It’s time for another AEW pay-per-view, and as always, there are a lot of moving parts, rumors, speculation, and potential surprises on the agenda tonight.
Fingers crossed that AEW will deliver once again. Say what you want about AEW and their television programs, but they almost always put on a great show on pay-per-view, no matter what else is going on. If I had to guess, I would say that tonight will be no different. We shall see.
Adam Copeland, Sting & Darby Allin vs Christian Cage, Luchasaurus & Nick Wayne – Trios Match
The face squad is all rocking black-and-white ring attire, as well as their own versions of black-and-white face paint. Honestly? It works. That’s a good look for Adam Copeland.
The Kia Forum in Inglewood, California has a listed capacity of 17,505. A listed setup (shout out to @WrestleTix on Twitter) of 13,443 is what we have with AEW’s setup. Either way, the building looks much bigger, and it’s very well lit. If you told me there were 25,000+ people in the building, I would probably nod my head.
This was a fun opener. It wasn’t a great match, but it was fun. This was more to tell the story of Adam Copeland wanting to get his hands on Christian Cage, but he couldn’t. Christian kept ducking him and running away from him. That’s fine. Their interactions should be saved for a bigger bout down the road. Nick Wayne and Darby Allin looked especially good here, though. I’ll give this 3.25 Stars. It did what it needed to do, and it got the crowd going to start the show off.
Orange Cassidy vs Jon Moxley – AEW International Title Match
Mox entered the match with a wound on his forehead that was bandaged up. Within the first few minutes of the match, OC opened it up and Mox was a bloody mess. No surprise there.
Another match that was good, but not great. I don’t mean that as a knock at all, by the way. It was fun, and it did exactly what it was supposed to do. The story of Moxley being an unstoppable monster, going after the ever-resilient OC, was a good one. 3.5 Stars
Hikaru Shida vs “Timeless” Toni Storm – AEW Women’s Title Match
There were one or two wonky moments here, but overall, this was another match that was entertaining. It was physical, with both women delivering some stiff strikes on offense. I really enjoy how much Toni Storm get get into her new character, but that it doesn’t really take a lot away from her in-ring ability. Yes, you’re going to get some silliness, but she’s still one of the better women in the business. 3.5 Stars
Ricky Starks & Big Bill vs Rush & Dralistico vs FTR vs Malakai Black & Brody King – Four-Way Ladder Match for the AEW Tag Team Titles
Even before the match begins, I can say that I’m happy I don’t need to handle play-by-play duties for what we’re about to witness. This one promises to be wild.
Wild, indeed. Good God, this was bell-to-bell action. It was a spotfest, like all Ladder Matches are, but there was a variety of spots, as there were all different types of wrestlers involved in the match. If you wanted high-flying action, it was covered here. Same goes for brutal offense, stiff striking, technical action, and just about anything else. Easily the best match of the night so far, and it got the crowd more amped up than anything else so far, as well. 4.25 Stars
Kris Statlander vs Skye Blue vs Julia Hart – Three-Way for the AEW TBS Title
These women are in an unenviable spot here, having to follow that Ladder Match. Looking at the rest of the card, it was the only match that made sense in this spot, but still, they’ve got big shoes to fill.
Interesting lineup here, with the insanely powerful champion and the smaller, faster challengers. This allowed for all three women to have their moments to shine, which is always good. Like the other women’s match on the card, this was a wildly physical contest. I think all three women understood that they had to step their game up in the aftermath of the Ladder Match, so they made a pact to beat the hell out of each other. Another good match here. 3.25 Stars, and that might be a bit low.
To the surprise of nobody, Will Ospreay is revealed as the newest signing to the AEW roster. A part of me wanted to see him sign with WWE, just for the different matches that we could have seen, but this move makes perfect sense for all involved.
“Hangman” Adam Page vs Swerve Strickland – Texas Death Match
It’s a Texas Death Match. In California. Featuring a wrestler from Virginia facing a wrestler from Washington. Makes sense to me.
This match was disgusting. Partially in a good way, and partially in a bad way. A staple gun got involved, and it ended up being used to drive at least a dozen staples into the flesh of Swerve. He has some in his face, at least one on his back, some on his arms, and some all over his chest. Swerve would also go on to get busted WIDE open, possibly the hard way, after taking the side of a chair to the face. He is bleeding buckets, and in a spot that is going to be talked-about for a while, Hangman literally drank a bunch of said blood. With Swerve on all fours, pouring blood on the mat, Hangman got on the mat below him and let the blood drip all over his face and in his mouth. Don’t be surprised to see some complaints about that.
Not wanting to be left out, Hangman is also busted open now. Both men are covered in blood, and the ring canvas looks like an art exhibition.
Holy shit. That was as brutal a match as you will EVER see outside of promotions that specialize in the “Deathmatch” style. I can already tell it’s going to get a lot of people saying they went way too far. So much blood, barbed wire, broken glass, chairs, and whatever else they could think of. As a spectacle, and as a Texas Death Match, that was every bit a 5 Star match. To say it wasn’t for everybody would be the biggest understatement ever, but again, for what it was, the match was as good as it gets.
Kenny Omega & Chris Jericho vs The Young Bucks
I thought that Kris Statlander, Skye Blue, and Julia Hart were in a bad spot having to follow the Ladder Match, but jeez Louise, these four men have to follow the anarchy that we just witnessed. There’s no chance in hell they’ll be able to top that.
As if the previous match didn’t give us enough of it, Jericho’s arm has a major cut on it, and he has blood running down his elbow.
Matt Jackson might have a broken nose, as he has blood coming out of both nostrils. This has been quite the bloody night of professional wrestling.
I feel bad for these guys. This was a really good match. I’ll give it 4 Stars. The problem is that nobody is going to remember it at all because of what happened between Adam Page and Swerve Strickland. That match exhausted me, and it seemed to exhaust the fans in the Forum, as well, because they weren’t as loud here as I thought they would be.
Adam Cole vs “Switchblade” Jay White – AEW World Title Match
Yes, you’re reading that right. During the pre-show, MJF and Samoa Joe retained the RoH Tag Team Titles against The Gunns thanks to a distraction from the returning Cole, who is still on crutches. After the match, The Gunns attacked MJF, injuring his knee. As he was being wheeled into an ambulance, MJF made Cole promise that he wouldn’t let the company take the World Title away. Just when it was going to be announced that Jay White was going to win the title via forfeit, Cole volunteered to step up and take MJF’s place. So, in the world of kayfabe, AEW’s medical staff wouldn’t allow Cole to defend the RoH Tag Team Titles with MJF, but they will, apparently, allow him to defend the AEW World Title as he limps around in a walking boot.
Well, perhaps not.
Before the match can begin, a siren is heard, and MJF has apparently left the hospital and stolen the ambulance. He has his leg heavily bandaged up, and he limps his way to the ring. Okay then…
MJF vs “Switchblade” Jay White – AEW World Title Match
Hilariously, all sorts of referees and officials were trying to prevent MJF from getting in the ring to compete, saying he isn’t cleared. Oh, but Adam Cole is?!? Not one of them were trying to stop Cole from competing. AEW has the worst medical staff in all of sports.
If you’re looking for a Match Of The Year classic, this won’t be for you. It wasn’t bad in any way, shape, or form. Don’t get me wrong. It was just far more focused on the melodrama of MJF basically being a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest. Lots of slow moments between spots as MJF limps around. I’m not complaining. Simply pointing out that you need to adjust your expectations if you’re going to watch the match.
You know, all things considered, this ended up being a much better match than I thought it would be. If you can forget about the idiotic storytelling that got us to this point tonight, and if you don’t mind the fact that it was overbooked to all hell, this was enjoyable. Kudos to both MJF and Jay White for being able to deliver on that level. 4 Stars. The entire injury angle with MJF and Adam Cole was as mind-numbingly stupid as it gets, not making sense on any level, but in the end, it didn’t matter much.
Overall, this was a good night of action. No bad matches on the entire show, a couple of really good matches, and perhaps the wildest spectacle that you’re ever going to see. I can’t ask for much more than that. AEW brought the goods on pay-per-view again.