CM PUNK STUFF - TREMENDOUS! Watch this!
EVERYTHING ELSE - Fine.
HARDY FAMILY OFFICE (Matt Hardy, Private Party, & TH2) (w/the Blade) vs. ORANGE CASSIDY, CHUCK TAYLOR, WHEELER YUTA, & A BOY & HIS DINOSAUR (w/Marko Stunt) - 6.75/10
This was a fun action opener, minus the stupid Orange Cassidy crap, and even that was kept to a minimum. Well… not a minimum, because a minimum would be zero, but it was close.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Meh. It wouldn’t be AEW without a post-match attack. The Butcher came back and beat people up. The HFO were going to cut Orange Cassidy’s hair, but a bunch of undercard babyfaces made the save. It’s very hard for me to care about an angle with Orange Cassidy, and part of that is because OC’s gimmick is that he doesn’t care, so why should I assume he’d be embarrassed by the heels trying to cut his hair off?
DAN LAMBERT & MEN OF THE YEAR PROMO - Decent. They’re in their own private box with Lambert’s friends from American Top Team. They promise to cause trouble tonight.
AEW TNT TITLE MATCH:
Miro(c) vs. Eddie Kingston - 8/10
This was a great “mean guy” brawl, with both guys also working over the body part of their choice (Miro working the back to weaken it for Game Over and Kingston working the neck because that is Miro’s weakness). We got a phantom pinfall and a heel finish here, which is notable as I believe it is the first time Miro has had to resort to such things. I also really liked how all of the shenanigans were set up with just having the turnbuckle pad get ripped off (it served as the thing distracting Bryce during the phantom pinfall, and it’s absence set up the situation that allowed Miro to hit a low blow in a way that Bryce couldn’t see).
JON MOXLEY vs. SATOSHI KOJIMA - 7.5/10
Lots of good strong-style stuff. I could have done without the biting, though. Is it that hard to have a babyface not break the rules? Moxley won clean.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Mostly good, but it went on a little too long. After the match, Minoru Suzuki’s name appeared on the screen. Despite this, Jim Ross could not figure out what was going on. Suzuki himself showed up. I hope he goes and gives Ross what’s coming to him.
Alas, he merely headed to the ring to challenge Moxley. They traded forearms in that “take turns letting the other guy hit you” way, and in this situation, it worked for me, as they were really just trying each other and the financial and professional imperative to try to win a match was absent. Suzuki won the brawl after getting the sleeper and then hitting his Gotch Piledriver.
AEW WOMEN’S WORLD TITLE MATCH:
Dr. Britt Baker, DMD(c) (w/Jamie Hayter & Rebel) vs. Kris Statlander (w/Orange Cassidy) - 7.25/10
Lots of good action here. That stomp off the stairs after Statlander missed the moonsault to the floor should have been the finish, though. Britt used the Panama Sunrise to get the Adam Cole pop from the crowd, but she really shouldn’t have done that. Adam Cole is presumably coming in and going to use that move, and now we’ve already seen it get kicked out of.
ALEX MARVEZ INTERVIEWS PAC & CHAVO GUERRERO JR. - Meh. They tease that Pac’s travel problems were because Chavo once again cancelled his flight. The match will happen on TV this week.
STEEL CAGE MATCH FOR THE AEW WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES:
Young Bucks(c) (w/Brandon Cutler) vs. Lucha Bros. (w/Alex Abrahantes) - 9.25/10
Lucha Bros. got a live musical entrance, which was cool (although it would have been cooler without Alex Abrahantes trying to dance along and looking like a geek).
To put it simply, this match was insane. It was basically just these two teams doing crazy spots in a believable order… up until Brandon Cutler tossed the Bucks a bag containing one of their thumbtack-covered murder-shoes, at which point things got even crazier and a lot bloodier. I actually loved that it felt like they were just using the cage to do spots early on, as the hate wasn’t really there in this feud, with the title match being thrown together so quickly. The turning point on that front came when the Bucks got frustrated at not being able to put the Lucha Bros. away and started tearing at their masks, and that’s when the shoe came in. It set up the introduction of the bloody, hate-filled part of the match by ramping up to it, taking us on the journey of the Bucks getting there. Emotional logic is something that is often absent from both of these teams’ matches, so it was nice to see it being used so masterfully here.
Speaking of emotions, the Lucha Bros. got the win here, and had a hell of a celebration afterwards. Also speaking of emotions, while I’m sure some people didn’t like it, I thought Schiavone and Callis getting so annoyed with each other that they cursing at each other was wonderful. It felt quite real.
CASINO BATTLE ROYALE - 7/10
The only even slightly notable thing for the majority of the match was that they continued the Penelope Ford & The Bunny vs. Dark Order thing. But it’s a battle royale, so that’s not disqualifying. That sort of stuff is icing on the cake so long as that part of the match doesn’t feel boring while we’re waiting for the final segment, and this one certainly didn’t.
As expected, the Joker was Ruby Soho. The crowd went nuts for her. She and the crowd’s other clear favorite, Thunder Rosa, were the final two, and had a hell of a final segment together, which Ruby eventually won.
IF CHRIS JERICHO LOSES, HE WILL NEVER WRESTLE IN AEW AGAIN:
Chris Jericho vs. MJF (w/Wardlow) - 7.75/10
MJF trolled the fans by starting his entrance with a count-down clock. They were all going nuts… until it revealed that it was counting down to “Jericho’s final match.” Brilliant.
Jericho came out to an electric guitar-only live performance of Judas, which was absolutely terrible. One of the worst live entrances I can remember. It was grating on the ears, and most of the crowd couldn’t sing along with it.
Apparently this match has no count-outs and no DQs. Since when? None of the graphics have mentioned it, and Justin Roberts didn’t int the intros, either. Because of this sudden rules change, they were able to brawl into the crowd. Jericho grabbed a stanchion and chucked it at the back of MJF’s head where he couldn’t see it coming, and from the angle we got, it looked a hell of a lot like it hit him right in the back of the head. Jericho definitely had an “uh-oh” look on his face afterwards, too.
Jericho worked over MJF’s back. We got a false finish with MJF hitting Jericho with the bat and then hitting a Judas Effect and Jericho getting his foot on the ropes but Aubrey Edwards not seeing it. Paul Turner came out holding a can of worms, which he opened and gave to Aubrey while telling her that she screwed up because Jericho’s foot was on the ropes. This is one of those spots that should NEVER happen, because while you might swerve the fans and get that big pop in this one moment when the match is restarted, you are now creating a plot every single time you want to do a heel finish from here to eternity.
When the announcement of the restart was made, MJF came over and shoved Aubrey, which should be a suspension. After that, we got a quick exchange of false finishes before Jericho got the win via Walls of Jericho. The crowd was super-hot for this match, but the ridiculousness with the rules hurt it for me, as did my feeling that Jericho’s emotional level just wasn’t there. It felt like a big match, but not like life or death. I got the “this could be the end for Jericho!” feeling a lot more from MJF than I did from Jericho.
DARBY ALLIN vs. CM PUNK - 7.5/10
No ring rust on Punk. Darby is crazy. This was a great clash of personalities with a really hot crowd. Punk controlled most of it and I noticed that he didn’t take too many bumps, but the match worked for what they were trying to make it (and now they can save the “can Punk take extreme amounts of punishment?” story for the next match, turning his comeback into an ongoing story rather than a one-and-done “okay, we’ve answered the questions and I’m back now” thing).
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Sting came out and showed Punk respect. Punk went over to check on Darby, which elicited a chant of “DARBY! DARBY!” from the crowd, which had been 90-10 in favor of Punk. Punk and Darby shook hands.
PAUL WIGHT vs. Q.T. MARSHALL (w/the Factory) - 1/10
I had totally forgotten this match was on the card. Q.T. worked over the hip a little bit, but Big Show defeat Q.T. and destroyed the Factory with relative ease. This was counterproductive. Yes, I realize that it’s just Q.T. and the factory, but it still feels like it was didn’t help anyone and just made the Factory look bad. AEW has at least tried to give Comoroto some sort of credibility. This is now gone.
JON MOXLEY PROMO - Great. The Moxley vs. Suzuki match will be on Dynamite this week.
MALAKAI BLACK PROMO - Fine. He’s wrestling Dustin Rhodes on Dynamite. If he wants Dustin to be mad so Dustin will be a less effective fighter, he probably shouldn’t let Dustin in on that fact.
AEW WORLD TITLE MATCH: Kenny Omega(c) (w/Don Callis) vs. Christian Cage - 7.75/10
Look… this match certainly had its moments, but despite trying really hard, I just couldn’t buy any of Christian’s nearfalls. I also hated both the lack of enforcement of the rules and the interference. The rules thing should be self-evident, and interference was just… so G-d damn WWE. Kenny Omega is the f*cking World Champion. He should not need help to beat Christian. Christian is a great hand, but he’s not the sort of guy AEW should be positioning as a future challenger for the world title. It’s also very frustrating to see that the same people who we had to build a cage to prevent from interfering in the tag title match be able to just waltz out and interfere in yet another world title match. It seems to me that Tony Khan should have made this a cage match, too, because you’d have had to be an idiot not to think that there was at least a good chance The Elite would interfere.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Extremely newsworthy, but I didn’t like the execution.
The Elite beat down Christian. Jurassic Express tried to make the save but got beaten up. The crowd seems to think it’s going to be Daniel Bryan who makes his big debut here, completely discounting the possibility of Adam Cole. Dummies.
And I am equally a dummy. F*cking Russo-Swerve. But I think we can all agree that the biggest dummy of all is Tony Schiavone, who exposed his total ignorance by wondering why Adam Cole would attack Jungle Boy instead of saving him from the Elite.
Okay… I guess the crowd was right in the end. Out comes Bryan Danielson… and the heels all back away from him instead of attacking him eight on one. Detail Guy Tony Khan couldn’t have at least had Bryan come out with a weapon? Dragon helps the babyfaces up and they charge at the heels and send them scampering.
This an excellent show from AEW. Consistent greatness up and down the card (with the exception of the stupid Big Show vs. Q.T. Marshall match), with one truly standout match, and a major moment at the end. I might argue that a staggered intro would have been better, or that starting off with Cole’s status in the Elite up in the air (the last time we saw them together they kicked him out, remember?) and building towards a possible confrontation and him deciding to join them afterwards would have been better, but there is no denying that with the additions of Punk, Cole, Dragon, and Ruby, AEW feels like a fully operational battle station at the moment.