As of the moment I type this sentence, we’re a mere five minutes away from one of the most talked-about and heavily-anticipated AEW events in the company’s brief history. Sting’s return to the ring, an Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match on live pay-per-view, possible game-changing surprises, Joshi… there’s going to be something for damn near everyone here. I’m hyped for this, so let’s not waste any more time.
Are you ready?
Say it with me…
LESS DEW EET!!!
(0:00) Jim Ross is brought out at the end of the pre-show and he’s already losing his voice, one sentence in. This is going to be fun.
(0:00) The show kicks off with a memorial graphic for Jim Crockett Jr, who passed away on Thursday. A technical error puts a yellow line almost all the way through Crockett’s face on the graphic. Just about the worst possible time for a production error.
(0:03) Our first match is for the AEW Tag Team Titles, with The Young Bucks defending the belts against Chris Jericho and MJF of The Inner Circle.
(0:03) Rough start for the production team tonight. As Matt Jackson went to ringside to kiss his wife, we got a camera cut so that we could see it, but it looked like the cameraman stumbled a bit, and all we got was a shaky shot of the side of the ring.
(0:08) If you’re a pro wrestler reading these words right now, please let me give you a piece of advice. If you can’t, won’t, or don’t want to sit down while applying the Sharpshooter/Scorpion Deathlock, take the move out of your arsenal. It looks like absolute dog shit when someone performs the move without really locking it in.
(0:12) It’s hilarious listening to commentary during MJF matches. There are a lot of heels in the history of wrestling, but most of them don’t get the commentary team constantly talking about how they want to see said heel get his ass kicked. Repeatedly. By anyone. MJF gets that from the commentators just by existing.
(0:15) Watching Jericho and MJF is like watching wrestling in slow-motion. If you want that to be a shot, it’s a shot. It’s the truth, whatever you want it to be.
(0:16) MJF gets kicked in the meat and two veg, and Tony Schiavone immediately yells out his request for it to happen again. Amazing.
(0:18) Nick Jackson with a bit of a botch on a dive from the top rope, not even coming close to hitting Jericho, who smartly locks him in the Walls Of Jericho.
(0:20) MJF delivers some crotch chops, and we get Schiavone hoping that someone punches MJF where his hands are pointing. I’m telling you… it’s hilarious to listen to this.
(0:22) Jericho accidentally hits Wardlow with the Judas Effect. The match is really picking up the pace.
(0:24) Meltzer Driver picks up the victory for the Bucks. The champions retain. It was a relatively expected outcome, as the Tag Team Titles have changed hands on the last two AEW pay-per-views, so the streak had to end to keep things fresh. That was a better match than I was expecting it to be, especially the last few minutes. I’ll go with 3.25 stars.
(0:27) Next up, it’s the Casino Tag Team Royale for a future shot at the Tag Team Titles. Basically, this is like the Royal Rumble, but with teams. Two teams start, and every 90 seconds, another team joins the mix. Elimination comes when someone is thrown over the top rope and their feet touch the floor, and a team is eliminated when both members have been thrown over the top.
(0:28) Dustin Rhodes and QT Marshall are the first team out, and they’re followed by Alan Angels and Preston Vance (aka 5 and 10, respectively) of The Dark Order. There are 15 teams in the match, giving us 30 total entrants.
(0:30) Santana and Ortiz are the next team out. Perhaps more than anyone else on the AEW roster, Santana and Ortiz are insanely underutilized. They just haven’t been given the chance to truly shine like they have been able to do before AEW.
(0:31) Alan Angels has been eliminated by QT Marshall. This action is really fast-paced and difficult to keep track of.
(0:32) Matt and Mike Sydal are the next team to enter the match.
(0:33) Stu Grayson and Evil Uno are in the match now, making it three members of The Dark Order in the match right now. Santana and Ortiz eliminate Mike Sydal. As soon as I even think of typing a sentence, something else happens, and I have to go in another direction. This is so much more hectic than a regular Royal Rumble.
(0:34) Austin and Colten Gunn are the next team in. The Gunn Club are, indeed, both sons of Billy Gunn.
(0:35) Santana eliminates Matt Sydal, knocking the Sydal brothers out of the match. Thanks for coming, I guess.
(0:36) Next up, “Pretty” Peter Avalon and Cezar Bononi are in the match.
(0:37) The Varsity Blonds, Brian Pillman Jr and Griff Garrison, are now in the match. Within seconds, Peter Avalon has been eliminated. QT Marshall then eliminates both members of Gunn Club, followed by… eliminating himself after getting mad at his own tag partner. Oh. Okay.
(0:39) Bear Boulder and Bear Bronson are the next entrants in the match, and they eliminate Stu Grayson pretty soon after entering the ring.
(0:41) Next up, Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus are entering the match. Folks, I apologize for the lack of anything other than saying who is in the match. Ortiz has been eliminated. As soon as I type one sentence, someone is eliminated or enters the match. Cezar Bononi, Griff Garrison, Santana, and Evil Uno are all eliminated rapidly as The Butcher and The Blade now make their way to the ring. Jack Evans comes out of nowhere to eliminate 10 right after Brian Pillman is dumped. Dustin Rhodes is pulled out of the ring by The Bunny. Fuck my life. I’m about to give up on this match. Private Party is now out to join things.
(0:45) Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels are the next team out.
(0:46) Luchasaurus is dumped out by Bear Country, who are then dumped out by The Butcher. Please end this match already.
(0:47) Pac and Rey Fenix are out, and I’ve already missed two eliminations as I typed that. Again, I’m sorry, but I don’t give a fuck about trying to follow this right now. People are coming out, and people are being eliminated. Just know that.
(0:48) John Silver and Alex Reynolds of The Dark Order are now out.
(0:50) I’m not saying a thing until this match comes to an end, unless something incredible happens. This is such a stupid idea for a match. There are 30 people involved in the match, and within 20 minutes, you’re down to four people? That’s stupid. Pac, Rey Fenix, Jungle Boy, and John Silver are the final four here.
(0:54) Fenix and Jungle Boy are the final two.
(0:55) Fenix sends Jungle Boy packing. The right booking decision, as The Young Bucks vs Rey Fenix and Pac is going to be fucking awesome. I’m not giving this one a star rating, though. Look… I’m super happy for AEW that they actually have 15 tag teams to put into a single match, but that entire thing was one of my pet peeves in wrestling. Battle Royals where people are eliminated with little-to-no effort, Elimination Matches where people are eliminated off of the most basic of moves, etc. No, thanks.
(0:58) Our next match is Hikaru Shida defending the AEW Women’s Title against Ryo Mizunami. With everything taking place on this show, this one has everything necessary to truly steal the show.
(1:03) Tony Schiavone points out that Shida is the winningest wrestler in AEW history, with 31 victories since joining the promotion. That’s crazy. This is the 288th day of her title reign, which is also the longest reign of any champion in AEW history.
(1:07) Mizunami has spent more time dancing than wrestling so far in this match. That’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off.
(1:09) Mizunami likes to have fun, but I was hoping against hope that she would approach this with a more physical style with everything that’s on the line. Her strikes are iffy, at best, so far. Meanwhile, Shida is beating the hell out of her like she owes her money.
(1:14) I think Ryo read my mind. Almost immediately after I typed that last entry, she has started laying in her strikes and working a more physical style.
(1:17) This has really turned into a Japanese-style wrestling match. These women are dropping bombs on each other and using “Fighting Spirit” to keep coming back for more.
(1:19) Shida picks up the win. That was an odd ending. A couple of very believable near falls that got little-to-no reaction from the live crowd, and when Shida finally got the pin, the crowd was basically like “oh, cool” and didn’t do much.
(1:20) Nyla Rose is out to attack both women after the match, and is soon joined by Britt Baker and Maki Itoh. Thunder Rosa is out to make the save. The post-match stuff was a bit on the clunky side. As for the match itself, I know it won’t be for everyone. It had its slow spots, but it did pick up at the end. I’ll go with 3 stars.
(1:22) Orange Cassidy and Chuck Taylor vs Miro and Kip Sabian is up next. If there’s any justice in the world, Miro picks up the pin in two minutes.
(1:23) As Cassidy and Taylor are about to interviewed backstage, they are attacked by Miro and Sabian. Miro’s music hits, and the beating is continuing during the entrance. This is a good start, at least.
(1:25) The bell rings to start the match with Orange Cassidy nowhere to be found. Chuck Taylor is bleeding from what appears to be under his eye after being slammed into a glass window backstage, and he also appears to be bleeding on his arm somewhere.
(1:27) We don’t need back-and-forth tags between Miro and Sabian here, for fuck’s sake. Miro should’ve dominated and ended the match already.
(1:28) Orange Cassidy makes his way to the ring to join the match finally.
(1:31) Why is this match still going on?
(1:33) Miro finally makes Chuck Taylor tap to pick up the win for his team. Miro took too much offense in that one. I still don’t understand why AEW just refuses to let him loose. There really wasn’t much to this match, so I won’t give it a star rating. There was less overall action than your average television match.
(1:38) Our next match is “Hangman” Adam Page taking on Matt Hardy in a “Big Money” Match, where the winner gets the first-quarter earnings of the loser for 2021. Hangman deserves better than this.
(1:42) I could really do without Matt Hardy being on offense for large portions of a match in 2021. My knees and hips hurt just watching him walk around. Again, Adam Page deserves so much better than this. He’s someone who should be a main event player in this company.
(1:47) I have been very, very disappointed with this show so far. The silver lining to that cloud is that the best, and most interesting, matches on the card are yet to come. This could very well be a tale of two halves type of show.
(1:53) Page is about to pick up the win, but Private Party make their way onto the ring apron for the distraction, letting Molasses Matt make his recovery.
(1:54) The Dark Order is now out to even the odds. Well, not really EVEN the odds, as there’s 137 members of the group, but you get the point. Page picks up the win after a Buckshot Lariat and now wins all of Matt Hardy’s earnings for the first quarter of the year.
(1:56) Page shares a big group hug with the entire Dark Order and has a beer to celebrate. That was an average match, so let’s give it an average rating of 2.5 stars. No more Matt Hardy, please. Let Hangman shine, please.
(1:57) Next, we have the Face Of The Revolution Ladder Match. Cody Rhodes vs Scorpio Sky vs Max Caster vs Lance Archer vs Penta El Zero Miedo vs A Mystery Opponent, with the winner earning himself a shot at the TNT Title on Dynamite this week. Lots of buzz on who the mystery opponent could be, with various members of the Impact Wrestling roster being guessed pretty heavily on social media. Hopefully, this match gets some momentum built up for this show, because the show needs it.
(2:05) “All Ego” Ethan Page is the final entrant, making his AEW debut. The former PWG Tag Team Champion and two-time Impact Tag Team Champion is now All Elite. That’s a good addition for AEW.
(2:08) Penta, Scorpio Sky, and Lance Archer are all people who can be added to the list of underutilized talents on the AEW roster. Penta was one of the hottest names in all of wrestling when he signed with the company. Archer looked like an unstoppable monster and then hit the wall out of nowhere. Scorpio Sky has been, arguably, the most consistently good in-ring performer in AEW from the start.
(2:12) With Lance Archer sandwiched in between the ladder, Ethan Page basically slams Scorpio Sky onto the ladder with a Razor’s Edge variation. Ouch.
(2:14) Canadian Destroyer from Penta to Cody on top of a ladder that was set up between the ring apron and the ringside barricade. Ouch, part deux.
(2:15) Cody is being escorted backstage by officials and trainers, selling the Canadian Destroyer.
(2:17) The crowd at Daily’s Place has been surprisingly quiet for much of the show, but they’ve really woken up for this match, and especially for Penta.
(2:18) They escorted Cody to the top of the stage area, but he’s still very visible as he is receiving medical attention. If you weren’t even going to take him out of camera view, what was even the point? I get that it’s a Ladder Match, so you can’t have a bunch of extra people at ringside, but he’s RIGHT THERE. The hard camera shot of the match just shows him, Arn Anderson, and everyone else.
(2:19) I think my mind is being read again. As I typed that, it’s like they were told they were still on camera, because they made their way further backstage. You can still see Arn Anderson looking backstage, but everyone else is now out of view. Weird.
(2:22) Cody is “defying the odds and medical opinion” by rejoining the match. There is a noticeable portion of the crowd booing his return. Iiiiinteresting.
(2:25) Lance Archer hits the Blackout on Max Caster, slamming Caster onto a ladder. Ouch, part ekolu.
(2:27) Jake “The Snake” Roberts gets physically involved in the match, but then eats a kick from Penta. Even a couple months short of being 66 years old, Jake knows how to deliver a good short-arm clothesline.
(2:29) Cody Rhodes and Scorpio Sky brawl atop a ladder, and Scorpio gets the upper-hand, sending Cody crashing to the mat below. Scorpio Sky is the new Face Of The Revolution, and he gets a TNT Title shot against Darby Allin on Dynamite this week. A fun car wreck of a Ladder Match, as would be expected. Let’s say 4 stars. Good call in having Scorpio Sky pick up the win there. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him become the new champion, either. He deserves it.
(2:32) Christian Cage is All Elite! I love it. Yes, I’m a little sad we won’t be getting Edge and Christian vs The Usos now, but this is a great signing for AEW. This will be a motivated Christian with a chip on his shoulder. The last time we got that Christian, he went on an absolute tear for TNA, fully stepping out from Edge’s shadow. I’m expecting more greatness from him now.
(2:35) Sting and Darby Allin vs Brian Cage and Ricky Starks is up next. This Street Fight is Sting’s return to the ring. His first match since September 20th, 2015. We’ll see how this goes.
(2:38) It’s a cinematic match. I guess if you’re going to accentuate Sting’s positives and hide his negatives, this would be the way to do it. Normally, I’d say I’m tired of these types of matches, but it makes sense here. Cage and Starks arrive to the unannounced location of the match in a beautiful lime green BMW i8. Darby is, of course, riding his skateboard to the venue. Sting appears to be driving an old Toyota Tacoma pick-up truck.
(2:42) Good or bad, I have a sneaking suspicion that this will be another match I can’t give a star rating to.
(2:44) The match is taking place in an old, abandoned warehouse. Ooh, edgy.
(2:47) Brian Cage lifts Darby Allin up in a vertical suplex, and then walks up a fucking flight of stairs while still holding Darby up. Good God, that was impressive. Don’t give me that shit about Darby being a smaller wrestler, either. That looked dope.
(2:48) lol @ Taz, on commentary, saying that Cage and Starks are “kicking the shit out of people” in AEW.
(2:51) Powerhouse Hobbs shows up in a mask, even though this is a Street Fight and he can freely interfere if he wanted to. Hobbs and Taz’s son, Hook, are now involved. It’s a four-on-one beatdown of Darby Allin. Darby is thrown through a glass wall, and now Team Taz turns their attention to Sting. Cage hits Sting right between the shoulders with a shovel.
(2:53) Darby was out of action for a full two minutes, getting up and throwing Sting his bat to even the odds. Darby then jumps from the second-story balcony with an elbow drop onto Brian Cage, sending both men crashing into the abyss. Not into Abyss. That would be something entirely different.
(2:55) Sting pins Ricky Starks after a Scorpion Death Drop. Sure enough, I won’t be giving that a star rating. It’s almost impossible to truly rate these types of things. For what it was, though, it was entertaining. Cage got to look like a monster. Starks looked like a future star. Allin looked like the insane person he is. Sting got to shine without looking like someone who is turning 61 in less than two weeks. It wasn’t the best cinematic-style match you’ll see, but it was far from the worst.
(2:59) Well… here we go… Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match. Kenny Omega vs Jon Moxley for the AEW World Title.
(3:03) Bryce Remsburg is in a full-on hazmat suit. Makes sense.
(3:03) Poor Renee Paquette. She already hated watching her husband wrestle in violent matches. Now, she’s months into her pregnancy and has to watch her husband wrestle in… THIS. If she’s even watching, that is. She might not want to deal with what’s about to happen.
(3:09) As the ring announcements are taking place, Moxley pulls out a flask and takes a huge swig of Jack Daniel’s, yelling out “fuck” as it goes down. Fuck it. You might as well.
(3:13) Both men are trying to end the match as quickly as they can. They’re both fighting off several attempts at being sent into the barbed wire.
(3:16) After being blinded by powder to the eyes, Moxley is the first one to be sent into the barbed wire. Quite the visual to see him sent into it as explosions go off.
(3:18) Moxley is now bleeding above the eye after being driven face-first into a trash can.
(3:19) Moxley is driven into a barbed wire board, and the camera zooms in as the barbs are stuck in his hair and the back of his head as he tries to free himself. Fucking ow.
(3:20) The face of Jon Moxley is a bloody MESS. There isn’t much of his face that isn’t a bright, bright red. The Muta Scale might need to be visited here.
(3:21) Back-to-back shots into the barbed wire for Kenny Omega, and now both men have felt the pain twice.
(3:22) Omega is sent into another barbed wire board, and he comes off of it with the barbs tearing the flesh on his arms.
(3:23) A side slam onto a steel chair wrapped in barbed wire means that Omega feels the sharp torture once again. Moxley then takes a strand of barbed wire and wraps it around his arm and hand, Mick Foley-style, looking to deliver a lariat with it.
(3:25) Omega pushes Moxley into the barbed wire ropes, but the explosions catch Omega in the face, allowing both men to suffer in their own way.
(3:27) Both men are now brawling on the ring apron, all while yet another barbed wire board sits at ringside.
(3:28) Moxley drives Omega onto the board with a Paradigm Shift. Omega was nearly spiked onto the top of his skull, but Moxley landed back-first onto the spools of barbed wire. Jesus Herbert Christ.
(3:29) Loud dueling “Let’s go, Moxley” and “O-meg-a” chants from the crowd. They’ve been REALLY into this match.
(3:30) Omega is now a bloody mess. I’m surprised it took this long, to be honest.
(3:30) At various times in the match, a woman can be heard letting out a pained, horror movie-style scream. The easy joke is that it’s Renee Paquette watching this backstage.
(3:33) In a brilliant move, Jon Moxley is hit with a One-Winged Angel, but he puts his foot on the barbed wire to “break” the pin. It caused an explosion that, once again, blinded Omega. That was very well done.
(3:34) Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows have made their way to the ring, and they hand a barbed wire bat to Omega. Omega hits Moxley with it… and we find out that it was an EXPLODING barbed wire baseball bat. The smoke is coming off of Moxley’s head as he falls to the mat. Good Lord. After sending Moxley through a steel chair, Omega picks up the win. He’s still the AEW World Champion, ending the match before the major explosions took place. It doesn’t end the timer, though. They’re still going to happen.
(3:37) Anderson and Gallows handcuff Moxley and attack him in the ring. The countdown is still on until the entire ring explodes.
(3:38) Moxley’s head has been busted open again, and Omega scrapes a barbed wire bat across his forehead.
(3:39) The 60-second countdown has begun, and the heels scurry away.
(3:40) Eddie Kingston comes out to fight through Omega, Gallows, and Anderson to try and save his old friend. When he is unable to remove the cuffs from Moxley’s wrists, he uses his body as a shield to cover Moxley. The countdown reaches zero, and I shit you not, some of the weakest “explosions” you’ll ever see happen on the outside of the ring. It leaves Moxley and Kingston in the ring to sell it as if real bombs went off. The story of Kingston going to save his friend and sacrificing himself to do so was beautiful writing, and it was fucking RUINED by that dud of an ending. Holy shit, that was bad. So, so bad. Ev-er-y-thing about that match up until the end was well done and did exactly what it was supposed to do, but none of it matters because the biggest “draw” of the match was a popcorn fart in vinyl pants. I know that there will still be some hardcore AEW dork fans who defend that, but nobody takes those types of people seriously, anyway. There is no defending that. It was an ALL-TIME bad ending.