Date: February 2, 2022
Location: Wintrust Arena, Chicago, Illinois
Commentators: Excalibur, Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone
We’re back in Chicago, where a lot of big things tend to happen. There is a good chance that will be the case again here as we have a major main event between CM Punk and MJF. These two have been going at it for a long time now and we should be in for a heck of a blowoff (maybe) here. Let’s get to it.
Jon Moxley vs. Wheeler Yuta
Yuta, with Orange Cassidy and Danhausen, is taking Brian Kendrick’s place after some previous controversial comments resurfaced. Moxley runs him over to start and knocks Yuta outside for a quickly broken sleeper. Back in and Moxley ties him up in something like an STF, sending Yuta to the ropes.
Yuta is sat on top for a heck of a back rake before being sent outside. That means another Danhausen/Moxley staredown, allowing Yuta to hit a big dive to the floor. Back in and Moxley grabs a cutter for two, because almost everyone has to use a cutter around here. Yuta gets in a quick Angle Slam and a top rope splash connects for two, but Moxley blasts him with a lariat. The Paradigm Shift finishes Yuta at 7:20.
Rating: C+. Yuta is one of the people around here who can have a good match with almost anyone and he got a fired up Moxley this week. That is not a bad place to be in and he looked good in defeat. Moxley is on to bigger and better things though, with Bryan Danielson looking pretty likely. Works for me, as did this opener.
Post match here is Bryan Danielson to stare Moxley down. Danielson asks who wants to see the two of them fight. He has been watching Moxley and knows that he was the best AEW World Champion. If Moxley had a little support, he would still be champion. Danielson understands that they shouldn’t be fighting, but rather fighting together.
There is no reason for some millennial cowboy to be World Champion. There is no reason why a dinosaur is a Tag Team Champion and there is no reason why someone best known for a vlog is TNT Champion. What if they took people like Daniel Garcia or Lee Moriarty or Wheeler Yuta under their wings to train the future together? Danielson says that even if the people don’t like him, they like what he is saying. Moxley can have some time to think about it because there are possibilities. This is intriguing and it could go more than one way, which is something AEW does well.
Video on CM Punk vs. MJF.
Here is Brandi Rhodes for a chat but before she gets very far, here is Dan Lambert to interrupt. He doesn’t think much of Brandi and her fake accent/the fake bulldogs down her shirt. Brandi says the only reason they hired him was to get to Josh Alexander, but his American Top Team guys aren’t doing so great. After Brandi waits through (and acknowledges) the unpleased cheers, she talks about how Lambert’s best fighters keep getting knocked out.
Maybe he should be spending more time with American Top Team. Lambert says Brandi’s whole family should turn heel, because the only face turn people want is her own job, which was turning face down. Brandi slaps him, so Lambert brings out Paige Van Zant for the big pull apart brawl. The argument was bad and I could have gone without Stephanie vs. Rousey lite.
The AHFO wants gold, with Isaiah Kassidy promising to take Sammy Guevara’s title and girl. Matt Hardy wants to know where Darby Allin is but Andrade thinks he wants more money.
Kings of the Black Throne vs. Penta El Zero Miedo/Pac
The chyron says Knights instead of Kings and Pac’s eyes are still bandaged. After he slides between Black’s legs to start, the blindfold comes off and it’s time for stereo dives to take out the Kings on the floor. We settle down to Penta chopping Black against the ropes and handing it back to Pac for some hard shots of his own.
We take a break and come back with Penta striking away at Black, who kicks him in the chest. Pac comes back in (with Tony saying it was a blind tag, which would have been a better line about five minutes ago) and gets taken down with a legsweep. Some sliding knees to the head give Black two and everything breaks down. Penta hits a step up flip dive onto King but gets shoves off the top. The mist sets to Penta sets up Dante’s Inferno for the pin at 10:23.
Rating: C+. Pac has a certain realism/aggressiveness to him that makes his matches fun to watch. They were laying it in here and the Kings winning was the only way to go. This seems to be setting up either Pac vs. Black in a huge showdown or the Kings vs. the Lucha Bros (or probably both), which works for everyone involved. I’m not sure how much Black needs someone at his side, but King is a good monster.
Adam Cole says Orange Cassidy didn’t beat him and his record is still intact (yay for legal loopholes). He’ll beat Evil Uno on Rampage and the world will know what he wants.
Nyla Rose vs. Ruby Soho
Vickie Guerrero is here with Rose. Ruby tries to start fast but walks into a Samoan drop for two. That means it’s time for Rose to start working on the arm as JR says it takes more energy to kick out for Soho than for Rose. Some more shots to the shoulder have Soho in trouble and we take a break.
Back with Soho getting planted back first onto the apron but the Beast Bomb is countered. The No Future (Riott Kick) gets two, with Vickie putting the foot on the ropes. Soho goes after Vickie but the distraction lets Rose hit a neckbreaker. Rose gets caught on top but blocks a super hurricanrana. The No Future misses completely and Rose hits a top rope Swanton to the back. The Beast Bomb finishes Soho at 10:48.
Rating: C. This was just a step above a squash as it’s time to reheat Rose. That’s something that has been done before, but the interesting thing here is Soho. She came in as the biggest female signing in a very long time and she hasn’t come close to breaking out. She has all of the tools, but this is the second company where she isn’t clicking. Maybe there was a reason that it didn’t work out so well in WWE?
The Gunn Club jumps Jungle Boy and takes him outside for a toss into the snow. Then they run off down the iced over road with Christian and Luchasaurus making the save.
Here is Hangman Page for a chat. He has a Texas Deathmatch with Lance Archer next week but he has a five month old at home throwing peas everywhere and there’s a foot of snow on the ground, so get Archer out here night now. Cue Dan Lambert, with Jake Roberts, to say he’s surprised Page didn’t stay in a city like Cleveland that canceled its Indians. Roberts wants the fight right now so Page goes after Lambert, only to have Archer come in from behind. A chokeslam onto the steps leaves Page laying and the Black Out puts him through a table. Simple and to the point beat down the champion before the title match segment
Chris Jericho doesn’t like Santana and Ortiz not tagging him in last week because it was embarrassing and disrespectful. Is it because of Eddie Kingston? They started AEW together so what influence does Kingston have? When it comes to AEW, Jericho is a bigger influencer than Kylie Jenner on Instagram, so he demands a full Inner Circle team meeting next week. Attendance is mandatory.
Here’s what’s coming on various shows.
Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. CM Punk
They have about forty minutes for this if needed and there is no Wardlow. MJF hides in the ropes to start so Punk starts punching away, giving us the teeter totter (for lack of a better term), with MJF eventually falling outside. They fight up into the crowd, with MJF getting crotched on a barricade, with Punk knocking him back to ringside. After some posing, they head back inside for the Scoop Slam Symphony. The threat of the top rope elbow has MJF rolling away so Punk misses a charge into the post instead. MJF gets in a few shots of his own and we take a break.
Back with MJF working on the shoulder but Punk forearms him off the top. A high crossbody puts MJF down and there’s a neckbreaker to drop him again. The running knee in the corner sets up the bulldog, with Punk saying it’s time to go to sleep. They head to the apron instead, with Punk slamming him outside instead.
A fan gets to chop MJF’s chest, but he’s fine enough to crotch Punk on top for a breather. MJF takes him down from the top by the arm for two of his own but Punk is back with the Pepsi Twist. The referee backs into the corner so the referee pulls Punk off, allowing MJF to choke away with some wrist tape. A sleeper has Punk in trouble….and he’s out at 14:41.
Hold on though as MJF celebrates but drops the tape, meaning we’re going to restart things. Punk unloads in the corner with about twenty right hands and an atomic drop (Excalibur: “Manhattan drop! JR: “Or an inverted atomic drop!”). MJF kicks him outside though and we take another break.
Back again with Punk hitting the clothesline but not being able to hit the GTS. The arm is snapped across the top rope but Punk scores with a suicide dive for a double knockdown on the floor. Back in and MJF scores with a stomp to the arm before busting out something like a Texas Cloverleaf Tequila Sunrise. That’s reversed into an STF but Punk has to let go due to the arm. The GTS doesn’t work either due to the knee so MJF goes with the ankle lock. That’s reversed as well and they strike it out until Punk busts out a poisonrana.
They’re both down for a bit until MJF goes after the arm, setting up Made In Japan of all things for two. MJF sends him hard into the corner for two more and we take another break. Back again with Punk getting two off a rollup and hitting his leg lariat. MJF bites his fingers and face but Punk catches him on top with the Pepsi Plunge of all things.
Neither can hit a Tombstone so Punk kicks him in the face and, slowly, hits the top rope elbow for two. Punk knocks him outside….and here is Wardlow. He steps over MJF and goes face to face with Punk before stepping side without getting physical. Punk limps over to MJF and throws him inside but the distraction lets MJF hit Punk with the ring for the pin at 39:36.
Rating: A-. This was one of the better TV matches you’ll see in a long time and the nearly forty minutes flew by. MJF winning was always a possibility and Punk has a reason for a ticked off rematch. The important thing for now though is MJF has a path to the World Title shot at Double or Nothing, which is where he belongs, assuming the Punk stuff is wrapped up. MJF continues to be able to bring it in the big matches and this is the biggest win of his career.
Post match a replay shows Wardlow passing MJF the ring (which we couldn’t see due to the closeup on Punk/Wardlow). MJF sits down ala the Pipe Bomb to end the show.
Overall Rating: A-. The show was centered around one match and that took up about a third of the night at a very high level. Other than that, stories were advanced and we had some good matches, making this a pretty easy success. AEW knows how to do things when they are focused and that was back tonight. Good show, with a main event that was both great and flew by, which you don’t get very often.
Jon Moxley b. Wheeler Yuta – Paradigm Shift
Kings of the Black Throne b. Pac/Penta El Cero Miedo – Dante’s Inferno to Penta
Nyla Rose b. Ruby Soho – Beast Bomb
Maxwell Jacob Friedman b. CM Punk – Ring to the head
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