ALL ELITE WRESTLING DYNAMITE PREVIEW 2/16: Punk Decision, Jericho & Hager vs. Santana & Ortiz, Rosa vs. Martinez w/no DQ, Wardlow vs. Caster in Revolution Qualifier, Danielson vs. Moriarty, Sammy vs. Darby for TNT Championship

BY FRANK PETEANI, PWTORCH.COM CONTRIBUTOR

Darby Allin (photo credit Joel Dehnel © PWTorch)

SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

ALL ELITE WRESTLING DYNAMITE PRIMER
FEBRUARY 16, 2022
NASHVILLE, TN. AT THE NASHVILLE MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM
AIRS ON TBS NETWORK, 8:00 p.m. EST, 7:00 p.m. CST
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH.COM CONTRIBUTOR

Announcers: Excalibur, Tony Schiavone, Jim Ross

Match Results and Key Segments from Last Week

  • Wardlow defeated The Blade.
  • “Switchblade” Jay White from the Bullet Club of New Japan Pro Wrestling made his first AEW appearance by attacking Trent Barretta in a backstage segment.
  • Keith Lee, making his AEW debut, defeated Isiah Kassidy of Private Party to qualify for the Face of the Revolution ladder match.
  • CM Punk and Jon Moxley defeated AAA Tag Team Champions FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood) in a non-title match.
  • Jade Cargill defeated AQA to retain the TBS Championship.
  • Serena Deeb defeated Katie Arquette.
  • “Hangman” Adam Page defeated Lance Archer in a Texas Death Match to retain the AEW World Championship.

Arena & Big AEW News

AEW checks into the Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, TN. for this week’s edition of Dynamite and taping of Rampage. The arena opened in 1962 and has wrestling history going back to 1989 with WCW WrestleWar. Sting was on that card defeating The Iron Sheik to retain the NWA World Television Championship. WWE and TNA also held events in this venue through the years, as well as AEW with the seventh edition of Dynamite.

Five matches were announced for tonight as well as a talking segment:

The big news is what broke Tuesday morning regarding Cody & Brandi Rhodes no longer being with AEW. I’m sure most have seen these tweets but here’s AEW confirming it as well as Cody and Brandi tweeting:

For this topic amongst other things on the VIP side of the Torch check out Radican Worldwide with Sean Radican and Zack Heydorn, Wade Keller’s latest Focus on AEW, and the latest Everything with Rich Fann (and Wade). On the free side look for the latest All Elite Aftershow on the Dailycast with Mike McMahon and Andrew Soucek and the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast Flagship edition with Wade and Jason Powell. Part Two of the Flagship is on the VIP side. If there’s EVER a time to go VIP for PWTorch, do it now!

Frank’s Analysis: I don’t think I’m going to say anything that hasn’t been said. I’ll just say I find this to be the biggest “departure” in my time watching wrestling. I say that because I think we all considered Cody a foundational piece of AEW and someone that would live and die with the company. The closest comparison I can make is when Ric Flair left WCW for WWF in 1991. Now Flair didn’t necessarily help “build” WCW or Jim Crockett Promotions the way Cody did for AEW, but you could say he was a pillar of the promotion. When Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage and all the others left WWF for WCW in the mid-90s, they were all done with WWF. Maybe when X-Pac left WCW for WWF in 1998 it was a big deal, because he was the first to come back to WWF when everyone was leaving for WCW (unless you count Jeff Jarrett in 1997 … I don’t know). Anyway, I’m not breaking any news when I say it will be interesting to see Cody fold back into the WWE mix if and when he shows up.

CM Decides Time, Place, and Stipulation

Since CM Punk and Jon Moxley defeated FTR last week, he earned the right to face MJF again. Two weeks ago, MJF defeated Punk in his hometown of Chicago, Ill. when he hit Punk with the Dynamite Diamond Ring. He thought he defeated him earlier in the match but was using tape to choke him out and the referee caught the tape. Last week during the opening segment, MJF said he had no interest in facing Punk again. After Punk brought out Sting and Darby Allin, MJF agreed that if Punk can beat FTR with a partner of his choosing, he would face him again, but the partners couldn’t be Sting or Darby. Later, we found out it was Jon Moxley.

AEW announced that Punk will choose the time, place, and rules for their match:

Frank’s Analysis: So, it must be at Revolution, yes? I Quit, submission, or steel cage match are my three guesses.

Chris Jericho & Jake Hager vs. Santana & Ortiz

Things will come to a head tonight between the Inner Circle tonight when leader Chris Jericho teams with Jake Hager to take on fellow members Santana & Ortiz.

Issues have been brewing in the Inner Circle ever since Eddie Kingston pointed out that he thinks his longtime friends Santana & Ortiz were not tag team champions because of their association with Jericho. During a six-man tag in which they came out on the winning end, Santana & Ortiz refused to tag in Jericho which he found disrespectful. Last week during the mandatory meeting, a meeting for which Santana & Ortiz were late, Santana said for all intents and purposes they put their tag team championship pursuit to have Jericho’s back. Jericho said it was he himself that was relevant and not Eddie Kingston, and they had a chance to beat the Young Bucks for the titles last year but cane up short, and that had nothing to do with him. Things really got heated when Jericho asked Jake Hager if he Homicide & Hernandez’s number, the original members of LAX (Santana & Ortiz were LAX in TNA/Impact Wrestling).

A lot more was said, and TNT Champion Sammy Guevara walked out at one point in frustration. In the end, Santana & Ortiz said where they come from, they settle things with fists rather than talking. Ortiz challenged Jericho & Hager to a tag match to “settle this shit once and for all.” Here’s Jericho talking about the Inner Circle, and a tweet directed at WWE’s Kevin Owens. This past week marked the five-year anniversary of the “Festival of Friendship” where Owens infamously betrayed Jericho:

Hager’s last in-ring action came at Full Gear in November when the entire Inner Circle defeated Dan Lambert, Men of the Year, and members of American Top Team in a Minneapolis Street Fight.

Frank’s Analysis: The Owens thing is interesting because it opens the door for this Inner Circle “breakup” or whatever it is to lead to Jericho leaving the company and going back to WWE. You can always use top guys, but I feel like Jericho is a non-entity in AEW at this point. WWE can desperately use him right now since their model relies on legacy stars for major events. As far as what happens tonight, I think it leads to the breakup of the Inner Circle or at least a restructuring. We’ve seen factions do so through the years (Four Horsemen are a perfect example), and there’s nothing stopping them from adding/subtracting members and putting it under new leadership.

No Disqualification: Thunder Rosa vs. Mercedes Martinez

Tonight, we go another round with Thunder Rosa and Mercedes Martinez however this time the match will have no disqualification. Rosa defeated Martinez on the February 4 showing of Rampage via DQ when Martinez hit Rosa with a metal pipe. It’s a rare DQ finish in AEW as typically matches are ended via pinfall or submission.

Things are complicated since AEW Women’s Champion Dr. Britt Baker is involved. She has admitted to bringing in Martinez to take out Rosa, who hasn’t forgotten about losing to Baker in a Lights Out match last year during the St. Patrick’s Day episode of Dynamite. She wants the AEW title. Jamie Hayter, Baker’s associate, has expressed frustration that Baker didn’t turn to her to help get rid of Rosa.

I’ve documented in these reports that Rosa and Martinez’s feud goes back a few years to matches in other promotions.

Frank’s Analysis: It’s nice when the DQ finish is not used as often because it makes when it is used stand out. You’re curious and interested in his match to see how it will go without the “crutch” of a DQ. My guess is Rosa goes over here and they build towards her challenging Baker for the women’s title, which feels like the match at Revolution.

Face of the Revolution Ladder Match Qualifier: Wardlow vs. Max Caster of The Acclaimed

We’ll continue to fill up the Face of the Revolution ladder match, which takes place at AEW Revolution, in which the winner will earn a shot at the TNT Championship.

Last week, “Limitless” Keith Lee made his AEW debut and defeated Isiah Kassidy of Private Party to earn the first spot in the match. Tonight, Wardlow of the Pinnacle (they’re still a thing, right?) takes on Max Caster of The Acclaimed to earn the next. This Friday on Rampage, Team Taz’s Powerhouse Hobbs takes on Dante Martin. Three more spots will remain open following these matches.

Many weeks ago in a backstage, MJF said that Wardlow would win this match, but grant the TNT Championship opportunity (sorry Wade, I know I used WWE speak) to MJF since it’s in their contract. “Smart” Mark Sterling walked in and verified as such. Wardlow has been heavily involved in the feud between MJF and CM Punk, who earned a rematch against MJF last week. Punk defeated Wardlow several weeks ago despite a “symphony of powerbombs.”

Caster has won singles matches mostly on Dark and Dark Elevation tapings.

Frank’s Analysis: Yeah, there’s pretty much zero chance Caster wins this match, but that’s fine. He’ll obviously bump around for Wardlow. I know everyone still anticipates he will turn on MJF, but are they passed the point where people will care? I suppose if it’s done well, it will be fine, but they shouldn’t drag it out much longer.

Bryan Danielson vs. Lee Moriarty

This past Friday on Rampage, Tony Schiavone was backstage with Bryan Danielson. They talked about Jon Moxley teaming with CM Punk and not furthering their discussion they had a week and a half ago on Dynamite about joining forces. Danielson said it was cool as he was interested in a long-term relationship with Moxley. In walked Matt Sydal and Lee Moriarty, and Sydal took issue with Danielson saying Moriarty should leave his side. Moriarity got in Danielson’s face and said he was ready to show some violence, which he liked to see and challenged him to a match on Dynamite.

Moriarty won a match on a recent Dark taping. He doesn’t have a win on Dynamite or Rampage. He is no stranger to wrestling “veterans” having taken on CM Punk many weeks ago:

We haven’t Danielson in the ring since losing to “Hangman” Adam Page in an AEW World Championship match on the launch episode for TBS on January 5.

Frank’s Analysis: Obviously Danielson goes over here, but we get treated to what should be a great match. I like how they didn’t address the conversation between Danielson and Moxley on Dynamite but alluded to it on Rampage. With the Inner Circle potentially being a thing of the past (if they don’t restructure it like I suggested), and the Pinnacle basically being non-existent, I like a potential stable with Danielson. Whether Moxley is part of that remains to be seen, but I don’t know how it’s going to play out and I like that.

TNT Championship: Sammy Guevara (champ) vs. Darby Allin

Darby Allin has a shot to regain the TNT Championship when he challenges Sammy Guevara.

Sammy is in his second run with the title since defeating Dustin Rhodes at Battle of the Belts for the Interim TNT Championship. This after losing the title proper to Cody Rhodes on the Christmas edition of Rampage. He was to challenge Cody at Battle of the Belts, but Cody was not medically cleared.

(I’m sorry, I don’t buy that story, but I don’t know what I believe especially now that Cody is gone from AEW. I also don’t fully buy that but, who knows. These past few months with Cody have just been weird. We’ll see.)

On the February 4 edition of Rampage, Andrade (w/Jose) and Matt Hardy (AHFO) came to confront Sammy after his retention of the title over Isiah Kassidy of Private Party. Darby came out to back up Sammy, but they had a stare down after AHFO left the ring. Andrade has been actively trying to recruit Darby to join the AHFO. He says they have something in common because Darby was TNT Champion, and he himself is the next champion.

Frank’s Analysis: Does Darby win the title and Andrade is the next challenger at Revolution? I don’t see taking the title off Sammy after he lost the title and won it back within a month. I could see Andrade intervening tonight and perhaps there’s rematch at Revolution, where if Darby loses, he had to join AHFO? I’m just throwing a scenario out there. I’m not saying that’s what they’re doing, but Andrade is a big key in this whole thing. I could also see Andrade screwing Darby and getting the title match himself at Revolution. I’m down with an Andrade TNT Championship run. I’m not attached to Sammy.

Summary

It’s certainly a loaded episode, and you can’t help but think it will have a different feel now that Cody and Brandi have left the company. To be honest, I think everyone is better off. Wade talked about Tony assuming the booking duties a long time ago after having a collaboration setup when the company started. Listen, it’s nice to have ideas from others. I think it helps. Sometimes people can help you see things or not seeing or point out a bad idea you may not realize is bad. The problem is the buck must stop somewhere. When you rely on collaboration you don’t know who’s in charge, this one has this idea but this one doesn’t like it, the wrestlers are confused because they don’t know who has the final say. You can have a collection of ideas, but someone must be in charge. You hope the one in charge knows what they’re doing, but that’s another conversation.

Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Thank you for reading!

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