By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
AEW Dynamite (Episode 121)
Cleveland, Ohio at Wolstein Center
Aired live January 26, 2022 on TBS
[Hour One] Cody Rhodes and Sammy Guevara were already in the ring to start the show. JR chimed in quickly and then tossed to Justin Roberts for ring introductions. Tony Schiavone and Excalibur joined in after the introductions.
1. Sammy Guevara vs. Cody Rhodes (w/Arn Anderson) in a Ladder Match for the TNT Championship: They shook hands to start, and then began tentatively. Cody landed a shoulder block, and Sammy replied with a dropkick. They circled each other for a bit, and then took turns taunting the crowd. Both men had a mixed reaction, but Sammy had more cheers and Cody had more boos. Cody went for a Tiger Driver, and Guevara went for a GTH, but neither succeeded. The action spilled outside and Guevara grabbed a ladder.
Cody cut him off and they brawled around through the crowd a bit. A ladder was wedged between the ring post and the barricade. Cody clothesline Sammy over the barricade. Cody taunted the crowd, and Sammy popped up and landed a cutter on the floor. Cody didn’t really bump for it. Back in the ring, Sammy set up another, taller ladder. He tried to climb it, but Cody quickly pulled him down. Guevara slammed Cody into the ladder and climbed back up, but Cody pulled him down into an electric chair.
Sammy avoided the electric chair drop, and they both collided awkwardly after Sammy hit the ropes. Both men climbed the ladder a moment later, and Cody pulled Sammy off the top of the ladder with a vertical suplex from a great height…[c]
Cody picked up Sammy and dropped his abdomen first on the hinges of an upside down ladder. He then wrapped his legs up in a different ladder, and applied a figure four through the rungs. Sammy made a miraculous recovery and landed a series of lariats. He then tried to get to the top rope, but Cody tossed a ladder into his face. He then smashed him into a ladder again, and pinned him into the corner with it. Both men climbed different ladders, and Sammy jumped at Cody and pulled him off the ladder with a very well executed cutter.
Both men were down, and Sammy got to his feet first. Sammy placed a ladder over Cody’s chest and started to climb the other side. Cody pushed the ladder and Sammy took an awkward landing into the ropes. Cody climbed the ladder again, and Sammy set one up right behind him and started to climb. Cody then turned around and pulled Sammy off the ladder with a CrossRhodes. Sammy had a bit of an awkward landing because of the way he twisted as he fell. Cody repositioned and climbed the ladder again, and Sammy quickly followed him. Both men ended up hanging from the apparatus that was holding up the TNT Championship belts. Referees checked on both men as they rolled to the floor. Cody used a ladder on the outside and slammed Sammy’s knee in it.
Fuego Del Sol ran down to the ring and told Cody to win the match instead of punishing Sammy. Cody gave Fuego a Tiger Driver in the ring. Sammy entered and dumped Cody to the floor, and then dove on him. Sammy positioned Cody on the ladder that was positioned between the ring and the barricade earlier. He then pulled out the largest ladder they have.available, and climbed to the top.
Sammy then stood on the very top of the ladder and delivered a senton atomico onto Cody, but the ladder below didn’t bend or break. It looked painful for everybody involved. Sammy struggled to his feet, and Cody met him at the top of the ladder positioned in the center of the ring. Sammy swung one of the belts to knock Cody to the ground, and captured both of the TNT Title Belts.
Sammy Guevara defeated Cody Rhodes in a ladder match to win the Unified TNT Championship at 22:34
After the match, Sammy celebrated with Feugo. Tony Schiavone interviewed Powerhouse Hobbs and Ricky Starks near a frozen beach in Cleveland. They laid out challenges for Dante Martin and Jay Lethal, respectively. Back in the arena, Wardlow made his ring entrance for a 2 on 1 Handicap Match. Cleveland is Wardlow’s hometown. His opponents of Elijah Dean and James Alexander.
2. Wardlow vs. Elijah Dean and James Alexander in a handicap match: As you’d expect, this was an Orchestra of Powerbombs. The fifth and final powerbomb dropped Alexander onto Dean for the win.
Wardlow defeated Elijah Dean and James Alexander in a handicap match at 1:28
After the match, Shawn Spears wanted to hit both men with a chair, but Wardlow prevented it. The main event between Orange Cassidy and Adam Cole was plugged. The Trios match between Inner Circle and 2point0 and Daniel Garcia is next…[c]
My Take: A very good opener from Guevara and Rhodes. The level of risk at play was absolutely nuts, and I’m guessing both men will have at least some minor injuries coming out of it. Wardlow continues to be positioned as a badass, which is going to kick off a really strong babyface run for him.
The Inner Circle made their entrance. The announce team aired the footage from last week of Santana and Ortiz telling Jericho they want to focus on themselves. 2point0 and Garcia were already in the ring.
3. Chris Jericho, Santana, and Ortiz vs. Daniel Garcia and “2point0” Matt Lee and Jeff Parker: Lee and Jericho started the match. Santana tagged himself in, and then Lee tagged out to Parker. Santana rained down punches on Parker and then a trio of suplexes. He had an assist from Ortiz on the third suplex. Ortiz then landed a Kokeshi type splash and covered for a two count. Parker recovered and tagged in Garcia.
He entered the match and traded with Ortiz, but was cut down by a lariat. Santana tagged in and they landed a double team pancake, and then a double team dropkick. Jericho tagged himself in, after they continuously kept him out of the match. Ortiz then tagged himself in, which started an argument. 2point0 and Garcia jumped them from behind to take advantage…[c]
Lee and Parker used some double team offense on Ortiz. They had isolated him in their half of the ring during the break. Ortiz landed a back body drop, and Jericho got fired up for a tag. Ortiz tagged Santana instead, and Jericho dropped to the floor. Santana was quickly overwhelmed by a triple team, but Ortiz helped even the odds. They landed a Powerbomb and Elbow Drop combo.
Jericho gave an assist from the floor and landed a Judas Effect on Lee when his head popped through the ropes. Santana then gave him a piledriver and got the win.
Chris Jericho, Santana and Ortiz defeated Daniel Garcia and “2point0” Matt Lee and Jeff Parker at 9:31
After the match, we got a video package for the upcoming Texas Deathmatch between Hangman Page and Lance Archer in two weeks. CM Punk speaks up next…[c]
My Take: An enjoyable match, but it continues to be hard to see 2point0 and Garcia as legitimate threats when they are presented as background characters in other people’s stories all the time. Jericho essentially proving Santana and Ortiz need him was a different approach than I expect for this program. I guess we’ll see where it goes. As long as it doesn’t end with the Inner Circle status quo then it’s good by me.
Christian Cage and “Jurassic Express” Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus were interviewed backstage along with Matt Hardy and “Private Party” Isiah Cassidy and Marq Quen. Christian said everyone was gunning for them, and Hardy said it was time for Private Party to capture the Championships. Jungle Boy told Isaiah Kassidy that his watch was fake, and they’d see them at Rampage…
CM Punk made his entrance in the arena, and he has taped up ready to fight. Punk said Hello Cleveland, and said he tried to be a badass but the fans made his smile. Punk said he was sick of hearing himself talk, and he was ready to fight. He said he had his long boys on, and everybody knew who he wanted to fight. Punk showed off one of MJF’s scarves that he stole from MJF last week. He then said he thought about challenging MJF to a match to get it back, but he found them for $5 a dozen on Amazon and he knew it was just as cheap as his personality.
Punk said that the scarf says it was made on Long Island, so he knows it’s not made of strong material. Punk spoke about chasing MJF all over the arena, and defeating everyone MJF put in his way, and he wants MJF in a match tonight in Cleveland.
MJF interrupted, and Punk shouted to cut his crappy music. The crowd chanted that MJF sucks. He responded that they must not want to see him wrestle again. He then asked if they really wanted the match, and the crowd cheered yes. He then said no, and that he wouldn’t waste a historic match on Cleveland, Ohio.
MJF called the city a cesspool, and said he would give everyone the match they’ve wanted next week in Chicago, Illinois. He teased announcing someone else to face Punk, but then said he would face him next week. MJF said people want the match, or at least they think they do. He said that the match will be spectacular, but the outcome would be upsetting.
[Hour Two] MJF said after he beats CM Punk in Chicago, the people would get to see the real CM Punk. The man who loses his fake smile whenever he doesn’t get what he wants, and isn’t afraid to sue over it. He claimed that Punk came back after 7 years in August 2021, and would announce he’s leaving again in February 2022. MJF claimed that Punk would do it all over again, just like LeBron James.
MJF spoke about Punk not caring about fans, and said he would walk away all over again and whine about it on a Podcast. Punk then said the best thing he did was leave, and the best thing he did was come back, and those things are not mutually exclusive. He said MJF listened to that podcast because he was a fan, and he doesn’t get to put that on the fans. Punk said MJF watched him when he was a kid and he stood in line for his autograph, and he doesn’t get to take that out on the fans.
Punk said that he should go to the back and put his boots on with the three inch lifts and handle business. He claimed that some fans love him and some hate him, but that’s life. Punk then said the fans don’t love him because he wins, or hate him because he loses, they love him because he always gets back up, just like Cleveland. MJF said it was time to test that theory.
The rest of the Pinnacle made their way out to the ring. Spears and FTR jumped Punk. FTR held him so Spears could hit him with a chair. MJF then ordered Wardlow to powerbomb Punk, and he did onto the seat of the chair. MJF then stood over Punk and told him it was apropo that his career would end in the same place it started, Chicago.
Backstage, “The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Anthony Bowens said they had beef with Jon Moxley for an attack from months and months ago when they first met on television. They said they would even up the score on Rampage… Red Velvet vs. Leyla Hirsch is up next…[c]
My Take: It should be noted that Shawn Spears got in the ring with a chair and then immediately dropped it to do a double leg takedown. A good promo from Punk and MJF, but it felt like they’ve been repeating the same talking points since their first promo together a few months ago. I’m interested to see how things go in Chicago next week. I’m guessing Punk vs. MJF will do very well for ticket sales. It is odd that Punk seems to have no friends.
Backstage, Mark Sterling approached Julia Hart and offered her an opportunity at Jade Cargill’s TBS Championship. I guess she picks her own opponents?
In the arena, Leyla Hirsch made her entrance, followed by Red Velvet.
4. Leyla Hirsch vs. Red Velvet: Velvet charged the ring and they mixed up immediately. There was an early head scissors botch, but they covered it nicely. The action spilled outside, and Hirsch ran Velvet into the ring apron. Velvet recovered and landed a lariat, and then tossed Hirsch back into the ring. She then landed some kicks and a Stunner using the second rope from the ring apron. Velvet attempted to apply a triangle sleeper, but Hirsch powered her up and gave her a buckle bomb in the corner. Hirsch then landed a shotgun dropkick to Velvet’s taped up shoulder…[c]
Velvet landed a stunner off the middle rope, but couldn’t make a cover. She was able to land a lariat, and then a drop toe hold into the ropes. Velvet ran and drove double knees into Hirsch’s back. Hirch replied with a forearm shot to the bad shoulder. Velvet landed a spear with the good shoulder and covered for a two count. Hirsch landed a powerbomb counter and then a knee strike. She could have pinned Velvet, but pulled her up and applied an arm submission.
After a few seconds, Velvet reached the ropes. She then pulled Hirsch into an inside cradle, but only got a two count. Hirsch then rolled up Velvet with a handful of tights and got the win.
Leyla Hirsch defeated Red Velvet at 8:32
After the match, Hirsch applied an armbar, which prompted Kris Statlander to make the save. Hirsch ran away up the ramp…
In a pre-taped promo, Malakai Black spoke about Brody King. He said the House of Black is about chaos and violence, and King embodies both things. King said Pac has spoken against the House, and now he must be humbled. After his defeat, he can reflect on the teaching the house has bestowed on him. King said like death….and Black finished and said they are inevitable…[c]
My Take: A solid match from Hirsch or Velvet, but their character work has been so subpar that it’s tough to get too motivated about their program. There was also the issue of them being number one and number two in the Women’s Championship Rankings, but almost none fo their matches being televised prior to this one. I also don’t understand working on the injured shoulder for the entire match and not having it play into the finish at all.
In the ring, Tony Schiavone had all of Britt Baker’s PWI Awards in the ring, along with a couple of posters with magazine covers. Britt Baker made her way out to the ring next. Baker said she’s been a bit of a stranger to the microphone, but it hasn’t been a stranger to her, because CM Punk and MJF can’t keep her name out of their mouths. She put over all her PWI awards, and how she had nine straight victories since winning the AEW Women’s Championship. That number was special to her and Cleveland, because it’s the number of times Baker Mayfield was sacked in Pittsburgh.
She said it was time to talk about a Baker that can win shit. She spoke more about her accomplishments, and that she was the first woman signed to AEW and the first woman to main event Dynamite. She talked more trash about Baker Mayfield, and told Cleveland that they finally had a Baker they can count on. She then left with a yellow flag from ringside that symbolized a terrible towel…
Nyla Rose walked out with Vickie Guerrero. Nyla complained that Ruby Soho was the reason she isn’t the TBS Champion, and said next week she would take her revenge by beating her on Dynamite. The Main Event is up next…[c]
My Take: Britt Baker really overrated how much I care about Baker Mayfield and the Pittsburgh Steelers. This was the first Britt promo I can recall where she seemed to just plow through the entire thing without taking the time to react to the audience. I also don’t really know why this promo was here at all, since it didn’t have an angle or move any specific program forward.
Justin Roberts announced that the rules would be suspended for the Lights Out match. Adam Cole made his entrance, followed by Orange Cassidy.
5. Orange Cassidy vs. Adam Cole in a Lights Out Match: Cassidy took off his sunglasses and crumpled them in his hands. He and Cole then demonstrated a hockey fight, and Cassidy rolled out to the floor. Cole followed, and Cassidy threw him into the barricade. He then put his hands in his pockets and gave Cole a shotgun dropkick. Cole fired back with a back suplex onto the top of the barricade.
Cole pulled a chair out from under the ring, and Danhausen was attached to it. He stared at Cole and then walked off. Cassidy seemed just as confused at Cole. After the crowd settled down, Cole kicked a chair into Cassidy’s throat, and then threw him into the ring post. Cole set up for a Panama Sunrise on the floor, but Cassidy avoided it and drove Cole through the timekeeper’s table.
Cassidy lined up for an Orange Punch, but Cole put the ring bell in the way. Cole then placed Cassidy’s arm between the ring post and the ring steps, and then kicked the steps. Cole threw a pile of weapons into the ring…[c]
Cole dominated the break until Cassidy managed to spray him with a fire extinguisher. Cassidy was still staring at his hand, and Cole replied with a brainbuster onto his knee. Cole setup a pair of chairs facing one another, but Cassidy landed a stunner and then a Michinoku driver through the chairs. Cassidy’s hand was bleeding, and Cole landed a superkick that sent him to the floor.
Cole called to the back, and Brandon Cutler walked out with cold spray. Wheeler Yuta took him out. Bobby Fish ran down, which brought out Chuck Taylor. The Young Bucks blasted Chuck with a double superkick. The Bucks and Cole lined up to kick Cassidy, but Trent and Rocky Romero pulled the Bucks from the ring. Cassidy landed Beach Break for a near fall. He then landed an Orange Punch, but his hand hurt too bad to make a cover. Cole attempted a low blow, but Orange Cassidy was wearing a cup with thumbtacks on it. Cassidy then went for a Panama Sunrise, and landed it for a near fall.
Cassidy wrapped a chain around his damaged right hand. Cole ran away up the ramp, and Cassidy followed. Cole and Cassidy crashed into the backstage area. Cole pulled Jerry Lynn in the way, and then used the distraction to put Cassidy through a table with a Fireman’s Carry for a near fall. Cole looked to lower the boom on the stage, but Cassidy popped up and landed a superkick. Cassidy wrapped the chain around his hand again, but Cole wiped out Cassidy with one of the stage lights.
Cole dragged Cassidy near one of the entryways, and started to climb to the top of the nearest truss. Cole looked down and found that Cassidy was already behind him, who landed a low blow. Cassidy then gave Cole a hug, and then both men crashed through the stage below. The ref counted and Cassidy got the win.
Orange Cassidy defeated Adam Cole in a Lights Out match at 17:01
After the match, highlights were shown of the action as Orange Cassidy was pulled from the heap by Chuck Taylor and Rocky Romero…
My Take: I guess the Lights Out stipulation exists purely so this loss doesn’t exist on Adam Cole’s record? It was a fun match with a lot of crazy risks, but I think it was outshined in that department by the ladder match earlier on in the show. This was a very entertaining edition of Dynamite from an in-ring perspective, but I wasn’t blown away by the character work or storytelling. Hopefully that improves as we get closer to the next PPV.