AEW Dynamite: New Year’s Smash Night 2 had a lot to live up to after the phenomenal Omega vs. Fenix main event from Night 1. Did it reach the same heights? As always, I break down the highs and lows of Dynamite—this week for New Year’s Smash Night 2.
Darby Allin vs. Brian Cage: David vs. Goliath
Aside from perhaps MJF, out of all the current AEW wrestlers who never competed for WWE or NJPW, Darby Allin may be the one who has the highest potential. His TNT Championship match tonight against Brian Cage was the best match of his career, and it established him as a top star.
Nobody in wrestling works like Allin does. He’s a complete ragdoll out there, willing to do every single thing necessary (and some that aren’t necessary) to get a match over. Cage press-slamming Allin over his head and tossing him all the way through the floor was one of the most memorable in-ring images in recent Dynamite history, and that doesn’t even include the half-dozen additional ridiculous bumps Allin took on the way to a fantastic main event match.
Cage’s contributions shouldn’t be ignored—his sheer strength is what allowed Allin to fly all over the place. Even so, the story of this match was Allin, and with a looming partnership with Sting, there’s more in store.
Chris Jericho and the Inner Circle: Still hilarious
I’m a fan of action, so I’m pretty indifferent towards non-wrestling segments most of the time. As such, it’s rare that an on-screen talent makes interview segments appointment viewing. Jon Moxley would be an example of that, but the one man who consistently makes those segments worthwhile is Chris Jericho.
The Inner Circle’s New Year’s Resolutions skit was laugh-out-loud funny. From Jake Hager screaming “Championships, yeah!” to Ortiz resolving to master a sofrito recipe, (and MJF subsequently asking, “Who boos food?”) the segment was campy but not obnoxious.
Jericho is the glue that holds it all together, the ultra-confident presence who furthers the segment into setting something up for next week. His role as the leader who’s barely keeping this group of delusional lunatics together (while being slightly delusional himself) couldn’t be played any better. Any time Jericho is on your screen, you pay attention.
Tay Conti’s growth
I’ve watched Conti’s entire professional wrestling career. She’s always had a great look, but early on, it was clear she was quite green. However, even after years of training, Conti showed absolutely no improvement between the ropes. Every time she was on NXT television, it was like waiting for a trainwreck.
With that being said, I am completely floored at how far improved she is after just a few months in AEW. After a solid, well-worked singles match with Serena Deeb (which followed a great babyface performance at the Brodie Lee tribute show), Conti has now wrestled the two best matches of her career in the last month. I can’t tell if this is an indictment of the WWE Performance Center or a testament to AEW’s training system. Either way, props to Conti for proving that wrestlers can improve even after years of treading water.
The Waiting Room with Britt Baker: Go-away heat
I’ve seen every single “Waiting Room” segment that Baker’s put on, except for the one with SCU where Baker barely said a word, they were all terrible. So, when I saw Waiting Room advertised for Dynamite, I hoped that Cody Rhodes, her guest, would make it work.
Unfortunately, I was wrong. In reality, Cody didn’t even get a chance to speak, as he was interrupted by Jade Cargill. After a rather unconvincing promo, the segment played the video of Baker’s attack on Rosa from a couple weeks ago before transitioning into an awkward computer camera promo from Thunder Rosa.
None of this was convincing, and the only storyline it furthered was setting a date for Baker vs. Rosa. Aside from that, everything else spun in place. And the one part of the segment that I was excited for— promo from Cody—didn’t even happen. This segment was a complete dud.
False advertising on multiple occasions
In the previous “miss,” I mentioned how frustrating it was to have an advertised Cody interview not even happen. What made it even worse was that in the segment immediately preceding the Waiting Room, a moment of misleading advertising had already occurred.
AEW had advertised “The Elite” returning on New Year’s Smash Night 2 this week. As such, most assumed that would be the team of Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks. However, Omega swerved us, bringing out the Good Brothers as his partners instead, and making it so the Young Bucks never wrestled.
I get the two reasons why this happened. First, Nick Jackson is injured, and second, it was a swerve to further Omega’s heel champion persona. But when a wrestling promotion advertises something and a character “swerves” viewers by giving us something else, that doesn’t put heat on the wrestler. It puts heat on the company. I get enough of that from WWE.