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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Feb. 16, 2022): No mercy

AEW Dynamite (Feb. 16, 2022) emanated from the Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, TN. The show featured a Karate Kid cameo to steal the show, Sammy Guevara dueling with Darby Allin for the TNT Championship, Chris Jericho kicking Eddie Kingston in the head, and more developments in the ever-evolving Elite soap opera.

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

No mercy

The Forbidden Door has brought a tremendous feeling that anything can happen in AEW. It generally applies to wrestlers, but now it unofficially expanded to include cameos from cult classic characters. This latest surprise appearance stole the show. Welcome Martin Kove to the stage. Kove is better known as Sensei John Kreese from the Karate Kid universe.

Kove appeared backstage with Dr. Britt Baker DMD.

The scene revolved around Mercedes Martinez fighting Thunder Rosa in a No DQ match. When Baker asked her sensei what to do if Martinez fails, he coolly replied, “You know what to do. Finish her. No mercy.”

I love how they treat Kove as his Karate Kid character in real life. That is the type of silliness in sports entertainment I can embrace with glee. It left me hoping that AEW makes him a permanent character. While that probably won’t happen, at least it wasn’t the end of Kove on the show.

Kove was in the front row to observe the No DQ bout. Martinez and Thunder Rosa beat the stuffing out of each other. They kicked it off with a collision of swinging a lead pipe against a chair. That led to brawling in the crowd and Thunder hitting a flying crossbody off the railing in her Game of Death Bruce Lee outfit.

Action intensified with a suplex by Martinez off the apron onto a table.

In the end, Thunder Rosa used a crucifix bomb to set up a Fire Thunder Driver onto a pile of chairs to win.

After the contest, Thunder held up Martinez’s arm in a show of respect for the war they just waged on each other. Baker consulted with her sensei. Kove declared it was time to finish her, so Baker took action.

That led to Reba and Jamie Hayter smashing Thunder in the ring. Baker ordered Martinez to finish the job with the lead pipe. As the mercenary hesitated, Hayter had enough and attacked Martinez from behind for the mean girls to stand tall.

The fight did not disappoint in terms of intensity and aggression. Plus, Martinez’s spider German suplex is so cool looking and rugged enough to feel the pain through the screen.

The aftermath with Kove was a great way to involve a charismatic character in the mix. They played to his strengths to pop signature lines. Simple and effective for maximum enjoyment.

TNT Championship main event

The main event was a high-octane clash between daredevils as Sammy Guevara defended the TNT Championship against Darby Allin. Respect was shown both ways in a handshake before the action erupted. Sammy hit the first wild move with a fireman’s carry drop onto the turnbuckles. He hung Allin’s body over the ropes to attack with a flying senton.

The tide shifted when Sammy tweaked his knees on the landing of a missed moonsault. Allin wasted no time targeting the weak spot. Sammy showed heart fighting through pain to execute a Spanish Fly. Allin remained focused on attacking the knee. During a figure-four, Sammy defiantly flipped the bird and smacked Allin across the face. That resulted in a badass slap fight.

Sammy gained control for the GTH, but Allin countered out into the Last Supper pinning predicament. Sammy was able to kick out. Allin kept on the pressure for an over-the-top stunner. Sammy was astute enough to roll out of the ring preventing more offense. Allin gave chase on a suicide dive, however, Sammy caught him in a cutter.

Sammy missed a flying swanton crashing onto the apron. Allin seized the moment to set up a Coffin Drop. That’s when shenanigans muddied the water. Andrade’s assistant trifled as a distraction. Sting eliminated that threat, but it occupied the referee’s attention to miss Andrade sneaking in to hit Allin with a foreign object. Sammy wasn’t quite sure what happened. Once he saw Allin prime for the plucking, he shrugged his shoulders and finished with a GTH to retain.

Afterward, Matt Hardy ran out to punch on Allin. Andrade stood tall stealing Sammy’s title belt to close the show.

Guevara and Allin rocked the ring with excitement. It was highly competitive and had me guessing who would win by the end. Unfortunately, Andrade mucked it up with interference. It makes perfect sense in the story of this developing feud, but that doesn’t make it satisfying to watch as a viewer. After getting so hooked into the match, I felt a little robbed not being able to see a clean winner. Oh well. I suppose I’ll have to wait and see how the story plays out toward the PPV.

Elite soap opera

Tension is back within the Super Elite Club. It never really left, but the story to win Adam Cole’s affections took a mini break with the absence of reDRagon in recent weeks. Kyle O’Reilly mentioned he became a new father. O’Reilly was back, and it just so happens that a convenient opportunity arose for bickering to resume between reDRagon and the Young Bucks.

Seeds were planted early when Jurassic Express revealed that they will defend the tag titles in a three-way at Revolution on March 6. The participants will be determined in a tag team battle royale next week and a casino battle royale the following week. My initial thought was that it seems like a perfect way for reDRagon and the Bucks to both jump the line.

Changing gears for a moment, Adam Cole interrupted Hangman Page’s championship interview. Cole praised Hangman’s journey to earn the right to be called a champion. He riled up the cowboy’s chaps by insinuating the title reign won’t last much longer if they wrestle one-on-one. Hangman was getting testy as Cole continued with minor insults. Cole defused the situation with a handshake for the best man to win if they ever have to fight. Cole exited in peace. That was a trick for the return of reDRagon.

Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish pounded Hangman from behind. Cole ran back to the ring to join in on the fun. The Dark Order ran in for the save. 10 went wild and destroyed security personnel in the ring.

The next Elite scene showed reDRagon wondering why the Bucks didn’t help. Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson felt like beating Hangman was old news. That led to dissension about which team would take the tag titles from Jurassic Express. As both duos exited on opposite ends of the camera, Cole was conflicted about which side to join. He yelled at Brandon Cutler to cut the feed before we could see any more.

These scenes teased a lot of little pieces, and it is still a mystery where they will fall. That helps make things interesting for the build to Revolution. The Young Bucks and reDRagon could very well earn both open slots against Jurassic Express. It is just as likely that they explode on each other and end up with their own tag match on the PPV. There is also the tiny window for the Bucks could turn face by helping Hangman if Cole goes overboard with deviousness. This should be a fun few weeks to see how the soap opera unfolds.


Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

CM Punk stipulation. Punk opened the show to choose the time, place, and match against MJF as a reward for teaming for Jon Moxley to defeat FTR last week. Punk went with a dog collar match at the Revolution PPV on March 6 in Orlando, FL. The reasoning was that he wanted to teach MJF a lesson, so he thought back to the toughest matches he himself has lost. MJF came out, lost his nerve to speak, dropped the mic, then exited.

Punk’s promo had personal references and past talking points from the feud tying the dog collar concept together in a neat little package. With all of MJF’s running, the dog collar stipulation is very fitting for the story. MJF’s response sold the idea that he knows he’s in deep trouble now. I’m expecting Punk to follow through on his words to stain the canvas with MJF’s blood.

Bryan Danielson defeated Lee Moriarty. The youngster held his own to make a strong impression, but Danielson poured on the pain in the end. Danielson escaped a crossface to explode for a shoulder capture suplex. He followed with a running knee. Moriarty was pretty much out cold. Danielson didn’t care and taught a lesson in violence by stomping Moriarty’s head and using a triangle choke for victory. The referee ended the bout judging Moriarty to be choked into unconsciousness.

Excellent technical duel from the two wrestlers. There were numerous nifty counters and cool moments, like a Romero special into a dragon sleeper by Danielson, an upside down slugfest, and Danielson’s double bicep pose during the winning submission.

It was amusing how Danielson embraced the violence in giving and receiving. The story hammered home Danielson’s direction as a man who wants to teach violence. Sometimes contests don’t match the promo content. That wasn’t the case here. Everything Danielson did was about violence. I’m curious to see Moriarty’s next bout to observe if he learned from this experience. He did demonstrate a more aggressive edge, but it is difficult to tell if he rose to that level based on necessity to survive or if he truly embraced the fire within.

Jon Moxley responds. Danielson requested an answer to his proposal, so the man in question came out. Moxley didn’t say no, and he didn’t say yes. He actually couldn’t think of a good reason not to join forces for personal glory and creating a legacy of training killers. However, Moxley was more focused on testing himself against Danielson. Moxley has never defeated Danielson in the ring, so he flipped the script to question if Danielson came up with this idea as a way to weasel out of a beating. Moxley doesn’t stand side by side with anybody until they bleed together first. That was Moxley’s way of strongly hinting that he wants the match before any decision will be made.

Great promo from Moxley. He created intrigue, filled in the dots of personal history, provided reasons of deeper importance, and closed with a tease for the future. That all works to get the fans hooked even harder in this story. I say let’s have the best of both worlds. We can be treated to a kick-ass fight at Revolution that could steal the show, and Moxley can also join Danielson after gaining respect through violence.

Wardlow defeated Max Caster. Wardlow had momentum and aimed to end with a powerbomb, but Anthony Bowens grabbed Wardlow’s foot to save Caster. Bowens also passed the steel chain to Caster, who used it on a punch to escape a powerbomb. Shawn Spears sat by the entire time not doing anything to help his Pinnacle mate. Spears appeared to intentionally distract the referee during Caster’s loaded punch. Caster landed a flying elbow dropkick. That wasn’t enough to keep the muscle man down. Wardlow rallied with three powerbombs en route to victory. The bout was a qualifier for the Face of the Revolution match, so Wardlow joins Keith Lee as official participants.

Afterward, Bowens attacked Wardlow. The big man goozled Bowens for a powerbomb. Spears finally entered the ring with his chair to hit both of the Acclaimed after the hard work was already done by Wardlow.

Wardlow continued his beastly run of dominance. Caster played enough tricks to make it competitive. Once again for Wardlow, the story isn’t so much about the match. It was more about the curious relationship between Wardlow and Spears. It is pretty clear that the accountabilibuddy will be held accountable one of these days for a powerbomb symphony. It’s just a matter of time until Wardlow cracks. Spears is doing his job well poking the bear and also bringing humor with the late chair shots.

Santana & Ortiz defeated Chris Jericho & Jake Hager. Eddie Kingston made his return to back his boys to a thundering ovation.

Down the stretch, Jericho had momentum for a Lionsault, but Ortiz anticipated the move. Ortiz grabbed Jericho on the ropes preventing liftoff. That set up Santana to pounce for a Russian leg sweep. Ortiz took out Hager with a cannonball. Santana and Ortiz then hit the Street Sweeper on Jericho. Le Champion showed the heart of a champion to kick out.

Santana charged forward for a stepping stool cannonball. Jericho caught him to counter for a Liontamer. Santana dramatically reached the ropes for the break. Kingston hopped onto the apron to cheer his pal, so Jericho dropkicked his nemesis down to the floor. When Jericho went for the Judas Effect, Santana ducked and Ortiz walloped Jericho. Santana unloaded a discus lariat for victory. After the pinfall, Jericho immediately exited the ring for a skirmish with Kingston.

Emotion was hot all around for this bout. Santana took out frustration on Jericho to the point of calling him a scrub. Hager wondered aloud why it had to be this way but fought hard anyway. Jericho seethed upon the sight of Kingston. Commentary tried to paint Jericho as the bad guy for attacking Kingston, but I have to side with Le Champion. Kingston is a nefarious cheater, so Jericho should receive credit for neutralizing a threat. Not to mention, it was really funny that Jericho didn’t skip a beat to squeeze in a cheap shot. The drama was electric down the stretch. Santana had fans rowdy when he broke out of the Lionsault, then the roof blew off for Jericho’s counter catch into the Liontamer.

Notes: Keith Lee felt the tangible anticipation upon his arrival. The TNT Championship will be his in an effort to make a statement.

The House of Black teased a new member coming aboard. As Malakai Black concluded his speech, a shadowy figure appeared behind. The promo itself sounded cool with verbal imagery.

“Switchblade” Jay White mentioned how AEW may have never started if he didn’t beat Kenny Omega, causing him to leave NJPW. For that, you are welcome.


Stud of the Show: Chris Jericho

Le Champion used all his powers to put on a show in the ring, put over Santana & Ortiz, and put his feet upside the head of Eddie Kingston ratcheting up excitement for a fight. Triple whammy!

Match of the Night: Bryan Danielson vs. Lee Moriarty

There were four strong bouts on this evening. I’m giving the edge to Danielson and Moriarty due to the consistency of quality throughout.

Grade: A-

Good wrestling makes for a good time. Stories remain engaging, and a cool cameo stole the night.

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