This week’s AEW Dynamite is the highly anticipated “Winter is Coming” episode that will see AEW World Champion “Hangman” Adam Page defending the AEW World Title vs. Bryan Danielson in what should be an incredible match.
Danielson comes into tonight’s Dynamite with no losses in his AEW career. Following his victory at November’s Full Gear PPV to earn this AEW World Title match, Bryan went on to win on Dynamite weeks in a row over Dark Order members, including John Silver last week. As for Page, he hasn’t had a televised match since Full Gear, which was on November 6, so it’s been over a month since Page had a match. That’s AEW. It’s a big roster and sometimes people get over a month off, even the AEW World Champion. On this week’s Dynamite, we get to witness Hangman’s first title defense. As AEW President/General Manager Tony Khan noted on Twitter, last year’s “Winter is Coming” special was the night when the World Title changed hands with Kenny Omega beating Jon Moxley, so could that happen again this year? We’ll find out.
This is AEW Dynamite episode #115 at the Curtis Culwell Center in Dallas (Garland), Texas. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.
It’s Wednesday night and you know what that means. I started the show about two minutes late and the introductions were already taking place for the AEW World Heavyweight Championship match. Interesting choice to put it on first. Bryan Danielson is the challenger with a 13-0-1 record in his AEW career. The fans booed Bryan. The defending AEW Champion “Hangman” Page is 18-2 in 2021. The announcers are Excalibur, Tony Schiavone and Tazz, who is filling in for Jim Ross.
AEW World Championship: “Hangman” Adam Page vs. Bryan Danielson
The fans chanted “AEW” leading into the wrestlers locking up to start the match. The fans were chanting for both guys. When they broke free, Bryan did some jumping jacks in the corner. Page with a fireman’s carry takedown leading to an armbar and Bryan hooked the arm leading to a takedown. The fans booed Bryan celebrating that move. Bryan with a waistlock, Page got up going for strikes, but Bryan ducked a chop and celebrated. They battled over an armbar, then Bryan with a shove and Page shoved back, so Bryan retreated to the ropes. Bryan with a couple of leg sweeps, then he went for another and Page kicked Bryan, so Bryan regrouped against the ropes again. There was finally some offense with Page catching Bryan going for a leapfrog and Page hit a body slam. Bryan came back with a takedown where he tied up the legs followed by knees to the ribs. Bryan applied a surfboard submission that Bryan turned into a Dragon Sleeper variation, but Page punched himself to get out of it. Bryan with two chops, a headbutt, another chop and Page hit a chop of his own. Page worked over Bryan with the ten punches against the turnbuckle. Bryan grabbed the left leg for a takedown leading to Bryan wrenching on the knee. Bryan had the left leg tied up while kicking the right leg and punching Page a few times. Bryan with a forearm to the chest, Page to the apron, Bryan blocked and kicked Page out of the ring. Bryan ran the ropes, Hangman slid back in the ring and kicked Bryan in the head. Page with a springboard clothesline knocking Bryan off the apron to the floor. Back in the ring, Page jumped off the top with nothing and Bryan kicked him in the ribs. Bryan smirked about that move. Bryan with a running knee to the ribs. Bryan worked over Page by trapping him against the ropes and delivering some kicks/chops to the chest. Bryan went up top, Page was still against the ropes and Bryan jumped off the top with a knee to the back of the head for a two count. They went to a picture in picture break about 14 minutes into the match.
(Commercial – Bryan was in control for most of the break.)
Bryan grounded Page with a submission pulling back on the arms, but Page came back with a belly to back suplex. Bryan tried to get some momentum running the ropes, but Page caught him and Page hit a fallaway slam. Bryan charged, Page sent him groin first off the top rope and Page hit a springboard clothesline leading to Bryan rolling out to the floor. Page hit a suicide dive that sent Bryan into the barricade. Page went up top and hit a moonsault that took out Bryan on the floor. The fans chanted “holy shit” for that because Page hit that perfectly. Back in the ring, Page went for a sliding clothesline and Bryan got a rollup for two. Page had Bryan on his shoulders leading to a Death Valley Driver for a two count. Page worked over Bryan with chops, then Bryan was seated on the top and Page tried to do a move, but Bryan slipped out of it. Bryan crotched Page on the top. Page elbowed Bryan off the top rope. Page went for a moonsault off the top, Bryan moved and Bryan applied a magistral cradle for just two! That was close. Page ran the ropes leading to a rollup for two. Bryan went for the LeBell Lock, Page stopped the grip and got a two count of his own. Bryan did a sunset flip for two. Bryan applied a tight Ankle Lock on the left ankle, Page got out of that and Bryan kicked Page in the ribs. Bryan set up Page against the turnbuckle leading to Bryan hitting two running dropkicks, but then Page came out of the corner with a Popup Powerbomb for two. Great sequence right there. Page wanted a Buckshot Lariat, Bryan backed away and Page kicked him into the barricade. Page went for a moonsault again, Bryan moved and Page hit his shoulder. Bryan sent Page into the ring post to work on his shoulder some more. Bryan held the arms of Page while driving Page shoulder first into the ring post a few times. Bryan went into the ring to pose, which drew boos. Page was bleeding from the forehead, so he did the blade job after being sent into the ring post. They went to another picture in picture break about 27 minutes into this match.
(Commercial – Most of the break saw Hangman spend time on the floor selling the attack from Bryan while the AEW doctor and referee checked on him. There was no countout.)
The show returned with Bryan hitting a running kick while Page was against the apron. Bryan jumped off the apron with a jumping knee to the head. Bryan set up Page against the apron leading to Bryan hitting a running knee. Bryan pulled Page’s right arm into the ring post. Bryan worked over Page with punches to the head. Bryan drove his boot into the back of Page’s head against the turnbuckle. Bryan kicked the turnbuckle while Page’s head was against it. Bryan wrenched on the right arm of Page, then Bryan ran the ropes, Page caught Bryan and Bryan slipped out of that leading to Bryan hitting German Suplex. Bryan applied the Cattle Mutilation submission hold on the mat with Page getting to the bottom rope to break the hold. Bryan worked over Page with lefty kicks to the chest while on the apron, then Page moved and Bryan kicked the ring post. After several minutes of offense, Bryan was selling the left leg injury. Page lifted up Bryan and drove his left leg into the ring post. Page put Bryan’s foot against the barricade and kicked the barricade causing more pain to the left foot. Back in the ring, Page drove the left leg of Bryan into the knee and Page applied a Figure Four Leglock with Bryan selling it a bit until he was able to get to the rope to break free. They went to a break without picture in picture this time. It was 37 minutes into the match.
It was 40 minutes into the match with Excalibur saying it was the longest match in Dynamite history so far. The show returned with Bryan hitting a jumping kick to the head. Page and Bryan exchanged forearms, then Bryan countered a Powerbomb into a hurricanrana pin attempt for two. Bryan applied a triangle choke submission, Page powered out of it and Bryan hung on while delivering elbow smashes to the head until Page rolled to the ropes. Bryan pulled his left knee pad down to show his left knee had some tape on it, so Bryan was trying to get some strength back. Bryan delivered kicks to the body, Page with a shoulder tackle and Page got a hold of Bryan leading to a Tombstone piledriver. The fans chanted “this is awesome” and that was absolutely correct, my friends. Page set up Bryan on the top rope leading to some hard chops by Page. Page wanted a superplex, Bryan shoved him down and Bryan jumped off the ropes with a knee to the right arm. Bryan with a shoulder capture suplex for a two count. Bryan set up Page on the top rope leading to Bryan delivering a belly to back suplex off the top rope with Bryan making a slow cover for a two count. Bryan did some hammer elbow strikes to the head and Bryan wanted an armbar, but Page got to the ropes again. They went to the apron with Bryan trying an apron piledriver, but Hangman hit his Deadeye move with Bryan on his back. The move is essentially Page landing on his knees and Bryan’s body doesn’t hit the mat, but the idea is that the crunch is what would hurt Bryan. Page back in the ring, Bryan was near the ringside table, Bryan moved and Page jumped off the top leading to Page going through the table. They went to a picture in picture break about 47 minutes into the match.
(Commercial – Bryan pulled up the mat that was at ringside to expose the cement and Bryan gave Page a DDT on the cement. Bryan was doing some jumping jacks while selling the left knee injury. Bryan sent Page back into the ring and Bryan hit a top rope headbutt for a two count. Bryan held Page in a submission until the match came back to full screen.)
It was 50 minutes into the match with Page hitting a German Suplex on Bryan. Page was on his knees, Bryan with two kicks to the chest, Page blocked another kick and Page hit a clothesline, but Page’s right arm was hurting. Page with a clothesline that didn’t knock Bryan down. Page with a clothesline, then Bryan kicked the right arm and Bryan did a running kick to the right arm. Bryan set up Page on the top, he went for a suplex, Page landed on his feet, Page set up in the corner and Page hit a spilling lariat that Bryan sold with a flip bump. Great spot that popped the crowd. They were both down for about a seven count until they got back up. Page and Bryan exchanged forearms, Bryan with three headbutts and Page managed to counter a Bryan move for a two count. Bryan for two. Page with a rolling elbow, Bryan with a forearm and Bryan hit a roundhouse righty kick to the head. Bryan with a kick to the head for two. Ring announcer Justin Roberts noted it was 55 minutes, which meant five minutes left. Bryan said “it was time to kick his f**king head in.” Bryan held the arms of Page while stomping on his face repeatedly. Bryan charged at Page, who caught him and Page hit the Deadeye slam again for a two count. That was a great nearfall! Page was frustrated as he hit the mat repeatedly. Page said it was “time to kick his f**king head in.” Page held the arms followed by the repeated stomps on Bryan’s face with the fans cheering. Page threw his right elbow pad into the crowd. Page to the apron, Page went for the Buckshot Lariat, but Bryan ducked it and Bryan applied the LeBell Lock in the middle of the ring! Bryan had Page trapped in the middle of the ring with Bryan delivering forearms and pulling back on the head. They were down to one minute left with fans chanting “Cowboy Shit” to support Page. Page with a slingshot into the ropes, Bryan did a skin the cat back in and Page hit a huge clothesline leading to a flip bump by Bryan. Page hit a Buckshot Lariat with Bryan flipping over again and the bell rang for a 60 minute draw! No pin. It’s a draw.
Match Result: 60-Minute Draw (“Hangman” Adam Page retain the AEW World Title)
Analysis: ***** That was an incredible match. I’m going five stars for it just like Bryan’s TV match with Kenny Omega that was a 30-minute draw. This was double that match, but even better I think in terms of telling a story, the way they sold their injuries throughout the match and all of the great near finishes after they beat the shit out of eachother for an hour. Bryan is the best in the world, so I knew he could have a great match for an hour while Page definitely held his own there with the way he sold injuries throughout the match and then nearly got the win a few times. When Page finally hit the Buckshot Lariat, time ran out. Bryan remains undefeated in AEW. I didn’t expect a title change since it was Page’s first title defense, but I have to say I’m a bit surprised they would do a 60-minute draw on TV. It’s not a complaint. I just figured if they did a non-finish it might have happened during a shorter match. I want to write more about this match, but there’s more to show to cover. Needless to say, I loved it and I look forward to the rematch perhaps on the first Dynamite of the year when they move to TBS or Battle of the Belts or some other show after that.
Both guys were down on the mat selling the physicality of what they went through as AEW’s medical team and officials checked on them. They went to break.
There was a promo from Young Bucks, Adam Cole and Bobby Fish with Cole wondering when Best Friends will learn to stop messing with them. Cole said that they proved that Best Friends can’t hang with them. They suggested a 4 on 4 tag team match on Rampage while saying they want to superkick Trent’s mom. Page said that on the Christmas present of AEW Dynamite next week it will be the best present you have ever asked for.
Wardlow (w/Shawn Spears) vs. Matt Sydal
Sydal with some kicks to try to chop the big man down, Wardlow got a hold of him and then Sydal managed to get more kicks. Sydal ran at Wardlow, who caught him and hit a Powerbomb. Wardlow hit a second Powerbomb, so Spears told Wardlow to pin him. Wardlow hit a third Powerbomb for the pinfall win in under two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Wardlow
Analysis: 1/2* A squash win for Wardlow. I don’t see AEW ever pushing Sydal that much, but he’s a good veteran worker.
Post match, Shawn Spears said one and done and claimed it was a little excessive. Spears hit Sydal with three chair shots to the back. Spears answered his phone saying “Maxy” (meaning it was MJF) and then told Wardlow that MJF needs Wardlow to pick up some champagne for later. Wardlow didn’t like that. Spears left with Wardlow.
Analysis: They are clearly building up to Wardlow breaking free from MJF’s group to become a face. The fans are going to like that.
A video aired about Tay Conti feuding with Penelope Ford, so Conti challenged Ford to a submission match. It’s happening this Friday on Rampage.
There was a video of Malakai Black walking in a house and putting on his jacket. Black had half of his face painted. Black kept talking about the “house” being bigger than you and Black said that the house always wins. Black told somebody in a hooded figure that they are so much more than a king. It’s the House of Black, which has been rumored for a while in AEW as a stable led by Black.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) December 16, 2021
Analysis: I saw some speculation that the person Black was talking to might be Brody King, a wrestler who was his partner in PWG in the past. My friends at Bodyslam.net reported that Brody King signed with AEW, so that’s why it could be him in this spot with Black. I don’t know that for sure, but it’s possible.
Serena Deeb vs. Hikaru Shida
Each woman has won a match in this rivalry so this is the third match in their trilogy. They got into a slugfest right away with punches from both women. Shida worked over Serena with repeated punches and a dropkick. Deeb sent Shida over the ropes to the apron, Shida with a punch, Shida with a move off the ropes and Serena captured the leg into a kneebar submission with Shida getting to the bottom rope to break. Serena with forearms, Shida with a dropkick and then Shida missed a running knee when Serena moved. Serena worked over the knee of Shida including a Figure Four Leglock around the ring post. That led to a picture in picture break.
The match returned with Shida getting some momentum after some strikes and a step up enziguri kick to the head. Shida with a delayed vertical suplex. Shida went for a move off the ropes, Serena stopped her there and Serena wrenched on the knee against the ropes. Serena pulled off the light padding on the middle turnbuckle and Serena delivered a neckbreaker against that steel bar. Serena hit a Powerbomb for a two count. Serena had a bridging submission move and Shida made her way to the bottom rope to break the hold. Serena with two neckbreakers in a row leading to Shida hitting a Falcon Arrow slam. Shida with an ax kick to the back of the head. They fought over a couple of pin attempts and then Serena was able to apply a single leg crab submission. Shida did some palm strikes to break free and Serena was furious, so she exposed the top turnbuckle. Shida fought back with elbow strikes, Serena got a pin attempt sitting on top and Shida managed to kick Serena into the exposed stele turnbuckle. Serena did a jackknife pin while selling the left knee injury and Shida got the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Hikaru Shida
Analysis: ***1/4 Good match between two talented women that aren’t featured enough. I’m really impressed by the technical skills of Serena every time I see her. Shida did a nice job of selling the leg injury throughout the match including while she got the pinfall win. Shida was used a lot in the past, but Serena could be utilized a lot more. A problem with AEW is they only put one women’s match on per Dynamite and Rampage so sometimes a woman might go a month or even longer without a match on TV. That’s not a good thing.
The Varsity Blonds were interviewed by Tony Schiavone. Griff Garrison called Malakai Black for spitting the black mist into Julia Hart’s face. Garrison said he’ll bring the fight to Black, Brian Pillman Jr. told him to calm down about it, Garrison said Julia is like their sister and Garrison said he’s going to break Malakai’s jaw.
They showed a video about Hook picking up his first win in his first AEW match on Rampage. Hook is Taz’s son and he’s impressive.
Eddie Kingston did a promo about how Garcia and 2.0 keep getting in his business, so it’s going to be a 10-man tag on Rampage. Kingston said he’s coming after the “ugly man” Garcia and told them “don’t be scared.”
It was main event time with Maxwell Jacob Friedman making his entrance with a 29-7 record in his AEW career. A fan trash talked MJF, so MJF took the fan’s hat off.
MJF got into the ring saying this place is a god-damned dump. The fans greeted him with “you suck” chants. MJF said that “your daughter swallows.” MJF said that maybe you would like MJF more if he was like them – anti-education and pro incest. MJF wanted them to shut up. MJF said that CM Punk pretends that all MJF does is use low hanging fruit. MJF ripped on Punk last week for trying to make fun of the local sports team. MJF said that Punk’s undefeated streak against underwhelming opponents didn’t make Punk a title contender. MJF said that made Punk “the new Ryback.” Ouch. MJF said that he didn’t care about the younger talent like Dante Martin. MJF said that he was born in 1996 and is the only young talent that matters. MJF ripped on Dante Martin’s personality while putting him over as a great athlete, but MJF said he can beat him with a headlock takeover. MJF said he doesn’t claim to be the best in the world, he just is…the best in the world.
Analysis: Great promo from MJF as usual. He is one of my favorite talkers in AEW. No doubt about that.
Dante Martin made his entrance looking ready to go. Taz ripped on Martin for screwing Team Taz in the battle royal last week.
Dynamite Diamond Ring Match: Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. Dante Martin
The winner gets the Dynamite Diamond Ring that MJF won the last two years. Excalibur said it was worth $100,000. Wrestling shows lie, my friends.
MJF tried to get a pin with a side headlock takeover, but it got a two count. MJF got a takedown followed by a Flair strut. Martin with a monkey flip followed by a dropkick. Martin did a rolling 450 knee drop for two. Martin wanted to do a move off the ropes, but MJF bailed to the floor. When MJF got back into the ring, Martin tried to walk the ropes, so MJF shoved him off the top onto the barricade on the floor. MJF whipped Martin into the barricade. They went to a picture in picture break.
There were about ten minutes left in the show with Martin getting a victory roll counter for a two count. MJF got a Powerbomb with his feet on the ropes, but the referee Bryce Remsburg caught the cheating attempt. MJF set up Martin on the top rope and then Martin jumped off the top with a shotgun dropkick to knock MJF down. Martin used his impressive athleticism to avoid a charging MJF leading to MJF going to the floor and Martin hit a dive over the top onto MJF. Martin hit a running somersault dive over the ring post on MJF. When MJF left to the floor again, Martin did a backflip dive over the top to the floor. MJF went out to the floor for the fourth time, Martin jumped to the top rope and hit a Shooting Star Press with Martin jumping too far…but the right knee hit the face of MJF, so it was good enough. The fans chanted “holy shit” for that. Back in the ring, MJF walked towards the corner to avoid a move from Martin. There were punches from Martin, MJF pushed him off, Martin with a leg lariat into the corner and Martin got a rollup for two. Martin got a backslide cover for two, a rollup for two and Martin got an inside cradle for two. MJF with a side headlock takeover for two. Martin with a sunset flip for two, MJF countered to sit on top for two and Martin countered for two. Martin got a side headlock for two and they kept going for pin attempts. MJF came back from all of that with a Liger Bomb for two. MJF was on the apron giving the middle finger to the crowd. Martin did a double jump moonsault off the ropes for a pin attempt and Ricky Starks went down to ringside to put MJF’s left foot on the bottom rope to cause a kickout because the referee saw the foot on the rope while also noticing Starks there. That could be DQ, but this is AEW, so the match continues. Starks is on Team Taz, who Martin screwed over in the battle royal last week. MJF applied the Salt of the Earth armbar and Martin tapped out to give MJF the win after 14 minutes.
Winner by submission: Maxwell Jacob Friedman
That meant that MJF won the Dynamite Diamond Ring for the third year in a row.
Analysis: ***1/2 A pretty good match here with Martin showing off his incredible athleticism as usual, but MJF got the cheap win thanks to Starks showing up at ringside. I really liked that sequence of moves where Martin hit four dives to the floor in a row and they are all different. It just shows how incredible of an athlete Martin is. MJF winning in a cheap way is exactly how I thought this was going to go, so the result was the obvious one and that’s fine.
Post match, the FTR duo of Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler picked up MJF on their shoulder since they are part of The Pinnacle group.
The lights went out in the building and when they came back on, Sting was in the ring with Darby Allin. They knocked MJF out of the ring. Sting and Allin went after FTR, but then MJF got back into it. The fans chanted for “CM Punk” and Punk ran out to the ring with a baseball bat. When Punk got into the ring, the heels left the ring. Punk gave Sting the bat.
CM Punk did a promo saying if you don’t want to do it one on one in Texas, Punk said that’s fine because next week, Punk is going to bring his friends against MJF and his friends. That means the six-man tag is on for next week with CM Punk, Sting & Darby Allin facing MJF & FTR in tag team action. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: Good tag team match for next week. The crowd popped big for CM Punk making the save. They were obviously setting up FTR vs. Sting/Allin, so adding Punk and MJF to the match brings even more star power to the match. I didn’t think they would put Punk and MJF in the same match before their first singles match, but I guess it’s okay.
Three Stars of the Show
1. (tie) Bryan Danielson
1. (tie) “Hangman” Adam Page
3. MJF/Dante Martin
This Week: 9 out of 10
Last Week: 7
2021 Average: 7.42
It was one of the best episodes of Dynamite this year. Maybe the best. Based on my ratings all year, it got the highest rating I’ve given with a 9 out of 10. I think the 60-minute draw match was incredible the whole way through and it’s the kind of thing you don’t see often, so we should appreciate the talents of Danielson and Hangman in pulling off a classic match like that. I loved it. Should there have been a winner? Maybe, but it likely means we get a winner next time and I look forward to that.
The other matches were good with MJF beating Martin a cheap way while Shida got the win over Serena Deeb in an even matchup. Wardlow winning a squash match is fine for a guy like that. They ended with a big tag team match announcement for next week, which should make the fans happy. It was a smart way to end it.
I thought there might be some debut or some surprise on the show, but that didn’t happen. That’s okay. I still enjoyed it a lot.
Thanks for reading. Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. You can contact me using any of the methods below.