In addition to the usual crowd of wrestlers, we’ve got several women in bikinis just lounging around for the camera to ogle them. And people really thought having a woman as a major company executive would stop the objectification of women in pro wrestling? Did they not learn their lesson from Steph being a top executive in WWE during the time when the women were treated as 99% eye-candy? Hell… wasn’t she in charge of creative during the time when Smackdown’s women’s division was just Torrie Wilson, Nidia, Dawn Marie, and Sable doing bikini contests? Yeah. Steph didn’t do anything for WWE in that regard, and Brandi hasn’t done anything for AEW in this regard, either.
Jericho is on commentary. I had Freudian slip and originally wrote “Jericho is on comedy now.”
I like that they have the wrestler’s ranking as a big number on the chyron next to the name rather than writing it in full-sentence form in the small text. This makes the ranked wrestlers stand out more, and lets you use that small text for some other important storyline note for those wrestlers.
MJF PROMO - GREAT! So great that he managed to bring up the concept of a ratings in a wrestling promo without pissing me off that the company was talking about something they should be ignoring on TV.
MJF & WARDLOW vs. A BOY & HIS DINOSAUR (w/Marko Stunt) - 5.75/10
This started off so well with tremendous old-school babyface in peril stuff, but then turned into such a frustrating clusterf*ck by the end.
1. You can’t go from being so exacting about the tag rules that you won’t allow a tag that you heard but didn’t see to just completely giving up on caring about the rules. If the rules matter only so long as your story wants them to matter, it exposes the whole universe- including the story your trying to tell- as bullsh*t.
2. Marko Stunt interfering in this match is exactly the kind of sh*t AEW needs to knock off immediately. All it did for the match is give Marko a spot. He doesn’t need to get a spot in. This match isn’t about him. It’s about the other four. Even worse, it was a spot that made him look completely ineffective, so you’ve made Marko look bad, and for zero gain. And even worse than that was the fact that THIS WAS A BABYFACE INTERFERING WITH ZERO PROVOCATION. You can’t have the babyfaces cheat, then expect me to be angry when MJF tries to cheat, too.
3. Wardlow loses yet again. I realize that they think they protected him by having him accidentally get hit with the ring, but A) the physics there really doesn’t work out, as MJF’s hand was too close to him and not going fast enough to cause much extra damage in terms of the way they’ve been using the ring i.e. as a knockout weapon, and B), having Wardlow get hit with the ring, then get hit with a bunch of moves and then kick out of something before getting hit with another move and pinned feels like it undoes the protection. If the idea is that getting hit with the ring caused him to lose, then MAKE THAT THE FINISH.
POST-MATCH STUFF - Hated it. MJF is upset with Wardlow. Breaking these two up would be a huge mistake. Even worse than this, though, was Marko Stunt aggressively doing crotch-chops in their direction. He’s a dirty little cheater whose cheating failed to help his team in any way. Having him taunt the losing team in such an aggressive way makes him come off like a total heel who you want to see get his ass kicked.
NEXT WEEK ON AEW… THEY’RE DOING SOME SORT OF ROYAL RUMBLE WITH DOGS OR SOMETHING? - I swear to G-d, if Cody’s f*cking dog wins this…
1. If pro wrestling is a kayfabe real competition then is this not kayfabe dog-fighting? Didn’t Michael Vick go to jail for this? THIS IS A HORRIBLE, TERRIBLE THING!
2. Remember last week when Cody said that he didn’t like “play wrestling” and “meta wrestling” and whatever else he said? YOU CAN’T SAY THAT AND THEN GO PROMOTE A “PUPPY BATTLE ROYALE!” And definitely not while introing it in the exact same way you would a serious promo! When I saw this, up until the puppies, I thought they were going to do an actual Royal Rumble-type of thing and got excited.
JOEY JANELA & LANCE ARCHER HAVE A FIGHT IN THE CROWD - Bad.
1. I didn’t like Sonny Kiss not joining in the fight. Archer attacked him for no reason, too. He should be just as itching to get revenge on Archer as Janela.
2. I HATED Archer allowing the referees to break things up. This is the guy who we’re told is turning into some sort of out of control violent monster and who just walks around attacking people, and now he doesn’t want to fight? This is the sort of thing that makes a segment feel staged, because it feels like everyone is cooperating to achieve of the goal of doing a segment that hypes an upcoming match. This is no different than one of those idiotic WWE segments to hype up a battle royale where the people in the battle royale all have a brawl in the ring and each person just decides to stop fighting once they’re tossed out of the ring because the match they’re supposed to be hyping up is a match where you’re eliminated if you’re thrown out of the ring.
WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH VIDEO PACKAGE - This was very good, other than that one clip of Ross saying that Penelope Ford “does things other women don’t even try.” It’s the sort of statement that just exposes how ignorant Ross is of anything outside of his own company. Women do diving ranas and handsprings and stuff like that all the time, have been doing so for a long time, even you if only look at the Amero-Canadian wrestling scene.
Also, I know why they did it, but I thought Shida’s English was good enough that she didn’t need subtitles.
AEW WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH:
Hikaru Shida(c) vs. Penelope Ford - 7/10
An AEW referee finally grew a brain and ejected someone from ringside! HOORAY! And thank G-d, too, because to not do so after Sabian started to shove Shida would have been completely inexcusable.
I get what they were going for by starting out the match like squash week’s Shida squash victory, but instead of having me excited that Shida might win so quickly, I was terrified of that fact was going to be exceedingly angry if they had buried Penelope like that on a show that they were pushing as a big show. It was a spot that made sense structurally, but it brought absolutely the wrong emotion out of me. I’m not closed to the counterpoint that this is an overly smarky concern and that Shida is the babyface and I should want to see her win quickly, but it’s 2020 and giving us a squash in a much-hyped title match on a big show is not going to fly.
I thought the match itself had some clever spots and very good nearfalls. The only two things that bothered me were the spot where Sabian got punched and tossed the Kendo stick up in the air (which is a fine spot if you can do it without it looking so fake) and the spot where Penelope took the Falcon Arrow and then pretty much no-sold it to counter the pin that Shida lands in with a roll-up. My dislike of this second spot was made even more intense when Penelope later kicked out of a Falcon Arrow and Excalibur shouted “NOBODY KICKS OUT OF THE FALCON ARROW!” Dude… earlier in this same match we saw Penelope kick out of it before there was even a one count! Despite those two spots, this was still a great match.
TECHNIQUE BY TAZ - GREAT! Last week Taz looked at one of Cage’s moves, so this week he took a look at Moxley’s Paradigm Shift… and explained to us why Moxley would be unable to hit the move on Cage. Good propaganda by Taz on behalf of Cage, and it also plants the seeds for a potential story for next week’s big title match.
AEW TNT TITLE MATCH:
Cody Rhodes(c) (w/Arn Anderson) vs. Jake Hager (w/Catalina Hager) - 7.75/10
Arn distracted Hager so that Cody could blindside him, like a total heel. This happened TWICE before Catalina ever got involved, and it completely negates the idea that Dustin’s interference at the end was just the babyfaces evening the odds after Catalina slapped Cody.
Aside from that one issue, I thought this was great. The limited selling on Hager’s knee worked because they didn’t actually spend too much time on the submissions early on, and I thought the match was paced excellently and built up extremely well. Hager losing yet again is not great, but I wouldn’t have put the belt on him, either. Hager, like Wardlow (and LAX and Sammy Guevara, for that matter), is someone they’re going to need to give a big win to eventually or else he’s going to lose all of his credibility.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Fine, I guess. The story is that Cody was choked out while making the pin. That works with this particular pin, and makes sense that the referee wouldn’t interrupt a count just to check on a guy making the pin. I not quite sure what kind of rematch it builds to, but it definitely builds to a rematch.
Hager punches out the referee, which needs to have consequences. It also seemed a little silly to me that so many people came out to check on this referee after a punch to the face but we didn’t get anywhere near this kind of response when Nyla Rose powerbomed a referee through a table.
DARBY ALLIN VIDEO - Snore. So I guess they’re ignoring these particular allegations. This was more of Darby skateboarding and also one shot of him kicking someone while sliding down a zipline. Also, he did all of these skateboarding tricks without a helmet.
THE INNER CIRCLE (Santana & Ortiz) vs. PRIVATE PARTY (w/Matt Hardy) - 8/10
Orange Cassidy came over to sit by the commentary table for this match and did nothing. The match was awesome. This is how you do a match that is fast-paced, but not so much so as to come off as spotty.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Bad. Orange Cassidy went to leave. Jericho went to attack him, but people rushed out from the back to pull Jericho off, with OC not registering any of it. Jericho came off like a total clown here.
DASHA GONZALEZ INTERVIEWS ADAM PAGE & KENNY OMEGA - Good.
During the run-down of next week’s show, we learned that their win earlier has earned Private Party a tag title shot next week. Moxley vs. Cage has been rescheduled for two weeks for tonight, on what will be Fight For the Fallen.
TAZ PROMO - F*CKING AMAZING! He had quite the needle to thread here, and managed to do so beautifully.
AEW WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Kenny Omega & Adam Page(c) vs. Best Friends - 8/10
Trent’s mom driving Best Friends to the building and telling them to “have fun” was idiotic. Does this idiot woman not understand what’s going on? These the are the f*cking world tag team titles, and her son is about to compete in a dangerous fight.
Between this, them being introduced as “being driven to the ring by Trent’s mom,” Adam Page’s chyron telling us that he “is not afraid to say the s-word on TV,” they seemed to be intentionally trying to set this tag title match up as something comedic, which it absolutely should not be.
Apparently Best Friends are on a seven-match winning streak. AEW sure is going a terrible job of letting us know about these winning streaks while they’re in progress, aren’t they?
Thankfully the match was serious. It was almost as good as Private Party vs. LAX. I didn’t like FTR coming out to watch in beach chairs. That sort of “playing to the theme of the set” is WAY too WWE.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - TERRIBLE! This might have been the ultimate in stupid forced conflict. FTR give Page and Omega some beers and they all toast together. Kenny makes like he is about to drink, but then instead takes the beer and pours it onto the floor. This was a total dick move, and Kenny had no reason to make it.
Kenny Omega has always been portrayed in AEW as a babyface, and as a reasonable person. Hell, we even saw Kenny himself being someone who went out of his way to try to prevent conflict when drunken Adam Page was being a dick to the Young Bucks.
Kenny doesn’t like beer? That’s perfectly fine. He could have given the beer to Page, or, if it was required to respect the toast, just drank a little bit of it. Or he could have even said, “no thank you. I appreciate the symbolism of your offer and accept your congratulations and comradery, but I would not like a beer.”
No. Instead he has to randomly act like a dick and accept the beer, only to pour it out on the floor. Kenny is acting completely out of character here… and all so the Young Bucks can come out and play peacemakers and wind up getting yelled at by FTR because they have to team with FTR next week and we need to do something to promote the match.
Well if you need to do something to promote the match and get over the idea that these two teams might not be on the same page, how about you just have each time cut a promo earlier tonight where they hint that they don’t trust the other? That way everyone stays in character, and you don’t have one of your top babyfaces come across like a total jerk?
This was a lot with a lot of great wrestling, but also a lot of segments that were questionable at best. AEW seems to be having a lot of trouble figuring out what a heel is and what a babyface is right now, with 80% of the babyfaces coming off as unlikable. They also seem to have a lot of trouble finding ways to build up matches without having their wrestlers act out of character, and way too much of their conflict feels artificial and manufactured.