It was a bit of a topsy-turvy week for AEW. We saw new relationships develop with Matt Hardy becoming Private Party’s manager and PAC reuniting with The Lucha Bros to reform The Death Triangle.
On the contrary, The Inner Circle threatens near implosion. All members have chosen a teammate and will compete against each other next week to determine the official tag-team of the faction. The winning team will then be able to go on and challenge the future champions of either The Young Bucks or SCU.
New Years Smash Night 2 saw the long-awaited return of “The Bastard” PAC take on the loud-mouthed Eddie Kingston. As expected PAC brought his usual, but tremendous amount of energy to the ring. This was his first match back in 8 months. Travel restrictions from the global pandemic forced him to stay in his home country of England. An important side note here: this was the first singles match to start off AEW in more than a month so this may have been AEW’s way of giving PAC a warm and respected welcome back. Kingston didn’t stand a chance. PAC finished him off with the ever so perfect corkscrew shooting star press showing the world that he’s back and better than ever.
All Elite Wrestling sidelined Best Friend member Trent after Miro and Kip Sabian tore his pec. I, along with many others, were thinking “this is Chucky T’s time to shine and represent the team!” Trent has been the face of the tag-team since it was formed. But Chuck should not be overlooked as he is a very talented counterpart.
However, what we got and what we want are two vastly different points. Miro beat Taylor, forcing him into a month of servitude in the form of a butler. Quite frankly, this makes me nervous. This type of angle can often not be funny or seen as boring like we’ve seen in years past. Next week’s episode will allow us to see how this develops. Will Chuck Taylor in fact get his much deserved redemption, or will he again face the wrath of Miro’s Camel Clutch?
In the theme of new factions and friendships, Hangman Adam Page revealed that next week, he will announce his decision to either join The Dark Order or remain solo. This could either go two ways: Hangman joins them (which he should, he’s not involved in any other storyline), or he goes full-fledged heel and beats the living hell out of Evil Uno and his band of goonies. Either way, at least we get more Hangman. He nearly dropped off the face of the Earth after his fallout with Kenny Omega.
Staying with Omega, he teamed up with The Elite. Instead of the Young Bucks representing the team, the Good Brothers stepped in at the last minute. Naturally, this upset the tag champs and we never really got an explanation as to why unfortunately. They took on smaller opponents The Varsity Blondes and Danny Limelight, who was only on AEW Dark up until this point.
This was one of two squash matches on the night, (second being FTR vs. Marko Stunt and Jungle Boy). It primarily served as a stage for Jon Moxley to storm the barricade post-match and attack Omega. The Good Brothers came to his aid and surprisingly enough, The Lucha Bros came to Moxley’s aid! They, like so many in the locker room, want to keep the sanctity of AEW alive and well. This also gave them a chance to return a super kick to The Bucks, who came to the aid of Omega as well. It was pure pandemonium and it seems that the inter-promotional war is on! All the while this was happening, Omega and Moxley were trying to tear each other apart.
The NWA Women’s Champion Serena Deeb defended her title against an AEW Dark Order member. Brazilian fire-cracker Tay Conti was chosen for the opportunity and looked very good throughout the entire duration of the matchup. This is impressive as she only shares a fraction of Deeb’s 12-plus-year experience in the business. Serena was able to eventually put away Conti with her “Deebtox” slam, similar to AJ Styles’s “Styles Clash” finisher. This extended her title reign to 79 days. It wasn’t for nothing as Tay Conti earned the respect of her peers.
AEW’s first David-versus-Goliath angle took centerstage as the main event. Darby Allin took on the behemoth Brian Cage for the TNT Championship. Allin took one hell of a beating even going through a table early into the beatdown. The numbers game also came into play as Darby was outnumbered 4-to-1.
They saved it for the end, but The Stinger came to Allin’s aid and cleaned Ricky Starks’ clock with his baseball bat. This gave Darby just enough of a distraction while on the top rope with Cage to do The Crucifixion. He pinned Cage against his own weight with his shoulders down for the miraculous victory. What started out as an absolute slaughter turned into a Cinderella story for an often overlooked worker of the business.
Next week’s card is shaping up to be a barn burner. So, don’t forget to tune in on Wednesday at 8 p.m. on TNT.