AEW Dynamite (May 11, 2022) emanated from UBS Arena in Long Island, NY. The show featured Daby Allin and Jeff Hardy in a daredevil dream match, Adam Cole living up to his hype, and the feud between Hangman Page and CM Punk boiling hotter.
Get caught up on all the Dynamite details with the excellent play-by-play from Claire Elizabeth.
Owen Hart tournament underway
The Owen Hart memorial tournament was the primary focus of Dynamite with three winners advancing to the semifinals. Jeff Hardy, Adam Cole, and Toni Storm survived to fight another day in the competition.
Darby Allin and Jeff Hardy met in the main event. They requested no rules to satisfy the fans with a daredevil dream match, and Tony Khan obliged to make it Anything Goes.
This bout was a ten-minute sprint. Allin literally didn’t waste any time to bring the fireworks. He droppedkicked Hardy at the opening bell then followed with a suicide dive. As the match progressed, chairs were set up by Allin, and a tall ladder was set up by Hardy. Allin took the leap with a flipping senton off the ladder onto Hardy on the chairs for a brutal impact all around.
Allin climbed the corner for a Coffin Drop, but Hardy astutely rolled under the ropes for protection. Allin jumped anyway and crashed onto the apron as Hardy rolled away. Jeff took his turn as a daredevil with a swanton colliding onto the ring steps as Allin dodged.
Allin regrouped to rally for a Coffin Drop. He landed clean on Hardy, but Jeff kicked out on the cover for a crucifix pin to win.
That match was bonkers, and I loved every minute of it. Allin and Hardy delivered exactly as it was hyped. I would like to see a longer match, but it’s probably best for their health that they kept it short. Hardy winning was a shocker to me. That is pleasing in the sense of keeping the vibe fresh that anything can happen in this tournament.
To close the show, the Undisputed Elite were on stage staring down the Hardys, Allin, and Sting. That should give us a clue for the PPV if Hardy loses to Cole. An 8-man tag of the Young Bucks & reDRagon versus Allin, Sting, & the Hardys would certainly be a crowd-pleaser.
Adam Cole versus Dax Harwood opened the show. It was a spirited affair with strategic counters aplenty. Cole gained momentum early when he rammed Harwood into the ring post for a rib injury. Harwood put up a fight, but he was clearly bothered by pain throughout. The first close pin came courtesy of Harwood countering a Panama Sunrise into a piledriver. Harwood followed for a Sharpshooter, but he eventually released the hold due to his previous rib injury. As the match progressed, Cole turned the tide with a Sharpshooter of his own. Harwood reluctantly tapped out in defeat.
Excellent win by Cole. This is the type of victory he needed early in his AEW career to be presented as a genuine world title threat. The way Cole won here makes me believe he can run the table to win the whole thing. Harwood lost no luster in defeat. The counters and reversals in this match were next level. It wasn’t just act and react. There were steps in between the original hold and the counter maneuver. It showed the high level of skill and competitiveness needed to advance in such a strong field.
The women’s Owen Hart tournament kicked off with Jamie Hayter versus Toni Storm. They duked it out in a skilled slobberknocker. Hayter suplexed Storm on the floor for the early advantage. Storm rallied for a pair of DDTs inside and outside of the ring. Hayter was back on top for a superplex. Hayter tried to roll through for another suplex, but Storm countered for a roll-up. Hayter kicked out then went for a clothesline. Storm ducked for a back slide then transitioned to a quick piledriver to win.
Storm and Hayter have excellent chemistry. They can slug it out, hit power moves, and work finesse counters without skipping a beat. I’m growing fond of Storm’s piledriver finisher. It is a quick burst that allows versatility to come out of nowhere. Plus, that move is always believable for finishing matches, even with how Storm delivers a quick trigger and lower starting point.
Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.
CM Punk defeated John Silver. Hangman Page was on commentary. Silver was feisty, however, he was no match for the Best in the World. When Punk had clear control, he eyed the cowboy from a distance to steal his Buckshot Lariat finisher to pin Silver.
Afterward, Hangman did not take kindly to Punk’s physical message. Punk grabbed a mic for a verbal message as the two stood face-to-face. Punk observed that this matchup seems personal to Hangman. For Punk, it’s just business. Of course, Punk neededled the champ with some trash-talk. Whether Hangman likes it or not, he will shake Punk’s hand at the end of the night, conscious or unconscious. Punk offered his hand. Hangman replied by flipping the bird.
Another match where both men looked good. Punk is peaking towards world champion material right in time for the PPV match against Hangman at Double or Nothing on May 29. Silver played the plucky underdog well. Punk stealing the Buckshot Lariat was a tasty piece of sass. That combined with the promo did its job of increasing the intensity and potential animosity little by little. If this pattern continues, anticipation for the world title fight will be at a fever pitch.
Going back to the Buckshot Lariat for a second. I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but Hangman’s version is so much better looking than Punk’s. That shows the difference between perfected specialty maneuvers and just taking the move out for a spin. Little details like that enhance the overall essence of maintaining the illusion of professional wrestling.
Tony Nese defeated Danhausen. The ghoul tried to curse Nese, so Mark Sterling hopped onto the apron as a distraction. Nese blitzed Danhausen into the corner then finished with a running knee for a super quick victory.
Afterward, Sterling vowed that Nese would continue embarrassing internet meme wrestlers. Nese landed a second running knee. When loading up for a third, Hook entered the scene. Nese and Sterling retreated. Danhausen offered a handshake. Hook accepted then promptly exited alone. It was later announced the Hook and Danhausen will team up against Nese and Sterling on the PPV pre-show.
This comedy segment was smartly executed for its purpose. We were treated to Danhausen’s ridiculous introduction claiming to be 6 foot 7 inches and over 300 pounds. Nese looked like a destroyer taking out the distracted Danhausen lickety-split. Sterling spewed valid motivations for Nese to dish out more pain. It set up Hook to save the day and make the crowd happy. And there’s still time for awkward friendship vignettes in the lead up to Double or Nothing.
MJF stipulations for Wardlow. MJF declared that Wardlow will be whipped ten times. The next step is to fight Shawn Spears in a cage match with MJF as a special guest referee. If Wardlow loses to MJF at Double or Nothing, then he is never allowed to sign a contract with AEW. If Wardlow succeeds at it all, then he will be free from MJF. Wardlow signed then beat up security. MJF tried to escape, but Wardlow caught him. Mark Sterling saved his client from a powerbomb, so Wardlow powerbombed Sterling instead through a table.
MJF made this segment a hoot with the way he played along with his hometown crowd. AEW hammed it up on a Dark Side of the Ring parody with heavy bias toward MJF’s greatness. That set the tone right away.
MJF allowed the fans to participate in a fun manner by coercing them to drown out Wardlow’s attempt to speak. The closing action gave just enough of a tease for the future when Wardlow finally powerbombs MJF into oblivion. Yes, the stipulations are redundant to past stories, which was acknowledged. On the positive side, at least the cage match should be entertaining.
FTW Championship: Ricky Starks retained against Jungle Boy. During the competitive bout, JB caught Starks in a Snare Trap submission. Starks reached the ropes for the break, then he reached for his title to ditch the match. Swerve Strickland cut off the path on stage. When Starks returned to the ring, Jungle Boy scored a roll-up. The referee was distracted by Swerve’s presence, so he didn’t make the count. When JB tried to get the ref back to focus, Starks pounced for a Roshambo to win.
This was a nifty duel. Starks started with a fiery attitude, and Jungle Boy gave it right back to him. JB even one-upped Starks by matching moves in a flashier style. The finish was whatever. I’ll rarely be a fan of that, but it all made sense in how it played out. It also led to intriguing post-match events.
Christian Cage and Luchasaurus made way to the ring. Christian bumped into Swerve on purpose. Swerve did not appreciate the contact. That sets the seeds for future conflict. Starks and Will Hobbs had a stand-off with Swerve and Keith Lee. Meanwhile, Jungle Boy was frustrated at losing. Christian gave the young pupil a hug. That sensitivity showed Christian’s layers as a coach. It wasn’t the time for tough love, and Christian recognized that. That can also be used in the future in case Christian ever turns on JB.
Jericho victory speech. The Jericho Appreciation Society celebrated taking out Eddie Kingston, Santana, and Ortiz. Jon Moxley interrupted. Then Bryan Danielson, Wheeler Yuta, and William Regal came down the ramp. Chris Jericho flapped his guns about still having the numbers advantage. Kingston, Santana, and Ortiz appeared from behind. Brawl! Kingston beelined for Jericho. Jake Hager pulled Le Champion out of the ring, but Regal was waiting to punch the JAS Wizard.
That was a lot of fun for a sports entertainment segment. Daddy Magic brought the chuckles by proclaiming what makes his nipples hard. The answer is standing with the JAS. Daniel Garcia gave the setup by saying sports entertainers always beat professional wrestlers. The Blackpool Combat Club popped the building as badasses looking to fight. Kingston made his return as a surprise. The sides seem to be set for a 10-man melee. It’s interesting that Regal got the shine of punching Jericho. I guess there’s plenty of time for Kingston to wreak havoc to torture Jericho’s mind, body, and soul.
Notes: Dr. Britt Baker DMD pointed to a conspiracy for why she is the only one to face an unknown opponent in the tournament. When asked about possibly wrestling Jamie Hayter in the semifinals, Baker couldn’t stay silent and had to let her arrogance shine through with her expression saying she would win while not directly saying so. I like Baker’s storm comparison for Toni Storm as a savvy observation, even if it hasn’t come true yet.
Samoa Joe wrestles a Joker in the tournament. Sonjay Dutt revealed that it is not Jay Lethal or Satnam Singh. When Joe’s business is done in the competition, he will be coming to settle things with them.
Thunder Rosa versus Serena Deeb at Double or Nothing received the hype treatment with expert analysis from Dustin Rhodes, Jim Ross, and Tony Schiavone.
Scorpio Sky will defend the TNT Championship against Frankie Kazarian on Rampage. There will be friendly fire between brothers. Sammy Guevara interrupted Kaz with a warning that Sky can’t be trusted. Kaz was unconcerned. The only man he needs to trust is himself. Kaz told Sammy to go be unlikable somewhere else.
Stud of the Show: Adam Cole
I’ve been down on Cole since his arrival to AEW, but I have to give him credit here for a quality win all on his own. Winning the Owen Hart tournament meant the world to Dax Harwood, and Cole made him tap out.
Match of the Night: Jeff Hardy vs. Darby Allin
Outside of the Danhausen squash, I think any other match on the show is deserving of this pick. I’m siding with Hardy and Allin, because they delivered on what they promised. The atmosphere was electric as the daredevils competed in the dream match.
Grade: B +
High-quality matches, daredevil antics, smart comedy, and little details setting feuds up for the PPV made for an enjoyable broadcast.
Share your thoughts about Dynamite. How do you rate it? Who stole the show?