcers to help call the opening match.

“The Machine” Brian Cage vs. Matt Sydal

It’s continually amusing that Taz is less of a heel when he’s on commentary (and definitely a lot calmer) than he is as a manager. He hardly needs to be worried about that Cage is facing in Sydal, seemingly the one former WWE talent not to get a push from AEW. Sydal does get an opportunity to work a fairly long opener here, though it’s mostly in service of Cage catching him upside-down coming off the top turnbuckle to be slammed and pinned. Alas.

Winner: Brian Cage by pinfall

Ricky Starks makes it known he’s got his sights set on the TNT title, and strongly insinuates we’ll be seeing Team Taz again throughout the night.

Now sans belt, Cody Rhodes steps between the ropes and congratulates the man who beat him before explaining that he has no plans to seek a rematch. Instead, he wants to face off again with MJF, but he doesn’t get to elaborate before a young woman interrupts and grabs the microphone. She introduces herself as Jade Cargill, saying that she’s been sitting on the sidelines studying her competition. Her semi-rambling promo makes reference to a sleeping giant who Cody shouldn’t awaken, and she eventually discloses that the giant in question is … Shaq? Well, he was backstage at Full Gear. Brandi Rhodes takes exception to Cargill talking to her husband like that, the two of them almost get into it on the stage, and Jerry Lynn has to step between them. In the ensuing chaos, Cage returns to attack Cody, which in turn brings Allin down from the cheap seats to even the odds. Will Hobbs also hustles out, but by then, Team Taz has made a strategic retreat. Anyone else need to come out? No? OK, cool.

A video package replays some of the highlights of the Kenny Omega-Adam Page match from Full Gear, making you feel bad if you missed the show. In the back. Alex Marvez asks Jon Moxley about Omega becoming the number one contender to his AEW World Championship, musing that he has beaten Kenny once but doing it again takes someone special. Fortunately, the champ is pretty special if he does say so himself, and wishes Omega good luck.

The Butcher & The Blade (w/ The Bunny) vs. The Natural Nightmares – Bunkhouse Match

The announcers note that younger viewers may not know what a Bunkhouse Match is, so I’ll break it down like this: It’s basically a hardcore match with a country theme. Hence the hay bales and other paraphernalia around the ring. QT Marshall is busted open pretty early in the proceedings, and Bunny handcuffs Dustin Rhodes to a turnbuckle. That would sound like it takes him out of the running for any cool spots, but after he gets free from the cuffs, Rhodes bulldogs Butcher through some plywood after Marhsall sets off a fire extinguisher in Butcher’s face. The match needs to end in the ring, though, so Marshall leaps from a large ladder with an elbowdrop to an equally bloody Blade, only to find it’s not enough for three. Bunny ends up taking a bump off the apron through a table, and a cowbell shot softens Blade up for a Diamond Cutter that finally earns the Nightmares the victory. Have to admit that was better than I expected from these two teams.

Winners: Natural Nightmares by pinfall

Matt Hardy narrates highlights from his Full Gear encounter with Sammy Guevara and definitely sounds like that was the finale of their feud.

It’s time for MJF’s induction into the Inner Circle. Also Wardlow. Chris Jericho seems pretty excited about their two new additions, thrown for a loop only momentarily when Guevara doesn’t come out with the rest of the O.G. members. MJF’s speech includes him stealing some lines from a Drake song, and when Ortiz objects, Jericho reminds him that it was his call to put a spot in the team on the line at Full Gear, and he expects everyone to make it work. But MJF also wants to celebrate Jericho’s recent birthday, revealing that the whole group is going to Las Vegas next week, on him. Vegas, baby! Ortiz, perhaps cognizant of the fact that there is still a pandemic going on, is the only grumpy face of the bunch.

Marvez goes to seek comment from the Young Bucks about what’s next. Nick Jackson calls the victory over FTR the biggest accomplishment of their career, while Matt Jackson says he’s been contacted by a young tag team called Top Flight who are also brothers and deserve their shot at the big time. They’ll get it next Wednesday.

Shawn Spears (w/ Tully Blanchard) vs. Scorpio Sky

These guys have an ongoing beef but have yet to have a solo showdown on Dynamite. It’s wrestled more at Spears’ pace than Sky’s, and it definitely ends the way you’d expect with Blanchard involved. Tully slips a metal slug to Shawn to load his glove, and it only takes one shot to turn out Scorpio’s lights.

Winner: Shawn Spears by pinfall

We’re supposed to be hearing from Omega, but he’s already on his way out of the arena.

Tay Conti (w/ Anna Jay) vs. Red Velvet (w/ Brandi Rhodes)

The announcers play up Conti’s judo background, and she has some interesting moves that reflect it. She gets more time to show them off than you would think, even wrestling through J.R.’s beloved picture-in-picture. Conti wins despite refusing to take the shortcut of a steel chair supplied by Jay. Wonder what that means for her recruitment into the Dark Order.

Winner: Tay Conti by pinfall

Backstage, Marvez has the unenviable task of interviewing the Inner Circle. They’re all pretty pumped about heading to Vegas, except for Guevara, who shows up and claims he only got one email, and it said to meet at the beach. MJF plays dumb, saying he sent a second email, and he at least gives Sammy his ticket for Sin City. Something tells me MJF has every intention of continuing to mess with Sammy’s head.

Eddie Kingston has something to say, starting with admitting he has to live with saying “I quit” to Moxley. Unlike everyone else, who would probably never wrestle again, Kingston vows he will never stop and will still eventually be world champion. He also wants the people watching to say thanks for presenting the Lucha Bros. for their rematch.

Rey Fenix vs. Penta El Zero Miedo

Beyond just two awesome wrestlers who are real life brothers competing against each other, the narrative advanced by the announcers in their discussion with Kingston is that his leadership may have divided the Lucha Bros. If there’s a heel/face split coming, expect that it’s Penta who will play the heel, as he intentionally tears Rey’s mask while they do battle. Or maybe not, because Fenix does the same thing in return. In any case, Kingston is rooting hard for his best friend, and seeing both men half-maskless reminds me of Spider-Man comics from my youth when Peter Parker would always end up with his mask torn. In any case, Penta wins again, bringing his AEW record against his brother to 2-0.

Winner: Penta El Zero Miedo by pinfall

Kingston says there is still some time left, mocking the usual chants that would acknowledge a stellar match like that. He heads to the ring and gives props to Penta while kicking Fenix out of the ring, calling him dead weight. He’s interrupted by the return of Pac, who tells Kingston he’s made a very, very big mistake. A flood of referees and officials come out to separate the two men while Tony Schiavone announces that Pac will take on Blade next week on Dynamite. I guess Pac is upset Death Triangle never got the chance to be a thing? In any case, that, as they say, is that. See you in seven!

AEW Dynamite 11/11/20

Daily's Place, Jacksonville, Florida

If you’re one of those wrestling fans who lives on social media, you probably expected something more from tonight’s Dynamite, since rumors were rampant of big surprises. There weren’t any of those (with all due respect to Pac), so what we got was just a solid if unspectacular show that was a little short on in-ring star power. AEW seems to be settling into a cadence where it ramps things way down after each PPV and slowly ramps up again, and so it probably isn’t a shock that this was the low end. On the plus side, next week’s show should be better.