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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Jan. 11, 2023): Elite two-time trios champs

AEW Dynamite (Jan. 11, 2023) emanated from Kia Forum in Los Angeles, CA. The show featured Match 7 in the trios title series between the Elite and Death Triangle, Hangman Page versus Jon Moxley in a grudge match war, the return of Adam Cole, and much more.

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

AEW World Trios Championship Match 7

After six matches in a best-of-7 series, Death Triangle and the Elite were tied at three wins apiece. The final game would be settled in a ladder match of death. Escalera de la Muerte!

The match was just as chaotic as the previous six and with just as many highlights. After the initial feeling out stage, there was a mad scramble trying to climb the ladder. Matt Jackson put out Pentagon on a Destroyer. Matt climbed, so Fenix leaped for a springboard arm drag taking Matt down. Fenix climbed, so Kenny Omega pulled him down for a snap dragon suplex.

The ladders were then used as instruments of pain. Fenix executed a super hurricanrana sending Nick Jackson crashing onto a ladder. That was in line for most painful looking bump of the night.

The finish was maximum mayhem. Nick connected on a 450 splash onto Pentagon through a table.

Matt climbed the ladder, but Alex Abrahantes made the save to shove the apparatus. Brandon Cutler got involved with cold spray in Abrahantes’ face. Omega flattened Abrahantes with a V-Trigger. PAC grabbed his trusty hammer to hit Omega. That led to a Falcon Arrow slam on the floor.

Oh, you thought things couldn’t get any more insane? Well, think again. Pentagon hit a package piledriver onto a ladder structure.

Omega arguably topped that with a One Winged Angel off the ladder from high above down to the mat.

PAC tried to swoop in with a Black Arrow onto an unsuspecting Omega, however, Omega was ready with his knees up to block. With all of Death Triangle down, Omega dramatically climbed the ladder to glory. The Elite became two-time champions as Omega unlocked the title belts for victory.

Damn, that Match 7 was exciting. So many bumps were wild and crazy. I like how it unfolded without foreshadowing a result. I expected the Elite to win, especially in Los Angeles, however, Death Triangle retaining would not have shocked me. In that regard, neither team had an edge until the very end. That helped provide drama in the finish.

I’ve seen chitter-chatter about this person or that person should interfere for story reasons. I’m so glad the result was as clean as it could be considering it was a ladder match. Unrelated interference would have made the entire series feel like a waste of time. This way, the Elite truly deserved the win and start their second trios reign on the right foot as legit champions. I don’t know how the Elite tops that going forward, but I don’t think it is necessary. The rapid-fire pace of traditional trios matches is plenty entertaining enough.

All in all, I’d say the best-of-7 experiment was a success. Each match delivered in entertainment, and each match was different enough to feel special in its own way.

Hangman Page vs. Jon Moxley grudge match

Hangman Page and Jon Moxley were set to engage in a rematch after Moxley knocked the cowboy out cold last time they fought. Hangman didn’t waste any time putting his mitts on Mox. The two fired off fisticuffs at the opening bell. Intensity was red hot. Sound on for the impact of this lariat from the cowboy.

One angle to the story was how well Hangman recovered from his concussion. Would a glass jaw fail him in this outing? Moxley aimed to find out. Hangman took several shots to the face and suplexes to the neck. He was even laid out by the same style of lariat that rung his bell in the previous outing. Hangman took Mox’s best shots and kept on fighting.

Hangman proved his intestinal fortitude beyond a shadow of a doubt when Moxley planted him with a Death Rider on top of his head. The impact lived up to the move’s name, but Hangman was able to kick out at 2. The match continued with Moxley hitting a standard piledriver. Hangman kicked out at 1 that time. Hangman dished out piledriver medicine of his own with the Dead Eye. Moxley popped back up to his feet for a curb stomp out of instinct. Both men were down on the mat.

Hangman and Moxley rose to their feet for another serving of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. Mox landed three straight headbutts. Hangman went down. As Moxley bent over to talk trash, Hangman lifted his head up into Moxley’s jaw as an incidental headbutt. The damage was done though to knock Mox woozy. A slap fight broke out. Hangman got the upper hand for a lariat to stagger Moxley. Boom! Buckshot lariat, 1, 2, 3. Hangman was the winner.

Afterward, AEW flipped the story script on Moxley to portray him as having a potential concussion. Medical staff gave Mox attention as Hangman looked on from a distance. The cowboy appeared to be concerned for his rival.

That bout was fierce with rugged action. The whole thing was hard-hitting, but a few special moments packed extra oomph. Hangman’s comeback lariat on the floor was wicked. The visual of Moxley’s Death Rider made me think that was the end of the match, but they caught me hook, line, and sinker on the false finish. This was a lengthy contest that maintained the fans’ energy throughout. The furious slap fight in the climax brought things to a fever pitch for ending in a popping crescendo of emotion. It was easy to feel the power of Hangman’s cathartic victory.

This fight was such a slugfest that either man winning would have been satisfying. For story purposes, the result should lead way to a rubber match. I could have done without the concussion tease for Moxley, however, that might be a simple and fitting way to write him off screen for a much-deserved and long overdue vacation.

The crowd response was interesting. As the match wore on with Moxley clearly targeting Hangman’s weakness, the 50/50 split of support turned hard in favor of Hangman. Moxley acknowledged as much by flipping the bird to the naysayers. I don’t think those jeers will carry over for Mox outside of this feud, but who knows. If AEW has an intent on turning Moxley heel, seeds have been planted.

Adam Cole returns

Adam Cole is back, bay-bay!

Cole’s appearance was a surprise to viewers, but it was part of the scheduled format as an in-ring interview with Tony Schiavone. It wasn’t much of an interview, more like an introduction segueing into a solo promo.

Cole had good news and bad news. The good news was a fresh appreciation for life and professional wrestling. Cole suffered two head injuries that had him questioning the quality of life moving forward. Even though the fans didn’t know all the details, they still showered him with support everyday on social media during his absence. Cole is eternally grateful for the love.

Bad news time. Cole teased the tension then said the bad news is for the AEW locker room. Cole is coming back and won’t stop until he is the very best. He promised to reach the mountaintop in AEW.

Strong promo from Cole with engaging storytelling and mystery in the air. I haven’t been a fan of his AEW run to date, but I’m willing to erase that from memory after the promo to give Cole another shot. That’s as long as he is a babyface. I’m very curious to see how he operates as a good guy. The fans are clearly behind him with support, so lean into it for maximum value and see how high it takes him.

Bryan Danielson’s journey toward MJF

Bryan Danielson began his journey to earn a world title shot against MJF. If Danielson can win each week in singles competition through February 8 (5 matches), then he will be rewarded with a 60-minute Iron Man stipulation against MJF. The first hurdle in Danielson’s quest was Konosuke Takeshita.

Takeshita entered first. MJF butt in for a live promo. He was condescending toward Takeshita by pronouncing his name as Take-a-shit-a. MJF hoped Takeshita didn’t crap his pants in the big opportunity, because he needed Danielson to lose. That led to a rebuttal in Japanese, then Takeshita spoke in English to tell MJF to kiss his ass. MJF continued with crowd work to insult fans and celebrities, Ken Jeong, and Freddie Prinze Jr., in attendance. Danielson eventually arrived, so MJF sprint away to safety.

The match progressed as expected. Takeshita was never going to win, but he put on a darn good show in effort. Takeshita’s shining moments included a brainbuster on the floor and a dope driver to German suplex combo sequence.

In the end, Danielson dodged a running knee to deliver one of his own. That lead to head stomps and the Regal Stretch. Takeshita was already knocked out from the stomps, so the referee called for the bell.

The fight displayed physicality with technical prowess. Numerous transition sequences were sweet. Danielson handled business to win emphatically at the end. Not that the American Dragon needs it, but he is being built strong with impressive wins. The next opponent will be Bandido. In terms of watching Danielson work, that’s another cool, unique matchup.

As much as I drag on AEW about Takeshita losing so often on TV, he’s not losing any fan support for it. The Los Angeles crowd was hot for him to win. Alas, victory was not meant to be on this evening, but AEW did give him a rowdy moment by sassing MJF. That easily sets up a future match, once MJF loses the world title and is forced to sully himself by actually wrestling more frequently. Heck, if the timing could work out, Takeshita earning his first major win over MJF would make the roof blow.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Jungle Boy & Hook defeated Lee Moriarty & Big Bill Morrissey. The big spot was Hook suplexing Morrissey, and it was amazing.

Jungle Boy took care of Moriarty to win via Snare Trap submission.

For me, the draw was Jungle Boy and Hook interacting with Morrissey. I wanted to see them up against the menacing 7-footer, and those exchanges delivered satisfaction. Hook’s suplex was a genuine moment in building his mystique. Hearing Taz’s fatherly excitement on commentary brought a grin to my face.

Jamie Hayter & Dr. Britt Baker DMD defeated Saraya & Toni Storm. Hikaru Shida came down to watch the babyfaces’ backs. In a crucial moment with all wrestlers down, Shida slid her kendo stick into the ring. Baker retrieved the foreign object to hit Storm. Hayter finished with a ripcord lariat. Shida had an expression of shock that her assistance backfired.

Good action in this bout maintaining mystery on who the winner would be. Saraya’s performance was much stronger than what I remember from her AEW debut on PPV. She had better timing in her flow and opened up her arsenal of offensive maneuvers. Saraya did benefit from the tag team atmosphere, so I’m curious to see her again in a big singles match. The interference from Shida was lamentable. She played the shock, but I’m not sure I buy. Shida didn’t exactly do a smooth job of sliding the kendo stick to the right spot, as the story would dictate. Right now, I’m on the fence in believing if that was intentional or not.

JAS on top of the world! JAS were full force as sports entertainers pulling off their pants to reveal more pants underneath. Daddy Magic’s nipples were hard thinking about Jake Hager powerbombing Ricky Starks through a table. Enter Absolute himself to challenge Hager to a match next week. Action Andretti was also there giving some grief to Sammy Guevara and Daniel Garcia. Garcia saw through the bluster to comically shout that he is on the top of the world. More banter back and forth to close the segment.

This trash talk session was so silly in its oddness, and I liked it that way. I can definitely understand anyone who craps on the segment. It’s not like it was crisp and fine-tuned. Starks and Andretti had some zingers to show personality. Jericho carried composure to lead the direction. When Garcia’s mic didn’t work, Jericho smoothly handed his mic over without taking eyes off Starks. Garcia’s big line may be his best work as a sports entertainer. I laughed so hard at his emotion. Not to mention Garcia refusing Sammy’s hug. Starks closed with style on his fashion pose. That pops me every time.

Notes: The Acclaimed announced that they will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. That’s cool, but I didn’t realize the Hollywood Walk of Fame was so watered down. Nevertheless, congratulation to the Acclaimed.

Orange Cassidy and Best Friends clarified that everything is cool between them. I guess that settles that. No point in dragging on the drama if there is no reason for a pay-off. Besides, I don’t see anyone benefiting from a Best Friends split.

Juice Robinson is in AEW to kick ass and win championships. Mr. Rock Hard challenged Darby Allin for the TNT title on Rampage. The bout was made official.

Eddie Kingston lipped off to Ortiz about trust. They’ll have their tag match against the House of Black on Rampage, then Ortiz can question his loyalty. This promo is a perfect example of why I have a strong dislike for the Kingston character. He is so full of shit. Kingston can freely question Ortiz, but he gets so offended when Ortiz questions him. Then Kingston plays the street tough card. Oh, scary. Win or lose, Ortiz should dump his ass and go hang out with Sting, or something, wearing face paint together.

Stud of the Show: Hangman Page

The cowboy conquered a challenge to find personal redemption.

Match of the Night: The Elite vs. Death Triangle

Several matches on the card could easily earn this honor. I’m going with the trios bout for the multitude of painful stunts on the highlight reel. Give all six wrestlers time off to recover. They deserve it.

Grade: A

Jam-packed entertainment all show long. Every match was strong in its own way.

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

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