By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
AEW Dynamite (Episode 116)
Greensboro, North Carolina at Greensboro Coliseum
Aired live December 22, 2021 on TNT
Excalibur welcomed the crowd to the Greensboro Coliseum. He was joined by Taz and Tony Schiavone on commentary… Adam Cole made his entrance. Holiday Bash is the theme of the show. Cole was followed by Orange Cassidy for the opening match…
1. Orange Cassidy vs. Adam Cole: The bell rang and both men sat in their corners and soaked in the crowd reactions. Cassidy paced and drew a line in the middle of the ring with his feet. Cole approached and got in his face, and did his Bay Bay shtick. Cassidy grabbed Cole’s hands and put them in his pockets. Cole got angry and took him down with a headlock takeover. They traded some mat reversals and pinfall attempts. Cassidy ended up in control with a side headlock. Cole got to his feet and they continued to trade headlock reversals.
The match continued at a slower pace. Cassidy rolled up Cole with a crucifix for a two count. Cole quickly reapplied a headlock. Cassidy recovered and rolled up Cole out of the corner for two, and then pulled him into a backslide for the same result. Cole turned things around with a backstabber, and then threw Cassidy hard across the ring into the turnbuckles. Cole placed Cassidy on the top turnbuckle, but Cassidy shoved him down as he attempted a superplex and landed a flying cross body. He then followed up with a tornado DDT with a near fall.
The Young Bucks and Brandon Cutler made their way to the ring as Cassidy climbed to the top rope. Cassidy dove at Cutler on the outside, and the Best Friends ran down to even the odds. Cassidy quickly ran into the ring and dove onto The Bucks. Cole capitalized by following him to the floor and throwing him into the ring steps twice. Cole tried to land The Boom while Cassidy was pressed against the steps, but he moved and Cole’s knee collided with the steps…[c]
Cole sold his knee during the break. Cassidy landed some light kicks on Cole. He got angry and tried to lash out at Cassidy, but he ducked and landed a superkick. Cole landed a suplex, but Cassidy fired back with a Stundog Millionaire and a jumping DDT from the second rope for a close near fall. Cole recovered and landed an Ushigoroshi, and then a kick to a small of Cassidy’s back.
Cole climbed up to the second rope for a Panama Sunrise, but Cassidy slowly backed out of the way. Cassidy bated Cole in for a rollup pin for two, and then landed a Michinoku Driver for a near fall. Cassidy then put on his sunglasses and climbed to the top. He put his hands in his pockets and did a flying nothing into a Superkick from Cole. He followed up with a Panama Sunrise, and made a lazy cover with his hands in his trunks for a near fall.
Cole fired up for The Boom, but Cassidy avoided it and landed the Beach Break for a close near fall. Cassidy lined up for an Orange Punch, but Cole rolled out to the floor. Bobby Fish then ran down and jawed with the ref.
Kyle O’Reilly attacked Cassidy while Fish continued to bicker with the referee. O’Reilly landed a kickboxing combo and bailed out of the ring. Cole landed The Boom and covered Cassidy for the win.
Adam Cole defeated Orange Cassidy at 17:21
After the match, Trent and Chuck ran down for the save, but got overwhelmed by the numbers advantage. Fish and O’Reilly landed a Total Elimination style High-Low to finish off Trent.
The Young Bucks walked down with confused looks on their faces. Cole gave the Bucks an awkward look, and then left the Bucks in the ring as Fish and O’Reilly followed him out…[c]
My Take: Not my favorite match from either guy. It wasn’t bad by any means, but it never really felt like it got out of second gear. The O’Reilly addition was expected, and could lead to some really fun stuff down the road with the Superkliq break down, but the execution wasn’t great on night one. The interference from Fish had to carry on for an eternity so O’Reilly could sneak in, and it made the ref look like a complete goof.
We got a video recap of the 60 minute draw between Bryan Danielson and Hangman Page last week. Their rematch was announced for the first Dynamite on TBS on January 5th. Tony Schiavone was in the ring in a Jacksonville Jaguars Christmas Sweater. He brought Adam Page out to the ring for an interview.
Schiavone put over the match last week as one of the greatest in AEW history, and said that if Page had one or two more minutes, he thinks Hangman would have won it. Page stopped him and said after 60 minutes of being covered in sweat and blood, he was handed back his Championship. Even though he walked out last week with the Championship, he never felt less like a Champion, and his only feeling coming out of that match was disappointment.
Bryan Danielson walked out and called Hangman an entitled millennial cowboy, and mocked him for being disappointed even though he was still the AEW Champion. He said if anyone would be disappointed, it’s the AEW fans, because he kicked his ass for 60 minutes and if anyone should be Champion it should be him. Bryan then said he’s not going to cry about his feelings, or talk about how sad he is, because they have a rematch on January 5th and he would kick his ass again.
Danielson made an excuse that he hurt his leg in the match against Jon Silver the week before, otherwise he would have won the AEW Championship. Bryan said he wasn’t going to make that mistake, and wouldn’t wrestle again until he challenges for the AEW Championship. He then mocked Page and the crowd for being entitled, and said he wasn’t here to complain, but instead offer a solution. Bryan said they should have judges for their match on January 5th, so if Page tries to stall out again for 60 minutes there will be someone there to decide on a winner.
Page replied that he thought about an inferno match, or a match without time limits, but if he wants to have judges that’s fine by him. It would be nice to give some old men some pay days. He then told Bryan that he’s worked far too hard to have some old prick tell him he wasn’t good enough, or a B+ Player, so he better pay his judges well in advance because they won’t be needed. Page then said he would put Bryan down on January 5th and put an end to this…
Backstage, MJF stood with The Pinnacle and dressed Wardlow down a bit. He then addressed CM Punk that when he doesn’t get his way, then the real CM Punk comes out. He said he was rustier in the ring than the knife Darby uses to skin small animals, his nice guy mask is slipping off, and when he refused to shake his hand, he signed his retirement papers. Dax Harwood stepped in and said they didn’t have a beef with Punk, but when he threatened his family and his livelihood he started a problem that they had no choice but to solve. Wardlow is in action next…[c]
My Take: Really good promo work all around there. Bryan and Page continue to have great chemistry on the microphone together. I’m not really all that excited about the prospect of judges deciding a match, but I hope that’s just a red herring and they’ll have an actual finish on January 5th. MJF and Harwood did a nice job to setup the main event in their brief promo.
Wardlow made his ring entrance. Captain Shawn Dean was already in the ring…
2. Wardlow vs. Captain Shawn Dean: Wardlow landed a kick, and then immediately went for a Powerbomb. He then landed a second one, and then a third. Spears screamed at him from ringside, and he put his boot on Dean’s chest and got the win.
Wardlow defeated Captain Shawn Dean at 1:12
After the match, Spears ran in and hit Dean with a chair. Wardlow was pissed at him trying to steal his glory…
A video package set up Sammy Guevara vs. Cody Rhodes for the TNT Championship for Saturday’s Rampage…
Dan Lambert then appeared in a luxury box and started ranting about Shakespeare. He told the crowd that they couldn’t possibly understand that, because all wrestling fans think about is turning off the lights in their parents’ basement. Lambert said he runs the most successful MMA gym in the world as a meritocracy, and Tony Khan-man is the exact opposite. If you’re his friend, you’re an EVP and you get all the opportunities in the world, but if not you’re opening match status.
Lambert called Scorpio Sky the first AEW Tag Team Champion, and a guy who has beaten Chris Jericho twice, but never gets an opportunity. All the while, Cody Rhodes gets yet another title match on Rampage. Lambert said he was also treated unfairly, because he’s put in an impossible situation to try and get people to cheer Cody Rhodes, and he’s an even bigger dick than he is. Lambert said he doesn’t care whether it’s Sammy or Cody, his guys get the next Title Shot so they can bring it to American Top Team…
Backstage, Tony Schiavone interviewed Britt Baker and asked about Riho. She called herself a pillar of the company, and someone who built her kingdom and throne instead of sliding in and stealing somebody’s spot. Baker called 2021 the year of DMD, and Riho was a fool for thinking 2022 would be any different. She said Riho comes around whenever she wants and gets a title shot, but she’s bigger and stronger and told Riho she should just stay under the bottom rope at the Battle of the Belts. She told Riho to be careful, because she could shoot her eye out…[c]
My Take: Wardlow continues to tease an eventual turn on MJF. Lambert was better here than when he was feuding with Jericho, but he still rants very quickly without pausing to let the crowd absorb the information. Baker seemed to be talking about more than Riho perhaps with her promo.
A video package focused on Owen Hart, with various AEW wrestling speaking about how he inspired them and his impact on Pro Wrestling. The Owen Hart tournaments will kick off in 2022 and finish up at Double or Nothing…
Nyla Rose made her entrance after the video, followed by Ruby Soho. Nyla attacked Ruby before the bell as she posed on the ropes.
3. Nyla Rose (w/Vickie Guerrero) vs. Ruby Soho in a TNT Title tournament semifinal match: Nyla pulled off Ruby’s jacket, which just refused to come off until Nyla really yanked on it. Soho landed some strikes once she got it pulled off, but Rose quickly put her back down with a strike. She then beeled her across the ring. Soho applied an arm overhook and landed some elbow strikes. Rose replied with a side slam of sorts. She set up for the beast bomb, but Soho escaped. Nyla then tossed Soho to the floor, and jumped off the apron with a double sledge.
Soho fired back with chops and strikes. She then landed some headbutts and got fired up. Ruby charged at Nyla to send her into the steps, but Vickie pulled Nyla out of the way…[c]
They went back and forth a bit during the break, and the action carried back into the ring. Nyla controlled the action for the most part. She attempted a splash as the show returned to full screen, and Ruby got her knees up. She then landed an innovative tornado DDT for a close near fall. Rose rolled to the floor and collected a chair, but Soho kicked it into her face with a dropkick off the apron.
Soho got hung up on the top rope a moment later, and Rose landed a knee strike to her shoulder. The announce team mentioned that the shoulder is surgically repaired. Nyla ran her into the turnbuckle shoulder first. Ruby escaped a slam and landed a dragon sleeper, but Vickie jumped up on the apron. Ruby released the hold and kicked Vickie, but walked into a Beast Bomb. Nyla covered for a close near fall. Nyla dragged Ruby with her as she climbed to the second rope, which Ruby countered into her No Fear finisher for the win.
Ruby Soho defeated Nyla Rose at 14:36 to advance to the finals of the TNT Title tournament.
After the match, Ruby gave a little girl a hug at ringside, before being led to the back. Malakai Black vs. Grif Garrison is up next…[c]
My Take: A very enjoyable match between Soho and Rose. Ruby sold her shoulder extremely well in the final minutes. Either that or she was legit injured, but I hope not. I wouldn’t mind a longer program between these two down the road, because they worked well together.
We got a video package with Serena Deeb where she claimed Hikaru Shida had never beaten her without cheating, and that things were far from over… Malakai Black then made his ring entrance, followed by Grif Garrison…
4. Malakai Black vs. Grif Garrison (w/Brian Pillman Jr.): Right as the bell rang, Garrison charged Black and got kicked for his trouble. Black rolled to the floor to jaw with Pillman, but Garrison intercepted him with a suicide dive. Back in the ring, they traded strikes and Malakai quickly tripped up Garrison and applied a knee bar of sorts. Garrison reached the ropes, but Black got up and landed a series of inside leg kicks.
Garrison recovered and tossed Black neck first into the second rope. He then landed a big rolling elbow and got a near fall. Back avoided a suplex attempt and landed another leg kick, and then a rising knee strike. Black then applied a single leg crab and got the submission win.
Malakai Black defeated Grif Garrison at 3:12
After the match, Black refused to break the hold. Pillman entered and shoved him off of Garrison, but got kicked in the face for his trouble…[c]
My Take: Pretty much what you’d expect here. It was curious to hear the announcers try to spin that Black’s completely unexplained motivations are what makes him “scary” instead of being a half baked character concept that needs more work.
Matt Hardy was backstage with “Private Party” Marq Quen and Isiah Kassidy. Hardy said he wanted Private Party as the number one contenders, and that Isiah Kassidy would pound Jungle Boy’s ass on Christmas Day Rampage and knock Jurassic Express out of the number one contendership for the tag titles. Jungle Boy then responded and said he would shove a piece of coal up Kassidy’s ass, and then Christian plugged some merch…
The announce team ran through some matches for next week’s episode. MJF made his entrance first for the main event. He was followed by FTR. Sting made his way out first for his team, followed by Darby Allin and CM Punk. Sting wore a CM Punk shirt and themed face paint, and Punk wore Sting face paint and classic Stinger pants…
5. MJF and “FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler vs. CM Punk, Darby Allin, and Sting: The match began with MJF and Punk in the ring. They circled one another, and MJF tagged Harwood and taunted the crowd. Harwood landed a series of side headlock takeovers, which Punk countered wih a head scissors. They then traded slaps, and Sting knocked Harwood on his ass. Dax replied with a shoulder tackle. Punk then landed a hip toss and an arm drag.
Darby tagged in, as did Cash Wheeler. Darby landed a dropkick and an arm drag, but Wheeler escaped and tagged in MJF. Darby quickly tagged Punk, who chased MJF around the ring until he tagged Wheeler back into the match. Punk grabbed an arm twist, and tagged in Sting, who got a huge reaction. He quickly took down Wheeler and went for a Scorpion Deathlock, but Wheeler scrambled to the outside to escape.
Wheeler hung Sting on the ropes, and made a tag to MJF. He entered and chopped Sting, who didn’t sell at all. They had a tug of War as MJF tried to run away to tag out. Sting took him down with a lariat, and tagged Punk, and MJF ran out of the arena into the concourse. Punk followed. They eventually reappeared running down the stairs and back to the ring, where MJF tagged out to Dax Harwood. There was a staredown out on the floor, and Darby Allin flew in from out of frame to take out the heels with a suicide drive…[c]
The babyface trio isolated Cash Wheeler for most of the break. The heels took over as the show returned, with Darby taking a nasty spill to the outside, hitting his head on the ropes and the apron as he fell. MJF spat water at Punk, and he entered the ring, only to get intercepted by the referee. FTR worked over Allin in their corner. MJF tagged in and mocked Punk while he landed a bodyslam on Darby.
Punk called out to Darby as the heels made rapid fire tags and worked him over. Darby surprised Wheeler with a body slam, and made a tag out to Sting. He entered and landed strikes on Wheeler and Harwood. He then took Harwood down the ladder in the corner with turnbuckle smashed, and then landed stinger splashes on both men in the corners. Darby and Punk followed with a coffin splash and a rising knee.
Sting attempted a Scorpion Deathlock on harwood, but MJF ran in and prevented it by pulling Sting down by his hair…[c]
Wheeler applied an abdominal stretch, but Sting hip tossed out of it. Harwood entered the match, and sent Sting into the corner. He tried to mock Sting with a Stinger splash, but he caught him coming in and landed a body slam. MJF tagged in, and String dropped him with a desperation lariat. He then stumbled into the ropes and fell face first into MJF’s groin.
Sting tagged out to Punk, who entered and cleaned house on FTR. He covered Harwood after a neckbreaker for a near fall. Sting climbed to the top for an elbow drop, but Wheeler and Harwood knocked him down into his groin. Dax climbed to the middle rope and they traded blows. Harwood got shoved down, but he quickly climbed back up. Wheeler then made a blind tag and they landed a Powerplex for a near fall.
Darby took Wheeler out on the outside. Punk landed a roundhouse kick on Harwood in the ring. MJF had been hiding out at the timekeeper’s table, and the camera found him there. Punk and Harwood traded blows. Punk went for a GTS, but Harwood reversed and landed the Big Rig. Sting broke up the fall to save Punk. MJF entered and landed a DDT on Sting. He no sold it, and then tossed MJF onto FTR on the floor.
MJF took a nasty landing on his head. Sting then splashed all three men on the floor. Harwood and MJF were in the ring, and Harwood shoved him to the floor to save him. Punk landed a GTS on Harwood, followed by a Scorpion Death Drop and a Coffin Drop. Punk made the cover for the win.
Darby Allin, Sting, and CM Punk defeated MJF and FTR at 26:01
After the match, MJF ran to commentary and stole a headset to say Punk was a coward who wouldn’t touch him. The babyface trio celebrated to close the show.
My Take: The last 8 or so minutes were really fun, but this match was tasked with filling a lot of time, and so fill time it did. It’s good to see Sting doing so well. He seems to have found a style that works for him in AEW, and the crowds love him. The MJF spot where he ran to the concourse and back was a good bit of fun as well. Overall, this was a good show overall, and moderately newsworthy with O’Reilly making his debut and Page/Danielson II announced for January 5th.