By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite (Episode 137)
Houston, Texas at Fertitta Center
Aired live May 18, 2022 on TBS
[Hour One] Jim Ross, Excalibur, and Tony Schiavone checked in on commentary while some pyro shot off on the stage. The big screen listed the show as the Wildcard Wednesday edition…
Samoa Joe was introduced by ring announcer Justin Roberts for his match against the first of the two Jokers (mystery wrestlers). Johnny Elite (John Hennigan/Morrison) made his entrance as the men’s Joker…
1. Samoa Joe vs. Johnny Elite in an Owen Hart Cup tournament first-round match. Schiavone said Elite was celebrating twenty years in the business. Excalibur said both men are from the west coast and yet this was a first-time matchup. After some back and forth action, Joe rolled to ringside. Elite took some time getting situated on the top rope and then hit him with a corkscrew dive heading into a picture-in-picture commercial break. [C]
Elite put Joe down and performed a clunky 450 splash for a two count. The broadcast team agreed that he was “too far away” from Joe for the move to be effective. Elite went for his Starship Pain finisher, but Joe put his knees up. Joe worked over Elite and then hit him with the Muscle Buster and scored the pin.
Samoa Joe defeated Johnny Elite in 11:00 to advance to the Owen Hart Cup tournament semifinals.
Immediately after the match, Jay Lethal and Sonjay Dutt attacked Joe. Lethal hit Joe’s arm with a lead pipe while Satnam Singh entered the ring. Trent Beretta, Chuck Taylor, and Rocky Romero came out with chairs to run off the heels…
Powell’s POV: The crowd seemed pleased by Johnny Elite being the mystery wrestler. I didn’t see much speculation about him being the Joker, but I consider him to as a satisfying surprise, especially since AEW didn’t go overboard with the hype this time around. The obvious question now is whether Elite’s wife Taya Valkyrie will be the other Joker. As much as I would welcome the idea of Valkyrie in AEW, my guess is that it will be Texas native Athena, who worked as Ember Moon in WWE, but that’s a total shot in the dark. I’m surprised the post match attack didn’t lead to Elite helping Joe run off the heels, but he didn’t really factor in.
Footage aired of Jeff Hardy beating Darby Allin in last week’s spot-fest main event. Ross said Jeff couldn’t be 100 percent…
Backstage, Lexi Nair spoke briefly with Jeff Hardy and Matt Hardy. Jeff was seated on a trainer’s table and had his ribs taped. “The Young Bucks” Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson showed up, causing Nair to walk off. Matt Jackson told Jeff that he didn’t need to go through with his match against Adam Cole. Jeff told them to give it up with the “Christian AF BS.” Matt Hardy said the Bucks are Hardy cosplayers. He said Cole won’t be the only one to get his ass kicked if the Bucks try to get involved in the match…
CM Punk made his entrance wearing an “Abortion Rights Are Human Rights” t-shirt. Punk played to the crowd on the stage and then joined the broadcast team…
2. AEW World Champion “Hangman” Adam Page vs. Konosuke Takeshita in a non-title match. Punk was on commentary for the match. A few minutes into the match, Page slammed Takeshita on the apron. Page followed up with a top rope moonsault onto Takeshita on the floor. Punk gave it a “9.5” as the show cut to another PIP break. [C]
Takeshita executed a nice Blue Thunder Bomb and got a near fall. Page went to ringside and was hit with a flip dive from Takeshita. Punk said he hopes Page doesn’t get hurt because he didn’t want any excuses when they meet in Las Vegas. Back in the ring, Takeshita hit Page with a big boot in the corner. Page returned the favor and then hit Takeshita with a wicked suplex. Takeshita returned that favor.
Page and Takeshita went for simultaneous clotheslines. “Not bad,” Punk said before adding that he was scouting. A short time later, Page put Takeshita down with a tombstone piledriver and covered him for a near fall. Takeshita ducked a Buckshot Lariat and ended up dropping Page with a forearm. Takeshita powerbombed Page for a near fall. Takeshita blasted Page with a running knee strike and covered him for another near fall.
Takeshita performed a German suplex. Takeshita came up holding his neck and shoulder area. Takeshita got to his feet and pointed to the sky. Takeshita went for a running knee, but Page blocked it. Takeshita hit Page with another forearm. Takeshita ran the ropes and was dropped by a rolling elbow. A “Cowboy Shit” chant broke out briefly. Page placed Takeshita on the top rope and joined him. Takeshita knocked him off with a palm strike. Page got right up and fired back. Page performed a Buckshot Lariat and then put Takeshita away with a GTS.
AEW World Champion “Hangman” Adam Page defeated Konosuke Takeshita in roughly 12:00 in a non-title match.
In response to Page using his finisher, Punk said imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and he loved it. He plugged the pay-per-view and then removed his headset. Punk stood on the stage and held up his arms while Page stared at him. Page grabbed his title belt and went to the ramp and held it up. Punk approached Page and held up his arms again. Page walked around Punk and they continued to stare at one another. Page eventually pushed Punk aside and headed to the back…
The broadcast team hyped a promotion with a daily fantasy sports website…
Powell’s POV: A very good match. I wish they had done more to build up Takeshita in advance of the match, but he clearly gained something in defeat by pushing the champion. That’s cool if Takeshita is sticking around long term, but a questionable move if he’s not going to be featured in AEW long term. Punk won the popularity contest over Page with this live crowd. Page had his share of supporters and some boo birds, whereas Punk was heavily cheered.
A video package aired with Fuego Del Sol talking about how he’s been calling out the House of Black. He was joined by Evil Uno and 10, and they hyped a six-man tag match for Rampage…
3. Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland vs. “The Workhorsemen” JD Drake and Anthony Henry. Lee and Strickland’s entrances were televised. Late in the match, Lee held up Henry while Strickland leapt off the top rope and double stomped him on the way down. Lee pinned Henry to win the brief match.
Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland defeated “The Workhorsemen” JD Drake and Anthony Henry in 2:10.
After the match, Lee took the mic and told his home state crowd that he and Strickland became a top five ranked team with their win.
Powerhouse Hobbs and Ricky Starks made their entrance and interrupted Lee’s promo. The teams traded insults.
Christian Cage and AEW Tag Team Champions Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus made their entrance. Cage challenged both teams to face Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus in a three-way for the AEW Tag Titles at Double Or Nothing. Cage also called for Jungle Boy vs. Strickland vs. Starks in a three-way for next week’s Dynamite. Jungle Boy looked a little surprised…
Powell’s POV: The match was the quick showcase that it needed to be for the Lee and Strickland team. The post match angle made me hope that Cage is turning heel soon, but I can’t say that it left me more excited about the three-way match that they made official.
Tony Schiavone interviewed Kris Statlander and Red Velvet about facing one another in a tournament match on Friday’s Rampage. They both spoke about winning the tournament. Statlander said there’s nothing personal about it, it’s strictly business.
TBS Champion Jade Cargill, Mark Sterling, and Kiera Hogan showed up. Cargill recalled Statlander and Velvet being friends, and said Velvet needed a real leader. She also told Schiavone to “cut the shit” before leading her team away…
MJF and Shawn Spears made their entrance. Once in the ring, MJF taunted the fans for being grotesque hicks. They responded by chanting “asshole” at him. MJF wondered if they were talking about him or the man he was about to whip. MJF said Wardlow wouldn’t get his match at Double Or Nothing if he retaliated. A loud “shut the f— up” chant broke out.
A backstage camera showed a garage door opening. A handcuffed Wardlow was led through the garage and to the ring by security. Once Wardlow entered the ring, MJF spat in his face. MJF hit Wardlow with the first belt shot. Wardlow laughed it off. MJF hit him with another shot and Wardlow no-sold it. MJF got mad and hit him with additional shots until Spears pulled him off.
Spears took the belt and hit Wardlow, who didn’t flinch. Spears finally hit Wardlow with a shot that he sold. Wardlow seethed and then pointed out that they had one more shot. A loud “Wardlow” chant broke out. MJF backed up for a running start, but then he kicked Wardlow below the belt. Once Wardlow was down, MJF hit him with several belt shots.
Spears held Wardlow up and then MJF knocked him down with a Dynamite Diamond Ring shot. Spears picked up Wardlow and then put him down with his C4 finisher. Spears covered Wardlow and MJF counted to three. Spears put his foot on Wardlow and flexed, and then MJF raised Spears’ hand. MJF told Wardlow that this would be his fate next week and he wouldn’t make it to the pay-per-view… [C]
Powell’s POV: Another top notch segment involving MJF and Wardlow. I love the way Wardlow no-sold most of the belt shots, and yet MJF and Spears still got their heat with the low blow and beatdown. This feud is going to sell a lot of pay-per-views.
[Hour Two] Trent Beretta and Rocky Romero delivered a backstage promo. Beretta said they are back together as Roppongi Vice full time and ready to make a statement. Romero spoke about going after the ROH Tag Titles. He said that was step one. He said step two was the IWGP Tag Titles, and step three was the AEW Tag Titles. Beretta challenged FTR to put the ROH Tag Titles on the line. “You know Bret would,” Beretta said…
Powell’s POV: I guess that’s nice for longtime ROH and NJPW fans, but why should newer AEW viewers be excited about this team? And what does it mean for Beretta’s team with Chuck Taylor?
4. Rey Fenix (w/Alex Abrahantes) vs. Kyle O’Reilly in an Owen Hart Cup tournament first round match. Pac and Penta Oscuro also walked onto the stage with Fenix, but only Abrahantes accompanied him to ringside. They cut to an early PIP break while O’Reilly was on the offensive. [C]
Fenix executed a Frankensteiner and hooked the legs of O’Reilly for a near fall. O’Reilly caught Fenix leaping from the ropes and performed a couple of unique underhook suplxes. Fenix came right back with a kick in the corner. Fenix put O’Reilly down with a half-and-half suplex. Both men did rope leverage moves that felt cute and unnecessary and didn’t really lead to anything, and then they were both down on the mat moments later.
Both men traded various strikes. O’Reilly ended up on the apron. Fenix walked the ropes and performed a huracanrana that took O’Reilly to the floor. Back in the ring, Fenix went for a cutter, but O’Reilly countered into an armbar and got the submission win…
Kyle O’Reilly defeated Rey Fenix in 12:00 to advance to the semifinals of the Owen Hart Cup tournament.
They showed the updated brackets and then the broadcast team hyped Chris Jericho and William Regal as coming up after a break… [C]
Powell’s POV: O’Reilly will face Samoa Joe in the semifinals, and the winner will face the winner of tonight’s Jeff Hardy vs. Adam Cole match in the finals at Double Or Nothing. The styles clash was fun. There wasn’t much psychology in Fenix just randomly no-selling strikes and moves, but the live crowd definitely enjoyed it. O’Reilly going over felt like a mild upset.
William Regal and Bryan Danielson made their entrance. Jon Moxley, Eddie Kingston, Santana, and Ortiz came out through a side entrance (Wheeler Yuta is in Japan for the NJPW Best of the Super Juniors tournament). Former NFL player and Oklahoma Sooners star Brian Bosworth was shown in the front row.
Fozzy’s “Judas” played. The Jericho Appreciation Society of Chris Jericho, Jake Hager, Daniel Garcia, Matt Menard, and Angelo Parker made their entrance. Parker called for the music to stop and no pyro.
Powell’s POV: Isn’t that the exact opposite of what a sports entertainer would want?
Jericho said the fans wanted to sing along, but last week they cheered when JAS was attacked. Jericho assumed Regal was responsible for putting together the attack last week. Jericho said it was good to see Regal because he thought he would be dead by now. Jericho said at least Regal’s brain still works, sort of. Jericho spoke of Regal’s wasted potential and said he ended up being nothing more than a world class addict.
Jericho said Regal has been fired from every company he’s ever worked for until he weaseled his way into AEW on the coattails of his proteges. Jericho took shots at each of the wrestlers who were with Regal. Jericho said Danielson might be the greatest wrestler in the world, but he’s nothing but a squeaky clean nerd.
Jericho told Danielson that if he sticks with that group long enough he’ll end up “in the program with Moxley.” Jericho called Regal and Moxley birds of a feather. He told Regal to go home or he would throw a fireball in his face. “Or maybe I’ll just take a piss in your tea again,” Jericho said.
Regal said he met Jericho in 1997. He said he’s had to listen to Jericho’s whining, vile, and pathetic voice ever since. He said the only thing that would make him more sick to his stomach would be screams from a burning orphanage. Regal said Jericho was right about the things that he said about him. Regal said that when he and Jericho worked together and Jericho was in the ring, he would take Jericho’s toothbrush out of his bag and stick it inside his backside. Garcia asked Regal how he could do that to someone. “Actually, flower, I did that yours last week,” Regal replied.
Jericho tried to challenge the group to a Stadium Stampede match. “No, no, no, I’m not doing that shit,” Moxley said. He said Stadium Stampede was a different time and a difference place. Moxley said it would be a five-on-five fight with gang rules. Moxley it would be “the sport we love against a bunch of stupid bullshit.”
Jericho accepted and then said that while JAS was a well-oiled machine, there were issues between the other team members. Jericho played on some of the past history between the other team members. Jericho recalled Moxley and Kingston trying to stab each other’s eyes out. Jericho and Menard recalled some of the things that Kingston and Danielson said about one another, including Kingston saying that Danielson is a judgmental prick.
“You are,” Kingston said while shrugging it off. Kingston said he didn’t care about pay-per-view buys or ratings, he called for a fight. Jericho’s team teased coming to the ring and then headed to the back. Kingston was going to go after them, but Danielson stood in his way. Kingston wasn’t pleased and they ended up pushing and shoving…
Powell’s POV: So this apparently won’t be a Blood and Guts match. Perhaps Double Or Nothing will be a prelude to the WarGames style match. Or maybe they are saving that match for the Undisputed Elite.
Matt Sydal and Dante Martin spoke on the backstage interview set. Sydal said the Blackpool Combat Club can’t get along with anybody because they are obsessed with violence. Martin said they wanted to fight. Sydal said they didn’t have to wait until Double Or Nothing because they would see them on Friday’s Rampage…
Powell’s POV: See who? A strange promo.
Britt Baker made her entrance. Maki Itoh came out and sang on the stage and was identified as The Joker. She sang in the ring while Excalibur recalled that she and Baker were tag team partners…
5. Britt Baker vs. Maki Itoh in an Owen Hart Cup tournament first round match. Baker and Itoh hugged. Itoh laid down for Baker, but then caught her in an inside cradle when she tried to pin her, which led to a two count. They cut to a PIP break a couple minutes into the match. [C]
Baker put her glove on and played to the crowd. Itoh no-sold having her head slammed into the corner while the broadcast team played up Itoh’s hard head. Itoh slammed her own head into the turnbuckle repeatedly. Itoh got some offense and performed a falling headbutt for a two count. Baker popped right up and superkicked her. Baker applied her Lockjaw finisher for the win…
Britt Baker defeated Maki Itoh in 6:40 to advance to the Owen Hart Cup tournament semifinals.
After the match, Toni Storm made her entrance and stared down an unimpressed Baker from the stage. The brackets show that Baker and Storm will meet in the semifinals…
Powell’s POV: Itoh’s last match in AEW was in March 2021. She made a nice an impression during that time, but bringing her back as The Joker was too much. AEW would have been better off simply announcing this match in advance and telling the story of the very limited history between Itoh and Baker ahead of their match.
Tony Schiavone stood in the ring and said they will be celebrating three years of AEW in Las Vegas for Double Or Nothing. Serena Deeb interrupted Schiavone. Deeb walked to the ring and told Schiavone that she’s sick of hearing him talk. Deeb claimed Schiavone said she couldn’t beat Thunder Rosa. Schiavone said he predicted that Rosa would win.
Deeb called Schiavone an idiot. She said Dustin Rhodes had a lot to say last week too and called him out. Dustin made his entrance without any entrance music. There was a “Dustin” chant. Deeb said of course Texas would cheer. She called their sports teams failures and then called Rhodes a failure. Deeb said Jim Ross might be the only one with any brains around here.
Deeb said she respected Rhodes. She said he knows about all of the dues she had to pay and how tough it was to be a woman “in that era.” She said she put breast implants in her body “just to satisfy some old pervert.” She said she even shaved her head and still got no respect. Deeb asked why Rhodes predicted that Rosa would beat her. Rhodes didn’t answer and she said he didn’t have the balls to. Deeb said Rhodes will respect her once she wins the title.
AEW Women’s Champion Thunder Rosa made her entrance. Deeb slapped Rhodes. Rosa wanted to go after Deeb, but Rhodes grabbed Rosa and picked her up. Rosa elbowed Dustin to break free. Rosa apologized to Dustin. Meanwhile, Deeb picked up the AEW Women’s Championship belt and hit Rosa with it… [C]
Powell’s POV: Deeb needs a mouthpiece. She’s a terrific wrestler, but this was rough. It doesn’t help that her character was bothered by predictions that didn’t mean anything to most viewers.
An ad listed Friday’s Rampage as airing at 6CT/7ET…
Jeff Hardy and Matt Hardy made their entrance for the main event. Adam Cole ran out and attacked Jeff from behind and then threw him in the ring…
5. Adam Cole vs. Jeff Hardy (w/Matt Hardy) in an Owen Hart Cup tournament semifinal match. Hardy fought back briefly, but Cole quickly regained offensive control heading into a PIP break. [C]
Jeff picked up a two count while Ross said he didn’t like his chances due to his match with Allin last week. Jeff went for a Whisper in the Wind and was kicked in the air by Cole, who went for the cover, but Hardy grabbed the bottom rope to break it. Jeff came back, but Cole avoided his Swanton Bomb finisher. Cole hit The Boom running knee and scored the pin.
Adam Cole defeated Jeff Hardy in roughly 7:00 to advance to the finals of the Owen Hart Cup tournament.
After the match, the Hardys jawed at Cole. “The Young Bucks” Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson ran out and teased superkicking the Hardys, but they didn’t follow through. Cole clotheslined the Hardys from behind. The Bucks hit the BTE Trigger on Matt Hardy.
[Overrun] Darby Allin and Sting hit the ring and worked over Cole and The Young Bucks. Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly ran out and helped their Undisputed Era allies. Sting no-sold a chair shot from O’Reilly and then threw the chair in his face. The Bucks put Sting down with a double superkick. They wrapped Sting’s leg in a chair and then O’Reilly performed flying kneedrop from the ropes. The Undisputed Elite stood tall while Brandon Cutler filmed them from ringside to close the show…
Powell’s POV: Is this the feud that is getting the Blood and Guts match? A chaotic close to the show and I’m not just talking about the final angle. It seemed like they may have been pressed for time even with the brief overrun. I wish they would have scrapped the bad Deeb and Rosa segment and given that time to the main event.
Overall, the show fell apart during the second hour, and AEW once again tried to cram too many things into one episode. The pay-per-view build is really good in some cases and a hot mess in others. It’s strange that they haven’t even announced the full card yet. I will have more to say in my weekly audio review of AEW Dynamite for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons). Let me know what you thought of the show by grading it below.