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Andrew’s Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 2/2/20

Stacked week of action with NOAH having a big event that was free for all to watch, NJPW with 2 New Beginning shows! How many matches have you seen?

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Stacked week of action with NOAH having a big event that was free for all to watch, NJPW with 2 New Beginning shows! How many matches have you seen?

Now whenever there are big Japanese events, we can usually expect some high quality matches. Nothing really crazy on American TV, but there was a match that snuck through.

Firstly, last week was the last match qualifier for January. So let’s go over the January Pool:

  • NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 14 Double Gold Dash: Kazuchika Okada vs Tetsuya Naito
  • NXT UK TakeOver Blackpool II: Tyler Bate vs Jordan Devlin
  • NXT: South Wales Subculture vs The BROserweights
  • WWE Royal Rumble: Men’s Royal Rumble

My vote for the month will go to Kazuchika Okada vs Tetsuya Naito, that was a big culmination of a multi-year story and a damn good match to boot.

Now let’s get to this week!

Quick Top 5:

  1. NJPW The New Beginning 2.2: RevPro British Heavyweight Championship: Zack Sabre Jr (c) vs Will Ospreay
    Rating: **** 3/4
  2. NOAH Global Junior League Finals Day: GJL Finals: Dick Togo vs Daisuke Harada
    Rating: **** 3/4
  3. NJPW The New Beginning 2.1: NEVER Openweight Championship: Hirooki Goto (c) vs Shingo Takagi
    Rating: **** 1/2
  4. NJPW The New Beginning 2.2: Taichi w/Miho Abe vs Kazuchika Okada
    Rating: **** 1/2
  5. NXT: Dusty Tag Team Classic Finals: BROserweights vs Grizzled Young Veterans
    Rating: ****
  6. NOAH Global Junior League Finals Day: GJL Semi-Finals: Daisuke Harada vs Hajime Ohara
    Rating: ****

Honorable Mentions:

NOAH Global Junior League Finals: Sugiura-gun (Hideki Suzuki, Kazuyuki Fujita & Takashi Suguira) vs AXIZ (Go Shiozaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima) & Shuhei Taniguchi
Rating: *** 3/4
NJPW New Beginning 2.1: EVIL vs Tomohiro Ishii
Rating: *** 3/4
IMPACT!: Best of 5 Series: Match 1: Eddie Edwards vs Michael Elgin
Rating: *** 1/2
NJPW New Beginning 2.2: Robbie Eagles, Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii vs Shingo Takagi, BUSHI & EVIL
Rating: *** 1/2
NOAH Global Junior League Finals: KONGOH (Yoshiki Inamura, Masa Kitamiya, Nio, Hao & Kenoh) vs Junta Miyawaki, Minoru Tanaka, Kaito Kiyomiya, Hitoshi Kumano & Naomichi Marufuji
Rating: *** 1/2
NJPW New Beginning 2.1: Kazuchika Okada & Jon Moxley vs Taichi & Minoru Suzuki
Rating: *** 1/2
NJPW New Beginning 2.2: KENTA, Taiji Ishimori & Jay White vs Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & Hiromu Takahashi
Rating: *** 1/2
IMPACT!: Josh Alexander w/Ethan Page vs El Hijo del Vikingo
Rating: *** 1/2
NJPW New Beginning 2.2: Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, El Desperado & DOUKI vs SHO, YOH, Ryusuke Taguchi & Jon Moxley
Rating: *** 1/4
AEW Dynamite: Chris Jericho, Ortiz & Santana vs Darby Allin & Private Party
Rating: *** 1/4
NOAH Global Junior League Finals: GJL Semi-Finals: Yoshinari Ogawa vs Dick Togo
Rating: *** 1/4
NXT: Trent Seven vs Finn Balor
Rating: *** 1/4
WWE Raw: Asuka vs Charlotte
Rating: *** 1/4
NJPW New Beginning 2.1: Ryu Lee & Robbie Eagles vs Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI
Rating: *** 1/4
NJPW New Beginning 2.1: El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori vs Tiger Mask & Yuya Uemura
Rating: ***
IMPACT!: Murder Clown & Pagano vs Dez & Wentz
Rating: ***
NOAH Global Junior League Finals: 50 Funky Powers (Mohammed Yone & Quiet Storm) vs Dark Agents Return (Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue)
Rating: ***
WWE Raw: Seth Rollins & Buddy Murphy vs Kevin Owens & Samoa Joe
Rating: ***
NXT: Dominik Dijakovic vs Damian Priest
Rating: ***
NJPW New Beginning 2.1: Jay White & KENTA vs Tetsuya Naito & SANADA
Rating: ***
AEW Dynamite: Young Bucks vs Butcher & Blade
Rating: ***
WWE SmackDown: 4 Way #1 Contender Match: Miz & Morrison vs The Revival vs Lucha House Party vs Heavy Machinery
Rating: ***

 

5t. NOAH Global Junior League Finals Day: GJL Semi-Finals: Daisuke Harada vs Hajime Ohara

From My Analysis:
The match starts off slowly with both men trying to get early mat advantages, but that’s more Ohara’s wheelhouse than Harada’s. After the referee gets clipped during a kick out, Ohara tries to focus on the back. Backbreakers, Modified Romero Special, Gory Backbreaker, Emerald Flowsion, wonderful focus on a body part.

Thinking he’s done enough, Ohara calls for the Muy Bien, but Harada is able to crawl to the ropes. Harada starts trying to swing the momentum after an Electric Chair Quesadora Roll and Hurricanrana buy him some time. After a heavy lariat, Ohara kicks out at one, a quick grapple counter turns into Harada hitting a Tombstone, Ohara trying to counter with a Rolling Head and Arm cradle, but Harada gets the advantage, hits the Knee Lift and Katayama German Suplex Hold. Damn good match.

Winner: Harada via Katayama German Suplex Hold

 

5t. NXT: Dusty Tag Team Classic Finals: BROserweights vs Grizzled Young Veterans

From Mitchell’s Coverage:
Riddle gets in but Drake intercepts! Riddle powers out to use Drake as a backpack and a battering ram into Gibson! Dunne is freed and all four men are down again. Fans are loving this and rallying back up as the teams regroup. Gibson tags in Drake, Dunne tags in Riddle. MAYHEM IN MO- NO! DOUBLE POWERBOMB ONTO GIBSON! Then the Broserweights take fingers and SNAP! Pump handle, BITTER FINAL FLASH! Cover, TWO!?! Drake survives but the Broserweights have more to try. In fact, they’re doing something GYV would usually do! Dunne is up top and Riddle gut wrenches Drake into position, but Gibson denies them their Ticket to Mayhem as he hotshots Dunne! Drake gets out, trips Riddle and jackknife covers, TWO!

Riddle waistlocks, ripcords but Drake breaks free to enziguri! Drake runs off Riddle, MAYHEM IN MOTION hits Dunne! Gibson has Dunne on his shoulder in the Electric Chair! Drake builds speed, TOPE DOOMSDAY DEVICE!! Full Sail loses its mind as Dunne is wiped out! Gibson tags in but Riddle fights them both. Gibson holds Riddle in the corner, GRIT YOUR TEETH dropkick! Then the lift, HELTER SKELTER, to Mayhem 450! Cover, TWO!?! The Bro is superhuman but the GYV are supervillains! Drake tags back in, Gibson feeds Riddle to the gut wrench. But Dunne returns to pump handle Gibson as Riddle reverses the position on Drake! BRO DEREK IN STEREO!! But that’s not all, as they both climb up top! Simultaneous MOONSAULT AND FLOATING BRO!!

Riddle is fired up, Full Sail is thunderous, and Dunne tags back in! Fireman’s carry, BROSERWEIGHT TO SLEEP! Cover, Broserweights WIN!!

Winner: BROserweights via BROserweight to Sleep

 

4. NJPW The New Beginning 2.2: Taichi w/Miho Abe vs Kazuchika Okada

From My Analysis:
We saw a bit of a transformation in Taichi last year. After feeling snubbed from the G1 in 2018, he got more serious in 2019 with his matches against Ishii and Naito. After the hellish beating that Taichi gave Okada last night, Okada comes into the match heavily taped, reminiscent of the G1 match against Kenny Omega in 2017.

We saw many faces of Taichi during this match. He tried to go for the Iron Fingers early, but Okada had an answer. As Taichi took advantage of the heavily taped neck, Okada just continued to power through. Much of Okada’s early offense got him some space, but at the detriment of his neck. Most notably, no kip ups from Okada and belabored movement for his Zoom Out Pose and a few other good psychology/selling moments.

Taichi was in great form for this match though. He combined the heel aspects of his persona, along with a hard hitting and determined resolve to prove himself. Sure Kanemaru distracted the referee so Taichi could use a chair, and Taichi even grabbed the referee so he could hit a low blow, but it was all great elements to what makes Taichi, well…Taichi. Great strikes, Kawada Kicks with more effort than usual and Taichi even pulled off a damn nice Dropkick (he doesn’t do that often). Even if the heel tactics are something you dislike, it added well to the story of the match and to Taichi’s evolution the last year or so.

Notably, the crowd was even on Taichi’s side for a good portion of the match. He played to the crowd, and seems to be accepted, at least in his home town. Okada may have won, but during his speech he started the old taunt of “Taichi go home” but the crowd responded with “Let’s go Taichi”. Hopefully this means bigger things for Taichi and him staying more in the Dangerous T aspect instead of douchey heel vampire singer…whatever.

Winner: Okada via Rainmaker

 

3. NJPW The New Beginning 2.1: NEVER Openweight Championship: Hirooki Goto (c) vs Shingo Takagi

From My Analysis:
This was one of the matches I was generally excited for since I’ve been a fan of Shingo for years, he was one of the few reasons I paid attention to Dragon Gate. We get a nice basic feud of ‘anything you can do, I can do better’. Shingo dashed Goto’s hopes at making the G1 Finals, but Goto did get the win back a little after that. This is the rubber match, and we get to see how the plans for Shingo are looking in New Japan.

The small elements the last match didn’t contain, were here in spades. Shingo’s facial expressions and selling makes everything more enjoyable to watch. Heavy Lariat exchanges, hell there was even dueling Headbutts…who does that? In what book do you go into a match thinking “Let’s smash skulls a couple dozen times”? Another little thread during the match was SHO being down at Japanese commentary. SHO and Shingo had a rivalry during the Best of Super Junior tournament, so it sowed an early possible challenge if Shingo won.

Goto pulled out every move in his arsenal short of the actual GTR, but Shingo pulled off the rope assisted GTR (Great Takagi Revolution). Shingo counters Goto’s first attempt at the normal GTR, grabs the wrist and turns it into Made in Japan for a big near fall. Both men were tremendously resilient and this was a fun match to watch, not only because of the violence, but because of the expressions and selling. NEVER matches are truly impressive when it’s rooted in the more Strong Style/hard hitting technique.

Winner: Takagi via Last of the Dragon

 

2. NOAH Global Junior League Finals Day: GJL Finals: Dick Togo vs Daisuke Harada

From Hisame’s Newsletter Vol. 69:

Daisuke Harada (who had known Dick Togo, but not often had matches with him from his Osaka Pro days) faced off in the finals with Dick Togo in an explosive match. Togo working to grind Harada down by working on his knee, not as technical as the other two matches of the night they had both had, it was memorable nonetheless, and at times it threatened to spill out into a brawl, with Togo in frustration going to use a chair on Harada, but being stopped by the referee. Daisuke Harada won the match, and his second Global Junior League, via Katayama German Suplex in 19 minutes, and 43 seconds. With this win Harada now wins the right to challenge Yoshinari Ogawa for the GHC Junior Heavyweight. NOAH are yet to announce a date.

Winner: Harada via Katayama German Suplex Hold

 

1. NJPW The New Beginning 2.2: RevPro British Heavyweight Championship: Zack Sabre Jr (c) vs Will Ospreay

Snippet from Mitchell’s Coverage:
ZSJ stalks Ospreay and kicks him down off the ropes! Then a scoop, but Ospreay blocks the driver! ZSJ cranks with a guillotine then scoops, but Ospreay slips out to inverted lift, BLOODY SUNDAY! Cover, TWO!! ZSJ survives and Ospreay grits his teeth. Ospreay underhooks, lifts, but ZSJ fights out to pump handle and flip Ospreay over. EUROCLUTCH, TWO!! Ospreay narrowly escapes, but ZSJ Penalty Kicks again! But Ospreay springs right up!? ROUNDHOUSE! Fans are reaching that fever pitch at the 25 minute mark! Ospreay drags ZSJ up, powerbomb lift, but ZSJ guillotines to a triangle hold! Ospreay dead lifts for the BOMB! Cover, TWO!!

Ospreay hurries up top, SHOOTING STAR! Cover, TWO!! ZSJ survives again but Ospreay has more to give! Sapporo cheers as Ospreay drags ZSJ up. Underhooks and Canadian Rack, but ZSJ pops out to the cobra twist! Ospreay pops out to gut wrench and scoop, then flip ZSJ over! But ZSJ slips out again to hop back on, IRON OCTOPUS! Ospreay endures as ZSJ pulls hard on the arm, but drops to the mat! ZSJ squeezes tight and Ospreay is turning purple! Ospreay has a triangle hold of sorts, and CRANKS back hard! Red Shoes checks on Ospreay, and calls it! ZSJ WINS!

Winner: ZSJ via Referee Stoppage

 

Thoughts:

Well damn, this was a good week for wrestling. Taichi had probably the best match of his career, ZSJ got something to hang his hat on after a luke warm 2019 (as far as New Japan is concerned), but neither of them will be my vote this week. Global Junior League Finals: Dick Togo vs Daisuke Harada, really just struck me as tremendous. Hell, I’ve watched that match about 3 times already.

The NXT match may garner more votes because it’s seen by more people, but the top end of this list may hold up throughout the year. Generally great stuff, and make sure to make your votes known!


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Opinion

Cook’s AEW Double or Nothing 2022 Gambling Picks

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AEW Double or Nothing 2022 Gambling Picks

It’s Memorial Day weekend, you know what that means! AEW is presenting its annual Double or Nothing event. 13 matches for you good people! Most of them have odds via BetOnline. Let’s win you some money! For entertainment purposes, of course.

Buy-In Match
Hookhausen (-2000) vs. Tony Nese & “Smart” Mark Sterling (+700)

Hook is the future of the wrestling business. Danhausen is a popular meme. Tony Nese is here because he impressed somebody. “Smart” Mark is here because he can properly annoy people. This is the right dark match for this type of show. Hook will kill somebody, the crowd will cheer. Hookhausen wins of course.

TBS Championship Match
Jade Cargill (-1800) vs. Anna Jay (+700)

I’m a big Anna Jay fan. But I’m also an honest man, and there’s no reason for me to tell you to bet on Anna Jay in this match. If she actually wins they’ve lost the plot. Jade Cargill is a woman among girls and there’s no reason to have her lose anytime soon. So let’s move on.

Mixed Trios Match
Scorpio Sky, Ethan Page & Paige VanZant vs. Sammy Guevara, Frankie Kazarian & Tay Conti

One of the things I liked about AEW when it started was their concept of booking matches a week in advance. It was nice to see them run the card down for next week’s Dynamite, you knew what to expect next week! Sometimes they’d even advertise stuff for two weeks later, which was downright mind-bending. Unfortunately, AEW’s been getting away from that in recent months. Now they tend to wait until Rampage before announcing anything for Dynamite, and announce matches the day of the show just like everybody else does. It’s a darn shame.

I’m pretty sure that back when AEW started, a match like this wouldn’t have randomly been announced two days before the PPV. Considering it’s PVZ’s very first wrestling match, and the stipulation is fairly important (Guevara & Kazarian can’t challenge for Sky’s TNT title if their team loses), this could have used more than two days of build.

I’ll be rooting for American Top Team here since I’d like the current TNT title feud to end. That’s not what I expect to happen, so roll with Sammy, Frankie & Tay.

Kyle O’Reilly vs. Darby Allin

Speaking of somewhat random last minute matches. Kyle injured Sting during a beatdown at the end of Dynamite a couple of weeks ago, and Darby has taken exception. This should be a pretty fun match with two guys that’ll be looking to prove they should have been booked on this card earlier. Expect Darby to win here, as Kyle’s still working his way up in AEW.

Men’s Owen Hart Cup Final
Samoa Joe vs. Adam Cole

Women’s Owen Hart Cup Final
Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D. vs. Ruby Soho

We’ll talk about these two together. Adam & Britt have been the popular choice in most circles since the brackets were announced. It’d be cute for them to win the Owen together, right? Joe’s a tough row to hoe, especially now that his rivals Jay Lethal, Sonjay Dutt and Santam Singh have been barred from ringside. Cole still has ten other people to interfere on his behalf, so I don’t think it’ll be a big deal.

Ruby could use a big win here, but it’s tough to bet against Britt. I won’t!

AEW Women’s World Championship Match
Thunder Rosa (-1500) vs. Serena Deeb (+600)

Get these two in the ring, and they’ll give you something you want to see. Thunder & Serena are two of the best female wrestlers in the business, and I’m pretty interested to see what they give us on this show. The only issue with this feud? Serena can’t cut a promo, and Thunder is only slightly better. Giving them microphone time is just asking for bad reviews from critics like me. I don’t like to point these things out, but when they stare me in the face I have to.

THEY CAN’T TALK

Fortunately, they won’t be talking much if at all at Double or Nothing. T’ll be in the ring where they excel. Potential show stealer here. I’m tempted to pick Serena, but the state of AEW’s women’s division tells me that Thunder Rosa should retain, largely because I figure the winner of the Owen Hart Cup gets the next shot at the title. That’ll probably be Britt Baker, and the Good Doctor deserves a re-match with her arch-nemesis. If I was betting on this, I might throw a couple of bucks Serena Deeb‘s way, on the off-chance they decide to turn Britt face since she’s the most over woman on the roster.

AEW World Tag Team Championship Match
Jurassic Express (-130) vs. Ricky Starks & Powerhouse Hobbs (+200) vs. Keith Lee & Swerve Strickland (+250)

It’s probably not polite to mention this, but I will anyway. Jurassic Express is the least interesting team in this match. I know Jungle Boy is one of the vaunted Four Pillars and he’ll be a megastar one of these days, but nobody can tell me with a straight face that Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus are the best team in the business. They’ve teamed long enough to prove if they are or not, and they aren’t. Starks & Hobbs could have that potential. Keith & Swerve could have that potential. I can see either of those teams lighting the world on fire for the next year or so.

Jurassic Express will probably win since that’s how things go. You won’t make much money off of that though. If you’re looking to make money, I’d take a shot at Keith Lee & Swerve Strickland. You won’t find many people in the know that don’t think those two guys are awesome. They’ve proven to have pretty great chemistry. I’d put the belts on them and see where it goes. Perfect opportunity for a face to face switch too since it’s a triple threat with heels involved.

Anarchy in the Arena
Jericho Appreciation Society (+225) vs. Eddie Kingston, Santana, Ortiz, Bryan Danielson & Jon Moxley (-350)

Yep, this is going to be a complete clusterfuck. It’ll go forever, it’ll go all over the building and there will be crazy spots that these people probably shouldn’t be doing. It’ll probably be fun to watch! This is also one of the few matches where I think the underdogs have a pretty good chance of winning. The Jericho Appreciation Society is on the same page, it remains to be seen if their opposition is. Some type of miscommunication with the good guys makes sense to me.

House of Black (-200) vs. Death Triangle (+150)

My most recent 411mania article was inspired by the House of Black, Death Triangle & other factions trying to be spooky these days. Let’s be honest, HOB hasn’t had a lot of success in wooing people to their side. Any spooky faction worth their weight would have already gotten a young, impressionable lass like Julia Hart by their side months ago. Whether she does her heel turn to join them at this point or not doesn’t really matter. The fact it took this long makes them look pretty darn ineffectual.

As for Death Triangle, it’s tough to get them all healthy and in AEW at the same time. Pac’s been gone a lot, Fenix has been injured a lot, and Penta does Penta things. When they are together, it’s pretty cool. I have no doubt this match will be really good, whether we’ll care more about the situation afterward remains to be seen.

I’d expect House of Black to win simply because they’ll definitely be around.

The Hardys (+200) vs. The Young Bucks (-300)

Here’s the thing. At one point, this was one of those vaunted dream matches. The Hardy Boyz in their prime were one of the most popular tag teams in the history of wrestling. Their prime was 20 years or so ago, but extended a bit because they were smart at working the gimmick. Here in 2022, their tank is on E. I’ll get yelled at for pointing that out, but anybody watching Jeff or Matt Hardy on AEW Dynamite in 2022 knows I’m right. Matt was exposed last year, Jeff’s been exposed in the last few weeks.

Oh, and this match already happened in ROH several years ago when people were more interested in it. I have no defense for this. I can only assume the Hardys will be putting the Young Bucks over again, since nobody has any interest in this feud going on longer than this show outside of the immediate families.

Also, after watching the BTE footage of this feud I care even less about it. I might be in the minority though, WWE has done good business off of senior tour feuds for years.

MJF (+400) vs. Wardlow (-700)

Put Wardlow over.

I could make a real interesting argument for having MJF win here, and having the War Dog eventually getting his AEW contract through other means, and maybe Vince Russo & other folks would say that would get Wardlow over even more than actually earning his contract by stomping the shit out of MJF. But that’s a little too cute & complicated when you’re trying to build somebody like Wardlow into the future of your company. Just let him beat the shit out of MJF.

No reason to worry about MJF, he’ll get his heat back the second he has a microphone. Things don’t always need to be complex. The best booking is often the simplest. Don’t overthink this thing.

Put Wardlow over.

AEW World Championship Match
“Hangman” Adam Page (+130) vs. CM Punk (-170)

Adam Page would like us to know that CM Punk is not the good person he’s portrayed himself as since returning to pro wrestling last year. This flies in the face of how Punk has conducted himself on AEW television and various media appearances, but it’s not something that would come as a surprise to most wrestling fans. Throughout his career, Punk has gone through these phases where he acts like a nice guy & says & does the right things. Eventually, Punk reverts to his true nature. Has he reached that point again?

As for the Hangman, his title reign has produced some quality matches, but the story hasn’t been as compelling as one might have hoped. It’s tough to produce a compelling babyface champion. The last one longterm face champion of a mainstream promotion I can remember not getting blowback from the fans for not being interesting enough? Hulk Hogan from 1984-88. And I’m sure if there was an IWC back then somebody would have said that wasn’t interesting.

As much as AEW likes to avoid rematches, hopefully this will be just the beginning of a feud that will give folks the CM Punk we love to watch most and give the Hangman something compelling to do. I feel like CM Punk‘s the pick, but Page’s got a real shot at it and would be a better financial windfall.


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Chairshot Classic: Andrew’s 2019 AEW Double or Nothing Ratings & Analysis

Take a look back at AEW’s first PPV effort, the 2019 Double Or Nothing in Andrew’s Retro Ratings and Analysis!

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AEW Double Or Nothing 2019AEW Double Or Nothing 2019

Take a look back at AEW’s first PPV effort, the 2019 Double Or Nothing in Andrew’s Retro Ratings and Analysis!

With AEW Double Or Nothing–the 2022 edition–on the horizon, enjoy this trip down memory lane as Andrew Balaz reviewed the inaugural Las Vegas AEW pay-per-view…spectacular?

Well this is history boys and girls. Good, bad or indifferent, it’s the first show of the IWC’s favorite t-shirt company. What becomes of Hangman since he’s injured and PAC cancelled? What surprises will we get?

We all sit here with bated breath. Some want it to fail, many want it to succeed. Me? I just want it to not suck.

Let’s see what we got!

Ratings:

  • Casino Battle Royal: Hangman Page wins @10:45 – **
  • Sammy Guevara vs Kip Sabian: Sabian wins Argentine Facebuster @9:55 – ***
  • So Cal Uncensored vs Strong Hearts: SCU wins via Best Meltzer Ever @14:00 – *** 1/2
  • Britt Baker vs Nyla Rose vs Kylie Rae vs Awesome Kong: Britt Bakers wins via Kneecap Brainbuster @11:05 – ***
  • Best Friends vs Angelico & Jack Evans: Best Friends win via Strong Zero @12:55 – ** 1/2
  • Riho, Hikaru Shida &  Ryo Mizunami vs Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazaki & Emi Sakura: Hikaru wins via Three Count @13:10 – *** 1/4
  • Dustin Rhodes vs Cody Rhodes: Cody wins via Crossroads @22:35 – *****
  • AAA Tag Team Championship: The Young Bucks (c) vs Lucha Brothers: Bucks retain via Meltzer Driver @25:00 – *****
  • Kenny Omega vs Chris Jericho: Jericho wins via Judas Effect @23:50 – **** 1/4

Analysis:

This was definitely a mess. A few spots, a bunch of messy spots and just generally awkward moments. Flying Brian Jr had a few decent spots, Luchasaurus looked good and Orange Cassidy is awful. Hangman being the 21st entrant made a lot of sense, but probably already upset a few people since it wasn’t CM Punk or Jon Moxley. Of course Page won. He can fight with a bum leg, cause he has three of them. So yeah, not an awful match, but it had a lot of issues.

Sabian looked tremendous in this match. Guevara definitely did too much. Shooting Star onto Sabian draped over the outside barricade, a bad double Moonsault and standing Shoot Star hurt the match a little. But Sabian’s technically proficient, charismatic and can hang in the air a bit too. So Sabian was the star here. Solid match.

Well now, this was great. Strong Hearts trio pulled off some great fluid offense and SCU did fantastic. This was just a great match, I can’t really accurately describe more than great match. Best Meltzer Ever is a little dumb when it comes to names, but damn was this a good match.

So Brandi comes out in her gear to swerve us that she’s adding herself to the match, but instead she adds Awesome Kong! So the Triple Threat turns into a Fatal 4 Way and it’s not bad. A lot of the early portion is focused on taking out Kong, then Nyla becomes the target. Britt and Kylie are the ones left in the ring after the collateral damage. Kylie looks to be firing up for a finish, but Britt catches her in a Kneecap Brainbuster (Adam Cole’s Last Shot in ROH).

Excessive spots, excessive near falls, I knew to expect it to a degree with these four, but that doesn’t make it better. This was definitely an ‘Indie style” match, but the crowd seemed to enjoy it. There was a lights out attack on both teams from…some team, with masked minions. The “Who Are You” chant kicks up and commentary doesn’t lend any information. So that’s really not helpful.

Everyone got their stuff in, we got to see a lot of personality from the different women and the action was solid. I also appreciated Emi Sakura trying to rally momentum doing We Will Rock You stomps (since she was dressed as Freddy Mercury). Save for the big mess up with the bell ringer calling the end of the match when the referee obviously held up 2 and said 2, just messed up the flow and gave away the finish since Hikaru’s music played. Not bad, just the ending did kind of take the air out of a pretty good match.

Wow. Dustin and Cody brought it, Dustin bladed pretty deep, I think even Dusty would’ve blushed. New moves from Dustin like the Misawa style Apron Senton, a Code Red and a few classics. The blood, the desire to keep fighting, this was everything wrestling should be. It made sense for Cody to win the match of course, but wow after the match was a beautiful moment. Also call of the night might have to go to Excalibur when Cody hit a Pump Kick aka Bicycle Kick and you hear him say something like ” He hit him with a BICYCLE”.  In a huge homage to Dustin and Dusty’s Heart to Heart promo, Cody tells Dustin he can’t retire, because he needs a partner. He doesn’t just need a partner, he needs his big brother. This was a great way cap off such a hard hitting personal match. Wow.

Belt reveal with a few extra curricular and Bret Hart. Much like Bret Hart, the belt doesn’t do anything for me. It looks a lot like Big Gold, but it’s so ostentatious it’s hard to love it. Just too shimmery or whatever. It’s not bad, but I in no way love the belt.

I’m very happy there was the unveiling ceremony between the Rhodes match and this one. Cause this was a great match and moving it out too quick could’ve hurt the crowd immersion. Great tandem moves, a decent thread of the ring rust playing a part against the Young Bucks early on and just generally great spots. There definitely was a lot of stuff, big spots and it was “spot monkey” style, but it all worked. The Lucha Brothers pulled out crazy moves to try and get the AAA belts back and the Bucks were trying to prove they still had it with most of the year off. Just really really good.

Well now Jericho and Omega pick back up where they left off. Referee Paul Turner allows for a lot of out of the ring shenanigans. Jericho busts Omega open, tries to use a table as a shield, but Omega still throws himself at Jericho.Jericho focuses on Omega’s face with the Triangle Dropkick, a Lionsault went high and this was pretty damn solid. A few missteps and Jericho not countering the first One Winged Angel was car crash worthy, but aside from that, this was nice. Multiple Codebreakers followed by the new Judas Effect, leave Omega laying for the 1, 2, 3.

Jericho says AEW is for him not for fans, and he deserves a thank you. When the crowd pops, Jericho thinks it’s for him, but Jon Moxley makes his debut through the crowd! Almost as if it were a reference to Lex Luger showing up on the first Nitro, it looks like Jericho basically says “You don’t work here”. Dirty Deeds to Jericho, Dirty Deeds to referee Paul Turner and Omega manages a burst of energy to brawl for a little bit. They end up on the poker chips, Moxley hits Dirty Deeds and then just dumps him off, onto some other stage item.

Overall Score: 8.5/10

Well damn, I was skeptical since All In didn’t rate as highly for me as other fans, but this was great. Aside from a few personal gripes, and not really enjoying the cluster that was the Battle Royal, this was one of the better shows of the year thus far. Good surprises like Awesome Kong, Bret Hart and Jon Moxley. Jericho winning the main event breaks up The Elite getting the clean sweep, so that shows it’s not as predictable as All In.

Oh and yes, I can’t express how good the Rhodes match was. The match itself, the story it told, the promo after, everything was just beautiful. That is my number 1 match of the year personally, cause it was just too damn poignant.

Good job AEW. Great show, and the symbolic moment where Cody used the sledgehammer to break the replica throne Triple H used for his WrestleMania 22 entrance. It was awesome.


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