Silver bells … silver bells! It’s Christmas time, on TNT. Ring a ling, ring bell rings, soon it will be championship day! Ahem. Guess I’m just in a festive mood as it gets closer to the end of the year, and tonight should do nothing but boost that spirit as Dynamite kicks off with a highly anticipated AEW World Championship bout. Winter is Coming, so let it snow, live on TNT.

“American Dragon” Bryan Danielson (challenger) vs. “Hangman” Adam Page (champion) – AEW World Championship Match

Just in case it wasn’t clear to everyone watching AEW programming the last few weeks, the announcers remind us that Danielson doesn’t really respect Hangman. You don’t say! Taz, filling in for Jim Ross, has no issues with Danielson’s attitude, or his arrogant jumping jacks as he measures up the champ. The American Dragon’s expressions are great, showing surprise when Page is able to hang with some of his technical wrestling moves. The majority of the fans are behind Hangman, though Danielson is getting some chants as well. The pace gradually quickens as the match goes deeper, with both men taking to the air and kicking out of precarious circumstances. Taz notes how tough it is to be in 30-minute matches as the bout nears that mark. There’s also great storytelling involved, with the challenger trying to weaken Page’s shoulder to avoid a Buckshot and Hangman focusing on his foe’s legs. Page crashes hard on that shoulder on the apron after Danielson shoves him down from the top turnbuckle, and the challenger cannily tries to follow up, posing for the crowd again. Page is busted open near his hairline as we head to a second commercial break. Momentum appears to be creeping toward the challenger now, but my main thought is whether they are going to let these guys go for an hour on live TV. Pretty cool if they do. Even more impressive is watching Page come off the top and go crashing through a table on the floor after Danielson moves out of the way … after 50 minutes of wrestling. Mad respect. Danielson tries a big throw from the top rope, but Page lands on his feet and connects with a clothesline. Justin Roberts announces there are only five minutes left, kicking Danielson into overdrive. Page catches the challenger coming in with a Deadeye, but the American Dragon kicks out at two. Not to be outdone, Danielson ducks a Buckshot and applies the LeBell Lock. The champ fights out of the hold to connect on two consecutive Buckshot lariats, but the time limit elapses and we’ve got ourselves a draw — much to the chagrin of the fans, who are largely booing.

Winner: None — Time limit draw

The Superkliq (and Bobby Fish) wonder how the Best Friends think they can hang, since they got wrecked even with Trent returning the group to full strength. Hey, wait, threatening Sue is taking it a step too far! Plus, what does ending her career mean? She won’t be able to drive the minivan any more? Anyway, they are having an eight-man tag on Rampage.

Wardlow (w/ Shawn Spears) vs. Matt Sydal

Sorry, Matt, but since this show is already more than half over, you’re going to lose quickly here. That’s exactly what happens, though Spears stealing some of the spotlight from Wardlow and MJF ordering him to pick up champagne is worth keeping an eye on.

Winner: Wardlow by pinfall

Tay Conti challenges Penelope Ford to a submission match, which Ford gladly accepts, claiming she doesn’t need brass knuckles to win.

I might need a translator for Malakai Black promos, because his speaking in riddles is almost like another language.

Sereena Deeb vs. Hikaru Shida

Considering how these two ladies can really go, this also figures to be a pretty quick encounter given how long that first match ran. At least it is given enough time for me to appreciate that “Vince Fears W-2s” sign in the crowd. Heh. This is a matchup I’d gladly watch a few more times as their styles mesh really well, and I do wonder if they’ll let Deeb get another win and then keep this rivalry going. Guess not, as Shida wins clean in the end.

Winner: Hikaru Shida by pinfall

The Varsity Blonds are plenty mad about Black attacking Julia Hart last week, but Griff Garrison and Brian Pillman Jr. can’t agree about how to handle things.

A video package takes us back to Hook’s debut last week, which certainly set wrestling Twitter ablaze. Taz is definitely proud, as he should be. In the back, Eddie Kingston says he has a squad assembled for a 10-man tag match with Daniel Garcia, 2.0 and whoever they pick as partners on Rampage.

MJF vs. Dante Martin – Dynamite Diamond Ring Match

MJF spends a while talking to CM Punk before this one gets going, vowing once again he can beat someone with a headlock takeover. Well, he kind of, sort of, lived up to his word last time. Martin has been getting a push of late, including questions of which manager has him signed, but this still feels like a “does really well in a losing effort” spot … unless Punk gets involved. Martin goes so high on a springboard shooting star press to the floor that he nearly overshoots MJF, smashing him in the face with his knee. That gets the “holy s–t” chant going. Martin has MJF seemingly beaten until Ricky Starks puts Max’s foot on the ropes, which Taz finds hilarious. MJF slaps on the Salt of the Earth, getting the tapout and keeping the ring in his possession.

Winner: MJF by submission

While MJF is celebrating with FTR, the lights go out. When they come back up, Darby Allin and Sting are in the ring, and they go right after FTR. As the heels gain the upper hand, the fans chant for Punk, who heads down with a baseball bat. The Pinnacle wants no part of that. scattering back up the ramp. Punk challenges them to a six-man and says that’s the match so deal with it. Sounds good to me, so we’ll see you in seven!

AEW Dynamite - December 15, 2021

Curtis Culwell Center, Garland, TX

I don’t give out five stars for a weekly TV episode very often, but man, the world title match was something, and the main event was also highly entertaining. You can’t do an hour-long match very often, for sure, but it worked here for multiple reasons. Kudos to all involved, and while this wasn’t the last Dynamite of the year, it made for a great almost closeout to 2021.