AEW Dynamite Holiday Bash 2022 kicks off in style with Absolute Ricky Starks! Cuts a great babyface promo about coming up short, acknowledging falling prey to MJF cheating to retain the AEW World Championship, but sets the tone for Starks to continue into 2023 as someone to keep a very close eye on.
Someone who already has an eye on Starks, is Chris Jericho. He comes out with Sammy Guevara and Daniel Garcia, praising Starks, and offers him a spot in the JAS. This prompts Starks to cut a fantastically entertaining promo, railing on JAS and succeeds in getting a series of massive pops from the crowd. Starks challenges Jericho to a match to take place on the first Dynamite of 2023. Hager sneaks in from behind and the stable beats down on Starks until … Action Andretti makes the save, allowing Starks to recover and the both of them clean house.
The best line, I thought, was referring to the ‘J’ in JAS as “jobber.”
The Elite defeated Death Triangle in a No DQ match
This was a straight up fun match. Screw the podcasts and twitter know-it-alls. Superkicks, dives, trash cans, tables, and Christmas trees and more.
Recap from last week, MJF post-match blames Danielson for stealing his moment, winning his first title defense.
Backstage: Action Andretti is interviewed by Tony Schiavone, interrupted by Matt Menard and Angelo Parker. This is a diversion, as Andretti is lured into a trap, where Jericho then shoots fire into the rookie’s face.
He’s a Wizard, Harry.
Renee Young and Bryan Danielson are in the ring, with Danielson trying to regain the fans trust and faith in William Regal. Still playing up the hospital angle, he talks about training in San Antonio, Texas (where they are live tonight), namedropping Shawn Michaels to the crowd’s delight. He then says it was Regal who trained him to be the man is he today. Just then, Ethan Page interrupts and earns uber-heat for it. Wow. This is fantastic. The crowd won’t let him talk. When he does, Page and Stokley compare fruits and vegetables, resulting in a match being made for next week. We get a glimpse backstage of a Chanukah-suited MJF.
Mox cuts a promo about the Battle-Royale style match for this upcoming Rampage called The Three Kings challenge.
Samoa Joe cuts a taped promo, wishing the fans a Happy Holidays and lots of pain for Wardlow next week.
Hook is sent to defeat a newcomer named… Exodus Prime
With obvious Optimus Prime jokes aside, Hook quickly ends it. Post-match, Stokley Hathaway has Big Bill and Lee Moriarity beating up Jungle Boy someplace, chokeslamming him into a dumpster. Hook leaves the ring and Wild Thing is hit rather quickly, likely pressed for time.
Mox defeated Darius Martin
Not a bad match, but certainly no chance of a repeat with another upset victory.
Team Jarrett performs a rap. In a pre-taped bit, Sonjay Dutt shows off his attempt at rapping with Jarrett, Lethal, and Satnam Singh doing stereotypical facial expressions as they run down The Acclaimed in their pursuit of gaining more heel heat. Next week it will be Jarrett and Lethal against Billy Gunn and Anthony Bowens.
I truly hope this feud is filler. It would wreck me and I imagine others if Acclaimed lose the belts to Jarrett’s stable. I’m sorry, but I can’t stand seeing Satnam lumber around, and Double J should be in the back coaching and mentoring.
The next chapter of The Book of Hobbs, talking about watching family members die by violence, surrounded by drugs and crime. He’s been stabbed and shot. These were monsters of his childhood. This only created a larger, bigger, meaner one.
FTR LOST TO THE GUNN CLUB!?
This was not a result I was expecting, but perhaps this is FTR being professional in putting them over? Maybe? They did cheat, but it was a good match. Gunns may be on the rise, perhaps 2023 may see some unexpected events from unlikely teams.
The next segment was a hot mess. “The Big Boss” Rick Ross in the ring with Tony Schiavone for this face-off between Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland. Things take a turn when Swerve doesn’t appear right away, and for some unknown random reason Ross drops an F-Bomb towards Lee. Swerve shows up and I couldn’t figure out what on planet Earth he was saying, as Rick Ross dropping random words like he’s recording something. Either that or the sound was off. In any event, Lee is blindsided by a way too hyper Parker Bourdeaux who is easily ejected from the ring by Lee. As Lee then lumbers towards Swerve, a really big guy covered in tattoos, later ID’d as former baseball player Granden Goetzman, blindsiding Lee, knocking him to the floor. Parker jumps around like Brock Lesnar joining the Spirit Squad, acting like he’s seven-feet tall, while the real big guy takes out Lee.
The one major spot, saw the two henchmen of Mogul Associates hold a prone Lee on the ring stairs, placing a cinderblock on top for Swerve to leap off the top turnbuckle, crushing it over Lee.
The sad part is, the crowd was dead silent and completely taken out of it. The final spot woke them up a bit.
I did like how the identity of the newcomer was unknown to the commentary team. I know they usually jump on revealing identities, but hearing the commentary team also in shock was a bright spot in the segment.
Thankfully, the main event more than made up for it as Jamie Hayter retains the AEW Women’s World Championship against Hikaru Shida.
WHAT A MATCH! WHAT A FIGHT!
They bludgeoned the hell out of each other. One hit hard, the other retaliated harder. A lot of high-impact moves combined with some technical mat-based prowess from both ladies. A constant battle for offensive dominance, very few points where one was overly on the defensive. The live crowd came to life in a big way, adding to the electricity of the main event. Shida blasting Hayter over and over with running knees, buzzsaw-style kicks, only to get turned around with Hayter’s lariats. After some counters into a powerbomb, Hayter turned up the dial with not one, not two, but three massive lariats to get the win.
Notable spot, as the ref was distracted by Rebel, Dr. Baker came in with the kendo stick, but was thwarted by Shida, and paid the price, being struck with it. The moment did give Hayter enough time to recover, but ultimately did not appear to take away from the match result.
Post match, they all assaulted Shida until Toni Storm rushed to make a save, but was ineffective, until Saraya ran down to even the numbers.
Not a bad finish, although I would have preferred seeing the heels be the ones standing tall to close the show since Hayter did retain. I think it would have appeared better for the heel group to have their dominance front-and-center to close, giving the babyfaces an opportunity for the comeback at a later time.
Overall a good show. Not a show which stands out as above-and-beyond as some of their shows tend to do, but this is perfectly fine. Not every show needs to be a home run or the expectations become so high the novelty wears off again.
Next week seems to show an interesting lineup, and let’s not forget about Rampage with this intriguing battle royal trios event.