Build for the Tag Titles
Easily my favorite-ever AEW champ is Jon Moxley. Because every promo was basically – ‘I love this title, you’ll have to kill me to take it’. It felt like something important that people should want. And FTR are in the same mould. Which is why the tag belts are the most interesting championship in the promotion right now.
Not that it’s a high bar, on which more in the Down section.
The match has a serious edge, the affronted champs taking exception to their challengers’ approach. Employing the always effective tactic of mixing in a little truth with fiction. (There’s little doubt FTR were genuinely not fans of the dance-off.)
And should be fantastic between the ropes while continuing the story of everyone warning Cole about Max.
Jericho & Callis
They continued to move the mystery along in suitably sycophantic style.
Jack Perry and the ECW vets
Perry was a tried-and-true heel here. Talking a big game until someone challenged him to back his words. And is getting a little more comfortable on the mic. It’s not an original thought but putting Anna Jay and a heavy with him would make his act seem bigger and perhaps give him some people to play off in his promos.
Cassidy vs Fox & Swerve vs Allin
Both provided good action, the former telling an in-ring story of a challenger very much the equal of the champ, usually a step ahead in fact, forcing the incumbent into resorting to squeaking a win via cradle. And an out-of-ring one about Fox betraying Darby’s trust.
Which continued into the latter when Fox caused Allin to lose. It was well-booked and logical. Though it too also features in the Down section.
Cassidy vs Fox & Swerve vs Allin
Because TV time is a big investment which has to be used wisely. And AEW spent an awful lot of it last night on AR Fox, while a list of performers long enough to obliterate my word count waits in the wings. Big stars, potential stars, with promo skills to boot.
And tying another lower-card guy to Swerve is just cruel. It’s Hangman and the Dark Order all over again. And get Prince Nana off tv. What a goof.
In the past twelve weeks (May-today) AEW have had eighteen title matches on Dynamite & Collision (bearing in mind Collision began six weeks ago) and two Eliminator matches (MJF/Cole & FTR/BCG).
Among these, only the latter Eliminator showed wrestlers actually winning their way to a championship match. A quick glance back at 2023’s pay-per-views shows that only Bryan Danielson truly did so by running Max’s gauntlet. And that applies to any title.
While on Rampage there’s yet another battle royal for a title shot – this time at the tag belts.
Part of what made FTR/Jay & Juice so special was that the heels had truly earned their opportunity by beating the champs the previous week in a hard-fought match. They felt justified in contending. A genuine threat. Meaning the match was more exciting because it was feasible either side could win.
Far too many of AEW’s ‘title matches’ are anything but. For fans to invest, they have to believe both sides might win. And feel like they’re ‘with’ a contender or title-holder as they build momentum. The easiest way to achieve this is to show both challenger and contender racking up wins.
Something AEW almost never does. Instead we see a bunch of open challenges, battle royals and favors. I.e. booking short-cuts. And arrive at pay-per-views feeling underwhelmed.
Britt vs Taya & the Women’s Division
It’s notable that Valkyrie had a much better match than this with the inexperienced Skye Blue on Saturday. Britt’s been wrestling since 2016, but still doesn’t guarantee a solid match on tv.
Which is a problem when she’s one of the division’s most popular performers and best talkers.
‘Book the Women’s Division Better’ read a sign in the crowd last night.
It’s certainly puzzling that popular performers like Shida and Riho absolutely disappear for months at a time. Not to mention current champions Storm and Statlander requiring ‘Missing’ posters and rewards.
As with the men, cutting back on titles would be a solution. Storm, Hayter, Willow, Taya, Shida, Riho, Statlander and Baker should be more than enough to give at least one of the titles some zip. (And of course Athena, who’s stuck having good matches for 10,000 subscribers.)
Perhaps some time on the less-rushed Saturday show could help?
What’s certain is that they need to put female performers out there who’re the same standard as the men. The division needs credibility. Good, solid matches every week would build a nice foundation.
Pac vs Gravity
Pac and gravity usually go together pretty well; Pac and Gravity do not.
Jericho and the JAS scrubs
AEW don’t seem to realize that fans need to be invested in performers in order to care about them. Via screentime, promo time and character development. So whyever they believed we’d be all ‘Woah, even Matt Menard’s pissed’ is puzzling.
Losing potential stars like Guevara & Garcia, or 6’5” MMA heavies from his stable is one thing, losing 2.0 is another. It was very hard to take this seriously.
This one will likely become a recurring theme.
Last week the company presented their annual Blood & Guts match. Featuring a minimum of five guys supposed to be among their biggest stars. And it got a one-minute video package last night.
The package didn’t explain what happened at the end, who won, or how. It just showed blood, gore and extreme moments. Ignoring the hooks of Moxley sacrificing the potential win to save his junior partner. Or of both sides shaking hands and showing respect after a hard-fought feud.
(Fans who only see what airs on tv might not even know the feud’s over. Scant reward for investing their time in it.)
Instead, we got a literal ‘to the back’ from Excalibur as the show moved on. As did the BCC. While none of the babyfaces were even present, their absences unexplained. And if it doesn’t matter that they’re not appearing, then they don’t matter.
We’ll leave things there, but this was a very badly booked show.