Date: January 5, 2022
Location: Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey
Commentators: Excalibur, Tony Schiavone, Jim Ross
It’s the debut on TBS and that means it is time for a stacked card. We have a TBS Title match, a Tag Team Title match, and a rematch of last month’s instant classic between Hangman Page and Bryan Danielson for the World Title. This time around there are going to be judges though, and that should work. Let’s get to it.
AEW World Title: Bryan Danielson vs. Hangman Page
Page is defending and there are three judges in case we hit the sixty minute time limit, with Mark Henry, Jerry Lynn and Paul Wight at ringside. They take their time to start and Danielson runs away a few times. Back in and Danielson dodges away again, allowing him to get in some more jumping jacks. That’s enough for Page, who sends him outside again and this time takes Danielson down.
Back in and the big dive is countered with a toss into the barricade for a hard crash. Danielson starts going after the arm to weaken the Buckshot Lariat and snaps it over his own shoulder. Back up and Page manages to knock him to the apron, where a springboard clothesline sends Danielson outside. They’re right back in this time and a top rope clothesline has Danielson in more trouble.
Danielson is fine enough to backdrop Page to the floor to set up his own dive. That’s fine with Page, who reverses into a belly to belly suplex. Danielson is able to send him into the steps though and Page is busted open. We take a break and come back with Danielson unloading on the head before switching to a cross armbreaker. Page breaks out of that in a hurry and hits a Death Valley Driver for a breather.
A German suplex gives Page two and he loads up a vertical version, only to fall over the ropes and out to the floor. They stick the landing though and Page gets posted hard. Page pulls him into the post to even it up though and does it again for a bonus to bust Danielson open. This time Page gets in some jumping jacks and we take another break. Back again with Danielson knocking Page off the top but charging into the Deadeye on the floor.
They head inside again and Danielson snaps on the LeBell Lock. That’s broken up as well and Page catapults him over the top, where Danielson can’t skin the cat. Danielson heads to the floor so Page hits a huge moonsault to take him out. Back in and the Buckshot Lariat misses, allowing Danielson to hit the running knee for two. A cradle piledriver (ala Jerry Lynn) gets two on Page so Danielson goes after the knee. Page manages to slip out and hits Danielson around the head to knock him a bit sillier. A hard belly to back suplex sets up the Buckshot Lariat to retain the title at 29:05.
Rating: A-. I liked this one more than the first version, as it was a tighter match and didn’t feel like they were killing time. It also got started faster and the blood made things feel that much more intense. This was the physical, hard hitting match that they needed to have and I got into it from the start. Now Page can move on to whoever else, with more than a few options out there. Danielson can go away for a few weeks and come back with a new target, which should work out well for everyone. Heck of a match here.
The Acclaimed don’t like Sting messing with them and will have a music video next week.
Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. Shawn Dean
The bell rings but here is CM Punk to chase MJF off at the bell. Dean isn’t sure what’s going on but Punk kicks him in the ribs and hits the GTS for the DQ (Has AEW ever done that?) at 47 seconds.
Post match MJF wants to know what’s up with that but Punk says that doesn’t do MJF’s record any favors. MJF isn’t happy and says Punk is right back where he started because he knows without MJF, he is nothing. It was MJF that made his relevant (Tony: “I call bull**** on that.”) after Punk sold Tony Khan a bill of goods. Punk is just angry guy who runs his mouth a lot, like when MJF compared himself to Roddy Piper.
MJF wants to know if PG Punk thinks he’s as good as Piper, because Piper was actually good enough to main event a Wrestlemania. Maybe if MJF doesn’t start getting some more respect around here, maybe he can main event a Wrestlemania too. All Punk wants to do is beat MJF up so get in here and let’s do it right now.
Punk tells him to go to the greener pastures and main event night four of a buy one get one free extravaganza and then get released faster than he lasts in the sack. MJF says we’ll do it next week, when it’s Punk vs……Wardlow. Punk says he and Piper would fight anyone at any time, but MJF is going to run out of people to hide behind and then get put to sleep. This was less about taking jabs at each other and more about venom, which was a good step forward.
Here’s Chris Jericho for a chat. Jericho is glad to be back on TBS, where he hasn’t been since April 1999, when he lost to Booker T. on Thunder. Jericho: “I think he cheated.” Last week, Jericho came out here while Eddie Kingston was in the ring, but he wasn’t here to save Kingston. It was to take out 2.0, so here are 2.0 to interrupt. Jericho: “Ladies and gentlemen, Terrence and Phillip.”
Jericho says they have a square head that looks like a Post-It. That’s not cool, so he goes with Pinhead instead. Jericho goes back and forth between Pinhead and Squarehead before going outside to grab Floyd. Daniel Garcia sneaks in to jump Jericho though and the beatdown is on. Cue Eddie Kingston, Santana and Ortiz and the villains are cleared out. Jericho isn’t sure about that save.
We look at Jake Atlas debuting on Dark: Elevation and getting signed as a result.
Adam Cole is with a less than enthusiastic Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish to talk about Atlas signing with AEW. Maybe we should have Cole vs. Atlas on Rampage to remind everyone that Cole is the guy people are talking about. Cole can even buy him a one way ticket back to Orlando. As usual, Brandon Cutler has some issues cutting the camera.
Wardlow vs. Antonio Zambrano
Shawn Spears is here with Wardlow and gives Zambrano a Death Valley Driver on the floor. The Powerbomb Symphony finishes Zambrano at 1:23.
TBS Title: Jade Cargill vs. Ruby Soho
For the inaugural title and Mark Sterling is here with Cargill. Jade powers her around to start and Soho thinks she might need another plan. That doesn’t seem to work very well as Soho is sent outside in a hurry, but here is Mercedes Martinez to yell. Cue Thunder Rosa to fight Martinez to the back and we take an early break. Back with Rosa managing an STO and kicking away at Cargill’s leg.
That earns her a heck of a shoulder breaker for two though and Soho is right back in trouble. A belly to back suplex gets Soho out of trouble so Sterling gets up on the apron. That’s good for an ejection so Cargill tries Jaded, which is reversed into a rollup for two. The Soho Kick gets two more so Soho takes her up top. Cargill is fine enough to counter into a super Jaded and Soho is done at 11:13.
Rating: D+. This wasn’t exactly a shock as Cargill felt like the favorite to win the tournament from the beginning. Cargill is a good beast to slay, but Soho has to actually win something at some point. You can only get so far on potential and charisma, and Soho is getting dangerously close to reaching that pint. Give her something already, even if it’s just winning a big grudge match.
Serena Deeb sits down with Jim Ross and says she’s done with trying to have respectful matches with Hikaru Shida. Now it’s about hurting Shida, because this has gone too far. No one is on her level and she will prove that next week when she faces Shida.
Malakai Black vs. Brian Pillman Jr.
Julia Hart is here with Pillman. Black runs him over to start but Pillman takes it to the floor for a running dropkick through the ropes. We take a break and come back with Black charging into a boot to the face. A suplex gives Pillman two but he falls off the top on the Air Pillman attempt. Black Mass finishes for Black at 6:02.
Rating: D+. The time killed this one as there is only so much that can be done in such a short amount of time. Black kicked his head off for the win, though I’m not sure why Pillman fell off the top. I’m going to go with he just slipped (intentionally) but it was a bit of an awkward way to get to the finish.
Post match Hart gets in to check on Pillman, but here are the Lucha Bros for the save. The lights go out and Black winds up on the ramp while the Bros are in the ring….and that’s it.
Britt Baker mocks Ruby Soho for losing again but Soho says that’s funny coming from someone who can’t win without help. Soho brings up Baker not being able to beat Riho so Baker decks her. Cue Riho for the pull apart brawl.
QT Marshall and Aaron Solo are ready for Hook on Friday. Hook was at QT’s school and never did anything but eat chips and stretch people. Solo says stretch him if you can, survive if he lets you.
Tag Team Titles: Lucha Bros vs. Jurassic Express
The Express, with Christian Cage, is challenging. Fenix and Jungle Boy fight over a test of strength to start before trading rollups for two each. Everyone comes in for an early staredown until Luchasaurus and Penta kick the other two away. Penta takes his glove off and shoves his hand into Luchasaurus’ mask. The chops stagger Luchasaurus but he hits one that takes Penta down.
Jungle Boy is back in to wristlock both of them but they all wind up holding hands, with Jungle Boy and Fenix springboarding into a double wristdrag. JR is glad that two of them got out of the ring but Luchasaurus is back in to take the Bros down. Back up and Penta kicks Luchasaurus in the back of the head so Jungle Boy comes back in to clean house. Penta is sent outside but he throws Jungle Boy onto the apron so Fenix can run the top rope to kick him in the head.
We take a break and come back with Luchasaurus running over the champs. Penta gets put in a fireman’s carry and Jungle Boy jumps over him for a super Canadian Destroyer on Fenix. Back up and Fenix goes up top on the middle of the ropes for his own Canadian Destroyer on Luchasaurus. Made In Japan gets two on Jungle Boy and the spike Fear Factor is loaded up…and the lights go out (JR complains). They come back up with nothing having changed so Luchasaurus breaks up the spike Fear Factor on the apron.
With that cut off, Penta drapes Jungle Boy on the top and hits his own spike Fear Factor on the apron as Fenix dives onto Luchasaurus. Back in and another spike Fear Factor gets two on Jungle Boy so it’s time for a table. Christian Cage chases Alex Abrahantes off and it’s Luchasaurus chokeslamming Fenix through the table (Where his arm bends COMPLETE THE WRONG WAY. That thing is either broken or totally dislocated.). That leaves Penta to try Made In Japan on Jungle Boy, who reverses into a cradle for the pin and the titles at 14:03.
Rating: C+. The title change is huge of course but that arm injury was one of the scariest things I’ve seen in a long time. I wouldn’t bet on Fenix being back in the ring for a good long while because that looked awful. As for the rest of the match….dang these things are starting to lose their charm. It has almost nothing to do with an actual tag match and is all about flying around with little more than one big spot after another. They start running together in a hurry and that’s what happened here. The matches are very athletic, but don’t bother if you’re looking for what could have been a better match.
Chris Jericho and Malakai Black are (separately) watching from the crowd. A bunch of tag teams come out to glare at the new champs.
Overall Rating: B-. This show started off great and then went downhill pretty steeply as there wasn’t much else to see on it. Punk vs. MJF was good, but the rest of the matches left a good bit to be desired. The big title change at the end was a cool moment, but you can only get so much out of it when you have Fenix screaming in pain on the floor. They went with their biggest thing first and it was great, though there was nowhere else to go after. That can be a problem and it wound up hurting the rest of the show.
Hangman Page b. Bryan Danielson – Buckshot Lariat
Shawn Dean b. Maxwell Jacob Friedman via DQ when CM Punk interfered
Wardlow b. Antonio Zambrano – Powerbomb Symphony
Jade Cargill b. Ruby Soho – Super Jaded
Malakai Black b. Brian Pillman Jr. – Black Mass
Jurassic Express b. Lucha Bros – Cradle to Penta El Zero Miedo
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