By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Dynamite (Episode 217)
Minneapolis, Minnesota at Target Center
Aired live November 29, 2023 on TBS
[Hour One] The Dynamite opening aired… Excalibur checked in on commentary along with Taz. Bryan Danielson made his entrance wearing a patch over his left eye and then joined the broadcast team. Excalibur plugged All In tickets… The broadcast team explained the rules of the Continental Classic tournament and the current point totals were shown…
Ring announcer Justin Roberts handled the introductions for the opening match. Jon Moxley entered via the crowd while highlights of tournament win over Mark Briscoe were shown. Jay Lethal entered via the stage. The covered Continental Classic title belt was shown at ringside in between the ROH and NJPW Strong Openweight championship belts…
1. Jon Moxley vs. Jay Lethal in a Continental Classic tournament Gold League match. Lethal hit Moxley with an early suicide dive. Lethal went to the apron and did the Flair strut, which Danielson said he should not be doing. Moxley came right back with a suicide dive of his own.
Back inside the ring, Moxley bit the forehead of Lethal and then stuffed his Lethal Injection attempt. Lethal targeted one of Moxley’s knees and then hit him with an elbow drop from the ropes, which led to a two count. Lethal knocked Moxley off the apron and then Moxley tumbled over the barricade and into the front row heading into a picture-in-picture commercial break. [C]
Lethal continued to focus on Moxley’s knee and put Moxley in a figure four. Moxley broke the hold by reaching the ropes. Lethal kicked Moxley’s bad knee and then went for a Lethal Injection, but Moxley fell to the mat. When Lethal approached Moxley, he shot up and dropped him with a DDT. Moxley followed up with a lariat and a piledriver before covering him for a two count. Moxley applied the Bulldog Choke and got the submission win…
Jon Moxley defeated Jay Lethal in 11:20 to earn three points in a Continental Classic tournament match.
Powell’s POV: A well worked match. I assumed that Moxley would win, but I also think we’ll get some upsets in the tournament. Moxley now leads the Gold League with six points.
Footage aired from after Saturday’s AEW Collision of Eddie Kingston sitting on the floor and showing frustration over losing his first tournament match. He said he was behind the eight ball. Kingston said would be humble in victory and humble in defeat. He said he would be ready for Bryan Danielson in his next tournament match…
Danielson spoke at the broadcast table about the confidence that Kingston had when he put both of his titles on the line in the tournament compared to now when he’s talking about being behind the eight ball. Danielson got fired up and spoke about how he fractured his orbital bone in two places and had surgery, yet he was coming into the tournament with confidence…
Excalibur hyped the previously advertised tournament matches for Collision, and said the Mark Briscoe vs. Rush match was up next… [C]
Powell’s POV: I like Kingston showing the agony of defeat and how it affected his confidence following his loss on Collision. Awkwardly, they just aired a local commercial plugging tickets for this same episode of Dynamite. Oops.
Tony Schiavone announced that AEW Revolution will be held on Sunday, March 3 in Greensboro, North Carolina at the Greensboro Coliseum. Schiavone spoke about Sting’s history in the venue and recalled a classic match with Ric Flair from 1988.
Sting and Ric Flair joined Schiavone on the interview set. Sting recalled having his first world title match with Flair and said he never would have imagined they’d all be standing next to each other 35 years later. Sting said they fought to a draw and he credited Flair with putting him on the map. Sting said Greensboro is a fitting place for him to end his career.
Flair said he didn’t make Sting, Sting made himself. Flair said Sting went 45 minutes, commercial-free with him. He said Sting went backstage and the other wrestlers said he was the man. Flair said Sting didn’t rehearse it and didn’t talk about it, he went out and did it “the way a man does.”
Flair said he’s 74 years-old and he’s with Tony Khan and Tony Schiavone, and he’s going back to Greensboro. Flair said he’s honored to be at Sting’s side. Flair said that regardless of whatever tournaments they hold in Greensboro, this will be one for the ages…
Powell’s POV: A great venue choice for Sting’s final match. That was fun. By the way, Flair was all over the Twin Cities on Tuesday making appearances on mainstream radio, sports podcasts, and morning talkshows to promote Dynamite. That’s great use of Flair and it created a lot of local awareness for this show.
2. Mark Briscoe vs. Rush in a Continental Classic tournament Gold League match. Both entrances were televised. Dralistico and Jose came out with Rush during his entrance before returning to the back. The match quickly spilled over to ringside where Rush ran Briscoe into the barricade multiple times.
Briscoe came back and dumped Rush on the barricade. Briscoe dropped a Cactus Jack style elbow on Rush from the apron. Back in the ring, Bricoe put Rush down with a clothesline heading into a PIP break. [C]
Briscoe and Rush fought on the apron. Briscoe charged Rush, who suplexed him from the apron to the floor, which drew a “holy shit” chant. Briscoe came back once he returned to the ring and hit the Froggy Bow top rope elbow drop for a near fall. Rush came back by suplexing Briscoe into the corner. Rush hit Bull’s Horns and then pinned Briscoe clean…
Rush defeated Mark Briscoe in 11:25 to earn three points in a Continental Classic tournament match.
Powell’s POV: Another quality match. The company is doing a good job of showing the updated standings after each match and making the tournament easy to follow.
Toni Storm was lying on a couch. Storm put her legs over interviewer RJ City while Luther and Mariah May stood behind them in the black and white shot. She said she was feeling dehydrated and exhausted. City informed Storm that she would defend her title next week and asked if she was worried about defending her title in her current state. She listed several classic Hollywood names and asked if they were worried. Storm had City take her shoes off…
AEW World Champion MJF made his entrance with a cane. MJF winced as he went through the ropes and Excalibur noted that he had a partially torn labrum in his shoulder. MJF spoke about defending his title against Samoa Joe at the Worlds End pay-per-view.
MJF said he doesn’t like Joe as a person, but he respects him professionally. MJF said he respects what Joe has done for the industry and that he didn’t come to AEW to line his pockets. MJF said Joe believes “in those three letters” which drew an “AEW” chant.
MJF recalled watching TNA Wrestling for the first time. He said he couldn’t have been happier because he saw insane feats of athleticism and a cast of wrestlers that he’d never seen before. MJF said Joe stood out from everyone. MJF said that when Joe came through the curtain, he knew he was the baddest man on God’s green earth.
MJF said Joe’s talents were not fully recognized and he was not afforded the opportunity to be a champion in WWE (fans booed). MJF said that Joe proved that you don’t have to be a male model bodybuilder to be a top guy in the sport. MJF said it’s because of the road that Joe paved that allows him to stand in the ring today.
MJF said this all pained him to admit, then thanked Joe. The fans responded with a “thank you, Joe” chant. MJF said he’s not too shabby himself. He said he’s paved a road himself and helped create a new alternative. MJF said he helped build AEW brick by brick.
MJF recalled beating top names in the industry such as Cody Rhodes, CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, and Kenny Omega. MJF said that of all the names he’s had to face that makes him look back and think he’s lucky to have survived, it’s Joe.
MJF said December 30 isn’t about Joe’s legacy, it’s about MJF’s legacy. MJF said it’s about whether he can outlast the Final Boss of the sport one more time. MJF said it didn’t matter if his left knee kept sliding in and out and whether his hip continues to slide out of socket and or whether his left shoulder is hanging by a thread.
MJF promised that he would show the world that’s it’s not about the size of the dog in the fight, it’s about the size of the fight in the dog. MJF said that if Joe wants to take what’s his, he would have to put him down. MJF dropped the mic and broke his cane in half.
The lights went out and then they were rapid fire spotlights cutting in and out over the ring. MJF was attacked by four men covered in black with the devil mask logo on the back of their shirts. Three wrestlers held MJF while another set up to hit him with a bat.
Samoa Joe came out and pulled the bat holding wrestler out of the ring. Joe entered the ring and chased off the other three wrestlers and the screen went black. After several seconds, graphics appeared on the screen that read: “In the shadows, the game begins. Next week, MJF and Samoa Joe, will you face the unknown in a tag match? Are you a hero, Max?”
MJF looked into the camera and said he would take out the Devil Mask’s men and then unmask him. MJF called Devil Mask a coward. MJF asked Joe if he wanted a tag match next week. Joe agreed and then MJF said the match was on… [C]
The broadcast team spoke from their desk, where three cans of Ric Flair’s energy drink were placed in front of them. They said the AEW security team was on the case and believe it to be an internal matter. Schiavone said they have been tapping into the lighting and broadcast system. Schiavone said Tony Khan(!) agreed to give MJF and Joe the proposed tag team match on next week’s show in Montreal…
Powell’s POV: As silly as it is that the Devil Mask has somehow “tapped into” the company’s lighting and broadcast system, I like that they are taking the time to explain it. MJF’s promo regarding Joe was really good. MJF has torn down a number of opponents in insult comic style, so it packs a punch when he stops and puts over someone as strongly as he did Joe.
Wardlow made his entrance while his opponent AR Fox was already inside the ring. Fox kicked Wardlow through the ropes and hit him with a flip dive before the opening bell. Wardlow hit Fox and threw him onto the apron. Fox went for a dive, but Wardlow caught him and slammed him on the apron. Wardlow entered the ring and then suplexed Fox, which for some reason triggered the referee to call for the opening bell…
3. Wardlow vs. AR Fox. Fox got some early offense in and hit a 450 splash, but Wardlow kicked out at one when Fox went for a cover.
[Hour Two] Wardlow performed multiple powerbombs and then hit Fox with a Swanton Bomb. Wardlow performed another powerbomb and the referee called off the match. Wardlow immediately exited the ring and walked to the back…
Wardlow defeated AR Fox in 3:15.
Powell’s POV: There was a little more to this than the typical Wardlow squash, but the end result was the same.
The broadcast team hyped the upcoming trios match. Excalibur warned squeamish viewers not to watch before they replayed footage of Dante Martin suffering a gruesome ankle injury when Penta El Zero Miedo put him through multiple tables…
Entrances for the trios mach took place. The “Top Flight” duo of Dante and Darius Martin received a nice hometown reaction…
4. Dante Martin, Darius Martin, and Action Andretti vs. Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, and Brother Zay. Dante got a nice pop once he tagged into the match for the first time. Zay was isolated by his opponents going into a PIP break. [C]
The Hardy team isolated Andretti coming out of the break. The Martins came back and put Matt down. Zay shoved one Martin into the other and then rolled up Dante for a two count. Darius and Andretti took out the Hardys on the floor. Zay took a shotgun dropkick into a German suplex from Andretti and Darius, and then Dante performed a unique uranage slam on Zay before pinning him…
Dante Martin, Darius Martin, and Action Andretti defeated Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, and Brother Zay in 9:40.
Excalibur hyped the TBS Title match as coming up next… [C]
Powell’s POV: As ugly as Dante’s injury footage is, I’m happy they took the time to show it because it really is amazing that Dante was able to return from it. I was disappointed that AEW didn’t talk more about it when it happened or provide updates on Dante’s recovery, but they got his return right.
Renee Paquette congratulated Dante Martin, Darius Martin, and Action Andretti on the backstage interview set. Penta El Zero Miedo and Alex Abrahantes showed up. Penta fist bumped fists Dante. Penta counted to three while pointing at the Martins and Andretti. Komander and El Hijo del Vikingo joined Penta, who then counted to three again…
Julia Hart made her entrance and received a good reaction from her home state crowd. Justin Roberts did not mention where she’s from during his introduction, but Excalibur noted that she’s from Bloomington, Minnesota (home of the Mall of America) on commentary. Emi Sakura’s entrance followed…
5. Julia Hart vs. Emi Sakura for the TBS Championship with House Rules. Sakura’s House Rules choice was that the match could not end via submission. The broadcast team noted that Hart couldn’t win using her usual Hartless finisher. There was a “Julia” chant once the bell rang. Sakura took control and ended up hitting Hart with a crossbody block against the ring steps heading into a PIP break. [C]
Hart eventually battled back and applied Hartless. Sakura tapped, but the broadcast team noted that while the hold was legal to use, it could not end the match. Hart released the hold and hit Sakura from behind with a lariat. Hart went up top and executed a moonsault. Sakura rolled over and into the move for some reason, and then Hart pinned her…
Julia Hart defeated Emi Sakura in 7:35 to retain the TBS Championship.
Powell’s POV: I don’t know if there was some miscommunication or if Sakura thought Hart was going to overshoot her while performing the moonsault.
Backstage, RJ City spoke with Mariah May, who said she had quite the run in Japan and is now dying to show AEW what she can do. May thanked City for connecting her with Toni Storm. May knocked on Tony Khan’s office door and then entered the room…
TNT Champion Christian Cage made his entrance and had five security guards stand behind him once he was in the ring. Cage invited Adam Copeland to come out. When Copeland didn’t come out, Cage said he knew that Copeland was there and he just wanted to speak to him about some of the things Copeland said last week. Cage acted flustered and once again invited Copeland to come out. Cage said maybe he should go back and speak to Copeland.
Adam Copeland made his entrance and walked straight to the ring without playing to the crowd. The security guards lined up in front of Cage, who stood behind them in a corner of the ring. Cage claimed management wanted security to be there and said it wasn’t his idea. Cage dismissed the security guards.
Cage recalled Copeland challenging him to a match in Montreal for next week’s Dynamite. Cage said they wouldn’t make it to Montreal. Cage went face to face with Copeland. “We’re not going to make it to Montreal because I’m sorry.” The crowd chanted “bullshit.”
Cage called Killswitch by his other name, which led to “you f—ed up” chants.” Cage said he took a road trip of reflection and soul searching after last week’s show. Cage said he tried to figure out why he became the person he is and why he does unsavory things.
Cage recalled how he and Copeland drove his mom’s Taurus when they didn’t have a dime and had the time of their lives. Cage said they were determined to make it and they did. Cage said they became multiple time tag team champions and declared that they are the greatest team that ever lived.
Cage said that if you take the wrestling part of their relationship away, their friendship runs deeper. Cage said everyone knows that Copeland was raised by a single mother and didn’t have a father figure. Cage said he wasn’t suggesting that he was Copeland’s father but rather his brother. Cage said his father welcomed Copeland into their family and to this day is his biggest fan.
“I love you, man,” Cage said. “We are family.” Cage recalled Copeland’s mother passing. Cage said she spoke to him before she passed about how great it would be if they teamed together again. Cage said they should do it for Copeland’s mother Judy. Cage put the microphone down.
Cage tried to hit Copeland with the TNT Title belt, but Copeland kicked him in the balls. Copeland picked up the mic and said, “Nice try, dumbass.” Copeland told Cage to shine up the TNT Title belt because it’s coming home with him next week. “Oh, by the way, I almost forgot, go f— yourself.” The censor was about three seconds late…
Excalibur hyped the main event as coming up next and said they would stick with the match if it ran past the top of the hour… [C]
Powell’s POV: The censor has one job to do. Okay, so I’m not offended in the least and watch plenty of basic cable shows that include F-bombs. But I do wonder how many parents with kids in the room scrambled to reach the remote and will think twice about letting their kids watch AEW. Then again, the kids might be more excited than ever to watch the show when their parents aren’t around! Anyway, a simple and effective segment. I like that Copeland wasn’t put in the awful position of being the only person in the arena who didn’t see through Cage.
Jay White made his entrance for the main event. Swerve Strickland’s entrance followed. Prince Nana joined him on the stage and leaned on a crutch while doing his dance, and then headed backstage…
6. Jay White vs. Swerve Strickland in a Continental Classic tournament Gold League match. Danielson said White is the most likely to fight to a draw because he’s such a defensive wrestler, which can work against him because of the 20-minute time limit.
The match spilled over to ringside. Swerve dumped White on the barricade and into the front row (in the same spot we saw in the opening match). Swerve sent White back inside the ring. White caught Swerve coming through the ropes and DDT’d him going into a PIP break. [C]
White performed a uranage slam and covered Swerve for a two count. Excalibur provided a rough estimate on the elapsed time and reminded viewers they would stick with the match if it ran past the top of the hour. Swerve came back and wrenched White’s arm behind him and then stepped on it. The crowd responded with “You sick f—” chants.
Swerve shot White into the corner where he nearly collided with the referee. White went for a low blow that was blocked by Swerve, who then put White down and hit him with a top rope double stomp for a near fall.
[Overrun] White hit a Bladerunner out of nowhere. Swerve ended up on the apron and tumbled to the floor. Danielson wondered if it was an intentional move by Swerve or simply luck. White brought Swerve back inside the ring and got a two count. Swerve came right back with a pin attempt of his own for a two count.
Swerve stuffed a Bladerunner attempt, and then White stuffed a JML Driver attempt. Justin Roberts announced that there were five minutes remaining in the time limit. White performed a wicked suplex and set up for a Bladerunner, but Swerve rolled him into a pin and got the three count.
Swerve Strickland defeated Jay White in 15:30 to earn three points in a Continental Classic tournament match.
Swerve flashed a sinister smile as he exited the ring while White showed disbelief. They showed the updated Gold League Standings with Moxley and Swerve tied for the lead with six points, Rush and White with three points, and Briscoe and Lethal with no points.
Excalibur hyped Christian Cage vs. Adam Copeland for the TNT Title for next week’s Dynamite in Montreal, as well as Bryan Danielson vs. Eddie Kingston in a tournament match for Saturday’s AEW Collision. Excalibur closed by saying he would see viewers on Friday night for Rampage…
Powell’s POV: A strong main event with a clean finish. The mention of the time limit likely made fans in the building and viewers think the match was going to a draw, but it actually seemed to be the cue for the wrestlers to go home. It would be a nice touch if AEW were to add a timer to the screen along with a Continental Classic graphic to make the time limit more of an issue and to help make the tournament matches stand out.
Overall, this was a good, well paced episode. Only time will tell if the Continental Classic tournament is a ratings success, but the company is doing a good job of making it feel important while also reminding the viewers how a round robin style tournament works. I will be back shortly with my weekly same night audio review of Dynamite for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons). Let me know what you thought of Dynamite by grading the show below.