SOUTH BEACH STRAP MATCH: Cody Rhodes (w/Arn Anderson) vs. Q.T. Marshall (w/Aaron Solow & Nick Comoroto)- 6/10
Ross emphasized to us that these two were “best friends for a long time,” which I remember seeing ZERO evidence of on TV. Until they told me otherwise to start this angle off, I had always assumed Q.T. was Dustin’s friend. Speaking of Q.T., he didn’t even get his entrance shown.
They strap match stuff for a while. Cody had the advantage until Aaron Solow interfered. There are no DQs in this match, so it makes we wonder why both guys didn’t just run in and beat Cody up. Dustin came all the way down to the ring from the back to fight off Solow. Way to contribute to the team there, Arn.
Comoroto decided to chase after those two as they fought into the crowd instead of staying at ringside. Didn’t this team used to have a third guy? Where did Antony Ogogo go?
Cody was distracted by watching Dustin fight in the crowd, allowing Q.T. to hit him in the nuts with the strap. Paul Turner was upset about his for some reason. It’s a no DQs match, dude! And you just let an interloper attack one of the participants and didn’t do anything about it. How are you more upset at this than that?
The lights went off for a moment, but I don’t think that was planned. Cody went back on offense until Q.T. cut him off with some sort of move where it looked like it should have hurt Q.T. a lot more than Cody because it looked like Q.T. did a Flatliner except instead of landing on the mat, Cody mostly landed on Q.T.’s chest.
This was a “touch all four corners” strap match, and well… it was every strap match you’ve ever seen (other than Sting vs. Vader from Superbrawl III, which was awesome). They did all of the stuff you expect, and told a competent story, but if you’re not particularly emotionally invested in the characters (and, as someone who sees this as pretty much a feud between two heels, based on the kayfabe evidence, I’m definitely not), then the story they’re telling isn’t going to resonate with you as much because the story of the standard strap match is all about sympathizing with the babyface when he or she is getting beaten with the strap, and then getting excited when the babyface finally gives the heel due comeuppance via the strap. It’s about visual displays of writing in pain, as opposed to, say, slow, subtle, progressive selling of a body part that gets worked over, and how the pain in that body part affects your ability to continue, or taking big, dangerous risks in a ladder match, or the more violent toughness of a hardcore match.
EARLIER TODAY, SAMMY GUEVARA ATTACKS SHAWN SPEARS WHILE SPEARS IS CUTTING A PROMO BACKSTAGE- didn’t like it
Spears cut a meh promo that ended when Guevara threw a hair at his head. Spears went down, and Sammy opened the chair up and sat on it like Spears does and talked to Spears calmly. That’s not how a babyface acts when he’s trying to revenge. A babyface should have fire and be all over the heel… especially when there isn’t even a match booked yet! He doesn’t even know if he’ll have another chance to get his revenge!
TONY SCHIAVONE INTERVIEWS KENNY OMEGA & DON CALLIS- bad
Tony was just there so Callis could berate him. Callis cut a promo saying that Omega had beaten everyone and there was no one left for him to beat. Thankfully this crowd figured out what they were supposed to do and chanted “WE WANT HANGMAN!”
Instead of the guy the crowd wanted, his loser friends came out. In back-to-back sentences, Evil Uno first said that Callis was Kenny’s “weird uncle” and then insulted him by implying that he was not a man. Yes, that last part is its own separate issue, but it’s a lot more baffling to me that someone can say two contradictory things in back-to-back sentences and not realize that they’re doing it than it is for someone to be sexist. I can understand how bigotry makes sense to the bigot. I don’t get someone putting thought into coming up with something clever to say and not realizing that the things they have come up with to say expose them as not being clever because they don’t make sense together.
Evil Uno wants to know why Kenny Omega is ignoring the crowd, and ignoring the top-ranked wrestler in the division. I have an even better question: Why is Tony Khan ignoring this? Isn’t booking these matches his job? And yet we constantly see the #1 contenders in the divisions take FOREVER to get their title shots.
Kenny asked Evil Uno what the capital of Thailand was, and this idiot had no idea what was coming. And it’s not like Kenny didn’t give the man ample time to defend himself. This Evil Uno is a dumbass and goof, so I popped huge when Kenny kicked in the dick.
The Dark Order charged down the ramp, but they got taken out by Gallows, Anderson, and Nakazawa. Yeah, they were attacked from behind, but it was still about ten-on-three, and they didn’t even try to get back up after they each got knocked down the first time. The heels set up to hit Grayson with title belt but Adam Page’s music played. Instead of all just attacking Page five-on-one, Kenny threw Nakazawa at Page. One punched managed to dispatch Nakazawa and knock him into Kenny. The Good Brothers finally got smart and made it two on one, but Page beat them up, too. Page was set up for a Buckshot Lariat on Kenny… but then he hesitated, and instead walked into the ring to get in Kenny’s face. Anderson created a distraction, which allowed Kenny to run away with his title.
This was more of Kenny being a clown, more of the Dork Order being clowns, and more of Page suddenly having this unexplained fear of Kenny which prevents him from hitting Kenny with a wrestling move, but not from getting in Kenny’s face. How does that make any sense?
I’m also not really sure why Kenny is afraid of Page other than the idea that he’s a heel so he’s supposed to be a coward. Every time they’ve wrestled, Kenny has won clean… and that’s on top of Page apparently being afraid of Kenny. You’d think Kenny would LOVE to defend his title against Omega (and certainly more than having another defense against someone like Moxley or Orange Cassidy or even Jericho.
JIM ROSS’ SIT-DOWN INTERVIEW WITH ETHAN PAGE & DARBY ALLIN- very good
This was very good, but I probably would have skipped mentioning that Ethan Page is a family man. It’s confirmed that the Coffin match will take place next week.
THE INNER CIRCLE (Jake Hager & LAX) (w/Konan) vs. THE PINNACLE (Wardlow & FTR) (w/Tully Blanchard)- 5/10
This felt like a clipped version of an awesome match. It was a lot of good stuff, but it felt like I missed several six-minute chunks to bridge it together in a way that would make it feel more epic. The heels won by interference. Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone seemed to have no problem with Tully’s cheating.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- terrible
The three heels were celebrating in the ring when Konnan came up behind them and hit Wardlow with his “madball.” Wardlow no-sold it, and turned around to face Konnan. Meanwhile, Tully Blanchard snuck into the ring behind Konnan and took his knee out from behind. I assume I was supposed to be upset about the cowardly nature of Tully’s attack, but it’s really hard to be upset about it when the guy he attacked jut did the same thing to someone else, and was using a weapon to attack an unarmed man, to boot. That’s two out of three weeks for poor Konnan.
GOOD BROTHERS (BUT MOSTLY KARL ANDERSON) PROMO- very good… until the stupid play on the WWE catchphrase at the end. Anderson is getting a shot at Moxley’s IWGP US Heavyweight Title next week. I’m not sure what he’s done to earn a title shot of any kind, but it’s an undercard New Japan Title, so I think you really just have to be the first one to run out from the back after a match.
MJF VS. CHRIS JERICHO CONTRACT SIGNING AND THE REVELATION OF MJF’S STIPULATIONS- mostly good
*crosses fingers and whispers* “Please, G-d, no butler stip. Please, G-d, no butler stip. Please, G-d, no butler stip.”
MJF says that Jericho made Moxley wrestle every member of the Inner Circle to get a match with him, but I have no memory of that being a stipulation. And the reason for that is that IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. The only Moxley vs. Hager match happened when Moxley was already champion. Hooray for AEW and their attention to detail!
MJF says that he grew up loving Greek mythology, and thus poor Jericho will have to complete all of the labors of Hercules. And then slay a minotaur. Good luck with that, Chris (and Mantaur doesn’t count).
Haha! Half of my sarcasm actually turned out to be true! MJF references the labors of Hercules… but then says he only has five labors for Jericho. I guess he never finished reading the story. Except there are really only four, because the fifth one is a match against MJF himself. They other four are matches against other guys. They said “back to back,” but they didn’t clarify if that meant one a week or a gauntlet. The segment ended with MJF insisting on a handshake, so Jericho shook his hand and then pulled him back and punched him.
On the whole, this was good promo-work, but stipulations being imposed were pretty underwhelming (especially when you compare this to the previous time AEW did this, which was MJF and Cody).
TONY SCHIAVONE INTERVIEWS DR. BRITT BAKER, D.M.D. & REBA- bad
She’s being a clown. Don’t go around saying Reba was “innocent” when she was a participant in a match. That’s undercard delusional heel crap, not a main event act. She took a shot at WWE, and concluded her promo with a catchphrase that the fans are going to chant along to. If you’re trying to be a heel in this company, those are two things you really shouldn’t do.
MATT SYDAL vs. ANDRADE EL IDOLO (w/Vickie Guerrero)- 6.5/10
Andrade now has a dude with him to carry his stuff. Vickie can’t do that?
Andrade got a nice, clean win, but it wasn’t long enough for him to look particularly impressive. I understand not wanting to go too long because it’s just Matt Sydal, but they have pushed Sydal a bit recently and he was the #5 contender going into this, so I think they could have justified it.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- good
Andrade locked Sydal in a submission hold. They needed to do something that would get it across to the audience that they should not be cheering Sydal, and this was as good as anything to achieve that purpose.
MATT HARDY VS. CHRISTIAN VIDEO PACKAGE- fine… but I really don’t care to see them wrestle each other next week.
TONY SCHIAVONE INTERVIEWS ARN ANDERSON- Arn had something important to say, but the lights went out again. Please don’t tell me they brought Retribution in.
Nope. It’s Aleister Black, who now has magical powers of teleportation and… electrokinesis, I guess?
An old man got beaten up for heat in AEW. Everyone take a shot.
Cody came out to defend Arn from further harm. I guess Arn’s kid isn’t backstage to come out? Black/Tommy End/whatever motioned like he was going to back off and let Cody check on Arn, and dumbass Cody believed him, so Cody got his head kicked off, too.
Mr. Zelina Vega stood over the fallen Cody while J.R. called him “Tommy End, or whatever he’s going to be called,” and Excalibur jumped in with “that is MALACHAI BLACK!” What kind of bush-league sh*t is this?! You didn’t know what the guy’s name was going to be before he came out! The only explanations are that or Tony Khan changed his mind in the middle of the segment and told the announcers “stand by for new name” so Ross gave us the “or whatever he’s going to be called” and then Excalibur piped in with a new name he had absolutely no way of knowing.
In addition to being bush-league, this hurts the character by making it clear that he- or at least his name- are being controlled by corporate, which not only makes the guy less cool, but makes him feel like less of an outsider and less authentic as… whatever manner of counter-culture he is, exactly.
I don’t know if Cody is someone I really want to see Black wrestle that much, but Cody is in a spot where he can take a loss, and Cody’s preference for talking-heavy feuds will give them a chance to flesh the character out a bit, so it’s not a bad choice.
BEFORE THE SHOW WENT ON THE AIR, RICKY STARKS CAME OUT TO THE RING TO CUT A PROMO- meh
He’s got his own security guards with him. Taz, Will Hobbs, and Hook came out onto the apron. The crowd chanted “ECW!” for Taz. Can we stop chanting ECW at this point?
Taz demanded to know what Starks was doing because “we discussed this. You don’t need no security!” (to protect you from Brian Cage). Starks made a comment about Brian Cage’s wife. Starks ran away. Cage beat up the security but didn’t bother to follow after Starks.
MIXED TAG TEAM MATCH: Orange Cassidy & Kris Statlander vs. Hardy Family Office (The Blade & The -Bunny)- 4.5/10
They did stuff. The finish with Statlander making a tag that the heels didn’t see was clever (I guess there are no tag ropes in AEW) in that it lets the babyfaces win (and thus keeps Statlander undefeated) while still getting heat on the heels in OC’s side of things for kocking him out with the brass knuckles. That being said, it would have been better if they hadn’t shot her finisher in a way that made it clear that The Bunny’s head came nowhere near the mat.
EARLIER TODAY, JUNGLE BOY WAS AWARDED A TROPHY FOR BEING THE FIRST PERSON IN AEW TO WIN FIFTY MATCHES- good for him
TONY SCHIAVONE’S INTERVIEW WITH AMERICAN TOP TEAM IS INTERRUPTED BY AMERICAN TOP TEAM BECAUSE THEY’RE ANGRY THAT THEY WEREN’T ASKED TO DO AN INTERVIEW OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT-
I don’t think they even told us who the guy was that did all the talking. He plugged Dustin Poirer vs. Connor McGregor. He rambled on about he was skeptical of coming because AEW sucks because it’s not Championship Wrestling from Florida in 1978.
Again… this guy grabbed a mic from an announcer and got in the ring and went on for minutes on end, burying the company… and they didn’t even cut his mic, never mind try to get him out of the ring? They didn’t even take the f*cking camera off of him! Remember when Taz- an actual employee- said something about Cody and they cut his microphone? Or when Brandi Rhodes got all bitchy at Jade Cargil for daring to cut a promo when she wasn’t supposed to? How do you something like that, but don’t to anything to stop this guy from going off the way he is?
Anyway, it turns out it’s a swerve because after ninety minutes, this guy has decided that Tony Khan was right and AEW really is great and a new era of wrestling and everything like that. The only way this segment makes any sense is if AEW and this guy got together to do this… just for the sake of swerving their own fans. Why would they do that? What the hell do they gain from that as opposed to, say, starting the main event earlier and taking less of a chance that it goes long enough that they’ll have to go to an overrun to air it and people’s DVRs will cut the end off? Or even just scheduling a promo or a video package to build up something on next week’s show?
Oh my G-d it gets worse. That this guy has said that he actually loves AEW, out comes Lance Archer to knock him out with and punch to the face. And, of course, the fans didn’t really act to this because the guy was putting the company over when he got punched out.
Seeing their… friend or coach or whatever get punched, Amannda Nunez and Jorge Masvidal… just stood there like good little children. I guess they figure that the dude had it coming for jumping the barricade. Archer then hit the guy- Ed something- with a Blackout. Ross then tried to tell me that this guy wasn’t showing AEW any respect… when just ten seconds ago he was saying that AEW was great.
Actually, now it’s occurring to me that I might have interpreted this guy’s “always trust your instincts” line wrong. I took it as him saying that he was apprehensive about showing up but he decided to do so, and it was a good move because AEW turned out to be great, but I guess maybe he meant that his original instincts were at AEW sucks and he should have trusted those. That certainly absolves Ross, but I’m assuming many in the crowd were confused in the same way I was, as that would explain the lack of pop for him being punched out.
Of course, that doesn’t fix any of the logical issues in the segment about why they didn’t cut his mic or try to get him out of the ring or anything like that.
STREET FIGHT FOR THE AEW WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES: Young Bucks(c) (w/Brandon Cutler & Michael Nakazawa) vs. Eddie Kingston & Penta el 0M (w/Alex Abrahantes)- 8/10
When did this become a street fight? And if it’s a Street Fight, why don’t the Good Brothers and omega and whoever come run in?
They gave the babyfaces TWO phantom wins here. The Good Brothers eventually did show up (after the ref bump). Kaz showed up to help fight them off. I guess Pac is in the bathroom or something.
The match itself was mostly just a bunch of big spots and weapons shots, but I hadn’t seen of those in a while, so it was entertaining.
This was another underwhelming show from AEW, with the main event saving it from being very bad. Not a good way to start off what you have build up as a big series of shows.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES:
1. Jim Ross referred to Santana and Ortiz as “Luchadores.”
They’re not. They don’t wrestle the style, they don’t have masks, and I’m 99% sure they’re Puerto Rican, not Mexican. They only reason to call them “Luchadores” outside of a Spanish-language broadcast (where I believe that would be the generic term for any professional wrestler) is ignorance.
2. Jim Ross- “It’s obvious by now; there are no disqualifications in this street fight.”
If it’s obvious, then why are you telling us? What’s next? Are you going to remind us that gravity still exists?
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