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AEW Dynamite: January 3, 2024

by Doc Allen

Swerve Strickland

Live from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. WrestleTix estimates attendance at 4,814 (which is not good for this venue). Tony Shiavone, Excalibur, and Taz are on commentary.

Samoa Joe talks to the camera minutes after defeating MJF for the AEW World Championship at World's End. He's not a prophet, but he did predict the future. Joe gloats about taking everything away from MJF in his hometown.

The Devil Adam Cole and his henchmen (Roderick Strong, Wardlow, Matt Taven, and Mike Bennett) come to the ring to discuss evil topics. Cole scoffs at the notion that he's a "bad guy" for betraying someone like MJF. Cole takes credit for ripping MJF's heart from his chest. He puts over his new crew, but instantly sets Wardlow up to the sympathetic character in a heel stable yet again. Cole wants Wardlow to win the AEW title and hand it over to him. The group is branded "The Undisputed Kingdom" and try to wrap things up when Jay White interrupts. Jay likes what they did to MJF, but resents being collateral. White and the Gunns rush the ring but fall to greater numbers. The Acclaimed and Billy Gunn arrive to save the bad guys from the even badder guys. Bullet Club Gold aren't grateful enough for a scissoring party though.

Eddie Kingston talks to the camera minutes after winning the Continental Championship by defeating Jon Moxley at World's End.

Hype video for Daniel Garcia vs. Swerve Strickland. Garcia cuts a white meat babyface promo about stepping up to pressure.

AEW International Championship:
Orange Cassidy © (with Hook and Danhausen) vs. Dante Martin

Cassidy takes Dante seriously as they trade holds. Martin monkey flips out of a knuckle lock, Cassidy reverts to pocket silliness. Dante rejects the comedy and forces Cassidy into a timeout. OC lures Dante to ringside by teasing more pocket goofiness and nails a tope. OC pockets his hands and takes a lap around the ring for a shotgun dropkick. Martin reverses a suplex on the floor. Back from commercials, Cassidy hits Stundog Millionaire. Martin flips around to confuse OC and hits a tope. High crossbody by Dante gets 2. Dante decides to play mind games by delivering sloth kicks. Cassidy stomps Dante into the corner and hits a tornado DDT for 2. Cassidy blocks a leaping superplex and nails a diving DDT. Dante counters into a vicious GTS variation. Cassidy trolls Dante by rolling away from flying attacks, so Dante hits a coast to coast splash. Orange Punch out of nowhere gets the win at 13:27. This was fun, but they ditched the good narrative they had going before the break, **¾.
Winner and still AEW International Champion: Orange Cassidy

Best Friends and Top Flight make nice after the match, but they're interrupted by Private Party, complete with their original entrance. Fans chant "welcome bacK" because 2019 nostalgia is real. They put the tag team division on notice. New year, new champs. I'm glad to see these guys back with a hard reset, free from all the Hardy Family Office drama.

Renee Paquette chats with AEW Women's Champion Toni Storm (with Luther). Toni is distressed to have learned she is in New Jersey, not New York, and is planning an early exit. Renee asks if she's going to watch Mariah May's debut, to which Toni scoffs "I don't watch WRESTLING!" Luther carries her away.

Video promo with the House of Black. They agree to face FTR if they can do it in North Carolina so they can make Dax's daughter cry.

Renee Paquette interviews Swerve Strickland (with Prince Nana) backstage. Nana talks over Swerve to start. Swerve gets a word in, he respects Daniel Garcia, but he's looking ahead to Samoa Joe.

Mariah May vs. Queen Aminata

Aminata gloats, so Mariah smashes her down. Rana by May, then a shotgun dropkick for 2. May wraps Aminata in the ropes for a shotgun dropkick to the spine. Back from commercials, Aminata blocks an avalanche rana and throws a series of vicious strikes. Running knee strike by Aminata, but May explodes into a sling blade. May Day finishes Aminata at 6:43. Just an extended squash that got devoured by commercials, but May does look like a find.
Winner: Mariah May

Renee gets a word with May, who gushes over winning her debut and living her childhood dream. She hopes that Toni Storm is proudly watching. May's one regret is that her debut happened in New Jersey. Right on cue, New Jersey's own Deonna Purrazzo returns for a confrontation. Deonna doesn't care where Toni Storm runs to hide, she'll find her. May has a rude reply, so Deonna kicks her to the floor. Hey, this was good, the women's division feels alive these days.

TNT Champions Christian Cage (with Killswitch, Nick Wayne, and Shayna Wayne) heads to the ring for some words. Christian lost the TNT title to Adam Copeland at World's End, but immediately won the gold back with a faux-MITB cash-in when he talked Killswitch out of his contract. For the record, I hated it, I don't want to see any ambush title changes in AEW. I'd be lying if I said it didn't make Christian look completely evil though. Shayna chastises the fans for booing her because she's a MOTHER! Christian pretends he's been champion for 200 days, since the first Collision. He thanks Shayna for her nurturing support. Nick for being his pride and joy, but neglects to thank Killswitch for surrendering his title opportunity. Fans chant "Luchasaurus" while Christian continues bragging.

Renee Paquette interviews Ruby Soho, Saraya, and Harley Cameron backstage. Ruby thought Harley was just another crazy blond, but she's won her over. Saraya gushes over their new partnership and they head off.

Konosuke Takeshita (with Don Callis) vs. Darby Allin

Takeshita scores first with a dominating waistlock takedown. Darby tries a rollup, Takeshita maneuvers into a German, but Darby lands on his feet. Takeshita delivers a high elevation back body drop. Darby answers with an armdrag, but he flies into Takeshita's ruthless knee lift. Takeshita delivers an insane rolling German suplex on the ramp! Back from commercials, Darby desperately counters into an avalanche stunner! Darby sprints into a lighting cannonball tope. Takeshita reverses Code Red for 2. Darby retreats to ringside and forces Takeshita to miss a head of steam over the rails. Takeshita suffers an apparent knee injury, Allin hits an outside Coffin Drop! Takeshita avoids a countout, Darby is waiting with Code Red for only 2! Takeshita blocks a Coffin Drop and hobbles his way to a wild German suplex. Rather than make a cover, Takeshita hits an overhead suplex. Darby reverses a third suplex into a pin attempt, but Takeshita blasts a lariat. Helluva kick by Takeshita, then an AVALANCHE GERMAN SUPLEX! Darby wants more, so Takeshita nails a running knee to win at 12:51! Sheesh, I'm legitimately worried for Darby's health again. This was more brutal than your typical TV match, Takeshita looks monstrous, ***½.
Winner: Konosuke Takeshita

Renee Paquette interrupts the Don Callis Family celebrating Takeshita's victory. Don is oozing with confidence and sets a challenge for Sting when they return to Daily's Place.

AEW Continental Champion Eddie Kingston joins commentary to scout his competition.

Continental Championship Eliminator Match: Trent Beretta vs. Brian Cage (with Prince Nana) vs. Bryan Keith vs. El Hijo Del Vikingo (with Alex Abrahantes)

Trent is undergoing a gradual heel turn, having eliminated Danhausen from the World's End battle royal in cold fashion. Mad scramble to start. Keith boots Trent in the face. Vikingo returns to fluster Keith with his superhero antics. Vikingo takes a bow, but Cage overpowers him for belly to belly suplex. Trent ambushes Cage with a half nelson suplex. Danhausen appears in the front row, distracting Trent for Cage's vertical suplex outside. Back from commercials, Vikingo blasts a roundhouse kick at Cage and then hits a springboard missile dropkick. Vikingo prepares to fly, but Keith interrupts with head butts. Cage tries to capitalize, but Trent ambushes with a release German suplex. Trent's knee strike gets 2 when Vikingo flies in. Keith lariats Vikingo, all four guys hit the canvas for some polite applause. Cage gives Keith an F5 and powerbombs Trent for only 2. Danhausen tries to put a curse on Cage, Vikingo saves him with superkicks. Keith gives Trent a Saito suplex and low kick for 2. Trent reverses the Tiger Driver and pins Keith at 9:42. Lively spotfest, greatly impacted by the commercial break, **¾.
Winner: Trent Beretta

Renee Paquette tries to interview Daddy Magic backstage, but Hangman Adam Page interrupts to rant and rave about his need to beat somebody up.

Swerve Strickland (with Prince Nana) vs. Daniel Garcia

Daddy Magic sits in on commentary. Crowd likes both guys, this should be fun. Swerve scores a shoulder block, Garcia gets right back into his face. They trade rapid counters until Swerve gains the high ground. Garcia baits Swerve into a crossface for a quick rope break. They trade palm strikes, Garcia settles into the subtle heel role and knees Swerve off of the apron. Garcia drives Swerve into the barricade, buying time for a dance-off with Nana. Swerve tries an ambush, but Garcia was ready for him. Nana grabs Garcia's boot, allowing Swerve to hit a DVD onto the ring frame! Back from commercials, Swerve mocks Garcia's dance moves. That wasn't smart, it lights a fire in Garcia for a comeback. Shotgun dropkick by Garcia, and a delayed back suplex gets 2. Swerve hits a brutal backbreaker and sitout powerbomb for a good nearfall. Daddy Magic provides a distraction, Garcia tackles Swerve into the barricade. Garcia tries a sharpshooter on the announce table, but sadly, they both slip off. Garcia hits a superplex, but Swerve holds on for a vertical suplex. Swerve surprises with the Flatliner and kicks the head for a stellar nearfall. Swerve stomp, but GARCIA KICKS OUT! Swerve looks shocked, Garcia rolls him up for 2. Swerve hits the JML Driver to win at 13:20! Great action between two rising stars, save for the embarrassing slip up on the table, ***½.
Winner: Swerve Strickland

Nana gives Garcia a low blow for good measure. Daddy Magic's rescue attempt fails, but luckily Hangman Adam Page marches in for a brawl with Swerve. They get pulled apart to end the show on a hot note.

Final Thoughts: This was a good reset show entering 2024. There are a lot of good pieces in place up and down the roster. They also planted the seeds for Swerve chasing after Samoa Joe's AEW title, which has the potential to give AEW a big boost in the coming months. Overall, a productive table-setting episode.

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