The SmarK Rant for AEW Dynamite – 12.14.22
WINTER IS COMING
Only one more sleep until I can buy tickets for the Winnipeg show in March! It’s like Christmas, but in December!
Still no response from TK on Twitter as to my request for comp seats, but he’s still got another couple of months, plus he can always put it in my Christmas bonus envelope, know what I’m saying?
Live from Garland, TX. Little on the nose for the holiday season. Was Tinseltown booked?
Your hosts are Tony Schiavone, Excalibur & Taz
Death Triangle v. The Elite
Some jerk has a “Zelda is better than Mario” sign. And you though the Cornette trolls were misguided. Nick and Penta trade reversals to start, and then the Bucks double-team Fenix and Pac, and Kenny comes in with a facebuster on Pac for two. The Bucks clear the ring and Nick hits Pac with a somersault dive on the floor, but messes up his leg on the way down, requiring a cold spray treatment from Cutler that’s legit for once. Well legit within kayfabe. You know what I mean. Omega works Pac over and chokes him out in the corner, but Death Triangle uses some shenanigans in the corner to take over, setting up Fenix to dive onto Omega outside. Nick Jackson gets taken to the back and we take a break. Back with Matt hitting a rollup on Fenix while suplexing Penta for two in a spot that I’m pretty sure defies SOME branch of physics, and Kenny gets a hot tag and runs wild on Pac. You Can’t Escape gets two. Snapdragon for Penta, and another one for Fenix, and one for Pac, as the Elite fight back 3-on-2. Kenny dumps the Lucha Bros and follows with the Terminator dive, but Pac trips him up. Omega and Pac trade running elbows in the corners and Kenny hits him with a brainbuster, but Penta takes out Matt with a package piledriver on the apron and prevents another tag. Penta with a pumphandle driver on Kenny and Fenix follows with a frog splash for two. Pac goes up and misses the Black Arrow, but Nick returns from the dead and gets the hot tag from Omega. He catches Fenix with a cutter to block a springboard, as he has to use ground offense because his ankle is messed. So Penta grabs the hammer and smashes it into the bad ankle, and Fenix pus him into a kneebar for the submission at 15:33. I kind of love how easily and fully Penta has embraced the hammer as a way of life. This was another very different type of match for them, this time telling the story of Nick’s injured foot and the Elite having to fight from underneath. So they’re down 3-1 now, and Kenny proposes that the next match has all hammers and weapons in general completely legal in a no DQ match. ****1/4
Meanwhile, MJF congratulates Ricky Starks on finally cutting a good promo last week, but points out that he already hit home run after home run. Also he doesn’t care about Ricky living out of his car and eating food out of a dumpster with raccoons. To be fair, Ricky never said anything about raccoons.
The Acclaimed join us for something, but we never find out what because their rap is interrupted by Sonjay Dutt’s crew laying them out, thus robbing us of the big punchline! Also, speaking of video game nerd arguments, was that AUSTIN ERUPTION in the front row during their entrance? I love that guy’s videos! Anyway Jarrett and Lethal do the beatdown and steal the belts but they’re still lame.
Meanwhile, Chris Jericho is FRUSTRATED at losing to the barbaric Giant Swing, and he’s going to take out his frustrations on some jobber tonight. Also he’s really disappointed in Daniel Garcia, so Daniel needs to shadow his “elder” Sammy Guevara moving forward so he can have some mentorship and gets his head back in the game.
Brian Cage v. Jungle Boy Jack Perry
Cage overpowers him to start, but Perry comes back with a headscissors to take him down. Cage chases him to the apron and suplexes him back in, and we take a break. Back with Perry making the comeback with forearms, but Cage blocks the lariat and plants him with a powerbomb. Cage continues working the neck with slams and tries to finish with the Drillclaw, but Jack cradles for two. Cage with the lariat, but Perry reverses a slam into the Canadian Destroyer for two. Snare Trap follows, but Prince Nana takes the ref, only for Perry to roll him up for the pin at 8:46 anyway. This was kind of a weird style clash but it was entertaining enough. ** Afterwards, Jack calls out BIG BILL, but Lee Moriarty answers and distracts him instead, allowing BIG BILL to get more damage on Jungle Boy. But then Hook makes the save and the crowd goes batshit for that.
Meanwhile, the Blackpool Combat Club recaps how Final Battle went for them (spoiler: Really good) and the final chapter of the BCC v. JAS war ends on Rampage when Moxley stomps Sammy’s face in.
Meanwhile, Swerve has had enough of Keith Lee’s treachery and they’re gonna settle things next week.
The House of Black v. the Factory
Comoroto tries throwing his toothpick at Julia and she mists him as a result, and the House just completely destroys all of QT’s geeks on the floor, leaving QT by himself with Malakai. And that ends quickly at 0:20.
Meanwhile, Dr. Britt Baker does another promo on behalf of Jamie Hayter, but Skye Blue interrupts and wants a match for Rampage.
Chris Jericho v. Action Andretti (?)
I didn’t quite catch the guy’s name and they didn’t show a graphic for him. Jericho beats on him in the corner, but Andretti fights back with chops until Jericho cuts him off with corner clotheslines. Andretti comes back again with a headscissors and a splash for two, but Jericho smashes him down again and follows with a death valley driver and codebreaker for two. “Let’s go jobber!” chants the crowd, and we TAKE A BREAK?!? Even the announcers are shocked that it’s come to this. Back with Jericho continuing to chop on the guy in the corner, but the kid comes back with his own, prompting Jericho to poke him in the eye and put him down with an elbow. But then Andretti comes back AGAIN with clotheslines and a backbreaker into a neckbreaker. But then a moonsault hit knees and Jericho tries the Judas, which the kid ducks and rolls him up for two. Andretti tosses him and follows with a springboard moonsault to the floor, but he springboards back in and lands in the Walls…and he reverses that for two. Another dropkick and he spins Jericho into a DDT and then FINISHES WITH A SHOOTING STAR PRESS at 9:51?!?! HOLY SHIT! This was like a brilliant triple fakeout, because it started as Jericho beating on the jobber like we get on a lot of AEW shows when someone is “in action”, and then turned into what was looking like the upset after a while and left us waiting for TK to pull the rug out from under us with Jericho going over in the end, and then finally the big series of near-falls at the end where you think the moonsault miss is going to be the story of the kid being too green on his first try and lead to him losing, and then he WON and it undercut all the tropes. Tremendous story here on several levels and a great match to boot. ***1/2
Meanwhile, Ricky Starks does his go home promo before facing Max.
Meanwhile, Jericho freaks out and smashes up the backstage area after his loss, which is another great touch, because he doesn’t just laugh it off and move on like Scott Hall did to him on Nitro years ago.
Tay Melo v. Ruby Soho
Tay attacks from the apron and runs her into the railing and stairs, but Ruby immediately comes back with a trio of backdrop drivers for two. Ruby with the riot kick and Tay bails to the floor to escape the pin. Ruby follows to bring her back in, but Tay hits her with the DDT on the ramp and we take a break. Back with Ruby making a comeback and running Tay into the turnbuckles a bunch of times, and an STO gets two. Tay gets a Gotch piledriver for two and tries to finish, but Ruby escapes the TayKO and finishes with the Destination Unknown at 8:13. This brings out Anna Jay for a beatdown, but no one saves. Match was quite OK. **1/4
Meanwhile, Hangman Page gives an update on his condition: He was knocked out cold and couldn’t remember the name of his son for an hour. Well that’s not good.
AEW World title: MJF v. Ricky Starks
MJF knocks him down and mocks the posing to start, then stops to strut as well. Always time to strut. So Starks puts him on the floor, and Maxwell steals some guy’s hat to be a dick. Back in, Ricky gets a sunset flip for two and a backslide for two. Inside cradle gets two. MJF hides in the ropes and pokes the eyes to take over, then drops Starks on the top rope and out to the floor as we take a break. Back with MJF working the abdominal stretch, but Starks fights out with a hiptoss and hits a lariat out of the corner. Both guys are down off that, but Starks fights back again with a lariat. Starks with a Ligerbomb for two after teasing the Rochambeau and nearly losing him on the way up. Blind charge misses and MJF stomps the arm to take over again and gets a rollup reverse for two. Powerbomb on the knee gets two. That move is just as terrifying every time I see him do it. Ricky fights back again and they slug it out, but they both go for the eyes and it’s a stalemate. Starks hits him with a spear, but the arm is still hurt and he can’t make the cover, so it’s a double down. Starks recovers first and gets two, but MJF was playing possum and he hooks the arm for the Fujiwara Armbar and Starks has to play Twister and makes the ropes with his last remaining limb. Back to the armbar, but Starks rolls him up for two. Starks with a superkick and he tries to finish, but MJF slips out and hides behind the ref, then kicks Starks in the nuts and pin him at 16:00 to retain the title and the ring. A great main event, but it ended up being a waste of the ring gimmick to put them both the title and ring on the line at the same time and not have any real story to tell with it. They could have done something to make Starks into a big star in one night and instead they made him look like another idiot babyface who blew his shot. **** Honestly it kind of made the show into a letdown by the end, because I was so hyped for this match and excited about all the ways it could play out, and they went with the laziest finish possible and put more heat on MJF to double down on him like a knockoff 2003 HHH. Anyway, Bryan Danielson comes out at the end to chase off MJF because he’s still really mad about the Regal thing, although I’m still not clear why he would be mad at this point given the convoluted time travel storyline, but that should be a good program at least while Ricky Starks goes back to Dark or whatever. Hey also, way to make clear that Starks was just the minor obstacle on the way to real threat Bryan Danielson! Hell of a job there.
Anyway, most of the show was tremendous, especially the epic Action Andretti upset segment where they finally cashed in all of Jericho’s jobbing chips for a huge payoff, but the ending was a disappointment and I wish they would have just had Starks win the ring in the battle royale and been done with it.