With a massive week of AEW action that included Dynamite’s big debut on TBS featuring three massive title matches, Rampage being headlined by a brutal No-Holds Barred brawl, and the first-ever Battle of the Belts special event, let’s take a look at the week that was in All Elite Wrestling with this special recap. The regular edition of the Dynamite recap will resume later this week.
AEW Dynamite — 1/5/22 — from Newark, NJ
The Sequel’s Always Better – Hangman Page vs. Bryan Danielson II (AEW World Championship Match)
Dynamite’s TBS premiere opened with a bang as the highly-anticipated rematch between AEW World Champion “Hangman” Adam Page and rival Bryan Danielson. Their last encounter at Winter is Coming famously went to a 60-minute time-limit draw, so this rematch was made, but with the addition of three judges in the event of another draw.
Clocking in at 29:06 of bell-to-bell action, Page and Danielson essentially picked up where they left off at Winter is Coming. What followed was a showdown where the two battered the complete hell out of each other.
Page came out fast and furious, hoping to end the match as quickly as he could, with Danielson opting for his stalling tactics, confident that he could maintain control of the AEW World Champion in this match.
The American Dragon literally drew first blood on Hangman by hitting a drop toehold that sent the cowboy face-first into the steel steps. This would lead to Danielson taking over for a bit until Page fought back with a German suplex to stop Danielson’s momentum. Hangman then gave Danielson a taste of his own medicine by busting him open to make the Dragon bleed.
With Hangman on the offensive, the end seemed to be near, but Danielson wisely dropped down to avoid a potentially fatal Buckshot Lariat. The American Dragon responded by applying the LeBell Lock, seemingly having Page dead to rights for the submission. Hangman would survive this to keep the match going.
Danielson again avoided disaster by countering the Buckshot Lariat with a running Busaiku Knee that was unable to put Hangman away. Then came a Gotch-style piledriver, followed by Danielson’s Dragon Stomps to Page’s prone head. Hangman reversed the Busaiku Knee with a pop-up powerbomb, but soon found himself caught in a triangle choke that Danielson turned into a leg lock.
Page endured that to stomp away at Danielson’s face before finally hitting the Buckshot Lariat to retain his prized AEW World Title in dramatic fashion.
What made this intense rematch work was the story beats included throughout. From Page’s attempts to win as fast as possible, to the American Dragon throwing all the killshot moves he beat previous opponents with to no avail, this match built upon the story beats that the Winter is Coming draw created to provide a satisfying conclusion to Page and Danielson’s feud.
Page’s victory gives him a needed “signature” win that acts as a feather in his cap, now that he’s beaten both Kenny Omega and Bryan Danielson cleanly. With this minifeud seemingly over now, it’ll be curious to see what Hangman’s next title challenge will be.
As for Bryan Danielson, he should do just fine, despite the loss. He has been working at an Elite level since arriving in AEW, so his next feud after Hangman will definitely be one to look forward to.
That Bitch Show – Ruby Soho vs. Jade Cargill (TBS Championship Finals)
The finals in what has become an incredible TBS Championship Tournament unfolded with heavy favorite Jade Cargill taking on ring veteran Ruby Soho. The match saw the underdog Ruby trying her best to overcome Jade’s sheer size and strength in an encounter that lasted 11:13. Mercedes Martinez, who seemingly aligned herself with Jade, attempted to get involved, but was warded off by Thunder Rosa, setting up their future encounter.
The finish would come when Jade ascended to the middle rope and hit an avalanche version of Jaded to claim the TBS Championship as its first holder.
I’m very much looking forward to how Jade’s TBS Title reign will go, and the unbeaten angle will certainly help build drama in giving the person who ends up defeating Jade for the belt a massive credibility boost.
The Jurassic Era Has Begun – The Lucha Bros. vs. Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus (AEW Tag Team Championship Match)
Capping off the TBS premiere was a hotly-contested AEW Tag Team Championship contest between reigning champions The Lucha Brothers and the Jurassic Express duo of Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus.
This face-versus-face matchup was heated up considerably last week when miscommunication led to a loss with the two teams against FTR and the Hardy Family Office. The two teams’ styles meshed well with one another and helped contribute to what was an amazing encounter that served as a great main event for Dynamite.
Jungle Boy captured the win and the AEW Tag Team gold for his team with a rollup counter to Penta’s package piledriver for the 1, 2, 3. This came after a spot where Rey Fenix took an awful table bump on the outside that saw his arm bend in a way it wasn’t supposed to.
The post-match festivities saw the heel contingent of AEW’s tag teams pouring out onto the stage to eye the new champions, hoping to get their shot at the gold.
At the time of the event, Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus’ crowning moment was largely overshadowed by Fenix’s injury. Fortunately, the prognosis turned out to be less severe, with Fenix only suffering a dislocated arm from the incident.
On a more positive note, it seems after moments of coming close to achieving glory and never quite reaching the top, Jungle Boy finally has a championship to call his own.
Other Dynamite Highlights
- MJF started off 2022 with a loss to his name against “The Captain” Shawn Dean. This was, of course, as a result of CM Punk intentionally going after Dean to cause a DQ loss for MJF (only the second DQ in AEW history, believe it or not). Punk would then vow to continue disrupting MJF’s matches until he accepted a one-on-one match. This would lead to Max ultimately agreeing… but with Wardlow taking his place instead. One of the more amusing bits of this promo battle was Punk’s dig at MJF wanting to head to WWE if he wasn’t “treated better”, stating that MJF could just go to the Fed in 2024 and main event “Night One of their four-night buy one, get one free spectacular” before coming back to AEW and getting his ass-kicking.
- And speaking of the War Dog, he was in action against Antonio Zambrano, which ended the way you’d expect it. A five-strong Powerbomb Symphony secured the win for Wardlow as he once again ignored Shawn Spears’ directives. Is this breakup from MJF coming sooner than we think?
- Malakai Black took on Brian Pillman Jr. in singles action, with Julia Hart making her return in Pillman’s corner (and sporting only an eyepatch, with no apparent corrupting effects). Black defeated Pillman after a botched splash was turned into the Black Mass. However, the real curiosity happened after the match, when the Lucha Brothers confronted Black, which led to the aforementioned blackout in the main event. It appears that Malakai and the yet-to-arrive Brody King may very well be feuding with the Lucha Brothers soon.
AEW Rampage — 1/7/22 — From Newark, NJ
Settled Scores – Eddie Kingston, Santana, and Ortiz vs. 2point0 and Daniel Garcia
It was a No-Holds Barred main event as the team of Eddie Kingston and Proud ‘n Powerful took on 2point0 and their “son” Daniel Garcia in Rampage’s main event. With hostilities between the two sides at an all-time high, they didn’t even wait for the entrances to get into the action.
Kingston, Santana, and Ortiz attacked 2point0 and Garcia during the “It’s Time For The Main Event” pre-match interview, with things spilling from there. Chaos erupted all around the ringside area, with trashcans, madballs, and steel chairs all introduced into the proceedings.
2point0 and Garcia hit a triple suplex on Kingston through the timekeeper’s table to keep him out of the match. However, Santana and Ortiz handled themselves well, weathering the 2point0 storm before destroying Jeff Parker with a series of big boots, enzuiguiris, and a discus lariat for the victory.
Post-match action saw Garcia attacking Proud ‘n Powerful with his 2point0 allies’ help as he used duct tape (how could he stoop so low!?) to tie Kingston against the ropes. This prompted Chris Jericho to step out of his commentary spot to intervene, sending the heels to a retreat to close out Rampage.
Hook Burns Down The Factory – Hook vs. Aaron Solo
Perhaps capitalizing on the popularity of Hook, he was in action against Aaron Solo of the heel-aligned Factory. Chris Jericho said on commentary that “Hookamania was running wild”. Despite involvement from QT Marshall, Hook put his skills to good use and made short work of Solo by way of the Redrum Katahajime for the submission win. QT would pay for his interfering antics after the match when Hook crushed him with a suplex before walking off.
The meteoric rise of Hook has been a pleasant development in AEW, and these short matches allow him to get all his moves done in short order. At the rate Hook continues, he’s bound to find himself with some gold around his waist.
The Divided Front – Riho & Ruby Soho vs. Dr. Britt Baker & Jamie Hayter
Riho teamed up with Ruby Soho to take on her Battle of the Belts opponent Dr. Britt Baker & Jamie Hayter a night before their big AEW Women’s Championship showdown. As with recent developments, the story was about whether or not the tensions between Hayter and Dr. Britt would boil over. By the match’s end, it seemed that would be the case, when Riho got the pin on Hayter to score the victory for her team. This would lead to a post-match confrontation where Hayter shoved Dr. Britt in frustration for the loss.
Adam Cole Spoils Jake Atlas’s Debut
Days after being signed to AEW, Jake Atlas hoped to make a lasting impression against The Elite’s Adam Cole in Rampage’s opening bout. He certainly asserted himself well against a quality opponent, being able to match Cole as best as he can.
Unfortunately for Atlas, he would suffer a knee injury that led to an abrupt finish with Cole having to resort to a leg submission hold for the impromptu win. Reports are coming out that Atlas’s injury isn’t too serious and he should be back in action in a few weeks or so.
After the match, Cole, Bobby Fish, and Kyle O’Reilly — who may or may not be known as The Paragon in AEW — tried to beat down the injured Atlas. However, a chain-wielding Orange Cassidy, alongside Chuck Taylor and Wheeler YUTA scared them off.
AEW Saturday Fight Night: Battle of the Belts — 1/8/22 — From Charlotte, NC
The Interim TNT Champion – Sammy Guevara vs. Dustin Rhodes (Interim TNT Championship Match)
Sammy Guevara was set to challenge Cody Rhodes for the TNT Championship on this event, but a last-minute change due to Cody being out for “medical (COVID) protocol” led to this match becoming a match to name an interim TNT Champion. Cody’s brother Dustin Rhodes would step in to face Sammy in this bout.
Fun moments included Guevara mocking Arn Anderson’s Glock gun taunt, which elicited a middle finger reaction from the Enforcer. Arn would then turn his Glock on Fuego Del Sol, scaring him off after he set up a table.
The match itself was a showdown between Guevara’s speedy offense versus Dustin’s veteran savviness. The Natural made use of the table that Fuego introduced by putting Guevara through it with a Canadian Destroyer off the apron. Dustin reversed Sammy’s springboard cutter into a Cross Rhodes for a near-fall, while Sammy wound up hitting the GTH. Alas, that was not enough for the win.
Perhaps in tribute to his brother, Dustin hit two Cross Rhodeses in a row, and looked to finish it off with the Tiger Driver ’98, but Guevara’s wherewithal was enough to escape that fate. Following a double down, we got a spot where both men exchanged rollups until it was Sammy who’d come out on top by getting the pinning combination to capture the interim TNT Title.
Sammy’s victory was cut off by Daniel Garcia, who didn’t waste time with getting into Guevara’s face, which led to a scuffle between the two. We’ll see Sammy defend his newly-won interim TNT Title against Garcia on Wednesday’s Dynamite.
FTW Championship Steals The Show – Ricky Starks vs. Matt Sydal (FTW Championship Match)
Ricky Starks put his FTW Championship on the line against Matt Sydal, hoping to psyche out Dante Martin by making an example out of one of his best friends. Turns out, however, Sydal was more than a match for The Absolute One.
Sydal rocked Starks early on with an offensive flurry before the FTW Champion fought back to regain control. Starks’ strategy was to target Sydal’s back to weaken him. Sydal mounted a comeback by starting off with the Michinoku Driver that got a near-fall. Sydal with the Lightning Spiral, then the Meteora looked to be the winner, but Starks used the bottom rope to break out of the pinning combination.
In the end, however, it would be Starks that got the win, following a Spear to Sydal, then his patented Roshambo finisher to retain his FTW Championship at 9:05.
Post-match activities see Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs beat down Sydal until Lee Moriarty tried to make the save. Hobbs made quick work of Moriarty, which led to Dante Martin entering the fight. Dante cleared the ring of Team Taz to end the segment.
This match was a great display of just how good AEW’s midcard scene is in terms of in-ring action. Starks and Sydal gelled well and proved to have an entertaining one-on-one match that was probably the best match of the evening.
The DMD Era Continues – Dr. Britt Baker DMD vs. Riho (AEW Women’s Championship Match)
AEW Women’s Champion Dr. Britt Baker DMD continued her landmark reign by finally being able to defeat Riho in the night’s main event. Of course, that win didn’t come without the usual intervention from Jamie Hayter & Reba. However, the story heading into this match was whether or not Dr. Britt could count on Hayter’s help after the two lost a tag match to Riho and Ruby Soho on Rampage.
The challenger did her best to take Hayter and Reba out of the equation early on by seemingly neutralizing them on the outside. More tensions arose when Hayter was upset with Dr. Britt for not checking up on Reba after she was taken out by a Riho crossbody. A table was brought into the proceedings, but Riho managed to take both Hayter and Baker out. Once the action got back into the ring, Dr. Britt regained the advantage.
Riho fought back with the double stomps and the running knee. However, Dr. Britt managed to reverse another double stomp to get the Air Raid Crash for a close near-fall. Riho escaped an attempt at the Lockjaw, which led to the finishing sequence of the match.
Jamie Hayter brought the AEW Women’s Title, but did not use it as a weapon. This would lead to Rebel trying to hand the title to Dr. Britt, but getting ejected from the match in the process. A miscommunication bump between Hayter and Dr. Britt led to a northern lights suplex from Riho that nearly got the win. Kick to the face followed by the Curbstomp by Baker got a two count, but the DMD quickly turned her pinning attempt into the Lockjaw for the submission win to retain her AEW Women’s Title.
Battle of the Belts went off the air with Hayter teasing more dissension before she handed the AEW Women’s Title to Dr. Britt and giving her a hug.
While it’s clear that the endgame of Dr. Britt’s reign is the loss to Thunder Rosa, it’s a bit unclear how we’ll get to that road with Rosa currently feuding with Mercedes Martinez. Perhaps that’ll just be a short-term angle that ends just before the road to Revolution to properly set up the title feud that everyone’s been waiting for.
The commentators stated that they would stay with this match for as long as possible, teasing an overrun. Of course, that did not happen with the match ending as quick as possible with two minutes to 9pm. I’d love to see an AEW overrun happen at some point after all these teases.
This Week on Dynamite (1/12/22)
- Wardlow vs. CM Punk
- Interim TNT Championship: Sammy Guevara (c) vs. Daniel Garcia
- Hikaru Shida vs. Serena Deeb, Part IV
- Powerhouse Hobbs vs. Dante Martin
- The Acclaimed’s diss track about Sting & Darby Allin
This Week on Rampage (1/14/22)
- Card TBA