December 15th, 2021
1) “Hangman” Adam Page (c) vs. Bryan Danielson - AEW World Title Match
I’m having to take a deep breath before writing this. How to even tackle covering a spectacle such as this? What do I even rate this? It’s hard to think when you just took one of the most insane rollercoaster rides in recent wrestling memory. I guess I’ll start at the beginning, when this popped up as the opener for the show, I literally rose to my feet. An immediate sign that my investment in this match was even more than I anticipated. To begin, they work a very slow and deliberate pace. A pace similar to the Page/Omega match at Full Gear, but despite that moment undoubtedly being the most fulfilling of the year, as a match this built to so much more. The first 30 minutes flew by. Danielson works the legs, but mainly targets the mid section of Hangman. Page going for and missing moonsaults only added to the emphasis Dragon put on the mid section. Things begin picking up around 25-30 minutes in and just when I thought we were going toward a finishing run, a scuffle on the outside leads to Page getting split open by a post shot reminiscent of how Danielson busted Nigel McGuinness open back in one of their epic Ring of Honor clashes. What a callback to show the state that Dragon is in and what a moment to place perfectly right in the middle of this match. It gave us the break we needed to almost reset how this match was going to go. My Up & Over Podcast and friend/contributor to the blog, Mike, watches on FITE and says this came off a lot more awkward for him considering he had no commercials and it felt like a lot of stalling during some of the breaks. This is something I can’t comment on due to watching on regular TV with commercials, BUT something to consider and re-watch. None the less, I loved where we went from here. The first half of this was pure wrestling and the match was fine in that realm because Danielson is fantastic at the little things like accentuating how lightly he takes Page. Shit, he spent the first ten minutes basically playing with him. But yeah, the final 30 of this match saw it grow from a match to a fight with the blood of Hangman really sending this to the next level as Danielson threw closed fists into the head causing the blood to gush further, especially when he boots his head against the turnbuckle at one point and the camera got the PERFECT shot of it, too. By the time, the final quarter rolls around, we are in the midst of a barnburner. Page has clearly been outwrestled by Danielson and all of his normal moves and tricks have not worked. Danielson has weakened the arm for the buckshot, he’s went to work on the mid section and weakened his stamina, something that was only furthered by missed moonsaults and a dive to the outside through a table. And most of all, Danielson has beaten up the champion with no remorse. However, what holds all of this together is the same reason I think people love Hangman so much. His will, his determination and his desire to remain our champion. This makes the desperation finishing run from him so fucking epic. From the moment he finally nails Danielson with a lariat despite all the work on the arm and the pain coursing through it to the struggle on the mat as Danielson tried to hold Page in the labelle lock long enough for a submission win, this was breathtaking. Some don’t like the idea of Page’s first defense being a draw, but I do. We are seeing Hangman Page grow, yet again, and become one of the best wrestlers in the world. He’s already the sympathetic babyface, but with matches like this, he’s gonna become so much more. What a performance. This one will be talked about for decades to come. They had myself and the crowd glued to the action from bell to bell and that is an astonishing feat for TV wrestling in 2021. Unbelievable. So, yeah, this rating may change as I need to watch it with fresh eyes and I'm doing my best of 2021 re-watch soon, but for now it sits at 4.75.
Match rating - ****3/4
Backstage, Super Kliq & Bobby Fish are here. Adam Cole has a gift for them next week… hmmm..
2) Wardlow (w/ Shawn Spears) vs. Matt Sydal
Wardlow squash YEAH BABY. Shawn Spears tells him to finish it after one powerbomb but Wardlow likes to do more. Spears then says MJF called him and he needs Wardlow to go get him champagne for his celebration later after he wins the main event.. I sense this Wardlow turn starting to build.
Match rating - *3/4
Tay Conti / Penelope Ford pre-tape promo airs. Great job by both. They clash in a submission match on Friday on Rampage.
Malakai Black pre-tape and I loved this one. I’m hit or miss on him and these videos, but this one was a cool and he seemingly teased Brody King as he crowned a new member.. the first member of the House of Black and whispered in his ear.. “Now you’re so much more than a king.”
3) Hikaru Shida vs. Serena Deeb
Hey! Hell yea! Crowd is burnt which is unfortunate for these ladies, but they worked their asses off and were able to get the audience into it by the end. Shida has been showing a lot more aggression lately and did so here as she threw her kendo stick at Deeb before the bell. Shida charges Deeb and this felt like a real fight from the jump. They work a really good match that benefits from all the backstory between them. Part of me wishes they had a better crowd for it, but truthfully, this women’s division is still in the building stages and I doubt this would’ve gotten THAT much more of a reaction in front of a fresh crowd. However, little bangers like this definitely help build that investment, I think.
Match rating - ***1/4
Griff Garrison says he will bring the fight to Malakai Black. He & Pillman Jr argue because Pillman thinks he shouldn’t pick this fight. Griff insists though and says next week.. he will break Malakai’s jaw.
4) MJF vs. Dante Martin - Dynamite Diamond Match
Another fantastic showing from Dante in a big match scenario. He hasn’t missed at all this year and didn’t here. MJF did his thing as usual, but when Dante is in the ring in the year 2021, it’s gonna be hard to do something to top him and take the spotlight off him. His comeback here rocked as he hit so much insane shit and it was just a blast as always because he’s such a fresh, unique flyer. Of course, he falls to a screwy finish and MJF wins the Diamond for the third year in a row.
Match rating - ***
After the match, FTR & MJF beat down Dante. The lights go out and ITS STIIIING and Darby Allin. This still isn’t enough backup and the crowd starts chanting for CM Punk and that’s exactly what they get! Awesome save from Punk in a PRO CHOICE SHIRT IN TEXAS !!! Yes !!! But yeah! This sets up the big trios main event for Greensboro next week in the form of Punk/Darby/Sting vs. FTR & MJF. I can’t think of a more perfect main event for that show! Goodnight y’all.
Also, if you missed it, we did a live recap and review stream of this show after it went off air, check it out below and make sure to subscribe to the Pro Wrestling Truth YouTube channel: