AEW Dynamite New Year's Smash Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights
For AEW world and women's champions Kenny Omega and Hikaru Shida, the dawn of a new year brought with it grueling challenges and the very real possibility they would not make it past the first Dynamite of 2021 with their reigns intact.
Would Omega successfully retain against the high-flying Rey Fenix? Could Shida weather the storm presented by the haunting Abadon?
Find out who emerged from those two blockbuster championship clashes with their titles intact and what else went down Wednesday night with this recap of AEW's New Year's Smash, night one.
Announced for Wednesday's blockbuster episode are:
- AEW World Championship Match: Rey Fenix vs. Kenny Omega
- AEW Women's Championship Match: Hikaru Shida vs. Abadon
- Cody Rhodes vs. Matt Sydal
- Jake Hager vs. Wardlow
- The Young Bucks and SCU vs. The Acclaimed and The Hybrid 2
- Jon Moxley returns
- Chris Jericho on commentary
Coverage begins at 8:00 p.m. ET.
The Young Bucks and SCU vs. The Acclaimed and The Hybrid 2
Tag team action kicked off the first Dynamite of 2021 as The Young Bucks Matt and Nick Jackson teamed with SCU's Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian to battle The Hybrid 2's Jack Evans and Angelico and The Acclaimed's Anthony Bowens and Max Caster.
Wild, chaotic action defined the opening moments of the match, leading to the heels isolating Daniels from his partners. The Fallen Angel fought from underneath and finally managed to tag Kazarian into the match. Arguably the most underrated wrestler in the company, the former tag team champion exploded into the match and scored a near-fall on Evans.
Matt Jackson entered the match and wiped out Angelico and Caster before joining Nick for Risky Business on Bowens.
The action continued to cut a frenetic pace until Daniels managed to score the pinfall victory for his team.
After the match, Kazarian revealed that the next match he and his partner lose as a team will be their last as partners. Daniels went on to confirm that they want to challenge the Young Bucks for the AEW Tag Team Championships.
The Bucks and SCU defeated The Acclaimed and The Hybrid 2
This was a nonstop, action-packed match that perfectly set the tone for the rest of the show.
The Acclaimed continued to show why they are a bright part of AEW's tag team division while the Bucks starred.
The biggest development was the revelation that SCU could very well be finished by the time 2021 wraps up, not to mention the tease of a match with the Bucks. Given the history between the teams and their influence on AEW from its inception, it would certainly be a suitable conclusion to Daniels and Kazarian's run as a tandem.
Jon Moxley Returns
Jon Moxley returned to Dynamite for the first time since losing the AEW World Championship.
Vowing to dig in and stand his ground in the face of adversity, he addressed new champion Kenny Omega. He promised not to interfere in Wednesday night's main event because that would be robbing Rey Fenix of an opportunity he has worked long and hard to obtain.
But Omega...he's not safe. He never will be. "I'm in your blind spot, Kenny," he warned.
Moxley tossed the mic down and stood tall to close out the segment.
Moxley was spectacular here.
You can tell when a performer is feeling it; when he is completely invested and believes in what his character is saying. It's spoken with conviction. That was the case here as he issued warnings, paid respect to Fenix, and vowed that Omega's life would continue to be a living hell as long as he was around.
It was great stuff from a guy who has absolutely found himself as a talker in AEW after years spent regurgitating characterless drivel elsewhere.
Wardlow vs. Jake Hager
The Inner Circle settled an internal dispute Wednesday night when the monstrous Jake Hager and Wardlow did battle.
What started innocently enough with a collar-and-elbow tie-up escalated into a brawl between the big men and a double clothesline on the arena floor heading into the break.
During the break, Hager controlled the action, leaving the lesser-experienced Wardlow to fight his way back into the match. And he did. Hager attempted a Hager Bomb, as well as an ankle lock, but Wardlow escaped and delivered swanton bomb.
Hager countered the pinfall into a triangle choke, but Wardlow forced the break by draping his foot over the bottom rope.
The battle headed up top, where Hager applied the triangle choke. Wardlow dropped down, hanging the Oklahoman up on the top rope. He followed up with the F-10 for the pinfall victory.
After the match, The Inner Circle hit the ring to check on their teammates and encourage a sign of respect between the competitors. Hager shook his peer's hand as their differences appeared to be settled. At least for now.
Wardlow defeated Hager
This was infinitely better than it had any right to be.
This was a good, old-fashioned hoss fight between two big guys who didn't waste movement or energy. They went a clubbin', and the result was a physical war that ended with the right guy going over.
Wardlow has a ton of upside and really impressed here, against a former world champion in Hager. To his credit, Hager made his opponent look like a million bucks, especially with the selling of his F-10 finisher.
The sign of respect was a nice touch as Inner Circle appears to be jelling for the first time since MJF and Wardlow came on board. We will see if that continues moving forward or if this was a one-and-done thing.
For now, Wardlow and Hager may very well have had the match of the night on a show that still has Omega vs. Fenix to come.
Darby Allin and Brian Cage Weigh-In
Ahead of their TNT Championship match on night two of New Year's Smash next week, Darby Allin and Brian Cage (accompanied by Team Taz) hit the ring for their official weigh-in. Predictably, Cage held a 100-pound advantage over the champion, to which Allin showed little emotion.
Instead, he suggested they skip the pleasantries and get to the fun part. Before a brawl could break out, Sting appeared, again making the save for Allin as their relationship continues to grow and evolve.
The face-painted vigilantes of AEW stared down Team Taz.
AEW used the weigh-in gimmick to really sell the difference in size between Allin and Cage, thus highlighting the seemingly insurmountable odds the champion will have to overcome to retain his title. It was a great booking decision and one that helps build intrigue for next week's show.
Sting making the save for Allin is still cool, but it's wearing thin as we await The Stinger to do something, anything that explains his interest in the TNT champion.
Hopefully, we get it the next time the legend and his fellow face-painted enigma share the ring.
Cody Rhodes vs. Matt Sydal
In a giant ad for The Go-Big Show, Snoop Dogg accompanied co-judge Cody Rhodes to the ring for The American Nightmare's match against Matt Sydal.
At one point, Sydal appeared to be injured as the fight headed to the arena floor. A shot by Cody to Serpentico at ringside was followed by a Texas Cloverleaf by the former TNT champion as he worked the knee of his opponent.
Sydal stunned Rhodes for a near-fall but Cody resumed control, delivering a jarring inverted suplex from the top. Sydal recovered and sought the Shooting Star Press but Cody got the knees up. He dropped Sydal with an inverted DDT for two.
Sydal applied a submission but Cody fought out and delivered a clothesline that sent both men to the floor.
Back in the ring, Rhodes delivered a Disaster Kick for two. A last-gasp jumping knee attempt by Sydal missed and Rhodes delivered consecutive Cross Rhodes for the win.
After the match, Serpentico and his Chaos Project teammate Luther hit the ring to attack Cody and Sydal. The babyfaces fought them off, and Snoop Dogg delivered a splash from the top rope to Serpentico for the mainstream media spot and game show sell job.
Rhodes defeated Sydal
Cody has hit that hot streak of his career where he can have an above-average match against any wrestler who stands across the ring from him. From Sonny Kiss to MJF to Chris Jericho, he meshes almost seamlessly with all of them, and this was no different.
He had worked with Sydal before in WWE, and they came together to create a really solid, competitive match that gave Rhodes a win but also provided the underutilized Sydal a showcase for himself. There were a few rough spots, sure, but they worked through them and delivered a strong finished product.
The Snoop spot after the match was a great bit of business, too, in that it should earn AEW some mainstream attention while simultaneously hyping The Go-Big Show ahead of Thursday's debut.
AEW Women's Championship Match: Hikaru Shida vs. Abadon
Abadon wasted little time in trying to attack Hikaru Shida Wednesday night as she challenged for the AEW Women's Championship. Shida, ready for her undead opponent, cracked her with a kendo stick. Abadon no-sold it, sitting up and stalking after her opponent.
She would bite the thigh of Shida before dragging her under the ring and emerging with blood all over her mouth, the insinuation being that she again bit the neck of the champion.
Abadon dominated throughout the picture-in-picture commercial break, but Shida fought back and delivered her Tamashii finisher for the successful title defense.
Shida defeated Abadon
Abadon deserved so much more than that in her first championship opportunity.
After being presented as this terrifying threat to Shida's title, leading up to it and during it, she was put down with a knee strike shortly after a commercial break in the middle of a major championship match.
Yes, other matches are interrupted by and subject to the picture-in-picture gimmick, but few are so shortchanged as the women's matches on Dynamite. They typically wrap up shortly after the show returns, the majority of the match subjected to the commercial break.
That this was never really allowed to get into any real flow, or tell much of story, only hurt its overall quality.
A major disappointment given the build and the momentum Abadon had established in recent weeks.
AEW World Championship Match: Rey Fenix vs. Kenny Omega
AEW world champion Kenny Omega weathered the early storm of challenger Rey Fenix in the main event of Wednesday's broadcast, delivering a snapdragon suplex on the arena floor and dropping him spine-first across the guardrail as he sought to successfully retain his title.
Fenix answered moments later, delivering a double springboard dropkick and following with the damndest tope con hilo on the arena floor. Back inside, Fenix delivered a springboard into a German suplex that folded Omega up but only earned a two-count.
During the break, Omega unleashed a series of open-hand strikes across the chest and back of the challenger, but Fenix answered with hard right hands to the torso. Omega dropped him with consecutive powerbombs, but Fenix kicked out. The challenger reversed the One-Winged Angel into a reverse rana, followed moments later with an inside-out cutter and looked for a frog splash.
Omega got the knees up, answered with an impressive Tiger Driver and scored the win with the One-Winged Angel. Omega stood tall, his title in-hand, while Don Callis grabbed a microphone. He threw to the back, where Eddie Kingston, Butcher and Blade beat down Pac and Penta El Zero M.
Callis encouraged Omega to finish Fenix and put an end to his career. Instead, Jon Moxley hit the ring with the barbed wire baseball bat and drove it into the midsection of his rival. As Moxley threatened further damage, Impact Wrestling tag team champions Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson hit the ring and beat down the former world titleholder.
They delivered The Magic Killer to Moxley stood alongside Omega and Callis. The AEW world champion added repeated shots to the back with the baseball bat before Brian Pillman and Griff Garrison hit the ring to try to make the save. No one proved effective, though, as they were all stymied amid the dominance of the heels.
The Young Bucks finally hit the ring to try to talk reason with their longtime friends and former Bullet Club cohorts. "Where do they stand?!" the commentary team asked. Matt and Nick added their signature "too sweet" hand gesture to Omega and The Good Brothers, seemingly reuniting with their friends as the show went off the air.
Omega defeated Fenix
There is so much to unpack about this main event and its aftermath.
Omega and Fenix did exactly what everyone expected them to, tearing the house down in a pay-per-view-quality main event that had the commentary team exclaiming they had never seen some of the moves or sequences before.
Fenix looked every bit Omega's equal and came within seconds of winning the AEW title. His passion and intensity matched his ability to do things between the ropes few could only ever dream of. He looked the part of a main event competitor and very easily could headline a pay-per-view for this company if they so chose to book him in one.
He's that good, and he has proved it at every turn.
The post-match angle with Anderson and Gallows, and the confusion surrounding Matt and Nick Jackson's place in all of it, was exactly the type of red-hot cliffhanger you would see back in the days of the Monday Night Wars. It was unpredictable, energetic and fun.
It wasn't overbooked, overproduced or cringeworthy. It worked because fans knew of the relationship between the Young Bucks, Gallows, Anderson and Omega and genuinely cared about the possibility that they would reunite.
While it appears they did, it will be interesting to see if that is the case or just perception.
Regardless of the answer, the audience now wants to tune in next week to see what is going on, the definition of an effective angle.