By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite (Episode 125)
Bridgeport, Connecticut at Webster Bank Arena
Aired live February 23, 2022 on TBS
[Hour One] Jim Ross, Excalibur, and Tony Schiavone checked in on commentary while pyro shot off on the stage following the opening video. Teams were at ringside for the tag team battle royale. Christian Cage and AEW Tag Team Champions Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus walked onto the stage…
1. Tag Team Battle Royale for a spot in the Triple Threat match for the AEW Tag Titles at AEW Revolution. The previously advertised teams were “FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler, “The Young Bucks” Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson, John Silver and Alex Reynolds, “2point0” Matt Lee and Jeff Parker, Santana and Ortiz, “Private Party” Marq Quen and Isiah Kassidy, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly, “Best Friends” Trent Beretta and Chuck Taylor, The Butcher and The Blade, Austin Gunn and Colten Gunn.
Brandon Cutler, Tully Blanchard, Matt Hardy, and Billy Gunn were at ringside for their respective teams. Excalibur explained that both team members had to be eliminated in order for their team to be out of the match. Gunn Club was eliminated quickly. Quen was eliminated. Hardy caught Quen to save him, but he was knocked off the apron moments later to eliminate Private Party. Santana eliminated both members of 2point0 simultaneously. The Young Bucks eliminated Ortiz.
FTR eliminated Nick Jackson. Orange Cassidy showed up (or maybe he was already there?) and saved Trent from being eliminated. Trent eliminated Fish heading into a picture-in-picture commercial break. [C] Silver eliminated Wheeler, leaving no full teams were remaining.
The match came down to Santana, O’Reilly, Harwood, Silver, Trent, and Matt Jackson. Santana and Trent squared off and got a pop while the broadcast team recalled their involvement in the parking lot brawl. They fought to the apron. O’Reilly and Matt Jackson ended up knocking them off the apron to eliminate them.
The final four were Matt Jackson, O’Reilly, Harwood, and Silver. Fish emerged from under the ring and eliminated Harwood, then rolled back under the ring. Matt Jackson and O’Reilly tried to work together on Silver, but he suplexed them both simultaneously. Silver held up O’Reilly for a move, but Matt superkicked him. Moments later, Matt eliminated Silver, and then O’Reilly immediately eliminated Matt to win the match.
Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish won the Tag Team Battle Royale in 18:20 to earn for a spot in the Triple Threat match for the AEW Tag Titles at AEW Revolution.
After the match, the Young Bucks bickered with Fish and O’Reilly. AEW World Champion “Hangman” Adam Page made his entrance in street clothes. Once in the ring, Page worked over Fish and O’Reilly while the Young Bucks watched. Both teams left the ring.
Adam Cole ran in and tried to attack Page, who quickly took offensive control. Page set up for a Buckshot Lariat, but Fish and O’Reilly pulled Cole to ringside. Silver dove onto Fish and O’Reilly from the apron, then threw O’Reilly back inside the ring. Page hit O’Reilly with a Buckshot Lariat and then the crowd chanted “Cowboy Shit.”
Page took the mic and asked, “Who’s ready for story time with Adam Page, bay-bay?” Page sat on a chair in the middle of the ring and spoke about how a smug Cole become a world champion everywhere he went. Page saw the world crumbling around him, so he crawled back to his friends and decided to go after the most prized championship. Page said Cole went to AEW Revolution and the better Adam put him in a grave. Page closed the promo by saying that Cole’s body hitting the dirt made the sound boom. Page flipped off the heels, who were watching from the entrance ramp…
Powell’s POV: The other challengers will be determined next week in a Casino Battle Royale. I continue to assume that the Young Bucks will win this match, as I assumed that they and the team of Fish and O’Reilly would end up challenging Jurassic Express. The battle royal featured the usual punching and kicking and was fairly flat early on, but it picked up once they got down to the final minutes of the match. I can’t say that I’m looking forward to seeing another battle royale next week, even if this one is “casino style” rather than tonight’s regular style. I’m sure I missed some eliminations because, well, it was a tag team battle royal. Also, I’m filling in for Jake Barnett, who is away this week for a family wedding.
Bryan Danielson was interviewed by Tony Schiavone in the backstage area. Danielson said his opponent Daniel Garcia reminds him of a younger version of himself. Danielson said he had William Regal as a mentor, whereas Garcia has 2point0. Danielson recalled Jon Moxley saying they had to bleed together in order to team together. Danielson said he would give Moxley his answer following his match with Garcia… [C]
MJF made his entrance in regular attire and brought a mic with him. The crowd chanted for CM Punk. Once in the ring, MJF said he liked Punk once too. MJF said he knows he’s not the easiest guy to like. He recalled Punk saying the night that he posed for a photo with a young MJF was just another Friday to him. MJF said people don’t understand his upbringing, but he lived for pro wrestling just like the fans.
MJF also spoke about having severe ADD as a child. He said he was one of two Jewish kids who tried out for his varsity football team. He recalled his new teammates walking up to him in the hall at school the next say and he said he was excited because he thought was going to finally make friends. Rather, they threw rolls of quarters at him and told him to pick up the quarters while calling him “Jew boy.”
MJF said he cried, but he also knew that he was going to be meeting his hero CM Punk that night. MJF said that night meant everything to him and he vowed to be just like Punk, and said he would become best in the world. MJF said he got stronger and faster, and had scholarship offers coming his way in 2013, but all he wanted to be was a pro wrestler like his hero Punk. MJF got emotional while he spoke about practicing promos in the mirror until his voice got hoarse.
MJF said Punk left him and everyone else in January 2014 when he needed him most. MJF recalled seeing a photo of Punk shaking hands with Danielson. He said he was livid and promised himself that he would become best in the world in spite of CM Punk. MJF said he vowed to himself that he wouldn’t leave a bullied fan high and dry like Punk did. MJF said he would bleed buckets and Punk could choke him with the chain, but he will not quit because then he would be no better than Punk. MJF threw the mic down.
CM Punk made his entrance to no entrance music. Punk stood on the apron and looked at MJF, who sadly looked back at him. Punk entered the ring and MJF stared ahead solemnly. Punk asked him off-mic if the story was true. MJF nodded affirmatively and then left the ring with tears in his eyes. Punk simply watched him leave while looking moved by the story he heard… [C]
Powell’s POV: Hot damn! Every time you think MJF can’t top himself, he hits an even bigger home run. That was sensational and adds a new layer to the feud regardless of whether they stick with this being a true story or, more likely, MJF plays it up as a ruse. It’s not happening now, but there will come a time when MJF is going to be an amazing babyface.
Schiavone interviewed Daniel Garcia and “2point0” Matt Lee and Jeff Parker. The 2point0 duo was upset that Danielson was trying to become Garcia’s mentor. Garcia said Danielson may think he needs to learn lessons, but he doesn’t need one in violence and would show it during their match…
2. Malakai Black and Brody King vs. Pac and Penta El Zero Miedo (w/Alex Abrahantes). The entrances for both teams were televised. Penta had his Dark Penta look and carried a shovel, and Abrahantes looked like a darker version of Danhausen. King was getting the better of Pac heading into a PIP break. [C]
Black and King set up Penta for their Dante’s Inferno finisher, but Pac broke it up. Pac and Penta set up King for the Fear Factor, but legal man Black returned to the ring. Black tried to spray his mist, but Penta covered his mouth and then rolled him into a pin and got the three count.
Pac and Penta El Zero Miedo beat Malakai Black and Brody King in 8:05.
King attacked Pac and Penta after the match. King slammed Pac onto Penta. King threw several punches at Penta. When Pac tried to stop him, King went after him instead. Black was shown drinking water to wash the mist out of his mouth while Abrahantes was down at ringside. Black brought Penta’s shovel into the ring and set up to use it, but the lights went out.
When the lights turned on, Buddy Matthews was in the ring. A “Buddy” chant broke out. Black begged off. The crowd chanted “holy shit.” Matthews turned and kicked Pac, then put the boots to Penta in the corner while Black laughed. Security ran out, but King beat the hell out of them on the entrance ramp.
King slid a chair inside the ring. Black placed the chair on the mat and then grabbed Matthews by the beard and spoke to him. Matthews used his foot to drive the face of Penta onto the chair.
[Hour Two] Black posed with King and Matthews, then the lights went out again…
Powell’s POV: The match suffered from the crowd reacting to the moves and not really choosing sides. And while the crowd popped for Matthews in his debut, ideally this angle will lead to the House of Black getting heat. But I’m not really sure that it will because Black has been a heel throughout his run in AEW and the fans just keep cheering him.
A video package spotlighted the Britt Baker vs. Thunder Rosa unsanctioned Lights Out match. Baker pointed out that Rosa technically doesn’t have a win over her because their lights out match doesn’t count in the record books. Rosa said she would bring a pen. She told Baker to bring her friends, and added that this time it would count… [C]
Eddie Kingston made his entrance dressed in regular attire. Four security guards were waiting in the ring. Chris Jericho made his entrance and the crowd sang along with his “Judas” entrance song. Kingston asked if they were done massaging Jericho’s ego. Jericho said he had security join them in the ring so that they could have a discussion and not act like common street thugs.
Kingston asked if Jericho was calling him a street thug. Jericho said yes. Kingston said Jericho doesn’t even know what that means. He said he didn’t even know why they were doing this. Kingston called for Tony Khan to send Kris Statlander and Willow Nightingale to the ring. He said this was a wrestling company, not a sports entertainment company. “My man, go down the block,” Kingston said. The crowd cheered and chanted for Kingston.
Jericho said they were just down the road from Stamford and so he would give him some sports entertainment, but he said this sports entertainment would actually be entertaining. Jericho recalled hearing that Kingston was coming to AEW. He said people were excited, but he had no idea who Kingston was. Jericho said he thought maybe people were talking about Eddie Edwards. He said he saw Kingston and realized why he never heard of him before. “You looked like a jobber,” Jericho said.
Jericho said he saw Kingston’s match “against what’s his name” and heard his promo. He said he realized that Kingston was good and he recalled telling Kingston that he would become a huge babyface in AEW. Kingston asked him what a babyface is. Nice. Jericho ignored the question and said Kingston got past his limitations and made it to the big time when he signed with AEW at age 38. Jericho said everyone was happy for Kingston except him. Jericho said he doesn’t give two shits about Kingston or his sob story.
Jericho said Kingston didn’t make it to the big time until he was 38, whereas he made it when he was just 22. Jericho accused Kingston of being jealous of him. Jericho said Kingston doesn’t believe deep down that he can achieve what Jericho has or be at his level. Kingston asked Jericho if he wanted a cookie for his accomplishments. Kingston said the only reason Jericho main evented so many places is that he wasn’t there. Kingston said he doesn’t leech off people or lie.
Kingston said he didn’t want to talk to Jericho because he was sucking the blood out of him and it was too tough for Jericho. Kingston said he didn’t want to team, he wanted a fight. Kingston challenged Jericho to a match at the pay-per-view. Jericho accused Kingston of having a phobia of achieving success. Jericho said he knows Kingston’s history. Kingston told him to be careful. Jericho pointed out that Kingston shared his story with the world.
Jericho said Kingston’s first hero was his uncle, and he was a failure. Jericho said Kingston’s own father was a failure. Jericho said Kingston’s problem is that he can’t win the big one. Jericho said that in AEW, he is the big one. Jericho accepted the challenge to a match at AEW Revolution. “But you can’t win the big one and you won’t,” Jericho said. He added that if Kingston does manage to beat him, he will look him in the eye, shake his hand, and tell him that he has his utmost respect because then he will have helped him get over his fear of success.
Kingston said he didn’t want Jericho in a mimosa match or the Jericho was pushed off a cage by MJF. Kingston said he wanted the Jericho who was the first AEW Champion, bled buckets in Tennessee, had wars with Tenryu, turned WCW upside down, and that “your close friend Levesque hated.” Kingston said that if that Jericho doesn’t show up, he’ll eat Jericho alive. An “Eddie” chant broke out. Jericho told Kingston that he would give him that Jericho and so much more.
Jericho said he could see in Kingston’s eyes that he doesn’t believe he could beat him or win the big one. “You are nothing more than a loser and you always will be, you can’t win the big one ever,” Jericho concluded…
Powell’s POV: Another strong verbal segment. Kingston worked in the WWE zingers, and Jericho kept things focused by telling the story of Kingston fearing success. They took a long and strange road to finally reach this point, but I’m all in for their pay-per-view match after this segment. That said, this is an example of a time when AEW would have been better off going to a real commercial break and letting the viewers digest the segment rather than racing to the next segment.
A video package aired with the AHFO. Matt Hardy said Andrade El Idolo would bring the TNT Championship to the group, then asked him if he would tag in Isiah Kassidy instead. Hardy said he was only kidding. Hardy called for him, Andrade, and Kassidy to face Sting, Darby Allin, and Sammy Guevara in a tornado trios match at Revolution…
3. Ricky Starks (w/Powerhouse Hobbs) vs. 10 in a Face of the Revolution ladder match qualifier. Taz sat in on commentary. They cut to a PIP break early in the match. [C] 10 put Starks in a Full Nelson. Starks reached behind him and pulled 10’s mask. 10 released the hold to adjust his mask. Starks speared and pinned 10…
Ricky Starks beat 10 in 5:50 to qualify for the Face of the Revolution ladder match.
Powell’s POV: Reason number 274,421 that 10 should lose the dumb name, the silly mask, and leave the dead end Dark Order.
Backstage, Fish and O’Reilly were boasting about their battle royal win to Adam Cole when the Young Bucks showed up and accused them of a double cross. The Bucks spoke about winning next week’s battle royal so that they could earn a spot in the tag title match and kick Fish and O’Reilly’s asses. After the Bucks walked away, Cole barked at Fish and O’Reilly while saying they need to get along with the Bucks…
4. Jade Cargill (w/Mark Sterling) vs. The Bunny (w/Matt Hardy) for the TBS Championship. Cargill’s entrance was televised, while The Bunny was already in the ring. Jade’s daughter was shown watching the match in the crowd. Bunny performed a Russian leg sweep into the ringside barricade. [C] Back in the ring, Bunny performed a running knee lift. She set up for another move, but Cargill caught her and put her down with a spinebuster.
Matt Hardy climbed onto the apron and bickered with the referee. Sterling slid the title belt in the ring, then joined the bickering on the apron. Cargill hit Bunny with the title belt. The referee ejected Sterling and Hardy from ringside. Bunny rolled up Cargill for a near fall. Bunny hit a couple of superkicks, then set up for her finisher, but Cargill avoided it and hit Jaded for the win…
Jade Cargill defeated The Bunny to retain the TBS Championship.
After the match, Schiavone entered the ring to interview Cargill, who took the mic. She asked who’s next, then said the better question is who’s left. Tay Conti made her entrance with a mic in hand. Conti said she’s not just next, she’s the one who will “beat your ass, bitch, at Revolution.” Conti charged the ring and went face to face with Cargill, who kissed her forehead. The Bunny returned and went after Conti, who hit her with a TayKO. Cargill put Conti down with a pump kick. Anna Jay ran out to help Conti…
Powell’s POV: I have no idea why The Bunny, who seems to lose more than she wins, was given so much offense against Cargill. Then again, I also have no idea why heavy underdog Conti was left lying by the dominant champion when they should be trying to make viewers think she has a chance to win.
Keith Lee was interviewed in the backstage area by Alex Marvez. He started to speak about the Face of the Revolution ladder match. Ricky Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs showed up. Starks said Team Taz runs things and told Lee to stay in his lane. Hobbs stepped up and glared at Lee until Starks pulled him away…
Orange Cassidy vs. Anthony Bowens in a ladder match qualifier, a Serena Deeb five-minute challenge, and a Britt Baker and Thunder Rosa contract signing were announced for AEW Rampage.
The Tag Team Casino Battle Royale, and Hangman Page, John Silver, and Alex Reynolds vs. Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, and Kyle O’Reilly were announced for next week’s AEW Dynamite.
Excalibur ran through the pay-per-view lineup, then hyped the main event… [C]
Powell’s POV: Information overload. Good lord. Do they really think that running through all those matches at damn near auctioneer speed will somehow make those matches stick with the average viewer?
AEW Dynamite, AEW Rampage, and AEW Double Or Nothing were announced for Las Vegas in late May…
5. Bryan Danielson vs. Daniel Garcia. The entrances of both wrestlers were televised. They cut to a break early in the match. [C] Danielson caught Garcia in Cattle Mutilation, but Garcia countered his way out of the hold and then put Danielson in an ankle lock and then booted his head.
Both wrestlers traded elbow strikes, then fired back with palm strikes. Danielson put Garcia down and stomped his head, then applied the triangle sleeper and got the submission win while posing.
Bryan Danielson defeated Daniel Garcia in roughly 9:30.
After the match, Danielson got a mic and told Garcia that was exactly what he wanted to see. He asked the crowd if Garcia was violent enough. Matt Lee and Jeff Parker ran out and attacked Danielson.
Jon Moxley’s entrance theme played and he entered through the crowd and cleared the 2point0 duo from the ring. Garcia grabbed a chair, but Danielson took it away from him. Moxley performed the Paradigm Shift on Garcia.
Moxley and Danielson looked at one another. Danielson picked up the mic. A “this is awesome” chant broke out. Danielson recalled Moxley saying they had to bleed together. Danielson said he didn’t need the chair to make anyone bleed.
Danielson told Moxley that if he wanted his match at Revolution, he had it, but Moxley shouldn’t be surprised if he was the only person bleeding. Moxley and Danielson went face to face while the broadcast team closed the show…
Powell’s POV: I really enjoyed Danielson vs. Garcia, but it will be interesting to see how it performs in the ratings. As always, everyone in AEW tells viewers how great Garcia is, but the viewers of Dynamite and Rampage rarely see it lead to him actually winning matches. That will surely change if he joins Danielson’s faction, but we’re not there yet, and this strikes me as the type of match that appeals to the AEW diehards more than the more casual viewers that AEW seems to be struggling to reach.
Overall, the two talking segments were the highlight of the night for this viewer. MJF’s promo and Punk’s reaction were great, and I really enjoyed the verbal battle between Jericho and Kingston. There was some good in-ring action on the show too, but I continue to feel that AEW would benefit greatly from simply slowing down and not trying to cram so much into each episode of Dynamite. I will have more to say about it in my weekly same night audio review for Dot Net Members. Let me know what you thought of the show by grading it below.