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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Jan. 3, 2024): Devil’s business, surprises, and returns

AEW Dynamite (Jan. 3, 2024) emanated from Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The show featured Adam Cole explaining his motivation for betraying MJF, Samoa Joe’s world title picture coming into focus, the surprise debut of Deonna Purrazzo, and more in the fallout to Worlds End.

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

Devil’s business

There were two major draws heading into Dynamite for the fallout of Worlds End. One was the next step in Adam Cole’s plan as the devil to screw MJF. Cole already crushed MJF’s soul by causing him to lose the AEW World Championship and also his best friend. Cole addressed the live crowd to explain his motivation and the future direction for Roderick Strong, Matt Taven, Mike Bennett, and Wardlow.

The Undisputed Kingdom took center stage in the ring. Cole was seated with his walking boot. He mocked the fans for thinking he is the bad guy in this situation. MJF made enemies throughout the locker room, and it was only a matter of time before MJF turned on their friendship. Cole beat MJF to the punch. The devil destroyed a man to his core by ripping out his heart. Cole proclaimed that MJF will be gone forever.

What’s next for the Undisputed Kingdom? Gold. Taven and Bennett already hold the ROH World Tag Team Championship. Strong is eyeing the AEW International Championship, and Wardlow is targeting the AEW World Championship.

Simple enough. In fact, keeping it simple was the best way to handle this promo. I’m glad they didn’t try to explain the details of the operation. It makes no sense how Cole pulled off the long con. There are too many questions that don’t stand up to investigation when analyzing the devil’s details in this story, so it is best to sweep it all under the rug to begin a new chapter. The main points are clear.

As for the effectiveness of this group moving forward, it doesn’t look good. Cole is still in recovery with no return soon. The Kingdom have not been booked to look impressive in their AEW appearances. Strong has potential with the right opponents. He would be a good foil for Orange Cassidy when chasing the International belt. I’m glad they kept Strong’s shouting, because that’s my second favorite part of his presentation. First being his jumping knee as defense to aerial attacks. Wardlow looks along for the ride with the common goal of destroying MJF. When Cole brought up the idea that Wardlow would forfeit the world title to hand over, the big man sort of rolled his eyes as if that idea won’t be happening. I suspect it won’t be long for Wardlow to outlive his usefulness to the group.

What does look good is that a lot of wrestlers want a piece of the Undisputed Kingdom as payback for their attacks. It started with Jay White. Switchblade entered the scene after Cole’s speech. White commended the group in how they destroyed MJF, however, he had a problem in being used as collateral damage. White brought out the Gunns to rush the ring. Wardlow escorted Cole to safety before returning to the ring to help his mates. The Acclaimed and Daddy Ass ran out for revenge as well. The bad guys scattered. The Acclaimed looked to the Gunns to see if they were on the same page, but there would be no reconciliation between Daddy Ass’ boys. Bullet Club Gold exited without squashing beef.

These are the feuds that can extend the shelf life of the Undisputed Kingdom as we await the eventual return of MJF. Cole didn’t mention the trios belts, but I’m sure they wouldn’t mind that opportunity as this story progresses with the Acclaimed. Bullet Club Gold also fits in that division to give White purpose. These are positive teases to hook interest in what may lie ahead.

Samoa Joe’s business

The other draw is who would be next for Samoa Joe. The world title picture was wide open. The new champion cut a brief promo backstage after his victory. Since MJF cheated him in their first match, Joe used everything at his disposal for the second match. Joe took what MJF valued most in front of friends and family. MJF is a scumbag, but Joe is a heartless son of a bitch.

The promo raged with intensity to explain motivation in plotting victory. Unfortunately, that was all from Samoan Joseph on this evening. It was a bit of a downer to see so little of Joe on screen now that he is the face of AEW, but it can be justified with the need to space out material until the next PPV. AEW has until Revolution on March 3 to produce a worthy opponent. Hopefully we won’t have to wait that long before Joe steps in the ring again.

There were no direct challengers stepping up to the plate, however, the main event angle should give us a glimpse at who is next for Joe.

Main event angle

Swerve Strickland and Hangman Page closed the show in a brawl. Earlier in the episode, Swerve declared his goal to win the world title in 2024. He is coming for Joe. Later, Hangman was in an ornery mood after learning of the plot from Cole and Joe to ambush him a few weeks back. The cowboy wanted to fight. If he couldn’t find Joe, then he would find someone else to throw fists.

Hangman’s target ended up being Swerve. After the mogul defeated Daniel Garcia in the main event, Swerve and Prince Nana delivered low blows to Garcia and Daddy Magic. That’s when Hangman arrived to engage in fisticuffs. He wasn’t there to save anyone. It was just about pounding out his frustration, and the rivalry with Swerve fit the bill.

As it relates to Joe, I’d wager one or both of these men become his next test. A three-way could be on the menu. Despite Hangman and Swerve competing in a death feud, the world title picture comes back to the original talking points about Swerve wanting to take Hangman’s spot. That creates room for this chapter to feel fresh between them.

Surprises and returns

AEW also sprinkled in a surprise debut and an injury return.

Deonna Purrazzo is All Elite, and her target is Toni Storm with the AEW Women’s World Championship. The setup subtly began with Storm trashing New Jersey, which happens to be Purrazzo’s home state. The star couldn’t spare another second of her time in that dump, so she decided to head to Broadway in New York City.

After Mariah May won her debut, she crapped on New Jersey as well. That’s when Purrazzo made her entrance.

Purrazzo took the spotlight declaring her mission for the world title. May wasn’t a messenger girl, so she slapped Purrazzo. A slap back and Purrazzo kicked May out of the ring.

That was a pleasant surprise. I didn’t keep up with rumors all day, so Purrazzo’s presence caught me off-guard. She will be a quality addition to AEW. Purrazzo wrestles with a technical expertise focusing on armbar submissions. She is a three-time Knockouts champion in Impact, a former ROH women’s champion, and a former AAA women’s champion. The Virtuosa also happens to be pals with Dr. Britt Baker DMD.

Marq Quen is back from injury for a Private Party reunion. As Orange Cassidy, Danhausen, and Hook shared respect with Top Flight and Action Andretti, Private Party crashed the scene. They are the missing ingredient to add flavor back to the tag team division. Private Party put everyone on notice, including the Hardys.

Private Party is one of those teams that seemed poised for greater success, but it never materialized. With Quen back teaming with Isiah Kassidy, they can wipe the slate clean. A lot of exciting matchups are available, and I’m looking forward to see how they progress.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

AEW International Championship: Orange Cassidy defeated Dante Martin to retain. OC dodged a dropkick to counter for a superman punch to win.

This was a solid mid-card bout. It was interesting as a step along the path of Martin as he blossoms into a bigger star. Martin showed character by playing Cassidy’s shin kick games. Even though Cassidy saw the punchline coming, it was still a nice touch to demonstrate mindfulness of strategy from Martin. Dante showed his ability to adapt on the fly by hitting a rope-walking splash as Cassidy tried to roll away out of distance. This are all examples of growing steps for future success. Cassidy was savvier on this evening, but it won’t be long until Martin evolves through lessons learned to beat Cassidy at his own game.

Mariah May defeated Queen Aminata. May was in control with dropkick offense until Aminata rallied with hefty strikes. May regrouped to win on a fireman’s carry front driver.

May was fine in her effort, but nothing stood out enough in the ring to leave me wanting more. Aminata’s aggression earned my interest. The more opportunity Aminata receives, the more she has made an impression in recent weeks.

Christian Cage’s State of the Union address. Christian thanked Mama Wayne and Nick Wayne for helping him beat Adam Copeland. Christian turned to Killswitch (aka Luchasaurus) speaking praise, however, it was praise for himself. The dino was not acknowledged by the patriarch. Christian considers his feud with Copeland closed.

This was typical heeling from Christian, and it was a delight. Nick is coming along nicely with facial expressions reacting to his proud father-figure. The purpose of this segment appeared to be rallying support for Luchasaurus to stop being a schmuck, and it worked. The fans loudly cheered his name. AEW is building to a big pop once Luchasaurus lashes back at Christian.

Konosuke Takeshita defeated Darby Allin. The Alpha exploded for an avalanche German suplex then closed with a running knee strike.

Holy shit! This was a badass match. Allin sacrificed himself on offense and defense being tossed around like a ragdoll. Takeshita was a super stud with his arsenal of German suplexes. The series of rolling German suplexes on the ramp and the final avalanche German suplex were genuine ‘holy shit’ moments. Takeshita earned the win clean thanks to AEW instituting special rules banning interference. Allin put up a heck of a fight, but Takeshita was so dominating that he instantly vaulted into world title contention, in my opinion. It just goes to show how much a righteous win can elevate status.

Backstage, the Callis Family challenged Allin and Sting. AEW booked it for next week.

Trent Beretta defeated Brian Cage, Bryan Keith, and Hijo del Vikingo. Four-way action with the prize of a title shot against Eddie Kingston for the AEW Continental Crown. Cage steamrolled toward the finish, but Danhausen saved Trent by cursing the Machine. Vikingo took out Cage with a flying dive to the outside. The finish came down to Trent and Keith. Trent countered a tiger driver to hit Strong Zero for victory.

Action galore. These are the kind of circumstances for underdog workhorses to win. Trent provides a fresh matchup against Kingston. I don’t think Trent will win, but he deserves opportunities like this. The win here tonight also reinforces his status as a threat in the ring. The dynamic between Danhausen and Trent is interesting. The Best Friends group truly are forgiving fellows. Trent double-crossed Danhausen last week, and here we have Danhausen still helping his pal in quest of gold. Very nice. I hesitate to speculate the very evil part.

Swerve Strickland defeated Daniel Garcia. Rowdy action throughout, but it wasn’t all pretty. Garcia tried to apply a Sharpshooter atop the commentary table. His step slipped, and both men crashed awkwardly to the floor. Swerve poured on the offense in the end. Garcia kept kicking out on signature moves and even scored a surprise crucifix pin. Swerve popped up to explode for a House Call kick and JML Driver to win.

This was the type of match one would expect with these two. Garcia showed spunky spirit to put on a tough fight. Swerve put him away emphatically in the end as ammunition in jockeying position for a world title shot. Best of all was the dance-off between Garcia and Prince Nana.

Notes: House of Black accepted FTR’s challenge for Collision. The match will be in North Carolina. When House of Black wins, Malakai Black wants FTR to disown their family and join his crusade. That match is going to rock, but I hope that family deal is not an official stipulation. It would be stupid for FTR to accept those conditions, especially when HoB don’t fight clean.

Ruby Soho was pleased with Harley Cameron’s assistance in helping her win, however, Harley appears to be part of a larger scheme perpetrated by Saraya.

Stud of the Show: Konosuke Takeshita

This was the definition of a statement win.

Match of the Night: Konosuke Takeshita vs. Darby Allin

Fantastic contest with wild moves showing why both wrestlers have the ability to carry AEW’s future.

Grade: B+

Anticipation was high entering the evening for PPV fallout, and AEW delivered the goods. They didn’t go deep into everything, but enough was addressed to satisfy. This episode began setting the table for the direction in coming weeks. Add in a handful of surprises to sweeten the pot.

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

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