5/25 AEW DYNAMITE RESULTS: Keller’s report on final Double or Nothing hype, Spears vs. Wardlow in cage with MJF as ref, Joe vs. O’Reilly, more

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor


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KELLER’S AEW DYNAMITE REPORT
MAY 25, 2022
LAS VEGAS, NEV. AT THE MICHELOB ULTRA ARENA
AIRED LIVE ON TBS

Commentators: Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, Excalibur

Ring Announcer: Justin Roberts


[HOUR ONE]

-The Dynamite opening aired.

-Jim Ross introduced the show and promptly threw to Justin Roberts standing inside the cage.

(1) WARDLOW vs. SHAWN SPEARS – MJF Special Referee

MJF walked out in a referee shirt and Shawn Michaels-style short-shorts. MJF tried to tear away a fan sign that said “Happy 3 Years AEW.” Excalibur said if Wardlow lays his hands on MJF, it’s over. MJF looked into the camera and said he’s going to call it right down the middle. They went onto the stage where Shawn Spears’s ring entrance took place. (His entrance is way too much for someone of his place on the roster, by the way. I suppose they’re self-aware of that because it fits Spears’s character to make more of himself than is called for, but it waters down the effect of other top-star entrances.)

Wardlow was escorted to the ring in handcuffs without entrance music. MJF was supposed to uncuff him, but pretended he couldn’t find the key. Spears then attacked Wardlow. MJF “found” the key, but instead kicked away at Wardlow and directed Spears to attack Wardlow. MJF raked Wardlow’s eyes. Fans booed. MJF and Spears charged at Wardlow and rammed him face-first into the cage. MJF dared Wardlow to strike him. MJF spit at Wardlow’s face. Wardlow took a deep breath and then broke out of the cuffs. Fans cheered. Wardlow clotheslined Spears, who kindly charged at him three times in a row. As Wardlow and Spears fought on the top rope against the cage, the announcers hyped matches still to come on the show.

At 3:00 Wardlow overshot on a flip senton off the top rope and made the cover. MJF refused to count. Instead, he lay in front of Wardlow and smiled from a foot away. Wardlow eyed him, but then turned to Spears and set up a powerbomb. MJF low-blowed Wardlow. Spears gave Wardlow an immediate C4. MJF fast-counted, but Wardlow kicked out.

Spears left the cage, which wasn’t locked. He grabbed a chair and brought it into the ring. (The “Chairman” is such a dumb gimmick.) MJF held Wardlow and then Spears swung. Wardlow moved and Spears KO’d MJF with a chairshot to the head. (Among the most disappointing aspects of AEW is that they allow chairshots to the head after all the concussion issues over the years and what banning chairshots to the head symbolized and acknowledged in terms of correcting the excesses of the past that caused so much harm to a whole generation of wrestlers.) Spears kneeled in regret in front of MJF, who bumped backwards and didn’t move afterward. Wardlow rose behind Spears and lowered his straps. He powerbombed Spears three times. The crowd stood and cheered as Wardlow showed fire and yanked on the top rope. A replacement ref ran out and entered the ring. Wardlow put the dented chair mid-ring and powerbombed Spears one last time before putting his foot on his chest. The ref counted to three.

WINNER: Wardlow in 7:00 to make his match against MJF on Sunday official.

-Afterward, Wardlow went after MJF, but MJF’s security team charged into the ring one at a time. Wardlow knocked them down one punch at a time. (You’d think they’d learn after about the first four or five.) He powerbombed one security guy into the side of the cage, and the guy crashed into the cage and then down the side between the cage fence and the ring. (I hope in like three months they do a random callback by having that same guy crawl out from under the ring looking disheveled. Don’t say anything, just film him stumbling to the back.)

-They went to Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, and Excalibur on camera. Ross took a moment to address the latest mass shooting. “There’s nothing much more we can say other than pray and love ’em, love ’em all you can. Something’s got to stop. Can you make it happen?” Schiavone said, “Love your children, J.R.” [c]

-The Jericho Appreciation Society arrived backstage. Daniel Garcia said the J.A.S. is going to show everyone on Sunday how violent they can be. They saw a stagehand backstage wearing a Jon Moxley t-shirt and harassed him. Jericho threw a fireball in his face. “You get a fireball in your face because I’m a wizard.” (So this is stupid unless AEW actually suspends Jericho for it in the storyline. Otherwise, seriously, what’s the point? Jericho gets “heat” for being “mean” but by AEW officially tolerating it by not reacting to such over-the-top violence, it just says to everyone it’s done purely for the visual effect. Remember, after Jericho threw a fireball at Eddie Kingston, two days later he was the official color commentator on Rampage as usual without any ramifications for burning his opponent in the face. It’s just dumb.)

-Ross acted outraged. Excalibur called it an unprovoked attack. (Nice lip service, but that shouldn’t be the end of it tonight.) They hyped upcoming matches on the show.

-Schiavone stood mid-ring and introduced a “Face to Face” segment between C.M. Punk and “Hangman” Adam Page. He introduced Punk first, who was wildly cheered. Hangman then came out, looking like he had a chip on his shoulder. (Where has this swagger been the last six months? He could have been a babyface with that swagger and been more effective. Here, he seemed heelish as he also glared at fans.) A “C.M. Punk” chant petered out as Schiavone began talking. He said they are face-to-face for the first time. Schiavone approached Punk first and asked if he’s prepared to be AEW Champion. Another Punk chant broke out, this one louder. Punk said he loves the fans and appreciates their support, and plans to leave as champion.

Schiavone asked Hangman about Punk’s seeming “off-the-charts confidence.” Hangman said he already said what he was going to do. “Did I stutter?” he said. (Didn’t people stop saying that in, like, 2004?) He told Punk there is nothing he can do to him to take the championship away from him. Schiavone said he seems like a determined champion. Punk said he doesn’t understand why he seems to be taking this so personally. He said he holds the gold for a reason and he’s tough. He said this is just business because it’s his title shot. “It’s not personal,” Punk said. Schiavone told Hangman it seems like there’s a lot of respect there.

Hangman took the mic and reminded Punk that he said he was going to destroy and annihilate and embarrass him. He said he didn’t mean at Double or Nothing. “I meant right now,” he said. He said he’s been waiting for this moment for months. He said he imagined sitting cross-legged on the stage and taking out a lighter and setting a pipe bomb on fire and rolling it down to Punk in the ring to blow up in his face. He said that’d be cathartic and feel good. “How full circle for you, huh?” he said. “Right here in Vegas.” Another Punk chant started. He said now he realizes he can’t do it. “And not because I’m afraid I’d get fired after I went through the damn curtain,” he said. (He wouldn’t, but maybe he could be a official color commentator on Rampage on Friday!) He said he’s not scared of Punk, either.

Hangman said the more he thought about what he wanted to say to Punk, the more he realized that’s what Punk would do. He said he didn’t want to match his pettiness and hatred and cowardice. He said he will say to his face how he feels about him. “I don’t hate you and I almost pity you,” he said. “And I have no respect for you and what you’ve done since you got here.” He said Punk doesn’t understand what it means to be a champion after all these years. He said being champion isn’t just about what happens on camera, but also off-camera behind the scenes when no one’s watching. “You talk a big game about worker’s rights, but you’ve shown the exact opposite since you got here,” he said. Hangman said he’ll be defending his title not against him, but from him. He got in Punk’s face. They had a staredown. A “Cowboy Shit” chant started.

Hangman handed the mic back to Schiavone. A calm Punk said he doesn’t know know why he’s taking this so personally. He said he’s talking in circles and it’s a big riddle. He said he’ll have to do something about it on Sunday. He said win, lose, or draw, he respects him. He said the roads he traveled to get there were paved by him. He said the house he built was constructed from lumber from trees that he chopped down. He said the road he traveled to get to AEW happened because he gave him the blue print. Punk said he will shake his hand on Sunday. He said he’ll actually shake his hand now. He said his anger is misplaced. He told Hangman he’s angry at himself. Hangman talked trash to Punk. Punk shoved Hangman in the chest. Hangman punched Punk, then left. Punk sat in the ring and soaked up the moment.

-A video package aired on Jade Cargill vs. Anna Jay.

(1) JON MOXLEY & EDDIE KINGSTON vs. PRIVATE PARTY (Isiah Kassidy & Marq Quen)

William Regal joined the announcers on commentary. Jericho made his entrance with his teammates. Ross called the fireball throwing “evil.” Jericho told Vegas fans they don’t have what it takes to sing his song. He then joined everyone on commentary. (Oh good, the guy who committed a felony against a stagehand 15 minutes ago gets to be a color commentator on national TV without ramifications.) They replayed Bryan Danielson getting his leg caught between the stage and the ring after Rampage last week during a post-show brawl with J.A.S. Moxley and Kingston made their way to the ring through the crowd.

Mox and Eddie went after Quen and Kassidy aggressively at the start. Jericho said they will prove on Sunday that Sports Entertainers beat Pro Wrestlers every time. Jericho bragged about being a wizard because he can throw fireballs. Ross asked what compels him to do that. Regal said he’ll be the one to tell him that he’s gone crazy. They cut to a split-screen break. [c/ss]

Back from the break, Private Party went for Silly Sting, but Moxley blocked it and hit a lariat. As Kingston applied a guillotine on Quen, Mox scored the pin on Kassidy after a Paradigm Shift.

WINNERS: Moxley & Kingston in 7:00.

-Afterward, Moxley and Kingston ran up the ramp. J.A.S. met them. Danielson, Santana, and Ortiz joined in. Referees pulled them apart. Regal said it’s going to be a war on Sunday night. Jericho stood mid-ring with his arms raised. Fans booed. He took a few extra stomps on Danielson before retreating as referees yelled at him. Danielson grabbed his left ankle in pain.

(Keller’s Analysis: Good tag match to set up the good post-match brawl to give everyone a sample of the intensity to expect on Sunday.) [c]

-A video aired on the state of the Owen Hart Foundation Tournament including a brief clip of Owen and then Mark Henry saying Owen would be proud of the tournament. Samoa Joe and Kyle O’Reilly each talked.

(Keller’s Analysis: We got the good Joe promo here where he spoke softly instead of yelling and frothing.)

(2) FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood) vs. THE ROPPONGI VICE (Rocky Romero & Trent Berretta) – ROH Tag Team Title match

ROH ring announcer Bobby Cruz handled ring introductions. Caprice Coleman joined the announcers. Excalibur said this is the fourth time Roppongi Vice have had an ROH Tag Team Title match. They cut to a split-screen break a few minutes in. [c/ss]

Late in the match, Dax and Berretta exchanged near falls mid-ring. Dax went for a piledriver, but Berretta blocked it. They hit Storm Zero and appeared to have the match won when Cash speared Romero into Berretta. Jeff Cobb and Great-o-Khan (“United Empire”) ran out and interfered. A “Holy sh–!” chant broke out.

WINNERS: No contest in 10:00.

[HOUR TWO]

-Cobb and Khan beat up both teams. Cobb powerbombed Dax through a ringside table. Then Khan choke-slammed Berretta off the edge of the ring apron through the table. Then Cobb and Khan held up the ROH Tag Team Titles.

-They went to the announcers at ringside to react. They shifted to a hyping the Young Bucks vs. The Hardys at Double or Nothing.

-A promo aired with Matt & Jeff Hardy. Matt said their stories began similarly with good parents and clean lifestyles. He said they all had dreams of making it as big superstars in pro wrestling. Matt said that’s where their roads were different. He said the Bucks couldn’t have survived the 1990s like they did. Hardy said when fans see them, they see Hardy Cosplayers. He said Sunday they will legitimize themselves as GOATs. Jeff said they’re not in their prime, they’re in their over-prime. He said his run in AEW is the “new beginning approaching its end eventually.” He said the Bucks are two little stepping stones on their way to become tag team champions. Matt said the Bucks will never be better than them. He said they were better than them as babies, tag teams, in their prime, and now “middle aged and extreme.” He said they will delete them on Sunday. He told the Bucks they can never beat them, their heroes.

(Keller’s Analysis: That was above expectations. Good stuff to frame the importance of the match to them. Jeff was especially focused here.)

(3) RICKY STARKS vs. SWERVE STRICKLAND vs. JUNGLE BOY

Starks shoved Swerve into Jungle Boy as they were contemplating shaking hands. They went into some quick two counts and rapid-fire action. They cut to an early split-screen break. [c/ss]

As Swerve had JB up for a suplex, Starks speared him. Starks then gave JB a Michinoku Driver, but Swerve broke up the cover. Starks went after Swerve next as fans chanted “AEW! AEW!” Starks delivered his finisher, but JB leaped onto Starks with a Snare Trap mid-ring. Starks crawled toward the bottom rope to force the break. JB went right back to it mid-ring a second later. Swerve kicked JB to break it up. Swerve then landed a top rope stomp on Starks for the win.

WINNER: Swerve in 8:00.

-Afterward, Powerhouse Hobbs attacked Swerve and JB. Luchasaurus ran out and set up a chokeslam on Hobbs. Hobbs blocked it. Keith Lee then marched out. He cleared the ring of everyone but Starks. Lee slingshot himself over the top rope onto Luchasaurus and Hobbs at ringside. Fans chanted “Holy shit!” He then held up Swerve’s arm mid-ring.

(Keller’s Analysis: Good action, but not a lot of selling or psychology packed into that eight minutes. I was curious what the finish would be, and Starks being the only heel made him most likely to lose.)

-Dan Lambert stood by with Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky. He talked about having a new custom-made TNT Championship belt made for Sky with his image on it, which he’ll present to him on Friday.

-Schiavone stood on the stage to interview Thunder Rosa. She talked about her match Sunday against Serena Deeb. She said she’d teach her a lesson in respect for what she did to Schivaone and her mentor Dustin Rhodes. They started her music before she was done, which threw her off and nearly drowned out her closing words.

(Keller’s Analysis: Schiavone seemed upset by the music interrupting Rosa. He should have been celebrating that he actually got to successfully conduct an interview start to finish with the mic in his hand. Good fired up promo from Rosa. Too bad someone played her music too soon, though.) [c]

-Schiavone interviewed Red Velvet backstage, who was upset about not moving on to the next round to face Ruby Soho. Ruby showed up suddenly and asked if she has something to say to her. Velvet said she has a scouting report on Kris Statlander. She said her knee and shoulder are both messed up. Velvet walked away. Ruby said on Friday, she’s not facing the same Kris Statlander she faced last time. She threw the scouting report away, but said she might keep the notes in mind.

(4) BRITT BAKER (w/Jamie Hayter) vs. TONI STORM – Owen Hart Foundation Tournament Semi-final

As Baker walked out first, Excalibur hyped Rampage. Storm dominated the early minutes. Baker took over at ringside and rammed Storm into the ringside steps. They cut to a split-screen break. [c/ss]

Storm kicked out of a pin attempt and then gave Baker a released German suplex. Ross said it was ugly, but it worked. Storm delivered a tornado DDT off the ring apron to the floor. A dueling chant broke out. Hayter stood on the ring apron. Storm turned and knocked her to the floor. Baker went for one of her (slo-mo) superkicks. Storm easily blocked it and then went for Storm Zero. Baker countered with an Air Raid attempt. Storm countered that, but Baker sat down on her shoulders and grabbed the rope for added leverage. Excalibur said Storm stole the match to advance to the finals.

WINNER: Baker in 8:00 to advance to the Owen Tournament Finals.

(Keller’s Analysis: I was thinking Storm would be the better choice to win since she has the most to gain from being the first Owen Tourney winner. It’s not as if Baker needs it, and neither Ruby or Statlander seem like good choices at this time. Oh well.)

-The announcers hyped Double or Nothing’s match line-up. [c]

(5) SAMOA JOE vs. KYLE O’REILLY – Owen Hart Foundation Tournament Semi-final

They cut to a split-screen break a couple minutes in. [c/ss]

Joe eventually applied a rear naked sleeper mid-ring and the ref assessed O’Reilly had passed out. Ross noted Joe will face Adam Cole on Sunday. He said it could be the Wrestling Match of the Year. As Joe was celebrating, Adam Cole’s music played and he walked onto the stage.

WINNER: Joe in 12:00.


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