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.
A replay shows that Fenix did a tightrope walk into a high crossbody to ringside.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Comment about this article on Da' Wrestling Boards!