AEW Dynamite Holiday Bash Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistDecember 23, 2021

AEW Dynamite Holiday Bash Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights

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    Credit: All Elite Wrestling

    The intensifying rivalry between CM Punk and MJF wrote its latest chapter Wednesday night as part of AEW Dynamite Holiday Bash when The Straight Edge Superstar partnered with Darby Allin and Sting to battle the scarf-wearing loudmouth and Pinnacle teammates FTR in a blockbuster tag team match.

    That match headlined a show that also featured the first semifinal match in the tournament to crown the first TBS champion, a huge singles match between two of AEW's top contenders and Malakai Black's latest attempt at turning the lights out for one of the company's young up-and-comers.

    What went down and how did it affect the top stars and stories entering just before the holidays?

    Find out now with this recap of the December 22 episode.

Match Card

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    • CM Punk, Sting and Darby Allin vs. MJF and FTR
    • TBS Championship Tournament Semifinal: Ruby Soho vs. Nyla Rose
    • Griff Garrison vs. Malakai Black
    • Orange Cassidy vs. Adam Cole

Orange Cassidy vs. Adam Cole

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    Credit: All Elite Wrestling

    The grudge match between Orange Cassidy and Adam Cole kicked off this week's show.

    Cole outwrestled his opponent early and often, seizing control of the match until Freshly Squeezed nonchalantly shoved him off the top rope and scored consecutive near-falls with a crossbody and tornado DDT. Just as the babyface built momentum, The Young Bucks and Brandon Cutler made their presence felt.

    Cassidy wiped out Cutler in time for Best Friends to arrive. Cassidy added another tope suicida, laying out the former tag champions. Cole sent Cassidy into the steps, then missed the Boom, running his own knee into the steel and leaving both men reeling entering the break. 

    A back and forth gave way to Cassidy delivering Slumdog Millionaire, then a diving DDT for a dramatic two-count. He suckered Cole in with a rollup moments later for a two count, followed by a Michinoku Driver for another. 

    Hubris on the part of the babyface cost him as Cole rocked him with a superkick, then delivered Panama Sunrise. Cole placed his hands in his trunks ala Cassidy and his pockets, and the result was a near-fall. Cassidy dodged the Boom and delivered Beach Break for another breathtaking two-count. With Cole down and Bobby Fish suddenly at ringside to provide a distraction, Kyle O'Reilly made his AEW debut and laid Cassidy out, allowing Cole to score the win.

    After the match, the reunited Undisputed Era (definitely not called such) beat down Best Friends before walking out on the confused Young Bucks.



    Cole defeated Cassidy






    And just like that, Holiday Bash delivers a big surprise and plants the seeds for a feud between the faction formerly known as Undisputed Era and The Elite's Young Bucks and Kenny Omega, whenever the latter returns.

    Cole and Cassidy had a hell of a match; a fun and energetic bit of business that once again proved Cassidy can hang with the best the industry has to offer. His own laziness hurt him, as did Cole's arrogance, creating a nice story for fans to invest in down the stretch until the newsworthy finish.

    O'Reilly adds yet another extraordinary wrestler to the AEW roster and sets the stage for a showdown between two of the most dominant factions of the last decade. You cannot help but be excited about the prospects of that particular feud given the hints and teases we have seen thus far.

    Cole and the Bucks have not had the success one would expect from them, including a loss back at Full Gear. So when frustration sets in, who do you turn to? Your friends and that is undisputed. 

    Cole and his new friends walking out on the Bucks will create drama and intrigue and that will make for better TV. 

Hangman Page and Bryan Danielson Promo; MJF Speaks

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    Credit: All Elite Wrestling

    AEW world champion “Hangman” Adam Page joined Tony Schiavone for a promo in which he admitted feeling less than a champion based on the way he retained the title last week. Before he could go into it much more, Bryan Danielson interrupted and took exception to what he saw as “crying and complaining.”

    After proceeding to complain and make excuses for himself, he presented a solution to another time-limit draw: there are judges for the January 5 Dynamite rematch. The two went back and forth, ignoring Danielson’s suggestion.

    Page vowed to beat his top contender in less than an hour.

    Backstage, MJF cut a promo on the night’s main event while also agitating Wardlow, reminding him he pays him a significant amount and asking where he was a week ago. He shifted the focus of the conversation rather than infuriate his hired muscle.






    We have a blockbuster main event for the first Dynamite of the TBS era following the announcement of Page vs. Danielson II but beyond the challenger’s excellent heel work, there wasn’t much new or fresh to this to warrant a higher grade.

    The promo from MJF was fantastic, as usual, but it is the continued hinting of Wardlow’s mounting frustration with his charge that is most interesting. AEW appears to be taking a page out of the Batista-Triple H book, where the muscle is smarter than expected and sees through his associate’s nonsense. It worked before, it will work again and the result will be a big breakout star for AEW as it looks to the long-term future of the promotion.

Wardlow in Action, Dan Lambert Speaks and Britt Baker's Holiday Party

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    Credit: All Elite Wrestling

    Wardlow once again demolished an unfortunate soul unlucky enough to find himself positioned across the ring from him. This time, Capt. Sean Dean. 

    The powerful big man obliterated Dean with four powerbombs en route to the uncontested victory. Shawn Spears added a steel chair shot for good measure afterward.

    Afterward, Dan Lambert appeared with The Men of the Year’s Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page and revealed that he wouldn’t be used to help make fans cheer for Cody Rhodes. "Tony Khan asked me to do the impossible. He wanted to see if I could get Cody Rhodes cheered. How in the world could that happen when he's a bigger d*** than I am!?" he asked.

    From there, cameras headed backstage, where Tony Schiavone joined Dr. Britt Baker, Rebel and Jamie Hayter for a special holiday party. Baker vowed to defeat Riho in their women's title bout at AEW Battle of the Belts on Saturday, January 8. 



    Wardlow defeated Dean






    The dominance by Wardlow continues to position him as the unstoppable kickass that tears through competition and appears to enjoy inflicting pain. The moment he eventually turns on MJF is going to catapult him into the stratosphere and turn him into a massive babyface, as long as AEW management can sustain his push in a way it failed to with fellow big men Lance Archer and Brian Cage.

    Both Lambert and Baker cut fantastic, intense, attitudinal promos that put over the story they're trying to convey while leaving no doubt that they are heels.

    Whether fans are willing to cheer Rhodes over the founder of American Top Team, though, is the question.

TBS Championship Semifinal: Ruby Soho vs. Nyla Rose

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    Credit: All Elite Wrestling

    The first woman to cash her ticket to the finals of the TBS Championship was determined as Ruby Riott battled Nyla Rose, who was accompanied to the ring by Vickie Guerrero. Riott entered the match as the only competitor in the semifinals not to have had a bye in the tournament.

    The Runaway withstood a considerable offensive onslaught, including damage to her left arm, and incessant interference from Vickie Guerrero. As Rose scaled the ropes, her opponent’s injured arm in her grasp, Riott shifted her weight and pulled her opponent right into the Riott Kick for the win.



    Riott defeated Rose






    This was another strong outing for Soho, who shook off some early middling matches and has been on a roll of late. Her in-ring output has exceeded expectations of late and her matches against Kris Statlander and here, against Rose, have helped enhance the overall quality of the tournament.

    Now in the finals of the tournament, it will be interesting to see if AEW goes the predictable route of Jade Cargill advancing or bucks the system and books a babyface vs. babyface finale with Soho battling Thunder Rosa.

    One match would almost certainly deliver a quality title bout while Cargill vs. Soho creates intrigue based on whether or not the relative rookie can hang with a veteran performer like Ruby.

    Either way, that second semifinal match is certainly interesting, if nothing else.

Griff Garrison vs. Malakai Black

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    Credit: All Elite Wrestling

    Two weeks after spraying his trademark black mist in the eyes of Julia Hart, Malakai Black battled the Varsity Blondes’ Griff Garrison in singles competition. Brian Pillman Jr. accompanied his tag partner.

    Despite a spirited effort by Garrison, including some hard-hitting strikes from the hometown competitor, Black trapped him in a single-leg crab and scored the submission victory.

    After the match, Black obliterated Pillman Jr. with Black Mass and stood tall to close the segment.






    Black should not have struggled against The Varsity Blondes given his track record in AEW and luckily, he did not.

    The company sometimes struggles with deciding when a character should win definitively and when a match should be more competitive. That was not the case here as the vastly superior and more experienced wrestler made short work of the younger opponent, then kicked the hell out of his partner for good measure.

    Black was never overshadowed and continued to look like a force of nature, even as his path forward appears cloudier than ever.

CM Punk, Darby Allin and Sting vs. MJF and FTR

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    Credit: All Elite Wrestling

    CM Punk and Darby Allin sported the facepaint of their iconic tag team partner, Sting, who repaid the favor by adorning paint in the form of CM Punk’s fists logo as the trio battled MJF and FTR in the night’s main event.

    MJF avoided Punk at every turn, even sprinting into the stands and back again to prevent from getting his ass kicked. The heels eventually halted the babyfaces’ momentum, working Allin over and cutting him off from his teammates.

    The former TNT champion eventually created separation and tagged Sting into the match. The former Jim Crockett Promotions and WCW star exploded into the match, generating a big pop in the process. A sneak attack from MJF halted his momentum and returned control of the bout to the heels. 

    Sting fired off a flurry of offense, inadvertently low blowed MJF with a headbutt and tagged Punk into the match. The former world champion fought off all three of the opponents before Allin wiped out Cash Wheeler with a dive. 

    The action broke down, FTR delivered the Big Rig to Punk and Sting broke up the fall. The Icon sent MJF over the top rope with a hiptoss, the heel landing face-first on the arena floor in a scary moment. Sting added a big dive, wiping the heels out.

    With MJF reeling, Punk called for Go To Sleep but Dax Harwood shoved his partner out of the away and absorbed both Punk’s finisher and the Scorpion Death Drop as the babyfaces scored the win.



    Punk, Sting and Allin defeated MJF and FTR






    FTR is a godsend to the art of tag team wrestling and they, somehow, are still underrated despite the world knowing how great they are. They were the heart and soul of this match, not only providing the tag team psychology but doing all of the little things that help add realism to a performance.

    Then there was their effort to check on MJF after he narrowly avoided disaster in the hiptoss-to-the-floor spot. Without Harwood and Wheeler immediately being there to check on their partner, the whole match comes undone. The timing of Sting’s leap from the top rope seconds after gets derailed and everything that happens after gets shifted.

    They ensured everything stayed on-schedule and the fans got the happy ending they wanted out of the thing. They are selfless, giving workers whose devotion to their art is apparent and who are as good as any team in the last 40 years.

    Punk, Sting and Allin’s teamwork was extraordinary and they had the crowd in the palms of their hands throughout. MJF, ever the cowardly heel, avoided a beating at the hands of Punk, ensuring there is still a demand for that match when the time calls for it.

    A hellishly fun match that proved the perfect cap for this show.