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AEW Dynamite: Holiday Bash
by Doc Allen
December 22, 2021
Live from the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina. Our hosts are Tony Shiavone, Excalibur, and Taz.
Adam Cole vs. Orange Cassidy
Cole draws an invisible line in the sand, OC casually walks around it and kicks it away. Cole taunts with “ADAM COLE BAY-BAY”, Cassidy interrupts by forcing his hands into pockets. Cole has enough of the shenanigans and grabs a headlock, but Cassidy reminds him that he's a technically sound grappler himself. Cassidy escapes a chinlock, pulls the hair into a headlock, leapfrogs into a rollup for 2. Cole blocks a whip and hits a backstabber. Cassidy casually shoves Cole from the top rope and hits a splash and DDT for 2. Cassidy perches on the top rope when The Elite arrive, so he changes course for a dive onto Brandon Cutler. Best Friends run in to neutralize the interference, and Cassidy hits a tope suicida onto the Young Bucks. Cole sends Cassidy into the ring steps, but then misses a BOOM kick and collides with the steps. Both guys are down and they cut to commercials. They return on the tail end of Cole's heat sequence, as Cassidy comes back with sloth kicks and a sudden legitimate thrust kick. Cole reverses with a brainbuster onto the knee for 2. Fans chant “Freshly Squeezer” but Cole hits a pump kick. Cassidy reverses with a Stunner and diving DDT for 2. Cole stumbles up for Ushigoroshi and some fans chant his name while he sets up Panama Sunrise. Cassidy crawls away and lures Cole into a small package, then Michinoku Driver for 2. OC dons his shades and flies into Cole's thrust kick. Panama Sunrise is good, but OC kicks out! That false finish gets an interesting and loud mixed reaction. OC ducks a running knee and nails Beach Break for 2. OC sells a neck injury while Cole slips out to avoid the Orange Punch. Bobby Fish returns to distract the ref, and KYLE O'REILLY
sneaks in to light up OC with stiff shots! Merry Christmas, Orange. Cole finishes with the Boom Kick at 17:03. I thought the match was just pretty good, and a bit long winded at nearly 20 minutes, but they delivered the Christmas Surprise that many of us were hoping for with O'Reilly, ***.
Winner: Adam Cole
O'Reilly continues to tear into Cassidy after the bell. Best Friends try to save but get laid out by the re-united Undisputed Era, who stand tall and have to work hard to avoid their old NXT hand gesture. The Young Bucks saunter in and appear less than pleased by what's transpired. CAN THEY COEXIST?!? Cole leaves with Fish and O'Reilly, giving a clear snub to the Bucks.
Hot off the press, Danielson vs. Hangman II will happen in 2 weeks on Dynamite's TBS premiere!
Tony Shiavone hosts AEW World Champion Hangman Adam Page in the ring. Page talks about the 60 minute draw against Danielson, and when he was handed back the belt and saw his reflection in the gold, he ironically never felt like less of a champion. Bryan Danielson interrupts to complain that the “Entitled Millennial Cowboy” still has the title and is disappointed. Bryan thinks he should be AEW Champion for kicking Hangman's @ss for 60 minutes. He won't cry about his feelings, he'll just kick Hangman's @ss again in 2 weeks. Bryan is worried that Hangman will stall for 60 minutes again to save himself, and proposes that their next match have judges. Page thinks it's funny that Bryan had a whole week to think about a solution and that's all he came up with, Hangman considered everything from an iron man match to inferno match to a no time limits match. Hangman accepts the judges stipulation, they can give some old guys a payday, because he won't need some old prick to tell him he's a champion and will beat Bryan within the time limit. I was hoping their rematch would just be a no time limits match, and they'd go for 45 minutes or something. The judges stip makes me raise an eyebrow, there's a lot of possibilities for screwiness.
Meanwhile, MJF chitchats with the Pinnacle, and I think this is the first time we've seen the group together since like July. Wardlow seems really disinterested while MJF makes the case for Pinnacle victory over Darby, Sting, and Punk. Dax Harwood reiterates MJF's claim that the Pinnacle are a family, and will always be on top. Pretty generic promo, but it's worth noting the subtle touch of MJF standing in front of Wardlow to block him from the camera.
Wardlow (with Shawn Spears) vs. Captain Shawn Dean
Fans chant "Wardlow's gonna kill you" and Wardlow hits a quick powerbomb. Wardlow hits powerbombs #2, #3, and #4 and the captain goes down with the ship at 1:13. Just a squash to keep Wardlow's inevitable split from the Pinnacle on our minds.
Shawn Spears can't help but hit some chair shots on Dean, and it's clear that Wardlow is losing patience with these attacks.
Hype video for Sammy Guevara vs. Cody Rhodes. This will be their first singles match since the original Dynamite.
Dan Lambert and Men of the Year appear in the balcony. Lambert continues to be the physical embodiment of anti-AEW Twitter. He complains that Tony Khan-man's buddies like Cody Rhodes become EVPs and get all the title shots, while good men like Sky and Page are pushed aside. Lambert goes all meta and says it's impossible for him to get fans to cheer for Cody, because he's a bigger d!ck than Lambert! He wants the winner of Cody/Sammy to face one of his guys next.
It's time for Dr. Britt Baker's holiday party! Basically, she's hanging out on a comfy chair while Rebel and Jamie Hayter serve her. Rebel looks to be wine drunk. Britt is feeling like a Grinch and throws some verbal abuse at Tony Shiavone. Britt might be wine drunk too, which loosens her tongue to talk some trash about "little brat" Riho. "You'll shoot your eye out, kid.""
Very Special Video Package highlighting the (non-WWE) career of Owen Hart and the impact he made on the wrestling industry. He inspired many current members of the AEW roster. The Owen Hart Foundation will host Men and Women tournaments this spring.
TBS Championship Tournament - Semifinals:
Nyla Rose (with Vickie Guerrero) vs. Ruby Soho
Rose cuts off Soho's attempted hot start, and swats her to the mat. Ruby hooks the arm and throws elbows to the chest. Nyla counters with a mean chokeslam. Nyla throws Soho outside and hits an awkward ax handle off the apron. Ruby hits a series of headbutts, but Vickie then pulls Nyla out of the way of her head of steam, and Ruby collides with the steps. Time for commercials. They return with Ruby shaking off the cobwebs to make a comeback. Ruby reverses a slingshot powerbomb into a DDT for 2. Nyla grabs a chair, but Ruby dropkicks it into her face. Vickie pushes Ruby off of the top ropes, allowing Rose to hit her draping flying knee drop. Ruby kicks out! Ruby slips into a Dragon Sleeper but lets go to take down Vickie. Nyla capitalizes with the Beast Bomb for another false finish. Nyla drags Ruby over to the buckles, but Ruby reverses with a clever No Future for the win at 10:38. Good match, exhausting and costly victory for Ruby, ***.
Winner: Ruby Soho
Video promo with Serena Deeb, who is enraged by Shida "cheating" to beat her last week. Deeb isn't letting this issue go and threatens to hurt Shida so badly that she'll beg Tony Khan to keep her away.
Malakai Black vs. Griff Garrison (with Brian Pillman Jr.)
After last week's vignette, I'm working on a theory that people who get sprayed in the eyes by Black's mist fall under his spell, so eventually we'll get a swerve where Julia Hart turns evil and joins the House of Black. It's a work in progress. Anyways, Griff comes in hot, but Black easily knocks him down with a kick to the face. Black turns his attention to Pillman, allowing Garrison to hit a messy tope suicida. Griff hits a flurry of strikes, but Black answers in kind and locks on a kneebar. Griff gets the ropes, so Black lights him up with rapid kicks. Griff drives Black's throat into the bottom rope to buy some time. Roaring elbow by Griff gets 2, and Griff clutches his freshly injured knee. Black hits a leaping knee strike and finishes with a half crab at 3:15. Lively short match, *½.
Winner: Malakai Black
Pillman tries an ambush and runs into Black Mass. It's time for the Varsity Blonds to graduate from this loser gimmick.
Big Money Matt Hardy and Private Party talk to the camera. I feel like we haven't seen these guys in ages. Hardy thinks Private Party should be the #1 contenders, so he's sending them after Jurassic Express.
Jurassic Express and Christian Cage offer their rebuttal. Jungle Boy scoffs at the notion that anyone is going to kick his @ss, so he plans on jamming hot coal up Private Party's @sses. That sounds dangerously close to Scott Keith's ratings system. Christian thinks the PP guys are dipsh!ts, and Luchasaurus only offers a menacing roar.
MJF and FTR vs. Sting, Darby Allin, and CM Punk
Sting is wearing special Punk facepaint and gets the big reaction from the Greensboro crowd you'd expect him to get. CM Punk comes out with throwback surfer Sting makeup. MJF refuses to start against Punk and plays to the fans. Dax Harwood locks up with surfer Punk, and exchange shoves and slaps. Hip toss and armdrag by Punk, but Harwood blasts an elbow. Cash Wheeler enters and catches Darby with a back elbow. Dropkick by Allin, but Cash flees into a tag to MJF. Punk chases MJF, but Cash comes back. The crowd roars as Sting tags in and dismantles Cash, who does slip away from the Scorpion Deathlock. Cash hangs Sting on the top rope. MJF is happy to tag in now, but Sting no-sells his chop and hits a short arm clothesline. Punk tags and chases MJF out through one door and back in through another. MJF hides behind FTR, so Darby makes them pay with a tope. Back from commercials, Darby finds himself stuck in the Pinnacle's corner after getting bounced off the apron and barricade. MJF takes time to spray water in Punk's face while FTR dismantle Darby like a well-oiled machine. Sting gets the inevitable hot tag and runs wild with FTR with classic Stinger offense. Sting piles FTR in the corner, and Darby and Punk take their turns hitting splashes before Sting hits a proper Stinger Splash. Scorpion Deathlock on Dax, but Cash frees him with a bulldog. Sting is trouble as they head to a second commercial break. They return with Sting escaping Wheeler's abdominal stretch. Sting takes a hard back bump on a double clothesline spot, but manages to body slam Harwood. Sting hits MJF with a facebuster and faints into a headbutt to the groin! Punk gets a hot tag and cleans house with leg lariats and knee lifts. Punk hits a bulldog/clothesline combo on FTR, and then a tope suicida onto Dax. Punk's high crossbody gets 2 on Cash. Dax saves Cash from GTS, but takes a neckbreaker for his trouble. Punk and Dax fight on the top ropes until Dax hits a superplex to set up Wheeler's flying splash for a great nearfall. MJF is nowhere to be seen. Darby takes out Cash, and something happens off camera involving a table. Punk and Dax duke it out on their knees. Dax blocks GTS, and FTR hit the Big Rig! MJF returns to DDT Sting, who blatantly no-sells and throws MJF out onto FTR. MJF took a horrible landing on his head! Sting dives onto the Pinnacle! Punk looks for GTS on MJF, but Dax sacrifices himself to take it instead. Dax takes a Scorpion Deathdrop and Coffin Drop, and Punk pins him at 25:55! This match is something of a triumph. They tried to make it a Horsemen-style tag match, and succeeded. They tried to make it a nostalgia party for Sting, and succeeded. They tried to advance the Punk/MJF feud (without having them touch) and succeeded. Finally, they tried to have a modern main event, with Darby flying all over the place, and succeeded. Dark Horse MOTYC, ****½.
Winners: CM Punk, Sting, and Darby Allin
The babyfaces stand tall, and it turns out that MJF is feeling well enough to walk over to commentary and complain about Punk allegedly ducking him.
Final Thoughts: Routinely enjoyable episode of Dynamite, with some longer than usual matches bookending the show (which does make me wonder about travel issues and health & safety protocols with the pandemic ramping up again). I think the Danielson/Hangman rematch is happening a bit sooner than I would have liked, but I'll be glad to watch it when it happens. Good show, don't skip it.
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