AEW Dynamite (Dec. 22, 2021) emanated from the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, NC. The show featured CM Punk teaming with Sting and Darby Allin to get their hands on MJF and FTR, the surprise debut of Kyle O’Reilly, and the TBS Championship tournament semifinal between Ruby Soho and Nyla Rose.
Get caught up on all the Dynamite details with the excellent play-by-play from Claire Elizabeth.
CM Punk, Sting, and Darby Allin teamed together for the first time. In a show of togetherness, all three men wore custom face paint. Allin added a touch of color, Sting had Punk’s taped fists logo on his forehead, and Punk donned classic Stinger war paint with scorpion trunks.
The primary story was about CM Punk and MJF engaging in fisticuffs. It never happened, because MJF avoided Punk at all costs. When in the ring together as legal men, MJF would immediately tag out. He had to get creative at times to accomplish this. In one instance, MJF ran up the stadium stairs with Punk in chase. MJF went a few rows over to run back down into the ring and officially tag out.
The match was competitive with MJFTR using isolation tactics to gain an advantage. That setup several hot tag spots for Punk, Allin, and Sting to pop the crowd. Sting did it best with a spinebuster to MJF and Stinger splashes to FTR.
Close calls started piling up with FTR countering Punk into a Big Rig finisher. Sting made the save for the match to carry on. MJF roughed up Sting with a DDT. The Icon no-sold it to hip toss MJF over the ropes down onto FTR. Sting followed with a flying crossbody to the outside onto MJFTR.
Tag to Punk sizing up MJF for a GTS. Dax Harwood sacrificed himself to shove MJF to safety. Dax ate a GTS from Punk, Scorpion Death Drop from Sting, and a Coffin Drop from Allin. Punk picked up the easy pin for victory.
The main event was tons of fun. Punk, Sting, and Allin all had moments to shine with hot spots. MJF and FTR played their part well as slimy rascals, and they toughened up when it was time to be serious. Best of all, I love how AEW preserved the novelty of Punk versus MJF. MJF did his darndest to avoid contact, and he succeeded. Afterward on commentary, MJF laid it on thick by claiming Punk ran like a coward. It is all building tremendous anticipation for their upcoming singles match. No date has been mentioned, but it is just a matter of time.
Kyle O’Reilly surprise debut
Adam Cole teased a Christmas surprise last week, and it appears the present was the arrival of Kyle O’Reilly. Cole and O’Reilly were part of the Undisputed Era faction, along with Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong, in NXT. I say appears, because there was quite the cluster of confusion from Cole and the Young Bucks.
Cole kicked off the program attending to a match against Orange Cassidy. When OC picked up steam, the Young Bucks and Brandon Cutler came down for a closer look. Cassidy took out Cutler on a flying crossbody, and the Best Friends beat off the Bucks to the back.
As the match progressed, Cassidy was cocky by wearing his sunglasses for a lazy jump off the turnbuckles. Cole saw it coming and countered with a superkick to the mush.
Cole followed with a Panama Sunrise. Mr. BayBay was a too cocky himself using an Al Bundy pin with his hands in his trunks. OC easily kicked out due to lack of leverage from Cole.
Cassidy mounted a comeback by ducking a running knee to counter for a Beach Break. Cole kicked out. As OC sized up a Superman punch, Bobby Fish ran down to provide a referee distraction. Kyle O’Reilly made his presence known by viciously bashing Cassidy. Cole cleaned it up with a running knee to win.
O’Reilly continued his assault on Cassidy after the bell. Cole had to pull him off. The Bucks returned to the ring and were clearly not interested in associating with O’Reilly. Cole took Fish and O’Reilly with him leaving the Bucks in the ring.
Thumbs up for the surprise. Surprises are always neat, even if this one didn’t particular resonate with me. I don’t watch NXT, so he was just a random dude. Thankfully, O’Reilly had his own name on his t-shirt which made him easy to identify. I’m sure those knee deep in the Elite lore loved the surprise.
Where I do view an issue was within the confusing reaction to O’Reilly. I had no clue what was going on. It felt contradictory to the Elite story told to this point. Cole seemed upset with the post-match brutality, and I’m not sure why. Cole doesn’t care about Cassidy’s well-being. The Bucks weren’t happy at the sight of O’Reilly, and once again I’m not sure why. I suppose I’m left to assume bad blood remains between the Bucks and reDRagon, however, they accepted Fish into the fold. Why not O’Reilly too? Cole making little effort to call peace also left me confused. If the Bucks end up turning babyface, then they need to actually do something significant to make me trust them again.
Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.
World title rematch. Round two between Hangman Page and Bryan Danielson will take place for the TBS debut on January 5. Hangman discussed not feeling like a champion after the 60-minute draw. Danielson interrupted to claim he should be the rightful champ after kicking the cowboy’s ass. To avoid a similar fate in the case of a second draw, Danielson proposed judges to determine a winner. Hangman accepted, because he won’t need the full time to win.
I’m lukewarm on judges, but I much prefer that so Hangman and Danielson can compete in a regular wrestling match. That allows Hangman to prove he is better. If he won a ladder match or a cage match, then Danielson would still have the talking point of being the better wrestler.
Wardlow defeated Shawn Dean. Four powerbombs in a squash win. Afterward, Shawn Spears whacked Dean with a chair for good measure.
Not much to take away from this other than Wardlow is a powerhouse. That’s pretty obvious just by looking at the man.
TBS Championship tournament semifinal: Ruby Soho defeated Nyla Rose. The match got off to a rough start when Nyla attacked for a hockey fight, and Soho’s jacket clung to her wrists refusing to be removed. The crowd cheered once Ruby was able to take off her coat. The flow was power from Nyla and counter rallies from Soho. Ruby scored a sweet slingshot DDT. When Nyla picked up a chair, Soho dropkicked it into her face. Vickie Guerrero paid dividends as manager by shoving Soho off the turnbuckles and also creating a distraction during a dragon sleeper. Soho took Vickie out of the equation with a kick to the head. Nyla pounced for a powerbomb, but Soho kicked out on the cover. Nyla went high risk climbing the turnbuckles. Soho sprang up for the No Future kick to Nyla out of the corner for victory.
Soho’s finisher has been awkward since arriving in AEW, however, it worked well for this match. It was a proper surprise and looked effective by pulling Nyla off the turnbuckles for extra force. I don’t know if it can be used consistently in that same manner. If not, then that might make it cooler when she finds the right circumstances for a win. Soho was the right call to advance. Her presence in the tournament final adds a larger element of unpredictability than Nyla would bring.
Malakai Black defeated Griff Garrison. Griff rushed in to eat a head kick. When Black turned his focus to Brian Pillman Jr., Garrison attacked with a suicide dive. Back in the ring, Black outclassed his opponent in the striking game. Garrison showed heart to land a rolling elbow, then Black flattened him with a jumping knee. A single-leg crab earned the submission victory for Black. Afterward, Black maintained his grip, so Pillman scurried in to break the hold. Pillman took his eyes off Black and paid the price in the form of a head kick.
This was an entertaining squash with both men increasing their stock. Black’s skill level was so high and entrenched him as a dominant force in AEW. Garrison had guts to land the little offense that he did. That is the kind of fighting spirit that earns my attention. I assume Pillman would be next for Black. Or perhaps it would be a good spot to debut Black’s acolyte to earn a quality tag team win over the Varsity Blonds.
Notes: MJF and FTR delivered a promo about their main event contest. MJF questioned Wardlow’s dedication.
Hype package for Sammy Guevara defending the TNT Championship against Cody Rhodes on a special Saturday night Christmas Rampage.
Dan Lambert lamented about unfair treatment from Tony Khan. TK’s buddies receive opportunities to shine, while men like Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page are put on the back burner. Case in point, Cody is in the next TNT title match. Lambert also pointed out the impossible task he was assigned. There’s no way Lambert can get fans to cheer Cody when Cody is a bigger dick than Lambert is. Lambert’s only concern is that one of his men become the next TNT challenger. I didn’t pick up any new angles from Lambert’s promo.
Christmas party with Dr. Britt Baker’s crew and Tony Schiavone. Tony tried to sneak mistletoe above Baker’s head, but Jamie Hayter swatted it away. Baker was not concerned about Riho as a threat to take the women’s belt. Baker is the pulse of AEW for 2021 and will continue to be in 2022. This segment was disappointing considering it wasn’t much of a Christmas party as advertised. It was a gussied up mini interview.
The Owen Hart Cup tournament was promoted with classic footage of Owen.
As seen tonight on #AEWDynamite, the #OwenHartCup Tournament video features stars of multiple generations speaking about his legacy, footage of Owen wrestling in @njpw1972 and private home movies from Dr. Martha Hart! pic.twitter.com/0rw74kGWXY— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) December 23, 2021
Serena Deeb declared that her feud with Hikaru Shida is far from over. Deeb plans to beat Shida so bad that she will beg Tony Khan to keep Deeb away for good.
Jungle Boy versus Isiah Kassidy was booked for Rampage. Matt Hardy explained the plan was for Kassidy to injure Jungle Boy then take Jurassic Express’ #1 ranked status. Jungle Boy’s response to Kassidy’s threats of pounding ass was a threat to shove coal up Kassidy’s ass. I’m amused that so much ass talk is allowed on cable TV. This sounds like a conversation requiring input from Billy and the Ass Boys.
Stud of the Show: Sting
Sting continues to shine in limited usage. He’s developing the reputation of producing something wild every time he steps foot in the ring for an official match. This occasion saw the flying crossbody to the outside. Add in moments of emphatic no-selling and powered up offense with signature maneuvers for Sting to steal the show every time.
Match of the Night: CM Punk, Sting, & Darby Allin vs. MJFTR
Jamming action, amusing subplot, and Sting!
The main event was a blast. The women’s match had important stakes. AEW flashed a surprise with the arrival of Kyle O’Reilly. The opener was a mixed bag depending on your fondness for Orange Cassidy. Several promos felt like time-fillers without advancing much. As a whole, the show rounded out to above average.
Share your thoughts about Dynamite. How do you rate it? Who stole the show?