Tony Schiavone, Good Ol’ JR, and Excalibur are on commentary tonight as AEW kicks off their second PPV of the Epidemic Era.
AEW has pulled through a few weeks of relatively boring episodes of Dynamite in late July and August, to finish with some really strong go home shows before the PPV. The company has a pretty dubious history with wrestlers getting injured on their go home shows before PPVs, necessitating changes in booking; but luckily it seems that even with some scary looking spots on last week’s Dynamite, everybody is healthy and ready to go.
Britt Baker is a dentist, you guys
Big Swole vs Britt Baker kicks off the main PPV with Swole pulling up in front of Britt’s dental office for a Tooth & Nail match, ostensibly a No DQ match. Tooth & Nail, because Dr. Britt Baker DDS is a dentist, get it? DO YOU GET IT?
Everybody’s favorite wrestling dentist (sorry, Kane) hits a sick looking swinging neckbreaker on Swole to the office floor, and they continue fighting throughout the dental office. They’re fighting in Dr Britt Baker DDS’s dental office because Dr Britt Baker DDS is a dentist. Get it? Do you get it yet? Swole punches through Dr Britt Baker DDS’s DDS framed diploma from the dental school that Dr Britt Baker DDS had to attend to become a dentist, and they end up in Dr Britt Baker DDS’s dental chair that is set up in her dental office because she is a dentist.
Dr Britt Baker DDS, as a dentist, has access to Novocaine (or Lidocaine; the commentary team seems confused on what controlled substance Dr Britt Baker DDS is attempting to inject Swole with), but Swole counters and jabs the syringe into Dr Britt Baker DDS’s leg. Dr Britt Baker DDS is hobbling around on one leg now, and Swole knocks her out with nitrous to get the win. Not a horrible match but it could have actually gone a little longer to showcase the personalities involved, and I was honestly hoping that they would both get gassed and fight in slow motion for a couple minutes, but whatever.
Youngle Buck Jack Perry
Let me preface this by saying that, face or heel, the Young Bucks have always been dicks. Period. It’s just who they are. That said, I’m really enjoying the vicious attitude the Bucks have been showing lately. Literally every member of The Elite is teasing a heel turn in different ways, and it keeps everyone guessing. I’m loving the character work.
Some great double team maneuvers from both teams. Jungle Boy hits a rough looking Frankesteiner to Nick, who lands awkwardly on the hard cam entrance steps. I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again: having steps that close to the ring is insanely dangerous, and someone is going to get legit hurt at some point.
Another rough looking spot as Matt hits a Northern Lights Suplex over the rope on Jungle Boy, and Jungle Boy holds on to Nick’s neck to avoid spilling out onto the floor. Nick is gonna be in traction by the time this match is over. JB has been isolated this entire time, and as he goes for the tag Matt hits Luchasaurus with a beautiful kick that knocks him to the outside and cuts off the tag.
Luchasaurus is able to get the hot tag and runs roughshod over everybody. Luchasaurus and the Bucks exchange some stiff strikes, prompting Tony to exclaim “Oh, boy I love stiff!”. If the backstage myth about Tony’s massive lap hog is true, that definitely checks out.
Luchasaurus gets decked, but then does an immediate growling Undertaker situp, which HOLY SHIT a heel Luchasaurus would be terrifying. Marko Stunt is running around doing bullshit Marko Stunt things, and I get to live vicariously through Nick Jackson as he superkicks Marko’s head off. Jurassic Express (or Lucha Express, if you’re a senile announcer living off past glories) hits the Extinction Level Event on Matt, who kicks out. Luchasaurus takes himself out of the match by flying to the outside and getting tangled up with all the face wrestlers surrounding the ring. Matt superkicks Jungle Boy, who then kicks out of the pin attempt. Bucks with a Superkick Party followed by the BTE Trigger, and the Young Bucks win. This was a great match, surprising no one. Everyone looked great, and Jungle Boy looked incredibly strong, taking three YB finishers before giving up the ghost
Convoluted Casino Battle Royale with Cheese
Holy shit, we’re getting to TNA levels of convoluted with these rules. I don’t hate the rules themselves, but we don’t need all this, to be honest. Taz is joining the commentary team for this match, so at least we won’t have to listen to JR forget everyone’s name as much for one match.
The biggest problem with any battle royale is the down moments, when guys are just leaning on the ropes or hanging out in the corners. AEW is 10x better than WWE about minimizing these moments though, and this battle royale is no different. The action is pretty nonstop throughout, at least as soon as the second group enters the match. The damn steps come into play again, as Fenix gets thrown out into them #fucksteps. Cage and Archer leading the elimations with a couple apiece, and Will Hobbs (!) is the ironman of the match, lasting since the beginning of the second group. Per the unwritten rules of wrestling, every battle royale has to have a surprise wrestler as the last entrant, and so we get Matt Sydal/Evan Bourne at #21. He’s not a huge name so even if the arena had been full of fans I think it would have been a bit underwhelming, even though I’m a big fan so I popped huge. Unfortunately, following a BEAUTIFUL and crisp knee strike to Kazarian, Sydal attempts a Shooting Star Press but slips and promptly eats shit on the canvas.
We get the hoss fight everyone has been waiting for between Cage and Archer, with Hobbs thrown in for good measure. Archer eliminates Cage and Kimgston to stand supreme and go on to face the AEW champ at a future PPV.
Broken Rules, Broken Skulls
Matt Hardy needs to quit living up to his “Broken” nickname. What should have been a fantastic match between Hardy and Sammy Guevara was cut short after an ill advised spot where they went up in a scissor lift, and Sammy speared Matt out onto a table in the backstage area, but they overshot the table and Matt busted his head on the concrete in a terrifying bump. Referee Aubrey Edwards rightly threw up the X to signify a legit injury and got the doctor out to check on Hardy, and he was deemed unable to compete. This obviously put everyone involved in a bad position, since if Hardy lost he would have to leave AEW due to the match stipulation. They ended up restarting the match and skipping directly to the planned ending, with Sammy falling off a scaffolding into a stack of crash pads.
The Thunder Rolls
I’ve been really looking forward to this match since it was announced. I honestly believe that the thing that will set AEW apart from WWE and let them compete with the giant, is the working relationships that AEW has with other companies like Ring of Honor, AAA in Mexico, NJPW in Japan, and the NWA. For this match, AEW brought in NWA Women’s World Champion Thunder Rosa for a Champion vs Champion match against AEW Women’s World Champion Hikaru Shida. WWE (and to an extent Impact Wrestling) still leads in quality women’s matches, but bringing in one of the best females on the “independent” scene is a great step in the right direction.
It’s all Thunder Rosa from the outset, with Rosa using her MMA background to stymie Shida. Shida turns the tides with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, then sets up the chair on the outside for her patented springboard knee lift. Rosa sees it coming, though, and uses the chair to springboard a kick to Shida’s chest. Back in the ring, Rosa straps Shida in her Hanging Pendulum submission, and then in a wonderful spot, walks over to the corner with Shida still in the pendulum and slams Shida’s head into the bottom buckle several times. Shida with a huge jumping knee strike in the middle of the ring. Rosa hits a beautiful Death Valley Driver on the apron, which JR wants to remind us for the 389th time is the hardest part of the ring. And again those goddamn steps, as Shida hits Rosa with a Meteora and Rosa’s head lands literally 2 inches away from being Million Dollar Baby’d.
Big flurry from Shida ending in a huge Tomashi knee strike for the win. Really, really good match, and I sincerely hope that Thunder Rosa sticks around. She’s just too damn good to not be in the spotlight
Superbad Wedding Bells
So the big announcement from the Superbad Squad is that they’re getting married? We’ve known that for months and they’ve even mentioned it multiple times on Dynamite. Oh, well, from the sound of it, maybe Jimmy Havoc will be back as the best man. And holy shit the subtle dig at WWE banning it’s wrestlers from secondary platforms at the end was beautiful, with Kip plugging his Twitch channel with a “This Message Has Been Approved By All Elite Wrestling” disclaimer at the bottom. Absolute gold.
As much as I hate watching QT Marshall and think he only has a job because he’s running buddies with the Young Bucks, I’m looking forward to this match. The Dark Order has been putting in incredible work lately, overcoming their initial underwhelming start. Evil Uno is still pretty meh, but Reynolds, Silver, Grayson, and Brodie Lee have been really hustling lately, and it’s paying off. On the other side, Dustin Rhodes is always great and Scorpio Sky possibly has the biggest upside of anyone in AEW. Plus anytime I get to see Allie is a plus, even if it’s tempered with having to endure Brandi Rhodes’ useless corny nonsense. And Zack Ryder is Zack Ryder.
Huge brawl to start it off, ending with Brodie and Dustin hossing it up for a minute. Everybody finally ends up in their respective corners, and Evil Uno (sigh) and QT Marshall (double sigh) start things off. HUGE back body drop from Brodie to QT. Dark Order doing a great job of isolating QT in their corner. Cardona with the hot tag and clears the ring, following up with a beautiful missile dropkick to Cabana. I’d give good money for a Dustin Rhodes/Brodie Lee series culminating in one of those patented bloody Rhodes pathos matches.
Scorpio Sky finally tags in and hits a beautiful TKO on Stu Grayson, but Uno breaks up the count. EXCELLENT group maneuvers by the Dark Order on QT, with an assisted sitout powerbomb by Uno and Grayson, with QT being pushed into a sidewalk slam by Lee, culminating in a frog splash by Cabana that leads to a near fall. Hoss staredown between Dustin and Brodie, with Brodie murdering Dustin with a lariat. Brodie hands Dustin to Cabana for the easy pin, but Cabana decides to showboat and misses his moonsault followup, and gets rolled up by Dustin for the pin. After the match, Tony Khan books Dustin vs Brodie for the TNT title, so it looks like I’m getting my wish.
Feel The Rassling
Two of the best tag teams on the planet. The possible culmination of a long awaited heel turn. Page being kicked out of The Elite. The recent return of Kenny Omega’s Cleaner hair and attitude. To say I’m excited for this match is an understatement. I am HYPED. Let’s go.
Omega starting out the match with Wilder, but Hangman pulls Kenny back, and asks “Do you trust me?”, and steps in the ring to square off with Wilder. Bad blood between these guys, as Page and Wilder exchange fists, and Harwood jumps in to help his partner and gets more of the same. More teasing of the hurt feelings between Page and Omega. Great double team combos from both teams, but it’s obvious which team is made up of tag specialists and which is made up of two phenomenal singles guys. A lot of words have been written about the old school southern style of FTR, but here’s a few more: they take that old school style and update it for today’s era better than anybody on the planet.
FTR hits essentially a Steiner Recliner on Omega on the outside. Near fall on Page. Page dumps Harwood to the outside amd Harwood takes a nasty back bump. HUGE Blockbuster Suplex from on Wheeler leads to a near fall. Wheeler ducks the V-Trigger attempt and murders Page on accident. Hangman kicks out at 2. Two Spike Piledrivers, and Funky Tokyo Remix are your new AEW Tag Team Champions! More Elite drama after the match, with Omega leaving a broken Page in the ring and leaving the arena.
Well, Whatever… Never Mind
Gee, I wonder if that Chekhov’s Mimosa Hot Tub is going to come into play in this Mimosa Mayhem Match?
“Judas” might be the biggest wrestling theme in the world right now. Jericho hit it out of the park with that one.
Jericho with a Codebreaker right off the bat to drop Orange. It’s all Jericho in the opening minutes, as Jericho smashes a cocktail tray over Cassidy’s head. About 247 different hovering over the Mimosa tub spots, with OC tossing a glass full in Jericho’s face. Near fall for OC after he whiffs on a kick that the commentary team insists connected. OC goes up top and gets hit by another Codebreaker for his trouble.
Jericho tries to hit an Outsiders Edge into the tub, but OC drops out and blasts Jericho with two Orange Punches to knock him into the tub and win.
I’m just gonna say it: MJF is the best heel in the business in 2020. If you don’t believe me, do yourself a favor and watch the excellent Kenny Johnson documentary on MJF on YouTube and thank me later. Fight me, nerds.
Pixie Zebra Bryce Remsburg is our ref for the main event tonight. MJF coming to the ring in his best Young Republican ring gear. Great heel instincts by MJF. Mox comes down to the ring through the stands, and is almost tackled by an overzealous mark. Moxley’s Paradigm Shift DDT is banned in this match, so expect a bunch of teases. Mox tosses MJF to the outside to capitalize on his brawling advantages.
Back in the ring, MJF focuses on Mox’s arm to set up his arm breaker submission later. Mox tosses MJF into the ring post, and there’s a great spot with Mox trying to pop his shoulder back into place by smashing it against the bottom buckle, interspersed with shots of MJF covered in blood. Mox is doing a great job of selling the arm injury while Remsburg squeaks out a 10 count. Mox kills MJF with a Gotch piledriver for a two count, and then bites MJF’s forehead and comes away covered in rich boy blood. MJF spits blood in Moxley’s face, and slaps on the Salt of the Earth arm breaker submission, but Mox gets to the ropes.
Mox hits the ropes but MJF pulls Fievel Mousekewitz Remsburg into Mox’s path causing him to pull up short and gets poked in the eyes for his effort. Cross Rhodes by MJF gets a 2 count. Wardlow jumps on the apron to distract the referee and throw the Dynamite Diamond Ring to MJF but misses, and Moxley hits the Paradigm Shift with the ref’s back turned for the 1-2-3, and Moxley retains. He’ll face Archer at some point for the title to continue the excellent series they started in Japan.
Although MJF lost, we saw a side of him tonight that he hasn’t shown in the past; a willingness to get dirty and not only dish out the pain but also put himself through it to achieve his goals. I honestly believe that in the next 5 years, MJF will be respected as an all-time great heel, and I think this match is the one we’ll point to as the start of him proving that his in-ring work can match his charisma.
Overall, this was a really good PPV, and pretty indicative of the strengths and weaknesses of AEW. Even the stuff that wasn’t great wasn’t bad, and the good stuff was great.
Overall Score: 🧨🧨🧨.5/5