Arena: HEB Center
City: Cedar Park, Tx
Last Week’s Rating: 870,000 overall; 0.26 in 18-49 demo
That overall number is lower than Thanksgiving. Worse, the demo is the lowest all year (tied with October’s Tuesday Night episode). Worse still, Rampage just did its lowest viewership of all time in its standard slot.
And frankly it matches with what’s being presented – the booking/storylines have never been worse.
Let’s hope tonight turns that around.
It’s Wednesday night, it’s Dynamite. Let’s go.
Excalibur welcomed us alongside Tony Schiavone and Taz as the former told us William Regal was still recuperating with Bryan Danielson ‘by his side’. Excalibur and Tony denigrated MJF.
(Like the focus on a main-event angle; dislike the fact that we’re supposed to sympathize with Regal after he turned on Mox. Particularly since we still don’t understand why.)
Excalibur then reaffirmed that the winner of the upcoming match now has a title shot of their choosing:
Dynamite Dozen Battle Royal, Dynamite Diamond Ring
Backstory: Ricky Starks has vowed to take everything from MJF, starting with his diamond ring; Page has vowed to win it and defeat MJF as he did abt the Elim Tourney – Hardy (contracted to Stokely) has been tasked with helping him, or else
Contestants: Ricky Starks, Jungle Boy, Matt Hardy, Ethan Page, Dalton Castle, Brian Cage, Lee Moriarty, Dustin Rhodes, Kip Sabian, Orange Cassidy, Butcher,
Starks, JB & Dustin Rhodes got entrances – the latter got a hell of a pop in his home-state.
Your standard battle royal – a lot of brawling and stomping – some contestants remained outside the ring.
‘Let’s go Ricky!’ chant from the crowd. Hathaway’s guys beat-up Castle in the corner – though Hardy refused high-fives.
Cassidy was eliminated in a very messy moment which saw even the commentators confused. Rhodes then elim’d Sabian who’d elim’d Cassidy. Butcher then got rid of Rhodes to boos.
The Boys saved Castle three times in a row after Cage had knocked him off the apron. Huge response from the crowd. As he got back in, Cage tossed him over the top and through the Boys to eliminate him. Double knees off the top by JB knocked Cage off the apron to boot him to the back.
When we came back Excalibur talked about the diamond ring being on the line. I’m lost.
More ‘Ricky’ chants as he knocked Butcher out with a Spear just before Jungle Boy eliminated Moriarty. JB was then eliminated – apparently legally and in full view of everyone – by W. Morrisey who WASN’T IN THE MATCH. Morrisey then dropped Jack against the apron.
Dean, Page, Starks and Hardy left.
The vet saved Page from elimination by Dean. Page very casually tossed The Captain, continually barking at Hardy for refusing to do it. Starks slipped out of a Twist of Fate to remove Hardy, prepared the Spear, Page avoided it, hauled Ricky up on his shoulders and was about to eliminate him when Starks slipped behind, sending Ethan plummeting over the top.
MJF Came Out
The instant Ricky’d won, MJF’s music hit and he came to the ring, microphone in hand. A fan dressed as Jesus had a: ‘MJF – the Real Judas’ sign. More entertaining than the match.
Completely dismissing Starks by turning his back – MJF addressed Bryan Danielson – saying the latter is scared of him. Cause he’s a bad man and after next week he’ll be a four-time Diamond Ring winner.
MJF was booed here; the crowd fully behind Starks. Who MJF called ‘talented’ – as a ‘STFU’ chant began – but also a ‘Dollar Store Dwayne’. He’s going to call Starks ‘the Pebble’ – the crowd laughed and a ‘Pebble’ chant began.
Max said he’s going to ‘skip’ the Pebble all the way back to ‘Billy Corgan’s NWA’ where he belongs. ‘My Reign of Terror has just begun’. (HATE the insider HHH references).
‘Maxi Pad’ was Starks’ response, as well as ‘fifth-rate Roddy Piper’. A ‘Maxi Pad’ chant began. Starks wondered how much more material Max had since all he went after was low-hanging fruit. A fiery promo followed where Starks assassinated everything about MJF – clothes, tan etc., bringing the crowd totally behind him once more.
Then about how he delivers for the fans every night, week, month while MJF lets them down. He lives with ‘dignity and respect’ – telling a rags-to-riches story starting with him living in his car. Max can’t handle responsibility so Ricky will take it from him.
MJF responded with a low blow, but Starks ducked a clothesline, hit a huge Spear and MJF bailed as Starks held the belt aloft. There weren’t many promos on AEW TV better than this all year.
The fire, delivery and message here was phenomenal. Starks made himself and next week’s match in one killer promo. Which he had to given the booking.
The crowd were roaring by the end.
WINNER (in every sense): Ricky Starks
Excellent video package previewing Joe vs Darby.
Jon Moxley backstage. He’s ‘really, really starting to like the Cowboy’ because he got back up and spoke with his fists. Too many people talk, he wants to wrestle. Tonight, he, Wheeler and Claudio bring back ‘in your face ass-kicking wrestling’. He’s ‘so over’ the JAS so he’s going to be out there later for the tag match. And if Hangman wants another piece… ‘you know where to find me’.
Build your opponent…hype a forthcoming match…so great.
Samoa Joe vs Darby Allin, TNT Title
Backstory: Allin challenged Joe on Friday, wants to win ‘his’ title back
The heel Samoa Joe came to the ring to a rapturous response, tons of ‘Joe, Joe, Joe’ and another hearty roar as he raised his belts skyward.
Allin flew at Joe, fists flying, which wasn’t going well until he knocked the big man outside. Darby set-up his tope; Joe stepped aside, Darby absolutely killed himself, slamming into the steel barricade at ringside.
The violence continued as Joe used the smaller man as a battering ram against the barricade and the edge of the ring, then slammed him down hip-first on the outside mats. Before preparing a powerbomb on the exposed floor. Allin slipped out, ran at Joe, powerslam right onto the exposed floor.
Darby has a death wish.
We returned to see Joe run Allin along the apron into the buckle after which he plummeted back down to the mats at ringside. The vet’s smirking, arrogant mannerisms were great.
After just about beating the count, Joe toyed with Allin – Manhattan Drop, big boot, senton, 1, 2… kickout at 2.7.
Joe to the outside, Darby flew at him, got caught but slipped out – sent Joe’s knee into the steps then soared to hit a Coffin Drop to the outside.
Inside, Allin hit a Stunner and a Code Red for two of his own. Building momentum, he ran at Joe in the corner but was planted with a uranage then taken upstairs for an avalanche Muscle Buster. Allin fought Joeoff, went for the Coffin Drop but was snatched into the Kokina Clutch as he landed. Refusing to tap, Allin passed out.
Hell of a finishing sequence to a riotous, action-packed belter of a match.
Allin again was beaten pillar-to-post, but at least here it was by a badass.
Post-match, Allin shoved Joe, who head-butted him back down to the mat, then grabbed Darby’s skateboard. A Muscle Buster onto the wheels of the skateboard was – crazily – far from the worst bump the youngster took here. Still not done, the Kokina Clutch was reapplied until Wardlow came out.
It’s almost like someone doesn’t like the big guy since he again looked like crap here. Only coming out after Allin was already dead.
Crowd were very hot for this match and Joe did receive boos. Screw Juice and Wardlow, Joe/Darby could be a hell of a series given a little time.
WINNER: Samoa Joe
‘With no physicality’, Schiavone was with Cassidy and Sabian backstage. Sabian turned down a title match for Friday because he was hurt but Kip will choose Cassidy’s opponent. Miro? Don’t want him back with Sabian but it’s better than nothing.
Jake Hager & Daniel Garcia vs Claudio Castagnoli & Wheeler Yuta
Backstory: If you don’t know, you won’t know
The first hour’s absolutely flown by as the BCC make their entrance here – accompanied by Mox – which also answers questions about the future of the faction. Excalibur reiterated that Moxley had basically said the BCC would continue as Schiavone said he had some footage to show later of his ‘longtime friend’ Regal.
Hat-mania continued as Hager threw it to Castagnoli on the apron – who feigned putting it on before booting it into the crowd. Annoying the big guy who responded by running over Yuta before quickly tagging-in Garcia to continue the endless feud.
An exchange of chops ended with a slam and senton by Yuta for two. Claudio in, double-team big boot, Garcia crawled to the corner for the tag – Hager quickly taken down by Castagnoli as a ‘We the People’ chant quickly died.
Claudio avoided a charge in the corner, hit a ‘hip-throw’ – per Taz – and tagged Yuta back in. The youngster hit a dropkick off the middle buckle, then flew via tope onto both heels at ringside.
After which, Sammy distracted the ref, allowing Hager to slam Yuta down and hit a Hager Bomb for two. Garcia continued the assault in the heels’ corner – chops and strikes followed by a hook of the nose. A standing switch ended with Yuta taking Garcia up for a superplex: both men down with Wheeler holding his head as the ads arrived.
The same men were crawling for tags when we came back. Yuta ducked-under and hit a German; both down again.
Tags to the big men: Claudio a series of uppercuts, runner in the corner – more shots – left, right, left, right; then up to the top for a hurracanrana which didn’t seem to go as smoothly as they’d liked. Garcia broke things up, Yuta took him out with a splash. Hager was kicked-away going for the Ankle Lock, Claudio transitioning into the Big Swing which he performed easily on the enormous Hager.
Moxley was very late to take Guevara off the apron – looked very awkward as Sammy and Castagnoli waited. Back inside, Hager got the Ankle Lock, Garcia got the Dragon Tamer – Claudio kicked Hager away into the other two then belted him with another uppercut to bag the win.
The right result ahead of Final Battle – Castagnoli overcoming all the odds in that finishing sequence.
Schiavone joined the BCC trio – cueing an interview he did with Regal a few weeks back.
How and why did what happen at Full Gear happen? Regal said he was filming this to be shown only if something bad happened to him. He didn’t like what Max did to Tony so he ‘gave (Max) what he wanted’ – the title, and now everyone in the company is after him.
He also wanted to show the three vets in the BCC that they didn’t need him anymore. He’s leaving Yuta in their capable hands and what he did was a final lesson to always stay alert because anything can happen: ‘I’m Blackpool Combat Club to the day I die.’
Schiavone asked the guys for comment. Moxley only knew one thing for sure, he and the other two ‘live and breathe’ for professional wrestling. After Saturday, the ‘war’ with the JAS is ‘over’. Moxley wants to make a statement Friday, issuing an open challenge.
Essentially said that they were professional wrestling and professional wrestling was going to win out.
You know that ‘Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ song you keep hearing at the moment? Insider fact – that isn’t about Christmas. It was actually written in anticipation of this feud ending come Saturday. It’s about time.
For those who may not be aware, Regal is legitimately heading back to WWE, though he can’t appear on TV for a year. As for the explanation, at least they attempted it is about all that can be said about this. Assuming they didn’t know ahead of time that he was leaving, in which case they should’ve changed plans. The loose-ends are at least tied, if badly.
House of Black video promo. Malakai presented the case against the rest of the roster. The crime (per Julia): treason. The verdict (per Matthews): war. The sentence (per King): extermination. Anyone who has an issue – next week ‘Come one, come all.’
Glad they’re back but they feel aimless again already and what happened Friday was just weird. Perhaps next week will set them on a clear path? We can hope.
Jamie Hayter Interview with Tony Schiavone
You could hear talking and laughing in the background throughout this as Hayter said she’s going to be watching the Regina di WAVE title match on Friday – even though the belt doesn’t compare to hers – and challenging the winner to face her next week.
Essentially the message was that she’d be a fighting champion: ‘Women’s champion, and a bloody good one at that.’ Schiavone then gave her kudos for being that in what seems at least a move towards being a babyface.
Jade Cargill, Leila Grey & Red Velvet vs Kiera Hogan, Skye Blue &
Backstory: Jade kicked Hogan out of the Baddies a couple weeks back
Hopefully AEW don’t think Kiera Hogan is a babyface now. She didn’t do anything good, she didn’t decide to leave the heels because she didn’t like them, they kicked her out. Excalibur even announced that Jade ‘had enough’ of Hogan.
At least Kiera’s music is catchy AF because this doesn’t promise much else.
Jade decided she didn’t fancy starting here vs Blue, tagging Velvet instead. A series of roll-ups brought one-counts. Skye looked really dumb as Velvet tricked her into turning her back, smacking her from behind and tagging Leila. Who hit a step-up knee in the corner; Blue responded with her grounded round-kick then tagged out to Rayne for about one move before tagging Blue back in for a thrust kick.
Velvet then caught Blue in the ring-apron as she attempted a dive and dropped her. Twice the heel has outsmarted and got the better of the babyface.
Red and Blue were still going at it in the middle when we came back; Jade and Leila being kept on the apron since… you know. A very slow catch-of-the-leg-into-double-thrust-kick sequence left both down, crawling for tags, bringing Jade and Hogan in. Kiera hit a shotgun dropkick then a sliding boot to the face in the corner. In between flinging the other baddies to the outside.
Cargill responded by easily chokeslamming Kiera, who slipped out of Jaded to tag Rayne to do the honours instead.
During the match, they advertised Revolution at Chase Center March 5th.
WINNER: Jade Cargill and the Baddies
Schiavone was joined backstage by Saraya who was surprised Britt wasn’t ther… oh wait here she comes. Baker pointed out that although Saraya had said Britt was handed things, it was Saraya who had her first ever match in the company at a PPV. Britt gave Saraya tickets for Jan 11th – roping Jamie Hayter (not present) into a tag match for which Saraya needs a partner. She started to ask Tony but Britt dragged him away.
The Acclaimed vs FTR, AEW Tag Titles
Backstory: FTR have been #1 contenders for ages, the champs challenged them Friday amid mutual respect
‘Who has had a better year than FTR’ asked Excalibur. (Erm, half the roster. Those that get to appear on TV, appear on PPV, get to wrestle tag matches?)
The crowd, who’d been hype for anything that deserved it all night, gave big responses to both teams.
‘Ohhhh scissor me Daddy’ played as Dax and Bowens locked-up, stiffly. Bowens backed away as Jarrett and co. were shown watching backstage. Yaaay.
Distracting from a nice sequence between Cash and Bowens which ended in a stalemate.
A hiptoss, dropkick and deep armdrag from Caster brought Dax to the mat. Tag to Bowens, who was backed into the corner and eviscerated by a Harwood chop. Bowens held his own in response as the two belted each other, made all the better by the fact that chops have been at a minimum tonight (long may it continue).
Both guys thought hip-toss: another stalemate ensued, leading to all four brawling as things heated up. Cash was sent outside (the camera missed it) and seemed to land badly on his face. The Acclaimed took advantage – hitting their double-team legdrop to Dax’ ‘yambags’.
Fighting back, Harwood ducked a leapfrog, went for the Sharpshooter, Caster turned the tables and Bowens did the same to a returning Cash: double Sharpshooters mid-ring.
Crawling to the ropes, FTR headed outside for a breather; the champs paused to scissor Gunn.
Getting violent, FTR then beat the Acclaimed around ringside, slingshotting Caster into the underside of the ring then scissoring each-other to bring the break.
A big knee-lift confirmed Cash’s control as we came back. Hauled up top for a superplex, Max shoved Wheeler down and landed a cross body from the top (more Jarrett etc backstage).
Dax in, couple shots to both, back body drop by Caster, Bowens with the hot tag: flurry of back-elbows to Dax, elevated Fame-Asser to Cash, PK to Harwood for a close two. Really nice sequence.
Going for the Fame-Asser again, Dax wriggled out into clutching Germans, was kicked away and nearly collided with his partner and rolled up for two then hit with a neckbreaker for another brace. (This was a rapid sequence, couldn’t catch it all).
Blind tag to Cash – spike piledriver setup, hit, ref with the count, Bowens just kicked out.
Harwood back in as the pair dragged a wilting Bowens up for a superplex. Caster broke it up and Bowens nearly bagged the win with a roll-up. Cazadora/cutter combo for another two as the announcers noted they hadn’t liked Max’s cover.
Hauled atop the shoulders, Harwood slipped off, Big Rig setup, then also by the Acclaimed, both were countered, Caster collided with the ringpost when Dax moved, Big Rig hit, Bowens made the save at the last possible split-second. Absolutely wild action.
FTR set-up a powerplex on Caster, Bowens back in to shove them away, hit the Arrival, Caster off the top with the big elbow, missed. Caster then got two with a rollup on Cash, who responded with a brutal spinning lariat, then another, then another – very hard hits, powerbomb, into a jackknife pin, Bowens rolled through to scrape the victory.
This was wild, incredible action at ward speed: a recapper’s nightmare but very fun for fans.
Post-match, Billy helped FTR to their feet as the announcers almost talked as if FTR were leaving. All five scissored and hugged.
Straight to the back for an Ass Boys promo. They had a card from the Briscoes challenging FTR to a double dog-collar match. ‘Merry Christmas… bi***!’ Is there any point to this ‘feud’ with the Gunns? I assumed they were building a TV match months ago and yet it continues.
So where does this leave Dax & Cash? It’s rumored their deals are up in May and between how they’ve been used, HHH’s power in WWE & their talk of maybe taking a year off (at least from major companies), couldn’t blame them for walking away.
Finally, when you’re using an FTR match to build to a match against Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal, something’s badly wrong creatively.
WINNER: the Acclaimed
- Hikaru Shida vs the Bunny, Regina Di WAVE title
- Moxley vs Takeshita (huge response from the crowd)
- Lee Moriarty & W. Morrisey vs TBA
- Orange Cassidy vs Opponent of Kip Sabian’s choosing, All-Atlantic Title
- Tay Melo & Ruby Soho segment
- Ditto Athena & Mercedes (Not that one!)
Next Dynamite (Winter is Coming):
- The Elite vs Death Triangle, 4 of 7
- House of Black in action
- MJF vs Ricky Starks, Dynamite Diamond Ring & World Title on the line
(I don’t care at all about the ROH ppv so I’m not even considering how good/bad/otherwise the build for that is.)
This was a very entertaining two hours which whizzed by. Outside of the opener and the ladies, everything was at least good and in two cases much better than that. There was some excellent promo work building to matches next week and beyond. The smell of bad booking still lingers – Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal being built for the tag belts and the whole Regal thing par example – but most of tonight was very positive. Even more so after Tony Khan intimated that this would be the last week featuring ROH on AEW television.
- Ricky Starks’ promo
- FTR vs the Acclaimed
- Darby Allin vs Samoa Joe
Thanks for reading.