After a gigantic 2021 for All Elite Wrestling, the flagship Dynamite program came back to where it was at the start of the year, Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, Fla. It was the last episode to air on TNT as the show moves to TBS in 2022 and a fairly solid one at that.
- We kicked this one off with Jim Ross, fresh off kicking cancer’s ass, making his return to the announcers’ booth. He gave us the “It’s Wednesday, and you know what that means,” and we were off to the races.
- Daniel Garcia and 2.0 beat Eddie Kingston, Santana, and Ortiz in a fun six-man tag. The fit of Garcia with 2.0 is still kinda weird, but hopefully, it’s just temporary until Garcia joins the eventual Dragon’s Den stable led by Bryan Danielson. Hopefully. The post-match angle saw Garcia layout Santana with the ring bell. It seemed like they were dragging it out, and then after the bell-shot, Chris Jericho ran down in his neon red sneakers that you could see from space to make the save. Kingston and Jericho got into each other’s face but no blows were thrown. A number of folks would’ve thought Jon Moxley was running back in for sure, I’m not sure Jericho-Kingston is what’s best right now.
- MJF was backstage with Wardlow and Shawn Spears and cut a promo on CM Punk. We also learned that any championship that Wardlow wins transfers to MJF, so naturally Max wants Wardlow to win the Face of the Revolution ladder match in February and win the TNT title as well as the World title. Wardlow was giving the death-stare to end all death-stares to MJF at the end, the split is coming.
- Christian Cage let his inner heel shine through as he challenged the Lucha Brothers for the tag titles on behalf of the Jurassic Express.
- Wardlow squashed Colin Delaney and it was beautiful. Four power bombs. This guy is going to be a tippy-top babyface. Shawn Spears got his cheap shot in afterward. Wardlow is doing this every week now, it’s only a matter of time before he does it to MJF.
- Kyle O’Reilly sent the Young Bucks and Bobby Fish out of frame so he could talk to Adam Cole alone. They acknowledged their feud in NXT, but Kyle said that in AEW the key to survival is factions. The tension is there with Cole and O’Reilly but there’s no way they’ll feud again. It looks like we’ll get an Undisputed Era V2 in AEW.
- After a good talking heads video for the Danielson-Page match, we had Jade Cargill beating Thunder Rosa to advance to the finals of the TBS title tournament. Rosa led the expedition and made Cargill look like a beast. A disguised and (re)debuting Mercedes Martinez interfered behind the referee’s back to screw Rosa over.
- After a video from the Kris Statlander vs. Leyla Hirsch match, and a VTR for the Britt Baker vs Riho Battle of the Belts match, we had a great CM Punk promo. He talked about Brodie Lee and the tribute show, he talked about MJF, the World title. He even called MJF a bigger waste of Khan money than Tim Tebow which is was fantastic. Punk said that it’d be a shame if someone interfered with MJF’s quest for the gold. He also used the pipebomb line about no one being able to touch him on the mic, in the ring, even on commentary. I loved this so much.
- Team Taz had a good pre-tape to set up Will Hobbs vs Dante Martin, and perhaps more importantly, the upcoming Technique by Taz on Hook’s Redrum finish.
- Sammy Guevara did his cue cards in the break before we got a VTR for the Hikaru Shida-Serena Deeb feud, which has gone on for a while but you’ll never get a complaint from me.
- Brian Pillman Jr. cut a great, fired-up babyface promo on Malakai Black. Tears were in his eyes as he mentioned his father. The lights went out and Black appeared on the stage. I thought for sure we’d get the Brody King debut here but we didn’t. King and Black against the Varsity Blonds would be a killer match.
- After a pre-tape from the Acclaimed, then Sting and Darby Allin we had the big main event. Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, and Bobby Fish were reunited as they beat the Best Friends and Orange Cassidy in a fine main event. The audience was blessed with the reDRagon entrance here and they looked like they haven’t missed a beat in the ring. O’Reilly and Fish secured the win with Chasing the Dragon while Brandon Cutler and the Young Bucks tended to a hurt Adam Cole. Fish and O’Reilly made their exit and looked on at the Superkliq as the final TNT Dynamite went off the air.
- I cannot stress enough the adoration I hold for FTR. They are my favorite tag team in the world. However, this ten-man opener just didn’t do it for me. The better version of this match is FTR vs Christian Cage and Jungle Boy. So much, too much stuff happened here that the cameras could barely keep up at points. Five-on-five tends to work better on the hardwood than the wrestling ring. The positive is that FTR got the win for the heels.
- Dan Lambert and Brandi Rhodes had their own version of what CM Punk and MJF did a few weeks ago. It wasn’t as long, and it wasn’t as good, but it was certainly something. Brandi called Lambert a less talented Paul Heyman. Lambert called Brandi a stripper. It was just out of control. I think as a society we’re past the point of “stripper” being an insult.
When AEW is good, it’s the best stuff in a long time, but like every wrestling promotion, it’s not perfect. They leveled up big time in 2021 in multiple ways and I can’t wait to see what comes in 2022.