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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Nov. 29, 2023): Jon Moxley & Swerve Strickland take the lead

AEW Dynamite (Nov. 29, 2023) emanated from Target Center in Minneapolis, MN. The show featured Jon Moxley and Swerve Strickland building momentum in the Continental Classic tournament, the masked devil playing games with MJF, Christian Cage’s rebuttal to Adam Copeland, and more.

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

AEW Continental Classic gaining steam

The Continental Classic tournament is breaking into stride with three Gold League matches. Hooks, angles, and narratives are developing through the story of competition. In particular, Jon Moxley and Swerve Strickland are emerging as top contenders for ultimate victory.

Jon Moxley earned a win over Jay Lethal in the opening bout of the evening. Lethal had the edge in quickness to utilize his technical prowess. Mox had the edge in pummeling power. Moxley tweaked his knee on a suicide dive, so Lethal went to work targeting the joint. When Lethal locked in the figure-four, Moxley was able to reach the ropes for the break. Lethal sized up his finisher, but Moxley collapsed to the mat before execution. The knee pain appeared to be taking its toll, however, it might have been a clever ruse. The second that Lethal lulled his attack, Mox sprang up for a sneaky Paradigm Shift. Lethal was victim to a King Kong lariat and a piledriver. When Lethal kicked out at 2, Moxley swiftly transitioned to a rear naked choke. A body triangle trapped Lethal’s arm, and he was forced to submit.

Rush showed great intestinal fortitude to triumph over Mark Briscoe. It was a slugfest from the opening bell. The pace was pushing the pedal to the metal until Rush hurt his leg. El Toro Blanco had three moments for the Bull’s Horns dropkick finisher. He was moving way too slow on the first attempt due to the leg injury, so Briscoe easily escaped impact. Rush moved a little bit faster on the second attempt, but his movement was nowhere near typical speed. Briscoe countered for a spear. Rush survived a froggy bow to rally for an overhead suplex into the corner. Rush seized the moment to charge full steam ahead for the Bull’s Horns to win.

The most intriguing matchup was Swerve Strickland versus Jay White in the main event. The betting line was right down the middle. In the end, Swerve outsmarted White to win. This battle was a chess match of strategy. Circumstances presented a similar scenario to how White cheated to beat Rush. Swerve anticipated the low blow to block White. The action progressed with both men hitting finishers. White kicked out on the Swerve Stomp. Swerve ate a Blade Runner, but he conveniently rolled out of the ring to safety to prevent a pinfall. Switchblade was sharpening up for the finish with a sleeper suplex. He had the Blade Runner locked and loaded, however, Swerve countered for a roll-up to escape with victory.

Now that we’ve been through two weeks for the Gold League, the Continental Classic tournament is starting to develop layers of storytelling. All three matches serviced the greater picture. Moxley and Swerve are in the lead with 6 points apiece, and anticipation is building for a mighty showdown. Both should have lingering injuries as the marathon resumes. Mox’s knee should be a target in future matchups. If anyone can take proper advantage of those potential limitations, it would be Swerve. Rush is back on the winning track, but he has a leg issue to deal with as well. El Toro Blanco sold his damage so well that he has me wondering if a real injury took place. Briscoe and Lethal are sitting at the bottom with zero points so far. It will be a tough pill to swallow if either goes winless. It would be a death knell for Lethal’s legitimacy. Briscoe could survive as a fan favorite and work his way back up the ladder in general.

The devil challenges MJF

MJF arrived for a promo hyping his world title defense against Samoa Joe at Worlds End on December 30. He exited by accepting by accepting a challenge from the masked devil.

MJF put over Joe as paving the way throughout his career. Despite not possessing a body builder physique, Joe proved that alternatives matter. Without Joe, there might not have been opportunity for MJF in this business. MJF also patted himself on the back for paving roads in helping build AEW. He has beaten top stars, including Cody Rhodes and CM Punk. The Worlds End title bout will be about legacy. MJF acknowledged that he was lucky to survive Joe the first time. MJF won’t hold back in the next round. He promised to show that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight. Instead, it is about the size of the fight in the dog. MJF broke his cane into pieces at that emphatic statement to signify that there will be no excuses about injuries.

Lights out! Masked henchmen stormed the ring to hold MJF down. Samoa Joe was in the mix to protect his title shot investment. The goons scattered like cowards. The masked devil appeared on the big screen to challenge MJF and Joe to a tag bout next week against the unknown. MJF didn’t hesitate to take the match. Joe protested, because he viewed this as an unnecessary risk to MJF’s health.

Two points. First, MJF’s promo was sharp with buzzy references to TNA, WWE, Cody, and Punk. It painted a larger picture to place himself on a pedestal as the best. It also adhered to the simple notion of elevating the opponent, so a win actually feels important.

Second, the masked devil gimmick is starting to move forward. I have to be honest. I was not impressed by the sight of those goons. They went hard beating up the Acclaimed and throwing Anthony Bowens through a window. This time, they were more on the chump tip not even trying to engage with Joe despite the numbers advantage. It all felt a little too clean. I wonder if the intent was to buy into the possibility of MJF as the devil. The tag team situation appears to have more benefit for him. The goons were soft on their attack, and now they have a chance to tenderize Joe for MJF.

I don’t think MJF is the masked devil, however, it is food for thought to digest for the sake of conversation. I’m also looking forward to next week’s match to glean any tips in deciphering who are under the masks.

Adam Copeland’s parting words

Adam Copeland unleashed unhinged violence to send Nick Wayne and Luchasaurus to the hospital. Copeland’s target was squarely on hunting Christian Cage for the TNT Championship. Christian offered his response to the match challenge.

Christian called Copeland out to speak face to face. Christian told a tale of reflection and soul searching. He tried to manipulate Copeland into believing a change of heart. Christian referenced their childhood relationship as family. Rather than be enemies, he decided to team together as a gesture of good faith to Copeland’s departed mother. As Copeland turned his back in contemplation, Christian tried a slithering sneak attack. Copeland was no dope. A kick to the nuggets put Christian on the mat.

Christian versus Copeland for the TNT Championship goes down next week on Dynamite. The talking is done, and Copeland brought it full circle with the parting words, “Go fuck yourself.” That was a nice callback to Christian’s initial reply to Copeland’s first promo. Christian’s attempt at reconciliation was amusing as he laid it on thick with emotional manipulation. It was funny hearing the crowd react when Christian mentioned Copeland’s fatherless childhood. Like the expert he is, Christian rolled with it to say he’s not claiming to be Copeland’s father. Smooth. Even smoother was Copeland not falling for the manipulation. Bring on the fight!

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Wardlow defeated AR Fox. The high-flyer took the fight to Wardlow and even scored a 450 splash. Wardlow weathered the storm then rained pain upon his opponent with two powerbombs and a swanton. Wardlow hit one more powerbomb with extra force. The referee saw enough and waved off the match.

Wardlow’s path of destruction continues. He is a man on a mission. Fox scored enough offense to look good before succumbing to the powerbomb symphony.

Top Flight & Action Andretti defeated Hardy Party. This bout marked the return of Dante Martin from injury, and it happened in his hometown. The action built to a hot tag to Dante strutting his creative athleticism.

Hardy Party had control down the stretch, however, Top Flight and Andretti were too slick. High flying to the outside took down the Hardys. Isiah Kassidy was on the receiving end of a triple team. Dante closed with a swinging slam and a muscle flex on the pinfall.

Nifty action from all parties involved. The strategy of movement was entertaining. The winners were like greased pigs at times with the Hardys unable to put hands on them. Dante’s return in his hometown made the match extra special. He looked good and didn’t skip a beat in his fancy moves. Top Flight and Andretti should be a trios team on the rise.

Backstage, Pentagon proposed a trios match with Hijo del Vikingo and Komander as his partners against Top Flight and Andretti. That contest is going to rock.

TBS Championship: Julia Hart defeated Emi Sakura. House Rules in effect. Sakura chose the stipulation of no winning via submission. The queen imposed her force on the champ for power control. Sakura missed the mark on a moonsault, and that was the beginning of the end. Hart pounced for the Hartless submission. That method of victory was banned, but she did enough damage to leave Sakura ripe for the picking. A lariat from the backside cleared the path for a moonsault to win.

Sakura fought tough, and that in turn made Hart’s win all the more impressive. Hart is stacking up victories to establish her reign as TBS champion. The final moonsault sequence wasn’t the cleanest. Sakura was too close to the corner and had to roll further out while Hart was in midair. The veteran salvaged the moment, and commentary cleaned it up by providing a viable explanation why Sakura would roll into the move.

Notes: Bryan Danielson was on commentary for the Continental Classic matches. He also delivered a message to his next opponent, Eddie Kingston. Danielson chided Kingston over shaken confidence after defeat. Danielson won’t be humble about it. He is coming to win. Danielson’s fiery passion sold his motivation.

Sting’s final match will be at Revolution on March 3, 2024. It was announced that the PPV will take place at Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina. This venue has special meaning as the home to Sting’s breakout moment wrestling Ric Flair to a 45-minute draw in 1988. Flair is honored to be by Sting’s side for this last ride. Woo!

Toni Storm has a title defense scheduled for next week. She was feeling fatigued and dehydrated after partying too hard.

Mariah May is ready to show what she can do in the ring. The newcomer knocked on Tony Khan’s door to get a match.

Stud of the Show: Dante Martin

Martin shined bright in return from a devastating injury.

Match of the Night: Rush vs. Mark Briscoe

Even though Swerve Strickland versus Jay White was a dandy, I’m rolling with Rush and Briscoe due to the physicality. It was a rooting tooting slobberknocker.

Grade: B

Solid action all night long with story aspects chugging along. The tournament is starting to sell itself on natural drama.

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

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