February 2nd, 2022
Chicago, IL - Wintrust Arena
AEW World Champion: Hangman Adam Page (since 11/13/21)
AEW World Tag Team Champions: Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus (since 1/5/22)
AEW Women’s World Champion: Britt Baker (since 5/30/21)
AEW TBS Champion: Jade Cargill (since 1/5/22)
AEW TNT Champion: Sammy Guevara (since 1/26/22)
Commentators: Excalibur, Jim Ross, & Tony Schiavone
1) Jon Moxley vs. Wheeler Yuta
Yuta is replacing Brian Kendrick. Kendrick was supposed to make his AEW debut tonight, just 24 hours after receiving his requested WWE release. Then, everyone discovered that he’s a Holocaust denying nut job so TK pulled him from this show and rightfully so. Fuck that shit. This is built off of Mox squashing Yuta last fall. Here, Yuta charges Mox with a drop kick at the bell and misses, but avoids a lot of offense from Mox early. Yuta gets a good bit in here and looks awesome before Moxley puts him away with some elbows (a message to Bryan Danielson) followed by the paradigm shift DDT.
Match rating - **1/2
After the match, Bryan Danielson shows up. We all thought Danielson wanted to fight Moxley, BUUUUT Danielson says he actually wants to team with Mox. Bryan says there’s no reason a millennial cowboy should be world champion. No reason a dinosaur should be tag team champion. And no reason a vlogger should be TNT Champion. Danielson says they could run this place together and maybe even bring up a group of guys like Yuta, Daniel Garcia, and Lee Moriarty and train them to be the future of pro wrestling. Bryan offers Mox a handshake, but Mox is torn and just stand there. Bryan says he will give him time to think about it then leaves. Wild Thing plays as Mox stands there. I’m not particularly interested in a Mox/Danielson team actually being a thing, but I like the spin they are putting on this program and I hope
Brandi Rhodes is in the ring when we return from commercial. Oh.. great. Dan Lambert comes out .. oh.. great. This is ass cheeks. I feel more inclined to be on Brandi’s side, if any, because Lambert is a straight white male dipshit. But Brandi is just.. bad also. This is a WWE ass segment with loads of stupid punch line jokes and minor league digs at one another. PAIGE VAN ZANT comes down at the cue of Dan Lambert to save this segment. I’ve been wanting them to do something with her for a while now, it’s too bad that Brandi is getting the honor of working the program it seems. I guess Cody has learned nothing about booking himself and his wife in programs that should be given to someone else… SIGH.
Backstage, Matt Hardy is with the Hardy Family Office. Andrade El Idolo is also here. Hardy asks Andrade why Darby Allin isn’t here and why he didn’t get the job done in signing him. Somehow this seg-ways into Isaiah Kassidy having a TNT Title match with Sammy Guevara on Rampage on Friday. Sorry.. I can’t remember how they got from A to B, but yeah. That’s happening. Hardy grabs Kassidy’s head and says that he better not let him down in bringing gold back to the HFO.
2) The Kings of the Black Throne (Malakai Black & Brody King) vs. Death Triangle (PAC & Penta El Zero Miedo)
This was the match I was lowkey most looking forward to tonight. PAC comes out with a blindfold or whatever selling the mist thing. He pretended he couldn’t see then gets in there with Malakai and starts going nuts and rips the blindfold off. IT WAS A RIB. They go into the standard happenings of the match. PAC gets worked over after an early flurry and Penta gets the hot tag. It breaks down and the final minute or two is a blast. King & Black take the W after Malakai knocks PAC off the top turnbuckle to the floor and they finish off Penta.
Match rating - **3/4
Adam Cole is backstage. He says everyone will see a different side of him on Friday at Rampage when he faces Evil Uno. He’s still undefeated in AEW and he’s one of the best pro wrestlers in the world.
3) Ruby Soho vs. Nyla Rose
Lars Frederiksen of Rancid is ringside for Soho’s entrance. That’s pretty cool. Soho throws her jacket at Nyla and charges her at the bell. This is actually way less bad than I expected. Nyla works good on top doing power stuff. Soho is good underneath and has a little believable comeback, and the finish rocked. BEAST BOMB from Nyla gets her the win after a solid match.
Match rating - **1/2
Backstage, THE ASS BOYS & BILLY GUNN throw Jungle Boy into the snow in the parking lot ://
“Hangman” Adam Page is out next. He says he doesn’t want to wait til next week to face Lance Archer, he wants him right now. Dan Lambert and Jake Roberts come out and I’m yawning. Lambert twice in one night with a roster like TK has? Bad. Archer charges down and Page hits him with a dive. That ruled. Archer puts Page through a table and yeahhh Texas Deathmatch next week. That was simple enough! Can’t complain.
Chris Jericho cut a promo backstage and we are getting an Inner Circle Team Meeting next week live on Dynamite because he wants to know why Santana & Ortiz did what they did. He also calls himself an influencer. Jesus. This was bad.
4) CM Punk vs. MJF
Wow.. I did not expect this. After a largely rough show, seeing a program I’ve been mostly uninterested in get 45 minutes did not leave me feeling very optimistic going into this. Well, to my surprise, this absolutely knocked all expectations that I had out of the park. I guess I need to stop sleeping on MJF’s in ring work and also need to realize that Punk still has it. Aside from the banger with Eddie Kingston at Full Gear and his very first match back with Darby, we haven’t gotten anything quite to the level Punk is notorious for. And those two matches were arguably different than any of Punk’s other big matches from earlier in his career. This, however, felt like a return to form for Punk while also being a burst into the future, modern day Punk. This wasn’t about the work rate or the spots, it was about the characters and the story. This was good ol classic pro wrasslin and quite the change of pace for standard AEW main events. Danielson & Hangman put their own spin on that standard earlier in the month, but it was still largely based on the physicality as much as it was the story. This… this was just classic territory style stuff. It goes 38 minutes and feels like 20-25. Sure, they could’ve trimmed it down to 30-32 and probably accomplished the same thing, but they still absolutely killed this. Punk is your traditional babyface in his hometown. MJF is the traditional heel, scowering through the crowd to try and avoid facing his nemesis and ducking & diving out of the ring any chance he could get. The limb work is superb and present and albeit simple, it’s executed with such care & attention that you can’t help, but to be invested. It’s just back to the basics stuff, but when performed to this level of excellence.. it works wonders that even the craziest spots can’t. Now, there was a good spot or two here, I mean.. for fuck sake, CM Punk hit a REVERSE RANA on MJF around 30 minutes into this thing. Not to mention the PEPSI PLUNGE. The first Pepsi Plunge in almost 20 years? Fucking craziness. Punk’s knee being so destroyed that he couldn’t even cover off of it.. devastating. This ruled, plain and simple. I’ll just forget all those terrible, long winded promos ever happened and pretend this feud was that very first segment where Punk stared at MJF, the segment where Punk got MJF DQ’d and then this masterpiece. Having two finishes, both coming off the heel cheating, soured some, but the first false ending got the crowd so much more into things. Then, the final finish was honestly perfect with Wardlow passing the ring to MJF in suuuuper discreet fashion that would only be noticed on the replay. It was so well done that you don’t feel stupid watching it, you’re like oh shit they really were smooth with that one, those motherfuckers! So, yeah, this was just.. everything a classic heel vs. face match should be and the cheating spots and finish.. I can’t think of better fashion that it could’ve been done in. MJF wins off a ring shot and man.. this is huge for him.
Match rating - ****1/4