AEW Dynamite had two huge semi-final matches for the TNT Championship tournament as Darby Allin faced Cody and Dustin Rhodes took on Lance Archer. Who made their marks and headed to the finals?

TNT Championship Tournament – Semi-Final Match: Darby Allin vs Cody w/ Brandi Rhodes

Things started out thick and fast with the pair trying to best each other in some superb chain wrestling but too much damage to Cody’s knee saw him struggle to rise up from a bridge. You could see the wheels turn in Allin’s head before he struck at the knee with a chop block, his determination to win causing him to take the cheap shot from behind.

Cody managed to counter another knee target from Allin and took him to the outside. A countering Irish Whip saw Cody accidentally send Allin clattering into his wife Brandi at ringside which further stepped up the animosity as an enraged Cody began to inflict a more vicious assault onto Allin.

This was a great demeanour change for the match that really upped the pace and stakes of the match in an engaging way turning a sportsmanly contest into a grudge match.

Cody dumped Allin onto the ropes with a vertical suplex but a follow up vertical suplex attempt was thwarted by Allin who went straight back to the chop block to hobble Cody. A Code Red from Allin rolled into a kneebar but Cody got the rope before he had to tap.

Allin tried to add insult to injury by hitting Cody with his own finisher but Cody kicked out. It looked like Cody was on the comeback after a release suplex but Allin went for the knee again and locked in a kneebar, however Cody got out of it again.

Brandi returned to the ring to give Cody some water which was, odd, but after that Allin struck Cody and attempted a rebound Coffin Drop to which Cody countered into a ripcord lariat. Retaining wrist control Cody went for another but Allin hit the Cutter. His follow up lionsault however was cut off as Cody caught him and converted the move into a Cross Rhodes for a very close 2 count.

A Coffin Drop attempt from Cody to return the favour was countered with the knees up from Allin and it looked like Allin was about to seal the deal with a Coffin Drop of his own but Cody rolled through the move to get a surprise pin victory over Allin and secured his place in the final.

This match was stunning and had so many great story beats all told within the ring. A fantastic match that you should definitely spend the time to watch in full.

Wardlow vs Musa

Musa did manage to get a little bit of offence here compared to Wardlow’s opponent from last week with an impressive handspring high knee strike but it was Mr Mayhem’s show once again with a top of the turnbuckle chokeslam to GTS manoeuvre followed by his devastating airplane spin for the win.

Wardlow looks like a beast every week and I can’t wait to see a good hoss fight with him and someone like Luchasaurus in the future.

The Bubbly Bunch: Manitoba Melee

After arguing over who won the Flim Flam Challenge from last week, the Inner Circle decided to get some training in with a Manitoba Melee. Cue a star-studded punch up as a host of AEW stars and celebrities took to punching each other via video chat including Lou Ferrigno (with a stun gun to boot), Wrestling Superstar Soul Train Jones, Jay and Silent Bob and even Vickie Guerrero.

The Bubbly Bunch is just good fun during the current circumstances and these cameos were a lovely surprise.

No DQ Tag Match: Best Friends w/ Orange Cassidy vs Kip Sabian and Jimmy Havoc w/ Penelope Ford

This match got violent quick as the two teams struck at each other right from the bell. Havoc didn’t take long to bring out the weaponry as he blasted the Best Friends with chair shots before clattering a chair into Orange Cassidy who sold it like he’d been knocked out cold. Jimmy followed up as he dumped Havoc onto a pile of chairs on the outside.

After setting up a ladder in the corner, Havoc and Sabian did a fun assisted eye poke spot and Trent was barely saved from a pin after a backstabber from Sabian by his partner.

The Best Friends fought back and after double chair shots on Havoc, went for a hug and followed up with a Sole Food/German Suplex combination but could only muster a two-count.

An explosive Tornado DDT by Trent kept the Best Friends in the driver’s seat before he draped Sabian onto the ladder in the corner from earlier.  However, Havoc came for the save and dragged Trent’s feet from under him on the top rope sending him clattering through the ladder instead. Havoc set up a chair in the middle sideways and dumped Trent onto it before Sabian followed up with a double foot stomp onto him but Taylor barely made the save for his partner.

A scoop slam onto the edges of the chair from Taylor took out Havoc followed by a running piledriver onto a chair to Sabian looked like it would be the end but Ford puller her lover’s leg to the bottom rope to break the pin.

Taylor attempted to spear Havoc through the corner ladder but he countered and looked to demolish Taylor into the ladder again before Cassidy intervened on the apron. Cassidy lightly threw a chair at Havoc before dodging Ford with his cat-like reflexes causing her to spear Sabian by mistake. A lazy dive from Cassidy took out Sabian and Ford on the outside as Taylor capitalised by catching Havoc off guard and hitting another running piledriver into chairs for the win.

This was a brutal hardcore match between these teams that will get anyone’s blood lust going. If you like carnage give this one a watch as you get it in spades here.

Shawn Spears vs Baron Black

Spears continued his winning streak with a short match here but his cocky demeanour was wiped away as Black came close to eking a victory over Spears with a roll-up. Spears came back with a harsh assault before hitting a C4 followed by a deep Sharpshooter for the win.

The more TV time Spears gets, the better in my eyes. He’s a great performer that needs to be higher on the AEW card.

Brodie Lee vs Marko Stunt

Poor Marko got demolished by a big man once again as Brodie Lee decimated him in this match. Lee toyed with his prey, booting his poor opponent with tremendous force and countered a top rope dive from Stunt into a hellacious wind-up slam before finishing him off with a chokehold pop up powerbomb.

Mr. Brodie looked terrifying here, from his demeanour to his ring dominance. Stunt made him look like an absolute killer.

TNT Championship Tournament – Semi-Final Match: Dustin Rhodes vs Lance Archer

Rhodes took the fight to Archer early but he was shrugging off the Natural’s blows before Rhodes had to retreat to the outside after a stiff shoulder block.

The apron senton from Rhodes would only stop Archer for a brief moment as he blocked a powerslam attempt from Rhodes and hit him with the pounce. Archer pulled out a chair but Rhodes took advantage of the distraction to steal it from him. Unfortunately, a boot from Archer saw the chair slam into Rhodes’s own face, busting him open.

Strikes and blows rained down on Rhodes from Archer as he targeted Rhodes’s bleeding forehead. Rhodes tried to strike back but Archer just struck harder.

A second win from Rhodes let him beat Archer into the corner and set him up for the unnatural kick and he actually hit it square in Lance’s Archers. A missed elbow drop saw Archer try to punish Rhodes more but Rhodes would not be kept down as he continued to fight back despite his exhaustion and bleeding and even hitting the Destroyer on his opponent.

Rhodes looked to use his Brother’s finisher to put Archer away but he kicked out at one. That should strike fear in Cody. A top rope attempt was caught by Archer into a massive chokeslam but couldn’t put Rhodes away. He then started to go old school with Rhodes before converting it into an astonishing balancing moonsault but still couldn’t put him away.

Archer began pounding Rhodes’s face into an exposed turnbuckle as QT Marshall came to the ring ready to throw in the towel. Cody intercepted, refusing to let his brother meet the same fate he did. Archer took advantage and bashed Rhodes’s head into the canvas until he could pin his unconscious body.

This was a great, classically paced match where Archer lived up to his monstrous persona. The little details of the kick out at one from the Cross Rhodes and Cody refusing to throw in the towel add some interesting beats for Cody and Archer’s upcoming clash for the TNT Championship.

Another excellent episode of AEW Dynamite with great matches, fun surprises and superb storytelling that took place nearly entirely between the ropes.

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