A brief summary
If there’s one guarantee, one thing in the entertainment that will always be prevalent for as long as any form of it exists, it’s the desire of fans to always portray their own personal preferences as the absolute, bonafide best thing out there for the world to see. It’s a trend that’s followed popular culture for as long as we can remember, the idea of being a part of something that’s ‘the best’ is always a reaffirming feeling to many, the content you consume is held in higher regard, more eyes are constantly on it & your opinions are likely to be taken more seriously when opposing the competition.
Wrestling is certainly no stranger to this, in fact, I’d argue wrestling fans engage in this more than almost any other fanbase out there. Sure, quarrels between other fanbases can be intense, such as Marvel & DC, Star Wars & Star Trek, The UK Office & US Office, basically any political system across the planet, wrestling fans though, we can display loyalty on an entirely different level. As hard as times may get in any industry, you won’t find many fans as loyal as those who follow professional wrestling, their dedication can be almost surreal.
From the days of the Monday Night Wars, the early days of the ‘Ruthless Aggression’ era in the early to mid-2000s, the rise of TNA, ROH or NJPW or as we’re all witnessing right now, the astonishing success of All Elite Wrestling, otherwise known as AEW.
AEW couldn’t have come at a better time, at least initially. Professional wrestling was (and to some degree, still is) seeing its biggest boom in years across the globe, not only was the WWE thriving and breaking financial records year upon year, the indie scene of the business had never looked hotter. NJPW in particular was injecting the wresting world with a product almost nobody can match today, shifting the conversation around the community as we know it, making it clear that WWE wasn’t the only brand in demand anymore. Rather than monopolize an industry, a new wave had arrived on the scene that wasn’t to be ignored. AEW capitalized on this to introduce what is arguably the biggest competitor the company has had since the days of WCW, a company run by those who were rejected by the WWE’s selective system who wanted wrestlers to create art in an environment unlike any other.
This wasn’t another TNA mind you, this felt different to anything that came before it. In its first year alone AEW has achieved incredible feats in the short span of time that it’s existed, from attendance records that have blown past industry expectations, a solid TV deal to air their programming, hoarding a plethora of overlooked talent & presenting the exact product that their competition doesn’t offer, something with far more grit to it than we’re used to seeing.
And for the most part, what we’ve gotten has been met with critical acclaim. Being fairly new to the product and only just catching up on what each show has to offer I’m probably a bit late to the party when it comes to talking about AEW, but I thought now more than ever would be a good time to take a dive into seeing if AEW truly is as well booked as it’s made out to be. Various online journalists, pundits & their rabid fanbase on platforms like Twitter have ranted endlessly about the product, so what better time to see where things really stand a little over a year after they came into existence?
Variety Like No Other
Right off the bat, AEW offers a product that virtually no other company in the industry does. I mean this as my biggest compliment towards their company in every regard, there isn’t a single one out there that has the variety for fans as they do.
From the high-flying style of Lucha Libre, to a more physical style that resembles the brawling style of British Wrestling, the insane physicality of Japanese wrestling, the hardcore tendencies that put places like CZW on the map, arguably the best use of comedic wrestling on the planet or more old school, classic storytelling we’ve seen from the days of Dusty Rhodes in the NWA (courtesy of his own son). AEW has something for everyone, and I mean everyone. While brands like NXT have a special place in my heart, their style always resembles a slight extension of WWE’s signature, more formulaic style, whereas AEW clearly has something aimed at catering to every class of fan watching their product. Rather than forcing you to buy into their take on wrestling, their programming is clearly more about giving the fan the most diverse experience possible & always leaving them with a little bit more to come back to.
Depending on your stance on this topic, you’ll likely agree or disagree with this take. It’s become quite the meme to consistent bombard WWE’s comment sections with slander due to their use of older, less frequently used talent, particularly within the main event picture that I’ve always believed should focus on the future when necessary. It does seem like a double standard is in play when it comes to AEW, who are no strangers to this concept as the product stands.
Granted the company is using the likes of Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, Brodie Lee, Cody, Dustin Rhodes & Shawn Spears within the boundaries of giving them new gimmicks that are heavily influenced by their own personalities, the principle does still stand that they are restricting newer talent from pushing upwards to new positions. Even with a plethora of new, fresh talent below the company is heavily hinging on ex-WWE talent to move their product forward. In terms of business practice, this makes perfect sense to anyone. Utilize established talent in the meantime for the sake of ratings, while building up the newer talent to a level that they can replace what’s been established, a strategy I’d argue AEW executes better than WWE on many fronts.
At times watching ex-WWE talent invade the screen can feel a bit reminiscent of TNA’s darker days (especially with some of the horrendous cheap shots they’ve taken to the product in the past), but for the most part the established talent isn’t often booked to sabotage newer talent or gimmicks, something I could write multiple articles about in regards to their main competition. And while this practice isn’t likely to be permanent due to the company’s ethic of making way for a new generation, at times the stars can feel like they overstay their time on screen.
There’s no way around it, AEW’s presentation in regards to their bigger shows have always drawn a bigger feel than most WWE shows not named WrestleMania. Most of this could be attributed to the layout of their product, the lower number of big shows across the calendar year, giving away a good number of more high-calibre matches on free TV & probably being smart enough to see how over-saturating your product with events can damage the product.
With the global situation as it stands, a lot of these criticisms are leveled more at the past booking of WWE, not the current product itself.
Glancing at their most recent string of shows, each one has an incredible feel to them, displaying every significant member of their product & giving each one a solid spotlight to shine under without neglecting the booking of their characters. The big matches feel big, but so does every other match in the bargain. AEW never portrays any of their matches as ‘lesser’ than others, it’s all part of their presentation in making the whole card feel like necessary viewing & not just the ones with the biggest names carrying them. If there’s one thing I can say AEW almost excels at, it’s presenting well thought out cards that aren’t just wise in regards to business decisions, but giving the fans what they want in the process.
The Best Promos In The Game
My favourite aspect of AEW programming, without question, is their openness when it comes to letting wrestlers be themselves, for better or for worse. WWE for so long has forced their talent into material that just doesn’t do the characters, or the talent themselves justice. Much of what they’re forced to spout doesn’t sound genuine, funny or simply fails to catch on with fans in the way they predict it will. A lot of this boils down to lazy writing but it’s a deeper-rooted issue that lies in the company’s constant need for control over every aspect of its programming.
AEW has thrived on this mistake. While not all of their promo work has been as fantastic as its top tier work, every talent feels like themselves, not a single one feels uncomfortable & the audience is far more receptive as a whole due to the creative freedoms given to everyone involved. Talents such as MJF, Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley & more importantly, Cody have brought out a side to their talents previously unseen before, crafting characters that aren’t just phenomenal to listen to but have turned everything they’re involved with into pure gold.
If AEW has shown the wrestling business one thing, it’s how much quality stems out of trusting the talents you hire to deliver on their promise to entertain those in the audience, and I can’t think of anyone who’s happier with this than a masterful storyteller like Cody himself.
The Women’s Division
I decided not to divide this article into the traditional ‘positive’ & ‘negative’ categories, but as it stands my actual issues with the product generally start here, with the first major one being the women of AEW. With women’s wrestling coming such heavy lengths since the start of the 2000s my expectations for AEW’s women were obviously high, considering what a resounding success WWE’s revamped take on the division has been since the 2014 ‘revolution’ took place with their call-ups of Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch & Sasha Banks.
That being said, this is the one section of AEW programming that’s completely dropped the ball for the most part. Not to say there isn’t talent in it, because there’s an abundance of it, just not utilized well enough to have the impact of its competition. Talent such as Britt Baker, Nyla Rose, Awesome Kong, Bea Priestley & Hikaru Shida all possess the ability to standout amongst the main roster scene, but just seem shoved into the background for the most part week in & week out. It doesn’t help that a good chunk of their storylines have done little to forward the division, namely the ‘Nightmare Collective’ lead by Brandi Rhodes, who in my opinion, is amongst the weakest female talents active under any company banner & flew by so quickly almost nobody talks about it to this day.
As women gain more & more opportunities across the globe with time moving on, this is a key area the company needs to enhance. Most of the present talent is either too weak, too underdeveloped or doesn’t receive the substantial attention needed to truly create ‘stars’ to represent them. As solid as the main event scene may look at the moment, neglecting a division that has become a central function of the North American business model for professional wrestling (especially WWE) seems like a costly mistake they need to fix sooner rather than later.
An Overcrowded Battlefield
Is it just me, or is there almost too much happening at times in AEW?
Nothing about this is necessarily a nudge at eventful programming, but the spacing out & planning of the companies shows at times seems to cram too many ideas into one place, a decision that can be quite jarring. For myself personally it’s the equivalent of throwing every conceivable idea at the wall and seeing what sticks the best at that very moment.
Understandably the company wants to jump into action as quickly as possible considering how much competition it has around the world, at times it just seems a lot of their creative ideas lose steam almost too quickly at times. Whether that be the latest debuts of both Matt Hardy or Brodie Lee, which granted were affected due to COVID-19, the failure to establish certain stables such as The Dark Order, The Librarian Gimmick which nobody cared for in the slightest or the previously mentioned ‘Nightmare Collective’. I love a product that is always changing, always adapting, but AEW at times rushes into things too quickly for its own good, leaving little room for anything to breathe. Generally, that kind of pacing to a product is humongous positive, in this case it’s made me want a little bit less if anything, since certain aspects of the show lose steam so quickly despite an incredible amount of potential in the long-run.
The saying always goes ‘’quality over quantity’’, and that’s incredibly relevant when watching their shows a lot of the time.
The ‘Ranking System’
When it comes to the ‘ranking system’ introduced in the brands early days, I don’t have much to say about it because it’s been seemingly abandoned altogether just a matter of weeks into the official launch of AEW Dynamite.
Clearly the company placed this system at the forefront to give off that more ‘sports-centric’ feel they had originally discussed prior to launching the brand on national television, but has had next to no impact on what’s been occurring since then. AEW tends to refer to it when it’s appropriate within the context of on-going storylines but is something that’s constantly overlooked in favour of pushing newer talent that needs more airtime. Which isn’t a bad decision at all mind you, just one that conflicts with something I thought would be a central element of how they decide who gains championship matches rather than Russian roulette.
Nothing about this is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it’s just a complete waste of time that really has no baring on how anything flows from week to week. I like the idea of keeping track of win-loss records amongst talent, having it serve no purpose is something I heavily question since it seems like a tiny nudge at their opposition’s views on wins & losses that have been well documented.
And finally, Orange Cassidy…
I just couldn’t pass up a chance to drool over just how excellent the Orange Cassidy character is. Cassidy is a treasure to the wrestling world, he’s not only the most over wrestler on TV right now, he possesses one of the most unique gimmicks ever conceived on a grand stage in the business. Every angle or match the man is involved in may not be a ‘mat classic’ by any stretch, but it’s a strong bet that it’ll garner the biggest reactions on any given evening regardless of what’s before of after it. Cassidy is a charisma magnet, and considering he’s a wrestler who quite literally puts no effort into what he does in the ring, he has the audience more invested in him than practically anyone else around him at this moment in time. His match against PAC in particular is one of the most surreal spectacles you can witness in the past year of wrestling & is something everybody needs to check out.
Orange Cassidy will likely never be AEW Champion (although, never say never when it comes to professional wrestling), but he’s the gift that keeps on giving every time he comes on screen & whatever he’s a part of next, I’ll be the first to scream when he comes out to that squared circle.
Analysis – Is AEW well booked?
To answer this question simply would do it a disservice, hence my walking through the main sections of the programming I felt were important to analyse when answering such a question. AEW is a product that isn’t without its flaws, and at times it does feel like fans of the product hold a ludicrous double standard when held against its competition, but the hype behind the product is something I generally support.
It’s a unique breath of fresh air to have a wrestling product of this scope & size exist on a weekly basis opposing WWE programming, but one that needs work in areas I mentioned just prior to this. In terms of variety, characters, presentation & their aim as a company, it’s something every wrestling fan should vocally support rather than rally against for the sake of argument, but that isn’t the world we live in these days.
Most of us need to keep in mind that AEW is in its very first year of operations, and this time will be ideal for them to test the waters, make mistakes, course correct & see what works best in regards to what they want to accomplish in the long-term. Nothing about what they do will be perfect as long as they’re around, the important thing is that they build on the blunders they currently have as we speak rather than patiently wait around & fall behind.
AEW’s future is as bright as anything right now, and while they aren’t perfect in the slightest, what they’re offering fans right now is something special that demands attention.
Cook’s 2021 AEW Dynamite Awards Preview
Steve Cook is here to preview the 2021 AEW Dynamite Awards?!?! Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
Steve Cook is here to preview the 2021 AEW Dynamite Awards?!?! Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
It’s Awards Season! Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like pro wrestling has more awards with each passing year. In addition to the Wrestling Observer, 411mania & countless other media outlets presenting awards, promotions do their own as well. WWE has the Slammys & the NXT Year-End Awards. Impact Wrestling has had their own awards since around the start of their company.
It only makes sense for AEW to add themselves to the mix. I’m a little confused by the Dynamite Awards, only because some of the moments nominated didn’t take place in 2020. Some of the late 2019 stuff was included here, which I suppose was in the interest of fairness because early 2020 would have been too soon to do awards. Still kinda off, but this will take care of itself in 2022. Probably.
Let’s take a look at this year’s AEW Dynamite Awards! I’m going to tell you who should win and who will win, so you can win your AEW Dynamite Award pool. I don’t know if people will be betting on these things, but just in case they are, here’s some help!
Best Moment on the Mic:
MJF Campaign Speech “We Deserve Better”
Cody Rhodes Accepts Mr. Brodie Lee’s Dog Collar Match Challenge
Jon Moxley “Accepts” The Inner Circle Invitation From Jericho
Brandi Rhodes Confronts Jade Cargill
Orange Cassidy Debates With Chris Jericho
Who Should Win: Orange Cassidy Debates With Chris Jericho
Honestly, one of the biggest travesties committed by the selection committee is the lack of Eddie Kingston in this category. Completely ridiculous. That being said, there aren’t any duds listed here. Brandi’s inclusion probably gets some heat from people, but her going off on Jade was tremendous. Orange’s performance against Jericho in the debate was some pretty good stuff & showed a different side of Mr. Cassidy than we’re accustomed to seeing. I’d give the award to him.
Who Will Win: Orange Cassidy Debates With Chris Jericho
We’re talking about Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Most Popular Wrestler of the Year here, along with the Demo God. Their star power carries them to the top of the polling.
Matt Hardy’s Debut
Jake “The Snake” Roberts Confronts Cody Rhodes
Brodie Lee Arrives As The Exalted One
Sting’s AEW Debut
Miro Revealed As The Best Man
Who Should Win: Jake “The Snake” Roberts Confronts Cody Rhodes
Your vote here will largely depend on your fandom of the wrestler involved. Matt Hardy fans will vote for Matt Hardy. Fans of underutilized WWE talent may go for Brodie or Miro. Sting’s popularity speaks for itself. For me, it goes back to Jake The Snake being my first favorite professional wrestler. Seeing him again, especially seeing him over the issues that had plagued him for decades, was a tremendous moment.
Who Will Win: Sting’s AEW Debut
“IT’S STING!” is all that needs to be said here.
The Inner Circle Jumps Orange Cassidy
The Dark Order Attacks the Nightmare Family
Nyla Rose Puts Riho & Shida Through Tables
Brian Cage Sneak Attack On Jon Moxley
The Nightmare Family And Inner Circle Brawl
Who Should Win: The Dark Order Attacks The Nightmare Family
Brodie Lee’s destruction of Cody to win the TNT Championship really put Dark Order on the map as a force to be reckoned with. My favorite part of the beatdown: we didn’t see all of it. Dustin Rhodes & QT Marshall were drug out from the back, explaining why they didn’t come out to help Cody earlier. Arn Anderson took some shots like a champ, and Brandi got choked out by Anna Jay. By the time the old TNT belt had been deposited on Cody’s carcass, the message had been sent loud & clear.
Who Will Win: The Nightmare Family And Inner Circle Brawl
This fight had a little bit of everything. MJF as a good guy. Cody smashing a window. Diamond Dallas Page looking like he could make one more run. Dippin’ Dots. Chris Jericho screaming about how he had a ticket. A hot crowd. What’s not to like?
Who Should Win: Rey Fenix
All four of these guys are insane, but nobody brings the insanity like Fenix. That guy just doesn’t care as long as he does as many flips as humanly possible. He & Penta were deserving winners of most web sites’ Most Underrated award, maybe he’ll get some recognition here.
Who Will Win: Nick Jackson
Fenix & Pac split the vote of Death Triangle fans, enabling Nick to ride the support of Elite fans to the crown.
Hardest Moment To Clean Up After:
Orange Cassidy Drops OJ on Inner Circle
Parking Lot Brawl
Big Swole Dumps Garbage On Dr. Britt Baker
Who Should Win: Orange Cassidy Drops OJ On Inner Circle
The Parking Lot Brawl is my favorite moment on the list, but the damage was largely contained to the parking lot. Big Swole’s garbage ended up in Dr. Baker’s Popemobile, not scattered all over the place. The Bunkhouse Match went everywhere and definitely deserves consideration, but the OJ incident resulted in a ruined suit & ring canvas. Definitely tough to get that stuff out.
Who Will Win: Parking Lot Brawl
People get a chance to vote for this, they probably will. Orange is represented in this one too, so it’s all good.
Biggest WTF Moment:
Cody Moonsaulting Off The Steel Cage
Sammy Guevara Is Hit By The Golf Cart
The Young Bucks Frog Splash Off The Stadium Railing
MJF Lashes Cody Rhodes
Bloody Dr. Britt Baker vs. Hikaru Shida
Kenny Omega Wins AEW World Championship and Walks out of AEW
Who Should Win: Sammy Guevara Is Hit By The Golf Cart
I am the golf cart.
The dumb "AEW needs to stop pushing ex-WWE guys!" arguments are Sammy Guevara. pic.twitter.com/ol2y9Qkzya
— Andy H. Murray (@andyhmurray) May 7, 2020
All these moments definitely had an element of craziness, but they all pale in comparison to Sammy getting hit by the golf cart. Like, who willingly does that? Definitely something people shouted “WTF?” at.
Who Will Win: Kenny Omega Wins AEW World Championship and Walks out of AEW
We certainly saw some funny business coming when Don Callis started appearing to call big Kenny matches. Nothing quite like what we’ve gotten, where AEW is regularly making their presence felt on Impact Wrestling’s AXS TV show while Omega & Callis have joined forces with the Good Brothers to re-live their New Japan glory days. Recency bias & the general craziness of AEW & Impact crossing over make this a solid pick.
Jericho & MJF: Le Dinner Debonair
Dr. Britt Baker Waxes Tony Schiavone
Young Bucks Super Kick MJF Into Cruise Ship Pool
The Inner Circle Las Vegas Trip
Who Should Win: The Young Bucks Super Kick MJF Into Cruise Ship Pool
— All Elite Wrestling on TNT (@AEWonTNT) January 25, 2020
I’m a simple man. Anytime somebody gets thrown into a pool on a wrestling show, I laugh and cheer. As creative as Jericho & MJF’s musical number was, and as crazy as that Vegas trip was, and as much as I love Britt & Tony’s chemistry together, give me the classics every time. Man gets thrown into pool. Simple, yet effective.
Who Will Win: Jericho & MJF: Le Dinner Debonair
MJF needs another plaque honoring his musical performance to carry around. As Owen Hart & Scorpio Sky could tell you, one trophy is always better than two.
Best Twitter Follow:
Dr. Britt Baker
Who Should Win: MJF
Dude just talks shit about everybody under the sun. Even Negative One, for heaven’s sake!
Who Will Win: Orange Cassidy
Twitter was made for people like Orange, who have no problem keeping their thoughts under 140 characters. I’m also good at it!
Breakout Male Star:
Who Should Win: Eddie Kingston
I can make a really good argument for every single nominee. We’ve already seen Orange’s name pop up a few times here, it’s no secret that he had an outstanding year. Darby is the current TNT Champion and has proven his worth every time we’ve seen him in the ring. The Brian Cage match took place after voting started, but it was evidence of why Allin deserves to win an award like this, and deserves his spot as TNT Champion and the man that Sting has chosen to carry on his legacy. Don’t get me started on Johnny Hungiee, once he started showing his personality on Being The Elite, everybody fell in love with the guy.
Eddie Kingston only went from needing to sell his wrestling boots to pay the rent to being one of AEW’s brightest stars. Those of us who were familiar with his work in the indies or in Impact wrestling knew about it. All Eddie needed was a chance, and he’d take care of business. That’s exactly what he did, and he’ll be in AEW as long as he wants to be.
Who Will Win: Darby Allin
It’ll be well-deserved, too. Nobody can deny that Darby brings it every time he’s out there. The man might be 170 pounds fully clothed with some chains, but his toughness and inability to quit can’t be denied.
Breakout Female Star:
Who Should Win: Anna Jay
Anna had less than ten matches before getting on AEW television, and she immediately proved that she belongs. She can only get better in the ring, and she already performs at an acceptable level. Her only weakness? She always corpses when John Silver is being peak John Silver. I can’t really blame her for it.
Who Will Win: Hikaru Shida
I mean, she is the AEW Women’s Champion. Which is at least the second most important championship in the women’s division. It’s no fault of Shida’s, she does good work, but I don’t really see that connection between her and the audience.
Bleacher Report PPV Moment of the Year:
Jon Moxley Wins AEW World Championship
Shida Wins AEW Women’s World Championship
Kenny Omega & Adam “Hangman” Page Defeat The Young Bucks
Darby Allin Defeats Cody Rhodes For TNT Title
Young Bucks Win AEW World Tag Title
Who Should Win: Jon Moxley Wins AEW World Championship
Tons of good contenders here, but it’s tough to argue against Mox knocking off Le Champion at Revolution. He was the right man to take the title from Chris Jericho at the right time, and few champions could have carried AEW through this weird year like Moxley did.
Who Will Win: Stadium Stampede
I think the multi-man clustermess has the best chance of garnering the most votes. It was certainly one of the most unique offerings from AEW in 2020.
Will the AEW Dynamite Awards be a unique offering? Tough to say, but you can find out by streaming the show on BR Live next Wednesday! You can also find out how right I was on every single award. It’s a gift.
Andrew’s Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 1/17/2021
Now since this week isn’t full of big events, the list should be a little more interesting. Let’s see what made the Top 5 and if it’s close to last week’s quality!
Last week kicked things off hot and heavy, and as expected; we cooled down a little this week. Still some fun matches, but nothing should really be competition for last week’s list.
Speaking of that list, all 6 matches had some support, and that’s really nice to see. However, there has to be a winner, and by only a couple of votes; Wrestle Kingdom Night 1: Will Ospreay vs Kazuchika Okada, won the popular vote!
So let’s see what matches we get to possibly add to the January pool!
Quick Top 5:
- NXT UK: NXT UK Championship: Walter (c) vs A-Kid
- Hard to Kill: Kenny Omega, Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows vs Moose, Rich Swann & Chris Sabin
- Hard to Kill: Barbed Wire Massacre: Sami Callihan vs Eddie Edwards
Rating: *** 3/4
- NXT: MSK vs Isaiah Scott & Jake Atlas
Rating: *** 1/2
- Hard to Kill: X Division Championship: Manik (c) vs Rohit Raju vs Chris Bey
Rating: *** 1/2
- IMPACT!: Rich Swann vs Karl Anderson
Rating: *** 1/2
- AEW New Year’s Smash Night 2: TNT Championship: Darby Allin (c) vs Brian Cage
Rating: *** 1/4
- Hard to Kill: Knockouts Championship: Deonna Purrazzo (c) w/Kimber Lee & Susan vs Taya Valkyrie w/ Decay
Rating: *** 1/4
- IMPACT!: Rohit Raju & Chris Bey vs Manik & Suicide
Rating: *** 1/4
- WWE SmackDown: Daniel Bryan vs Cesaro
Rating: *** 1/4
- NXT: Undisputed Era vs Breezango
- Hard to Kill: Knockouts Tag Team Title Finals: Fire & Flava (Kiera Hogan & Tasha Steelz) vs Nevaeh & Havok
- AEW New Year’s Smash Night 2: NWA Women’s World Championship: Serena Deeb (c) vs Tay Conti
- WWE SmackDown: Jey Uso vs Shinsuke Nakamura
- IMPACT!: Tenille Dashwood w/Kaleb vs Rosemary
4t. IMPACT!: Rich Swann vs Karl Anderson
The entire time Kenny’s been in the picture, they’ve put a lot of spotlight on some of Karl’s singles accolades in Japan. So it should come as no surprise that Karl actually came in with a plan and dominated for a good portion. Karl focused on the shoulder and it worked really well for him.
Rich was selling and getting caught by Shotgun kicks and a bunch of other moves, but at least proving to be resilient. Rich manages to catch Karl as Karl starts looking to finish things. A few nice strikes, the over the shoulder back kick and finally Swann’s got something. Karl does stabilize and look for the Gun Stun, but Rich ducks the Gun Stun with a School Boy Rollup and that’s the match!
Winner: Swann via School Boy Rollup
4t. Hard to Kill: X Division Championship: Manik (c) vs Rohit Raju vs Chris Bey
Rohit went after Manik to try and prove his point that it’s TJP. Bey seemed dead set on finding a way to win, and as we expected in an X Division match; there were a lot of spots, but they all made sense. Rohit does manage to take off the mask, but TJP painted his face under the mask, so it still throws off Rohit. TJP strings together a few moves, goes for the Mamba Splash, but gets caught by Bey with a Cutter. Bey then hits a Double Art of Finesse, but his brief moment of not knowing who to pin, caused the pinfall breakup.
Rohit almost won the title back after his call back to hitting his Tiger Knee after a Mamba Splash but Bey kicked out. Haymakers get thrown, Rohit hits the Dragon Stomp on Bey, and looks to finish things, but TJP slides in for the style of Cradle he’s used a bit lately, and retains his title after a fun, hard fought match.
Winner: Manik via Ole Cradle
4t. NXT: MSK vs Isaiah Scott & Jake Atlas
Swerve drags Wes up, full nelson for Atlas to HEEL KICK Wes, then a spin to a fireman’s carry, toss and SPINNING POWERSLAM! Swerve is up top, 450 SPLASH! Atlas covers, but Carter breaks it just in time! Fans fire up as Swerve grows frustrated! Swerve throws Carter back out, Atlas drags Wes back over and tags Swerve in. Atlas drags Wes to a corner, rams his shoulder in, and Swerve helps hoist Wes to the top rope. Swerve and Atlas both climb up to bring Wes up but Carter drags Atlas down in a heap! Wes shoves Swerve away and both men fall to the mat! Fans fire up as everyone is down, and Wes gets to ropes. Wes kicks Swerve away to go to his corner but no one is home.
Swerve runs in, blocks a boot, but Carter tags in! Carter ROCKS Swerve, Wes pops Swerve up to the ropes, Carter ROCKS Swerve into Wes’ NO HANDS POISON-RANA!! Carter drags Swerve up, Wes runs in, BLOCKBUSTER HART ATTACK! Cover, MSK WINS!!
Winner: MSK via Blockbuster Hart Attack
3. Hard to Kill: Barbed Wire Massacre: Sami Callihan vs Eddie Edwards
Interesting pacing to get across the familiarity, twisted respect and love for punishment between these two. We saw Barbed Wire Tables, Chairs, Baseball Bats, Kendo Sticks and even an…N64 Controller!
Sami took a ton of punishment, but the story was basically playing with Eddie’s emotions to bait him into bad dives, and openings for Sami to move out of the way, or sneak in a barbed wire shot. Eddie hit a Blue Thunder Bomb on a barbed wire chair, Sami hit an Avalanche Piledriver through a barbed wire table, but none of this was enough. If anything, the Piledriver just pissed Eddie off.
Going for the callback that started it all, Sami tries to hit a Barbed Wire Chair into Eddie’s face with a Barbed Wire Bat, but Eddie hits a low blow to get a moment. Sami tries to bring himself up with a chair, Eddie hits the Boston Knee Party, then the Diehard Flowsion for the win!
Winner: Eddie via Diehard Flowsion
1t. Hard to Kill: Kenny Omega, Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows vs Moose, Rich Swann & Chris Sabin
We get a lot of Japanese tag stylings, from the triple team that Team Impact pulls off, to the way the Club breaks up any type of momentum with their own train attacks into the corner. Moose looked amazing in this match. He went toe to toe with everyone, pulled off great moves like a Standing Moonsault, leaped to the top rope for a Spanish Fly and was a really good teammate, regardless of his issues with Rich Swann. Hell Swann and Moose even hit a Doomsday Device variant together. Small aside, I did like seeing Chris Sabin pull off Cradle Shock, which just doesn’t happen often enough anymore.
Omega almost has the match one on Rich, but the only one able to break it up was Moose, and he did so. Omega went into V-Trigger spamming mode to wipe out Moose, rock Rich and then a One Winged Angel won the match for the Bullet Club former members.
Winner: Omega via One Winged Angel
1t. NXT UK: NXT UK Championship: Walter (c) vs A-Kid
AK survives two powerful impacts and BT Sports Studio is thunderous! Walter stirs and crawls over to AK. Walter facelocks AK, drags him up and eggs him on. Walter CHOPS AK back down and AK flops to ropes! AK sits up and Walter kicks at him again. Walter CLUBS AK but AK gets up with a clenched jaw. AK SLAPS Walter, then catches the chop to a takedown! AK locks up one arm, wants the other, but Walter resists! AK shifts to an ARMBAR! Walter clasps hands, moves around, but AK keeps his shoulders up in the triangle hold! Walter moves around, rolls them both to the ropes then out of the ring! Walter APRON BOMBS AK down!!
AK crumples to the floor but Walter drags him back up to put him in. Walter stalks AK but AK fires off palm strikes! Walter grabs AK for a sleeper but AK pries it off to PELE! Walter staggers, AK runs, into a LARIAT!! Walter CHOPS AK on the back! And POINT-BLANK LARIATS!! Cover, Walter wins!!
Winner: Walter via Burning Lariat
Well it’s hard to argue that Walter vs A-Kid was the best match, it only lacked a little punch since I don’t follow NXT UK super closely; so I didn’t see A-Kid as a credible threat. He did prove himself fairly well with the MMA style strikes and grappling attacks, but he’s still to fresh of a face to me, for me to have bought in as much as say Ilja or Tyler Bate, when they had their big versus little man matches.
Impact did bring some higher quality, but that’s to be expected since they had a PPV and a Go Home. The Rascalz debuting as MSK was nice, so I’m glad they got a small moment to shine.
Either way, Walter vs A-Kid, is my vote for match of the week. Which one gets your vote?
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