We open with an in memory of graphic for Rocky Johnson, while JR wishes condolences to his family and those of various other wrestlers who have died recently.
Then we cut a bikini-clad woman sitting on a lifeguard chair on the stage. In 2020. Is this company just completely incapable of doing anything right where women are involved?
She’s here because it’s “Bash at the Beach,” and thus we apparently MUST decorate the stage and have people in costumes. WHY IS THIS KEVIN DUNN BULLSH*T ON MY AEW?!
FOUR-WAY #1 CONTENDERSHIP MATCH: Adam Page & Kenny Omega vs. Proud-N-Powerful vs. Proud N’ Powerful vs. Best Friends (w/Orange Cassidy)- 5/10
I thought wins and losses were supposed to matter in this company. If that’s the case then I should not be questioning what most of the teams in a #1 contendership match have done to earn this opportunity. Have Proud-N-Powerful even wrestled since losing their #1 contendership street fight to the Young Bucks last month? How the f*ck can they possibly be the top-ranked team in the company when I can’t even remember that last time I saw them win a match?
I did some research, and came up with the following statistics:
Best Friends haven’t been on the winning end of a match since NOVEMBER 27th. Proud-N-Powerful have one a grand total of one match since that same date (a four-way on Dark in December, which also included Best Friends, so how did that win help them at all if they wound up in the same place as a team who they beat in that match and who wasn’t won in almost two months). That win is also Proud-N-Powerful’s only win since losing to the Bucks in that #1 contendership street fight. The Young Bucks have won a grand total of ONE MATCH since their most recent tag title shot (which was a six-man tag. To be fair, Best Friends’ aforementioned losses were almost all six-man tags, but that doesn’t change the fact that they still HAVEN’T ACTUALLY WON ANY MATCHES).
Excalibur claims that “#1 contendership matches are so hard to come by, and that’s what makes the ranking system so important,” but that’s utter bullsh*t. It might be true in the male singles division, but the women’s and tag divisions seem to be giving out #1 contendership matches like Halloween candy.
Jim Ross was utterly terrible in this match. He immediately tells us that there are no DQs and thus the wrestlers can just ignore the “one man in at a time” rule- you know, the f*cking key rule to tag team wrestling- and I don’t think he could have possibly fund a way to say this that made the match sound stupider than the way he chose to say it.
He also talked about how “some experts” have said that Kenny Omega has been the best wrestler in the world over the past few years like he was reading from a Wikipedia article rather than it being something he himself had witnessed or thought. And, of course, he started doing that thing where he just refuses to call a move by the name a wrestler calls it. While I understand this for names that sound really stupid, there is nothing wrong with “Snap Dragon” especially when Omega is hitting a quick (i.e., “snap,” as in a “snap suplex” vertical suplex variation) Dragon Suplex! Why does he insist on telling us that it’s a “Full Nelson Suplex” every time?! He did this for Tanahashi’s High Fly Flow, too, and it’s EXTREMELY annoying. It makes it seem like Ross doesn’t think we’re smart enough to understand what’s happening in a move unless he explains it to us in terms he thinks we can relate to (i.e. not what the move is called in Japan).
Many, many, many spots occurred. Included in this was one of those horrendously fake-looking “everyone runs in and punches each other in the ribs and we wind up with two lines of wrestlers trying to give each other vertical suplexes… but these guys found a way to make it even worse: They had a ref bump happen first so that Orange Cassidy could get involved. This is a #1 contendership match, but we’ve got to make sure that Goofball McGooferton gets his spot in. And the fact that they even did a ref bump for this is only more frustrating because- as was pointed out to us several times- the wrestlers are all ignoring the “one man in at a time” rule because there are no DQs.
Anyway, if you like seeing random spots, you’ll like this match. If you want an actual story in your wrestling match, go elsewhere (for example, the show airing on USA right now). At least the only team that feels like they deserved to be in this match was the team that picked up the win. The idea on the finish was apparently supposed to be that the Bucks did most of the work in weakening Trent before the pin, but Page and Kenny hit the dude with their f*cking finisher and then pinned him, so I don’t see how anyone could possibly think that Kenny and Page didn’t do enough for the win to not feel cheap.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- whatever
Page consented to being friendly with the Bucks after the match. This “Adam Page has left the Elite” story is really turning out to be a dud, isn’t it?
They gave us a rundown of the show, which was nice… but if the Moxley vs. Guevara and Pac vs. Darby matches are going to be the first round of a mini-tournament for a world title shot, then is it really to much to ask to PUT THAT ON THE GRAPHICS?
CODY RESPONDS TO MJF- hated it
He tries to drive a wedge between MJF and Wardlow. This makes logical sense as something for Cody to do… but it’s hard for me to care about it as a fan because we have been given no reason to think that Wardlow is anything other than a muscle-head bodyguard.
I didn’t like the rest of this one bit. The part about taking the lashes came across as not just a prepared speech but like he felt I was an idiot and he had to explain to me what the physical result of him getting whipped would be. It felt like that moment in every promo for a ladder match where the wrestler says “when I climb that ladder and pull down that title” so that the fans watching understand how the match works. That’s fine in that sort of context because you are explaining to the fans what it is you are asking them to pay their hard-earned money to buy (although I’d personally prefer to the announcers to just explain the rules to us via a graphic instead of wrestlers having to spend every promo for a TLC match talking about how they’re going to use the eponymous weapons), but in this context it felt very much like Cody was explaining to us something that we all innately understand. Like he was trying to sell his pain to us in advance, even though we all understand the concept.
The part about MJF “stalling” also annoyed me because it pretty much broke kayfabe. Why are old-timers praising MJF for being a horrible person? How does the “less is more” thing make ANY sense in kayfabe?
Also, the whole bit about Cody claiming to be in MJF’s head came across as not only ridiculous, but as the absolute wrong track for this feud to be on. Cody is the aggrieved babyface, here. He shouldn’t be so f*cking calm and in control. Taking the whipping shouldn’t come across like a strategic decision; it should be this outrageous ask that Cody shouldn’t want to do but G-d damn it he’s willing to go through it, and to face the big scary Wardlow in a steel cage just for the chance to get his hands on MJF within the legally-sanctioned bounds of a professional wrestling match so that he can get his revenge on MJF without MJF calling the cops on him.
They’ve f*cked this thing up SOOOOOO badly. Cody should have spent weeks trying to get his hands on MJF and getting foiled by Wardlow, and then one week he finally manages to get his hands on MJF a bit, but then the next week MJF has him arrested for assault, etc. For a guy who was betrayed by someone he thought was a close friend, Cody has seemed perfectly content to wait months and months to get his hands on MJF, which tells me as a viewer that it’s not really that important.
JOEY JANELA PROMO- the words were good, but his tone was very odd.
More importantly, though, during this promo I came to the conclusion that in kayfabe AEW’s booking team are the worst bookers ever. How many times have these hot matches like Cody vs. MJF or Janela vs. Sabian or Dark Order vs. the Elite or Dark Order vs. SCU been dropped in their laps and they don’t book them? Joey Janela just laid out a perfect reason for him to want to get his hands on Kip Sabian and Penelope Ford… but AEW has him booked against Rey Fenix instead? Really, AEW?
KRIS STATLANDER & HIKARU SHIDA vs. THE NIGHTMARE COLLECTIVE (Brandi Rhodes & Mel) (w/Luther)- 5/10
Hey, JR? How about instead of telling us to “do some research” about Luther, you DO YOUR F*CKING JOB AS AN ANNOUNCER AND EXPLAIN TO US THE THINGS WE NEED TO KNOW TO UNDERSTAND THE PRODUCT?!
The match started with Luther keeping Shida away from the ring while Brandi and Mel jumped Statlander. Then Shida remembered that she carries a stick to the ring and just hit Luther with it. The match was just kind of there. Luther didn’t do anything. Statladner getting the win keeps her strong, but Mel now feels like a chump for losing her first match.
DARK ORDER VIDEO- dumb
We are apparently being allowed to sit in on Grayson briefing Dr. Claw on their various recruitment efforts and evil plans. Most intelligent villains don’t broadcast the steps of their evil plans to the whole world while the plan is still underway. How dumb are they going to feel when one of Brandon cutler or Michael Nakazawa or Adam Page’s friends shows them this video, exposing the fact that the Dark Order don’t care about them and only want to use them to get close to the Elite, thus thwarting their attempts to recruit them?
#1 CONTENDERSHIP TOURNAMENT SEMIFINAL MATCH: Sammy Guevara vs. Jon Moxley- 6.25/10
Moxley showed up in the fancy car that he stole from Jericho last week. And yes, he stole it. Him getting the car was contingent on him joining their Inner Circle, which he didn’t do. Moxley won a fine match for both men’s spots on the card.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- mixed
Now the Inner Circle have control of the lighting in the arena, because they used the f*cking stupid lights out gimmick to teleport into the ring. They teleported in behind Moxley… but then waited for him to turn around and attack them. What the f*ck? The beat-down was great, by why couldn’t they have just snuck out of the crowd and attacked him instead of using the f*cking magical powers and/or influence over the production crew that they apparently now have.
Jericho stabbed Moxley in the eye with a spike… which is now the second time we’ve had that angle in the past month (Brandi stabbed Statlander in the eye with her high heel). I am harping on this because it seems to happening pretty constantly in AEW (dark factions running around trying to recruit people, people offering people fancy cars in exchange for something, etc.).
They did at least treat this injury angle like the big deal they should have. After many replays and updates, we were told that we had to cut away to some “chaos backstage.” Said “chaos” were Jericho and his people walking around calmly, while Jenn Decker asked them for an interview.
CHRIS JERICHO INTERIVEW- awesome
Not only did Jericho cut a great promo on Moxley, but he also built up for a match against Jungle Express next week. Unfortunately we couldn’t hear some of it because there were audio issues.
Q.T. MARSHALL, DUSTIN RHODES, & DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE vs. MJF, THE BUTCHER, & THE BLADE (w/Wardlow & the Bunny)- 4/10
Despite the number of times that Cody said “Max” earlier in the show, JR called MJF “Matthew Jacob Friedman.”
MJF is wearing an “I banged Dallas’s daughter” shirt. For heat, MJF punched Dustin with that diamond ring he won on his finger. I’m shocked that this didn’t knock the diamond off of its mounting.
MJF took a comically-stupid flipping bump for DDP ramming his head into the turnbuckle. It was embarrassing to watch. Dustin did his new signature move, the Canadian Destroyer, because why not. On MJF. And then DDP hit MJF with a Diamond Cutter. Does AEW not understand that the idea is to SAVE MJF’S HEAT FOR CODY?
Many flips happened. This match made the heels look like sh*t for having so much trouble beating a team consisting of Dustin Rhodes, an old fart in DDP, and Q.T. Marshall, who we have been told over and over again is basically the bottom of the barrel in AEW. MJF pinned Q.T. Marshall (because G-d forbid we pin the guy with a much bigger name and who isn’t going to be wrestling very often)… and he did it with a f*cking ROLL-UP, because why would you want to do make your #2 heel actually look strong by winning with his finisher.
ADAM PAGE INTERRUPTS SCU’S INTERVIEW- bad
Page is drunk, I guess, and accidentally spilled some booze on Christopher Daniels’ shirt. SCU was angrier here than they were when the Lucha Bros. interrupted their interview WHILE THEY WERE FEUDING WITH THE LUCHA BROS. How does that make any sense? Daniels is yelling that he is going to send Page his cleaning bill. Dude… it’s just booze. Put the shirt in the f*cking washing machine. That’s all you need to do.
Kenny Omega showed up to get Page away and make peace, telling SCU that they respect them and expressing an interest in having a nice, clean title match next week.
#1 CONTENDERSHIP TOURNAMENT SEMIFINAL MATCH: Darby Allin vs. Pac- 7.25/10
Pac BRUTALIZED Darby’s back and got the win. This was the best thing on the show other than Jericho’s promo, and it’s not even close.
TONY SCHIAVONE INTERVIEWS PAC- They pushed the idea that Pac would just be named the #1 contender because there is no way Moxley can possibly wrestle next week.
They cut backstage to show us Moxley being loaded into an ambulance… but then he just got up and banged the doors open and headed to the stage. He picked up a microphone somewhere along the way and cut a promo vowing to wrestle next week and beat Pac to win the title shot. Various road agents and referees- and also Christopher Daniels, for some reason- came out to keep Moxley away from Pac.
This was a bad show from AEW. It was full of stuff that felt totally sub-par and thrown-together, and will a whole bunch of stuff that just plain missed. The wrestling in particular was extremely weak, and is pretty much going to be the first piece of evidence people introduce when they say that AEW focuses too much on flips and moves that get cheap pops, and not enough on stories or logic.
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