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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Jan. 12, 2022): Murderhawk challenger

TNT

AEW Dynamite (Jan. 12, 2022) emanated from the PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. This episode was bonkers in an awesome way. The show featured Hangman Page’s next world title challenger, the surprise debut of Brody King, Sammy Guevara defending the interim TNT Championship against Daniel Garcia, and plenty more.

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

There was so much happening with so many intertwining stories and multi-segment angles that a flowchart was needed to plot out the recap. It was tough to pick the lead story due to the sheer amount of newsworthy items, so I’m rolling with the world title picture that included a surprise return.

Hangman’s next challenger

Hangman Page was in the ring to discuss his wars against Bryan Danielson. They wrestled 90 minutes pouring sweat and blood. It was all worth it to retain the most important prize in professional wrestling in the AEW World Championship. Hangman was interrupted by Dan Lambert. The loudmouth respected Hangman working his way up the ladder to earn success, but he was offended by Hangman disrespecting the legacy of real cowboy wrestlers.

Roar! Lance Archer’s music hit and the Murderhawk Monster stormed the ring. Archer teased attacking Lambert from when they had past beef, but he used that as a ruse to blindside Hangman. Archer stood tall after a Blackout onto an open chair.

Great job igniting a feud from nothing to fire in a matter of seconds. Archer reminded everyone why he is called the Murderhawk Monster. Hangman has bested the best bout machine in Kenny Omega, the master technician in Danielson, and now it is time to conquer a rugged asskicker in Archer. Hangman is due for a slobberknocker to show that cowboy shit can excel against all styles. I am eager with anticipation.

Archer wasn’t the only surprise on the show...

Brody King debuts

And now begins the portion of the recap with the intertwining stories.

Matt Hardy was booked for a match against Pentagon. Hardy was sorry about Fenix being injured, but he will gladly delete Pentagon to be in the hospital with his brother. Hardy gained an edge in the competitive bout by executing a Side Effect on the apron. Hardy tried to turn back the hands of time for a youthful moonsault, and he missed the mark. Pentagon pounced for a package piledriver to win.

Afterward, Penta vowed to teach respect to Malakai Black. By now, it should be known that you don’t call out Black by name unless you want to be kicked in the head. That’s exactly what happened. Lights out, lights on, Black was in the ring. Big boot to Alex Abrahantes then a roundhouse kick to Penta. Black began ripping Pentagon’s mask when the Varsity Blonds hit the ring looking for payback. Brian Pillman Jr., Griff Garrison, and Pentagon overwhelmed Black with a beating. Julia Hart was vocal about ceasing the assault. Black sat up laughing. Light out, lights on, Brody King was in the ring to pummel the good guys. He cleaned house and smashed Pillman in the corner on a running cannonball senton.

AEW treated King right as a wrecking ball of destruction in his debut appearance. If you’ve never seen King wrestle before, rest assured that he is the real deal. The man is large for the AEW roster and knows how to use his size for power moves. King adds an element of danger that AEW needs. Excalibur dubbed Black and King as the Kings of the Black Throne. That is a pretty sweet name. It also makes me think of a dirty toilet.

The piece of intrigue out of all this might actually be Julia Hart. I’m conflicted on how to read her actions. Hart’s pleading to stop the pain could be to show she is a super innocent sweetheart at heart or it could be planting seeds for an evil pirate turn now that she is wearing an eyepatch. I hope she stays true to the light of good, because I think she complements the Varsity Blonds well as a unit. Who knows though. Perhaps Hart could thrive as a member in the House of Black.

Speaking of Pentagon and Black, that brings to mind PAC. Last we saw the Bastard, he had been misted in both eyes by Black’s muck. A vignette played on Dynamite showing PAC explore the idea of losing his vision permanently. His sight may never return, but he sees everything clearer now. PAC looks it at as a blessing to force a different perspective of vision.

That vignette is one that needs repeated viewings. With the imagery of the playing card and the House of Black rules, could it be a setup for PAC to join Black? It would be pretty freaking cool to see PAC wrestle blindfolded, assuming they fixed the blindfold so he could be safe and perform at peak levels. A blind wrestler sounds cheesy on the surface, but PAC is one man that could make the gimmick feel real in a cool way. I just hope he wouldn’t have to commit to the gimmick in the outside world. Imagine poor PAC working out at the local gym while wearing a fake blindfold. Heck, what about driving a car?

The story didn’t end there for Hardy. Backstage, he was frustrated about losing. He opined that perhaps it is time to focus more on himself rather than helping mentor young stars. Private Party was taken aback at this. Andrade entered proposing to do business with Hardy. Money Matt was intrigued, but he didn’t want to discuss details in front of the camera. Hardy told Private Party to stay behind as he exited with Andrade.

After Andrade tried to buy Darby Allin from Sting, this scene felt like an offer was going to be made to buy Private Party. I’m enjoying this current take of Andrade where he thinks he can buy other wrestlers. It has a mix of the Million Dollar Man arrogance with the heel managers swapping talent contracts in the days of Slick and Bobby Heenan.

TNT title bout overshadowed

Sammy Guevara defended the interim TNT Championship against Daniel Garcia in the main event, but the match was overshadowed by Eddie Kingston and Chris Jericho. Le Champion presumed 2point0 would interfere, so he declared that he would be ringside. Kingston walked into the promo wanting dibs on Garcia. Kingston bickered with Jericho and blamed him as the reason Santana & Ortiz haven’t won the AEW tag titles yet. Santana & Ortiz wanted no part of the budding feud between their two friends.

When it came time for the prime bout, both Jericho and Kingston surrounded the ring. Guevara and Garcia battled as high-flyer versus technical killer. Sammy hit his high-octane flips, and Garcia ground the champ with submissions. Down the stretch, 2point0 predictably caused a ruckus. They beat up Kingston and Jericho, but Guevara outsmarted them to hit Garcia with the GTH knee strike to retain the belt.

Afterward, 2point0 pounded Sammy. Jericho brought his bat to clean house. Kingston hobbled into the ring shouting about Jericho trying to steal the spotlight. They teased throwing blows at each other to close the show.

While the drama between Jericho and Kingston has my attention, I wish they didn’t overshadow the title match between two rising stars. The charisma of those two drew away attention from the exciting bout. Since they made it obvious 2point0 would be coming, it became tough to get sucked into the match as more than just filling time for the inevitable interference.

CM Punk bests MJF again

Last week, CM Punk cost MJF his undefeated record for the new year by hitting Shawn Dean with a GTS to get MJF disqualified in a loss. This week, MJF volunteered Wardlow to step into the ring against Punk.

Wardlow’s strength was in full effect. Punk had to work hard just to knock Wardlow off his feet once. It was only a matter of time before powerbombs rained down. MJF helped with a minor distraction. Punk lost focus to flip the bird to his nemesis. That’s when Wardlow struck with the first powerbomb. Wardlow added five more powerbombs.

As he stepped on Punk’s chest for the easy pin, MJF ordered more pain instead of the win. Wardlow reluctantly obliged with two more powerbombs in the ring and one through the timekeeper table.

Punk beat the 10-count at 9 to continue the fight. MJF demanded one more powerbomb. Punk sandbagged as a trick for an inside cradle to win.

MJF was irate. He shoved Wardlow and poked him repeatedly in the chest. The big man had enough and grabbed Maxwell’s finger. Shawn Spears ran out to soothe the situation. Wardlow exited without pummeling his employer.

Later in the show, MJF called out Punk for the fluke win over an oaf (Wardlow). No more running. MJF is going to make sure Punk takes his first loss in AEW when he wrestles... Shawn Spears next week.

That bout was loads of fun. Wardlow going beast mode was a blast. I wanted to see Punk get powerbombed, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect that level of carnage. Credit to Punk for taking the pain to put over Wardlow as a destroyer. The storytelling was smart too. Wardlow has a reputation for losing important matches. This result can be blamed on MJF, so it absolves Wardlow of failure.

Of all the well-aged wrestlers arriving in AEW, I’m surprised that Punk is the one taking the old man route. He is one of their biggest stars. AEW set the stage by playing on Punk’s seven years away from the ring. It is turning out to be a smooth way for Punk to work toward a title shot. The long journey should prove more satisfying than the hotshot style.

Love is in the air

With all the demented violence on the show, AEW kicked off Dynamite with a touch of love.

Adam Cole cut a promo about being undefeated in AEW and ranked #1. He was flanked by Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly. The Young Bucks interrupted. Tension still remained strong between them and reDRagon. The Bucks wanted to make clear that their new year resolution is to regain the AEW tag titles. Fish and O’Reilly have the same goal for gold, and nobody will stand in their way. That threat included the Bucks. Cole tried to soften the hardness by framing it as friendly competition.

Orange Cassidy came out with the Best Friends by his side. Instead of speaking, OC shot low to tackle Cole. A brawl broke out between factions. Cole low-blowed OC. As he sized up to lower the boom, Kris Statlander ran out to block his path. Cole was too much of a gentleman to beat her up, so Dr. Britt Baker DMD ran out to smash the alien. Baker curb stomped Statlander, then she held up Cassidy for a superkick and running knee from Cole.

The scene closed with Cole calling for a kiss. The Bucks stepped up for the cheek smooch, but Baker stepped them to lock lips with her man. That was the first time Baker and Cole shared a public display of affection on AEW TV.

A mixed tag match was booked. Cole & Baker will team up against Cassidy & Statlander next week on Dynamite.

There were a lot of moving parts in this segment. The best was seeing Cole and Baker together on screen. Their real life relationship has been referenced, but they have stuck to their own worlds on TV. It all worked well, because pushing them together felt natural in this circumstance. With Cassidy hiding behind Statlander, it made sense for Baker to attack. Plus, the comedy on the kiss was a hoot when Baker stole her man from the Bucks.

There was also further soap opera drama in the Elite. The direction was made clear that the Young Bucks and reDRagon are on a collision course. Now, it is just a matter of booking the match. I want to see this story at a quicker pace, but I understand that there needs to be high stakes for maximum drama. Bucks versus reDRagon for the first time in AEW is the kind of bout that should launch the winner into #1 contender status.

It’s Sting!

Sting made his presence felt by going after the Acclaimed. Max Caster and Anthony Bowens were victorious against Bear Country. The bigger bear had a terrific power move with a double flatliner.

The Acclaimed used sneaky teamwork to mount a comeback. Bowens pulled the less bigger bear’s neck across the top rope. Caster followed with a flying elbow drop for victory.

After the match, Sting came out on stage with a bat in hand. Darby Allin ran in from the far side of the ring to attack with a suicide dive while holding a skateboard. Sting swatted the boombox away from the Acclaimed and closed the scene with a Scorpion Death Drop to Caster.

Even with so much jammed into Dynamite, the novelty of Sting still pops. The Acclaimed are great foils as jerks. Commentary mentioned a stacked tag team division as Sting and Allin were standing tall. I might be jumping the gun, but I hope that’s a sign that Sting and Allin have desire to win the tag team titles.


Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Dante Martin defeated Will Hobbs. Martin took the fight to Hobbs before the bell. Hobbs caught Martin in the air to counter for a spinebuster on the floor.

Hobbs worked his muscle game with powerful strikes and suplexes. Martin rallied with aerial tactics. Ricky Starks was a ringside nuisance with physical interference on Martin. Jay Lethal ran out to pull Starks off the apron. Martin used the distraction to score a flash pin on a double springboard moonsault press for the win.

This bout was a good telling of speed versus power. The intensity fit the occasion of the feud. Lethal came as a surprise sticking his nose in Team Taz business. I like that it gives Lethal direction and purpose. I’m curious how he meshes with Lio Rush. AEW could probably cook up a story how Lethal helped mentor Rush in Ring of Honor.

Serena Deeb defeated Hikaru Shida. Deeb clipped Shida’s knee from behind on stage. Shida valiantly entered the ring ready for the match, even though, she was clearly in bad shape. It wasn’t a smart choice. Deeb wrecked her by continuing to damage the knee. Deeb cinched in the Serenity Lock submission. Shida refused to quit, so referee Paul Turner waved off the bout for her own protection.

Afterward, Deeb lashed out more pain with kendo stick whacks to Shida’s knee. Deeb had to be restrained by officials. It is interesting to note that Tay Conti, Anna Jay, and Sky Blue helped Shida to the back. Next up for Deeb is a match against Blue.

As a viewer, this was a give and take segment. I was disappointed that the match was cut short as a storytelling tool, however, I am excited that it should bring even more heat to the feud. It also helps establish Deeb as ruthless. It made Shida come across as heroic by not quitting. Sometimes these character traits need a reminder, because Deeb and Shida aren’t on screen that often.

Notes: Arn Anderson was with Brock Anderson and Lee Johnson feeling the Horsemen Country vibe in North Carolina. Tully Blanchard stepped in urging Arn to dump those losers and join him with FTR. A future tag bout was made.

Jade Cargill did what she said she would do. She won the TBS Championship to make it That Bitch Show.

Jurassic Express aim to be fighting champions. They offered a title match against anyone in the top 5. John Silver and Alex Reynolds came on the scene as top 5 hunks. They are #2 in the official tag team rankings as well, so the match was made for Rampage.

Kris Statlander, Leyla Hirsch, and Red Velvet were interviewed about trios action on Rampage. Their opponents will be Nyla Rose, Penelope Ford, and Bunny. Hirsch questioned Statlander’s focus about taking the mixed tag bout. Statlander questioned Hirsch’s selfishness always trying to take the winning pin. Velvet was the voice of reason to get them on the same page with the desire to win.

Cody Rhodes will return next week. The announcement received vocal boos for the local fans.


Stud of the Show: Wardlow

Wardlow lived up to the pre-match hype video calling him a conductor of violence that orchestrates destruction. All those powerbombs to CM Punk satiated the savage lust for brutality.

Match of the Night: Will Hobbs vs. Dante Martin

This was a case of two youngsters rising to the occasion. It’s one thing to rumble against a seasoned veteran and have a good match. It’s another thing to dance with another star on the rise and put on a dandy. Hobbs and Martin rocked the ring showing that they are capable of bigger assignments.

Grade: A

Dynamite was full steam ahead. There was so much cool stuff that I was tuckered out after 90 minutes. New directions, cool surprises, and hot drama caused constant excitement with no lulls. The matches had a nice mix of fresh faces to deliver the action.

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