High Spots: Goodbye, TNT! The final installment of AEW Dynamite on their original home channel just happened to take place in their home base. The good folks in Jacksonville, Florida got to celebrate with the guys and gals of AEW once again within the lauded Daily's Place. And for the most part, this farewell episode aka "New Year's Smash" was a good show. There were some hiccups here and there (more on that later), but this edition of Dynamite managed to be a fun sendoff for AEW from TNT. First things first - WELCOME BACK, JR! So happy to see that man come back to the commentating booth and be cancer-free!
So this episode of Dynamite kicked off with a huge multi-man tag match between a mix of veterans and tag team tacticians. And as expected, it was full of some insane moments that played out during its final moments. Penta El Zero M, Rey Fenix, and Luchasaurus provided the wildest spots of the entire match (Fenix's dive to the outside was quite the jaw-dropper once I actually got to see it during the match replay). It was nice getting to see Private Party get some rare air time on this show, too. The end result of this opener saw Christian Cage blind tag Penta just as he was about to finish Cash Wheeler, which caused them to argue and cause FTR to capitalize on their disagreement for the win. Because of that and the challenge put forth between Jurassic Express and The Lucha Brothers backstage, we're finally getting a tag team title match involving both teams on the first TBS edition of Dynamite. I see AEW is going for an early MOTY candidate there!
Next up was a six-man tag between Eddie Kingston, Santana, & Ortiz and 2Point0 & Daniel Garcia. Kingston ran wild at several points as he chopped the hell out of his foes and also made sure to bite the hell out of 'em, too. Santana & Ortiz was another case of a tag team that I don't get to see on Dynamite enough actually getting the chance to do their thing here. Everything was coming along nicely until Jeff Parker randomly rolled up Santana outta nowhere to get the shock win. Afterward, Garcia got his hands on the ring bell and shockingly clocked Santana with it! Then, Santana's faction leader Chris Jericho finally made his return to make the save with his trusty baseball bat in tow. His return was kinda weird, though - not only did Jericho take his sweet ass time hitting the ring to make the save, he seemed more concerned with basking in the crowd singing his theme song instead of checking on his fallen stablemate. This obviously caused Eddie to berate Jericho, which made total sense. Now I await Kingston cussing Jericho out on the mic for his lackadaisical behavior in a fiery promo real soon.
Wardlow's slow-burn towards the role of a mega babyface kept on rolling here. While MJF spoke in the back, Wardlow could be seen stirring in the background and looking quite perturbed with every word that came out of his leader's mouth. MJF's contract gave me bad Birdman Cash Money vibes and I'm sure Wardlow can't wait to break away from it at some point. Wardlow got to release some of that pent-up frustration from his little pep talk with MJF by powerbombing Colin Delaney (HEY, FROM WWECW!) multiple times. And as soon as he was done butchering Delaney, Shawn Spears bashed the man with his beloved steel chair. I can never get tired of this weekly act from Wardlow and Spears. Once Wardlow finally ditches MJF and powerbombs Spears out of his boots, the crowd is going to go wild!
Jade Cargill had her best match to date thanks to Thunder Rosa! But I gotta be honest with you all - the moment-to-moment action on display here was a bit shaky at points. But there were more bright spots than low points, which is why I stayed invested in this TBS Women's Championship semifinal match all the way through. Jade landed a disgusting Pump Kick to Rosa that looked as if it launched her into the new year! The bulk of this match saw Rosa work over Jade's weakened leg and Jade use her scary strength to get the best of Rosa. Madness ensues when a hooded figure ran to the side of the ring and bashed Rosa in the head with a glass of some kind. This led right into Jade finishing Rosa to move onto the final tournament match against Ruby Soho. So who was that hooded figure, you ask? It was none other than the recently released WWE Superstar Mercedes Martinez! Now that she's #AllElite, I'm excited to see her run roughshod over AEW's women's division alongside Jade under the leadership of "Smart" Mark Sterling.
CM Punk finally made his Daily's Place debut! And while sporting a new haircut to boot. He still has smoke with MJF, but he knows the cocky sumbitch will continue to duck him. Punk made it quite evident that he's gonna keep getting wins and eventually bump into MJF once again on their road to the #1 Contendership position for the AEW World Championship. Punk also showed Jim Ross & Brodie Lee (RIP) some love, took a dump on Twitter trolls, and also sent a stray at Tim Tebow! Nice promo segment there.
How wild is it that AEW does story continuity with WWE storylines better than the actual company itself? The last time wrestling fans saw Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly across the ring from each other, they were basically trying to murder each other back when the NXT brand was still black & gold. During a backstage vignette, both men actually acknowledged their past beef and teased some ongoing tension between themselves. Kudos to AEW for not treating its fans like idiots with the memory span of a housefly. During the main event, Cole, O'Reilly, and Bobby Fish reunited to do battle with Best Friends. And man, what an awesome way that was to bring the TNT era of AEW to a close! This six-man tag featured plenty of hot spots - Trent's hot comeback sequence, reDRagon's familiar moveset, Orange Cassidy's sudden bursts of energy, and the wild action that transpired on the outside made this main event a definite barnburner. As the match came to a close, O'Reilly accidentally clocked Cole with an errant Yakuza Kick! The Young Bucks came out soon after to superkick Trent and Chuck Taylor right into reDRagon's Chasing the Dragon finish for the win.
Now the seeds of distrust are beginning to take shape between Cole and his "undisputed" fam now. It was clear that the SuperKliq were experiencing some trouble in paradise themselves, but Matt & Nick Jackson's assistance to Cole has muddied the waters even more between both stables. I love where this storyline is going and I can't wait to see how it all unfolds. Will Cole stick close to the Bucks or will he manage to patch things up with O'Reilly & reunite with him for good? We shall see...