Venue: Daily’s Place, Jacksonville, Fl
Crowd sound loud though they’re shooting low. I miss this joint, shame it’s not later in the year – love an outside show. Hangman out first to a big pop; Claudio not far behind on either front.
Hangman Adam Page vs Claudio Castagnoli
Backstory: Claudio challenged Page on Collision
Page rushed him with a boot as he came through the ropes, big roar, brawl around the ring and out of it, the more we see the more it’s clear there is nobody here. Claudio reversed a whip against the barricade, following via running uppercut and getting an earful from a front row fan.
Page rebounded from being flung back in – which is new, coming back with a lariat then flinging the Swiss back in instead. Claudio poked the eye as the ref tried to force a break in the corner, suplex out, running stomp, two slaps.
Fighting up to his feet, Page took a big uppercut back down, stomp in the corner, another, uppercuts and headbutts, Page had enough, walking through them, stern look on his face, yay/boo rights in the middle until Claudio targeted the hair to slam Page down then got the swing. An impressive one, Page ain’t a small guy.
Down into the sharpshooter, Page nearly had the ropes, Claudio trapped the arm, Page tilted his weight into a quick pin attempt then quickly scooped the Swiss into a DVD – almost piledriving the head with the leg hooked.
More yay/boo – JR’s out later, he’d be great here putting these guys over as two of the best hitters in the company – Page countered an uppercut into a backslide for two, fallaway, Page rallying the crowd before kipping up to another cheer, springing lariat to Claudio on the apron, vaulting press down to ringside, Page took a sip of a front row beer.
Claudio fled back inside, Page eyeing him, running right into a military press and being dumped out and over onto the elevated walkway (they have the usual Daily’s Place setup with some fans up on center stage, walkway camera-left).
Back to both in opposite corners, Claudio elevated Page to the apron and quickly cutoff any Buckshot possibility. They brawled up the walkway, Claudio well on top, Page battered him back down it via discus then built-up steam and clotheslined Claudio back in, Buckshot coming, Claudio countered into the pop-up uppercut, Page out at two.
Crowd into this.
Claudio raked the face with his boot, slap to the face, they got to sluggin’, both ducked lariats until a Page Cactus Clothesline left both back outside. Page hit his back hard on that but still pulled off a moonsault from the apron – Claudio caught him, running him into the wall until Page spun out into a ddt, leaving Castagnoli down at ringside. Page clambered up to those center stage fans, slightly elevated, moonsault off onto the Swiss.
Back inside, Page got a boot up but was caught diving off the top, though countered a tombstone into his own, near fall. Crowd liked that.
Both breathing heavily, TiA chant, Page fired up, crowd responded, Deadeye coming but countered into a release powerbomb that sent Page face-first to the buckle snake eyes-style. Claudio accelerated so fast into a corner uppercut, wailing away with rights, Page crumpling in the corner, dragged out via short-arm lariat for another near fall, right into H&A, Page countered a Ricola Bomb into Deadeye for one of his own.
Both down once more, Claudio though on the apron, where he countered the springboard lariat but took a Nick Jackson-esque gamengiri as he climbed the ropes, the pair battling up top, Claudio looking for an avalanche Ricola, Page countered into a rana (not the best but not the worst), to the apron, Buckshot, through to the opposite apron, second Buckshot, W.
That was dope. And shows the value of a crowd, no matter how small. Because they were into everything. Page needs to be doing this damn-near every week, building momentum.
Winner: Hangman Adam Page
They played a package highlighting some of Brodie Lee’s early AEW moments – his debut (which must have been one of the first shows I watched because I distinctly remember it), feud with Mox over the title and win over Cody for the TNT Title. Either I’d forgotten how good this dude was or didn’t appreciate it at the time cause he looked great in these clips.
There was a ‘Brodie’ chant from the crowd.
Excalibur explained that Preston Vance and Anna Jay were two of his proteges so will be appearing in eight-persons.
Tony Khan gets a lot of crap, including – quite rightly – for his latest outburst. But stuff like this is where he deserves credit. Unlike WWE – at least under the previous incumbent – he seems to actually care about people. And despite generally being ratings-obsessed, gives time for things like this and the Jay Briscoe tribute.
Lance Archer, Brian Cage & Gates of Agony
Orange Cassidy, Adam Copeland, Dustin Rhodes & Preston Vance
Backstory: In memory of Brodie Lee
Cassidy and Rhodes got a nice pop, Vance not so much, Copeland the best of the bunch. The entrance is a mini-video screen with a door in it, which is cool. The announcers tried to explain Vance teaming with babyfaces as Tony Khan trying to ‘show him the light’.
Dustin hit a snap powerslam early to Toa but was headbutted down and tagged Vance in. Cage in too, Vance avoided a corner charge, hit a boot then tagged in Copeland who avoided a charge too, tripping Cage into the faces’ corner, tag to Cassidy who was caught off the top via crossbody – a Copeland dropkick the assist for a two-count.
Cassidy tried a chokeslam. You read that right. Then countered a suplex into stundog. Archer tried to get a tag, the Gates’ smacked his hand away and both came in. Cassidy got the pockets but was pounced out of the ring.
Back to Copeland firing up the fans from the apron, Orange down at the hands of Archer. Release suplex sending Cassidy all the way across the ring, Cassidy got a boot up in the corner but took a rising knee strike, pair of running knees in the corner, Jose grabbed the leg to stop a third and was clocked by Jake Roberts.
This has to be confusing if you’re not a regular viewer.
Archer trapped the arm, Cassidy threw the kicks and took a forearm, Archer went for Blackout; Cassidy countered into a tornado ddt. Vance and Kaun in, he took out both Gates via diving shoulder, spinebuster to Kaun, tried a discus lariat, hit a cutter, Leona broke it up.
Dustin sprang off the bodies into a leaping strike on Leona. Everyone took out everyone – Copeland Impaler to Cage, Copeland took a lungblower from Kaun, Orange tried a chokeslam again but settled for a Punch, then did hit the chokeslam but was nailed via Bossman Slam by Archer, Vance Samoan dropped by Leona, Vance dodged and Archer booted Leona.
Cage and Archer had words, Cage just-about knocked Archer outside, took a Copeland Spear, they missed a Rhodes cannonball then tried to show it too late and missed the match-winning Vance discus lariat (Brodie’s finish).
Outside of being a tribute, this was a confusing waste of tv time. A fun-enough house show match. The babyfaces posed to cheers.
Winner: Orange Cassidy, Adam Copeland, Dustin Rhodes & Preston Vance
This is way too long into the show without giving viewers any hooks. What are the feuds? Who’s the champ? Who are the challengers? You can’t crown a new one after a thirteen-month reign and have him appear for sixty seconds out of three hours. And even that wasn’t in-person.
Right on cue, Joe’ll be out ‘next’.
‘Next’ proving rather liberal, as we went backstage to BCG with Renee. Renee started to ask about the Undisputed Kingdom; the Gunns corrected her it was ‘the United Kingdom, like where Jay’s from’. I love these guys. They aren’t remotely trying to be cool. They’re Heels.
White had a faraway stare the whole time as Renee corrected them. He tiredly advised her to ‘just go with it,’ like a parent whose kids are inhaling candy but at least are quiet for a bit.
White noted the UK had said they were after gold. So are BCG. The Acclaimed & Billy interrupted again to say they had the same common enemy. Caster said the people last week were cheering for BCG almost as much as them, they don’t have to be friends but they can work together.
Bowens suggested ‘Bang Bang Scissor Gang!!!’ as their ‘faction’ name. White corrected him that they were a gang, not a faction and said they needed more time. Colten told his dad to stay by the fax machine. Austin was counting on his fingers how many of them there’d be when White dragged him away.
Those Gunns are hilarious. Know a lot of people think they drag White down; I think their silliness only adds to his seriousness by contrast.
Samoa Joe finally out. To a huge pop and chants of ‘Joe!’. If they were expecting a different reaction, they don’t know their audience. He came suited and booted, belt on the shoulder, looking every bit the champ. They panned to a handful of people in the crowd doing nothing more than talking quietly among themselves. For several seconds.
The new champ introduced himself and his being the new champ. A ‘Thank you Joe’ chant started. He glided through it – ‘No thanks is needed, no I was destined for this’. Now that’s a pro.
Tonight he’s making changes to how you challenge for the title. Since it’s dangerous being the champ. He ‘heard even a Devil who made a bad deal is lookin for me’. No more coming out and running your mouth or ‘making your little ho-ass comments’ on social media. The changes are thus:
Challengers bring your ‘record and reputation, submit it to the championship committee’ and if deemed worthy, you get a ‘pass to walk that aisle and have me stomp your ass out in front of everybody who’s ever cheered for you’.
Serious, with a mission statement and a bad ass to boot. No corny jokes or insider lingo. The ‘committee’ is also a nice gimmick for a heel to hide behind when needed. I love this man.
The crowd clearly did too since this got another ‘Joe!’ chant.
‘For all you who want a piece of me, your champion will be waiting.’
Swerve wasn’t willing to wait. He came out with his entire crew. They found the handful of people in the crowd doing the dance. I might be alone here but my confusion at what Swerve is does diminish my interest. Joe is a heel who gets cheered but his character is consistent. Swerve is a psychopath who shatters peoples’ feet with cinder blocks then has his manager lead a goofy dance and plays to the crowd with his chant.
He led the audience in a ‘Swerve’s house’ chant. He said he’d warned Page a couple months back that he’d take his ‘spot’. Then did so. And like that,this isn’t personal, he just wants the title and he’s going to take it. But if after he takes it, Joe wants to make it personal, ‘I’d be more than happy to’. He got right in Joe’s face here, they jawed.
Until Hangman himself arrived on the scene. He never took his eyes off Swerve.
Fired-up, he listed what he’d accomplished last year, but that he’d also lost sight of the AEW Title. ‘In 2024, I will make-it-mine.’ He and Swerve went face-to-face as Joe smiled broadly. Swerve left, partly being dragged away by Nana.
Excalibur said both guys had made compelling cases. (They had? All they did was say they wanted the belt.)
Page moved on to Joe – ‘What you smirkin at huh?’. He hasn’t forgotten what Joe had done to him. And he’s going to take the belt for it. He left too. Page was a total babyface during his match but did seem to get some boos here. Nice to see him stay pissed/fired-up though.
Joe posed with his belt. Until Hook’s music interrupted. They projected his logo onto the ceiling, ‘cause that makes up for being a weak challenger right? On that note, was waiting for it… ’28-1 record’ trumpeted Schiavone (this is one of the things Khan highlighted during his online meltdown if you weren’t aware).
Joe briefly looked a little worried but regained his composure. Taz did an excellent job putting his son over as ‘gutsy’ and etc. The crowd were solidly behind him, chanting ‘Hook’ repeatedly as they went face-to-face. Hook said ‘one week’ then left.
Sigh. So much for all that championship committee stuff then? Didn’t need it to be truly literal but Hook just did what everyone’s been doing for the past two years to get a title shot: announced it. (And then did the ‘Tony Khan has made it official’ thing later on.)
And again it’s just too busy, muddying the real big boy waters of Joe, Swerve and Page by having Hook jump the queue. Why wouldn’t the other challengers object to that? Why do they have to wait?
In terms of Joe himself’s presentation – a good start. Looks the part, talks the part.
They recapped Deonna Purazzo’s debut last week. Renee was with Toni, Luther and Mariah. May asked Storm if she’d watched her match, Toni said she’d been sent a ‘screener’ but hadn’t seen anything else then patronizingly asked how it had gone and if May had done an armdrag. Like a disinterested mum blithely asking if their small child had a good day at school (May’s facials afterward were brilliant, she looked like she was about to cry).
Renee said she actually wanted to ask about the new debutant. ‘Wendi Richter?’ asked Toni (they keep making references to that which seem to link to Mercedes). Renee said Deonna had challenged Storm. ‘And she kicked me in the face,’ added May.
‘Darling, have a chocolate,’ said Storm dismissively, pulling one from her pocket then moving on (there’s been a lot of amusing stuff on this show, that was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in ages).
Storm repeated Deonna’s name, saying it sounded familiar and certainly ‘Eye-talian’ (sorry for all the brackets – but May was again brilliant trying to open her sweet, screwing up her face and looking sorry for herself).
Storm told Luther they needed to ‘get to the bottom of’ this ‘Donna Palazzo’. Then did her exit line, though forgot the last bit, shouting ‘line?’. ‘Watch for the shoe,’ May interjected. Toni told her ‘that’s my part’ and that she’d ‘ruined the moment’.
This was fantastic. They managed to tighten up the story between Storm and May, the latter of whom was genuinely sympathetic here. And did all the character stuff while remembering that this is wrestling and she’s the champ.
Ricky Starks vs Sammy Guevara
Backstory: A man from each of the teams feuding over the tag belts, Starks made the challenge Saturday
Sammy’s either a brilliant actor or totally got the feels coming back out at Daily’s Place. Both guys were cheered. In fact I’m not sure anyone’s been a heel yet tonight. At least no-one anyone’s cared about.
Lockup, rope-break, mat-wrestling, up to their feet with Starks maintaining an arm-wringer. Sammy flipped out into a headlock, crowd absolutely silent as Starks reversed, whipped off, Starks interrupted Sammy’s usual series of flips via shoulder block then struck his pose.
They performed the same sequence, Sammy this time nailing the flips, into a dropkick, he mocked Starks’ pose then dropkicked him outside. To the top, moonsault down to ringside, he posed on the barricade among the fans.
Back in, chops and strikes in the corner, enziguri blocked, clubbing blow not, Sammy dragged Starks to the apron, onto the shoulders, Starks slipped free thinking Roshambeaux, Sammy lowered his weight to block, nailed a big chop, another, until being launched via angel’s wings against the apron.
Ads. Action’s pretty good. It’s hard to get into cause it’s so quiet. There’s no atmosphere.
Back to Starks throwing rights, Sammy struck back via enziguri then blocked a DVD by landing on his feet into a thrust kick for two. Back upstairs, Starks grabbed the foot, Sammy elbowed free and tried a moonsault, Starks got his feet up into Sammy’s mush, big lariat, sit-out powerbomb, near fall.
Sammy avoided a Spear, Starks blocked GTH into a jackknife pin for two, Sammy hit a light thrust kick, a second, crisper one then pulled Starks into a sloppy cradle to win out of nowhere. Did someone get hurt? Starks stayed down on the mat staring straight ahead and the ref checked him.
This never quite clicked and that finish was emblematic.
Sammy checked on him and the two were shaking hands when Bill attacked from behind. Judas played and Jericho came out with Floyd. They’re clearly going to leave the song playing to drown out any boos. Jericho hit a codebreaker to Bill and sent him packing. They brawled away through the crowd. As did Sammy and Starks.
They did indeed leave the song playing throughout. Though there seemed to be plenty of Jericho fans in the crowd.
If this were WWE, and after yet another mid-teens hire from that company it damn near is, this’d signify the champs keeping their belts Saturday. I think the original plan was to have Sammy and Jericho face Sting and Darby for the belts in Sting’s last match but that may now have changed.
Winner: Sammy Guevara
Kris Statlander, Thunder Rosa, Willow Nightingale & Anna Jay
Julia Hart, Skye Blue, Saraya & Ruby Soho
Backstory: In memory of Brodie Lee
Rosa wrestling on Dynamite for the first time in eighteen months should be a bigger deal. Then again, this is one of Sting’s last matches ever and you would not remotely know it.
Willow got her usual pop, I’ve noticed that the graphics/chyrons seem to be highlighting wrestlers’ records/recent wins tonight. But I haven’t actually paid attention for a long time so that might not be new.
Stokely Hathaway was in the crowd with a sign asking Statlander to let him manage her. Anna was wearing a cut-off Brodie tee. They are at least letting Rosa come out last here.
Harley came out with the Outcasts, though left the butcher knife behind. Ruby didn’t look all that pleased. Apparently the story isn’t Saraya/Harley being gay/bi as I’d guessed but that Saraya’s having Harley try to seduce Angelo Parker.
Skye and Julia are apparently ‘very good friends’.
Saraya was already yelling at the camera before things even started. Jay and Soho doing so, spin kick in the corner then tag to Stat who hit a slam, elbow drop, tag back to Jay who hit a low neckbreaker then tagged Willow for a low body splash, Rosa in now via shotgun, loud chant for her.
Julia tagged herself in, Skye Blue distracted Rosa who was immediately dumb barely a minute into her return. The heels stomped her down in their corner. You’d think they’d build to her getting the win. Both matches don’t need to end with Brodie’s protégé’s winning.
Rosa hit a chop to Ruby, back elbow, drop toehold, low dropkick, tag to Willow, splash in the corner, Harley tripped her, sending Willow’s head smacking against the top buckle (hope that was intentional cause it looked nasty).
Willow hit a double-lariat to Hart and Blue, Stat in to take out the Outcasts, fisherman buster on Saraya for two. Ruby came in, Jay did, all eight in fact looking for suplexes, the faces hit a quadruple suplex. Crowd enjoyed that.
Skye tried Code Blue, Willow nailed her via pounce, Julia hit a weak lariat from the back, Anna a flatliner, everyone took out everyone ending with Statlander wheelbarrowing Saraya into a German, both tagged out leaving real-life friends Jay and Hart to battle.
Anna tried Queenslayer, Blue tagged in from behind to hit a thrust kick, Anna slipped behind to get the tap via Queenslayer.
As with the men’s match, outside of it being a tribute, this was house show fodder.
Winner: Kris Statlander, Thunder Rosa, Willow Nightingale & Anna Jay
Excalibur called Wheeler Yuta ‘Mr. Rampage’ as we went to a package.
Talk about defining down.
Yuta wasn’t happy at Eddie Kingston calling him a ‘young boy bitch’ a few weeks back. Kingston might have beaten the other BCC but didn’t beat him. He’s been winning on Rampage. He’s ‘built for’ the Continental Crown. That match’ll be on Rampage.
Talk about defining down.
Good package otherwise. They’ve done nice work with these the past two weeks with guys (Garcia, Yuta) who aren’t strong promos. Also like that wins and records are at least being paid lip-service. Let’s see if actions back those words.
Roderick Strong vs Bryan Keith
The whole UK came out here. It’s just now hit me that they haven’t referenced this angle at all tonight. No clips or anything from last week’s mission statement. The culmination of a six months’ storytelling.
Strong worked the head and arm but took a big boot. Keith hit back with stiff strikes and chops, big boot sending Strong to the apron. Battle on the apron, man this is stiff. Strong hit a belly to back against the apron, Keith crashing to ringside.
The announcers were talking about how freezing cold they were. Another reason to do this venue in the spring/summer.
Yay/boo in the middle, Keith rocking Strong to the ropes, Strong enziguri and Olympic slam for two. Keith set atop the buckle, blocking a superplex, kick to the face, diamond dust, looking for tiger driver, Strong blocked it, Keith sunset flip for two, Strong hit a big knee strike, End of Heartache for the win.
Enjoyed this while it lasted – crisp, tight. Strong might’ve sold a little too much but it was a very quick win by AEW standards. Which is what this group needs.
Cole took a chair in the middle to a torrent of boos. He said he meant it when he told us AEW was going to change. Too many people are concerned with earning fans’ respect. But they don’t care about the fans at all. They deserve their respect so shouldn’t have to earn it.
He called Strong the best pound-for-pound wrestler alive. The boos died when he brought up Taven and Bennett because who cares. Funnily enough, Cole said they’d never got the respect they deserved. Then called Wardlow a ‘monster’, a ‘dominator’, the crowd chanted ‘Warrrdlow’.
‘When the time is right, we are going to win the AEW championship.’ (That’s a little near the whole Cage/Saurus thing.)
Cole said we should get comfortable cause they’ll be here for a very long time. He was very good on the mic again. He’s a little like heel Bret Hart in that he speaks with conviction.
Winner: Roderick Strong
Renee with Deonna Purazzo. She said Storm could pretend not to know her all she wanted but she’ll have her people send Storm’s people a ‘screener’ of her AEW debut this coming Saturday. Red Velvet interrupted to say she was also making her Collision debut. Velvet did her stir it up thing.
‘Is that your stirring arm?’ asked Deonna. ‘Good to know.’ She smiled and left. Nice line. She did very well here, poised and not remotely bothered by an undercard heel.
Sting & Darby Allin vs Konosuke Takeshita & Will Hobbs (Tornado Tag)
Backstory: Callis made the challenge last week after Takeshita beat Darby
JR joined on comms and joked he was here to see Taz. Justin introduced the main event. Starting with Ric Flair. Sting and Darby followed. Weird them coming out first. Perhaps there’s a reason for it?
Seems not, heels out to the ring with Callis. Both came out to Hobbs’ music which is strange. Guess they’re really rushed for time.
Allin and Takeshita picked up where they left off while Sting brawled with Hobbs, chairs out immediately as he cracked the big guy’s back. All four out among the fans.
Sting placed Hobbs on a road-case and flung it and him forward. Takeshita and Darby back at ringside now, the Japanese wailing away with chops. The announcers again talked about how much those’d hurt since it’s so cold. Darby tried a coffin splash but was caught and took the same release wheelbarrow German he took last week. At least this time it was on the ringside mats but man…
All four back in the ring now as JR welcomed us back, doing a great job making the match seem a big deal. Sting saved the pin after a Hobbs off-the-shoulder powerslam. The heels grabbed Darby by the arms and legs and just slung him across the ring, he scraped the bottom ropes with his face which looked like it sucked.
Sting tried to fight off both: right hands, Splash to Hobbs in the corner but a mean knee strike from Takeshita left him down. Flair came in to a big cheer, weak chops to Hobbs, he begged off then poked the eye, Sting recovered, Darby too – nailing Takeshita at ringside with a tope ‘like a missile, like a missile!’ as JR described it.
He again sounds healthy and enthusiastic here. Seems he’s doing better.
Stinger Splash to Hobbs, spinebuster too, crowd loud now as all four headed up the ramp. Takeshita tried a leaping knee, missing and smacking against the guardrail where the center stage fans are, Allin climbed right to the top of them and leapt off via coffin splash, not really hitting but the crowd didn’t care. Landing had to suck. Takeshita clearly tried to catch him to break his fall.
Sting tried a Deathdrop, and hit it. Off the stage through a table. Have to say that left my mouth wide. Crazy bump at his age.
‘The fans here describing it very accurately,’ said JR as a ‘Holy shit’ chant played. And Sting rolled over to cover Hobbs for the win.
If you must involve Flair that was as well done as it could be, the younger, stronger guys didn’t sell and he had to resort to cheating. And if you must have one of the younger guys lose, I’d prefer it be Hobbs. Especially since it didn’t seem like 50/50 booking with Takeshita winning last week only to lose this. And they protected Hobbs as best they could with that finish.
Fans loved it too. Sting was helped to his feet by Darby and Flair. They joined Schiavone in-ring as the fans chanted ‘Thank you Sting’. Schiavone talked about his last match coming up at Revolution. So who are his opponents? Before he could answer the Bucks’ music interrupted.
They strutted out with their stupid ‘heel’ facial hair back in the form of moustaches. Darby beckoned them to bring it, Sting looked perplexed. The Bucks just did a weird pose with looks like there was crap in their moustaches. They waved then left.
Whether or not it was the original plan, that’s a smart last match for Sting. The Bucks can afford the loss and damn-near guarantee a good match. And they have plenty of time to build it.
Ross said he was looking forward to next week’s AEW Title match as the show exited the air. In small doses, rested and refreshed like this, he destroys the other announcers in terms of getting the product over and highlighting what’s important.
Winner: Sting and Darby Allin.
A few quibbles aside, I really enjoyed this show.
- Deonna Purazzo vs Red Velvet
Battle of the Belts:
- Jericho/Sammy vs Starks/Bill (Streetfight, Tag Titles)
- Hook vs Samoa Joe (AEW Title)
- Hangman vs Claudio
- The Gunns are very entertaining
- Joe as champ
- The Storm/May segment
- Strong vs Keith
- Deonna’s promo and nice work building the feud with she and Storm, it already feels like the best-built women’s feud in ages
- Main event was fun with a lively crowd
- Where the hell’s the world champion? We got 40+ minutes into the show with barely a mention after he hardly appeared last week
- This amid a general lack of focus on feuds and issues atop the show, the new top-heel faction also an afterthought for most of the two hours
- Sting wresting one of his last matches ever was not made to feel the least bit special – a lack of hype, packages, anything
Appreciate you reading. Have a good week.