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Pantoja’s AEW Dynamite Review 1.18.23

January 19, 2023 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
AEW Dynamite Bryan Danielson Bandido Image Credit: AEW
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Pantoja’s AEW Dynamite Review 1.18.23  

AEW Dynamite

January 18th, 2023 | Save Mart Center in Fresno, California

We opened to an “in memory” photo of Jay Briscoe but no further tribute.

AEW All-Atlantic Championship: Orange Cassidy [c] (1-0 in 2023) vs. Jay Lethal

Jay Lethal’s buddies were barred from ringside but they bought front row tickets. Danhausen showed up as an usher to verify the tickets and gave the seats to Best Friends instead. The action in the ring was fine enough. It’s a Jay Lethal match so you know what you’re going to get. He did heel stuff, including the Jarrett Strut, and taunted as Cassidy was in trouble. Cassidy fought back and saved us from a pretty dull heat segment. It’s wild that Lethal still does Lethal Injection when this company has had guys like Will Ospreay around who do the move so much better. The referee got distracted by ringside shenanigans and Danhausen stole Jarrett’s guitar, played it, and cursed Lethal. That set up a near fall rollup and the Orange Punch for the win in 9:09. A fine little opener with some good comedy to ensure things stayed lighthearted. [**½]

Post-match, Sonjay Dutt stopped Jarrett from using the guitar so he didn’t get fired. OC did the lazy kicks and pissed off Dutt but he was held back and no fighting happened.

A video package aired to hype Darby vs. KUSHIDA.

Top Flight (13-8) vs. The Young Bucks (0-0 in 2023)

This is intriguing because the Bucks are the Bucks and Top Flight have been gaining momentum. The story here felt like the Bucks were basically looking at younger versions of themselves. High flying brothers with loads of potential. The Bucks are way beyond that now and were actually overwhelmed at points by the speed of their opponents. It’s honestly a great story to tell. Top Flight are really clicking right now with their offense and timing getting better each time out. The Bucks took over heading into the commercial break and played the cocky veterans. Top Flight cut off some key Bucks offense upon return and got going. Dante took out Nick with a moonsault outside and returned for the double jump moonsault/powerbomb combo, with Nick breaking up the pin. I don’t like spots like the one where Dante springboarded into a pair of superkicks. The idea is good but Dante looked like he was purely jumping into the spot instead of trying a move. Darius ducked the BTE Trigger and rolled up Matt to steal this in 12:14. Give them a bigger Dynamite or PPV match and we could see something truly special. That ruled. [***¾]

The Acclaimed were on tap next but the Gunns showed up instead. They said they made the Acclaimed popular and gave them their dad. The champs came out and the Gunns had the audio team cut off the team only for Max to have them shut off their mic and hit the music again so he could rap. That led to a brawl and Billy stepped in between, calling for some family therapy next week.

Renee Paquette spoke with Hangman Page who said he feels good after beating Jon Moxley last week. They didn’t ignore Renee’s closeness to Moxley as Hangman went over how he kept his word. He even asked how Moxley is doing. Hangman added that he plans on mending some fences that need to be worked on.

Jake Hager (1-0 in 2023) vs. Ricky Starks (1-0 in 2023)

I’m really hoping Ricky can survive this feud. The JAS is notable for having overly long feuds that drag on and kill the momentum of their opponents. There wasn’t much to this match other than Ricky stealing the hat Hager likes so much and wearing it as he did a walk across the top rope. The majority of the match happened during the break. Upon returning, Jake nearly took a table bump and Starks beat up Menard and Parker outside. Jake collided with Parker and that allowed for the Spear to end this in 6:22. Not much of note here but inoffensive. [**]

A vignette aired to hype the return of Adam Cole last week.

Chris Jericho was pissed about Starks backstage. He challenged Starks and Action Andretti to a tag match against himself and Sammy Guevara next week. However, Daniel Garcia wanted to be Jericho’s partner instead. Sammy said that he’s trained Daniel for this and if he beats Andretti on Friday, he can have his spot in the match. Plus, Sammy got him new leather pants for his ring gear.

Bandido (1-0 in 2023) vs. Bryan Danielson (3-0 in 2023)

It’s a simple formula, AEW. Give Bryan Danielson a match and Dynamite will be better for it. I came in so excited for this. Loud reaction for Bandido in this battle of two former ROH World Champions. The opening exchange here was fantastic with Surfboard spots and even “pew-pew” shooting at each other. Just watching Danielson bridge up and use his core strength is so impressive. Bandido got the upper hand when he took to the skies, which was to be expected. They kept things up during the break and afterward, Bandido did his sick stalling vertical suplex. It is one of the best I’ve ever seen. Danielson got his knees up on an aerial move and applied a submission that nearly ended it but Bandido got to the bottom rope. The counter wrestling in the back half was tremendous and the crowd was totally hooked. Bandido came close several times from his 21 Plex to the avalanche fallaway slam but Danielson bested him with the Busaiku Knee after 17:53. What more is there to say about Danielson? He’s the GOAT for a reason and Bandido is great. [****¼]

MJF cut a promo on the tron saying that for now, Danielson has been dealing with a “masked Max” and he’ll be unmasked the closer we get to the PPV, which Bryan won’t like.

We heard from Saraya, Hikaru Shida, and Toni Storm, with Saraya and Toni being annoyed at Shida for her actions last week. Toni also cockily said that AEW’s homegrown girls don’t know as much as them because they’ve traveled the world.

Next week, Bryan Danielson will face Brian Cage. Renee Paquette spoke with Cage and Prince Nana about it. MJF quickly interrupted to offer a bunch of money if Cage breaks Bryan’s arm. MJF also slapped Cage but avoided getting beaten up because of the money and he told Cage to channel that anger for next week.

Toni Storm (18-3) vs. Willow Nightingale (2-0 in 2023)

Toni refused the opening handshake. A lot of this was pretty basic to start before Toni basically slapped her. Shida strolled out with her kendo stick despite Saraya telling her not to do that. This went through a commercial break and Willow scored with a sweet spinebuster. Alas, Willow missed the corner cannonball and took Sweet Cheeks Music. Willow still got going only for Toni to beat her with a handful of tights in 7:21. Like Hager/Starks, this was dominated by the commercial. [**]

Toni beat down on Willow after the bell and Saraya helped out. Ruby Soho made the save for her friend and Shida stayed out of it but looked confused. Turning Toni and Saraya was the way to go. The crowd is already kind of turning on Saraya and Toni needs an edge because her babyface run was just “fighting champion #17.”


  • Daniel Garcia vs. Action Andretti
  • Eddie Kingston speaks
  • Brian Cage vs. Willie Mack
  • Jade Cargill and Leila Grey in tag action
  • Jungle Boy vs. Ethan Page

Konosuke Takeshita called out MJF and that looks like it’ll be his next L.

AEW TNT Championship: Darby Allin [c] (3-0 in 2023) vs. KUSHIDA (0-0)

Getting to hear KUSHIDA’s theme here warms my heart. Anyway, I still don’t think Darby as TNT Champion is the right move. Also, is it just me or has the open challenge gimmick not felt special since Cena in 2015? Darby is having good matches and will continue to do so but it doesn’t feel all that exciting. Anyway, as I said, this was good stuff. KUSHIDA focused on the arm, which he slammed on the outside with a cross armbreaker heading into commercial. Returning, Darby had to fight back and basically only had use of one arm. At every turn, KUSHIDA was the better wrestler, catching him in armbreakers at every turn and wrenching back on it in painful ways. As he put the Hoverboard Lock on inside, KUSHIDA’s Young Lions gave Sting a towel to throw in but he obviously declined. Darby found a way to slip free and countered KUSHIDA into the figure four pin, surviving in 13:40. I love this kind of story as Darby was basically dominated and KUSHIDA was on his game but Darby just found a way to come out on top. [***¾]

The two shook hands after the match and teased another bout.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
This is kind of the quintessential Dynamite. A few really good matches, a couple of matches that were mostly done through a commercial, and a mixed bag in terms of promos. Still, as always it was an entertaining two hours and that Bandido/Danielson match was fantastic.

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AEW Dynamite, Kevin Pantoja