What’s more exciting than a beach break in January? One that involves a brutal Ladder Match, an exciting Lights Out main event, and the very nice, very evil first appearance of a certain individual. Read on for this week’s AEW Dynamite recap.
Previously on All Elite Wrestling…
Last week on Dynamite, Jon Moxley returned to AEW and cut a passionate promo; Adam Cole & Dr. Britt Baker won a mixed-tag match against rivals Orange Cassidy & Kris Statlander; CM Punk embarrassed Shawn Spears in a quick squash; Cody Rhodes said a lot of things; Serena Deeb taught Skye Blue a lesson in pain; Sting & Darby Allin made short work of The Acclaimed in the main event.
Over on Rampage, Mox bested Ethan Page in his return match and was confronted by Bryan Danielson; Trent Beretta beat Nick Jackson in singles action; HOOK did what HOOK does best; Jade Cargill defeated Anna Jay in her first TBS Title defense.
It’s Beach Break. You know What That Means.
It’s the middle of January and it’s cold as hell, but it’s time for a Beach Break in Cleveland, OH. We’re joined by the usual suspects of Jim Ross, Excalibur, and Tony Schiavone for a night of exciting action, and what better way to kick things off than with a ladder match?
Match 1: Cody Rhodes vs. Sammy Guevara (Ladder Match for Undisputed TNT Championship)
The Story So Far
Cody Rhodes initially won the TNT Title off of Sammy Guevara on the Christmas Day 2021 edition of Rampage, and was set to face off against him at Battle of the Belts, but a COVID-19 diagnosis kept him off the shelf for two weeks. In the interim, Sammy would win the Interim TNT Title at Battle by defeating Dustin Rhodes in singles action.
Sammy and Cody shake hands as the bell sounds. Both men are caught in a stalemate of tieups to start off here. Cody looks for the Tiger Driver early, but that gets countered into an attempted GTH by Sammy. Attempted dropdown uppercut is blocked as Sammy and Cody exchange standing switches.
Guevara rolls out and grabs a ladder from the stage. He’s flattened by a shot to the jaw by Cody. The American Nightmare grabs a really tall ladder and sets it up across the ring and the nearby barricade. Sammy’s on the offensive now as the fight breaks into the crowd! Cody clotheslines Sammy over the barricade and backinto the rinsgide area. Sammy bounces right back with a cutter to the floor. With Coddy stunned, this gives Sammy a chance to grab a ladder from the stage, sliding it to the ring.
Cody’s back into action and he gets cracked in the face with the ladder by Sammy. The interim TNT Champion sets up the ladder, but he gets pulled down by Cody. Sammy attempts to grab the belt, but he’s pulled into an Electric Chair position. Both men fall to the canvas as we see Scorpio Sky & Dan Lambert looking on from the crowd. Cody and Sammy fight their way up to the top and they start laying into each other until Cody gets the advantage… in position with the stalling vertical suplex off the ladder! The action heads to a break with both men still left down and out after that spot.
Back on Dynamite as there’s a ladder set up in an inverted position. Cody grabs Sammy and sends him right to the hinges of the inverted ladder! Cody continues the attack with a ladder-enhanced Figure Four Leglock. With Guevara seemignly down and out, Cody sets up another ladder in the middle of the ring. Sammy withstands a barrage of chops as he flattens Cody with a lariat!
Sammy’s got a brief burst of momentum that’s stopped in its tracks with Cody chucking a ladder right at his face. The American Nightrmare picks up a fallen ladder and sets it up. He tosses Sammy right against it to trap him. With Cody climbing up the middle ladder, Sammy stirs back up and makes a daring leap for an amazing springboard cutter from one ladder to the other! Oh my god!
Sammy plants the ladder in the middle with Cody underneath as he begins to climb… but his ascension is cut short when Cody dislodges the ladder. Cody climbs the taller ladder while Sammy goes up the smaller one and the two begin to fight. Cody gets the better of Sammy and hits a Cross Rhodes from the two ladders! Guevara’s down and Cody begins to climb the ladder. Sammy recovers and fights with Cody and the two rivals are now dangling from the bar that’s got the two TNT Titles. Both Sammy and Cody take a spill to the ring and the action goes to the outside once again.
As Cody works on Sammy’s leg with the ladder, Fuego Del Sol runs down and yells at him. He gets a Tiger Driver for his troubles, with the announcers saying he deserved it(?) Sammy’s fired up and he takes out Cody with a springboard splash to the outside. GTH knocks Cody out cold as Sammy grabs another ladder from underneath the ring. Sammy sets Cody up across the bridged ladder.
Sammy positions a ladder next to the bridged ladder and climbs up. He’s perched on the very top and takes the leap with a senton onto Cody Rhodes… unbelievable! Sammy gets himself back in the ring and slowly crawls up the ladder, but Cody’s in hot pursuit. We get another fight, but Sammy eventually wins out by bonking Cody with one of the TNT Title belts… which leaves him wide open to grab both TNT Titles to get the victory.
Sammy Guevara def. Cody Rhodes (22:34)
(Sammy Guevara wins Unified TNT Championship)
An Actual Beach Break
On the scene at nearby Edgewater Beach, Schiavone interviews Team Taz’s Powerhouse Hobbs & Ricky Starks. Hobbs throws down the challenge to Dante Martin, while Starks says he’ll put up his FTW Title on the line against Jay Lethal in Chicago next week.
Match 2: Wardlow vs. Elijah Dean & James Alexander
The Story So Far
Not much to say, except we’re seeing Wardlow becoming increasingly more frustrated with MJF’s meddling with his career. Will we see the other shoe fall tonight?
Before the match starts, Wardlow tells Shawn Spears to stay back while he handles his business in the ring. Once the match actually gets going, it’s all academic as hometown hero Wardlow is able to defeat Dean and Alexander easily.
Shawn Spears tries to head to the ring to hit the defeated opponents, but he’s told off by Wardlow instead.
Match 3: The Inner Circle (Chris Jericho, Santana, & Ortiz) vs. 2point0 (Matt Lee & Jeff Parker) and Daniel Garcia
The Story So Far
It seems that the Inner Circle is not okay, especially after Eddie Kingston told Santana and Ortiz that they really haven’t accomplished anything under Chris Jericho’s leadership. Last week, during an interview, the duo known as Proud and Powerful had some harsh words for Jericho ahead of their trios tag match tonight, saying that they’d win their way.
As the Inner Circle makes their entrance, we see Santana and Ortiz brush off Chris Jericho and walk straight to the ring. Jericho and Matt Lee kick things off here, but Santana opts to tag himself in. Lee hits Santana from behind before tagging in Jeff Parker. 2point0’s advantage does not last for long as Santana goes to work on Parker. Tag to Ortiz and we get a double team suplex from Proud and Powerful on Parker. 2point0 regains the advantage and Daniel Garcia enters the match. He and Ortiz mix it up for a bit until a clothesline takes out Garcia.
Santana and Ortiz once again show some nice teamwork, with the double flapjack on Garcia followed by a double dropkick. Jericho tags himself in before Santana could tag in Ortiz, who gets himself back in and gets in Jericho’s face. The heels seize the opportunity and take over as Dynamite heads to picture-in-picture.
We’re back on Dynamite with Ortiz having to fight off the 2point0 duo by himself. Drop toehold senton by 2point0 is broken up by Santana. Ortiz endures the attack and goes through 2point0 and Daniel Garcia as Chris Jericho is desperate for the tag. Once again, Ortiz ignores Jericho and tags in Santana for the hot tag.
Fireman’s carry facebuster by Santana on Dan Garcia and we have Proud and Powerful going to town on the 2point0 trio as Jericho looks on at the outside. 2point0 regain momentum and look to have Santana caught for Two for the Show, but Jericho pulls Parker out of the ring and hits Lee with a Judas Effect behind the referee’s back! Santana finishes things off with the piledriver to pick up the win.
The Inner Circle def. 2point0 & Daniel Garcia via pinfall – Piledriver by Santana on Matt Lee (8:52)
Jericho makes his way to the back alone, while yelling at Proud & Powerful from the stage area.
A video package for AEW World Champion “Hangman” Adam Page vs. Lance Archer airs, where Archer – alongside Jake Roberts & Dan Lambert – says he’s going to face Hangman in a Texas Death Match. When the interviewer tells Page of the stipulations that Archer has put forward, he responds with a “what?” before saying that he’ll bring hell with him when the time comes to fight Archer in two weeks.
Match Made for Rampage
Schiavone stands backstage with the Jurassic Crew and Private Party as the two teams have a verbal faceoff. Matt Hardy says that Private Party will be challenging Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus on Rampage this Friday. Jungle Boy disses Isaiah Kassidy’s watch as “fake” before accepting the challenge for the Tag Titles.
CM Punk makes his entrance to a great reaction from the Cleveland crowd. He’s dressed in his wrestling gear and he looks like he’s ready for a fight.
“I try to walk out here like a badass, and you just gave me a smile from ear to ear,” starts off Punk. He says that he’s sick of hearing himself talk and he wants to fight tonight on Dynamite. We know who he wants to fight as he shows off his “souvenir”: MJF’s Burberry scarf. “It does not look good on me, it does not look good on anybody.” Punk trashes the quality of the scarf, citing that it’s not made of “strong material” due to it being made in Long Island. Long story short, he wants to fight MJF tonight.
Cue the weird detective-sounding music of MJF, who enters to the usual jeers from the fans. “Cut his crappy music!” says Punk.
Max asks the fans if they want to see him fight CM Punk… but he says that it’s not going to happen, because he’s not going to waste one of the most historic matchups ever on a “cesspool” like Cleveland, Ohio. Instead, he’ll do us one better, we’ll see the matchup we’ve been waiting for next week in Chicago: CM Punk vs. MJF.
MJF says that once wins next week, the people will see the “real” CM Punk. The one who loses his smile when things don’t go his way, the one who’s willing to sue, and the one who will soon say on February 2nd, 2021, “I’m leaving wrestling again.” He takes a dig at LeBron James while he’s at it, as he talks about a scheduled appearance CM Punk was supposed to make in Cleveland in 2014… but he no-showed.
“All those chants won’t stop him from turning his back on you again, and crying about it on a podcast.”
Punk says that the best thing that he ever did was leave and come back. He talks about how he’s always taken matters into his own hands and that he’s never lied to us. “Some of them love me, some of them hate me. That’s what life is. But I’d rather be me and I rather try and fail than be you and talk a big game and never show up.”
He says that the people don’t love him because he wins or hate him because he loses, it’s because he keeps getting back up and trying. MJF says that they’ll test that theory real quick as FTR and Wardlow join him on the ramp. Shawn Spears attacks Punk from behind as FTR quickly swarm in and The Damn Numbers Game allows the bad guys to get the advantage.
Chair shot to Punk’s back by Spears as FTR hold him down. MJF enters the ring and taunts Punk as he orders Wardlow to powerbomb him. Wardlow shows some hesitation, but does it anyway, powerbombing Punk onto the steel chair.
MJF sits cross-legged on Punk and he just talks some more shit to his opponent.
Oskar Kokoshka-looking Ass
We get remarks from The Acclaimed ahead of Anthony Bowens’ match with Jon Moxley on Rampage this Friday. They talk about how they didn’t forget about Mox beating them up months ago and that Bowens will beat Mox’s “Oskar Kokoshka-looking ass” on Rampage (shouts out for the Hey Arnold reference).
Hart & Soul
The Varsity Blonds’ Griff Garrison & Julia Hart are being interviewed, when they’re interrupted by “Smart” Mark Sterling. Jade Cargill’s manager says that the TBS Champion has chosen Julia as her next challenger for the coveted title this Friday on Rampage (which airs on TNT, mind you). Griff doesn’t want Julia to accept as she apparently needs time to heal from her injured eye, but Julia brushes him off and says she’ll fight Jade on Friday.
Match 4: Leyla Hirsch vs. Red Velvet
The Story So Far
Leyla Hirsch has grown more resentful towards Kris Statlander, especially after her focus was less on the team with Leyla and more about the continuing Best Friends/Elite conflict. This would boil over last week on Dynamite, when Leyla snapped and attacked Statlander and Red Velvet during a backstage interview.
Red runs right to the ring and lays in on Leyla with some punches before taking advantage with some leg lariats.. Leyla manages to roll out of the ring before pulling Velvet and ramming her against the ring. The two fight at ringside as Velvet takes over. On the apron, Red hits a split-legged stunner across the middle rope on Leyla before locking in a triangle sleeper.
Hirsch powers out and lifts Velvet for a bucklebomb. Dropkick to a seated Red by Leyla sends us to the commercial break.
We return with Leyla in control as Red Velvet fights back with a middle rope springboard stunner to create some separation. Red follows that up with some back elbows and a drop toehold. Double knees to the back of Leyla rocks her world. Red goes for a casadora, but Leyla counters and hits the elbow to the back.
Red lands on her feet after a German Suplex attempt and gets the spear for a near-fall. Final Slice countered by Leyla, who turns that into a powerbomb and knee strike combination… 1… 2… NO! Cross armbreaker applied, but Red Velvet gets her foot on the rope to break it up. Hard boot to the side of Red’s head. Velvet gets the sunset flip, but that’s countered. Red’s kicking combo is countered and Leyla gets the 1-2-3 with a handful of tights.
“Legit” Leyla Hirsch def. Red Velvet via pinfall – Dirty Pin (8:08)
Leyla is far from done, even with the tainted victory. She applies the cross armbreaker on Red as referees try to break it up. Kris Statlander emerges from the back and chases off Leyla before tending to Red.
We get remarks from Malakai Black, who says that Brody King embodies conflict and violence, which the House of Black is built on. Brody himself says that PAC has defiled the House and he must be humbled and that he will look upon the teachings that the House has given him. Black says that like death, he and Brody are inevitable.
Fun With Cue Cards
Unified TNT Champ Sammy Guevara and Fuego Del Sol show up to do their cue card commercial break gimmick, where Sammy just says he’s proud to be the Unified TNT Champion, thanking everyone for supporting him through two years and over 100 episodes of Dynamite.
Fun With Cheap Heat
In the ring, there are Pro Wrestling Illustrated Awards and covers set up as Tony Schiavone introduces the AEW Women’s Champion, Dr. Britt Baker, DMD.
Britt brags about the various accolades that PWI has bestowed upon her, including “Match of the Year”, “Most Improved”, “Female Wrestler of the Year”, plus appearing on the cover of PWI twice. She takes a cheap heat dig on Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns for a bit, then saying that she won’t settle until she becomes the Female Wrestler of the Decade. “I will be the champion you deserve. You finally have a Baker you can count on,” Dr. Britt closes the segment.
Match 5: Lights Out – Orange Cassidy vs. Adam Cole
The Story So Far
This rivalry has been brewing over the past two months, with Cole becoming more exasperated at the mere existence of Orange Cassidy. Despite earning victories over Orange in singles, tag team, and mixed tag team action, Cole has now become determined to end his career to be rid of him for good, which led to this Lights Out match being booked for tonight.
Orange starts off by crushing his signature sunglasses to show that he’s serious about this match. He and Cole then brawl it out in the ring as this match is off to the races early. This fight eventually spills onto the ringside area as Cole is thrown to the ringside barricade by Orange. With hands in his pocket, Orange floors Cole with a shotgun dropkick. Cole regains the advantage by reversing an irish whip and throwing Orange into the barricade. He follows that up with a brutal suplex onto said barricade.
Cole looks underneath the ring to grab a chair but is having some difficulty. As Cole manages to pull a chair, he also pulls out… Danhausen? The Cleveland crowd cheers as the popular-on-social-media grappler has seemingly arrived in AEW. Danhausen does a taunt to Cole, who’s confused by all this. It opens him up to a tornado DDT by Orange Cassidy as Danhausen disappears. The fans chant for Danhausen while Orange looks on in confusion.
A superkick to Orange by Cole causing the chair to hit OC’s throat allows for the tide to turn. Orange is tossed into the ringpost as Cole sets him up for the Panama Sunrise. Orange reverses it into a slam through the timekeepers’ table! Cassidy targets Cole for the Orange Punch, but Cole uses the ring bell as a shield to cause damage to OC’s hand! He follows that up by crushing Orange’s hand between the ring and the steel steps! We head to our final commercial break with Cole bringing in some more weapons from under the ring – with no Danhausens to be found.
The action picks up with a tug-of-war in the ring with the chain. Cole wins out and hits a brainbuster for the near-fall. Cole sets up two seated chairs next to each other, hoping to slam Orange through them… but the Freshly-Squeezed One stuns him with a Stundog Millionaire! Michinoku Driver through the chairs leaves Adam Cole reeling. 1… 2… NO!
Superkick by Cole causes Orange to roll out of the ring. Cole motions to the ramp as Brandon Cutler shows up and is immediately taken out by Wheeler YUTA. Bobby Fish appears to beat down YUTA as Chuck Taylor throws him into the barricade! The Young Bucks superkick Chuck as they join Cole in the ring. They’ve got Orange dead to rights for a triple superkick… but Rocky Romero and Trent Beretta pull the Bucks out and start brawling with them!
In the chaos, Cassidy catches Cole with the eponymous Beach Break that gives this event its title… 1, 2, KICKOUT! Orange Punch connects, but he landed it with his injured hand! Cole with the Golota Special, but Orange Cassidy isn’t fazed by it! Cole’s left hurt by the attempted low blow, and that’s because Orange is wearing a steel-plated cup with thumbtacks!
Here come the slow kicks by Orange as he ascends to the middle rope… Panama Sunrise! Orange Cassidy hits Adam Cole’s own move against him! 1… 2… Cole kicks out! Orange wraps his bruised hand with the steel chain, hoping to finish this off with an Orange Punch… but Cole rolls out of the ring instead before heading up the ramp.
Orange follows suit and this fight has headed to the Gorilla Position with Tony Khan and Jerry Lynn looking on. Cole grabs Jerry and uses him as a shield to allow him to hit Orange with a slam through a nearby table! 1, 2, NO!
The fight spills back to the stage area as Orange is felled by an Adam Cole superkick. With his foe in position, Cole sets up Orange for the Boom knee, but he’s taken out with a superkick. Orange wraps his hand with the chain and charges forward for the Orange Punch, but Cole crushes him with a stage light! Cole drags OC near the entryway as he heads to the top of the entrance truss. He’s looking to hit a super Panama Sunrise, but Orange is nowhere to be found!
Orange Cassidy sneaks up behind Cole and hits him with a low blow! He motions and gives Cole a hug and looks down to the staging area before sending himself and Cole through it! Bryce Remsburg makes the count and it seems Orange Cassidy has won this Lights Out Match!
Orange Cassidy def. Adam Cole via pinfall – Stage Dive (17:01)
As we see highlights of the violent action that just unfolded, the show goes off the air with Rocky Romero and Chuck Taylor helping Orange up as he gives his low-effort thumbs up.
This Friday on Rampage: Beach Break (1/28/22)
- AEW Tag Team Championships: Jurassic Express (c) (Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus) vs. Private Party (Isaiah Kassidy & Marq Quen)
- Jon Moxley vs. Anthony Bowens
- Brock Anderson & Lee Johnson vs. FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler)
- TBS Championship: Jade Cargill (c) vs. Julia Hart
Next Week on Dynamite (2/2/22)
- CM Punk vs. MJF
- PAC & Penta El Zero Miedo vs. Kings of the Black Throne (Malakai Black & Brody King)
The TNT Title ladder match was a hot opener where both Cody and Sammy excelled in an environment that meant lots and lots of great spots. Of note was the incredible springboard cutter spot across two ladders, which will certainly be a heavily-replayed spot in future highlight packages.
Cody not winning the match was a legitimate surprise, but does add more intrigue to his current character arc that may or may not be a heel turn. Will this be the onus for Cody to finally stop dancing around it and fully reject the fans for good?
While the Lights Out main event was not a bloody affair like previous bouts, it was still an entertaining way to end the show. Adam Cole and Orange Cassidy’s main event match was more comedic in tone than the other Lights Out matches in AEW history, but that didn’t lessen the intensity and stakes of the match.
There’s been much talk about how losing the match killed Adam Cole’s credibility as a top contender, but that couldn’t be any more further than the truth. He managed to kick out of all of Orange Cassidy’s signature moves and only lost due to a karmic low-blow and being thrown off the stage. Plus, the Lights Out stipulation means that Cole’s actual win/loss record is untouched.
Danhausen’s much-talked about cameo during the match was a brilliant way to introduce him into the AEW canon, so to speak and now that he’s here, some very nice and very evil shenanigans are sure to come soon. The Ass Boys, in particular, might want to watch out.
As a segment designed to hype the much-awaited CM Punk vs. MJF encounter in Chicago next week, their promo battle this week was well done. MJF invoking a past incident of Punk no-showing a live event in Cleveland due to leaving WWE made for some good heel heat to make the feud even more personal. Punk’s response where he stated that he was true to himself and would never lie to the fans was a fantastic babyface response to MJF’s heel remarks.
The segment ending with MJF getting the upper hand presumably means that he’s going to be eating the loss in Chicago next week, as it falls in line with AEW’s hometown booking where hometown heroes usually go over.
Meanwhile, the continuing hints of Wardlow finally turning against MJF and the Pinnacle were in full gear this week, with him showing reluctance for following MJF’s directive of powerbombing an already-beaten down Punk. It seemed like Beach Break in front of the War Dog’s hometown would be the night we see him turn face, but alas, it wasn’t yet the moment. I suspect, however, that the moment will be coming sooner rather than later with how much AEW has been hinting it.
Dr. Britt’s town hall segment was probably the only big down point of this otherwise-great episode. What could’ve been used to elevate Britt’s next challenger ahead of Revolution or even continue the simmering tension between Britt and Jamie Hayter ended up just being a cheap heat segment with no payoff.
Marc Quill is the editor of RingCrashers, GateCrashers’ home for all your All Elite Wrestling and indie wrestling needs. He’s also the web novelist behind Skye Emery: Bluebird, which you can read here. You can chat with him about wrestling, comics, and stuff in general on @MarcQuill on Twitter.