COMMENTATORS: Jim Ross, Excalibur, Tony Schiavone, & Chris Jericho
AEW kicks off 2021 with Night 1 of New Year’s Smash, featuring a banger of a World Championship match between Kenny Omega and Rey Fenix, a…something of a Women’s Title match between Hikaru Shida & Abadon, and the return of Jon Moxley.
- AEW WORLD CHAMPION: Kenny Omega
- AEW WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPION: Hikaru Shida
- AEW TNT CHAMPION: Darby Allin
- AEW WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson)
- The Young Bucks & SCU vs. The Acclaimed & The Hybrid2 (**1/2)
- Jake Hager vs. Wardlow (**1/4)
- Cody Rhodes vs. Matt Sydal (**3/4)
- Hikaru Shida [c] vs. Abadon for the AEW WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (*3/4)
- Kenny Omega [c] vs. Rey Fenix for the AEW WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (****1/4)
The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) & SCU (Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian) defeated The Acclaimed (Max Caster & Anthony Bowens) & The Hybrid2 (Jack Evans & Angelico) via pinfall (9:58)
All eight men started brawling almost immediately, Young Bucks hit an elevated dropkick to Evans and Nick Jackson followed with an escalera on a pile of heels on the floor. Daniels took some punishment for awhile but after a standing switch battle, hit a Blue Thunder Bomb on Bowens before making the tag to Kazarian. Bucks & SCU cross-pollinated, with Nick & Kazarian hitting a BTE Trigger and then Daniels & Matt joining together to hit the Best Meltzer Ever (Tombstone/BME combo) on Jack Evans to get the victory.
- Fun match, great pre-match rap from Caster. Possibly his best yet. I really like The Acclaimed’s whole thing in and outside of the ring, Bowens’ reactions to Caster’s raps being the best part. Everybody got their sh*t in here and I liked the face team mixing together and proving they could work as a four-man unit, splitting off and hitting major double-team moves. Spirited start to the show. (**1/2)
Kazarian got on the mic after and mentioned that the next match SCU would lose would be he and Daniels’ final match as a team. SCU said they have the Bucks’ back…until they challenge them for the Tag Team Championship. Handshakes all around, looks the Bucks are going to retire the Daniels/Kazarian duo at some point in the future.
-Jon Moxley made his return and first in-arena appearance since losing the World Championship at Winter is Coming on December 2nd. Moxley said he had a zero tolerance policy for sh*tty people and the right response to what Kenny Omega did to win the title would involve beating him and Don Callis up but out of respect for Rey Fenix he didn’t want to ruin his shot at the title. Mox did vow to get even with Omega however, promising to be the boogeyman behind his shoulder and would make him beg for mercy for crossing the wrong guy. Excellent promo work from Mox, to the surprise of absolutely no one reading this hopefully.
–Dasha Gonzalez briefly interviewed Chuck Taylor and Orange Cassidy backstage, Taylor saying Trent was going to be out 4-5 months with a torn pectoral muscle, but they were quickly interrupted by Miro, Kip Sabian, and Penelope Ford. Miro jokingly offered to be Taylor’s new Best Friend and let him do his chores. Taylor took offense to Miro calling Trent his young boy and wanted to fight, Miro agreed to a match next week on the condition that if he wins, Taylor will have to be his “Young Boy” until after Sabian’s wedding. In the interest of getting Miro away from him Taylor agreed to the stipulations. Chuckie T is about to get stuck working at Miro Von Erich’s farm.
“Mr. Mayhem” Wardlow defeated Jake Hager via pinfall (10:22)
Although both part of the Inner Circle, Wardlow and Hager have hated each other since Day 1 and according to Jericho on commentary were having this match to get it out of their system. MJF, Santana, Ortiz, and Sammy Guevara watched the match from the stage in a show of solidarity. As expected Wardlow and Hager tried to out-hoss each other at the start, running into each other like a couple of bulls and sending one another to the floor with a double clothesline. Wardlow showed off some hops, floating over Hager in the corner and going right into a roll and a running shoulder to the midsection. Wardlow continued the onslaught with a spinebuster and a series of throws in a vertical suplex position, Hager escaped an F-10 attempt and connected with a pair of corner clotheslines followed by a short-arm lariat and body throw but could only get a two-count. Wardlow attempted to counter the Hager Bomb with a pair of boots but Hager caught one and went for the Ankle Lock, Wardlow countering out with a stiff kick to the face. Wardlow connected with a senton atomico, Hager rolled through the lateral press to apply a head/arm triangle choke. Wardlow escaped and headed to the top, Hager met him on the buckles and reapplied the hold, Wardlow dropped down and dropped him on the top buckle, then followed up with the F-10 for the victory.
- Wardlow is ABSOLUTELY one of the future stars of AEW. His offense showed off both his strength and his surprising athleticism, and he worked circles around Hager who seemed to have a hard time keeping up. Hager was fine here I guess but this was all Wardlow all the time and proved that he’s the ultimate hoss of the Inner Circle. (**1/4)
Hager and Wardlow exchanged a fist bump after the match, their truce back to being shaky instead of non-existent for the good of the Inner Circle.
–Private Party tried to celebrate backstage with gin & juice but only had the gin; in came Snoop Dogg with the JUICE. A suited-up Matt Hardy then showed up with contracts for Private Party to sign, telling Kassidy and Quen that he sees a lot of potential in them and that his 30% cut is more than fair. Stupidly they signed them so it looks like Hardy is going to be in control of their careers going forward for a little while there. Oh no my babies what did you do?!?
–Darby Allin and Brian Cage had their weigh-in for their TNT Championship match scheduled for next week, the former sporting a new black-leather belt (the red title was retired and given to Brodie Lee’s son -1) and the latter flanked by Team Taz (Taz, Ricky Starks, Powerhouse Hobbs, and Hook). Cage weighed in at 275, Allin at 170. Allin got his skateboard and told them to get to the fun part. Team Taz teased attacking but then the lights went out, the snow started falling, and out came Sting to back Allin up. A flustered Taz said he was sick of this and there would be a new TNT Champion next week.
- Sting making bank showing up every week to stare some folks down who should NOT be scared of him; dude is 62, Powerhouse Hobbs alone could eat him alive if he wanted to. The Sting/Darby pairing is interesting I guess but I’m not looking forward to Sting wrestling in whatever capacity they have him do it in. I don’t know. Happy Sting gets to hang out in AEW and be appreciated, don’t really want to see him do much. I’m torn. Darby/Cage should KICK ASS next week though.
–MJF caught up with an angry Jake Hager backstage, calming him down by saying how tough he is and all that jazz. Hager surprisingly fist bumped MJF and thanked him for checking in. That…went surprisingly well.
-DARK CLIP: -1 made fun of Marko Stunt.
–Alex Marvez’s interview with Jurassic Express (Luchasaurus, Jungle Boy, & Marko Stunt) was quickly interrupted by FTR & Tully Blanchard. They made fun of Stunt, who challenged them to a tag team match next week with himself taking the usual spot of Luchasaurus. FTR happily agreed, Blanchard mocked Stunt again and he had to be held back by the dinosaur and the jungle dude.
“The American Nightmare” Cody Rhodes [w/ Coach Snoop Dogg] defeated Matt Sydal via pinfall (10:06)
No Arn Anderson this week as Rhodes’ The Go Big Show co-host Snoop Dogg stepped in as his advisor, even bringing the “Waffle House Menu” that Double A normally sports. He even mixed in his own custom Cody Rhodes rap with his normal butt rock entrance theme. SYNERGY! Sydal controlled early, connecting with a corner running knee and a Meteora on the ramp that almost wiped Snoop Dogg out; Dogg’s frantic dodge being another highlight of the night. Sydal dropkicked Rhodes through the ropes, and Rhodes accidentally decked Serpentico when going for his opponent. Rhodes missed a moonsault but countered a Shooting Star Press with a pair of knees and connected with an inverted DDT for a two-count. Rhodes connected with a Disaster Kick, Sydal doing a full flip sell, but still couldn’t put him away. Sydal responded with a twisting hurricanrana and a Lightning Spiral but Rhodes kicked out of both pinfall attempts. Rhodes dodged a knee and hit not one but TWO Cross Rhodes(es) to get the victory.
- A good match that got hindered by some jank here and there. They meshed well enough together though, and I like Rhodes hitting his finisher twice to get the win, helped make Sydal come across like a threat. (**3/4)
Serpentico and Luther attacked Rhodes after the bell, Sydal helped clear Luther out then hinted at going for a splash but SNOOP DOGG WAVED HIM OFF and connected with the most awkward flying splash of all-time (hereby known as the SNOOPERFLY SPLASH) on Serpentico. Snoop celebrated like he won the World Series, slapping hands with the commentary team and wearing a big ol’ grin.
- Snoop Dogg out here living his best life, he’s impossible to hate. Now will someone f*cking get BAD BUNNY on their wrestling show already?
Hikaru Shida [c] defeated Abadon via pinfall to retain the AEW WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (8:27)
Abadon immediately attacked Shida during her entrance, Shida fought her off and cracked her in the head with the kendo stick but Abadon SAT RIGHT BACK UP and continued the attack. The two finally ended up in the ring where the match started for real. Shida removed her scarf, revealing a SUPER REAL BRUISE on her neck from where Abandon had bitten a piece off (wait what?) and went on the offensive for a moment but Abadon caught a knee strike attempt and bit her thigh. Abadon then pulled Shida UNDER THE RING and emerged with her mouth covered in blood. Shida then crawled out from under, clutching her neck which had a fresh and SUPER REAL wound. Abadon continued her attack, including a nerve hold on the VERY REAL WOUND, Shida fought back and repeatedly smashed the back of Abadon’s head against the barricade. Shida brought her back in with a superplex, Abadon popped up Bray Wyatt-style in a spider position and connected with a lariat but only got a two-count. Shida would not be deterred and caught Abadon from what felt like out of nowhere with a Tamashii for the win.
- The fake blood stuff was VERY dumb and hokey but for some reason I can’t explain I am very into all these goofy horror movie gimmicks in wrestling so I enjoyed it anyway. Definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and I’m sure I’ll be one of the few who actually sorta dug it. (*3/4)
–Tay Conti revealed that she would have The Dark Order (Ana Jay, John Silver, & Alex Reynolds) as backup in her NWA Women’s World Championship match next week.
Kenny Omega [c] [w/ “The Invisible Hand” Don Callis] defeated Rey Fenix via pinfall to retain the AEW WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (17:00)
Fenix’s Death Triangle teammates Pac and Penta El Zero Miedo did not accompany him to the ring for this match, Pac explaining it away in a pre-recorded inset promo that Fenix was going to end Omega’s collection days all by himself.
Omega spiked Fenix on the top of his head with a rana, Fenix responded with two of his own, one inside the ring and one on the floor. Omega connected with a tornado DDT, but Fenix immediately sprung to his feet and connected with a dropkick, Omega countered a slingshot something with a chop that sent him to the floor. Fenix hopped the barricade and went for a rolling cutter but Omega caught him and connected with a snap Dragon Suplex that made the bones in my neck ache just by watching it. Fenix connected with a springboard headbutt and a DOUBLE springboard dropkick, plus a backflip into a release German suplex that almost put the champ away. Fenix is unreal. UNREAL. Omega connected with a V-Trigger, Fenix immediately nipped up and caught him with a kick but Omega countered a torneo attempt with a knee and followed up with a big ol’ powerbomb for a two-count. Omega went for the One-Winged Angel, Fenix countered with a poison rana, Callis distracted Fenix long enough for Omega to hit a V-Trigger, but Fenix shook it off and hit a cutter from the ramp for another two-count. Fenix kept the attack up, following with a Fire Thunder Driver but once again Omega kicked out of the pinfall attempt. Omega caught Fenix once more and hit a Tiger Driver ‘98 followed by a V-Trigger for a nearfall, then hit the One-Winged Angel for the emphatic victory.
- This kicked all sorts of ass, not one dull moment in this entire contest. Omega is great and all, but Fenix was the highlight for me here. The effortless way he pulls off aerial moves is unbelievable and never gets old. Omega’s smarmy heel stuff works perfectly for him as he has a face you want to punch 24/7, and Callis was a great chickensh*t heel manager. What a match to end the show, HELL YEAH. (****1/4)
Callis got on the mic after and took it to the JumboTron, where it was revealed that Eddie Kingston, The Butcher, & The Blade were beating Pac & Penta up while The Bunny laughed along. Callis told Omega to finish Fenix off, but out came Jon Moxley with a barbed wire baseball bat to attack the champion and exact his revenge. Moxley cracked Omega in the gut with the weapon and turned his attention to a terrified Callis but out came The Good Brothers (Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson), current Impact Tag Team Champions, to rescue Omega. A 3-on-1 attack commenced, with The Good Brothers hitting Moxley with a Magic Killer and Omega teeing off on Moxley with the barbed wire bat. The Varsity Blondes (Brian Pillman Jr. & Griff Garrison) tried to help, among others I don’t know the names of because AEW Dark is five hours long every week and no thank you, but were quickly beaten up with Gallows putting one of them through a table. The Young Bucks then came out seemingly to try and settle things down but then they attacked The Varsity Blondes with a pair of superkicks. Omega put up the “Too Sweet”, Gallows & Anderson joined in, and then finally The Bucks joined in as well as the show went off the air.
- I’ll admit it I was surprised to see The Good Brothers show up on Dynamite as the whole deal with Impact Wrestling felt pretty one-sided. Glad to be proven wrong, at least a little bit. AEW shows tend to end in beatdowns so this was pretty par for the course, but The Young Bucks joining in on the Too Sweet at the end was interesting. I guess it was a heel turn? It didn’t really feel like it to be honest, so if that was the intent it didn’t land with me but there’s probably more to it. I’m interested to see where this goes and honestly if this somehow gets Jon Moxley attacking the Good Brothers on an episode of Impact Wrestling I am HERE FOR IT.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Night 1 of New Year’s Smash was an entertaining show, with a stellar must-watch main event and nothing overtly bad in the undercard (again your Shida/Abadon mileage will probably vary). Snoop Dogg was a welcome highlight and the show ending with what looks like a Bullet Club reunion was interesting and opens the door for some possibilities. Worthwhile episode for me at least.
- MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Kenny Omega vs. Rey Fenix
- MOMENT OF THE NIGHT: Snoop Dogg’s SNOOPERFLY SPLASH (I’m going to make it a thing dammit). Awkward goofy landing but Snoop Dogg had the time of his life doing it and that sh*t is infectious. Given the real world stuff happening in America hours before I’ll f*cking take it.