Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (12-22-2021) – Holiday Bash

AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT

As much as I love wrestling, the Holidays are a tough time to find the three hours it takes to watch these shows what with a million other things to worry about this time of year.  Still, you can’t say AEW doesn’t put in the effort, and not taking a week away from the show even with everyone being busy is laudable I suppose; especially since they film Rampage on the same night as Dynamite which hopefully meant that everyone got to go home as soon as it was over.  Is this a great present for AEW to give us despite the poor timing of it, or will it get lost in the Holiday shuffle like everything else we don’t have time to think about because we’ve got so many other things to do right now!?  Okay, maybe not everyone is stressed out like that, but that’s beside the point!  Is this a good show or not!?  Let’s find out!!

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Orange Cassidy Vs. Adam Cole

Cole and Cassidy are two of the biggest stars who aren’t currently in the title picture, so putting them together in an opening match is as good a way as any to try and tear people away from their packed Holiday schedules to tune in.  It’s a solid match with a lot of back and for the action between the two, but things don’t really pick up until Cassidy gets a two count from a Diving Cross Body and a Swinging DDT.  This forces the Bucks and Brandon Cutler to come out just as Cassidy is going up top for a big splash, and instead of hitting Cole, Cassidy jumps down on Cutler.  It’s at this point that the Best Friends run down to make the save, but not before Cassidy hits a Suicide Dive on the Bucks which allows the Best Friends to fight them back up the ramp and to the back.  Despite his buddies getting overwhelmed, it does create an opening for Cole who throws Cassidy shoulder-first into the steps; hoping to neutralize his Orange Punch finisher.  Cassidy is left limp against the steps so Cole tries to follow up with a Boom Knee Strike, but Cassidy moves and Cole’s knee hits the steel instead of Cassidy’s squishy body.  With both suffering injuries, the two continue to brawl throughout the commercial break and start to kick things into high gear once we return.  Lousy Kicks, Brain Busters, Stundog Millionaires and Diving DDTs, All of which hit their mark, but the damage they’ve incurred end up blunting their effectiveness, so neither manage to get the pin.  Cole tries to set up Cassidy for the Panama Sunrise by dragging him to the corner, but Cassidy merely rolls away to overcome his scheme.  Frustrated by this, Colle tries to go after him but Cassidy hits a Michinoku Driver!  Now it’s his turn to set up a move as he puts on his shades and gets to the top rope, and once he’s up there he puts his hands in his pockets and tries to dive on Cole.  He’s WAY short on his dive however and ends up eating a Super Kick which allows Cole to get the Panama Sunrise and goes for a lackadaisical cover on Cassidy.  He might have won if he tried to do a serious pin, but Cassidy kicks out. Cassidy takes this unforced error from Cole and ducks and hits a Beach Break for a two count before setting up for the Orange Punch.  Seeing what’s about to happen, Cole rolls out of the ring right as Bobby Fish runs down to start yelling at the ref.  He’s doing it for a long time and Cassidy is just standing there looking perturbed, and right when I was wondering what the heck was going on here, NONE OTHER THAN KYLE O’REILLY RUNS IN TO ATTACK CASSIDY!  As soon as Cassidy is on the ground, Cole hits the Boom Knee Strike and gets the pin on Cassidy, but that’s almost immaterial because the big news here is that the original Undisputed Era (Roderick Strong was added later) has officially moved to AEW after WWE cast them aside like yesterday’s news!  There seems to be some tension as the Bucks run down and seem a bit hesitant about the Undisputed Era reforming right in front of them, but it was a solid match with a really cool surprise ending that is sure to get AEW even more clout with the fans!  I don’t know if we’ll hit the point where it becomes passé for great wrestlers from the other company to show up here and prove how great they are, but it certainly hasn’t happened yet!

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Tony is interviewing Hangman Adam Page in the ring who is disappointed that he couldn’t finish the job in last week’s ridiculously intense title match which I guess is fine enough, but it’s another thing about Baby Faces that annoy me; this overwhelming sense of Catholic style guilt over every technicality and gray line.  The Heels are at least savvy enough to recognize this which always puts them a step ahead of the Baby Faces, and sure enough, Danielson comes out and mocks him for it.  He then goes to claim that the time limit draw was entirely due to his match against John Silver which apparently had left him tired and just shy of a hundred percent.  To prove this to everyone, he will not wrestle between now and their rematch in two weeks so that he’s fresh and ready to go; but that’s not all!  Danielson proposes that their rematch include judges so that if they DO go to a time limit draw, the title could still change hands.  Despite Danielson’s smug attitude (and his overuse of the term “entitled Millennial” in this promo), Hangman agrees to the stipulation.  He doesn’t seem too happy about it though and starts yelling about these hypothetical judges before promising to bring the match to end well before they would be needed, and it just seems like perhaps Hangman doesn’t have the temperament to be a champ yet?  Maybe that’s going to be part of the story, but the belt should never seem like a burden to the man who wears it, and Hangman seems to be getting back into his bad self-pitying habits.

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Wardlow Vs. Shawn Dean

Wardlow is accompanied to the ring by Shawn Spears

No idea who this Shawn Dean guy is, but it hardly matters as Wardlow hits a Powerbomb within seconds, and this Shawn is no longer a factor in this match.  Wardlow hits a second, third, and finally fourth, Powerbomb on the dude before getting the pin; all the while the OTHER Shawn is still bugging out about Wardlow hitting too many Powerbombs.  This doesn’t cause him to shy away from hitting the defeated Shawn with a chair, but still!  The Spears stuff didn’t overstay its welcome as it did in Wardlow’s other squash match, but I still question the reasoning behind it.  Sure, Spears is trying to put some sort of wedge between Wardlow and MJF, but this anti-Powerbomb thing is such a weird way to go about it!

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Dan Lambert has a mic and starts monologuing from the rafters, and it turns out that he’s still pissy about Cody and Sammy having a TNT title match on Rampage.  He demands that someone from Men of the Year gets the next TNT title shot which… I mean sure, I’d like to see that match, but I’m not feeling a lot of clout from the guy at this point; especially since he doesn’t even have his MMA guys to back him up.

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We cut to the back where Tony is trying to get Britt Baker to answer questions about her upcoming match against Riho. Baker, who along with Jamie Hayter and Rebel (Not Reba), is having some sort of Holiday celebration so it’s not the most opportune time to be asking such downer questions, so instead she starts to talk about what an impact she had on the women’s division at 2021.  I doubt that Baker is going to give the belt up to Riho, but I’m curious if they are planting the seeds of an eventual end to her title run.  Perhaps the TBS Title is a way for her to hold onto the AEW belt until further notice while letting everyone else scramble for the other one.

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We get a super sweet video about Owen Hart as the guys start talking about what an influence he was on them, and this is all in service of the upcoming Owen Hart tournament which is officially sanctioned by the Owen Hart Foundation; a charity organization run by his widow Martha.  Details are still scarce, but I’m sure we’ll learn more in 2022.

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Ruby Soho Vs. Nyla Rose – TBS Tournament Semi-Finals

Rose is accompanied to the ring by Vickie Guerrero

First and foremost, that guy with the garbage sign aimed at Nyla Rose?  Scumbag of the highest order and I hope he’s banned from all AEW events going forward.  Now that that’s out of the way, the semi-finals of the TBS Tournament are interesting because I can see most combinations as viable paths to the finals, even if I have a particular favorite in mind.  I’d like to see Rose and Cargill light it up in the finals, but I genuinely don’t know what direction they are going in and who will win the next two matches; unlike the opening rounds which were rather predictable.  The match starts with Rose trying to get the upper hand by attacking Ruby before the bell rings and tying her up in her own jacket.  Ruby does her best to fight back, but it’s clear that Rose’s size and power are going to be hard for Ruby to overcome in a straight-up match of fisticuffs.  She’s gonna have to fight smart and start twisting Nyla’s arm to try and get her unsteady, but Rose powers out of it and Ruby eats a Choke Slam for her efforts.  Rose continues to press the advantage with big moves through the commercial, but Ruby manages to get a word in edgewise when she gets the knees up for a Standing Splash from Rose.  This shift in momentum has her finally taking Rose to the mat with an interesting Springboard DDT thingy, and as soon as Rose kicks out at two she rolls out of the ring.  Then things get weird when Rose decides to grab a chair out of nowhere but she doesn’t get a chance to use it (and presumably get immediately disqualified) when Ruby kicks it right into her face.  Looks like Rose made her fatal mistake by trying to get that chair, but she gets a second chance when Ruby goes up top for a move only to get shoved off by Vickie.  Rose capitalizes with that Flying Knee Drop thing where her opponent flips over the ropes and looks like she broke her neck (but never does), and Rose continues the assault.  Ruby manages to escape and locks in a Dragon Sleeper, but Vickie gets the apron to distract the ref.  Soho kicks Vickie off the apron, but this gives Nyla an opening for a Beast Bomb… which Ruby somehow kicks out of!  With Rose’s best move unable to keep Ruby down, it was only a matter of time before Ruby hits her No Future kick to get the three count and win the match!  I’m a bit disappointed that Nyla didn’t end up winning this match as I feel like she got a lot of momentum from beating Shida and that a match between her and Cargill would have been a great spectacle for the finals, but Soho is still a star at this company and the two of them managed to put on a solid match.

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Malaki Black Vs. Griff Garrison

Where the ignorant Baby Face routine can fall flat for me in the title picture or similarly high-level stories, having Griff Garrison be a foolhardy brat driven by anger into the waiting arms of the much more cunning Malakai Black is the best way for that kind of scenario to work.  Griff charges as soon as the bell rings and immediately eats a kick to the face; a turn of events that left Black so unimpressed that he just leaves the ring to start menace Brian Pillman Jr.  Not wishing to be discounted, Garrison hits a Suicide Dive and throws Black back into the ring, but Black recovers quickly and hits several kicks on Garrison before locking in a submission.  Garrison barely makes it to the ropes and mounts an itty-bitty comeback that culminates in a Rolling Elbow for a two count, but Black lands some more kicks right after that leaves Garrison on Spaghetti legs.  A Single Leg crab from Black is all it takes to end the match, though I don’t know if Garrison actually tapped.  The ref calls for the bell and Garrison is still conscious, so Garrison forgot to actually tap out or the cameraman just straight up missed it.  Either way, the match is over and yet Black doesn’t let go of the hold.  This forces Pillman to shove him over and he tries to charge Black but ends up eating a Roundhouse Kick to the face that sends him falling over like a sack of potatoes.  They could go the easy route and just set up a match between Pillman and Black in a week or two, but I hope there’s more to this as Black is good at not just beating people up but messing with their minds, and The Varsity Blondes are a good choice for a group to torment!  Their skills make them formidable, but their naivety leaves them vulnerable to Black’s more sinister machinations!

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Sting, Darby Allin, and CM Punk Vs. MJF & FTR

My knowledge of old-school wrestling (which in this context means pretty much anything before five years ago) is pretty limited, so I had to look up why it was so important for Sting to have a match on this show in Greensboro.  It turns out he got his first shot at the spotlight in an NWA match between him and Ric Flair in this very colosseum back in 1988.  The match went for forty-five minutes and it seems like they tried to recreate that magic by having this main event go over thirty.  Good on them I suppose for trying to give people their money’s worth, but if it’s all the same to you I think we’ll keep this recap nice and short.  The work is solid between all six guys, though it seems like Darby and MJF were kept at bay for most of it.  MJF is understandable because his story is that he’s secretly afraid of Punk and won’t get in the ring if there’s any chance of him tagging in, but Darby only gets slightly more time than Sting in the ring because of an extended heat segment where FTR beat the crap out of him.  Speaking of Sting, the guy can still go I suppose, but he really shouldn’t tempt fate as much as he does; especially with his Spinal Stenosis that one bad bump could make so much worse.  He gets an extended Hot Tag where he runs through the hits like the Stinger Splash, the Scorpion Death Lock, and he even catches Dax in an attempted Stinger Splash of his own before dropping him with a Body Slam.  The most impressive (and terrifying) move was of course the dive from the top rope to the floor.  All three Heels were there to catch him, but even so, I bet he felt that one in the morning!  Most of this is just spectacle though and the real meat of the story is with Punk and MJF; the former doing everything he can to get the latter to face him in the ring.  Every time he tags in while MJF is in the ring, the jerk manages to escape to his corner and tag in either Dax or Cash.  This gets taken to a ludicrous extreme when MJF has to run into the crowd, up the stairs, and back down another set of stairs before making it back to his corner; all the while CM Punk is hot on his heels.  Because of MJF’s caginess, Punk spends most of the match trying to take on both members of FTR who are not just great in the ring but great at working together which leaves Punk fighting from underneath every time he gets in there.  Even when he does attempt big moves like the GTS, it’s constantly getting interrupted either by blind tags or this one spot where Dax wriggles off Punk’s shoulders only to have Cash fly in for the Big Rig out of nowhere.  This is towards the end of the match so it could be the finish, but Sting manages to break up the pin before eating a DDT from MJF.  Not deterred, Sting manages to toss MJF over the ropes where FTR are waiting below and we get that Top Rope Splash spot I mentioned a moment ago.  This leaves the Heels splayed out on the floor and so Sting tosses Dax into the ring so that Punk can finish the job without any further interruptions.  He hits the GTS on Dax, Sting then follows up with a Scorpion Death Drop, and then Darby hits the Coffin Drop from the top rope.  As Punk is the legal man, he goes for the pint to win the match as MJF runs up the ramp to scream into a microphone as the episode comes to an end.

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I don’t know, perhaps I’m not the best judge of things this time of year, but I found myself having trouble engaging with this episode of Dynamite.  It’s not like any of the matches were bad (even if the main event was a bit long and messy), but there wasn’t much that felt like vital viewing at a time where sitting down to watch the darn thing was a bigger struggle than usual.  I’m glad we’re moving forward with the TBS tournament and the arrival of Kyle O’Reilly was certainly newsworthy, but ultimately I could take or leave this episode.  Perhaps Rampage will end up being a better fit for my schedule right now, but even then it’s not going to be easy finding time for a third hour of wrestling this week.

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