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AEW Dynamite: New Year's Smash
December 29, 2021

by Doc Allen

Rey Fenix

Live from, ugh, Daily's Place in Jacksonville, Florida. I might have handled returning to this classic pandemic venue better if not for the explosion in COVID variant cases across the country, so I'm bracing for the possibility of no-fans wrestling shows again in the near future. On the plus side, the venue is PACKED, so this definitely should not feel like a 2020 show. Our hosts are Jim Ross (back from taking cancer behind the shed and putting it down), Tony Shiavone, and Excalibur.

Jurassic Express, Christian Cage, and AEW Tag Team Champions Lucha Bros. (with Alex Abrahantes) vs. AAA Tag Team Champions FTR (with Tully Blanchard), Big Money Matt Hardy, and Private Party

Crowd is hot and ready to chant lots of stuff. Christian grapples with Cash Wheeler. Christian tries an early Killswitch, but settles for a flapjack. Christian blocks Dax Harwood's interference while hitting turnbuckle punches. Jungle Boy helps double team Cash, and is ready to lock up with old rival, Harwood. They tear into each other with stiff offense. Christian tags, stands on Dax's back, and floats over to snap his neck on the ropes. Wheeler saves Dax from JB's Snare Trap. Lucha Bros. help JB triple team Isiah Kassidy, and hit a combination springboard powerbomb. My feed cut ahead, as Hardy hits JB with a Side Effect for 2. JB gets cut off from tags, and FTR slingshot him into the buckles. JB blasts Matt with a lariat, and Penta goes crazy on a hot tag, hitting Sling Blades. Fenix joins the fun for double superkicks on Harwood, and a tandem rolling DDT! Fenix hits a senton atomico for only 2! Fenix sets Marq Quen up for a Muscle Buster, but Kassidy helps counter it into a swinging DDT! Fenix looks like he's about to get cut off, but hits a double moonsault on FTR! Luchasaurus rampages in on a hot tag. Chokeslam by Luchasaurus, but Penta tags himself in, and hits a backstabber on Harwood. The match breaks down, and the camera can't keep up with all the crazy dives that are making the fans explode. Christian tags himself in, leading to dissension with Penta, and Christian eats the Big Rig for the pinfall at 12:02. Action packed and deliberately spot-filled contest, that sets up Jurassic Express as rivals to Lucha Bros, and gives FTR an argument for a rematch, ***½.
Winners: FTR, Matt Hardy, and Private Party

A replay shows that Fenix did a tightrope walk into a high crossbody to ringside.

2point0 and Daniel Garcia vs. Eddie Kingston, Santana, and Ortiz

The match devolves into a brawl almost immediately. The ref struggles to restore order, but Matt Lee sneaks up behind Kingston to trap him in 2point0's corner. Or maybe not, Eddie hits a quick body slam to haul Jeff Parker into Ortiz' side headlock. Santana and Ortiz overwhelm Parker with attacks from all directions. Garcia tags and jaws at Kingston before taking Santana's Three Amigos. Garcia takes a tandem facebuster for 2. 2point0 bring Ortiz to ringside where he takes Garcia's ambush flying knee. Back from commercials, Ortiz shotgun dropkicks Garcia, and Eddie runs wild on a hot tag. He finally gets his hands on Garcia and gives him Machine Gun chops. Eddie catches Parker with an exploder suplex. Santana hits a moonsault off of Ortiz' back, but 2point0 pull the tights to reverse a rollup to steal the win at 9:03. Decent match that had a hard time following the crazier opener, **¾.
Winners: 2point0 and Daniel Garcia

2point0 hold Santana still for Garcia's bell shot. Chris Jericho returns for a late save, and he clears the ring out while swinging Floyd. Kingston seems annoyed by Jericho's presence, perhaps forgetting that he's Santana and Ortiz' Inner Circle stablemates, and that Jericho has beef with Garcia and 2point0 as well. Eddie and Jericho are about to go at it, but Ortiz plays peacemaker.

MJF (with Shawn Spears and Wardlow) talks to the camera about the "unsafe working conditions" in AEW. He is upset that an "untrained" guy like Sting would put him in harm's way. MJF rips CM Punk for "staying away from him through the entire match." He orders Wardlow to stop his powerbomb symphonies to get quick wins and earn his way into the Face of the Revolution Ladder match. Wardlow is rightfully dumbfounded by these orders. MJF has Mark Sterling explain that Wardlow has to legally relinquish his TNT title shot to MJF.

I need to rant for a moment. The TNT title has been established as the "open shot" belt that basically anyone, including non-roster wrestlers and guys in their first matches, can challenge for. I did not like it last year when they did a multi-man ladder match for a shot at the TNT title, and I am completely baffled as to why they are bringing it back. If Wardlow wants a shot at the TNT title, you'd think he could do what everyone else does, and interrupt a Cody promo to demand one. This is a weak link in AEW's mostly strong creative process.

Meanwhile, Christian Cage yells at the Lucha Bros. "dipsh!ts" for costing them the match, and demands that they give Jurassic Express their shot. Alex Abrahantes calls them bad partners and tells them that if Jungle Boy is the future, he should stop living in the past.

Wardlow (with Shawn Spears) vs. Colin Delaney

Yes, Delaney is the former WWECW guy, still kicking around. He's an easy target for Wardlow, who hits a quick powerbomb. Wardlow knows MJF wants him to win quick, but instead he plays along to the crowd's wishes for more, and hits second, third, and fourth powerbombs to complete the symphony and win at 1:24. Fabulous squash match because it makes the MJF promo from before look genius in hindsight, and gives Wardlow an extra jolt of energy in his slow burn face turn.
Winner: Wardlow

Shawn Spears cannot help himself and puts Delaney down with a chair shot.

Adam Cole, The Young Bucks, Kyle O'Reilly, and Bobby Fish talk to the camera. Cole is all smiles and he wants this group to become the greatest group in AEW history. The Bucks aren't feeling this, because Kyle hasn't spoken to them directly since arriving. Kyle wants to say something, so Cole dismisses the Bucks and Fish (who is a much better sport than the Bucks). Kyle tells Adam that despite their heat, this is AEW, so things are different now. Kyle knows that Fish has his back and wants Cole to prove himself in their tag match later. Cole's mood is totally soured and he scolds Brandon Cutler to stop filming.

Dan Lambert and Men of the Year are in the ring to entertain us. Dan is a fan of old school wrestling, so it makes him sad to see Arn Anderson sucking up to Cody Rhodes. He used to be a Horsemen, but now he's just a whore, which brings us to Brandi, who might be the first Brandi he's ever known who wasn't (currently) a stripper. Ethan Page scoffs at Brandi's assertion that she's a "wrestler." Dan makes fun of Cody for putting a Transformers logo on his neck, a tattoo so stupid that even Mike Tyson hates it. Okay, that line was funny. Brandi Rhodes interrupts, bringing back her classic "Who the hell told you it was open mic night" line and calls Lambert a less talented version of Paul Heyman. Lambert says he'd rather be compared to Jim Cornette (no kidding) and says he'd rather still be getting his balls stapled together at Full Gear. Brandi wants to know when was the last time Lambert got beaten up by a woman and didn't have to pay for it, but she'll whip his @ss for free. Lambert reminds her that he has a black belt, suggests the audience wants to slap her, and that might be his privilege. Well, Brandi is a "black b!tch" and is ready to fight, when Dustin Rhodes steps in to restore some sanity. Instead, Men of the Year cheapshot Dustin, leaving him selling a head injury.

Hype video for Hangman Page vs. Bryan Danielson.

TBS Championship Tournament - Semifinals:
Jade Cargill (with Mark Sterling) vs. Thunder Rosa

Rosa is cosplaying as X-23, which is simply too cool for words. I hear a lot of criticism that wrestling caters too much to nerds these days, but you know what, before the pandemic the New York Comic Con was drawing upwards of 260,000 people, which is more than any Wrestlemania, so there. Anyways, Jade tries a slam onto the apron, but manages to catch Rosa for a backbreaker instead. Rosa sells her back while hitting a well aimed dropkick to the knee. Rosa hangs Jade's leg up on the rail to kick the bad knee. Jade limps while flinging Rosa into the barricade. Back to the ring, Jade hits an explosive pump kick to send us to commercials. They return with Rosa hitting a targeted dropkick to the bad knee. Jade remembers to sell her injury while springing up for a Samoan Drop. She has a hard time applying a torture rack and crumbles. Rosa hits a knee breaker and locks on a Figure Four! Jade escapes, Sterling distracts the ref, a masked mystery figure cheapshots Rosa, and Jade finishes with Jaded at 11:20. Good match built around injured body parts, the finish doesn't hurt too much, ***.
Winner: Jade Cargill

The hooded figure continues her attack and unmasks to reveal herself as Mercedes Martinez! She helps Jade continue the beatdown, but Ruby Soho runs out to her catchy music and chase them out.

Footage from Dark Elevation and Rampage reveal that Kris Statlander and Leyla Hirsch have actually been feuding for a while. This would have been helpful information to share before their match last Saturday.

Hype video for Britt Baker vs. Riho. They will meet for the AEW Women's Championship at Battle of the Belts.

CM Punk comes to the ring to talk, which certainly differentiates this episode from all previous Daily's Place Dynamites. He takes a moment to give a shout out to good ol' J.R. Punk has never been to Daily's Place, but he knows this is a home for AEW, which makes him think about Brodie Lee. Punk feels sorry for anyone who tries to minimize Lee's impact, because he feels sorry for never having met him. The Lee tribute show made Punk want to be in AEW. Punk is referring to "Twitter troll" MJF who encompases the type of person who hides behind a keyboard. Punk wants to be champion and thinks MJF is a waste of his time. In fact, MJF is a bigger waste of Khan money than Tim Tebow. Punk knows that since they're both chasing championships, he'll see MJF in the ring again, but wouldn't it be sad if someone interfered in MJF's quest for gold (wink, wink, WARDLOW, wink, wink).

FTW Champion Ricky Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs talk to the camera. Starks is glad that J.R. is back, because it frees up Taz to help Hook on his quest. Starks says Dante Martin screwed up his chances for success by swerving Team Taz. The last time Martin faced Hobbs, he got killed, and it will happen again soon. Marinate on that.

Sammy Guevara brings back his cue cards gimmick for the commercial break. He puts Men of the Year on notice.

Hype video for Serena Deeb vs. Hikaru Shida, who won't back down.

Tony Shiavone hosts Brian Pillman Jr. in the ring about the Malakai Black situation. Pillman is fired up because his brother, Griff Garrison, walked right into the House of Black. Pillman's memory of that night is a little fuzzy due to Black's cheapshot. Pillman never knew his father, but he learned that you get one life, and he won't give his to Malakai. The lights go out, and Malakai Black appears on the stage, only to disappear just as quickly.

The Acclaimed talk to the camera about facing Darby Allin on Rampage. Bowens can't wait to kick Darby's My Chemical Romance @ss all over Daily's Place.

Sting and Darby Allin talk to the camera about the Acclaimed. Sting cannot believe how casually some young guys on the roster talk about their main event opportunities. Darby says it doesn't matter if he's in the opener or main event, he gives it his all, and he's ready for Bowens.

Hype video for Anna Jay and Tay Conti vs. The Bunny and Penelope Ford in a Street Fight. This hasn't been a great feud, but it goes a long way to making the women's division feel alive.

Adam Cole, Kyle O'Reilly, and Bobby Fish vs. Best Friends (Orange Cassidy, Trent Beretta, and Chuck Taylor)

Kyle is eager to start, and mixes it up with Trent. They both go for high boots and hit the canvas. Cassidy and Fish tag in, Fish connects with stiff kicks, but OC retaliates with his usual mind games. Cole blindsides OC, letting Fish hit a slingshot senton. Cassidy flings Cole into Best Friends' corner, and they take turns splashing Cole in the corner. Best Friends prematurely go for a hug, but Fish clears them out and hits a leg sweep on Chuck to take control. Back from commercials, Chuck reverses a whip on Kyle, but Cole cuts him off with a backbreaker. Cole blindsides Cassidy with a superkick, but Trent makes a hot tag, killing Fish with a half n half suplex. Trent hits O'Reilly with an overhead suplex and hits a tornado DDT for 2. Fish and O'Reilly double team Trent in the buckles, and hit a backbreaker/knee drop combo for a good nearfall. Hey, we already established that Trent is a superhuman force of nature last time. Trent saves himself with a double stomp and Cassidy comes in on a hot tag. Cassidy hits Stundog Millionaire, but Kyle and Fish cut him off with a tandem Codebreaker into monkey flip suplex. I can't do that justice, very complex stuff. Total Elimination on Cassidy, but Chuck saves the match. The fight heads to the stage, where Taylor reverses a makeshift Panama Sunrise into a back drop. Chuck leaps off the stage onto reDDragon! Trent helps with a spear onto Cole. Cassidy hits a flying DDT on Cole for a great nearfall! Chuck and Trent hit stuffed piledrivers, and Cassidy hits Cole with Beach Break, but reDDragon break the pin. Cassidy blocks Kyle's face kicks, makes an angry face, but Kyle lights him up with stiff shots, but inadvertently kicks Cole from the apron, giving OC a hot rollup. Best Friends hit the Sole Food/Half n Half combo and get their big hug. Brandon Cutler runs out for the distraction and gets knocked down. The Young Bucks arrive for a SUPERKICK PARTAY! That allows reDDragon to hit Chasing the Dragon and finish Chuck at 14:47! HELL of a match in terms of complex action within a party atmosphere. For those wondering why AEW would sign Fish and O'Reilly, now you know, ****.
Winners: Adam Cole, Kyle O'Reilly, and Bobby Fish

The Young Bucks are not really on the same page as reDDragon and appear to have stolen Adam Cole from them.

Final Thoughts: This felt like one of those New Japan shows that is full of multi-man tags, where it might seem on the surface to be full of filler, except many storylines get advanced. Lots of good action, and even better set-up for the next 2 weeks of big TV shows. Recommended.

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