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AEW Dynamite recap & reactions (Jan. 31, 2024): RVD mystery reveal & luchador invasion

AEW Dynamite (Jan. 31, 2024) emanated from UNO Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, LA. The show featured RVD as a mystery reveal in the world title story, Jon Moxley getting pummeled by CMLL luchadores, and more.

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

Hangman Page & Swerve Strickland jockey for position

The primary story throughout Dynamite was Hangman Page and Swerve Strickland continuing their rise toward a world title shot. This chapter included the surprise of RVD as a mystery reveal.

Hangman and Swerve were granted Dealer’s Choice rights to pick the other’s opponent. Swerve stayed within his own crew handing the assignment to Toa Liona. Hangman had a rough time battling that beast of a man. The cowboy hit the Deadeye piledriver, and Liona just popped up to headbutt him.

Hangman hung in there to take advantage of Liona’s mistake. The hoss was overzealous leaping for a moosault off the apron. Hangman moved, and Liona went splat on the floor. Hangman followed for a moonsault of his own. That led to the buckshot lariat attempt, but Liona countered for a Samoan drop lift. Hangman reversed position for a crucifix pin to earn the win and pass the test.

That match delivered. Liona was treated like a supreme hoss. He was a dominant force in his own right, and his aura was elevated by actions throughout the contest. Hangman is not a small man, and even he had trouble trying to lift Liona. The cowboy actually collapsed under the weight on his first Deadeye attempt. Liona was protected in defeat with Hangman squeaking out a sneaky pin to escape. Hangman still looked strong by going toe-to-toe with that hoss and relying on wits to overcome.

Swerve had to wait the whole f’n show to find out his opponent. That catchphrase gave away the answer as Rob Van Dam. Even Samoa Joe approved of that pick.

Hangman also chimed in to add a special stipulation. Swerve didn’t bother to read the fine print, but the cowboy was aware of the contract. Hangman announced this match as hardcore. RVD promptly threw a chair into Swerve’s face.

RVD played the hits with a leaping leg drop onto Swerve over the barricade.

Swerve weathered the storm to inflict pain and punishment. When RVD rallied, Brian Cage ran in for assistance. Hook evened the odds with a chair in hand to pummel Cage to the back.

In the end, RVD set up Swerve in a chair sandwich for a frog splash. Swerve dodged impact, and RVD crashed onto one chair. Swerve tossed the other chair at RVD to catch then deliver a knee strike into the steel. RVD was victim to a flying stomp as Swerve was deemed the winner.

That was a pleasant legends appearance from RVD. He brought entertainment and pushed Swerve for a competitive bout. This was a special matchup that we might not see ever again. The novelty stayed strong throughout, in my opinion. Swerve was able to pad his record with a quality win. He showed championship mettle to turn the tide through determination.

The show didn’t end there. Things got spicy in the aftermath.

Hangman and Swerve exchanged words. Swerve didn’t have anything to prove after beating the cowboy twice. Hangman pointed out how the mogul needed help from the Embassy to steal those wins. With the rankings out, the assumption was those two taking the top spots. Swerve agreed to round three next week, and AEW announced that the winner will face Samoa Joe for the AEW World Championship at Revolution on March 3.

Woo wee, that match announcement has me titillated. AEW built to this showdown so well. When Swerve triumphed over Hangman in Texas Death, I had concerns about how he relied on his crew’s interference to earn victories over Hangman. Since then, Swerve validated his skills in the Continental Classic without any help. I’m pleasantly surprised to see this story wrap around full circle. It’s win-win in building stars. Either Hangman finally beats his nemesis or Swerve proves once again that he is ready to take the cowboy’s spot. No matter the result, the winner is going to be on a pedestal heading into the championship bout versus Joe. This is what the sport aspect of professional wrestling is all about.

AEW vs. CMLL

The funniest thing on the show was Jon Moxley on the receiving end of a beatdown from CMLL luchadores.

The story started with Moxley in action against Jeff Hardy for a first-time matchup. Mistico, Hechicero, Volador Jr., and Mascara Dorada were seated front row as special guests. There was already a seed planted for discord when it was announced earlier in the day that Hechicero will wrestle Bryan Danielson on Collision. Once Moxley spied the CMLL squad, tensions flared. It didn’t help that Hardy tossed Moxley over the barricade onto their laps. Shoving ensued, and Moxley flipped the double bird in their faces.

The match progressed with Moxley sticking a pen through Hardy’s earring hole. Wild and wacky stuff, indeed.

It was that kind of match between Moxley and Hardy. In the end, Hardy struck with two straight cutters, but he missed the mark on a swanton. Moxley pounced for a rear naked choke to win. Afterward, Hardy declined Mox’s handshake of respect to respond with an ‘up yours’ gesture.

That’s where the luchadores come back into play. Moxley taunted them with a muscle pose from the turnbuckles. Mistico jumped the barricade, and the others followed to surround Mox in the ring. Punches were thrown, but Moxley was overwhelmed by the numbers. The rest of the Blackpool Combat Club were absent for the evening, however, Daddy Magic, Cool Hand Ang, Christopher Daniels, and Matt Sydal ran out to protect the AEW brand.

Hot damn, that was awesome as a WTF moment. I laughed my ass off seeing Moxley run his mouth only to be served humble pie by a bunch of short muscular dudes. The visual was funny. That scene also fired me up for what’s to come from this CMLL crew. Instead of trotting them out for cold attraction matches, AEW flamed heat to get invested in the luchador appearances. They invaded AEW turf, and two matches were made as a result. CMLL will face Daddy Magic, Cool Hand, CD, and Sydal on Rampage, then the luchadores return next week for a trios showdown with the BCC. The anticipation of this mini story puts a smile on my face.

As for Moxley versus Hardy, it was a fun smash of aggression. They mixed intensity and strategy with a splash of daredevil. Moxley earned a quality win, and Hardy’s reaction in defeat has me hooked to see where this attitude takes him.

Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.

It’s Sting! The Sting saga kicked off with the Young Bucks arriving in a mood to fine a production staffer. Question that crossed my mind. Can Matthew RonJon Jackson’s name be shortened to MR JJ?

Later, Sting and Darby Allin sat down with Ricky Starks and Big Bill Morrissey for an interview prior to next week’s AEW tag title match. Starks wants his win back from being Sting’s victim in his AEW debut. He also aims to make sure Sting doesn’t make it to his retirement match at Revolution. This segment added sizzle and emotion to their upcoming bout. Asses will be kicked, and I can’t wait.

The Bucks sucked up to Allin trying to plant seeds of turning on Sting. Allin wasn’t interested in their bullshit. His mind is on the tag team belts.

The Bucks are slow rolling their way into becoming Sting’s final opponent. That makes sense, since Sting and Allin have one more goal of gold in focus before the ride is over.

Wardlow defeated Komander. This bout was payback to teach the luchador a lesson for crossing the Kingdom on Collision. The bout played out as cat and mouse, or more like lion and mouse. Komander had no surrender in his spirit, but he just couldn’t handle Wardlow’s power. Wardlow caught the high-flyer for a swinging powerslam. A hanging knockout blow led to a powerbomb victory. Afterward, Roderick Strong wanted to teach Komander a lesson, but Orange Cassidy, Trent Beretta, and Rocky Romero arrived for the save. The Undisputed Kingdom scurried away.

Wardlow was so good in this match. His power was on full display to toss Komander around the ring, but he also showed agility in an amusing moment to surprise Komander by jumping up to the apron. It’s smart that Wardlow ceased doing the powerbomb symphony, because that will only get him cheered no matter how evil he acts. Executing one powerbomb after striking a death blow adds insult to injury as a rude dude.

Chris Jericho defeated Kyle Fletcher. Don Callis and Will Hobbs were ringside to interfere. Jericho prevailed with a slick Judas Effect counter to block a suicide dive. El Ocho pounced for victory with a flying Judas Effect. Next week is the challenge from Konosuke Takeshita.

This was a quality showcase for Fletcher as a star on the rise. He unloaded his arsenal of cool moves to strut his stuff. Jericho’s years of experience were the difference when blasting the Judas Effect strikes. Whenever Jericho unleashes super variations of the Judas Effect, they are always jaw-dropping.

Deonna Purrazzo defeated Taya Valkyrie. The Virtuosa has her sights set on Toni Storm and the AEW women’s world title. She explained the significance of their matching ankle tattoos. Purrazzo’s ink symbolizes their journeys across the globe to become the best in the world.

Purrazzo had a tough test with Taya, and it was made more difficult by Johnny TV trifling outside. In addition, Toni Storm was on commentary flanked by her crew. Purrazzo turned the tide by tossing Taya onto Storm. The Virtuosa finished with an arm stretch to her flexible opponent.

Solid match with intensity, however, that finish was odd. It didn’t even look like Taya was in pain. It might hurt a normal person, but La Wera Loca is quite stretchable.

Notes: Tony Khan will have a big announcement next week. Place your bets.

The Bang Bang Scissor Gang celebrated in the ring as a united force. I’m not sure what the purpose was for this segment, aside from popping the live crowd with excitement.


Stud of the Show: Chris Jericho

Those two creative Judas Effect hits were very cool.

Match of the Night: Hangman Page vs. Toa Liona

Certified slobberknocker.

Grade: B

Rowdy action all night long. The stories are progressing slowly up the roller coaster mountain, major steps are in place to peak next week, and it will be a fun ride down on the way to Revolution.

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

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