AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TBS
We’re back with more AEW action, albeit action that’s over a week old. January’s been a rough month and the week-long power outage coupled with the bonus Battle of the Belts show that AEW threw at us, it’s been hard to find time to get up to date, but that’s a problem for another day as we’re here to focus on this one show! Let’s get started!!
The show starts with Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, and Kyle O’Reilly coming out to talk about how awesome last year was and how great 2022 will be; Cole in particular bragging about not being pinned or submitted yet which means he’s undefeated as a singles wrestler. The party gets cut short however as the Young Bucks come out with Brandon Cutler to confront Red Dragon (Fish and O’Reilly) as both teams are going to be chasing after the Tag Team Titles. Cole is stuck between the two groups to try and make them all play nice when Best Friends come out with Orange Cassidy to throw a match at this powder keg that’s already primed to go off. Naturally, a brawl ensues and Cole hits a low blow on Orange Cassidy which causes Kris Statlander to jump in, but then Britt Baker runs down to the ring and Curb Stomps Statlander. With her out of the way, she holds down Cassidy while Cole gives him a few kicks and the Boom Knee Strike before sharing a kiss in the middle of the ring. The fact that Cole and Baker are a couple has been brought up before on the show, but this is the first time they’ve been in the ring together since his arrival. They announce later in the show that they will have a Mixed Tag Match with Cassidy and Statlander, and frankly, I’m excited to see it!
CM Punk Vs. Wardlow
Wardlow is accompanied to the ring by MJF
I’m a little surprised that Wardlow didn’t come down with Shawn Spears considering how integral he’s been to Wardlow’s matches up to this point, but I guess MJF wants to get a view of the carnage and didn’t want to share floor space with one of his cronies. Carnage, by the way, is exactly what we get here as Wardlow is twice Punk’s size and probably half his age. Punk manages a few shots in the corner and goes for a GTS, but Wardlow shrugs it all off and easily overpowers his opponent. He tosses Punk around for a bit and throughout the commercial break until he’s ready to set him up for a Powerbomb, but Punk escapes and hits a Roundhouse kick to the head. He gets a few more kicks and a bunch of clotheslines which do little more than stumble Wardlow, but then he hits a Springboard Clothesline that finally knocks the big guy to the mat. I hope that minor victory was sweet because Wardlow is upset now and finally hits the Powerbomb after a distraction from MJF. He hits him with another, and another, and a fourth, and a FIFTH! Wardlow is finally ready to pin him, but MJF has to rear his ugly head and demands that Wardlow hit him with even more Powerbombs despite CM Punk being a pile of putty on the mat. Wardlow rolls his eyes and hits him with a few more Powerbombs, including one Powerbomb through the timekeeper’s table, but that’s still not enough and MJF demands a ninth one. Wardlow reluctantly picks him up to do it again, but Punk quickly rolls him over into an Inside Cradle and keeps Wardlow down just long enough for the three count to win the match out of nowhere! Punk rolls immediately to avoid the wrath of Wardlow, but the one who is really wrathful is MJF who gets in the ring and gives Wardlow a serious tongue lashing; complete with shoves and finger jabs to the chest! Wardlow has had enough of this and grabs MJF’s arm whose eyes start to grow huge, but Shawn Spears finally makes his appearance and runs in to quickly act as peacemaker between the two. Wardlow walks out without taking another shot at MJF, but he’s definitely ticked off as he storms up the ramp. I can’t say that this was the match I was expecting to get, especially given how many Powerbombs Punk was able to sell for Wardlow, but I enjoyed it quite a bit! Sometimes you can get away with an unconventional style and pace if it serves an interesting story, and I think the impending breakup between MJF and Wardlow is one of the stronger ongoing storylines they have at the moment.
Dante Martin Vs. Powerhouse Hobbs
Hobbs is accompanied to the ring by Ricky Starks with Taz joining the commentary team
Team Taz is pretty good at keeping a feud going well past its expiration date. It doesn’t always work as the feud they had with Sting and Darby went on well past the point anyone could care, but the twists and turns with Dante Martin have definitely held my interest; especially whenever they get to pair him up with Hobbs! Those two guys are awesome, and even if a few spots in this match looked sloppy, it was a lot of fun to see them tear it up with their distinct styles. Dante starts off strong with some high-flying movies and sends them both tumbling to the floor with a sloppy Running Cross Body. Keeping up the momentum, Dante goes for a dive from the apron, but Hobbs easily catches him and DESTROYS his back with a Spine Buster on the mat! Much like the last match, the big guy gets a lot of offense in here and Dante’s few shining moments of Baby Face power are swiftly smothered under Hobbs’s massive pectoral muscles. If that wasn’t bad enough, Rick Starks is on the outside and every time Hobbs tosses him outside the ring, Ricky is there to pick the bones with a bunch of stomps behind the ref’s back. After a commercial break worth of heat, Dante has had enough and starts to scream as he rises from the mat and lands an elbow strike on Hobbs with everything he has! It sends Hobbs reeling, but he manages to stay standing. Still, this gives Dante enough room to finally a few more high-flying moves and finally sends Hobbs crashing to the mat with a GIANT Missile Drop Kick! This gets Dante a two count and forces Hobbs to roll out to catch his breath, but Dante is not about to stop when he’s got the lead so he hits a Tor-Knee-Do from the top rope to the floor and hits a Drop Kick on Hobbs as he tries to make his way back to the ring. Hobbs is not to be underestimated however as Dante starts running the ropes to try something else, but Hobbs gets up quickly and just kinda swats him out of the air. Nothing fancy to it; just aiming his giant mass in Dante’s general direction and knocking him to the mat! While Hobbs tries to catch his breath, Ricky starts sneaking his way over to Dante to land a few more shots when all of a sudden Jay Lethal runs down the ramp and yanks him off the apron! With Hobbs distracted by all this commotion, Dante Martin hits the Nose Dive and quickly pins Hobbs; just barely keeping his shoulders down for the three count before bailing as quickly as possible with Jay Lethal! It’s interesting that AEW put two similar matches back to back with a small guy just barely overcoming an unstoppable monster, but I think I liked this as much as the opener. Punk and Wardlow definitely put on a more refined match that advanced an ongoing story, but there were a lot of great moves in this and I always enjoy seeing these two in the ring. Jay Lethal will hopefully give this feud enough freshness to keep it going even longer, and I’d definitely like to see how he fares against Powerhouse Hobbs!
Alex Marvez is interviewing Jericho and the Inner Circle in the back. Doesn’t quite use the full extent of his Loki Variant powers, but does seed a little chaos as Eddie Kingston comes in to interrupt Jericho. The two bicker for a bit before the rest of the Inner Circle just bail to leave them to their pissing contest, and Jericho promises to kick Eddie Kingston’s butt if he tries to interfere in the Guevara/Garcia match tonight as the hothead is single-mindedly after Garcia and 2.0. I’m enjoying this build-up between Jericho and Kingston, but I’m wondering how long they’re gonna hold off on these two truly gunning for one another. For now, it feels like they’re holding back a bit too much, but maybe all this anticipation will make the big blow-up even more satisfying to watch
MJF storms out from the back and starts screaming at the crowd about how CM Punk is a winner in the strictest technical terms, but certainly the bigger loser, given how many Powerbombs he took. Still, MJF is peeved and promises the crowd that next week will be the match that everyone has been waiting for! It will be CM Punk Vs… Shawn Spears! Yes, he pulled the same swerve that he did last week when he announced the Wardlow match, but the joy is clearly gone from him given what had happened only a few minutes prior, so it looks like CM Punk has won this battle rather decisively. Whether he wins the war is another matter as MJF is smart enough to keep his distance for as long as he can, but if Punk beats Spears next there aren’t that many more bodies for MJF to hide behind.
Cowboy Champ! What’s next for The Hangman?
Hangman Adam Page has had a rough time defending his title, what with two knock-down drag-out fights with Bryan Danielson, but after fighting tooth and nail against the best in the world, he’s still standing tall with the AEW World Title! He’s now wondering who his next challenger will be when none other than Dan Lambert comes out and starts spouting his obnoxious nonsense! Hey, in small doses the guy can be a lot of fun, and he even swerves us here as he lays out some real praise for Hangman about how great his matches with Danielson was and how, unlike Cody who (allegedly) used his position backstage to get his shot at the TNT belt, he went and earned the title he now wears around his waist. Where he starts to chafe against Hangman though is in the cowboy persona as he doesn’t buy him as a legit cowboy, which… fair I guess. I mean it’s wrestling so NO ONE is their gimmick, but I guess he’s technically correct here. Even if Hangman grew up on a farm, he wasn’t rustling cattle and fighting off bandits with his six-shooter. Still, Hangman is not pleased with this attack on his wrestling character and challenges him to come into the ring so they can settle their grievances face to face. Then the whole thing goes into a bit of a non-sequitur as Lance Archer’s music hits. I don’t know; maybe there was SOME sort of interaction between American Top Team and Lance Archer back before he beat Moxley for the IWGP US title, but I needed a serious refresher here and one simply did not come in this segment. Lambert is absolutely terrified about this sudden arrival, but his terror is misplaced as Archer goes right past him and attacks Hangman. He throws him all over the ring and finishes him off with a Blackout Slam onto a chair to make his intentions as crystal clear as possible, and while I’m not sure what Lambert is going to contribute to all this, it’s definitely a match I want to see!
Hikaru Shida Vs. Serena Deeb
We’re not gonna spend too much time on this because this whole feud has felt redundant for a while now. Deeb attacks Shida before the match begins and hurts her leg immediately. Shida is unable to do much about this and eventually taps out when Deeb puts her in a Single Leg Crab, but Deeb refuses to let it end there and attacks Shida so badly that the refs have to run down physically pull her off. I’ll give them credit that the fire hasn’t left either of them and they are still fighting this like it’s a brand new feud (Deeb is clearly getting nowhere near her knee on a series of stomps yet is selling it like she’s trying to crush her bones), but I want this to end as soon as possible and have both of them go off to do other things.
Penta El Zero M Vs. Matt Hardy
Penta is accompanied to the ring by Alex Abrahantes while Hardy is accompanied by Private Party
Now this is what I’m talking about! Two of the hammiest guys at AEW locking it up in the ring!? Sure, Hardy is not quite at Penta’s level at this point in his career so things will have to be a bit slower, but the two dudes exude charisma every time they are in the ring, and they put on a very entertaining match together! Hardy gets an early lead during a far too early commercial break (the match had barely even started), but Penta evens the odds by trapping Hardy into a Tree of Woe and landing a Stomp from the top rope. The two start slugging it out on the apron and it stays relatively even as both manage to hit and also dodge each other’s super moves. Penta teases the Fear Factor, but Hardy escapes and lands a VERY impressive Side Effect that gets him a two count, but then Hardy goes for the Twist of Fate and Penta shoves him into the turnbuckle to then hit the Enziguri. Penta puts Hardy on the turnbuckle and the two fight up there for a bit until Penta is shoved off and reeling on the mat. Hardy goes for the Moonsault which was impressive to see, but it sadly missed as Penta rolled out of the way. With Hardy having just crashed and burned, Penta is finally able to get the Fear Factor and get the pin to win the match! It wasn’t anything too spectacular from either guy, but the big moves were fun to see (especially from Hardy), and they had a lot of fun playing to the crowd throughout! A thoroughly enjoyable if disposable match, but it’s not over yet as Penta and Abrahantes are now alone in the ring to send a message to Malakai Black. It seems to be an open challenge, but before Abrahantes can translate the details, the lights go out. When they come back, Black is in the ring and clocks Abrahantes right in the face! Penta tries to fight him off, but Black gets the upper hand and threatens to rip off his mask! Before he can really start yanking at it though, The Varsity Blondes run down to make the save, and the three start stomping on him with the one-eyed Julia Hart on the apron. The three Faces stop the attack when Black starts laughing maniacally and the lights go out once again. They come back on to reveal… Brody King! For those of you who don’t know (like me), he’s a pretty popular wrestler on New Japan and on the now-defunct Ring of Honor, so he seems like a natural fit for a place like AEW. King takes out everyone with frightening efficiency and is clearly aligning himself with Malakai Black which can only mean further doom and despair for the mid-card Baby Face! Not sure about this whole House of Black thing given how silly some of those promos were, but a guy like Brodie King should hopefully give it some more gravitas.
The Acclaimed Vs. Bear Country
I’m probably too hard on Bear Country and Bronson in particular has shown himself to be a decent worker, but I just don’t think they have enough going for them and that’s probably why they’re stuck with Jobber entrances in matches against mid-card guys. Heck, even The Acclaimed are not a team that gets me excited to see a match. I really like Bowens who’s got a lot of personality and a great physique, but Caster just comes off as an obnoxious twerp and it kind of brings the vibe down for me. Still, I’d rather root for them than Bear Country, and yet they are being set up as the Baby Faces here which is just baffling when you remember that their entrance included them wearing human skin masks. The only thing about this match that works is the action itself which I suppose for most people is enough, but there was just nothing really here to get me invested. The Acclaimed get the heat on Bronson for a while before he gets the hot tag to Boulder who runs wild on the Heels and even lands a Double Flatliner which was pretty cool to see. With Caster on the mat and Bowens rolling to the outside, Boulder tags in Bronson so that can hit the Bear Bomb (an Electric Chair where Boulder drops Bronson onto their opponent). Caster rolls away and so Bear Country end up face planting, and Bronson tries to come back with a charge that Max dodges as well. Bowens lands a cheap shot from the floor that knocks Bronson to the mat and Caster follows up with the Mic Drop to get the pin and win the match. None of this was to my cup of tea (other than Bowens of course), but I will give them credit for putting on a decent match in as little time as they had to work with. It’s not over yet however as Caster and Bowens start climbing the ramp, and then the lights go out before Sting’s music hits. He comes out with a bat while Darby Allin sneaks in from behind and tackles Caster. Bowens charges with the speaker, but Sting hits him with the bat which leaves him doubled over on the ramp; allowing Darby Allin to throw Caster into the ring and hits a Coffin Splash in the corner. Sufficiently softened up, Sting saunters into the ring and hits the Scorpion Death Drop on Caster to put the exclamation mark on this decisive point they are making. I guess Sting and Darby Allin will be better opponents for The Acclaimed than Bear Country, but I can’t say I’m looking forward to that one much either.
We get a very strange video from the Bastard Pac who is still around somewhere, but it seems that the mist from Malakai Black was so bad that it has threatened to blind him forever! Dude is wearing a cloth around his eyes while talking about how he sees everything, and you know what? Sure. Let’s just make Pac the wrestling version of Dare Devil. Why not?
On top of that, we get an interview in the back where Matt Hardy is feeling pretty down about his loss, and Andrade El Idolo walks in to offer him a deal. Pac coming back and Andrade joining HFO? Sounds like a few winning storylines to me!
Sammy Guevara Vs. Daniel Garcia – Interim TNT Title Match
Sammy is accompanied to the ring by Eddie Kingston and Chris Jericho
Garcia is easily one of my favorite up-and-coming stars of AEW (AEW 2.0 if you will), and having him face off against Sammy is a fantastic matchup, and I only wish they had more time to build to it. Garcia definitely comes off as the scrappier and less experienced of the two as Sammy floats through this match with confidence and style, but Garcia proves to be a dangerous opponent who can surprise you when backed into a corner. Most notably is that Sammy keeps going for the GTH and Garcia manages to wriggle out every time with a devastating move to follow up with. An escaped GTH leads to a Back Breaker from Garcia that starts the heat during the commercial, but Sammy eventually makes a comeback and hits a Springboard Flip to the floor that wipes out Garcia. Sammy throws Garcia in and gets up on the turnbuckle, and out of complete and total desperation, Garcia charges towards Sammy and knocks him off the ropes before landing a bunch of moves. Garcia gets a two count for all his trouble and Sammy once again gets him up for the GTH. Garcia avoids the knee and flips Sammy over into a Scorpion Death Lock which Sammy almost taps to, and then Sammy hits Garcia with a Cross Rhodes of all things and only gets a two count for that. Sammy goes for a Springboard Cutter to try and put him away, but Garcia catches him and locks in a Sleeper that he transitions into a pile driver, but that only gets a two count as well and Sammy knocks him to the mat with a Kick Up Enziguri. By now both of them are exhausted and resting on the mat which means it’s time for 2.0 to come out and try to cheat their way to a win for Garcia. Turns out to be a bad idea however as they are both jumped by Jericho and Kingston, and after a few minutes of brawls, distractions, and roll-ups, Sammy finally hits the GTH and gets the pin to win the match and retain his interim title. Feeling a bit salty about all this, 2.0 attack Sammy, and Jericho fights them off with the bat. This ticks off Eddie Kingston however as he wanted a piece of 2.0, and the two start arguing in the middle of the ring. The two are kept separated by Ref Remsburg, but it’s clear that things are only going to escalate from here between these two hotheads.
I ended up liking this episode quite a bit even if there were a few lackluster matches throughout. It feels like we’re in something of a holding pattern as we try and get new storylines going, but even if some of it feels like they’re spinning their wheels, they can still put on some fun matches. Not every fight has to have a deep long-running storyline if you get the right two guys in the ring, and this episode had plenty of matches that were like that. Hopefully, the things they are setting up for future episodes pay off in a satisfying way, but for now, the show seems to be on an upswing since the move to TBS.