- Moxley vs Guevara ****
- CHAOS, Danhausen, Rhodes vs Kip, Seven, Butcher & Blade ***
- Omega vs Hagane ***1/4
- Action vs Khash **1/4
- AEW Trios Titles, Best of Seven Series #5, No DQ: Death▲(c) vs The Elite ****1/4
- AEW Women's Title: Hayter(c) vs Shida ****1/4
- Hook vs Prime NR
- $300,000 Three Kings Christmas Casino Trios Battle Royal ***
- Jarrett, Lethal vs Gunn, Bowens *1/2
- Takeshita vs Kaz ***1/4
- ROH Women's Title: Athena(c) vs Hogan S***
- Dralistico vs Blake ***1/4
- AEW Trios Titles, Best of Seven Series #6, Falls Count Anywhere: Death▲(c) vs The Elite ****1/4
- TNT Title: Joe(c) vs Wardlow ***1/4
- Top Flight vs BCC ****
- Danielson vs Page ****
- AEW All-Atlantic Title: Orange(c) vs Trent ***1/2
- Swerve vs Yuta ***1/2
With this, I'm done with AEW's 2022 catalog. Considering how rough 2022 was for me and how far behind on so much that I got, this should be considered a minor miracle by anyone that wouldn't think such a description to be sacrilege.
I'll do that one with issue 76. Still, someone somewhere should at least golf clap for me.
Now, lets see how The Devil's reign at the top of AEW has been going.
Take note that I will be going through AEW's YouTube channel to use as my source of coverage here but for select matches (basically anything I rated 4+) I will go and watch the full thing.
Up first, I saw the man formerly known as Ten sit down with JR. He explained why he split from Dark Order to join LFI and that he didn't want to have a child as his boss and called junior a brat.
The next video had Moxley bleeding and Sammy dying following a shout out to Rollins to start while Tay watched on as the JAS/BCC program added another chapter. Admittedly, I am hopeful that this is the last for the two sides for now but the good news is that Jon and Sammy kept a trend going of having a badass contest kick off Rampage.
Honestly, the show really got into a habit of peaking with the first match in general since its debut.
Hell, at risk of finding out JAS and BCC ended up running for the entire review period of this set because of how this specific match was received, I'll admit that this was a fantastic singles match in general. Guevara really had some good shit in 2022.
Red Death watched on backstage.
Jon grabbed a mic and called out Adam Page after. Hangman would get the upped hand this time but security stopped things from progressing too much. These brawls have been fun and I am really enjoying the way they are setting this one up.
I made a judgement call and watched the 8-man tag match from the episode, expecting simply a crowd friendly clusterfuck. I was correct and we even got some Eddie Guerrero style entertainment. Fun shit when you set yourself up for it but mileage will vary.
Why is a punch to the cock not a DQ?
I didn't watch any of the other matches from the episode, but I did see the following:
- FTR came out looking like broken action figures and the promos were raw entertainment. Sadly it was to help add to their feud with the ass boys. They really want to see their butts with tans or something like that. Like I said, it was Raw.
- I skipped Baker and Blue's match because I simply had no interest in seeing it, especially after the rocky setup. I did catch Shida fucking up Hayter's pals while leaving the champ untouched.
- I also skipped the match Wardlow had but watched as he got squeaky voiced to call out Joe. The King of Television shit on Texas and said they'd hit meat against meat in Colorado.
I'm not sure this is really the winning formula for Rampage either, but I finally do feel like there's a bit of a change finally (as has been repeatedly promised).
I'm checking out two from this episode of Dark.
Up first, I wanted to see Kenny against ChocoPro and DDT's Shinno. This was Omega's first singles match in a very long time, folks and the World Ace used this to really allow Hagane a chance to show off a bit before he inevitably bested Taka's boy. It was an 11-minute attempt by AEW to see if they wanted to do more with the guy and I'd be surprised if they don't in 2023.
You could consider this a road to victory for Kenny ahead of WK if you'd like. Oh, and for those that are curious just know that I will be covering that very event pretty soon.
A show of respect after.
Last, I dogged a bit on the way it appeared that they followed up on Action's victory over Jericho in my last entry. I felt it was only fair that I at least watch this match (#4 on the ratings list up top) to see how it went.
About 4-minutes deep, this worked pretty well as a follow up though I must have missed commentary bragging about his win over Chris. I will wait to see if he at least pops up in a segment or something, but it does look like this was the last time he was seen in AEW outside of live eyes since that big victory. He has two more YT appearances that haven't aired, is what I mean by that.
What a weird follow up choice.
Also, I hate his choice of finisher.
I think AEW should make Orlando the official home for one of their YouTube shows. I'd argue that Dark can be legit dark matches while Elevation could basically be the AEW NXT or whatever. Just a thought but I do really like shows they've taped here and I want to get to go to a taping event one day very soon...
If you want to watch these two pulls, just click the video above. It's the first two matches of the episode so it makes it pretty easy to find 'em.
Dynamite no.168: Holiday Bash
This was the Christmas themed edition of the flagship and the guerrilla warfare six-man had a Christmas tree included and the return of The Cleaner. The action was quality ice cream, the drama was a nice chocolate sauce, and the storyline touches were the cherry.
I really enjoyed this one. A balls to the wall explosion!
After, the champs left the challengers looking like the results had been the other way around.
Moving along, next we had one of the best USA-based women's matches of 2022.
Shida has been largely a YT star since her days at the top of the division but she is truly one of their best roster members, regardless of gender. She'd been picking up some gold in Japan and AEW went ahead and moved her into a short program with Hayter. I'm very thankful this call was made.
Jamie and Shida went all in and put in for one hell of a performance. I think the division has actually grown to the point that it's actively being held back by Tony and crew's lack of vision and attention. This contest was perfect evidence of why I think that's a fair take. Hikaru eventually would take the L after she spent too much time getting rid of the seconds. Fantastic stuff! Storm would try to make the save after but would fail. Saraya would then actually make the save and even got a shot in on Baker in the process.
Next up, I saw Starks promises that he'll beat MJF next time. The fans seem to be digging him more now that he's finally got some gas behind him. Imagine that. Jericho would come out to have a chat with him after a bit where he offered him a spot in his cult. Ricky put over Lionheart's ability to evolve with a handful of backhanded compliments but declined to join their ranks.
Action was mentioned and Ricky offered his big, juicy meat up for them to suck on.
Good TV, to be honest. Basic shit done right and very Attitude Era in style. Hat Trick Hager attacked from behind and JAS followed up until Action ran out and put Jericho down. I was very hopeful that they'd be using the dude in some fashion. I admitted that I could be wrong about what I had said and that it was based simply off of what matches he had listed under his name.
I was wrong, it seems.
A strong follow up to his victory over Jericho.
Like Dante, please get the dude a new finisher though moving forward. I will repeat this as many times as needed until something in the void grabs the words and shoves them into someone's grey matter.
I didn't watch the match but did catch the ending of the FTR/Gunns contest. Sigh. A shit finish sounds about right for this program.
Rick Ross appeared in the next segment. A reminder but the big dudes behind the scenes don't want The Briscoes on their programs. I'm sure those two sentences were unrelated. At least Ross held his tongue here...
Anyway, this saw Rick Ross acting like he was high as fuck, Strickland playing cheap, and Keith coming off poor by relation and closed with diet Lesnar and the human bazooka align with Ross and Swerve, collectively assigned the Mogul Affiliates.
That segment really failed hard. The only thing I liked at all was the cinderblock stomp.
I lied. I did catch Hook beating a jobber. Big Bill and Lee put Jungle Boy in the trash after. Fun shit.
In-ring content does not mean no content and I need to accept that. If you get that sentence, cool. If not, it's fine and we should move on because I'd rather not explain being wrong so often in one issue.
Last from the episode, Renee and Bryan were in the ring and she asked the former about Regal (sigh) as well as BCC's future. How is it that this unit is so talented but their non-wrestling stuff as a group has been so meh. The way AEW used Regal after the news broke of him returning to Daddy H was so iffy, for example. Bryan begged for William and then had to cut another awful promo here just to plug the dude. We get it. I respect the dude too and have no problem with him leaving but you don't have to run this shit for so long, people.
At least it is setting up Bryan and MJF. When called out, Ethan Page and Hathaway appeared instead and Page put himself over, saying he deserved a shot instead of Danielson. Until Bryan starts acting like The American Dragon again, I'm calling him Tad. It feels fitting for some reason.
Anyway, Bryan tossed some cheap insults back in response to cheap insults. He was a raggedy bitch. Bryan offered a match, Page said it'd be happening next week because he couldn't take his pants off in San Antonio.
More comedic a segment than they intended, but entertaining either way. MJF agreed.
I just remembered seeing Hook get offered a spot in a unit a while back. Did they follow up on that? Was it on YT? Just curious.
AEW's conclusion to their Texas tour, what I watched of it at least in this jumbled manner, was pretty fun. Two huge matches that nearly broke MOTYC territory and some solid segments and story movement? The stuff I didn't like was dwarfed, folks.
The opener had a trios battle royal. My general lack of interests in battle royals remains largely unchanged, but it was fine for what it was. Some story block work was smartly mixed in and I especially loved Page running in near the end despite the overbooked realities.
Good, but skippable if I'm being truthful. If you must, watch the final few minutes because that part was pretty okay. That or just know that Claudio and Top Flight remained after Mox and Page's brawl with the brothers eventually getting the nod. The name for this one was epic. Since Regal left, they are giving the entire unit off BCC a big push so I will say I am surprised by the result a bit.
Next up...well, I should preface this one.
My bud insisted onto me that Double J's time in AEW so far has been very good. He even told me yesterday that a match with him and Lethal against The Acclaimed was the best Battle of the Belts contest so far. It's a low bar, but I'm surprised nonetheless. I honestly have a very bland view of most of Jarrett's career if I'm being honest and I see very little value in him being in AEW while they have such a bloated roster that they have issues figuring out what to do with half of their signed talent.
So, I watched Jeff and Jay (the latter of which I do respect from an in-ring position) take on Gunn and Bowens against my better judgement. I regret this. Even just this five minute version of the tag felt like a massive waste of time. You can literally plug anyone in Jeff's spot, if you've got to do this at all, but they picked him for some reason.
No one is looking better here as a result of the angle.
Honestly, the thing I liked most here was Eddie's promo calling out House of Black and the goth crew's response. I do have hopes for this one.
No thanks to the rest of the episode content on the YT channel for this one.
I liked the final stretch of the battle royal as well as seeing Top Flight and AR Fox winning something. I also liked the Eddie stuff. That's it. I'd have preferred watching a Hulu edition of Raw if I'm being blunt.
Three from Elevation? What the fuck! Note that I'm being lazy but if you want to skip to the direct times for any contest I am about to talk about, just look for a comment from alysontimestampgal. Big props to her!
Kaz and Soup are up first. One of the world's elite workers against one of the most highly respected active vets in the game sure sounds like it should be awesome so I admittedly had high hopes. Considering the amount of time they were given and the platform, I'd say they delivered.
A five-minute hit with a very Japanese finish. I want another one with more meat. Respect shown after.
The Ring of Honor Women's World Championship defense was about the same length. I looked and it seems that Hogan has gotten a decent amount of wins of the two Dark programs lately. AEW loves doing that to pad the W-L records before giving them otherwise random title shots.
At least the one against Jade that she got immediately after falling in this one had some history. Or is there history here that I don't remember?
Anyway, I can admittedly continue to watch Athena brutalize folks every week so I should just shut the fuck up and move on. A fun squash.
Last from this one, the debut of Dralistico. I need to actually update my post explaining Mistico and everyone that's tied in with that gimmick. I wont even link it right now, but hopefully I'll remember to fix it up soon when I have more time. That said, the LFI bro and trailer park Amazing Red (I actually mean that far nicer than it sounds) took just under four-minutes to get in a quick sprint that honestly did pretty damn good to introduce the dude to AEW fans. Wait, he was in the battle royal and, while not technically AEW it really is, ROH at Final Battle so fuck it I'm just stupid tonight.
It felt like a mini-lightning match, in a way. Fun shit, even with the dive botch and shit finish!
Elevation had some good stuff here. Cool.
Nothing from Dark this week looked good enough to pull though the entire episode looked like one I would've watched, knowing to expect nothing must-see, if not for the constant feud I have with the clock.
Dynamite no.169: New Year's Smash Night One
The first pull I had from this installment saw The Elite take on Pac and the Lucha Bros. in match six of their awesome series. The level of professionalism and quality of athleticism on display here was off the damn charts as all six continued to show why they are truly some of the best in the world. The belts are also being elevated by this, which is awesome.
The finish in particular was worthy of praise, with Kenny hitting his big finisher on Fenix avalanche style in the crowd and through a table and getting the three count. At the same time, in the ring, Pac had Matt about to tap, setting up a fun visual.
Number seven is going to be sick.
Joe defended half of his crown against Wardlow next. The champ would retain and continue his reign as King of Television. Wardlow had a very weird 2022. This was fairly good. A belt shot in post allowed Samoa Joe time to go and get...scissors. He cut the new Goldberg's hair. Eventually, Darby would run in and smack the King in the back with a skateboard.
Moving on, Blackpool Combat Club's Claudio and Jon faced Top Flight and picked up a win over the brothers. Claudio brought the energy, Top Flight brought the creative acrobatics, and Mox added some of his brand of violence to the mix. A fine tag team outing, for sure! Overdelivered, really, turning into a surprise 4 star clash.
See, they really are pushing BCC hard right now because next Danielson had yet another awesome matches on TV, this time against former North member, All Ego Ethan Page. Like the last match, this was fucking fun as hell and perhaps the best match Ethan's had in a long time. Maybe his rivalry with Darby tops it. Either way, this was badass.
I skipped the match, but I did see Hathaway and crew coming out to fuck with Hook after the latter picked up a quick win. Jungle Boy would get involved. I actually really liked this segment. For the record, Big Bill (sigh) is a dude I've recently called (to a bud of mine) perhaps the best performer of his size ever, based off of his Impact work. I'd love to see some of that soon in AEW.
Last from this episode, a music video from The Acclaimed.
I mean, it's hard to not like this and the drama that came after...
What I saw from New Year's Smash was full of exciting content and came off very strong. One hell of a way to close out the year of AEW's flagship program.
Rampage no.74: New Year's Smash Night Two
We close this set with a look at the last Rampage of 2022.
Trent and Orange was a civil war battle of CHAOS mates with the former challenging the latter for the All-Atlantic Championship. Overstated, but I will say I tend to love seeing tag partners, brothers, etc. in singles matches against each other. It unlocks a special type of story and can be super entertaining when done correctly.
They did it well here.
Trent has been a consistently good worker for AEW, and basically everywhere else he's worked for a long time now, and always delivers regardless of what's given to him. Orange is the same, somehow multiplied. They ran with that subplot and worked hard in general ensuring this one turned into a must-see encounter. I've said it recently, but it's true that Fire Ant really is killing it with this run with this rather new belt and it's making it seem very important.
I'd like to see it defended globally in 2023 again.
By the way, Ford would be involved in the finish sadly.
Mox and Big Tony S. would be in the ring the next time I clicked play. Jon would be asked why he keeps calling out Page despite the dude not being cleared right now. He'd plug his crew first then ask to meet him in LA.
Killshot beat White Belt Sylverhawk in my final match pull of the set and it was pretty good, even with the shit heel finish. I'm hopeful that Mogul Affiliates will make for good TV largely because Swerve really is a great worker.
I saw Darby question Sting's belief in him beating Joe. Yeah, that landed pretty well in general.
Some good shit on this episode for sure.
That's it in that aspect. I did want to close with a critique, though.
I praise AEW and the roster a lot on here. I find Dynamite to be one of the best wrestling shows on TV week in and week out and I largely can excuse away any issues I have because there's always 4 things they have going on that make up for it. That said, there is a major issue that the company continues to have and it seems like last year it just got more common.
So, my big thing would be to to say that if a program isn't working, it is okay to nuke it a bit quicker instead of dragging it on or even seeing it through. The stuff with the TNT belt earlier in 2022, for example, was really, really not good. Jade's stuff with Nyla at the end of the year deserves a shout out, too. And not hitting self destruct made Wardlow feel like a bouncing ball of relevancy at times. That same exact storyline also took Sammy and Tay and nerfed all of their momentum completely.
Don't get me started back on the way Regal's exit was handled on camera.
I can watch WWE any time I want. I tune into AEW for better standards of entertainment, dammit.
I hope they find that piece of their soul again. The talent keep stepping up big, but angles dipped in 2022 and they can do far better in 2023 with more focus in place! Still, despite this criticism I must say 2022 had a lot more good than bad for the brand. I've brought up other issues previously, but the charisma and charm as well as the work effort, work rate, and adaptive skills in the face of hurdles are all traits displayed constantly by this crew and I no doubt will be back soon for more All Elite Wrestling!