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The Retirement Home has let me loose and the Excellence in Column Writing has returned LordsofPain.net. You know, I always worry about writing All Elite Wrestling (AEW) reviews because I know that will result in a lot of personal attacks coming my way. The Internet Wrestling Community has a lot riding on this promotion to succeed because it is a convergence of all of their internet darlings into one promotion. I gave Double or Nothing a freakin’ A+ grade (didn’t see the pre-show, that would have downgraded it to a “B” or “B+”) and there were nitpicks on that. Then, I wasn’t as pleased with Fyter Fest and gave valid criticisms that many top critics also shared… Internet Fans still weren’t satisfied.
What I’m seeing is this… There is a major Generational Gap between wrestling fans. There are folks, like myself, who grew up during the late 1980s to see the end of the territory days, NWA’s amazing in-ring product with Ric Flair, and WWE’s Hulkamania Era. Then, we got to see the Monday Night Wars with WCW and WWE battling from 1997-1998. Many of us watched ECW on the side, but usually it was our 3rd option and for a good laugh. However, there is a much younger generation who only started watching wrestling during the late 1990s and think that the comedy and violence stuff pushed by Vince Russo-based booking or ECW is how the pro wrestling business should be. Ditto with many of the wrestling talents that became wrestlers since. When ECW went down, many ECW clones appeared to keep pushing the violence meter. TNA and WWE kept doing the “sports entertainment” goofy comedy routines instead of serious wrestling.
Which brings us to AEW… AEW’s biggest flaw is trying to mix guys who could be serious top draws in the business (Cody, Omega, Jericho, MJP, Page, Moxley) with bunch of guys who did goofy or violent stuff on the indy scene. AEW, however, treats them as equals! Just look at Cody Rhodes vs. Darby Allin. Cody is an accomplished wrestler with an impressive resume worldwide yet he tried to make a 5’8″ Allin appear to be on the same level as him. No, he’s not. Allin couldn’t start up his own promotion and convince 10,000 fans to fill it. MJF is one of your top talents and easily the best talker in the promotion. Yet, for the last 2 events, he has to sell for “UK’s Death Match King” named Jimmy Havoc. Jon Moxley is the biggest Free Agent STEAL since Kurt Angle bolted on WWE to join TNA wrestling during 2006. Yet, he’s wrestled a hardcore match against Joey Janela.
^^^ Right THERE is your problem. You aren’t treating your best wrestlers as stars and you’re treating guys who should be midcard acts as top guys. AEW is like the socialist model for pro wrestling where they try to make everybody appear equal… WWE has tried this model for years and it has killed them, as their NXT call-ups are pushed like instant World Title contenders.
And I don’t know WHAT AEW is doing with their Women’s Division. Super heavyweight wrestlers are easily harmed by women half their size and AEW appears to have their own version of Stephanie McMahon.
AEW’s Fight for the Fallen was another mixed bag event for me… YES, I’m very aware that it (a) streamed for FREE and (b) was a show for a good cause (shooting victims, I believe). Yet, this is your 3rd show as an upstart wrestling promotion. I completely understand that a new promotion has trials and errors… But the Creative and the Talent decisions has me questioning the decision by Tony Khan to let wrestlers become EVPs as well. However, AEW has 1 massive show in Chicago to set things straight… Otherwise, their debut on TNT could be underwhelming.
Here are my critiques of the show:
I ENJOYED THE ATMOSPHERE
Setting up a wrestling event in an amphitheater is a difficult task but I thought that the set-up was really well done. Camera angles were a bit odd at times, but I like having appearing in different style arenas. One of my major criticisms of the WWE is how they make every arena appear the same with the production set-up.
ALEX MARVEZ GOTTA GO!
He’s a tremendous writer and sports journalist… Sometimes, that just doesn’t translate well to another medium. I’ll admit personally for myself, I’m better in written form than audio. There is NO WAY that I’d ever try to commentate on a live wrestling event, let alone one that thousands or millions would watch. Make it a two man booth or replace Marvez with a wrestling veteran. Learn from WWE’s mistakes… Adding non-wrestling talking heads subtracts from the quality of the commentary.
WHAT IS THE CHIEF BRAND OFFICER’s ‘BRAND’ AS A WRESTLER
When I think of Brandi Rhodes, I don’t think of her as a pro wrestler. WWE disregarded her talents and made her a ring announcer. On television, we mostly see Brandi alongside her husband, Cody Rhodes, for matches or segments. Now for AEW, she is the “Chief Brand Officer” for the company who has mostly appeared in a babyface role. Remember at the beginning of Double or Nothing when she said this would be the first “Sensory Inclusive Wrestling Event in History”? I’m not knocking it, I’m just making a point of how Brandi has presented herself… I just haven’t seen much of her as a PRO WRESTLER… Then, she wrestles Alley as a HEEL?!? Fell completely flat trying to wrestle as a heel. The BETTER move would have just enlisted Awesome Kong to go slaughter Alley instead. Brandi just didn’t look like a wrestling villain here at all. With her prominently announcing herself as the “Chief Brand Officer” with “CBO” on her outfit and “Chief Brandi Officer” on the screen, you are positioning yourself as the next Stephanie McMahon. That’s not a compliment, either. The zero build up of her acting as a heel just didn’t get over, as the fans in Jacksonville were completely silent for the entire match.
I HATE WRESTLING LIBRARIANS… BUT SONNY KISS IS TALENTED!
How we have 2 wrestling librarians on this earth is baffling to me… BUT, the male Librarian wrestler served as a nice punching bag for Sonny Kiss. I have to admit, I thought nothing of Kiss from the Battle Royal as he mostly just sat in the upper left hand corner and then served Tommy Dreamer the “Poo Poo Platter” (Bloodhound Gang reference) in the opposite corner later in the match. We didn’t get a chance to see the natural charisma and impressive athletic ability that Sonny Kiss actually has. I was very impressed, as he is an amazing athlete and put some extra charisma on each move or after each move was pulled off. THAT is how you present Sonny Kiss… LET HIM WRESTLE. He didn’t wrestle during the Battle Royal and therefore more was made about his look or the corner move with Dreamer. His character and what he’s wearing should be just an afterthought as to what Kiss can actually do in the ring. There is lots of talent within Sonny Kiss and this could be built upon to make a real star. I was very impressed.
GOOD WOMEN’S TAG MATCH… WOW, THE PRE-GAME SHOW WAS ENTERTAINING!
Between Sonny Kiss and the impressive efforts of the Women’s Tag match, we finally had an AEW “Buy-In” show that wasn’t insulting. The Battle Royal for the #1 contendership from Double or Nothing and the Hardcore match from Fyter Fest were the worst ways to sell your products to fans. However, Sonny Kiss and the combined efforts of Bea Priestley, Shoko Nakajima, Dr. Britt Baker, and Riho made for a highly entertaining pre-game show. Bea Priestley looks like a legitimate fighter and athlete. I could believe in her defeating Rose or Kong in a match… Nakajima is tiny but damn, she has a ton of athleticism and unique moves to offer. Britt Baker and Riho were solid, as always, and were good selling against Nakajima/Priestley. I can imagine that both are very sore today. Some timing issues here and there, a few blown spots… But for the first time of these team pairings and working together, I was entertained.
SIX MAN TAG WAS A MESS, STAR PUSHING MJF SERIOUSLY
For 2 shows now, MJF is stuck with wrestlers who should be in AEW’s midcard division, at best… And selling for them as equals. Furthermore, this 6 man match was a vehicle for selling and putting over Shawn Spears. Nothing against Spears, as I’m OK with them putting him over… But MJF has been on 3 shows now and he’s an afterthought to the Battle Royal, 4 way, and now 6 man match. Sorry, but he can do more things in the ring like wrestling without needing to be hardcore wrestler, cutting promos, and having personality. Janela and Havoc should be wrestling each other (fine, have a Hardcore division) and Allin should head-up the Lightweight or Cruiserweight division.
TAG MATCH WAS GOOD FOR FIRST ROUND BYE
Honestly, no issues with the Dark Order vs. Angelico/Jack Evans vs. Luchasaurus/Jungle Boy. It was fast moving with all of the wrestlers having high energy on display throughout the match. I really like Luchasaurus… He has a crazy unique look, great size, and moves like a Cruiserweight yet can mix power moves in as well. I’m not fully sold on the Dark Order yet, as they had 4 great bumping opponents tonight… But we’ll see. The thing I do like about AEW is that they give their Tag Wrestlers freedom to do whatever in the ring and it allows for the wrestlers to push their own creativity. So far, I’ve enjoyed the other Tag Teams more than what Alex Marvez called the “greatest tag team in the world” in the Young Bucks.
ADAM PAGE vs. KIP SABIAN WENT TOO LONG
Adam Page is your #1 contender for the AEW title… But smaller Kip Sabian pushed him to 19 minutes. Should have been kept tighter on time and Page should have dominated him, for the most part. After all, he is your #1 contender. Again, this is an ongoing problem with AEW making guys who should be their midcarders (Sabian) appear as equal to their top guys (Page). It is awful booking of your top talents and doesn’t do the would-be midcarders any justice to be elevated to a top spot early.
LUCHA BROTHERS vs. SO CAL UNCENSORED WAS GREAT
I really enjoyed Lucha Brothers vs. So Cal Uncensored. In my opinion, this showcased the Lucha Brothers the best out of the 3 nights with AEW. SCU members sold their stuff more convincingly than the wrestlers in the previous events. Probably the “Match of the Night” for me…
I’M JUST NOT SOLD ON KENNY OMEGA AS ONE OF THE “BESTS IN THE WORLD”
Some of the New Japan matches deserve the praise, yes… But Okada and Jericho work well with everybody they encounter. I’ve had multiple chances now to see Kenny Omega work for the past 2 years… He’s a great athlete and can pull off some interesting stuff in the ring… But the lack of psychology and selling just bothers me with his matches. When a wrestler hits a big move or works on a limb or other body parts, you gotta sell it. Omega wrestles as if he doesn’t feel pain, as he quickly recovers from everything that should devastate any performer in combat sports. New Japan seemed to know how to better market Kenny Omega as a star than Omega knows how to market himself. The match against Cima was fine but it didn’t jump off the page for me. Maybe his matches with Okada have pumped up our expectations too much as if everything he tries could be a “6 star match”? I’m just not seeing that greatness yet in AEW…
YOUNG BUCKS vs. RHODES BROTHERS WAS GOOD… BUT NOT GREAT
We’ve had 3 matches with the Young Bucks now and I’ve seen them for years on Ring of Honor. I’m just not that impressed with them. Both are undersized and instead of pushing the traditional tag team psychology, the Bucks are spot machines and then reduce the seriousness of a tag match by pushing comedy. Cody and Dustin are an actual proven tag team and have many years of experience in that ring. As seen in the WWE, you could put them with any tag team and it produce a consistently good match. Put them with a great team, and you have serious “Match of the Year” contenders. The Young Bucks are EVPs of this company and push themselves as if they should be the absolute top acts of the company… But what they don’t realize is that they were part of Ring of Honor and New Japan’s several attempts to grow their business in the United States that didn’t go over well. They aren’t the draws that they personally believe that they are and are pushing themselves as. Cody Rhodes took the pin in this match. Yikes… He should be your top star of this promotion yet he’s looking weak against wrestlers under 6 feet tall for the last 2 events.
And there was a better need for a “Sense of Urgency” for this match. Young Bucks are the strongest pushed tag team in AEW yet Cody/Dustin were an accomplished tag team in the WWE. This should have really been for a First Round Bye in the tag division, if not for the AEW Tag Titles themselves. Instead, it was just a match put together for this one show.
LAST WORD: I really hate to rip this promotion, especially with just 3 shows in. But damn, guys, you have so much going for you. Wrestling fans WANT to instantly support you and make you an instant competitor to the WWE. We are begging you to take our money! Yet, AEW lacks seriousness as a wrestling promotion and tries to treat and push every wrestler fairly. Not every wrestler has equal talent, folks… I highly question Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks as EVPs of the company. Cody Rhodes has been consistently good so far and I believe that he’s more apt to take advice from Dustin, Jim Ross, or remembering lessons from his father Dusty. Young Bucks and Omega have been around some weird stuff and are friends with much of the comedic or hardcore wrestling indy wrestlers hired by the promotion. They are proving why many wrestling talents aren’t placed in creative positions for a reason, let alone deciding on which talent to hire.
AEW has lots of good talent on their roster, as I’d argue that I’d take their Top 10 wrestlers over the WWE’s Top 10 wrestlers. However, I’d take the WWE’s bottom half of their roster over AEW, especially as AEW tries to make their fringe talents appear as equal to their would-be top talents. Just doesn’t make sense… Maybe having a weekly television show will help AEW help sort things out, but there are many short term things to try and repair before the big Chicago show. Maybe listen to Jim Ross more often, as he has a wealth of experience working for Midsouth, NWA/WCW, and WWE and he was the Talent Relations guy who helped rebound the WWE from its early 1997 basement.
I’ll go [ B- ] for my show’s grade… I thought that the match quality from Fyter Fest was much worse but this event had matches that should have lived up to higher expectations. The poor mixing of talent needs to be seriously addressed by the time Chicago hits or you won’t get another Pay Per View buy out of me ever again, AEW.
So just chill… Until the next episode!
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