The talk right now has been that the plan with AEW was to load up these shows as AEW goes back on the road. And it seems that with the various contracts cuts or expiring contracts, Tony Khan has been opening up the checkbook and trying to get as many people as possible along with plenty of title matches or stipulations to take advantage of the returning crowds. So how did Fyter Fest Night 2 compare?
Shawn Spears vs Chris Jericho
They are calling this the First Labor of Jericho where the rules of the match is that Spears can utilize a chair while Jericho cannot. MJF was on commentary and probably one of the few highlights for this match for me. Jericho gets annihilated for his physique by MJF and I absolutely have to point that out as King Kong Bundy during his heyday might look healthier than Jericho these days.
Naturally, Jericho wins because he has to get at MJF and I’ve already talked about how this booking really doesn’t work for Jericho’s status. The only positive I could see here was getting Shawn Spears some TV time, but he’s pretty bland.
The small after birth was MJF making an announcement for Nick Gage in a no DQ match for next week. Let me just stop before I go off on a long rant about MJF being the perfect candidate for a GM for AEW. The way he introduced Nick Gage was perfect and he does a very good contextualization for why Jericho should fear Gage. Honestly, if they gave him that role permanently and took him off wrestling, it would work just because he talks well and paints a good picture of what would happen. Not only that but AEW lacks a solid, single authoritative figure to control the show.
Now, let’s get to Nick Gage. I did write in a comment or perhaps in a blog post that the whole “Labors of Jericho” idea is pretty preposterous because most likely every opponent will be against someone within the Pinnacle. However, they need the wins more than Jericho and there’s no way Jericho would lose a single match. So the only way to build doubt is to bring in a legend or a crazy scenario. My idea was to get Onita especially now that he’s making a come back (and I did see that embarrassment of a match).
So who does AEW grab? Nick Gage. So AEW has hired a criminal now. A publicly documented one. I know people on reddit and some news sites lost their shit when he was announced and actually appeared. But the first instinct was “this guy looks like a gorilla.” No joke. Why not just go to some prison and let the inmates get involved at this point because that’s exactly what this joke of person represents.
Let’s get this straight. WWE brings back John Cena, which gets one of the craziest and loudest pops I have heard in a very long time. And the best that AEW can do here is bring a criminal to challenge their supposed top star. Really?
My only guess is that Jon Moxley hooked Gage up because of the whole “All Friends Wrestling” moniker that Jim Cornette likes to describe this play. This guy even showed the pizza cutter that he used on Moxley. The line of the night came from JR where he wondered, “I thought this guy was still in jail.” My response was, “Should still be there.”
Anyway, my other thought was that Jericho is pretty damn desperate to hide his aging self to use a garbage wrestler in a situation like this. When the situation starts to get bad these days, you just hide the lack of ability with gimmick matches. That’s exactly what’s going on here.
On top of that, Gage, being the imbecile goof that he is, starts pandering to the fans. Should MJF tell him that he’s a heel? I guess that his objective in this is to get himself over at the expense of pro-wrestling because this is stupid.
Frankie Kazarian vs Luke Gallows
Since Kazarian is now the “Elite Hunter”, he did something at a recent Impact PPV I believe (talent exchange) and so they decided to continue the story of the Elite being this interpromotional group with Gallows/Anderson. Gallows gets the win since Kazarian is a JTTS then start an after birth beat down where Omega and Don Callis come out to taunt and beat Kazarian some more. This leads to the Hangman Page to come down to save Kazarian (who gets rolled outside) despite the odds between 4-1. Now, he gets beat down just so that the Jobber World Order show up with a few random unknowns. But because there’s a bunch of run-ins regardless of whom they are, people think this is exciting. Page gets a Buckshot Lariat and they chase out the Elite as the announcers mention that the “highly anticipated” 5 man match will be next week. Wonderful.
Brian Cage / Team Taz Backstage Segment
Cage speaks briefly but doesn’t say anything important. Taz says that they’ll have a celebration next week. Why? The Britt Baker celebration was a total disaster to me. It just was bad. Are they going to do another one of these? Ugh. Cage sounds more intelligent than he looks but some people just need a mouthpiece.
Darby Allin vs Wheeler Yuta
Sting accompanies Darby while Orange comes with Wheeler. The match was a heatless spotfest until they do a superplex where they actually bother to sell for an extended period so that Sting and Orange have a very bizarre exchange. Luckily, for everyone, the crowd was totally into Sting “keeping up with” Orange’s gimmick.
The rest of the match was bleh even though the crowd was completely on Darby’s side. Then Orange takes a brass knuckles shot to further setup his match with the worthless Blade later on.
Let me say the only hope I can think in this surreal segment is that we eventually see surfer Sting return as a super laid back dude. I mean if this leads to a Darby – Orange Cassidy match where Sting gets to vacillate between Dark Crow Sting and Surfer Dude Sting, I’m kinda for it just because I miss Surfer Dude Sting. back when he was actually exciting.
Britt Baker vs Nyla Rose for the AEW Women’s Title
Vickie Guerrero came out with Nyla while Rebel, still on crutches legitimately, was with Baker. Britt is very over with the crowd but she’s not very good in the ring. Nyla is just terrible unless she’s squashing a midget. A bunch of botches and awkward spots. Because neither are faces, the match missed opportunities that created a bizarre schism, even though Britt really was the face in this. An example is she never showed any babyface type of fire when she would make her comeback. The result was that the match lacked heat.
Instead, my interpretation of the match was that a few botched spots might’ve deterred their confidence and they were trying to remember which spots to do. People called this match a banger but I thought it was awful and further exposes Britt as being green. I do put some of that blame on Nyla because she’s awkward and doesn’t move well. There was even a “you fucked up” chant (which seemed mostly to be directed at the referee but I saw Nyla mess up a few things including that spot).
Again, they’re best hope is to get Serena into that title picture asap. You need someone who can work well and isn’t awkward and she’s the best one in that division at the moment.
FTR vs Santana Ortiz “Conference”
This was painful. Ortiz complaining about his upbringing to give himself street cred. Eventually, things broke down so that the situation would lead towards the match coming up next week. Why was this even necessary? Just a waste of TV time that didn’t even get aired live in front of the audience.
Andrade El Idolo Segment
More talk. Worse yet, I can barely understand it because it’s in Spanish. Andrade finally announces his surprise which is Chavo Guerrero Jr. I like Chavo a lot but he was acting too much like a face here. I think, for some reason, the surprise originally was going to be Zelina Vega and would have worked perfectly but WWE managed to convince her to come back for more money. We’ll see if that translates to a better situation for her over in WWE.
But as for Andrade, what a disaster so far. They had him confront Death Triangle and they again did the cardinal sin of having more people who should not be on the mic talking. Pac made his return and I couldn’t tell what his deal was. Everyone in Death Triangle got their turn but the flow, slowness, awkwardness of Andrade wanting to be cool but failing due to very poor English skills, etc. made this come off confusing and thus bad. The whole segment lasted too long and should have been just Chavo talking because he’s actually understandable. Also, you’re debuting someone so why not give him the opportunity to be digested without an interruption? Just a terrible nonsense segment that’s making me lose more faith in Andrade, which isn’t entirely his fault.
QT Marshall Segment
Yet again I can’t emphasize enough how some people shouldn’t be talking when they are allowed. Poor Tony Schiavone is now owed an apology and I have no idea why you would get an announcer involved directly in an angle.
The Blade vs Orange Cassidy
Heatless match except when Orange Cassidy got to do his stuff. The Bunny tried some things here and there as Kris Statlander showed up to cut her off. Cassidy wins and even gets The Blade’s brass knuckles. But all of this is stupid and pointless. The Blade is 40+ years old and no one cared. This wasn’t even a midcard level match but something that belongs on Dark or Elevation.
Jericho Backstage Interview
Jericho is wearing leather and spikes. So I guess he’s the Road Warrior. But isn’t that ironic because the last time I saw Animal he had as bad of a beer gut as Jericho. Anyway, he pulls out a gimmick from New Japan that probably most people in this country don’t know about as The Painmaker version of Chris Jericho in order to face Nick Gage.
And this is where Jericho is just becoming a senile old man at this stage. First, why should painting your face change you when people already saw you an hour before wrestling? Is it because you huffed the paint thinner along with that stuff? Second why should people care about The Painmaker? Only the hardcores saw it in the Japan context while the rest are probably going, “Is this guy on acid?” For me it no longer is the “Labors of Jericho” but the labor of watching this stupid show because I was losing my patience by this point.
Jon Moxley vs Lance Archer for the IWGP US Title
Texas Death Match rules. This was just a garbage match that Moxley enjoys. It got bloody. A fork was used. The spots were meh. I hate when people have to go searching underneath the ring for more surprises that aren’t surprises. I was partly surprised that Moxley lost to Archer but my main thought was that he’s probably going on paternity leave to be with his kid and wife. Of course, in losing that match it also will probably free him up to “wrestle” Nick Gage. Ugh, that’s an awful thought where some backwater, mentally absent goof gets a high paying contract because the owner has zero clue about money nor wrestling.
There was a tiny after birth with Hikuleo confronting Lance Archer in the ring in anticipation for their title match next week. I am somewhat happy for Lance Archer as he was literally wandering around. But I did read that Jake Roberts got a renewed contract so maybe there’s something to this. Some people online have said that Archer will be able to make those Japan trips whereas Moxley probably can’t at the moment.
Beyond this stuff, there was some mega rumors going on earlier about Daniel Bryan actually signing with AEW. I did a blog post earlier talking about the potential of CM Punk here but there hasn’t been any word whether that has moved forward. On the other hand, Daniel Bryan’s situation has apparently and they announced that Tony Khan is making a huge announcement next week. So there’s a chance that he might be announcing for Daniel Bryan’s first appearance at the big NYC event or perhaps having Daniel Bryan show up at all next week. Given all the recent signings, I don’t doubt that a free Daniel Bryan will be making an appearance in the very near future if he did get signed since they are really pulling all the stops to keep things hot.
But let me say this. The show’s cracks are becoming very apparent quickly. There were a lot of heatless, quiet moments and I think it’s because the matches sucked and the segments just drained the life from the crowd. Like no one wanted to see Wheeler despite management being high on him. And Nyla Rose just isn’t a star. She just flopped around a lot, botching the match and looking awkward. These people had been working too long in front of empty arenas and it really shows because they have no idea how to work a match in front of a big audience.
Similarly, the talking segments just sucked. No flow, just shit thrown together. Kenny Omega is a segment killer to me when he’s not in the ring focused on just doing his spots. He can’t talk, he’s boring, he’s neither funny nor entertaining and he doesn’t understand how to be a heel. The best thing AEW can do right now is get that belt off of Omega ASAP along with the Bucks. If Bryan is the one signed, then instead of Page (sorry dude) I’d make that NYC event be the spot where Bryan takes it from Omega.
Nick Gage being on major TV beyond Dark Side of the Ring (or maybe even being on there) is just an embarrassment. He’s a liability not an investment. An investment is like John Cena where McMahon can call upon more reliable people to do big boosts. The people that AEW are signing are past their prime mostly but I don’t have the confidence that they’ll be able to pull off what they need with guys like Andrade and possibly Cody vs Malakai Black.
By the end of this show, I was very drained. Part of that was just because I had been talking to another friend for several hours earlier and watched this pretty late. Nonetheless, the show kept going on and on and I lost the energy just like the crowd as things became more and more exposed.
But that was my warning earlier. Right now, AEW is in a good position for say 3 months or so because of the pandemic. People are hungry to return for live events. But look at this shit show. 6 matches in a 2 hour broadcast. 6 matches. AEW Dark had 7 matches for less than an hour. That makes no sense to me.
And again, the talking segments were nonstop. Anytime Kenny gets near a mic it lasts too long, meanders and makes me lose interest in AEW that much more. The Andrade segment probably killed him because he should have been wrestling someone to show why we should care. Instead, he’s now this guy who barely can speak English trying to pretend he’s some mobster. But the gimmick sucks because he can’t talk and shouldn’t be allowed near a mic.
If it is true that Bryan Daniel comes to AEW, then good for him. Same with Punk. But it’s all short term nonsense at the rate this company is going. Despite how people are saying AEW is creating stars, I just don’t feel that way. You can’t compare a jobber like Wheeler Yuta who gets absolutely no reaction to John Cena. You shouldn’t even be putting him on TV.