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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Dec. 7, 2022): Ricky Starks shining bright

AEW Dynamite (Dec. 7, 2022) emanated from H-E-B Center in Austin TX. The show featured Ricky Starks shining bright in his quest to pest MJF, Samoa Joe dueling with Darby Allin over the TNT Championship, the Acclaimed battling FTR in a barn burner for the AEW tag titles, and much more.

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

Dynamite Diamond Ring Battle Royal

Ricky Starks was the man of the hour. Too sweet to be sour. First, Starkman won the Dynamite Diamond Ring Battle Royal, then he was absolute on the mic in a promo exchange with MJF.

The Dynamite Diamond Ring Battle Royal had twelve participants. Ricky Starks, Jungle Boy, Dustin Rhodes, Ethan Page, Matt Hardy, Lee Moriarty, Brian Cage, Orange Cassidy, Butcher, Shawn Dean, Kip Sabian, and Dalton Castle vied for the right to challenge MJF for the Dynamite Diamond Ring at a future date. Stokely Hathaway, W. Morrissey, Blade, Penelope Ford, Prince Nana, and Castle’s Boys were ringside for support.

The wackiest moment was Castle motorboating Hardy’s belly button. The first elimination came as Cassidy was hanging on the rope. Blade walked over and punched OC in the midsection. Cassidy lost his grip and fell to the floor. OC had been trifling with Sabian. Upon Cassidy’s departure, Rhodes ran over for a cool Destroyer on Sabian and clotheslined Boxhead over the ropes. Sabian was ousted.

It was nice seeing Rhodes get a moment, because he didn’t last much longer. Butcher landed a lariat to knock Rhodes to the outside. The next elimination was Castle, but Cage had to work for it. The Machine repeatedly knocked the peacock master off the apron, then the boys caught him over and over. Eventually, the boys carried Castle over to a different side of the ring. Cage kept his eyes on the prize and tossed Castle so hard that the boys fell down when catching him. Castle was out.

Starks shoulder blocked Butcher off the apron for the next elimination. Jungle Boy leaped over the ropes for a slick headscissors to take Moriarty off the apron. JB hung on the ropes, but Morrissey booted him down to the floor. Morrissey added injury to insult with a dangerous looking chokeslam onto the ring apron.

Hardy hit a Twist of Fate on Dean. Page ordered Hardy to eliminate Dean, but Hardy told his boss to do it himself. Page obliged to dump Dean. The Firm had 2-on-1 odds against Starks as the final three, however, Page’s bossiness was wearing thin on Hardy. Nonetheless, Hardy was the good soldier to protect Private Party from being punished by Page for Hardy’s transgressions. Hardy charged at Starks, and Starks countered to send Hardy packing.

The final two were Starks and Page. Starks connected on a tornado DDT off the ropes. Page came back with a roundhouse kick to knock Starks loopy. Page picked up Starks for a powerslam over the ropes, however, Starks countered on the way down to force Page falling to the floor. Starks was the victor.

Consider me a fan of all battle royals. The format forces excitement. This one was solid in action. One thing I didn’t like, which isn’t particular to this specific battle royal, was legal eliminations by illegal participants. It’s not against the rules, but it should be. Outside cheaters make eliminations feel cheap. Blade and Morrissey weren’t even trying to be sneaky about it. They blatantly interfered in front of the referees. It opens the door to question why they don’t enter the ring and beat everyone up to help their pals. On the plus side, we should be getting Jungle Boy versus Morrissey in the near future. I’m all for Jungle Boy as a giant killer.

Starks was a fitting winner. It adds a feather in his cap to build his star profile. Page acted like a fool by focusing on humiliation for Hardy rather than urgency to win the match. Page deserved to lose. The final elimination looked neat with Starks on the reversal.

If there was any doubt about Starks as the right choice, the post-match promo session between Starks and MJF should lay that skepticism to rest. Starks and MJF spit hot fire.

MJF didn’t waste any time. He approached Starks immediately after the battle royal. MJF began with a message for Bryan Danielson, who was still by William Regal’s side at the hospital after last week’s heinous brass knuckles attack. MJF claimed Danielson was terrified. That is far-fetched slander, considering nobody is scared of MJF in the AEW locker room. It gets the point across though to plant seeds for that future matchup.

MJF referred to Starks as the Pebble stealing his shtick from the Rock. Starks is just a dollar store Dwayne. MJF is going to stick the pebble in his pocket and skip it across the lake all the way back to the NWA on YouTube where Starks belongs. That was good shit talking from MJF. Simple and amusing with hints of truth to make it sting.

Starks took his turn to speak. He viewed MJF as a fifth-rate Roddy Piper. Starks insulted MJF’s style. That one didn’t jive with me, since they have similar haircuts, footwear, and Starks often wears tighter shirts than MJF. Honestly, they are both snappy in the style department. Starks continued about MJF avoiding responsibility. Starks lives his life with dignity and respect. Those are things MJF knows nothing about. Starks is looking forward to shutting up MJF to taking the world title and the Dynamite Diamond Ring next week at Winter Is Coming. MJF comically responded with a kick to the nads. Starks had the last laugh on this evening with a spear to close the scene.

That promo from Starks was dynamite. Classic babyface rallying cry for the fans to get behind. It was a star-making promo to show Starks is ready to break through. It’s all but a certainty that MJF will retain, but imagine the pop if Starks wins the world title next week. It would blow the roof off. That’s how effective Starks is in getting over, and this promo put him on the main event stage.

King of Television

Samoa Joe entered as the King of Television to defend the TNT Championship against Darby Allin, and the match was a delight.

Allin attacked with rapid speed like a rabid squirrel. Joe sidestepped a suicide dive, and Allin crashed into the guardrail and floor. Joe picked up his swagger to swing Allin into the barricade and added a scoop slam on the floor.

Joe roughed up Allin until the ‘little engine that could’ rallied. Allin caught Joe by surprise for a stunner and Code Red. Joe kicked out on the cover. Joe regained control with a uranage out of the corner. Joe intended for a Musclebuster, but Allin shoved him down to the mat. Allin launched for a Coffin Drop, however, Joe caught him in a rear naked choke upon impact. Allin’s eyes rolled back into his head, and the referee called for the bell. Joe retained his gold.

After the contest, Allin shoved Joe. Joe headbutt Allin in response and hit a Musclebuster on top of Allin’s skateboard, wheels up. Wardlow chased Joe away.

Awesome fight. That match was a hack of a lot of fun. Get lost, Wardlow. I want Allin to be the man to solve the riddle of Joe. Don’t get me wrong. I definitely want more hoss fighting, just that Joe comes out on top. The duel with Allin has the makings of round one in a longer feud. The way the action played out leaves room for Allin to adapt and overcome. It would also be a huge win to get Allin’s superstar status back on track.

World title tag team action

Tag team action! The Acclaimed put AEW gold on the line against FTR. The top two tag teams in AEW were finally set to clash. The big fight feel was brewing with the crowd’s enthusiasm. The camera caught a cool angle of FTR’s six championship belts stacked in a huge pile in the corner. That shot alone put over the match for me.

Bully Gunn was ringside and did his job as hype man on the outside. Watching Billy’s reactions sold the magnitude of near falls. The first close finish came on a spike piledriver from FTR to Anthony Bowens. Bowens dramatically kicked out at 2. The Acclaimed hit a cazadora cutter on Dax Harwood. Kick out at 2. FTR hit a Big Rig on Max Caster. The rapper was damaged goods and had the good luck of Bowens breaking the pin. For the sake of brevity, I’m listing these hot moments one after the other. In actuality, they were set up smoothly with little counter battles between each moment.

The Acclaimed came back for a corkscew suplex from Bowens, Caster was still a little woozy and too slow to launch for the Mic Drop. He missed the mark when Cash Wheeler moved away. Wheeler took control with hefty lariats. Three in a row then a powerbomb. Wheeler bridged over for a jackknife pin. Caster reversed position to score a sneaky three-count for victory. And still AEW world tag team champions, the Acclaimed.

That main event tag team contest crescendoed excellently to have the fans in their pocket. They were erupting for the Acclaimed’s fighting spirit and were fully entrenched in the drama of Caster attempting the Mic Drop. I appreciate how the finish was unpredictable rather than formulaic. One thing I felt iffy on was Caster looking too coherent on the winning pin after taking such a brutal beating from Wheeler. It didn’t feel natural in my view. All in all though, it was a damn fine win for the Acclaimed and cements their AEW legacy. I say the belts should remain with the Acclaimed until they meet a team equally as over with the fans. Fan investment in the Acclaimed adds a special element to shows. Keep the star train rolling.

After the match, the Gunn sons interrupted to bring news that FTR will defend the ROH tag titles against the Briscoes in a double dog collar match. That will take place at the Final Battle PPV on December 10.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Jon Moxley speaks. Mox cut another strong promo. He is actually starting to like Hangman Page. The cowboy fell off the horse, got back in the saddle, and let his fists do the talking. Moxley respects that. There are too many talkers in AEW. This is not All Elite Talking or the Blackpool Microphone Club. Mox aims to bring back ass-kicking wrestling to AEW.

That promo fired me up for the future. Please, serve as many ass-kicking matches as we can handle. Moxley will get his chance to back up his words against Konosuke Takeshita on Rampage. Personally, I’d like a little variety for someone new as Mox’s opponent and also to see Takeshita advance beyond the same position he’s been stuck in as a good hand losing to top stars. We’ll see how this shakes out. Maybe AEW will surprise us. Maybe not.

Claudio Castagnoli & Wheeler Yuta defeated Jake Hager & Daniel Garcia. The sports entertainers isolated Yuta. Hot tag to Claudio running wild with uppercuts. It took some work for Claudio to put Hager in the giant swing, and it was glorious.

Down the stretch, JAS had the upper hand with Hager hooking an ankle lock on Claudio and Garcia sitting deep for a Sharpshooter on Yuta. Claudio managed to break free and shove Hager into Garcia. On the bounce back, Claudio blasted Hager with a brutal uppercut for victory.

Even though BCC versus JAS fatigue is real, the matches often hook my attention by the end. That’s a testament to their action skills in the ring. The finishes are generally creative in flow. I’m happy Hager didn’t goof it up with his hat for this match. Doing the hat routine against Orange Cassidy fit well, because OC is a comedy man. Focusing on his hat against professional wrestlers would have been a mistake. Thumbs up for sticking it straight. I also enjoyed Moxley ringside as coach. He was visibly shouting instruction. Mox was invested in the outcome as a proper team player. Little did I know that Moxley’s appearance would play perfectly right into the post-match segment.

William Regal speaks. After BCC’s win, Tony Schiavone played a secret message from Regal to the lads. It was taped after Full Gear but prior to MJF’s brass knuckles punch. Regal spun his BCC betrayal as giving MJF what he asked for. Now as champion, MJF has to experience being hunted by all with the target on his back. Regal also wanted to teach BCC one final lesson. He did all he can for the group, but he realized they love him too much to let him walk away. This showed BCC that they don’t need him. The veterans can teach Yuta to be the best without Regal. His final lesson to Moxley was to always stay one step ahead and keep eyes in the back of his head. Regal closed by saying he is Blackpool Combat Club until the day he dies.

Moxley responded positively about BCC living and breathing wrestling. He turned his focus to the future. BCC will make a serious statement to crush JAS at Final Battle.

In hindsight, was this Regal story a convoluted mess? Yes. Did AEW retcon this promo as effectively as possible? Yes. Given the outside circumstances leading to Regal’s departure, AEW wrapped up his story as best they could to leave the fans with a positive memory of the BCC head coach. Regal also exited in a manner that they don’t have to change the group’s name. Add in Moxley’s intensity, and I’m pumped for the future of the Blackpool Combat Club.

Jade Cargill, Red Velvet, & Leila Grey defeated Kiera Hogan, Madison Rayne, and Skye Blue. Jade let the Baddies do most of the work, then she took over when the time called. Hogan got the better of Jade for a bit until the TBS champ smashed with power. Jade won the match by finishing Rayne with Jaded.

Adequate filler bout. It highlights the lack of character building for Hogan. We’re automatically supposed to cheer for her opposite Jade. That’s not flying with me. Honestly, Hogan deserved to get fired by Jade. She had one job to get back the TBS title from Nyla Rose, and she failed to do it. That’s grounds for a firing. There was never any babyface tension built to support Hogan on her way out. Nor were there any fresh promos to set up this match either. Hogan scoring so much offense on Jade was a little surprising, so at least they could build a TBS title challenge off that.

Notes: Orange Cassidy told Kip Sabian to just ask for a title shot if he wants it. Sabian claimed to be injured but would find someone else instead. Cassidy didn’t care. The AEW All-Atlantic Championship match is set for Rampage. Surely Sabian will track down Goldberg, right? Okay, not right. But, how about Miro? Ease of convenience points to Blade or Butcher.

Chris Jericho’s original plan was to deliberately desecrate ROH, then he ironically became the greatest ROH world champion. Beating Claudio Castagnoli at Final Battle will be the best thing for Claudio. Jericho is looking forward to taking him under his wing as a sports entertainer.

House of Black is going to exterminate the corruption from AEW. These House of Black promos always sound cool. Now, it is a matter of story execution to pay it off.

Jamie Hayter will be a fighting champion. Hikaru Shida wrestles Bunny on Rampage. Hayter offered the winner a world title shot.

Dr. Britt Baker DMD challenged Saraya to a tag team bout when AEW visits Los Angeles on January 11 for Dynamite. Baker & Hayter will wrestle Saraya and a partner.

Stud of the Show: Ricky Starks

Absolute star-making promo. Stepped up big on the big stage.

Match of the Night: Samoa Joe vs. Darby Allin

Cool match all the way through. Joe and Allin went hard-hitting and strategic. That’s right up my alley. I have no qualms to anyone making a case for Blackpool Combat Club versus Jericho Appreciation Society or The Acclaimed versus FTR. All three were high-quality contests.

Grade: A-

Entertaining show with great matches, great promos, and great moments.

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

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