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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Feb. 1, 2023): Samoa Joe is TNT king again

AEW Dynamite (Feb. 1, 2023) emanated from Nutter Center in Dayton, OH. The show featured Samoa Joe proving himself as the King of Television in a TNT Championship contest against Darby Allin, the rubber match between Jon Moxley and Hangman Page, the next step in Bryan Danielson’s journey to earn a world title bout with MJF, and much more.

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

Samoa Joe, King of TNT again

Samoa Joe confirmed his status as the one true king of television by winning the TNT Championship from Darby Allin in No Holds Barred. Allin requested this stipulation for an even playing field. He was also adamant that this fight would finish the feud. Win or lose, there would be no rematch.

The action was wild. Allin set the mood by entering with a sweatshirt bedazzled with thumbtacks. He ended up using that studded accessory later for a Coffin Drop. Joe pulverized Allin for much of the match, but Allin kept it exciting with his fighting spirit. Check out this awesome example where Allin unloaded a flurry of punches. Joe responded by hurling Allin over the ropes down to the floor. Props to the AEW on TV Twitter operator for the Fresh Prince reference.

Joe slammed Allin onto chairs for a backbreaker. A powerbomb was up next, but Allin powdered Joe’s eyes to counter for a Code Red.

Allin took the insanity up a notch by cutting the mat to expose the ring boards. That tactic backfired when Joe was able to crush Allin with a super musclebuster onto the wood. 1, 2, 3, new champion.

The thing about being king is that you can never rest on your laurels. There is always someone plotting to take the crown. In this case, Wardlow made his grand return. He tackled Joe and pounded punches. Joe escaped Wardlow’s powerbomb symphony, so Wardlow lashed out like the jerk that he is to assault innocent security staff.

The Dynamite main event was absolutely dynamite. Allin and Joe put on a heck of a show selling out their bodies for our entertainment. I’m pretty sure Joe was busted open the hard way when a table smashed into his face on a cannonball from Allin. Allin wrestled with reckless abandon like usual. This feud turned out to be a smart way to give space for the Joe versus Wardlow feud to breathe. Allin and Joe had such good matches together that neither man lost any prestige in defeat. Allin was able to carry the TNT belt for a month or so as another notch on his résumé. Time to lather up for another hoss fight delight between Joe and Wardlow. Let the king make a jester of Wardlow.

Jon Moxley vs. Hangman Page rubber match

Jon Moxley and Hangman Page engaged in another war. More than bragging rights were on the line this time. It was deeply personal to prove the baddest man on the block. Moxley had spoken about changing his strategy to win the rubber match, and his strategy was to get down and dirty.

Moxley brought the fight to Hangman during the cowboy’s entrance. They brawled all over the place for an extended period of time. The opening bell hadn’t even rung yet. Moxley tried to break Hangman’s ankle with a chair, but the referee blocked the path. That allowed Hangman to throw the chair at Moxley’s head.

Both men were eventually corralled into the ring for the official start of sanctioned combat. The intensity didn’t die down. Heavy-duty highlights included Hangman with a fireman’s carry to toss Moxley into the ring post, Hangman with an avalanche Death Valley Driver, Moxley with a super front chancery suplex off the turnbuckles, Hangman with a pop-up powerbomb to Mox through the timekeeper table, and Hangman with a Dead Eye piledriver. That was on top of the gritty vibe of grinding each other. Moxley worked more with submissions, and Hangman packed a punch to knock Mox loopy on numerous occasions.

Down the stretch, Hangman executed a tombstone piledriver then hit the Buckshot Lariat. 1, 2, Moxley shockingly kicked out of Hangman’s trusty finisher. Hangman added insult to injury by securing a bulldog choke, which is one of Mox’s signature submissions. Moxley outsmarted Hangman in the end. Mox grabbed a snapmare while still in the choke to counter for a roll-up. That trick worked to earn the three-count and victory.

Hangman was peeved that Moxley chose to win with finesse in this slugfest. Tensions were still high, and they wanted to continue fighting. Claudio Castagnoli and Wheeler Yuta arrived on the scene for safety to keep Hangman and Moxley apart.

Woo whee, that was a fantastic fight. There was a PPV main event aura in the air for Moxley versus Hangman. The atmosphere was electric all throughout the contest. It was interesting to see Moxley live up to his pre-match promo from the ‘Road to’ video. His words were not empty bluster. Moxley indeed demonstrated his desire to come back stronger, more prepared, and more sadistic.

Moxley was actually a little overboard in his pre-match attack. There was no honor in trying to break Hangman’s ankle with a chair. That would have been taking the easy way out to avoid the bout.

Once the contest was officially underway, the chess match began. Hangman was more intent on clobbering to knock out his rival. Moxley used a variety of techniques and strategies. That was evident in the slick counter sequences. Hangman was no slouch himself in that department. Their chemistry was a great mix of creativity and slobberknocker. Moxley winning on a roll-up was a nice touch as a surprise finish. He proved he was the better wrestler, but Hangman can still have claim as the tougher fighter. This feud needs another round.

Bryan Danielson’s journey, part IV

Bryan Danielson’s task is to win five matches in five weeks to earn a 60-minute Iron Man match against MJF for the AEW World Championship at Revolution on March 5. Three down, two to go. Danielson has beaten Konosuke Takeshita, Bandido, and Brian Cage. Next up was Timothy Thatcher.

Danielson entered with a shoulder injury, so that’s what Thatcher focused on. Whenever Danielson gained momentum, Thatcher went back to attacking the shoulder. In the end, Danielson hit a German suplex then blasted the Busaiku Knee for victory. The summary was simple, however, the action was far from out. Thatcher and Danielson excelled with technical grappling.

Business picked up during Danielson’s match in an unexpected way. There was a referee bump when Thatcher backed into the corner trying to escape a rear naked choke. MJF made his way to the ring confident on plunking Danielson. The champ wasn’t expecting Takeshita to run in from the audience to protect the American Dragon. MJF and Takeshita brawled into the back.

After the match, cameras spied MJF and Takeshita still fighting in the back. Renee Paquette informed everyone that Tony Khan booked MJF versus Takeshita in a world title eliminator for next week.

That still leaves the question of Danielson’s final opponent. Rush was given the job. MJF brought in a briefcase of cash to coerce Rush into injuring Danielson next week. If Rush can beat Danielson, then MJF will deliver five more briefcases of cash. Rush is no fool. He accepted the bribe, but he also threatened to take the world title from MJF the first chance he gets. Rush delivered that line in Spanish, so MJF didn’t fully comprehend the threat. MJF did notice the body language though. They don’t have to like each other to do business. Just get the job done.

That was a whirlwind of activity to carry on the storylines. Danielson took care of business. The finish was a little underwhelming. I was hoping Danielson would get creative in victory to compensate for his injury, but the finish played out like the rest of his recent matches. Thatcher performed well to make a positive impression if he ever decides to visit AEW more often. The brewing feud between MJF and Takeshita turned into hot fire with minimal interaction. That match will have the crowd rocking next week. Rush will have his chance to go down in defeat to the almighty Danielson. That’s a solid selection from the roster. Rush came bring the thunder and has physical charisma to boot. Personally, I was hoping for the final opponent to be someone special from Danielson’s past, but Rush will do well in the spot to provide an entertaining bout.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

Dr. Britt Baker attacked. Bunny challenged Jamie Hayter to a title eliminator match. The fighting champion accepted. Their scene was interrupted by footage of Saraya and Toni Storm stomping on Baker.

Later in the show, Ruby Soho came to check on Baker. The dentist sassed Soho sowing seeds of distrust for the ex-WWE wrestler to join Saraya and Storm.

The alignments in this story are weird, but I’m still fully invested in the outcome. Baker is a jerk. The ambush attack felt like a way to garner babyface support, however, her rude tone toward Soho was unwarranted. I don’t want to root for Baker or Saraya. Or Storm for that matter. Observing how the dominoes fall is intriguing, but AEW needs to give me someone to support in this feud. Perhaps that is coming, and AEW just needs time to go through the steps of teasing a turn from Soho before she sticks with Willow Nightingale and Hikaru Shida.

The Acclaimed defeated Turbo Floyd & Truth Magnum. Squash with lots of scissoring. The Mic Drop combo sealed the deal.

Afterward, the Gunn sons demanded a tag title shot. The Acclaimed asked the people, who responded with a resounding no. Bickering increased. Billy Gunn had enough and exited on his own. Austin Gunn shouted about Billy turning his back like he did to them during childhood. Austin then went low referring to Billy drowning his troubles with pills. That hit Daddy Ass’ hot button. Billy confronted his son and accepted the challenge, despite the Acclaimed not being on board. The Gunn sons smiled at their plan working.

The match was goofy fun, and the fireworks came in the promo exchange. The interactions between father and sons were dramatic with Austin sheepishly avoiding eye contact knowing he went too far to upset papa. That guilt trip from Austin was ruthless. As much as I don’t really think Billy will turn, there is enough material being established that I still have doubt. Billy might choose to make up for past fatherhood failures by screwing the Acclaimed to hand the titles over to his sons. Score another one for building anticipation to see resolution.

Konosuke Takeshita defeated Brian Cage. Competitive affair with excellent action. Takeshita was persistent in attempting a jumping knee strike throughout the match, but Cage often had an answer to block or counter. Takeshita maneuvered for a super brainbuster. Cage was dazed enough so that Takeshita could finish with the jumping knee.

Unpopular opinion alert? Takeshita should have lost to Cage. You might be saying that I criticize AEW for Takeshita often losing on TV, so why aren’t I happy that he finally won? The problem is that the win was predictable. Takeshita’s losing has become a story in itself. The pay-off should have been a surprise win instead of an obvious one against another star who often loses the big matches too. I think my point was proven by the crowd response. They were excited for Takeshita to win, but they didn’t pop hard at the result. Takeshita’s first important win should have blown the roof off the building. With that said, I understand in hindsight that Takeshita’s win was an important step to justifying his match against MJF.

TBS Championship: Jade Cargill retained against Red Velvet. This bout had a few cool moments from Jade. She had a neat cazadora German suplex. Jade also military pressed Velvet in the air marching up the steps to toss her into the ring.

Leila Grey was trifling ringside, so Kiera Hogan ran in to smash her. That caused a referee distraction as Velvet clobbered Jade with a kick. Velvet made the cover that could have won, but the ref was looking the other way at the chaos outside. Jade rebounded with Jaded for victory to become 50-0.

Jade and Velvet have great chemistry together. They could easily be career rivals always bringing out the best in one another. Jade was impressive opening up with new moves. She is also doing well executing interesting sequences to set up the Jaded finisher.

Notes: Jack Perry (not introduced as Jungle Boy) had a good time with Hook, but he’s already climbed the tag team mountain. Perry is focused on singles gold.

JAS will give Ricky Starks another match with Chris Jericho. Starks just needs to win a gauntlet match against JAS next week.

The Elite accepted the trios title challenge from Top Flight & AR Fox for next week. As for this week, Ethan Page requested a title bout with Matt Hardy and Isiah Kassidy as his partners. Kenny Omega accepted for Rampage. Kassidy dished out intimidation tactics by moaning in Omega’s ear.

Swerve Strickland called out Brian Pillman Jr. for a match on Rampage. Swerve is tired of nepotism punk boys in AEW.

Stud of the Show: Samoa Joe

The king backed up his words with furious action. Beating Darby Allin is never an easy task, but Joe did it in emphatic fashion.

Match of the Night: Konosuke Takeshita vs. Brian Cage

Lots of contenders for the honor on this evening. The match between Takeshita and Cage was just plain cool. It was a sprint of action with sweet moves, nifty counter sequences, and crushing physicality.

Grade: A-

Very enjoyable show up and down the card. I think the chapters closed for Moxley versus Hangman and Allin versus Joe. Those matches were so entertaining that it left me wanting more for the feuds to continue. Promos and storylines hit the right notes for building anticipation of what is to come.

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

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