Tonight, AEW celebrates the third anniversary of AEW Dynamite! What better way to celebrate the new year than by looking back at the best matches of AEW’s last year.
It’s the 2022 Dynamite Dozen!
The Dynamite Dozen is a concept I came up with two years ago after the first anniversary of AEW Dynamite on October 2nd, 2020: rank the twelve best television matches of AEW’s first year. Why the best TV matches? Because in its short history, AEW has put on some of the best wrestling matches ever to take place on free TV, and I wanted to keep a listing of the best of the best. Why twelve? Because twelve is a dozen, and alliteration is fun! The ranking was done by combining the user ratings of both the GRAPPL match rating app with user ratings from the online wrestling database Cagematch.net. I tinkered with the format a bit before coming back with the second edition last year. Now I’m back with a list that includes matches from Dynamite, Rampage, Battle of the Belts, and a YouTube special. But again, no PPV matches. If you ask where Anarchy in the Arena is, I’ll know you didn’t read this introduction! I put “TV matches” in the title and everything!
This year, over 50 matches were considered for the list, with the total number of individual ratings between GRAPPL and Cagematch nearly surpassing 27,000 votes! Before we get to the top twelve, let’s look at a few matches that missed out on making the cut. It’s the first-ever Honorable Half-Dozen!
(Quick note: There are matches on this list with the same rating. The tiebreaker is the total votes received. The match with the most votes gets ranked higher.)
DANIEL GARCIA VS. BRYAN DANIELSON
JULY 27, 2022
DYNAMITE #147 – FIGHT FOR THE FALLEN
OVERALL RATING: 8.39
TOTAL VOTES: 436
After missing Forbidden Door and Blood and Guts with injury, Bryan Danielson returned to AEW at the Fight For The Fallen edition of Dynamite ready to light the world on fire. However, Danielson would be the one getting burned. He returned in a match against Jericho Appreciation Society member Daniel Garcia, who came into this match with something to prove. Not only to the fans but to Danielson, who Garcia admits is his professional inspiration. Garcia was able to pull off the biggest win of his career, albeit with some JAS assistance that he was unaware of. This match kicked off an internal struggle for Garcia, leaving him to decide whether to embrace the vision of his heroes and take pride in being a wrestler or stay loyal to the man that gave him the spotlight to become a star in Chris Jericho.
JURASSIC EXPRESS VS. YOUNG BUCKS
JUNE 15, 2022
DYNAMITE #141 – ROAD RAGER
OVERALL RATING: 8.39
TOTAL VOTES: 504
This match saw the turning point of a story over a year in the making. Since Double or Nothing 2021, Christian Cage hitched his wagon to the Jurassic Express, and Jungle Boy in particular. Even though Jungle Boy eliminated him to win a World Title shot, he took the kid under his wing to take him to the next level. Jurassic Express would reach the next level, winning the AEW World Tag Team Titles on the first Dynamite of 2022. For whatever reason though, Christian kept putting Jurassic Express in increasingly difficult situations to retain the titles. That journey concluded here in this ladder match with the Young Bucks and no other team. Just the Young Bucks. It was always only the Young Bucks. After a spectacular match that saw the Bucks become the first two time AEW World Tag Team Champions, Christian’s plan was revealed as he took Jungle Boy out with a con-chair-to and told his mother that she “raised a piece of shit.” Their feud continues to this day, with Luchasaurus joining Christian to make Jungle Boy’s life hell.
As for the Young Bucks, fellow VOW contributor Case Lowe put it as well as anyone could: Are we sure The Young Bucks aren’t the greatest tag team ever?
BLOOD AND GUTS II
JUNE 29, 2022
DYNAMITE #143 – BLOOD AND GUTS
OVERALL RATING: 8.44
TOTAL VOTES: 585
The second edition of Blood and Guts, which saw the Jericho Appreciation Society take on Eddie Kingston’s Army, lived up to its billing as a gory spectacle. The sights of a bloody Cool Hand Ang hanging outside of the cage and Claudio Castagnoli swinging Jericho on top of the cage will live in AEW video packages forever. And despite Castagnoli unintentionally stealing the win, this match also served as the big finale for the great feud between Jericho and Kingston. Well, it does if you agree to forget about Barbed Wire Everywhere like I did.
BRYAN DANIELSON VS. HANGMAN PAGE
SEPTEMBER 7, 2022
OVERALL RATING: 8.45
TOTAL VOTES: 484
After the fallout of the All Out press scrum, a new AEW World Champion needed to be crowned. Tony Khan announced the Tournament of Champions, a title tournament full of former champions fighting it out for the gold. The tournament’s first match saw the third match in this highly, HIGHLY acclaimed series of matches between Bryan Danielson and Hangman Page. Danielson finally got his win back here on Page to move ahead in this humdinger of a match.
DAX HARWOOD VS. WILL OSPREAY
JUNE 15, 2022
DYNAMITE #141 – ROAD RAGER
OVERALL RATING: 8.47
TOTAL VOTES: 556
Someone who made his way through the Forbidden Door several times this year was Will Ospreay. In between being the most compelling player in 2022 New Japan and working hard to rebuild the British scene, Ospreay stopped by AEW to have a few certified heaters on Dynamite. This singles match with FTR Bald was one of them. Dax the Ax held up his end of the bargain here in a stellar singles showcase for both men.
CODY RHODES VS. SAMMY GUEVARA
JANUARY 26, 2022
DYNAMITE #121 – BEACH BREAK
OVERALL RATING: 8.48
TOTAL VOTES: 732
There are a lot of things you could say about the way Cody Rhodes’s AEW run ended. But one thing is for sure, this was the only way he could have gone out. This was an absolute spectacle, which for better or worse was something you could say about most of Cody’s run. Two months away from working a feature match at Wrestlemania, he left it all in the ring against Sammy Guevara in this rematch of the first ever Dynamite match. The springboard cutter from the top of the ladder will be in AEW highlight reels for the rest of time, and that was just one of the unbelievable spots in this match. If it was indeed time for Cody to “leave the territory”, he left with a bang.
Six stellar matches in their own right. But these six matches weren’t good enough to join the honored few. These twelve matches are the best matches AEW has given us, for free, in just the past twelve months. These are the best of the best. This is the Dynamite Dozen!
THE DYNAMITE DOZEN
ANDRADE EL IDOLO VS. PAC
OCTOBER 22, 2021
OVERALL RATING: 8.52
TOTAL VOTES: 516
The list kicks off with a Rampage match! Just this time last year, Rampage was just getting off the ground. With World Title changes and once-in-a-lifetime special moments abound, Rampage felt like the second A-show Tony Khan had touted it to be. Whether it still is that A-show is up for debate, but the show still gave us some great matches like this rematch between PAC and Andrade El Idolo. I do this list for matches like this, but I also do them to catalog things that happen throughout the year of AEW. I say that because I have no recollection of the post-match angle here, but it was hilarious to watch in hindsight.
CM PUNK VS. MJF
FEBRUARY 2, 2022
OVERALL RATING: 8.53
TOTAL VOTES: 797
The only match either man will have on this list was a massive main event in Chicago. The match had been highly anticipated since the moment Punk and MJF shared the ring with each other, and it lived up to the billing in this nearly 40-minute epic. The hometown crowd lived and died with Punk as he survived almost every dirty trick MJF had to pull. But it would be Wardlow and the Dynamite Diamond Ring that helped MJF score the biggest win of his career to this point, knocking out Punk on his turf. The only bigger crime MJF could have committed at that point would have been grabbing a mic and telling the world that he shares a bank account with his mother.
In all seriousness, CM Punk’s year for AEW was a massive success, at least on-screen and at the box office. During this run, he had some of the most electric segments in pro wrestling history. And while most of his TV matches didn’t reach the heights of this one, they were still very good matches for TV. Not to mention him having three of the best PPV matches of AEW’s last year as well with Kingston, MJF, and Moxley. Don’t let the way the run ended fool you. CM Punk’s AEW run was fantastic, from start to…finish?
DEATH TRIANGLE VS. UNITED EMPIRE
AUGUST 24, 2022
OVERALL RATING: 8.68
TOTAL VOTES: 503
This was a first-round match in the AEW Trios Title Tournament, and it showcased what the AEW Trios Titles can be. This was six high-level wrestlers from across the wrestling world going balls to the wall on free television. WCW had the cruiserweights who did awesome 10-minute openers on PPV for a while. WWE has had big rosters full of talent before as well. But no promotion in America has ever had both the level of talent that AEW has and the willingness to let them do big-time main events like this on their weekly television show. Ospreay and Aussie Open won to move on in the Trios Title Tournament and set up a dream match against The Elite.
UNITED EMPIRE VS. THE ELITE
AUGUST 31, 2022
OVERALL RATING: 8.70
TOTAL VOTES: 456
Remember when Kenny Omega came back? That was a fun couple of weeks. Anyway, he teamed with the Bucks to have an incredible encounter with Will Ospreay and Aussie Open that served not only as a fight in the Trios Title tournament but as a seed to a major Ospreay/Omega singles match somewhere down the line. Hopefully, Kenny hasn’t become a Wolfman in the time since All Out and that match can still happen. Omega and the Bucks won on the way to becoming the first, if not the longest, AEW World Trios Champions.
CLAUDIO CASTAGNOLI VS. KONOSUKE TAKESHITA
AUGUST 6, 2022
BATTLE OF THE BELTS III
OVERALL RATING: 8.84
TOTAL VOTES: 481
On March 2nd, Tony Khan announced his purchase of Ring of Honor. A big story of the year for AEW was the integration of ROH into the promotion, with the Ring Of Honor World Title even changing hands on AEW TV at Grand Slam. But the best World Title match of the year was the main event of Battle of the Belts 3, a main event that saw champion Claudio Castagnoli defend against Konosuke Takeshita. Castagnoli debuted at Forbidden Door, and soon after grabbed the brass ring by winning the ROH World Title at Death Before Dishonor. Takeshita came to AEW as part of an American tour on April 25th after a brief stint on Dark in 2021. He quickly rose in status with stellar performances against several top names in the company, including a match with then-World Champion Hangman Page that just missed the cut for the Honorable Half-Dozen. Takeshita made himself a star during this tour, and this main event title match was the peak. These two took a slow and steady approach to this match, eventually building to a great crescendo that saw Castagnoli retain the title. Takeshita plans on returning to AEW soon, and I don’t think anyone would mind seeing more of the Japanese Phenom.
BRYAN DANIELSON VS. EDDIE KINGSTON
OCTOBER 29, 2021
OVERALL RATING: 8.87
TOTAL VOTES: 707
This semi-final match in the AEW #1 Contender Tournament was an absolute war of attrition and a display of what makes these two such excellent pro wrestlers. Kingston came into this match with something to prove, and that was proving to Danielson that he deserved respect. With a World Title shot hanging in the balance, Danielson didn’t give a damn about respect. These two battered the hell out of each other, with Danielson eventually making a defiant Kingston pass out in a Triangle Choke to move on to the final.
BRYAN DANIELSON VS. DANIEL GARCIA
AUGUST 17, 2022
DYNAMITE #150 – HOUSE OF THE DRAGON
OVERALL RATING: 8.95
TOTAL VOTES: 603
While Danielson’s return match against Garcia didn’t go to plan, this rematch certainly did. This best of three falls match accomplished so much at once. One, it saw Garcia score a clean win over Danielson in the first fall, proving that he didn’t need the interference he was provided in the July match. Two, it got Garcia over with the AEW audience, although his performances since coming into the company helped get him to this point. Three, it gave us an excellent technical battle on Dynamite that saw Danielson take two straight falls to win. And four, it gave us the fans chanting “You’re A Wrestler” to Garcia, which may be the best chant of the year.
FTR VS. THE YOUNG BUCKS
APRIL 6, 2022
OVERALL RATING: 9.02
TOTAL VOTES: 813
The rematch that no one saw coming. Just a few days earlier, FTR and The Briscoes had one of the best tag team matches of the year at the Supercard of Honor PPV. That match saw FTR win the ROH World Tag Team Titles, but the post-match saw the Young Bucks make a surprise appearance to challenge the new champions to match for both of FTR’s sets of titles on that week’s Dynamite. The rematch of the highly-touted Full Gear 2020 match saw the roles reversed, as FTR were red-hot coming off of the Briscoes match, and the Bucks were still the self-involved heels they had been for a year at that point. This match not only was just as good as the Full Gear match, but it also helped to make FTR the hottest tag team in wrestling. They retained their titles here, sealing it with a cheeky kiss before putting the Bucks away with the Big Rig. As they come off of another highly-praised match this past weekend with Aussie Open, you can look back at the first week of April, not as Wrestlemania Week, but as the week FTR became the stars everyone knew they could be.
JON MOXLEY VS. WHEELER YUTA
APRIL 8, 2022
OVERALL RATING: 9.06
TOTAL VOTES: 837
Speaking of stars being made! The Blackpool Combat Club was never supposed to become a thing. In the build to a Bryan Danielson/Jon Moxley match at Revolution, Danielson broached the idea of the two men teaming up to build the next generation of pro wrestlers. It was only supposed to exist as an idea, but Moxley was so intrigued by the idea that he convinced Tony Khan to make it a reality. With the help of the recently-acquired William Regal, they turned an idea into the best group of wrestling. A set of ass-kickers who weren’t afraid to kick each other’s asses to be the best pro wrestlers they could be. The first applicant was Wheeler Yuta, who jumped at the chance to join. He had to earn it though, as Jon Moxley made it clear that he didn’t team with anyone without bleeding with them first. This match saw Moxley try to bleed Yuta dry, but Yuta just wouldn’t die. The crowd was red hot for Yuta, and despite losing, this match made people realize that Yuta was going to be a player in this company one day. This match wasn’t just great, and it wasn’t just another match in the catalog of Jon Moxley’s wrestler of the year candidacy; it was a precursor for just how great Yuta, Moxley, and the whole of the Blackpool Combat Club were going to be.
BRYAN DANIELSON VS. MINORU SUZUKI
OCTOBER 15, 2021
RAMPAGE #10 – THE BUY-IN
OVERALL RATING: 9.06
TOTAL VOTES: 947
The funny thing is that this match didn’t need to happen. On October 15th, Friday Night Smackdown was set to air on FS1 due to World Series coverage on FOX. Being on FS1 gave WWE the freedom to go past 10:00 EST, which is both their hard-out time on FOX and the time that Rampage starts on TNT. WWE, being the petty politicians they’ve always been, decided to make that show a Super SmackDown. There would be an extra 30 minutes tacked onto the end of the show, and that 30 minutes would feature Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch and an in-ring confrontation between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar.
Tony Khan decided to counter that with a Buy-In YouTube special for Rampage. The Buy-In, which is normally reserved as a PPV pre-show, would run counter to the second hour of Smackdown. Oh, and it would feature a legitimate dream match with Bryan Danielson taking on Minoru Suzuki. The fact that the match was happening at all was fantastic, but the fact that it happened specifically because of a petty wrestling war is special. To give you the tenor of this match, Danielson promised to inflict “violence and sadism” on Suzuki. And for 20 minutes, these two did exactly that. At age 54, Minoru Suzuki can still turn it up when he needs to, and being in the ring with one of the best wrestlers of a generation can help with that. It’s possible that this match loses something on a rewatch, but there was such a feeling in the air watching this match live. You know what I mean, that feeling that what you are watching is special. Special for the occasion, special for the circumstances around it, special for the thought that we may have never gotten the match if it weren’t for certain things falling into place. This match had that special feeling, and that’s why it sits so high on this list.
HANGMAN PAGE VS. BRYAN DANIELSON
JANUARY 5, 2022
OVERALL RATING: 9.41
TOTAL VOTES: 1048
The highly-anticipated rematch to the hour-long Broadway at Winter is Coming lands at #2 on the list. This was the first match to air on Dynamite’s new home of TBS, as Big Bang Theory fans were treated to an epic here. Danielson’s plan of running out Hangman’s gas tank as he did in their prior match hit a roadblock, as Hangman busted Danielson open early on in the match. That took this match from a chess match to a street fight. These two had to fight to a finish on this night, and unlike last time, Danielson couldn’t be saved by the bell. Try as he could, but Danielson couldn’t avoid the Buckshot Lariat, and the Hangman scored the win in this epic Dynamite opener. There was an entire show after this match!
HANGMAN PAGE VS. BRYAN DANIELSON
DECEMBER 15, 2021
DYNAMITE: WINTER IS COMING
OVERALL RATING: 9.47
TOTAL VOTES: 1089
When Danielson vs. Page was announced for Winter Is Coming, there was a ton of intrigue as to how the match was going to unfold. There were pundits making strong arguments for both men to win. On one side you had a red-hot Bryan Danielson, who as both the best wrestler on the roster and a popular name fresh off of a WWE run could make a strong statement as AEW World Champion. They could miss putting the title on a difference maker while he’s at his hottest. On the other side, you had Hangman Page, the man whose rise to the title was the main story of the first three years of the promotion. He could stand to benefit from a strong defense against a great first challenger in Danielson, and he could stand major harm if he lost his first defense. Everyone was left wondering who would walk out of Texas as the World Champion.
This match took fans on a roller-coaster ride. Danielson’s plan was simple: he would run Hangman’s gas tank empty, and then beat his ass and take his title. However, Hangman’s gas tank never ran out. He never stopped fighting, even when Danielson’s onslaught looked like it was too much to take. Hangman hit the Buckshot Lariat to put Danielson down, but the time limit expired and left this match as a draw. I find most 60-minute matches to be bloated, self-indulgent, and lacking at least 20 minutes of ideas. But these two men were able to keep the action compelling and lively the whole way through, earning the #1 spot on this year’s Dynamite Dozen as the best match of AEW’s third year in business.
As I did last year, I have attached below a list of the top 25 ranked matches AEW has ever aired on free television. Every match has been updated to its most current rating, and rankings have been updated to reflect any changes. See you next year!
|Place||Episode||Date||Episode Number||Overall Rating||Total Ratings|
|1||Kenny Omega vs. Bryan Danielson||September 22nd, 2021||Dynamite #103 - Grand Slam||9.55||1518|
|2||Hangman Page vs. Bryan Danielson||December 15th, 2021||Dynamite #115 - Winter Is Coming||9.47||1089|
|3||Hangman Page vs. Bryan Danielson||January 5th, 2022||Dynamite #118||9.41||1048|
|4||Kenny Omega vs. PAC||February 26th, 2020||Dynamite #21||9.08||840|
|5||Bryan Danielson vs. Minoru Suzuki||October 15th, 2021||Rampage #10 - The Buy-In||9.06||947|
|6||Jon Moxley vs. Wheeler Yuta||April 8th, 2022||Rampage #35||9.06||824|
|7||FTR vs. The Young Bucks||April 6th, 2022||Dynamite #131||9.02||813|
|8||Bryan Danielson vs. Daniel Garcia||August 17th, 2022||Dynamite #150||8.95||603|
|9||Dr. Britt Baker, DMD vs. Thunder Rosa||March 17th, 2021||Dynamite #76 - St. Patrick's Day Slam||8.87||902|
|10||Kenny Omega vs. Rey Fenix||January 6th, 2021||Dynamite #66 - New Year's Smash Night 1||8.87||808|
|11||Bryan Danielson vs. Eddie Kingston||October 29th, 2021||Rampage #12||8.87||707|
|12||Claudio Castagnoli vs. Konosuke Takeshita||August 6th, 2022||Battle of the Belts III||8.84||481|
|13||Santana & Ortiz vs. Best Friends||September 16th, 2020||Dynamite #50||8.78||587|
|14||Hangman Page, Alex Reynolds & John Silver vs. MJF, Ortiz & Santana||December 30th, 2020||Dynamite #65 - Brodie Lee Memorial||8.76||382|
|15||Hangman Page & Kenny Omega vs. The Lucha Bros||February 19th, 2020||Dynamite #20||8.70||615|
|16||United Empire vs. The Elite||August 31st, 2022||Dynamite #152||8.70||456|
|17||Death Triangle vs. United Empire||August 24th, 2022||Dynamite #151||8.68||503|
|18||The Young Bucks vs. PAC & Rey Fenix||April 14th, 2021||Dynamite #80||8.57||582|
|19||CM Punk vs. MJF||February 2nd, 2022||Dynamite #122||8.53||797|
|20||Andrade El Idolo vs. PAC||October 22nd, 2021||Rampage #11||8.52||516|
|21||Cody Rhodes vs. Sammy Guevara||January 26th, 2022||Dynamite #121 - Beach Break||8.48||732|
|22||Dax Harwood vs. Will Ospreay||June 15th, 2022||Dynamite #141 - Road Rager||8.47||556|
|23||Bryan Danielson vs. Hangman Page||September 7th, 2022||Dynamite #153||8.45||484|
|24||Blood and Guts II||June 29th, 2022||Dynamite #143 - Blood and Guts||8.44||585|
|25||FTR & Young Bucks vs. Lucha Bros & Butcher & Blade||July 8th, 2020||Fyter Fest Week 2||8.39||557|
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