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AEW Dynamite preview (Jan. 11, 2023): Is Mercedes Moné All Elite?

WWE.com

Dynamite airs tonight (Jan. 11) with a live show from the Kia Forum in Los Angeles, California. AEW is less than eight weeks away from its next pay-per-view on the calendar, Revolution, which is scheduled for March 5.

The rumors of Sasha Banks coming to AEW are finally over

Roughly five weeks ago, AEW announced a tag team match for tonight’s episode of Dynamite in Los Angeles: Saraya and a Mystery Partner vs. Britt Baker and AEW Women’s World Champion Jamie Hayter.

The rumor mill was on fire immediately with talk of former WWE star Sasha Banks coming to AEW. She walked out of WWE in May 2022 and had yet to resurface in pro wrestling, with reports indicating that she was set to become a free agent on Jan. 1, 2023. This AEW tag team match has no stakes, so it wouldn’t make sense to announce it five weeks ahead of time unless something major was in the works like Banks coming to AEW.

Sasha has since returned to pro wrestling under her new ring name Mercedes Moné with an appearance last week at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17, and there is a lot of uncertainty about whether or not she is actually showing up in AEW tonight. The increasing uncertainty is related to the fact that Saraya announced last week that her mystery partner will actually be Toni Storm. Was AEW President Tony Khan trying to temper expectations because he did not have a deal with Banks?

Saraya’s announcement was done in a disrespectful way towards Hikaru Shida, so there is a very good chance that Shida will get involved in tonight’s match, regardless of whether Mercedes Moné is in the building or not. It’s worth noting that Britt Baker called herself the boss elsewhere on the episode, which convinced many fans that The Boss must still be on her way to AEW.

The announcement of Storm as Saraya’s partner doesn’t necessarily tell us much about Moné’s AEW status. It seems unlikely that NJPW would pay Mercedes a huge amount of money just for her return match to come with another wrestling promotion, so it could have been AEW’s plan all along for her debut to be part of an angle rather than competing in a tag match.

The bottom line is that after weeks of being flooded with rumors about Sasha Banks possibly coming to AEW on Jan. 11, we finally get a definitive answer tonight on a loaded Dynamite card.

The rest of tonight’s lineup

The best-of-seven series between Death Triangle and The Elite wraps up tonight in Escalera de la Muerte. Only one team can emerge as the AEW world trios champions, and they’ll have to climb a ladder in order to claim the gold. PAC, Rey Fenix, Pentagon, the Young Bucks, and Kenny Omega have torn the house down in each of their previous six matches in this series, so the stage is set for a spectacular finish.

After weeks of wild brawls and medical drama, the long-awaited rematch between Jon Moxley and Hangman Page takes place tonight. Page was knocked out and concussed by Moxley the last time they wrestled each other on Dynamite in October. The world title was on the line in that match, but this time it’s personal and all about kicking another man’s ass to prove who is at the top of the food chain in AEW.

Bryan Danielson vs. Konosuke Takeshita is happening tonight, and it’s going to be incredible. Bryan has to wrestle and win every single week on Dynamite through February 8 in order to earn a 60-minute Iron Man match against AEW World Champion MJF at Revolution. I imagine that MJF will show his stupid face in Los Angeles at some point, maybe from a luxury box to scout the competition.

For one night only, Jungle Boy and FTW Champion HOOK are teaming up to form the unstoppable duo of JUNGLEHOOK. Following weeks of attacks and confrontations, they’ll take on The Firm’s Big Bill & Lee Moriarty in a basic tag team match. HOOK remains undefeated in AEW coming into this fight.

Finally, we’re going to hear from Jericho Appreciation Society. Chris Jericho’s faction has been going at it with Ricky Starks and Action Andretti in recent weeks. After Starks’ win over Jericho last week, are any of the JAS underlings more likely to question the effectiveness of Jericho’s leadership going forward?

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Darby Allin’s body must be hurting after what he went through last week, defeating Samoa Joe to become the new TNT champion, and then defending the title against Mike Bennett. How will the one true king of television respond to his championship loss? Will Wardlow make an appearance tonight looking for payback on Joe or a shot at the new champ?

- The Acclaimed are still the AEW world tag team champions after defeating Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal in two separate matches last week. Will the champs appear on tonight’s broadcast for a brief scissoring cameo with Daddy Ass?

- AEW All-Atlantic Champion Orange Cassidy retained his belt against Kip Sabian last week, but it remains unclear if there is any lingering tension in his relationship with the Best Friends.

- It appears that TBS Champion Jade Cargill is on a collision course with former ally Red Velvet. Velvet became a notch on Cargill’s belt the last time they fought each other in November 2021, and there’s no reason to think Red has what it takes to end Cargill’s undefeated streak more than a year later.

- The Ass Boys have said that FTR will never work in AEW again. It’s hard to take these guys seriously on the loaded AEW roster, but they are being pushed at the moment.

- Keith Lee has yet to return since he was taken out with a cinder block by Swerve Strickland and Mogul Affiliates last month.

- Powerhouse Hobbs has done a lot of talking lately, while sprinkling in a jobber beatdown or two on the AEW YouTube shows. It feels like it’s time for him to step it up already and test himself against better competition.

- House of Black vs. Eddie Kingston & Ortiz is happening later this week on Rampage. Malakai Black has been using cryptic messages to sow division between Kingston and Ortiz. Does he have one final message for them tonight?

- Rampage will also feature a team street fight pitting Ruby Soho & Willow Nightingale against Anna Jay & Tay Melo. AEW has been hyping this one up with reminders of the infamous thumbtack barbed wire bloodbath that Jay and Melo endured on Rampage in Dec. 2021. We’ll probably get more indications of hardcore violence in any related promos that air tonight.

- Where the f*** is Miro?

What will you be looking for on Dynamite?

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