AEW Dynamite (Jan. 10, 2024) emanated from Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, FL. The Homecoming special featured Sting’s undefeated streak remaining intact, the Young Bucks surprise return, Samoa Joe’s world title picture coming into focus even clearer, and more.
Get caught up on all the Dynamite details with the excellent play-by-play from Claire Elizabeth.
Sting remains undefeated
Sting took center stage for the main event. The Icon tagged with Darby Allin against Konosuke Takeshita and Will Hobbs of the Callis Family. Tornado rules were in effect. Anything goes, falls count anywhere. The big-fight feel increased with the presence of Jim Ross on commentary and Ric Flair ringside.
Sting entered this match with an undefeated record since arriving to AEW. The streak was riding high at 26-0. The cloud of Sting’s final match loomed large as the world awaits Revolution on March 3. The question remained who would be Sting’s final opponent. And therein created the drama for this bout. The Callis Family have been an unstoppable force. It would not be shocking if Takeshita and Hobbs prevailed to set up a PPV rematch. The question was if the Callis Family could get the job done.
This match was a wild fight from the get-go. All four competitors brawled through the crowd. Most of the time, Sting was paired with Hobbs, and Allin was paired with Takeshita. The Japanese phenom caught a Coffin Drop out of the air to deliver a brutal rolling German suplex to Allin on the floor.
The Callis Family were in control when Flair decided to help his friends. Hobbs grabbed a chair with the idea to tenderize Sting. That’s when Flair stepped in for the save. Since chops to Hobbs’ massive chest had no effect, the dirtiest player in the game went with an eye poke.
With no rules, Ric Flair will do anything to help his friend Sting!— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) January 11, 2024
Watch #AEWDynamite: Homecoming LIVE on TBS!@RicFlairNatrBoy | @Sting | @DarbyAllin | @takesoup | @truewilliehobbs pic.twitter.com/AX05pblPob
The action stumbled onto stage. Allin climbed the bleachers for a high altitude Coffin Drop onto Takeshita.
Sting wasn’t going to let his little buddy have all the daredevil fun. Tables were set up on the floor. Hobbs carried Sting over his shoulder in a powerslam position. Powerhouse marched along the ledge of the Daily’s Place stage. Sting escaped to counter for a huge Scorpion Death Drop from high above through the wood. The Icon rolled over to barely cover Hobbs, and the referee counted three. 27-0.
That was a fun match. The high spots were mighty, and the shocking finish was a feel-good moment of victory for Sting. He is a wild man taking bumps like that. There is a debate to be had about sacrificing the Callis Family at the altar of Sting. Takeshita and Hobbs brought legitimacy to create doubt about the result, not to mention putting on an exciting match. Criticism is fair about taking the loss. At least Takeshita didn’t eat the pin. His star power is being cultivated on a higher level than Hobbs right now. By the time Kenny Omega returns, this loss will be in the rear-view mirror as a distant memory. Plus, there is no shame in losing to Sting.
The show didn’t end there.
Young Bucks surprise return!
After the triumphant outing from Sting and Allin, Tony Schiavone inquired about Sting’s final opponent at Revolution on March 3. Surprise! The Young Bucks stepped out on stage to interrupt. The implication was clear. They wanted a shot at Sting.
Wow. That was an unexpected appearance from the Young Bucks. They were the furthest from my mind when considering options for Sting’s last match. As I mull it over, I’m okay with the Bucks in that position.
And we have to remember that this might be a tease. Sting said he wants to stay active on the road to Revolution, so the Young Bucks match could happen sooner for television. Time to pause, and let the story unfold.
Let’s say the Young Bucks do get the match for Revolution. In my opinion, Sting should go out in victory on any tag team matches. (A singles bout against Allin is a different discussion.) This isn’t in the typical pass the torch situation. His time to pass the torch was in his WWE chapter. Sting has been presented like a fantasy superhero in his AEW run. Close the career with a feel-good moment. However, the Bucks are big enough stars to stimulate doubt about the result. Surely, their new mustaches deserve PPV billing. It’s like evil doppelgangers of the Jacksons. They are leveling up on the villain scale, which would be appropriate when facing superhero Sting. The Young Bucks are also in the position to benefit from nuclear heat to rejuvenate their careers. I think it is a safe bet that the match will rock no matter the outcome.
Samoa Joe’s first world title defense
Hints were dropped last week at Samoa Joe’s direction to defend the AEW World Championship, and now his first defense is solidified.
Joe conducted official business in the center of the ring. He unveiled the brand new world championship belt. No more Triple B. Joe also declared changes to the challenger protocol. Potential competitors must bring their record and their reputation to the championship committee. If deemed worthy, then Joe will stomp their ass out.
Enter Swerve Strickland running his mouth. He took Hangman Page’s spot, and he has his eyes set on taking Joe’s spot at the top. Enter Hangman. He called his shot too at coming after Joe. Tension was thick, but there weren’t any fisticuffs.
Joe’s first world title defense won’t go to Swerve or Hangman. No, no, no. After they exited the ring, Hook arrived on the scene. He declared his intention last week to go after Joe, and now the cold-hearted handsome devil was backing up his words. Hook stepped right up into Joe’s face without fear for an intense staredown. That bout was announced for next week.
I like the layers setting in this segment. I don’t know if the championship committee will be a real on-screen thing or just a vague illusion to book title bouts. Either way, it adds a sense of seriousness to Joe’s reign. It implies that Joe’s matches will be a big deal. A three-way with Hangman and Swerve feels like a PPV-level defense for Joe. In the meantime, he’ll need challengers, and Hook fits the bill. I’m all in on seeing that match. The reason why is because Hook still has the aura of a special attraction. We don’t really know what to expect from him. Joe would be Hook’s toughest match of his career, however, Hook has passed all tests thus far. This clash has the curiosity factor of seeing what Hook is made of when he dances with the cream of the crop.
Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.
Hangman Page defeated Claudio Castagnoli. The cowboy took a cheap shot before the opening bell by attacking Claudio as he entered the ring. Claudio got payback later with an eye poke on the referee break. Enough of the tit for tat. Fire up the highlight reel for this rowdy fight.
Claudio caught Hangman for a gorilla press slam over the ropes onto the stage.
Hangman had the opening for a buckshot lariat, but Claudio countered for a vicious pop-up European uppercut. The action spilled outside with Hangman leaping off the wall for a moonsault.
In the end, Hangman countered for an avalanche rana, then he fired off back to back buckshot lariats for victory.
This match kicked so much ass. The moves mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg from this fight. The physicality was strong. Even stronger was the creativity. Claudio displayed his amazing strength manhandling the cowboy on several occasions. This was a valuable win for Hangman to re-establish his credibility for the world title scene. Swerve had the benefit of strutting his stuff in the Continental Classic. Now, Hangman can hang his hat on this win over Claudio. That is an example of building quality momentum heading into a big bout. After this performance, I can fully sell myself into believing Hangman could win the AEW World Championship post haste. Do I think that will happen? No. But, it’s about believing in the story enough to go for the ride.
Preston Vance, Orange Cassidy, Dustin Rhodes, Adam Copeland defeated Brian Cage, Bishop Kaun, Toa Liona, & Lance Archer. The match broke down into moves all around. Vance hit a discus lariat to pin Kaun. Too bad the cameras completely missed it.
This match was on the random side, but it achieved its purpose for giving Vance some shine to honor Mr. Brodie Lee. It also allowed the babyfaces to rock and roll for the crowd’s delight.
The real takeaway away was discord between Lance Archer and the Mogul Embassy. Cage, Kaun, and Liona ignored the Murderhawk Monster on the apron. Archer eventually tagged himself in. Down the stretch, Archer accidentally booted Liona, so Cage clotheslined Archer. I really hope AEW pays off on this little story by delivering Archer versus Cage. That is the type of unique hoss fight that shivers me timbers in excitement. Heck, give me Archer running through the whole group. Archer beats Kaun, then Archer beats Liona, then Archer beats Cage. That is a winning streak worthy of stepping to Samoa Joe for the AEW World Championship. Archer can lose that one on TV, then back to Japan he goes. In the words of Batista, give me what I want! Please.
Sammy Guevara defeated Ricky Starks. Absolute hit a brutal butterfly slam to the Spanish God with a hard impact on the apron. That move made me go, “Damn!” In the end, Starks was on the receiving end of a pair of superkicks to knock him silly. Starks ran right into the second one for added force. Sammy scored an awkward inside cradle to win.
It looked like Starks may have been concussed on the finish. Whether that was true or not, he played it off as a con after the match. Starks shook Sammy’s hand out of respect for their journey over the years. Starks held on to the handshake as a trick for Big Bill Morrissey to attack. Chris Jericho made the save, and a donnybrook erupted through the crowd.
Good showcase match for the two stars. Sammy picked up his second pin over Starks to double down on the idea that the AEW tag titles are ripe for the picking. I hope Starks’ head health was just part of the show. If so, then he sold it well enough to fool me. The rowdy brawl delivered a jolt of anticipation for the street fight showdown at Battle of the Belts.
Anna Jay, Willow Nightingale, Kris Statlander, & Thunder Rosa defeated Saraya, Ruby Soho, Skye Blue, & Julia Hart. The match broke down into moves all around, as is often the case in contests this large. Anna slapped on the Queen Slayer choke to Hart in the corner. Blue tagged in. Anna blasted Hart with a kick, then she countered a lift from Blue into the Queen Slayer on the mat. Blue tapped out in defeat.
This format was pretty similar to the men’s 8-man. Babyfaces popped the crowd, and Mr. Brodie Lee’s handpicked student earned the win in his honor. Something to keep an eye on is Anna positioning herself for a TBS title shot against Hart. Even though this was a team contest, they shared enough singles encounters to sell the idea of Anna ready for the challenge.
Roderick Strong defeated Bryan Keith. Strong escaped a tiger driver to deliver a jumping knee strike. A backbreaker was the finishing maneuver.
Adam Cole gave a speech after the match. Even though the Undisputed Kingdom is worthy of respect, they don’t seek it from the idiotic crowd.
The Undisputed Kingdom is laying claim to the entirety of All Elite Wrestling.— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) January 11, 2024
Watch #AEWDynamite: Homecoming LIVE on TBS!@RoderickStrong | @AdamColePro | @MattTaven | @RealMikeBennett | @RealWardlow pic.twitter.com/HrXBemd1zx
In my opinion, the Undisputed Kingdom is very close to being boring. Their story falls completely flat with Cole and MJF on the injured list. Cole is already rehashing material in his promo with similar talking points to last week. It would be wise not to waste any more time before clashing with other enemies. Book matches against Bullet Club Gold and The Acclaimed to get this train moving. AEW likes to drag out stories, but this isn’t the time for that.
Notes: The Homecoming episode honored the memory of Mr. Brodie Lee for his work during the Daily’s Place era. Both 8-wrestler tag matches were drawn up to highlight his handpicked proteges in Preston Vance and Anna Jay.
The greatest TNT Champion of all time.— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) January 11, 2024
Mr. @ThisBrodieLee will forever be missed & his two proteges, @annajay___ & @Pres10Vance, will be in action tonight on #AEW Dynamite: Homecoming.
Watch #AEWDynamite: Homecoming LIVE on TBS! pic.twitter.com/hGKM5xZV0C
The Acclaimed and Billy Gunn proposed a united front with Bullet Club Gold to go after the Undisputed Kingdom. Anthony Bowens suggested they join forces as the Bang Bang Scissor Gang. Austin Gunn was receptive, but Jay White and Colten Gunn were hesitant. This was pretty similar to last week’s promo, except with the funny Bang Bang Scissor Gang name.
Toni Storm couldn’t be bothered to watch Mariah May’s debut match nor was she aware of Deonna Purrazzo.
Purrazzo plans to debut in the ring on Collision. Red Velvet stepped up to challenge the Virtuosa. Purrazzo implied threats of breaking Velvet’s arm. For those that don’t know, Purrazzo’s bread and butter is the armbar.
Wheeler Yuta will not tolerate disrespect from Eddie Kingston. He called out the Mad King for a shot at the Continental Crown on Rampage.
Stud of the Show: It’s Sting!
The Icon added another memory to his AEW career with a wicked Scorpion Death Drop off the upper deck through tables.
Match of the Night: Hangman Page vs. Claudio Castagnoli
PPV worthy contest.
Heavy on action. A little light on story overall, however, the bits hit hard to create intrigue. The 8-wrestler tag bouts were random on paper, but I like that there is potential for spin-off matches. The opener with Hangman Page and Claudio Castagnoli was a banger, and the main event with Sting delivered the goods.
Share your thoughts about Dynamite. How do you rate it? What were your favorite moments from the show?