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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Dec. 23, 2020): The Jungle

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AEW Dynamite (Dec. 23, 2020) emanated from Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, FL. The show featured fresh meat in the main event, Inner Circle drama, and Sting returning to the jungle.

Get caught up on all the Dynamite details with the excellent live results and play-by-play from Claire Elizabeth.

This episode didn’t have many major moments, but it did have one man to guarantee a pop. The man called Sting!

The Jungle

Tony Schiavone interviewed Sting in the ring. Sting reiterated that it feels great to come full circle back to the jungle on TNT. Sting went on a spiel about how he received a break from Dusty Rhodes to boost him into main event matches with Ric Flair. Seeing Cody Rhodes running AEW made Sting want to help lead the charge. Just as Schiavone opened Sting up to address Darby Allin, Team Taz interrupted.

Taz was sick of Sting sticking his nose in their business. The crew inched toward the ring with violence on their minds. Lights out. Lights on. Darby Allin had a skateboard in hand to stand alongside Sting with his trusty black bat.

Team Taz cooled their jets and were content to wait for January 6 when Brian Cage challenges Allin for the TNT title, except Cage was still itching to fight. He had to be calmed down and escorted away. The scene closed with Sting and Allin in a staredown reminiscent of Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Was there finally progress with Sting? Eh, not so much. Does this appearance from Sting still have an electric vibe? Yes, indeedy. At least this week was executed better to give Sting a reason to keep stringing us along.

Ricky Starks continues to shine in his promo time. I also like Cage getting uppity. He’s been on the back burner for far too long. It is time for Cage to unleash fury. He needs to destroy some property in a fit of rage next week. Give us a reminder to salivate in anticipation for the title fight.


Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Chris Jericho & MJF defeated Top Flight. Jake Hager was ringside. Top Flight was too speedy and flippy for Jericho and MJF to handle in the early-going. The Inner Circle took over after MJF suckered one Martin brother into a clothesline by Jericho on the floor. Top Flight had the hot tag moment to clean house with slick moves. In the end, Hager’s presence paid dividends when he pulled one of the Martin brothers off the apron. MJF pounced for a Heat Seeker piledriver to win.

Quality outing from Top Flight. They were fluid in teamwork and had the cojones to stand up to the sexy hooligans. I never believed Top Flight might win, but they certainly showed that they belong on Dynamite. Jericho and MJF worked well together as well. I wouldn’t mind seeing them rise the tag team ranks to stretch out the Inner Circle lifespan.

Inner Circle drama. The soap opera didn’t stop once the Inner Circle’s tag match concluded. Jake Hager grabbed a mic to challenge Wardlow next week. He was upset that Wardlow hasn’t been around to carry his share of the load. Hager understands Wardlow is an asset, but he also views Wardlow as an asshole.

Hoss fight deluxe? Yes, please. I think a fist fight is exactly what would help bring those two enforcers closer together.

Later, an emotional MJF bonded with Santana over their recent loss of loved ones. Santana accepted MJF with a handshake, hug, and wisdom to always keep his head up. Ortiz also shook MJF’s hand.

That was the most interesting scene of the night. MJF is such a fink that I want to believe he is always up to no good, but that emotion felt real. Santana responded perfectly in the big brother role. If MJF does end up peeling the Inner Circle away from Jericho, then we’ll probably look back at this moment as the beginning of a Machiavellian scheme.

Jurassic Express defeated Colt Cabana, 5, & 10. Jungle Boy had the hot tag to take out the Dark Order. Luchasuarus pressed Marko Stunt out of the ring onto Cabana and 10, then the dino and his boy finished 5 with a combo powerbomb.

This was an entertaining bout with plenty of flashy moves. My favorite moment was Cabana puffing up his chest to strut. It was humorous but didn’t take away from the flow of action. Luchasaurus is so good at the cleaning house moment. It is generally the same routine, and I always pop at the power of his kicks and the agility of his standing moonsault.

Jurassic Express earned a solid babyface win so they could gain momentum for a fight with FTR. Speaking of FTR, they challenged Luchasaurus and Jungle Boy to a match on January 6. FTR is on a personal quest to regain the tag titles. Tully Blanchard threatened harm to Stunt if he gets involved.

PAC defeated Butcher. Blade, Bunny, and Pentagon were ringside, while Eddie Kingston was on commentary. It was nice to hear Tony Schiavone take no more guff and get lippy with Kingston, although, I suspect that may end with Schiavone receiving five across the face. Butcher had new gear in black leather pants with a red waist sash.

Butcher battered PAC early. PAC came back with kicks. On a Black Arrow set-up, Blade pushed Pentagon into the ring post to knock PAC’s balance off. Butcher hit a huge clothesline, side slam, and powerbomb. PAC kicked out of the pin. Butcher argued with the referee then stalled in putting PAC away. Kingston left commentary to yell at Butcher to act fast. Lance Archer came out to cut off Kingston’s path. PAC used the distraction to strike with a roundhouse kick and Black Arrow flying attack for victory.

Afterward, Archer chatted with PAC. The topic seemed to be staying out of Archer’s way so he can pummel Kingston.

Wedding date. Kip Sabian and Penelope Ford will tie the knot on February 3 on the Beach Break themed episode of Dynamite. Miro trolled us by pretending the Best Friends and Orange Cassidy were going to ruin the announcement. Instead, cameras showed Trent being loaded into an ambulance. It was implied that Miro did the damage.

I’ll admit that I fell hard for the best man’s trick. I initially rolled my eyes at what appeared to be a predictably lame interruption, then I smiled once the ruse was revealed. Better than that though was Miro purposely blocking Schiavone on camera.

Dustin Rhodes defeated Evil Uno. Lee Johnson and Stu Grayson were ringside. Uno slapped Rhodes hard across the face before the bell rang. The match progressed as a slower physical confrontation. Dustin prevailed with a running bulldog.

Afterward, Uno was on his knees still trying to recruit Rhodes to join the Dark Order. Dustin teased a handshake then flipped the bird. Grayson attacked, Johnson failed at making the save, QT Marshall ran in to be coldcocked, then Johnson cleared the ring with a springboard dropkick.

Rhodes took care of business like he said he would. On to taking out another member of the Dark Order, which I presume will be Grayson. It was nice to see Johnson get some shine as the man standing tall. He’s paid enough dues and could use a little bit of elevation for his status.

Repackaged? Shawn Spears sat down with Schiavone to discuss his current standing. Spears tossed the black glove aside. He believes he is more talented than 95% of the roster, and yet there is still a glass ceiling over him. Spears left WWE for that reason. Now, he senses the same thing happening to him in AEW.

I’m totally confused by this interview. The content and delivery was fine. I chuckled at Spears cussing at Schiavone. The question comes about if this is another repackaging of Spears. Why does he need it? Did he dump Blanchard by dumping the glove? What about Scorpio Sky? Did that feud end when Spears was thrown through a wall?

Hikaru Shida defeated Alex Gracia. Abadon ambushed Shida backstage. The champ was pissed and put in work on Gracia. Abadon appeared ringside, so Shida put a beating on the ghoul. She barely made it back in the ring on the ten count. Shida won with a Falcon Arrow slam. Afterward, Shida poked Abadon with her kendo stick. The zombie arose to bite Shida in the neck.

That skirmish was weird and wild, and that’s why I enjoyed it. This is coming from a Lucha Underground fan, so you shouldn’t be surprised. Abadon chomping Shida’s neck was intense. I loved the blood gushing in the aftermath. Abadon is not that seasoned in the ring, so this was a great way to build excitement for the feud. I can’t wait for their championship fight next week. I hope it delivers with more zaniness. I also hope this doesn’t mean Shida becomes a zombie herself. I mean those are the rules of a zombie bite, right?

Young Bucks defeated The Acclaimed. The tag straps were on the line. The Bucks treated the youngsters like fresh meat through a grinder. The Acclaimed showed fighting spirit and the will to win at any cost. After Nick Jackson inadvertently superkicked referee Rick Knox, Max Caster played hacky sack with Nick’s pouch. Anthony Bowens cracked a boombox on Nick’s head. The backup referee ran out to count, but Nick stayed alive. Matt Jackson destroyed Bowens with a powerbomb through a table, and a BTE Trigger to Caster ended the bout. The Bucks remain champs.

This contest had plenty of flippy dips and super moments fans of the Bucks have come to enjoy. Even though the referee spot felt overbooked, it was an entertaining contest overall. The Acclaimed showed their potential and clearly defined themselves as scoundrels. They should have a bright future in AEW. I’d actually like to see the Acclaimed and Top Flight become career rivals.

Notes: The Acclaimed aired a music video dissing the Young Bucks.

The Acclaimed almost rapped their way to the ring for the main event.

Kenny Omega and Don Callis shared their thoughts about next week’s world title defense against Fenix. Omega pointed out how Fenix has a history of choking. When the phone rings, Omega answers the call to win belts. When Fenix answers, he trips over his own feet and gets injured.

Jade Cargill congratulated Brandi Rhodes on motherhood. However, it seems really convenient that Brandi is pregnant to prevent a match between the two. AEW better find Jade an opponent worthy of her time. Jade’s promo was a little rocky, but it was good to get her face on screen to keep the story fresh in our mind.


Stud of the Show: Top Flight

My favorite maneuver of the evening came from Top Flight when the momentum of a sunset flip forced Jericho to slingshot baby brother over the ropes for a cannonball onto MJF.

I especially like the touch of Dante Martin grabbing Jericho’s ankle. That allowed the sequence to seem reasonable and not feel like Jericho was just waiting for the spot.

Dud of the Show: Butcher

The finish for Butcher versus PAC was executed terribly. The idea made sense as a way to introduce Archer on the scene, but it took so long to play out. Butcher looked like an idiot for inexplicably wasting time when he had PAC down. That behavior doesn’t fit the character at all, in my opinion. Butcher is usually very efficient with his eye on the prize.

Grade: B-

Solid matches for a lower tier Dynamite. It provided good exposure for the younger crew. Character work and promos were all intriguing. The stories continue to slowly unfold, but it looks like they’ll be picking up steam as we head into the new year.

Share your thoughts about Dynamite. How do you rate it? Who stole the show?