SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S AEW DYNAMITE REPORT
MARCH 23, 2022
CEDAR PARK, TEX. AT H.E.B. ARENA
AIRED LIVE ON TBS
AEW Commentators: Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, Excalibur
Ring Announcer: Justin Roberts
(1) C.M. PUNK vs. DAX HARWOOD (w/Cash Wheeler)
Punk’s entrance theme played at the start of the show. The fans were into Punk. Dax came out to the Midnight Express-inspired entrance theme. The announcers hyped the line-up for the show. They showed the Gunn Club in the crowd yelling. They chopped each other and chain-wrestled early. Punk grounded Dax with a key lock at 2:00. Several “C.M. Punk” chants rang out. Dax got annoyed by Gunn Club and turned to yell at them. Dax then went for a top rope headbutt, but Punk moved. Ross said that’s not Dax’s area of specialty and he questioned him doing that move since he’s such a good striker. The crowd cheered with every strike exchange. Punk got the better of Dax and then scored a near fall. Punk went for a top rope elbow a minute later, but he spent time playing to the crowd. Dax stood and knocked Punk off balance. Schiavone said fans were booing Dax, but it was a hell of a move.
Dax hit a superplex. Both were down and slow to get up. Dax stood and landed a diving headbutt for a near fall. Ross said some would see it as an upset if Dax won. Schiavone said Dax is a tag team specialist, which is why. Fans chanted for Punk again. Punk reversed a Dax suplex, but Dax held on and they both tumbled over the top rope to the floor. The ref began counting both out. Punk stood first and landed a top rope flying crossbody for a near fall. Punk immediately switch to an Anaconda Vice. Dax flailed and then yanked on Punk’s hair and escaped. The announcers didn’t note the hair pull, which was strange. Dax was going to stomp Punk, but Punk blocked it and then kicked Dax head-first into the corner. Punk small packaged Dax for a two count; Dax reversed it and scored a near fall.
Punk charged with a running knee, but Dax blocked it and landed a sling-shot sit out powerbomb for a two count. Both were down and slow to get up. Fans chanted “This is awesome!” Punk landed a running high knee this time, then went for a Go To Sleep. The crowd cheered. Dax slipped free and dropped Punk and applied a quick sharpshooter. Cash cheered on from ringside. Punk escaped and then transitioned quickly into an Anaconda Vice. Dax tapped out this time.
WINNER: Punk in 14:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Such a good match. That was smartly laid, paced really well, told a story with early teases that were revisited, and included a series of dramatic near falls and near tapouts. Every move counted and they had the crowd in the palms of their hands. There’s a lot in that match for younger wrestlers just packing in highspots without pacing or selling or any semblance of a match structure to learn from there.)
-They showed a picture of John Silver at an autograph show with Chris Jericho years ago.
-Backstage, Jericho stood with Danny Garcia, Jake Hager, and 2point0. Jericho said it was such a heartwarming story of a 12 year old Silver meeting him and now he gets a match against “The Influencer.” He said being in the ring with “the Big One” puts him on a different level, but not on his level. He said he’ll be taking him to school. Garcia said they beat up pro wrestlers and later their opponents will learn why pro wrestlers can’t hang with sports entertainers like them. Jericho said they’d “future endeavor” them. They then talked about how Santana and Ortiz are nowhere to be seen anymore. They looked around and shouted, “Where they at?” Hager said they’re never coming back. “This is the Jericho Appreciation Society, and that’s entertainment.”
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m enjoying the Jericho Appreciation Society. 2point0 are still dissed and underappreciated by people who see them as NXT jobbers, but they are earning their AEW TV time every week on the mic and in the ring. It’s not easy to be as obnoxious as they are without going too far where you just want to turn the channel.)
(2) MATT & JEFF HARDY & DARBY & STING vs. PRIVATE PARTY & BUTCHER & BLADE (w/Andrade, Alex) – Eight-Man Tornado Tag
Sting and Darby made their ring entrance first. Then Matt & Jeff Hardy came out. The crowd popped huge for the Hardys. Ross said it’s no DQ and no tags are needed. Darby dove onto the heels at ringside at the start. Sting leaped off the top rope and almost overshot the heels and could have landed wrong. He looked a little off balance when getting ready to launch, too. All eight wrestlers brawled at ringside. Sting used a skate board as a weapon. Hardy tackled Blade over the ringside barricade into the crowd. Sting then landed a Stinger Splash against Isaiah Kassidy. Darby leaped onto Butcher in the crowd. Andrade attacked Darby from behind. Schiavone said it’s no DQ. Butcher then swung Darby into the railings before throwing him down a flight of steps. They cut to a split-screen break. [c/ss]
Matt Hardy and Quen battled in the ring. Marq Quen intervened with a trash can. They fought up the ramp. A camera checked in on Darby who was writhing in pain on the floor. Another camera followed some wrestlers into the arena concourse area. Back from the break, Matt and Private Party continued to brawl on the stage. There was no sign of Jeff for a while. Quen low-blowed Matt to stop him from from a Side Effect on Kassidy off the stage. Private Party then leaped with Hardy off the stage through two tables set up below.
Meanwhile in the concourse, Jeff climbed a tall ladder and leaped off of a ledge of the wall and dive with a Swanton onto Butcher and Blade. Fans chanted “Holy shit!” Back in the ring Quen scored a near fall on Matt. Sting returned to the ring to help Matt. Kassidy hit Sting with a chair. Sting no-sold it and beat up both Private Party members. He hit Stinger Splashes. Kassidy avoided a splash and took over. Sting countered a Gin & Juice with Dragon Sleeper. He set up an inverted DDT and delivered as Matt hit a Twist of Fate. Matt pinned Quen. Darby rolled into the ring but favored his left knee as he stood with his partners to celebrate the win.
WINNERS: Sting & Darby & Hardys in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: What happened to Butcher and Blade? That was a wild, AEW style match and a real contrast to the first match, but in a good way.)
-Schiavone interviewed Dax and Cash backstage. He asked about the issues with Gunn Club. Cash said the Gunn Club boys won’t get respect without earning it despite what their dad accomplished. Dax said they’ve done some things wrong, but the fans can’t call them spoiled brats like the Gunns. “We are the absolute best tag team on this planet, bar none,” Dax said emphatically. Dax said he’ll see them next week on AEW Dynamite.
-The announcers hyped the rest of the line-up as graphics flashed on the screen. [c]
(3) BRYAN DANIELSON & JON MOXLEY vs. THE VARSITY BLONDES (Brian Pillman Jr. & Griff Garrison w/Julia Hart)
The Blondes were in the ring already after the break. William Regal joined the announcers at the desk for commentary as Bryan made his entrance. Mox came through the crowd. Julia sat at ringside with her back to the ring looking down. Schiavone said she hasn’t been the same since she was sprayed in the face by Malakai Black. They cut to an early split-screen break. [c/ss]
Mox gave Pillman a King Kong Lariat as Bryan suplexed him. Mox then gave Pillman a piledriver, but Garrison broke up the cover with a running boot. Regal talked up Brian Pillman Sr. Mox and Garrison battled. Pillman dropkicked Mox out of a Garrison bear hug for a two count. Regal complimented Pillman’s cover. Mox landed a Paradigm Shift on Pillman. Danielson then grabbed Pillman’s arms and stomped him. Mox, meanwhile, landed elbows and then applied a Bulldog Choke for the tapout win. Although all four were in the ring for the last minute of the match, the legal two were involved in the finish at least. Regal said, “What an incredible display!”
WINNERS: Moxley & Danielson in 7:00.
-Afterward, Regal proudly walked to the ring as “Wild Thing” played and Mox and Danielson celebrated the win. Mox held a mic and said he is a very lucky man who is blessed to have competed against the best in the world. He said he has learned from the best, too. He said there was only one man whose opinion he cared about – Regal. Fans chanted “Regal! Regal!” He said it’s a mark of excellence and a badge of honor to earn his approval. He said he earned it through pain, blood, torture, and dislocated joints. He said Danielson is his friend and “the perfect wrestler.” He said they were forged in combat. He said if anyone in AEW thinks they have what it takes to stand with them in the ring and ride with the three most sadistic individuals in the business, they are ready. He said they’re not giving out any free passes. He said if someone steps up, they better reach deep down to where they like pain. He said if someone wants a badge of honor from the Blackpool Combat Club, the only way to get it is the hard way. Danielson nodded along but didn’t speak.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good beatdown of the Blondes and even better post-match promo that establishes what Mox and Bryan are all about now in AEW. The crowd sure loves Regal.)
-The announcers hyped that MJF is up next. [c]
-MJF made his way to the ring with Shawn Spears. Fans booed. There were a half dozen security guys standing at ringside guarding MJF and Spears from a run-in. MJF said Texas has as many brain cells as teeth, “that being few.” He told them to pipe down a little bit. He said regarding Wardlow, it’s such a shame he couldn’t get the job done last week. He said unlike Wardlow, he’s actually a man of his word. Fans chanted “Shut the f— up!” He said he honors his business agreements. He said he meant it when he said Wardlow could keep the TNT Title if he won it, which is why it’s such a shame he couldn’t beat Scorpio Sky. He said he had Punk beat at AEW Revolution just like he had him beat twice in Chicago, but he decided to cheat to win. He said he doesn’t know where or when, but there will be another match, and when there is, he will give him the most embarrassing loss of his entire career. (I bet it’s an AEW World Title match at that point.) He said it won’t be over until he attends his funeral and pisses on his grave. Schiavone snapped, “Stop that!”
He asked the fans if they like Wardlow. “That’s because you’re inbred.” He said he’s going to start calling Wardow “pig” because he’s a greedy little pig. Fans chanted “Wardlow! Wardlow!” He said if it wasn’t for him, the fans wouldn’t know who he is. “I made you, Wardlow.” He said he has a beautiful roof over his head because of him. He took issue with Wardlow asking him to release him from his contract. He said he didn’t sign a deal with a schmuck, he signed a deal with the devil. “And all the devil’s deals are iron clad,” he said. “You thought you had it bad before? I’m about to make your life a living hell. If I tell you to jump, you will say ‘how high?'”
It sounded like the fans were chanting “Jesus! Jesus!” (in response to him saying he’s the devil). MJF paused to listen to the chant. He then said, “I’m going to strap Wardlow to a cross just like Jesus. How about that? How about that?” he said. He said if he decides to kick his skank mother out of his house, he won’t say a thing because “I own you, pig! I own you!” He leaned into the camera in the corner. Wardlow then marched to the ring. “Thank god,” said Schiavone.
Wardlow tossed aside the security guys at ringside easily at first, but they soon overwhelmed him and held him back. More security guys came out and restrained Wardlow. MJF said Wardlow doesn’t work for AEW, he works for him. “And MJF doesn’t want you around here no more,” he said. “That means you’re trespassing, bud. That makes you just like all these marks if they were to hop over the barricade. But don’t you worry you greedy little pig, I’m going to keep paying you. But I’m going to pay you to stay home. Week after week, month after month, year after year, until all these people forget you ever existed – until you wind up in the same place you were when I signed you, an absolute nobody.” He told security to drag him to the back. Wardlow agreed to leave on his own.
MJF said he wanted to squelch some rumors. He said people are saying The Pinnacle is over, but now that Wardlow is out of the way, they’ve never been stronger. He said next week, with FTR in action, they’re about to move up. Spears said, “When you’re in the Pinnacle, you’re always on top.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Are they building toward MJF & Spears vs. FTR after next week? That would work well. The Wardlow storyline, if they stick with the idea that Wardlow isn’t under AEW contract, could lead to Wardlow showing up under a mask claiming to be someone else who has a valid AEW contract, which would drive MJF nuts. I could see MJF doing an old-school story like that and making the most of it. Oh yeah, top top mic work there from MJF. His facial expressions and intensity elevated the message, which itself was despicably sharp start to finish.)
-Schiavone interviewed Chuck Taylor, Trent Beretta, Orange Cassidy, and Wheeler Yuta. Schiavone asked about Regal slapping Yuta. As Yuta was about to talk, Beretta said he never like Yuta. He asked if he’s going to repay the Best Friends by running off to join the William Regal Tough Guy Club. “I’m done with you,” Trent said. Yuta said he never liked Trent, either. He said he’s not trying to be the best friend he can be, he’s trying to be the best wrestler he can be. “You either get that or you don’t,” Yuta said.
(4) ADAM COLE vs. JAY LETHAL
Cole made his ring entrance first. The crowd was into Cole’s ring entrance routine. Lethal then made his entrance to his mess of an entrance theme. Excalibur said these two have five matches against each other, and Cole leads 3-2. He talked about their history in ROH. The announcers talked more about Lethal and Cole in ROH, including Lethal being the longest-reigning champion. Cole bailed out at 2:00 after a Lethal flurry. Lethal went after him. They showed Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish staring at Lethal from the stage. They cut to a split-screen break. [c/css]
After several minutes of back and forth action, Lethal hit a Cutter. When he went for the Lethal Injection, Cole superkicked him out of mid-air. Next he landed a Panama Sunrise for a convincing near fall. A loud dueling chant of “Let’s Go Lethal! / Adam Cole!” broke out. Cole set up a Boom kick, but Lethal ducked. When he rolled up Cole, O’Reilly and Fish DISTRACTED the referee. Cole gave Lethal a low-blow followed by a Boom for the win.
WINNER: Cole in 10:00.
-After the match, Cole said there is nobody on the planet who deserves the AEW World Championship more than him. He said he saw fear in Hangman Page’s eyes last week when he was pinning Jungle Boy because Hangman knows he’s the man who’s going to end his reign. He said Hangman caught lighting in a bottle, and he’s going to shove that bottle up his ass. He said he is a winner who brings the fight, whereas Hangman is a coward who “doesn’t have the guts to face the three of us man-to-man.” (I love that line. So heelish. It’s “man to three men” in reality.) Hangman came out and fans chanted “Cowboy shit!” Hangman stared down Cole, then went after Fish and O’Reilly. He was overwhelmed quickly thanks to a low blow by Cole. Cole picked up Hangman’s AEW Title belt and admired it. Christian, Jungle Boy, and Luchasaurus ran out to make the save. Cole and Co. left. Cole took the AEW World Championship belt with him up the ramp.
-Excalibur hyped Lance Archer vs. Dustin Rhodes on AEW Rampage this Friday. Dan Lambert said they have a chance to end the curse of the Rhodes family. Dustin said they shouldn’t utter his name again. Archer said Dustin is just like everyone else, “and everybody dies.” Dustin was fired up and vowed to kick Archer’s ass in his hometown. “And monsters die, too!” he said. [c]
-Schiavone interviewed Sammy Guevara and Tay Conti mid-ring. He asked how he’s doing since losing the AEW TNT Title. Guevara said he can’t change that he lost. Guevara said when he faces Sky again, he will give the fans “a show like you’ve never seen before.” He said he’ll do something so crazy, it will make the fans who paid money for a show to stand up and chant “Holy shit!” He said he’s heard forever that the bumps will catch up to him, but it’s worth it “because of you people.” He said the fans are everything he wanted in this business “until now.” Conti then said now they want payback. “Bitch, you’re going to get your ass kicked like you did your whole fighting career.” Sammy called Paige VanZant and a partner of her choosing to come to the ring.
Lambert came out with “All Ego” Ethan Page and Sky. He said Ethan is the only thing Canada has gotten right in “who knows how long.” Lambert touted Sky for not having lost a match “since Tony Khan hit puberty over a year ago.” He called Conti “Lucha Whorus.” Sky and Ethan laughed at the prospects of fighting Guevara and turned and left. Sammy said, “I know we’ve been living rent-free in your head since you got here.” He said, “If you only knew what Tay and I did while wearing that belt, you’d know we now live in your mouth, too.” Lambert dropped the belt and acted grossed out. He gingerly picked it up from the end of the strap.
(Keller’s Analysis: The fans weren’t that into Sammy. And what an obnoxious promo from him. He’s talking about doing crazy spots to get chants instead of trying to win matches? Seriously? What nonsense. He and Conti are on the verge of becoming the new Cody & Brandi – the oblivious babyfaces in AEW pandering transparently for cheers while fans turn against them. Sammy was such a better heel, and Conti clearly is made to be a heel. Their social media sex-bragging has made it onto TV, and it’s just not as entertaining and delightful as they seem to think it is.)
-A vignette aired hyping Ricky Starks vs. Shane “Swerve” Scott for the FTW Title on AEW Rampage this Friday. Starks told him to bring Keith Lee because he’s got Powerhouse Hobbs. Swerve said it’s Swerve’s House.
(5) “LEGIT” LEYLA HIRSCH vs. RED VELVET
Leyla Hirsch made her ring entrance first. Velvet strutted out and then seductively gyrated on the ring apron. Hirsch kicked Velvet off the apron and beat on her at ringside. After the ref scolded Hirsch, Velvet reverse-whipped Hirsch into the barricade and chopped her. Excalibur said it was the rubber match between these two former friends. Hirsch reversed Velvet hard into the ringside barricade. Velvet then did a running leap off the ringside steps with a body scissors takedown. Finally, Velvet threw Hirsch into the ring. The bell rang after about two minutes of action at ringside.
Velvet got in some offense, including corner punches and some trash-talking. She pulled Hirsch to mid-ring and landed a standing moonsault for a one count. Hirsch powered up and hit a gut-wrench suplex for a one count. They cut to a split-screen break. [c/ss]
Hirsch methodically controlled the action during the break. Red Velvet made a comeback as the show returned, and then hit a double knee strike to Hirsch’s back when she was leaning against the ropes. When Hirsch climbed to the top rope, Velvet got up and knocked her off balance. She then yanked Hirsch to the mat and a sitout landing into a near fall. Velvet stomped the mat and then landed her corkscrew roundkick. Hirsch rolled to the outside and grabbed the turnbuckle. The ref pulled it away, but she had a second weapon in her trunks and hit Red Velvet and got the pinfall win.
WINNER: Hirsch in 7:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: This was pretty solid start to finish. They worked hard and were intense throughout. The crowd wasn’t especially into it. They weren’t totally disengaged, but compared to earlier, these two just haven’t made the connection with fans yet and the storyline has been mostly off AEW Dynamite.)
-Kris Statlander charged out to stop a post-match attack by Hirsch. Hirsch broke free and retreated to ringside as Statlander checked on Velvet.
-Schiavone interviewed Jade Cargill and “Smart” Mark Sterling. Sterling said Jade wants to talk about their post-match celebration they have planned. “We need money falling from the ceiling,” she said. She wanted green Lamborghinis. She said she needs a green outfit, too. Sterling said there will be a celebration fit for a queen.
-Excalibur hyped the Rampage line-up: Dustin vs. Archer, Alan Angels & 10 vs. Red Dragon, Nyla Rose in action, Q.T. Marshall gives Hook his Certificate of Accomplishment, and Starks vs. Swerve. Ross hyped the Dynamite line-up for next week: FTR vs. Gunn Club and Andrade vs. Darby.
-Schiavone stood on the stage and introduced new AEW Champion Thunder Rosa. She came out to a nice ovation. Vickie Guerrero interrupted before Rosa could talk. Vickie said Texas is her state, not Rosa’s. She told her to take her green card and return to Mexico. Rosa said she got her U.S. citizenship in the state of Texas. Vickie interrupted her with, “Excuse me!” Nyla Rose then jumped Rosa from behind. Vickie said Rose is a real champion and she is hungrier and thirstier for the title. Rose bashed Rosa’s head into the floor over and over. [c]
(6) CHRIS JERICHO & DANNY GARCIA (wJake Hager, “Cool Hand” Angelo Parks, “Daddy Magic” Matt Menard) vs. JOHN SILVER & ALEX REYNOLDS (w/Alan “5” Angels, “10”)
Dark Order came out first. Then Jericho led his faction to the ring as “Judas” played. They cut to one fan after antoher enthusiastically singing along, men and women. Jericho soaked it up. “Daddy Magic” Matt Menard said, “I’m telling you right now, you guys do not appreciate the fact that this man allows you to sing that song.” He said as far as he’s concerned, he doesn’t think there should be any singing “and no nothin’!” Fans booed.
Silver opened against Jericho. Jericho condescended him and slapped him. Schiavone touted Jericho’s physical condition. Silver got in early offense. A red-faced Jericho backed away. Silver arm-dragged him and then tagged in Reynolds. Fans chanted “Fozzy sucks!” Ross wondered who was legal after more than five seconds went by. Jericho dropped to ringside. Silver chased him down and kicked him.Silver suplexed Jericho as Reynolds dove through the ropes and bodypressed Jericho. Back in the ring, Garcia entered the ring for the first time, but Silver and Reynolds took him down. Meanwhile, at ringside, Jericho pretended that Alan Angels threw him into the ringside steps. Manard and Parker claimed Dark Order threw Jericho into the steps. The ref threw Angels and “10” out of ringside. They cut to a split-screen break at 3:00. [c/ss]
During the break, Jericho took contorl against Reynolds. Garcia stomped away at Reynolds at ringside as Jericho distracted the ref. Garcia tagged in and kicked away at Reynolds in the corner. Back from the break, Reynolds made a comeback against Jericho until Jericho hit him with a throat strike. He followed with a Lionsault, but Reynolds moved. Reynolds then crawled over and hot-tagged in Silver. It got a mild pop. He fended off an interfering Garcia. Silver flip dove onto Garcia, then took out Matt and Angelo and Hager at ringside. The crowd popped for that sequence, especially taking out Hager at the end. He then leaped off the topr ope with a bodypress for a near fall. “He took out the entire crew!” said Schiavone. “Amazing!” Jericho caught Silver with a Code Breaker for a two count. Garcia tagged in and whipped Jericho at Silver. Silver backdropped Jericho out. Silver and Reynolds then double-teamed Garcia and scored a near fall that popped the crowd. Silver fended off Angelo and Manard, but Hager caught him and powerslammed him on the floor. Garcia caught Reynolds with a small package for a near fall. Jericho hit Reynolds from behind with his bat Floyd as Reynolds ran the ropes. Garcia then applied a Scorpion Death Lock for the tapout win.
WINNER: Garcia & Jericho in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was a heck of a main event. Garcia didn’t get to do much until quite late, but it all worked well and was smartly constructed and executed. Silver earned the crowd pops he got, and Jericho’s crew at ringside bumped like crazy for him. Jericho has new life with the more fit physique and new crew to play off of.)
CATCH-UP: 3/23 AEW DYNAMITE TV RESULTS: Sage’s “alt perspective” report on CM Punk vs. Dax Harwood, Jay Lethal vs. Adam Cole, The Hardy’s & Sting & Darby Allin vs. Private Party & Butcher & Blade, More.