AEW Dynamite New Year's Smash 2022 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights
Would Death Triangle be able to avoid Match 7 against The Elite by defeating them Wednesday night and retaining the AEW World Trios Championships in a Falls Count Anywhere Match?
It was the most prominent question awaiting fans on a special New Year's Smash edition of Dynamite, which also featured a TNT Championship defense by Samoa Joe as the self-proclaimed King of All Television battled former titleholder Wardlow.
What went down on the final TBS broadcast of 2022 and how does it affect the company as it moves into what it will hope is a banner year?
Find out with this recap of the December 28 episode.
- Best-of-Seven Series for the AEW World Trios Championships: The Elite vs. Death Triangle (Match 6: Falls Count Anywhere)
- Bryan Danielson vs. "All Ego" Ethan Page
- Ruby Soho and Willow Nightingale vs. Tay Melo and Anna Jay
- Top Flight vs. Jon Moxley and Claudio Castagnoli
- TNT Championship Match: Wardlow vs. Samoa Joe
Bryan Danielson vs. "All Ego" Ethan Page
A week ago, Stokely Hathaway called Bryan Danielson a "raggedy bitch." Wednesday, The American Dragon looked to silence the loudmouth manager and his charge, "All Ego" Ethan Page, in the night's opening match.
Hanging over the bout like a dark cloud? AEW world champion MJF, who watched from a luxury skybox.
Page capitalized on two early distractions to seize control of the bout, putting the presumptive top contender to the AEW title on the defensive. Danielson fought his way back into the match and, despite an apparent head injury from a focused attack by Page, trapped his opponent in a Regal Stretch for the submission victory.
This was a really strong opener that highlighted Page as a credible contender while ultimately putting Danielson over on his road to a world title match with MJF.
Danielson's history of head and neck injuries is useful in that he can sell either of those body parts and fans immediately buy into it. Such was the case here. If history is any indication, it will come up again, presumably in the match with the world champ.
Kudos to Danielson for using the Regal Stretch in an ode to his mentor, the legendary competitor who was attacked by MJF just a few weeks ago.
Danielson defeated Page via referee stoppage
- MJF cut a promo from a skybox, distracting Danielson long enough for Page to jump him at the opening bell.
- Hathaway confronted Danielson at ringside, and Page again capitalized on a distraction.
- Stokely could be seen cringing as Danielson unleashed his trademark kicks. It is one of the little things he does so well that makes him such an effective manager.
- Danielson stumbled backward and to the ground, then nursed his head, potentially setting up a head injury storyline that will have long-reaching effects beyond this match.
- Backstage, Samoa Joe interrupted a promo from Wardlow, beating his opponent for the night down with a lead pipe and creating doubts about the former TNT champion's ability to compete in the main event.
Jon Moxley and Claudio Castagnoli vs. Top Flight
Top Flight stunned the wrestling world by winning an absurdly named trios battle royal Friday night on Rampage, last eliminating Claudio Castagnoli to win. Wednesday night, Darius and Dante Martin looked to make it 2-0 against the reigning Ring of Honor world champion and his Blackpool Combat Club teammate Jon Moxley.
Moxley and Castagnoli controlled early, but Top Flight turned the tide during the picture-in-picture break by targeting the knee that the former appeared to have injured Friday. Their onslaught ended with a hot tag to Castagnoli, who exploded into the match with a barrage of uppercuts.
The action picked up as the teams cut a frenetic pace, with several unexpected kick-outs leading to frustration on the part of the elder team. It awakened a fire inside Castagnoli, specifically, who uncorked elbows to the face of Darius while Moxley wiped Dante out with a Paradigm Shift on the floor.
The ROH world champ flattened a defiant Darius with one last uppercut to put an exclamation point on things and secure the win.
This came from out of nowhere to be a fantastic match. Top Flight followed up their breakout performance with another stellar showing, this time against standard-bearers for professional wrestling in former and current world champs.
Dante, in particular, had fallen off the radar in recent months despite some truly inspiring performances over the last year. It was nice to see him and his brother have the opportunity to reestablish themselves against guys who fans believe as top-tier competitors.
Moxley and Castagnoli defeated Top Flight
- Backstage, Renee Paquette caught up with Hangman Page, who learned from a doctor that if he listens to orders and does not suffer any setbacks, he could be back in the ring within two weeks.
- Castagnoli swung Darius, only for Dante to leapfrog his brother and roll the Swiss Superman up for a near-fall.
Hook vs. Baylum Lynx
FTW champion Hook hit the ring for another squash match against local competitor Baylum Lynx. He obliterated his opponent and tapped him out with Redrum to a big pop.
After the match, Stokely Hathaway, Big Bill and Lee Moriarty interrupted. This brought out Jungle Boy, who saved Hook from a chokeslam by bashing Big Bill with a two-by-four. The babyfaces stood tall to close out the segment.
As the latest short segment in a midcard program, this was inoffensive fun. Hook and Jungle Boy is an interesting pairing, and the feud with The Firm gives them something to do.
The moment Hook powers Big Bill over with a suplex is going to pop the audience and make a bigger star out of the second-generation competitor.
Hook defeated Lynx
C, for the overall segment
- The staredown between Bill and Hook probably went on a bit long, but it did generate a buzz and tease the aforementioned suplex spot.
- Backstage, Chris Jericho cut a promo on Ricky Starks ahead of next week's match.
Best-of-7 Series: The Elite vs. Death Triangle (Match 6: Falls Count Anywhere)
The sixth match in the best-of-seven series for the AEW World Trios Championships kicked off with The Elite's Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks battling Death Triangle's Pac, Penta El Zero Miedo and Rey Fenix backstage, playing up the Falls Count Anywhere stipulation.
A wild, chaotic trios match ensued, with every spot more ridiculous and over-the-top than the last. The frenetic pace down the stretch culminated in a creative finish that saw Pac trap Matt Jackson in the Brutalizer while Omega delivered a One-Winged Angel from the stands to Fenix through two tables.
A referee counted Omega's fall first, giving The Elite the win in a somewhat controversial fashion.
This was the best match of this series, thanks to some unique spots and the previously mentioned finish. One would imagine the seventh match will be utterly ridiculous because anything less would be disappointing considering what the six combatants pulled out here.
The last bout between these two teams still cannot come soon enough because it is a stale matchup at this point, but this was pretty wild and fun in the best ways imaginable regardless of whether you are a fan of those involved.
The Elite defeated Death Triangle
- Prior to the match, Renee Paquette interviewed Swerve Strickland and The Mogul Affiliates. Wheeler Yuta interrupted and, presto change-o, a match was lazily set up for Rampage.
- Matt Jackson ruined an entire plate of cookies by using it as a weapon, and now this writer has major heat with him.
- Fenix delivered a torneo off the entrance truss to a big ovation. Omega answered with a V-Trigger, because of course he did.
- Omega delivered a wicked V-Trigger to Pac, whose head was stuffed inside a trash can.
- Lucha Bros delivered the Fear Factor on the floor to Omega.
- Don Callis put over Pac as the MVP of Death Triangle for breaking up as many pins as he did.
- Omega nursed his tailbone after the match, so much so that any reports of a legitimate injury would not be surprising.
Ruby Soho and Willow Nightingale vs. Tay Melo and Anna Jay A.S.
Ruby Soho sought revenge as she continued her battles with Tay Melo and Anna Jay A.S. Willow Nightingale, who had issues with the heels herself, partnered with The Runaway.
Jay and Melo controlled the match, working over Nightingale through the commercial break. A hot tag to Soho sparked a comeback for the babyfaces, but referee Aubrey Edwards allowed herself to become distracted by Jay's attempt to use a steel chair and Melo capitalized, using a chair-assisted pump kick to put Soho down and score the tainted win.
This was not always the prettiest match, but it showed Soho's obsession with Melo and how it threatened her partnership with Nightingale. She was so hellbent on getting her hands on the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt that she nearly created a schism within her own team.
It also continued the feud.
Some may take issue with that, but the women's division has been so underutilized that booking a program away from the title is a welcome change. Soho vs. Melo is the endgame, sure, but the presence of Jay and Nightingale allows for different matchups until we get to that final showdown.
Plus, Melo, Jay and Nightingale are the future of the division. The more reps they get in front of cameras in high-profile situations will only serve to make them better all-around performers.
Melo and Jay A.S. defeated Soho and Nightingale
- Prior to the match, a pretaped video saw The Acclaimed absolutely smoke Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal in the latest Max Caster rap. It really has to be seen to be believed, particularly some of the insults slung throughout.
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- Soho and Nightingale teased dissension early and often, as if the former's obsession with getting her hands on Melo trumped their ability to team effectively.
- Soho and Melo delivered stereo headbutts, with the babyface landing on top of her rival for a clever near-fall.
TNT Championship Match: Wardlow vs. Samoa Joe
Earlier in the show, Samoa Joe attacked Wardlow with a lead pipe, injuring his knee and creating doubt that the No. 1 contender would be able to compete against the self-proclaimed True King of Television.
The War Dog did compete, bowling over doctors and security to take to the ring for the heavyweight clash.
Joe controlled the match by exploiting his opponent's injury, but Wardlow seized an opening and delivered a Swanton Bomb for a near-fall. He followed moments later with a Whisper in the Wind.
Despite a gutsy performance by Wardlow, the big man found himself trapped in the grasp of the heel, who put him to sleep with the Coquina Clutch for the victory.
After the match, Joe cut off Wardlow's ponytail in a sign of ultimate disrespect before Darby Allin returned, attacking him with a skateboard and staring Joe down to end the show.
The match was solid, but it is very apparent at this point that Wardlow is dead in the water.
A guy who started the year red-hot and poised to become a breakout star, everything after his dismantling of MJF at Double or Nothing in May has been one misstep after another. Tony Khan's inability to keep him hot, pairing him with tag teams and other stars instead of allowing him to stand on his own, has done him a great disservice, and the imagery of him lying on the mat as Allin saved him from Joe only further solidified his fall from grace.
What motivation there would be for a deemphasis of Wardlow remains to be seen, but if it is not intentional, then there is a bigger issue with the creative process than anyone thought.
Joe defeated Wardlow
- Wardlow struggled to wake up, grasping at the official's ankle as he sold being knocked out.
- Joe feigned a sign of respect and then leveled Wardlow with a belt shot.
- The heel headbutted referee Paul Turner, then proceeded to cut his opponent's ponytail off, adding insult to injury.