This past week’s AEW Dynamite featured the semi-finals of the TNT Tournament. In the opening match of the night, Cody barely got the pinfall victory over Darby Allin, and in the main event, Lance Archer destroyed Dustin Rhodes in the ring. With the winners decided, the finals are now set between Cody and Archer.
Due to the finishes in both men’s respective matches, it would be a huge mistake if Cody were to win against the Murderhawk, Lance Archer. Archer’s dominant and punishing win over Dustin was done very effectively, and right now Archer looks like the most dangerous foe in all of AEW. By contrast, Cody’s win over Darby was not just mild, but drew a lot of push-back for the way the finish was handled. Based on the reactions to the semi-finals, a Rhodes victory in the finals would not just damage Archer, but the TNT Championship as well.
Throughout the Cody-Darby match, Darby a solid fan favorite due to Cody and Brandi’s many ringside interference attempts. The ending saw Cody no-sell Darby’s previously-protected finisher, the Coffin Drop, and “pin” him in a fluky manner to snatch the win out of the jaws of defeat. Immediately after the match, fans expressed their disdain online for the confusing finish.
Archer’s match was the exact opposite, with the Murderhawk Monster grabbing a dominant win over Cody’s older brother Dustin and leaving the older Rhodes bloodied in the ring. Before this match, Archer already looked like a monster. But after this massive victory, no other heel looks as threatening at the moment as Jake “The Snake” Robert’s terrifying client.
A cautionary tale for Archer would be Jake Hager, who was also supposed to be a dangerous big guy, but looked underprepared and unimpressive in his championship match again Jon Moxley. AEW needs to build on the enormous momentum Archer has garnered for himself by defeating Dustin and let him go on an undefeated streak to build to an eventual match with Moxley. Losing this early, for a midcard championship, would not just derail the incredible momentum AEW has going with Archer, but also lead to more mild championship defenses for Moxley like the one he had with Hager.
Cody does not look to possess nearly as much momentum as he had going into his earlier feud with Jericho, and it would be wise for him to lose to Archer considering Archer’s freshness on AEW’s roster. Cody has relegated many other wrestlers into the midcard after defeating them, like Shawn Spears and Sammy Guevara. If Archer loses to Cody and finds himself in midcard purgatory, AEW would be wasting massive potential in a wrestler who could possibly be their biggest heel in the future.
It would benefit everyone involved for Archer to win the TNT Championship, even the belt itself, which would earn much more prestige being on the shoulders of a dominant wrestler than one who needs help from a ringside partner to eke out close victories. Cody himself might squander his approval with fans if he were to “bury” Archer only a few weeks after defeating fan-favorite Darby Allin. Whoever hands Archer his first defeat should be someone like Kenny Omega, Hangman Page or Jon Moxley in a bona fide main event match. Whether or not Archer wins, AEW finds itself in a precarious position heading into the tournament finals.
As Lance Archer and Cody Rhodes move on to the finals of the TNT Tournament, AEW mustn't make the mistake of having Archer lose to Cody.