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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Jan. 26, 2022): Cody loses gold

AEW Dynamite (Jan. 26, 2022) emanated from the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, OH. The special Beach Break show was bookended by crazy matches with the TNT Championship ladder match opener of Cody Rhodes battling Sammy Guevara and the Lights Out main event of Adam Cole dueling Orange Cassidy.

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

TNT Championship ladder match

Cody Rhodes and Sammy Guevara stole the show in the TNT Championship unification ladder match. That wasn’t a surprise considering Cody’s talent for big match theatrics combined with Sammy’s athleticism and fearlessness well-suited for the stipulation. What was a surprise was Sammy prevailing as the winner. Color me shocked that Cody lost gold.

The bout was tense with danger in the air. The first major spot was from Cody with a superplex off the ladder. The impact was so high that Cody felt it as much as Sammy.

Cody shifted tactics to focus on damaging the leg. He pushed a ladder over on purpose crashing down onto Sammy’s limb. Cody also applied a figure-four through the ladder rung. When Cody felt he had the opening to reach for the sky, Sammy leaped off a different ladder for a cutter.

The dudes with attitudes went even riskier for the next super spot. Cody and Sammy stood on separate ladders again. This time, Cody closed the distance to snatch Sammy for a high-altitude Cross Rhodes. That was the ‘holy shit’ moment for me.

That match raged on with another wild moment. Cody climbed up to grab the hanger holding both titles. Sammy grabbed onto Cody as both men hung in the air. Neither was able to grab the belts, and both fell down to the mat.

Cody decided to turn up the intensity to batter Sammy’s knee with a ladder. As we all know by now, it wouldn’t be a Cody epic without extracurricular activity. It came in the form of Fuego del Sol running in to talk Cody out of permanently injuring Cody. Fuego followed Cody into the ring and ate a tiger driver for his meddling.

That distraction opened the door for Sammy to rally. He followed a back body drop out of the ring with a flying tornillo over the ropes. Sammy went for broke with a risky forward senton off a ladder to Cody atop a hanging ladder.

Back in the ring, Sammy climbed the ladder with desire to win, but Cody came back to throw blows at the top. Sammy had the last laugh by smashing a championship into Cody’s head knocking him down below. Sammy took the gold to unify the TNT titles.

Even though the story wasn’t anything special heading in, that ladder match delivered the goods in entertainment. Both men took hard falls in an effort to create magic. Applause to them. This bout had a good level of ladder violence. Nothing was too crazy to look premeditated, and yet there was plenty enough that looked painful. The flow felt natural within the context of the bout.

I’m quite surprised that Cody failed on this evening to retain. He only had one defense, which was a win over Ethan Page. Not every title reign needs to be lengthy, so Cody being shoe-horned in there ended up being okay since the result was a signature win for Sammy. Guevara shined bright and added to his highlight reel. He will likely face Scorpio Sky next. As for Cody, his future direction is up in the air.

Later in the broadcast, Sammy used his cue cards to mention how he did the work for two years to climb the ladder without politics to rise from a supporting role to a key player.

Lights Out

AEW has established a dangerous reputation for Lights Out matches. Light tubes, barbed wire, thumbtacks, and mouse traps are just a few of the deranged objects used in combat. When Adam Cole and Orange Cassidy went to war in Lights Out, it was a much tamer affair with comedic flavor, comparably speaking.

Cassidy showed he meant business right off the bat by breaking his own sunglasses in half.

Fiery fisticuffs were initiated. Cole went for an object first by pulling out a chair from under the ring. Surprise-hausen! Danhuasen was holding onto the chair as a cameo appearance. That was all from him before becoming All Elite.

The fight escalated with Cassidy hitting a spinebuster through a table, Cole blocking a superman punch with a ring bell, Cassidy spraying a fire extinguisher into Cole’s face, both men using a thick chain for offense, and Cassidy with a Michinoku driver onto open chairs.

Eventually, Cole waved for his boys in the back. The Young Bucks were keen on a triple superkick, but Roppongi Vice pulled them out of the ring. In the mischief, Cassidy connected on a superman punch. He screamed in pain from all the previous damage done to his hand. Cole came back with a low blow. Cassidy didn’t flinch. He was prepared and pulled out a steel cup as protection.

The brawl carried onto the stage. Cole got the bright idea to climb the scaffolding to a higher level. Cassidy gave chase to give Cole a dose of his own medicine. Low blow! Cassidy hugged Cole to cause them to fall off the structure down through the floor. Cassidy landed on top, so the referee made the count. Cassidy earned the win.

As a wild and crazy match, this one fit the bill. There were cameos, changes of scenery, foreign objects aplenty, creative callbacks to the feud, and a general sense of chaos. As a Lights Out match, the action fell way short of expectations. I’m not even a fan of the Lights Out debauchery, so I preferred this style more. It still needs to be said that this version watered down the dangerous concept.

As for the finish, that was pretty weak. Don’t get me wrong. The crash was entertaining. There is a morbid attraction about watching two men fall from great heights. Poor Cole looked like he was folded in half upon impact. I sure hope he is alright and healthy. The execution is where they lost me. I have a hard time buying in to the idea that Cole couldn’t break free from a half-assed hug. Since that was the case, then it is evidence that Cole definitely needs to hit the weight room. I joke, but there is a sting of truth to it.

Hangman Page will be competing against Lancer Archer in a violent Texas Deathmatch, and the way Cole couldn’t free himself will look weak in comparison. Since Cole is ranked #1, that means he is in title contention. This loss won’t count on his record due to being unsanctioned. I think AEW should shuffle over Cole for a bit in terms of the world title picture. Cole resorts to cheating and interference in the majority of his wins. He hasn’t been built up well enough as a genuine threat to Hangman Page.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Wardlow defeated Elijah Dean & James Alexander in a handicap match. Immediate domination with 6 total powerbombs.

Wardlow’s powerbomb symphonies are a blast to watch. Other than that, I suppose observation could be pointed toward Shawn Spears. Wardlow told him to stay away from the ring. Spears obliged to watch from stage. Afterward, Wardlow denied Spears’ request for chair violence. Spears obliged again. It was all good with no visual bad blood between the two Pinnacle members.

Chris Jericho, Santana, & Ortiz defeated Daniel Garcia & 2point0. The story was all about tension within the Inner Circle trio. Proud ‘n’ Powerful were more focused on fighting than fans singling along to Jericho’s theme. Jericho took lead to start the match, but Santana tagged himself in before any action. Later, Jericho tagged himself in. Ortiz immediately tagged himself in relieving Jericho from the ring.

The bad guys isolated Ortiz to give him a taste. For the hot tag moment, Santana was knocked off the apron. Jericho reached out to Ortiz eager to get involved, but Ortiz tagged a dazed Santana instead. Jericho received the message loud and clear. He stepped away from the apron letting Santana and Ortiz fight the battle. Jericho didn’t quit on his brothers though. As 2point0 went for a double suplex, Jericho pulled Jeff Parker out of the ring. Le Champion then hit a sweet Judas Effect through the ropes to Matt Lee. Santana closed with a piledriver for victory. Jericho backed away from his pals as the Inner Circle exchanged words from a distance.

I’m not feeling this story at the moment. AEW isn’t giving me anyone to root for. Jericho, Santana, and Ortiz were jerks to each other. Jericho’s ego got the better of him at the start, while the chip on Proud ‘n’ Powerful’s shoulder got the better of them. Santana & Ortiz had a legit point last week. This week, Jericho has good reason to be upset after being treated like a jabrone. At least there might be a glimmer of hope in reconciliation due to Jericho being a team player in the end. However, it would establish Jericho over Santana and Ortiz in the pecking order once again. That doesn’t really fit with their goal of breaking through to higher status to win the tag titles.

Official clobbering time. CM Punk entered the ring dressed to fight, but he wasn’t wearing chaps. Punk was sick of hearing himself talk. Punk goaded the crowd into chanting, “MJF,” and Tony Schiavone chimed in on commentary with, “Sucks.” MJF arrived on the scene but refused to waste a historic match in a town like Cleveland. MJF agreed to the bout for next week in Chicago. The Pinnacle ambushed Punk. At the orders of MJF, Wardlow powerbombed Punk onto a chair. MJF sat cross-legged on top of Punk’s chest to close.

This promo segment was more of the same from Punk and MJF. They engaged in witty banter with callbacks to history. MJF may have the mini moment of the year by sitting in the Pipe Bomb position on top of Punk. That was a hilarious and devious way to insult the man. Even better is that we now have an official fight date. Cheers to that. AEW stretched this out enough. Time to deliver the goods.

Doing the dance in Chicago is going to be bonkers with the crowd wildly behind Punk. That takes huge cojones from MJF to enter the hostile environment. I’d like to see Punk victorious, but I am extremely curious how the crowd would react if MJF wins clean.

Leyla Hirsch defeated Red Velvet. Lil Cupcake sprinted to the ring to attack the Russian. Hirsch escaped to regroup. She had trouble with Velvet’s speed, so she slowed it down by tenderizing the arm and shoulder. Velvet had momentum on a spear. As she went for the Final Slice, Hirsch countered for a powerbomb. Hirsch smashed with a running knee. On the pinfall, she purposely picked Velvet up at 2 to lock on an armbreaker. The ring position was poor with Velvet close to the ropes for an easy separation. Velvet tried to rally one more time, however, Hirsch caught a kick to counter with a roll-up. Hirsch grabbed the tights to secure a tainted victory.

Afterward, Hirsch pounded Velvet again and went for an armbar. Kris Statlander ran out for the save.

Entertaining bout for future stars of the women’s division. It hit all the right notes for intensity and aggression. Hirsch is further cementing herself as a villain with the cheating wins and post-match beatdowns.

Dr. Britt Baker, time waster. Baker showed off her awards from PWI. The women’s division was a wasteland, and she turned it into a utopia. Baker surpassed the entire roster to become the face of AEW. The DMD era will result in her being crowned Female of the Decade.

This in-ring promo segment was a waste of time. It’s always amusing to hear heels insult the home crowd, however, there was no progression of any kind. No story continuation. No setups for a future challenger. No nothing. It was fun crowd work but definitely not worth valuable TV time.

Notes: Scorpio Sky and Dan Lambert watched the TNT ladder match from box seats high above.

Ricky Starks and Will Hobbs were interviewed at the snowy beach in Cleveland for Beach Break. Hobbs challenged Dante Martin in a rematch of the fluke result, and Starks challenged Jay Lethal for a match in Chicago next week.

Hangman Page will defend the AEW World Championship against Lance Archer in a Texas Deathmatch in two weeks. When first alerted, Hangman was comically stunned. He quickly recovered into confidence that he will bring hell to the Murderhawk Monster.

Jurassic Express will defend the AEW tag titles against #1 ranked Private Party on Rampage. Jungle Boy claimed Isiah Kassidy’s wristwatch was a fake, which was a gift from Matt Hardy.

Anthony Bowens versus Jon Moxley was booked for Rampage. The Acclaimed are going to beat him up as payback from a previous assault earlier in their AEW career.

Mark Sterling was in a neck brace to inform Julia Hart that she was handpicked by Jade Cargill as the next challenger for the TBS Championship on Rampage. Due to Hart’s eye patch, Sterling requested that she sign a waiver. Griff Garrison didn’t think taking the match was a good move while still healing. Hart shot back that she can fight her own battles, then she signed on the dotted line.

The House of Black is built on conflict. Malakai Black & Brody King will make PAC & Pentagon feel true pain and pray for salvation. That tag bout will be next week.

FTR versus Lee Johnson & Brock Anderson was rescheduled for Rampage. The draw is any interaction between Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson.

Nyla Rose demanded a rematch with Ruby Soho next week to show the TBS tournament win was a fluke.

Stud of the Show: Chris Jericho

That Judas Effect elbow strike was cool. Jericho showed versatility and accuracy to connect clean at a difficult angle.

Match of the Night: TNT Championship ladder match

Cody Rhodes and Sammy Guevara provided action galore with a dramatic finish.

Grade: B

The opener and main event were action-packed. The rest of the show dragged down a bit.

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

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