AEW Dynamite Preview for February 16, 2022
Dynamite comes back to Nashville (Event Info) for the first time since November 2019, and AEW is bringing a stacked card for the Music City fans! Friday night saw Jay White crash the party at Trent Beretta's expense, the World Tag Team Champions retain over The Gunn Club, and HOOK continue to dominate much to the chagrin of QT Marshall!
With Dynamite this week, the hostilities between Thunder Rosa and Mercedes Martinez are set to explode in a No DQ Match while those within The Inner Circle will pop off in a tag team battle. After Wednesday night, we may never see this version of The Inner Circle again, and we may not see Sammy Guevara as the TNT Champion after his battle with Darby Allin! Plus Wardlow and Max Caster fight to qualify for the Face Of The Revolution Ladder Match and Bryan Danielson aims to put Lee Moriarty through the ringer!
It's all going down in Nashville this Wednesday night on Dynamite and it's coming to your television screens LIVE on TBS starting at 8pm EST/7pm CST, or at AEWPlus.com for the international audience. Get yourselves ready for the Elite action over on the official YouTube channel for new episodes of Dark: Elevation, AEW Dark, Road To, and The Control Center!
TNT TITLE MATCH...
Sammy Guevara(c) vs. Darby Allin
186 days, 9 title defenses; those are the numbers that make Darby Allin the most successful TNT Champion since the championship's inception at Double or Nothing 2020. With humility the man himself still looks to Mr. Brodie Lee as the greatest champion in the lineage, but in terms of the stats, no one has held the belt longer than Allin, and no one defended their championship more times. Miro came close, 47 days and two defenses shy of overtaking Darby's amazing feats, but no one else has even broken the 90 day mark.
Here is one more statistic that weighs on this TNT Title Match between Undisputed Champion Sammy Guevara and former TNT Champion Darby Allin: 2-0. That right there is the head-to-head AEW record between these two foes with both wins belonging to Darby, including a bout in the original TNT Title Tournament. So given that record, given their history in AEW, it was certainly a surprise when Darby came to the aid of Guevara in the video clip embedded above.
Now for Darby it was more about the AHFO, specifically his issues with Andrade and Jose, and not at all about “The Spanish God”, but it made for very strange bedfellows, especially considering this moment took place in the Wintrust Arena where Darby first victory over Sammy occurred at Revolution 2020. It was a moment of salvation that quickly shifted into an unspoken challenge when only Guevara and Allin remained in the ring; the looks exchanged, Darby slapping the belts, it was quite clear what Darby had on his mind that night on Rampage.
Yet Sammy had a few other things occupying space in his brain at that moment, things like the impending Inner Circle team meeting the following Wednesday, and the beginning of the Face Of The Revolution qualifying bouts. The former possibly determining the fate of the very entity that first shaped Sammy's AEW career, the latter determining who would challenge for the TNT Title post-Revolution 2022. With The Inner Circle, it seems Sammy essentially quit and left the four remaining men to fight it out among each other and with Revolution 2022, Guevara has made it clear he's paying attention to that Ladder Match and his future challenger.
There's just one problem there: Guevara may be counting his proverbial chickens before they hatch. That pay-per-view event is over two weeks away and “The Spanish God” first has to make it through Darby Allin to get there! Sammy has never pulled it off in their AEW singles matches, in fact he's only done it twice in their seven overall one-on-one meetings, the last one being almost three years ago. But these are two men who have grown so much just since the birth of AEW, spent time under the learning trees of two legends in Chris Jericho and Sting, and experienced their own great successes. They have been referred to as two of the “young pillars of AEW”, and now they will collide once again on Dynamite with the TNT Title at stake!
The eyes of the AEW faithful will be locked on this battle of two fan favorites, and there will no doubt be a sellout at the monitors with every potential Face Of The Revolution combatant, Andrade and Jose, The Men Of The Year, and anyone wanting to claim the TNT Title as their own!
FACE OF THE REVOLUTION QUALIFYING MATCH...
Wardlow vs. Max Caster
For weeks now, MJF has been making allusions about Wardlow's participation in the Face of the Revolution Ladder Match at Revolution 2022. Before a single detail was announced about participants, well before a qualifying match was booked, and even before an announcement that the bout born on the 2021 edition of the pay-per-view would again take place, Maxwell Jacob Friedman was telling “The WarDog” exactly what he expected of his employee.
MJF has dictated to Wardlow that he will (a) qualify for the Ladder Match, then (b) win the Ladder Match, followed by (c) winning the TNT Title, and finally (d) handing the championship over to Mr. Salt Of The Earth. That may be Max's plan, but highly unlikely it is also Wardlow's plan when he looks ahead into the future, and given the most recent tensions between the two men during these battles with CM Punk, it remains to be seen how well Max's idea and those of Wardlow fit together. But before either man can be concerned about steps B through D, Wardlow has to first achieve step A in this Wednesday's battle with Max Caster!
As one-half of The Acclaimed, Caster has done exceptional in tag team action, but he's also looked quite impressive in his occasional singles bouts against the likes of Alex Reynolds, Adam Page, Colt Cabana, and Brian Pillman Jr. Last March, one of those singles bouts was against The Dark Order's Ten and actually qualified Max for the inaugural Face Of The Revolution Ladder Match. It would be Scorpio Sky who actually grabbed the brass ring, but unlike Wardlow, Caster now has some experience in that environment and it gave him a taste of the prize at stake.
Max Caster is a top-shelf athlete who could absolutely find himself standing atop that ladder come March 6th, but he has a monumental foe to overcome this Wednesday night. Under most circumstances, Wardlow's exceptional physical gifts would make him an odds-on favorite to run the table, but is all this drama with MJF going to psychologically take him out of the game? Is Wardlow even really fighting for himself when the man who pays his bills is standing there ready to take away the prize at the end of the road?
“The American Dragon” Bryan Danielson vs. Lee Moriarty
Bryan has a vision for AEW; it is a vision he laid out to Jon Moxley on the February 2nd Dynamite after the former AEW World Champion's victory over a game Wheeler Yuta. It is a vision of taking AEW and turning it into something more in-line with Bryan's ideal of professional wrestling, mentoring the younger wrestlers on the roster like Yuta, Daniel Garcia, and Lee Moriarty, and doing it in alignment with Moxley.
While Jon did not provide an answer in that moment, and he didn't exactly give an explicit one a week later when he united with CM Punk to fight FTR, two people who did have a response for Bryan's comments were Matt Sydal and Lee Moriarty.
And so it will be this week on Dynamite that Lee Moriarty undergoes the toughest fight of his career when he steps into the ring with a fighter many consider the best of his generation, “The American Dragon” Bryan Danielson! If Moriarty wants to survive this, he is going to have to dig down deep into his very soul and bring a fight unlike any he has brought before. He has to come with a self-confidence because, as Danielson demonstrated with Hangman page, Dragon will mock his foe's efforts at every turn just to undermine their confidence. For Bryan, a match is all about maintaining control, and the best thing Moriarty can do is try to not let Danielson take it.
This is a moment, win or lose, when Lee Moriarty can show the world just what he has to offer and that he can hang with the elite class of grapplers. The vast majority anticipate a loss for Lee, and yes a valiant hard-fought loss can do wonders for his stock in AEW, but Moriarty isn't coming into the fight already thinking about defeat. He is aiming to bring the violence, he is looking to upset the apple cart, he is intent on shocking the world and toppling Danielson live on TBS!
Mercedes Martinez vs. Thunder Rosa
Mercedes Martinez returned to the AEW scene in devastating fashion when she directly cost Thunder Rosa her Semi-Final match in the TBS Title Tournament. In the moment, given that it was Jade Cargill who benefited from the attack, the logical assumption was that “Smart” Mark Sterling orchestrated the entire thing to benefit his client, and given the source, their pleads of ignorance were not the most credible.
Well, there is a reason there's an old joke about what happens when you assume...
Turns out, as confessed by the Good Doctor herself, AEW Women's World Champion Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D was the one responsible for Mercedes sudden return to All Elite Wrestling. As if the presence of Jamie Hayter and Rebel weren't enough to insulate the champion, she also felt the need to bring Mercedes into the fold, which as evidenced on Rampage, hasn't exactly sat well with Hayter...
At this point, given the extremely impressive win-streak Rosa racked up prior to the Cargill match that should have netted her a World Championship bid, the Lights Out victory she holds over Baker, and now the inclusion of Mercedes, it is quite evident that Britt has been running scared from Thunder Rosa for almost a year. That TBS Title tournament, that was Rosa's chance to finally get something she'd earned, and Britt spitefully took it away via Martinez.
So now this Wednesday night, as a result of the DQ ending to their first meeting, Thunder Rosa will get her chance to take her own spite out on Mercedes in a No Disqualification contest! Britt Baker created this situation, but just like so many other instances in her AEW career, someone else will have to deal with the consequences. The Good Doctor should feel blessed the the woman batting clean-up for her this time is one of the most intimidating figures in professional wrestling, and someone who will relish bringing the fight to Thunder.
We have all seen what Rosa is capable of when the rules are not restraining her, the kind of viciousness she is capable of, but what AEW has not yet seen are the depths Mercedes will go to under the auspices of a No DQ match. It is going to be painful, both women will leave this match hurting, and regardless of who gets their hand raised, each will know they went through a war to get there!
THE INNER CIRCLE IMPLODES...
Chris Jericho & Jake Hager vs. Santana & Ortiz
Families fight, brothers get into arguments, they exchange words or occasionally fists, and they move on. It's not something new in the world, nor is it something new within The Inner Circle. Fans watched MJF do his level best to drive a wedge between Chris Jericho, Ortiz, Santana, Jake Hager, and Sammy Guevara, and for a time it even seemed to work as Guevara was temporarily excommunicated. But when the time came to make a choice, to stand with The I.C or with MJF, they all reunited, which in turn brought about some wild Inner Circle/Pinnacle wars with Stadium Stampede II and Blood & Guts.
The Inner Circle drifted into their own endeavors once more after the Pinnacle threat was put down, but would reunite to fight The Men of The Year and American Top Team at Full Gear 2021 in another wild fight. What did that threat, and that of The Pinnacle have in common? Both were something that came about because of Chris Jericho, be it his insistence that MJF join the club or his interactions with Dan Lambert, “Le Champion” was the driving force behind the violence that followed.
In that, Ortiz and Santana were right, they have found themselves in numerous fight that Chris Jericho started but The Inner Circle had to finish. Some may side with Jericho to say that is part of being in a family, some may side with Eddie Kingston to say that has prevented individual goals from being achieved. Ortiz and Santana have failed to claim the AEW World Tag Team Champions, but Sammy Guevara is a two-time TNT Champion; Ortiz and Santana have stayed relatively close to The Inner Circle business, but Guevara has essentially walked his own path the last six months. There are points to be made both ways, and perhaps there's a middle ground to be found if all parties want to keep The Inner Circle intact, but this does not feel like any prior moments in Inner Circle history. This Wednesday night, after seeing Santana put his hands around the throat of Chris Jericho last week, this week feels like an end...
The Inner Circle is so far removed from where it began in October 2019; just a look at the last time AEW came to Nashville when a unified Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara challenged SCU for the World Tag Team Titles. Although that may not be the best example as it was also the night Jericho tasted his first defeat in AEW, earning Scorpio Sky the distinction of being the first man to pin “Le Champion”, it speaks to how Jericho's unit was at least on the same page with a mutual goal to become champions.
Even one year ago, Ortiz and Santana were in position to challenge for the AEW World Tag Team Titles against The Young Bucks, their first and only shot since AEW's inception, but they came up short despite having a two-on-one advantage in the closing moments. Watch the tape back, and its clear that the only reason they got caught by Nick Jackson was due to a total lack of focus when it was most crucial. Chris Jericho wasn't wrong when he called out Ortiz and Santana on this fact, but he isn't looking at everything else that's gone down over the last two-plus years that's pulled the tag team in other directions.
At this point though, the myriad issues that brought these four men to this point are inconsequential, nor does it matter where the truth lies because the answer is in a middle ground none of them want to hear. What does matter when the bell rings on Dynamite is that regardless of who wins this tag team fight, nothing is ever going to be the same within The Inner Circle. Even if they all find a way to mend fences, the words exchanged and the feelings shared may have cut entirely too deep for the wounds to heal. No matter who is called the victor in this internecine feud, there will be no winners here...
PUNK CALLING HIS SHOT...
Last week, MJF opened up Dynamite by, predictably, celebrating himself and his rather tainted victory over CM Punk the week prior in Chicago. After much self-congratulatory behavior from Max, CM Punk crashed the party to congratulate Wardlow, the person who actually beat him in that match, and demand a rematch with MJF.
Max eventually acquiesced; Punk could have a rematch...with FTR...but he couldn't pick Sting or Darby Allin as his partner, he had to go find someone else in the locker room to be his ally. MJF was so egotistical and confident about FTR's chances, he even added the addendum that should Punk win, he could pick the time, place, and circumstances for another bout against the 3-Time Dynamite Diamond Ring holder.
Well it all started when Jon Moxley surprised the world by showing up as Punk's, and it all went downhill from there for MJF's little plan. As can be seen in the video embedded above, Punk and Mox found a way to win and, in adherence to MJF's self-imposed stipulation, CM Punk now has the opportunity to call his shot!
This Wednesday night on Dynamite we will all find out LIVE on TBS the when, where, and how the rematch between CM Punk and Maxwell Jacob Friedman will take place! There are so many potential ways this could go down, and none of them are going to be good for MJF!
AEW returns to Nashville and the Municipal Auditorium on Wednesday night for a loaded Dynamite line-up! We are getting ever closer to Revolution 2022 in Orlando, and the fight is on to see just who will make the pay-per-view cut! There may be a new TNT Champion after Wednesday night, and that man will need to keep eyes on these Face of The Revolution qualifiers like Wardlow versus Max Caster! Rosa and Mercedes are aiming to rip each other's head off while The Inner Circle potentially disintegrates right in front of the entire world! Join us for the action when Dynamite kicks off on TBS starting at 8pm EST/7pm CST, as well as on AEWPlus.com for our international audience!
And don't forget, the AEW wrestling week starts on Monday on the official AEW YouTube channel with the latest AEW Dark: Elevation episode and continues Tuesday and Wednesday morning with AEW Dark, Road To, and the latest Control Center editions to get you prepared for Dynamite!