AEW Dynamite (Dec. 29, 2021) emanated from Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, FL. The New Year’s Smash show featured the Young Bucks trying to coerce Adam Cole, Mercedes Martinez making an impact in her surprise debut, and Chris Jericho returning to TV.
Get caught up on all the Dynamite details with the excellent play-by-play from Claire Elizabeth.
SuperKliq soap opera
If you’ve been yearning for the days of miscommunication, manipulation, and pettiness within the Elite, then AEW has a treat for you. The soap opera story simmered down once Hangman Page found his confidence. The serial drama appears to be ramping up again with a few new players in the primary focus.
Out of this particular chapter for now are Kenny Omega (injury) and Hangman (world title feud with Bryan Danielson). In stepped Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, and Kyle O’Reilly. The Young Bucks remain as straws stirring the drink.
The awkward reactions from O’Reilly’s debut last week were explained in a backstage promo segment. The Bucks were snippy about O’Reilly in the group. He still hasn’t said hello to them. O’Reilly requested a private conversation with Cole to address their heat in the past. AEW is a new page. The key to thriving is factions. They can become the paragon of AEW as a unit. O’Reilly closed with wondering if Cole will have his back when it counts.
That turned out to be foreshadowing for the main event, except in the other direction. Cole, Fish, & O’Reilly competed against Orange Cassidy, Trent, & Chuck Taylor. Down the stretch, O’Reilly went for a superkick to Orange Cassidy. OC evaded, and O’Reilly’s foot made contact with Cole’s chin. Cole was down for the rest of the contest. Best Friends went on a roll, so Brandon Cutler ran out as a distraction for a Young Bucks’ superkick party. Fish and O’Reilly took advantage of damaged goods to win with a kick suplex teamwork combo. O’Reilly pinned Taylor.
The @youngbucks come in to ruin the #freshlysqueezed #bestfriends party and @KORCombat gets the pin on @sexychuckiet!— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) December 30, 2021
What a match and what a debut for the #ViolentArtist Kyle O'Reilly here on #AEWDynamite: #NewYearsSmash!#AEWDynamite moves to @tbsnetwork next Wed. Jan 5th! pic.twitter.com/jA53FTPgtz
The post-match scene was where the soap opera picked up again. The Bucks were consoling Cole on the floor and clearly trying to blame O’Reilly as hitting the superkick on purpose. The Jacksons were in full effect trying to plant the seeds of Cole separating from Fish and O’Reilly. Cole seemed receptive to their suggestions.
AEW did better in clearing up the confusion from last week. The story has a focus to see which pair of friends Cole stays true to. It is still a little perplexing to see how character alignments shake out. Right now, both the Bucks and reDRagon are on the bad side. Within the context of this episode, the Bucks seem like bigger buttheads for trying to manipulate the situation, but reDRagon are clearly jerks too. We have to remember that AEW has established the idea that wrestlers can re-watch the show. Earlier in the match, O’Reilly did save Cole from harm. Upon tape review, Cole should be able to tell that the superkick was an accident. Hopefully that progresses the story quicker as Cole can see through the Bucks’ ruse.
As for the quality of the match, there were plenty of jamming moments and a few exciting near falls. Best Friends had me hook, line, and sinker on an upset after Cole took two piledrivers and a Beach Break, but Fish and O’Reilly broke up the cover. One positive is the arrival of reDRagon as a tag team. Their chemistry was excellent with no rust. As individuals, Fish has become my favorite of the Undisputed Era in AEW, but I’m also excited to see reDRagon wreck shop in the tag team division.
Surprise debut in TBS Championship tournament
Mercedes Martinez is All Elite. She made her presence felt during the TBS Championship tournament semifinal match between Thunder Rosa and Jade Cargill.
The contest told a solid story of Thunder attacking the knee to stifle Jade’s superior power game. Thunder kept chipping away throughout the contest even though Jade was dishing out suplexes, backbreakers, and pump kicks. Down the stretch, Thunder used a kneebreaker to transition toward a figure-four. Jade inched toward the ropes and used her long arms to reach for the break.
A valiant effort to finish @Jade_Cargill by @thunderrosa, but it is not enough!— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) December 30, 2021
Catch #AEWDynamite: #NewYearsSmash LIVE on @tntdrama!
Reminder: #AEWDynamite moves to @tbsnetwork next Wed. Jan 5th 2022 pic.twitter.com/LdtkoUagIc
Referee Paul Turner lost all focus on the ladies after Mark Sterling offered his client a sip of water. That opened the window for a mystery assailant to smash Thunder in the head. Jade capitalized with her Jaded finisher to win and advance toward Ruby Soho in the tournament final next week.
Who was that??? With that interference, @Jade_cargill advances to the finals of the TBS Tournament Finals to face @realrubysoho!— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) December 30, 2021
Catch #AEWDynamite: #NewYearsSmash LIVE on @tntdrama!
Reminder: #AEWDynamite moves to @tbsnetwork next Wed. Jan 5th 2022 pic.twitter.com/xx1oAW8bcr
After the match, Thunder showed her fighting spirit by tackling Jade. The hooded hooligan controlled the situation with violence and revealed herself as Martinez.
It's the legendary @RealMMartinez under that mask!!!— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) December 30, 2021
Do not miss a minute of the action tonight here on #AEWDynamite: #NewYearsSmash LIVE on @tntdrama!
Reminder: #AEWDynamite moves to @tbsnetwork next Wed. Jan 5th 2022 pic.twitter.com/wUn6AP70nf
Soho ran out for the save with a pipe in hand.
Well, a new arrival in the AEW women’s division was unexpected. Martinez is great for depth. She provides a new enemy for Thunder to regain momentum with a quality feud before setting sights back on Dr. Britt Baker DMD and the women’s championship. Martinez is good enough in the ring for this feud to extend into a series.
As for Martinez’s relationship with Jade, it seemed like they were on the same page as allies instead of Martinez trying to screw Thunder for the sake of it. If Martinez and Jade do become a pair, then AEW needs to differentiate how they operate from Baker and her two goons, Reba and Jamie Hayter. If Martinez is there to interfere and protect Jade, then both title pictures will feel too similar with cheap results. That is assuming Jade beats Soho next week to win the TBS Championship, and she has to be the favorite at this point with extra muscle by her side.
The match itself was enjoyable. Thunder made it believable as a feisty fighter strategically chopping down the giant. Thunder’s figure-four provided good drama. It had me believing it could be the end before Jade reached the ropes. The finish was cool to see a surprise debut, but it also felt cheap as a tournament outcome.
Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.
FTR, Private Party, & Matt Hardy defeated Lucha Bros, Jurassic Express, & Christian Cage. The story was a bit of arrogance from the babyfaces. When Luchasaurus took control of the match on a hot tag demolition derby, Pentagon tagged himself in. Christian wasn’t cool with that and returned the favor to tag himself in a short while later. As Christian and Pentagon bickered, FTR shoved them into each other and pounced on Christian to win with the Big Rig finisher.
THE BIG RIG on @Christian4Peeps by #FTR for the win!!!#AEWDynamite: #NewYearsSmash LIVE right now on @tntdrama!— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) December 30, 2021
Reminder: #AEWDynamite moves to @tbsnetwork next Wed. Jan 5th 2022 pic.twitter.com/txXGuauDbV
Later, Christian confronted the Lucha Bros for being dipshits and going into business for themselves. He issued a challenge on behalf of Jurassic Express for the tag titles. Challenge accepted by the champs for next week. Pentagon ridiculed Christian’s legend status, since Captain Charisma couldn’t work with them in tag team action. The Lucha Bros also encouraged Jungle Boy to dump Christian.
.The #AEW Tag Team Champs #LuchaBros were not pleased with the outcome of their partnership with @boy_myth_legend and @luchasaurus tonight, and issue a challenge!— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) December 30, 2021
It’s #AEWDynamite: #NewYearsSmash LIVE on @tntdrama! pic.twitter.com/vCXF8mqJ7H
The match had a chaotic pace of action with so many participants. The takeaway was the attitude bubbling up between Christian and Pentagon. I don’t know who we’re supposed to root for more as fan favorites. Both men were in the wrong, so it didn’t build one way or the other to support the Lucha Bros or Jurassic Express for the title match. There has to be more to this tale coming around the bend. I don’t think Jurassic Express has the momentum in story or recent tag team action to take the belts from the Lucha Bros. It makes me wonder if Christian will lose patience with his young steeds upon defeat.
Daniel Garcia & 2point0 defeated Eddie Kingston, Santana, & Ortiz. Kingston was a hothead focused on pounding Garcia. It comically played out with Kingston biting Garcia from the apron whenever Garcia was near. The funniest was Kingston barging in to break a leglock on Ortiz by mauling Garcia.
Out of control @MadKing1981 comes to the aid of @ortiz_powerful as @GarciaWrestling attacks the leg!— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) December 30, 2021
It’s #AEWDynamite: #NewYearsSmash LIVE on @tntdrama!
Reminder: #AEWDynamite moves to @tbsnetwork next Wed. Jan 5th 2022 pic.twitter.com/eo7m67u0t7
Kingston’s lack of control cost his team cohesiveness. The bad guys poked the bear to create advantageous opportunities. Despite that, Santana and Ortiz found their groove for momentum with tandem offense. In the end, Matt Lee outsmarted them by getting his knees up on a stepping stool moonsault for a roll-up win on Santana grabbing tights.
What just happened?! @Santana_Proud gets pinned by @MattTheShow!— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) December 30, 2021
It’s #AEWDynamite: #NewYearsSmash LIVE on @tntdrama!
Reminder: #AEWDynamite moves to @tbsnetwork next Wed. Jan 5th 2022 pic.twitter.com/1DSkkvnMJm
What a whack finish. That was my initial reaction partly because I didn’t want to see Santana & Ortiz get duped by glorified jabrones. Santana & Ortiz are too good to be pawns in someone else’s story. That said, it was an attempt to show 2point0 can actually win against tough competition. One of my criticisms about 2point0 had been that I don’t believe they have a chance in matches because they lose so much. Even though I disliked Santana taking the pin, I do recognize AEW is trying to build up 2point0 to a level of respectability. It also increases desire to see them get comeuppance from Santana & Ortiz.
Chris Jericho returns! In the aftermath of that bout, Garcia and 2point0 stomped on their adversaries. Kingston tweaked his knee, so he wasn’t able to protect his pals. The final blow was Santana being clobbered by the ring bell. Jericho ran out with a bat to clear the scene. Kingston was uppity about Jericho’s presence making the save once again. Ortiz tried to play peacemaker, but Kingston wasn’t having it.
.@MadKing1981 doesn't need @IAmJericho's help, and is clearly insulted by the gesture.— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) December 30, 2021
It’s #AEWDynamite: #NewYearsSmash LIVE on @tntdrama!
Reminder: #AEWDynamite moves to @tbsnetwork next Wed. Jan 5th 2022 pic.twitter.com/X7vVRNVhov
Three cheers for Le Champion. I completely forgot him, so that was a nice surprise. Kingston’s actions on this evening were a tad annoying. Kingston is not stupid, but he’s been dimmer lately. His lack of discipline for constantly going after Garcia hurt his team. Acting like Chris Jericho was persona non grata is silly considering he has a tight friendship with Santana and Ortiz in the Inner Circle. I’m interested in a feud between Kingston and Jericho, and I’d prefer Kingston to raise his mental focus to levels he has shown in the past.
MJF goals. MJF’s story had three parts on this evening. First was a chat with Wardlow with focus on winning championships. MJF claimed CM Punk ran away last week. Since Punk acted like a gutless coward, MJF decided to move on to bigger goals instead, such as the AEW world title and TNT gold. MJF wanted Wardlow to rack up wins to earn a spot in the upcoming Face of the Revolution ladder match. When Wardlow wins, he would be contractually obligated to hand over the title shot to MJF. Mark Sterling actually read that clause aloud from the contract. Wardlow was not pleased.
Second, Wardlow squashed Colin Delaney with four powerbombs to win. Shawn Spears added a chairshot to pop himself.
Third, Punk cut a promo in the ring with a touch of reverse psychology saying MJF is a waste of his time. They could have engaged physically last week, but MJF ran away. Punk is looking toward the AEW world title picture. If Punk and MJF both keep winning, then their paths will have to meet eventually.
It will be interesting to see how long AEW can keep MJF and Punk apart and still have the feud hot. If they beat the same wrestlers, then a game of one-upmanship could unfold. The one to observe most is Wardlow. It’s getting closer and closer for his big breakout. The question will be if he is used as fodder to lose to Punk or establishes himself as a genuine title contender.
Dan Lambert verbal sparring with Brandi Rhodes. Lambert was flanked by Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page to insult Cody Rhodes. Lambert claimed that Cody never made it in the business until becoming the pet project of Tony Khan. That relationship helped Cody skip the line to title shots. AEW’s fans are idiots, and not even they are swallowing the shit sandwich served by Cody. Lambert then made stripper references to Brandi. The Chief Brandi Officer came out to counter that sass. Tension increased toward a potential fist fight between Brandi and Lambert. Dustin Rhodes ran out to separate the two. Page clocked Dustin with a blindside cheapshot, and the bad guys exited the ring.
That was something. Good or bad depends on your appreciation for the joke material. I guess Lambert was just trying to talk his way into a title shot for his man. As far as I know, the stripper comparisons for Brandi didn’t make sense. I’m conflicted about the idea of Brandi versus Lambert. It would probably be amusing in theory, but watching an old man use Brazilian jiu-jitsu against a wrestler of limited skill might veer too far out there into garbage territory. Maybe Brandi can light Lambert on fire instead. Lambert’s loud mouth paid off though, because Page has a TNT title match against Cody on Rampage. If this feud continues, I hope we get the Rhodes brothers in tag team action.
Ricky Starks discussed Dante Martin screwing up his career by screwing Team Taz. Starks will make sure Martin becomes irrelevant.
Sammy Guevara used his cue cards to declare his New Year resolution to beat Cody Rhodes and regain the TNT title.
Hikaru Shida accurately pointed out how Serena Deeb’s attempts at cheating backfired. Shida is tired of Deeb’s whining. If Deeb wants a rematch, then Shida is ready to beat her down again.
Brian Pillman Jr. called out Malakai Black for a match next week. Lights out, Black was on stage, lights out again, Black disappeared. Pillman said we’d see a new version of himself. I don’t know if that was bravado speaking or if a character shift is coming.
Darby Allin will rumble with Anthony Bowens on Rampage. The mini promos revolved around being in the main event. The Acclaimed touted their position as stars, while Sting and Allin treat all their matches as the main event no matter the position on the card.
Anna Jay & Tay Conti will meet Penelope Ford & Bunny in a street fight on Rampage. The good girls have won clean and lost dirty, so they decided to play the bad girls’ game legally. Ford and Bunny declared themselves as the most psychotic women in town. Who knows what toys they will bring.
Hype packages aired for Hangman Page versus Bryan Danielson for the AEW world title next week and Dr. Britt Baker DMD defending the AEW women’s title against Riho at Battle of the Belts. They also recapped Leyla Hirsch not accepting Kris Statlander’s handshake, so there must be plans in the future for that story.
Stud of the Show: Chuck Taylor
Tough choice this week. With so many multi-person matches, it was difficult to stand out. Taylor managed to do that with an outburst of offense. His flying attack off the stage fired me up.
.@sexychuckieT denies the offense of @AdamColePro and takes out reDragon (@thebobbyfish and @KORCombat)!#AEWDynamite: #NewYearsSmash LIVE right NOW on @tntdrama!— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) December 30, 2021
Reminder: #AEWDynamite moves to @tbsnetwork next Wed. Jan 5th 2022 pic.twitter.com/UFi3EJQnR6
Match of the Night: Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, & Kyle O’Reilly vs. Orange Cassidy, Trent, & Chuck Taylor
On a night of unsatisfying finishes, I give the nod to the main event for making me excited about a new tag team in the mix.
Dynamite rocked new story directions to create intrigue abound with surprise debuts and returns. The ring action was exciting, but too many fluky finishes on the same program keep it out of A territory for me. Outside of Wardlow’s squash, every other match ended with funny business. One instance is fine. Four times loses value. At the end of the day, professional wrestling is still a sport. The results felt like a waste of time in the sense that I didn’t learn which competitors were actually better than their opponents.
Share your thoughts about Dynamite. How do you rate it? Who stole the show?