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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Dec. 2, 2020): Sting!

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Sting!

Oh, sorry. I’m getting ahead of myself.

AEW Dynamite (Dec. 2, 2020) emanated from Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, FL for a ‘Winter is Coming’ special event. The show featured MJF and Orange Cassidy surviving the Dynamite Diamond Ring Battle Royale, Kenny Omega shocking the world against Jon Moxley and taking the world title to Tuesday nights, and the AEW debut of STING!

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

Sting!

Yes, you read that right. Sting has arrived in AEW.

It all began with the heated tag bout of Darby Allin & Cody Rhodes versus Ricky Starks & Powerhouse Hobbs. Fisticuffs flared right from the get-go. Starks was the weak man early to take a beating. Hobbs wanted to be tagged in, so he blitzed Allin on the floor. It became Allin’s turn to be the weak man and take a beating.

Cody eventually had a chance to clean house. He jumped over a spear by Starks to hit a springboard kick to Hobbs. On a springboard cutter from Cody to Starks, Allin used a blind tag. Cody attacked Hobbs with a suicide dive. Allin didn’t lose a beat for a Coffin Drop on Starks to win.

It was a dandy little match which became forgettable in hindsight, because Sting! It was surprising to see Allin pin Starks, since that won’t give Starks much of a case for a TNT title shot. Allin will have to demand the matchup from Tony Khan. The blind tag teamwork was excellent from Cody and Allin. Cody made an obvious cue to get Allin on the same page, but commentary must have missed that since they questioned it as Allin doing it without Cody’s knowledge. Cody and Allin would be an interesting tag team way down the line when they both happen to be in a singles rut.

Now, it is the time you’ve all been waiting for. Sting!

During the finish, Taz was on the apron while Arn Anderson stood watch on the entrance ramp. After the match, Taz instructed Hobbs to wreck shop on the good guys. Arn entered the ring and started clubbing Hobbs from behind. Dustin Rhodes ran in for the save. Brian Cage gave Team Taz the dastardly advantage. Hobbs was ready to smash Cody with the FTW title when the lights went out.

The ‘Winter is Coming’ gimmick played to reveal Sting.

Team Taz backed away out of camera. Sting took his time inspecting the babyfaces. It was as if Sting was checking them for ticks. Sting stared into their souls. Arn first, Dustin second, Cody third, and Allin last. Sting let out a howl then split.

It was later revealed that Sting signed a multi-year deal with AEW. He will speak next week on Dynamite.

Hot damn, that was awesome. I’m not even that big a fan of Sting, and it still gave me goosebumps. I had a wild hope that Sting would be there once the lights went out. As the teaser video played, giddy anticipation grew. Who could it be? A loud pop erupted from my mouth when Sting finally appeared. That has to be one of the best surprise appearances in wrestling history. Credit to AEW for not allowing any rumors to leak earlier in the day.

For the practical analysis, the whole scene was sort of awkward. It felt a little too shoehorned into Taz’s business with Cody. Sting acted like an alien seeing humans for the first time. Nothing really clicked for me about why here and why now, but that will be part of the mystery for next week. I do like the concept of a senior division in theory. Sting can bump fists with his old rivals for rounds of 15-second intervals.

Kenny Omega is taking the AEW World Championship to Tuesday nights

As cool as the Sting appearance was, Dynamite is still a wrestling show at heart. The main event was an epic clash between Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega for the AEW World Championship. Even though the huge match was on free TV, AEW gave it plenty of time to breath for a PPV feel.

The tension was palpable during introductions. Moxley paced calmly while Omega did some stretching. Ding, ding, ding. The opening bell rang with approximately 30 minutes remaining in the broadcast. The two gladiators took their time building the crescendo of drama.

Stage one was the feeling out process. The intensity escalated to chops and elbow strikes. Stage two saw Omega trying to play Moxley’s game by making it ugly on the floor. Commentary chalked it up to the hubris of Omega’s ego, despite Omega previously saying he wanted a clean contest. Omega paid the price by being suplexed on the floor. Moxley took Omega for a romp around the ring area. The referee decided to ignore an obvious count-out. No doubt he would have been tarred and feathered by the boys in the back had he called for a double count-out 8 minutes into the bout.

Stage three saw Omega focus on Moxley’s knee and Moxley weaken Omega’s neck and spine. Stage four is when it became a firefight. Omega hit his Terminator tope con hilo. Omega then springboarded into a Paradigm Shift. Moxley wasn’t interested in a cover. Instead, he brought two chairs in the ring for a seated slap fight. That led to punches. Omega was knocked backward, so he exploded forward for a V-Trigger.

Two snap dragon suplexes followed. Moxley retaliated with a German suplex and a King Kong lariat. The action erupted even higher with more Paradigm Shifts, V-Triggers, and other various death blows. Both men were sloppy on the covers, so the fight remained alive.

Stage five was the climax. Moxley pummeled Omega with a Paradigm Shift into a heater on the floor.

Referee Paul Turner called over the ringside physician to sell the pain. Moxley grew tired of waiting, so he shoved the referee out of the way and pulled Omega back into the ring. Moxley mounted Omega for more punishing punches.

Don Callis, who had been on commentary, came down to the ring to ask for compassion from Moxley. Mox knocked Callis down. The microphone rolled near Omega. In the commotion, Omega cracked Moxley with the foreign object. Four V-Triggers and a One Winged Angel made Omega the new champ. Moxley’s reign is over at 277 days.

Heck of a fight. Both men put it on the line. The action was top notch. The drama was intense. It maintained an unpredictable nature throughout. Moxley’s story gave me vibes of a double turn similar to Bret Hart versus Steve Austin at Wrestlemania 13. Thankfully, a double turn was not the case, so I can still root for such a badass. I was wrapped up in the emotion until the end.

I do have some quarrels about the booking. I’m not a fan of the referee health check. It gives the injured wrestler an unfair advantage. If Omega was hurt so bad, then the fight should have been waved off with Moxley declared the victor. I was kind of sad to see Moxley’s dominant reign end in a cheap manner, but that’s part and parcel of pro wrestling.

After the match, Callis gathered Omega and the title belt to hightail it out of the arena. Wrestlers gave Omega the stink-eye after all his talk of being the best and wanting a fair fight. Alex Marvez was able to get a few parting words. Callis declared we would find out the deal for what’s next on Tuesday night. That was an implication that Omega will appear on Impact Wrestling, which employs Callis.

Whoa! Super swerve. Not only is Omega now a supreme scumbag, but there is also a crazy cliffhanger to force fans into watching Impact Wrestling on Tuesday night. I bet Google searches went through the roof discovering that Impact is on the AXS channel.

Dynamite Diamond Ring Battle Royale

In what has now become an annual tradition, the Dynamite Diamond Ring was up for grabs. AEW set a battle royale with the final two competing in a singles bout next week for ultimate glory. MJF is the current holder of the snazzy piece of jewelry.

The battle royale contained 20 competitors. The nitty-gritty came down to Miro, MJF, Wardlow, Sammy Guevara, Jungle Boy, and Orange Cassidy. Miro had just run wild with rage to eliminate several individuals. The Inner Circle made the strategic decision to take out the threat of Miro. It led to a nice tease for a Miro versus Wardlow showdown of beef. Miro fought tough, but 3-on-1 was too much as he was eliminated by the Inner Circle.

That left Jungle Boy against the Inner Circle. Jungle Boy and Sammy Guevara had a lengthy scene of fighting on the apron. As they climbed the turnbuckles together, MJF pushed them off for a double elimination. In my view, it was more about MJF getting rid of Jungle Boy rather than doing Sammy dirty. In a pre-match promo, MJF stated that the ring is all of theirs as Inner Circle members no matter who would be remaining in the end. MJF even saved Sammy early from a perilous situation. Of course, Sammy was not pleased with being eliminated.

That left MJF, Wardlow, and... Orange Cassidy. The juice man had been pummeled by Miro earlier on the floor. Wardlow noticed Cassidy still remained, so he put him back in the ring. That’s when Cassidy sprung alive with Superman punches. Two to Wardlow knocked the war dog over the ropes. MJF and Orange Cassidy remained as survivors, who will compete in a singles bout next week for the Dynamite Diamond Ring prize.

Other story beats included Matt Hardy dumping Isiah Kassidy first when he supposed to be a mentor for Private Party, Scorpio Sky eliminated Shawn Spears then Spears punching Sky with his loaded black glove in front of the useless referees as they watched it slowly unfold, and Hangman Page working with the Dark Order. The evil boys even saved Hangman from elimination.

In terms of battle royale action, this was a decent showcase. It had all the commonly good moments, like a strong man elimination streak and a creative save. I appreciate that it didn’t overdo hanging on the ropes to avoid elimination.

There was a little too much time spent on the floor by several wrestlers. I wasn’t really a fan of how Cassidy won. The hiding approach (even though Cassidy wasn’t trying to hide) is so played out for me that it has become a pet peeve. It became too obvious that Cassidy would be a survivor once I realized he was missing from the ring for an extended period. That took away a little from the unpredictability fun factor.

In terms of storylines, the battle royale was great. It continued feuds and planted plenty of seeds for future cultivation if AEW chooses to let them bloom. Hangman palling around with Alex Reynolds and John Silver was the most interesting part of the battle royale. It wasn’t a focus from any of the men. It was more of a natural happening of circumstance, and they flowed with it. Hangman appreciated the good spirits of the Dark Order camaraderie.

The full order of elimination was:

1. Isiah Kassidy by Matt Hardy
2. Serpentico by Hangman Page
3. Luther by Alex Reynolds & John Silver
4. Matt Sydal by Shawn Spears
5. Shawn Spears by Scorpio Sky
6. Scorpio Sky by Wardlow
7. Alex Reynolds by John Silver via unintentional contact
8. John Silver by Matt Hardy & Marq Quen
9. Hangman Page by Matt Hardy
10. Kip Sabian by Orange Cassidy
11. Lee Johnson by Miro
12. Marq Quen by Miro
13. Matt Hardy by Miro
14. Joey Janela by Miro
15. Miro by Wardlow, MJF, & Sammy Guevara
16 & 17. Jungle Boy & Sammy Guevara by MJF
18. Wardlow by Orange Cassidy
Final two survivors: MJF & Orange Cassidy


Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Chris Jericho defeated Frankie Kazarian. Kaz had Jericho trapped in a Boston crab. MJF came down thinking about throwing in the towel. Sammy Guevara ran in to stifle that notion. None of it factored in the end though. Jericho eventually escaped. Kaz missed a running clothesline then came back for a second attempt only to eat a Judas Effect instead.

Kudos to Kaz for showing his skill as a true professional. I’m convinced he can get a good match out of anyone, even Great Khali. Jericho upped his game as well with more activity. He said that he wanted to steal the show, and he looked the part. Jericho just might have achieved that goal on a lesser evening. There’s no shame in not topping Moxley versus Omega.

After the bout, the Inner Circle argued among themselves. Jericho had enough of the bickering and issued an ultimatum for next week. Either the Inner Circle works together as a complete team or they break up forever.

That was an interesting direction from Jericho. AEW lets their stories play out very slowly that the speed of this ultimatum felt like a swerve. I wasn’t expecting such a scenario until March. It does provide good mystery, because I have no clue how it will resolve itself next week. I also liked the little detail of Christopher Daniels running out to make sure Kaz was safe from any potential attack. Friends watching each other’s backs is always cool.

Dr. Britt Baker defeated Leyla Hirsch. Baker aims to take out the riffraff from AEW, such as Thunder Rosa. Baker started with Hirsch in a physical contest. Hirsch displayed her skills admirably, but Baker turned the tide by ramming Hirsch’s head into the turnbuckles. A swinging neckbreaker and Lockjaw submission secured victory.

The women put on a very solid bout. Both showed their characters well. Hirsch was out to inflict pain, while Baker was there to be a mean girl. The execution of action was exciting with heavy slams and suplexes.

After the match, Thunder Rosa attacked Baker. A riveting pull-apart brawl ensued. Reba got in on the action by taking a German suplex from Hirsch. It looks like a future tag bout is in the cards.

Notes: It was a chilly evening with 40 degree temperatures in the outdoor amphitheater. I didn’t even know it could get that cold in Jacksonville. AEW set up heaters around the ring area.

Best Friends celebrated Orange Cassidy’s win while referees held back angry Miro.

Young Bucks want to be fighting champs, so they will give TH2 an opportunity to earn a title shot next week. If TH2 beats the Bucks, then a future rematch will happen with gold on the line. The Acclaimed popped up to stir the pot and insult the Bucks’ new book. Jack Evans and Angelico attacked the Bucks from behind. I’m not a fan of the beat the champ style of booking. On the positive, this was a smart way to introduce The Acclaimed to the national audience by providing a quick glimpse of their personality.

The tag team of Brian Pillman Jr. and Griff Garrison will now go by the name of Varsity Blondes. It was mentioned in a match graphic for next week against FTR.

Hikaru Shida tried to hide fear about facing the creepy zombie ghoul known as Abadon. She played it off as just a cosplay girl, but it could be seen that the concern was genuine. I like the idea this story is going for, but AEW hasn’t established the Abadon mystique well enough yet. This promo is too soon in the story and came off hokey.

As the show was closing, Eddie Kingston crashed commentary to say he wanted Lance Archer now. Jake Roberts came out, and that’s when the feed on Fite TV cut out.


Stud of the Show: Will Hobbs

Powerhouse dished out my favorite maneuver of the night by grabbing Darby Allin’s ears for a two-handed overhead toss.

Dud of the Show: Young Bucks

Nick Jackson took pleasure in reminding Alex Marvez how they superkicked him. This Young Bucks alignment confusion has gotten to the point of annoyance. Commentary attempted to sweep it under the rug against FTR, so I was thinking maybe AEW was trying to rehab the Bucks’ image after their superkick spree. Then, Jackson acts like a jerk again.

It would be different if the Bucks had superkicked another wrestler. Rubbing it in Marvez’s face is low class, because he can’t defend himself physically. He can’t even defend himself verbally due to the risk of being fired by the EVPs.

Grade: A+

If I was going to critically analyze the show, I’d probably hand out an A-. The grade gets boosted for the surprise of Sting and the wild finish with Don Callis creating a crazy cross-promotional gimmick. My anticipation is through the roof to see what happens next. It has been a very long time since feeling that way for televised wrestling.

Share your thoughts about Dynamite. How do you rate it? Who stole the show? Will you be tuning in to Impact Wrestling to hear about the crazy schemes from Don Callis and Kenny Omega? How many Sting t-shirts will you buy at the AEW shop?