This week’s AEW Dynamite featured Sting & Darby Allin facing Konosuke Takeshita & Powerhouse Hobbs, plus Hangman Page against Claudio Castagnoli and more.
They are calling this one Homecoming because it’s back in Jacksonville, Florida where they did many shows during the Pandemic days of Dynamite in 2020 and early 2021. Tony Khan’s family owns the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and Daily’s Place is connected to it, so it’s an easy venue for AEW to use.
It’s Wednesday and you know what that means. Excalibur was on commentary with Tony Schiavone and Taz.
“Hangman” Adam Page vs. Claudio Castagnoli
It started out as a slugfest as they fought in the ring and out on the floor with punches. Claudio sent Page into the barricade. Page came back with a clothesline on Claudio on the floor. Back in the ring, Claudio hit a suplex along with a double boot to the gut. Claudio with some headbutts, Page no sold them and they exchanged forearms that looked very light. Claudio did a hair pull takedown followed by a Giant Swing. Claudio applied a Sharpshooter submission, but Page managed to get out of it. Page hit a Death Valley Driver slam. Claudio delivered uppercuts and Page got a backslide pin attempt for two. Page did a fallaway slam. Page did a slingshot clothesline along with a cross body block over the top onto Claudio on the floor. Page took a sip of a fan’s beer at ringside. Back in the ring, Page charged, Claudio grabbed him and press slammed Page over the top and onto the ramp outside the ring. That was an impressive display of power.
Page charged, Claudio sent him to the apron and Claudio delivered a boot to the face. They left the ring where Claudio delivered uppercuts. Page fought back with a forearm smashes. Page hit a running clothesline to send Claudio over the top rope into the ring. Claudio stopped a Buckshot Lariat attempt by launching Page into the air leading to an uppercut by Claudio for two. They got into a slap fest, then they avoided lariats and Page hit a running clothesline to send Claudio over the top to the floor. Page jumped with a moonsault off the apron, but Claudio caught him. Claudio slammed Page into the wall and then Page came back with a DDT on the floor. Page hit a moonsault off a wall onto Claudio on the floor. Back in the ring, they countered moves leading to Page hitting a Tombstone for two. Claudio reversed Page doing a move and Claudio sent Page face first into the turnbuckle. Claudio worked over Page with repeated uppercuts and a clothesline by Claudio for two. Claudio with hammer elbows. Page picked up Claudio and hit the Deadeye move which makes me feel sorry for Page’s knees for taking the full bump of that move. Claudio countered a move with an uppercut. They were on the turnbuckle where Page countered a Ricola Bomb with a hurricanrana. Page hit a Buckshot Lariat, then to the other side and Page hit another Buckshot Lariat for the pinfall win for the pinfall win after 18 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: “Hangman” Adam Page
Analysis: **** That was a great match that got a lot of time with Page getting a big win to give him some positive momentum. I thought Claudio was tremendous throughout the match with counter moves and coming close to winning a few times. That counter by Hangman where he hit the hurricanrana to get out of the Ricola Bomb was very well done. That was followed by two Buckshot Lariats in a row to show it took a bit more to put a guy like Claudio away. These guys are two of my favorite wrestlers in AEW, so I’m glad they had a lot of time to have a tremendous match.
They showed highlights of March 2020 when Brodie Lee made his AEW debut right there in Daily’s Place. They showed Brodie winning the TNT Title while saying he was the best TNT Champion ever. Excalibur mentioned Preston Vance and Anna Jay as two of his proteges who will be in action later in the show. Rest in peace, Brodie. We miss you.
There’s an eight-man tag team match after the break.
The entrances took place for the eight man tag team match with the International Champion Orange Cassidy up first. Preston Vance is on the babyface team and he got no reaction. Tony said that Vance went from being a midcard guy to a main event wrestler. I have watched AEW for five years and that’s one of Tony’s worst statements saying that Preston Vance is a main event wrestler. Dustin Rhodes was next up for the team. Adam Copeland was last up for the babyface team wearing a Brodie Lee Forever shirt while Excalibur noted they were close friends who shared a love of my Toronto Maple Leafs. The heel side was up next.
Orange Cassidy, Adam Copeland, Dustin Rhodes & Preston Vance vs. Brian Cage, Toa Liona, Bishop Kaun & Lance Archer
Dustin started with Toa and Toa headbutted Dustin. Cage faced off with Vance, who hit a pump kick. Copeland jumped over Cage and then Copeland tripped up Cage into the turnbuckle. Orange tagged in as Cope dropkicked Orange into a pin attempt. Orange hit a Stunner on Cage. Kaun and Toa made quick tags leading to Toa nailing a Pounce to knock Orange out of the ring. They went to a picture-in-picture break.
Archer nailed a release suplex across the ring. Orange got a boot up to the face and Archer came back with a rising knee strike with a loud leg slap. Archer hit running elbow smashes. Jose The Assistant grabbed Archer’s foot, so Jake Roberts punched Jose on the floor. Orange did his stupid comedy kick routine so Archer punched him and Orange countered with a DDT. Vance tagged in with clotheslines and a double shoulder tackle. Vance hit running clotheslines along with a belly-to-back suplex. Vance hit a spinebuster. Vance hit a Cutter for two on Kaun because Toa made the save. Dustin went after Toa with punches. Cage superkicked Vance, then Cage hit his F5 move on Dustin and Cope hit an Impaler on Cage. Kaun hit double knees on Cope. Orange hit the Orange Punch on Kaun and a Chokeslam by Orange on Kaun. Archer hit a Bossman Slam on Orange and Vance hit a pump kick on Archer. Toa hit a Samoan Drop on Vance. Archer kicked Toa by accident when Vance moved and Cage clotheslined his partner Archer out of the ring. Copeland hit a Spear on Kaun on the floor. Vance hit the discus lariat (Brodie Lee’s move) on Kaun and the director missed it. Way to go. It went ten minutes. After the match, they replayed the discus lariat by Vance for the pinfall win.
Winners by pinfall: Orange Cassidy, Adam Copeland, Dustin Rhodes & Preston Vance
Analysis: *** It was just a random tag team match that fell apart later when everybody was in the ring in the final two minutes. This was all about giving Preston Vance the win since he was Brodie Lee’s protégé so they wanted to have Vance honor Brodie. I get why it was done, but the match was sloppy at times and did finish up okay. The director missing the finish is bad, but then they showed it right after the match.
Samoa Joe was up next.
Bullet Club Gold’s Jay White and the Gunn Club were interviewed by Renee Paquette. Jay talked about how they are champions. The Acclaimed with Bully Gunn walked in as the AEW Trios Tag Team Champions. The Acclaimed walked in suggesting they can combine forces and be the Bang Bang Scissor Gang super faction. Jay said they need to think about that. Colten Gunn told his dad to stand by his fax machine. White and friends left.
Analysis: They want to be a super group due to their mutual dislike for the Undisputed Kingdom heel stable. It makes logical sense even though BCG are heels and The Acclaimed are faces.
Let’s Hear from Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe made his entrance with the AEW World Title around his shoulder. Joe was carrying a new AEW World Title with a black strap and name plates. Joe talked about changes to the championship protocol. Joe said no more going out to the ring to complain or go to social media to make your comments. Joe said that if you are deemed worthy then Joe will stomp your ass out in front of everybody that has ever cheered for you. The fans chanted “Joe” even though he’s a heel.
Swerve Strickland arrived in a grey fur coat along with his Mogul Embassy group. Swerve said that a few months ago he told Hangman Page he was after his spot and look what happened…Swerve took it. Swerve said this ain’t a personal thing with Joe, he just wants that AEW Championship and he’s going to take it. Swerve said that if Joe wants to make it personal then Swerve would be more than happy to.
There was another interruption from “Hangman” Adam Page, who approached the ring with Joe and Swerve. Page recapped some of his 2023 matches while saying that Swerve found him while Page found Swerve. Page said he lost sight of the AEW World Championship last year and in 2024, Page said: “I will make it mine.” Prince Nana pulled Swerve back. Page told Joe he hasn’t forgotten what Joe did to him and Page said he was going to take Joe’s title from him. Page left as Joe held up the AEW World Title in the ring.
Analysis: It looks like they are setting the stage for a triple threat match with Samoa Joe, Swerve Strickland and Adam Page, perhaps at the AEW Revolution PPV in two months, but there is plenty of time to get there. I like Joe as the champion. Joe is believable in the role and he’s a great performer who knows how to be a heel, but Joe gets cheered too.
Hook’s music hit as Joe looked up to see a “HOOK” signal in the upper part of the arena. Hook walked around the ring with the FTW Title. Hook has a 28-1 record. Hook got into the ring with Joe and they had a staredown. Hook told him “one week” and he left the ring. Joe posed with his title again to end it.
Analysis: That means we’ll be getting Samoa Joe against Hook next week on Dynamite. Joe will win, but I think Hook will have a good showing.
Toni Storm, Mariah May and Luther were backstage with Renee Paquette on hand for an interview. Storm thought that AEW signed Wendi Richter and the fans laughed. Storm said that Deonna Purrazzo sounds Italian and then Storm said her name wrong. Storm did her closing line, May said part of it and Storm said she ruined it.
Sammy Guevara vs. Ricky Starks
Starks is one-half of the AEW Tag Team Champions. Sammy and Chris Jericho will challenge Starks & Big Bill for the AEW Tag Team Titles at Battle of the Belts on Saturday night after AEW Collision.
Starks ran the ropes leading to a running shoulder tackle. Sammy did an impressive backflip to avoid Starks and Sammy hit a dropkick. Starks was knocked out of the ring, so Sammy kicked Starks into the barricade. Sammy hit a moonsault onto a standing Starks on the floor. That looked like most of Sammy’s weight hitting Ricky’s right shoulder/arm. Sammy lifted Starks to the apron. They battled on the apron so Sammy chopped Starks in the chest and Starks chopped him in the throat. Starks did a double underhook sitout slam onto Sammy on the apron. They went to a PIP break.
Sammy nailed a step up enziguri kick followed by a superkick to the mouth for two. Sammy went for a moonsault off the top, but Starks got his boots up. Starks hit a sitout Powerbomb for a two count. Sammy went for the GTH, Starks avoided it and did a jackknife pin. Sammy delivered a kick to the face, Starks bounced off the ropes and Sammy hit a superkick. Sammy cradled Starks for the pinfall win after nine minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sammy Guevara
Analysis: *** That was a good match with a finish that came out of nowhere. While I thought Sammy winning was a possibility, it was a weird way to end it with Sammy delivering a superkick followed by a tight inside cradle for the win. Having Starks lose shows that a Tag Team Champion is vulnerable to being beaten.
After the match, Sammy and Starks shook hands, so Big Bill went into the ring to attack Sammy with punches. Chris Jericho made the save with the baseball bat and it sure didn’t sound like a lot of cheers as Jericho’s song played. Jericho hit a Codebreaker on Bill along with a springboard dropkick. Starks was brawling with Sammy. The four wrestlers were fighting around the building since their match on Saturday was a Street Fight.
Analysis: Chris Jericho wasn’t out there long enough to hear the fans booing since they played Jericho’s song the whole time. I assume that was a strategic move to not have Jericho get booed like he was booed in the past.
The eight-woman tag team match was up next.
The entrances took place for the eight woman tag team match. It was Willow Nightingale, Kris Statlander and Anna Jay. Anna Jay is normally a heel, but she was handpicked by Brodie Lee to join the Dark Order, so she’s a babyface in this match. Thunder Rosa was the last woman part of the babyface team. The heel team was up next featuring The Outcasts’ Saraya and Ruby Soho along with Skye Blue and TBS Champion Julia Hart, who has the coolest entrance of anybody in this match.
Willow Nightingale, Kris Statlander, Thunder Rosa & Anna Jay vs. Saraya, Ruby Soho (w/Harley Cameron), Skye Blue & Julia Hart
Jay nailed a running spin kick on Ruby. Kris tagged in with a body slam and clothesline on Ruby. Jay hit a gentle neckbreaker on Ruby and Willow tagged in with a cross body block. Rosa tagged in with a running dropkick. Hart tagged in against Rosa so Blue did a cheap shot and Hart nailed Rosa in the back. The heel side took turns tagging in to work over Rosa in their corner. Rosa hit a drop toe hold on Ruby followed by a dropkick. Willow tagged in with a running back splash. Willow went to the turnbuckle, but Harley Cameron tripped her up leading to a bump on the turnbuckle and the show went to PIP break.
The match returned with Kris getting the hot tag with offense against the four heels including a running knee and a sitout slam on Saraya for two. All eight women went into the ring for an eight woman suplex spot. The faces suplexed the heels. Hart went to the wrong side at first and then had to reposition. It looked ridiculous, but the whole thing led to a mild pop. All eight women did the “hit a move and then bump to the floor” spot in succession. We saw the same thing in the men’s match earlier. Anyway, Jay tagged in as Kris suplexed Saraya. Hart faced off against Jay with Excalibur claiming they were best friends, but not anymore. Blue tagged in, she superkicked Jay and Jay came back with a Queen Slayer submission on Blue for the tapout. It went ten minutes.
Winners by submission: Willow Nightingale, Kris Statlander, Thunder Rosa & Anna Jay
Analysis: **3/4 It went a couple of minutes longer than most AEW women’s TV matches, so kudos to the women for that. The fans barely reacted to Jay because she’s a heel. I get why Jay won since she was mentored by Brodie Lee and we saw Preston Vance win earlier, so it was a way to honor Brodie again by having Jay win. When you already did an eight-man tag team match in the show, don’t repeat the same “hit a move and bump to the floor” spot, but of course they did it. This was just a standard tag team match lacking in story and exciting moments.
Wheeler Yuta did a video promo about being the ROH Pure Champion while winning matches on Rampage. Yuta called out Eddie Kingston for a match on Rampage this Friday night.
Roderick Strong (w/Adam Cole, Mike Bennett, Matt Taven, and Wardlow) vs. Bryan Keith
Poor Keith didn’t get a televised entrance. Keith hit a running boot to the face. Keith kicked Strong to the apron. Strong chopped Keith a few times followed by a backbreaker on the edge of the ring apron. Back in the ring, Strong stomped on Keith repeatedly. Strong got some offense going. They went to the turnbuckle where Keith hit a Diamond Dust neckbreaker. Strong got out of a pin attempt and hit a jumping knee. Strong suplexed Keith into the double knees for the End of Heartache move for the pinfall win after about five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Roderick Strong
Analysis: ** It was an easy win for Roderick Strong to give the Undisputed Kingdom group some momentum. I was losing my interest from the moment the bell rang.
Adam Cole of the Undisputed Kingdom was seated on a chair in the ring with the guys in the stable standing behind him. Cole said they don’t want to earn anything from any of you because they deserve it. Cole talked about Strong being a 20-year veteran that’s one of the most incredible and the pound for pound best wrestler in the world. Cole said that the International Championship has Roddy’s name on it. Cole said that Taven & Bennett are the greatest ROH Tag Team Champions of all time and never got the respect they deserved. Cole said they’re one of the greatest tag team that’s ever lived. Cole talked about the monster, dominator Wardlow. Cole said that Wardlow is surrounded by people who support and when the time is right, “We” are going to win the AEW World Championship. Cole told everybody to get comfortable because they will be there for a very long time.
Analysis: These guys are so hated that not a single person interrupts them. Okay then. You need to keep the story hot by having the people who were attacked by the Undisputed Kingdom to try to get revenge, yet the babyfaces in this company are booked like idiots and don’t try to fight the heels as aggressively as they should. This UK group did all those cheap attacks on people, yet nobody cares enough to go after them.
Deonna Purrazzo was interviewed by Renee Paquette, who asked how she felt. Purrazzo said if Toni Storm wants to pretend she doesn’t know who she is, Purrazzo will have her people contact Toni’s people. Purrazzo said she’s having her debut match on AEW Collison and Red Velvet said she’s having her first match on Collision. Velvet did her “stirring” gesture and Purrazzo said it was good to know that was her stirring arm. In other words, Purrazzo will win with an armbar.
The main event was next.
The great Jim Ross joined commentary for this match. It was a Tornado Tag Team Match where falls count anywhere and anything goes.
Ric Flair made his entrance to a big pop. Sting & Darby Allin were next. Sting is 26-0 in his AEW career and all of those matches were tag team matches. The heels were up next.
Tornado Tag Team Match: Powerhouse Hobbs & Konosuke Takeshita (w/Don Callis) vs. Sting & Darby Allin (w/Ric Flair)
They left the ring quickly with Sting going after Hobbs in the crowd while Takeshita fought with Allin in another part of the crowd. Sting put Hobbs on some equipment case wit wheels and Sting shoved the case into some trash cans. Takeshita worked over Allin with chops. Allin came back with a dropkick to send Takeshita into the barricade. Takeshita hit a German Suplex on Allin on the floor. They went to a PIP break.
The match continued with all four guys battling in the ring. Hobbs & Takeshita swung Allin by the limbs leading to a toss across the ring. Sting fought back against the heels leading to a Stinger Splash on Hobbs, but Takeshita stopped that with a jumping knee. Flair slowly got into the ring to confront Hobbs with chops to the chest. Flair did an eye poke to Hobbs too. Sting clotheslined Takeshita out of the ring. Allin hit a dive onto Takeshita on the floor. Sting hit a Stinger Splash on Hobbs and Sting hit a spinebuster on Hobbs. They went by the staging area where Hobbs sent Sting into a metal truss. Takeshita drove Allin back first into the steel. Allin stunned Takeshita enough that Allin climbed up about 15 foot high on the bleachers and Allin hit a Coffin Drop on Takeshita on the floor. Hobbs put Sting on his shoulder where they were walking across some wall stage. There were two tables underneath them, so Sting hit a Scorpion Death Drop on Hobbs through two tables on the floor. They missed one of the tables. Sting covered Hobbs on the floor for the pinfall win after about 10 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Sting & Darby Allin
Analysis: ***1/4 It was an entertaining match with some big spots including the finishing spot through the table and Allin’s leap onto Takeshita before that. Other than that, it was mostly just some decent action. Sting moves around like a guy that’s ready to retire and I say that respectfully. Allin is a madman as usual. Powerhouse Hobbs looked so dominant beating Chris Jericho in the past and Konosuke Takeshita looked tough beating Kenny Omega, but here they are losing in ten minutes to a guy in his 60s. I respect what Sting did in his career. I just don’t know if he needs to win every match. Anyway, it’s not a big deal that Hobbs & Takeshita lost here. It was the expected result. I don’t need to see Ric Flair doing moves at his age. At least he didn’t take any bumps, so that’s a good thing.
The win also means Sting is 27-0 in his AEW career.
After the match, Sting was down selling the bump while the AEW Dr. Sampson was talking to him. Allin went over to Sting to talk to him as well. Sting got back up, so I think he was okay even though he was moving around slowly. It was past 10 p.m. but they said they were going a few minutes past the top of the hour.
Sting, Ric Flair and Darby Allin were joined in the ring by Tony Schiavone. It was mentioned by Tony that Sting is having his final match at Revolution in March. Tony asked Sting who his final match will be against. Before Sting could say anything, there was an interruption.
The Young Bucks arrived wearing dress clothes along with some thin mustaches on their faces. The Young Bucks stared at Sting & Allin from the stage. The Young Bucks had a staredown for a couple of minutes while the announcers wondered if that was a challenge for a tag team match at Revolution. The Young Bucks didn’t say anything, so we don’t know for sure, but it appears that’s what they were going for as The Young Bucks went to the back. Sting and friends continued to celebrate. End show.
Analysis: It appears as though The Young Bucks are back to being heels with their goofy mustaches. Since the announcers mentioned it as the Young Bucks were challenging Sting & Allin for a match at Revolution then that’s likely what it will be. They have two months to build the story since Revolution is on March 3rd.
Three Stars of the Show
- “Hangman” Adam Page
- Claudio Castagnoli
- Sting & Darby Allin
This Week: 7.25 out of 10
Last Week: 7.25
2024 Average: 7.25
Final Thoughts on AEW Dynamite
It was an episode of Dynamite that was heavy on matches and not much talking at all. The opening match between Hangman Page and Claudio Castagnoli was easily the best of the night. They did a great job there. The two eight-person tag team matches felt very similar with the babyface teams winning. They put over Preston Vance and Anna Jay to get wins to honor Brodie Lee in Daily’s Place, which is fine. I just didn’t think those two tag team matches were that interesting.
Sting & Darby Allin winning the main event was obvious since Sting never loses in AEW. I like and respect Sting, but he is moving so slowly out there and I worry he’s going to get hurt badly doing a stupid stunt move. At least he was okay after doing his Scorpion Death Drop through a table. The Young Bucks (with goofy mustaches) stared down Sting & Allin to end it wit the announcers suggesting that is Sting’s final match the Revolution PPV in two months. Also, we don’t need to see Ric Flair getting physical. Just be smart, guys.
The rest was fine. I wouldn’t say AEW has a lot of great stories right now. MJF’s presence is certainly missed as well.
Thanks for reading. Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors & Toronto Maple Leafs. You can contact me using any of the methods below.