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AEW Dynamite preview (Dec. 14, 2022): MJF needs to prove that he belongs in this spot

AEW Dynamite

Dynamite airs tonight (Dec. 14) with a live show from Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas. Tonight’s episode is AEW’s annual Winter is Coming event.

MJF and Ricky Starks both have something to prove

AEW World Champion MJF defends both the gold and his diamond ring in tonight’s Winner Takes All main event match against Ricky Starks.

Starks is on a hot streak of late, earning this title shot by winning tournament matches over Lance Archer, Brian Cage, and Ethan Page. Even so, Starks has never defeated any main event level stars in AEW, so a world title win over MJF would be a huge jump up for him and is highly unlikely to occur.

As a result, this main event match doesn’t quite measure up to the stature of the previous two Winter is Coming main events of Jon Moxley vs. Kenny Omega and Hangman Page vs. Bryan Danielson.

That being said, Starks did his damnedest last week to prove that he belongs in this spot when he cut the promo of his life on MJF, tearing the champ apart after MJF’s attempt to paint Ricky as a dime store Dwayne Johnson. It was a star-making performance from Starks, so now it’s up to AEW booker Tony Khan to find a way to capitalize on it. Will a loss to MJF wipe out all of Ricky’s momentum from last week?

It’s also worth pointing out that MJF is brand new to being the top guy in AEW; this is his first defense of the world title. In other words, Starks isn’t the only guy who is trying to prove that he belongs in this spot. This is a big test for MJF, who needs to show that he can carry a main event level title match with a wrestler who has never been pushed at this level before.

Starks does seem to be a placeholder feud for the champ until Danielson shows up looking for revenge after MJF sent William Regal to the hospital and eliminated him from AEW. Will the American Dragon get a piece of MJF before the night is over?

The rest of tonight’s lineup

The best-of-seven series for the AEW world trios titles returns tonight, with Death Triangle taking on The Elite for the fourth time. Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks won the most recent match, so the series currently stands at 2-1 in favor of PAC and the Lucha Bros. The reigning champs are still having some issues deciding on how far they want to go with their cheating. PAC and Pentagon have no problem breaking the rules, whereas Rey Fenix isn’t a fan of that approach right now even though he did use a hammer to cheat in the first match of the series.

Tonight’s lone women’s match doesn’t actually involve championship gold. Ruby Soho is back from a broken nose and she wants revenge on Tay Melo, the woman who inflicted the injury on her at All Out. They’ll go at it in a one-on-one match tonight, although Melo usually has the numbers advantage when it comes to ringside assistance.

AEW typically uses the phrase “in action” to describe when a pushed wrestler will face a low card talent in either a squash match or a very lopsided and quick bout. Given how AEW likes to hype up Winter is Coming as something akin to a pay-per-view lineup, I definitely didn’t expect that Tony Khan would be advertising two separate “in action” matches for the event, but that’s what we’re getting; Chris Jericho and House of Black are both in action tonight. This is HoB’s first official match since returning to AEW, whereas Jericho is looking to rebound after losing the ROH world championship to Claudio Castagnoli this past weekend at Final Battle.

That AEW is running quick matches for both HoB and Jericho tonight could indicate that MJF vs. Starks and/or Death Triangle vs. Elite are expected to run very long, or maybe Khan has some surprise angles planned after HoB and Jericho take care of business. At the very least, it’s clear that Eddie Kingston and Ortiz want a piece of Malakai Black and pals.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- This is supposed to be one of the biggest episodes of Dynamite in 2022, so I’d expect more follow-up on the current conflict between Moxley and Hangman Page. Page initiated a brawl last week with Moxley despite admitting that AEW’s doctor will not clear him to compete due to his recent concussion.

- TNT Champion and ROH TV Champion Samoa Joe is still the king of all television after successfully defending his belts against Darby Allin and Juice Robinson over the last week. That should clear the path for Wardlow to be next in line for a shot at Joe.

- AEW World Tag Team Champions The Acclaimed proved their mettle last week when they prevailed over FTR in the main event. Will Dynamite find time tonight for a quick scissoring session between the champs and Daddy Ass? Are Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal looking for the next shot at the gold?

- AEW Women’s World Champion Jamie Hayter’s next challenger is Hikaru Shida, though there isn’t an official date for the match yet. While we are awaiting more news on that front, will there be any teases tonight as to who Saraya will choose as her mystery partner for the Jan. 11 tag match in Los Angeles against Hayter and Britt Baker? If Sasha Banks is indeed the woman in question, will AEW make it extremely obvious like they did with CM Punk’s return to wrestling in 2021?

- Swerve in our Glory should be officially finished as a tag team after Swerve Strickland walked out on Keith Lee at Final Battle. Lee and Strickland will likely have a singles match or two against each other before going their separate ways.

- Is Jungle Boy okay after taking a scary bump on the ring apron last week courtesy of a chokeslam from W. Morrissey Big Bill?

- After Trent Seven failed to get the job done against AEW All-Atlantic Champion Orange Cassidy last week, when will Kip Sabian get his shot at the gold? And how does Dustin Rhodes fit into all of this?

- TBS Champion Jade Cargill was successful in trios competition last week. When is rapper Bow Wow coming by to continue stalking her like a creep?

- We’ve crossed the one year point since the in-ring debut of current FTW Champion HOOK. Will he spend the next year continuing to dominate lower card wrestlers like QT Marshall’s The Factory?

- Konosuke Takeshita had an incredible performance last week against Moxley. It sounds like Don Callis is scouting him, which could mean there is something more planned for Konosuke other than losing great matches all the time.

- Where the f*** is Miro?

What will you be looking for on Dynamite?

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