** Buy In **
Double Or Nothing Intro - Basic, but great, it was a quick touch on all the matches of tonight's main card.
AEW World Championship shot on the line
Casino Royal Battle Royal - 7/10
Overall a fun match, nothing particularly memorable or anything, but it was placed at the right position of the show, to get the crowd on the mood.
Initial Group consists of MJF, Michael Nakazawa, Sunny Daze, Dustin Thomas, and Brandon Cutler. The handicapped wrestled in the most handicapped group. MFJ went straight for him. Nakazawa was the most over of the 5.
Second group consisted of Brian Pillman Jr looking straight out of the Rock n Roll Express, Joey Janela, Jimmy Havoc, Shawn Spears, and Isaiah Cassidy of Private Party. The former Tye Dillinger is still super over.
Heart's Suit was Mark Queen, Ace Romero, Jungle Boy, Billy Gunn, and Glazier. No one has been eliminated yet, but Janela and Havoc have started getting weapons. As I wrote that Nakazawa was the first eliminated. And now Janela has a cigarette stapled on his forehead.
Final suit is composed of Marko Stunt, Luchasaurus, Sunny Kiss, Tommy Dreamer, and Orange Cassidy. Ace Romero hit a dive on most of them.
Final man, as expected, was Hangman Page himself. Seeing the landscape, I'd have Page, Janela, MJF, and Havoc as the final four. I only missed on Janela there. Technically, the final two where MJF and Page doing the Santio/Del Rio spot, but Luchasaurus pretty much wrestled that last spot. Hangman Page goes down in the books as the first ever winner of AEW.
Most of the wrestlers had their chance to do at least one move before being eliminated, and you can already tell who is being positioned where. I can see Havoc becoming a big heel soon like he did in MLW, he was definitely positioned as a big hardcore heel.
Orange Cassidy only did one spot, but he was really over with the crowd. Janela got eliminated with a chokeslam on to a table. Luchasaurus looked awesome in the match, I really like his arsenal.
Worth nothing, not everyone in this match is signed to AEW.
Alicia Atout interviews Kylie Rae - Rae came off as lovable. She got interrupted by both librarians, Peter Avalon and Leva Bates who just got into a 'shhhush' battle. I don't know where this will go, but I found it funny and I love both Avalon and Bates.
Cody vs Dustin Video - Loved the promos, loved the footage, but I wasn't all that excited about the music selection.
Kip Sabian vs Sammy Guevara - 7/10
Just like Page is the first ever AEW wrestler to win a match, we now have Sabian vs Guevara as the first ever AEW straight up match.
The match was a good spotty back and forward match with both men trying to one-up each other. Guevara was obviously the heel. They did a lot of high spots, showing off as much as possible. Finish saw Guevara go for the 630, but Kip blocked it with his knees up and hit the Deadly Hollows for the win.
There was a crazy spot with Guevara suplexing Sabian to the outside and spilling to the floor where they held the suplex, and Guevara STILL suplexed Sabin again.
Sadie Gibbs Vignette - She looked great.
Cody, Brandi, Kenny, and the Bucks Intro - Cody and Brandi arrived in style, Kenny was looking at Ibushi matches on a laptop, Matt Jackson met with Nakazawa, and Nick superkicked a stooge trying to force credentials on them. They all came out and thanked and hyped the crowd. They gave out the official attendance record with 20,000 people. This is also the first ever sensory inclusive event in wrestling history.
National Anthem - Humans sang a song. The important thing to note. Ladies and gentlemen, we have pyro!
** The Main Show **
Man, hearing Jim Ross intro a PPV once more was surreal.
S.C.U. (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, & Scorpio Sky) vs #StrongHearts (CIMA, El Lindaman, & T-Hawk) - 8/10
S.C.U. came out to do their shtick before the match. We are informed that AEW will have a 10 second rule to exit the ring during tags.
Remember those Dragon Gate matches that were closing the old ROH Supercard of Honor shows? That's what it felt watching this StrongHearts unit wrestle SCU. A match that started at a decent pace, pair ups, and by the end, they're going 60mph with action all over the place.
Lindaman and T-Hawk stole the match if you ask me, they looked great, but I wouldn't take anything away from the rest, everyone played their part. SCU won with the Best Meltzer Ever on Lindaman. AWESOME opener.
Allie joined commentary for the next match. She sounded unprepared.
"Smiley" Kylie Rae vs Dr. Britt Baker vs Nila Rose vs AWESOME KONG! - 7.5/10
Nila looks fucking imposing on her entrance. Brandi came out last and seemed like she was going to introduce herself, except she said that she wanted to take the match from great, to AWESOME! Out came, Awesome Kong! I feared it was going to be The Miz. Crowd went crazy for Kong. I loved the call of 'suddenly Nila Rose just became a cruiserweight'.
Kong was obviously the powerhouse of the match, but they were smart to let Baker and Rae take over the workrate sections of the match to keep the pace up. Nila Rose, I feared she was going to be overshadowed for losing her powerhouse spot, but she still got to play it well, since they kept Kong away from the match as much as possible, which may be to hide her ring rust. That's smart agency right there.
Spot of the match was arguably the tower of doom spot, but I loved the following spot with Baker and Raw superkicking Kong, plus a spear from Rose to finally take out Kong. Kylie Rae was hulking up when Baker caught her with a great superkick and the AC Special for the win. Aside from watching STARDOM and Tessa vs Gail Kim from Rebellion, this may have been the best women's match I've seen this year.
AEW has gold with Baker and Rae, they could build a whole division around them. Rae is going to be a SUPERSTAR.
Best Friends (Chuck Taylor & Trent?) vs Los Gueros del Aire (Angelico & Jack Evans) - 7.5/10
Man, seeing Bryce ref a Chuckie T match in such a big and packed place just gave me feels. Angelico and Evans unfortunately lost their Skrillex song, but they got a good replacement.
The crowd was definitely behind Best Friends and surely enough, Jack Evans tends to act like a heel naturally, but this match felt like two babyface teams going at it to earn their first win in the promotion. First half of the match was Best Friends working on Evans, doing their BF stuff, but then the match turned around and it was Trent taking on both Angelico and Jack. Best Friends won with a Stomp Tag Team Crunchy on Jack Evans. Good showing for Jack and Angelico, but I thought that Trent and Chuckie T relied a lot on some of their Best Friends stuff that sooner or later will run it's course if they start working week to week come TNT.
Post-match - They hugged it out and the lights went off. When they came back, Super Smash Brothers were in the ring. Lights went out again and a bunch of minions surrounded the ring and attacked all men. Commentary never said it was Stupified and Evil Uno in the ring, which was an issue because neither JR nor Alex knew who they were. I suspect that there is a chance they may change their name because Excalibur didn't call them by their names.
The minions created a human throne for Uno and it looked awesome, he looked like a big deal.
ALL OUT announcement - AEW returns to Chicago with ALL OUT. Tickets go on sale on June 14.
Hikaru Shida, Ryo Mizunami, & RIHO vs Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazaki, & Emi Sakura - 8/10
Hikaru has an amazing look and looked like a superstar. I've seen a lot of her stuff in Japan, and I think she can easily create a huge legacy in the world. Yuka Sakazaki had her original song and it was awesome. JR was kinda marking out for calling his first ever Aja Kong match. I also don't know how to feel about the fact that both Kong women are on the show and haven't done a segment backstage.
Sakazaki got the most over in my opinion, but the match was definitely deviced to put Hikaru Shida over. The match was basic, considerably slower and less stiff than a usual Joshi match, but it did a fantastic job at presenting the style to the crowd. The match was back and forward and for the most part two babyface teams, yet Mizunami did get separated from her team for a bit there. Towards the end, it all build to Shida fighting Sakura. There was a small fuck up with the ring bell guy hitting the bell at a near fall, it distracted the people, but they had enough
ECW did it with the first Japanese and Luchadors, WCW with the Cruiserweights, TNA with the new age of Cruiserweights, and in a way, PWG with the European contingency like LU did it with Lucha. I think AEW is going to open the Joshi floodgates into the world.
"The Natural" Dustin Rhodes vs "The American Nightmare" Cody w/Brandi Rhodes - 9/10
Man, those entrances were something. Get it out kids, yeah, Cody took another shot at Triple H. Fuck that greedy nose anyway. Crowd popped. I do want to mention, there is a traveling camera angle when Cody hit the turnbuckle that was incredible and cinematic. Seems like forever since these two have wanted this match.
Match started with what seemed a master plan by Cody and Brandi to take out Dustin, Brandi kept inserting herself in the match until Hebner found out and kicked her to the back via DDP. BY this point, Dustin had been busted open against an exposed turnbuckle and his bloody side of the face looked redder than the face painted side. Dude went full Crimson Mask, 0.9 on the Muta Scale. I think he fucked up the blade job like that Eddie vs JBL match from years back.
This was a full Flair vs Dusty match. Dustin had control early until odds stacked up with blood and cheats, Cody had control for a long while until Dustin made his comeback, forcing Cody to rely on cheating again. They traded some incredible near falls with Cross-Rhodes until Cody landed a Vertabreaker and another Cross-Rhodes to finish his brother. Jesus, the passion on this match was intense and tense.
The match got a standing ovation when Dustin made his comeback. There was a "fight forever' chant at one point, and I think Dustin was just about to reach his 'forever' if he kept going.
Post-match - Cody returned to the ring and Dustin actually ran off scared to the corner, but instead of attacking him, Cody cut a promo telling Dustin that he doesn't get to retire and asked Dustin to tag team at Fight for the Fallen against The Young Bucks. Rhodes vs Bucks at FFTF. This came off really heartfelt, Cody's voice broke at the end.
Disclaimer: Ring mat was replaced after it ended a bloody mess.
AEW World Championship Presentation - Jack Whitehall did introductions, I love that guy. he brought out Bret Hart with the championship. Bret stumbled with his words a bit, but the thanked the crowd and presented the championship. Bret Hart brought out Hangman Page. Before he could even say anything, MFJ came out.
MJF FINALLY had a chance to cut a promo on a big stage and he nailed it. Pure heat magnet. He pretty much said that since Page is broken, he should relinquish his title shot to him and then he talked trash to Bret Hart, who couldn't hold off being impressed with MJF. Page tried to attacked MJF, but he dodged and was leaving when Jungle Boy came out to stop him at the ramp.
MJF was leaving when a real nightmare came out, Jimmy Fucking Havoc! Havoc, Page, and Jungle Boy all attacked MJF. Everyone except Page brawled to the back while Bret Hart finally presented the championship. It looks like something between the IWGP and UFC Championships. Looks heavy as fuck, and it doesn't have Velcro!
Young Bucks vs Lucha Bros Build Up Video - Awesome! There was footage from all the appareances they did in indies and AAA. It had footage from BTE where The Bucks were training and showing that they were carrying a lot of ring rust while Penta and Fenix had been winning titles left and right.
AAA World Tag Team Championship Match
The Young Bucks (C) vs The Lucha Bros - 9.75/10
Another one for the history books, the first ever title defended in AEW, was a AAA Championship. Lucha Bros came out with skull masks, while The Bucks came out dressed as Elvis. Rick Knox addressed the competitors before the match, big match feel tonight!
This was just an incredible match. They traded momentum on several occasions, and while again, there were no heels or babyfaces really, the whole match portrayed the Bucks as the ones doing the babyface in peril run, the ones overcoming some odds and having hot tags. Aside from that, it was just the crazy match that these two have done before, but given the time allowed, they were able to surpass most of their previous matches.
Match indeed played a lot into the Buck's ring rust, they were screwing up a lot at first, which played into the Lucha Bros cutting off Matt from his corner and working on him for a while. Nick Jackson came in with the hot tag and completely turned the match around.
Alpha vs Omega II Build Up Video - Awesome. Great production, promos, and footage of both men training. They pretty much did the Drago vs Rocky training montages.
AEW World Championship shot on the line
Chris Jericho vs Kenny Omega - 9/10
Jericho's entrance was a play through Jericho's career. It was weird that they kept cutting the music. Omega debuted his new song. There was a Cracker Barrel in the ring that Jericho had to help get out of the ring.
We got some gratuitous blood early on in the match when Omega's nose got busted open, potentially broken. It really turned things into another shade of seriousness when Jericho worked over him, Jericho doing a great job to keep taking shots to Omega's face here and there. The one bad thing about this was that it probably did affect Omega in a bad way and could be the reason why some spots looked botchy. At one point towards the end, Jericho countered two OWAs into a DDT and it was obviously a repeat.
The match was a hell of a battle, while not being a street fight, it felt way more physical than their Wrestle Kingdom match. Story of the match was pretty much that the nose fucked up Jericho and that was Jericho's entry into victory. He had hinted that in his MMA training, he had developed a new move called the Judas Effect, a spinning back elbow, so the whole match built to Jericho eventually hitting that move. Jericho as dominant and they went back and forward towards the end, but to me it was all because of the busted nose.
It's official, Chris Jericho vs Hangman Adam Page to become the inaugural AEW World Champion.
Post-match - Jericho became the company's super villain. Jericho talked trash to the crowd and said that it's his time now, that everything they have is because of him and that this promotion isn't for the fans, it's for him.
Suddenly, around the crowd, Jon Moxley came in. He dropped Jericho with the Dirty Deeds, he dropped the referee. He went for Omega, but Omega tried to fight back, and so they brawled into the crowd and into the stage, where Mox hit Dirty Deeds on top of the stage's decorative poker chips. He then delivered an FU to the boxes underneath.
Let's get away from the idea that this is The Elite, indie wrestling, anti-WWE, or whatever people will call it, but at the very bottom of things, this was top to bottom a GREAT fucking show. Wrestling was awesome, the segments were awesome, there wasn't a single point in the show that it felt like a piss break or a cool down match. I loved how everything in this show seemed to be taken with respect, like I heard in a podcast already, even in the women's matches, there was never a shot or a submission with the sole purpose of showing off a women's body. If this is AEW, they got my money.
Production looked amazing, set looked amazing, wrestler presentation made them all look like superstars. As for the commentary, I think that they found a good combo. Excalibur managed the play-by-play, Alex kept us up with the storylines and trivia, and JR was there for the memorable comments and those little things that the other two don't spot. I did think that Alex sounds like a publicity robot, he sounds extremely mechanic, but he was really necessary there because at this point JR can't keep up with all stories and history, and Excalibur already dominates calling the action. I got the impression that Excalibur got really over with JR.