AEW Dynamite (Dec. 6, 2023) emanated from Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The show featured Christian Cage receiving an unlikely helping hand in the TNT Championship bout, momentum building toward an undefeated showdown in the Continental Classic, a mystery attack on MJF, and more.
Get caught up on all the Dynamite details with the excellent play-by-play from Claire Elizabeth.
Christian Cage is better than Adam Copeland
Christian Cage and Adam Copeland clashed over the TNT Championship as friends turned rivals. Emotion was high with Copeland trying to take away the most important thing in Christian’s life. In the end, Christian benefit from an unexpected helping hand for bragging rights to claim he is better than Copeland.
The fight was physical throughout, then drama heated up when Copeland countered a spear with the Impaler DDT. Copeland had his turn for a spear. Christian showed that he is the father to Father Time by rejuvenating his youthful athleticism to leapfrog over the spear. Christian smoothly countered into a Kill Switch. Copeland kicked out in the nick of time to beat the count.
Christian went for a spear again. This time, Copeland lunged out of the way and collided into the referee. Christian surveyed the situation. He strategically decided to kick Bryce Remsburg with a low blow from behind. Ref down!
That bought time for Christian to bring in the TNT title belt as a foreign object. Swing and a miss. Christian and Copeland both ran back and forth for a double spear collision. Men down!
Enter Mama Wayne. She picked up the championship eyeing both men. Boom! Wayne struck Copeland. Christian eagerly followed for a Kill Switch and closed with a curb stomp onto the gold. The referee was finally revived to count the easy three for Christian to win.
That was a riveting main event. Copeland wrestled in tune to the story. He showed aggression to dish out pain, but he maintained composure staying true to his goal of inflicting emotional pain by trying to take the TNT Championship from Christian. The interference from Mama Wayne was shocking as a surprise. In the small picture, it was a wild moment for high entertainment. The interference totally fits the logic of a protective mother enacting revenge for Copeland hitting a Conchairto on Nick Wayne right in front of his pleading parent.
In the big picture, I’m not so sure the interference was effective in creating an avenue for a rematch. I was expecting some type of bullshit finish to segue into round two at the Worlds End PPV. Copeland winning the title was on the table as an option to force upping the stakes of violence, but I didn’t think that would be the route taken. That meant Christian would need to find a way to win while creating a scenario for Copeland to justifiably demand a rematch. Mama Wayne’s role did not help achieve that goal. She acted on her own accord not in cahoots with Christian. It’s not Christian’s fault that an intruder trifled in the finish. Copeland doesn’t have the leverage to make any demands from Christian or AEW management. We’ll have to wait and see how the story squares away a reason for one more fight.
Continental Classic Week 3
The Gold League had three matches this week in the Continental Classic. Results played out as expected, and two wrestlers are mathematically eliminated from overall tournament victory.
Jon Moxley opened with a win over Rush. It was a rugged fight with its fair share of taunting. Moxley landed rough on his shoulder taking a suplex from Rush, and he dealt with that pain for much of the match. This fight had plenty of fisticuffs, superplexes, and piledrivers. Rush had momentum for the Bull’s Horns dropkick in the corner, but Moxley popped up to his feet to meet Rush with a King Kong lariat. Mox hit the Death Rider, and Rush kicked out. Moxley swiftly transitioned to a rear naked choke. Rush appeared to pass out, so the referee called for the bell. Rush regained his wits to claim the referee made a mistake. Rush’s protest could also be interpreted as him regaining consciousness unaware of what happened, as happens in MMA finishes from time to time.
Swerve Strickland competed against Mark Briscoe in the next bout. Due to Moxley’s result, Briscoe needed to win to avoid elimination from contention. Dat Boy started strong damaging Swerve’s shoulder. The mogul took control after a suplex off the barricade down to the floor. Both men did their homework. Briscoe got his knees up on a 450 splash, and Swerve blocked the impact of a froggy bow. Briscoe’s strategy to finish relied on the Jay Driller, however, he could never execute the move. Briscoe went for the double underhook piledriver a few times, but Swerve was able to escape. He countered an attempt on the apron into a Death Valley Driver. Swerve smelled victory and pounced for a flying double stomp to win.
Jay Lethal was in the same position as Briscoe. He needed to beat Jay White to stay alive in the competition. And like Briscoe, Lethal couldn’t get the job done. Lethal managed to hit a flying elbow drop as his closest moment to victory. White fought back. When Lethal went for the Lethal Injection finisher, White clipped his knee. Switchblade tried to finish on a Blade Runner. Lethal used his savviness to counter for a roll-up, however, White was slicker to hook the leg for the three-count.
Even though this week’s results were predictable, all three bouts were entertaining in the ring. The fire of competition was hot. Rush was protected in defeat losing no shine off his badass aura. Natural tournament story angles created extra emotion for Briscoe and Lethal. They are now faced with the realization that their best wasn’t good enough. White is still in the mix. His crafty style can overcome anyone on any given day. Moxley stood tall atop the standings with 9 points, and that forced Swerve to up his game to ensure an undefeated showdown. Mox and Swerve shared words backstage setting their matchup for next week.
One quibble I had was the referee ignoring count-out rules as Moxley and Rush brawled through the crowd. Commentary put it over as the ref being lenient due to the star power and importance of the tournament, but I think that gave them an unfair opportunity to earn the full three points. Later on different sequences, the referee counted when Mox and Rush were close to the ring. Go figure. Situations like this need to be applied consistently to ensure fairness. White could have a legitimate complaint if he ends up passed by Moxley in points at the final tally.
More questions than answers about the masked devil
MJF was supposed to team with Samoa Joe to wrestle the devil’s masked henchmen. That match never took place, and the night left us with more questions than answers.
In chronological order, the events of this storyline started with Roderick Strong dumping his wheelchair. He tried to warn Joe that MJF is the devil, but Joe won’t heed that suggestion. Strong can’t force Joe to believe him, so he’ll let Joe make his own mistakes. Actions have consequences. Speaking of consequences, Strong declared that he will no longer be held back by the safety of his wheelchair. Strong stood up heroically as Matt Taven tossed the transportation aid off stage. The Kingdom were emotional about Strong’s courage.
Backstage, Hangman Page spoke about accepting his loss to Swerve Strickland but the feud not dying. They are bound together forever through the violence they shared in the Texas Death Match. MJF entered the scene to accuse Hangman of being the masked devil. Trash talk ensued. Tensions rose to the point of fighting, but Joe intervened to protect his investment. Joe doesn’t want any excuses from MJF in their world title fight at Worlds End on December 30.
When it came time for the tag match, Joe entered first. Lights out. He was surrounded by goons. Lights out again, and they vanished. The devil was on the big screen to show MJF out cold with remnants of a broken bottle around him. The implication was that someone smashed a bottle over MJF’s head.
With the events from this episode, four suspects could be argued as the identity of the masked devil. This could be a master plan from Joe to soften MJF. Joe would have no qualms in lying about his motivation to protect MJF. And then MJF could be the culprit as an elaborate scheme. Nobody saw him actually get hit. Hangman is a surprising candidate out of nowhere. The weapon appeared to be a beer bottle, and the promo exchange established motive. Strong was back on his own two feet making it easier to getaway from the crime than in a wheelchair.
I don’t think any of the four are the devil. Joe’s head is too big to fit under the mask. MJF is the primo babyface of the company, and it wouldn’t make sense to turn him heel again like this. Hangman is likely the target of a frame job. Strong has been portrayed as too much of a doofus to orchestrate this plot. I’d be more inclined to believe that the devil actually had nothing to do with this attack than any of those four suspects being the mystery villain. I could believe Hangman losing his cool or Strong dishing out consequences independent of the devil storyline.
This all goes to show how AEW is having a fun time creating speculation for suspects. In my opinion, the devil reveal needs to drag out until after MJF wrestles Joe or else it would overshadow the PPV main event. All these twists are an interesting way to stall for time.
Toni Storm was set to defend the AEW Women’s World Championship against Skye Blue, and she received a special introduction from Ben Mankiewicz. This was a bit of corporate synergy since Mankiewicz is the host of Turner Classic Movies, and it also fit the classic cinema vibe of Storm’s character.
Storm handled business adding windmill punches to her repertoire, as if she was fighting one of the Three Stooges. Blue rallied to string together a run of offense hitting the Code Blue, but Storm survived on the pinfall.
Storm regained control for a superplex and a running hip attack. Blue countered the piledriver finisher for a roll-up, however, Storm rolled it through for top position to win.
Storm’s celebratory spotlight was stolen by the return of Riho.
That was a strong win in the first step of establishing Storm’s title reign. They did a good job of toning down Storm’s gimmicks compared to when it overshadowed the wrestling in winning the title from Hikaru Shida. Storm’s character blended well into the action this time. Riho should be an interesting challenge next and likely another notch on the champ’s belt. Storm’s feuds appear to be set up over stealing her spotlight. It was me wondering if that will be the routine moving forward. If so, could this be the way to debut Mercedes Moné? There is no bigger star in the women’s division to steal Storm’s spotlight than Moné. Crossing my fingers.
Notes: Mariah May wants her debut to be glamorous. When pressed by Renee Paquette for details, May sassed that it is nobody’s business.
Stud of the Show: Roderick Strong
It was a modern day miracle for Strong to stand from his wheelchair. RODDY! If you don’t believe in miracles, then it demonstrated the mental toughness of a man pushing through intense pain to walk again. That is admirable.
Match of the Night: Jon Moxley vs. Rush
Moxley and Rush slugged it out with style.
Solid show across the board. The story elements in the ring ranged for a wide variety to keep matches feeling fresh from one another.
Share your thoughts about Dynamite. How do you rate it? What were your favorite moments from the show?