CASINO BATTLE ROYALE TO ADVANCE TO THE WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH OCTOBER 2ND ON TNT- 6/10
We are just moments into the first match of a show where AEW needs to pitch themselves to new fans as being different from WWE… and they have already done a WWE battle royale trope that everyone complains about and says is stupid. And no, the fact that the announcers called it out for being ridiculous doesn’t mitigate things because the promotion is still fine with it.
Moments after saying that they can always fit in some kind of dental reference when Britt Baker D.M.D. does something, the announcers completely missed that Britt pulled Shazza McKenzie over the top rope to eliminate her with the mandible claw.
Bea Priestley was in the third group of entrants. Britt Baker charged up the ramp at her to get revenge for giving her a concussion on the last show. Also in that group were Brandi Rhodes and Awesome Kong. Kong played the bodyguard role for Brandi for about two seconds before Kong accidentally bumped into Brandi. Other babyfaces tried to eliminate Kong while Brandi was left alone with Nyla Rose and Excalibur told me that Nyla was looking for “revenge” on Brandi for “interjecting Awesome Kong into her match at Double or Nothing.” I don’t understand why there is heat there. It’s not like that move put Nyla at any more of a disadvantage than it did Dr. Baker, who was also in that match, and the idea that this was something Nyla was looking for revenge on Brandi for doing was not brought up during Nyla’s sole appearance between now and then, either.
We got a face-off between Awesome Kong, Nyla Rose, Jazz, and ODB… and the crowd chanted for ODB. Really, AEW crowd? Really?
There was some story here- Bea vs. Britt, Allie vs. Brandi, Kong as Brandi’s bodyguard, Nyla Rose as the big monster- but most of them really didn’t get too much focus. Only Bea vs. Britt felt like a story that was being told the majority of the time the relevant parties were in the ring, with the rest of the match really feeling like a bunch of women all getting their sh*t in, which made the match start to drag. It was nice to see Nyla finally win something, but the dirty finish (Bea helped pull Britt off the apron) combined with Nyla’s poor record so far makes her feel rather undeserving of the big spot she is now in.
This staggered entrance thing is a mess, and AEW’s attempt to make it even more dramatic by delaying some of the entrances a bit more makes things even more complicated. No one aside from the “Joker” final entrant feels like a big star when they come out, and people spend so long looking towards the ramp to see who is in the next group that they miss things like AWESOME KONG GETTING ELIMINATED, removing a top star from the match and clearing the way for Allie to get her hands on Brandi. In a related spot, people were going so gaga for Mercedes (including the camera, which stayed on her for about fifteen seconds, causing us to miss two of the final seven eliminations) that they didn’t react at all to Britt and Allie eliminating Brandi (and the camera almost missed this one, too). It’s time for this stipulation to be retired.
JACK EVANS & ANGELICO vs. PRIVATE PARTY (Marq Quen & Isiah Kassidy)- 6.5/10
Private Party win a match in which many moves and flips were performed. Jack and Angelico losing (and Jack being unhappy about it) is a developing story.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Well… that developed quickly. Jack and Angelico attacked Private Party after the match and injured Quen’s knee with the Navarro Death Roll.” The fans were so outraged by this heinous attack that they tried to show us how clever they were by chanting “PARTY POOPER!” How about you just boo or chant “you still suck!” or “f*ck you!” or something like that at heels. Something that shows you actually care about the babyfaces rather than about trying to get your own sh*t in?
A LUCHA UNDERGROUND SKIT HAPPENS - Not an actual Lucha Underground sketch, but the same “it’s a TV show, not a live sporting event” style of shooting things, complete with slow motion and similar effects. A multi-racial gang try to mug muscular man and his female companion. Fortunately, they only come at him one at a time. He no-sells a punch to the face from the first one, then takes him out with one move. The others are also each taken out in turn with one move. Apparently this man is named Wardlow.
I didn’t like this, simply because it’s a switch from the “live sports” style to the TV show style, and I firmly believe that you cannot switch back and forth between the two because (as we often see in WWE) it shatters suspension of disbelief.
MJF INTERVIEW - He starts out with some good heel stuff towards the announcer, then explains to us that he doesn’t have a match on tonight’s show because he didn’t want one so that nothing would be able to stop him from bring at ringside with Cody tonight. When the interviewer asked what would happen if Cody didn’t pick him to be in his corner, MJF dismissed the possibility. The fans were making a lot of noise during this, as if there was some sort of production screw up and their either couldn’t see it or couldn’t hear it or something like that.
SOCAL UNCENSORED PROMO - This is not the time for fluffing the crowd, so stop wasting my time with this.
SOCAL UNCENSORED vs. MARKO STUNT & A BOY & HIS DINOSAUR (Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus) - 6.75/10
Another moves match that got more time than the previous match, but at the same time, I didn’t have as much of a reason to care about either team going in as I did with the previous match. SCU picked up the clean win. Excalibur told us that SCU are now 2-0 in trios competition, which is fine if you’re going to have some sort of trios division, but I doubt that they are, so what does that really mean?
On commentary, Jim Ross constantly called Jungle Boy “Jungle Jack.” That is a mistake that should have been made AT MOST once.
KENNY OMEGA vs. PAC - 8.75/10
A well-paced match that did an excellent job of making pretty much every move mean something. Kenny worked over PAC’s head with his usual stuff. The finish saw PAC counter the One-Winged Angel with a Brutalizer and get the win via referee stoppage, which is definitely a sequence to keep in the back of your mind for future matches between these two.
CRACKER BARREL CLASH:
Darby Allin vs. Jimmy Havoc vs. Joey Janela - 2/10
For those wondering, a “Cracker Barrel Clash” is just a weapons match that happens to be sponsored by Cracker Barrell. Why in G-d’s name they chose this match to sponsor I have no idea, but I’ll bet they started to regret their decision when the first thing that happened in this match was Jimmy Havoc stapling himself with a staple gun just because. And then even more so when the other two tied Jimmy Havoc to a chair, forced thumbtacks into his mouth, and taped his mouth shut.
Jim Ross kept screwing up and calling it the “Cracker Barrel Challenge.” If he can’t get names right, he shouldn’t be doing commentary. End of story.
There was a spot where Joey Janela pulled a tennis racket out from under the ring, then threw it away. Because he legit doesn’t like Jim Cornette, so he’s got to reference that as much as possible because internet. The worst part is that in this particular case, Cornette is right. This match was mostly just alternating between stupid and gross. Havoc is giving Janela papercuts between his fingers, then sits him down in a chair in the corner and staples his forehead, then gives him a monkey flip,, and Janela holds onto the chair and lands perfectly… and instead of GETTING UP TO GO FIGHT THE MAN WHO WAS JUST TORTURING HIM, Janela just sits there and smiles like a goofball, basking in the crowd’s appreciation of the athletic feat he just accomplished. Then Havoc came by and gave him papercuts on the corners of his mouth. Good. Janela deserves it for sitting their smiling instead of trying to win the f*cking professional fight he is supposedly currently involved in. F*cking moron.
Then he went and killed Darby Allin with a powerbomb through a table, with Darby landing right on the back of his head. And the fans responded to this by chanting “CRACKER BARRELL!” This match is a large portion of what is wrong with wrestling in 2019.
Janela missed a moonsault, and Havoc through a 9x13 flimsy aluminum baking tray full of soft biscuits at him. Hooray for our sponsor. More ridiculous weapons were used and dangerous risks were taken for no reason. This was one step up from early 2000s CZW slice-and-dice bullsh*t.
WINNER GETS A BYE IN THE AEW TAG TEAM TITLE TOURNAMENT:
Best Friends vs. the Dark Order (w/the Creepers) - 7/10
This was a great babyface in peril tag team match, but they haven’t done anything to make me care about either of these teams. The Dark Order are weirdos who do magic because we have to have an act that does the magical lights off gimmick in everyone promotion, and they have targeted Best Friends because… um…
The Dark Order won after their minions interfered. On the bright side, them getting a bye in the tournament means that is one fewer Dark Order match I need to watch.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Stupid. The Dark Order carry Trent off up the ramp. We get a long magical blackout before Orange Cassidy appears in the ring, because he, too, apparently has magical powers now. He dove onto the Creepers. Best Friends shenanigans occurred. Just when I thought there was no way I could possibly care about this any less, AEW found a way.
WINNER ADVANCES TO THE AEW WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH OCTOBER 2ND ON TNT: Hikaru Shida vs. Riho - 6.5/10
Why do these two get to be in this match instead of having to go through the battle royale? Riho got her backed worked over but managed to win by roll-up.
SHAWN SPEARS (w/Tully Blanchard) vs. CODY RHODES (w/MJF) - 4.5/10
So based on the video package that J.R. assured us would “bring you up to date,” as best I can tell, Spears got upset because Cody called him “a good hand.” So what, exactly, is the issue here? In kayfabe, why is Spears upset? How is being called “a good hand” an insult or a sign of disrespect in this theoretical world we’re supposed to immerse ourselves in where the events we are watching are real and not predetermined? Next time maybe give us more story and less jogging.
Spears came to the ring with the very same chair that he hit Cody with at Fyter Fest. To be in his corner tonight Cody had to choose from his wife, his good buddy DDP, or douchebag heel MJF. Cody chose MJF, because he’s an idiot. Also, they all dressed up in Star Trek costumes because Cody felt like cosplaying.
Cody dove onto Spears before the bell rang and they brawled through the crowd. They got back into the ring for an official start to the match but wound up on the outside again quickly. We soon got a spot where Tully held Cody’s arm behind his back so he couldn’t block Spears’ low blow. The referee didn’t see this because he was busy dealing with MJF. No one should have ANY sympathy for Cody for not seeing this turn coming. None whatsoever.
They wasted a whole bunch of time making a big production of Spears taking Cody’s weight belt off then arguing with Hebner over it and Hebner taking it away from in just so the dastardly Tully Blanchard could slip Spears his own belt to whip Cody with while Hebner’s back was turned while getting Cody’s belt out of the ring… and then Spears just kept whipping Cody after Hebner turned his attention back to the match, and this was not a DQ. Well then why did you take the first belt away from him? I HATE sh*t like this because it shows such a painful lack of thought. This is no different than rules on Raw changing from week to week without any explanation.
Various shenanigans occurred, leading to MJF and Tully getting in each other’s faces. Spears hit MJF with a bicycle kick, sending him to the floor, and Tully followed MJF out and began to stomp on him. Arn Anderson came out and gave Spears a spinebuster. I have no idea how Hebner didn’t see this. Tully apparently did, though, as he and Arn yapped at each other. Arn left ringside, and then Tully just left, too, for absolutely no reason. Spears got a chair but Cody prevented him from using it. We got the big spot where Cody contemplates hitting Spears with the chair even though he knows he’ll get DQed and finally decides not to. Then, mere seconds later, he through the chair at Spears and Spears caught it so Cody could hit a Disaster Kick Van Daminator- which apparently is not a DQ- and get the win.
This match was paced very slowly and was mostly boring. It was a few big spots and between them was a bunch of gaga, half of which didn’t even make sense when you think about it for more than the time it takes you to have your Pavlov’s dog response. Why is a regular chair shot not okay but putting a chair in front of someone’s face and kicking it into their face is? Why is whipping someone Cody’s belt not allowed but whipping someone with Tully’s is? Why did Tully leave ringside? Why did Arn attack Spears? If he wanted to make the fight fair shouldn’t he have taken out Tully (i.e. the guy who kept interfering) rather than attacking one of the competitors?
This is an extremely common problem in Cody matches and storylines, and the lack of calling him (and the Bucks, too) out on this sh*t drives me insane. Cody is like a guy who thinks he’s writing some deep philosophy but in reality he’s just throwing around a bunch of words he read in several different philosophy books, even though they barely make sense together and there is no actual substance to what he is writing. Just look at this angle with Spears. The announcers keep telling us that “there is such a deep history here between Shawn Spears and Cody Rhodes. They go so far back.” WELL THEN TELL ME WHAT THAT F*CKING HISTORY IS, THEN!
And no, I don’t consider “they used to be tag team partners and came up together” to be a “deep history.” If you want a story to feel deep it needs to have some f*cking DETAILS! Tell me about how they won their first professional championships together. About how Cody got promoted out of developmental soon afterwards but Spears, despite his talents, was left to languish. Tell me about how Cody kept pulling for Spears to be brought up as well but the powers that be wouldn’t listen, and how they kept in touch even after Cody left. And now that Cody helped start AEW, Spears knew he would finally have a place where he would get the opportunities he deserved, so he followed in Cody’s footsteps and walked out of a huge money deal to change the face of wrestling forever with AEW and Cody welcomed him with open arms… and now that dastardly bastard Spears has turned on Cody. I don’t care if any of that stuff about what supposedly happened when Cody was on the WWE main roster and Spears was in developmental is true or not. It’s pro wrestling! It doesn’t matter if it’s the shoot truth; it just has to be believable. And that took me one minute to think up. But the best AEW can come up with was “they trained together and used to be tag team partners?” Really?
LADDER MATCH FOR THE AAA WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES:
Lucha Bros.(c) vs. Young Bucks - 8.5/10
This was a ladder match between the Young Bucks and the Lucha Bros. Some of it was creative, a little too much of it was cutesy mirror image stuff (and similar), and most of it was utterly terrifying and I hope no one is seriously hurt.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Fine, I guess. Two masked men attacked both teams, then unmasked themselves as LAX. Why did they wear masks at all if they were just going to unmask themselves?
The next PPV is Full Gear on Saturday, November 9th.
SINGLES MATCH TO CROWN THE FIRST-EVER AEW WORLD CHAMPION:
Chris Jericho vs. Adam Page - 8.25/10
Adam Page road to the ring on a horse. The story of the match was Jericho having Page’s big moves scouted. This was a “big fight” world title match with a great, deliberate pace. They made every move count and both sold wonderfully. Jericho got the win with Judas Effect to become the first-ever AEW World Champion. This was an awesome match, but I don’t think it was enough to elevate Page in defeat.
This show left me with very mixed feelings. The announcing was terrible. Excalibur was very good but the Golden Boy ranged between meh and bad, and Ross started off poorly and kept getting worse as the show went on. I definitely thought it was a little too long, but the bigger issues were the in-ring stuff and the booking. There were some awesome matches on this show that represented everything I’ve hoped AEW could be… but there was also a lot of stuff that was everything I’ve feared AEW could turn out to be (and the Bucks vs. Lucha Bros. match was both at the same time). I’m not sure that Omega vs. PAC or Page vs. Jericho are worth sitting through hours of garbage matches and self-indulgent Cody bullsh*t that makes no sense. For every Private Party who makes me care about them, there are a lot of Dark Order/Best Friends/Orange Cassidy/Joey Janela types who are shallow characters who wallpaper over their lack of depth with flips and/or goofy schtick. Between Raw, SD, and ROH all improving, an extra hour of NXT, and the ever-increasing number of big New Japan shows, I’m sure I’m going to have the patience to sit through AEW every week if there is the chance that half of it is going to be things that make me want to punch a hole in my wall.<