Venue: Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, Penns.
Tuned in just in time to see the end of Rampage. Wheeler Yuta winning the ROH TV Title via low blow. Then kicking Shibata low again afterward and offering a mock handshake. The guy who lost to Buddy Matthews last week. The guy repping the group for whom Bryan Danielson will be a babyface once the Continental Classic starts. Can the BCC please make their minds up.
All the tournament participants spoke – Garcia called it ‘wrestling’s greatest tournament’. If it is, we’ll tell you, don’t tell us.
The announcers ran through the rules, the Blue group and tonight’s matches. So if you didn’t watch Dynamite, f*** you basically, we’re not going to catch you up on the Gold guys.
Claudio Castagnoli vs Daniel Garcia (Blue Group)
Backstory: Opening round
Nigel said Danielson wasn’t here because he had his period. In reality, he can’t yet fly due to his injury.
Garcia danced on his way out, hopefully Claudio breaks the little twerp’s arms, hips and legs so he can no longer do it.
Claudio ran him through, snatched him into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, power showing through immediately. Then aimed kicks at the gut, bodyslam, Garcia got a boot up, again, leapt into a guillotine body scissors, Claudio countered over into a suplex. Before aiming more mocking kicks at the downed youngster, Garcia tried to fight back and was smashed back down, chops and uppercuts in the corner.
‘Three sensational matches’ on Wednesday per Schiavone.
Claudio again shook off a brief fightback until being knocked off the apron. Garcia did his dance. Screw winning the tournament right? He followed Claudio outside and aimed a running dropkick with the Swiss sat on a chair. But tried it again and was caught and smashed repeatedly into the barricade. Thank you Claudio.
Ads. Nice start. Really enjoy Claudio’s work.
Garcia fired a flurry in the ropes, big slap to the cheek, couple duck unders, Claudio looked for a pop-up uppercut, Garcia again grabbed the guillotine on the way down, Claudio again tried to counter via suplex, Garcia held on behind into a choke. Until being rammed into the buckle, Garcia rolled him up for two, into an ankle lock, Claudio reaching, finally kicking free, Garcia jackknifed the legs for another two count, Claudio smacked him back down, uppercuts in the corner, short-arm clothesline out, count of two.
Hammer and anvil now, quiet enough to hear Claudio counting, Ricola Bomb countered into another two count, Claudio countered the Dragon Tamer into a sharpshooter, dragging the youngster back after he’d nearly reached the ropes, and again; Garcia hooked him into a cradle for nearly three, pop-up uppercut as Claudio got the same.
Another uppercut, Ricola Bomb, win.
Another pretty good tournament match, possibly my favorite so far. Still waiting for this to ‘pop’ with either a truly standout match or interesting twist.
Winner: Claudio Castagnoli
Eddie Kingston promo – he did his usual ‘fourth wall’ stuff addressing the producer etc. He said he’s put two titles on the line, that’s how important this tournament is to him. All he ever wanted to do was wrestle in Japan. And when he finally did, he won a title, yet still he’s putting that on the line because he wants this to be the best tournament in America.
He asked how much longer he had to talk because he needed to go get ready to face Brody King, who isn’t a little guy, isn’t easy to overcome. Then left.
Believable, passionate, honest – you might not like ‘fourth wall’ stuff but otherwise there are few people like Eddie at getting something over. Because he’s genuine, when he says something it carries weight. He didn’t tell us this was the greatest tournament ever, he said he wants it to be.
Killswitch vs the Boys
After one of the Boys had to take a chokeslam over the ropes onto the apron in an effort to get Luchasaurus over, Killswitch won with his new lame lariat to the back. He then chokeslammed the other Boy on a chair.
Do not like sacrificing guys’ bodies in nothing matches like this. I don’t feel any different about Luchasaurus because two guys risked broken backs.
Adam Copeland came out. From behind. With a chair. He wailed away on Saurus, then put him in a crossface using part of the chair. Crowd were completely behind him here as he prepped another con-chair-to. And delivered.
‘Killswitch’ started pulling himself up, a second con-chair-to did the job. Glad they’re giving Copeland an edge here (NPI), he needed one. Doesn’t do a great deal for ‘Killswitch’ on his first night but he doesn’t do a lot for me. They explained Christian wasn’t here btw. But at no point mentioned or showed what happened to Nick Wayne or his mum on Wednesday.
If you don’t emphasize it, it’s not important.
On that subject, they replayed the angle we’d just witnessed after the break.
Before going back to Lexy trying to speak to Copeland backstage. He came round the corner, said he liked her so warned her to leave. He addressed ‘Jay’, ‘or better yet Christian Cage’. He said everything he’s doing is on Cage. Because Cage was so worried about playing second fiddle to him. Copeland told him when they started that their friendship meant more than anything. But Cage couldn’t see past his jealousy.
He ran through all the despicable things Cage has done, Cage knows he has a short fuse and he finally lit it when he said he’d break Copeland’s neck. Because that was threatening his children’s future, ‘so now I’m hunting you, now I got two heads on the wall’, Cage should go ask his minions what that feels like.
He’s going to take the TNT Title because it’s the most important thing to Cage, even though it’s secondary to Copeland to getting back at him. He challenged him for the December 6th Dynamite.
This was absolutely excellent. In one segment, Copeland’s won me back over with his intensity. This is the appropriate way to respond to what Christian Cage has said and done. Though don’t like him going after the TNT Title, especially after he said it’s secondary. He doesn’t need that belt, it seems like a ratings ploy for a match which doesn’t need a title on the line.
Malakai Black & Buddy Matthews vs Komander & Gravity
Duuuuuuude! It’s been so long since I’ve seen and heard Malakai’s entrance, has to be over a year. Brings back memories of when he was going to be the next monster heel.
Another match with a babyface who’s such a dork I want the heels to just destroy them. To wit – ‘House of Black’ chant from the audience.
Matthews and Gravity to start, the Aussie working the arm, into a headlock, shoulder tackle, vicious kitchen sink, Gravity slipped out of a belly to back, German, enziguri, Malakai in, weird arm drag which looked like Malakai was receiving r/t giving, back elbow, Gravity awkwardly and slowly kipped up to be booted back down.
Komander in via hurracanrana, springboard kick, Matthews distracted him and Malakai hit kicks to both faces and a bridging German for two.
Ads. Some very awkward exchanges between Black & Gravity.
Back to Komander fighting free of Buddy: jawbreaker, leap for the tag, caught and rammed into the HOB corner, Malakai in, double suplex coming – Komander landed on his feet, dodged and rolled, tag to Gravity, diving cross body, chops for both heels, lariats in opposite corners until being kicked away by Black – Buddy threw him into a vicious Malakai knee. HOB then had to stand and wait while Komander tagged in and came off the top, tornado ddt, avoided the End, hit a gutbuster, two only.
To the top, Malakai down, Buddy again distracted Komander, allowing Black to hit a kick and tag out, Gravity in to stop a double superplex, he and Malakai botched something, both HOB ended up outside but caught Gravity out of a dive, he recovered to the apron, Komander rope-walked into a crazy springboard aerial press, crowd liked that.
Both faces tried shooting stars, HOB both got knees up, stereo knee lifts, Gravity given a double-team knee strike, Komander down in the corner, Malakai sat in his pose, beckoning the Mexican toward him, Komander crawled toward Malakai right into a Buddy Curb Stomp.
Had its bright spots but also had very sloppy moments. All involving Gravity. Got to hear Malakai’s music again on the way out.
Winner: Malakai Black & Buddy Matthews
Backstage to Action Andretti and Darius Martin. They talked about teaming for eight months but something’s felt ‘off’ – Dante walked in, they all bumped fists, he announced ‘I’m back’.
So yeah they didn’t explain anything if you don’t already know. Which is becoming a theme tonight.
In case you don’t, Dante suffered a gruesome leg injury at an ROH ppv earlier this year and has come back pretty damn quickly considering. Glad he’s feeling better anyway. And hope he can return to form because Top Flight are a very exciting young team.
Julia Hart vs Lady Frost
Julia got a nice pop coming out. Be interesting to see what she can get out of Frost who’s very athletic but very raw (the Darwin Nunez of wrestling? Hopefully not as dumb).
Apparently they’re doing the gimmick again where the HOB’s title matches have random stips. Tonight’s is No Count out. Again, they didn’t explain any of this. We all watch absolutely everything they do right?
Hart backed Frost to the corner, Frost turned the tables, landed a chop, said ‘Ice Cold’ (again, you can hear every word – the crowd are enthusiastic but sound very small). Frost fired more strikes, chops in the ropes, Julia countered a whip, Frost slipped behind, Julia ducked an attack, to the apron, Frost followed, cartwheeling to avoid being tripped off the apron but Julia got her at the second attempt.
Then flung her into the barricade – no count per the rules – before dumping her at the bottom of the ramp as a weak ‘Lady Frost’ chant started (she’s from the area).
The champ grabbed a chair, set it up but was dumped face-first atop the ring steps – Frost missed a moonsault off them and clearly hurt her ankle on the short landing. Julia sat her in the chair on the ramp then clotheslined her off it. Before flinging her back in and bagging two via the first pin of the match.
Frost hit kicks, her ankle seemingly ok, Hart sort-of tripped her down, hit a weak lariat to the back then got the win via Hartless.
Was on the brink of going long.
Winner: Julia Hart
Lexy with Will Hobbs and Don Callis. Hobbs was in a ‘BIG, BLACK & JACKED’ tank. Callis talked about how clever he is yet even he can’t understand Jericho and Omega getting a tag title shot off one match. He said Hobbs is ‘a one man team’, he can take them both out. Hobbs repeated what’s written on his tee then finished with ‘Anyone can get it’. The crowd chanted along with the B.B.J. line.
AEW are clueless sometimes. Just clueless. ‘Ooh, the fans liked that ‘Big, Black & Jacked’ line last week, let’s do it again!’. They just chase anything that gets the slightest reaction. Whether or not it’s good for the characters or their alignment.
It’s absolutely a good line. For a babyface.
Also, not great when heels point out the massive flaws in your booking.
FTR vs the Righteous
Righteous got no reaction as usual. Vincent and Cash began, the latter with tape on his ribs/side. Tag to Dax, drop toe hold/elbow combo for two. Nice to see an early attempt to win a match. Vincent landed a running back elbow and got the tag. Kelly is big into this being an upset.
Dax fired chops out of the corner but was driven back, caught Dutch running in with an elbow, they badly botched Dax’s springboard cross body ‘cause Dutch was looking the wrong way, crowd booed a little, Dax sent both heels outside.
Back to Dax in a Vincent sleeper – apparently Dutch hitting a bodyblock during the break was worth replaying. Dax landed chops, avoided a pair of elbow drops, tried a sunset flip, blind tag to Dutch who hit a splash for two. ‘It’s over!’ – to repeat, Kelly is big into this being an upset.
The big guy missed a senton splash, Cash fired the crowd up as Dax made the crawl, Vincent cut him off, Dax slid through the legs, tag, Cash firing jabs and chops to both, leaping lariat – Dutch still standing, a second sent him (just about) over the ropes in a spot straight out of 1988.
Dutch got two via Bossman slam after a blind tag. Cash fought both off again, tag to Dax, Cash rolled through to haul Vincent up into the Big Rig in easily the best spot of the match. Nice finish.
A voice appeared over the speakers – Malakai’s – he called Claudio ‘Cesaro’ and said neither he, Yuta or ‘CM Punk’ would be coming to save them. ‘This place isn’t the brotherhood that you think it is’. The lights went out, then came back up, nothing had happened except FTR had braced for a fight, Malakai cackled, the crowd were non-plussed because they understandably didn’t know what to think.
Are they suddenly making Punk references again to play into the belief among some that he’s the Devil? Because they’d be better to let that sleeping dog lie.
Largely solid tag.
They had to replay the Top Flight interview from earlier because TNT apparently cut it off early before. The crowd were amusing themselves with random chants because they’d already seen most of it. In fact all of it. There was nothing here that wasn’t shown earlier, all he said was ‘I’m back’. Despite Schiavone talking about us missing part of his return promo.
They again played the footage of Jericho being attacked post-ppv then Schiavone hit the ring to introduce the tag champs. He asked them to explain the attack. Starks called Jericho a leeching vampire who couldn’t leave him alone. Bill said they looked more like ‘the Golden Girls’ than the Golden Jets.
Starks said he and Bill didn’t even know each other that well, asking Bill when his birthday was – ‘No idea’, Bill replied. Yet they’ll still beat Omega and Jericho.
Bill talked about knowing he’d always make it back to the top, even when he was having seizures from alcohol withdrawal. Or when he couldn’t get out of bed. The crowd cheered that because well, yeah. Seriously is anyone a heel?
Bill said Omega and Jericho were two of the best to ever do this but they didn’t realise what they were dealing with. He and Starks are angry and motivated and will embarrass them. He compared themselves to great basketball pairings of the past including Jordan and Pippen. But doesn’t even see Bill Wennington when he looks at their challengerse (Wennington was like a backup center, does anyone even know who he is anymore?), he compared them to gophers who got Jordan gum (so are they greats or scrubs?).
Starks named flavors of gum he likes then left. Weird.
What’d I say about Starks just doing whatever he likes out there. No idea how I’m supposed to feel about this match which leaves me feeling disinterested.
They showed clipped comments from the winners and losers from the Gold Group in a video package. Better than nothing but that sort of thing should top the show if they’re serious about making the tournament seem important and keeping fans up to date.
Keith Lee vs Lee Moriarty
Backstory: Moriarty is allied with Shane Taylor, who Lee is seemingly still feuding with
Moriarty got a pop cause he’s from Pittsburgh. On a night where absolutely nobody’s a heel. Nigel quoted Juelz Santana – ‘Rumble Young Man Rumble’. As if I didn’t love him enough already.
After a brief sequence including a spin kick spot that got a big pop, Lee pounced Moriarty to bring the break.
We returned from a break to a p-in-p replay of what happened during it so missed more of the match. Until Lee shoved Moriarty away, missed a wild swing, Moriarty tried a leaping armbar, the big man basically bicep curled him up then smacked him down with the opposite arm in an impressive spot.
Moriarty came back with a boot and flying bulldog while they were announcing Dynamite matches.
He tried to fire yes! kicks with Lee on his knees, Lee blocked them then shoved him to the apron, Moriarty crashed into him via springboard (it was weird – think they were going for Lee being so big it didn’t bother him but it appeared as if he’d forgotten he was supposed to hit a lariat or something) but got the worst of it before being snatched up into Lee’s off the shoulder powerslam.
Lee does seem to have lost some weight which can only help him going forward. Might have been good if it got time or wasn’t constantly interrupted.
Winner: Keith Lee
Lexy with Keith Lee backstage. He said he’d planned to talk about how talented Moriarty was. And he is, ‘but he’s no Keith Lee’. He’s tired of the lack of opportunity and he’s here to take it… ‘Him, you know who you are.’
The commentators speculated who ‘Him’ is. Nigel suggested Shane Taylor. The others weren’t sure.
A better promo than Lee’s usual too – serious and intense.
Eddie Kingston vs Brody King (Blue Group)
Backstory: Opening round
Eddie got his usual pop. Nigel explained that he’s ‘ostensibly relinquished his titles’. Kingston has to win the tournament to get them began.
Needlessly convoluted. If a tournament’s truly prestigious then winning it should be enough.
Both bulls bumped chests several times, staggering one another but neither going down. To the chops, Kingston really sold Brody’s. A clubbing blow to the back left Kingston on his knees. He dragged himself up in the corner and was clubbed down, crowd barking before Brody did, cannonball to follow, Kingston crumbling to ringside, ref beginning his count.
Eddie only made it to the apron at four and was booted back down. King followed him out there to I guess break the count. Another chop battle, Brody again emerging victorious, Kingston again crumbling, this time against the steps, Brody’s charge missed this time and he crashed into the steel.
Kingston broke the count then slipped back out, eating a right and being sat on a conveniently placed chair at ringside then crushed against the barricade via running splash. More chops from King, they made it back in at seven, Kingston choked in the ropes as the crowd chanted ‘Let’s go Eddie!’. Brody continued the beating with a senton splash.
Ads. Very physical so far.
Back to a King superplex. Eddie’s being dominated so far so we all know who’s winning right? We’re only five matches in and that formula’s already predictable.
Kingston collapsed out of a whip and the ref checked him. Before he got his boot up twice in the corner, running lariat, blocking a Brody boot, big shot, both down. Crowd chanting for Kingston once more. Brody up first but only to receive a lariat in the corner, machine gun chops, exploder blocked into a King German, the ref checked Eddie again, he popped up to land a Uriken for a very near fall. With the first pin attempt of the match.
Ref’s count at eight as they made their feet, chops once more, singlet coming down for Eddie, almost out on his feet but beckoning Brody to bring it. They took turns teeing off, flurry from King, he hit the ropes, Kingston targeted the legs with a kick, ddt, ‘nother near fall.
This is getting good, feels like a real contest. The babyface has something to overcome.
Eddie up first, he still couldn’t land the exploder or a piledriver, King dumped him via back body drop, Eddie ran into a spinebuster but blocked a running lariat, finally hit the exploder, half and half, saito, one, two… kickout at the last, Eddie in disbelief.
Kelly pointed out there being less than five minutes left and sold the difference between one and three points. Nice touch.
Brody landed a piledriver, Kingston got his foot under the ropes, both down again. King up first, Kingston stumbling up, barely able to stand, finally he ducked a lariat, hit an Uriken, Brody shook it off, Dante’s Inferno for the win.
Well, that shuts me up re: the pattern of matches. Really nice clash here – felt dramatic, felt like Kingston was getting the crap beaten out of him until being so worn down he had nothing left, felt real. And had an unpredictable finish. Kudos to Kingston for being willing to lose completely cleanly in a promotion where not everyone is.
They very quickly showed the updated standings for both leagues.
Winner: Eddie Kingston
- Gold League matches:
- Jon Moxley vs Jay Lethal
- Swerve Strickland vs Jay White (Yes please!)
- Rush vs Mark Briscoe
- Blue League matches:
- Kingston vs Danielson
- Claudio vs Brody
- Garcia vs Andrade
- Fairly good night of wrestling and an easy watch of a show – the opener and closer being the best things on it
- Apart from Adam Copeland’s new purpose, intensity and promo – he feels totally different now
- Keith Lee seems to be rediscovering his form
- There was nothing ‘must watch’ here: if not for covering it, I wouldn’t have tuned in
- After Tony Khan’s weird challenge for fans to ‘Put your money where your mouth is’ re: a round-robin tournament – he seems to have failed to realise that the G1 isn’t just wrestling: they have threads running through, they have ups and downs, they talk strategy, they wonder whether wrestlers are injured or out-of-form. So far, all AEW’s has been is good wrestling. Impetus on ‘good’ too, because nothing yet has been a signature or ‘wow’ match to set this thing apart
- The Blue Group feels very light on star power without Danielson
- Largely a show of predictable matches and outcomes with far too many squashes – as is becoming a pattern on Saturdays
Appreciate you reading. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.