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AEW Dynamite Winter is Coming recap & reactions (Dec. 13, 2023): Undefeated records fall

AEW Dynamite (Dec. 13, 2023) emanated from College Park Center in Arlington, TX. The Winter Is Coming special featured undefeated records falling by the wayside in high-profile matches for the Continental Classic tournament, the masked devil makes another attack, and more.

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

Undefeated no longer

There were four men with undefeated records in the Continental Classic entering the evening. Jon Moxley and Swerve Strickland stood atop the Gold League, while Andrade and Brody King were unblemished in the Blue League.

Moxley and Swerve met in the main event. The fans were rowdy from the get-go. Mox and Swerve played gamesmanship mind games to start. Moxley had trouble with Swerve’s athleticism, so he resorted into making it an ugly fight. Mox focused on the shoulder after ramming Swerve’s joint into the ring steps. Swerve rallied with a rolling flatliner. He even kicked Mox’s head in and added hammering elbows. Swerve had plans to finish for a flying stomp, but Mox shoved him hard off the turnbuckles. Moxley was content to accept a count-out. Swerve wasn’t going down like that and returned to the ring.

As Swerve rolled in, Moxley pounced for a curb stomp. He hammered elbows for good measure. Swerve still had his wits intact for defense on a choke, so Moxley transitioned to an armbreaker. Swerve reached the ropes with his tippy toes for the break.

The big moment for Swerve came when he hit a flying stomp on the outside. Swerve rolled Moxley back into the ring for another flying stomp. Energy was at a fever pitch for this pinfall. 1, 2, Moxley kicked out! When Swerve tried to finish with a JML driver, Moxley countered for a roll-up to win. Commentary openly questioned the referee’s positioning to miss Swerve’s shoulder off the mat. Despite that, a win is a win for Moxley.

With the undefeated records coming in, this matchup had an elevated sense of tension in the atmosphere. Moxley and Swerve served a heck of a bout. That near fall by Swerve from the stomps had me on the edge of my seat. There was a curiosity to see if AEW would pull the trigger on a defining win for Swerve. That didn’t happen, but I caution those who are upset to wait until the tournament plays out to its conclusion. Swerve was protected in defeat with his shoulder up, so it’s obvious that AEW recognizes the momentum he is building as a star. There is the possibility for a rematch in the semifinals, and Swerve could get his win back.

Andrade and King was a tough battle. King imposed his power on El Idolo, so the luchador relied on agility for high-flying. Andrade settled down to focus on dragon screws to the big man’s knee. The finish came down to a little bit of luck. Andrade and King worked for position on the corner. El Idolo was able to hit sort of a DDT driving King’s head into the metal turnbuckle rod. The move came across as random within the flow of movement rather than an intentional plan. Andrade looked surprised when he saw King tumble down. Andrade saw his window of opportunity and rushed to capitalize for a hammerlock DDT to win. Andrade remains undefeated, while King took his first loss.

Another mighty fine match. This was a battle of styles living up to the hype. The idea for the finish was pretty cool in this tournament setting. It protected King enough to make it unclear who truly is the better wrestler. That leaves room for intrigue if they meet in a rematch for the semifinals.

In other Gold League action, Rush defeated Jay Lethal. Rush handled business to counter the Lethal Injection into a rear naked choke. That was the same move Moxley used to beat Rush last week. Rush claimed that he didn’t quit against Mox, so he made sure his victory was straight by holding the choke after the referee called for the bell. No questions about Rush being the winner.

I like how Rush is being handled in this tournament. He’s not going to win the whole thing, but AEW is doing a good job of making him feel like a big deal despite losing matches. Jay White cheated with a low blow to beat Rush, then the loss to Moxley is tainted in the eyes of El Toro Blanco. The success of Rush’s character is all about his attitude and his fighting style. Both are being serviced well.

White and Briscoe had a scrappy contest with Switchblade finding a way to win. White executed a brutal suplex over the ropes with Briscoe crashing onto the apron.

White turned up the heat on the finish. Briscoe was tough, and two sleeper suplexes weren’t enough to keep him down. Dat Boy countered a Blade Runner into a suplex of his own. When Briscoe leaped for the froggy bow, White put his knees up to block. Briscoe was wobbly on his feet and stumbled into the Blade Runner. White’s hand was raised in victory.

White and Briscoe both came out looking good after that performance. White receives credit as the winner, and he earned it through savvy wits. Briscoe showed fighting spirit to keep the fire of support alive from faithful fans.

Week 4 rounded out nicely to set up a dramatic finish for the Gold League. Several scenarios are in play to determine who advances to the semifinals. Even the battle between winless Lethal and winless Briscoe has interest due to pride of not wanting to be the ultimate loser in the tournament.

Who is the devil?

The world wants to know who is the mysterious masked devil. Samoa Joe was on the case. Not as detective, but as executioner. Joe made a promise to keep MJF healthy before their world title fight at Worlds End on December 30, but that commitment was compromised when MJF was laid out last week with glass shards of a beer bottle surrounding his body. The evidence pointed to Hangman Page, so Joe called out the cowboy.

Hangman denied the accusations, but Joe wasn’t buying. Before they could get physical, Roderick Strong entered the mix with a compelling case to frame MJF as the devil.

Hangman heard enough and attacked Strong as a segue into their singles match. Hangman prevailed in the contest. More on that result later down the page.

That was all the devil chatter until the closing scene. The masked devil returned with violence. Hangman was confronted by the masked goons in the parking lot. The devil stepped out of the car, and a beatdown was issued on the cowboy. Hangman was slammed onto the windshield.

Break out the suspect list. Hangman should be a safe bet to cross out. He was attacked by the devil’s crew with the devil in plain sight. Adam Cole is always going to be a suspect until the devil is finally revealed. As much as I don’t think it makes any sense based on the story details presented on screen, Cole does make total sense in the general sense of professional wrestling betrayals. To add another log on the fire of why I don’t think it is Cole, he shouldn’t be in the driver seat with a walking boot from his surgery. That’s just unsafe. One thing is certain though. One of the masked men had some muscular heft on his frame. That should rule out the group package of Cole, Strong, the Kingdom, Kyle O’Reilly, and Bobby Fish. Maybe some will be in that mix but not all of them together. Strong actually made the most sense in this episode with claims of MJF as the devil. I don’t believe that either, but the case can be plotted in that direction.

What I really want to know is what happened when the devil tried to return his rental car with a broken windshield.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Hangman Page defeated Roderick Strong. Hangman was aggressive going for the finish. The Kingdom tried to interfere on the buckshot lariat, but the cowboy used nifty footwork to take them out with a moonsault. Back to the buckshot. Strong blocked the move to counter for a crab, however, Hangman twisted his hips to score a roll-up. Kick out by Strong to keep the match alive.

The two tussled, then Hangman crushed a lariat to set up a Deadeye piledriver to win.

Good action in that match with neat sequences. The finish was smartly constructed. Hangman cleared out the Kingdom before a path to victory could be found. Beating Strong on a piledriver was a nice touch relating to neck health awareness and his neck brace gimmick. Roddy is neck strong, but he needed to be neck stronger.

One criticism is that this match deserved a better setup for getting booked. Hangman and Strong are major players in the devil story, and this match was served out of nowhere with zero justification. That’s an example of how the overall mood for the match could have been hotter, but the story steps were missing.

Riho defeated Ruby Soho. Toni Storm was on commentary scouting the competition. Riho survived a No Future Kick to rally for victory. She countered a guillotine choke into a northern lights suplex. Riho kept on the pressure for a dragon suplex and running double knees to win.

The direction is clearly pointing to Storm defending the AEW Women’s World Championship against Riho. This result acted as a strong win for Riho to get back on the map after her absence. There is no real sense of order in determining challengers, so this exposure works well enough for Storm to accept an eventual challenge in order to make an example out of Riho for stealing the spotlight.

Notes: Kevin Von Erich was with his sons happy to be visiting AEW in Texas. Orange Cassidy asked Ross and Marshall if they would join him for a trios match on Rampage. Danhausen and Trent provided witty quips to bring the chuckles.

Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho are #1 contenders for the AEW tag titles, and they challenged Ricky Starks and Big Bill Morrissey to the match at Worlds End. The champs accepted. Starks tried to drive a wedge of mistrust, but Omega wasn’t biting. He admitted that he doesn’t trust Jericho. Insults were traded. Enzo Amore was name-dropped by Omega to poke fun at Starks. The gab session was a means to an end to officially book the PPV bout.

Wardlow prepared physically, mentally, and spiritually for a path of mayhem to take the world title from MJF.

Stud of the Show: Andrade

Anyone who beats Brody King deserves this honor.

Match of the Night: Jon Moxley vs. Swerve Strickland

Moxley and Swerve played well into the unpredictability of determining a winner to keep my eyes glued to the screen.

Grade: B+

The wrestling action delivered with drama playing out though competition. The sports element of the Continental Classic tournament is thriving.

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

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