The venue looks pretty cool.
SONNY KISS vs. PETER AVALON (w/Leva Bates) - 4.25/10
Sonny Kiss got a big entrance with the Jacksonville Jaguars Cheerleaders and mascot. This was more of a showcase for Sonny Kiss than anything else, as he got to hit all of his stuff and overcome Leva's attempts to help Peter via distraction.
RIHO & DR. BRITT BAKER, DMD vs. SHOKO NAKAJIMA & BEA PRIESTLEY - 7/10
Racist Britt Baker tried to make the tag to the wrong Japanese woman, because apparently they all look alike to her. This was a solid match that built very well. Nakajima pinning Riho felt like kind of an odd decision as it removes Riho from her place alone at the top of the pack at a time when she is really the only person in his division with any sort of distinguishing feature or accomplishment.
We started off with one of the best card run-downs I've ever seen. The only thing that bugged me was the idea that the Young Bucks vs. f*cking Cody & Dustin was a "dream match." It's just not. There are very few "dream matches" that have ever involved either Cody or Dustin, and none of them are tag matches.
MAXWELL JACOB FRIEDMAN, SAMMY GUEVARA, & SHAWN SPEARS vs. JIMMY HAVOC, DARBY ALLIN, & JOEY JANELA - 6.75/10
Shawn Spears is now calling himself "the chairman of AEW.". I get where they're going with this (not only does it reference the chairshot on Cody, but also his anger about his supposed "best friend" Cody Rhodes not offering him a leadership position in the company that Spears quit a steady job in WWE to join), but I just can't hear someone call himself "the chairman" without thinking "so is La Parka going to come in to feud with this guy?"
Darby's ribs were taped up after missing that Coffin Drop on the apron last time. The match was a solid thirteen minutes or so of action, with something of a story revolving around Darby's injured ribs. What it really did, though, was let Spears, MJF, and Darby focus on getting their personalities over while the others did their spotty spots to get themselves over. Props are due to the announcers for pushing the idea that Darby tagging himself in killed the momentum that Havoc had been building and led to his team's defeat, which contrasted nicely with Spears' selfishly-framed but still right play of rolling Guevara into the ring solely so he could tag himself in that led to him being the legal man and in place to pin Darby.
Spears pinning Darby was the perfect finish here, as not only does Darby get a bit of protection from the injured ribs, but it also both lets Spears ay he beat the guy who Cody couldn't, and once again it denies Darby that first win, giving him something to quest for (or, in Darby's case, become scarily obsessive about while questing for).
One other spot I have to talk about was Joey Janela hitting a Death Valley Driver on the apron and then, while down selling on the floor, noticed that the camera was on him so he flipped it off and said "f*ck you, Cornette." This is exactly the sort of self-indulgent bullsh*t that people like me have been worried about from AEW. There is an immaturity in not understanding that the best way to prove your critics wrong is not to take time out of your performance to address them. We saw it with Cody and the throne, and now we're seeing it again, and this time in the middle of a match. This is supposed to be real. A wrestler should be focused on winning his/her match, not how a critic will evaluate his/her work-rate.
PRIVATE PARTY ARE SITTING IN THE CROWD - They are here to scout matches. Apparently the two seats they are sitting in are a private area even though they are right there with all of the others. Alex Jebailey from Fyter Fest sat down next to them and was escorted away by security. What was the purpose of this?
ALLIE vs. BRANDI RHODES (w/Awesome Kong) - 4.25/10
Before the match we got a video package in which Brandi talked about needing to win this match to overcome inner demons telling her she can't do it. The announcers told us that this match was "deeply personal for both women," but from that video package it seemed to me that this was a very personal match for Brandi but for Allie it was just another match among thousands in her career.
So is Brandi a heel authority figure pretending to be a babyface? Is that the gimmick? She had Awesome Kong come out right before this match started and tried to use her as a distraction to attack Allie, and she inserted Kong into the match at Double or Nothing, giving Kong an advantage over all of the other competitors because Kong knew to prepared or them but they didn't know to prepare for her... and yet every other time we see her she's supposed to be a babyface.
The story was Kong distracting the referee to help Brandi, including at one point when Allie had Brandi tapping. Brandi won with the "bionic spear" because we're apparently doing the stupid Lex Luger "I can use the steel plate inside of me to knock people out" gimmick here in 2019.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Meh. Brandi and Awesome Kong put the boots to Allie after the match. One would think the other VPs will have a talk with Brandi about these actions. Aja Kong came out to make the save. This was supposed to feel like a big deal but didn't come off that way to me at all because it's not like these two facing off is anything new.
WINNERS QUALIFY FOR A MATCH AT ALL OUT FOR THE CHANCE TO EARN A BYE IN THE FIRST ROUND OF THE AEW TAG TEAM TITLE TOURNAMENT:
The Dark Order vs. Jack Evans & Angelico vs. A Boy and His Dinosaur (Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus) (w/Marko Stunt) - 6.75/10
Jim Ross again dropped his idiotic "they're real brothers, not wrestling brothers" line. You know... because wrestling is fake.
This was a big moves match without much in the way of a story. Marko Stunt's interference brought this match down for me, as it took the only pure babyface team and essentially made them heels by having an extra guy run in to help them. Isn't that exactly what Awesome Kong did in the previous match that we are supposed to be so upset about?
ADAM PAGE vs. KIP SABIAN - 7/10
A solid win for Page in a strong match and a good showing by Sabian in defeat, but it felt like this match did a lot more for Sabian than it did for Page. Page, as good as he is, doesn't feel like a main eventer at this point because he has pretty much only been in the ring with undercard guys.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - okay. Page got attacked by one of the Dark Order's "Creepers," but this one was much larger than the others. I was already expecting the post-match attack so I was in no way shocked when this creeper revealed himself to be Chris Jericho. The attack was decent, but this was dragged down by the announcers trying to convince me that this attack, which was less offense than Page takes during the course of the average match, means that Page won't be at 100% for All Out, a show that is six weeks away.
LUCHA BROS. vs. SCU (w/Christopher Daniels) - 7.75/10
The Lucha Bros. attacked Daniels for no reason on the outside. He then attacked them in front of the referee but this was not a DQ but merely an ejection. This was another all-action match. Lucha Bros. won.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Hated it. Daniels came out to check on his buddies. The Lucha Bros. turned heel by attacking him for no reason with a ladder. They then set up the ladder, climbed it, and cut a promo on it challenging the Young Bucks to a ladder match at All Out to determine who is "the best tag team on the planet." The announcers said this would be for the AAA World Tag Team Titles and that the Lucha Bros. inability to beat the Bucks has been bothering them, but that makes no sense because they beat the Bucks to win those very titles last month at Verano de Escandalo 2019. And if we assume the announcers are just talking out of their asses then Lucha Bros. and the Young Bucks having a ladder match to determine who is "the best tag team in the world" undermines the very basis of the tag title tournament that AEW will be starting shortly afterwards. And that's ignoring the fact that it's a ladder match just for the sake of being a ladder match.
KENNY OMEGA vs. CIMA - 9/10
So CIMA is a Japanese man representing China wrestling a heavily Mexican-influenced style in an American company and has his wife's and daughter's name written on his gear in Greek. Huh.
Both guys worked the head with all of their big stuff. Kenny also worked over CIMA's knees to try to take away the Meteora. The match build wonderfully, the selling (especially Omega's) was excellent, and the false finishes were insanely close. Easily the best match of the night. They called this a "dream match" and the wrestlers sure as hell delivered as advertised. The only thing here I didn't like was how long they were on the outside for without getting counted out. At this point I think it would be best for AEW to just not have count-outs, and they never seem to actually want to use them, and not having them would set them apart from most other promotions (especially the ones on TV).
CHRIS JERICHO PROMO - AWESOME! He has taken his "this company only exists because of my star-power" grizzled veteran heel gimmick and not only played it to perfection but also allowed us a look intro the "real" Chris Jericho beneath the fašade to learn what is driving this behavior, and that is a fear of discovering that he is might actually be not as indispensable and as great as he believes. He is worried that losing to Hangman Page will make people- and maybe even himself- think that he just can't hang with these young guys anymore.
After Jericho's promo, Adam Page came out and they had a pull-apart, which was a good angle in and of itself.
YOUNG BUCKS vs. THE BROTHERHOOD (Dustin Rhodes & Cody Rhodes) - 8.25/10
When they were telling their stories about a partner in peril or an injured limb this was great, but then it devolved into too much cutesy mirror image stuff and steal your finisher stuff and it really started to drag and nearfalls ceased to feel convincing. It reminded me a lot of Davey Richards vs. Eddie Edwards from ROH Final Battle 2011 where it felt like they went as long as they did (over thirty minutes) just for the sake of going that long.
The Brotherhood used low blows so you would think this would make them heels, but apparently not. Rick Knox just gave up on their being rules at one point and was counting two pins and once and such bullsh*t. The Young Bucks won.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - HATED IT. They put each other over and the there is respect all around the Bucks say "all of those mean things we were saying about you were just done 'in the spirit of competition.'" Within kayfabe all of this clashes with the overdramatic mental wrecks that these guys came off as last winter during the Bullet Club Civil War, and outside of kayfabe this was even worse because it basically says that none of the emotion you see anyone show should be taken as real and face/heel alignments in this company are completely fluid based on the needs of the moment and nothing else. This is exactly the kind of stuff I was worried about AEW being when it started.
This was another great show from AEW, although some troubling signs are definitely starting show. The booking in terms of wins and losses remains relatively solid and the pacing of the stories is good, but that ending segment and some of the interference stuff definitely signaled a willingness to make face/heel alignments so fluid as to not mean anything. In the ring this show was a bit worse than the previous show, which- while this show was still great, is definitely becoming a trend now, which is not good. I'm very curious to see how they start booking once their TV show starts up, as I think they have the potential to do some really great things if they take quarterly PPV approach rather than a monthly one, but we'll have to wait until the fall to find out.