By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
AEW Dynamite (Episode 126)
Jacksonville, Florida at Daily’s Place
Aired live March 2, 2022 on TBS
[Hour One] The Dynamite intro aired, and JR welcomed the audience to the show. Tony Schiavone was in the ring with Tony Khan. Schiavone introduced him and gave him the floor for his announcement. Khan thanked the crowd for keeping the company going for the pandemic, and said he’s the guy that keeps people on time, and promised to be brief and start the matches as soon as possible. He spoke about AEW getting its start in the parking lot of Daily’s Place, and then mentioned the launch of ROH 17 years ago.
Khan then mentioned he just signed a deal this morning to become the new owner of ROH. He then transitioned to talking about ROH’s first show, and then mentioned the first Ring of Honor show featuring both Bryan Danielson and Christopher Daniels. Both men then made their entrances, and would have a return bout that has been on their minds for 20 years.
1. Christopher Daniels vs. Bryan Danielson: Both men shook hands. Bryan got the early advantage and posed for the crowd. They started a “Fallen Angel” chant. Daniels quickly landed an arm drag and posed for the crowd in return. They shook hands a second time and circled one another. Bryan landed a few takedowns, and then Bryan applied a leverage pin for a two count. Daniels recovered and sent Bryan to the floor, and then landed a springboard moonsault from the apron to the floor.
Daniels sent Bryan into the ring and took to the top rope. He went for a Cross Body, but Bryan kicked him in the chest. Bryan then grounded Daniels and worked through a series of submissions and strikes. Daniels sent Bryan into a corner, but Bryan vaulted over him. He then hit the ropes, but Daniels caught him with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near fall. Daniels then followed up with a series of strikes.
Bryan climbed to the top turnbuckle, but Daniels pulled him into the ring with a slam. Bryan recovered and landed a running dropkick in the corner. He then followed up with a series of strikes, and placed Daniels on the top rope. He climbed up for a Superplex, but was knocked back into the ring with a headbutt. Daniels went for a cross body, but Bryan rolled through for a two count.
Both men worked through a series of pinfall reversals. They then traded a series of forearm strikes.Bryan finished it with a rolling elbow and covered for a near fall. Bryan taunted and climbed to the top rope. Daniels got to his feet and dropped him onto his groin. Daniels attempted another Iconoclasm Slam into the ring, but was blocked. He then tried a top rope head scissors, but Bryan shoved him off and he landed flat on his stomach.
Bryan dove off the top rope, but Daniels caught him with a uranage. He then went for a Best Moonsault Ever, but Bryan repositioned himself and applied a triangle choke for the win.
Bryan Danielson defeated Christopher Daniels at 11:12
After the match, Bryan said 17 years ago in Ring of Honor, they started and ended matches with a handshake. He grabbed Daniels hand, and said that he’s not in Ring of Honor, he’s in AEW, and it was time to kick someone’s head in. He then stomped on Daniels head, and told Moxley that the head getting stomped on at Revolution would be his. This prompted the entrance of Jon Moxley.
Moxley hit the ring and mean mugged at Bryan. Moxley said he can see that American Dragon Bryan Danielson is more dangerous and violent than ever. Moxley said he had two paths on Sunday. Bryan’s path would be getting his head stomped in, and fading into oblivion. Moxley said the other path would be him refusing to give up, and walking through hell, fire and bullets to beat American Dragon Bryan Danielson.
He said his future was bright and he wouldn’t walk a path anyone chose for him. He then said if Bryan wants to prove him wrong, they could fight right then and there. Bryan teased a fight, and then walked to the back…
Backstage, Sting said there were fines and suspensions threatened on Friday for Rampage. He said it didn’t bother him, and asked Darby if it bothered him. He said no way, and referred to himself and Sammy Guevara as psychos that would go to any length to steal the show. Darby said he would tag with Sammy on Rampage to deal with AHFO, and then on Sunday they would make history together…[c]
My Take: As important as ROH was to the development of US wrestling over the last two decades, the mindshare of the company has arguably never been lower, and I’m not sure this announcement justified taking up any TV time ahead of a PPV. It is absolutely a savvy business move by Tony Khan looking towards the future, but I’m not sure it delivered on the hype that was drummed up leading into the show. Daniels and Bryan worked very well together, and the match with Moxley on Sunday will be one to watch.
FTR made their entrance for the Tag Team Battle Royal. They were followed by the reunited Top Flight, with Darius Martin making his return.
1. AEW Tag Team Battle Royal: Darius and Dante used their aerial maneuvers and athletic ability to dominate the first 90 seconds. The Acclaimed were the first team out. They got promo time. Caster mocked FTR and said he would send them to ROH, and said Top Flight was tweaking like the kids on Euphoria. He then said both teams are less popular than Glenn Jacobs tweets. Quickly after they got into the ring, Dark Order members 10 and Alan Angels made their entrance. They got 15 seconds of dominance, and then things spread back out again. No eliminations have occurred thus far. The music of the AHFO played to bring out Butcher and The Blade. They landed some high impact double team offense on Dante Martin. Alan Angels got shoved out of the ring onto the rampway.
Alan Angels was eliminated at 4:51. The Varsity Blondes made their entrance next. They quickly tried to eliminate Anthony Bowens, but he held onto the ropes…[c]
FTR dumped Brian Pillman Jr to the floor during the break. Bear Country made their entrance as well. Brian Pillman Jr. was eliminated at 6:54. As the show returned, Santana and Ortiz made their entrance. They immediately brawled with Bear Country. They used a back body drop to eliminate Bear Bronson, and then dumped Bear Boulder as well. Bear Country was eliminated at 8:45. Max Caster was then quickly dumped to the outside at 9:10. Best Friends made their entrance and joined the mass in the ring
Grif Garrison was tossed by Anthony Bowens at 10:18. The team of Evil Uno and Stu Grayson made their entrance next. The Blade was eliminated at 11:10 by a pump kick. Lots of rapid fire offense in the ring. The Blade was sent out by Stu Grayson and 10 at 11:48. FTR landed the Big Rig on Anthony Bowens and Stu Grayson. The Young Bucks made their entrance and stared down FTR…[c]
It was a punch and kick festival during the break. The timer counted down, bringing out Peter Avalon and Nick Nemeth. The show returned from break as The Gunn Club made their entrance. They taunted the crowd after they gave Evil Uno a beat down. FTR gave Austin the Big Rig, and then the Bucks and FTR tossed both Gunn Brothers out. They were eliminated at 17:00. The timer counted down again, and Brock Anderson made his entrance with Lee Johnson.
Brock landed a DDT and a Spinebuster in homage to his Dad. Anthony Bowens eliminated 10 of the Dark Order with a forearm shot at 18:19. Evil Uno and Nick Jackson eliminated Peter Avalon and Nick Nemeth at 18:48. Anthony Bowens eliminated Stu Grayson at 18:58. 2point0 made their entrance as the final team. Both Brock Anderson and Lee Johnson were eliminated in the chaos at around 20 minutes. Anthony Bowens was tossed out shortly afterward at 20:14.
Uno and Trent Baretta brawled on the apron. Danhaused appeared and distracted Uno by cursing him. Trent landed a half and half suplex and eliminated Uno. Santana and Ortiz then brawled with 2point0 on the same portion of the apron. Jeff Parker was eliminated by Santana, and then Matt Parker was eliminated by Ortiz. Both of them then grabbed and pulled Santana and Ortiz from the apron. This all happened around 22:20. FTR, Top Flight, and The Young Bucks were the final teams.
Cash Wheeler and Dante Martin went back and forth in the corner. Wheeler went for a powerbomb, but Martin reversed into a head scissors, and both men were eliminated at 23:34. RedDragon then ran out to assist the Young Bucks, and they eliminated Dax Harwood at 24:21. Darius Martin remained with both members of the Young Bucks.
They brawled, and Martin took out Nick with a stomp to his knee. Martin landed a standing spanish fly on Matt, and then clotheslined Nick to the outside. Red Dragon made the save, and Nick set up for the Meltzer Driver. Matt was shoved into Nick, and he was eliminated at 25:47. Matt Jackson and Darius traded elimination attempts and ended up on the apron. Matt landed a low blow and kicked Darius off the apron to get the win.
The Young Bucks won the Tag Team Casino Battle Royale in 26:49 to earn a spot in the AEW Tag Title match at AEW Revolution.
After the match, Red Dragon celebrated in the ring with the Young Bucks. The announce team questioned if something was going on between the two teams. Jurassic Express then walked out onto the apron to stare down their challengers…[c]
My Take: While this was entertaining at points, I think the lack of surprise about the outcome diminished the excitement considerably. It was nice to see Top Flight back together again, but Darius was rusty and the announce team had to mention it a couple of times. It seems the Elite and Bullet Club drama will wait for the PPV, which is fine, because it’s far from the most enticing part of this match.
Chris Jericho gave an interview backstage. He said the wrestling world is buzzing about his feud with Eddie Kingston. He referred to their “promo segment” last week, and questioned whether he knew what a promo was.
[Hour Two] Jericho questioned whether Eddie could get past his fear of success, and said if he can he’ll get his undying respect. If he can’t he’ll mock him and tell him to GFY. Santana and Ortiz walked up and fist bumped Jericho. He asked if they were good, and they walked away. He told them that he’d always have their back.
In the arena, CM Punk made his entrance. He said he used to wake up and look in the mirror and ask if he was the bad guy. Punk said everyone is the hero of their own story, and up until a week ago he was convinced that Max was the bad guy. Punk gave MJF credit for speaking out on some important topics, but he can’t escape the feeling that he’s being gaslit.
Punk said he believes he told the truth, but he questioned his sincerity, but now that he’s older he’s not so sure that matters. He then mentioned his photo with Steve Austin that circulated online, and said that he didn’t give up on himself after people said “He took his ball and went home”. Punk then went on to mention all the horrible things that MJF has said and done to Brian Pillman, Darby Allin, and Dean Malenko. He made reference to “hurt people hurt people” and invited the MJF from last week to walk out so they could have a conversation.
MJF walked out to the ring without music. Punk said he’s done horrible things in his life, and he used to be him. Punk made reference to covering himself in Paul Bearer’s ashes, pouring alcohol down an alcoholic’s throat, and mocking a drug addict until he lost his job. Punk said this was bigger than wrestling, it’s about the 11 year old kid at home that looks up to MJF just like he used to look up to Punk.
Punk then said he asked himself in the mirror this morning if he was the good guy, and he finally had an answer, and that he was trying. Punk then offered his hand to MJF for a handshake, and he came in and gave him a hug. Punk resisted at first, but then hugged him back. They spoke inaudibly for a second, and then MJF gave Punk a kick to the balls.
MJF then pulled Punk through the ropes and gave him a Heatseeker piledriver. He then took off his outer layer and revealed a T-Shirt with a picture of himself and Punk on it. MJF called out Wardlow and Spears, and then punched Punk in the head with the Dynamite Diamond. Punk bled heavily as MJF pummeled him. They put a dog collar on Punk and MJF grabbed a microphone.
MJF called Punk an old man, and told him that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist, and at Revolution he would show Punk that he was the devil himself. Spears then choked Punk with the dog collar by pulling on the chain. Darby Allin, Sting, and Sammy Guevara made the save…[c]
My Take: A very compelling promo from Punk, who was very believable in his contemplation. If I were Tony Khan, I might have held off on the big reveal of the false sincerity until the PPV when it could have had maximum impact. I think the match is much more interesting if Punk’s heart isn’t into beating down MJF.
Backstage, Ricky Starks approached Keith Lee and told him that if he shows up on Rampage, there wouldn’t be any of him left for the PPV. Lee dismissed him, and said his intimidation wouldn’t get to him. Starks said he would see him when he sees him, and Lee said he would be there.
Britt Baker made her entrance with Jamie Hayter. Thunder Rosa then followed with Mercedes Martinez.
3. Thunder Rosa and Mercedes Martinez vs. Britt Baker and Jamie Hayter (w/Rebel): Hayter was taken out early on and Baker was isolated by Rosa and Martinez. Hayter returned and tagged into the match. Rebel provided a distraction that allowed Baker to jump in illegally and kick Rosa in the face…[c]
Martinez tagged in to get Rosa out of isolation by the heels. She was quickly cut down by a double team from Hayter and Baker. Martinez shook off a thrust kick from Baker to make a tag to Rosa. They went back and forth for a moment until Rosa landed a Death Valley Driver. She covered, but Hayter broke up the pin.
Things broke down as everybody was in the ring. Hayter and Rosa spilled to ringside, and Rosa landed the Fire Thunder Driver on Baker for the win.
Thunder Rosa and Mercedes Martinez defeated Britt Baker and Jamie Hayter at 8:31
After the match, Tay Conti and Anna Jay were interviewed backstage. Alex Marvez asked Conti how her martial arts background would help her on Sunday. Jade Cargill walked up and said nobody cared about the karate shit. Conti got upset, but Sterling reminded her that she can’t touch Cargill until Sunday or she loses her match. Sammy Guevara walked out with some cue cards…[c]
My Take: There wasn’t much to the tag match. It’s not that it was bad, but they weren’t tasked with doing anything memorable in the ring. Rosa getting the pin on Baker will have people twisting into pretzels to figure out the booking for Sunday, which was probably the point.
We got a vignette for Kris Statlander and Leyla Hirsch. It focused on Statlander’s previous comments about Hirsch’s childhood…
In the arena, Wardlow made his entrance. Cezar Bononi was already in the ring…
4. Wardlow (w/Shawn Spears) vs. Cezar Bononi: Wardlow impressively powerbombed Bononi all over the place and got the quick win.
Wardlow defeated Cezar Bononi at 0:57
After the match, Wardlow prevented Shawn Spears from using his chair. The crowd chanted for Wardlow, and he got in the face of Spears, who quickly backed down. The announce team ran down 1000 upcoming matches for Rampage and the PPV. Up next is Adam Cole and Red Dragon vs. Adam Page and Dark Order members John Silver and Alex Reynolds…[c]
My Take: This show pushes a pace like an F1 race at times.
A House of Black vignette aired. Malakai and Brody took credit for giving Pentagon the motivation to find himself. Buddy Matthews appeared and said they are the house and the house always wins. Backstage, Spears apologized profusely to Wardlow backstage. MJF walked up and told Wardlow that if he wins the ladder match, he’d let him keep the title, not that he’d win it anyway. Wardlow replied that it’s because he’s always making sure he wins. MJF slapped him and told him that he works for him, and not AEW, and he’d put his family out on the street if he doesn’t get it together.
In the arena, Adam Cole made his entrance with Red Dragon. John Silver and Alex Reynolds walked out next with Cowboy outfits on. They walked to the ring with Hangman Adam Page.
5. Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, and Bobby Fish vs. Adam Page, John Silver, and Alex Reynolds: Cole and Page started the match. Cole backed into his corner and tagged in Bobby Fish. He attempted a roundhouse kick, but Page avoided it and landed a big boot of his own. Page then stomped out Fish in a neutral corner and fired up the crowd. Silver and O’Reilly tagged in, and Silver landed a suplex. Reynolds joined in the ring and they took out both Fish and O’Reilly with double team strikes. Reynolds covered O’Reilly for a one count.
Cole provided a distraction, which allowed O’Reilly to land a kickboxing combo and make a tag out to Adam Cole. They cut off and isolated Reynolds, and made frequent tags to stay fresh. Reynolds made an escape and tagged in Page, who quickly fell victim to the numbers game of the heels. Cole went for a Panama Sunrise on Page, but he blocked it. They traded a series of reversals, and Page ended up on the apron. He fired up for a Buckshot Lariat, but Cole bailed to the outside…[c]
Silver tagged in during the break, and was quickly cut off by the heels. Cole landed an Ushigorishi on Silver for a near fall. O’Reilly tagged in and attempted a cross armbreaker on Silver, but he powered out. O’Reilly caught Silver’s leg and went for a heel hook, but couldn’t get it completely applied. Silver escaped and tagged in Page, who made quick work of Fish and O’Reilly. Page then landed a powerbomb for a two count. He then landed a lariat. Cole tagged into the match, and Page got a burst of energy and traded blows. All six men got in the ring and brawled. Page landed a hard lariat on Cole, and everybody was down.
Page went for a deadlift German Suplex, but Cole escaped. Alex Reynolds tagged in and landed a series of kicks. Cole recovered and landed some kicks of his own. He then lowered the boom on Reynolds and got the win.
Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, and Kyle O’Reilly beat Adam Page, John Silver, and Alex Reynolds won by pinfall at 12:32
After the match, Cole attacked Reynolds, and Page made the save. He quickly disposed of Fish and O’Reilly, and set up for a Buckshot Lariat on Cole. Fish kicked his legs out from under him, and they proceeded to duct tape Page to the ropes. They then gave a high low to John Silver, and Cole gave Reynolds a Panama Sunrise. Cole got in Page’s face with the AEW Title, and Page gave him a headbutt. Cole replied with a couple of superkicks, and placed the belt on his shoulder..
My Take: A surprisingly flat crowd for most of the Main Event and final angle. I have no doubt that the match between Cole and Page will be very good, but I think they made a mistake by not going into more detail about their personal history together in the weeks prior to the PPV. Punk and MJF’s angle was the most memorable moment on this show. Not everyone can pull something like that off, but I think AEW needs to lean harder on promos and storytelling to really push these PPVs out beyond the audience that is already locked in to buy them.