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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (May 25, 2022): Go-home perfection

AEW Dynamite (May 25, 2022) emanated from Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas, NV. The go-home to Double or Nothing featured Wardlow causing carnage inside a steel cage, Hangman Page firing up on CM Punk, as well as Dr. Britt Baker DMD and Samoa Joe advancing in the Owen Hart tournament.

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

Wardlow time inside a steel cage

The show opened hot with Wardlow versus Shawn Spears inside a steel cage. Wardlow needed the victory to satisfy MJF’s stipulations to earn a one-on-one bout at Double or Nothing on May 29. Cage match rules dictated victory via pinfall or submission. MJF was special guest referee. His outfit resembled Shawn Michaels short shorts referee style, except MJF had Burberry flair.

Wardlow entered wearing handcuffs. MJF pretended to lose the key, so Spears could attack for an easy advantage. MJF helped for a double team and spit in Wardlow’s face. MJF’s smile quickly turned to terror when Wardlow muscled up to break free from the shackles.

Wardlow pummeled Spears. He went for the pin after a swanton. MJF slid into position then refused to count. The rascal taunted Wardlow to make contact for a DQ. Wardlow never took the bait. Instead, he proceeded to pick Spears up for a powerbomb. MJF went low for a blow to the nether regions. Spears pounced for a C4. MJF did a fast count. 1, 2, Wardlow got his shoulder up anyway.

Spears brought in a steel chair. MJF held up Wardlow. Spears wound up. Wardlow dropped down. Spears clobbered MJF with the chair. Ouch.

Wardlow played three notes in the powerbomb symphony. Referee Bryce Remsburg ran in as backup referee. Wardlow powerbombed Spears one more time onto a steel chair. Remsburg made the three-count. Wardlow earned his match against MJF.

Afterward, Wardlow snatched MJF in powerbomb position, but security guards ran down for the save. They entered one-by-one through the door, and Wardlow knocked them down like bowling pins. Wardlow climbed on top of the cage declaring it is his time.

This was a perfect go-home segment to hype the PPV match. It delivered everything fans wanted to see. MJF did his part as scoundrel. Spears did his part as incompetent boob. Wardlow did his part as ultimate ass-kicker. They worked a smart way to get past MJF as guest referee. All of Spears’ screw-ups in the past made it believable that he would mess up again and hit MJF. The match was comedic at times, such as the camera angle catching Wardlow rising up behind Spears and Wardlow smashing security guards one at a time. The laughs blended well with action to never overshadow the purpose. That purpose being to set emotional anticipation toward Wardlow powerbombing MJF into oblivion. I don’t know the record for most powerbombs in one match, but Wardlow needs to break it on MJF. However the match unfolds, we will all be waiting for the glorious powerbomb symphony.

Hangman Page to protect AEW from CM Punk

The final face-to-face between Hangman Page and CM Punk took an interesting turn in the build up to the AEW world title fight at Double or Nothing on May 29.

Hangman was in a mood wearing frilly bandido jeans. Punk was confident in his plans to walk out as world champ. It was only business. That’s why he was confused at Hangman taking it so personal. Hangman shot back that he planned to destroy, annihilate, and embarrass Punk. He doesn’t hate Punk. He pities him. That’s when Hangman’s speech took a curious turn. He claimed he would be defending AEW from Punk.

Punk remained calm. He took credit for the blueprint to AEW, which in turn led to the rise of Hangman. Punk demanded a handshake of respect. When Hangman declined, Punk shoved the cowboy. Hangman reacted with a punch knocking Punk on his keister. Punk smiled with satisfaction believing he was inside Hangman’s head.

First off, the vibe of watching Hangman yell at Punk fired me up as a fan. Kick his ass, cowboy! I will admit that the content of Hangman’s words made me feel out of the loop and a little lost. It kind of sounded like he accused Punk of diva behavior backstage. There has been zero indication of that on screen in his current run, so I’m confused what he was referring to. Punk was equally as good in the subdued yet confident role in selling the fight. His standpoint makes a ton of sense too. I think AEW has a done a good job so far in the babyface versus babyface matchup. Fans win either way no matter which wrestler wins, but each individual will be pulling for one of them a little bit stronger due to how the war of words has played out.

Samoa Joe & Dr. Britt Baker DMD advance in Owen Hart tournament semifinals

A pair of Owen Hart tournament semifinal matchups were advertised as the double main event of Dynamite. Dr. Britt Baker DMD clashed with Toni Storm, and Samoa Joe put hands on Kyle O’Reilly.

Baker was up for the challenge and sent her friends to the back. The bout was physical and strategic. Storm’s best move was the tornado DDT. She hit one in the ring at a pivotal moment and one on the floor down the stretch. Baker never flustered. She was able to counter into an Air Raid Crash, but Storm kicked out on the cover. That’s when Jamie Hayter ran to the ring.

Baker wasn’t interested in assistance. Hayter’s presence almost backfired immediately when Storm scored a roll-up. Baker escaped in time to keep fighting. When Storm had strong momentum, Hayter hopped onto the apron. Storm took the bait to wallop Hayter. Baker recovered enough to find wits for a counter sequence to sit on top and trap Storm for the pin. It also helped that Baker grabbed the ropes without the referee noticing. Baker advances to the women’s final at Double or Nothing.

This was a very solid match between Baker and Storm. It was smartly laid out without forecasting a winner. Even though Hayter was ringside, she didn’t really get too involved. The finish wasn’t very satisfying with a cheap roll-up, but it opens the door for Storm to serve up revenge. She warned Baker about outside interference. Let’s see if Storm backs it up or is all bark with no bite.

Samoa Joe and Kyle O’Reilly went to war to close the broadcast. O’Reilly tried to keep Joe on the mat, but the Samoan was too savvy and too large. O’Reilly found success in attacking Joe’s tender shoulder. Whenever Joe rallied, O’Reilly went back to the well of targeting the weakened socket. That strategy almost paid off when O’Reilly escaped a musclebuster to slap on a Fujiwara armbar. Joe crawled to the ropes for the break.

For the finish, O’Reilly used the ropes to create motion for a roll-up. Joe pushed out for a rear naked choke. O’Reilly fought with hand control to prevent Joe from tightening the grip, but his giant meat hook was strong enough for a single-arm squeeze on the throat. O’Reilly passed out in defeat.

Joe advances to the tournament final versus Adam Cole on the PPV. Cole came out on stage for a staredown.

Badass match and great action to finish the evening. Joe and O’Reilly were in a slugfest. O’Reilly’s run in this tournament has made me a fan. Joe, well, I always love Joe. His strikes are vicious enough to feel through the screen. Even his elbow drop is punishing with the way he jumps into the air for maximum impact.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston defeated Private Party. Mox and King mauled their opponents for much of the contest. Private Party had a burst with Isiah Kassidy hitting a flying stunner on Moxley and Marq Quen landing a shooting star press for the pin. Mox kicked out to continue the contest. He countered the Silly String finisher with a heavy lariat. Kingston rushed in to pummel Quen with a dragon sleeper hold and hammering elbows. Moxley landed bows of his own leading to a Paradigm Shift on Kassidy for the win.

William Regal was joined by Chris Jericho on commentary with JAS watching his back. The wizard cut his entrance short not allowing fans to sing along. After the match, Kingston exited the ring looking to fight. JAS met him on stage. Santana, Ortiz, and Bryan Danielson ran out for a brawl to ignite.

Moxley and Kingston dished out violence, pain, and torture in an exciting manner. They made the most of stretching Private Party’s flexibility to the max. The way Kassidy and Quen took bumps added to the entertainment. The post-match chaos did its job of giving a taste of anarchy in the arena.

ROH World Tag Team Championship: FTR versus Roppongi Vice ended in a no-contest. Good match with good action. The bout was ruined when former IWGP tag champs Jeff Cobb and Great-O-Khan beat everyone up. Cobb used a Doctor Bomb to put Dax Harwood through a table. Khan gripped Trent’s head for an iron claw slam off the apron through a table.

I have conflicting views on the finish. On one hand, it was crap to flush a riveting match. As a viewer, FTR and Roppongi Vice had me in the groove with their fluid teamwork. I wanted to see a winner. AEW generally does not use that no-contest tactic, and that’s one of the reasons I appreciate the product. On the other hand, it was a cool surprise and a badass way to reintroduce Cobb and introduce Khan. Their powerful destruction left me wanting to see them wrestle in an actual match. It also sparked desire for future matches against FTR and Roppongi Vice getting payback.

Swerve Strickland defeated Ricky Starks and Jungle Boy in a three-way. There were so many cool spots in this match. To name just a few, Starks rodeo strut during a stalling suplex and Swerve landed on his feet from a super rana by JB.

Another neat sequence was Starks spearing Swerve as he lifted Jungle Boy for a suplex, then Starks hammering a Michinoku driver to JB. Swerve broke the pinfall. The finish came about when Starks reached the ropes to escape a tight Snare Trap from Jungle Boy. JB pulled Starks back to center. Mr. Absolute was close to passing out when Swerve dropkicked JB to break it up. Swerve didn’t skip a beat to land a flying stomp to the dazed Starks for victory.

After the match, the big boys rumbled. Keith Lee hit an amazing slingshot corkscrew plancha onto Will Hobbs and Luchasaurus.

Very fun match. Everyone shined to their strengths. Starks added personality into execution. Swerve was smooth moving. Jungle Boy was slick picking his spots. All three were opportunists making for an unpredictable finish. It should be just as much fun when the heavyweights are added to the mix for the PPV.

Notes: Chris Jericho threw a fireball in the face of a stagehand. That’s what wizards do to fans of Jon Moxley. This was so ridiculous that it was hilarious. Daddy Magic being Daddy Magic, Cool Hand’s switchblade comb, Jericho’s flashy outfit, and the fireball itself were a hoot. Much credit to the man on the floor selling the fireball with screams of agony.

Jade Cargill beat Anna Jay already and questioned why she deserves a rematch. Anna replied that she had learned from the best since that loss. Now, it is time to be the best. Jade’s line didn’t make sense considering she was the one who offered the TBS title bout.

The Hardys see similarities with the Young Bucks as youths, but the Bucks wouldn’t have survived the Hardys’ path in the days they came up through the business. The Bucks are Hardy cosplayers, while the Hardys are cementing their status as legit GOATs. The Bucks will be stepping stones toward the AEW tag titles.

Dan Lambert ordered a custom TNT title for Scorpio Sky, since Sammy Guevara destroyed the belt. The new gold will be presented on Rampage.

Thunder Rosa is the face of someone who has worked for everything she has without complaining. She is grateful to be champion. Thunder advised that Serena Deeb look in the mirror instead of pointing fingers. When they fight at the PPV, La Mera Mera will teach Deeb a lesson in respect.

Red Velvet was upset at losing to Kris Statlander. She handed a scouting notebook of the alien’s weaknesses to Ruby Soho. Soho tossed the book aside.


Stud of the Show: Keith Lee

That slingshot plancha was shocking in an awesome way. Lee was limitless on his corkscrew rotations.

Match of the Night: Swerve Strickland vs. Ricky Starks vs. Jungle Boy

Constant action with a true three-way feel, athleticism all around, high drama, and a creative finish.

Grade: A-

The go-home show did exactly as it should to hype and ratchet up peak anticipation levels for Double or Nothing.

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