By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
AEW Dynamite (Episode 174)
Lexington, Kentucky at Rupp Arena
Aired live January 25, 2023 on TBS
[Hour One] The Dynamite introduction video aired and “Judas” was playing as the show went on the air. Chris Jericho made his entrance with Sammy Guevara and Daniel Garcia. Jericho and Garcia pulled off their break away pants to reveal matching JAS Red Leather pants. Action Andretti made his entrance next, followed by Ricky Starks…
1. Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara (w/Daniel Garcia) vs. Action Andretti and “Absolute” Ricky Starks: Guevara and Andretti started the match. Garcia watched from the outside, and Excalibur mentioned that Menard and Parker were in the building. There were some acrobatic reversals to start, and both men ended up in a superhero pose staring at one another. Guevara gained control and drop kicked Andretti to the floor off the apron. He mocked him and played to the crowd, and then followed him out to the floor.
Sammy played to the crowd after throwing Andretti into the ring, which gave Andretti time to hit the ropes and dive to the floor. Garcia managed to get in the way of the dive. Sammy then dove on Andretti and took him out in return. Back in the ring, Andretti landed a standing spanish fly, which led to both men tagging out. Starks entered with Jericho and chopped him repeatedly. Jericho regrouped and jumped at Starks from the second rope, but got caught instead. Starks knocked Sammy from the apron and then strutted along the top rope. Guevara pulled him off the top rope with a cutter.
Jericho made a cover and got a near fall. He then landed a back suplex on Starks and made an insulting pose cover for a one count. Guevara tagged bad in and landed a body slam, and then attempted another insulting cover. Jericho and Guevara then landed a double shoulder block and struck a pose for the crowd. Starks rocked Guevara with a kick and then scramble for a tag out to Andretti.
Andretti entered the match and took out both Guevara and Jericho with a backbreaker and neckbreaker combo. He then dove on both men on opposite ends of the ring when they rolled to the floor. Ricky Starks landed a nasty DDT on Guevara while the ref was unaware, and then Andretti covered for a two count. Starks tagged in and landed a spear on Jericho, but Guevara broke it up. Starks cleared him from the ring, but Jericho rolled him up for a two count. Jericho attempted a Codebreaker, but Starks caught him and landed a Ligerbomb for a close near fall.
Andretti tagged in and attempted a split legged moonsault, but Jericho got the knees up. Guevara tagged in and landed a running knee strike. He went for a GTH, but Andretti got free and landed an enziguri. Starks sent Jericho into the ring post on the floor. Andretti landed a Poison Rana and a spin out neckbreaker for a near fall. Starks landed a Roshambo on Jericho on the floor. The ref was distracted, allowing Garcia to use Jericho’s baseball bat on Andretti. Guevara landed a GTH on Andretti and got the win.
Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara defeated Action Andretti and Ricky Starks at 14:38
After the match, Excalibur ran through tonight’s card. The Main Event will be Mark Briscoe and Jay Lethal, Brian Cage will face Bryan Danielson, and Toni Storm will face Ruby Soho…
An emotional video tribute to Jay Briscoe aired. It went through some of his career and family life highlights. It was a very well done tribute…
The arena went dark, and Buddy Matthews made his entrance with Julia Hart…[c]
My Take: A solid opening match, and everybody worked hard. I can’t say I care much about the feud at this point, and I think the JAS has pretty much run its course. The Tribute to Jay Briscoe was wonderful and I’m glad the network relented and gave AEW an opportunity to honor him.
Darby Allin made his entrance after the break. He was accompanied by Sting…
2. Darby Allin (w/Sting) vs. Buddy Matthews (w/Julia Hart) in an open challenge for the TNT Championship: Matthews took off a black mask to reveal face paint similar to Darby’s on the opposite side of his face. Matthews landed a running knee strike and then tossed into the barricades on the floor. He the attempted a Soccer Kick from the apron, but Darby caught it and pulled him to the ground.
Darby then went for a dive, but Matthews caught him and slammed him into the ring apron. He then swung him into the barricade by his legs. Buddy then picked up Darby for a powerbomb, but it was reversed into a head scissors into the apron. Matthews recovered and managed to hurt the knee of Darby by pulling the ring skirt out from under him. He then landed a Meteora on the ring apron. Darby fired back with an over the shoulder Stunner, followed by a Coffin Drop from the ring out to the floor.
The lights suddenly went out and Brody King and Malakai Black were on the ring ramp. Ortiz ran down and smashed King with a Kendo Stick, while Sting took out Malakai with his bat. In the ring, Matthews slammed Darby with a running liger bomb for a close near fall…[c]
During the break, Matthews had Allin on his back, and took a run and somersaulted into the turnbuckles to break free of Darby. He then placed Darby on his shoulders, but Darby reversed out with punches and a poison rana. Buddy rolled outside, and Darby smashed him into the barricade repeatedly. He then landed a crucifix bomb in the ring for a close near fall.
Both men traded strikes. Darby went for a Code Red but couldn’t make it happen. Buddy fired back with a Buckle Bomb and a stomp for a close near fall. Buddy then put Darby in a pump handle, but Darby reversed into a two count. He then followed up with a Code Red for another close near fall. Darby then attempted a coffin drop, but Buddy swept his legs out from under him and landed a chop.
Buddy went up the turnbuckles for a superplex, but Darby reversed into a reverse DDT. Darby covered, but Buddy’s foot was uner the ropes. He went up top again, and Matthews tried to pull him down but got kicked in the face for his trouble. Darby then landed a Coffin Drop and got the win.
Darby Allin defeated Buddy Matthews at 12:48 to retain the TNT Championship
After the match, Tony Schiavone went to the ring and recalled Darby’s recent win streak against top competition. Samoa Joe appeared on the big screen and told him that he would take everything from him. He said Darby stole that title from him, and the King of Television was coming to take it back. Joe said that he will come to realize winning that Championship was the worst mistake of his career, and said the King has spoken…
Excalibur then introduced a video about Adam Cole and his recent return to the ring. Cole said he’s not where he wants to be yet, and he doesn’t know exactly when that will be, but he promised it was coming soon. The Hardy’s music played, but it was interrupted quickly by Ethan Page. He said he was the star of the team, and they all agreed it would be his music. Stokely Hathaway told Isiah Kassidy to put his chain on. Page cued up his own music. Jungle Boy and Hook were out next.
3. Hook and Jungle Boy vs. Matt Hardy and Ethan Page (w/Stokely Hathaway): They all came to a standoff early, and Page bailed out of the ring. Hook followed Page outside, who set up for an Ego’s Edge on Hook. Perry dove on Page on the floor as Hook slipped out. Hardy and Page doubled up on Jungle Boy and delivered a double vertical suplex…[c]
My Take: Man, these guys just do not give you a moment to breathe on this show. Allin and Matthews had a hell of a match, but I never really bought the idea that the title was in danger, which is a shame. Samoa Joe sticking with the King of Television bit seems beneath him, but his promo struck a good tone and managed to avoid 80s screaming Joe mode.
The heels focused on Jungle Boy’s arm during the break. He managed to break free of both men as the show returned and made a hot tag to Hook. He landed an El Camino on Page and dropped Hardy off the apron. Hook landed a T-Bone Suplex on Page, and then made a tag to Jungle Boy. Hook was sent to the outside by Page. Hardy tagged in and landed a Side Effect on Jungle Boy. He set up for a Twist of Fate, but Ethan Page demanded a Tag.
Page attempted a Twist of Fate of his own, but Jungle Boy avoided it and applied the Snare Trap and got the win. Hook provided an assist by keeping Hardy out of the ring.
Jungle Boy and Hook defeated Ethan Page and Matt Hardy at 8:59
After the match, Jungle Boy and Hook celebrated up the ramp…
“The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Anthony Bowens had their family therapy with Billy Gunn, Austin Gunn, and Colten Gunn. Austin and Colten complained about Billy not being there when they grew up. Caster and Bowens said the Ass Boys were wannabe versions of them, and Bowens called them the biggest pieces of shit he’s ever met. He said they had a chance to make up for lost time with their Dad, but the second he gave them any attention they couldn’t control their jealousy. The Gunn’s said The Acclaimed turned on them when they were supposed to be their friends, and that their own faults are Billy’s failures as a Father. Billy asked them what they wanted to make this right, and they pointed to the Tag Team Titles…[c]
My Take: I’ve never heard of 90-second family therapy appointments, but they must have gotten the best rate imaginable. Jungle Boy and Hook make a decent team, but they feel a bit out of place in a division with The Acclaimed as popular as they are on top.
Backstage, Hangman Page was asked what’s next for him by Renee Paquette. He said what he and Jon Moxley had was unfinished, and wondered aloud if he could knock out Jon Moxley next week in Dayton, Ohio. Wheeler Yuta walked up and said Moxley was talking a lot about a guy who isn’t medically cleared yet, but he would be ready and accepted the challenge for Moxley. He then challenged Page to a match on Friday’s Rampage, and questioned why Yuta thought the same thing wouldn’t happen to him…
In the arena, Bryan Danielson made his entrance.
[Hour Two] Brian Cage’s entrance followed. Highlights were shown of both men as picture in picture reels. Excalibur reminded the TV audience that Cage was paid to break Danielson’s arm.
4. Brian Cage (w/Prince Nana) vs. Bryan Danielson: Cage shoved Danielson down and taunted him. He then chopped him in the corner. Danielson fired back with strikes of his own, but it didn’t seem like they had any effect. Danielson landed some elbow strikes and was able to apply the LeBell Lock, but Cage was able to reach the ropes. Cage regained control by picking up Danielson and body slamming him into the corner turnbuckles. He then landed a throw that caused Danielson to land awkwardly on his shoulder. He then followed up with a Hammerlock Suplex on the apron…[c]
Cage held onto a bearhug with a hammerlock, but Bryan broke free with a series of headbutts. He tried to whip Cage across the ring, but his shoulder gave out. He then tried to leap over Cage in the corner, but was caught in a shoulderbreaker. Danielson rolled to the apron, and Cage pulled him back in with a vertical suplex. He then performed a German suplex in a similar way, and Danielson came down hard on his shoulder. Cage then setup for a powerbomb from the top turnbuckle, but Danielson avoided it and delivered a running kick in the corner.
Danielson fired back with a superplex from the top turnbuckle and then fired up the crowd. He delivered a series of kicks and covered for a near fall. Danielson landed some stomps and then tried a Triangle Submission without any luck. He landed a leg trap German Suplex, but Cage did not sell it. Cage then powerbombed Bryan into the ropes. He delivered a second powerbomb, and set up for the third, but Bryan rolled him up for the win.
Bryan Danielson defeated Bryan Cage at 12:58
After the match, Cage landed a modified Gory Special that put a lot of stress on Danielson’s arm. MJF walked out and handed Cage a chair. They wrapped Bryan’s shoulder in a chair and tossed him into the ring steps. Cage tossed Danielson in the ring, where MJF rained down right hands on him. Cage trapped his arm in the chair again, and MJF went to the top rope. Konosuke Takeshita ran down to the ring and MJF cleared out. He then cleared Brian Cage from the ring with a running knee strike. AEW staff and Takeshita then checked on Danielson, who wore a pained face…[c]
My Take: A strong match from Cage and Danielson, with the expected outcome of creating an out for Bryan at the PPV with his arm not being 100% going into an hour long match. MJF taking a more sadistic turn is the right call for his character. His insult comedy shtick didn’t really fit the threat that Bryan poses to the title.
Toni Storm made her entrance in the arena. We got a picture in picture promo where she complained about “homegrown idiots.” Ruby Soho made her entrance. Her picture-in-picture promo was about respecting everyone no matter where they started wrestling…
5. Ruby Soho vs. Toni Storm: Soho charged at Toni, who exited the ring to avoid her. Storm landed a big boot when she got back into the ring, and Soho fired back with a series of strikes and chops in the corner. Storm landed a thumb to the eye, and then a hip attack that sent Soho to the floor from the apron. She then followed to the floor and threw her into the ring barricade…[c]
Storm stomped on Ruby in the corner and applied a full nelson during the break. When the show returned, Ruby broke free by running Storm into the turnbuckle, followed by a series of Saito Suplexes. She then landed a heel trip and set up for Destination Unknown, but Toni escaped and rolled her up for a near fall. Soho managed to land her No Future kick and cover for a close near fall.
Soho went to the top rope and Toni moved out of the way. Ruby landed on her feet and landed a knee to the face. Toni sold being injured and the referee backed Ruby off. Toni quickly dropped Ruby onto the bottom rope and landed a hip attack in the corner. She then landed a DDT and covered for a close near fall. Britt Baker’s music played and she walked out on the stage. The distraction allowed Ruby to land Destination Unknown for the win.
Ruby Soho defeated Toni Storm at 7:49
After the match, Soho acknowledged Baker and celebrated…
MJF was shown backstage. He apologized for being in a locked dimly lit room, but people can’t handle their emotions around here. He addressed Takeshita and told him he was talented but a little smooth brained. MJF told him to stay out of his business or there would be consequences. He then said fans think Bryan is a warrior, but he knows he’s obsessed just like him. MJF said the AEW Championship turns his catchphrase into a fact, he’s better than him and he knows it. He told Bryan that he knows he’s got a hole and his soul and he wants to fill it by beating MJF.
MJF said physical pain will be the easy part for Bryan, and soon they will get to the mental pain. He said next week Tony Khan has issued an open challenge, and he made a call to someone who can tear Bryan limb from limb. A video package then aired for Timothy Thatcher, who will be Bryan’s opponent next week…
Excalibur then introduced a video package for Emi Sakura vs. Jamie Hayter or Rampage. Moxley vs Hangman and Thatcher vs Bryan was set for next week, along with Darby Allin vs. Samoa Joe. The Main Event is up next between Mark Briscoe and Jay Lethal…
Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman replaced Taz and Tony Schiavone on commentary. Jay Lethal made his ring entrance…[c]
My Take: A good match between Storm and Soho. I’m not sure I would have had her lose her first real outing as a heel, even if this was a bit of an improvisation with the injury to Britt Baker. MJF’s promo was good, and Timothy Thatcher is a great matchup for Bryan. All these matches still suffer from the same problem of the finishes being foregone conclusions, but they are fun to watch.
Jay Lethal was crying as the show returned. Mark Briscoe made his entrance to a standing ovation. Bobby Cruise made ring introductions. Mark Briscoe held both ROH Tag Team Championships.
6. Mark Briscoe vs Jay Lethal in a Jay Briscoe Tribute Match: Both men were emotional and shook hands. They managed some evasions and reversals early on. Lethal landed an arm drag and they had a staredown. The crowd chanted Briscoe and they traded chops in the corner and across the ring. Mark landed a running seated dropkick, and Lethal replied with a hip toss and kick combination. Mark fired back with a neckbreaker for a two count…[c]
Mark landed a chop and sent Jay into the corner with some Redneck Kung Fu. He then went up top and landed a flying strike, and then followed up with a standing enzuigiri. Mark placed Jay on the top rope and landed a Iconoclasm for a near fall. He set up for the Jay Driller, but Lethal reversed and landed his Lethal Combination. Mark surprised Jay with a roll up for a near fall. Lethal managed to surprise Mark with a Lethal Injection, but Mark rolled to the floor to avoid a pinfall.
Lethal followed to the outside. Both men brawled on the floor. Lethal set Jay on the timekeeper’s table, but Mark rolled out before he could ascend the ropes. Mark kicked Lethal to the floor and then landed a running blockbuster off the apron. Mark placed Lethal on the table and climbed to the top rope to land the Froggy Bow through the table. He then dragged Lethal back into the ring and covered, but only got a near fall.
Mark set up for a Jay Driller again, but Lethal escaped. Mark landed two lariats, and then finally got the Jay Driller for the win.
Mark Briscoe defeated Jay Lethal at 12:18
After the match, Mark looked into the camera and told Jay’s daughters to keep their heads up, and told Jay that he loved him. Lethal and Mark shared a hug after the match, and the AEW roster came out onto the stage to give both men some applause. Mark returned to the stage and gave out some hugs while the announcers paid tribute to Jay Briscoe’s life as a wrestler and a family man…
My Take: Not much to say here, they could have done the finger poke of doom and I would have completely understood. Both men managed to put on a very entertaining match in nearly impossible circumstances. My condolences go out to the Briscoe Family on their tragic loss. You can make a donation to the Pugh Family at this link.