By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite (Episode 169)
San Antonio, Texas at Freeman Coliseum
Aired live December 21, 2022 on TBS
[Hour One] The Dynamite opening aired and then pyro shot off on the stage. Excalibur, Tony Schiavone, and Taz were on commentary. The trio recapped footage from last week of MJF defeating Ricky Starks with a low blow to retain the AEW World Championship, and then being chased into the crowd by Bryan Danielson…
Ricky Starks made his entrance and delivered an in-ring promo. He said it would be nice to be standing there as champion, but he lost. Starks said at least he lost like a man whereas MJF won like a coward. Starks said he could stand with respect and dignity, whereas MJF doesn’t have that or a pair of balls.
Starks said that if he was “this close” to beating MJF, just imagine what will happen next time. Starks assured fans that there will be a next time. “This is just the start,” Starks said. He said that meant he had to start at the bottom, then line them up so that he could knock them down.
“Judas” played once Starks concluded his promo. Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara, and Daniel Garcia made their entrance while the broadcast team recapped footage of Action Andretti upsetting Jericho last week. Jericho had his baseball bat with him and the heel trio remained on the stage.
Jericho said he’s been watching Starks for a long time and was right when he said he came close to winning the world championship. Jericho said Starks isn’t a dollar store version of anyone, he is a million dollar talent who will be a world champion someday.
Jericho said he spoke things over with Guevara and Garcia and they all agree that Starks has what it takes to be a star in AEW. Jericho said Starks just needs a little Jericho. A “Sammy sucks” chant broke out. Jericho said that if Sammy sucks, that means he sucks, and they don’t suck.
Jericho invited Starks to join the Jericho Appreciation Society. Starks said he likes the way Jericho stays relevant. He said Jericho came out looking like an air frier a few months ago and is now lean and mean, and dresses like a father after his fifth divorce.
“Hell no I don’t want to join JAS,” Starks said. Starks pointed to Jericho’s loss to Andretti and said that the “J” in JAS might as well stand for jobbers. Starks mocked Garcia for losing the ROH Pure Rules Championship and said he doesn’t give a damn about Guevara. Starks challenged Jericho to face him on January 4.
Jake Hager entered the ring behind Starks and then struck him from behind. Jericho, Guevara, and Garcia entered the ring. Jericho watched while his three minions put the boots to Starks.
Action Andretti ran out and entered the ring. Andretti ducked a baseball swing from Jericho and hit him with a springboard move. After the others were cleared from the ring, Andretti hit a split-legged moonsault on Jericho. The heels headed to the back…
The broadcast team hyped previously advertised segments and added that Hook would be in action, and Jon Moxley will face Darius Martin…
Powell’s POV: An excellent start to the show. They wasted no time in putting the mic back in the hand of Starks, who delivered another strong promo, this time at the expense of the JAS. They also wasted no time in following up with Andretti and Jericho after last week. This was all really well done.
“The Elite” Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson, and Nick Jackson made their entrance to “Carry On Wayward Son” for the trios match. They were joined by their usual sidekicks. The Death Triangle entrance followed…
1. “Death Triangle” Pac, Penta El Zero Miedo, and Rey Fenix (w/Alex Abrahantes) vs. “The Elite” Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson, and Nick Jackson (w/Brandon Cutler, Michael Nakazawa) in a No DQ match in the fifth match of a Best of Seven series for the AEW Trios Titles. Don Callis, who accompanied The Elite to the ring, sat in on commentary. The teams brawled to start the match while Excalibur spoke about how difficult it has been for sports teams to come back from 3-1 deficits in playoff series.
Abrahantes and Cutler had a moment. Abrahantes made Penta’s hand symbol in the face of Cutler, who responded by spraying cold spray in his face. Once they were out of the ring, Death Triangle used a trash can as a weapon while working over Omega. The Death Triangle trio was on the offensive heading into a picture-in-picture break. [C]
A Christmas tree was set up in a corner of the ring. It fell over because fake Christmas tree stands are shitty, but they leaned it in the corner. A short time later, Omega pulled a broom wrapped in barbed wire out from underneath the ring. Omega worked over Fenix with the broom.
Pac and Penta were placed on two tables that were set up on the floor. Nick threw the tree out of the ring (boo) and then he and his brother performed top rope moves that put Pac and Penta through the table. Nick sold his ankle injury from last week before he made his leap. In the ring, Omega picked up a near fall on Fenix.
Omega set up for his finisher, but Fenix countered into a huracanrana rollup for a good near fall. Abrahantes tossed a ring bell hammer to Fenix, who hit Omega with it. Fenix covered Omega, who kicked out. Good lord. Pac put Omega in the Brutalizer. Nick ran in to break it up, but Fenix caught him in an ankle lock. Matt fought off Penta to break up both holds.
All three members of Death Triangles held up ring bell hammers. The Jacksons pulled Pac and Penta to ringside. Omega performed a snap dragon suplex on Fenix in the ring. Matt held up Fenix while Nick sold his ankle while climbing up top. The Jacksons hit a Meltzer Driver on Fenix onto a chair. Matt covered Fenix and got the pin.
“The Elite” Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson, and Nick Jackson defeated “Death Triangle” Pac, Penta El Zero Miedo, and Rey Fenix in 13:35 in a No DQ match in the fifth match of a Best of Seven series for the AEW Trios Titles (Death Triangle leads 3-2).
After the match, the Death Triangle trio attacked The Elite members with the ring bell hammers. Nick bladed heavily. Fenix pulled Penta off, so apparently he’s being the babyface of his team again…
Powell’s POV: I can suspend my disbelief for a lot of things in pro wrestling, but watching a wrestler take a hammer shot to the head and then kick out of the pin moments later exceeds my limit. If you can tolerate the ring bell crap, then you’re probably enjoying this series a lot more than I am. There’s some great acrobatic style action in these matches, but the ongoing use of the hammers just takes me out of the moment.
Footage aired from after last week’s main event of MJF delivering a backstage promo. MJF was pissed that Bryan Danielson ruined his moment and called him a worthless scumbag. MJF said everyone wants to eat off his plate. MJF said that when it comes to his reign of terror, Danielson will eat less than he desires and more than he deserves… [C]
Action Andretti was interviewed by Schiavone on the backstage interview set. He said some people are calling his win over Jericho the upset of the decade. He spoke about the support he’s received since then. He said he knew the JAS members wouldn’t stand down, so he had Ricky Starks’ back.
Matt Menard and Angelo Parker showed up and indicated to Andretti that they weren’t there to get physical. They said he was on a hot streak and said he’s fire. Andretti turned around and had a fireball thrown in his face by Jericho…
Powell’s POV: Andretti’s promo was nothing special. It felt like he should be humble and let others call it the upset of the decade. That said, I’m just learning about his character, so perhaps it will grown on me. If nothing else, the fireball looked great.
Bryan Danielson made his entrance and was interviewed by Renee Paquette in the ring. Danielson spoke about training in the area and doing some bad line dancing nearby. He said he was trained by Rudy Boy Gonzalez and Shawn Michaels. The crowd popped big. Danielson said William Regal turned him into the wrestler and the person he is today.
Danielson said Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli, and Wheeler Yuta don’t have the same type of relationship with Regal. Danielson said that he cried when Regal was hospitalized. He said he loved having Regal in AEW. Danielson said Regal taught him that there are consequences for every action, then said MJF needs to learn the same lesson and called him out.
Ethan Page and Stokely Hathaway came out instead. Page was upset about Danielson thinking he could cut in front of him. Danielson said he was distracted by the glare from Hathaway’s head. Danielson mocked Page for referring to him as Vegetable Man earlier in his promo.
Hathaway called Danielson a raggedy bitch. Page said he will turn Danielson into a vegetable. Danielson said that if Page wants to turn him into a vegetable, he should do it on the spot. The crowd cheered loudly. Page unbuttoned his shirt, then said he had no problem popping off the top, but his pants were staying on. Page suggested they do it next week. Page said he wasn’t doing it for San Antonio and then laughed.
MJF was shown smiling as he watched the segment on a backstage monitor. Danielson played to the fired up crowd…
The broadcast team announced a $300,000 Three Kings Christmas Casino Trios Battle Royale for AEW Rampage. The following teams were listed…
-Jon Moxley, Wheeler Yuta, Claudio Castagnoli
-Jon Silver, Alex Reynolds, Evil Uno
-Orange Cassidy, Trent Beretta, Chuck Taylor
-Rush, Dralistico(?), Preston Vance
-Dante Martin, Darius Martin, AR Fox
-Kip Sabian, The Butcher, The Blade
-Angelico, Luther, Serpentico
-Ari Daivari, Josh Woods, Tony Nese
Footage aired from Rampage of Jon Moxley and Hangman Page brawling. Backstage, Moxley said he would be on Rampage again, so Page would know where he is. Moxley questioned when they would settle it in the ring. Moxley mocked that Page being knocked out wasn’t supposed to happen. He asked if people thought he was trying to comb his hair. Moxley said it’s not his problem that Page has a glass jaw. Moxley told Page not to become one of those “play wrestlers” and said he’s better than that. Moxley turned his focus to Darius Martin and said he’s acrobatic and good, but all he hears is that he’s injury prone. Moxley asked if that’s his fault too. He said he would have to teach Darius a hard lesson later in the show… [C]
Samoa Joe checked in from his home in Tampa. Joe was dressed in a suit and sat in front of a Christmas tree. He said he was taking time out of his busy scheduled to wish everyone a happy holiday. He passed along the same wish to Wardlow and said that Wardlow will not have a happy new year. Joe said he would give Wardlow exactly what he asked for on December 28. He told Wardlow to have a happy holiday season, but the holiday cheer ends on December 28…
2. Hook vs. Exodus Prime for the FTW Championship. Hook’s entrance was televised while Prime was already in the ring. The broadcast team said it was Prime’s Dynamite debut. Hook clotheslined Prime, threw some shots at him, and then choked him out…
Hook beat Exodus Prime in 1:10 to retain the FTW Title.
While Hook was in the ring, footage was shown on the big screen of Big Bill and Lee Moriarty working over “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry while Stokely Hathaway spoke. Bill chokeslammed Perry into a dumpster. Hook headed to the back while Jon Moxley made his entrance through the crowd during a PIP break… [C]
[Hour Two] Claudio Castagnoli joined Moxley in the ring, and then the Martins made their entrance…
3. Jon Moxley (w/Claudio Castagnoli) vs. Darius Martin (w/Dante Martin). Moxley put Darius in the corner and then shoved him. Darius shoved him back. Darius shoved him back. Darius went for a shoulder block, but Moxley didn’t budge. Moxley slapped Darius. Moments later, Darius dropkicked Moxley, who rolled to the floor for a moment.
Moxley tossed Darius to ringside and then ran him into the barricade. Moxley brought Darius outside the barricade and suplexed him on the floor. Moxley threw Darius back inside the ring and then turned and jawed at Dante for a moment, allowing Darius to perform a suicide dive. Back inside the ring, Darius took too long going up top, so Moxley punched him and knocked him down to ringside.
Moxley held the ropes open for Darius, who had to roll under the bottom rope to break the referee’s count. Moxley picked up Darius in suplex position and dropped him on his back. Moxley got Darius on the ropes, scratched his back, and superplexed him. Moxley delivered elbows to the head of Darius in front of Dante.
Darius avoided a Moxley move and hit him. Moxley invited him to hit him again. The wrestlers traded strikes. Moxley put Darius down and then went at his surgically repaired knee. Darius kicked Moxley’s leg out from under him. Darius used the ropes to perform a cool Pele style kick that led to a one count.
Darius performed a Flatliner for a two count. Darius had a small trickle of blood coming out of his nose. Darius went for a top rope crossbody block, but Moxley rolled through and stomped him repeatedly. Moxley threw more elbows to the wide of Darius’s head. Moxley finished off Darius with a Death Rider before pinning him…
Jon Moxley defeated Darius Martin in 8:50.
A video package spotlighted the AEW Women’s Championship match… [C]
Powell’s POV: This was entertaining for what it was. The odds of seeing a young babyface upset a veteran on this show feel even slimmer than usual due to Andretti pinning Jericho last week. Moxley staring down Dante at times left me wondering if they are setting up something for the battle royal on Rampage or if they’ll eventually have a singles match.
The latest chapter of The Book of Hobbs aired. He spoke about watching his uncle overdose when he was a child. He also recalled being stabbed and shot at. He said the people who did it were monsters, and they created a monster…
4. “FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler vs. Austin Gunn and Colten Gunn. Both entrances were televised. Footage aired of The Gunns attacking the FTR duo at ROH Final Battle. Dax had athletic tape on one of his thighs. FTR was working over the Gunns at ringside heading into an early PIP break. [C]
Harwood sold his assortment of injuries and ended up in a Sharpshooter. Wheeler ran in and hit Austin to break it up. Colten went after Wheeler, who tossed Colten to ringside. Wheeler leapt from the apron toward Colten, who moved, causing Colten to crash into the barricade. In the ring, Harwood tried to roll up Austin, who rolled through. Colten held Austin’s hand for leverage while he pinned Harwood.
Austin Gunn and Colten Gunn defeated “FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler in 9:10.
After the match, Excalibur said FTR had lost three matches in a row and wondered if that had happened during their AEW careers…
Powell’s POV: I’m mildly intrigued by the story of FTR’s losing streak, but this didn’t pack much of a punch. Harwood was selling multiple injuries and the Gunns still had to steal the pin. Hopefully Austin and Colten will get some mic time to rub it in and generate some heat off of this.
A video aired with Sonjay Dutt rapping about The Acclaimed and Billy Gunn while Jeff Jarrett, Jay Lethal, and Satnam Singh were shown… The broadcast team mocked Sonjay’s rap…
Rick Ross was in the ring and was introduced by Schiavone. Keith Lee made his entrance. Ross said they had big business to discuss. Ross introduced “the young legend” Swerve Strickland. When Strickland didn’t come out, Ross said he wanted to make it special. “You a big motherf—er,” Ross told Lee in an uncensored line. Lee turned around and made the cut gesture while smiling as at fans at ringside.
Strickland came out with a mic in hand and said he didn’t realize they were doing this on Lee’s time again. Strickland carried a big to the ring with him while saying they were going to do thing his way. Strickland said he can’t deal with all the accusations. Strickland said Lee couldn’t keep his eye on the tag titles or his own health. Strickland said Lee needed to keep his eyes in the back of his head from now on.
Parker Boudreaux entered the ring and attacked Lee from behind while Strickland watched from ringside. Lee rallied and clotheslined Boudreaux over the top rope. Strickland motioned for Lee to bring it. Lee went to ringside and was attacked by another man. Boudreaux joined in on the attack again. Boudreaux and the other man placed lee on a portion of the ring steps and placed a cinderblock over him, and then Lee performed a top rope double stomp. Ross, Boudreaux, and the other man put on Strickland “Mogul Associates” t-shirts…
Powell’s POV: An awful segment. I wouldn’t mind Strickland leading a faction if there weren’t already too many factions in AEW. Then again, perhaps Boudreaux joining this faction means the end of The Trustbusters.
Excalibur recapped the double stomp, and then he hyped the battle royal for Rampage. Orange Cassidy and Best Friends spoke comedically about what they would buy. Trent Beretta said he would buy his mom a new house if he won. Taylor said he would buy his mom a chainsaw. Cassidy said he would buy Trent’s mom a new house. Dark Order spoke about splitting the money evenly if they won. They asked Hangman Page not to get involved. He asked why he would. They brought up Moxley being involved. Page confirmed the match would be held on Friday and then walked away… Entrances for the main event took place…
5. Jamie Hayter (w/Britt Baker, Rebel) vs. Hikaru Shida for the AEW Women’s Championship. Ring announcer Justin Roberts delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Early in the match, Shida had Hayter’s head hanging over the apron and hit her several times while standing on the floor. Shida performed a running knee strike heading into a PIP break. [C]
Excalibur announced the following matches for Friday’s AEW Rampage: The Three Kings Trios casino battle royale, Eddie Kingston and Ortiz speak, Jade Cargill vs. Vertvixen in an eliminator match, Wardlow speaks, Anthony Bowens and Billy Gunn vs. Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal.
Excalibur announced the following matches for next week’s AEW Dynamite: Death Triangle vs. The Young Bucks in match six of the best of seven series for the AEW Trios Titles, Ethan Page vs. Bryan Danielson, and Samoa Joe vs. Wardlow for the TNT Title.
After some good action, both wrestlers ended up on the apron. Shida hit Hayter with a knee strike. Shida followed up by suplexing Hater off the apron to the floor heading into another PIP break. [C] Late in the match, Shida connected with a series of strikes and then performed a nice suplex. Rebel distracted the referee. Baker climbed onto the apron with a kendo stick in hand. The referee continued to bicker with Rebel while Shida pulled Baker into the ring, roughed her up, and hit her with a kendo stick.
Hayter tried to powerbomb Shida, who rolled through. Hayter powered up Shida and hit the powerbomb for a near fall. The crowd popped big and many fans were on their feet. Hayter blasted Shida with a lariat for a near fall. Hayter let out a primal scream and then performed a short-arm lariat and got then covered Shida for the win.
Jamie Hayter defeated Hikaru Shida in 16:15 to retain the AEW Women’s Championship.
The heels went after Shida after the match. Toni Storm ran out to make the save. Hayter hit Storm from behind with her title belt. Baker and Rebel held Storm in place, but they released her once Saraya’s entrance music played. Saraya ran out. Rebel went out to ringside and took a clothesline. Saraya entered the ring and put Baker down with a kick that caused Baker to roll out of the ring with her allies. Saraya, Shida, and Storm stood tall in the ring while Excalibur hyped Rampage matches to close the show…
Powell’s POV: A strong main event. The AEW women don’t get main event segments very often and these two made the most of the opportunity. I don’t see this show doing a big number for that second hour, so hopefully it won’t be held against the main event wrestlers if that’s the case because they really brought it.
Overall, this show was very up and down. I really enjoyed the way things started, but there were some rough moments even before the show fell off a cliff during that Lee and Strickland segment. Fortunately, the main event delivered in a big way. I will have more to say about Dynamite in my weekly same night audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons). Let me know what you thought of the show by grading it below. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!
Awesome, another faction of crappy wrestlers that isn’t needed. Maybe Tony should put his glasses back on bc this gets worse every week
I’m so glad for the women as they needed a night like tonight as it was great to see the fans really be super into the match. When the ladies are booked right the crowd will be into it. This was a great match between Hayter & Shida and this was a great night to have Toni Storm and Saraya return to the ring with the crowd as hot as it was.
It kills me a bit that AEW creative can’t find anything to do with Miro yet they’ve apparently found a new thing for Parker Boudreaux to do, as well as…some guy even the announcers didn’t know.
Shida is the most underrated female wrestler around. Starks and Danielson were fantastic. Rick Ross, surprisingly in my view, was monumentally bad.