The gimmick for this show was a take-off on PWG's Mystery Vortex concept. Specifically the original one, where the only match on the card we knew in advance was the main event.
WRSTLING RULES TAG TEAM MATCH:
WRSTLING (Eddie Kingston & David Starr) (w/Jeff Cobb) vs. OI4K (Jake & Dave Crist) (w/JT Davidson) - 4.5/10
I have no idea what a "WRSTLING Rules Match" is. The announcers never mentioned the term nor mentioned any differences in the rules, but term appears on several results sights, including the one the official AAW website links you to.
The match was pretty short for a match between two major acts. It was all action, but the real action was the story between Kingston and Starr, with Kingston- by bond of his own word- having to do whatever Starr orders him to for a year. OI4K could have been replaced by anyone else. And, quite frankly, they should have. Their supposed "intensity" comes off as so forced to me. They come across like guys who are trying to play super-intense badass wrestlers rather than coming across as actually being that.
MAXWELL JACOB FRIEDMAN INTERVIEW - AMAZING HEEL ANTICS! Marty Derosa was supposed to interview MJF but MJF interrupted him and made fun of Marty, saying "I'm just not feeling the bald thing. Can we try somebody else?" He then led the camera around the corner to where the other interviewer, Sarah Shockey- more to MJF's liking because she is an attractive female- is standing around and typing on her phone. MJF proceeds to shout "hey, sweetheart!" to get her attention. He grabs her phone away from her and says (while typing) "I'm like totes about to interview MJF. He's the best oh my G-d, girl. Talk to you later. Bye." He concludes with "there. Sent," and gives Sarah back her phone.
He then gives her some instructions "What I need you to do is introduce me, sweetheart. Do you think you can handle that?" She gives a very annoyed "yeah," to which MJF responds by telling her to "let the people at home know how amazing I am." Sarah is obviously quite annoyed by this, she's a professional so she turns to the camera, puts her smile on and begins her intro, but MJF is such a dick that she cannot even get through three seconds without falling into her "I don't care and am only doing this because I have been ordered to" voice.
MJF quickly cuts her off and once she finishes his name and says "Great. That was great. Alright. You're done" and all but shoves her out of the frame and forcing himself right front and center, cutting an excellent arrogant heel promo. We could, however, see Sarah in the background, where she was back on her phone, likely trying to undo whatever social damage MJF's message had done, and giving a grand total of zero sh*ts if her being the background was ruining this asshole's promo. As far as douchebag heel behavior goes, this whole thing was a gold standard that all similar heels should aspire to.
ACE ROMERO VS. HAKIM ZANE vs. MAXWELL JACOB FRIEDMAN vs. PACO - 5.5/10
The announcers accurately described MJF as "the cockiest little sh*t to ever walk into an AAW ring." The proceeded to run his mouth on everyone, leading to the other three teaming up to, as one of the announcers called it, "take it to that loud-mouthed dickhead."
The story of the match was MJF being a cocky asshole, especially to the massive 400lb Romero. The match would basically rotate between those two doing something together that tended to be slow paced and then one of the smaller guys coming flying in with a move that would wipe out one or both of them, then the smaller guys would do spots either with each other or with Romero that tended to be faster paced until we would come back to MJF and Romero and things would slow down again. It was an interesting way to structure a match, and I thought it worked well for a second match on the card whose goal was to get MJF over as being a douchebag.
The only negative points in the match both involved Romero trying to do flippy stuff. I really don't need to see big fat guys trying to do flippy stuff, especially if they're not very good at it. His Canadian Destroyer on MJF looked like it was more of a sunset flip that MJF took a weird bump for. And I was shocked that MJF even agreed to do the spot at all, because the other blemish on the match was a spot where PACO tried to give him a Code Red and it failed in such a way that not only did it look horrendous, but it looked like Romero landed with all of his significant weight coming down top of PACO just as PACO was rotating around and causing not just all of Romero's weight but all of PACO's own weight as well to come straight down on PACO's neck.
DAVID STARR & EDDIE KINGSTON BACKSTAGE - A lot of Starr bullying Kingston and Kingston having to take it. It did, however, establish that Starr had to leave the building now to catch a flight to the UK.
ACH & JIMMY JACOBS SEGMENT - Very worked shoot-y, but was quite good, with the emotions coming across as very, very real. For a worked shoot, this is about as you can get.
MARTY DEROSA INTERVIEWS THE BESTIES IN THE WORLD - Dull.
WRSTLING RULES MATCH:
Jeff Cobb vs. Dezmond Xavier - 5.75/10
This time the announcers acknowledged that this was a "WRSTLING Rules Match" but they still never explained what that meant. Cobb and Xavier did a fine job of telling the "big strong guy vs. small fast guy" story, but didn't tell it in a way that was particularly exciting.
SAMI CALLIHAN PROMO - Fine. He takes all of the credit for drawing this sellout house. He guarantees his match with Naito tonight will be a Match of the Year candidate.
AAW TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Besties in the World(c) (w/Scarlett Bordeaux) vs. Air Buds (Trey Miguel & Stephen Wolf) - 6.5/10
This was fast-paced and very good for the time it got... which was WAY too short for a tag title match between two teams that feel like major up-and-comers in the business. The Besties retained, leading into a post-match segment where Scarlett did not want Davey Vega to do his post-match Besties victory shtick with Fitchett and wanted him to pay attention to her instead, so we got several rounds of her basically intercepting Vega so that she should hug him and hang off of him and thus he wouldn't be able to do his varies Besties bits with Fitchett. Obviously Scarlett is the heel here, but, they're enough of an established team now that a simple high five should be a sufficient show of appreciation between two such good friends, and if Fitchett was really such a good friend he would totally understand that a high five is all he is going to get when freakin' Scarlett Bordeaux wants to engage in mutual touching.
SARAH SHOCKEY INTERVIEWS ACE ROMERO - MJF shows up and once again was a tremendous douchebag. This time Ace was there to stand up for himself and did so quite well. As they said, this feud is, in fact just beginning.
CHUCK TAYLOR & COLT CABANA vs. CURT STALLION & JAKE SOMETHING - 5.75/10
This was mostly comedy until the heels got frustrated and angry and serious. Something & Stallion wound up picking up the upset win, and cleanly to boot.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Great! Curt Stallion grabbed a mic and demanded that the Besties in the World come out and give them a title shot right now. The Besties did come out but without the belts. Stallion taunted Fitchett by asking "why don't you back your boyfriend up" and then the Besties both attacked Stallion, starting a brawl. Something & Stallion won the brawl pretty handily, at which point Stallion went after Scarlett. He dragged her into the ring by her hair and went hit her with some sort of move but she fought back a shot to the nose and a low blow, only to get laid out by Something with a Black Hole Slam. This got great heat, but I think it would have worked a little better if they had just had Scarlett nail the low blow on Stallion and then get laid out rather than this awkward little bit they did in the middle with her getting in his face and him backing down, then her turning around and seeing Something and being scared and then Stallion spinning her around to get her attention and that leading to the low blow? You probably lost track of everything that was happening while reading that last sentence, which should give you some idea of how convoluted it came across. Stallion then rubbed himself on Scarlett's fallen body before he and Jake laid some extra shots in on the Besties and then took off.
SARAH SHOCKEY INTERVIEWS PACO - GREAT babyface promo.
WRSTLING RULES MATCH FOR THE AAW HERITAGE TITLE:
DJ Zema Ion(c) vs. Trevor Lee - 7/10
The ring announcer seemed to be saying something about WRSTLING Rules meaning something about extra rules related to DQs but the crowd was making too much pointless noise for me to be able to hear him clearly. Trevor Lee began to cut a pre-match promo in which he claimed that he drew the house, not "Tomato Night-o." He was then about to explain to everyone what WRSTLING Rules means and I was all excited to finally find out... and then f*cking DJ Z hits him with a baseball slide. Well now I'm rooting for Trevor. These guys had a match that was pretty great, although I could have done without the idiotic nipple-biting spot. And from the babyface, no less. The finish was also one of those "using the ropes for illegal leverage" finishes that just treats the act of touching the ropes as some sort of magic that helps you pin someone rather than having any basis in physics. It actually looked like grabbing the ropes was pulling Trevor off of DJ Z more than it was helping to hold him down.
CURT STALLION & JAKE SOMETHING PROMO -This was an AWESOME heel promo, but Jake Something needs to ditch this awful "Something" last name and gimmick.
AAW HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
ACH(c) vs. Jimmy Jacobs - 6.5/10
We got some GREAT pre-match interaction between these two, with ACH jumping right up in Jimmy's face when Jimmy was standing on the turnbuckle.
ACH punched Jimmy in the balls right in front of the referee but wasn't disqualified. The referee also made no effort to get chairs out of the ring or take any action when people used them. They worked over each other's heads for a while, and then the match came to what was accurately described by one of the announcers as "a screeching halt" because Jimmy Jacobs injured his knee on the outside. A bunch of people came out from the back to check on Jimmy and the ref rang the bell and people were helping Jimmy limp to the back... and then Jimmy grabbed the ring bell and hit ACH with it and revealed to everyone that he was faking it... and for some reason that match was allowed to continue. WHY?
The referee thought Jimmy was hurt so he ordered the bell rung and the match stopped. That's a victory by referee stoppage because a competitor was unable to continue if I've ever seen one. So what if he was just faking it? His underhanded tactic backfired. He deserves this loss. He should not be rewarded for this bullsh*t.
And from a critical perspective... what was the point of this? To make Jimmy the heel? He already was one. Yes, you fooled us with your selling, Jimmy. Good job. But did this really make for a better match than if you had just kept wrestling for the four minutes you wanted convincing us your injury was legit? I don't think so.
Anyway, Jimmy rolled ACH into the ring, locked in the End Time... and then ACH turned it into Buster Call on a chair for the win, about thirty seconds after Jimmy's underhanded duplicitousness was revealed.
SARAH SHOCKEY INTERVIEWS THE BESTIES IN THE WORLD - Terrible. Rather than be angry that the two punks who beat them up, they'd rather pick a fight with each other about Scarlett (who was there with Davey). She is apparently claiming that something Fitchett did to her gave her a concussion. Concentrating on this instead of the punk who made fun of them and beat them up and beat up Davey's girlfriend and want their titles made them look like idiots. It took a pep talk from Sarah Shockey to get them to calm down and address Stallion & Something, which only Davey Vega did, saying they could have their title shot on the March 31st show and vowing revenge. Davey and Scarlett left, and Fitchett then started to ramble on about Scarlett.
TETSUYA NAITO vs. SAMI CALLIHAN (w/JT Davidson) - 6.75/10
This was also the night of the Michael Elgin incident which was edited off of the video. Well... night two of it, anyway, but this actually goes doubly so for the people at the Pro Wrestling Revolver show the night before where the reaction was apparently much more hostile. I'm not going to tell you whether you should or shouldn't keep supporting a promotion that uses Michael Elgin based on the accusations against him (that he did not properly handle an incident of sexual assault he was asked to look into that involved students of his), I will say that if you are someone who is going to get upset at a promotion for using Michael Elgin, shouldn't you be even more upset with a promotion that uses (and, in the case of Pro Wrestling Revolver, IS RUN BY) Sami Callihan? It seems to me that (alleged) domestic abuse is worse than (allegedly) mishandling an investigation into sexual assault. And I didn't see or hear any sort of negative reaction for Callihan here.
Weapons are apparently legal in this match. There was WAY too much stalling and gaga early on, and the match didn't get anything close to exciting until the last three minutes or so. It was very disappointing, considering the talent involved.
WRSTLING PROMO - They say that "WRSTLING Rules" just means that the rules are actually enforced. That's not a gimmick! That just means that the rest of your matches have sh*tty officiating!
ACH PROMO - Great!
An extremely disappointing show from AAW. It was just a bunch of stuff mostly not delivering. Some of that was due to time constraints and some was due to other issues, but the fact remains that basically everything was disappointing. MJF was a major bright spot, though.