The Elite make their entrance on AEW Dynamite

It was a homecoming for AEW as they presented the latest episode of AEW Dynamite from Jacksonville and stacked the card with every member of the Elite set to compete. But did the Elite prove that they were still the elite of AEW?

Cody vs Darby Allin

Cody came down to the ring with his new hire and now the head coach of the Nightmare Family, Arn Anderson, as he was set to take on Allin for a second time.

The match started with the old school mat wrestling and technical showcases that Cody has become known for and Allin more than held his own with his flexibility and speed being used to outmanoeuvre pin and hold attempts from Cody.

A key strategy from Allin was a focus on Cody’s arm which he targeted relentlessly and nearly got a tap-out win by wrenching Cody’s arms back like a bow. The crowd seemed disappointed in Allin as he chose to rip off a turnbuckle pad before Cody took back control and planted Allin with a nasty looking reverse suplex.

5 minutes were left on the clock as Allin dodged a Cody Cutter attempt but a follow-up stunner attempt was countered into a Cross Rhodes that Allin miraculously kicked out of.

Cody setting up the Cross Rhodes on Darby Allin

Allin dodged a charge from Cody causing him to hit the worked over arm into the exposed turnbuckle giving Allin the opportunity to attempt the Coffin Drop to finish off the American Nightmare. Unfortunately, Anderson’s coaching couldn’t be beaten as he signalled for Cody to put his knees up for the counter allowing him to win via roll-up.

A great opener that showed these two know each other inside out and whose styles complement each other perfectly. Allin is a star in the making and a strong showing against Cody only serves to make the young star shine even brighter, even in a losing effort.

AEW Women’s World Championship match: Nyla Rose vs Hikaru Shida vs Britt Baker vs Riho

Rose tried to get the advantage early, blindsiding Riho and trying to take out the others with the title belt. While the others fell, Shida quickly countered with her kendo stick and went on the attack.

After several knee strikes to dispatch Rose, Shida and Riho had a great sequence before having to fend off Baker at the same time with Shida coming out on top. Rose took out Shida and set up a table on the outside echoing her suspension from a few weeks earlier.

Shida was back on top after the break, able to drop Rose on her back in an impressive showing of strength but Rose’s power was too much as she planted Shida with a top rope guillotine before hitting a senton on her through the table. Riho took her chance to take out Rose with a top rope double stomp but Baker broke up her pin attempt with a superkick.

Britt Baker looks to put Hikaru Shida into the Lockjaw

A suplex from Shida gave her back the momentum but another superkick nearly saw Baker tap Shida out with the Lockjaw before Riho snuck a victory with a surprise roll-up. This was a fun match where all the women got to shine. It sucks that Riho hasn’t been on TV much but it’s great to see her back and the crowds can’t help but fall in love with her whenever they see her wrestle.

After the match, an enraged Rose demolished Riho through a table which somewhat dampened proceedings.

Jon Moxley vs Trent w/ Chuck Taylor and Orange Cassidy

Trent looked to score an upset here against the dominant Moxley keeping him on his toes early, holding his own with some vicious chops and a pair of knees to the chest.

After the break, Moxley was tossing Trent around the ring before he managed to catch a break with a half and half suplex and followed it up by landing a diving senton over the top rope to the outside. The pair had a pinning rally before Moxley knocked Trent down with a harsh clothesline which Trent reciprocated with his own barely covering Moxley for a 2 count.

Orange Cassidy entered the ring putting his hands deep in his pockets with the intimidating demeanour of a rattlesnake coiled to strike. This gave Trent the chance to blindside Moxley and planted him with a piledriver but could only manage a close 2 count.

An ill-advised dive to the ramp allowed Moxley to counter with a Paradigm Shift before taking Trent back to the ring with a high angle Paradigm Shift for the win. A great showing between the 2 full of brutality where both men looked fantastic.

Jon Moxley plants Trent with a high angle Paradigm Shift

After the match, Chris Jericho came onto the screen and offered Moxley to become an equal partner in the role of Executive Vice-President of the Inner Circle (a nice dig at the Elite there) as well as a freaking Ford GT that the Inner Circle had chipped in to buy him.

The crowd wouldn’t get their answer however as Moxley announced we would have to wait for next week to see what his decision would be in person with Jericho.

Dustin Rhodes vs Sammy Guevara

As Guevara looked to the ramp for his opponent, he was surprised as Rhodes appeared from the crowd behind him as the veteran laid into the young upstart. Rhodes toyed with his prey as he sought revenge for his broken arm before planting Guevara on the outside with a diving senton from the apron.

As Rhodes took to the top rope, Jake Hager came out to the ring to distract Rhodes and Guevara took advantage to take control for the first time in the match. Guevara kept Rhodes at bay before Rhodes hit an amazing counter on the apron to hit a Canadian Destroyer.

Rhodes looked to set up the Unnatural Kick but the referee stopped him allowing Hager to sneakily hit a low blow on Rhodes behind his back allowing Guevara to steal the win. A good cool-down match here where the Inner Circle looked good with their sneaky tactics and sets up a Rhodes vs Hager match that we’ll hopefully see at AEW Revolution.

MJF announces his stipulations

MJF came down to the ring with Wardlow riling up the crowd nicely before announcing the stipulations for his match up with Cody that was confirmed to take place at AEW Revolution.

These were:

1: If Cody lays a finger on MJF before the match, Cody won’t be able to challenge MJF ever again

2: Cody must beat Wardlow in a steel cage match to earn the right to the match

3: Cody has to get on all fours and be whipped 10 times by MJF on a live episode of Dynamite

The last one is a bit kinky but the rest are interesting developments that can be played with a lot on the lead up to AEW Revolution.

The Elite vs The Lucha Brothers & PAC

Adam Page was on commentary here and was playing up his inebriation seen earlier with a backstage confrontation with Private Party that will be settled in a match next week. Alcoholic angles are dicey so hopefully, this focuses more on Page entering a downward spiral that he rises out of valiantly and not a WCW Scott Hall bender rehash.

Hangman Adam Page enjoys an alcoholic beverage on the way to the commentary desk

Omega and Pentagon Jr started off proceedings with Omega cutting of Pentagon’s Cero Miedo antics by catching his glove and slapping him in the face enraging the Luchador who begin chopping the life out of Omega. Nick Jackson and Rey Fénix faced off after this with the pair in near synchronisation with their offence due to how much they know each other in the ring.

After the break, PAC had Omega isolated in his corner but Omega managed to break free and get the hot tag to Nick Jackson who, with the aid of his brother, hit a misdirection Canadian Destroyer before landing tandem Canadian Destroyers on the Lucha Brothers to boot.

Tagging in to take out his aggression on his rival PAC, the pair laced each other with vicious strikes and chops that felt full of bile and demonstrated the intensity of their rivalry. Pentagon Jr came to PAC’s aid but was taken out by a double superkick from the Bucks before Rey Fénix took out the Bucks with a double rolling cutter.

A V-Trigger and a snap suplex were shrugged off by Fénix, who planted Omega with a cutter and allowing PAC to land the Black Arrow. The Bucks broke up the pin at the last second. Rey Fénix tagged in but Omega countered his spinning kick with a knee allowing him to hit the One-Winged Angel for the victory for the Elite.

Kenny Omega plants Rey Fenix with a high knee

This was one heck of a main event that utilised the flashy chemistry of the Bucks and the Lucha Brothers to accentuate the heated rivalry between PAC and Omega. Just great wrestling all around. After the match, Cody came down to celebrate with his Elite brethren as the group invited Page to the ring to celebrate with him but he refused.

This was a PPV quality episode of AEW worthy of the homecoming to Jacksonville and a heck of a way to start off the year for the company. While WWE resort to cheap and tired Attitude Era callbacks, AEW are focusing on good storytelling, great matches and consistently entertaining television that is more engaging by leaps and bounds.

All pictures and videos courtesy of AEW and Lee South/AEW