Another taped edition that was part of the Cincinnati, Ohio showing at the Fifth Third Arena. Once again, Chris Jericho was absent from the booth along with Excalibur. Excalibur though had a legitimate excuse in being married whereas Jericho might be taking the week off after his match with MJF. Instead, Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, Taz and Mark Henry started off the program and they wasted no time with entrances.
Pac Vs. Andrade
The much anticipated, much hyped match that was supposed to occur at the PPV had been moved to this show. Because the show was taped, there were many people who vouched for this match which made me very interested, despite my growing apathy towards Andrade.
In general, this was a far better showing for Andrade but it still felt off. Mostly, a high flying exhibition between both guys. There was some level of selling but no real story nor build up in moves. So while the spots did have time to allow one to digest, there really was no logical flow which failed to engage the audience. The audience would pop and occasionally chant “this is awesome” for specific spots, but nothing sustained.
The end was stupid with the unknown manager using what looked like a knock off of Scott Hall’s WCW stun gun to distract the referee while Chavo Guerrero Jr hit Pac to allow Andrade to cover him. The after birth made even less sense because Andrade smashed Chavo after learning Chavo helped him win as Andrade returned to the back crying out that he wanted to beat Pac on his own.
The Lucha Bros came in to give Pac a hand earlier in handling Andrade’s measly manager and while Chavo was on the grown, went outside to toss Chavo to the upset wolf of Pac for his submission finisher. Pac kept the submission on Chavo for a while as the referees came in to try to get him to release the move. Taz got in a funny reference to Chavo’s old music with an “oh Chavo.”
Either way, I honestly still haven’t been impressed with Andrade. He had a few good looking moves but he’s just missing something for me besides the inability to communicate. Some people are speculating that Andrade will be getting Ric Flair in the future as a manager now that Chavo looks to be out. But what happens to Chavo?
There also was a rumor that Andrade is looking to recruit Pac. That might make sense because Pac wrestles more like a heel and has been put into an odd position. Now, will they go after the tag titles if Andrade recruits Pac? Personally, I hope not because that match will just be another chaotic mess.
Darby Allin / Sting Interview
Schiavone basically asks for a response from both men regarding Tully’s challenge. Sting grabs the mic to request Tully to come out. Tully distracts Sting long enough for Shawn Spears to assault Darby while Tully gloats for Sting to be more aware (which traditionally has been his weakness).
Pretty bland segment to me. Spears got no heat for beating on Allin then took off through the crowd. Not sure where this may lead. Between Andrade and Tully, the only thing I can think of is a returning Ric Flair. I believe Tully even referenced Ric here so I find this to be a bigger possibility than Flair joining Andrade.
Adam Cole / Bryan Danielson Video Package
The video packages are the best non-wrestling segments for AEW. Whoever does these things does them very well. Adam Cole explains what his purpose is as does Bryan Danielson. Pretty much I’m guessing that we’ll see a Bryan Danielson vs Kenny Omega match fairly soon. Perhaps, even at that Arthur Ashe Stadium to sell the rest of the tickets, which has roughly two weeks to go.
Britt Baker, D.M.D., Rebel, Jamie Hayter vs. Ruby Soho, Riho, Kris Statlander
The oddball team of Ruby Soho, Riho and Kris Statlander make their first appearance. There was a rumor that Ruby had been injured going into this match which might explain why she stayed out most of this match and was clutching at her neck by the end. Riho was the worker on the face side but there was an awful looking series of kicks she did with the aid of Statlander against Rebel. I can’t tell whose fault that was but I will say Rebel is pretty terrible in general and only serves as the female version of Nakazawa or Brandon Cutler.
Statlander and Jamie Hayter are being posed as the best strong women in AEW, although Jade Cargill got her name thrown into that group too. But Jade still is very green and needs to up her mental game. Hayter is coming along very well and might be the next big breakout star in that division.
Riho isn’t bad in that she positions herself well and is in the right place at the right time. Also, she’s a natural baby face. But she can’t hit worth squat. She’s painfully thin and looks like a baby squirming in her mother’s arms when she was doing those god awful kicks against Rebel.
I don’t mind this newly formed group though. It’s an oddball female group but it works out in a way. Rebel is around to make everyone else look good. Except that the only thing she can do is take the pin that no one really cares about.
Max Caster faces Brian Pillman Jr
Max Caster does a rap before the bell and his partner says he’s on thin ice. Brian Pillman Jr gets a nice hometown pop. Match didn’t flow all that well. Crowd, at one point, taunted Max Caster in saying, “You still suck!” Lots of interference as expected from Anthony Bowens. In all honesty, this would have served better as a Dark match. But the real meat was Pillman getting a pin, followed by a beatdown with Jon Moxley making the save for the go home moment.
I believe they announced that MJF will be facing Pillman at the Arthur Ashe Stadium show. So that should be good. There were a few more announced matches like the Cody Rhodes vs Malakai Black match. Given the enormity of that show, I expect some pretty big matches, including at least one title match. Heck, I expect Bryan Danielson vs Kenny Omega for the title there since it’s AEW’s biggest show yet. With just 2 shows left before the big New York show, I anticipate that match being announced next week so that AEW can sell out the rest of the seats and try to get 20k people for the show minimal.
The taped shows just don’t have the same energy as the live shows. Part of it might be the commentating but some people have suggested the long format just wears the fans out. In reality, these Dynamite + Rampage shows are a three hour show that are split between two days. Sometimes it seems that there are Dark shows added so that might cause more drainage. But Rampage is still trying to find its footing and they haven’t topped their first show.
I did notice that beginning tomorrow, AEW will tape at the Universal Studios in Florida for their Dark shows. I’m ambivalent about this move because I think it’s good for the young kids to get that exposure to larger crowds. But if Rampage is going to be taped more often, then I can see Dark being exclusively at the Universal Studios venue just to keep those main shows short and more energetic.
There were a few Dynamite shows for next week being advertised like Frankie Kazarian vs Adam Cole, in Cole’s AEW debut, Darby Allin vs Shawn Spears and Jade Cargill vs Leyla Hirsch. The one that looks really good is Kazarian vs Cole. That might be a fresh match.
Darby Allin vs Shawn Spears seems like a lead up to something. If Ric Flair does appear, I doubt it will be at the New Jersey show. But I do think something major will happen here. Not sure if CM Punk will get involved just because it looks as though he’s moving on to Team Taz (they even briefly referenced this on Rampage)
Jade Cargill vs Leyla Hirsch sounds painful. Jade admittedly looked her best at the PPV because she got a few interesting spots in. But overall, her matches have been short and too Goldberg-ish for my taste. Leyla is improving but shouldn’t be the one to try and carry Jade at this stage. Not even sure why they’re having this match.
Still, no CM Punk nor Bryan Danielson announced yet. I imagine both will be involved in some angle with Punk looking to elevate the younger talent while Bryan takes on the Elite (i.e. Omega). Also, no Chris Jericho. But more than likely he’s either going on tour or taking a break. Considering this will be their largest house ever, I imagine there will be at least one major surprise.
No real hints though at what might be coming outside of Bray Wyatt, which will be a while since he’s got at least two months before his contract status clears. Thus, the only ones available at this point are CJ Perry, Ric Flair, Braun Strowman and the Iiconics. But the Iiconics have yet to update anyone on their visa status while no one has said anything about any interest in Strowman.
Outside of WWE related surprises, the only other one I can see is Tanahashi for Jon Moxley. While Lance Archer requested to be the first challenger after losing to Tanahashi the IWGP US title, I could see Moxley and Tanahashi going for it here so that Tanahashi or someone else from New Japan could win it back at Full Gear. That’s just me.
Lastly, now that Andrade got his “mega match” out of the way, I’m really hoping he starts wrestling more frequently. Thus far, he’s only had two matches in AEW so if you’re going to pull another major match, it’ll be at the Arthur Asha Stadium. I didn’t see another live event for Rampage, so I’m guessing they’ll use the stadium to film Rampage as well. Perhaps, Andrade will get another match then.
Overall, not a great show. A bit disappointed with the Pac vs Andrade match. The women’s match was a bit worse than I expected but the usual suspects were at fault there. I was unhappy that Ruby already seemed to have gotten an injury so hopefully it’s nothing major. But again this is the biggest problem with AEW; they continue to work a dangerous, indy style that’s causing at least one injury per show. Until they adjust the style and pace a little, we’ll probably be seeing this rate be persistent.