The final half an hour or so of tonight’s AEW Dynamite was something to write home about. Tell your mama and your daddy and your good, good brothers that Guns ‘n’ Gallows have finally made their way to All Elite Wrestling.
The rest of night 1 of New Year’s Smash had its ups and downs throughout, as most of the show was relegated to being an extended advertisement for Go-Big Show (which now has Go-Away Heat with me). Once the clock struck 9:30, though, entrances began and the epic main event got right underway and just about lived up to the hype.
Then, moments after the 3-count was hit and the bell had rung, the excitement wrought from that main event was amplified tenfold.
Prior to that, we got interesting developments from within the Inner Circle, the furthering of the Bucks/Acclaimed/SCU/TH2 tag story, and a Women’s Championship match that certainly divided fan opinion.
Before we jump into those discussions, though…
The Too Sweet Heard ‘Round the World
Kenny Omega and Fenix had exactly the kind of insane match you could expect from the pair of them, and it especially delivered considering there wasn’t any real heat going into it.
These two are, in my opinion, the two best in-ring competitors that AEW has, and that’s with all due respect to the likes of PAC and Moxley. Fenix has the athleticism and ingenuity of a young Rey Mysterio Jr., though, and Omega is a once in a lifetime talent who has proven time and time again why he is the “Best Bout Machine.”
The fact that this match wasn’t the best match of the week is insane (it IS up against Wrestle Kingdom), but it’s certainly one of the best matches in Dynamite history. I especially loved Fenix bouncing out of a V-Trigger and hitting a superkick. Having taken a bump in a wrestling ring myself, I can confirm Jericho’s shocked sentiment that, despite them making it look like a trampoline, the ring certainly is not one. Fenix is a hard man for eating that fall, and both men killed it in that 20-ish-minute bout.
Of course, it’s going to be overshadowed a bit by the post-match shenanigans.
The first shock was that Omega and Don Callis were, at least for the moment, working with Death Triangle’s enemies, Eddie Kingston and The Family. With Kingston and Triple-B holding down PAC and Penta in the back, Callis instructed Omega to hit a One Winged Angel on Fenix and end his career.
The second shock wasn’t that Jon Moxley interfered, but that he interfered with a not-at-all-gimmicked barbed wire bat, legitimately tearing some of the skin off of Omega’s bicep when he attacked him.
The third shock? IMPACT Wrestling Tag Team Champions Doc Gallows and “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson coming out to save the AEW World Champion, all of them with their belts in the ring and all of them former members of Bullet Club.
Watching Omega, Gallows, and Anderson beat the brakes out of Moxley (and Pillman, and Garrison, and Dean, and Valle, and Ryzin, and so on) was jaw-dropping. It was like shades of an nWo beatdown. Wrestlers just kept coming and the carnage just kept going. And since it was announced before the main event that The Elite are teaming up next week, the thought hits your head: “Are the Young Bucks coming out?”
And going back to the nWo analogy, you then ask the question, “Whose side are they on?”
Watching the segment, you give the Young Bucks the benefit of the doubt multiple times. They seem mad that Gallows and Anderson are there. Then, when they superkick the Varsity Blondes, it might not be an allegiance thing — they just don’t want to be bothered, or they’re just protecting Kenny.
But then came the Too Sweet Seen Around the World.
There’s a lot to unpack there. On IMPACT, they’ve openly referenced Bullet Club by name (hard to take legal action when you don’t know what’s happening on AXS TV), and the hand gesture here on Dynamite is equivalent as far as being on TNT goes. And with KENTA also having beef with Moxley, there’s an easy way into making this partnership work within both company’s current stories.
But even without fantasy booking further, AEW and IMPACT Wrestling have already started weaving an incredible story that is setting the standard high for big-time goings on in 2021.
The Rest of the Show
This feels weird to say, but before Omega and company did their thing in the main event, my MVP of the show was probably Jake Hager.
Even within that statement, there are still caveats. Hager’s match with Wardlow and segment with MJF were both great, but you could argue in both cases that the other party did a lot of the heavy lifting. Regardless, the current and forever Lucha Underground Champion did well last night, and I’m excited to see what he and Wardlow do going forward.
In fact, the whole Inner Circle feels invigorated after the additions of MJF and Wardlow. War-Dog is getting promo time and huge wins, adding to his resume for when it comes time for Wardlow to become the top star in AEW (which will happen; it is destined). Going back to Hager, him showing solidarity in the ring and then freaking out backstage is such a genuine and realistic character trait for a prideful team player such as himself.
And then there’s MJF. He’s definitely getting in with the original Inner Circle guys, as seen two weeks ago when he comforted Satana and now this week when he calmed Hager down. Part of me wants to believe that MJF is just trying to make friends, but the other 97% of me knows that he’s going to either tear this group apart or reshape it in his own image.
Before the Inner CIrcle shenanigans was the opening 8-man tag match between the Young Bucks/SCU and The Acclaimed/TH2. The segment as a whole was fine — the match was what you’d expect, the finish with Daniels hitting the B.M.E. with Matt was fun, and Caster’s pre-game rap was great — but I’ll admit that I was a little distracted by the tacky ring skirt.
See, while last week’s show was incredibly well done and did a perfect job honoring the memory of Mr. Brodie Lee (rest in power, Big Rig), one more unfortunate drawback is that Night 1 of New Year’s Smash got saddled with Night 2’s original job of selling the following night’s debut of Go-Big Show on TBS.
The positive is that Snoop Dogg was on TV, which is always great. The negative was that Excalibur kept having to talk about Cody’s new show all night while the other three commentators talked over him because the matches were fast-paced.
That problem was at its highest during Cody Rhodes vs. Matt Sydal, a match that had an interesting story going in — Sydal not wanting to be a pawn in promoting Cody’s TBS show — but ended up being exactly that: a promo. It was to be expected, and at least Serpentico got to be in the ring with WrestleMania XXVII rap battle host Snoop D-O-Double-G, but it doesn’t make for super compelling TV either.
The last match we have to talk about is Hikaru Shida vs. Abadon for the AEW Women’s Championship. Starting with the good news: it got some time, even after a hot start that almost hinted at an early finish.
The commentary was worth listening to in this one because they delved into the idea that Abadon is, at the end of the day, a gimmick. The kayfabe of AEW is that of a real sport, so just like Orange Cassidy, Abadon’s get-up and attitude is entirely mind games. Her mind games just happen to include less one-word answers and more rocking back-and-forth in the corner of the locker room.
But while all of that works super well, the thing that didn’t work was the extended “bite” spot under the ring. It’s a timing thing in this case — Shida spent a LOT of time under the ring making herself look like she’d suffered a mortal wound — but in general, the idea of Abadon going full zombie is a little hard to get into in the first place. She certainly LOOKS like she would bite you, yes, but there’s some suspension of disbelief there that’s hard to maintain if it’s not executed perfectly. Her character works fine without it; she just licked Shida in their first match, and the red mark it left then was a lot more intimidating than the blood now.
Though the match got time, it ended abruptly with an attempted leg grab from Abadon and a single Tamashii from Shida for the three count. Not a bad match, but certainly not something I’d personally go back and rewatch again.
The first three-quarters of the show were a lot like Snoop Dogg’s splash on Serpentico. Cool in setup, fun to behold, a BIT wonky on the landing — and, overall, an ad for Go-Big Show.
There were a lot of promos in this show, which are usually welcome but didn’t quite hit home tonight. Moxley’s was intense but milquetoast. Team Taz just kind of talked over Schiavone for a bit then got punked out by Sting again. Private Party were cast well with Snoop Dogg, but then he just kind of stood to the side while a conversation from Being the Elite was furthered between Hardy Party.
But all of that only comes back to you upon reflecting and diving back into the show. On the night, the screen faded to black on a five-way too sweet that sent shivers down your spine. Five of the six guys who kicked AJ Styles out of Bullet Club are back together, and since the last guy out is Cody Hall, I’m cool with staying here.
Yesterday was a great one for wrestling, starting with NJPW’s New Year’s Dash and ending with AEW’s New Year’s Smash and NXT’s New Year’s Evil. And despite whatever flaws you could nitpick out of those shows, they did a great job distracting from the horrible real-life things going on, and that will always be welcome.
If you didn’t watch the show, though, I suggest you go back for the main event segment, maybe watch Wardlow/Hager, and only go back for the rest if there are wrestlers who really just do it for you.
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