CM PUNK & FTR vs. MAX CASTER & GUNN CLUB (w/Anthony Bowens & Billy Gunn)- 5.5/10
This pairing is not working. I realize that the idea is that they are trying to turn the Acclaimed babyface by having them rag on the disliked Gunn Club, but Gunn Club haven’t done anything to the Acclaimed, so this kind of “we’ll be your friends by we’ll constantly humiliate you” thing that the Acclaimed is doing is somewhere between (at best) that friend of yours who keeps bringing up a story that really embarrasses you, and (at worst) the mean kids from Carrie.
And the worst part is that I think AEW recognizes this, because to mitigate that, they have decided to make Gunn Club be as pathetic and insufferable as possible… but the way they have chosen to do that is to humiliate and infantilize them, which is a career killer.
Even more puzzling is Billy Gunn’s role in all of this. Either he takes the side of the Acclaimed in the split, which will make the Acclaimed feel more heelish when they’re supposed to be babyfaces, or he sticks with his sons, which makes him a babyface because he’s a father standing up for his sons.
I’ve talked about this one before, but this match, being the next step in the Punk/FTR pairing is yet another fine example of AEW failing to actually tell a story. Excalibur told us that there has been “mutual respect” that “blossomed” after Punk and Dax had their match. That match happened over two months ago, and we haven’t seen them interact since. I’m sure Tony had this planned out in advance, but total lack of presentation of it has made it feel like an ass-pull (and FTR’s totally random babyface turn doesn’t help there, either).
Can someone tell Schiavone to knock it off with the “we’ve had such a great week here in *INSERT NAME OF TOWN HERE*” thing he does. It comes across as phony pandering, and even worse, as phony pandering to a specific area on what is a nationally televised show.
The crowd treated Punk like a HUGE babyface. They did some good stuff… but that’s a problem when you consider just how far above Gunn Club Punk and FTR are. Billy’s bump off the apron at the ed looked very phony. Yes, it would have been better if Punk had gotten whichever Gunn Kid that was up higher, but Billy is a thirty-year veteran. He should have adjusted.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- fine
Punk cut a great promo. Dax cut what has become his stereotypical “the only thing I care more about than pro wrestling is my family” promo. Punk called out his opponent for Forbidden Door, and it’s Tannahashi. I’m sure the match will be good, but I have no interest in it, partially because I don’t think there is any chance that the title will change hands. I just hope AEW uses this month
MJF PROMO- Can someone find me that clip of Mike Tenay saying “OH SH*T! IT’S VINCE RUSSO!”?
He throws his scarf down and says “this is Max Friedman talking.” Um… isn’t it always Max Friedman talking? People call you “Max” all the time, and your full name is Maxwell Jacob Friedman.
MJF goes on to threaten some big merger Tony Khan is working on. They didn’t cut his mic, so we know it’s not a shoot, so just stop pretending. Doesn’t anyone learn anything from the failure of TNA?
Anyway, he says he doesn’t want to be here, and buries the fans, and I mostly agree with his criticisms of them for changing their opinions, but then says that the fans don’t like him because he isn’t “reckless” and doesn’t “dump my opponents on their heads.” Um… in kayfabe, you do.
He talks about being the best because he does stuff that makes us fans “feel.” He yelled at Tony Khan, said he wanted to be fired. Said something that started with F that got bleeped, and then they cut to black. I would complement them for their execution of this (even if I hate the idea) except that killed it by having him essentially say “I’m going to shoot now” at the beginning of the promo. If this actually was a shoot, the control should have figured that out pretty quickly (after all, I did, and I’m just a fan), and should have shut it off then. You can’t have it both ways.
We came back to the announcers talking about something else entirely. Unfortunately, that thing is JR once again trying to convince us that the best comparison for 2022 Hiroshi Tanahashi is 1988 Sting.
MIRO PROMO- awesome
JOHNNY ELITE vs. MIRO- 5.25/10
Miro wins clean.
JERICHO APPRECIATION SOCIETY (MINUS DANIEL GARCIA) PROMO- bad
This was loud, cartoonish crap that made me feel like that big PPV match I paid a bunch of money to see solved nothing. Regal and Kingston interrupted them. Kingston wants a Blood & Guts match. Jericho sent his guys to go beat them up. Ortiz then snuck into the ring through the crowd and hit Jericho with his madball, then cut some of his hear with a pair of scissors. Apparently having a lock of hair cut was so humiliating to Jericho that he immediately changed his mind about Blood & Guts, but only if he gets a Hair vs. Hair match with Ortiz first. I don’t really understand why I’m supposed to care about people’s hair in a feud based around attempting to set people on fire.
JAY LETHAL & FRIENDS ATTACKED SAMOA JOE BACKSTAGE AT THE PPV AND INJURED HIS ARM- This would be find if this feud didn’t feel completely extraneous.
HIKULEO & UNDISPUTED ELITE (reDRagon & the Young Bucks) (w/Brandon Cutler) vs. CHRISTIAN CAGE, JURASSIC EXPRESS, DARBY ALLIN, & MATT HARDY, (w/Jeff Hardy)-7.75/10
Jeff was supposed to be in this match but was injured, so he hand-picked Darby to be his replacement.
The Bucks came out on their own. They made sure to tell us that Hikuleo is because Adam Cole called in a favor from Jay White. Adam Cole joined the commentary team for this match.
This was your fun, choreographed spotfest for the night. The Bucks pinned Jungle Boy, setting them up for a tag title shot.
LEXI NAIR INTERVIEWS KEITH LEE & SHANE STRICKLAND- accomplished its goal
And there were four other people there who Swerve had to introduce. They are apparently celebrities in some right. Their presence made Strickland seem like a bigger deal, so mission accomplished.
TONY SCHIAVONE INTERVIEWS ATHENA- mostly good
The “Fallen Goddess” nickname doesn’t match her pure babyface manner, but other than that, this was good. I liked that she specifically named Jade’s streak as a reason she wanted to go after the TBS Title and not the world title, as it makes Jade feel like a bigger star because she has this special thing, and it kind of protects the Women’s World Title by flagging that its secondary status is temporary and only tied to Jade. You might say that that kind of degrades the title in the long run, but I think that’s okay in a situation where you have a secondary title threatening to overtake a primary one.
Jade and friends interrupted Athena. Stokely got to talk and was great, as you would expect. Kiera Hogan then got in Athena’s face, prompting Anna Jay and Kris Statlander to come out, setting up the exact same face-off we got at the PPV, so you can see why I thought doing it at the PPV was a mistake.
WARDLOW vs. J.D. DRAKE- squash
This was hyped as “Wardlow’s first match as part of the AEW roster” and yet it didn’t feel any different from any of his previous matches… so why call attention to it? Obviously you should be trying to put attention on the fact that he’s free of MJF now, but doing so by hyping something that winds up feeling like fake hype is a mistake.
After squashing Drake, Wardlow began kicking him to get him out of the ring, FOR NO REASON. What a douche. Why am I supposed to like this guy again?
TONY SCHIAVONE’S INTERVIEW WITH WARDLOW IS INTERRUPTED BY MARK STERLING AND SECURITY- terrible
Sterling is suing Wardlow on behalf of the security guard’s union. I would like to state for the record that I noted several times that Wardlow’s needless assaulting of security was heelish because these people were no MJF’s employees, but regular Joes employed by Tony Khan to just do their jobs. Wardlow responded to this reasonable lawsuit by grabbing one of the security guards and assaulting him. All the man did was hand Wardlow paper. F*ck Wardlow. What an asshole.
LEXI INTERVIEWS DAN LAMBERT & THE MEN OF THE YEAR- mostly good, until Dante Martin showed up.
They built up the title match with Dante Martin. Sky having given the belt a name is the sort of thing that you know isn’t going anywhere good (and it makes him look like a goof, to boot). Dante showed up and cut a very wooden promo saying that on Rampage, he would prove that he is as good as Scorpio Sky.
TONI STORM & RUBY SOHO vs. BRITT BAKER & JAMIE HAYTER (w/Rebel)-
You know… in case you somehow weren’t already sick of seeing these four interact. At least they didn’t do an interview.
The spot with Britt getting the glove on before doing the Lockjaw while Ruby seemed to make no effort to escape was very bad. We got yet another “oopsies, a miscommunication” between Baker and Hayter (leading to Ruby pinning Britt) but that has been going on for so long that I don’t give a sh*t at this point.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- meh
The heels beat up the babyfaces with the Not-A-Title Belt Brit got from winning the Owen Hart Foundation Women’s Tournament. Toni Storm feels like the latest bring-in to be completely forgotten.
JON MOXLEY vs. DANIEL GARCIA- 8/10
Chris Jericho and William Regal were on commentary for this match, once again making it feel like this feud has gone nowhere.
They’re doing Blood & Guts on free TV again. Moxley won an awesome match. Kingston countered Jericho’s attempt at interference.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- Moxley announced that he would be in Blood & Guts.
Overall, an okay show from AEW. There were some great matches and an exciting return in Miro, but there was also a lot of stuff that makes you question the wisdom of the people running the show (the MJF stuff, and presentation of Wardlow), but the biggest issue to me was the lack of Adam Page. If the idea is supposed to be that Page was too distraught to be interviewed, just tell us that he refused an interview. Otherwise, it makes it feel like you didn’t even ask, so how important can it be?
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