By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
AEW Dynamite (Episode 115)
Garland, Texas at Curtis Culwell Center
Aired live December 15, 2021 on TNT
Excalibur, Tony Schiavone, and Taz welcomed the audience to Dallas and AEW Winter is Coming. The opening match will be for the World Title. Bryan Danielson made his entrance first, followed by Hangman Page. Justin Roberts made ring introductions…
1. “Hangman” Adam Page vs. Bryan Danielson for the AEW World Championship: They had a standoff just prior to the bell, and then backed off to their corners. They tied up to begin the match, and struggled for leverage as the crowd lit up with dueling chants. Hangman prevailed with the strength advantage and gave a clean break. Bryan took a cheap shot and did some jumping jacks to irritate the crowd and Danielson.
They transitioned to a greco roman knuckle lock, and Bryan quickly maneuvered into a hammerlock. Page escaped and tripped Danielson to the match. Bryan escaped a wrist lock with a bridge and a reversal into an arm drag. Bryan bowed out in between the ropes to avoid further contact, and then smiled. Hangman fired back with a shoulder block. Bryan replied with an ankle pick, and then ducked a clothesline before flashing another smile.
The pace continued methodically as they continued to trade mat based holds and reversals. Hangman caught Bryan with a boot to the chest and seemed to catch Danielson off guard. Bryan offered a hand for a handshake, and was rejected. He shoved Page, and then backed out into the corner to draw the referee in for a break up. Page caught Bryan coming off the ropes, and landed a body slam. He then followed up with a chop.
Bryan picked the ankle again and applied a leg grapevine, and then cranked on Hangman’s nose. He then transitioned into a Romero Special, followed by a Dragon Sleeper. Hangman got to his feet after escaping and landed some heavy chops. He then landed some mounted punches in the corner Bryan returned fire by focusing on Hangman’s knee and ankle. He applied a 60/40 submission and then stomped on Hangman’s knee while it was applied.
They got to their feet, where Hangman landed a kick. He teased a Buckshot Lariat, but Danielson knocked him to the floor. Bryan hit the ropes for a dive, and Hangman quickly got in the ring and landed a Big Boot. He then sent Bryan to the floor, and dove on him over the top rope and out to the floor. Page teased another Buckshot, but went to the top rope instead. He dove into a kick to the gut, and a smile came over Bryan’s face.
Bryan continued the assault with kicks, and then catapulted Hangman into the bottom rope. He then draped Hangman over the second rope and landed a knee drop from the top rope for a two count…[c]
During the break, Bryan continued to punish the injured leg and midsection of Page. Bryan hit the ropes and got caught with a fallaway slam. Hangman then crotched Bryan on the top rope, and landed a lariat to send Bryan to the floor. He then followed up with a dive to the floor, and then climbed up top for a moonsault to the floor.
In the ring Hangman went for a seated lariat, but Bryan avoided it and pulled him into a crucifix pin. Hangman powered up and pulled Bryan onto his shoulders for a Death Valley Driver for a near fall. Hangman landed some hard chops in the corner. He then attempted a moonsault press, but Bryan moved out of the way and pulled Hangman into a La Magistral cradle for a near fall.
Page avoided a LeBell Lock and rolled up Bryan for another two count. Bryan quickly tapped Page and grabbed an ankle lock. Page tried to use up kicks to escape, but Bryan kicked him in the ribs. He then sent Page into the corner and landed two running dropkicks. On the third dropkick attempt, Hangman popped him up for a sit-out powerbomb for a near fall. He then attempted a Buckshot Lariat, but Danielson rolled to the floor on the opposite end of the ring.
Hangman went for another moonsault to the floor, but Bryan shoved him off and he went splat on the apron. Bryan then pulled Hangman’s shoulders into the ring post to follow up on the hard fall. He then got into the ring and taunted the crowd to a heap of boos. The misdirection was revealed, as Hangman was shown bleeding as the camera came back to him…[c]
Bryan landed a flying knee from the apron to the floor on a bleeding Hangman. The ref checked on Hangman and told both men to bring the action back into the ring. Bryan landed another knee strike on the apron, and then wrapped Hangman’s right shoulder around the ring post. Bryan then landed hard shots in the corner to open up Hangman’s cut, and then landed a nasty kick to the face.
The ref continued to check on Page. Bryan landed some more shots before attempting a Busaiku Knee Kick. Hangman caught him to avoid it, but Bryan quickly escaped and landed a suplex. He then transitioned to Cattle Mutilation, but Hangman quickly escaped. Bryan set up for kicks out on the apron, but Hangman ducked and Bryan kicked the ring post. Hangman sent him into the post a second time, and then wrapped his leg up in the bicycle rack at ringside and kicked it.
Page had the momentum, and applied a Figure Four in the ring. Bryan rolled to the ropes to escape…[c]
Bryan countered a pop up powerbomb with a huracanrana for a two count. He then transitioned into an arm bar, but Hangman rolled and caught in a triangle choke instead. Hangman powerbombed to escape, but Bryan held onto the triangle and landed some elbows. Bryan appeared to roll him both into the ropes for an escape. Bryan landed some kicks with his good leg, but then got caught with a Tombstone for a near fall.
Hangman landed hard chops in the corner, and then set Danielson on the top rope. They battled, and Bryan shoved him off and dove at him with a knee strike. He then landed a shoulder capture suplex, and set Hangman back on the top rope for an avalanche backdrop suplex. Bryan couldn’t make the cover immediately, which resulted in a near fall.
Danielson landed more 12 to 6 elbows, and then wrenched on his arm, forcing Hangman to reach the ropes. Bryan set up for a Gotch Piledriver on the apron, but Hangman reversed and landed Deadeye, and Danielson slid to the floor. Hangman followed to the floor, and Bryan walked over to the Timekeeper’s Table. Page climbed up top to dive on Bryan, but he missed and crashed into the table. The table did not break away…[c]
During the break, Bryan uncovered the concrete floor on the outside and landed a DDT there. They went to full screen commercials for a bit, and when they came back Hangman landed a German Suplex in the ring. Bryan landed some hard kicks, and Hangman replied with a lariat. He then went for a second one, but because of fatigue and shoulder targeting they didn’t have as much impact.
Bryan set Hangman on the top rope again, and went for another back drop suplex. Hangman landed on his feet and turned Bryan inside out with a huge lariat. Referee Paul Turner administered a standing ten count, and both men got to their feet. They traded shots, and Hangman got the better of it. Bryan landed some headbutts, and then a european uppercut. Danielson ducked a lariat, which led to some pinning reversals.
Hangman went for another rolling lariat, and Bryan landed a roundhouse kick as a counter. He then covered for a two count. Bryan said it was time to kick his head in. He grabbed his arms and landed a series of hard kick, and fell down on the last one. Bryan lined up for a Busaiku Knee Strike, but Hangman reversed into a Deadeye for a close near fall.
After he got back to his feet, Hangman clutched his right arm, and signaled that he would kick Bryan’s head in. He grabbed his arms and stomped on Bryan to return the favor. Hangman then set up for the Buckshot Lariat, but Bryan avoided it and pulled him into the LeBell Lock. After a struggle, Bryan landed some cross faces and reapplied the hold. Justin Roberts announced there was 60 seconds remaining in the match.
Page struggled to his feet and tried to send Bryan out of the ring with a slingshot. Bryan skinned the cat, and Hangman went to the apron and landed a Buckshot Lariat. Before he could make a cover, Justin Roberts announced a time limit draw.
Bryan Danielson and Adam Page wrestled to a time limit draw in an AEW Championship match at 60:00
After the match, both men were laid out on the mat. Dante Martin and MJF for the Dynamite Diamond was advertised for the Main Event.
My Take: An excellent match, and a real showcase for the talents of both men. Bryan really had the crowd in the palm of his hand the entire time, a real testament to his ability and experience. The psychology of the match was excellent. Bryan set up an excellent comeback in the middle of the match with an extended run on offense, and they weaved it into an exciting closing minute where both men could have won. This obviously sets up a rematch, but I think the company has to avoid booking Bryan in matches they can’t afford him to lose going forward.
Backstage, The Superkliq with Bobby Fish challenged The Best Friends to an eight-man tag on Rampage. They said they would ruin Sue’s van and super kick her in the face, and generally mocked the Best Friends Crew. Adam Cole then said he would present Orange Cassidy with a gift on the holiday edition of Dynamite…
In the arena, Wardlow made his entrance with Shawn Spears. Matt Sydal was already in the ring…
2. Wardlow (w/Shawn Spears) vs. Matt Sydal: They tied up to start, and Wardlow shoved Sydal down. He replied with some kicks that seemed to damage Wardlow, but it didn’t last. Wardlow landed a series of powerbombs. Spears grabbed a house mic and told him to pin him since he was already done. Wardlow made the cover and got the pin.
Wardlow defeated Matt Sydal at 1:43
Spears lectured Wardlow about being excessive, and then smashed Sydal multiple times with a chair. He then took a phone call from MJF, and informed Wardlow that he needed to go get some Champagne for MJF’s celebration later. We then got a vignette for a future match between Penelope Ford and Tay Conti submission match. Conti said she was tired of Ford and The Bunny using brass knuckles, and Ford said she would tap her out with the Muta Lock…[c]
My Take: Not much to this, but it made sense given the state of the exhausted crowd.
We got a Malakai Black vignette where he was shown with Tarot Cards. He spoke about the House of Black and said the house was built on lessons and ideas. He said humans are a violent species, and he values the house above everyone and everything. Black concluded by reminding everyone that the house always wins. Another person wearing a mask was shown handing Black a jacket…
In the arena, Serena Deeb made her entrance, followed by Hikaru Shida…
3. Hikaru Shida vs. Serena Deeb: Shida tossed her kendo stick at Deeb, and they rolled around brawling in the ring. They traded shots in the corner, and Shida landed a dropkick to gain the upper hand. Shida went for a springboard cross body, but Deeb transitioned into a kneebar of sorts. Shida scrambled to reach the ropes, and Deeb continued the assault with strikes.
Shida attempted another dropkick in the corner, but Deeb avoided it and slipped to the outside. She slammed Shida’s leg into the ring post, and then applied a figure four around the post…[c]
Deeb continued to attack the knee during the break. Shida started her comeback as the commercial ended and landed rapid fire strikes. She then landed a step up enziguri for a near fall. Shida then landed a vertical suplex for a two count. She then climbed to the top rope, but Deeb intercepted and applied a single leg crab as Shida dangled from the top rope. Deeb then pulled Shida through the turnbuckles in the corner and landed a neckbreaker on the steel where the buckle connects to the ring post.
She then pulled Shida into the middle of the ring and applied a neck crank. Shida reached the ropes. Deeb quickly applied a series of neckbreakers, but Shida countered the last attempt into a Falcon Arrow for a two count. Both women struggled to their feet. Shida landed an axe kick. After a series of reversals, Deeb applied a single leg crab. She pulled Shida into the center of the ring, but Shida still managed to escape.
Deeb exposed the top turnbuckle, but Shida avoided the attempt to slam her into it. Shida managed to shove Deeb into the exposed turnbuckle a moment later, and rolled up Deeb for the win.
Hikaru Shida defeated Serena Deeb at 12:46
After the match, they quickly cut backstage to the Varsity Blonds. Grif said Malakai Black was a coward, and promised he would bring the fight to hit. Brian Pillman Jr. tried to tell him to calm down, but Garrison didn’t want to hear it and said he attacked their sister (Julia Hart). Garrison told Black he would break his jaw next week…[c]
My Take: Deeb and Shida got a good chunk of time. It was a little clunky at points, but very good for the most part. I think this feud really got lost with the deluge of high profile stories AEW has introduced in recent weeks, so this rubber match didn’t seem to carry the weight it might have at one time. Coming after the World Title Match certainly didn’t help matters.
We got a Hook video package that showcased the highlights from last Friday…
Eddie Kingston was then shown backstage. He said 2.0 won’t get out of his way, and Mox isn’t around to tag with him. He then said they also attacked his boy Ortiz, and challenged 2.0 to find two more partners to face himself, Proud and Powerful, and The Lucha Bros on Rampage…
MJF made his entrance in the arena, and called the building a dump. He the said “Hey Texas, your daughter swallows.” MJF then accused Texas of being anti-education and pro-incest. He then said CM Punk had the balls to accuse him of taking the low hanging fruit, when he attacked the local sports team last week for 10 straight minutes. MJF said he especially loved the fact that he needed to face him one on one for the number one contendership, when his undefeated streak is a bunch of mediocre matches against mediocre opponents.
MJF accused Punk of being the next Ryback. He then said he’s a contender because he’s beaten Hangman Page, and said he’s a top name in the business even though he was born in 1996, which makes him the only young name that matters. He then said Dante Martin has the personality of quaaludes, and said he would beat him with a headlock takeover. Dante Martin then made his entrance…
4. MJF vs. Dante Martin for the Dynamite Diamond Ring: Things started with MJF avoiding some offense and stomping on Martin’s back. He gloated, and then knocked down Martin with a shoulder block. Martin fired back with a dropkick and a somersault 450 where his knees landed on MJF’s chest and maybe his face. MJF rolled to the floor, and continued to back away from Martin.
After a brief chase, Martin tripped MJF as he got back in the ring. Martin attempted a double springboard, but MJF shoved him into the barricade on the floor. He then followed to the outside and threw him in to the barricade…[c]
MJF attempted a powerbomb, but Martin reversed into a victory roll for a near fall. MJF then landed a powerbomb on the second try, and used the ropes for a leverage pin. The referee sniffed it out and stopped counting. MJF placed Martin on the top rope, and Martin shoved him off. He then landed a dropkick, and climbed back to the top. Martin avoided MJF’s offense and then landed several acrobatic dives onto MJF on the floor.
MJF kept looking for places to escape the ring, but Dante continued to find him with dives to the floor. Martin landed a shooting star dive, but he overshot and landed nearly face first. Back in the ring, Martin landed some hard punches. He went for a double jump, but MJF avoided it by walking away. Martin landed multiple pinning attempts for near falls. They traded more pinning counters for near falls.
Eventually they bridged back to their feet. MJF landed a sit out Liger Bomb for a near fall. Martin landed a double springboard moonsault, but Ricky Starks appeared from off screen to place MJF’s foot on the ropes. He then applied the Salt of the Earth armbar as Martin was distracted to get the win.
MJF defeated Dante Martin at 12:25 to win the Dynamite Diamond Ring.
After the match, FTR came down to celebrate with MJF. The lights suddenly went out, but when they came back on Sting and Darby Allin were in the ring to start a brawl with FTR. MJF gave them the numbers advantage and a beat down started. CM Punk made his entrance with a bat and the heels scrambled out of the ring. Punk grabbed a microphone and said MJF can bring his friends next week, and he would bring his. The Trios match was immediately announced for next week…
My Take: Not my favorite match from either guy. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t really excite me at any point either. The MJF promo before the match was alright, but it’s starting to feel like he and Punk are stretching out their material after shooting off the cannons in their opening salvo. The Dynamite Diamond can be retired and permanently reside with MJF at this point. It doesn’t seem to mean anything unless it’s being used as a shortcut for a match finish. Overall, the second hour of the show couldn’t help but be a let down after the first. I don’t know if switching it around would have made the show feel a bit more exciting or not, but the drop off in intensity and quality was noticeable.