Yeah, sorry. I’m not watching a zero-build match on the pre-show for a different promotion’s title.
AEW WORLD TITLE ELIMINATOR TOURNAMENT FINALS:
Adam Page vs. Kenny Omega - 8/10
DON CALLIS is on commentary. They had an awesome match which Omega won, which seems like the best story direction to go in. The much-speculated idea of Omega taking the title from Moxley and Page eventually taking it from Omega seems like the direction they’re going in at the moment, and it’s a fine one to go in.
ORANGE CASSIDY (w/Best Friends) vs. JOHN SILVER (w/the Dark Order) - DUD!
Break out your big shoes and red noses, everyone, because it’s time for the clown show. Orange Cassidy makes a big deal out of slowly putting his hands in his pockets. John Silver makes a big deal out of not wanting him to do this because… um…
OC starts wrestling and gets some momentum, but then he kills it by stopping and putting his hands in his pockets because he’s not actually trying to win a wrestling match. He’s trying to “entertain” people with his goofage. The WWE 24/7 Title stuff is idiotic, but at least those guys are actually trying to win something. Now here come the soft shin-kicks, because- again- he’s not trying to win. He’s just trying to pop the fans, because it’s fake. For some reason, these harmless kicks anger John Silver, because his job is to be the helper clown and overact in reaction to OC’s bullsh*t instead of trying to win a wrestling match.
Silver bodyslams OC because OC was an idiot and put his hands in his pickets so he couldn’t use them to help escape. Silver now has the advantage for the first time in the match, and presses his advantage by following up. Just kidding. He insistently pulls OC’s hands out of his pockets, because this isn’t a wrestling match; it’s a clown show on PPV.
After spending the first half of the match putting on this cooperative clown show, they suddenly started to have a normal wrestling match and had the gall to expect me to care who won after they had just rubbed in my face that it’s all fake. This could have been a great match, but instead of spending the first half of it ramping up towards the finish, they spend the first half of it digging themselves into a whole, so by the time the finish came, they had only managed to get back up to ground level.
AEW TNT TITLE MATCH:
Cody Rhodes(c) (w/Arn Anderson) vs. Darby Allin - 8/10
Cody has now added Billy Gunn, Austin Gunn, and someone named “Shotty Lee Johnson” to his entourage, because Cody thinks that the more hangers-on he adds for himself, the more of a star he’ll look like. Remember when Brandi was so angry that Q.T. Marshall gave Allie the official family jacket? Well Cody seem to have been giving them out like Halloween candy this week. All of them other than Arn left ringside before the match, so why were they ever out here?
Just to get this out of the way first, that damn belt needs to go. Throughout the years Cody has proven completely incapable of having it used in a consistent manner. If the referee won’t let Cody hit Darby with the belt, then Darby shouldn’t be allowed to use it to trip Cody up. That should have been a DQ.
Now that that’s out of the way, the match was awesome and very exciting. It was nice that Darby was able to hit his finisher and not immediately get pinned like an idiot this time. The story with Cody working the arm was well-told, and the roll-up loss after dominating most of the match sets up for a rematch down the line. Darby being the champion also adds a much-needed new wrinkle into his feud with Team Taz.
And yes, the idea of Darby being Cody had been built up well over the past eighteen months, but unless you’re going to tell me that this was the plan from day one, don’t tell me this is “long-term” storytelling, as that aspect of things- and, actually, Darby himself- was completely absent from the build to this match, so this was part of some long-term plan, they f*cked it up royally.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. Cody does the “I’m thinking about it” thing and presents the belt to Darby. I seem to recall Hogan doing this and completely undermining Warrior’s title win.
Taz came out and distracted Cody and Darby with a promo so that Brian Cage and Ricky Starks could jump them from behind. The two heels both picked up the title and briefly argued over it before Taz took it away and ordered Cage to do something to Darby. Said something turned out to be throwing him through a set-piece that far-removed from anything else, so it seemed to exist just so Darby could be thrown through it. Yes, there was a camera there so it was theoretically an interview set, I guess, except that they hadn’t used it before and they already have a backstage interview set and a stage, so why would this exist?
Anyway, Cody tried to make the save for Darby but was thwarted. The heels went to break Darby’s arm in his own car door, but Will Hobbs made the save with a chair, so that answers that question.
DASHA GONZALEZ INTERVIEWS THE NATURAL NIGHTMARES - Bad. Q.T. Marshall cut a meh promo on Allie saying that she seduced him not to steal his money, but rather so that she could mooch off of the Nightmare Family’s TV time. WHAT? They had this story that, while it has been told and followed up on extremely poorly, it at least made sense. Now they’ve gone and made it make less sense! He also said The Blade was “playing victim,” which I don’t think we have ever seen him do on Dynamite.
Then Dustin Rhodes cut a promo where he said he’d tell us what a Bunkhouse match is, and then proceeded to not do that. Based on what he said, you’d think this was a match with a ten-minute time limit that has to be won by choking your opponent out.
So yeah, they took one straight out of the TNA playbook and wasted time on a PPV cutting a promo hyping up a match for this coming week’s TV show.
AEW WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPION: Hikaru Shida(c) vs. Nyla Rose (w/Vickie Guerrero) - 7/10
These records supposedly matter so much, but Shida is 19-1 and this year and that is never talked about. Ditto with ninety percent of the impressive records in this company, so I guess they really don’t mean so much.
This started off really well with the story of Shida’s knee being worked over, but feel apart for me in the past few minutes. Nyla’s execution of the knee strike was very poor, Shida’s selling all but disappeared despite her doing a lot of running around, and I HATED the spot where Shida pulled Nyla up when she could have had her pinned. That’s a heel move in all but the most heated of feuds.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Not a fan. Vickie and Nyla argued after the match. Vickie slapped Nyla… and Nyla backed down. Vickie should not be the leader in this pairing. She should be the Paul Heyman who Nyla’s Brock Lesnar has brought in to do her talking for her and help her cheat a bit.
AEW WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH WITH TULLY BLANCHARD BARRED FROM RINGSIDE AND WHERE IF THE YOUNG BUCKS LOSE, THEY WILL NEVER CHALLENGE FOR THE AEW WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES AGAIN:
FTR(c) vs. the Young Bucks - 9.25/10
Tully’s not wrong when he says that him getting barred from ringside here is an abuse of power. People interfere in matches all the time in this company, but when two guys who are EVPs are the ones who could get screwed, that’s when something is finally done about. That’s some bullsh*t right there.
This definitely lived up to the “dream match billing,” although they got a little too cutesy at times. I also thought the spot with the chair was pretty bad, as we all know you’re not going to do a DQ here, and teasing it felt like something dome for. the sake of creating a dramatic moment rather than something that occurred organically. This is a match that I could maybe have given a 10/10 to if they had actually gotten me invested in the results, but the booking going into this massively failed on that account.
Speaking of that failing, we got a…
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Omega comes out to celebrate with the Bucks while Page just stand son the ramp, so this story continues to go absolutely f*cking nowhere. It would have been much better to have Page not be there because he’s drinking himself into a stupor after losing to Omega.
ELITE DELETION MATCH:
Matt Hardy vs. Sammy Guevara - -0.5/10
Sammy shows up in a customized golfcart and runs over a toy truck that someone left in the middle of a road. That’s what you get for leaving your toys out in the middle of the road at night, kid. Matt Hardy’s drone apparently has the power to shut off Sammy’s golfcart. Maybe the drone can tell us how to win this match? I mean really. Is that f*cking hard to say “this is a Falls Count Anywhere match?” on TV the week before? Really?
Matt then tried to run Sammy over with a monster truck but Sammy escaped and hit him with a garbage can. And all of a sudden there is a referee there, and a bell ringing. They fought through a forest. Sammy tried to drown Matt in a fountain, but unlike in the previous cinematic match, Matt is not impervious to drowning this time. Matt saved himself by hitting Sammy with some sort of voodoo stick that he pulled out of the fountain. This made even Tony Schiavone incredulous, and this is a man who was fooled by fake Stings on a weekly basis.
They brawled into a ring. Matt got nearfall off a powerbomb through a table but Ortiz ran in to break it up. Also, Santana is there. We already got the group-brawl of this six months ago. Why are we doing it again? Matt reached underneath the ring for a walkie-talkie and radioed Private Party for help. Jim Ross saw someone radioing someone else, so he started talking about a police procedural on the television. Why is this blithering old fart still on the commentary team?
Matt grabbed some Roman candles and started shooting one of them WAY up into the air where he’s not going to hit anyone. Sammy also got one, and at least for Sammy they didn’t go out of their way to show you that he was purposely missing by miles.
Ah. Now they’re getting closer… and it looks absolutely terrifying. Then Matt appeared to actually hit Sammy with a Roman candle shot and…it didn’t really hurt Sammy very much. Odd.
Matt went to throw Sammy into the lake, but a mysterious man came out of nowhere holding the Hurricane hostage and warned Matt not to. This mysterious masked man then proceeded to take off his mask, which only makes me wonder why he bothered to wear it in the first place. The masked man is Gangrel, because these “cinematic matches” aren’t actually matches so much as they are random ha-ha goofsh*t-fests.
Gangrel said that Sammy was more loyal than Matt, so he has sided with Matt. Private Party ran in to end the hostage situation. Jim Ross told us that Gangrel is “also known as David Heath,” because I guess Jim thinks dropping in a shoot name with make this farce feel more real? He would later decide to ask if Private Party were aware of who Gangrel is, because burying the talent as not being knowledgeable about the business is apparently a good idea in Jim Ross’ mind. Again… why is he still on commentary?
Now it’s time for the comedy break, as Hurricane asks Matt why Matt took two years to rescue him, to which Matt responded that it was “long-term storytelling.” Remember that time on Game of Thrones when, after a big scene, the characters turned to the camera and said “wasn’t that a great pay-off after that thing we set up and have been building up for three years?” No, you don’t, because IT DIDN’T F*CKING HAPPEN. That show had magic and dragons, and even they understand that you DON’T BEAT YOUR AUDIENCE OVER THE HEAD WITH THE FACT THAT WHAT THEY’RE WATCHING ISN’T REAL IF YOU WANT THEM TO GET INVESTED IN THE OUTCOMES!
Sammy attacked Matt. Sammy countered a Twist of Fate. Hurricane showed up as Gregory Helms because I guess he jumped in the Lake of Reincarnation of the frame. He joked about the feud being “cursed.” Sammy kicked his ass again and tossed him back into the lake. Matt and Sammy brawled some more… and then we cut away from the two people who are actually in the match to watch Private Party, Gangrel, LAX brawling in the ring. The fact that Matt and Sammy soon showed up there does not make cutting away from it not stupid. Also, based on the time, I guess Matt and Sammy just teleported there. And Ditto for Hurricane, who is back as Hurricane now.
Sammy chases the wounded Matt Hardy into the woods- referee in tow- and instead of following them, we cut back to the people brawling in the ring who aren’t part of the match! The heels finish choking the babyfaces in the various corners and go follow. Matt had his boat try to attack Sammy, so that’s the babyfaces having more guys in the fight than the heels (it’s five-on-three if you count the drone disabling Sammy’s golfcart, now that I think about it).
The drone closes the door to their big shed thing and locks Matt and Sammy in alone, so at least this will be over soon. There is now haunted music playing, adding absolutely nothing to this, and with the announcers talking also, it’s quickly becoming grating. Sammy beats Matt up, then takes the turnbuckle off of the ring and starts beating Matt with it. Sammy chokes Matt to unconsciousness with the turnbuckle, but apparently that’s not enough to win an Elite Deletion match. He climbs up a ladder and dives onto Matt to put him through a table but only gets a two-count. Matt comes back and hits a bunch of big spots, then murders Sammy dead with some chairshots with Sammy’s head on the concrete floor to win.
This sucked. It was a few good spots peppered over twenty minutes of what was mostly either stupid crap or dull brawling. The music did absolutely nothing for this except make it feel hokey, and if you’re going to do a cinematic match, then actually be cinematic about it and keep the cameramen out of the shot! They screwed this up several times during the brawls in and around the ring. Also, Excalibur misquoted Shakespeare (it’s “once more unto the breach,” not “into” it). I felt the need to point that out, because it bothered me.
I’m sure there are going to be people unhappy about the up-and-comer losing to the forty-plus veteran, and I definitely understand that, but I’m willing to give this a pass of the finish here was supposed to be the beginning of this “Damascus” persona taking great hold of Matt. Then again, that assumes that when he mentioned that during his AEW debut, Matt wasn’t just saying wacky sh*t for the sake of saying wacky sh*t, and that’s a coin toss at best.
LANCE ARCHER BEATS UP A RANDOM PERSON WHILE JAKE ROBERTS CUTS A PROMO - Snore. Oh, look! It’s the same thing he does every week and it doesn’t go anywhere. And here is Jake complaining that Archer isn’t getting any competition. Again. Archer then cut what I would have thought was a great promo if I had any faith he would actually be booked to act on anything he said.
IF MJF WINS, HE GETS TO JOIN THE INNER CIRCLE:
MJF vs. Chris Jericho - 6/10
There are a lot of people in the crowd (even among the actual fans and not the plants) with their masks down. Not cool, and definitely not safe. Either get your act together, or kick the fans out and go back to just plants, who you can order to be in masks on pain of firing.
They did stuff and started to tell a story about MJF working over Jericho’s arm but Jericho didn’t sell it much. Eventually MJF snuck his way into the Inner Circle with some Eddie Guerrero-esque tactics. This was a good finish in that keeps the one-on-one match with no clean winner for when one of these guys eventually turns on the other, but if the plan is for MJF to turn on Jericho and steal the group, I think MJF winning clean might have been a better finish.
DASHA GONZALEZ INTERVIEWS BEST FRIENDS & ORANGE CASSIDY - Bad. The interview was quickly interrupted by the video game geeks. Sabian wants OC to apologize because Penelope almost got hurt during last week’s brawl. This is entirely unreasonable, but OC apologizes anyway. Sabian says that this “isn’t good enough,” and slaps OC across the face… and OC backs himself and his pals down? What the f*ck?
I QUIT MATCH FOR THE AEW WORLD TITLE:
Jon Moxley(c) vs. Eddie Kingston - 7/10
They did lots of blood stuff and deathmatch stuff. I got numb to it after a while.
This show was… a microcosm of how I feel about AEW as whole. The in-ring action can be AWESOME, but the booking of the feuds fails to make me care about the outcomes- and often even makes caring about matches I would otherwise care about to be much harder. And then, of course, there was the stuff that isn’t awesome; the stupid comedy that eats up so much time. With someone who knows how to book in charge, this promotion would be tremendous.