** The Buy-In **
They played the whole Countdown show we already saw, it was awesome, but it's nothing new.
Then they played the whole Britt Baker promo from Dark, again, nothing new.
Best news is that Full Gear has a unique looking stage for the show! No more generic stages! Ramp also goes all the way to the ring at the same level, expect some crazy CMLL style spots tonight.
Bea Priestley vs Britt Baker - 6.5/10
This started hot, Baker came out hot, Bea is pushing it, and they went straight for strikes and into the chase. Because of that 'heat', they went past paced at first and it looked pretty weak, especially Baker's strikes. The story also was built around Bea trying to concuss Baker again, but then a lot of her offense was against Baker's back. I will say, Baker did sell the back for several spots. Baker submitted Bea with the Lockjaw. Wrestling was sloppy at times, but the match was good.
I liked that Bea used a really similar counter to the Lockjaw as Riho used, but a weaker version that relied on pulling the hair, it's like Bea watched the Riho vs Baker match, but doesn't have the counter perfected, just knows that it works.
Post-match - Brandi Rhodes and Awesome Kong came down to the ring. Kong has changed her attire to a gold and rose combo, with the hair of her victims hanging on her belt. She is also wearing pants now. She came in and hit the Spinning Backfist on Bea. Kong delivered the Awesome Bomb, and then cut off some of Bea's hair for her belt. I'm not sold on Kong's D&D attire, but I like the Brandi/Kong package.
We got yet another repeated Bucks vs PnP package.
Darby Allin was show at ringside as he doesn't have a match tonight.
** Main Show **
Cold Open - Good, just a compilation of all we've seen throughout the month. It also ran down the big matches of tonight's card. Also seems like we have a two man both for tonight.
The Young Bucks vs Proud & Powerful - 9/10
Pretty glad to see Santana and Ortiz go from Konnan's experiment on Impact, who allowed them and gave them the feuds that took them to become top 3 tag team in the US if not the world.
From early on, there was a weird story with Santana and Ortiz's tags not being counted, which was making them look like babyfaces, but it forced them to cheat to get both men and and cut off Nick from his corner. Some tags got in between, but later on, when Nick was legal again, he accidentally kicked the ring post and got himself into peril once again, this time far more hurt than before. This led to the very definition of a hot tag when Matt came in, the house went crazy for the tag. There was a great spot when Nick went for the Meltzer Driver, Nick's hurt leg buckled and couldn't do it, this sold it later when Nick was forced to tag in because Matt was done, so Nick fought off both Santana and Ortiz, and while held his own for a bit, it was just a matter of time before the numbers game was enough. Minute later, Santana and Ortiz defeated the Bucks with the Street Sweeper. Hell of an opener, psychology was off the charts here.
I liked that Excalibur and JR pointed out that Ortiz's stiff-board pin was a show of disrespect to Nick.
Post-match - The beat up to the Bucks continued, Sammy Guevara came out to celebrate with them. PnP went to kill off Nick Jackson with a loaded sock, but the Rock n Roll Express have had enough and gave the Bucks enough time to recover and somehow set up Morton to hit a Canadian Destroyer and a Suicide Dive.
"Hangman" Adam Page vs "The Bastard" PAC - 9.25/10
Pretty basic heel vs babyface match with PAC going after Page's left eye and overall head I guess. PAC's kick work on Page was a work of art, amazing kicks left and right. PAC's dominance was so much that he started to get cockier and cockier until he gave too much time to Page to recover and make a comeback. They went back and forward for a while but PAC would find himself again on top after a Brainbuster onto a chair outside, but Page came back with an awesome Avalanche Fallaway Slam. There was a great submission tease when PAC countered the Deadshot into the Brutalizer, only for Page to make the ropes. Page came back, blocked a low blow, and hit the Deadshot for the win. Awesome match. This is the match that I had less expectations for and god dang!
Brandi/Kong Recap - We got a recap of Kong and Brandi's attack.
"The Chairman" Shawn Spears w/Tully Blanchard vs "The Bad Boy" Joey Janela - 7.5/10
I kinda love Spear's t-shirt "No More Garbage Wrestling". Maybe he'll become the Silas Young/Eli Drake guy for a while chasing after Janela, Havok, and Allin for a while, ending with Moxley. The t-shirt would be torn off minutes later.
The core of this match was how much Spears could torture Janela, and how much hurt could Janela take, at least until Janela managed to catch Spears with a hell of a kick and turn things around. Janela hit a Senton to the floor where he landed like a bag of potatoes on his side. The other big spot came when Tully helped Spears hit a Spike Piledriver on the floor, which led to the C4 and another win for Spears, who has ranked up a 3-win streak in about a week. Match was ok, nothing special really, but not bad either.
Kip Sabian Interview - Sabian made fun of Golden Boy and then talked about why he joined TH2. Penelope Ford walked up and made things awkward saying why be bad when you can be Superbad, obvious reference that she went from Janela to Sabian irl. Good character development for Sabian.
AEW World Tag Team Championship 3-Way Match
Private Party vs The Lucha Bros vs S.C.U. (Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) (C) - 8.5/10
Lucha Brothers looked like whatever is above Superstars when the came out, there was a specific shot at Pentagon in the turnbuckle where he looked like a demon ready for battle.
Given the teams involved, given the type of match, they did an amazing job at keeping things under control and never allowing the match to break down into chaos where you can't even follow it. Story was kinda that Lucha Bros dominated the ring, forcing SCU and PP to tag each other in order to escape the punishment. Eventually the match kinda broke down into all teams chasing their finishers, with SCU blocking the Gin N Tonic, only to follow with the S-C-U-Later for the win. Great match, really solid, but I kinda feel that this was a match were crazy shit should had been pulled when it comes to Fenix and Pentagon.
Post-match - Lucha Bros attacked SCU and started brawling. Pentagon went for the Package Piledriver on a chair, but suddenly the lights went out, and when they came back, Christopher Daniels was dressed as Pentagon. Daniels hit the Angels Wings on Fenix on top of Pentagon. Daniels ran off Lucha Bros. We're getting a Pentagon vs Daniels feud!!
Sakura vs Riho Build Up Video - Amazing. Both women cut their promos on Japanese, while Kenny did some English side commentary. They had footage from Riho and Emi in Japan. Teacher vs Student.
AEW Women's World Championship match
Emi Sakura vs Riho (C) - 8/10
Sakura was emotional to start the match, how am I going to boo this woman now!!? This is going to be a hell of a test. Riho has been winning the crowds at every town she goes, but this is now a pay-per-view, going for a match with a somewhat unknown wrestler from Japan, someone who doesn't give Riho the underdog look. This realistically, has no right to succeed given how American feuds are built. As a fan of of old school Kung Fu movies, I can really appreciate a teacher trying to kill their students without any maliciousness in them.
The match did start slow and kinda mistimed, but once Sakura started to work over Riho, the match slowly started to escalate. There's something about a woman so happy being so vicious when you're not paying attention. Sakura hurt Riho a lot, but Riho started coming up with her explosive footstomp counters over and over and over again, and as Sakura closed in on winning, Riho came up with running knees and had to rely on a roll up to win.
There is one spot where Sakura did something like a Vader Footstomp and just landed straight into Riho's arm. It looked devastating.
Cody vs Jericho Video Package - Beautiful.
Judges for the post-60 minute decision are Dean Malenko, Arn Anderson, and THE GREAT FUCKING MUTA!
AEW World Championship Match, If Cody Loses, he can no longer challenge for the title again.
"The American Nightmare" Cody w/MJF vs Chris Jericho (C) w/Jake Hager - 9.75/10
Jericho looks awesome tonight, he's not doing the whole Painmaker thing, this is Le Champion 100%. I don't know why, but I hated Cody's intro by Roberts, too much ass kissing. Today's is also Jericho's birthday, which could really play into having a great or terrible one.
Cody went after Jericho's Judas Effect right arm, and when it all looked great, that's when it happened, Cody went for a dive to the elevated ramp, Jericho moved, and Cody landed eye first on the ramp, getting a huge laceration over the eye. The doctor kinda controlled it, but legit or not, Jericho started working over that eye. This added an incredible layer of complexity to the story that if Cody loses, he can't challenge again, because we now have a doctors/referee stoppage looming over the match. If this is a worked cut, Cody is a MASTER at storytelling and creating drama in the ring.
Jericho started dominating and the blood stooped. Cody had a comeback and looked great, but Jericho cut him off again. There was some great stuff with Hager and Cody getting a fantastic near fall after a CrossRhodes. At this point of the match, I'm at a 10/10, it just feels like it, but with the training belt shots from Jericho (which I didn't mind), I had to think if the stipulation was "If Cody Loses" or "If Cody Can't Win the Title", and that just completely took me out. I don't think that really takes anything away from the match, but I just can't give it the 10 if I have to think about it.
Finish finally came when Cody got put on the Walls of Jericho, Cody had no escape, but wouldn't submit, so MJF threw in the towel.
Only thing I wasn't a fan of was Cody's mom getting a shot in on Jericho, not because of any 'outside interference', because it's just a mom slap, and Jericho thankfully didn't sell it. I just thought it was unnecessary. On this same topic, I loved how the Hager interference was addressed, with Hager being sent to the back instead of DQing Jericho, which would at this point be a win for Jericho since he gets to retain against a man that can't challenge again. Smart.
Quick side note, early in this match, Excalibur explained that they have certain referees that specialize on certain types of matches, and thus we usually get Knox in multi-team matches, while Aubrey usually gets the big money singles. I thought this was a nice touch.
Post-match - The Inner Circle came down to celebrate with Jericho while MJF finally realized what he had just done for Cody. MJF implored for forgiveness from Cody, broken down to tears. Cody told him it was fine, and the time we all knew was coming came, MJF low blowed Cody and left him for dead. MJF single handedly took out Cody from title contention and then turned on him. Nuclear heat!
Someone threw a beer at MJF and got kicked out of the arena. LOL.
Omega vs Moxley Video Package - Awesome. I LOVED Omega's argument that he's the guy that people want to make a name out of because he IS the best in the world.
Lights Out Match
Jon Moxley vs Kenny Omega - 9.5/10
Lights didn't go out fully, it was just some weird ass Fiend lighting. Irrelevant, the big match feels are strong and off the charts. Moxley came down with pants and through the crowd. I like the idea that AEW has two different Moxleys given the match. This being Unsanctioned, Moxley made sure to get a 'Fuck' early on.
This is gonna be a hit and miss match for most fans, a lot will appreciate the violence and throwback to some of Moxley's old deathmatch spots (mouse traps for example), but I can see the 'serious' fans be really against this. I think if we look past these spots, there was some great wrestling and drama here that given the style of match, I just don't think it was going to be able to live up to the Cody vs Jericho heat anyway. Maybe it was a misjudgment to try and doing weapon spots beyond the barbwire and trashcans because they can come off as cute or as trying to one up the last one. I also think it bothers a lot of people to know that this is Omega but they're not getting an Omega New Japan match like if he was a one-trick pony.
Anyway, this was a deathmatch, we had trashcans, barbwire bats and brooms, we had tables, we had broken glass, we had an ice pick, we had steel chains, and mouse traps. It all built to a Japanese style barbwire spider web bed, where Moxley suplexed Omega into. They legit had to get staff to pull them out. This was followed by Omega hitting a V-Trigger on Moxley through part of the stage. They made their way back to the ring were Mox got a near fall with the Paradigm Shift, so Mox removed the padding of the ring, he went for the Gotch Style Piledriver, but Omega blocked hit the V-Trigger, DDT for a near fall. Omega went for a Ibushi's Phoenix Splash on the wood when Mox moved, but still kicked out. Mox hit one last PS for the win.
I loved this battle, but I don't think fans and journalists are ready for deathmatches on their mainstream promotions. I think removing the mousetrap and ice-pick gimmicks from this match would have done a lot for this since it was arguably the only goofy spots of the match.
Another side note, this is a scientific hypothesis. There is a dude in the second row on the hardcam, the one with the "Fuck WWE" sign. He looks like El Phantasmo, and so my hypothesis is that being an annoying asshole may be genetic and those same genes are related to the ones that makes you look like ELP. It sucks that in this world we live in, the annoying ones also have the money to sit front row.
Show of the Year Contender, and that is just a formality because today is not December 31st yet.
Something that I want to bring up is that I was ready curious to see how the titles were going to be placed throughout the card, would it be like WWE where Superstars > Titles, or like NJPW where the Championships > Wrestlers. I was really happy with the placing of the title matches and I thought that this made the Unsanctioned match look smart because you still got the two huge names to close the show with a kayfabe reason as to why it wasn't Cody vs Jericho.<