AEW Dynamite Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from January 26
The intensifying rivalry between Orange Cassidy and Adam Cole (BAY BAY!) came to a head Wednesday night on TBS in a Lights Out Match, the main event of a special Beach Break edition of AEW Dynamite.
Joining the hotly anticipated main event was a Ladder Match to determine the undisputed TNT champion between Cody Rhodes and Sammy Guevara, a special trios match and the latest in rivalries featuring top stars CM Punk and Dr. Britt Baker DMD.
What went down, how did it affect the talent involved and what surprises did AEW have up its sleeve for the event?
Find out now with this recap of the January 26 broadcast.
- Lights Out Match: Orange Cassidy vs. Adam Cole
- TNT Championship Ladder Match: Cody Rhodes vs. Sammy Guevara
- Trios Match: Chris Jericho, Santana and Ortiz vs. Daniel Garcia and 2point0
- Red Velvet vs. "Legit" Leyla Hirsch
- CM Punk Interview
- Dr. Britt Baker DMD Interview
Ladder Match for the TNT Championship: Cody Rhodes vs. Sammy Guevara
Sammy Guevara became interim TNT champion in the absence of rightful champion Cody Rhodes. Wednesday, they battled in a ladder match to determine the undisputed titleholder, kicking off the show with a blockbuster contest.
Utilizing his size and strength advantage, Rhodes dominated early, taking the fight to the floor. Guevara halted his momentum with a cutter on the floor, flattening The American Nightmare but also driving the air out of himself and injuring his lower back in the process.
Moments later, back inside the ring, Rhodes delivered an awe-inspiring superplex from the ladder, drawing a huge pop from fans and leaving both men in a crumpled heap.
Back from the break, Rhodes sent The Spanish God midsection-first onto the steel bars of the ladder, then trapped him in the figure four through the rungs.
Fired up by wicked chops to the chest, Guevara mounted a momentary comeback with a pair of clotheslines but Rhodes dropped him to remain in control. In one of the damndest moments in recent ladder match history, Guevara leapfrogged to the tippy top of one ladder and delivered a cutter that brought Rhodes crashing to the mat.
With both wrestlers spread across two ladders, Rhodes delivered Cross Rhodes, leaving his opponent writhing in pain. He recovered, driven by desperation, and joined Rhodes on a ladder. Both men dangled from the belt holder before crashing to the mat below.
Fuego del Sol, the best friend of both competitors, tried to talk sense into Rhodes but ate a Tiger Driver '98. Guevara wiped out Rhodes with a dive then downed him with GTH on the floor. From there, he produced an mountainous ladder, draped Rhodes across another and proceeded to deliver a swanton bomb onto his opponent.
Both men fought atop the ladder before Guevara blasted Rhodes with one of the belts, knocking him to the mat. Guevara finally secured the titles and scored the biggest win of his career.
Guevara defeated Rhodes to become undisputed TNT champion
This was a phenomenal effort by Rhodes and Guevara. They busted their asses to put over the match itself but more importantly, the prize they fought for. The TNT title was absolutely elevated by way of the brutality and chaos that ensued from the opening bell.
Ladder matches are beyond overdone at this point, and there was a spot or two that definitely didn't need to happen to ensure the quality of it. The Cross Rhodes, with its full-body twist, left little room for error and could easily have ended in disaster.
It didn't, though, and the right guy went over. What this means for Rhodes, and how he reacts to (or tries to explain away) the outcome will define his character moving forward.
Wardlow vs. Elijah Dean and James Alexander
Wardlow returned to his hometown of Cleveland for a match with Elijah Dean and James Alexander.
It went about how one would expect. Two powerbombs to each, and a fifth to Alexander onto Dean was all Big Daddy War needed to pick up the win.
Wardlow defeated Alexander and Dean
Watching Wardlow tear through guys never gets old. The destruction is entertaining and the way the crowd is reaction enhances the segment. That he was extra fired-up because of the hometown crowd only made this one better.
Wardlow stopping Shawn Spears from stealing his spotlight with chair shots was a nice touch and continues the narrative that the big man is growing tired of The Chairman and his employer, MJF.
Trios Match: Chris Jericho, Santana and Ortiz vs. 2point0 and Daniel Garcia
The rivalry between Chris Jericho and the trio of Daniel Garcia and 2point0 continued Wednesday night but it was the dissension and dysfunction between Le Champion and Inner Circle teammates Santana and Ortiz. The commentary team of Excalibur, Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross told the story of mounting frustration among Santana and Ortiz as they put their own championship aspirations aside in the name of Jericho’s interests.
After Ortiz spent the match isolated from his team, he created separation and inched toward his corner. Instead of tagging Jericho in, though, he opted for Santana. The longtime tag team partners mounted the comeback, ignoring their faction’s leader as they took down the opposition.
Despite being dismayed by the events that unfolded before him, Jericho drug Jeff Parker to the floor and delivered the Judas Effect to Matt Lee, allowing Santana to score the pinfall victory. He jawed with his teammates as he exited the arena.
Jericho, Santana and Ortiz defeated 2point0 and Garcia
It feels like a giant waste of time to have pushed Lee, Parker and Garcia on television for as long as AEW did, just to use them as bit players in the slow disintegration of Inner Circle.
The heels, despite the increase in television time and the attention paid to them in recent months, were afterthoughts here. They were bit players as the story centered on Jericho, Santana, Ortiz and what may or may not be the waning days of The Inner Circle.
Not that the story isn’t intriguing or worthy of the time and effort. If that is what the intent was, though, could the heels not have benefited from the victory? Could they not have gained more out of winning than failing to capitalize on their opponents’ inability to get along.
The quality of the in-ring action and Jericho’s facial expressions helped elevate the segment but did not make up for the curious creative.
CM Punk and MJF's Latest Verbal Showdown
CM Punk hit the ring, ready to fight, his fists taped in an uncharacteristic black. He again called out MJF and after a few knocks on his trademark scarf and the city of Long Island, the loudmouth heel appeared.
MJF cut another scathing promo, finally agreeing to face Punk next week in Chicago. He then claimed Punk left before, abandoning fans when he refused to appear in Cleveland back in 2014. He said Punk would lose in his hometown, then he would leave again and cry on a podcast.
Punk called MJF a fan and exclaimed that fans don't love him because he wins. Or hate him because he loses. They love him because he always gets back up. MJF looked to test that theory, joining his Pinnacle teammates Wardlow, FTR and Shawn Spears for an attack on Punk.
MJF ordered Wardlow to powerbomb him on the chair. After some hesitation and a look of disgust on his face, he did.
"It's so apropos that the same place your journey began, is the same place it ends. I'll see you in Chicago!" MJF said as he ended the segment, seated on the fallen body of his foe.
The promos were both solid and showed the sort of intensity you would hope for out of two guys who do not like each other. Who hate each other.
With that said, it is for the best that the match is finally happening next week. The feud is all promo'd out, with nothing left to really say and that has been on display these last few weeks. If the program is to advance beyond next week's show, it needs the match and its outcome to propel things forward.
Then there is Wardlow, who hesitated in the face of orders from his employer, further tipping his hat to an eventual babyface turn via fan-pleasing beatdown of MJF. When that happens, he will explode into the stratosphere as one of the hottest good guys in the industry.
As for Punk, a win over MJF would catapult him into world title contention and feuds with top-tier opponents fans have been craving to see him wrestle since his arrival in August.
Red Velvet vs. "Legit" Leyla Hirsch
A week after frustration led to Leyla Hirsch attacking her friend, Red Velvet, the two women battled in singles competition.
Hirsch dominated the contest early and through the commercial break, just in time for Velvet to attempt a comeback. Hirsch dropped her, though, and tried to force a tapout with the Legit Lock. Velvet made it to the ropes, forcing the break.
Frustrated, Hirsch resorted to a rollup with a handful of tights for the win. After the match, she attempted further damage but Kris Statlander made the save.
In a pre-taped video, Malakai Black and Brody King issued an ominous warning to Pac and Death Triangle. Black ended by saying The House of Black, like death, is inevitable.
Hirsch defeated Velvet
Hirsch and Velvet put in the work but the match was a clash of styles and the finish was anything but smooth. AEW has made a concentrated effort to provide women's programs away from the title picture, making use of its talented and expansive women's roster, and the feud with Hirsch and Statlander is a nice way to utilize them.
The House of Black remains one of the most intriguing and thought-provoking elements of the show. The ensuing feud with Death Triangle will result in intense matches, show-stealing fights and some of the best stories in the business.
Dr. Britt Baker DMD Promo
Dr. Britt Baker DMD made her way to the ring to bask in her recent accomplishments, including three Pro Wrestling Illustrated awards and two covers.
She patted herself on the back for her many accomplishments, then heckled the Cleveland fans for their shortcomings against her Pittsburgh Steelers, vowing to give them a Baker they can cheer for, in reference to Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Then, the promo segment just sort of ended.
The only thing keeping this from an 'F' grade? The confidence Baker has on the mic and her ability to hold center court.
Beyond that? This was a cheap heat promo that didn't really accomplish anything. It didn't introduce a new feud, had no babyface appear to silence her and even featured Tony Schiavone laughing it up in the corner.
It felt like a segment designed to crap on the fans of Cleveland. Rather than getting any other competitors over, it created the biggest babyfaces out of the Browns and Mayfield. Baker vs. Baker is not a Dynamite match that will occur anytime soon, so why focus that energy there?
And why give it the television time it got?
A strange segment and a weird miss from AEW and the good doctor.
Lights Out Match: Orange Cassidy vs. Adam Cole
The main event of this week’s show featured the culmination of weeks of intensifying hatred between Orange Cassidy and Adam Cole as they clashed in a rare Lights Out match.
Crushing his own sunglasses in a symbol of the seriousness of the match, Cassidy took the fight to Cole. When things spilled to the floor, indie wrestler and social media icon Danhausen appeared, drawing a huge ovation from fans.
Cassidy gained control of the bout until Cole sent him crashing into the steel steps, then targeted his hand, hoping to take the Orange Punch out of his arsenal. Cole dominated through the commercial but the use of a fire extinguisher sparked Cassidy’s comeback.
Cole tried for a brainbuster into two steel chairs but Cassidy countered with Stundog Millionaire, then drove Cole through the tables with a Michinoku Driver for two. Cole called for Brandon Cutler, who quickly found himself wiped out by Wheeler Yuta. Bobby Fish wiped him out, Chuck Taylor returned the favor. The Young Bucks rocked Taylor and joined Cole for a triple superkick. Trent and Rocky Romero pulled Matt and Nick Jackson to the floor, allowing Cassidy to deliver the Beach Break for two.
Fired up, Cassidy delivered the Orange Punch, further injuring the hand. Cole tried for a low blow but Cassidy revealed a steel cup with thumbtacks and delivered Panama Sunrise for a dramatic two. He wrapped a steel chain around his fist for an Orange Punch but Cole bailed to the floor.
The fight spilled backstage, where Cole drove his opponent through a table and monitor with a Death Valley Driver, but could only score a two-count. Back in the arena, Cole rocked his opponent with a superkick, then setup for the Boom. Cassidy caught him with a superkick, reapplied the chain but ran directly into a stagelight.
Cole scaled a truss but lost track of his opponent, who had followed him up and delivered a perfectly-timed low blow. He hugged Cole and drove him from that height, through the stage for the win.
Cassidy defeated Cole
While this lacked the violence fans have come to expect from the Lights Out matches, this was still a fun brawl that put an exclamation point on the rivalry between The Superkliq/Red Dragon and Best Friends. It also protected the undefeated streak of Cole in that the loss doesn’t count under Lights Out rules.
Which does beg the question: why book one’s self into this corner if it was unnecessary.
Nothing about the match suggests it needed the Lights Out stipulation, but it needed to carry that stipulation to prevent Cole from losing. So, and this might be a totally ridiculous concept, but why even write into existence a storyline that must conclude with Cassidy beating Cole if you don’t want the latter to lose yet in accordance with the company’s ranking system?
Maybe it’s nitpicking, especially after such a fun main event, but it did seem a bit ass-backwards to book something that wasn’t wholly necessary or even desired based on the very utilization of the stipulation.
Either way, Cassidy earned a big win, Cole was protected and the crowd went home happy. Sometimes, that is all you can ask for.