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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Dec. 28, 2022): King of Television

AEW Dynamite (Dec. 28, 2022) emanated from 1stBank Center in Denver, CO. The New Year’s Smash special featured Samoa Joe with a plan to defend the TNT Championship against Wardlow, a wild finish for Death Triangle versus the Elite in Falls Count Anywhere, and much more.

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

King of Television

Samoa Joe is still your King of Television. He entered the evening carrying both the TNT Championship and the ROH World Television Championship. TNT gold was on the line for the main event against Wardlow. Defeating Wardlow would be no easy task, but Joe had a plan.

Both men were given promo time earlier in the show to hype the bout. Joe is a hunter. He spoke about partnering with Wardlow as a way to study what he hunts. While battling as compadres, Joe took notes on Wardlow’s weaknesses. Over to Wardlow to explain the time for words is over. It is time for action. Boom! Joe popped Wardlow’s knee with a metal pipe. How’s that for action?

As the show progressed, commentary wondered if Wardlow would be able to answer the opening bell for the match. Joe came out to the ring first. Wardlow’s music was next, but he did not appear. Joe ran his mouth on the mic to set the drama for Wardlow’s defiant arrival. Wardlow stiff-armed medical personnel to head to the ring. Wardlow entered, blows were thrown, and we had a proper HOSS FIGHT!

Wardlow overwhelmed with physicality early, so Joe targeted the tender knee to take control. Wardlow operated on emotion rather than strategy, whereas Joe kept his wits to focus on the injured limb. At one point, Wardlow tumbled out of the ring. Doctors checked out his knee during the commercial break. Wardlow grit through the pain for the match to resume. Joe wasted no time in attacking the knee again.

Wardlow still had fighting spirit burning deep within. He rallied for a senton atomico, two German suplexes, and a twisting aerial cannonball.

Wardlow hammered meaty lariats, so Joe swung his legs for a low trip. Joe set up Wardlow in the corner for punches, but Wardlow slipped down under into position to lift Joe for a powerbomb.

Wardlow went for a second powerbomb, but his leg gave out under the weight. Joe chop blocked his opponent and cinched a rear naked choke tight. Wardlow passed out. Joe remains King of Television.

Joe added insult to injury by using scissors to cut Wardlow’s ponytail. Wardlow was out cold, so there was a feeling that someone would step up for the save. That man turned out to be Darby Allin. He arrived from the back side to hit Joe with a skateboard.

That was certified hoss action. The story twist of Wardlow’s knee injury telegraphed the result, but Wardlow still did well giving fans hope he could pull out the victory. Overall, I’m glad Wardlow lost. One, Joe is doing awesome work as the King of Television. His words carry confident bravado that is difficult to duplicate. Two, there is still meat on the bone for a rematch down the line. With the way this one played out, the crowds should still have enthusiasm for Wardlow’s big payback. Even if Joe loses the TNT title to Darby Allin, that shouldn’t diminish the interest of Joe versus Wardlow. Three, Wardlow was an asshole for punching those innocent paramedics trying to assess his injury. It made me hope Joe snapped Wardlow’s leg, and the paramedics would refuse to help the big galoot.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Bryan Danielson defeated Ethan Page. MJF was in the skybox watching the match. Both Danielson and Page were annoyed by MJF’s presence. Stokely Hathaway was ringside for timely distractions on Danielson. Page had a killer super powerslam, but Danielson kicked out.

Danielson recovered to hit the Busaiku Knee and stomped Page’s head in. Page was knocked out when Danielson applied a submission, so the referee called for the bell.

Good competitive match to start the broadcast. Danielson hopped the hurdle toward a world title fight in entertaining fashion, while Page looked strong in defeat. This was one of those matches with an obvious result, but the action rose to a high level demanding attention. It’s weird that AEW didn’t announce a match next week for Danielson when they visit his home area of Seattle. I wasn’t expecting them to burn through a title match versus MJF, but at least lean in a direction for Danielson to have another lengthy bout against a fresh adversary. Time will tell how that unfolds.

Hangman Page medical update. Hangman wasn’t sure when he would be cleared to fight Jon Moxley. The doctor informed the cowboy that he could possibly return in two weeks, provided Hangman doesn’t risk further injury brawling with Moxley each week. Hangman’s spirit was uplifted, and he acquiesced to the advice.

That was a great little scene from Hangman’s worry about his health to snapping at Renee Paquette (Moxley’s wife) snooping for inside information to apologizing since it was her job to the kernel of hope to return soon. Lots of emotion packed in there addressing motivation. Plus, I enjoy the idea of medical updates. It plays into the sports aspect and can add interest for storyline purposes, as demonstrated here.

Jon Moxley & Claudio Castagnoli defeated Top Flight. The Martin brothers brought the fight before the bell, but the Blackpool Combat Club muscled them for early control. Top Flight’s creative offense kept them in the game, such as Claudio executing the giant swing on Darius while Dante leaped over his bother like jump rope to time his spot for a roll-up.

Top Flight rallied with pinball offense pinging and ponging on Claudio and Moxley. They had Claudio stunned, but he surprised Darius with a Neutralizer. Darius surprised Claudio by kicking out on the count. Claudio was shocked then refocused to smash Darius into oblivion with hammering elbows. Moxley took care of Dante with a DDT on the floor. Darius let loose one last defiant punch. Claudio answered with a crushing uppercut to win.

Great match. The appeal was curiosity over superstars versus young guns on the rise. Top Flight shined in the big moment as stars themselves. The intensity of the finish was outstanding. Claudio and Moxley flipped the switch and went into overdrive. Claudio took his game to a higher level with outbursts of emotion and a stone cold edge to lay the kill shot. That version of Claudio was badass. Even though Top Flight lost the match, they lose no momentum on their steady increase toward stardom. If they had to be beaten, doing so to Moxley and Claudio was a smart choice. It cools Top Flight on challenging the Acclaimed for the tag titles while also improving their profile against the best of the best.

Hook defeated Baylum Lynx. Aggressive ass-kicking squash. Hook won with the Redrum submission and choked out Lynx anyway despite submitting. Afterward, W. Morrissey and Lee Moriarty came down to the ring with bad intentions. Jungle Boy evened the odds to tussle with Moriarty on the outside. In the ring, Hook had no fear of Big Bill. Goozle by Morrissey. Hook went for a T-Bone suplex, but Morrissey halted the lift to pick up Hook for a chokeslam. JB whacked the 7-footer with a 2x4 for the save.

Typical Hook squash with smooth movement and slick action. I didn’t particularly like Hook choking out his opponent after submitting. There’s no honor in that. Standing up in Morrissey’s face was a star-making moment. It’s like, “Holy shit, Hook has arrived.” That image instantly made it a match I strongly desire. Give us Hook versus Morrissey, please. If that means Hook has to take his first loss, there is no shame in it being to Morrissey.

AEW World Trios Championship best-of-7 series: The Elite defeat Death Triangle in match 6. Falls Count Anywhere rules in effect. This match was crazy with a wild finish. Wrestlers were leaping off high objects, crashing through tables, and using foreign objects. Highlights include Nick Jackson with a flying senton off a stack onto Pentagon through a table, Fenix with a corkscrew plancha off the upper stage above the tunnels then Kenny Omega blasting him with a V-Trigger, a V-Trigger from Omega to PAC wearing a trashcan, and the Bucks with a Meltzer Driver on the floor. Several near falls were broken up by partners making the clutch save.

For the finish, PAC had Matt Jackson trapped in the Brutalizer submission in the center of the ring. Meanwhile, Omega had Fenix up for a One Winged Angel leaping off a tall structure crashing through a table. Omega made the pinfall for three. Matt grit through the pain just long enough before tapping out. That happened by circumstance, since Matt was unaware of Omega’s pin. The win went to the Elite to even the score at 3-3. Match 7 will be January 11 in a ladder match.

Six matches into this series, and they have achieved the difficult goal of making every match special in its own way. All the flips and the flops blend together, but it is the deeper layer that stands out. The false finishes were aplenty with high drama on the saves. This bout was more chaotic and physical than the others. Everyone involved will need the time off to recover. The finish was a cool twist. Having Omega squeak by on a crushing move seconds before Matt tapped out was very unique. It truly demonstrated the pandemonium of a Falls Count Anywhere stipulation.

Shout out to Tony Schiavone for the astute observation that this sprint of action was taking place in the high altitude of Denver without slowing down. That’s a little detail that adds to the legend of this series.

Tay Melo & Anna Jay defeated Ruby Soho & Willow Nightingale. Another wild match down the stretch. Tay hit her signature DDT on Soho, but Willow tackled Jay onto the pile. Willow suplexed Jay on the floor. Soho and Melo engaged in a striking exchange with double headbutts sending both down to the mat. Jay rammed Willow into the ring post. JayAS grabbed a chair for clobbering, but referee Aubrey Edwards snatched it away. Behind the ref’s back, Tay tossed a chair at Soho. Soho caught it near her face, and Tay unleashed a pump kick into the steel. Tay finished with the Tay-KO knee strike for victory.

That was a creative way to formulate the finish. The referee actually did the right thing in this case rather than looking foolish, and it still wasn’t good enough. Tay was just one step ahead with a genius plan. I loved Soho’s intensity with fighting Tay one-on-one. Her fire was true to the storytelling of the feud. This was a great sidekick performance from Willow. Dancing to Soho’s theme song brought chuckles, and her power game brought action.

Notes: Kip Sabian wanted a title shot for the All-Atlantic Championship due to eliminating Orange Cassidy in the battle royal last week. Trent pointed out that he eliminated Sabian. By that logic, Trent should be next in line. Cassidy agreed and gave the match to Trent for Rampage. Interesting matchmaking twist.

Chris Jericho recognized that Ricky Starks has the confidence of a superstar, but he doesn’t have all the tools yet. Le Champion plans to school Starks and teach him that Jericho always wins.

Starks had a response at the ready. He will get revenge on Action Andretti’s behalf after last week’s fireball from the Wizard. Starks is going to open a master class on whooping Jericho’s ass in their singles match next week.

Swerve Strickland replaced Keith Lee for not believing in his leadership. Wheeler Yuta butt in. He didn’t like Swerve’s methods, so he challenged Swerve for a match on Rampage.

The Acclaimed aired their latest rap video targeting Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal. Max Caster did not hold back with insults about Jarrett being a carny who rips people off and fails upwards. The line that will draw the most attention, even if Jarrett can’t draw dimes, is saying that Jarrett steals money like it’s Kurt Angle’s wife. For those unaware, Jarrett is married to Angle’s ex-wife, Karen.

The Gunns were still in party mode after beating FTR. They will address that win next week.

Stud of the Show: Hook

Electric moment staring down W. Morrissey, or rather staring up W. Morrissey.

Match of the Night: Jon Moxley & Claudio Castagnoli vs. Top Flight

Awesome action with the young guns stepping up against established superstars.

Grade: A

Excellent episode. The action inside the ring was entertaining and engaging. Several finishes demonstrated creativity. Promos were strong. Overall, the show produced memorable moments to encourage enthusiasm for the near future.

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

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