The SmarK Rant for AEW Dynamite – 01.12.22
My New Year’s resolution, as has been requested by more people than I can count recently, is to stop being so negative towards AEW. Granted, I’ve been very unfair to them, especially not giving Hook enough credit for developing as a rookie and vastly underrating his matches, and I’ve taken that criticism to heart and will be going easier on them by grading Hook on more of a curve in 2022. It’s true, I am a man of the people, and damn humble to boot.
Live from Raleigh, NC
Your hosts are Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone & Excalibur
Adam Cole (Bay Bay) joins us to start along with his pals reDRagon, but the Young Bucks interrupt, which has Kyle O’Reilly annoyed again. Matt, much like myself, has a New Year’s resolution, but his is to regain the tag team titles. This breeds some “friendly competition” between the two teams and Adam Cole tries to head it off by throwing the Best Friends under the bus, but then THEY interrupt. So Adam lips off Orange and a brawl erupts, which leads to the ring getting cleared and Cole hitting Orange right in the mandarins. And then we get the next level of wackiness, as Kris Statlander comes out to defend Orange, but Dr. Britt Baker DMD lays her out from behind and they destroy Cassidy further before giving us some icky PDA. Ew, I’ve been married for 17 years, love is gross.
CM Punk v. Wardlow
Wardlow has some badass new gear with what appears to be evil rabid dogs and white boots. I approve. A sign in the crowd calls MJF “Walmart Miz”, so maybe when Corey Graves comes out of retirement he can feud with Miz, since he’s Walmart Punk. Punk tries to lure Wardlow to the floor but is unable to outsmart him. Back in the ring, Punk grabs a headlock and they slug it out in the corner, which goes badly for Punk. Wardlow tries the powerbomb, but Punk escapes and we take a break. Back with Wardlow missing a blind charge, but Punk goes up and gets slammed off right away. Another powerbomb attempt, but Punk escapes and hits Wardlow with kicks and clotheslines, which gets him nowhere. Wardlow shrugs him off like Nick Khan no-selling Twitter haters , but Punk manages to make a comeback with the corner knee…and Wardlow catches him and plants him with a powerbomb. Whoops. Punk is helpless, so Wardlow powerbombs him not once, not twice, but THRICE more, and then a fourth one, but MJF stops the count at two because he wants to put Punk out for good. So Wardlow hits two more but that’s still not enough for MJF, so he orders Wardlow to put him through the ringside table. And so he does. But Punk somehow beats the count at 9, so MJF sticks his nose in again and wants another powerbomb. And of course Punk reverses this one, into a small package, and gets the pin at 14:09. Naturally MJF blames everything on Wardlow and things are about to go south for that relationship, but Shawn Spears plays peacemaker and puts it off for a bit. As a match it wasn’t much, but as far as three personalities all interacting perfectly and creating incredible drama with the classic underdog v. monster story, it was great. And when Wardlow does haul off and probably costs MJF a loss to Punk, the crowd is gonna explode. ***
Dante Martin v. Powerhouse Hobbs
They fight outside the ring before the bell and Dante dropkicks him to the floor right away, only to land in a spinebuster on the floor. Back in, Hobbs slams him again and then adds a falcon arrow. Dante fights up, but Hobbs puts him down with a clothesline and a crossbody for two. Hobbs beats on him in the corner and whips him out to the floor for some abuse from Ricky Starks, and we take a break. Back with Dante fighting back with boots and an enzuigiri from the apron, and then he follows with a missile dropkick for two. Hobbs bails to the floor and Dante hits him with a spinning dive, but Hobbs staggers back in and lays him out with a bodyblock. Starks interferes again, but Jay Lethal steps in and gets rid of him, and Dante finishes with the moonsault press at 10:18. So I guess Dante has a new mentor and probably a kickass tag team match on Rampage. This was a bit to close to the storyline of the first match for me. **
Meanwhile, the Inner Circle are talking some shit about Daniel Garcia leading up to the main event tonight, but Eddie Kingston pops in and throws some shade on Chris Jericho, accusing him of costing Santana & Ortiz the tag team titles. That gets a pretty big gasp from the crowd. So Jericho promises that he’ll be in Sammy’s corner, and Eddie can GFY.
MJF joins us again, pointing out that Punk had a pyrrhic victory at best, so next week Punk finally gets the match we’ve all been waiting for…SHAWN SPEARS. Somehow I don’t think that’s what the crowd wanted.
Meanwhile, Adam Cole and all his friends challenge Orange and Statlander to a mixed tag match next week and they all unite to tell Brandon to shut up.
Hangman Page joins us, and although he spent 90 minutes facing Bryan Danielson, he needs a new challenger, which brings out Dan Lambert. He brings up cowboy greats of the past and buries Hangman as the “east coast urban cowboy” but then admits that he didn’t take the “Cody Rhodes route” to the title. But the whole cowboy gimmick is fake and he should stop disrespecting Dick Murdoch and trying to steal clout. Hangman is understandably upset about this, but Lance Archer returns from the dead and goes after Lambert, only for Dan to hurriedly tell him to take his shot and unleash his anger on Page instead. So he does, hitting Hangman with the Blackout onto a chair, and I guess we have a challenger.
Meanwhile, Arn Anderson is proud of his son and Lee Johnson in their new endeavor as a team, but Tully Blanchard and FTR interrupt at the mention of “Horsemen country” and we have another match for next week.
Hikaru Shida v. Serena Deeb
Deeb SWEEPS THE LEG during Shida’s entrance, taking her out on the ramp, and then drops the knee onto the stairs in a nasty looking bump. Shida wants to continue, so Deeb beats her down in the corner and takes out the knee again. She tears off the kneepad and tape and just rams the knee into the mat before putting Shida in a kneebar, and the ref stops the match at 2:00! But that’s apparently not enough, so Deeb grabs the kendo stick and destroys Shida’s knee with that until the refs pull her off. Another very different type of match this week, basically a squash win for Deeb.
Meanwhile, The Jurassic Express issues an open challenge to any top 5 tag team, so the Dark Order answers and Christian laughs them off. But they’re part of their own top 5s, so we have a match on Rampage.
Matt Hardy v. Penta El Zero Miedo
We get a wacky catchphrase battle to start which has the announcers snarking about the 20 minute time limit expiring, and Matt cuts off Penta’s glove act with a clothesline. Penta fires back with chops in the corner as we take a break. Back with Penta hitting a sling blade and a rough tilt a whirl backbreaker as Matt had some trouble going up for that one. Matt with a DDT for two to counter the Fear Factor. He goes up and slugs away on Penta, but Penta takes out the knee and hangs him in the Tree of Woe, hitting him with a stomp for two. Matt comes back with a Side Effect on the apron, and they fight to the top rope, but Matt misses a moonsault and Penta finishes with the Fear Factor piledriver at 8:53. This was pretty rough but they tried. *1/2 Penta calls out Malakai Black after the match, but then the lights go out and Black magically appears and destroys him until the Blonds make the save. But then the lights go out again, and this time Brody King appears and destroys everyone to finally pay off the lights out gimmick with a big debut. I’m not terribly familiar with this other Brody’s body of work but he seems like he fits in nicely with Black. I know they don’t do that sort of thing in AEW, but I would have changed the name out of respect for Brodie Lee.
Meanwhile, Leyla Hirsch and Kris Statlander continue not getting along.
The Acclaimed v. Bear Country
I can’t see this drawing a big rating. The Bears double-team Bowens and beat on him in the corner, but he fights off Bronson and Caster comes in with a flying bodypress and we take a break. Back with Bronson sitting on Bowens to block a sunset flip and making the hot tag to Boulder, who gives them a double flatliner. They set up the dreaded BARE BUM but that misses and Caster rolls up Bronson for two. Bronson misses a charge and Bowens necks him on the top rope, and Caster hits the Mic Drop for the pin at 6:25. Caster’s hilarious but he’s not getting much better in the ring. I think Bowens might end up as the star out of these two. Match was too long and didn’t work at all. * And then Sting and his bat come out and stare them down, allowing Darby to take out Caster with his skateboard. And the poor boombox takes the brunt of Sting’s anger. It’s always the innocent consumer electronics that pay the price.
Meanwhile, Matt Hardy is flipping out about his loss, but Andrade stops by to make him a business proposition, because Matt loves money.
Interim TNT title: Sammy Guevara v. Daniel Garcia
So Cody Rhodes returns next week, which once again leads me to wonder why we needed this interim title nonsense. They take it to the mat to start and slug it out while Eddie Kingston and Chris Jericho snipe at each other on the floor. They trade back kicks and slug it out, which leads to Sammy putting him on the floor and following with a dive. Back in, Sammy chops him in the corner and tries the GTH, but Garcia escapes and hits a backbreaker as we take a break. Back with Sammy making a comeback and putting Daniel on the floor, setting up a double jump springboard dive. Back in, Garcia yanks him out of the corner and hits a backdrop driver for two. And he covered with alacrity and everything! Garcia tries a Sharpshooter, but Sammy reverses to a cradle for two and follows with the GTH. Garcia blocks that and gets his deathlock, really cranking on the ankle, but Sammy makes the ropes. Garcia misses a blind charge, so Sammy hits a Crossroads for two and tries the double jump springboard cutter. Garcia catches him with the choke out of that and turns it into the bulldog choke, followed by a piledriver for two. And then 2point0 hit the ring and attack Jericho, but Sammy hits the GTH and Daniel gets his ROLLUP OF DOOM for two. And Sammy recovers with another GTH to retain his prestigious (cough) interim title at 12:30. Eddie Kingston wants to get him some of 2point0 to get revenge, but Chris Jericho robs him of that chance by clearing the ring with the baseball bat, and they argue to end the show. Got a little messy at the end but it was a hell of a main event until all the silliness started. ***1/2
This one was a lot of fun, if not the best in the ring, so clearly my resolution worked and I’ve turned a corner on this plucky little promotion.