There was a spectre of uncertainty over this week’s episode of AEW Dynamite as the Dark Order seemed to be manipulating the broadcast with brief flashes of Evil Uno on-screen and them hijacking the TV graphics. Did their presence manifest itself in the flesh and creepy masks? Let’s find out.

Kenny Omega & ‘Hangman’ Adam Page vs The Lucha Brothers

As much as I wanted this to be the barnstorming opener a match with these guys seems on paper, I was left pretty dissatisfied by this opener. There were exciting and well-executed wrestling moments in this match but it felt like a slog to get through at times. Things went downhill early when the theatrics between Pentagon Jr with his Cero Miedo shtick and Page’s own brand of Cowboy Shit went on for way too long and really hurt the match flow.

Long matches like this can absolutely work on TV, both NXT and AEW have demonstrated this, but there have to be some stakes to warrant it. The heat between Page and Omega last week barely played any part in proceedings until the very end when a miscalculated double team attempt from former Elite allies lead to Omega getting wiped out by the Buckshot by mistake giving the Lucha Brothers their opening to hit the assisted package piledriver for the win.

The aftermath even had issues with Omega and Page having a mini scuffle before it immediately cut to PAC on the screen who promised to show Omega what he was capable of, insinuating he would attack an unaware Michael Nakazawa. This gave no time for the Omega and Page fallout to have any time to breathe, and even worse, the follow up with Omega hunting down PAC and being blindsided by the Lucha Brothers was all done in the picture-in-picture during the break.

AEW has put angles in the break several times at this point and it needs to stop. This match could have been 5-10 minutes shorter and everything could have been on TV for the audience to see the angle unfold. Angles in the break is not going to win any points against NXT.

The Butcher & the Blade w/ the Bunny vs Darby Allin & Cody

After extending his hand to Cody last week, Allin helped Cody take another crack at the new team on the block. Allin tagged out early which unfortunately lead to Cody becoming isolated and picked apart by the Butcher & the Blade. A mid-air collision from both the Blade and Cody trying for a crossbody allowed Allin to get the hot tag demolishing the Blade with a Code Red but couldn’t get a pin due to a blind tag from the Butcher.

Cody tried to break up a Texas Cloverleaf the Butcher had on Allin but the Butcher shrugged off the strikes. Allin would recover getting the break to tag out to Cody who hit the Butcher with the Cross Rhodes but the Bunny distracted the referee from making the count.

Stereo suicide dives from Allin and Cody evened the playing field for the pair giving Cody the chance to get back his momentum. The match ended after Allin hit the Butcher on the apron with a coffin drop and Cody hit a Cody Cutter on the Blade for the three.

A short and sweet match that was entertaining to watch, it’s just a shame to see the Butcher and the Blade take a loss on only their second match in AEW. At least it was against two high-level superstars which lessen the sting somewhat.

Awesome Kong w/ Brandi Rhodes vs Miranda Alize

Miranda Alize was not even given the dignity of a nameplate before she was decimated by Kong in quick fashion after a double-arm facebuster.

Kong then took some hair again. I can barely muster the enthusiasm to even try and find any meaning with the Nightmare Collective anymore, it just isn’t connecting.

10-minute time limit match: Chris Jericho w/ Jake Hager vs Jungle Boy w/ Luchasaurus & Marko Stunt

While the title wasn’t on the line, Jungle Boy had a lot to prove here. He attempted a quick roll-up that Le Champion kicked out of before keeping up his offence and hitting an impressive springboard arm drag. Jericho took back control toying with the young challenger hitting a Codebreaker and not even going for a pin before hitting another Codebreaker and breaking up his own pin at 2.

Jericho tossed Jungle Boy to the outside and distracted the referee allowing Jake Hager to blindside his opponent before Luchasaurus brawled with Hager to defend his tag partner. Marko Stunt tried to help out but got knocked out by a punch from Hager before everyone at ringside was ejected.

Jungle Boy dodged a lionsault from Jericho before reciprocating with one of his own for another 2-count but Jericho evened the playing field by clocking Jungle Boy with a harsh lariat as Jericho started to actually attempt some pins.

Jericho looked like he was ready to finish off Jungle Boy after a powerbomb into the Walls of Jericho as the clock came down to a minute left. Jungle Boy was resilient as Jericho put more and more pressure onto Jungle Boy but he managed to make it through to the 10-minute mark ending the match in a no-contest.

Jericho demanded 5 more minutes looking to punish Jungle Boy but he countered nearly getting two more pins before Jericho had enough and walked away. These two made the most out of 10 minutes to make Jungle Boy look like a million bucks and it worked gangbusters. Smart booking and an entertaining showcase for the young performer.

No 1 Contender Match for the AEW Women’s World Championship: Kris Statlander vs Britt Baker

These competitors were back and forth from the start making counter for counter with the story being set out that Britt Baker was trying as much as she could to put Statlander in the Lockjaw.

Coming out of the break Baker was in control and still trying to put in the Lockjaw at every opportunity but Statlander took advantage of this to target Britt’s arm on the counter.

Statlander kept Britt’s offence at bay, using her power to keep Britt on her back. A mistimed lariat gave Britt the opening to grab the arm for the Lockjaw but Statlander powered through to hit the Big Bang Theory for the win.

Statlander has had one heck of a speedy rise to the top of the women’s division but it’s pretty deserved with her in-ring ability and natural in-ring charisma. She will be Riho’s next opponent for the AEW Women’s World Championship.

After the match, Brandi Rhodes came down to the ring to congratulate Statlander and ask her one last time if she would be joining the Nightmare Collective to which she refused. Statlander was flanked by Kong and Cruise allowing Rhodes to hit her with the spike of a stiletto heel.

It’s nice there’s a storyline building in the women’s division but the Nightmare Collective just stinks. A simple feud where one person wants to win the title would suffice, that’s all people need.

AEW Tag Team Championship match: SCU vs the Young Bucks

SCU tried to get the SCU Later off early but the Young Bucks quickly countered to get the edge up early on. The Young Bucks had Kazarian isolated but he managed to fight back with a backstabber which gave Scorpio Sky the opening to hit an apron hurricanrana on Matt Jackson. Nick Jackson fought back against both SCU members before having a rope balance battle with Sky that was very unique and ended with Nick landing a springboard hurricanrana.

After the break, Kazarian took a page out of Nick Jackson’s book by keeping his two opponents at bay by himself and knocking them down with a double lariat and setting his opponents up on the outside for Sky to hit a diving senton to the outside. SCU held onto the lead as they planted Nick with an apron DDT to put him out of action before laying out Matt with the SCU Later and won with the 3-count.

After the match, the Dark Order’s creepers surrounded the ring as the lights went out. The teases throughout the night the Dark Order planted came to fruition as Evil Uno demanded the creepers put the teams down. In the creeper’s ranks were the Beaver Boys who had been recruited last week. Even an assist from Kenny Omega and the Rhodes brothers wasn’t enough as the creepers overwhelmed all of them to close out the show.

With a PPV on the horizon, it seemed like AEW would work hard to lay the groundwork for AEW Revolution but, instead, this episode felt like it was spinning its wheels other than the women’s division story developing and the Dark Order’s increased presence. As much as I’m happy to see the Dark Order being featured on a main-event level, this show needed more to be must-see television and AEW need to look at what they can do to keep audience attention spans beyond good isolated matches at its quickly becoming formulaic.

All pictures and videos courtesy of AEW