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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Dec. 14, 2022): MJF wins it all

AEW Dynamite (Dec. 14, 2022) emanated from Curtis Culwell Center in Dallas, TX. The Winter is Coming special featured MJF defending the AEW World Championship against Ricky Starks, Chris Jericho suffering an embarrassing defeat, Ruby Soho getting her grudge on with Tay Melo, and much more.

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

Winner Takes All

The main event of Winter is Coming was winner takes all between MJF and Ricky Starks with both the AEW World Championship and the Dynamite Diamond Ring on the line. MJF entered as champion and ringbearer, and he exited with the two prizes still in his possession.

AEW gave this bout the big-fight feel with pre-match hype promos, warm-up interludes, and a championship introduction from Justin Roberts.

MJF compared himself with Starks. Ricky had a star-making promo last week. It’s about time Starks hit a home run. MJF arrived in AEW as a star already. He has knocked out every opportunity on screen since then. MJF’s truth is that he made Starks a star by giving the rub of sharing promo time. There’s a lot of pressure on Starks to win this big match. That’s when we’ll find out that Starks can’t hang. Instead of turning into a diamond, the Pebble will turn to dust.

Starks spoke about his journey to this point. He paid dues grinding, and now it is time to be the man. Starks will prove he is absolute.

Starks warmed up with exercise, while MJF lounged on the massage table like Cleopatra.

AEW gave MJF and Starks about 15 minutes of ring time to close the show. They started slow with mockery from MJF. Starks fired back with a shoulder tackle to let MJF know play time was over. MJF focused on working the sore ribs of Starks. The challenger rallied with an explosive tornado DDT on the ropes and a Liger bomb. MJF regained control for a powerbomb backbreaker over the knee.

A slap fight broke out with MJF thumbing the eye. MJF connected on a rolling elbow strike knocking Starks into the ropes. Starks used that motion to bounce back for a spear. Both men were down on the mat. Starks reached over for a light cover. MJF played a little bit of possum to snatch Starks arm for an armbar. As Starks reached for the ropes, MJF grabbed the other arm for a double armbar. Starks tried to get his foot on the ropes, but MJF bowed it back. Starks eventually got free with his fourth limb on a rope-break.

MJF and Starks rolled on the mat vying for positional advantage. MJF rose up to hide behind the referee. The champ tricked everyone to land a low blow kick when the ref’s back was turned. MJF stole the win to retain gold and diamonds.

MJF and Starks had a very solid match. It was a classic style compared to AEW’s breakneck speed in the ring. I was never sold on Starks scoring a near fall to make me get lost in the moment, but it was still a enjoyable time rooting for Absolute. The cheap finish is what it is for a television main event. It was a little deflating, but I can accept it since MJF used his own ingenuity to triumph. Starks was strong in his main event taste to keep the fans energized throughout. He loses no luster on this evening.

The night wasn’t over for MJF. Bryan Danielson returned with fury to send MJF running for the hills.

Chris Jericho shocking upset

Chris Jericho’s world is shook. First, he lost the ROH World Championship to Claudio Castagnoli at Final Battle. Second, Jericho was beaten clean by Action Andretti on Wednesday night. Andretti was a relatively unknown wrestler making his Dynamite debut. The plan was a quick warm-up for Jericho to get back on track. Andretti obviously had a different idea.

The crowd was surprisingly 100% behind Andretti. Jericho helped set that up with a promo session earlier in the show. Jericho referred to his opponent as a jobber to tune up for a rematch with Claudio. In other JAS dealings, Jericho was not pleased with Daniel Garcia losing the ROH Pure Championship to Wheeler Yuta, so he assigned Garcia to shadow Sammy Guevara as a mentor. Sammy was all aboard, but Garcia was hesitant. Smart move by Jericho. There is a lot of sports entertainment potential with that new pairing. I hope it blossoms more as awkward buddies than jealous tension.

Match time. Jericho flashed disrespect with two slaps. Andretti slapped back, and the crowd was on his side chanting for the jobber. Jericho struck with a Codebreaker, and Andretti unexpectedly kicked out. The fan interest picked up even more.

Jericho increased his pain output, but Andretti kept rallying with answers for Jericho’s signature moves. The newcomer ducked a Judas Effect to clothesline Jericho out of the ring. On the return inside, Jericho caught a flying dropkick for the Walls of Jericho. Andretti countered for a roll-up before Jericho could lock the submission tight. Andretti countered again to plant Jericho on the mat, then he sprang up for a running shooting star press. 1, 2, 3?!? Andretti just beat Jericho. The arena exploded in jubilation taking pleasure at Jericho’s misfortune.

Jericho was irate backstage.

That was wild and kind of awesome. AEW picked a heck of a way to introduce Andretti to worldwide television. The win earned him All Elite status. In hindsight, that moment was set up so well. The upset picked up steam with kick-outs and counters along the way. The crowd helped with their eager endorsement of the underdog. The question will be how AEW capitalizes on Andretti’s momentum. For now, we can revel in the moment of Action Andretti building his star.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

AEW World Trios Championship best-of-7 series: Death Triangle defeated the Elite. This bout had two stories that tied into each other. Nick Jackson tweaked his ankle and was escorted to the back for medical care. He made a heroic return to clean house. The other story was Death Triangle’s continued use of the hammer as a foreign object. For the finish, Fenix caught a superkick from Nick. Pentagon ran over with the hammer to whack Nick’s damaged joint. Fenix slapped on a knee bar for victory. The series score now stands at 3-1 in favor of Death Triangle.

Afterward, Kenny Omega was tired of Death Triangle’s hammer cheat, so he proposed No DQ for match 5 next week. Later, it was announced that Tony Khan booked match 6 as Falls Count Anywhere and match 7 as a ladder match, if those are necessary in the series.

The series continued to be flashy moves with each match having a unique wrinkle. The twist this time was the injury from Nick. That played into the dramatic sports theme of a star gutting through pain. AEW served it better with the strategic hammer shot from Pentagon. That moment was creative and comical. The little details of execution were smart. Penta previously incapacitated Matt Jackson with a package piledriver on the apron. Fenix visibly showed reluctance to accept sneaky treachery, but he decided to capitalize for the win anyway. PAC hunkered down on Omega to prevent a break on Fenix’s submission. The match offered the full run of thrills, chills, and spills.

Jungle Boy defeated Brian Cage. Shifty agility versus muscle machine. Cage made sure to get his shit in, but JB was too slick in the end. Jungle Boy escaped a fireman’s carry to counter for a Canadian Destroyer. Cage kicked out, so JB slapped on the Snare Trap submission. Prince Nana distracted referee Aubrey Edwards while Cage tapped out. Jungle Boy released, Cage accidentally clobbered Nana, and JB score a roll-up for victory.

Afterward, Jungle Boy called out W. Morrissey. Stokely Hathaway answered as a trick for Big Bill to strike. Morrissey executed a high lifting chokeslam. Hook’s music hit as he strut out for the save.

That was a fun underdog clash of styles with the perfect ‘Send Hook’ moment. The unexpected arrival of the silent loner blew the roof off. Jungle Boy as the Jack the giant slayer has my full interest. However, I have a mixed reaction to how Cage was handled. AEW keeps rolling him out there to lose on TV, and it damages his appeal. I suppose that’s a better fate than being stuck in catering for months at a time. There has to be a happy medium.

House of Black defeated The Factory. Nick Comoroto threw his lollipop stick at Julia Hart, so she spit black mist in response. House of Black pummeled members of the Factory. That left QT Marshall alone against Malakai Black. Roadhouse! I mean roundhouse kick. Black blasted QT to win the match with one move.

Absolute destruction to show off House of Black as supreme ass-kickers. Hart’s black mist added a nice touch of comedy to the scene.

Ruby Soho defeated Tay Melo. Ruby survived a Gotch piledriver then blocked the Tay-KO knee strike. Soho landed a knee strike of her own to set up her Destination Unknown finisher. Afterward, Anna Jay entered the scene to attack Ruby.

That was a satisfying grudge match. Ruby and Tay were physical, aggressive, and played the action around the story of Tay breaking Ruby’s nose in the past. Tay has developed a strong personality as a sports entertainer. She does funny heel shtick but uses her fighting skills to back it up.

Notes: The show opened with “Roundball Rock” by John Tesh. I’m not sure if that is the new Dynamite theme song or if it was only used for the trios series opening bout.

The Acclaimed were ambushed by Jeff Jarrett, Jay Lethal, Sonjay Dutt, and Satnam Singh. Jarrett cracked his guitar over Caster’s head. That was an effective way to ignite the feud. It had been simmering. Now, boom! Flame on.

Blackpool Combat Club made a statement winning ROH titles. They are putting AEW on notice in 2023. Jon Moxley also called out Hangman Page and his Dark Order buddies.

Swerve Strickland gave everything to Keith Lee, and Lee threw it back in his face. Next week, they will have a face-to-face meeting. Swerve cautioned that Lee is not a friend, not a partner, and not family.

Jamie Hayter will defend the AEW Women’s World Championship against Hikaru Shida next week. Shida plans to teach Hayter true Joshi style to win the title.

Skye Blue heard enough yapping from Dr. Britt Baker DMD, so she challenged the dentist to a match on Rampage. This was a simple setup producing more interest than AEW’s common cold match booking style.

FTR had the hardest fight of their career in the double dog collar bout against the Briscoes. Respect to the Briscoes. No respect to the Gunn sons. FTR is going to kick Ass Boys ass.

Hangman Page offered a medical update to Alex Marvez. When Hangman suffered his concussion against Moxley, he couldn’t remember the name of his son. That was hell for the cowboy. Hangman plans to take Mox to that level of hell.

Dustin Rhodes was joined by the Best Friends crew and Danhausen to challenge Kip Sabian, Butcher, Blade, and Trent Seven for Rampage.

Stud of the Show: Action Andretti

Beating Chris Jericho is how to make a memorable first impression.

Match of the Night: Jungle Boy vs. Brian Cage

A lot of good matches on this episode. I think this particular choice comes down to personal preference. Elite and Death Triangle offered flips. Jungle Boy and Brian Cage offered David versus Goliath. Chris Jericho and Action Andretti offered an underdog surprise. Tay Melo and Ruby Soho offered a heated grudge match. MJF and Ricky Starks offered an old school title fight.

Grade: B+

Fun show all night long. Energy was rowdy from the fans, and the action delivered. There was a wide blend of story building blocks progressing toward an interesting future of AEW programming.

Share your thoughts about Dynamite. How do you rate it? What were your favorite moments from the show?

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