‘Here’s how we gon’ do this’ – there are three categories: star quality, match quality, build. For each we’ll assign a score out of ten. To get a total score with which to rank the matches.
Star quality is within the company/to the company’s fans. A ten does not mean they’d be known on the street like Hulk Hogan or Steve Austin. If scores are even, matches’ll be ranked according to preference.
We’ll then predict the winners of each contest.
Without further ado.
- Jade Cargill vs Nyla Rose, TBS Title
Star quality: 3 – Jade’s aura slips with every defense – a lack of believable opponents doesn’t help; Nyla disappears for months at a time and has lost a lot.
Match quality: 1 – Cargill’s still bad & Nyla’s unlikely to be able to carry her.
Build: 0 – This has been some of the worst tv in the company. Including threatened show-long hi-jackings which don’t materialize, and the less said about the segment where Nyla & Vickie did ‘commentary’, the better.
And with each week that passes, it’s increasingly difficult to figure out who the heel is in this feud. Which is bad in any rivalry but particularly in one guaranteed to be a letdown between the ropes.
Overall Score: 4
If there are any fans out there looking forward to this, genuinely hope you enjoy it. For everyone else, you can look forward to when it’s over. Let’s hope it’s a short one.
WINNER: Jade Cargill
- Jay Lethal & Jeff Jarrett vs Sting & Darby Allin
Star quality: 7 – Let’s be honest, that number is all the babyface side.
Match quality: 6 – Lethal’s very good in the ring, Darby will kill himself to make the match good, neither vet should get in the way.
Build: 2 – That 2 is based purely on Lethal attacking Darby, which at least provides some reason for the match happening in the first place. Because the ‘someone from your past who knows your weakness’ story was a massive letdown.
A backstory like that should be clear – e.g. ‘This guy and Darby were struggling together on the indies and he feels like Darby left him behind’.
And it damn sure shouldn’t feel like a TNA invasion. Certainly not in a company which feels like WWE & ROH are already doing so.
Overall Score: 15
Any outcome other than a babyface win is inconceivable, largely because it would mean Jarrett’s return to our screens isn’t temporary.
WINNER: Darby Allin & Sting
- Wardlow vs Powerhouse Hobbs vs Samoa Joe, TNT Title
Star quality: 6 – It should be higher – Joe’s very over, Hobbs would be if he didn’t disappear for weeks at a time & Wardlow should be but he’s been booked abysmally.
Match quality: 6 – Three-ways can be tricky & Wardlow’s still not wrestled a ton of longer, competitive matches. Willing to be proven wrong.
Build: 3 – If WarJoe had been together nine months, this’d be higher: teaming people just to have one turn on the other is among booking’s lowest-hanging fruit. Likewise if the title had been better protected and Wardlow’s stellar run was threatened by two behemoths.
Overall Score: 15
There are only two winners here. Either they decide that Wardlow’s been used so badly that he needs a boosting win or they decide Wardlow’s been used so badly that they need to get the belt onto Will Hobbs.
Either way, the most popular guy in the match will likely be losing.
WINNER: Powerhouse Hobbs
- Toni Storm vs Jamie Hayter, AEW Interim Women’s Title
Star quality: 5 – Jamie’s as over as any woman on the roster; Toni’s cold as champion.
Match quality: 7 – both can be very good and know each other well. Hayter has a ton of cool power moves and works well with smaller opponents.
Build: 4 – The real-life backstory is a very compelling one – if it hadn’t been dropped on us two weeks ago, it could’ve been special.
Overall Score: 16
This is a really tough one to predict. Storm’s never actually been the true champion. And Thunder Rosa’s rumored to be fairly close to returning. Meaning a unification match makes sense.
On the other hand, Hayter & Britt vowed that one would end the year as champion. The assumption being that the one would be Jamie, sparking Britt’s jealously & finally leading to a split between the pair.
Not to mention, Hayter’s clearly more popular with the crowd than Storm.
Personally, I think she should be the one to end Jade Cargill’s streak. Obviously, that would involve a face turn, but she’s got the size to believably pose a threat to Jade & the crowd want to cheer her – and basically do already. Not to mention, she and Saraya are about the only viable candidates left to defeat Cargill.
Perhaps the clincher though, is that Toni can’t seem to keep Rosa’s name out her mouth. An angle? Or another to add to those who don’t seem to like the women’s champ? Either way, it suggests a match is coming. So…
WINNER: Toni Storm
- The Acclaimed vs Swerve in our Glory, AEW Tag Titles
Star quality: 8 – The champs are as over as anyone on the roster, Lee’s very popular, Swerve slightly less-so.
Match quality: 6 – They’ve had two matches. One excellent; one clunky. Lee’s still too big, Caster’s fine; Bowens and Strickland can be really good, though on Wednesday, when the best worker on either team went at it, it was a little underwhelming.
Though Strickland’s clear win and attacking of Bowens’ shoulder did at least add a little more intrigue to the outcome tonight.
Build: 3 – Billy Gunn blatantly cheated to help the Acclaimed win the belts. Fortunately, such is the champs’ popularity that they’re able to overcome the booking and remain good guys.
Then, there’s the weird pliers angle with Daddy Ass. Which portends his gaining revenge by costing Strickland the titles once again. Though it shouldn’t. The Acclaimed should win clean.
Overall Score: 17
On the subject, this one’s an easy choice. They’ve clearly already begun building to the Acclaimed vs FTR, nor is there any chance of them taking the belts off one of their most popular acts so soon after winning them.
WINNER: The Acclaimed
- Saraya vs Britt Baker
Star quality: 7 – Saraya hasn’t quite hit her stride yet but should be the biggest female in the company; Baker’s very popular.
Match quality: 5 – This match is a risk. Britt’s a great personality but she’s not yet at the point where she can cover for an opponent. And the former Paige certainly didn’t used to be in need of such help. But there are five years of ring-rust to shake off.
Build: 6 – While acknowledging that they began to suggest this match Saraya’s first night in. And that some people really liked last week’s promo segment. This still doesn’t feel as big as it should.
However, Wednesday’s promos really helped make this match more intriguing. Just for all the wrong reasons. Britt Baker’s promo was excellent. It felt very personal. Almost as if Saraya legitimately touched a nerve the previous week by basically saying – ‘I was with WWE, so I’m a bigger star.’
It was also a total babyface promo – re-asserting her commitment to AEW in an era when many fans have become increasingly fed-up with the constant influx of ex-WWE. And totally undercut Saraya, who already had to undo the damage of the previous week when she’d almost turned herself heel. Hence her own very humble interview. It was noteworthy that her speaking was kept to a minimum.
Who the crowd choose to cheer, and how the two interact with each other out there, will be more interesting than the match itself.
Overall Score: 18
Obviously, the new girl’s not losing her first outing in the company.
- Luchasaurus vs Jungle Boy Jack Perry, Steel Cage
Star quality: 6 – Jack’s pretty popular; not so sure about Luchasaurus, particularly as a heel.
Match quality: 7 – JB’s good, they know each other well & should work a classic big man/little man cage match.
Build: 6 – None of these guys are exactly favorites of mine and there’s been too great a reliance on ‘cheap heat’. But we were shown their relationship over a number of years and thus this does feel like a match with a story behind it – of broken trust and betrayal between friends.
Overall Score: 19
Jungle Boy lost to Christian in ten seconds at All Out, then lost to Luchasaurus. He’s not losing here.
WINNER: Jungle Boy
- Death Triangle vs The Elite
Star quality: 9 – Two sets of former tag champs, the first double champion in the company & a former world champion who’s among the biggest stars in the company.
Match quality: 10 – If this isn’t the match of the night, something’s gone badly wrong here or very, very right in another. The Bros & the Bucks had one of the best outings of the year last September; it’s almost impossible to see Omega or Pac doing anything other than improving on that.
Build: 3 – The videos hinting at the Elite’s return were cute and all, but unless there’s a deeper story yet to be unveiled, pretty one-dimensional. And much as I love a return, one promo isn’t enough to bump up the score. This one’s being sold on match quality, rather than story.
Overall Score: 22
This might be one of those matches where the winner’s so obvious that they’re not actually going to win. Death Triangle were very clearly positioned as consolation champions – the best of what was left. And AEW even delayed debuting these titles until Kenny Omega was back because the division was to be built around the EVP’s.
Not to mention the obvious dissention among Pac and the Bros – providing an easy ‘out’ if a change is going to occur.
And in the end, that’s probably what’ll occur. Pac will give one of them the hammer, they’ll refuse to use it, it’ll cost them. (Unless of course, they’re all going to turn heel? Aaargh).
WINNER: The Elite
- MJF vs Jon Moxley, AEW World Title
Name value: 10 – There isn’t a bigger match the company could put on atm.
Match quality: 8 – Mox rarely has bad matches, MJF’s really underrated in the ring: he had the best match at the same event last year.
Build: 6 – This should have been so much higher. And actually was, a little, until Wednesday’s show-ending promo. Which only served to highlight how muddy they’ve made things. As noted below, there’s an exceptionally simple storyline here about two guys who are total opposites and the promo work from both has largely been stellar.
But everything involving the Firm has been a detriment to the story. Their backstory and connection to Max still hasn’t been properly explained. And even the parts that have don’t make sense. On top of which, no-one among the group is anywhere near main-event level.
So please, please, please don’t let the beatdown Max endured from them be a swerve. Please. Because it seems highly likely that MJF will reveal that he was never a good guy.
Which is fine. The whole premise behind his title bid is optimizing his value ahead of the ‘bidding war of 2024’. But not like that. The idea that a competitor would allow himself to be destroyed two weeks before a world championship match is just ludicrous. Even more so if it was all just to ‘fool’ us. Something akin to breaking your leg to convince us it’s broken.
Overall Score: 24
Back to the bidding war stuff. February would probably be a better time for him to win the belt. Because the alternative is him holding it from now until the very end of next year as he threatens to take it with him if he decides to leave. But it does seem that the plan all along was to have him take it here from Punk.
And actually, beating Moxley makes the story even better. The guy who is so fiercely loyal to the company, who bleeds and sweats for it, the guy who would least like Max to take the belt he cherishes so much to the place he most despises. If done right, that’s something they could come back to next year.
All of which opens the window slightly for another possibility. That MJF will indeed be a ‘good guy’ for a bit, maybe a few months. Before revealing who he truly is as we draw closer to the time when he can leave. Or at least threaten to.
- Chris Jericho vs Sammy Guevara vs Bryan Danielson vs Claudio Castagnoli, ROH Title
Star quality: 9 – Two top guys, two mid/upper mid-carders
Match quality: 9 – All four are excellent. Jericho has his critics but he’s had good matches lately with a variety of opponents. Slight knock for it being a four-way, which tend to be busy.
Build: 7 – While ROH does feel like it’s been shoved down fans’ throats, and the BCC/JAS feud is on its last legs, the very simple story of Jericho feeling a company that’s been around for twenty years is beneath him, and doing everything he can to dis-honor it, has been very enjoyable.
In an ideal world, this would’ve been one-on-one vs a Danielson who’d mowed down each member of the JAS having finally snapped at Jericho’s disrespect for the company that made him who he is.
Overall Score: 25
While history would tell us a match like this is a way to change the title without beating the champ, and that Sammy is the perfect pawn, it’s just as likely this was made a 4-way to fit guys on the show. As we’re all aware, AEW have rather too many.
And until any ROH TV deal is sealed, it’s hard to see Jericho dropping his title.
WINNER: Chris Jericho
An interesting way to look at the show, in the sense that while it’s obviously somewhat tainted since I wrote it, the scores don’t necessarily reflect my own interest level (the six-man & AEW title matches are what I’m most looking forward to, the tag title match not-so-much).
What really stands out is the lack of stipulation matches – definitely a good thing. But also a lack of men’s singles due to the bloated roster.
Even more than that, the quality of build. Or lack thereof. In several cases, there’s a good possibility the crowd will react contrary to the company’s wishes – something that’s almost never happened in the past because they booked smartly and listened to the fans.
Whatever else, AEW tends to deliver on PPV. So enjoy the show, have a great weekend and of course, if it does happen to suck, there’s always the post-show presser 😉.
PS (Erm… where are FTR?)