By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
AEW Dynamite (Episode 123)
Atlantic City, New Jersey at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall
Aired live February 9, 2022 on TBS
[Hour One] Pyro lit up the arena as Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, and Excalibur joined in on commentary. Wardlow walked out with some MJF and CM Punk cardboard standees. The entrance ramp was striped with a pattern like MJF’s Burberry scarf. Wardlow did not get music, and set up the standees in the ring and handed Justin Roberts a piece of paper. He announced FTR and Tully Blanchard, who came out to their full entrance in suits. Shawn Spears then made his entrance, and Roberts called him the greatest Accountabilibuddy of all time.
Roberts then announced MJF, named him as undefeated. He said he pins shoulders to mats, and bangs all the rats, and is the greatest of all time. There were a dozen other names. MJF then finally made his ring entrance, but was carried on a throne by six extras. Two women in dresses led him out to the ring. One of the women made out with him as he got to the ring in an exaggerated way.
MJF and the Pinnacle guys had a celebration, but Wardlow kept out of it. Some confetti fell from the rafters. He said it was hot in AC tonight. He tried to quiet the crowd, but they booed constantly. MJF said he made it clear last week that he was the best wrestler on the planet. Not Kenny Omega, Danielson, Cole, or Hangman, but MJF. He said he beat CM Punk twice in Chicago, so he’s better than the Best in the World.
MJF said last week was bittersweet for him. After he beat the best in the world twice in Chicago, a guy he watched on TV as a kid, he decided to whisper two words to him afterwards, which were “YOU SUCK”. MJF then thanked Shawn Spears for all of his help warming him up for the match, and said he couldn’t have gotten the win without him. Spears then introduced his new shirt about defeating the best in the world on the Tron. MJF then went on to say he was better than Bret in Canada, Piper in Portland, and Punk in Chicago, and it was time he became the AEW Champion.
CM Punk walked out on the stage. Schiavone walked over and held a mic in front of him. Punk called his win in Chicago as suspect as his spray tan. He said he doesn’t like to ask for help, but he’s learned his lesson, and said today he had some friends. Darby and Sting then walked out on the stage with baseball bats.
Punk said it’s going to go one of two ways, he’s either going to get his rematch or he can come down to the ring and beat it out of him. MJF said he didn’t deserve a rematch, and Punk said he wasn’t talking to him, he was talking to the guy who actually beat him, and that was Wardlow. He told Wardlow that he could either take a beating with these losers, or he can grow some balls and walk away from them.
MJF said he beat Punk fair and square, and Wardlow is with them because he’s their best friend. Dax Harwood then grabbed the mic and said they wanted a rematch, and Punk agreed on a rematch from Greensboro, because he’d get his hands on Max. MJF then offered a one on one rematch with MJF on the condition that Punk and a partner of his choosing could beat FTR, but his partner couldn’t be Sting or Darby. He then told Wardlow he had a match later, so he should go get dressed….[c]
My Take: This felt a little more complicated than it needed to be with all the confusing challenges and rebuttals, but it worked for the most part. The long stretches in between PPV’s and the long programs that result from it end up leading to some awkwardness as they continue to extend the program with more gimmicks.
Backstage, Andrade got a meeting with Sting and Darby Allin. Andrade called Darby a kid, and offered him a deal. Sting told him he’s not a kid, and he made it clear a few weeks ago that he wasn’t interested, and if he had a problem with him he should talk to him mano y mano. Darby reiterated that he wasn’t interested, and told Andrade he was going to be the next TNT Champion. Andrade retorted that he would be next TNT Champion, and walked away…
The Blade made his entrance for the first match. He was followed by Wardlow, who didn’t have time to fully get taped up…
1. The Blade vs. Wardlow (w/Shawn Spears): Wardlow posed in the corner as he got in the ring, and Blade went after him with a chop block. He continued on the attack until Wardlow cut him down with a lariat. Wardlow then continued on offense with an overhead suplex throw. He then threw him a second time, and a third. Blade escaped outside, and Wardlow picked up Blade and charged him into the ring post…[c]
Wardlow continued to dominate on offense, but also limped heavily on the knee that received the chop block earlier in the match. He drove Wardlow into the corner and landed a series of hard uppercuts. Blade countered with a knee strike. Blade jumped up for a second knee, but Wardlow grabbed him and slammed him with a powerbomb. Wardlow then picked up Blade for a second and third for the win.
Wardlow defeated The Blade at 8:36
After the match, Spears ran in and landed a chair shot to be annoying…
Backstage, a Penta El Zero M video was shown. He dug up a mask in the graveyard, and said that Malakai Black spit into his soul, and it was time to bring back what looked like the mask he wore as Pentagon Dark…
Back in the arena, Chris Jericho made his entrance as a part of the Inner Circle Meetup Group. Santana and Ortiz did not walk out with the rest of the group. Jericho addressed them and said they haven’t seen Santana and Ortiz all day, but some music hit immediately and they walked out. Jericho said he understood that they wanted their own spotlight and they deserve it. He then said what wasn’t cute was two weeks ago when they embarrassed him in their tag match against 2point0 and Garcia.
Jericho said it was disrespectful when they denied the fans a chance to see him wrestle. Santana said enough of the corny bullshit, and that he was struggling with a glass half full mindset. He continued and said Jericho only cared about himself, and when the entire group needed to shift focus, it was for his personal advancement. Every time they’ve gotten a little bit of spotlight, they had to put it aside to come to his rescue.
Santana said it was funny they were out there to tell him to his face that their days of playing second fiddle were over and done with. He then told Jericho to put the mic down. Santana said it was him who got in their way of the spotlight, but it was the fans who kept them going. He then pointed to Ortiz and told Jericho to thank him, because if it wasn’t for him he would have dropped his ass a long time ago.
Jericho said he reminded him of Eddie Guerrero, because he would get fired up and blame everybody for his shortcomings, even his close friends. He then said since he brought them in to AEW in 2019, he’s gotten them PPV Main Events, bigger paydays, and opportunities that they couldn’t take advantage of. It wasn’t his fault they couldn’t defeat the Young Bucks, and maybe he invited the wrong members of LAX into the Inner Circle.
Jericho said he invited them in, and he could kick them out of the Inner Circle. He then asked Jake Hager to call Homicide and Hernandez….and then Santana got in his face. Sammy Guevara separated them initially, and then told Jericho that if they couldn’t figure their shit out, he was done. He dropped his vest in the ring and walked to the back.
Ortiz then got the mic and said Eddie Kingston is one of their brothers in arms. All this bickering wouldn’t resolve anything. Where they come from, they don’t solve issues with their words, they solve it with their fists. He then challenged Jericho and Hager to a match next week, and he accepted. He told them they better be there, because attendance is mandatory…
Backstage, “Roppongi Vice” Trent Beretta and Rocky Romero gave an interview, and said they would take on the Young Bucks on Friday’s Rampage. The Young Bucks walked up, and Adam Cole jumped Romero and Trent from behind. The Bucks then gave Romero a BTE Trigger. Adam Cole called out somebody walking into frame, who turned out to be Jay White. He threw Trent into a production trailer, and then told Nick Jackson he had nice earrings…
Isaiah Kassidy made his entrance…[c]
My Take: A very good promo from Santana, which felt like a long time coming. Jericho came across a jackass here, so he’s definitely playing heel for this feud at least. Jay White coming into AEW is good news and should be a lot of fun, but it’s not one of those things that will go anywhere outside the wrestling bubble.
Keith Lee made his entrance and his AEW. He is using the moniker of Limitless…
My Take: Lee’s song is ok, but not quite the banger his NXT theme was.
2. Keith Lee vs. Isiah Kassidy (w/Matt Hardy, Marq Quen) in a Face of the Revolution ladder match qualifier: Lee ate up the crowd reaction and then tossed Kassidy like a football across the ring. Kassidy tried to land some strikes, but Lee stuffed him and landed a cross body. Kassidy rolled to the outside, and Lee followed. Marq Quen threw Kassidy back into the ring, and then Lee slingshotted himself in for a splash. He then picked up Kassidy for a powerbomb, but he escaped. Lee then pounced Kassidy to the outside with a big charge.
Hardy looked disgusted at ringside and left through the crowd. Lee got stung on the apron by a flying strike. Kassidy then splashed him with a tornillo on the floor. Lee then swatted Kassidy out of the sky and landed his formerly named Big Bang Catastrophe for the win.
Keith Lee defeated Isiah Kassidy at 4:34 to qualify for the Face of the Revolution ladder match.
After the match, Private Party tried to jump Lee, but he caught their attempts at splashes on the outside, and powerbombed them into the apron…
A promo package for Mercedes Martinez vs. Thunder Rosa for next week was shown. Both women were ready for the violence of the no DQ stipulation… Sammy Guevara walked out for his cue card bit…[c]
My Take: Great to see Keith Lee, as he’s a huge asset when used properly. This was a good debut match to show off his power, but I think Keith might benefit from trying to get back to the weight he was at a few years ago. He looked like he was a bit uncomfortable moving around at times, and that wasn’t always the case during his NXT run.
FTR made their ring entrance with Tully Blanchard. CM Punk then made his entrance.
[Hour Two] Jon Moxley made his entrance as Punk’s tag partner.
3. Jon Moxley and CM Punk vs. “FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler (w/Tully Blanchard): Punk and Dax Harwood started the match. Harwood landed a hip toss, and then Punk replied with a side headlock takeover. Cash Wheeler tagged in, and Punk quickly took arm control. Wheeler broke it with a strike and then retreated to his corner. Fans chanted for Moxley, and Punk made the tag. Harwood also tagged in.
Moxley and Harwood traded headlocks. Moxley then landed a big body slam and a series of kicks. Punk tagged back in and shoved Harwood back into the corner. Wheeler caused a distraction, which allowed Harwood to attack Punk’s knee with an elbow strike. Both Wheeler and Harwood targeted Punk’s knee, with ref Aubrey Edwards trying to regain control.
Harwood missed a splash in the corner and went face first into the ring post. Both men made tags, and Moxley tossed Wheeler with a suplex. He then landed a German Suplex to both members of FTR. He followed up with a double DDT. Moxley went to run the ropes, but Wheeler grabbed his ankle. Punk landed a springboard clothesline on Wheeler to prevent further damage. He then dove on FTR at ringside, but they caught him. Moxley dove on everybody to topple the pile…[c]
Moxley went through a table during the break. He then sold some back pain, and was nearly counted out before apparently making a full recovery. Harwood and Wheeler both stepped on his head immediately when he got back in the ring. Moxley landed a Saito Suplex on Wheeler and attempted to make a tag. Punk was distracted by Harwood and was out of position. Wheeler knocked Punk to the floor and landed a double team spinebuster and leg drop combo for a near fall.
Harwood went to the top and missed an elbow drop. Moxley cut Wheeler down with a big lariat and made a hot tag to Punk. He landed a leg lariat and a corner knee strike to Dax Harwood. He covered after a short arm clothesline for a near fall. FTR set up for a Powerplex, but Punk knocked Wheeler off the turnbuckle. Punk and Moxley then set up Harwood and executed a Doomsday Device for a near fall.
Wheeler landed a nasty Tornado DDT on Moxley on the floor. He then grabbed the ring bell and blasted Punk with it. Harwood then landed a brainbuster on Punk, but only got a close near fall. After a bit of back and forth, Punk attempted a GTS on Harwood. Wheeler broke it up, and FTR landed a Big Rig on Punk. Moxley had to break up the pinfall to prevent the loss.
All four men traded shots in the ring. We nearly got a GTS and Paradigm Shift simultaneously. Eventually, Moxley had a rear naked choke applied to Harwood, and Punk applied the Anaconda Vice on Wheeler. Tully broke it up, and Punk gave him a GTS. We then got the promised GTS and Paradigm Shift combo and Punk got the pin on Wheeler.
CM Punk and Jon Moxley defeated “FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler at 18:32
After the match, Punk and Moxley fist bumped each other. Jade Cargill vs. AQA is next…[c]
My Take: A solid match, but felt like it dragged on a bit at the end with the need to protect everyone with false finishes and visual pins. Blanchard taking a GTS was quite the sight in 2022. Punk now gets his rematch with MJF, which I assume will end up on PPV.
A.Q.A (Formerly Zayda Ramier in NXT) made her entrance. She got a brief video package where she spoke of being trained by Booker T and wanted to test herself against the best on Dynamite. She was followed by Jade Cargill…
4. Jade Cargill (w/Mark Sterling) vs. A.Q.A for the TBS Championship: Jade picked up and slammed A.Q.A almost immediately. They tied up again, and Cargill took her down with wrist control. A.Q.A sprung back to her feet and pulled Cargill down with an arm drag. Cargill rolled through and picked up A.Q.A and dropped her with a back suplex. She then popped up A.Q.A coming off the ropes, but she countered with a dropkick. A.Q.A attempted a baseball slide to the outside, but Cargill avoided it and landed a huge lariat…[c]
Jade controlled the action with her power during the break. She landed a press slam for a near fall. A.Q.A replied with a sling blade, and looked a bit rocked by it. She then landed a tornado DDT, which Cargill struggled to take properly. A.Q.A climbed the ropes and landed an impressive Shooting Star Press, but Jade kicked out for a close near fall. A.Q.A went back up top for a second one, but Cargill got to her feet and she had to bail.
They battled in the corner, and A.Q.A attempted a splash from the second rope, but got caught for a twisting powerslam. She then followed up with Jaded for the win.
Jade Cargill defeated A.Q.A at 8:16 to retain the TBS Championship.
The Young Bucks cut a backstage promo and said they would start to climb back up the tag ranks on Friday. Cole told them Jay White would have their back on Friday. The Bucks questioned him on Jay White, and said they didn’t know if they could trust him because he and Kenny were enemies at one time. Cole asked them to trust him, and said they all took an oath to be Bullet Club for life. He said they would make a statement on Friday, and he had to make one himself, and walked off…
Serena Deeb made her entrance for her five-minute rookie challenge. She told Katie Arquette in the ring that she was putting her life on the line in the ring with her…
5. Serena Deeb vs. Katie Arquette in a five-minute challenge: Deeb backed Arquette into the corner and turned her back on Arquette. She tried to grab Deeb in a waistlock, but she quickly reversed and landed a twisting neckbreaker. She then applied her submission finish for the win.
Serena Deeb defeated Katie Arquette at 1:00
After the match, the announce team ran down the Rampage card, featuring Bryan Danielson, Young Bucks vs. Roppongi Vice, and Gunn Club vs. Jurassic Express…
There was a short video package for Gunn Club and Jurassic Express where Gunn Club promised new champions. The main event is next…[c]
My Take: A.Q.A and Jade were clearly unfamiliar with each other, because there was quite a bit of awkwardness at times. It was good at points, but they struggled down the stretch towards the finish. A.Q.A’s shooting star press is mighty impressive, though, and Jade probably isn’t experienced enough to put on quality TV matches with fresh talent she hasn’t had a chance to practice with. Deeb’s challenge could be fun if they are able to find “Rookies” that are new to AEW but not necessarily new to the fans.
Justin Roberts made ring introductions for the main event. As Archer’s music played, Hangman and Archer were shown in a brawl in the backstage area. The bell rang as they appeared through the curtain.
6. “Hangman” Adam Page vs. “Murderhawk Monster” Lance Archer in a Texas Death Match for the AEW Heavyweight Championship: Page threw Archer through a pane of glass near the top of the ramp, and Archer came up bleeding. The action spilled back to the ring, and Page landed a Buckshot Lariat. The referee started a 10 count for a knockout finish. He got to 9 and Archer got to his feet. Page continued the attack, and dove directly into a trash can lid that Archer had waiting for him. Archer then continued the attack with the trash can lid.
Dan Lambert ran down and loosened the top turnbuckle from the ring post in one of the corners, to take away the opportunity for another Buckshot Lariat. The action spilled out into the crowd. Archer attempted a chokeslam, but Page avoided it by standing on a portion of the stadium seating. He then landed a standing moonsault on Archer. Back in the ring, Page realized what went down with the turnbuckle. Archer then landed a clothesline to the back of his head. Tables were set up at ringside during the break. Archer controlled the action and landed heavy shots to Hangman. He set up for a chokeslam through the two tables at ringside, but Hangman broke away and tried for Deadeye, but couldn’t get it done.
Hangman bled heavily and tried to give Archer a big boot through the table. Archer pushed him aside and sent him into one of the remaining turnbuckles. Jake Roberts landed a short arm clothesline, and then attempted a DDT on Page, but Archer stopped him. Hangman landed a DDT on Archer on the floor instead. Page wailed on Archer with a Kendo Stick, which seemed to wake him up.
Archer caught the Kendo Stick and broke it over his knee. He then chokeslammed Page through a trash can. Archer then grabbed a fork and stabbed Page with it repeatedly, and then licked the fork. He then landed a cannonball senton onto Page from the apron to the floor. Archer retrieved a barbed wire chair from underneath the ring. He then landed a shot with it, and set the ring steps on their side. Archer then gave a blackout on the ring steps, in a nasty looking spot.
Hangman got to his feet quicker than you might expect, and Archer set up for a powerbomb in the ring. Page picked up some barbed wire off the ground and landed some punches with it. He then tossed aside the barbed wire, and Paul Turner bent over to pick it up. Page then used Paul Turner as a vault to land another Buckshot Lariat that sent both men through the tables at ringside. Page was able to answer the ten count, but Archer was not.
Hangman Page defeated Lance Archer at 16:12 in a Texas Death Match to retain the AEW World Championship
[Overrun (roughly two minutes)] After the match, Adam Cole walked down to the ring to pick up the AEW World Title. He placed the title over Page’s shoulder, sending his promised message from earlier…
My Take: The expected ending to a newsworthy show. Adam Cole as the challenger at the next PPV will make for a strong match, and will have plenty of people questioning the outcome. The Texas Deathmatch stipulation didn’t do much for me, as it just became a brawl immediately and never really changed gears. It wasn’t a bad match by any stretch, but it just wasn’t in the same ballpark as the previous challenges from Danielson.