Once again, AEW arrived at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens New York. Recently, after the CM Punk incident, I’ve been reluctant to perform any reviews on AEW’s shows as I’ve felt that they’ve mostly been subpar and my interest has gradually tanked. That said, I did think this was a show worth writing about for a variety of reasons both good and bad. If anything, there were some major newsworthy items that are interesting to talk about, which is why I’m more motivated to write a review. Also, I’m waiting for some callbacks so I don’t want to delve into other major projects at the moment.
Claudio Castagnoli Vs. Chris Jericho
This was for the ROH World Championship. I liked the idea that Claudio got a real challenger for his belt by having a main event level talent in Chris Jericho taking him on. From what I’ve learned, neither are strangers to one another and had bouts (as far as I could tell) going back all the way to 2013 in the WWE. But that was when Jericho could still go and Claudio was a lot younger. Right now, Jericho is trying to do a style that his body can’t handle for much longer and it’s painful to watch him and occasionally scary because he’s not as agile nor strong to pull off the moves that used to excite the fans. Now, it is impressive that he’s trying to perform at a high level but he should’ve really ditched the cruiserweight/junior style a few years ago and swapped over to becoming a brawler like Benoit or Austin. Or even a mix with submissions like Benoit.
But the end was awful. Too contrived with an ugly looking bat shot that was avoided but forcing Claudio to almost smash into Aubrey in the corner (because Aubrey needs to be factored into the match too) and Jericho giving Claudio a cheap low blow so that Claudio had to sell poorly so that Jericho would take too long to deliver his shitty looking rolling elbow that barely touched anything. 1-2-3. Jericho had no need of the ROH World Title but Claudio did. Awful ending and Jericho truly is a version of Hulk Hogan in AEW.
The JAAS come out to celebrate and Daniel Garcia looks conflicted. How many fucking conflicted morons are there? I really hope this isn’t so that Jericho passes the ROH World title to Garcia. That was would horribly embarrassing. The guy just isn’t over no matter what because Tony Khan can’t realize the guy lacks all the tools necessary to be at a different level and he’s just deaf to the audience and ratings and blind in not seeing what the common person sees. Get ready to toss your ratings down the drain further.
Swerve In Our Glory Vs. The Acclaimed
For the AEW World Tag Team Titles. This match wasn’t nearly as good as their PPV one but they had the right ending. You have to really give it up for Billy Gunn here because for the small things he does, he really helped add so much subtleties to this match that made it great. It was almost like a trios match where Gunn’s involvement was meaningful where he made the difference in helping his boyz cheat to win. But the place exploded big time and the crowd was super into everything The Acclaimed did. When you look at all the different homegrown tag teams in AEW, this is the one tag team that really managed to get over the right way. Guys have amazing charisma, they understand how to follow a match and they have a manager who actually means and does great things for them to add to the match. The chemistry between these three is amazing.
I will say the early parts of the match were eye opening as Keith Lee did stuff that was really impressive. And I can understand getting those types of moves in since The Acclaimed were going over. But this is where Keith Lee is not as smart as Swerve Strickland. Swerve is a very subtle but incredible heel. Swerve, for all his fancy moves, wasn’t doing them to get himself over. He was getting the match and the right team over. I’m sure now that Lee/Strickland (I hate their tag team name) lost the belts, they’re inevitably going to tease dissension like every other group in AEW so that Swerve can go solo as a heel. But if Keith Lee was smart, he’d stick with Swerve because they would make a far better heel team than a face team. Swerve knows what he’s doing but I’m not certain if Keith Lee does.
All in all, a great moment for The Acclaimed and an amazing resurrection for Billy Gunn. All the props to these guys.
Backstage Promo With FTR
We start with Cash Wheeler congratulating the new tag champions and was on the verge of asking for a title shot until the Gunn Club arrive. We’ve seen FTR against the Gunn Club before so it’ll be interesting to see another match. I dislike that Dax wasn’t given the opportunity to pose a rebuttal to the Gunn Club though. That was offensive.
Wheeler Yuta Interview
Schiavone is out about to conduct an interview with Wheeler Yuta when MJF interrupts them (Thank god!) MJF blasts the crowd and he does a great job as usual. Yuta tries to get a comeback in but he just lacks charisma compared to MJF’s dominating presence. MJF just destroys Yuta on the mic and then knocks Schiavone down. I felt legit bad for Tony. Tony is an old man and it’s nice he’s trying to help MJF get more heat but that was unnecessary. If MJF wants to get heat, go fuck with Excalibur since he likes to pretend he once was a wrestler. Leave the civilians alone. Yuta tries to help Tony but Morrisey comes in. So once again, MJF has another oversized lackey. This time the lackey has zero talent and is all size. Basically, a prop for MJF which is fine since guys like Jericho have their Jake Hager’s of the world. But it’s funny since Stokely talked about the ambitions and motives for his guys on retainer and it was pretty clear that Morrisey exist in AEW because he needs a paying job.
Backstage Interview With Jade Cargill and the Baddies
Terrible segment where Diamante came in with “the original baddie” in the form of Trina, who, I guess, is/was a rapper back in the day. But no one cares about Diamante because she’s used as a jobber on the Dark shows and Jade needs more wins under her belt. Now, the one cool thing about Jade in all of this is that she got the attention of Cardi B, who, I’ve read, is a big wrestling fan. I mean, Jade should bring in Cardi B at some point because then you really legitimize Jade just like Cyndi Lauper helped legitimize Wendi Richter. I mean, if you can give that much mainstream attention on someone you consider one of your top stars, do it. I mean, I don’t know much about Cardi B personally but I read that she has a ton of mainstream attention. So this is huge if they can pull it off especially because that’s all organic. I don’t know if this would be as big as the original Rock-n-Wrestling connection but just go for it if the right people are watching. This promotion needs stuff like this.
PAC Vs. Orange Cassidy
Can you guess which match/segment killed the rest of the show? I’ll give you a hint. It involves one guy whom no one really takes seriously and another guy who looks badass but acts like a dumb ass once he’s doing stupid things in the ring. This was for the AEW All Atlantic Championship and already the meaning behind this title has been diminished a while back. From what I could infer, this title probably was a way to allow PAC to start help branding AEW’s name in Europe but even before this happened, there was, as part of the tournament, one guy from the states who wrestled in place of a Japanese talent that got injured. And that American talent wasn’t even on the Atlantic side of the ocean. Now, OC actually is from New Jersey so that should imply he’s part of the Atlantic. But why make this a geographic thing?
More importantly, why allow a guy who has mixed wins and losses on one of your biggest shows go after a title where you need all your main event talent running at full speed? Couldn’t Miro have gotten a shot here? Or what about Samoa Joe? Maybe even Jay Lethal since he’s from New Jersey too. But I ignored this match once the bad comedy routine kicked in and killed the crowd. I skipped to the finish and the lesser of two evils won.
Storm Vs. Deeb Vs. Athena Vs. Baker
This was for the AEW Women’s title. This match barely had any heat because you had too many moving parts and no centralized heel. Also, the faces worked against each other and the heels did the same. So the crowd wasn’t really able to get behind anyone in particular, which is why these four way matches never work. But they put their top four women in this match because Tony Khan can’t figure out how to book enough of his talent on TV since he insists on having long, heatless matches that end up becoming clusterfucks as a result of too many bodies that can’t get over on their own.
It did get a little better towards the end but the match was a mess since there’s no story, no logic. There were a few impressive spots like Athena catching Deeb and Baker and giving them a slam. But the end was heatless with Toni doing a roll up that was anti-climatical to everything. Of course, that took a backseat to everything because the most important thing of the night happened:
Saraya (aka WWE Paige) made her AEW debut.
Whether you like women’s wrestling or not, whether you like Paige/Saraya or night, whether you care about her boyfriend and his music or not, you cannot deny the massive pop Saraya received from that crowd. This was on the level of Moxley, Jeff Hardy, Danielson and close to Punk showing up (Punk wins for the sheer extended chants and the number of views that demonstrate how huge of a matter him debuting on AEW soil was). But here’s the thing: Saraya is the first REAL women super star in AEW.
Now, you can say that Ruby Soho, Toni Storm and Athena had their AEW pop moments. But none of them are at the level of Saraya’s superstardom. The only other person that at one time was available that’s on this level of stardom in women’s wrestling is Sasha Banks. And the only two other difference makers that could come to AEW are Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch but neither will happen and it’s highly unlikely with HHH back in charge in the WWE that Sasha Banks (and Naomi for that matter) will show up in AEW anytime soon. Some people said that AJ Lee would be another on that level but with the CM Punk incident, the chance of seeing AJ Lee ever making a return especially in AEW is practically nonexistent, injuries notwithstanding. But AEW finally has a real star in the women’s division that can talk and wrestle. The real question is if her neck is up for the rigors of the AEW style. Too many of the AEW women are sloppy and dangerous. It’s hard to say if a Thunder Rosa might accidentally injure Saraya’s neck or if Tay Conti hurts her the way she injured Ruby Soho.
I am happy about seeing Saraya in AEW. I’m happy for her. I thought the moment was tremendous. But that division needs better control for her sake. Better booking, less sloppy matches and a way where the emphasis isn’t on green girls who keep getting injured or injuring others. Otherwise, I’m going to be scared for Saraya and I’ll just get pissed off if something stupid happens where she’s on the shelf again. Possibly permanently.
Darby Allin Vignette
Bad music, good camera work but absolute nonsense. Had no idea what the statement should have been outside of this guy should be arrested and questioned by the FBI for hauling around a body bag with actual contents in it.
Moxley Vs. Danielson
I like Danielson but this match brought little excitement from me. It felt flat after The Acclaimed’s win and Saraya’s debut. Probably because this should have been Danielson’s time. I’m guessing Tony adjusted his booking to try and figure out a way for MJF to stay. I read that the original All Out main event was for MJF to wrestle CM Punk before Punk got the injury. So would Punk have lost there? MJF is by far the best heel in the business right now but even I don’t believe the timing is right to put the title on him. I feel that yes Tony needs to placate MJF in terms of preventing the guy from going to the WWE (which I think he should eventually). But if you’re going to do that, don’t bribe him with the title. And don’t put it on him right after a guy like Moxley has got it back for the 3rd time even though Moxley has admitted he was going on vacation for a few weeks.
The match itself was meh. I think they could’ve gotten more from Danielson as the champ rather than Moxley. Moxley might be willing to put MJF over but you ultimately need a stable champion and I don’t see either guy being the Man at this stage. As far as I can tell, this might’ve been Danielson’s last chance at the title since Tony fucked everything about Danielson up. And Danielson doesn’t have a big enough ego to understand he should be the Man.
Outside of the tag team match and Saraya’s debut, this was a pretty meh show to me. The booking continues to stink and Tony Khan needs to fire himself from being the booker. I saw the card for Rampage and wasn’t impressed. Maybe the only thing that piques my interest was seeing the Great Muta show up to save Sting since Keiji Mutoh is on his retirement tour. So the novelty for that is cool. Other than that, the rest of the card looks bland and I have zero intention of spending time reviewing it.
I’m still unsure of the direction this promotion wants to go. But with CM Punk out of the picture indefinitely along with the VPs, all the injuries and various problems, they need a lot of work to do.