The odds were stacked against TNT Champion Darby Allin as he would need to overcome an over 100lb weight difference in Brian Cage to retain his title at night two of New Year’s Smash. Did he prevail?

PAC w/ The Lucha Brothers vs Eddie Kingston w/ The Butcher, The Blade and The Bunny

PAC didn’t waste a second as he hit Kingston with a shotgun dropkick before his pyro had even finished.

Some dastardly tactics and aid from the Bunny allowed Kingston to wrangle control in his favour as he tried to wear down PAC to keep the Bastard from using his speed to his advantage.

After some nasty strikes, PAC took to kicking Kingston directly in the chest followed by a beautiful rebound German Suplex.

However, a sudden snap up from Kingston allowed him to hit an Enzuigiri and back suplex for a close two-count.

The damage to Kingston’s left arm was his undoing as his hesitation due to it allowed PAC to hold the ropes to escape a DDT attempt, plant Kingston with a basement dropkick and land the Black Arrow for the win.

After the match, it looked like the Family and Death Triangle would begin brawling but the friend of the review Lancer Archer came down to the ring, scared off the Butcher and the Blade and told PAC he needs to get on the same page as him.

A really good opener with a classic back and forth. Slower paced than a usual AEW opener but in all the right ways. A solid well-paced opening contest.

Miro vs Chuck Taylor

Taylor entered the match with the stipulation that if he loses, he would have to be Miro’s butler until Kip Sabian and Penelope Ford’s wedding at Beach Break.

Despite a strong start bashing Miro against the barricades and hitting a tope con hilo, a distraction by Sabian attacking Orange Cassidy gave Miro the chance to stop Taylor in his tracks.

After charging into Taylor multiple times, Miro announced it was Game Over with a huge thrust kick and the Camel Clutch forcing Taylor to tap out.

Miro looked really impressive in this match and Taylor as a butler should be a fun show element for the coming weeks. Short but sweet.

The Inner Circle’s New Year’s Resolution

The whole consortium of the Inner Circle appeared in the ring with Chris Jericho announcing his New Year’s Resolution was for him and MJF to become the AEW World Tag Team Champions. Santana took offence to this, stating he and Ortiz were drafted to be the tag team in the Inner Circle.

Sammy Guevarra interjected and called Jericho a “tag team slut” for teaming up with so many members of the Inner Circle.

To end the dispute, Jericho organised a three-way tag match between he and MJF, Santana and Ortiz and Guevarra and Jake Hager for next week.

A funny segment that sets up a really cool match between the Inner Circle members. I really hope Santana and Ortiz win as they are well overdue a definitive run at the top of the tag division.

The Elite vs Danny Limelight & the Varsity Blondes

Don Callis interrupted Justin Roberts before the Young Bucks were announced as he declared Omega’s partners would be his best friends. He then pulled the rug out by saying those two were actually the Good Brothers, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson. The Young Bucks looked dejected backstage.

Despite some very impressive work from Danny Limelight, the Good Brothers and Omega punished their opponents and really asserted their dominance before the Good Brothers put them away with the Magic Killer.

Jon Moxley’s music hit after the match as he came down to take on the new Elite by himself. However, he ended up getting some help from some other members of the AEW roster including the Lucha Brothers.

The Bucks intervened too but seemed to still be protecting Omega before eating a pair of Superkicks from the Lucha Brothers.

The match was fine and it was great to see the Good Brothers on AEW but the whole switcheroo with the Bucks seems like a poor choice.

This has to be a 4D chess double-cross set up by the Young Bucks and the rest of the Elite or the Bucks just seem like morons where the only thing stopping them from becoming villainous assholes is that Omega decided he wanted to play with his other friends instead.

It also feels like a waste setting up a powerful group by breaking them in half almost immediately. Unless there’s a longer-term double cross as I’m hoping for, this fell a little flat, especially after the last failed heel turn for the Bucks.

The Waiting Room with Cody Rhodes

Reba introduced Britt Baker who used her opening monologue to rip into Cody. They then introduced Cody with contractually obligated sprinkler pyro.

After some more jabs at Cody, Baker introduced her surprise guest Jade Cargill who promised to beat Brandi Rhode’s ass if she returns. Velvet Rose then came out to defend her mentor Brandi as the two women began a brawl that had to be pulled apart by the women’s roster.

Then an odd transition saw Baker show footage of her attack on Thunder Rosa before it cut to a promo of Rosa stating she and Baker had a match scheduled for Beach Break.

The Waiting Room has been a really fun segment on AEW Dark, but the editing felt quite haphazard here. It was likely a timing issue but I felt like I got a bit of whiplash jumping from a brawl to an on-screen promo.

Jungle Boy & Marko Stunt vs FTR w/ Tully Blanchard

FTR had one goal in mind, beating the crap out of Marko Stunt. Despite getting in some very loud and stiff sounding slaps to the chests of both Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler, FTR very keenly kept the pressure on to beat the snot out of poor Marko.

A speedy return rally from Jungle Boy and Stunt saw Stunt manage a hurricanrana and left the Jurassic Express members standing tall going into the break.

However, FTR had taken back control after the break and were continuing to punish Stunt. After nearly being beaten half to death, Stunt finally managed to sneak away to tag into Jungle Boy who impressively thought off both members of FTR.

A running Frankensteiner to Harwood and a brainbuster to Wheeler couldn’t put FTR away and a follow up to tag to Stunt was a mistake as Stunt ate a nasty straight elbow from Harwood.

Blanchard took advantage of a referee distraction to throw Stunt into a corner post allowing FTR to blindside Jungle Boy while he was distracted and finish off Stunt in the ring with the Goodnight Express.

This was a fun match but I’m not sure where things go from here. FTR probably shouldn’t be fighting with Marko Stunt when there’s such a diverse tag roster they could work with more effectively. Stunt is great and all, but FTR should have their focus on mainline tag teams in the division.

NWA Women’s World Championship: Serena Deeb (c) vs Tay Conti w/ Anna Jay

Both women shared stretches early and, surprisingly, Conti came out on top with a heel clutch forcing Deeb to retreat and re-evaluate.

Deeb fought out of a triangle hold attempt and hit a basement clothesline to even the odds but Conti came back with a hefty kick knocking Deeb out the ring going into the break.

Coming back, Conti hit a great looking Half Nelson to Cutter but only managed a two-count. Deeb tried to take the fight out of Conti’s legs with a stretch muffler before placing Conti on the top rope and locking in a Gory Special.

A comeback from Conti with a punt kick saw her attempt her finisher but Deeb thought out and hit the Deebtox to retain her title.

Excellent match between these two that focused on mat-based wrestling for the most part and was a great technical bout. The women’s division in AEW certainly doesn’t have a talent problem, the booking just needs to catch up for them.

Speaking of Serena Deeb, read about how she feels about potentially becoming “Serena Two Straps” in our exclusive interview.

TNT Championship Match: Darby Allin (c) vs Brian Cage

Allin came flying out of the gates with a lightning-fast outside dive but a follow up one was impressively caught by Cage into a suplex.

Cage beat down Allin in the ring some more before tossing Allin out of the ring into the ring announcer’s table.

Cage picked up Allin in a suplex hold again and carried him back to the ring for more punishment. Allin got tossed into the corners like a sack of potatoes in some very scary bumps.

After the break, Allin kicked out of an F-5 at one which angered Cage and saw him land 3 consecutive powerbombs on Allin.

Despite this, Allin put up a defiant middle finger. Cage responded by powerbombing him over the ropes onto the stage.

A follow-up Bret’s rope Superplex to Allin still saw him kick out as Cage set up some steps on the outside. Allin managed to fight his way out on the apron, biting Cage’s fingers and causing him to clatter to the steps. With no fear in his eyes, Allin jumped straight to the top rope and hit a Coffin Drop to Cage on the steps.

Taz’s son Hook jumped onto the apron to distract the referee as Starks went to blindside Allin but the lights suddenly went out. When they returned Sting was on the stage and took out Starks with his trademark bat.

With the odds evened, Allin countered a top rope grab from Cage into a Crucifix Bomb to retain his title.

This match was a thrilling yet hard watch as Allin took so much punishment and scary bumps throughout. It really made Allin look tough as nails in a great way and sold his ability to best the weight difference.

Even with my booking quibbles, you couldn’t fault the matches here that were all of high quality. The NWA Women’s World Championship match was a real sleeper hit and the main event was a feast of brutality. The New Year’s Bash has certainly been a bumper double feature.

All pictures and videos provided by AEW

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