MONTREAL, Que. – Canadian AEW fans were treated with a new chapter in the near 25-year long story of best friends Adam Copeland and Christian Cage.
For the first time in over 13 years, Copeland and Cage battled in a singles match on Wednesday at the Bell Centre for the TNT Championship in the main event; a match many thought would never happen again after both men retired and returned to action.
Elsewhere, AEW Women’s Champion ‘Timeless’ Toni Storm defended her newly won championship against Skye Blue, as MJF looked to get answers surrounding his devil mask with his upcoming challenger for his AEW Championship, Samoa Joe.
As has been the case for the past couple weeks, the Gold League in the Continental Classic continued their round robin matchups on Dynamite, with the undefeated Swerve Strickland looking to keep his momentum in a match with Mark Briscoe, who is still looking for his first points of the tournament. Jay White looked to bounce back after his loss last week as he took on the winless Jay Lethal, as Jon Moxley looks to stay unbeaten against RUSH.
Continental Classic Gold League: Jon Moxley (6 points) vs. Rush (3 points)
Jon Moxley and Rush kicked off Dynamite in the only way that they could: chaos. It took less than three minutes before the two decided to stop chopping and kicking their way around the Montreal crowd, culminating in Rush throwing a beer straight in Mox’s face.
Moxley took a surprising amount of heat this match, and whether that says more about AEW building up Rush, or just how big Mox actually is that most of his opponents can’t outwrestle him, Rush looked great in doing so.
The match ended when Rush tried to hit the Bull’s Horns on Mox multiple times, but the former three-time AEW World Champion countered it with a massive lariat into a Death Rider for a near pin before grabbing Rush and putting him into a Bulldog Choke, sending Rush to sleep and keeping Moxley undefeated in the tournament.
Winner: Jon Moxley
A fine opener in front of a hot crowd, which was eating up everything Moxley was doing. Rush continued to bring a ton of intensity to his matches, and it paired well with Moxley’s usual physicality. There wasn’t anything too spectacular or memorable, which may be a theme in the tournament action tonight, but to say this was a bad match is wrong.
Moxley is one of the more protected wrestlers in the company, so him winning wasn’t really in doubt; the question remains who is going to be the one to hand him his first loss.
Continental Classic Gold League: Mark Briscoe (0 points) vs. Swerve Strickland (6 points)
From one protected man to another, Swerve Strickland has had a rocket strapped to his back the second All In ended, and the Continental Classic has done an excellent job at continuing his momentum. Mark Briscoe has had a nice showing as well, but he’s been there as the man to eat the pinfall for the bigger stars of the Gold Group. To stay alive in the tournament, however, Briscoe needed a win.
Some solid back and forth action between the two, particularly in the home stretch. Briscoe at one point took a gnarly looking superplex while Strickland was standing on top of the ringside barricade, which got a nice reaction from the crowd. In the end, Swerve looked for a 450 Splash from the top rope, but Briscoe got his knees up and rolled Swerve for a two-count.
The two men exchanged Death Valley Drivers into near-falls before Strickland hit his signature Swerve Stomp to put Briscoe away.
Winner: Swerve Strickland
This might be a surprise to some, but Mark Briscoe has been a real unsung hero of this tournament. He’s done such an excellent job at elevating his opponents and giving the fans a real chance that he might pick up a win. As much as he’s been lauded for his tag team performances, he really is just as good as a singles star. It’s only a matter of time before he gets his first win (sorry Jay Lethal).
There’s not much more to say about Strickland than what has been said these last couple of months: he is a bona fide stud. Knotted at nine points each, Swerve and Moxley are set for a showdown next week at AEW Dynamite: Winter Is Coming, a match that very well could be the deciding factor in who advances in the tournament.
MJF & Samoa Joe vs. The Devil’s Masked Associates?
Earlier in the night, Hangman Adam Page made his first appearance since he lost his Texas Death Match at Full Gear to Swerve Strickland in November. Page said his issues with Strickland are far from over, before MJF showed up and the two got into a heated exchange. Samoa Joe broke the two up and told Page that the issues Max and Joe had doesn’t concern him.
After Samoa Joe made his entrance for the duos tag match, he was swarmed by four of the Devil’s masked associates, but the lights go off before he can attack. When the lights go back on, MJF is seen collapsed backstage with broken glass bottle shattered around his head. An incensed Joe runs to the back to check on the champion.
A lot of this grade is going to the promo between Page and MJF, which was quite strong by both men. It’s interesting, and completely in character, to see Max continuously shoot himself in the foot and antagonize more of the AEW roster, but such is the life of a ‘changed’ scumbag.
As for the Masked Devil storyline, it’s getting to the point where the next page needs to be turned. There were obvious complications with both Adam Cole and MJF’s injuries, but something must give if AEW wants to keep the storyline hot before fans begin to tune out. It’s seeming like Worlds End might be where that story culminates, but many thought the same for Full Gear, so don’t be surprised if it continues past then.
As good as MJF’s championship run has been, there may be waning signs of fatigue with this story. Hopefully it’s not the case. And as for the glass bottle? If that’s real glass…we may be crying a river when we find out who the Devil is.
AEW Women’s Championship: Toni Storm vs. Skye Blue
Skye Blue gets another crack at a title; this time it’s against the red-hot ‘Timeless’ Toni Storm, who had the Canadian crowd in the palm of her hand. Everything she did, whether it be the cartoonish wind-up of her arms to her flailing around on the mat, the fans loved every single second of it.
As for the match, this was a short match that didn’t really give the women much time to shine. There was a cool spot where Toni got on Luther’s shoulders and used him as an assist to toss Blue out off the ring apron. Storm controlled most of the match, and Blue attempted a comeback, but ultimately Storm countered a pinning attempt to beat Blue clean in the ring.
After the match, a returning Riho, who has been absent from AEW since April of this year, confronted Storm, who ran into the arms of Luther, stunned at her apparent new challenger.
Winner: Toni Storm
It honestly is stunning how the ‘Timeless’ gimmick is as over as it is. It’s the stupidest, yet most endearing character change AEW has done in awhile, and the only reason it’s entertaining is due to Toni Storm’s dedication. Storm has always been a phenomenal wrestler, but her inability to tap into anything character wise was always her Achilles’ heel. This gimmick checks that box, and has been a smashing success. Getting Ben Mankiewicz of Turner Classic Movies to do her introduction for the match is icing on top of the cake that just shows how far AEW is willing to go with it.
Riho returning is a welcome sight, and is a worthy next challenger for Storm. She’s one of the more consistent wrestlers in the women’s division, and her and Storm should have an excellent match if it’s given the time.
Continental Classic Gold League: Jay White (3) vs. Jay Lethal (0)
After losing last week to Swerve Strickland, Jay White looked to bounce back against former Ring of Honor World Champion Jay Lethal, who needed to win to stay alive.
The Montreal crowd hijacked this match fairly quickly, catching on that both men were named Jay, and created various fun chants around their names. One of the shorter matches of the night ended when White and Lethal exchanged pinfall attempts, only for White to come out on top and get three more points in the tournament, and eliminate Lethal in the process.
Winner: Jay White
Jay White continues to hang around in this tournament, and is just waiting for someone to slip up so he can call his shot. He’s now only three points behind Moxley and Strickland. With the aforementioned wrestlers fighting next week, and White going up against winless Mark Briscoe, this could be White’s chance to leapfrog one of the two and reassert himself at the top of the Gold Group.
The match was nothing to write home about; very standard wrestling. The highlight had to be the crowd yelling “This is Jaysome!”, a play on the typical “This is Awesome!” chant. It makes no sense, but it’s a welcomed addition.
TNT Championship: Christian Cage vs. Adam Copeland
The second Adam Copeland showed up in AEW, people had this match circled on their wish list for dream matches. The long-storied history between Copeland and Cage; the lifelong friendship, the tag team championships won between the two, the forced retirements by both and returning to the sport they love.
This was every wrestling fans wish was to see these two lock up one more time, and it finally happened in their home country of Canada.
Christian has been on the run of his life, not just in terms of his character, but his in-ring work has certainly been elevated. Copeland is not necessarily known for being the strongest at working a faster style of wrestling, but he did here, and it was impressive given his age. The match had a ton of excellent counters and transitional moves, with both wrestlers desperate to one-up each other.
After Christian leapfrogged Copeland’s spear into a Killswitch for a near-count, he hilariously sacked referee Bryce Remsburg. Cage grabbed his TNT title and went to smash Copeland with it, but was dodged before both men hit each other with a spear.
With both men down, Shayna Wayne made her way to the ring, picked up the TNT title and struck Copeland with the belt. Christian hit the Killswitch as the exclamation point to retain his TNT Championship.
Winner: Christian Cage
It was almost guaranteed some shenanigans were going to keep this match from having a definitive ending. Either way you flip the coin, you could make an argument as to why that man should win. Cage has elevated the TNT Championship to being one of the more important titles in the company, and to take it off him while it’s still hot would have been a mistake, however Copeland just arrived and a loss this early seems iffy.
Enter Shayna Wayne, who now joins her son Nick as a member of The Patriarchy and handed Copeland his first loss in AEW. It’s a whacky ending, and leaves a bit of a sour taste. For both men to have their first singles match against each other end with crazy theatrics isn’t going to please the hardcore wrestling fans.
Ultimately, it’s a story that works considering Copeland hospitalized her son a couple weeks ago, and was a turn that needed to happen to keep the storyline going, as this is a clear first step in their program. The payoff will be worth it, and given how good this match was, it’s obvious the two can take it up another level with more heat.
And hey, if Christian comes out and officially calls himself Nick Wayne’s stepfather, this may all be worth it.
Final Show Grade
AEW’s first Dynamite in Montreal was a solid night of wrestling that was elevated by the experience of seeing the first chapter of Copeland and Cage’s rivalry unfold in front of their home country. It’s clearly a match that means the world to both men, and to see two legends in their sport continue to elevate their game will always be a positive, regardless of the ending.
The Continental Classic continues to have strong wrestling, but there are always going to be matches that are less appealing than others; it’s just the nature of tournaments in wrestling.
Here are the current standings for the Continental Classic going as it continues later this week on AEW Rampage and AEW Collision.
Continental Classic Gold League Standings
- Jon Moxley (9)
- Swerve Strickland (9)
- Jay White (6)
- Rush (3)
- Mark Briscoe (0)
- Jay Lethal (0)
Continental Classic Blue League Standings
- Brody King (6)
- Bryan Danielson (3)
- Andrade El Idolo (3)
- Claudio Castagnoli (3)
- Daniel Garcia (0)
- Eddie Kingston (0)