Wednesday’s episode of All Elite Wrestling (AEW): Dynamite was not only the last Dynamite of 2021 but also the last time the show airs on the TNT network, with the show moving to TBS next week. The promotion marked the occasion by returning to its home base at Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, Fla. for the final episode of the year.
As for the show itself…well, let’s just say that AEW has presented better episodes of its flagship program. But even on an episode that dragged along more than usual, there were still some positive takeaways from the two-hour experience.
These are the top two things that went right on the Dec. 29 episode of AEW Dynamite.
Storyline progression with The Elite and reDRagon.
One week removed from Kyle O’Reilly’s AEW debut, the former NXT Tag Team Champion re-joined forces with former Undisputed Era cohorts Bobby Fish — reforming reDRagon in the process — and Adam Cole to take on the trio of Trent Beretta, Chuck Taylor, and Orange Cassidy in Dynamite’s main event.
Prior to the match, we saw a little more of not only the tension between the UE guys and The Young Bucks but also the lingering issues between Cole and O’Reilly. Given that Cole and O’Reilly have engaged in multiple blood feuds in multiple promotions — most recently, NXT — establishing that those problems didn’t magically go away because they were in AEW made all the sense in the world.
As for the trios match, much like the other matches on this week’s card, it was fun to watch but the interference from Brandon Cutler and The Bucks chipped away at some of its luster in the short term, even with the obvious intent to build to a larger story with reDRagon, The Bucks, and Cole.
On that long-term front, The Elite’s interference and O’Reilly inadvertently kicking Cole midway through the match continued to progress the story of how tenuous the relationship between these heels is.
Mercedes Martinez debuts in AEW
Dynamite also featured the second and final semifinal match of the TBS Championship tournament, which pitted the undefeated Jade Cargill against one of the top stars in the promotion’s women’s division: Thunder Rosa.
The match also served as a litmus test for the impressive-but-still-green Cargill against the more seasoned Rosa, and Cargill held up her end for most of the match. As for the finish, AEW clearly hoped to keep Cargill’s unbeaten streak alive while giving Rosa an out for losing, and it attempted to pull this off by having a masked assailant take Rosa out (Mark Sterling had the referee’s attention diverted).
After the match, this perpetrator revealed herself as…MERCEDES MARTINEZ! She and Cargill then beat Rosa down some more before Ruby Soho made the save, but let’s not bury the lede here. AEW bringing Martinez in will be so beneficial to the women’s division.
With her 20-plus years of experience, having Martinez around will help some of the greener women’s wrestlers in the company progress and, if built up correctly, she can have compelling feuds with the many great babyfaces in the division.