SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S AEW DYNAMITE REPORT
FEBRUARY 23, 2022
AIRED LIVE ON TBS
Commentators: Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, Excalibur
Ring Announcer: Justin Roberts
-They went right to the arena as pyro blasted and Jim Ross introduced the show.
(1) TAG TEAM BATTLE ROYAL
A bunch of teams were already standing at ringside. Then Jurassic Express made their ring entrance and watched from ringside. The bell rang and the fight was on, with wrestlers fighting in the ring and several still at ringside. Blade threw Chuck Taylor into the ringside steps in one of the more clumsy-looking bumps you’ll see on national TV this year. Taylor kinda stopped and then leaped onto the steps. After Blade eliminated Alex Reynolds, he flexed his arms. John Silver threw him out of the ring next to eliminate him. Austin and Colton Gunn then attacked Silver as he struck the same pose that Taylor did. Fans chanted “asshole!” at the Gunns. Ortiz tossed out Austin Gunn. Santana then eliminated a distraught Colton. Billy Gunn chewed out his sons for what Tony Schiavone described as “rookie mistakes. (I’d call it “dumbass mistakes.”) Butcher tossed Trent onto the ring apron. Chuck hugged Trent. Chuck then ducked when he heard Butcher charging them from behind. Kyle O’Reilly eliminated Taylor. Matt Hardy saved Isiah Kassidy by catching him, but Silver eliminated him with a roundkick to the head seconds later.
It came down to FTR, 2point0, Santana & Ortiz, O’Reilly & Fish, The Young Bucks, and John Silver. They battled for a while. FTR pressed O’Reilly over their heads. Nick Jackson saved O’Reilly, so FTR then tossed him over the top to eliminate him. Orange Cassidy put Trent on his shoulders to save him. Ross noted, “The fans like it.” A “Freshly Squeezed” chant broke out. Trent eliminated Fish. They cut to a split-screen break. [c/ss]
After the break, Cash was battling Silver, Trent was battling O’Reilly, and Santana was battling Matt. Silver head-scissored Cash over the top rope to eliminate him. The crowd stood and cheered when Santana and Beretta squared off mid-ring. The announcers talked about their past battles. Santana gave Trent a boot to the head, sending him to the ring apron. They battled on the ring apron. Matt and O’Reilly charged and knocked them both to the floor. It was down to Dax, Silver, Matt, and O’Reilly. Fans chanted “Johnny Hungee.” O’Reilly and Dax battled on the ring apron. Dax stomped away on O’Reilly. Fish knocked Dax off the ring apron to eliminate him. It was Matt Jackson, O’Reilly, and Silver as the final three. Silver reversed a dual suplex attempt and got a pop. Silver rallied and played to the crowd. Matt superkicked Silver as he had O’Reilly lifted. O’Reilly indicated his left shoulder was injured, so he signaled for Matt to toss out Silver. Matt eliminated Silver, but then O’Reilly struck quickly by tossing Matt out to win.
WINNER: O’Reilly in 18:00 to earn his team a place in the Triple Threat match for the AEW Tag Team Titles at Revolution.
(Keller’s Analysis: To call that battle royal “choreographed” would be an insult to choreography. It was clunky and sloppy much of the way especially in the first half, but really throughout to some degree.)
-Fish & O’Reilly argued with the Jacksons after the match. “Hangman” Adam Page marched out to his music, AEW Title belt in hand. He went after Fish and O’Reilly. The Jacksons just stood and watched. Excalibur said they looked torn. Everyone but Hangman left the ring. Adam Cole ran out and went for a superkick, but Hangman caught his boot. Hangman punched away at Cole and then set up a Buckshot Lariat. Fish & O’Reilly pulled Cole to safety by his boots. Fans booed. Silver leaped onto Fish and O’Reilly at ringside. Hangman then gave O’Reilly the Buckshot Lariat. Fans chanted “Cowboy Shit!”
Hangman asked, “Who’s ready for storytime with Hangman Page, baby?” He said their tale starts in 2008 with a young, overconfident, smug little prick named Adam Cole entering pro wrestling. “And he became world champion everywhere he went,” he said. Fish shouted that’d soon be the case in AEW, too. Hangman said he is now coming after the AEW World Title. He said Cole kept his eyes on that prize, never realizing he was coming closer and closer to a six foot hole in the ground. Fish yelled, “Who are you kiddin’?” Hangman said Cole took one step too close to the grave “and the better Adam laid him down in it.” He said the world listened to the sound of his body hitting the dirt from a Buckshot, “and that sound was boom.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Good post-match angle to build the PPV main event, and an especially good promo from Hangman. Not his best-ever or anything, but it was good and more of that would be good from him.)
-Tony Schiavone interviewed Bryan Danielson backstage about facing Daniel Garcia. Danielson said he had the benefit of learning from William Regal, whereas Garcia is learning from 2point0. He said imagine how good Garcia could be under his tutelage. He then said tonight after his match, he’s going to answer Jon Moxley’s proposal that they bleed together before they fight side-by-side. [c]
-MJF came out to his music. He said he knows they like C.M. Punk and he isn’t the easiest person to like, but he wanted a chance to speak. He seemed conciliatory. He said that photo Punk showed last week meant a lot to him. He was teared up and said people think he grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth, but that photo reminded him he had tough times in his life and he lived for and loved pro wrestling when he was a kid and it gave him a reason to get up in the morning. His voice cracked. He shouted that he loves pro wrestling and AEW.
He said when he was 11, he had a litany of learning disabilities, including severe ADD. He said every day in school for him was hell. He said the one thing he was good at was football. He said he was one of only two Jewish kids who tried out. “We have Jews in the house?” he asked. He said for once, he thought he fit in. But the next day at school, he saw his teammates walking up to him. He said he was excited because he might actually make friends for the first time in his life. He said they looked angry and they were holding rolls of quarters. He said they whipped those quarters at him and yelled, “Pick it up, Jew boy, pick it up.” Fans cheered at first, but then stopped. He said he cried and cried, but then he realized it was Friday and he’d get to meet his hero at an autograph signing later. He said he looked up to him and believed he was the Best in the World. He said that day meant everything to him, and he made a promise to himself that he’d be like his hero. He said he vowed to become the Best in the World himself.
He said fast-forward to December 2013, he had scholarship offers coming at him, but he wanted to be a pro wrestler. He said he was studying tape and watching matches until his eyes bled. He said he was practicing promos in the mirror until his voice got hoarse because he wanted to be just like Punk. Scattered boos in the crowd, but mostly people were listening, wondering what he was up to and maybe even relating to what he was saying. He said when Punk walked out and left pro wrestling, he lost faith and he went to college “like a good Jew boy.” He said he buried his dream deep down until he saw the Wrestling Classic account on Instagram, which showed a picture of Punk shaking hands with Bryan Danielson. He said it was the guy who left and who disappointed him and left him when he needed him the most, and he vowed at that moment to become the Best in the World to spite Punk. He promised he would not leave his fans disappointed like Punk did to him. He said at Revolution, Punk can make him bleed with the chain, but he will not quit, and if he does, he’d be no better than him. “We all know that’s not the case,” he said. “Because my name is Maxwell Jacob Friedman and I’m better than you and you know it.”
Punk marched to the ring as fans chanted his name. Schiavone talked about how he had two kids with ADD “and it’s no joke, I get it.” Punk stood on the ring apron and stared at MJF as if he was trying to process everything he said. Punk approached him and asked if that was the truth. “Is that real?” he said. MJF looked at Punk, tears on his cheek, and said it was true. He then left the ring. Schiavone said he actually feels for MJF and he can’t believe it.
(Keller’s Analysis: So, the correct policy is to never, ever believe MJF and to never, ever believe a heel who suddenly tells a sob story to gain sympathy. Another rule is not to book babyfaces to believe the heel when everyone watching knows it’s a ploy and thus the babyface is being a sucker. That said, MJF’s performance was so damn strong, his story so relatable, that I don’t think people are faulting Punk for considering the possibility that MJF was sincere. It just indicates that Punk’s too good of a guy, willing to give MJF the benefit of the doubt. This also seemed like a glimpse into the unlikely top-level babyface promos that MJF can deliver some day – way down the line after years of being a great heel.) [c]
-Schiavone interviewed 2point0 and Garcia backstage. 2point0 yelled about what Danielson said earlier, offended he said they aren’t good mentors for Garcia. Garcia was more measured and calm. He said he doesn’t need a lesson in violence. He said he was born into that and motivated by that and he’ll be the one teaching Danielson a lesson.
(2) PAC & PENTA EL ZERO MIEDO (w/Alex Abrahantes) vs. HOUSE OF BLACK (Aleister Black & Brody King)
Penta’s ring entrance focused on his “Dark Penta” persona. Abrahantes was also dressed up in black and wore a hood and mouthed the words of Penta’s entrance like Scarlett used to do with Karrion Kross. The bell rang 47 minutes into the hour. Penta leaped off the top rope onto Black and King at ringside. Pac landed a 450 splash for a near fall seconds into the match. With Black in control of Pac, they cut to a split-screen break at 2:00. [c/ss]
Back from the break, Brody called Penta into the ring. He entered. Pac leaped onto Penta’s shoulders. Brody chopped Pac’s chest and Pac took a scary looking flip bump onto his chest. Pac and Penta recovered at ringside. Brody dove through the ropes and tackled them both. Black then delivered double knees to Pac’s chest and then back suplexed him into a bridge for a two count. Black mistakenly kneed Brody, then leaned over to apologize. Seconds later, everyone was out in the ring after more moves. The ref counted to seven before Black stood. Pac kicked Brody who staggered but didn’t go down. Brody charged Pac in the corner, but Pac moved. Black blind-tagged in. Pac and Penta stereo superkicked Brody, but Black entered. Penta blocked Black’s attempt to spray mist at him. Penta rolled up Black for a leverage pin.
WINNERS: Penta & Pac in 9:00.
-After the match, Brody beat up Penta and Pac as Black writhed in pain from “swallowing the black mist” when Penta blocked it. Black drank water to cleanse his mouth. He grabbed the shovel that Alex brought to the ring. He held it over Penta’s throat. When he wound him to murder him, the lights went dark. Buddy Matthews was standing in the ring when the lights came back on. (Matthews is the former Buddy Murphy.) Ross said he’s awesome. Fans chanted “Buddy!” Excalibur said he and Black have so much history together. Fans chanted “Holy shit!” Excalibur said a ghost from Black’s past has come to haunt him, but instead he turned and attacked Pac and Penta. Black sat in the ring and laughed. Brody knocked over a parade of hapless security guys. “Can anybody explain this?” asked Ross. Murphy and Black stared at each other. Black looked like he was trying to get a read on Matthews. Brody threw a chair into the ring. Black put a chair on the mat, then whispered something to Matthews. Matthews them drove Penta’s face into the chair. Schiavone said he was thinking about it before he did it. The lights then went out and more music played. When the lights came back on, Pac and Penta were left in the ring.
(Keller’s Analysis: So the angle didn’t make a ton of sense. Shouldn’t Malakai be upset with Matthews for stopping him as he was about to murder Penta with the shovel, right? If Matthews was part of House of Black, his timing was counter-productive. Then why was Penta scurrying over at the end to check on Pac, when Penta had his head stomped into the chair seconds earlier, while Pac was merely kicked by Murphy two minutes earlier? The fans really liked Buddy, and it seems having him be part of House of Black is going against what fans were enthusiastic about – which was cheering him as an opposing force against House of Black. It might actually have gotten fans to finally boo Malakai. Instead, they’ve added another popular wrestler to a popular heel faction, which makes it tough to get the crowd reaction you’re looking for, as evidenced here with fans cheering big moves but not really getting behind Pac & Penta to win. Oh, and the lights out thing, as I said from the start of AEW, is a toy that needs to be taken away from Tony Khan and all his wrestlers. It’s just done too often and it makes zero sense considering everything that has to happen logistically for it to work.)
-The announcers hyped other matches on the show.
-A vignette aired on Britt Baker vs. Thunder Rosa for the AEW Women’s Title at Revolution. [c]
-Eddie Kingston made his ring entrance. Then Chris Jericho made his entrance. Fans sang Jericho’s song and he looked around smiled. Eddie asked, “Okay, are we done now? Are we done massaging his ego with that song.” He asked why there were security guys in the ring. Jericho said he arranged for it because he wants to talk like men, not common street thugs. Kingston asked if he’s calling him a street thug; he said Jericho doesn’t even know what that means. He said he has no idea why they’re doing this. He said he’s not a sports entertainer, and he’d rather just fight him. “This is a wrestling company, not a sports entertainment company,” he said. “My man, go down the block.” (Remember, they’re in Connecticut, where WWE is headquartered.) Fans chanted “Eddie! Eddie!”
Jericho said maybe he will give him a little sports entertainment since they’re just down the road from Stamford. Fans booed. Jericho said, “Except this sports entertainment will actually be entertaining.” Jericho said everyone was so excited when Eddie Kingston arrived and he asked, “Who the he hell is Eddie Kingston?” He said he keeps an eye on the indy scene, and he thought maybe everyone was talking about Eddie Edwards. He said then he saw him, and he looked like a jobber. He said then he saw his match against “what’s his name” and said he realized he was special and he had what it takes to get to the top. He said he told Kingston it wouldn’t be long before he became “a huge babyface” because the people are going to love him. Kingston asked, “What’s a babyface?”
Jericho said it was a great story seeing him finally sign a contract with AEW and make it to the big time at age 38. He said everyone was excited for him, except for him. He said he didn’t care about his sob story because he realized he was jealous of him. He said he knows he made it to the big time when he was 22, 16 years before Kingston. He said by the time he was 38, he had been a multiple-time world champion who headlined PPVs and made millions of dollars. He told Kingston he’s jealous because deep down inside, he doesn’t believe he can achieve what he has achieved or be at his level. “Am I right?” he asked.
Kingston asked if he wants a cookie. He said Jericho main evented all those places because he wasn’t there. He said he’s a different kind of cat. He’s not like the rest of the carnies that lie. He said he tells promoters to f-off and he’ll be himself until the day he dies. He said he doesn’t want to keep talking to him. He said he might do that to the young guys, but not him. He said he’d rather do things on his own. He said he wants to fight. He asked him to fight him at Revolution.
Jericho asked if he’s ever heard of achieve-a-phobia. Kingston said he hasn’t because he’s got a GED. Jericho said it means he’s afraid of success because if he made it to the top of the mountain, he’d fall off. He said he knows his family’s history. He said his first hero was his uncle, “and he was a failure.” Kingston dropped the mic and took a step toward Jericho. He said he believed in his father, but he was a failure too. He said deep down, he believes he is also a failure. He said he’s seen people like him who cannot win the big one. Jericho said in this company, he’s the big one. “Not Moxley, not Danielson, not Punk, not the heavyweight champion Hangman Page.” He accepted his challenge for May 6 and then quickly corrected himself and said March 6. Jericho said if he manages to beat him, he will look him in the eye and tell him he has his ultimate respect. “You dig?”
Kingston laughed and gave Jericho a warning. He told him don’t give him the Jericho who did the mimosa match. He said he wants the version of him that was the first AEW World Champion and bled buckets in Tennessee and got respect from Tenyru in WAR in Japan and who turned WCW upside down and the one your close friend Levesque hated. He said if that Jericho doesn’t show up, he’ll eat him alive. Jericho said he’ll give him that Jericho and so much more. He said Kingston is nothing more than a loser and he will always will be. “You can’t win the big one, ever,” he said.
(Keller’s Analysis: It seems like this is obviously a heel turn by Jericho, but I could see this being framed as Jericho doing what he had to do in order to bring out the best in Kingston. Both Jericho and Kingston were great there. I did enjoy Kingston asking what a babyface is. Jericho didn’t need to use that term. It just comes across as pandering to insider fans to score point these days rather than some indication of it being “more real” or “a shoot.” Jericho continues to look so much healthier and more fit than a month ago.)
-Matt Hardy talked with Andrade backstage. Hardy suggested they team together with Isiah Kassidy against Sting & Darby & Sammy Guevara “in the first ever Tornado Trios Match at Revolution.
(3) RICKY STARKS (w/Powerhouse Hobbs) vs. DARK ORDER’S 10 – Qualifier for the Face of the Revolution ladder match
Taz joined in on commentary to represent Starks, a member of Team Taz. When 10 came out, he was accompanied by various Dark Order members including Colt Cabana. Excalibur plugged an Upper Deck E-Pack card of Keith Lee. Starks took three tries to take 10 down, then he posed. Ross said it’s not a photo shoot. 10 then recovered and beat up Starks in the corner. Starks came back with a swinging DDT attempt, but 10 avoided him and then delay-drop suplexed Starks. They cut to a split-screen break. [c/ss]
Starks took over during the break. 10 caught a diving Starks and went for a full nelson. Starks escaped, but 10 clotheslined him. Then 10 locked on the full nelson. Starks yanked on 10’s mask and then speared 10 for a sudden win.
WINNER: Starks in 6:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s good to see Starks get some national cable TV time that isn’t him on headset at the announce desk. He’s one of the more underutilized wrestlers on AEW’s roster. As AEW is bringing in one outside wrestler after another from ROH, WWE, and otherwise, some of their longtime standout wrestlers have been collecting some dust on the sidelines. Starks is among the best in the company at the timeless old school style promo that sells him and his matches. This match wasn’t anything special, but it’s a small reminder of what Starks could mean to AEW if they got behind him and pushed him more consistently. He could easily be in the discussion of being one of AEW pillars at this point.)
-Brandon Cutler was filming Cole, O’Reilly, and Fish celebrating. The Bucks walked in and accused O’Reilly of a double-cross. O’Reilly said he blacked out. Matt said they have a chance next week, and they’re even more motivated now so they can kick their asses at the PPV. Fish said, “Glad we could motivate you.” Cole yelled at Fish and O’Reilly to get along with the Bucks. He said he has a lot on his mind and they’re all a team.
(4) JADE CARGILL (w/”Smart” Mark Sterling) vs. THE BUNNY – TBS Title match
Jade Cargill made her ring entrance, along with “Smart” Mark Sterling. Ross said she’s 27-0. They showed Jade’s daughter watching at ringside. Bunny was already in the ring (never a good sign). Cargill overpowered Bunny and kept her down with some mat work. Bunny escaped from a hammer lock and snapped Cargill’s neck backward over the top rope. Bunny then gave Cargill a Russian leg sweep into the ringside barricade. They cut to a split-screen break at 2:00. [c/ss]
Matt Hardy walked to ringside during the break and confronted Sterling. Sterling backed away as Hardy did “Delete!” gestures. In the ring, Bunny dropkicked Jade into the corner and scored a two count. Then she stomped away at her. Jade caught Bunny mid-air and overhead tossed her and then kipped up. Cargill lifted Bunny, but Bunny slipped free. Cargill came back with a pump kick attempt, but Bunny ducked and then shoved Cargill into the corner. Bunny kicked away at Cargill in the corner and then hit a sliding elbow to the side of her face. She smiled into the ringside camera before scoring a two count.
Back from the break, Cargill landed a flying back elbow. Schiavone said this is the biggest challenge she’s had yet. Ross said perhaps her opponents are discovering her weaknesses. Cargill came back with a spinebuster. Hardy slid brass knuckles to Bunny and then stood on the ring apron and distracted the referee. Sterling slid the TBS Title belt to Cargill. Cargill used the belt to block Bunny swinging with the knux. The ref ordered Hardy and Sterling to return to the back. Bunny rolled up a distracted Cargill with a yank of the tights for a two count. Bunny caught a charging Cargill with a kick. She then set up her finisher, but Cargill countered with The Jaded for the win.
WINNER: Cargill in 7:00 to retain the TBS Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: I didn’t expect that. It was way longer and more competitive than I anticipated it’d be, but it also wasn’t half bad in terms of execution. Bunny and Jade both overperformed their typical match in different ways. Jade seemed a lot less green and unsure of herself, and Bunny just looked like she was fighting to win a match rather than perform for the cameras. The Hardy stuff was weird and there wasn’t anyone here to cheer for.)
-After the match, Schiavone attempted to interview Cargill. She yanked the mic away and said, “Cut the shit, Tony.” Ross chuckled. She said she is 28-0 and soon to be 50-0. She asked who is next. “Or better yet, who’s left?” Out came Tay Conti. She said she’s the one who’s going to beat her ass. Conti ran into the ring and got in Cargill’s face. Cargill smiled and kissed Cargill on the forehead. Bunny charged into the ring and attacked Conti. Conti gave Bunny a Tay KO. Cargill then gave Conti a pump kick. Cargill grabbed her belt and her music played. Anna Jay ran out with a chair to protect Conti.
-Alex Marvez interviewed Keith Lee backstage. Lee listed Hobbs and Wardlow as others who have qualified for the ladder match. He said he’s actually familiar with Starks, unlike the others. Starks and Hobbs walked up to him and said he’s new, so he’s going to let him know the rules. He said Team Taz has been running things and they don’t care where he came from. He said he better mind his Ps and Qs and start all over. He told him to stay in the lane where he belongs. Hobbs then stepped up to Lee for a fun moment. Starks stepped between them and told him to take his time, because they’re going to be around.
-Excalibur hyped the Rampage line-up: Anthony Bowens vs. Orange Cassidy, Serena Deeb’s latest five minute challenge, Sammy Guevara vs. Andrade for the TNT Title, and a Baker-Rosa contract signing. He also hyped next week’s Dynamite: The Casino Battle Royale, Cole & O’Reilly & Fish vs. Silver & Reynolds & Hangman. Then he hyped the Revolution line-up so far.
-Ross hyped Danielson vs. Garcia, saying it could be the Match of the Year. [c]
-A commercial hyped that Double or Nothing on May 29 will be in Las Vegas, Nev. at T-Mobile Arena.
(5) BRYAN DANIELSON vs. DANIEL GARCIA
Garcia made his way to the ring. Ross said he’s 5-1 in his last six matches. He said he hopes he realizes the opportunity that awaits him against likely the best pound for pound wrestler in the world today. Danielson’s ring entrance then took place. The bell rang 47 minutes into the hour. They cut to a break after Garcia chop-blocked Danielson out of mid-air. Excalibur called it a “dream match.” [c/ss]
Garcia worked over Danielson’s leg during the break including wrapping his leg around the ringpost. Excalibur said Danielson was getting outwrestled by Garcia so far. Danielson suplexed Garcia out of the ring to the floor and then landed a flying knee off the ring apron. Danielson threw Garcia into the ring, then leaped off the top rope with a shotgun dropkick. Ross said he guaranteed it was “a sellout at the monitor” (meaning wrestlers backstage were keeping a close eye on it). Danielson began working over Garcia’s left leg. He transitioned into Cattle Mutilation. Garcia escaped and applied an anklelock. They took turns elbowing each other in the face while in a knuckle lock. Danielson went into a series of stomps and then applied a triangle sleeper. Garcia passed out as Danielson flexed his arms. The ref made that call fast.
WINNER: Danielson in 10:00.
-Afterward, Danielson asked for his music to be stopped. He told Garcia he saw out of him exactly what he wanted to see. He asked the crowd if Garcia was violent tonight. Suddenly 2point0 attacked Danielson from behind. Jon Moxley’s music played and he marched out to the ring through the crowd. 2point0 attacked him as soon as he slid into the ring. Mox cleared the ring of them. Garcia then went to hit Mox from behind with a chair, but Danielson yanked the chair away. Mox gave Garcia a Paradigm Shift. Garcia rolled out of the ring and 2point0 went over to check on him. Schiavone wondered if this was the answer Mox was looking for. Mox’s music stopped. Danielson looked at Mox. Fans chanted “This is awesome!” Danielson asked Mox, “So, in order for us to fight together, we need to bleed together?” He threw the chair down and said he doesn’t need that. He accepted Mox’s challenge for a match at Revolution. “Don’t be surprised if you’re the only person bleeding,” Danielson said. Ross said, “I highly doubt that.” They went forehead to forehead as the show ended.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good ten minutes of wrestling. The announcers calling that a dream match is a bit ahead of where I think the general fan perceives Garcia at this point. They are telling a nice, patient story that could lead to Garcia being linked with Danielson down the line, but in the mean time, the headline is Moxley vs. Danielson is official for the PPV.)