By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
AEW Dynamite (Episode 176)
El Paso, Texas at El Paso County Coliseum
Aired live February 8, 2023 on TBS
[Hour One] The broadcast team of Excalibur, Taz, and Tony Schiavone welcomed the TV audience to “Championship Fight Night” and said all four world titles would be on the line. MJF’s music hit and he walked to the ring for the opening match. He was followed by Konosuke Takeshita. Video footage was shown of MJF and Takeshita’s brawl from last week’s show…
1. MJF vs. Konosuke Takeshita in an AEW World Championship Eliminator Match: MJF went for a handshake and then kicked Takeshita the gut. Takeshita immediately fired back with a flying forearm. He landed a jumping knee a few seconds later. He went for another knee, but MJF pulled the referee in the way. MJF drove knees into Takeshita’s arm and then rolled him into the turnbuckles. He then applied an arm hold, but Takeshita battled to his feet. MJF quickly countered with an arm twist and drove Takeshita’s shoulder into the mat. He followed up with a Hammerlock DDT and covered for a two count.
MJF taunted the crowd and attacked Takeshita in the corner. After ducking a punch, Takeshita suplexed him into the corner and tried to shake some feeling back into his arm. He followed up with two running boots, but MJF ducked the third and rolled him up for a two count. Takeshita landed a kick and a brainbuster in response for a close near fall. He continued to nurse his arm. Takeshita climbed to the top and did an Eddie Guerrero shimmy before landing a Frog Splash for a near fall.
Takeshita went for another suplex, but MJF countered. After a series of further counters, Takeshita landed a modified piledriver and a wheelbarrow suplex. MJF was able to roll to the floor to avoid a follow up knee strike. Takeshita attempted a splash to the floor, but MJF moved and he crashed and burned. MJF went back to attacking the arm, and taunted the crowd. Takeshita reversed an Irish whip and sent MJF into the ring post.
Back in the ring, Takeshita went to the top rope, but MJF hit the ropes and sent him crashing groin first onto the top turnbuckle. Both men battled at the top, and Takeshita hit MJF with a lariat. MJF managed to flip out of it and land on his feet. Both men then traded heavy forearm strikes. Takeshita landed a big lariat and covered for a two count. MJF managed to apply a Salt of the Earth Armbar, but Takeshita rolled him up for a near fall.
Takeshita landed an impressive moonsault onto MJF on the floor. In the ring, he lowered his knee pad to attempt a running knee strike, but MJF rolled to the floor. MJF pulled the official in the way of himself again which opened the door to kicking the ropes into Takeshita’s groin. He then attempted a knee drop, but Takeshita rolled away. He then landed a series of strikes, but MJF thumbed him in the eye. He then landed a powerbomb onto his knee, but MJF came up in pain. Takeshita then pulled MJF into a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near fall.
Takeshita followed up with a big running knee strike, but MJF got his foot on the ropes during the cover. Takeshita pulled MJF into the center of the ring and fired up the crowd. He attempted a senton atomico from a springboard, but MJF moved and applied the Salt of the Earth. Takeshita nearly reached the ropes, but MJF pulled him into the center of the ring and applied the inverted version of the hold and got the tap out.
AEW World Champion MJF defeated Konosuke Takeshita at 13:48 in an eliminator match
After the match, MJF grabbed the Dynamite Diamond Ring from the referee and punched Takeshita in the head to bust him open. He then landed further punches, and Bryan Danielson ran out to make the save. Refs and Doctors attended to Takeshita while he bled from the forehead…
A video package aired that featured Samoa Joe and focused on him recapturing the TNT Championship. He called Darby Allin a worthy adversary even though he disagrees with his methods, but said Wardlow was unworthy. Joe said he took Wardlow’s championship and his hair, and said he would expose his secrets if he continues to pursue the TNT Championship. Joe said he would take everything from him…
Back in the arena, The Bunny made her ring entrance with Kip Sabian, Penelope Ford, The Butcher and The Blade. She was followed by Jamie Hayter. She was joined by Rebel and Britt Baker. Footage was shown of Toni Storm and Saraya attacking Britt backstage last week.
2. Jamie Hayter (w/Britt Baker, Rebel) vs. The Bunny (Penelope Ford) in an AEW Women’s Championship Eliminator: Hayter grabbed a side headlock and took Bunny down to the mat. Back on their feet, Hayter landed a series of shoulder tackles and played to the crowd. The Bunny recovered and choked Hayter using the top rope in the corner. Hayter recovered and suplexed her back into the ring. The action spilled outside where The Bunny was able to suplex Hayter into the ring steps…[c]
My Take: A long high quality opening match, which I assume was intended to maximize the carry over audience for the first quarter hour from Big Bang Theory. It’s smart. MJF looked good and Takeshita continued the cycle of losing excellent high profile matches. I think the next step should be getting him on a winning streak and getting him into the TNT Title picture.
Both women battled on the outside during the break. The Bunny took a nasty suplex where her head collided with Hayter on the way down as they got back in the ring. Hayter quickly landed her Ripcord Lariat and got the win.
AEW Women’s Champion Jamie Hayter defeated The Bunny at 6:20 in an eliminator match
After the match, Hayter and her crew celebrated and went to the back…
Backstage, Renee Paquette interviewed Toni Storm and Saraya. They congratulated Jamie Hayter on her win, but said she’s a loser like everyone else in AEW. They invited Leva Bates over and beat her up before spraying an L on her stomach and her back. Saraya then said they weren’t there to make friends, they were there to take over…
The announce team said the Guevara-Garcia Gauntlet was up next, and the Trios Title match was still coming up later…[c]
My Take: The head to head collision at the end of the match clearly derailed whatever time they had left. I hope The Bunny didn’t suffer a serious injury. I’m not really into the Saraya and Toni Storm story as of yet. Saraya comes off somewhat unnatural in her promos and it still doesn’t feel like Storm has a personality of her own.
Backstage, Lexy Nair was allowed into MJF’s locker room for an interview. He wore bloody tape on his hands. MJF addressed Takeshita and said he was good but not good enough. He then said that nobody is on his level right now. MJF then told a story about high school about getting speeding tickets and picking up women. He explained that he picked up a girl and she got busy while he was driving, managed to hydroplane and hit a telephone pole. His girl “Liv” cracked her head on the windshield, and he switched seats with her so he wouldn’t be the one driving when the cops showed up.
MJF said nobody cares in life how you get the job done as long as you’re a winner, and Danielson will never be a winner because he’d never even get a shot at MJF. He called himself a scumbag and said he was proud of it…
Next up was the Guevara/Garcia Gauntlet. First out were Menard and Parker, followed by Ricky Starks…
3. Ricky Starks vs. The Jericho Appreciation Society in a Gauntlet Match: Angelo Parker was up first. He landed a hard right hand and suplexed Starks for a two count. Parker attempted to use the ropes for a pinfall right in front of the referee, and it went nowhere. Starks went for a Roshambo, but Parker poked him in the eyes. Starks landed a spear and got the win.
Ricky Starks pinned Angelo Parker at 1:17
Menard attempted to roll up Starks, but it was reversed and Menard was pinned immediately.
Ricky Starks pinned Matt Menard at 1:35
Daniel Garcia made an entrance, but he was interrupted by Sammy Guevara. Both guys approached the ring in an attempt to deceive Starks. He tried to attack Guevara, but Garcia jumped him from behind, beginning the third part of the Gauntlet. Garcia sent Starks hard into the turnbuckles. Starks attempted a spear, but Garcia cut him off with a knee lift…[c]
My Take: An intense promo from MJF. I appreciate the commitment to making himself into the ultimate scumbag, but he’s straying into Andrew Dice Clay territory with his mannerisms and some of the sleaze content. It definitely worked for this story, but I wouldn’t want it to be a lasting fixture of his act.
Starks attempted a spear as the show returned, and Garcia used some grappling skill to counter into a front guillotine with a body lock. Starks powered up to his feet and landed a powerbomb. He then climbed the ropes, but Garcia met him there and landed a hard right hand.
Garcia landed a superplex, but Starks rolled through into a Northern Lights Bomb for a close near fall. He then went for a Roshambo, but Garcia escaped. They battled on the apron, but Ricky speared Starks on the apron. A fan who definitely wasn’t Chris Jericho appeared and landed a Judas Effect elbow wearing a Lucha Mask.and an Acclaimed shirt. Garcia rolled Starks into the ring and got the win.
Daniel Garcia defeated Ricky Starks to end the Gauntlet at 10:28
After the match, the masked man revealed himself to be Chris Jericho, and the JAS celebrated in the ring…
Renee Paquette interviewed “The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Anthony Bowens, who were accompanied by Billy Gunn. Gunn said they came to a team decision to have him remain backstage to allow them to handle their business. Caster said they supported the decision, but Bowens seemed a little bummed out about it. He scissored Gunn to give the people what they want… Rush and Danielson is up next…[c]
My Take: Ricky Starks looked like an idiot for accepting the gauntlet match and making little effort to prepare for the antics of the Jericho Appreciation Society. I was hoping they’d portray him as a smarter babyface than that. I guess we’ll see how he responds next week.
Backstage, Renee Paquette interviewed Bryan Danielson in the trainer’s office when a commotion was heard outside the door. Bryan tried to open the door, but was blocked from the outside. Rush made his ring entrance in the arena. The announce team mentioned they heard Jose’s voice on the outside of the door. MJF’s music hit and he walked to the ring in his sweats. He was limping from the match earlier and selling his right knee.
MJF told referee Aubrey Edwards that Bryan was scheduled for the match, but he wasn’t there. The crowd changed something in Spanish but I couldn’t quite make it out. MJF asked Edwards to make a 10 count and ring the bell so Danielson would be forced to forfeit.
[Hour Two] Takeshita and Danielson broke down the door and took out Jose and Preston Vance. Danielson took off towards the ring. He beat the count and the match started.
4. Bryan Danielson vs. Rush: MJF joined in at commentary as Rush kicked Danielson repeatedly. Rush focused on Bryan’s bad arm and tossed him around the ring and into the barricades at ringside. He then landed a shotgun dropkick with Bryan’s head against the barricade on the floor. Danielson came up bleeding, and Rush some of his blood off his fingers. He then sent Danielson into the barricade a few more times off the bad shoulder, and drove knees and elbows into his head. Bryan bleed all over himself.
Rush landed a series of chops and then tossed Bryan into the ring. As Rush got on the apron, Danielson fired back with elbows and both men traded hard slaps. Bryan’s face was covered in blood. Rush tossed Danielson off the apron to the floor, and some of his blood splattered onto the camera…[c]
My Take: Bryan is bleeding at like a 7 out of 10 on the Eddie Guerrero scale here.
Danielson attempted the LeBell Lock as the show returned, but Rush was able to escape. The action spilled outside again and Bryan landed heavy strikes and a running dropkick on Rush as he sat on a chair near the barricade. Bryan landed a shotgun dropkick from the top as Rush tried to escape back into the ring. He then landed a series of kicks while the crowd chanted “Si”, and then got into a strike battle with “Si” and “No” chants.
Rush landed a flying forearm out of the corner and a straight jacket piledriver for a close near fall. Bryan landed a running knee in response and got a close near fall of his own. Both men got to their feet and landed heavy strikes. They followed up with headbutts and slaps, and Rush dropped Danielson with a hard slap. He followed up with German Suplex, but Danielson rolled through. He followed up with a Busaiku Knee and covered for the win.
Bryan Danielson defeated Rush at 14:48
After the match, MJF ran down to the ring and landed a hard punch to Danielson with the Dynamite Diamond ring. He then landed more punches to the head and applied his Salt of the Earth armbar. Security ran out and MJF punched them off the apron. More staffers came out and they attempted to rip MJF off of Danielson…[c]
My Take: Another very strong dream match for Danielson, and he continued to deliver excellent matches week after week. The outcome never really felt like it was in doubt given the circumstances, which has been an issue in all of these matches, but you can’t really find fault in the performances. I do think AEW needs to dial back the blood a bit, as it happens so often that it doesn’t feel like a major moment when it happens.
Hugh and Murr from Impractical Jokers were interviewed by Tony Schiavone. They said Chris Jericho was a diva on their show, so they stole his bat Floyd to get back at him. They offered him some time on their show tomorrow to answer for the situation…
In the arena, AR Fox and Top Flight made their entrance for the Trios Title Match. They were followed by Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks…
5. Kenny Omega and “The Young Bucks” Matt and Nick Jackson (w/Brandon Cutler, Michael Nakazawa) vs. AR Fox and “Top Flight” Dante and Darius Martin for the AEW Trios Championships: Don Callis sat in on commentary. Dante Martin started the match with Nick Jackson. After about 4 flips, Dante landed a dropkick on Nick Jackson. Darius tagged in and landed a springboard splash as he got into the. Omega and Matt tried to intervene but the referee stopped them. Matt Jackson managed to tag in. and he took down Darius with a kick. Dante attempted a double hip toss on both of the Bucks, but they flipped out of it. Omega then jumped into the match to take down AR Fox. Omega tagged in to continue the assault on Darius…[c]
Nick Jackson superkicked Dante and punched AR Fox off the apron. Darius avoided a superkick and landed a Spanish Fly on Matt. Nick tried to fly in and land a senton on Darius, but he got the knees up. AR Fox and Omega tagged in, and Fox landed a cutter. He then landed a cutter on both of the Young Bucks, followed by splashes on all three Elite Members on the floor. He then landed a second splash for good measure on the Bucks, and a Senton Atomico on Omega in the ring for a close near fall. Omega landed a kick and jumped to sit on the top turnbuckle. AR Fox recovered and landed a Spanish Fly to pull Omega from the top.
Dante tagged in and avoided Nick Jackson as he flew out of the ring. Matt Jackson then performed his chain of Northern Lights Suplexes on all three members of the opposing team. AR Fox spiked Nick Jackson with a DDT a moment later, and Dante made the cover for a near fall. Fox then took down Omega and Matt Jackson on the floor. Dante and Darius spiked Nick Jackson with a double team, and AR Fox landed a top rope splash. Nick had to kick out because Omega was late to break it up.
Chaos reigned with action that was impossible to capture. The Bucks landed the Meltzer Driver on AR Fox, but the pin was broken up. Fox avoided a V-Trigger and rolled up Omega for a close fall. Omega landed a Doctor Bomb for another near fall. He then followed up with a V-Trigger, but Fox rolled him up on a One Winged Angel attempt for another near fall. Both Fox and Omega traded pinning attempts, with Omega getting the win with a crucifix pin.
“The Elite” Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson, and Nick Jackson defeated AR Fox and Top Flight at 15:04 to retain the AEW Trios Titles
After the match, we got a Hook video package…
Lexy Nair interviewed Stokely Hathaway, and he complained that everything going wrong with his crew was Hook’s fault. Hardy, Kassidy, and Page all have losses because of him, and Hardy is asking for a raise. Hook walked up and bent his arm and told him to be careful with his words. The Acclaimed vs. The Gunn Club is up next…[c]
My Take: The Elite continue to have excellent Trios matches, but the issue remains about the lack of storytelling taking place with their characters. There’s a lot of talent wrapped up in the trios division whose value isn’t being maximized because of the lack of any character journey. The matches are a blast though.
The Gunn’s made their entrance. The Acclaimed then followed. Caster called them pendejos and said they should shoot down their title chances like a Chinese Spy Balloon…
6. “The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Anthony Bowens vs. “The Gunn Club” Austin Gunn and Colten Gunn for the AEW Tag Team Championship: Caster and Colten started the match. The Acclaimed dominated the early going, with Bowens landing a scissor me timbers on Austin, and the Gunns were forced to regroup on the floor. Caster and Bowens then scissored to fire up the crowd…[c]
Caster was dominated during the break. He avoided some attacks from Austin and Colten and made the tag to Bowens, who entered the match and battered both Gunns. He landed some heavy elbow strikes to both men and fired up the crowd. He then landed a series of kicks and a Rocker Dropper on Austin. Colten broke up the pin. All four athletes ended up down after a series of rapid fire strikes and a double clothesline. The referee was bumped and knocked out of the ring by an errant rolling elbow strike.
Austin went to ringside and grabbed a Tag Team Championship belt from the timekeeper’s table and attempted to hit Bowens, but Billy Gunn got in the way. Colten then smashed Billy with the other belt from behind. Bowens landed The Arrival, and Caster landed a Mic Drop on Austin in the ring, but the referee could not get back into the match to count the pin. Caster went to get the referee, but got send into the barricade by Colten.
Bowens attempted to make another cover on Austin, but he got shoved into the ropes where Colten blasted him with the Tag Team Championship belt. Austin then rolled him up for a three count victory.
“The Gunn Club” Austin Gunn and Colten Gunn defeated “The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Anthony Bowens to win the AEW Tag Team Championship at 10:34
The crowd went mostly silent at this point until the music stopped playing. They booed for a moment and then just chanted bullshit.
My Take: Not a good match, and not a good finish. It was pretty sloppy throughout, and the timing was really off late in the match after the ref bump. I think the crowd might have given Billy and his kids some heat if there had been a turn here, but instead we got the least satisfying of all possible options.
No Miro, House of Black, Hobbs, Adam Cole, Keith Lee, Scorpio Sky, Swerve, Death triangle, Etc. I am sure there is more, but I have actually forgot who else is even in AEW anymore. Catering must be awfully crowded these days.
Miro turned down creative, Cole is still selling his comeback, Hobbs was MIA yes, so was HOB, Lee is selling his attack, Sky is definitely MIA, Swerve was on Rampage, and 2/3 of Death Triangle issues.
On the positive side, no Best Friends either.