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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Mar. 2, 2022): MJF is the devil

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AEW Dynamite (Mar. 2, 2022) emanated from Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, FL. The show featured Tony Khan buying ROH, MJF stealing the show twice, and physical statements sent to champions Hangman Page and Dr. Britt Baker DMD on the go-home to Revolution.

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

MJF is the devil

MJF had quite the evening. He stole the show not once, but twice.

After last week’s emotional promo from MJF, CM Punk came to the ring to answer. He was in a somber mood not taking victory laps with the fans. Punk respected MJF’s courage to bear his soul, however, he can’t help but feel this is a ploy of manipulation. Punk has seen MJF do many terrible things in AEW. He doesn’t think MJF is lying. He doubts the man’s sincerity.

Punk asked MJF out to the ring. Punk used to be like MJF doing horrible things. He warned that hatred will burn MJF up. Punk doesn’t know if he himself is a good guy these days, but he is trying. To put action to words, Punk offered MJF a handshake. MJF backed away then embraced in a hug like a child meeting his hero. Punk hugged back.

After that touching moment, MJF showed his true colors by kicking Punk in the groin.

The Pinnacle came out to assist as MJF bloodied Punk. MJF reminded the world that the greatest trick the devil pulled was to convince that he didn’t exist. MJF shouted that he is the devil.

Shawn Spears choked Punk with the dog collar. Darby Allin, Sammy Guevara, and Sting ran in for the save to chase away the evildoers.

That was a mighty strong continuation from last week’s dramatic promo from MJF. This feud has pulled out unexpected turns every step of the way. Watching MJF hug Punk was such a tender moment that felt real with emotion. That was a perfect setup for MJF to attack when Punk’s guard was down. I didn’t see it coming at all and erupted with laughter. It’s not my fault. Low blows are always funny. If there every was a scene to demonstrate a blood feud, Punk bathed in red will do the trick.

Later in the evening after Wardlow and Spears had a disagreement, MJF smoothed things over by the carrot of Wardlow keeping the TNT title shot if he can win the Face of the Revolution ladder match. MJF muttered under his breath that it wasn’t likely Wardlow would win anyway. The big man was out of patience and shot back that he’s been too busy making sure MJF is always winning. SLAP! MJF laid five across the face with threats for Wardlow to know his place otherwise he’ll find his family living on the streets.

Of course, the interaction between MJF and Wardlow made me froth at the mouth for that eventual explosion. The detail that hooked me more was the focus in MJF’s eyes. He didn’t back down from Wardlow. MJF leaned into his full power, and that shows the state of mind he’ll be in when fighting Punk at the PPV. I seriously think this match could take MJF to the next level from goofy villain to devilish fiend. That has been an element missing in MJF’s presentation and preventing him from reaching the next level of success.

Challengers standing tall

The world champs of the men’s and women’s division both saw action in tag bouts during the evening. Hangman Page and Dr. Britt Baker DMD also witnessed their challengers stand tall to end the segment.

In the main event, Hangman was joined by Alex Reynolds and John Silver to take on Adam Cole and reDRagon in trios competition. The factor of interest was how Cole would fare in exchanges with Hangman. Cole played tricks early by choosing to tag out instead of engaging physically with the champ. When Cole did rumble with the cowboy, he picked his spots when Hangman was already damaged by reDRagon.

In the end, a six-man slobberknocker erupted. This was our first taste at the intestinal fortitude of Cole. He threw fists with reckless abandon at Hangman. The cowboy returned fire with the same level of zeal.

When the smoke cleared, Cole was alone with Reynolds in the ring. He outclassed the Dark Order member to Lower the Boom for victory.

After the match, Cole mounted Reynolds to add more punches. Hangman tackled his enemy to sock punches of his own. reDRagon put the numbers game on Hangman. Reynolds and Silver tried to protect their hero, but they were still foggy from the beatdown in the match. Cole’s crew easily dispatched of Hangman’s protectors, then they duct taped the champ to the ropes. Cole talked trash. He didn’t account for the heart of Hangman to keep fighting. Hangman headbutt Cole knocking him back. Cole pounced with a superkick as Hangman couldn’t defend himself. Cole draped the title over Hangman’s shoulder while claiming it would soon be his. Cole and his pals flexed their muscle to taunt the champ as the show went off the air.

This finish was effective and ineffective in equal parts. It was a great success in increasing desire to see Hangman put a foot up Cole’s ass. It certainly would be satisfying to watch Hangman pound this pipsqueak to a pulp. Where the closing fell short was in developing Cole as a genuine threat. I still haven’t seen anything to make me believe Cole could win the world title from Hangman, outside of interfering shenanigans. Cole didn’t help his cause in this particular case by chickening out throughout the bout. Of all the stories for Revolution, that’s why this one is on the bottom half of my anticipation list.

Baker teamed with Jamie Hayter to battle Thunder Rosa and Mercedes Martinez. For the most part in the exchanges between champion and challenger, Thunder pummeled Baker. It wasn’t complete dominance. This was a tag match after all, so Hayter and Martinez were involved as powerhouses to extend the longevity of the bout. Down the stretch, Thunder hit a DVD. Hayter made the save. Thunder continued the pressure to put Baker down on a Fire Thunder Driver. Martinez launched for a cannonball to take out Hayter and Reba, so no one was there to save Baker on this count. Thunder earned the win convincingly.

It was surprising to see the champ pinned like that. I haven’t been keeping track how the go-home victors fare at PPVs to know if there is a pattern in AEW booking. It would seem that Baker will rebound strong, but Thunder roughed her up so much that it might take a mental toll to crack Baker’s aura of confidence. I’m very curious how Baker will game plan when it counts the most in the title match. She will have the benefit of two nefarious forces on her side in Hayter and Reba. Since Hayter was in this match, she wasn’t able to fully focus on protecting Baker.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Tony Khan buys ROH. The big boss of AEW hyped a huge announcement, and he delivered the goods. Khan opened the show to announce the purchase of Ring of Honor.

With so much hype for this news, it is tough to meet expectations, especially when rumors start flying. I think this one fits the criteria for a HUGE announcement. Details are scarce at the moment, and that is part of the appeal on this evening. There are a ton of questions churning in the minds of fans creating excitement. What happens to the ROH brand? Will it stand alone as is, fully develop into a Pure sport to stand out as different from AEW, or morph into a developmental system for AEW? What will happen to ROH world champs Jonathan Gresham and Bandido? And for that matter, how about women’s champ Deonna Purrazzo and tag champ Briscoes? Will we finally get Briscoes versus FTR?

In honor of the ROH news, Khan picked a special matchup for the first bout of the evening. Both Bryan Danielson and Christopher Daniels competed in the very first ROH main event with Low Ki in a three-way. Low Ki won on that evening, however, the story was finding out who was better between Danielson and Daniels.

Bryan Danielson defeated Christopher Daniels. The Fallen Angel found the fountain of youth for an Arabian moonsault. His veteran savvy shined through with counters at the ready for his opponent. Danielson was equally adept at strategic reversals. The American Dragon elevating to a higher level of violence gave him the edge in the end. Danielson countered the Best Moonsault Ever into a triangle choke. He hammered down elbows to knock Daniels unconscious.

After the match, Danielson spoke of the Code of Honor in ROH. They shook hands before the match, and they will shake hands after the match. Danielson picked up Daniels’ limp arm to mimic a handshake of sportsmanship. Danielson continued speaking to say they were not in ROH, so he proceeded to kick Daniels’ head in. Danielson claimed that would be Jon Moxley’s head at the PPV.

Mox came on the scene in a surly mood. He plans to beat Danielson through sheer will. The next chapter of Moxley’s career will be written in blood. Mox was ornery for a fight. Danielson teased engagement then rolled out of the ring.

That was a neat little contest to celebrate a piece of history. The throwback match was a fun time with a violent finish. AEW made sure to keep Danielson’s story with Moxley front and center by the conclusion of the bout. One thing that confused me a little was Moxley’s speech sounding like he already made up his mind not to join Danielson to lead a faction. I never know how to read Moxley, because he always wants to fight. Even when he’s happy, he still wants to fight. Danielson pulled a strong jerk move on Daniels, so that might have soured Moxley on trusting Danielson. If so, then I wouldn’t blame Mox for that stance.

Matt Jackson wins Casino Tag Team Royale. A title opportunity was up for grabs. Royal Rumble rules were in effect for 15 teams competing with entrances at 90-second intervals. The participants in order were FTR, Top Flight, The Acclaimed, 5 & 10, Butcher & Blade, Varsity Blonds, Bear Country, Santana & Ortiz, Best Friends, Evil Uno & Stu Grayson, Young Bucks, Wingmen, Gunn Club, Brock Anderson & Lee Johnson, and 2point0.

The battle royale took the traditional route of hot entrances with energetic moves upon arrival. Since the bout lacked musclemen, bodies loaded up throughout for a cluttered ring. The big pop for the match was the return of Darius Martin from injury to join brother Dante Martin in Top Flight.

The final six came down to the Young Bucks, Top Flight, and FTR. Cash Wheeler caught Dante Martin for a powerbomb with intent to eliminate, but Martin countered for a hurricanrana leading to a double elimination for both men. The big question was if reDRagon would get involved to help the Bucks. They did by distracting Dax Harwood into eating a superkick party from the Bucks for his elimination.

Down to three, Darius Martin held his own to rally against the Bucks. He knocked Matt Jackson into Nick Jackson forcing an elimination of Nick. In the end, Darius and Matt battled on the apron. Matt took advantage of the lack of rules to kick Darius in the groin. A superkick knocking Darius off the apron gave Matt the win. The Young Bucks advance to join reDRagon in a three-way tag title challenge with Jurassic Express at the PPV.

Overall, this was an entertaining battle royale. It wasn’t perfect. Eliminations on the entrance ramp are still an awkward look that hasn’t been ironed out yet. I thought the finish was a little dopey when Darius turned his back instead of making sure Matt was eliminated. I could understand if there were more men still in the mix, however, these were the final two competitors.

On the positive, I really enjoyed how the teams worked together for eliminations. That made it feel unique as a tag team battle royale. The Bucks won with shiftiness. It was okay though since Matt did the deed on his own accord instead of reDRagon blatantly ruining the contest. I like how Darius was presented as a star. He was in danger of being left behind by his brother’s success during the injury absence. Instead, Darius was given the opportunity to shine and position Top Flight as legit contenders in the near future.

Other notable moments included Danhausen cursing Evil Uno to save Trent from elimination. That distraction allowed Trent to suplex Uno on the apron and out of the match. After 2point0 was dumped, they held the feet of Santana and Ortiz leading to their removal. The duos brawled with each other to the back.

The order of elimination was:
30. 5 by FTR
29. Brian Pillman Jr. by FTR
28. Bear Bronson by Santana & Ortiz
27. Bear Boulder by Santana & Ortiz
26. Max Caster by Dante Martin
25. Griff Garrison by Anthony Bowens
24. Blade by 10
23. Butcher by Evil Uno & Stu Grayson
22. Colten Gunn by Young Bucks
21. Austin Gunn by FTR
20. 10 by Anthony Bowens
19. Chuck Taylor by Ortiz
18. Peter Avalon by Stu Grayson
17. Ryan Nemeth by Evil Uno
16. Stu Grayson by Anthony Bowens
15. Brock Anderson by Young Bucks
14. Lee Johnson by Dax Harwood
13. Anthony Bowens by Darius Martin
12. Evil Uno by Trent
11. Jeff Parker by Santana
10. Matt Lee by Ortiz
9. Santana by Cash Wheeler
8. Ortiz by Dax Harwood
7. Trent by Matt Jackson
6 & 5. Cash Wheeler & Dante Martin in double elimination on each other
4. Dax Harwood by Young Bucks
3. Nick Jackson by Darius Martin shoving Matt Jackson into Buck brother
2. Darius Martin by Matt Jackson
Winner: Matt Jackson

Inner Circle pals. Chris Jericho spoke about the world buzzing after his promo segment with Eddie Kingston last week. Jericho is pleased to give Kingston a chance to finally win the big one. If Jericho loses, he’ll shake Kingston’s hand with respect. If Jericho wins, he’ll laugh at the pathetic Kingston and tell him GFY. Santana and Ortiz walked in the picture eyeing Jericho. Le Champion was unsure what to do, then he held out his fist for a pound. Santana and Ortiz returned the friendly gesture. It appeared that peace was made between the Inner Circle brothers.

Jericho’s cockiness was a hoot, but the real scene stealer was the Inner Circle fist pound. It warms my soul to see the Inner Circle work through their beef. When Santana and Ortiz were eliminated from the battle royale, that meant they came up short at earning a tag title shot two weeks in a row. It made me wonder if Jericho was right that he is not to blame for their lack of gold in AEW. Perhaps Santana and Ortiz had the same realization. It will be interesting to observe what happens if Jericho tries to cheat against Kingston. This Inner Circle story might not over if Santana and Ortiz decide to ensure an even playing field.

Wardlow defeated Cezar Bononi. Wardlow dominated with three powerbombs. When Shawn Spears tried to take the glory with a chair shot post-match, Wardlow snatched the foreign object. Spears stepped up to Wardlow then backed away. Spears’ shifty eyes made it appear as if he was calculating if he could still squeeze in a chairshot.

That’s a hoss fight a would have liked to see, but Wardlow proved to be too much man for the Wingman. Spears stole the scene with his weaselly behavior. It will be so good once that relationship explodes.

Notes: Sammy Guevara will defend the TNT Championship against Darby Allin and Andrade in a three-way on Rampage. Fines and suspension were threatened for anyone who interferes. Allin respects Guevara. They will steal the PPV in trios action, but be ready for a fight on Friday night. Later, Sammy did his cue card gimmick to question Andrade’s reliance on help to win. Allin fights fair, and that’s why Sammy respects him.

Keith Lee has a tune-up match on Rampage. Ricky Starks interrupted to warn the Bearcat that Rampage is Starks country. If Lee shows up, he may not make it to Revolution. Lee didn’t back down from the threat.

Tay Conti was interrupted by Jade Cargill. Nobody gives a damn about Conti’s karate shit. Jade is going to destroy her. The Brazilian should be thankful for receiving the TBS title opportunity.

Kris Statlander didn’t appreciate Leyla Hirsch’s behavior after losing. The alien will show a rougher side next time they wrestle. Hirsch was done talking. She’ll let her actions speak louder than words.

Malakai Black thought he did Pentagon a favor in forcing him to embrace new levels of violence. The House of Black does not cast judgement. They only seek truth.

Stud of the Show: Thunder Rosa

Pinning the champ is impressive. Thunder Rosa pretty much kicked the butt of Dr. Britt Baker DMD all match long.

Match of the Night: Casino Tag Team Royale

Royal Rumbles are great. The countdown clock showed the magic is still alive for this format. The Bucks earned a predictable win, but they did it in an unpredictable manner. The match also made Darius Martin look like a star in his return.

Grade: B+

Story momentum is peaking properly before the PPV. Events on this show muddied the sense of predictability in results at Revolution. That’s the sign of an effective go-home Dynamite.

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

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