** PRE-SHOW **
SCU (Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) vs. THE DARK ORDER (Evil Uno & Stu Grayson) (w/the Beaver Boys & the Creepers) - 6/10
Fine for the time it got, with some good babyface in peril stuff.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Dumb. Winning cleanly wasn’t enough for the Dark Order, apparently, so they beat the babyfaces down after the match. Colt Cabana showed up to make the save but got overwhelmed and beaten down. Eventually the Dark Order’s music played and a man in a black hooded cloak and mask showed up. The Dark Order all stopped what they were doing and began saluting, only for the man to reveal himself to be Christopher Daniels, who dove onto them. The babyfaces then beat up the Dark Order.
This would have been fine (well… maybe just meh because do we really care about Colt Cabana in 2020?), if not for the following issue: Daniels’ entire plan is reliant on knowing 1) how the Exalted One dresses and 2) that he has commanded his minions to immediately stop everything they’re doing and salute the direction ninety degrees to his left (yes, they all turned to the f*cking hard-cam to do the pose even though they thought their leader was on the ramp) the moment he shows up.
** MAIN SHOW **
JAKE HAGER vs. DUSTIN RHODES - 4.25/10
This was a tale of an otherwise decent match marred by a few moments of major stupidity. The first was that the spot involving Hager’s wise, who they kept showing at ringside. Dustin attacked Hager while Hager was talking to her, so she responded by trying to hit him. Dustin blocked the punch, and then forcibly kissed her. Your babyface, ladies and gentlemen. Whoever thought that spot up should be fired. Another f*cking idiotic spot that should have gotten someone fired was Dustin shoving referee Aubrey Edwards out of the way so that he could kick Swagger in the nuts. That’s what heels do.
What’s worse is that neither of these spots did anything for the match that couldn’t have been accomplished otherwise. There are plenty of ways to weaken Hager enough for a Code Red that don’t involve a shot to the nuts, and I’m much rather have my babyface turn the tide by persevering rather than by taking advantage of the heel distracting himself, then forcing himself on the heel’s wife.
The other problem with the low blow spot, of course, is that how am I supposed to get angry when Swagger does it later on in the match if Dustin did it first? These were far from the only problems in this match (their attempts to have Swagger work on Dustin’s knee were made completely irrelevant because every time Swagger did something to Dustin’s knee, Dustin would just reverse the next move), but they were the biggest. They also seemed to lose track of what their story was, shifting around from thing to thing. It wasn’t terrible (the “this is a fight atmosphere was the biggest plus) but it certainly wasn’t close to being good, either, and was brought down severely by the two aforementioned idiotic spots.
AEW MAKES AN INCREDIBLY STUPID ANNOUNCEMENT - on Dynamite, in Newark, on March 25, they announced that they were going to have a War Games match. No teams announced, no reason to have one. They’re doing one just to do a War Games show (they’re calling it “Blood & Guts”… though hopefully that’s just the name of the show and not what they’re calling the match). You know… exactly like WWE does. Of all of the f*cking stupid WWE things to copy, this was the one I was most certain that AEW wouldn’t make, but here we are.
SAMMY GUEVARA vs. DARBY ALLIN - 7/10
They showed us Jurassic Express sitting in the front row, because apparently tonight the rules are that wrestlers need to buy tickets, even though we not only saw them warming up backstage on the pre-show, but they were even INTERVIEWED backstage on the pre-show. These guys had no relevance to this match, and didn’t do anything at any point on the show.
Darby and Sammy brawled around on the outside for a long time and did crazy stuff. When they finally made it back to the ring so the match could officially start, they did more crazy stuff. This was a big moves match that was paced extremely well. Darby tried to attack Sammy afterwards because apparently winning wasn’t enough, but Jake Hager ran out to pull Sammy to safety.
AEW WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Adam Page & Kenny Omega(c) vs. the Young Bucks - 8.75/10
Based on their cheering, the fans apparently WANTED to see Adam Page powerbomb Matt Jackson onto a table full of metal objects. Basically, Adam Page cut a promo on Pac that turned out to be too good, and thus it’s ruining this storyline because the fans like chanting “COWBOY SH*T!” more than they care about any of the actual characters in the feud.
Looking at the action alone, this match was AWESOME. There were a lot of cool spots and exciting nearfalls, and aside from that one powerbomb thought the table right in front of the referee, they definitely made a much better effort to actually obey the tag rules.
The storytelling was great, too… up until a point, at which point they seemed to have completely abandoned the story and just had a regular tag team match, or at least took the story in an odd direction where suddenly it seemed like the Bucks were the heels even though they weren’t doing anything out of line (as Ross and Schiavone kept mentioning on commentary, you have to put friendship aside and try to win to support your family financially). Couple this with the fact that despite all of their teasing, the post-match segment was just a reinforcing of the status quo ante, and it feels like we were robbed of the payoff that the build had promised us. In the ring this was excellent, but from a storyline point of view, it was a disappointment.
AEW WORLD WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH:
Nyla Rose(c) vs. Kris Statlander - 5/10
This just plain wasn’t a PPV-quality match. They did their stuff and it was all okay at best (with one or two very scary miscues). Statlander felt outclassed pretty much the whole match, and the proximity to Nyla’s title win made it feel like she never really had a chance.
MJF (w/Wardlow) vs. CODY RHODES (w/Brandi Rhodes & Arn Anderson) - 7/10
They did a good job bringing the motifs of the feud into this match, but they never really formed them into much of a coherent story. MJF’s work on first Cody’s arm and then his broken toe was forgotten the moment MJF stopped attacking them, and the whole thing with the weight belt just pissed me off.
Is the weight belt legal or not? If the ref is going to yell at MJF to not use it and then go so far as to physically prevent him from using it by taking it away from him, then using it should be a DQ. And if it’s not a DQ then the referee shouldn’t be getting in the way and taking it away from MJF. You can’t have something be legal at one point in the match and not legal at another point. This isn’t that hard a concept to grasp, and yet Cody has failed to grasp it repeatedly. For someone who loves old school wrestling so much, the concept of logic seems to have escaped young Cody.
The finish was that Cody could have had the match won by the decided to hit his finisher some more, which allowed MJF to reverse the third one with a knee strike, then hit the punch with the ring for the win. I thought this kind of killed Cody’s finisher. Much better to have him reverse the second open, after the dramatic “pull him up at two” and some dramatic emoting than to have him take two of them, then just block the third.
PAC vs. ORANGE CASSIDY (w/Best Friends) - 1.5/10
The announcers claimed that Orange Cassidy’s shirt is one of the top sellers on the AEW website. I really hope that’s not true.
Schiavone is trying WAY too hard to make up for his previous burials of Orange Cassidy, which is clear by how quickly his attitudes towards him seems to have changed in the past few days. Ross then went the other direction and insulted fans who have criticized him on Twitter for not knowing the wrestlers’ names and mispronouncing them on a regular basis. I’m sorry, but knowing the wrestlers’ names and pronouncing them correctly is a pretty big f*cking part of an announcers’ job. Nothing Ross has said in AEW has made me think any more highly of any of these wrestlers, so the least he can do is call the matches in an intelligent manner, but apparently that’s too much for good old J.R. (with the emphasis on “old”).
Basically, they took Fire Ant vs. Pac, which sounds awesome, then made it one-sided, and interrupted it with long segments of stupid crap instead. So Orange Cassidy’s gimmick is that he has talent but rarely applies it? Why is he employed then? Many talented athletes have lost their jobs for this reason. And in Orange Cassidy’s case his continued employment is even sillier because AEW almost never books him in matches, so why did they hire him in the first place?
Even with all of the dumb Orange Cassidy sh*t in this match, perhaps the single dumbest thing was Rey Fenix running out to attack Trent… and instead of just hitting him from behind like the heel he’s supposed to be, he ran past him so that he could do this completely pointless 619-esque thing in the ropes before standing up and kicking Trent in the face. Because G-d dammit even the heels have to be allowed to do cool things even if they make no sense at all, because then how else will we get our heels cheered?
Then again, I’d argue they’re barely even heels in this situation, as Trent had just interfered in this match to help Orange Cassidy, so the Lucha Bros. are really just evening the odds. Anyway, Best Friends and the Lucha Bros. brawled to the back, which distracted Orange Cassidy, allowing Pac to hit an arm wrench and then lock in the Brutalizer, because G-d forbid that Pac beat Goofleberry McGooferton cleanly.
AEW WORLD TITLE MATCH:
Chris Jericho(c) (w/Proud & Powerful) vs. Jon Moxley - 5.25/10
We almost immediately spill to the outside and yup, here’s Jericho hitting Moxley with weapon right in front of the referee and not getting disqualified. And here they are brawling all through the crowd, and Aubrey is just following them around and yelling at them instead of doing her job and counting them out. And the worst part about it is that the only reason they went into the crowd in the first place was so they could do some spots where they were brawling in the crowd.
Actually, do you know what’s even worse than that? AEW easily could have made this a no DQs match. People have been STABBED IN THE EYE for crying out loud! And if they had made this a no DQs match, none of this brawling in the crowd forever and weapon use would be a problem. But they didn’t, so it is a problem.
Anyway, Jericho beat Moxley down a bunch. Any time Moxley would get some offense in, Jericho’s buddies would interfere. Despite there being several people in the back who currently have issues with Jericho’s crew (Darby and Dustin chief among them), no one came out to help Moxley, even though those two did come out to help Moxley in a similar situation mere days ago. Aubrey finally saw Jericho’s buddies interfering, and instead of calling for the DQ, she ejected them from ringside… and for explicable reason, they listened to her. What’s she going to do if they stay? Disqualify Jericho? Why would the Inner Circle care if Jericho get s DQed? He still keeps the title that way. Hell, the announcers have been trying to convince me that Jericho is purposely trying to get DQed but that Aubrey won’t do it.
Anyway, while that was happening, the other friend showed up and interfered. Then Ross has the f*cking temerity to tell me that “Aubrey cannot call what she doesn’t see” when she’s been seeing sh*t all match and not calling it anyway.
After what felt like an hour of 98% heat, Jericho raked Moxley’s good eye and we got the “blind babyface trying to fight” spot. This is what the match should have been built around, not brawling and interference that makes the Senior Referee look like she doesn’t know the rules.
Jericho keeps hitting Moxley in the head and Aubrey keeps yelling “WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?!” at him. What’s he doing wrong, Aubrey? If you think he’s going after the eye then disqualify him because it’s illegal. If you think Moxley can’t defend himself, then call for the bell and end the match. And if you don’t think either of those two things, then shut the f*ck up and let them wrestle!
Fortunately for Moxley, his eye recovered just in time to duck the Judas Effect. He then took off the eyepatch and revealed that he was, in fact, totally fine. Are you telling me that he went into a WORLD TITLE MATCH wearing something that took away half of his field of vision, just to lull Jericho into a false sense of security? F*CK. OFF.
Fortunately for Moxley, his dumb risk didn’t cost him this world title match, as he was able to hit his finisher twice in a row and win. This sucked. WAY too much punch-kick and interference the referee ignoring the rules just because. The story of the injured eye had potential, but they squandered it for the sake of a stupid swerve.
JON MOXLEY PROMO - Meh. Lots of “this belt is for the fans” stuff. This doesn’t really feel like the Moxley we’ve come to know as a character. This was Jonathan Good talking, and Jonathan Good is not a character on the TV show I watch every week.
This was a frustrating show from AEW. Some of their best qualities were on display, but so were a lot more of their worst. The wrestling can be great, but the problem is that they let their desire to do spots and swerves and other stupid sh*t get in the way and ruin it.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES
1. F*cking J.R. is talking about how he often sees amateur wrestlers who transition to MMA struggle with their striking defense and suggests that this might be Hager’s weakness. This would be the same Jake Hager who HAS BEEN A PROFESSIONAL WRESTLER FOR OVER A DECADE. I think he’s figured out how to handle the strikes by now.
2. Ross also referred to the “overconfidence” of “kids his age” (referring to Hager).
Hager is 37. He’s not Sammy Guevara. And as if this is some sort of new phenomenon and overconfident heels haven’t been a staple of pro wrestling for DECADES.
3. Ross claimed that “that Doctor Bomb normally gets it done.”
No, it doesn’t, Jim. Even if we’re generous and say we’re talking about the business as a whole instead of just Kenny Omega, who was the last person to win consistently with that move? Erick Stevens?
4. When Jericho shoved Aubrey Edwards, J.R. claimed that this was “Jericho trying to get disqualified because he knows Aubrey calls it by the book.”
A. Why would Jericho try to get disqualified at a point when he has the clear advantage in the match.
B. Are you seriously trying to tell me that Aubrey “calls it by the book” in a match where she has let numerous weapons shots go and let the wrestlers brawl on the outside for the majority of the first SIX MINUTES of the match without ever counting them out?