The big match advertised this week on AEW Dynamite “Holiday Bash” saw Sting teaming up with CM Punk & Darby Allin against the heel trio of Maxwell Jacob Friends and the tag team known as FTR.
This show is taking place three days before Christmas, so Merry Christmas to all those celebrating this Saturday including me. The overly excited AEW President/General Manager/Booker Tony Khan tweeted about how there will be “huge announcements” and a surprise on this week’s show.
Last week’s AEW Dynamite episode was my highest graded show of the year mainly because we got to see 60 minutes of incredible wrestling from “Hangman” Adam Page and Bryan Danielson as they wrestled to a draw.
This is AEW Dynamite episode #116 at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.
It’s Wednesday night and you know what that means. Good crowd in Greensboro making some noise. The commentary team was Excalibur, Tony Schiavone and Taz, who is filling in for Jim Ross. Adam Cole was up first with the fans chanting “boom” and “bay bay” right on cue.
Cole is 5-0 in singles matches as the graphic said, but the graphic didn’t mention four losses in tag team matches. Cole has yet to be pinned in AEW, though, so that is impressive. Orange Cassidy is 20-4-1 in singles matches this year.
Adam Cole vs. Orange Cassidy
When Cole did one of his “Adam Cole bay bay” taunts, Cassidy put his hands in Orange’s pockets. Cole took him down with a headlock. Cassidy got a cradle for two. They did some more mat wresting without doing much for about a minute while the announcers did a rundown of the card. There were more chinlocks and weak pin attempts while Schiavone questioned why Cole has such greasy hair. Cassidy jumped over Cole out of the corner and got a backslide pin attempt. After about three minutes, finally a significant move with Cole getting a backstabber. Cole whipped Cassidy hard into the turnbuckle. Cole sent Cassidy into the turnbuckle, then Cole with a punch while Cassidy was seated on the top rope, then Cassidy shoved Cole down. Cassidy with a cross body block off the top followed by a DDT for two. The Young Bucks made their entrance with the stooge Brandon Cutler, who went to ringside and Cassidy jumped on Cutler. Orange’s buddies the Best Friends showed up to fight Young Bucks and Cutler. Cassidy hit a suicide dive. The guys on the floor brawled to the back. Cole whipped Cassidy into the steel steps two time. Cole went for the running knee, but Cassidy moved and Cole smashed his knee into the steel steps. Ouch. That led to a picture in picture break.
The match returned with Cole doing punches while Cassidy did his comedy strikes. Cassidy hit a superkick, Cole with a kick, Cassidy with another kick and Cole hit a brainbuster onto the knee for two. Cole with a pump kick, Cassidy hit a stunner and Cole jumped off the ropes with a DDT for two. Cole with another slam into the knee followed by a pump kick to knock down Cassidy again. Cole went to the middle rope for a move, but then Cassidy backed away and lured Cole into an inside cradle for two. Cassidy hit a Michinoku Driver for a two count. Taz told Tony to sit down, Tony said he was excited and Taz said Tony had an agenda (since Tony is friends with Britt Baker, who is Cole’s girlfriend). Cassidy put his sunglasses on, then took way too much time on the top rope, jumped off with nothing and Cole followed up with a Panama Sunrise for a two count. Cole covered with his hands in his tights without hooking the legs. Good nearfall. Cassidy avoided the Boom knee strike and Cassidy hit the Beach Break slam for the two count. Cassidy was setting up for his punch, but Cole rolled out of the ring to the floor. Bobby Fish went down to ringside to distract the referee. That led to Kyle O’Reilly going into the ring and getting in some strikes on Cassidy. The referee turned around, so Kyle left. Cole hit the Boom knee strike on Cassidy for the pinfall win after 16 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Adam Cole
Analysis: ***3/4 This was a very good match with a lot of believable nearfalls towards the end of the match. The first few minutes were slow. Welcome Kyle O’Reilly to AEW in a spot that made sense due to his history as a long-term ally of Cole. The pace really picked up by the end of the match with Cassidy holding his own. Cole continues his undefeated streak in singles, which is great and hopefully he wins a title within a few months in AEW.
Post match, Cole and O’Reilly faced off with a staredown. Best Friends went down to the ring, so Cole, Fish and Kyle took care of them easily. The fans were chanting “Undisputed” during that because the group was known as the Undisputed Era in NXT. The Young Bucks walked down to the ring to look at Cole as if to ask him what he was doing. Cole simply stared at the Bucks, then he left with Fish and O’Reilly. The Young Bucks followed after that.
Analysis: The deal was that Cole was kind of in the middle of things here. It made it look like Cole was the one that got Kyle to come to AEW without telling the Young Bucks, so the Bucks seem to be upset about that. This could lead to a split between Cole and the Bucks since Cole has had a lot of success with Fish and Cole in the past. There are a lot of ways it could go.
A video aired about the classic 60-minute match between Hangman Page and Bryan Danielson last week on Dynamite.
It was announced that on the January 5 edition of Dynamite on TBS (the first Dynamite on TBS), “Hangman” Adam Page will defend the AEW World Championship against Bryan Danielson.
Analysis: That’s a big match on the first show in the TBS era. Smart move.
Let’s Hear from “Hangman” Adam Page
Tony Schiavone was in the ring and he introduced Hangman Page to a big pop with Hangman carrying the AEW World Championship with him. Tony said he thinks that if there were one or two more minutes, Page would have won that match. Hangman said that after 60 minutes of being covered in blood and air taken out of him, he said that last week after the match, he never felt like less of a champion. Hangman claimed he was feeling disappointed after last week.
Bryan Danielson showed up for the promo interruption with a 13-0-2 graphic shown for him. Bryan called Hangman the “entitled millennial cowboy” saying he still has the AEW World Title and he’s still disappointed. Bryan said that the fans should be disappointed because Bryan kicked his ass for 60 minutes and if anybody should be AEW Champion it should be Bryan. Bryan said that Hangman only survived because Bryan hurt his knee a bit in the match the prior week against John Silver. Bryan said he’s not going to wrestle for the next two weeks, so then Bryan said that maybe Hangman will stall when they have their next match. Bryan called Hangman a “piece of Cowboy Shit.”
Bryan said he had a solution for the match on January 5 when they have judges. Bryan said that if Hangman stalls again, then everybody will know that the true AEW World Champion is Bryan Danielson. Bryan called the fans idiots while telling them they must realize he won the match last week. Hangman said he thought about different match types (Ironman, Ladder, Inferno, etc.) while saying Bryan took him past 30, 40, 50 and took him to 60 minutes. Hangman said he swam and that if he had just three more seconds, he would have drowned Bryan. Hangman said that if Bryan wants judges that is fine because they can get some old guys some paydays. Hangman told Bryan to pay them well. Hangman said he has given way too much of himself for the World Title to have some old prick tell him he’s not good enough and a B+ player because that’s horseshit. Hangman said that if the question is can Hangman beat Bryan in less than one hour in two weeks then the answer will be yes. The crowd wasn’t very loud at that point as the promo ended.
Analysis: Both guys did well here. Bryan is such an awesome heel. It is weird how the crowd kind of died by the end of that. Maybe the promo went on too long or it’s just tough to get excited about having a match with judges. That brings me back to 1989 when Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat had a match with judges including Terry Funk, who attacked Flair after the match with a piledriver on a table. I can see the judges becoming a factor in some way to lead to some controversy. Even though Danielson is my favorite in AEW, I still think Hangman should remain the champion.
Maxwell Jacob Friedman was shown with his Pinnacle group of FTR, Wardlow and Shawn Spears. MJF noted that he pays Wardlow a lot of money to protect him, so he wondered where Wardlow was last week without asking him. MJF said that him and FTR are not a team, they are a family. MJF said that CM Punk, Sting and Darby Allin will not be able to co-exist. MJF said that Punk does things for himself and when he doesn’t, that’s when the real CM Punk comes to play. MJF ripped on Sting’s “Krusty the Clown” makeup. FTR’s Dax Harwood said that they didn’t have a problem with CM Punk, but he has threatened their family. Harwood said that they are a family that is the best unit in this world. Harwood said when you’re Pinnacle, you’re always on top.
Analysis: A solid promo as usual. They continue to tease problems with MJF and Wardlow without pushing it too far. There’s a slow burn turn coming for sure with Wardlow likely emerging as a big face.
Wardlow is up next.
Wardlow entered with Shawn Spears with Wardlow holding a record of 26-3. Wardlow is 5th ranked in AEW as well. They didn’t book him in TV matches for like half a year, but now they are using him.
Wardlow (w/Shawn Spears) vs. “Captain” Shawn Dean
They did a lock up where Wardlow shoved Dean to the mat. Wardlow with a Powerbomb, the crowd wanted another one and Wardlow hit another Powerbomb. Wardlow hit a third Powerbomb, then a fourth Powerbomb and a boot on the chest for the pinfall win. It went a bit over one minute.
Winner by pinfall: Wardlow
Analysis: 1/4* Match of the year. Another easy win for Wardlow as usual.
Post match, Shawn Spears went into the ring and hit Dean with two chair shots to the back.
A video aired about Sammy Guevara defending the TNT Title against Cody Rhodes on Dynamite on Christmas night on Rampage. It’s taping after Dynamite, so the spoilers will be out there.
The camera cut to Dan Lambert, Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky in some private box in the building. Lambert ripped on the crowd. Lambert said he runs the largest and most successful MMA gym on the planet. Lambert spoke about how Tony Khan uses a buddy system where you become an EVP with every chance to sign. Lambert said if you’re not, maybe you’ll be opening match and be in backstage vignettes. Lambert talked about how great Sky and Page are while noting that they will be watching on Christmas night while Cody Rhodes gets yet another title shot against Sammy Guevara. Lambert said that Tony K wants Lambert to get you to cheer for Cody Rhodes with Lambert admitting that Cody is a bigger dick than Lambert is! That was funny. Dan said he didn’t care about who you cheer or boo. Lambert said that he wants one of these guys to get a title shot and when they do, they won’t need any help from the owner of the company to earn the title.
Analysis: What Lambert said about Sky and Page not being used is absolutely true. Sky is ranked in the top five singles wrestlers even though he doesn’t even have a singles win on Dynamite or Rampage. The guy hasn’t even won a singles match on TV, yet is somehow ranked in the top five because of all the Youtube wins. Weird. Anyway, I enjoy the Lambert promos and the line about how Cody was a bigger dick than him made me laugh.
Britt Baker, the AEW Women’s Champion, was seated in a chair for a holiday party. Baker had Jamie Hayter and Rebel there with Tony Schiavone trying to interview Baker. Britt talked about how 2021 was the Era of the DMD. Baker said that she built this division from the ground up, she’s a pillar of the company and is the pulse of AEW. Baker said that Riho should have stayed under that bottom rope at All Out. Baker told Riho she’s out of her league – “you’ll shoot your eye out, kid.” Britt did her “DMD” bit to end it.
Analysis: A typical Britt Baker promo. She has the mini-feud with Riho going on, but that should end when Britt beats her when they have a match.
There was a video about Owen Hart that was shown. Mark Henry talked about Owen teaching him about wrestling while Adam Cole said that Owen is one of the best technical wrestlers ever. Matt Hardy spoke about how smaller guys were so important. The 2.0 guys talked about how impressive of an athlete he was. Eddie Kingston said that Owen was a real man that took care of his family, loved his family and loved his kids. Dustin Rhodes said that Owen will go down as one of the all-time greats. Shawn Spears talked about how he was a beautiful soul of a human being. Cole said that everybody that shared a locker room with him said he was great to be around and the legacy of Owen will be who he was as a person.
Analysis: That was great. I loved Owen as a performer. Guys like Henry, Dustin and Matt Hardy knew Owen while the others spoke about him as fans of Owen. The Owen Cup is going to take place around the Double or Nothing PPV in May, so we’ll see more of that in the coming months.
It was time for the TBS Title tournament semifinals with Nyla Rose up first with Vickie Guerrero. Ruby Soho was up next. Taz didn’t sing some of Ruby’s song. That’s too bad.
TBS Title Tournament Semifinals: Ruby Soho vs. Nyla Rose (w/Vickie Guerrero)
Rose attacked Soho before she was ready and before Soho took her jacket off. Soho regrouped with a knee, then a running attack and Rose knocked Soho down. Rose grabbed a hold Soho and tossed her across the ring. Soho hooked the left arm in a submission. Rose elbowed her way out of that and Rose hit a uranage slam into the mat. The action spilled to the floor with Rose going after Soho. Ruby tried to fight back with strikes, but Rose was too powerful. Soho headbutted (her own hands) repeatedly while trying to make it look like she was hitting Rose. Soho charged, Rose moved and Soho hit the steel steps. They went to a picture in picture break.
The match returned with Soho getting some kicks to the body, then Rose caught her and Ruby hit a unique DDT on Rose for a two count. Rose was on the floor, she grabbed a chair from under the ring and Soho dropkicked the chair into the face. That could be a DQ since there was a weapon used by Soho and Excalibur claimed it was incidental contact. It was more like a blatant kick into a chair into the face. Anyway, Soho went up top, Vickie shoved her down (the referee didn’t see it) and Rose jumped off the top with a knee to the back while Ruby was against the ropes. When Rose was going for a move, Soho countered her with a Dragon Sleeper. Vickie to the apron, Ruby went over to Vickie and kicked her in the head. Rose hit a Beast Bomb on Soho for a two count. Rose went over to the middle rope for a move, but Ruby grabbed the arm and hit the No Future kick for the pinfall win.
Winner by pinfall: Ruby Soho
Analysis: *** This was good with a cool finish since Ruby got the win and that’s what I wanted to see. They are smart to push Ruby like that. I don’t mind Rose that much, but she has been pushed in the past. Anyway, I liked how they did a couple of nearfalls that were believable like that Beast Bomb. Ruby’s jumping kick looks great when she does it and she can do it on a bigger opponent, so I think it works well as a finisher.
The win meant that Ruby Soho goes to the TBS Tournament Finals. Ruby was selling a left arm injury after the win.
A video aired about Hikaru Shida beating Serena Deeb on Dynamite last week. Shida sent Serena into an exposed turnbuckle and then got the win soon after. Serena said that this is far from over and this will go on until her work with Shida is done. Serena said that the next time they are in the ring together, Shida will be begging Tony Khan to keep Serena the hell away from Shida for good.
Analysis: I thought Shida’s win last week was the feud ender, but I guess not. Good promo from Serena.
Malakai Black made his mysterious and slow entrance. Black has a singles record of 6-1 in AEW. Griff Garrison entered as the opponent. Griff is usually part of the Varsity Blonds tag team with Brian Pillman Jr. They showed when Black blew the black mist into the eyes of Julia Hart two weeks ago.
Malakai Black vs. Griff Garrison
Garrison ran right at Black, who delivered a kick to knock Garrison down. Black left the ring to stare at Pillman, so then Garrison hit a suicide dive on Black on the floor. Back in the ring, Black with kicks to the leg and a kneebar submission. Black with several kicks to the body. Garrison broke free for a moment to send Black throat first into the ropes. Garrison hit a rolling elbow to the face for a two count. Black came back with a jumping knee that had a loud leg slap to go along with it. Black teased a spin kick, but then he shot the leg and applied a single leg half crab submission. It went about three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Malakai Black
Analysis: *1/2 Easy win for Black over a tag team wrestler like Garrison. I thought Garrison could have got a bit more offense, but it ended up being more of a squash win for Black.
Post match, Black held on to the submission too long. Pillman pulled Black off Garrison. When Pillman stepped towards Black, he was met by a spin kick by Black and Pillman sold it like he was knocked out.
Analysis: I like how Black looked dominant against both guys. Well done.
This Saturday (Christmas Day) on AEW Rampage:
* Jungle Boy vs. Isiah Kassidy
They showed a Matt Hardy promo with Private Party with Matt talking about how Kassidy is going to “pound that ass” and injure Jungle Boy.
A Jungle Boy promo was shown said he’s going to have a big old lump of coal and shove it up Kassidy’s ass. Christian called Private Party “dipshits” and Christian plugged the Christian & Jurassic Express t-shirt.
* Hook vs. Bear Bronson
* Leyla Hirsch vs. Kris Statlander
* Sammy Guevara defends the TNT Championship vs. Cody Rhodes
Next Wednesday, December 29 on AEW Dynamite New Year’s Smash in Jacksonville:
* Eddie Kingston, Santana & Ortiz vs. Daniel Garcia & 2.0
* Thunder Rosa vs. Jade Cargill in the TBS Title Tournament Semifinals
* The return of Jim Ross
* Orange Cassidy, Trent & Chuck Taylor vs. Adam Cole, Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly
It was time for the main event with Maxwell Jacob Friedman up first with a 30-7 record. I remember when he was stuck on one loss for a long time. FTR entered as the AAA Tag Team Champions. That trio was booed of course.
Sting made his entrance with a 5-0 record in AEW while Tony Schiavone screamed about Sting’s entrance. Punk had on some CM Punk style face paint. Darby Allin was next with a 30-4 record in 2021. I think that’s one of the better records in AEW this year. CM Punk was last for the team with Punk getting the biggest ovation from this crowd. Punk had on face paint like Sting as well.
CM Punk, Darby Allin & Sting vs. Maxwell Jacob Friedman, Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler
There were over 20 minutes left in the show, so you know it’s going to be a long tag team match.
MJF was going to start against Punk, then MJF tagged out and Tony called him a “spineless piece of shit.” Calm down, Tony. Harwood got a side headlock on punk, then Punk with a headscissors and they got back up for a shoving exchange. Harwood and Punk exchanged slaps to the face with Punk knocking Harwood on his ass. Harwood with a shoulder tackle, Punk with a hiptoss and an armdrag. Wheeler tagged in leading to Punk hitting a body slam. Allin tagged in running the ropes, so Wheeler hit him with a back elbow to the jaw. Allin hit a dropkick on Wheeler leading to an armbar. MJF tagged in, then Allin brought in Punk and MJF ran away. Wheeler tagged in, so MJF avoided Punk again. Punk with an armbar on Wheeler, then Sting tagged in and whipped Wheeler into the turnbuckle. Wheeler bumped to the floor. MJF tagged in against Sting, MJF with a chop that the man in his 60s didn’t sell. Sting with a short arm clothesline to MJF and Punk tagged in, so MJF bailed to the floor again. MJF left the ringside area, then they went running up the stairs and they were gone from the match. They ended up running back towards the ring through another part of the arena. MJF got into the ring, he tagged in Harwood and Allin hit a suicide dive on the three heels on the floor.
The match returned with the heels in control as Wheeler tossed Allin over the top to the floor. MJF and FTR sent Allin into the barricade. The heels continued to work over Allin in their corner. Lots of quick tags from the heels with Harwood hitting a body slam on Allin. Wheeler stomped on Allin’s head and Wheeler delivered a body slam. MJF tagged in with his turn to hit a body slam on Allin. Harwood back in with another body slam. Allin countered a body slam into a rollup for two. Allin avoided a corner attack and hit a body slam. Sting got the tag with punches for both opponents while also send Dax into the turnbuckle. Sting took care of Wheeler and Allin. Sting with the Stinger Splash, Allin with a splash, Punk with a running knee and Sting with a Spiner Splash on Harwood. Sting applied a half crab submission, so Miz went into the ring and grabbed a handful of hair while slamming Sting’s head to the mat. They went to break there.
It was Sting’s turn as the face in peril as Wheeler had him on the heel side of the ring. Sting tried a hiptoss that didn’t look good and then a double clothesline. Harwood tagged in, Sting, caught a running Dax and Sting hit a body slam. MJF tagged in, Sting sent MJF face first into the mat and Sting staggered off the ropes leading to a headbutt to the groin. CM Punk got the hot tag with elbows on both FTR guys, then a leg lariat on Harwood. Punk with running knees on both FTR guys leading to the bulldog/clothesline combo. Punk hit a suicide dive onto Harwood on the floor. Punk went up top and hit a cross body block on Wheeler for a two count. Harwood saved Wheeler from a move, Harwood tagged in and Punk hit a neckbreaker on Harwood for two. Punk went up top, Wheeler went after him there and Punk knocked him down. Harwood back up as he battled with Punk on the turnbuckle. Harwood hit the superplex and Wheeler tagged in with a top rope splash for the Powerplex combo spot (from Power & Glory) for a two count. Both FTR guys went for moves on Punk, so Allin got back into things with a suicide dive on Wheeler. There was some spot on the floor, but the director missed it. Punk and Harwood each hit kicks to the head leading to a spot where they were both down. It turned out that Allin took out MJF on the floor in that spot we never saw. Punk and Harwood exchanged punches, then Harwood avoided a GTS and Wheeler back in for the Big Rig double team move. Sting made the save on the pin attempt. Sting sent Wheeler out of the ring. MJF into the ring with a DDT on Sting, who no sold it and Sting tossed MJF over the top onto both FTR guys. That was a rough landing for MJF on the floor, so the referee Paul Turner checked on them. Sting went up top and hit a cross body block on the three heels on the floor! Holy shit! Stinger was impressive there. Sting sent MJF into the ring even though he wasn’t the legal man. Punk was legal for his team and Punk set up for the GTS, then Harwood shoved MJF away and Harwood was legal, so Punk hit him with the GTS. Sting got a hold of Harwood and hit a Scorpion Death Drop. Allin went up top and hit a Scorpion Death Drop on Harwood for the pinfall win after 26 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: CM Punk, Darby Allin & Sting
Analysis: **** This was a great tag team match that was given a lot of time. They did two different sequences with a different face in peril since it was Allin early in the match, then Sting later and then Punk got the hot tag after that. There were still moments where guys were out of the ring for a long time with no referee counting them at all, but it wasn’t as bad as a Young Bucks match. Guys like FTR tend to be more of a traditional tag team. I thought both FTR guys looked great against the faces while MJF left the ring every time Punk tagged in, so it showed that MJF was a coward in this match. Punk kept trying to get a hold of MJF, but MJF kept running away and in the end, Sting put away Harwood rather easily. I did like the spot at the end with Punk, Sting and Allin all hitting signature moves to pop the crowd and that was enough to weaken Harwood so that he could be pinned. Anyway, you don’t see nearly 30-minute tag team matches that often, so kudos to everybody involved for making it a great match. The crowd was into all of it as well.
Post match, MJF walked over to the commentary table saying Punk was running from him like a coward.
CM Punk celebrated the win with Sting and Darby Allin. The fans liked them a lot.
Three Stars of the Show
- CM Punk, Darby Allin & Sting
- MJF & FTR
- Adam Cole/Orange Cassidy
This Week: 8.5 out of 10
Last Week: 9
2021 Average: 7.44
A great show from top to bottom. The opener was a lot of fun and the main event was awesome especially because they were given a lot of time to have a meaningful match. Add in the Kyle O’Reilly debut and there was that element of surprise as well. I enjoyed this episode a lot.
Thanks for reading. Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. You can contact me using any of the methods below.